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Showing posts from March, 2011

Sermon for Third Sunday in Lent, "Voices: Woman at the Well"

Sermon 3/27/11 John 4:5-42 Voices: Woman at the Well             To be known is to be loved and to be loved is to be known. Today we encounter this fascinating story from the gospel of John, the only gospel where we find this passage, the woman at the well. As I was reading over this passage I began to suspect and had to check up this, and found I was right: This passage gives us the longest recorded conversation between Jesus and another person. That should peak our interest - something important happens here. Jesus is travelling from place to place and his destination causes him to travel through a Samaritan city. The Jews and the Samaritans didn’t get along. They had common religious ancestry, but over the centuries they had divided and come to have different religious beliefs, and their differences caused prejudices on both sides, conflicts. Samaritans believed that only the Pentateuch was scripture – only the first five books of our Bible – the law of Moses. They didn’t hold th

Sermon for Second Sunday in Lent, Year A, "Voices: Nicodemus"

Sermon 3/20/11 John 3:1-17 Voices: Nicodemus             When I was little, the small country church I went to in Westernville had a big emphasis in Sunday School on memorizing Bible verses. Every week we’d spend some time going over verses, and in the older classes, we’d actually get 5 cents for every verse we could memorize. I was certainly inspired by promise of such riches, and could memorize quite a lot of verses! Today we don’t focus so much on memorizing verses, which has some pros and cons – a single verse taken out of context doesn’t always do you much good, and in fact, can lead you to wrong conclusions when you don’t know the rest of what’s happened in a passage! So we tend today to focus more on teaching whole stories, rather than memorizing single verses. Nonetheless, you probably still know this verse by heart, in the King James Version even – John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,

Sermon for First Sunday in Lent, Year A, "Voices: Tempted"

Sermon 3/13/11 Voices: Tempted On Wednesday night this past week, at our Ash Wednesday service, I introduced our Lenten theme for this year – Voices. We talked about how many voices are clamoring for our attention in this world. Throughout the season of Lent, we’ll try to listen in on those voices, and in particular, listen for the voice of God in the midst of all the other noise. That’s really what Lent is about – that’s why Lent is a season of reflection, repentance, renewal, why people focus on sacrifice, austerity, a lifestyle that is perhaps a little less indulgent than usual. It’s a time to tune everything else out so we can tune in to God. So throughout Lent, we’ll listen in to the gospel stories where we see examples of just that – characters trying to decide which voices to listen to. We begin with one who sets the example for us – Jesus.   In our gospel lesson, Jesus has just been baptized by John, his cousin. And he’s heard God’s voice saying, “This is my son, the beloved,

Lectionary Notes for Ash Wednesday, Year ABC

Readings for Ash Wednesday, 3/8/11: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17, Psalm 51:1-17, 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 Joel 2:1-2, 12-17: "Rend your hearts and not your clothing." This verse ties into Psalm 51's theme: it is our heart, our inside, our soul that God wants us to worry about most - not sacrifices, not outward signs. (theme of the gospel as well) Inside, not outside. "[God] is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing." I like these descriptions, especially in the midst of the Old Testament, which can have a different image of God. "Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast." Joel urges the people to gather together, to plead to God as a community for forgiveness. When do we do that? Gather as a community and ask God to have mercy on us? Psalm 51:1-17: Ah, a favorite psalm. And like Joel, an element of confession. This psalm is

Sermon for Transfiguration Sunday, Year A, "On the Mountain"

Sermon 3/6/11 Matthew 17:1-9, Exodus 24:12-18 On the Mountain This Sunday is the last Sunday in our series about goals for the church. On Wednesday, Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, and our focus will change for a forty day journey. But today, the goal I want us to focus on serves as sort of a transition between where we are and where we’re going. This week, we’re talking about worship. One of our goals is to have meaningful worship that is relevant and powerful for people of all generations. Of course, as human beings, we are all so unique and different, and what is meaningful to me in worship may not be meaningful to you. As a church, we incorporate worshippers from infancy to older adulthood, and that means we try to make worship meaningful for children and teens, for young adults and young parents, for baby boomers and retirees. It is a challenge to find a balance in worship – we try to balance traditional hymns with newer music. We try to use different styles of prayer, differen