Category Archives: Sermons

Ascension Day

Luke 24:44-53

Alleluia. Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

And this week, we mean REALLY risen!

Yes, we’re celebrating the Ascension today, the day when Jesus rose up before his disciples to go to his Father in heaven. Ascension is a funny festival. We refer to it in both the Apostles and Nicene Creeds and in the Eucharistic Prayer, but if we hadn’t transferred it to be celebrated this Sunday, most of us would not have noticed anything different about last Thursday, which was the actual Day of Christ’s Ascension. In light of the fact that we frequently refer to the “Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord,” I wondered why we generally pay such scant attention to the latter.

Last year I acknowledged the difficulty of this passage for those who take things literally, or scientifically, for that matter. After all, Jesus jetting off into outer space is not something that we can match to any of our own experiences, even if it’s been the inspiration for countless paintings and icons down through the ages. It truly might have been smarter to just preach on the Propers for the Seventh Week in Easter, but there’s something that feels really important about the Ascension, even when we don’t completely understand it.

Continue reading

3rd Sunday after Epiphany

Matthew 4:12-23

Last week we heard Jesus pose the question, “What are you looking for?” and I confessed that when I’d tried to answer the question myself that nothing had come readily to mind, and we considered some of the possible answers that might be given. Bottom line though, was the reassuring conclusion that we didn’t have to have the answer, we simply needed to accept Jesus’ invitation to “Come and see.” The idea here is that we will not only find the answer while being in the presence of Jesus but somehow we will also find that he is the answer.

This week, is Matthew’s Gospel version of the invitation to Andrew and Peter, as well as to James and John, to follow Jesus. In this narrative Jesus seeks out Andrew and Peter as they are going about their jobs as fishermen and invites them to lay down their nets, follow him, and learn to fish for people instead. The text tells us that they immediately left their nets and followed him, which I personally think is extraordinary.

Continue reading

2nd Sunday of Advent

Matthew 3:1-12

Have you ever noticed that when you learn a new word or phrase that it’s suddenly everywhere? It’s in the things you read, it comes up in conversations, and you find yourself inexplicably using it for no other good reason but that you have a heightened awareness of its existence.

Well, the word in the forefront of my mind this week is not a new addition to my vocabulary but it is the thing I’ve been thinking about and seeing everywhere I look.
That word is HOPE.
I think this makes sense during the season of Advent when we set our hearts to watching and waiting for the coming of our God to earth as a newborn baby.

So as I listened to today’s Scriptures I heard messages of hope—
In the collect, there’s the hope of greeting with joy the coming of our Lord and Savior;
In the OT lesson, there’s the hope of the coming One who will make everything just and right—the world will be a safe place where hurt and destruction have been abolished;
In the Psalm, I hear the same hope for a redeemed world; and
In the Epistle, Paul is practically tripping over himself with the proclamation of hope for all people because God is faithful and had promised to send an emissary of peace and mercy for the salvation of everyone.

Continue reading

1st Sunday of Advent

Matthew 24:36-44

Happy New Year my sisters and brothers! Today marks the beginning of another Church year and the start of Lectionary A for those of you who like to follow the Scripture readings. The Gospel reading for the first Sunday in Advent for Years A, B, and C is always apocalyptic, anticipating the return of Christ, and it is for that return as well as for the Birth of Christ that we wait during the Season of Advent.

Now despite all the signs of Christmas that flood our world immediately following, if not before, the celebration of Thanksgiving, it is not actually time for Christmas just yet. This is not to deprive you of your joy and excitement in the anticipation of Christmas but rather to heighten and enhance it. Advent is a kind of pregnancy—a time of joyful expectation and careful preparation for the time of fulfillment.

Continue reading

The Feast of Christ the King

Luke 23:33-43

Today marks the end of our Church Year—the last Sunday of Pentecost. Next Sunday we begin again with the season of Advent, and a different set of readings. The last Sunday of Pentecost is always designated as Christ the King, so we might expect the Gospel to contain themes of Christ’s power and glory; to be given images of Jesus’ supremacy perhaps as depicted in the Ascension, or to be reminded that he is seated at the right hand of God the Father/Mother and will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and that his kingdom will have no end.  (Sound familiar?)

Instead, we are given an excerpt from Luke’s Passion narrative. In today’s Gospel reading, our King’s royal procession is a death march to the Cross; his subjects do not bend the knee, but rather scoff and mock him. His throne is not a seat of glory but rather a shameful instrument of torture and death. Nothing about this feels particularly regal and we very well might ask, This is a King?

Continue reading

22nd Sunday after Pentecost

Luke 18:1-8

First a confession: I found this a hard parable because it starts out being about prayer and not losing heart, then goes on to a story about justice, and ends with a question about faith. Truthfully I was having a little trouble connecting the dots, so I did what any lost preacher does, and looked up some children’s sermons on the internet. Preaching a message to children is a wonderful way to distill all the details down to the essentials—usually. Unfortunately, the examples I found all had the same basic message: if you really really want something you should keep asking , just like you do with your parents, because God wants to give us good things just like our parents do and (I quote) God “likes to hear us ask again and again.”

I’m sorry but that just doesn’t work for me because it seems to set up the precedent for “holy whining,” and seems to validate the theology that if I don’t give up, God will do what I want.

Continue reading

21st Sunday after Pentecost

Luke 17:11-19

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our Rock and Redeemer. Amen.

Today’s story is filled with blessing for the ignored, neglected, outcast, and disregarded. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, a journey that began back in chapter 9, and he was crossing the region between Samaria and Galilee. We know Jesus to be someone who frequents the boundary places and he’s not only crossing a geographical boundary but is also about to cross a societal boundary as well.

Upon entering a village, he is noticed by a group of lepers and they call out to him. Leprosy in the Bible is not necessarily the same as what we know as Hansen’s Disease today. Leprosy was more of generic term describing a skin condition. The problem was though, that if you had one of these skin conditions, the Torah required you to live apart and keep a certain distance from everyone else. Now in an age when antibiotics and other treatments didn’t exist we can understand wanting to quarantine someone with a disease, but there was more to it than that.  Leprosy wasn’t just a medical condition it was also considered a sign of God’s judgment. Not only were people separated by the Law but they were also made to feel invisible.

Continue reading

20th Sunday after Pentecost

Luke 17:5-10

Gracious God, give us faith to know that we have faith. Amen.

Can you guess what the sermon is about today? That’s right, faith. As Christians we talk a lot about faith—faith in Jesus, living lives of faith, being faithful—and I suspect that it’s a word we use a lot but don’t necessarily think very much about: what is it? How do we do it? Where do we get it? What’s it for? What difference does it make? Et cetera.

Today’s Gospel reading opens with the apostles begging the Lord to give them more faith. An interesting place to begin since their plea is obviously a response to something that has happened right before, so let’s back track a bit to see what was going on.

Continue reading