Is God a Frozen Food? Trinity Sunday—Jun. 11, 2017

Genesis 1:1-2:4a2
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Matthew 28:16-20

Sermon delivered at Ballard First Lutheran Church, Seattle, WA

Is God a frozen food? Think about it, is God a frozen food.

You know, every Sunday we gather here to celebrate God. We read aloud the stories about what God has done, and then, in a strange miracle, we believe God comes to us in bread and wine.

Every Sunday is about God. I mean, every day is about God, right?

But Sundays—in our tradition—we make it a “thing.” So, there is a temptation here.

And that is to experience God as only a Sunday-word.

Does God stay put all week long, unmoving, unchanging, until you need something? God as a frozen food means God keeps really well. Is God the frozen pizza you take out when you’re in a pinch—when you don’t have time to make dinner? Or a faceless concept you manage to believe in half the time, but it helps if you see a pretty sunset or a big mountain?

Continue reading “Is God a Frozen Food? Trinity Sunday—Jun. 11, 2017”

Just a Cup of Cold Water—Jul. 2, 2017

Matthew 10:40-42

Sermon delivered at Ballard First Lutheran Church, Seattle, WA

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

Did you catch that little detail about a cup of cold water? Do you know why a cup of cold water matters? Well, you’ve got no fridge in the year 35. And Israel-Palestine is not a particularly cold part of the globe. Remember, you’d walk a ways to get to your community water-well. You’d have to let your bucket sink awfully deep to get some of that cold water. And you’d have to carry that jug pretty quickly back to your house, for it to stay cold.

Continue reading “Just a Cup of Cold Water—Jul. 2, 2017”

What Is It Then Between Us?—May 21, 2017

John 14:15-21
“Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” by Walt Whitman

Sermon delivered at Ballard First Lutheran Church, Seattle, WA

His disciples seemed to sense that something was up.

Jesus had told his friends, in so many words, that he was leaving. He didn’t say dying, or crucified, or anything like that. Just that he was going somewhere his friends couldn’t follow, and that his presence among his disciples was going to change.

So, of course, before today’s Gospel, Peter would ask, “Lord, where are you going?”

Continue reading “What Is It Then Between Us?—May 21, 2017”

Of Persons: Extraordinary, Remarkable, To Be Far Superior—May 7, 2017

Acts 2:42-47
John 10:1-10

Sermon delivered at Lakeridge Lutheran Church, Renton, WA

Do you know what a “lexicon” is?

Well, seminary-intern—desperate pastor-in-training—that I am, as I tried to prepare this sermon for today I was digging around in a lot of dictionaries and lexicons. Actually—to be honest— I was clicking around in a lot of online dictionaries and lexicons.

You all might know this—but in recent years it was revealed to me: our New Testament was written in an old form of Greek. The most widely spoken language in both the Roman Empire, and the land around Jerusalem etc. where Jesus was hanging out.

And there wasn’t Greek dictionaries back then. In fact, dictionaries weren’t invented until like the 17-hundreds.

So how do we know what words meant? Well, that’s where a lexicon comes in. It is a big old book—or now, website—that keeps track of every single use of a word in ancient texts, and then, through context, basically guesses at a group of meanings.

So, long story short, I was looking up the words in Jesus’ last sentence in our Gospel reading. “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” I was really curious about the words “life” (ζωὴν) and “abundantly” (περισσὸν).

Continue reading “Of Persons: Extraordinary, Remarkable, To Be Far Superior—May 7, 2017”

Everything is Political—Apr. 23, 2017

John 20:19-31

Sermon delivered at Northlake Lutheran Church, Kenmore, WA

These last few verses are like an explanation of the whole gospel book.

These “signs,” John says, were written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. And, through believing, you may have life. Signs are kind of like pictures in some ways, right? Pictures and images that point to a deeper meaning.

There is a lot to this gospel lesson from John. So much is happening! It’s full of signs, or, in another word, you could say it’s full of portraits. Portraits of belief, and portraits of Jesus the Son of God. Pictures of our political world, and images of what it means to be the Church.

Continue reading “Everything is Political—Apr. 23, 2017”

Ritual as Invitation—Maundy Thursday, Apr. 13, 2017

Exodus 12:1-4, 11-14
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Sermon delivered at Ballard First Lutheran Church, Seattle, WA

Signs and symbols.

You’ll find so many inside this space.

Crosses, doves, intentional colors and fabrics, windows, arches.

If you’ve grown up inside churches you might know what some of them signify, or they might all be a mystery still. Here, in this space, we are among an ancient treasury of signs and symbols.

Continue reading “Ritual as Invitation—Maundy Thursday, Apr. 13, 2017”

God Knows How Hard It Is…—Apr. 5, 2017

1 Kings 21:1-16
Philippians 2:1-8
Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now, by Walter Brueggemann

Sermon delivered at Ballard First Lutheran Church.

This evening I’m going to try to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. So, I might sound more teachy, [ha] than preachy, but bear with me as we move through this kinda dense material.

This will be a sermon in 5 parts [wink].

Continue reading “God Knows How Hard It Is…—Apr. 5, 2017”

Are You Dead Inside?—Apr. 4, 2017

John 11:1-45

Sermon delivered at Ballard First Lutheran Church, Seattle, WA

This is a very long, and intense gospel reading. And at the risk of not doing my preacherly duty, because this gospel is so dense I have prepared a short message. I want to invite you to identify with an unsual character in today’s gospel. This morning, you’re not Mary and Martha the grieving sisters. You’re not the disciples following Jesus to Judea. You’re not the religious authorities who are terrified of Jesus’ power. You’re not the crowd of witnesses watching. You’re not even Lazarus, the dead man!

What if you were the tomb itself?

Continue reading “Are You Dead Inside?—Apr. 4, 2017”

Casting Out Institutional Demons—Mar. 26, 2017

Matthew 17:14-20
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s sermon, Answer to a Perplexing Question

Sermon delivered at The Columbia City Church of Hope, Seattle, WA

We have heard the story of a man’s son.

Matthew doesn’t tell us if he’s a young child—or if he’s a young man. We know only that his father is pleading on his behalf. He is stricken with—our translators tell us—epilepsy.

When Matthew tells us that he is thrown down into the water and into the fire, we might imagine him stricken with seizures. When our ears hear this word, epilepsy, we know he suffers from a neurological disorder. An illness that with some attention and the right medication could easily be abated.

Continue reading “Casting Out Institutional Demons—Mar. 26, 2017”

We Are Nicodemus—Mar. 12, 2017

John 3:1-17

Sermon delivered at Ballard First Lutheran Church, Seattle, WA

Nicodemus isn’t the slime-ball that tradition says he is.

I reject the idea that he’s is this jerk who comes to interrogate Jesus at night, and who gets everything wrong.

Why should he be so maligned and looked down upon, when, I know, you’all remember that even the disciples ended up deserting Jesus—they ended up unbelievers in Jesus’ fantastic claims about himself and his resurrection. If they had believed, surely they wouldn’t have scattered in fear at Jesus’ arrest? Surely, Peter, Jesus’ best student, wouldn’t have denied him three times, if they all were believers, right?

So I throw out this tradition of throwing out Nicodemus.

Continue reading “We Are Nicodemus—Mar. 12, 2017”