Sunday, January 17, 2021

Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B, "Come and See," John 1:43-51

 Sermon 1/17/21

John 1:43-51

Anything Good? Come and See

As I’ve been home on break this winter, my Mom and I have been watching the sitcom How I Met Your Mother. We’ve seen it before, but it is just something light and relaxing and kind of mindless we can watch together. There’s an episode where one of the characters, Marshall, is worried that his job as a lawyer for a large bank is at risk. His friend and co-worker Barney tells him that he has to find something that no one else does that he can offer that will make him indispensable at work. It doesn’t seem like bad advice, does it? Make yourself necessary, irreplaceable. Have a skill no one else has. Of course, since it is a sitcom, Barney means that Marshall should come up with some “extra” talent like being the guy at the office who runs the fantasy football league. But the gist of the advice is: make sure there’s something that you can do that no one else can do, and then you have security in your position. Have you heard advice similar to that before? I have. I’ve even given advice like that. One of my brothers works at a bank, and he consistently gets ranked highest in production - he’s accomplishing more everyday than the others on his team. And I’ve told him how good that is, because whenever he takes a vacation day, they really miss him and can’t wait for him to get back. It’s good for them to know how much they need my brother, what a valuable employee he is, I think.  

On the other hand, I’ve been thinking about my path to ordained ministry, and how my childhood congregation and pastor nurtured me as I was exploring my sense that God was calling me to become a pastor. I think some of you have met my childhood pastor, Bruce Webster. Bruce was the pastor of my childhood church, Rome First United Methodist, but he retired last year from Kirkville UMC not too far from here. Bruce was my pastor when I was in the process of discerning my own call to pastoral ministry. I had a lot of ideas, and not a lot of experience. When I look back at that season in my life, when I was exploring and figuring out what God was calling me to do, I’m struck by how willing Bruce was to share with me. He shared his wisdom and knowledge with me, but he also shared his authority and his status. He shared the pulpit, letting me preach often. He took me on visits with him. He let me design and lead the youth group retreat. He invited me to meetings and introduced me to the other clergy in the community. And he always encouraged me, affirmed me, and built me up. He never once made me feel like what he was doing as a pastor was something I wouldn’t be able to do too. He never tried to project part of his work as off limit or beyond my understanding. Instead, however he could, he invited me into the work that he did, and shared what he knew so that I could learn and grow. That’s a different kind of model than the advice in How I Met Your Mother, or advice we might hear in some other settings, the advice that says it is best to make sure everyone knows that you can do something no one else can do, isn’t it? I realize the contexts of say, my brother’s bank and my childhood church are a bit different. But I’m struck by the different ethos that favors sharing wisdom and power with others over getting ahead and securing one’s own position first. 

I was thinking about these things - how we do or don’t share our wisdom and knowledge, our power and authority, as I turned to our scripture text for today. Our passage today is a scene from the Gospel of John. We’re in chapter 1, and we pick up as Jesus is calling some his first followers. In our scene for today, he first calls Philip with a simple “Follow me.” And then Philip in turn finds his friend Nathanael and says, “We’ve found him! We’ve found they were writing about in the law and the prophets: It’s Jesus of Nazareth!” But Nathanael is skeptical: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” I’m not sure what our modern day equivalent is - what neighborhood exactly comes to your mind, but it’s like Nathanael says, “Can anything good come out of the wrong side of the tracks?” Philip just answers, “Come and see.” If we’d read a bit earlier in this chapter, we see that Philip is just modeling the example of Jesus. When Jesus called his very first disciples, and they asked him a question, he responded in the exact same way: “Come and see.” Nathanael does indeed “Come and See,” and Philip takes him to meet Jesus. Jesus seems to know Nathanael already - to know Nathanael’s heart, and in response, Nathaniel also realizes who Jesus really is. “Rabbi, you are the Son of God!” he proclaims. “You are the King of Israel.” In response, Jesus promises that as a disciple of Jesus, Nathanael will witness even “greater things” than Jesus being able to look into his heart. He’ll see heaven opened - the boundary between earth and heaven traversed. 

“Come and see.” These words that Philip shares with Nathanael, words that are an echo of the way that Jesus called his friend disciples, are words that reflect the ethos of Jesus’ ministry. We worship Jesus as God’s own child, God in the flesh, fully human but fully divine. And yet, over and over again in the gospels, Jesus is invitational, ready to share his power and authority, his wisdom and knowledge. Even though Nathanael is skeptical and dismissive of him at first, Jesus already wants to show Nathanael what the power of God can do - not something he holds over Nathanael, but something he intends to share with Nathanael. And that doesn’t just happen in this scene. Over and over, Jesus tells his disciples and other followers, and even those who are just in the crowds listening to what he has to say that they can do just what he does and more. If you want to dig a bit deeper this week, I encourage you to flip through the gospels and make a list of times when Jesus tells his listeners that he’s inviting them to receive and use God’s wisdom and power in some way. On the other hand, we see the other religious leaders - the priests and scribes and Pharisees with whom Jesus interacts - always appearing anxious that somehow their power is slipping away. They’re more like the example from How I Met Your Mother. They can only feel safe and secure if no one else can do what they do. That’s not the way of Jesus though. “Come and see.” Jesus invites us to be part of his mission and ministry - not just as someone that he’ll direct and order around. His way is to make us co-laborers in the reign of God, sharing wisdom and power so that we too can share the good news of God’s grace that transforms the world. How about us? Are we willing to share what we know of God, what we’ve learned from following Jesus? Are we inviting others in - to our lives, to our worship services - virtual or otherwise - to our ministries, to our communities? Or are we holding on tightly to our power and authority, afraid that sharing will mean that our position isn’t safe and secure? 

Our gospel text brings up another question for me too. Sometimes we’re holding on too tightly to our power and status and knowledge. And other times, we’re convinced that others don’t have anything valuable to teach us, no wisdom that is important to us. Who do we assume has nothing to teach us? At first, Nathanael is tempted to believe that someone like Jesus - someone from Nazareth, something that for Nathaniel clearly means some “low class, ignorant, unqualified person” couldn’t possibly know anything. His first response suggests that he believes that there is nothing he could have to learn from a person from Nazareth. He discounts Jesus because of where he’s from, assuming that Jesus doesn’t have anything worth sharing. When do we act like Nathanael, and about whom? 

This coming semester, I’m going to be a teaching assistant for a class that uses some tools offered by Wikipedia - students will learn how to edit and contribute to articles on the online encyclopedia. I’ve been pretty impressed so far with the training modules I’ve completed. You can’t just add any topic on Wikipedia. A topic has to be notable - and to be notable, a topic has to be documented by several independent, reliable sources, like books or academic journals. But Wikipedia is also aware that these requirements, meant to increase the accuracy and usefulness of articles, also results in what they call “content gaps.” Content gaps are important topics that end up not getting covered, or not covered as thoroughly on Wikipedia as they should be. And Wikipedia realizes that there are more content gaps when it comes to topics related to women, or topics related to people of color, or other minority and marginalized groups than when it comes to topics about men, or white people, or people in power, because the minority groups have had less access over time to traditional publishing, or traditional academic positions, than others. So, are marginalized populations and their individual and collective wisdom truly less “notable”? Wikipedia knows the answer is “no,” and is working to address the problem, though imperfectly. How about us? Who have we written off as not “notable” enough to learn from? What individuals or groups are we overlooking, sure that “nothing good” can come from them? 

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I’ve been thinking about his concept of the Beloved Community, adapted from Josiah Royce, which King spoke about and wrote about often. His vision resonates with me as a vision of the Kingdom of God, or the kin-dom of God. Sometimes when we say “Kingdom of God,” we think of God as King who is all powerful and rules over everything. There are ways in which that is true, of course. But Jesus tries to show us that the way God reigns and rules is a bit different than we’d expect. God reigns through sharing everything - knowledge, wisdom, power, and authority, in really radical ways. In fact, God even share’s God’s self with us in the person of Jesus. So many folks have used the term kin-dom to help us think about the way God draws us in - “Come and see.” That’s what I hear - the kindom of God on earth - when I read about King’s Beloved Community. He wrote, “The way of acquiescence [to evil] leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.” “I do not think of political power as an end. Neither do I think of economic power as an end. They are ingredients in the objective that we seek in life. And I think the end of that objective is a truly brotherly society, the creation of the beloved community” And “the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the Beloved Community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.” (1) Dr. King, whom many have dismissed and do dismiss as having nothing valuable to teach because of the color of his skin, gives us a model for the kindom of God, the Beloved Community, that is shaped by a God, by a Savior who shares in everything with us, wisdom and knowledge, power and authority, compassion and grace. In turn, we don’t need to cling so tightly to our status and power either. God’s reign grows not when we store up for ourselves, but when we build each other up in love. Can anything good come from such a strange kindom that turns things so upside down and inside out? Jesus says to us: “Come and see.” Amen.  

  1. Quotes from

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Sermon for Baptism of the Lord Sunday, "Citizens of God's World," Mark 1:1-11

Sermon 1/10/21

Mark 1:1-11

Citizens of God’s World

I, like many of you, I suspect, have been at a loss when trying to process the events at the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, when a mass of people broke into the building to interrupt the certification by Congress of the Electoral College, which made official President-Elect Joe Biden’s election. Typically, after national world events like that - the kind that really shake us, I try to post something on facebook, some reflection, some words - maybe not of wisdom, but of encouragement, of hope, of helping people to process what’s happened. But I’ve been coming up empty. I’m not sure what to think, or what to do. 

It’s not that what happened at the Capitol was so shocking. After all, the escalating language since the election and well before has suggested that the way our US American culture has been functioning is unsustainable. But I’ve felt as if this past week has been a taking of all the brokenness we’ve been accumulating and putting it on garish, painful display, where we can’t ignore it or hide it or suppress it, and I don’t know what to do. 

I don’t know what to do when it feels like the meaning of words has become so fluid. What I think are “facts” and “truth” don’t line up with what others say. If I point to news accounts to support my claim, someone else can just call that fake news, and produce an entirely different account from an entirely different news source. What seems to me to be a clear act of racism, others insist is not, while labeling things that I see as anti-racist as racist. What I see as a peaceful protest, others insist is a call to violence, and what seems to me a violent insurrection, others describe as a protest, exercising first amendment rights. And I see my points of view as a reflection of my faith - grounded in my faith in God and my commitment to following Jesus. But I see others claiming to be on the side of Jesus, doing God’s work, who have come not to just different conclusions than I have, but opposite conclusions. Irreconcilable conclusions. Conclusions that make me wonder how I can be in relationship with people who don’t just have different opinions than me, but who seem to see the world in a way that is on a repeated collision course with the way I understand the world. Am I right? Are they wrong? Is there even such a thing as right and wrong?

And so even though I think I know what’s right, that I think I hear God’s call - I’ve been a little quiet. I’ve felt like my words are useless - they’ll resonate with people who already think like I do, and be ignored by people who already think the opposite of what I do, and I will be like what the apostle Paul described - “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” He didn’t mean that as a complement. Yet, I can still only try to follow Jesus as best as I possibly can, and although he certainly took time for reflection, for prayer, for rest, he never gave himself an “out” from the most difficult conversations and conflicts. In fact, much of the gospel narratives are spent recounting Jesus saying to folks, “You have heard that it is said … but I tell you.” It seems really different understandings of the truth are not so new. 

So - as people of faith, I think we’re called to take a stand, to speak up, to offer more than “thoughts and prayers” when crisis unfolds around us. Not instead of thoughts and prayers - but the ways of being and acting in the world that unfold because of what our thoughts and prayers reveal to us about God’s call. But how are we called? What do we do? 

Today is Baptism of the Lord Sunday. It’s the day on the liturgical calendar when we remember the baptism of Jesus, an event recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John’s gospel takes up similar themes, and Paul’s writings frequently discuss baptism in the name of Jesus, baptism by the Holy Spirit. In the Acts of the Apostles, baptism is again and again the act that joins new followers of Jesus to the community. Baptism is the marker of Christian identity. Baptism is the outward sign, the celebration of our becoming God’s family. It is God’s invitation of grace, and our response, our commitment, our vow to live in response to God’s grace a life of love in the ways of Jesus Christ. We “put on” Christ in baptism, clothe ourselves in Jesus, meaning to be as Jesus-like as we can be. 

In worship, it is common to renew our baptismal vows on this Sunday. We renew our baptismal covenant not because God ever rescinds God’s invitation of grace, but because sometimes it seems like we’ve left the party. Sometimes, we’ve forgotten our vows. God is faithful, but we are caught up in sin. We need a reminder, and a chance to recommit, to remember that we said “yes” to God’s invitation. As I was preparing for today’s service, I found a liturgy for the Reaffirmation of Baptism that was used “by the Worship and Spiritual Renewal Committee of the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in San Jose, California.” I found the prayer of confession in the liturgy moving. I want to share parts of it with you: 

Through our baptism we were made citizens of God’s kingdom, and freed from the bondage of sin. 

In baptism you joined us to Christ in his death that we might be raised with Christ in new life; but we cherish old ways and fail to embrace the risen life of righteousness, justice, and love. 

In baptism you united us with all the baptized who confess your name; but we foster division in the church. We refuse to live as one people, and so fail to witness to your reconciling love before the world. 

In baptism you call us to ministry in all realms of life, but we refuse the struggle to know your will; we do not nurture the ways of peace; we allow enmity and hatred to grow among us, putting neighbor against neighbor, and nation against nation. We abuse the earth you entrust to our care, and live in discord with all you have made. 

In baptism you sent us to serve with compassion all for whom Christ died; but we ignore the suffering of the oppressed and the plight of the poor. We take bread from the hungry, and will not listen to cries for justice. 

In baptism you gave us the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us, but we rely on ourselves, and refuse to trust your direction. We spurn your eternal wisdom, preferring the luring ways of the world. 

Remember the promises you made to us in our baptism, forgive our sinful ways and heal our brokenness. Set us free from all that enslaves us, and raise us to new life in Jesus Christ, that we may be your faithful servants, showing forth your healing love to the world, to the glory of your holy name. Amen. 

And the affirmation, the reconciliation: Hear the good news! In baptism you were buried with Christ. In baptism also you were raised to life with him, through faith in the power of God who raised Christ from the dead. (1) 

I keep coming back to that first statement: “Through our baptism we were made citizens of God’s kingdom, and freed from the bondage of sin.” We’re meant to be citizens of God’s reign on earth and in eternity. Our citizenship with God isn’t just one of our many identities. It is meant to be our primary identity. Not America First, or Democrats First or Republicans. Not Trump First or Joe Biden First. Our citizenship, our primary identity, the only one that matters eternally: we belong to God. That’s what we celebrate in baptism, and reaffirm today. We belong to God, and we want to follow God’s rule, and affirm God’s values, and live in God’s reign, and imitate God’s love. 

Pastor Brett Younger picks up the theme, exploring what this means more fully. He writes, ““The children of God tell the truth in a world that lies, give in a world that takes, love in a world that lusts, make peace in a world that fights, serve in a world that wants to be served, pray in a world that waits to be entertained, and take chances in a world that worships safety. The baptized are citizens of an eccentric community where financial success is not the goal, security is not the highest good, and sacrifice is a daily event. Baptism is our ordination to ministry, our vow to live with more concern for the hurting than for our own comfort . . . Baptism is the commitment to share our time with the poor and listen to the lonely.”

If we’ve been baptized, we’ve vowed - on our own, or through others who have loved and nurtured and spoken for us - we’ve vowed to be citizens of God’s reign. We belong to God. As God says to Jesus, “You are my child, beloved. I am well-pleased with you,” so God claims us, too. Citizenship in God’s reign means God first, our neighbor first, and in case we get confused about who our neighbor is, Jesus gives us lots of examples. Citizenship in God’s reign means God is in charge, and God’s will shall be done, not our own, not our President’s, not our governor’s, not our political party’s will. Citizenship in God’s reign means serving rather than being served. It means giving up rather than taking up power. It means that sacrifice is costly to us, rather than sacrifice that seems to cost others. Citizenship in God’s reign means, in words drawn from our baptismal vows, resisting evil, injustice, and oppression however they show up. It means rejecting evil. It means repenting - turning away from sin and back toward God when we’ve gone too long in the wrong direction. My allegiance is to God’s reign on earth and in eternity. In baptism, I celebrated my citizenship in God’s reign. And today I want to remember that it is God’s values I want to uphold, and God’s call to truth, to justice, to compassion, to love, to self-sacrificing service that I want to emulate. Knowing we are invited to be citizens of God’s reign won’t make things clear and easy. But, just like Jesus is reminded in his baptism of who he is, remembering we belong to God will give us strength to persevere as disciples of Christ, striving to put God first in everything.  

Remember, God, the promises you made to us in our baptism.  Forgive our sinful ways and heal our brokenness. Set us free from all that enslaves us, and raise us to new life in Jesus Christ, that we may be your faithful servants, showing forth your healing love to the world, to the glory of your holy name. Amen. (1) 

  1. Adapted from “Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant”: “This liturgy for the Reaffirmation of Baptism, including the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, was used by the Worship and Spiritual Renewal Committee of the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in San Jose, California. This was the committee that discussed and approved the overture for solemn assemblies.” 

  2. Brett Younger, as quoted on

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Sermon for Epiphany Sunday, "Star of Wonder, Star of Light," Matthew 2:1-12

Sermon 1/3/21

Matthew 2:1-12

Epiphany: Star of Wonder, Star of Light

Many of you probably noticed the news stories about the “Great Conjunction” that happened just before Christmas - the planets Jupiter and Saturn appeared closer together in our night sky than they have in hundreds of years. Many speculate that this periodic close conjunction of planets in the night sky is what was understood to be the Star of Bethlehem - the star that the Magi, the visitors to the Christ-child we also know as Kings or Wise Men - the star they used to learn of Jesus’ birth and to guide them to find the child after they traveled from distant lands in the East. 

Of course, since it is 2020, this era of “Fake News” that we’re in, the internet was immediately inundated with photoshopped images claiming to be images of the Great Conjunction, images that looked remarkably like the Star of Bethlehem in artwork of the Nativity of Jesus. The real thing didn’t look quite like that, and of course we in Central New York couldn’t see anything but clouds anyway. But the real, unaltered images of this visible-one-in-a-lifetime conjunction of planets still brought some hope at the end of 2020, such a long, hard year. People seemed really excited to observe this special astronomical event. 

Why is that? Why were folks so excited about this event in our night sky? I can’t answer for everyone, of course, but I think we are looking for any signs of hope we can find this year. And something that we can interpret as confirmation that the story of Christmas is true, that God is really with us, that there’s someone we can lean on and trust to build us back up when everything in our world seems to be falling apart? Well, I think this Bethlehem Star - this convergence of planets - symbolizes our hopes and dreams in the midst of a season of great trial, grief, and hardship. 

Today is Epiphany Sunday. The word Epiphany is from a Greek word that means literally “coming to light,” or “shining forth” - words easily connected with a shining star in the sky. Epiphany is the day when we celebrate the Magi, Wisemen from the East, coming to see Jesus and bringing him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Their visit to Jesus is significant because it represents that Jesus is light to the whole world, celebrated even by these foreign strangers, not just the people of Israel, not just a chosen few. Jesus is the light of and for the whole world. 

We really know very little about these Magi.  The Magi appear only in this passage from Matthew. Matthew describes them as men from the East, which maybe may have meant they were astrologers from Persia, interpreters of stars and dreams. That word Magi signifies that these visitors were priestly astrologers, perhaps Zoroastrians, an Eastern religious tradition. The idea that they were kings comes from a verse of a Psalm that talks about kings bringing gifts to the Messiah – a loose connection at best. The number three was just layered onto tradition over time, perhaps because three gifts are named, along with traditional names for each of three wise men. But again, these ideas are not mentioned in the Bible. What the Bible does tell us is that these wise men came to the palace of King Herod looking for a newborn king, since they had seen a star that was significant to them. 

We don’t even know why the Magi would be interested in seeing a new king of the Jewish people, since they themselves were not Jewish. But we do know that when they were looking for this new king, they expected to find him at the palace. Instead, at the palace, they find Herod. Herod, known as Herod the Great, was a powerful and ruthless leader. Israel was occupied by Rome, and Herod was a Jewish King with Roman approval, because Herod made it clear he would do what Rome wanted. He tried to figure out which Roman leader would end up with all the power, and then he ingratiated himself to whoever that person was. He was a lavish spender, building up wealth for himself, and living extravagantly. And rumors swirled that Herod would make sure anyone who questioned his power was thwarted. Still, though, opinions about his popularity as a ruler are mixed - some people loved the tyrannical king, glad to have someone advocating for a better position for Israel with the oppressive Romans. (1) 

When the Magi show up announcing that they are looking for a child who is the new King of the Jewish people? Herod is petrified, and Matthew says others are too. Of course Herod is afraid: he’ll do anything to hold onto his power, and here is a threat to his rule that wasn’t on his radar, a complete shock to him. He stops at no lengths to make sure this child is eliminated. He misleads the Magi, and has all the children who might potentially be this king the Magi are seeking slaughtered, which happens just after today’s reading. There is no way Herod will let go of his power easily. And why would he? Who voluntarily gives up power, prestige, control, and wealth? 

It’s harder to immediately figure out why everyone else was afraid of the Magi announcing the arrival of another king. If Herod was generally, well, a jerk, why would anyone be upset to hear about another king arriving? I go back to thinking about how excited we’ve all been about the Bethlehem Star - or planets, that is, and how much we’ve needed a sign of hope, something to ground us, something to make everything feel ok. As much as 2020 is a unique year in our lives, the longing for hope, grounding, and feeling like everything is going to be ok is not unique. Sure, Herod was a tyrant - but at least you could depend on that! At least with Herod in charge, you knew your place and what to expect. He was no King David, but at least someone was in charge, someone who was making sure Israel was ok even if it was occupied by Rome, as Herod held on to every bit of power he could get. Whoever the Magi were talking about, this new ruler, was a total known. 

Herod is threatened by Jesus because Jesus exposes the fake “everything is going to be just fine” that Herod has been peddling. Jesus is a threat to Herod because from the moment of his birth, Jesus is a ruler in a way Herod is not - by giving away power instead of grasping it, by being among the people - the poor especially - instead of over them. Jesus is a threat because while Herod tries to ingratiate himself with everyone who is more powerful than he is, Jesus only aims to do the will of God, whatever it costs. And Jesus is a threat because while Herod wants to lull people into thinking he’s giving them what they want, Jesus is able to give what we need. What we need is God with us, and the ability to trust in that promise. And Jesus gives us that, always. The year we’ve been through - it’s been hard. And we have difficult days yet to come. But it will be ok - not because everything will be made easy, but because God-with-us is just that - with us. Maybe sometimes even we, like Herod, feel threatened by Jesus, with all the ways he upsets what feels known and stable. But the Magi recognized that Jesus was the real deal, and Herod was just a substitute that wouldn’t hold up to scrutiny. An epiphany - Jesus is a light that shines truth and hope on the world. 

I want to share with you a poem from Ann Weems, meant for Christmas, but I think it works just right for our Epiphany celebration today, too. It’s called “Star Giving.”

What I’d really like to give you for Christmas is a star…

Brilliance in a package,

            something you could keep in the pocket of your jeans

            or in the pocket of your being.

Something to take out in times of darkness,

            something that would never snuff out or tarnish,

            something you could hold in your hand,

            something for wonderment,

            something for pondering,

            something that would remind you of

            what Christmas has always meant:

            God’s Advent Light into the darkness of this world.

But stars are only God’s for giving,

            and I must be content to give you words and wishes

            and packages without stars.

But I can wish you life

            as radiant as the Star

            that announces the Christ Child’s coming,

            and as filled with awe as the shepherds who stood beneath its light.

And I can pass on to you the love

            that has been given to me,

            ignited countless times by others

            who have knelt in Bethlehem’s light.

Perhaps, if you ask, God will give you a star. (2) 

On Epiphany, we celebrate that God indeed gives us a star, more wondrous than any planetary alignment, shining a light and hope into our world more vibrant than any celestial body: Jesus Christ, light of the world. Let’s pass on the love and light we find in God-with-us, gift for the world, source of hope, and ground of being. Amen.  

  1. Drawn from wikipedia,

  2. Ann Weems, Kneeling in Bethlehem, The Westminster Press, 1980. Found at

Sermon, "In Denial," Mark 8:31-37

Sermon 2/20/24 Mark 8:31-37 In Denial My sermon title is both a reflection of our gospel text for today, and a reflection of how I felt abou...