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Showing posts from 2016

Sermon for Christmas Eve, "His Name Shall Be Called: Emmanuel," Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-20

Sermon 12/24/16 Luke 2:1-20 His Name Shall Be Called: Emmanuel             All throughout the season of Advent, the weeks before this night as we’ve been preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we’ve been studying some of the names for Jesus we draw from the writing of the prophet Isaiah: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Each week we asked ourselves what it means to call Jesus by these names. What does it mean to follow one who bears these titles? Tonight we’re thinking about another name for Jesus, which also comes from Isaiah’s writings: Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Isaiah writes, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” Centuries later, Matthew, writing his account of Jesus’ birth, sees Isaiah’s words fulfilled in the Christ-child. And there, in just this one spot in the gospels, Jesus is called Emmanuel, God-with-us. He’s

Sermon for Fourth Sunday of Advent, "His Name Shall Be Called: Prince of Peace," Isaiah 52:7-10, Micah 4:1-4, Matthew 5:9

Sermon 12/18/16 Isaiah 52:7-10, Micah 4:1-4, Matthew 5:9 His Name Shall Be Called: Prince of Peace* “His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” This week I read an article by Michael Kellerman in the New York Times about the horrors of war in Syria, and particularly its impact on children. In particular, he was moved by a short video of a 7 year old Syrian girl, Bana, who said simply: “Please, save us. Thank you.” Kellerman writes about how disinterested, or at least how distracted from the humanitarian crisis we have been. He says, “… [A]ll we do is watch, helplessly, as Syrians refuse to go quietly, determined to get us to know them, their lives, all that has been lost. Some of the public’s indifference can of course be chalked up to compassion fatigue and disillusionment with a war in its sixth year … There were assurances about popular uprisings. Social media today supercharges protest movements, which burn out al

Sermon for Third Sunday in Advent, "His Name Shall Be Called: Everlasting Father," Ezekiel 34:1-16

Sermon 12/11/16 Ezekiel 34:1-16 His Name Shall Be Called: Everlasting Father*             And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This week we turn to what is perhaps the strangest of these four titles for the Christ-Child, the Messiah. Today, we think about what it means to think of Jesus as Everlasting Father . We’re familiar, of course, with thinking about God as a parent. Jesus frequently speaks of God as Father, even Abba , Dad, a familiar, intimate title. But how can we think of Jesus, the Son in the Father-Son relationship, the Son in the Trinity of Father-Son-Holy Spirit, as Everlasting Father ?             When Isaiah was writing this oracle, when he was hoping and longing for a ruler for Judah who would redeem the people. They are headed for war. They are perilously close to being conquered, overthrown, driven from their homes and their way of life and the practice of their faith. But Isaiah has this ho

Sermon for Second Sunday of Advent, "His Name Shall Be Called: Mighty God," Psalm 72:1-14, Mark 4:35-41

Sermon 12/4/16 Psalm 72:1-14, Mark 4:35-41 His Name Shall Be Called: Mighty God*             “And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” On this second Sunday of Advent, we’re thinking together about what it means to call Jesus “Mighty God.” Thinking of Jesus as God incarnate might come pretty naturally to us. Christians worship a Triune God. That is, we believe that God is a Trinity – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – three persons of God, but still one God. But in the story of the scriptures, though God’s people were longing for a messiah – which means anointed one , a title given to a king – they weren’t expecting the messiah to be God-in-the-flesh exactly. God’s best servant leader, yes. But God in human form? Maybe not. So, how do we come to see Jesus in the words of the prophet Isaiah, when Isaiah calls the promised child “Mighty God”? In many cultures over the millennia, nations would view the rulers of their count

Sermon for First Sunday in Advent, "His Name Shall Be Called: Wonderful Counselor," Isaiah 9:2-7

Sermon 11/27/16 Isaiah 9:2-7 His Name Shall Be Called: Wonderful Counselor               Today we begin the holy season of Advent. Advent is a four week time of preparation for Christmas. It’s a time when we prepare our hearts, our spirits, our homes, our place of worship, our lives, for the coming Christ-child. It’s a time when we practice the holy discipline of waiting . Jesus is coming. Jesus will be born among us – but not yet . It’s a tension we live in as a people of faith, even as we are always Easter-people, people who know the mystery of faith that Christ has come, and died, and risen, and will come again. We live as a people who know the story already, and yet still spend this time waiting and longing for Christ to be born among us again.               Advent is a counter-cultural season. Christmas, the season in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus, begins on Christmas day and lasts twelve days – the twelve days of Christmas –from December 25 th - January 5 th

Sermon for Reign of Christ/Christ the King Sunday, Year C, "Jesus, Remember Me," Luke 23:33-43

Sermon 11/20/16 Luke 23:33-43 Jesus, Remember Me Singing: Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. (488) Today is the last Sunday of the Christian Year, which is also known as Christ the King or Reign of Christ Sunday. How many of you know what Christ the King or Reign of Christ Sunday is? It’s not one of our major holy days. In fact, often, Christ the King Sunday gets a bit neglected, because most years, it falls on Thanksgiving Sunday, which isn’t technically even part of the liturgical calendar, but usually takes precedence for Christians in the United States. If we have to choose between Thanksgiving as a focus in worship and focusing on “Christ the King,” we usually choose Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is important, and indeed, that’s the direction I had planned to go today. But as I was preparing for worship this week, I just felt drawn to the themes that come with this Reign of Christ Sunday. I was thinking about what my Uncle Bill said at the end of his s

Sermon for All Saints Sunday, "Thankful People: Idols," Exodus 20:1-5a, 22-24, Matthew 6:24-25

Sermon 11/6/16 Exodus 20:1-5a, 22-24, Matthew 6:24-25 Thankful People: Idols             I’ve mentioned to you before that one of the things Jesus talks about most in the gospels is money: our stuff, our things, what we treasure, what we do with what we’ve been given. Perhaps up to 40% of the teachings of Jesus relate in some way to our wealth and what we do with it. But throughout the scriptures as a whole there’s a broader, recurring topic that takes us from one end of the scriptures to the other, and that’s idolatry, the practice of making and worshiping false gods.             Today when we hear the word idol, we don’t usually think of worshipping false gods. Without a little context, that concept is kind of hard for us to get our heads around. What pops to our mind is American Idol, celebrities, sports figures, people we put on a pedestal, people we want to be like, people we admire. But I don’t think we’d say we want to worship those people, right? I think when we

Sermon, "Thankful People: Gifted and Talented," Matthew 25:14-30

Sermon 10/30/16 Matthew 25:14-30 Thankful People: Gifted and Talented             Two weeks from today, we’ll celebrate Consecration Sunday, and have a Celebration Dinner afterwards, as we gave thanks for all that God has given us, as we offer a commitment of giving for the year ahead out of the abundance which God has given us. You’ve heard Lauren last Sunday, and today Vicky and Steve talk about giving, and thinking about how we give, not because of what the church needs, but because of what our generous God inspires in us. We give as an act of faith, an act of thanksgiving, as a spiritual discipline. For the next few weeks, we’ll be thinking together not so much about budgets and spending plans, as we’ll be thinking together about our generous God, about what God is up to here in Gouverneur and how we can be part of that, and about how we can grow spiritually as we cultivate thankful hearts and lives. Our gospel lesson today is a parable, one of the stories Jesus uses