Whose Neighbor Are You? Sermon on Luke 10:25-37

July 14, 2019

Earlier this week, I was trying to remember exactly where my grandparents had lived when I was a little girl. So I called my mom. My mother has never been known to give a straight answer to a question when there’s a story she could tell instead. So, when I asked “do you know the name of the street where Grandpa and Grandma lived in Pretty Prairie?” her answer started out with, “All three of us girls were born on Uncle Harry’s farm. I think Edie Beth was about a year old when mom and dad moved to Hutchinson…”

An hour later, I had heard stories about my grandfather hauling coal in the winter and ice in the summer, my grandmother recovering from typhoid fever in a sod house on the Kansas prairie when she was a little girl, my great-grandfather dying just shortly after he’d finally paid off a debt his brother had incurred years before, and a few other tidbits of family history. But I never did learn the name of the street where Grandpa and Grandma lived in Pretty Prairie. Continue reading

The Power of Proximity – Sermon on Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 Pentecost C+4

July 7, 2019

Classroom teachers know that proximity holds a lot of power. Good teachers move around the room a lot, getting close to students as they work. The teacher’s nearness does two things: it raises a student’s level of concern enough to encourage the student to pay attention (and stay out of trouble), but it also makes the teacher more available to answer questions and offer support.

Proximity to the teacher offers safety, and at the same time it holds a student accountable. Proximity to the teacher increases the probability that the student will actually learn something. This is why we almost always see the disciples staying really close to Jesus. He holds them accountable at the same time he offers them safety.

But at some point, students leave school. They have to take the lessons they’ve learned into the world, and practice those lessons on their own. The safety net is gone, and they have to hold themselves accountable. Continue reading

No Turning Back – Sermon on Luke 9:51-62 for Pentecost +3

June 30, 2019

When I was a little girl, my hometown replaced the old municipal swimming pool. It was about time. The filtration system in the old pool didn’t work very well, and the water was murky. The pool was too small for our growing community, and the diving board was … not safe.

So after an entire summer with no swimming pool, we suddenly had a new, up to date facility with twice as much area as the previous pool and not one, but three diving boards. The diving area was deep enough now to accommodate a true ‘high dive’ board, as well as two smaller ones. Kids lined up in a constantly moving stream to jump off the lower boards, but the high dive was reserved for serious divers only. Continue reading

For Sam

You cannot hurry Death, or make it wait.

It will come when it is ready, not a moment sooner.

Even after all the prayers are said, and all the permissions given,

Even after the sins are absolved,

and the Bread and Cup have been received one last time,

Even then,

Death takes its own time.

“Not yet,” Death whispers.

Soon, but not now.

Death will slip in the door when you aren’t looking.

While you doze beside the deathbed, or turn to adjust a pillow.

Just when you’ve relaxed and thought to yourself,

“He seems to be getting better – is that possible?”

Or just as someone else calls your name and you look away …

Death will come,

Stealing the last breath as you wait for the next one and realize (too late)

He’s already gone.

Adopted Heirs – Confirmation Sermon on Romans 8:14-17 for Pentecost

Pentecost Sunday/Confirmation Sunday
June 9, 2019

One of our most basic needs as human beings is the need to belong. Small children cling to their parents. Teenagers want to belong to the right group of friends. As adults, we look for places where we know we will be accepted, places where people understand us, places we can call home. We all need to belong. The question is, where will we find that need satisfied? Continue reading

Unanswered Prayer – Sermon on John 17:20-26 for Easter 7C

June 2, 2019

We are caught in a time warp. This is the Sunday when we celebrate Christ’s ascension into heaven, as we heard in the reading from Acts a few moments ago. But it is also the final Sunday in the season of Eastertide, and throughout this season we have been listening to Jesus’ talk with his disciples on the night before his crucifixion.

On the one hand, we should be looking up into the heavens as the resurrected Christ returns to his Father. On the other hand, we are still in the upper room, and the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday haven’t happened yet. We are caught in a time warp between pre-crucifixion and post-resurrection. Continue reading

The Peace that Jesus Gives – Sermon on John 14:23-29 for Easter 6C

May 26, 2019

We are still in the upper room from last week, it’s still Maundy Thursday. It may seem strange to be reading about events from Holy Week during the season of Eastertide, but in John’s gospel, these are the chapters where we learn from Jesus himself what living into resurrection reality truly means.

Last week, we heard Jesus tell his disciples he was going where they could not follow him. This was upsetting news. They’d been following him 24/7 for three years. They were just beginning to figure it out, they thought, and now Jesus was telling them he was leaving, and they couldn’t come with him. Continue reading