“If you remember nothing else…” – April 19, 2015

Narrative Lectionary Reading:  Acts 10:1-17, 34-35

Note:  On this day a child was baptized and three youth were Confirmed!

 

On this day that is filled with invocations of the Holy Spirit, a day of water and promises, there is perhaps not a sentence we need to hear more than this:  “I truly understand that God shows no partiality.”  What an amazing admission of heavenly plenty!  The only thing that mars the moment is the immediately following phrase, “but in every nation everyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him,” because that phrase neatly feeds our sinful need to break up peoples into categories of clean and unclean, acceptable and unacceptable.  Because isn’t that really the way many folks read this?  That those who do NOT fear God and do NOT do what is right are unacceptable to God?  Continue reading

“The Symphony of Easter” – April 5, 2015 (Easter Sunday)

Narrative Lectionary Reading:  Matthew 28:1-10

 

You can say this for Matthew:  he has a flair for the dramatic.  More so than in the versions of today’s story we get in Mark, Luke, and John, Matthew’s tale of the resurrection of Jesus is accompanied by fireworks, figuratively speaking.  It’s like the Fourth of July, the end of game seven of the World Series, or the lighting of the Olympic Torch.  It’s a giant, flashing, neon sign in the sky proclaiming with capital letters that this is a Big Deal and we should pay attention!  But I like to think of it more like the ending movements of a dramatic symphony, that blares at us, “Sit up and pay attention!” Continue reading

“A Table in the Presence of My Enemy” – Maundy Thursday (April 2, 2015)

Narrative Lectionary Reading:  Matthew 26:17-30   

 

Exodus 12:14 says, “This day shall be a day of remembrance for you.  You shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.”  That day is the Passover, the culminating event in God’s duel with Pharaoh in which God passed through the entire land of Egypt and struck dead the firstborn of every human and every animal.  This was, in part, to avenge the deaths of Israel’s firstborn, told at the beginning of the Moses cycle of stories, but also to demonstrate God’s superiority over Pharaoh and the gods of the Egyptian cult.  That celebration, then, becomes an annual observance of God’s decisive action against Israel’s oppressors and the freedom it won for Egypt’s slave class. Continue reading

“Just When Things Were Going Well…” – March 29, 2015 (Palm/Passion Sunday)

Narrative Lectionary Reading – Matthew 21:1-13

 

Some years ago, a woman named Kellie Lee was pregnant and only days away from giving birth.  She and her husband Danny already had one daughter, Amanda, and were eagerly anticipating the birth of their second daughter.  It was hard to imagine life getting any better.  Danny even had a great job working as a roadie for high-profile bands; as the birth approached he was on the road with the Backstreet Boys.  Thankfully, he was given leave to fly home to his family so that he could be present for the birth.  However, the day of his flight was September 11, 2001, and Danny died when his plane was flown into the World Trade Center.  Continue reading

“Let It Go!” – March 25, 2015 (Lenten Lunch sermon)

Preached at First United Methodist Church as part of the annual Lenten Lunches, sponsored by First United Methodist Church, Grace Episcopal Church, the Federated Church, and St. Luke’s United Church of Christ.

Scripture:  Matthew 6:24-34

 

It’s a mystery to me how I could preach last in these Lenten lunches and find that no one else made any reference whatsoever to the 2013 Disney megahit Frozen and its popular anthem, “Let It Go”.  Then again, maybe they just took the song’s advice to heart and let go of any impulse to go there.  Clearly, I have failed to let it go, so as the weather continues to warm up we’ll spend some time with Frozen—but first, some Matthew. Continue reading

Sermon – “When you need to cross a troll-guarded bridge, who are you going to call?” – March 22, 2015

Narrative Lectionary Reading – Matthew 25:31-46

 

For the season of Lent, the framers of the Narrative Lectionary keep handing us tough parable after tough parable, and frankly, I’m tired of it!  I’m weary of Jesus talking about “outer darkness” and people getting sent to Hell.  I’m exhausted with all these tales of people getting punished, imprisoned, and killed.  I want Easter to come, NOW, so I can preach about the Risen Christ and Mary Magdalene and the open tomb—but I can’t, not yet, because we have another tough one today, and in some ways it’s the toughest of the bunch. Continue reading

Sermon – “Wait for It” – March 15, 2015

Narrative Lectionary Reading:  Matthew 25:1-13 (Parable of the Bridesmaids)

 

Waiting’s tough, especially when you don’t how long you have to wait.  I remember when I was young, how hard it was, waiting each month for the new copy of Fantastic Four or Amazing Spider-Man to arrive in the mail.  I remember having to wait days and weeks in anticipation of our annual, summer trip to grandma and grandpa’s cabin.  I remember waiting for Christmas to arrive, and wondering what Santa Claus was going to bring us that year.  As a young child, so focused on the thing to come, the waiting was always difficult.  Continue reading