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Showing posts from September, 2010

Sermon for Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, "Parables of Jesus: The Virtue of Shrewdness"

Sermon 9/19/10 Luke 16:1-13 Parables of Jesus: The Virtue of Shrewdness             There are many parables of Jesus that I find challenging, difficult, because I know exactly what Jesus is asking of us, and what he’s asking means changing my life in a way that is hard. For example, when Jesus teaches about our life not consisting of our possessions – well, that’s some pretty direct language that I can figure out. Our lives are filled with stuff that we value too much, more than we value people, sometimes! But I consider today’s parable to be the most challenging of them all – not because what Jesus is saying is so hard, but because it is simply to confusing. This is, to me, the most mind-boggling parable of them all. It’s called the parable of the Shrewd Manager, or sometimes, the parable of the Dishonest Manager. Jesus directs this parable at the disciples, his close followers, although the scribes and Pharisees, to whom he told the Parable of the Lost Sheep that we heard last wee

Sermon for Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, "One of One Hundred"

Sermon 9/12/10 Luke 15:1-10 Parables of Jesus: One of One Hundred             Have you ever been lost? I’ve told you before that my mother has a horrible sense of direction. This has resulted in many stories over the years of her being totally and utterly lost. For example, there was the time when she was driving home from visiting me in New Jersey, and she accidentally ended up in Massachusetts. Or, how whenever she was trying to go someplace in the greater Utica area, she would always end up at Hapanowicz’s meat market. When she used to come visit me at college, I would simply have her meet me at the campus center, because it had a bright green roof that you could see from anywhere in town. I knew she couldn’t get lost, but that she would never make it to my dorm if I tried to steer her there directly.             Have you ever lost something or someone? When I was a child, I had an experience where I didn’t think I was lost, but my mother thought she had lost me! I had gone to de

Sermon for Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, "Hymn of Promise"

Sermon 9/5/10 Jeremiah 18:1-11 Hymn of Promise In a summer when we’ve been learning about and singing our favorite hymns, on this day when we conclude with our tied-for-favorite hymn, Hymn of Promise, it seems only appropriate to talk about a few other songs this morning. We just heard a reading from Jeremiah where the prophet sees God acting as the potter at the wheel. We love this imagery – it shows up in many of our songs: “Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way! Thou art the potter; I am the clay. Mold me and make me after thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.” We also have “Spirit of the Living God,” where we sing for God’s spirit to melt us and mold us, or the contemporary worship song, where we sing about putting things in our life “In the Potter’s Hand.” We also sang this morning, “Change my heart, O God”, which includes the words: “You are the potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me. This is what I pray.” These songs draw this ‘God as Potter’ imagery from

Sermon for Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, "Let There Be Peace on Earth"

Sermon 8/29/10 Luke 14:1, 7-14, Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16 Let There Be Peace on Earth "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me; let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be/ With God our creator, children all are we. Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony. Let peace begin with me; let this be the moment now. With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow: to take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me." This short and simple hymn takes seventh place in our congregation's top-ten hymn list. According to their company, Jan-Lee Music, “Sy Miller and Jill Jackson were a husband and wife songwriting team, who, in 1955, wrote a song about their dream of peace for the world and how they believed each one of us could help create it.” Jill was a former actress, having starred in many Westerns in the 1930s, and Sy was a composer for Warner Brothers. Jill wrote lyrics. Sy comp