Introduction to the sermons

Read more about me on the Bio page.

The proclamation, the hearing, and the receiving of God’s Word is a singular phenomenon—it happens once. Even if you give a sermon twice on the same day, each preaching is unique—all those uncountable sets of circumstance and chance, the Holy Spirit.

So you only get one chance, and that can be very frustrating, especially if you’ve been trained as an artist to be a bit of perfectionist.

As an act of humility and transparency, as I grow in this new craft, I want to make public all these sermons I have proclaimed. They are snapshots my development from artist to  spiritual leader and minister of word and sacrament. And portraits, too, of my relationship with God along this often difficult and confusing way.

At the top of each sermon text there is a note about where it was given, and there are also links to the selections from scripture, and sometimes other texts, I am working with.

Mother’s Day is complicated…—May 12, 2019

Acts 9: 36-43
Psalm 23
Revelation 7: 9-17
John 10: 22-30

As I was doing a little research about Mother’s Day this week, and thinking about what it really means to celebrate mothers—I realized it is a very complicated holiday, for both women and men. No one has the same view of motherhood. Mothers and children in our world can experience everything from violence and absence, to love and tenderness.

I’m even a little nervous even to broach the topic. But I do believe our God today speaks a powerful word about both parenting and Mother’s Day.

Continue reading “Mother’s Day is complicated…—May 12, 2019”

“Shamar”—Earth Day, Apr. 28, 2019

Genesis 2:4-17
Acts 5:27-32
John 20:19-31

Sermon delivered at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Perkasie, PA

As I’ve gotten to know you here at St. Andrew’s I’ve grown proud of you. I’m proud because there is a great amount of political diversity here: Left, Center, & Right. And the fact that we can all worship God together—celebrate the transformative resurrection of Christ together in unity—is a sign of the great peace of the Risen Christ and the Holy Spirit among us. Because our national unity is in shambles.

Continue reading ““Shamar”—Earth Day, Apr. 28, 2019″

Walking in Newness of Life—Vigil of Easter, Apr. 20, 2019

Romans 6: 3-11
John 20: 1-18

Sermon delivered at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Perkasie, PA

“So we too might walk in newness of life.”

Paul writes to the church in Rome: we have been buried with [Jesus] by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Our tradition has dutifully taught us that Resurrection means we will wake again on the last day, in heaven, and that all persons will be reunited at the great big supper table on the front porch of eternity. Yes, Amen, may God grant us this mercy.

But John’s Gospel tells us that Mary Magdalene experienced the Resurrection sooner than this last day. She walks in newness of life.

Continue reading “Walking in Newness of Life—Vigil of Easter, Apr. 20, 2019”

Our Mother the Cross—Good Friday, Apr. 19, 2019

Isaiah 42: 10-16
Romans 8: 18-25
Luke 23: 13-47
John 19: 31-37

Sermon delivered at St. Andrew’s United Church of Christ, Perkasie, PA

I have entered a new, awkward age in my life: I’m in between generations. Old enough that all the teenagers and young adults I am pastoring often seem surprisingly and sometimes even distantly young to me. Yet, everyone else at my church, I’m pretty sure, still really wants to call me “kiddo” as they shake my hand after services on Sunday—to them I am very young. So it goes, I guess, being in your thirties: too old for some, still shockingly young for others.

This is all a preamble to say that in the late 1990s I was a teenager. And during those years there was one movie that seemed to be constantly playing on TV. It was on so often that I’ve almost learned it by heart.

And that film was Shawshank Redemption. It’s a pretty powerful film, maybe you know it, with Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. It’s based on a book by Stephen King, which was—fun fact—based, actually, on a novella by Leo Tolstoy.

Continue reading “Our Mother the Cross—Good Friday, Apr. 19, 2019”

Arrows of Mercy—Maundy Thursday, Apr. 18, 2019

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Sermon delivered at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Perkasie, PA

“You’ve got to use your cheek as the anchor!” grumbled the archery teacher a few weeks ago at the Clover Leaf Archery Club. There was 5 teenagers, feet at the line, bow strings pulled back, arrows ready to fly at brightly colored balloons pinned to the targets. Almost at the same time, their fingers released, the arrows swished through the air, and the room echoed with balloons popping.

Continue reading “Arrows of Mercy—Maundy Thursday, Apr. 18, 2019”

Witness the Suffering God—Palm/Passion Sunday, Apr. 14, 2019

Luke 23: 1-56
James Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2017).

Sermon delivered at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Perkasie, PA

As the youth have proclaimed today: Jesus didn’t avoid death. Jesus confronted and experienced pain, suffering and death. God faced it head on in order to blaze a path through it. God loves and yearns for all of God’s creation—starting from the bottom. And the cross of Christ symbolizes this truth most fully, that God has shared our pain. God knows our suffering.

Continue reading “Witness the Suffering God—Palm/Passion Sunday, Apr. 14, 2019”

Beyond Measure, Beyond Price—Apr. 7, 2019

Isaiah 43:16-21
John 12:1-8

Sermon delivered at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Perkasie, PA

Nard—or more specifically spike-nard—was truly precious stuff. It comes from oil in the fibre-covered root-stock of a tall pink flower that grows in the Himalaya and Hindu Kush Mountains. I guess global economy has been around for a while! Because that’s a long walk from Nepal to Israel. (It’s 2900 miles, actually, as the crow flies.) What a fascinating thought that oil harvested from a plant on the mountainous border of China and India anointed the feet of the Son of God.

Continue reading “Beyond Measure, Beyond Price—Apr. 7, 2019”

Isaiah’s Party—Mar. 24, 2019

Isaiah 55:1-9
Luke 13:1-9

Sermon delivered at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Perkasie, PA

Lent is a season of repentance, of acknowledging we must turn away from death-dealing things and move toward life-giving ones. And our readings this morning are blunt on this score. Let’s focus our attention on Isaiah first.

Don’t let these old-fashioned words of this prophet about the “wicked” and the “unrighteous” slip past your ears—because that’s us, folks. Martin Luther liked to say we are both, simultaneously, saints and sinners. But they don’t cancel each other out to some happy medium. Without God I am wicked. I am unrighteous.

We have heard Isaiah tell us that God, to our “souls”—to our emotional, moral and spiritual selves—God is the rich food we need to live, but… do we feel that way? Sin? Eh… I’m fine. I don’t know if we really find God to be such rich food for us. Sometimes, maybe God and church are more like a holy burden than the rich food or the party that Isaiah describes…

Continue reading “Isaiah’s Party—Mar. 24, 2019”

Our Metamorphosis Day—Transfiguration of Our Lord, Mar. 3, 2019

Exodus 34:29-35
2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Luke 9:28-36

Sermon delivered at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Perkasie, PA

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

I like to imagine that these events, according to Luke, took place at night. Walking up this hill—this mountain—at dusk, Jesus stopped and sits on the ground. He begins to pray, silently. The night insects are chirping. Did you hear how Peter, James and John are weighed down with sleep as they pray too? And then Jesus lights up that dusty mountain top… somehow.

Continue reading “Our Metamorphosis Day—Transfiguration of Our Lord, Mar. 3, 2019”

The Beatitudes and the Tree of Life—Feb. 17, 2019

Jeremiah 17:5-10
Psalm 1
1 Corinthians 15:12-20
Luke 6:17-26

Sermon delivered at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Perkasie, PA

Here we are again, at these often heard but challenging words of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. 

People always say, you know, that those violent passages in the Bible are tough, or that the strange genealogies and obscure histories from the Old Testament are hard to understand… But I don’t know if anything is tougher, or any piece of scripture more offensive to us than this one. Nothing will make these words of Jesus easy.

There, on a stretch of level ground, with a great crowd of both foreigners and locals, all kinds of needy human beings all around him, Jesus says: blessed are the poor, the hungry, the weeping, and the hated. Wow.

Continue reading “The Beatitudes and the Tree of Life—Feb. 17, 2019”