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Sermon for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, "God is Change," Exodus 32:7-14

Sermon 9/6/22 Exodus 32:7-14 God is Change* I’m not sure our scripture text for today has made it onto many “favorite Bible passage” lists. I know it is not on mine! In this text, we see God’s reaction to what’s going on at the bottom of the mountain, the mountain where God has been talking to Moses, giving the law that will govern the people that God has just rescued from slavery in Egypt and led to “freedom.” What’s going on down at the bottom of the mountain, of course, is that the people, feeling abandoned by God and by Moses, come to Moses’s brother Aaron lamenting, “We don’t know what’s happened to that Moses guy who we’ve been following. He ditched us without explanation. So, please, make us some gods who will lead us, because we seem to have been left by the God we were following.” Aaron complies, and makes a golden calf, crafted from the donations of gold jewelry from all the people, perhaps items that were symbols of their enslavement. He declares the calf to represent the

Sermon, "Discipleship by the Sea: Encounter," Mark 14:26-28, 16:7

Sermon 8/14/22 Mark 14:26-28, 16:7 Encounter Pastor Beckie has shared with me that you’ve been in the midst of a worship series focused on “Discipleship by the Sea,” and she invited me to take up this week’s theme: encounter. I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a language nerd - I’m really fascinated by the meaning of words and how words can have similar meanings but with slight differences that communicate a different tone. And so when I read this week’s theme: Encounter - I was intrigued. I think of “encounter” as a simple meeting between different people or groups. An encounter. But I looked up different meanings of the word, and indeed, there are some nuances that set the broader word apart from the word “meeting.” Although “encounter” can mean just a casual meeting, it often has the sense of unexpectedness . If you encounter someone in your travels, the implication is that the meeting was unexpected or unplanned. The movie Close Encounter of the Third Kind might pop into your head - e

Sermon, "CreatureKind," Isaiah 11:1-9

Sermon 7/31/22 Isaiah 11:1-9 CreatureKind I’m thankful for Pastor Joyce’s invitation not just to be with you in worship today, but also, more specifically, to talk to you about what led me to become a vegan and to commit to a focus on animals in my studies. I first became a vegetarian in college, years before I became a pastor, but in all of my years of ministry, I’ve never actually focused on why I’ve chosen the path of veganism in a sermon, and so Pastor Joyce’s invitation was a welcome request to think about sharing a passion in this particular way. Because indeed, for me, veganism is a spiritual commitment, and a part of expression of faith.  Before I dive into this topic, though, I want to try to set you at ease. Food - what we choose to eat and why - that’s a really intimate topic. Even though we all eat, every day, for a variety of reasons, what we choose to eat is a topic that has been burdened with a lot of expectation and pressure from society and culture, from our well-meani

Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, "We've Heard of You," Colossians 1:1-14

Sermon 7/10/22 Colossians 1:1-14 We’ve Heard of You “I’ve heard of you.” That simple sentence can be construed in some very different ways, ways that are completely opposite in implied meaning. When we say we’ve heard of  someone, we can kind of imbue that with a positive or a negative meaning, can’t we? Oh, I’ve heard of you - as in, “I’ve heard all the bad things about you, I’ve heard about what you’ve done, or what you haven’t done that you were supposed to do. Your reputation - your bad reputation - precedes you.” Maybe even now you’re thinking of someone that would make you say - or at least think - oh, I’ve heard of you in this tone.  Or, “Oh, I’ve heard about you! People who know you speak well of  you. I’ve wanted to meet you. I’m excited to meet you.” Can you think of someone you were excited to get to meet, to know, because of all that you’d heard about them in advance? Whose good reputation precedes them? Whether or not the stories we tell about each other might cross

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, "The Hard Way," 2 Kings 5:1-14 (Proper 9C, Ordinary 14C)

Sermon 7/3/22 2 Kings 5:1-14 The Hard Way I’ve been thinking about the way we talk about whether the situations we experience in life are hard or easy and what kind of value we place on those words. For example, sometimes we talk with disdain about someone trying to “take the easy way out.” Or we might say, “Oh, that person had it so easy.” Right now, for example, I’m preparing for some exams in my schoolwork, and I feel like it has been a lot of work. But there are some students (including my roommate)  in a different area of my program,  - the people who are in Biblical Studies - and their exam structure is much different than my area’s exams. And I will admit I’ve said something along the lines of “you have it so easy” to my roommate. On the other hand, we might say, “hey, take it easy!” if someone is getting too angry about something, or giving someone else a hard time. We might say, “go easy on them!” if we fear someone will give another person too severe of a reprimand or punishm