Sermon: Light of the World

horse blinders 1“Light of the World”

(March 30, 2014) As Jesus restores vision to a person born without sight, he turns the conversation from the literal to the spiritual, and from harm to healing. Where do we need our eyes opened? What systems of oppression– racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, ageism– and of privilege keep us from seeing God in our midst? How, with our blinders removed, with the light of Christ shining in our lives, can we see the work God calls us to do, in the naming and dismantling of our own privilege, and the steps toward wholeness we seek to take? (John 9:1-41)

I mentioned a number of stories in my sermon, including a video of a newscaster being disrespected by her co-host, the flip-flop of child sponsoring non profit WorldVision, and a talk by a comedian who describes the intersecting experiences of being an Arab American Muslim woman with cerebral palsy who wanted to act.

 

 

Sermon: Living Water

well stone close“Living Water”

(March 23, 2014) At the well, Jesus encounters a powerful theologian in the form of a Samaritan woman, and their conversation looks at the literal and spiritual needs for water. This day after World Water Day, how do we understand the intersections between the literal water crisis and the spiritual need for living water? What will we do about the water crisis? (John 4:5-15, 23-30, 39-42)

Resources about the water crisis:

Press release for World Water Day

World Water Day homepage

Informational Video about Water Crisis (World Water Day 2013)

Water.org (microlending and water credit to expand access to clean water)

UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (monitoring and resources toward goal of providing access to clean water for all)

UNICEF Tap program (donates money for clean water for every ten minutes you don’t use your phone)

Sermon: The Way

path trees fog“The Way”

(March 16, 2014) Another name we call Jesus is “The Way,” but rather than a term that describes a singular path one can travel, the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus makes clear that “The Way” is a journey, not a destination. Far from inviting us to accept Jesus and “be saved,” this passage teaches us that being born from above is a continual process, filled with more questions than answers and enriched by relationship with Jesus. (John 3:1-17)

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: 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, 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: Waiting (now with more hope!)

time watch waiting“Waiting (now with more hope!)”

(December 9, 2012) Waiting is never easy, and becomes more difficult the deeper our present darkness and the more wonderful the thing for which we wait. In the midst of the agony and anticipation of waiting for something magnificent (like, say, the end of oppression), can we wait with hope and joy? (Malachi 3:1-4, Luke 3:1-6)

This week’s music for reflection comes from the British folk band Mumford & Sons and is the best example of joyful waiting I’ve ever heard. I hope my Advent waiting can be like this! Listen to “I Will Wait” on YouTube.

Sermon: Dwelling in Darkness

stars“Dwelling in Darkness”

(December 2, 2012) Before we rush to celebrate the light that is coming into the world, we pause to first take sock of the darkness in ourselves and in the world around us. The powerful stories of the Advent and Christmas season are not always easy to hear, and for those of us dwelling in a season of darkness, we may feel that Christmas is anything but Merry, the Holidays anything but happy. The journey begins here. (Luke 21:25-36; Isaiah 64:1-9)

The music for reflection I played following this sermon is “The Sound of Silence,” by Simon and Garfunkel, on YouTube here. Or, you can listen to the 2011 live performance by Paul Simon at ground zero in NYC.

If you are grieving, separated from loved ones, struggling with a health concern, or otherwise in need of light in the darkness this holiday season, and you are in the Montpelier, Vermont area, please consider joining us for an observance of The Longest Night. This special service of light for those dwelling in darkness will be held in the Fellowship Hall of Trinity UMC, 137 Main Street, Montpelier, on Wednesday, December 19 at 7 pm. If you wish, you may bring a flower, memento, or picture to represent whom or what you are grieving. 

 

Sermon: Mighty Bright

“Mighty Bright”

(December 18, 2011 – Fourth Sunday of Advent) Christ’s birth brings the light of joy to the world– but joy is not a surface-level happiness. True joy acknowledges the sorrow and pain of life and shines forth anyway, rising up out of our faith and courage. How can we bear the light of joy to one another this Christmas, allowing for the good and the bad of life to be held side by side? (Luke 1:46-55)

In the spirit of holy humor and play, I prefaced the sermon by showing this clip from YouTube.

(due to a recording glitch, the original sermon was lost, and this is an approximate reconstruction)

This is the third sermon in a four-part Advent series, “Light Bearers,” where we explore how we can bear the Light of Christ– the lights of grace, love, justice, and joy– to the world.

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