(September 8, 2013) Jeremiah uses the image of a potter sculpting a vessel as a rich metaphor for how God forms and re-forms us. His metaphor, however, is not a personal one as we usually imagine it; Jeremiah describes God as shaping humanity. In a time when we are poised on the brink of warfare yet again, we pray that we might be re-formed by God’s hands. (Jeremiah 18:1-11; Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18)
(August 25, 2013) We can be trapped by our fear and pain and the tapes we play in our heads, and so mired in our trapped-ness that even when the obstacles are removed, it is hard for us to break free. I believe that we are set free when we find the courage and faith and conviction that come from living as who we are called to be. Are you a flea… or a bird? (Jeremiah 1:4-10, Luke 13:10-17)
This sermon relies heavily on these two video clips. I played this clip about training fleas to leap only within the confines of their container before I began to preach, and then this clip from the television show “Lost” just before the end of the sermon.
(July 21, 2013) We are not Trayvon Martin, and we are not the person set upon by robbers on the road to Jericho, but the parable of the Good Samaritan has a powerful message and warning for us. For those with power or privilege– which, racially speaking, is more than 96% of Vermont– have the responsibility to take notice, and not pass by on the other side. (Luke 10:25-37)
In the sermon, I make reference to this tumblr.
(May 12, 2013) This phenomenal story from the Book of Acts invites us into the heart and experience of those who have been complicit in oppression, and reminds us that the chains of bondage and oppression bind both the jailers and the jailed. The true power of God lies not in the breaking of shackles around our feet, but breaking those around our hearts. Where are you called to be set free? (Acts 16:16-34)
I share in this sermon my compassion for Bishop McLee, which I wrote about here, and my own need to, like Paul and Silas, wait with him in our shared sorrow, so that each of us might find healing.
We then sang this hymn by Mark Miller, which is too good to not share.
(March 24, 2013 – Palm Sunday, anniversary of the death of Oscar Romero) We have a choice, as individuals and as a society, in how we respond to violence. The expectation for that choice for people who follow Christ has been set by Jesus himself, and those faithful followers who’ve lived out the radical non violence he demonstrated in the events we celebrate on Palm Sunday. Do you choose the soldiers and their spears, or the peasants and their palms? (Luke 19:28b-40)
(February 17, 2013) I’m embarrassed to admit how old I was when I realized that butterflies were not simply caterpillars with wings. I’m also embarrassed to admit that most often in my life, I’d like to just have wings added, rather than open myself up to complete transformation… (John 12:20-33)
(January 13, 2013) Each one of us is unique, marked and known in our imperfections, scuffs, and rough places. And yet we are known and loved intimately by God, claimed and called God’s own. (Isaiah 43:1-7; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22)
The exercise I use in this sermon is a simple one to try on your own with a bag of peanuts (still in their shells), and has the added bonus of coming with a snack as long as you don’t have allergies. I first learned this at a mother-daughter seminar in my teens, when it was used to illustrate a parent’s love for a child. I have never forgotten that lesson. The seminar was hosted by Planned Parenthood, St. Johnsbury VT.
(July 29, 2012) We all are broken. While we may be tempted to focus on the magnitude of the things Jesus does, in God’s economy, the broken, fallen fragments are of infinite worth, and add up to more than whatever we started with. If you’ve been gathered into God’s nameless love, will you take a basket and gather the broken? (John 6:1-21)
I found the Welcome from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community on Jon Acuff’s blog.
In case you are unfamiliar with them, here are the lyrics of the closing hymn, “How Can We Name a Love” (UMH 111), which spoke powerfully to me this week.
How can we name a Love that wakens heart and mind,
indwelling all we know or think or do or seek or find?
Within our daily world, in every human face,
Love’s echoes sound and God is found, hid in the commonplace.
If we awoke to life built on a rock of care
that asked no great reward but firm, assured, was simply there,
we can, with parents’ names, describe, and thus adore,
Love unconfined, a father kind, a mother strong and sure.
When people share a task, and strength and skills unite
in projects old or new, to make or do with shared delight,
our Friend and Partner’s will is better understood,
that all should share, create, and care, and know that life is good.
So in a hundred names, each day we all can meet
a presence, sensed and shown at work, at home, or in the street.
Yet every name we see, shines in a brighter sun:
In Christ alone is Love full grown and life and hope begun.
(June 17, 2012) When Jesus tells the story of the weeds sown into the field of wheat, he is reminding us of one of life’s deepest truths: pain and sorrow are intricately woven into our lives alongside joy and blessing and peace. We cannot pull apart these aspects of living, but have to let them grow together. (Matthew 13:24-35)
This sermon also serves as a tribute to my Rent-a-Dad, Jim Egger, with love.
It draws from a blog post of mine, here.