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.

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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].

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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?

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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.

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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.

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Evil & Transaction—Feb. 19, 2017

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
Matthew 5:38-48

Sermon delivered at Ballard First Lutheran Church, Seattle, WA

Looking closely at these two readings from Scripture, Leviticus and Matthew, you might notice that all these commands are about transactions. Transactions & exchanges. In Leviticus, we have Moses giving the Hebrew people, freshly freed from their slavery in Egypt, a new code to live by. When Moses says, “be holy like God is holy,” he means, “Be a set apart people, be a special people that reflects the mercy of God; the ways of God.” These laws are to say, “Here’s how.”

Listen to all the verbs in our lesson. You shall not steal or deal falsely or lie. You shall not defraud or keep for yourself. You shall not slander or profit by blood. God’s law for this Hebrew people demands fairness and honesty— quality of exchange.
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X-File God Communiqué?—Jan. 29, 2017

Matthew 5:1-12

Sermon delivered at Ballard First Lutheran Church, Seattle, WA

Good morning!

[Something about Netflix, great thing: you can watch old shows. Maddy (my wife) and I like to watch that show the X-Files.]

Anybody remember it? Anybody watch it?

[Probably not, like uh..]

It first aired in the 90s, and had pretty long run of about 9 seasons. It’s generally a sort of spooky show, about two very flawed but lovable FBI agents, whose task it becomes to investigate crimes—often violent crimes—that defy scientific explanation. Crimes and cases that the FBI deems unsolvable, and are labeled as “X-Files.”

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Mouth like a Sharp Sword—MLK Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017

John 1:29-42
Isaiah 49:1-7

Sermon delivered at Peace Lutheran Church, West Seattle, WA &
Church of the Apostles, Seattle, WA

The LORD made my mouth like a sharp sword.

I can’t get this phrase from Isaiah out of my head. As I was writing about this scene from the Gospel of John today, where Jesus is introduced to the world; where his identity as the Son of God is announced; where his ministry begins…

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The Story is Always There—Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2016

Luke 2:1-20

Sermon delivered at Ballard First Lutheran Church, Seattle, WA

Once again, as a church, as families, as individuals we have returned to this Christmas story: the Christmas story this year according to Luke. A story that I’m sure you all know by heart. A story you’ve heard for 15 years, 25 years, 40, 60, 70 years, or even more.

Today we say together that Jesus Christ is born. And we listen today to the proclamation that God is here in the flesh.

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Prophetic waiting—Dec. 11, 2016

Isaiah 35:1-10
James 5:7-10
Matthew 11:2-11

Sermon delivered at Ballard First Lutheran Church, Seattle, WA

The prophet Isaiah says: “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad… The eyes of the blind shall be opened… sorrow and sighing shall flee away…”

Almost every statement in this prophecy is about the future.

What if we take this beautiful, hopeful vision and turn it around? If everything is future tense, that certainly implies that this lesson from Isaiah is the collective vision of a yearning people. Where were they, in relation to his vision?

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