Sermon: Life All Around

flower crocus snow“Life All Around”

(April 5, 2015 – Easter) Life is all around us, and death never has the final say! (Mark 16:1-8; John 20:1-18)

I was without my direct mic wire– sorry for the poorer quality recording; I think the point comes across.

D.C.-Bound

washington light on hillThis week, I am heading for Washington, D.C., to the United Methodist Building. Did you know that The United Methodist Church owns a building next door to the Supreme Court? We do, and it’s pretty amazing. It’s the home of The UMC’s General Board of Church and Society, and there I will be receiving some training for my role as the Chairperson of the Annual (regional) Conference version of that same body, and then attending a Consultation on the Social Principles.

It’s that latter part of the trip that has me very excited.

The UMC’s Social Principles are not church law, but rather the denomination’s statements of reflection and position on issues of social justice or concern in the world. The United Methodist Church, a global denomination, struggles to agree upon and live out such important statements in a widely diverse and multi-cultural global context. Recognizing this, the 2012 General Conference entrusted the Board of Church and Society to develop a process and a set of recommendations for reimagining the Social Principles in a 21st-century, global context. These consultations, held all over the world, are bringing together members of The UMC to pray, discern, reflect, and dialogue together about how we might live into that calling in this time.

I’m excited and honored to be a part of this conversation. I think it is a hopeful and necessary step in our denomination’s role as a vital and relevant denomination today. If we are to continue as a church, we must be connected to the justice concerns of our time, in a way that is sustainable, contextually relevant, and grounded in our heritage and theology as United Methodists.

But it’s more than that. I believe that conversations along these lines hold some of the answers to the debates within the denomination. My experience at the 2012 General Conference on the reproductive rights subcommittee taught me something amazing: when people of diverse opinions gather, hear one another, share deeply, and then turn their hearts to what they can agree upon on a very controversial issue, God’s work is done. We found, every time we tried to proscribe local, contextual action about abortion, that we were unable to agree. But every time we articulated what we values and believed about human life, parents, babies, families, and so on, we could agree. Around the world, across the political divides, we were united in our convictions and principles, but divided on how those played out. And if our polity (church governance) structure allowed us to live in this way, I believe we could be both more united as a body, and more contextually nimble and relevant to carry out ministry in all times and places.

This week, I am praying for vision for The United Methodist Church, and for new hope and connection as we gather and dream and discuss and discern. In invite you to join in that prayer.

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: 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.

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