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.
Continue reading “Evil & Transaction—Feb. 19, 2017”

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.”

Continue reading “X-File God Communiqué?—Jan. 29, 2017”

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…

Continue reading “Mouth like a Sharp Sword—MLK Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017”

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.

Continue reading “The Story is Always There—Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2016”

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?

Continue reading “Prophetic waiting—Dec. 11, 2016”

Lead Us Not Into Temptation—Post-Election, Nov. 13, 2016

Malachi 4:1-2a
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
Luke 21:5-19

Sermon delivered at Ballard First Lutheran Church, Seattle, WA

Grace and Peace to you brothers and sisters.

It’s a little ironic to me this morning that soon, before we share a little bread and wine together in Communion, we will all pray in unison the Lord’s Prayer. You know, the “Our Father,”—“the prayer Jesus’ taught us…”

It’s poignant for me, because in that prayer—in this newest translation that you say here at Ballard First Lutheran—we will all pray, “Save us from the time of trial.”

Save us from the test,” it might say.

Continue reading “Lead Us Not Into Temptation—Post-Election, Nov. 13, 2016”

God IN the World, God AND the World—Nov. 6, 2016

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18
Ephesians 1:11-23
Luke 6:20-31

Sermon delivered at Peace Lutheran Church, Puyallup, WA

Grace and Peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord Jesus Christ.

As I was gathering my thoughts to speak with you today I was thinking about who I should tell you that I am.

Well, my name is Joshua Sullivan, I am a Christian. I am also a candidate for ordination in the ELCA, in the Lutheran church, the same denomination as Peace Lutheran here in Puyallup. So, therefore, I’m a student. Specifically, I’m an intern at Ballard First Lutheran in Seattle and an intern at a non-profit organization called the Faith Action Network of Washington.

Continue reading “God IN the World, God AND the World—Nov. 6, 2016”

Whose choice to chose?—Sept. 4, 2016

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Philemon 1:1-21
Luke 14:25-33

Sermon delivered at Ballard First Lutheran Church, Seattle, WA

Good Morning!

Maddy and I would like to thank you for your awesomely warm welcome, especially the flowers and the lovely care package we found in our apartment. We’ve been venturing out to different spots and using the gift cards, and really beginning to settle in here. So thank you, again.

And thinking about welcome, and being preaching for the first time. You know, everyone, my urge climbing up here having shaken all of your hands, having received your warm welcome—the urge is to do everything perfectly right, and to please all of you! And to hit this sermon out of the park.

But reading about Jesus wanting us to hate our families and renounce possessions, the honest truth is that these three readings really confuse me, they’re upsetting and more than a little confounding.

Continue reading “Whose choice to chose?—Sept. 4, 2016”

Not “because” of you, but “through” you—Trinity Sunday, May 22, 2016

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Romans 5:1-5
John 16:12-15

Sermon delivered at Bethany Lutheran Church, Cromwell, CT
Listen to an audio recording of the sermon.

Good morning!

Yes, it’s very strange to be up here. But here I am! And Pastor Paul has given me the wonderfully easy job of greeting you my home congregation, of thanking you, of saying goodbye to you, and preaching the Gospel to you. And all under 10 minutes.

And on Trinity Sunday! so easy…!

Continue reading “Not “because” of you, but “through” you—Trinity Sunday, May 22, 2016″

God, please, let it be complicated—Feb. 3, 2016

John 8:21-29
“A Substance in a Cushion”, poem by Gertrude Stein

Sermon delivered in Marquand Chapel, Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT

[Opening prayer: “Lord, increase my bewilderment.”]

I guess it’s not much of a coincidence that I find myself up here today, in the center of the week about “ritual arts.”

Yes, I was trained as an artist.

But these three years discerning my call to ministry and wrestling with a past in the arts has not been easy nor, to be frank, has it been very fun. But those wounds are still healing, and I don’t want to bleed all over you’all now.

Best not to think of this as a “Sermon”— Continue reading “God, please, let it be complicated—Feb. 3, 2016”