Jesus

Prepare! 12/09/18 (Advent 2C)

Prepare! 12/09/18 (Advent 2C)

We tend to shy away from talk of repentance, and I think that’s primarily because we have loaded the word repentance with shame. In the word “repent” we hear accusation, we hear disdain, we hear harsh judgment with no mercy. We hear not that we did something bad, but that we are something bad. If we hear the command to repent often enough with all of those overtones of shame and unworthiness, then we come to fear that Jonathan Edwards was right: we are sinners in the hands of an angry god.

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THIS is the Good News? 12/02/18 (Advent 1C)

THIS is the Good News? 12/02/18 (Advent 1C)

Christmas: the promise of hope, the birth of joy, the coming of the light of God into the world. Christmas is good news! So why are we hearing about signs, and distress among nations, and the roaring of the sea? Why the descriptions of people fainting from fear and foreboding, the prophecies of the heavens being shaken? Why the command to keep awake, be always ready, stay on guard? If this is supposed to be the season of good news, why all the gloom and doom?

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Quas Primas: In the First 11/25/18 (Proper 29B; Reign of Christ)

Quas Primas: In the First 11/25/18 (Proper 29B; Reign of Christ)

Today, on Christ the King Sunday – or Reign of Christ Sunday – we are invited to ask ourselves: What is in the first in our hearts, and in our lives? To what ruler or rulers do we most frequently bow down?

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The Distant Triumph Song 11/04/18 (All Saints Sunday)

The Distant Triumph Song 11/04/18 (All Saints Sunday)

It isn’t instant. We cannot rush to joy. We can’t just hurry up and move on. Grief must run its course – even grief that is for the enormity of the world’s pain. And it takes as long as it takes. But Jesus will sit with us while we cry and rage and shake.

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The Spotting Discipline 10/28/18 (Proper 25B, Reformation Sunday)

The Spotting Discipline 10/28/18 (Proper 25B, Reformation Sunday)

Spotting involves staring at a fixed point while the body is turning to prevent dizziness and maintain balance. The dancer finds a focal point and stares at it for as long as possible, keeping the head level and facing that point while the body turns. At the last possible second, the dancer whips her head around to catch up with her body, returning her gaze immediately to the focal point. This gives her body’s visual and vestibular systems a way to know where her body is in space. The discipline of spotting is to find that one steady, immovable spot and keep your eyes fixed on it no matter what.

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Sacrifice and Salvation 10/14/18 (Proper 23B)

Sacrifice and Salvation 10/14/18 (Proper 23B)

I need to start out by saying this: today’s passage from the Gospel of Mark is jam-packed with details and ideas and lessons. There’s no way on earth that I can address them all in the span of one sermon. So I’ve picked out a few ideas to talk about, and in three years when this passage comes up again, maybe I’ll pick out some different ones. Or maybe I’ll return to one of these ideas and explore it more fully…

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A Vulnerable Heart 09/23/18 (Proper 20B)

A Vulnerable Heart 09/23/18 (Proper 20B)

The way to welcome God is to welcome the most vulnerable in society – specifically, in this illustration, children. Throughout the Gospel, both before and after this episode, we will hear of the other vulnerable ones we are meant to embrace: the sick, the dying, the poor, the socially unacceptable and ritually impure, the outsider, the foreigner, the refugee.

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Peter’s Confession 09/16/18 (Proper 19B)

Peter’s Confession 09/16/18 (Proper 19B)

To us, more than 20 centuries later, Peter’s confession is spot-on. It makes perfect sense. But that is only because we know how the story turns out. Back then, however, Peter really had no reason to call Jesus Messiah, or Christ. It’s not a terrible stretch to argue that Jesus has demonstrated that he walks in the lines of the prophets, but he definitely hasn’t done anything that would suggest that he’s the long-awaited Messiah.

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Going the Distance 09/09/18 (Proper 18B)

Going the Distance 09/09/18 (Proper 18B)

We might expect Jesus to promptly consent to heal the woman’s daughter. After all, that’s what he’s been doing for the last 6 chapters – taking care of people in need! But no. Maybe he’s tired from that long walk. Or he’s grumpy from not getting enough to eat. Or he’s still worn out from all of the ministry he’d been doing before he got to Tyre and is frustrated that he still hasn’t had a moment of quiet all to himself. Maybe the disciples wouldn’t stop talking or arguing or singing as they walked all those miles and he has a headache. Or maybe he is, like Alexander in the children’s story, just having a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” We don’t know why, we just know what: he says to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

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The Unpardonable Sin? 06/10/18 (Proper 5B)

The Unpardonable Sin? 06/10/18 (Proper 5B)

It’s a sad fact of life that sometimes people suffer and then die from their sicknesses. Even Jesus’ friend Lazarus died. And just as sometimes people die from physical illness, so too do people sometimes die from mental illness. Just as modern medicine can’t always cure physical disease, so too it can’t always cure diseases of the mind and spirit. So once again I remind us: never once does Jesus condemn those who are beyond healing in this life to an eternal life of suffering, of being beyond God’s reach.

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