Sermons

Third Sunday after Epiphany Matthew 4:12-23

In Matthew’s account of the call of the first disciples, we don’t really learn anything about these four men except that they are fishermen by trade. Their social background would be humble and definitely working class. And we see these men respond immediately to the call of Christ, so immediately that they are willing to abandon their trades and families to follow him. What could be so compelling?Continue Reading

Second Sunday after Epiphany John 1:29-42

What does “Come and see” look like in your life? If Jesus were to “come and see” in your daily living, what would he see? And what do others see in your encounters with one another?

It is possible, even easy, to go through the day without having a single face-to-face exchange. How do we live in relationship to others when our everyday lives are so isolated and all our encounters are at a remove? What would happen if, for one day, we went through the day with a resolution to ensure that every action was face to face? Instead of going through the drive-through ATM, park and go into the bank and speak with the teller. Instead of going through the drive-through at the restaurant and the pharmacy, park and go in. See how many people you encounter. And when they encounter you – what do they see? Do they see someone who is approachable, someone who is friendly, someone they would want to greet? Do they see Christ in you? Or do they see someone who gives off a vibe of “stay away”?Continue Reading

Baptism of our Lord Matthew 3:13-17

Once again we find ourselves in the wilderness, where John is preaching a gospel of repentance. And people are responding to his message, as fiery and apocalyptic as it is. “Turn around,” John is saying, which is what repent means, it means to turn around. Turn around, and the landscape changes. Turn around, and gain a new perspective. Turn around, and suddenly you are on a different path, and nothing will ever be the same, and that’s actually okay, because God is walking with you.Continue Reading

Second Sunday of Christmas John 1:[1-9] 10-18

How was your Christmas? It is a question I have asked and been asked over the last few days. While I understand what is being asked I also hear an underlying assumption that Christmas is over. It is the reason why in at least a few homes the tree has already been taken down, the decorations packed away for another year, and the leftovers thrown out.Continue Reading

Christmas Eve Luke 2:1-14

The right thing to do, the expected response to learning that your betrothed has disgraced your family and hers, is to denounce her publicly so that she might be put to death by stoning.

But Joseph doesn’t do that. Even before he’s heard from the angel, he doesn’t do that. Already, he has resolved to divorce her quietly. How often does it happen that someone with every right to exercise revenge chooses the path of forgiveness, the path of life? He is responding to the call of something deeply countercultural; he’s willing to put his own reputation and his own masculinity on the line. He is demonstrating the courage and wisdom that comes from true love.Continue Reading

Fourth Sunday in Advent Matthew 1:18-25

The right thing to do, the expected response to learning that your betrothed has disgraced your family and hers, is to denounce her publicly so that she might be put to death by stoning.

But Joseph doesn’t do that. Even before he’s heard from the angel, he doesn’t do that. Already, he has resolved to divorce her quietly. How often does it happen that someone with every right to exercise revenge chooses the path of forgiveness, the path of life? He is responding to the call of something deeply countercultural; he’s willing to put his own reputation and his own masculinity on the line. He is demonstrating the courage and wisdom that comes from true love.Continue Reading

Third Sunday in Advent Matthew 3:1-12

Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another? Barbara Brown Taylor writes that that has to be one of the most haunting questions in all of scripture, especially when you consider who is asking it. It is John the Baptist.

What has happened to John that he should ask such a question? Has his memory been erased? Has someone brainwashed him? What has made him question the identity of the one person he has been waiting for all his life? He’s in jail, for one thing, put there for disapproving of Herod’s marriage to his brother’s wife. Nothing has gone the way it was supposed to.Continue Reading

Second Sunday in Advent Matthew 3:1-12

One of my favorite parts of this time of year is watching the classic 1946 movie It’s a Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart as the faithful George Bailey. At one point in the film, an employee loses a large sum of money and George is at risk of going to prison and losing everything – his job, his family, and his reputation. Having been told he is worth more dead than alive, George jumps from a bridge into a roaring river, in theory aiming to end his own life. The irony, of course, is that even in this last desperate act, he is thinking of others: He jumps into the river to save Clarence, his guardian angel. Even at the last, he is willing to sacrifice his own life for someone else. That is truly bearing fruit worthy of repentance.Continue Reading

First Sunday in Advent Matthew 24:36-44

The one who is coming into the world, in this, the first coming, has more immediacy than those of us who are already in the world. We are nearer to the brink, even if we don’t know it. In Advent, we await what will bind together the helpless and the powerful, what will find their meaning. We await the second coming, whenever that might be; we await the coherence of the new kingdom. And how do we live in the waiting?Continue Reading

Christ the King Luke 23:33-43

The leaders scoffed at him. The soldiers mocked him. One of the criminals hanging next to him derided him. This is no ordinary way to treat a king. But Jesus is no ordinary king. To begin with, he never claims his kingship. He never calls himself a king and evades the question when others try to pin that title on him. He never demands obedience, only inviting others to follow him. He never promises favors and an easy life to those around him, only challenges and even danger. What kind of king is this?Continue Reading