Sermon: Sleep in Heavenly Peace

Advent 1 Peace“Sleep in Heavenly Peace”

(December 2, 2018) After reading the powerful words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 2:1-4; Isaiah 9:2, 6-7), our message this morning came in the form of a story, read by three veterans from our congregation: (in order) Sarah J., Wayne A., and Bob P. We had hoped to have the story read/also read by Jack R., a WWII veteran, but he was not able to read aloud, and so we share this story in part in his honor. The text comes from “The WWI Christmas Truce,” by Christopher Kline.

During the recording, we displayed a slideshow of images from the truce.

After the story, I said: Can you imagine returning to the trenches to fight, sending gunfire across the field where you just played soccer, aiming at the people with whom you exchanged gifts? I can’t imagine it. But the truce ended, and the war resumed. That’s what we humans do. Our peace is temporary, fleeting, and fragile. This is why we need the light of Christ in our lives. This is why we long not for our own peace, but for God’s heavenly peace. The musical group Celtic Thunder tells this story another way…

I then attempted to play this song from Celtic Thunder, which I find quite powerful, although perhaps too intense for some.

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Series: Calm and Bright

SmallerAdvent Worship Series
Calm and Bright: 200 years of Silent Night

The classic hymn, “Silent Night,” first made its debut 200 years ago on Christmas Eve, 1818, at the St. Nicholas chapel in Salzburg, Austria.

Nearly 100 years later, the beloved hymn was the center of a World War I cease fire, Christmas Day 1914. The beautiful text has been translated from the original German into over 140 different languages, and is recognized and sung around the world. It is the defining “church moment” for many Christians—even those who come to church for the first time, or only once a year. Something mystical happens when we light candles and sing the hope of “calm and bright”–peace and light for the world.

This year, the 200thanniversary of the beloved hymn, we need a “Silent Night” more than ever—a ceasefire from our conflicts, divisions, and stresses. Join us during Advent as we are inspired by the stories of this song and as we celebrate the renewal of love and light for our time and our communities. When we sing (and dance) together on Christmas Eve, may we raise our voices in to celebrate the birth of Christ with spirits of peace and love that transcend all barriers.

Sermons in this series:
December 2 – Sleep in Heavenly Peace 
December 9 – Joyful Glories Stream 
December 16 – Redeeming Grace & Love 
December 23 – Let us Sing with Hope 
December 24 – Calm and Bright 
December 30 – The Savior is Born 

The System is Rigged

It’s been a while, but this got too long for Facebook, so here is a real, live, non-sermon reflection.

51okqZTgxwL._SX359_BO1,204,203,200_The System is Rigged: Some thoughts on diversity of voice in the new book, to which so many of my spirit-led and talented friends and colleagues contributed:

We Pray With Her: Encouragement for All Women Who Lead is a compilation of devotionals co-authored and edited by young clergy women, and springing out of the Young Clergywomen Project (Young Clergywomen International). This book is important, because it is a collection by women and for women, and celebrating the gifts of young women in particular. A previous iteration of this compilation was undermined by political shenanigans and by the misuse of material by the (male) co-author and editor of that version, so I celebrate the amazing and resilient triumph that this release accomplishes.

However, like so many of the efforts of my sisters and I, there is room for improvement. A wise colleague pointed out that the editors and contributors are overwhelmingly white (and I suspect overwhelmingly straight and middle class). We– white, well-meaning, middle class women– have to always be aware of feminism’s oppressive history with women of color. Too many (read: all?) of the “advances” feminism claims leave out or leave behind women who are not white, and often those who are not straight, not middle class, and so on.

In this case, I look to the Young Clergywomen Project as well, a group that knows it needs, and and therefore strives for, greater diversity. I am not a member of the Young Clergy Women Project (open to people who minister and are recognized in some way as clergy and are under 40). At the time I was invited to consider it, there was a maximum age by which a person had to be *ordained.* That has since changed, but at the time I was unsure about my eligibility. Truth-telling: it is hard to get ordained, and it gets harder if one is not straight, or doesn’t have a solid financial cushion, or, I presume, doesn’t swim in the sea of white privilege. In fact, most of the women I know who are not white and/or not straight, not middle class, not a whole slew of things that our racist, ableist, heterosexist, classist church structures and their credentialing processes expect, most of these women are/were ordained later in their thirties and into their forties, and would be ineligible. I’m more intimately acquainted with how challenging a process like ordination is for queer people than for people of color (and, while I identify as queer now, I navigated my candidacy wrapped in the protection of straight privilege). I see how a process that is for some 3-5 years can stretch over a decade or more, simply because of one’s standard deviation away from the expectation– a disability, a sexual orientation, a marital status, a skin color, a language, an experience of poverty. The path is longer and harder into any space that white supremacy has controlled. And white people always forget this. That’s definitionally privilege.

The Young Clergywomen Project, the authorship of this compilation, any of the numerous groups I’m part of where we look around and say “shoot, we did it again; we’e all white,” these places are not intentionally exclusive. There just aren’t as many people to self-select into a group like this, because the system is rigged against anyone who isn’t a straight white man– something white feminists know and yet don’t know as we scrabble to be part of that system. White women, including me, know how hard it is to fight and to have any resiliency left for community-building, creativity, collegial relationships, and so on. But we have still got to check ourselves and our privilege. And it’s not enough to simply realize we’re all white and confess our racism. That won’t change anything. We have to– all of us have to– ask ourselves whose voice is missing and why. It’s time to do more than lift up all of our voices; we have to dismantle the rigged-ness of the system, and be willing to see and support new systems, ones in which we might not have as much power or voice.

Sermon: Become Like a Child

Are you Kidding

“Become Like a Child” 

(August 5, 2018) We long for easier, simpler times, and our faith is no exception. Children have a natural wonder and simplicity about faith, about the stories of the Bible, and the worldview of right and wrong. How do we let go of our “grown up” sensibilities and rediscover the faith of a child? (Hosea 11:1-4, 8b-11; Matthew 18:1-7).

Series: Are You Kidding?

Are you Kidding

Are You Kidding?
re-discovering childlike faith

The disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
— Matthew 18:1-3

All I really needed to know I learned in kindergarten… or Sunday School?

While the faith and the lessons that we learn as children are just the beginning, the foundation they form lasts our whole lives. Lessons about imagination, kindness, giving thanks, and helping others are true at any age. Why is it that some things seem simpler through the eyes of a child? What can we learn when we look at the stories of the Bible, or of our own lives, through a child-like focus?

Jesus states that unless we become like children, we will never enter the kin-dom of heaven. In this series, we’ll look at Jesus’ parables through the eyes of children, discovering a surprising wisdom in them that adults frequently miss… until we become like children.

Sermons in this Series:
August 5 – Become Like a Child 
August 12 – Be Nice? 
August 19 – Thank You and Please? 
August 26 – Play Fair? 
September 2 – Share and Share Alike? 
September 9 – Say Nice Things? 
September 16 – Mind Your Manners? 

Sermon: Bullfrog Spirituality

Slide2“Bullfrog Spirituality”

(May 13, 2018) God calls all things holy– and is present to us in all kinds of ways that are also all holy. Sometimes, we find God in surprising places, a reminder that everything, yes even a bullfrog, is holy. (Luke 24:44-53)

At the conclusion of the sermon, I played this video of the song “Everything is Holy Now” by Peter Meyer.

Sermon: Make it So

Roll Down promo sm“Make it So”

(March 4, 2018) The church of today is not necessarily the church of which Jesus dreamed– or we might dream. How can we become a church the lives out Jesus’ call to feed the hungry, visit the lonely and sick and imprisoned, and work together for God’s vision of the world? (Matthew 25: 31-40)