Introduction to Sermons

I’m happy to present these written (and sometimes video recorded) sermons! I believe that God speaks to us not only through the bible, but also through preaching, teaching and song. As a preacher I pray I could become a door only for the Holy Spirit in these brief messages about the transforming power of Christ’s love, presence and forgiveness. If nothing else, they are portraits of my own relationship with God along the confusing yet rewarding road of pastoral ministry.

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

In a post-pandemic world, there are now videos and full live-streams of our services from my congregation St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Perkasie, PA. Facebook doesn’t allow embedded videos on WordPress anymore so watch the YouTube if there is one, or follow the bolded link to see the videos.

Read more about me here.

Shepherd Us through Both Good and Bad—Wed. Evening Prayer

Reflection delivered via Zoom from my home in Philadelphia, PA

Psalm 95
Mark 14: 26-31

For our Wednesday Evening Prayer during the season of Easter (between Easter Sunday and Pentecost) we are offering reflections on the topic of Resurrection. Above is a casual reflection about the image of God and Christ as our Good Shepherd and how it is easy to forget and distrust that God guides us and goes ahead of us through all difficulty, even death.

We are God’s Name—Good Shepherd Sunday

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

Psalm 23
1 John 3:16-24
John 10:11-18

This Sunday our worship service at St. Andrew’s was created in a collaboration between all the churches in the neighboring region (the Upper Bucks Conference, of our Southeastern PA Synod of the ELCA). My very short reflection was plunked in the middle as an added bonus for folks from our congregation.

Pastor Krey and I again want to thank all the churches and leaders who had a hand in creating this wonderful offering, this beautiful service we have been worshipping along with. I especially want to thank Pastor Erica Wesch, the Dean of our Upper Bucks Conference of congregations, as well as Pastor Heidi Rodrick-Schnaath who lovingly stitched this video together. 

I just wanted to give you all, here at St. Andrew’s, a tiny personalized message this morning. Pastor Erica, and her conversation partner Royal, did a lovely job of bringing to life the images in our Scripture readings: God in Christ is indeed our shepherd, who loves and cares for us, who gives so completely of himself for us, his flock.

But there was a line in our Psalm this morning that caught my attention, “He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.” Or for you traditionalists, who prefer Psalm 23 in the Elizabethan language of the King James Version, “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

This verse is a wonderful summary of the love of God, shown to us in Christ. God leads us, like a shepherd leads a flock, out into good pasture. But why, ultimately, does God lead us?

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Intimate and Ironic Encounters—Second Sunday of Easter

Sermon delivered at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Perkasie, PA. We gave our livestream crew this Sunday off, so no video! Please check out the manuscript below.

John 20:19-31

If the Gospel of John is anything, it is a book of encounters with Jesus. Human beings of different genders, different social classes and ethnicities, people of all kinds, bumping against Jesus. And when they bump against him they don’t know who he is at first.

So, if the Gospel of John has a flavor, a style—then, it is irony. Irony, of course, is the situation, in movies or in life, when the full significance of someone’s words or actions are clear to the audience or others, but unknown to them. That’s kind of abstract, so some examples:

What makes the famous Who’s-on-First bit by Abbott and Costello so funny? We begin to realize that the baseball players’ names are ironically the same as the words “who” and “what,” but the character does not.

What makes the death scene in Romeo and Juliet so sad? We know that Juliet drank only a sleeping potion in the tomb at the end, but Romeo thought it was poison, thought she was dead and killed himself. That is irony.

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Lead Us Through, O Lord—Palm Sunday

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

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Mark 11:1-11

Well, good morning! It is unusual to be preaching to human beings in person! A little overwhelming for me, such a familiar thing to be doing, but to be doing after such a long stretch away… I’m sure being here feels familiar yet different. It can be overwhelming to just do something so ordinary after such a long time. I welcome you to experience those feelings, it’s not always just joy, especially after returning after such a traumatic year.

You know, as we’ve been talking about this pandemic, as we’ve been journeying together, I have heard lots of folks say lots of things about this COVID pandemic we are still struggling with. But the most common is either we will get “through” this, or we will get “over” this. Basically the same. But it makes all the difference in the world, especially to us  as followers of Jesus

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The Privilege of Prayer—Fifth Sunday in Lent

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

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Hebrews 5:5-10
John 12:20-33

Grace and peace to you from God our source and our brother Jesus Chirst. Amen.

As I’m sure you’ve all already seen on cable news, or on your smartphones, there was a disgraceful slaying of 7 women and 1 man down in the Atlanta-area. A “Christian” man said he wanted to rid himself of sexual temptation, so he shot and killed 6 women of Korean and Chinese descent, who were employed in massage parlors he had visited.

Where to start in this tragic stew of ignorance, hatred and intolerance towards women, Asian women, and the complexities of sexuality in our culture? What do we do in response? Shocked and maybe feeling powerless, what do we do in response as Christians?

Continue reading “The Privilege of Prayer—Fifth Sunday in Lent”

Be Salty!—Lenten Wednesday Evening Prayer

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

Genesis 1:26-31
Matthew 5:13-16

[Apologies for the loss of audio in the first minute or so of my reflection! Hang in there.]

What are your favorite foods? Whatever they are, I’m sure they are your favorites because they taste good!

In Genesis God says, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.” And further, Genesis says about God: “God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good.”

And Jesus too speaks of taste, of tongues, of the importance of savoriness. “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” Here Jesus invites us deeper, however, than just taste. Now we are the salt, we are the ingredient that makes creation taste good.

Growing up I think I got the impression that good things, that joy, was somehow a contradiction to God. God was a dour judge. And Jesus was too busy to enjoy anything.

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Glad and Generous Hearts—Lenten Wednesday Evening Prayer

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Exodus 16: 4-12
Acts 2:41-47

From the book of Exodus we’ve got a wilderness story, after the people’s liberation from slavery. Eating, here, becomes a reminder both of the people’s impatience, of their complaining, but also of God’s great mercy and forbearance. Eating is a direct link to God for these people in the wilderness. It is God alone that stands between them and starvation. This story makes it as clear as possible: the bread literally falls down from heaven.

Continue reading “Glad and Generous Hearts—Lenten Wednesday Evening Prayer”