January 12, 2020
Today we celebrate the baptism of Our Lord, and we remember that in baptism, we are each given a new name. In baptism, we are called, “Child of God.” We are called, “Beloved.” And it’s all because Jesus came up from the water. Continue reading
January 5, 2020
The gospel lesson for Epiphany is always the same, year after year. We always get the story of the wise men seeking out the infant King. It only comes to us through one author so, no matter which gospel we are following in a given year, Epiphany always brings us to the second chapter of Matthew. Continue reading
I won’t be preaching this first Sunday of Christmas, but we can’t ignore this week’s gospel lesson. So I will share a few thoughts harvested from another sermon I preached on this text several years ago. You can read the whole thing here.
It can be tempting to ignore atrocities, to think we can’t do anything about them. But Jesus calls us to see and to act. As you continue through this season of Christmastide, May you find opportunities to do just that, in Jesus’ name.
December 15, 2019
I think it’s curious that we hear about John the Baptist’s doubt about Jesus on the same Sunday we sing Mary’s song magnifying the Lord and rejoicing in God our Savior. “Are you the One,” John wants to know, “or should we be waiting for someone else?” You can read an earlier message on Matthew 11:2-11 and Luke 1:47-55 here.
Martha Spong reminds us that joy and doubt are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I recommend you read her thoughtful reflection on this week’s lectionary readings. May you be released from whatever binds you, or stalls you, or holds you captive, so that your joy – like Mary’s and John the Baptist’s – may point others to Jesus.
Holy Lord, our hearts leap in our chests when we experience your nearness. We cannot help but know ‘the joy of the Lord’ when you are in the center of our lives. But how easy it is, Jesus, to slip into doubt and despair when we take our eyes off you.
Give us the kind of steadfast faith that Mary had when she said, “let it be to me according to your word,” even though she had no idea what she was getting into. Give us the courage to seek you out when our doubts overcome us, just as John did. And remind us, as you did John, that the evidence of your kingdom is right under our noses. You are working through us to magnify your name. Let our joy be complete and point others to you, Almighty God.
December 8, 2019
Blessings on your Advent journey! You know, some folks aren’t even aware there is a season called ‘Advent.’ For them, this season leading up to Christmas is Christmas. We get that message loud and clear everywhere we go, in every store where we shop.
Last week, we celebrated the first Sunday in Advent with the 34th annual Hanging of the Greens. I mean, it looks like Christmas in here, doesn’t it? What are we waiting for? Let’s cut to the chase and start singing “Silent Night” and get that Baby Jesus into the manger where he belongs!
But we aren’t there yet. Continue reading
I’m not preaching this week, because Advent 1 means Hanging of the Green at my church. So here’s a sermon from six years ago that seems fitting today, as well. May your Advent be filled with hope! https://pastorsings.com/2013/12/01/keep-awake-sermon-on-matthew-2436-44-advent-1-2013/
I say this every year, but I’ll say it again: if you really want to express your gratitude, make the focus be who you are thanking, rather than what you are thankful for. You see, the real purpose of thanksgiving is to thank God, period. It’s about God. When we make those long lists of all the things we’re thankful for, it starts to be about us. And that is backwards.
Remember the Pharisee who prayed in the temple? He was loudly proclaiming what he was thankful for. “I thank you that I am better than this tax collector over here…” (Luke 18:9-14, my paraphrase). And yet, it was the other guy, that tax collector in the corner, who went home justified, or ‘made right.’
So this Thanksgiving, give thanks to God. Don’t let the gravy get cold while you force everyone around the table to say what they are most thankful for. Keep the lists short. In fact, that little children’s prayer might be just enough:
Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the birds that sing;
Thank you, God, for everything. Amen.