God’s Gift of Breath—Wed. Evening Prayer

Reflection offered via livestream from my home in Philadelphia, PA

Psalm 104: 24-34, 35b
John 20: 19-23

Above is a casual reflection about the God’s breath—God’s Spirit—in our world, how it gives us life, and it also gives life to the Church. As the Church we attribute our very lives, and all faith, hope, and love and many other wonderful things, not to ourselves and our own doing, but to the generousness—the grace—of God.

Testify to God’s New Things—Pentecost

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

Acts 2:1-21
Psalm 104:24-35
Romans 8:22-27
John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

As B., who is to receive his First Communion this morning, and his mother and I were learning about the Eucharist meal together, I so worried that the stories of Jesus we were reading about all the meals he shared with the his followers, with sinners, with Mr. Zaccheus, with his disciples on the night he was to die, were so far away. I worried they felt hopelessly distant for B.

As the space of time between the present and the days of Jesus get longer and longer… It is so easy to experience the Church as “old.” For many, instead of the new and renewing source of vitality it is there comes the real feeling that the Church is an old thing, desperately preserving delicate and boring and antiquated traditions. There is a sense that we are out-of-sync—obsolete.

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Abide in Christ’s Mothering Love

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

Acts 10:44-48
1 John 5:1-6
John 15:9-17

These past several Sundays we’ve been hanging out in a very puzzling part of the Gospel of John. Lots of metaphors Jesus is dealing out in a long speech—Shepherds and Vines; language of love and loving; God is in Jesus, Jesus is in us. It’s a lot that Jesus is explaining to his disciples as they sit down to the Last Supper, on the night he is to be handed over and crucified. Jesus is explaining to them who Christ is, who God is, and who they the disciples, and we the Church, are, what our commandments are. It’s a lot!

So as we celebrate Mother’s Day today let’s just focus on one word. It’s in both our lesson from Acts and our Gospel lesson. It is “Abide.” In Acts the same word is translated as “stay,” as in—the newly baptized Gentiles invited Peter to stay. To remain, to make a home, to dwell, and also to be still—all the same Greek word, “abide.”

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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

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?

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