Sermon: Breath of Comfort

candles votives blowout“Breath of Comfort”

(December 7, 2014) The prophet Isaiah reminds us that God speaks comfort to us first and foremost, while we wait for justice to unfold. In a time when we see much need for justice and healing around us, let us not rush to DO something to try to fix it, but hear and give comfort as we can, so we can better face the darkness around us. (Isaiah 40:1-11)

At the conclusion of the sermon, I played Mark Miller’s new song, “How Long?

Sermon: Hope and Longing

candle hand blue“Hope and Longing”

(November 30, 2014 – First Sunday of Advent) In the wake of more racial injustice, and in the face of pandemic illnesses, what does it mean to hold out hope? Can we hear the sacred longing in our own cries of “how long?”, and cling to the Advent promise that Christ is and will be present with us? (Isaiah 64:1-9, Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19)

Sermon: When Did We See You?

prayer poverty man old“When Did We See You?”

(November 23, 2014) Jesus praises those righteous ones, who extend care to the hurting, hungry, sick, and suffering, because in so doing, they have offered care to him. However, they are surprised to earn this praise, because they were not consciously looking for Jesus, only doing “the right thing.” Many times when we see examples of people living their faith out in service, they are not consciously looking for Jesus, but perhaps have so cultivated a habit of love and service toward others that it becomes second nature for them. We look at the examples of Dr. Martin Salia and of Arnold Abbott, two men from the week’s news who each live lives of perpetual love and service– do they see Jesus, or just do the right thing? Does it matter? (Matthew 25:31-46)

I began my sermon by first playing this video clip, from United Methodist Communications.

Guest Sermon – Sermon on the Amount

“Sermon on the Amount”

Sermon by Bonnie Marden, guest preacher, of the United Methodist Foundation of New England

This is the sermon delivered on November 9 at Lebanon United Methodist Church as part of our Consecration Sunday service.

Sermon: Gift Receipts

gift 5“Gift Receipts”

(November 16, 2014) What do we do with the gifts given to us? Will we hide and hoard them, for fear of losing them, or will we invest them and give them away in what we love and what the world needs, so that we might be faithful servants and stewards of God’s good gifts? (Matthew 25:14-30)

The beginning portion of this sermon is cut off! :( 

I began by talking about the reality contest show “Project Runway,” where aspiring clothing designers are challenged to make clothing in short amounts of time and often with unconventional materials, competing for a prize. I described how, in these unconventional challenges, when the designers had to make garments out of flowers, or school supplies, or candy, or hardware, invariably one or more contestant would grab a sub-par, smaller pile of materials to work with, and then spend much of their time complaining and fretting that they did not have as large a pile of resources as the other designers. Sometimes, however, a designer who had seemingly little to work with might create something truly amazing, because it’s not about what we have to work with, but what we do with it that matters.

Drawing by S.R. Paquette

Drawing by S.R. Paquette

This, I posited, is what life is like. We have gifts, great and small, and it’s up to us to decide what we make of them– will we invest and spend and give them, or will we hoard and hide them out of fear. I drew our attention back to the Gospel story, where one servant hides the master’s money for fear of losing it, while the other two invest and spend it, earning not only a greater return, but their master’s praise. This, I argued, is not a rationale for the rich getting richer– it’s not what they started with that matters. Instead, it is a cautionary tale about hiding or suppressing our gifts, no matter what they may be. It is about this time that the recording picks up.

At the end of the sermon, I talk about a drawing that my sister created. I’ve copied it here.

Sermon: Saints, Sinners, Servants

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Saints, Sinners, Servants” 

(November 2, 2014) As we hear and hear again the blessings of those we might not expect, we celebrate the lives and legacies of those saints (imperfect though they may be) and servants, and yes sinners like us, who have touched and shaped our lives. A tribute to the saints and loved ones we have lost. (Matthew 5:1-11)

We have some microphone trouble, so I know the recording is imperfect. Or rather, I know it is moving on toward perfection.

Sermon: Whose Image?

mirror1“Whose Image?”

(October 26, 2014) While we certainly live in the world, and have to make choices about how to live our lives with respect to the expectations of the world around us, we are created in God’s own image, and we seek to live lives that reflect that image. Whose face do we see in the mirror? Are we bearing the image of God in the world? (Genesis 1: 24-29, Matthew 22:15-22)

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