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Showing posts from January, 2016

Sermon, "Invitational: Come and See," John 1:35-50

Sermon 1/24/16 John 1:35-50 Invitational: Come and See             My mom watches my nephew Sam every day after school. He gets off the bus at her apartment, and he hangs out there til his parents get out of work. I’ve sometimes been around when he gets out of school, and I like to ask him about his day. But the conversation usually goes like this: “Sam, how was school today?” “Fine.” “What did you do today?” “I don’t know.” “Did you have gym?” “No.” “Music?” “No.” “Art?” “Yes.” “What did you do in art?” “Painted pictures.” You get the point. Pretty much, you have to drag information like this out of Sam. It is certainly possible it was indeed a typical day at school. But it is also possible that there was a parade or a concert or he got an award or the President visited, and his description of the day’s events are likely to be the same. He tolerates school. But despite how easy the learning is for him, or maybe because of that, he doesn’t love it. And he’s probably not goi

Sermon, "Invitational: The Guest List," Luke 14:12-24

Sermon 1/17/16 Luke 14:12-24 Invitational: Guest List             When I was a child, we were allowed to have a birthday party every year, but we had to alternate the size of our party every year. One year, we’d be allowed to invite as many friends as we wanted, and the next, we were allowed to invite perhaps two or three friends to do something special with us, like going to Skate-a-while. I’m one of four siblings, and this policy helped to keep birthday party spending under control, since it seemed like it was always someone’s birthday. Either way, big party or small party, determining the guest list was an important matter. Did you invite your whole class? Even the kids you really didn’t get along with? Or did you leave a few people out? What about friends from church? Or friends from camp? And if it was a small party year – how to choose the two or three who were your very closest friends? I remember making lists in my diary, trying to figure out exactly who would be in

Sermon for Baptism of the Lord Sunday, Year C, "Invitational: Baptism, Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Sermon 1/10/16 Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 Invitational: Baptism             Today is Baptism of the Lord Sunday. Every year, on the week after Epiphany, the liturgical calendar focuses on the Baptism of Jesus. It is one of the few events in Jesus’ life and ministry that is recorded in all four of the gospels, and in all of the gospels, it seems to be the event that kind of starts things off. Jesus is about thirty years old when he comes to be baptized. And before his baptism, we don’t get much insight into what he’s been doing. Other than his birth, we see him when he is presented at forty days old in the traditional ritual of purification, and then again when he is twelve, when he visits the temple with his family. But aside from those instances, the first we see of Jesus is when he is thirty, and he comes to John the Baptist to be baptized. We talked during the season of Advent a bit about John and baptism. Remember, baptisms were not a new thing – water rituals that signified

Sermon, "Epiphany," Matthew 2:1-12

Sermon 1/3/16 Matthew 2:1-12 Epiphany On Christmas Eve, as we were talking about this deep longing for home that most all of us understand, I shared with you how this “journey home” was a trope that we see played out in some of our favorite movies. For example, I mentioned the classic The Wizard of Oz , and how Dorothy, nearly as soon as she leaves Kansas and ends up in Oz, is already trying to get back home. But of course there is another trope, another part of this story, and many of the same movies, that is also at play here, and that’s the quest to find this certain thing, this item, this person that is going to be the solution to the problem. In Dorothy’s case, she is, of course, off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz. Her desire is to go home, but she’s been told that the Wizard of Oz is the solution – he will tell her what she must do to get back to Kansas. And of course, as is the case in many of these movies, when Dorothy finally arrives to meet the W

My 2015 Reading List

  Books I Read in 2015 My reading pace definitely dropped off once my sabbatical ended and I started commuting to Rochester three times a week, but still, I got some good reading in this year (and listened to a lot of good audio books too!) (Here's a link to my goodreads page with all of these books , in case you want more details, since I'm too lazy to link to all the books on Amazon this year...) 1-3.   Dashner, James, The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure.  Not my favorite series ever or anything, but I enjoyed these.  4.      Aslan, Reza, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth I like his writing style - quick-paced, narrative, compelling. He makes the scene come alive. But his biblical scholarship I didn't find convincing. He gives all the New Testament texts equal weight, while I think most mainline biblical scholars have a much more nuanced understanding of the differences between the authority of Mark and John, for example. Hi