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Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B, "Open Wide Your Hearts," 2 Corinthians 6:1-13

  Sermon 6/20/21 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 Open Wide Your Hearts Our scripture focus for today has long seemed to me like it was meant for United Methodist Churches in the midst of pastoral transition. Paul was one the first itinerant pastors of the church, serving in different faith communities for periods of time and then moving on to establish new ministries elsewhere. He spent just about a year and a half in Corinth helping to build the congregation, and teaching people about being disciples of Jesus. Paul does visit Corinth again, while he’s serving in Ephesus, but his initial 18 months with the Corinthians is the time he builds his primary relationship with them. But of course, he continues to hold them in his heart, and continues to seek out the best for them as a growing community of faith. 2 Corinthians has somewhat confusing origins, as scholars debate whether it is one letter or multiple letters Paul wrote to the community that have been put together over time. But what is clea
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Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B, "We Honor the Gifts," 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

  Sermon 6/13/21 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 We Honor the Gifts For the past year, I’ve been using a devotional book called Renew My Heart: Daily Wisdom from the Writings of John Wesley . I consider myself a bit of a John Wesley nerd, but I’m learning a lot about the nuances of Wesley’s prolific writing. I’m currently in a section that is reading through his sermon called “The More Excellent Way,” which I’m mostly finding challenging and inspiring. But I got frustrated with one particular section, because Wesley describes those who fail to embrace the “more excellent way” of discipleship as a “lower order of Christians.” And while he says that they are not “in the high road to hell” for failing to consistently choose the more excellent way, he does say that they will “not have so high a place in heaven” and they will have “fewer stars in their crown of glory” than if they’d chosen better. (1) Apparently, in Wesley’s mind, there will still be a hierarchy in heaven. That sounds kind of terrib

Sermon for Pentecost Sunday, Year B, "On Fire or Burned Out?" Acts 2:1-12, Ezekiel 37:1-14

  Sermon 5/23/21 Ezekiel 37:1-14, Acts 2:1-21   Pentecost: On Fire or Burned Out? I’ve been thinking about how we’re going through our seconds of a lot of things in this global pandemic. Last year, congregations made their way through Lent and Easter and Pentecost in the midst of a fairly new pandemic. We were afraid and figuring things out and so sad not to be together, but I was so moved by how quickly pastor and church leaders and congregations pivoted to find new ways of doing things, ways to continue to serve the community, ways to continue to be in relationship with each other in the Body of Christ, ways to continue praising God, journeying in Lent, proclaiming resurrection, and feeling full of the Holy Spirit despite all the struggles. The persistence and faithfulness of God’s people was impressive and inspiring.  And here we still are. Yes, there are so many signs of hope about the pandemic, as things open in new ways, as vaccines roll out, as healing and recovery of all kinds

Sermon for Ascension Sunday, Year B, "Head in the Clouds," Acts 1:1-11

Sermon 5/16/21 Acts 1:1-11 Ascension Sunday: Head in the Clouds Today is a Sunday some folks don’t even remember is part of the Christian year - it’s Ascension Sunday. Ascension Sunday is the day we celebrate the ascension of Jesus. After Easter Sunday, Jesus spends forty days with the disciples, a time period I wish the scriptures said more about. We don’t know much about what Jesus does during this time, except that some people get to see and talk to the resurrected Jesus, and he continues to ready his disciples to receive the Holy Spirit after he’s gone again. And then, forty days after Easter morning, when the disciples are gathered in Jerusalem, Jesus says some final words, and is swept up into the clouds.  Ascension Sunday is kind of weird, I think. I think it is weird because it kind of implies that we actually think heaven is just “up there” somewhere, as if if we could pop above the clouds, we’d find heaven. That kind of imagery worked great when you couldn’t get above the

Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B, "Come and See," John 1:43-51

  Sermon 1/17/21 John 1:43-51 Anything Good? Come and See As I’ve been home on break this winter, my Mom and I have been watching the sitcom How I Met Your Mother . We’ve seen it before, but it is just something light and relaxing and kind of mindless we can watch together. There’s an episode where one of the characters, Marshall, is worried that his job as a lawyer for a large bank is at risk. His friend and co-worker Barney tells him that he has to find something that no one else does that he can offer that will make him indispensable at work. It doesn’t seem like bad advice, does it? Make yourself necessary, irreplaceable. Have a skill no one else has. Of course, since it is a sitcom, Barney means that Marshall should come up with some “extra” talent like being the guy at the office who runs the fantasy football league. But the gist of the advice is: make sure there’s something that you can do that no one else can do, and then you have security in your position. Have you heard ad