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Showing posts from February, 2012

Sermon for First Sunday in Lent (non-lectionary), Point of View: Who Do You Say That I Am?, Mark 8:27-38

Sermon 2/26/12 Mark 8:27-38 Point of View: Who Do You Say That I Am? Our theme for Lent this year is Point of View. Every story is told from a point of view. I shared with folks on Ash Wednesday this week that I have been reading a book series called A Song of Fire and Ice . In each book, each chapter has a different point of view, focusing in on one of the characters and what they see happening. The series is still being written, and one of the “spoilers” that the author releases first while fans are waiting for the next book to come out is a list of the chapters and which points of view will be featured. Even this bit of information gets people excited because they can start speculating about how the story will unfold, based just on points of view. Because of course, a story unfolds a little differently according to each person's point of view. It is hard, for example, to even have textbooks that are objective . When humans record history, it is always from a poi

Lectionary Notes for Ash Wednesday ABC

Readings for Ash Wednesday, 3/22/12:   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 p

Sermon - Life Together: Love Builds Up (Based on text for Epiphany 4B)

Sermon 2/19/12 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 (text for Epiphany 4B) Life Together: Love Builds Up             Once there was a rich man who entertained himself by collecting things.  One day in an antique store, he was intrigued to discover what appeared to be a large, full-length mirror.  He couldn’t be sure because all he could see was the frame.  A heavy canvas covered what was most likely a mirror.  A faded piece of paper pinned to the canvas read “Do Not Remove.”  He called for the store owner. “What is this and why is it covered?” he asked.  He was used to getting his way. “You won’t believe me,” came the reply. “Tell me anyway,” he demanded.  Again, he was used to getting his way. “Well,” continued the clerk.  “Under the canvas is a mirror.  The story is that this mirror will only reflect the part of you that is alive in God.  I keep it covered because it’s bad for business.  Too many people don’t see what they expect to see.” “You let people look if they want to?”   “N

Lectionary Notes for Seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year B

Readings for 7th Sunday after the Epiphany, 2/19/12: Isaiah 43:18-25, Psalm 41, 2 Corinthians 1:18-22, Mark 2:1-12 Isaiah 43:18-25: "I am about to do a new thing . . . do you not perceive it?" The church and its people sometimes have a hard time doing new things. We like, generally, to do the same things in the same way. But our God is always doing new things in our lives - don't you know? God says, "get with the program!" "the wild animals will honor me" - Great imagery. If humans are too busy to honor the God who chooses them, wild animals will do what we're supposed to be doing. "you have . . . not satisfied me with . . . your sacrifices. But you have burdened me with your sins." Don't we often do this? Try to appease God with bargains, instead of giving what God really wants: our repentant hearts? "I am [the One] who blots our your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins." Beautiful. Why

Sermon: Life Together: All Things, All People, using Epiphany 4B text

Sermon 2/12/12 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 Life Together: All Things, All People             One of the best movies I’ve seen, one that is on many people’s lists of best movies, is the film Schindler’s List, the Steven Spielberg film about a man named Oskar Schindler, who worked to rescue Jews from being sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust by employing over a thousand workers in his factory. His motives begin with profit for himself, but eventually his mission becomes one of compassion and urgency. In the end, in one of my favorite scenes from the movie, Schindler expresses his deep despair that he could have done more but did not. He says: “I could have got more out. I could have got more. I don't know. If I'd just... I could have got more.” Stern, the man to whom he’s speaking, replies: “Oskar, there are eleven hundred people who are alive because of you. Look at them.” But Schindler goes on: “If I'd made more money... I threw away so much money. You

Sermon: Life Together: Membership or Discipleship? (using Transfiguration Year B text)

Sermon 2/5/12 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 Life Together: Membership or Discipleship?             Every year, we spend some time reflecting on where we have been together over the previous twelve months, and then we turn our eyes to the path ahead of us, the choices laid out before us, and we wonder where God will lead us and how we will follow. Two weeks ago, as part of our worship and our annual meeting, we talked about what we have done and experienced in this past year, and we answered some challenging questions about where we go from here. I told you that we would spend the next few weeks thinking about our goals for the year ahead. For the past few years, we have had a set of goals that haven’t changed all that much in nature: we have been focusing on growing our youth program, stewardship education, enriching worship experiences, increasing our commitment to mission, especially hands-on mission, and being welcoming and hospitable as a faith community. And as I mentioned las

Lectionary Notes for 6th Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B

Readings for 6th Sunday after the Epiphany,  2/12/12: 2 Kings 5:1-14, Psalm 30, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Mark 1:40-45 2 Kings 5:1-14 Naaman wants the benefits of a connection with God - he wants God's healing, and wants it from Elisha  now.  But he doesn't want to do what is required to get what he wants. Are we like that? Do we connect what we want from our relationship with God with what we give to our relationship with God? Of course, God blesses us in spite of ourselves, as God heals Naaman, but what could we do to make it easier? Also, Naaman wants to see magic done, not healing, in his life. He wants a quick fix - to be better. He doesn't want to go through the healing/wholeness process - it's timely, it takes effort. I feel that we are the same with our own health sometimes - we want to be thin and perfect - just don't ask us to change our lifestyles to see the results! We want to be cancer free. But don't make us quit smoking! On a deeper note, we wa