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)

Sermon: Touching the Edges

"Behind Closed Doors," Jaybird, flickr

“Behind Closed Doors,” Jaybird, flickr

“Touching the Edges” 

(October 19, 2014) Jesus took the time to be really, deeply present with people on the margins, on the edges of his society. In this story, he goes out of his way for two women who others had written off as un-save-able. Instead, he touched them and let them touch him, too. Imagine how powerful that one act can be, for any person– most especially for a person living in domestic violence and thinking about reaching out for help. Can the church teach, model, and empower enough so that one day we are a reason people say WhyILeft an abusive situation? (Mark 5:21-43)

In this sermon, I quoted from a recent article by Dr. Christy Sim.

Sermon: You’re Invited!

table banquet 4“You’re Invited!” 

(October 12, 2014) Like a great banquet, we are invited into God’s presence, and we can choose to attend or not as we wish. We are also invited into one another’s lives, too. However, we know from personal experience that both inviting and being invited require tremendous vulnerability, and our personal holiness (our relationship with God) cannot be separated from our social holiness (our relationships with others). How do we invite and respond to invitation? (Luke 14:1-6, 12-24)

Sermon: Some More Equal Than Others

communion 3“Some More Equal Than Others”

(October 5, 2014) We easily recognize the injustice in George Orwell’s satire Animal Farm, when the ruling class re-writes the rules to make themselves “more equal” than the other animals. But do we harbor such biases ourselves? Do we think we, or others, are more equal spiritually?
(Matthew 20:1-16)

Sermon: Dreams of Reconciliation

I'm preaching in a Reconciling Church on a Reconciling Sunday-- a first for me, and I was a little excited.

I’m preaching in a Reconciling Church on a Reconciling Sunday– a first for me, and I was a little excited.

“Dreams of Reconciliation”

(September 28, 2014) Joseph and his siblings play out a drama of harm and forgiveness, teaching us much about what it means to be reconciled: that reconciliation is initiated by those who have done the harm and need to come with humbleness and changed hearts; that all siblings are locked together in the story, even if they themselves did not cause the harm; that reconciliation requires of the one harmed tremendous vulnerability and courage (and, understandably, not all people will choose to be vulnerable like that again), and that being able to embrace and talk is just the beginning. As Lebanon UMC celebrates seven years as a Reconciling Congregation– one that welcomes and embraces all people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity– we recognize that our journey of reconciliation is just the beginning. (Genesis 45:1-15)


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