Here are a few thoughts from a sermon I gave last Sunday. I was asked to speak on the theme of “hope for nature.”Continue reading “Against Cheap Hope”
Ugh! – A Sermon on Joy for Advent 3
Texts: Psalm 126; John 1:6-8, 19-28
God, you who is always with us, guide our thoughts, enliven our hearts, draw us to yourself . . .
Our theme today, on this third Sunday of Advent, is joy. My initial response to this assigned theme, in this particular year, is not positive. So let me begin by quoting a few lines from those who have something better to say. Here’s the New Testament writer John. This is II John 1:2 “Although I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink; instead I hope to come to you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” John didn’t have access to Zoom, maybe that would have been good enough.
Here’s a second quotation. This one comes from the TV character Dwight Shrute. “I never smile if I can help it. Showing one’s teeth is a sign of submission in primates. When someone smiles at me, all I see is a chimpanzee begging for its life.” Continue reading “Ugh! – A Sermon on Joy for Advent 3”
Let’s Not Begin with Jesus – A Sermon for Advent 1
Texts: Psalm 80:1-19; Mark 13:32-37
God, grant us wisdom . . .
I want us to begin today by not thinking about Jesus. Remove the pictures of baby Jesus or old Jesus, dead Jesus or living Jesus, nice Jesus or stern Jesus, black Jesus or white Jesus, long-haired Jesus or short-haired Jesus, tall Jesus or short Jesus—remove them all from your mind for a moment. Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “I’ve been to church before. The answer is always Jesus. Something strange is going on here.”Continue reading “Let’s Not Begin with Jesus – A Sermon for Advent 1”
“If you will go with me” – A Sermon for Nov. 15
Texts: Judges 4:1-10; Psalm 123
One of the most prominent ancient interpreters of the Bible, a fellow named Jerome, said that reading the Bible—really reading it—is like eating a fruit that has a tough, dry husk. It takes some work. It takes time to peel back the layers, to get at the sweet, succulent fruit within. Jerome would know, he produced the authoritative Latin translation of the Bible. You can recognize paintings of Jerome because he’s usually depicted with a large book and a skull.
Our main text today, a story from the book of Judges, is one of those that has a tough outer husk and sweet inner fruit.Continue reading ““If you will go with me” – A Sermon for Nov. 15″
Back to Dust, An Invitation to Big Questions – A Sermon for Oct. 25
Texts: Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Psalm 90:1-6; Matt. 22: 34-40
The writer Christian Wiman includes this provocative little snippet in the story of his conversion: “If that’s what he means,” says the student to the poetry teacher, “why doesn’t he just say it?” “If God is real,” says the parishioner to the preacher, “why doesn’t he simply storm into our lives and convince us?”
Today I’d like you to take my sermon as an invitation, or maybe a provocation, to have big conversations. Some of you might have teenagers in your household. You might not need this. The rest of us, however, are pretty shy about having big conversations.
Continue reading “Back to Dust, An Invitation to Big Questions – A Sermon for Oct. 25”
Gratitude and Disenchantment – A Sermon for Oct. 11
Texts: Psalm 65; Luke 17:11-19
It is hard to be thankful today. But the reasons are not the obvious ones. It is not really because there are various buffoons in positions of power. It is not really because we can’t visit our friends and family. It is not really because we lack the moral strength to say “Thank you.”
The reason it’s hard to be thankful is not because here in the fall of 2020 the world has suddenly become an especially bad place. There is evil in the world, but that is not why it is hard to be thankful. Continue reading “Gratitude and Disenchantment – A Sermon for Oct. 11”
Sorry ____, God is Not on Your Side – A Sermon for Sept. 20
Texts: Jonah 3:10-4:11; Matthew 20:1-16
We can read the book of Jonah like a parable. It’s a bit like the book of Job in this way. Both of these books reference some known people or places, but neither is really intended to relate historical events. Instead, what both Jonah and Job do is present a story as an invitation to think about difficult things. Difficult things being the ways of God with the world and the ways of our hearts with God. Continue reading “Sorry ____, God is Not on Your Side – A Sermon for Sept. 20”
Sermon for Sept. 6 – Debt, Love and Courage
Text: Romans 13: 8-14
I want to use my time today to encourage us to think about two virtues. A virtue is a quality of character. A virtue is an expression of who we are. All of us cultivate virtues over time. And the virtues we cultivate, or the virtues we practice, go a long way in determining how we respond to the things that happen to us. Down through the ages, this language of virtue has been a way for Christians to connect with good people outside the faith. Hope, self-control, justice, bravery, joyfulness, patience—these are virtues our neighbours praise and respect, just as we do.
I want to commend two virtues here: the virtue of love (of course) and the virtue of courage. Let’s do this in conversation with Paul’s words from Romans chapter 13. Continue reading “Sermon for Sept. 6 – Debt, Love and Courage”
Sermon for Sunday, August 16 – “Send her away. She keeps shouting at us.”
Texts for August 16 -Matt. 15: 10-28
Some time ago I came across an essay suggesting that pets introduce us to theology. The basic idea was that we don’t learn about God only from parents or teachers. We learn about God from animals. I forget the name of the theologian who wrote the piece. Before we dismiss the idea, think about this: several early Anabaptist leaders were known for advocating what they called the “gospel of all creatures.” It’s the idea that somehow the good news God displays in the life of Jesus is good news for, well, all creatures. Or consider this: the end of the Gospel of Mark (in what we refer to as the long ending of Mark) Jesus instructs his students to “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” We could add on here a list of saints who affirmed the gospel of all creatures and other biblical passages that show God cares for more than just people. Continue reading “Sermon for Sunday, August 16 – “Send her away. She keeps shouting at us.””
Homily for Sunday, July 26 – Of Fungi and the Kingdom
Texts: Psalm 105:1-11, 45b; Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
I don’t know if there is such a thing as a rock star biologist, but if there is then E.O. Wilson is one. Wilson is retired now. He’s hook-nosed and in his 90s. But he remains one of the world’s leading experts on ants. Wilson spent his career teaching biology at Harvard, doing field research, writing books, and winning a slew of awards. E.O. (or Ed) Wilson is a fierce advocate for protecting and mapping the full diversity of life on earth. Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, July 26 – Of Fungi and the Kingdom”