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Showing posts from May, 2020

Sermon for Pentecost Sunday, Acts 2:1-24, 37-42

Sermon 5/31/20 Acts 2:1-24, 37-42 Pentecost Today, we celebrate Pentecost, a day when we remember the gift of the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus to the disciple, sent by God after Jesus’ ascension as comforter, advocate, empowering agent that enables the disciples to stop hiding and start doing the work of Jesus in the world. The word for Spirit in both Hebrew and Greek also means both Wind and Breath - Spirit, Wind, and Breath, all the same word. And so Pentecost is a day when we think of those images and more: the violent rushing wind that produces tongues of fire; God’s breath filling the disciples, giving Peter a voice to preach; the Spirit being poured out on all who gather.  And we wonder: What is this Holy Spirit thing, exactly? What does it mean for us, what does the Spirit do for us? Sure, God is always larger than our understanding, but I think we can relate to God as creator and parent and ruler, and we can relate to Jesus walking by our side, teaching and healing. But

Sermon for Ascension Sunday, Acts 1:1-11

Sermon 5/24/20 Acts 1:1-11 Ascension I don’t know about you, but I find it hard not to read every scripture text these days in light of our current global pandemic. It’s similar to that reaction we now seem to have when we see images, often taken before this pandemic unfolded, of large crowds gathered together. “Crowds? We can’t be in crowds!” It’s hard not to process the world through our pandemic-lenses. And I think that’s true of the scripture too. Our current life experience has so changed our world that it is almost impossible to read the Bible without viewing it anew because of what we’re going through. I think that’s a good thing. Not the pandemic, of course, but that we find that we can’t help but bring our now-everyday reality of global crisis with us when we read the text. I think we’ll find that the scripture is more than up to the challenge of feeding our souls when we come to it with a new perspective. Today is Ascension Sunday. It’s the day that we remember Jesus’ ret

Sermon, "Planting Seeds: Mustard Seed," Matthew 13:31-33, 17:14-20, Luke 17:5-6

Sermon 5/17/20 Matthew 13:31-33, 17:14-20, Luke 17:5-6 Planting Seeds: Mustard Seed Today, as we wrap up our sermon series on Planting Seeds, we’re finishing up by turning our attention to the Mustard Seed. In his teaching, Jesus returns to the image of the mustard seed several times. It reads as a favorite metaphor of his. Using the image of the size of mustard seed in a proverb or parable like this seems to be original to Jesus. And Jesus talking about mustard seeds is the first time mustard appears at all in the scriptures. (1) Something about mustard apparently appeals to Jesus, and so today we’re digging into the times Jesus shares a lesson focused on the small seed.  First, we read a parable from Matthew where mustard seed takes center stage. This parable appears in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, with slight variations. For our reading from Matthew, we’re back in chapter 13, where this parable comes in a string of parables, following two we’ve already explored: the parable of the s

Sermon, "Planting Seeds: Jonah," Jonah 4

Sermon 5/10/20 Jonah 4 Planting Seeds: Jonah Throughout this 50-day season of Easter, we’ve been talking about Planting Seeds. Even if it did snow this week, we’re still thinking about planting seeds and growing and new life and all that comes with spring and sun and warmer days. Resurrection and life. And so suddenly slipping into the book of Jonah might seem like a strange choice for this sermon series, but if you stick with me, I think you’ll see how Jonah’s story gives us an important piece of our journey of planting and growing.  Many of you might be familiar with the book of Jonah because of its larger-than-life story of Jonah hanging out in the belly of a whale or at least some big fish for a few days. But let’s make sure we know the details of Jonah. Jonah is a prophet in Israel. We don’t know much about him at all. The Bible says he’s the son of Ammitai, and we read in the first two verses of Jonah chapter 1 that God has given Jonah a message to take to Nineveh, the capita