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Showing posts from 2009

Sermon for Fourth Sunday of Advent, "In the Fullness of Time"

Sermon 12/20/09, Luke 1:39-55 In the Fullness of Time When my older brother was a freshman in college, I had a really hard time adjusting to all the changes happening in his life. I was a 7 th grader at the time, and my brother was a philosophy major, who was suddenly enlightened, and would come home and try to engage me in debate about the meaning of life – or the lack thereof, depending on my perspective or his! He was just too much to take – Jim, and the sudden epiphanies of understanding that he wanted to share with us. Six years later, when I started college myself, I somehow didn’t see the same behavior in myself, when I actually took to photocopying pages of my freshman Christian Ethics textbook and sending them home to my mother and pastor. It was just that I was reading about things I was pretty sure no one else had really thought about before, and my mind was expanding with the fascination of this new knowledge. I still remember vividly one of the first things I learn

Sermon for Third Sunday of Advent, "Time's Up"

Sermon 12/13/09, Luke 3:7-18 Time’s Up Perhaps by now you are wondering if Advent will ever bring a text that sounds like we’re preparing for the baby Jesus. After all, we started out with Jesus talking about the signs of the times, and images of disaster. Last week things sounded a little more advent-y, but really we were talking about a grown-up John the Baptist. And now, this week, we get more John, only this time he’s yelling about broods of vipers, fleeing from the coming wrath, and how Jesus is going to be throwing things into an unquenchable fire. Can John really be preparing people for Jesus, born a sweet babe, prince of peace, tender and mild? Our text picks up where it left of last week, and if our question last week was, “What are we waiting for?” today there is no missing the urgency in John’s tone. Crowds are coming out to him to be baptized. But he’s not exactly warm and welcoming when he sees them: “You brood of vipers!” he hells. “Who wa

Sermon for Second Sunday of Advent, "The Time In-Between"

Sermon 12/6/09, Luke 3:1-6 The Time In-Between As a child, I considered there to be two important seasons in my year. The season of Christmas, of course. And the season for summer camp. I grew up attending Camp Aldersgate every year – the counterpart to Casowasco, located in the foothills of the Adirondacks . I watched my big brother head to camp every summer with acute jealousy, until I was finally old enough to attend myself. I *loved* it, every part of it. I could attend camp for just one short week during each summer, until I was older and finally could afford to pay for a second week on my own, and eventually even work on staff. But as a child, all my longing for camping season was rewarded with one too-short week of camp. So I had to turn my energy, my love of camp, into something that would last me a little longer. Waiting for my week at camp was a period that lasted from sometime in late January all the way until the week itself in July or August. I didn’t wait idly. Fi

Introverts Can Make the Best Leaders

Somewhere in my blog subscriptions I was led to this article by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, "Why Introverts Can Make the Best Leaders." I can't for the life of me remember or find who wrote about it, so my apologies - please let me know if it was you! As a pastor, I'm always fascinated by information about introverted leadership. Sometimes I envy my extroverted clergy colleagues and the ease they seem to have in settings which cause me such internal agony! But this article made me feel pretty good about ways in which I can and do use my introversion to my advantage in ministry. (I'm posting this using Google Sidewiki for the first time - I'm hoping using it might help me actually blog again occasionally. We'll see!) in reference to: ( view on Google Sidewiki )

Sermon for First Sunday of Advent, "The Time is Near"

Sermon 11/29/09, Luke 21:25-36 The Time is Near Lucky Charms used to be my very favorite cereal. All those yummy marshmallows! Tragically, I can’t eat Lucky Charms anymore, because marshmallows are made with gelatin, which I don’t eat. I’m still hopeful that eventually they’ll change their recipe. But until then, I can just reminisce. When I was little, I used to pick out and eat all the marshmallows first, and be left with all the regular old cereal. I just couldn’t help myself. But as I got older and matured as a cereal connoisseur, I reversed my order. I’d eat all the plain cereal first, and leave all the marshmallows for last, finishing with the very best part. And in fact, I even came to really enjoy all that plain cereal in its own right. Sometimes, when I think about the season of Advent, the season of preparing and waiting for Christmas, I feel a bit the same way I used to feel about Lucky Charms. There have been times, especially when I was younger, where I j

Sermon for Thanksgiving Sunday, "All Gathered In"

Sermon 11/22/09, Matthew 6:24-33 Giving Thanks: All Gathered In What, if anything, do you worry about? That was a question posed to me in an interview about blogging that I did a few years back, and my response was something like this: “What don’t I worry about?” I was still serving my first congregation at the time, and my response expanded mostly in relation to pastoral ministry. I said, “I can be a worrier. I worry about my congregation, and whether I am serving them well, and if the church is growing numerically and spiritually, and if I visit enough people often enough, and if my prayers are too long, and if a new worship service will work, and, and, and . . .” This interview response came to my mind because I was also thinking of another blog-related item about worry – a post I wrote about how I handle stress and worry. Sometimes, I can worry as that stress, anxiety, in the pit of my stomach. But sometimes, I’m stressed and worried and I can’t even remember why. I hav

My Road-trip Route Map

Here's a basic map of my route over the next two weeks, in case you are interested in seeing where I will be for my vacation, and for my attendance at Exploration 2009 . Sorry Kansas and Missouri - I'm making a giant circle around you. Maybe some other road-trip.... View Larger Map

Sermon for All Saints Sunday, "Giving Thanks: For All The Saints"

Sermon 11/1/09, Mark 12:28-34 Giving Thanks: For All the Saints All Saints Sunday is not a day I remember celebrating as a child in my congregation. In fact, I really don’t remember celebrating this special until I got into seminary, although I’m sure we did at my childhood church. But I was lucky enough not to have experienced much in the way of loss and death until I was in college, and so I don’t think I was very tuned in to a day to remember those who had passed away. But since seminary, All Saints has become one of my favorite celebrations in the church – a precious day when we remember – remember our loved ones, remember members of our church family, remember so many lives who have shaped us, over the years, through our lifetimes, even through the centuries, through history. To our Protestant ears, perhaps we perk up a little, in confusion, when we hear talk about saints. Do we have Saints? But, as soon as we ask the question, a million possible responses pop

Sermon for Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost, "Take Heart"

Sermon 10/25/09, Mark 10:46-52 Take Heart This week, my mother found out that she will need to have surgery on her ankle in January – surgery to fuse together the joints which have collapsed on her through the years. My family and I have been trying to put together a plan for her post-surgery – she’ll be in a cast for three months at least, and her house isn’t particularly friendly for a person who has a hard time with stairs. As we’ve been talking about plans for her recovery, one thing has become clear to me: my mom is in a bit of denial about the extent of injury to her ankle and about the extent of recovery time she will need. (And yes, I did let my mother know I was preaching about her today!) Somehow, my mom has seen her bad ankle as a minor problem that she should be able to get over with a better pair of sneakers. She’s embarrassed when the pain makes her limp. Although she was granted permanent disability from work, it is only just recently that she finally accepted th

In honor of Ella, my cat

So, I haven't blogged in forever, and all I give you is this graph? But it made me laugh out loud - I couldn't help it. Also, Graph Jam is hilarious. see more Funny Graphs

Sermon for Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, "Be Challenged"

Sermon 10/11/09, Mark 10:17-31 Be Challenged I’ve been thinking, over the last several weeks, in light of some of the powerful lessons from the New Testament that we’ve focused on in worship, that it’s amazing that we even read the Bible aloud and pretend to like it. I wonder why our very reading of the words of Jesus and his closest followers doesn’t offend us. I wonder how we can even bear to hear what Jesus says sometimes, if we believe that he’s the Messiah, if we believe that we’re supposed to try to practice what he preaches. I think this because sometimes I’m struck with such force at how much distance there is between what Jesus teaches and what we do. Jesus challenges us. More than that. Pushes us. Tells us we’re getting it wrong. Quite wrong. Tells us we have to completely change what we know, how we live, what we do. I recently happened on one of my favorite quotations, by 19 th century philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard. He writes, "The