Living Like Jesus: Hidden in Plain Sight – Sermon on Mark 6:14-29

July 15, 2018

Have you ever noticed that bad stuff always seems to happen just when you thought things were great? I’m a pretty optimistic person, but as I get older, I notice myself becoming wary whenever things start going well. I start “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” And I think I know exactly when I started this business of anticipating the worst whenever life was really good. Continue reading

Living Like Jesus: Pack Light – Sermon on Mark 6:1-13

Pentecost 6B
July 8, 2018

It’s time to shop for school supplies already! New school supply lists are fun, but not as much fun as the packing list for summer camp. You have to pack light, because you carry your own pack when you get to camp. You need a flashlight, and a towel, and …. not a lot else, really.

I remember one girl came to summer camp with a duffle bag carefully packed by her mom. It was a five-day-four-night camp, so the mom had packed four changes of clothes for her daughter. A pair of socks, underwear, a T-shirt, and a pair of shorts were all rolled together in four bundles. Continue reading

God Is In The Interruptions – Sermon on Mark 5:21-43

July 1, 2018

Early in my ministry, I was complaining about not being able to get anything done for all the interruptions – people in need, questions from people in the church, phone calls …. The senior pastor I called “boss” at the time smiled and said, “Interruptions are where real ministry begins.” Continue reading

Putting Sabbath In Its Place – Sermon on Mark 2:23-3:6

June 3, 2018

One sabbath he was going through the grain fields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.” 
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. (Mark 2:23-3:6)

We’re back in Capernaum, or almost there. Jesus and his disciples are on their way to church on the Sabbath, and the disciples are hungry. So they pick grain as they walk through a wheat field, and eat it on their way to synagogue. Apparently, the Pharisees use this same route to church, because they are right there, asking Jesus why he lets his followers break Sabbath laws. Jesus tells them a story they already know, but as he does, he likens himself to David – claiming a kind of kingly authority that comes only from God.

In effect, Jesus tells the Pharisees, “Don’t get so bound up in your rules that they become your purpose for living. Let Sabbath do its job, which is to provide rest and refreshment, and an opportunity for worship and study. God gave the Sabbath for your benefit. God didn’t create you for the sake of the Sabbath. Continue reading

The Spirit of Adoption – Sermon on Romans 8:12-17 (Trinity B)

May 27, 2018
We all want to belong. When we are kids, we want to belong to the right group of friends. As we grow older, we look for places where “everybody knows your name,” places where we know we will be accepted, places we can call home. As Robert Frost put it, “home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”[1]

The desire to belong is a deeply felt need, and when it isn’t met, the consequences can be devastating. Kids especially need to belong, to know they are loved, to know that they matter.

Children who have been neglected, who don’t have a strong sense of belonging, are statistically more likely to suffer from at least one psychological disorder by the time they reach age 21. According to the Kids At Risk Action Group, “Children who experience child abuse & neglect are about 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity.”[2] Feeling like you belong is an important part of growing up whole and healthy.

We all need to belong. The question is, where will we find that need satisfied? The Apostle Paul addresses this question in the 8th chapter of his letter to the church at Rome.  Continue reading

Pentecost – Sermon on Acts 2:1-21

May 20, 2018

It’s been fifty days since Easter. Fifty days of praying. Fifty days of anticipation. Fifty days of wondering what comes next. During these past fifty days, we’ve been reading from the book of Acts instead of the Old Testament each Sunday. Last week I mentioned that instead of “Second Luke” or “The Acts of the Apostles,” it might be more appropriate to call this book “The Acts of the Holy Spirit,” because the Holy Spirit has been on the move.

We’ve seen Jewish Christians become aware that Gentiles can be Christians, too. We’ve seen the established religious leaders of the day confounded by healing and preaching that they thought they’d gotten rid of when they crucified Jesus.
And we’ve seen thousands upon thousands of lives changed forever by believing that Jesus is the Christ and being baptized in his name.

Last week, we went back to the very beginning of Acts, to set the scene for
today’s passage. We heard Jesus say, “You will be my witnesses,” just before he was lifted into a cloud. The disciples who saw this happen headed back to Jerusalem and started praying. Whatever they were praying for, whatever we’ve been waiting for, this is it. We’ve arrived at Pentecost. Continue reading

Be My Witnesses – Sermon on Acts 1:1-11 for Ascension C

May 13, 2018 (Mother’s Day)

It’s time to go back to the beginning. Sometimes, we need a little refresher course in why we do what we do, who we are, and what our mission in life truly is. It’s easy to get off track. It’s easy to get lost in the details of day-to-day activities, and forget what our purpose was for doing those things in the first place.

The gospel writers knew this. As the church was forming and reforming in those early years, it was important to stay focused on the gospel, the Good News. It was important to know what to believe, and even more important to remember who to believe. The best way to keep things straight was to write down everything, from the beginning. Continue reading