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 shot, 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.

Real, Tangible, Simple—Oct. 6, 2019

Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4
2 Timothy 1:1-14
Luke 17:5-10

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

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Source and our Brother, Christ Jesus. Amen.

This past week I was at a leadership training for pastors, at a place called Crossroads Camp in Port Murray, New Jersey, about 40 miles northeast of here. And at one point, the facilitators put up three sheets of paper around the room. Given markers I and about 12 other pastors were silently asked to write some things down. On one sheet we wrote down where we experienced unfairness and oppression in our lives or ministries. On another, where we experienced privilege, and last, what would a better world look like.

Continue reading “Real, Tangible, Simple—Oct. 6, 2019”

This world is enough for Jesus—Sep. 29, 2019

Amos 6:1a, 4-7
Psalm 146
1 Timothy 6:6-19
Luke 16:19-31

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

Today is one of those Sundays when all our readings, together, give us one big and blended image of God. And, despite the images of fire and the word “Hades” in the Gospel, despite how nervous talking about money makes us, I think this image of God is one of love, and fairness, and justice—and then more love.

To begin with, it’s important to remember that today is Sunday. Sunday is a mini-Easter. Every Sunday the reason we drag ourselves out of bed, is because Jesus dragged himself out of the tomb. Today, regardless of how condemning and uncomfortable our Bible readings are, we declare by standing up and singing: that death no longer is in control.

As the Church we confess that Christ has swallowed up all sin and death, Christ has gone before our selfishness. He’s gone before our bad habits, to the horror of the cross. It’s done.

So the scenario from Luke’s Gospel is not a prediction, or a sketch of a real post-death scenario of an actual selfish person. It is a parable, for us, to teach us what reality and God are actually like.

Continue reading “This world is enough for Jesus—Sep. 29, 2019”

The road, the path, the way—Sep. 8, 2019

Deuteronomy 30: 15-20
Psalm 1
Luke 14: 25-33

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

These are hard and heavy words we hear from Scripture this morning. Jesus’ words seem not only impossible—to give up all our possessions, but to hate—literally to “love-less”—our beloved family members, this is completely counter-cultural. As individuals and a culture we stand accused by these words. How can we ever be disciples then? How can we ever walk the road Jesus laid out before us?

Continue reading “The road, the path, the way—Sep. 8, 2019”

Unshakeable Rest—Aug. 25, 2019

Isaiah 58:9b-14
Hebrews 12:18-29
Luke 13:10-17

A woman is bent over and bound up for 18 years—a woman who can’t see straight, can’t work, can’t sleep, certainly can’t rest. And Jesus heals her horrible ailment.

In the words of Luke, anything that goes contrary to God’s plans for us, get’s ascribed to Satan. “Satan” is a peculiar Hebrew concept. It means the accuser, the tester, the cross-examiner—it’s all those things that bind us, and break us. It’s not some guy in red pajamas, but it’s the forces of sin that we cannot resist.

Isaiah pinpoints the forces of sin too when he talks about the tendency for humanity to “trample the Sabbath,” to deface something so dear to God, like Sabbath rest. As individuals, as a culture, these forces still make us crooked and unable to stand up straight. To use the exact words of Isaiah: Don’t we still point the finger and speak evil? Do we offer food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted? Or do we pursue our own interests and our own affairs on God’s holy day?

Sabbath is about a deep concept called rest. Not about rules and regulations, per se. Biblical “rest” is about restoring justice and wholeness to God’s creation. So, obviously, our Old Testament reading from Isaiah and our Gospel from Luke are pretty clearly about the Sabbath. But I have a sneaking suspicion this morning that our reading, both this Sunday and last Sunday, from the Book of Hebrews hasn’t made too much sense at all. With images of blazing fire and the blood of Abel—what is this book Hebrews talking about?

Continue reading “Unshakeable Rest—Aug. 25, 2019”

The Outrageous Claim—Jul. 7, 2019

Isaiah 66:10-14
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

A mother can give her child milk to drink, but our precious mother, Jesus, can feed us with himself. God does so most courteously and most tenderly, with the Blessed Sacraments, which is the precious food of true life. With the sweet sacraments he sustains us most mercifully and graciously. That is what he meant in these blessed words, where he said, “I am that which holy Church preaches and teaches you,” that is to say, “All the health and life of the sacraments, all the virtue and grace of my word, all the goodness that is ordained for you in holy Church, that I am.”

[Then] God showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally this way, ‘It is all that is made.’ I marveled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God. In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that God loves it. And the third, that God keeps it.

Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love [14th century]

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

This summer we are doing a little experimenting with worship—trying some new things out. And so Pastor Krey has very wisely selected these two beautiful paragraphs from Julian of Norwich, a nun from the 14th century in England.

She uses a very unusual image to illustrate creation. In the palm of her hand, she says she saw creation the size of a hazelnut—just a little thing. And though all of the universe, in its billions of light years of width and depth, might seem like an impossibly large thing to us… if we stretch our imaginations, like Julian of Norwich has asked her readers to do, to God, all that has ever existed is just like a little nut. And as Julian says, seeing it resting there, “I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness.”

Continue reading “The Outrageous Claim—Jul. 7, 2019”

“For freedom Christ has set us free”—Jun. 30, 2019

1 Kings 19: 15-16, 19-21
Galatians 5: 1, 13-25
Luke 9: 51-62

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

The words of Jesus seem harsh. The words from the Old Testament are just as hard too. Maybe not the kind of Gospel lesson you would like to hear right before you sit down to brunch with your family, and your Church family! In both, a leader calls a follower, and the follower hesitates. The picture here is about turning the corner in life and making a clean break.

Elijah from the book of Kings was a big deal kind of prophet, a person that spoke on God’s behalf. He was from the time when the people of God were split apart, when the kings were selfish, and they ignored God’s pleas for spiritual purity and caring for those in need.

Just before our reading from the Hebrew Scriptures today, Elijah was on the run. Elijah had just enraged the king and queen, by proving how powerful God was, and showing these leaders to be corrupt. Elijah was on the run for 40 days and nights because of this, and found himself in a cave on the very same mountain, where tradition tells us that Moses received the 10 commandments. Here in this cave God finds Elijah, and God says, in so many words, “Hey Elijah, what’re you doing?”

Continue reading ““For freedom Christ has set us free”—Jun. 30, 2019″

National Demons—Jun. 23, 2019

Isaiah 65:1-9
Galatians 3:23-29
Luke 8:26-39

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

It seems to me, demon possession is not a topic we like to talk about seriously anymore. At least not in our culture, here in this Eastern part of the United States in 2019. Still, demons do capture our culture’s imagination. There certainly still are tons of scary movies about demons.

And, really, what is more captivating, too, than the story from Luke this morning, with demons that are cast out into a herd of pigs and who go and drown themselves in a lake! When the 4th, 5th, & 6th graders got to this story in the winter months here in Sunday School—you bet there were lots of imaginative drawings of pink piggies taking dramatic dives into blue crayon waters.

Continue reading “National Demons—Jun. 23, 2019”

Not “Out,” Not “Up”—Day of Pentecost, Jun. 9, 2019

Acts 2: 1-21
Psalm 104: 24-34
Romans 8: 14-17
John 14: 8-17

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

I’m sure you all have, at one time or another, believed in God. At some point in your life you had an encounter with God, whether ordinary or extraordinary, and that’s why you’re here in church this morning. But, to be realistic, doesn’t the intensity of our beliefs sometimes come and go?

And maybe, if you were like me as a young person, sometimes you kinda half-believed in God. And part of that half-belief was that God was all the way “up there.” And we, well, we’re just “down here.”

Continue reading “Not “Out,” Not “Up”—Day of Pentecost, Jun. 9, 2019″

Found & Saved—First Holy Communion & Memorial Day, May 26, 2019

Acts 16:9-15
John 14:23-29

Sermon delivered at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Perkasie, PA & the Lutheran Community at Telford, Telford, PA

Grace and peace to you from God, our Source, and our Brother and Lord Jesus Christ.

As Pastor Krey, I’m sure, knows well: a big part of being your pastor is going out and being in your community. Pastor Krey is always out making visits with new members (apparently 500 since he’s been with you)! And we both like to have meetings in public places, to let people know we are here and unashamed of God’s call upon us. And just this week, as you might have seen on Facebook,  Jenna Detweiler and I were in Harrisburg with lots of other people of faith talking to our state Senators about what they can do to help end hunger and food insecurity in PA.

When Pastor Krey and I do all this public stuff, it’s a kind of evangelism. He and I both are kinda traditional in many ways, and in public we very often wear our clerical collars. In doing this, we are sharing that our relationships with Christ stirs us to action, to be public figures of hope and peace and justice.

But people have all kinds of reactions to us and these symbols of God and the Church. And these reactions run the whole gamut, from folks who’ve been hurt by the Church with very angry words, to great kindness and generosity, even free stuff for Pastor Krey over at The Perk!

So, most recently, I was out running an errand with my collar on. And an older gentleman eyed me, and said, “You look like you know the Lord.” Taken aback a little I said, “Yes, well, I guess I do!”

Continue reading “Found & Saved—First Holy Communion & Memorial Day, May 26, 2019”

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”