Sermon: Bread of Life

Minolta DSC“Bread of Life”

(March 9, 2014) This Lent, we are looking at different names for Jesus. Today’s story invites us to imagine what it means to be fed and nourished by Christ, the Bread of Life. What would it be to trust on this most fundamental level? (Matthew 4:1-11)

The Names of Jesus series is inspired by a series from Logos Productions.

Sermon: Love is Born, Ready or Not!

Christmas Eve“Love is Born, Ready or Not!”

(Dec 24, 2013 – Christmas Eve) Into our lives where sorrow and loneliness lurk, into the life of the world, where love was least expected, God’s presence breaks in. Christmas is not about celebrating Jesus’ birthday– or at least not primarily about that. First and foremost it is a celebration of “Immanuel,” God-With-Us. (Isaiah 9:2-7, Luke 2:1-7)

I of course take no credit for and intend no infringement upon Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I quote from it and from Anne Robertson’s blog post “Transformation in Whoville.”

Sermon: Christmas Miracles and Mystery Grumps

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 9.30.29 PM“Christmas Miracles and Mystery Grumps”

(December 22, 2013) One last sermon in a series about how love breaks into our lives. This time, it’s my story. God surprised me with love; Christmas came early this year for me, and opened my heart, bringing me joy. May you be surprised by love as well. (Matthew 1:18-25, Isaiah 7:10-16)

The Advent series this year is a look at how God breaks into our lives when we least expect it and whether we’re ready or not. We’ll look at seasonal grumps who find transformation breaking into their lives: The Grinch, who experiences love; Ebenezer Scrooge, who moves toward justice; George Bailey, who rediscovers hope, and a Mystery Grump, in need of some Christmas joy.

Sermon: Christmas is Coming, George Bailey!

Bulletin Ad 3“Christmas is Coming, George Bailey!”

(December 15, 2013) George Bailey is at the end of his rope, unable to see a way forward, when Hope breaks into his life, against all odds. Can we learn from his story that hope can enter again, in unlikely places and through unlikely people, and to respond with compassion and love to those for whom hope is elusive or altogether lost? (Isaiah 35:1-11)

As I reference in my sermon, this week a student at Montpelier High school ended his life, and I pray these words and others like them remind us to respond in love and care. And as always if you are in a place where hope seems gone, or if you suspect a friend might be in such a place, say something. It’s hard and scary, but you don’t need to be afraid or ashamed. People will listen.

I name this portion of the film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” although of course you should watch the whole thing since it’s that time of year. ;)

The Advent series this year is a look at how God breaks into our lives when we least expect it and whether we’re ready or not. We’ll look at seasonal grumps who find transformation breaking into their lives: The Grinch, who experiences love; Ebenezer Scrooge, who moves toward justice; George Bailey, who rediscovers hope, and a Mystery Grump, in need of some Christmas joy.

Sermon: Christmas is Coming, Ebenezer Scrooge!

Bulletin Ad 2“Christmas is Coming, Ebenezer Scrooge!”

(December 8, 2013) Bah Humbug! Ebenezer Scrooge’s name is synonymous with being stingy and mean and hating Christmas. He seems quite happy with his life, but he has no peace, because he does not live with justice. That Christmas spirit can’t be contained, however; Scrooge sees some glimpses of his place in the world and how his actions and inactions impact others and experiences a change of heart. Can God’s justice break into our lives? Is there anything we can do to help seek peace and justice in our world? (Isaiah 11:1-10)

The Advent series this year is a look at how God breaks into our lives when we least expect it and whether we’re ready or not. We’ll look at seasonal grumps who find transformation breaking into their lives: The Grinch, who experiences love; Ebenezer Scrooge, who moves toward justice; George Bailey, who rediscovers hope, and a Mystery Grump, in need of some Christmas joy.

Sermon: Christmas is Coming, Mr. Grinch

Bulletin Ad 1“Christmas is Coming, Mr. Grinch!”

(December 1, 2013) The Grinch, alone and angry, despised the whole Christmas season– until love broke into his life and he found his heart growing three sizes. Can God really break in to our cold-hearted loneliness? (Isaiah 2:1-5)

Before the sermon, I played a clip similar to this from the 1966 animated version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

—-

The Advent series this year is a look at how God breaks into our lives when we least expect it and whether we’re ready or not. We’ll look at seasonal grumps who find transformation breaking into their lives: The Grinch, who experiences love; Ebenezer Scrooge, who moves toward justice; George Bailey, who rediscovers hope, and a Mystery Grump, in need of some Christmas joy.

Sermon: Rising from Ashes

Redwood "family circle," photographed by me in Muir Woods.

Redwood “family circle,” photographed by me in Muir Woods.

“Rising From Ashes”

(March 31, 2013, Easter Sunday) Redwood trees grow to towering, mind-boggling size, with incredible resistance to fire, and the ability to grow new trees out of old root systems. In a world of such miraculous abundance, are we ready to hear the incredible, mind-boggling story of life that rises from the ashes? (John 20:1-18)

Sermon: Powerless Palms

palm leaf tree plant 6“Powerless Palms”

(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)

But Have Not Love

silenced

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

‘Tis the season to celebrate love, it seems. Last week was Valentine’s Day, and today’s RethinkChurch Lenten Photo-a-Day reflection word is love.

Love is central to my theological and spiritual understanding of the world. I’m not talking about hearts and cupids, schmoopy puppy love here. I’m talking soul-shaking, boundary-shattering, grace-soaked, all-infusing love that is synonymous with the name of the Holy. That stuff. The reason for living. Love between God and creature, between an individual and the world, between two people: lovers, parents, children, siblings, friends, lived out in a myriad of ways as unique as snowflakes. Love. Love Divine. Love that makes us human and whole.

But when we talk about love, when we use and over-use the word, when we say it so often it starts to sound small and fathomable and domestic– like a word rather than like The Word– I’ve found a painful dissonance. Lately, I’ve felt excluded from conversations about love. Felt excluded when it comes to the most inclusive thing in the world. Felt silenced when it comes to the most powerful force I know.

And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling excluded in conversations about love, nor is divorce the only instance where reflecting on love can be painful. What does it mean to speak of love if love has been removed, has withered or faded, was never there? How does a child learn love if one’s parents were not loving? How does a friend trust in love if one’s trust has been violated? How does someone risk loving if love has been a place of pain and loss? How does one claim and celebrate love if that love is silenced or shamed?

What if we have not love?

Our love is our human way of living in love with God, the world, and one another. As such, it is an imperfect reflection of Love Itself. I can accept that there are times and places where we glimpse the Holy, and there are times and places where the word love comes with brokenness and pain and fragile, fearful hope for healing. For people walking that latter road, just starting the conversation– or knowing it’s not a conversation in which they want to participate at this time– can be painful enough.

So today, here’s to love that is wrapped in pain. Here’s to love that has been silenced and closeted. Here’s to love that stretches tender shoots out of the bitter destruction of broken hearts and lives and relationships. Here’s to love that is re-framed following abuse and neglect and betrayal. Here’s to love that is flawed and incomplete and imperfect. Here’s to love we aren’t ready to talk about. Here’s to love that’s too complex to grasp or name. Here’s to love that’s so big we can’t get our hearts, let alone our words, around it. Here’s to love that is a tiny portion of God’s own self.

Even if it hurts, even if we’re afraid, even if we have to whisper when we’d rather shout– or rather be safe and silent: Here’s to Love.

Lenten Photo-a-Day Challenge, week 1

I’m participating in RethinkChurch’s Lenten Photo-a-Day Challenge as a way to build some personal introspection (see, I’m engaging the season, albeit reluctantly!) and connect with others who are thinking about church outside the box. Each day there is a word-prompt (and a devotional, if you sign up for the email), with an invitation to post a picture.

[ week 1 - week 2 - week 3 - week 4 - week 5 - week 6 - week 7 ]

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< Wednesday: who am I                                    Thursday: return (@pastorbecca is back!) ^

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Saturday: injustice  v

 

537133_10200704529037154_962217726_nFriday: see  ^
(change your perspective)

Check out the Rethink Pinterest boards to see what others have posted as well.

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