Sunday, December 27, 2020

Sermon: "Expectations Defied: Flip It!" (Christmas Eve Message--December 24, 2020)

(This is the final sermon in our Advent series about our expectations around the holiday season. The others can be found here, herehere, and here.)


All throughout Advent, we here at Boone Church have been talking about the ways that God defies our expectations this time of year. At a time when many of us try our best to recreate our memories of holidays past, God urges us to look towards the future instead. At a time when we’re busy compiling our wish lists for Santa, God reminds us of the joy—and importance—of using the gifts that God has given to us. At a time when we’re craving the serenity and coziness of home, God encourages us to welcome Jesus wherever we are. At a time when we just want everyone to get along, God turns the world upside down.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Sermon: "Expectations Defied: Jesus", Luke 1:46-55 (December 20, 2020)

(This is the fourth of five sermons in our Advent series about our expectations around the holiday season. The others can be found here, here, and here.)


This beautiful passage from Luke is known “The Magnificat”. It’s the song that Mary sings because she’s overcome with joy and gratitude at all the wonderful things God was doing through her. If you run in social circles that include a lot of clergy (like I do), it’s alternatively known as Mary’s preemptive response to the song, “Mary, Did You Know?” In this song, the singer asks, again, and again, whether Mary knew that Jesus wasn’t your average child, that he was more than just a baby. And in the Magnificat, Mary’s answer is, “…Duh. Of course I know this kid is special.” The lyricist may have thought that he was dropping a major bombshell on her, but Mary had already made it clear that she knew exactly what she was getting into from the very beginning. 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Sermon: "Expectations Defied: Home", Luke 2:1-5 (December 13, 2020)

(This is the third of five sermons in our Advent series about our expectations around the holiday season. The first and second can be found here and here.)


“Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays/'Cause no matter how far away you roam/When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze/For the holidays you can't beat home sweet home.” In just a few words, Perry Como is able to embody a seemingly universally human sentiment: home is a place of comfort, joy, and belonging. Home is where you can let your hair down and be yourself. Home is where we should be at Christmas, because home stands for everything that Christmas is.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Sermon: “Expectations Defied: Gifts”, Mark 1:4-8 (December 6, 2020)

(This is the second of five sermons in our Advent series about our expectations around the holiday season. The first can be found here.)

Let’s be honest: few things are as ubiquitous in “the Holiday Season” as gifts. And thanks to the United States Postal Service, it’s the one part of this December that’s unlikely to change too much. Sure, on December 25 we may be opening them in separate houses, but until then, we’ll still be compiling our wish lists, writing letters to Santa, and dropping pointed hints about what we hope to find under the tree on Christmas morning. We’ll still be humming Christmas songs about “All I want for Christmas” (whether the answer is “you” or “my two front teeth”); we’ll still be trying to recall all 78 gifts that we got from our true love; we’ll still be doing our best not to cry or pout because Santa Claus is still coming to town. Getting presents is a huge part of Christmas culture.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sermon: “Expectations Defied: Nostalgia”, Isaiah 64:1-9 (November 29, 2020)

(This is the first of five sermons in our Advent series about our expectations around the holiday season.)


So. Here we are again. Thanksgiving is over, and we’ve officially begun the Advent season. Outside of these walls, though, it’s better known as the Holiday season, or even the Christmas season. I do tend to be a stickler about not letting Christmas creep into worship early (because the Advent season of waiting is essential to understanding the joy of Christmas), but outside of the sanctuary, I’ve already had Christmas music playing since about Halloween, and every year, it’s all Nick can do to keep me from setting up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving. Believe me; I can relate to that urgent need for the comfort and joy of Christmas as soon as socially acceptable (possibly even earlier).

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Sermon: "You First!", Judges 4:1-9 (November 15, 2020)


Today’s scripture may be unfamiliar to some of you, but it’s a favorite of many clergywomen because it unapologetically depicts a woman in a position of religious leadership. The CEB calls Deborah a “leader”, but it’s important to realize what this means in context. In its early years, the nation of Israel had no human monarch and was “ruled” exclusively by God. However, we all know how difficult it can be to discern God’s will apart from our own, so in their times of greatest need, God would raise up a leader to help guide the people. Such leaders were less than kings and queens of Israel, but they were significantly more than mere advisors. They were known as Judges, and they essentially led the people as God’s representatives.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Sermon: "One Nation, Under God", Joshua 24:1-5, 14-16, 18b (November 8, 2020)


We join the Israelites today at a significant turning point in their history. They’ve spent forty years wandering in the wilderness under Moses’ leadership, and they’d made a pretty comfortable life for themselves (as comfortable as possible while nomads, anyway). But now, they had a new leader (Moses had died), they’d finally taken control of the promised land, and they were on the cusp of forming a new nation.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Sermon: "Markarioi", Matthew 5:1-12 (November 1, 2020--All Saints Day)

Over the past several weeks, my sermons have been discussing some of the values that God holds and expects us to hold. Through the lens of the lectionary readings, we’ve explored integrity, obedience, and holiness—and found that holding these values doesn’t always look the way we might expect. We’ve been working hard to reframe our assumptions of what God considers important so that we can better conform our lives to God’s will. And this week’s lectionary reading continues to challenge us in this regard. The title of this sermon, “Markarioi” comes from the very first word in the Beatitudes; it literally means “You are blessed.” The word “Beatitude” itself comes from the Latin word for blessing. And of course, we use this word liberally in our everyday life: “What a blessing!” “I’m so blessed!” “God bless the USA!” (or, if you’re more concerned with your immediate surroundings, “God bless this mess!”). But how often do we take the time to really think about what blessing really is?

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Sermon: "Holiness", Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-10, 13-15, 17-18 (October 25, 2020)


You may be wondering what the deal is with our scripture reading for today. I’ve done a bit of a “cut-and-paste” job on it, but there’s a reason for that. The Lectionary itself only gives us the first two and last four verses of this section, and I didn’t like how much that excluded. But I didn’t want to tackle 18 whole verses in one week; I had to cut SOMETHING out. So, since this passage is essentially a list of rules, I decided to cut out the ones that we’re already very familiar with (those covered in the Ten Commandments) and the ones that really aren’t relevant to today’s society (laws regarding animal sacrifice, which stopped in 70 CE). That left me with what we have before us this morning.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Sermon: "Obedience", Matthew 22:15-22 (October 18, 2020)


Someone ought to tell Jesus that politics don’t belong in the Church.

But seriously, in a book that says a lot of uncomfortable things, this passage has got to be one of the top five most awkward moments. It hits ALL THREE of the topics you’re NEVER supposed to talk about in polite conversation: politics, religion, and finances. To be entirely fair to Jesus, this confusing mess of taboo subjects isn’t his fault. While he’s not afraid to dive into the matter (Jesus never was one to back down from a challenge) he doesn’t initiate the conversation. It’s a set-up.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Sermon: "Integrity", Exodus 32:1-14 (October 11, 2020)


“Describe ‘integrity’ in your own words, please.” This was the message that I sent out into the world of Facebook earlier this week, and Facebook—or at least my corner of it—delivered. I heard from all sorts of people: acquaintances from high school, colleagues from internships, church folks from my past, fellow clergy, and many others. Every response varied slightly, but most of them said essentially the same thing: integrity is the consistent application of one’s core values, beliefs, and choices—even when no one is looking. Having integrity means that you’re not willing to compromise your ideals under any circumstances whatsoever.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Sermon: “Why We Rest", Exodus 20:8-11/Deuteronomy 5:12-15 (October 4, 2020)


If I were the betting type, I’d bet that every single one of you already knew that the Ten Commandments come from the Bible. I even suspect that many of you already knew that you can find them in the book of Exodus (or if you didn’t know, you could figure it out based on context clues). But how many of you knew that these laws could be found in TWO different places in the Bible? Raise your hand if you knew. I’m not talking one full list and one quick recap; I mean that the Ten Commandments are recounted, in full, both in Exodus AND again in Deuteronomy. In Exodus, they’re given directly from God to Moses on Mount Sinai; in Deuteronomy, Moses is passing them along to the people.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sermon: “The Runaway Train”, Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32 (September 27, 2020)


Today’s reading from Ezekiel requires a bit of context to really understand it. Ezekiel was a prophet during the Babylonian exile in the early 6th century BCE. His prophecies primarily consist of explaining what the Israelites have done wrong, telling them what they need to do in order to get out of their predicament, and occasionally reminding them of God’s love (you know, so they don’t feel completely hopeless all the time). Chapter 18 addresses a common concern for the Israelites (and, as we remembered last week, for us, too): fairness. Apparently, God had overheard someone complaining that the exile was punishment for their parents’ sins. From this person’s perspective, God allowed the Babylonians to take over their homeland because the older generation had been faithless. Yet they, the 6th century equivalent of millennials, had taken no part in those sins. So why were they still stuck in exile?

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Sermon: “It’s Not (Supposed to Be) Fair”, Matthew 20:1-15 (September 20, 2020)


Are you ever surprised by how many scripture passages remind you of parental lessons from your childhood, or is it just me? It’s almost as if…our parents knew what they were talking about. Weird, huh? When I read this week’s passage, all I could hear was my mom’s voice saying, “You and your sister have different needs, so you get treated differently. It’s not about being fair; it’s about doing what’s best for each of you.” Interestingly, I remember being most incensed about this argument when my sister was allowed to get her ears pierced much earlier than I’d been allowed to, but I digress. The point is that, regardless of what my childish sense of justice perceived as fair, it was my parents’ job and prerogative to distribute resources (and ear piercings) based on what they determined each of us needed to survive and thrive. If that meant that one of us got a better “deal” than the other, well, that was their call. I think that most of us adults would agree that this is the right and proper way for such decisions to be made: not based on what’s objectively “fair”, but what the guardian believes is best.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Sermon: "What Really Divides Us", Romans 14:1-6/Galatians 2:11-14 (September 13, 2020)


As some of you know, I performed my first wedding here as the pastor of Boone Memorial Presbyterian Church yesterday. It was a joyful occasion, of course, and I was reminded once again of the blessing that this calling to ministry can be, even in the midst of a pandemic. I’ve been meeting with the newlyweds over the past several months in order to plan the ceremony and talk about their future life together, plus my own third wedding anniversary is in less than a month, so I’ve spent a lot of time recently reflecting on about the experience of joining two lives to one another. I’ve also been puzzling over how on earth anyone makes it work.

Monday, August 31, 2020

GUEST Sermon (Donna Oyama): "Singing in the Time of Covid", Psalm 100 (August 30, 2020)

Pastor's note: Many, many thanks to Donna Oyama for agreeing to lead worship and share a message this past week while I was on vacation. (She says she said "yes" because God was pushing her to challenge herself; I think it was because God knew her voice needed to be heard!)

When she told me that she was going to be using Psalm 100 as her primary passage, I was delighted. I bet Donna didn't remember, but that was the scripture I used in the very first sermon of this series way back in the middle of June! Her words created the perfect bookend to our summer series by reinforcing many of the themes that we've touched on over the past 3 months with brand new illustrations that never would have occurred to me...and I didn't have to say a thing! The Holy Spirit was definitely moving this week.

I'm grateful for Donna's willingness to share her gift with words this week, her sign language skills with us every week, and her faith in our community every day! -- KSW


Over the past few weeks, Pastor Katey has shared a series of sermons about a number of favorite hymns. I would like to offer one more reflection on the topic before we move on to something else.

When Katey asked congregation members to submit their favorite hymns for her sermon series, I told her I have too many to single out only one. Even so, I am amazed at how many of my favorites she has touched upon this summer. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.” Each of these holds a special place in my mind and heart. I even learned a couple hymns that were new to me. “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” is an old favorite for many; I was only vaguely familiar with it. 

Through hymns we celebrate, we praise God, we beg forgiveness, we plead for miracles, hope, comfort, and mercy. We all have our favorites. We love to sing along with the choir, or in the choir. We love to hum along when we don’t know the words. We harmonize. We clap our hands to the up-tempo songs, and close our eyes to enjoy the comfort of the quieter ones.

It is ironic that we should have spent this time focusing on singing during this time of COVID-19. Medical experts warn us that singing is not safe, that it can spread the insidious virus faster and farther than talking. In fact, singing these days is downright dangerous. In March of this year some sixty members of the Skagit Valley Chorale met at a Mt. Vernon, Washington church to rehearse. Skagit County had not yet reported any cases of the virus. Chorale members practiced social distancing and followed other safety measures. Unbeknownst to those present, one member had been infected with COVID-19. Fifty-three choir members became ill, some seriously enough to be hospitalized. Two died.*

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us there is a time for everything. Specifically, verse 7 says, “A time to be silent, and a time to speak.” This time of COVID seems to be one of those times when we need to be silent, at least where singing is concerned. 

That does not mean that we cannot search for other ways to offer songs and praise to God. As a congregation, we have already begun to use silent, sign language responses to the familiar liturgy of the worship service. You have watched and contemplated the lyrics of hymns as Sylvia played and I signed. I sometimes sign to music when I am alone; and now you know a song to sign, too.

(I have enjoyed signing for you by the way. Sign language holds a special place in my life, because in a way, signing gave me my voice in the world. But that’s another story for another time.)

As this time of quietness continues, we can find still other ways to “sing”.

The first alternative to singing that comes to my mind is through instrumental music. Percussion, piano, organ, strings—although nothing that involves blowing air into an instrument, please. Shucks. I guess that rules out pennywhistles and kazoos. But I have my shaker eggs, and a friend has a potato, so it’s all good.

We can listen to our favorite recordings.

We can sing in the shower.

We can write songs and poems to be sung later.

We can choose our favorites from the hymnal and ponder the words. If you’d like to make it a Bible study, there is a good resource at the back of the Glory to God hymnal; a lectionary index beginning on page 968. A quick Google search could also help you out.

If you are like me, you can sing in your mind as  Corinthians 14:15 suggests. “I shall sing with the spirit and I shall sing with the mind, also.” Of course, singing with your mind involves using that blessed annoyance called the earworm to your advantage.

Way down deep in the recesses of my mind lives a disc jockey, spawned and mentored by the likes of Wolfman Jack. (Kids—if you don’t know who that is, ask your grandparents.) My DJ sits in the radio studio of my brain surrounded by his thousands of records from all eras and genres. He is mischievous. His goal is to drive me bonkers.

Ordinarily, my DJ chooses a relatively harmless song to play. The song becomes my background music for a few days. I often ignore it, but it returns to my mind when I’m not thinking of something else.

Other times, the DJ decides to entertain me with that inane little ditty involving three generations of a family of dangerous sea animals. Kids love it. I’ll spare you the earworm and not name the song, but for those of you who have it figured out, it’s already streaming in your mind, right? I can hear my Wolfman wannabe howling with delight as the silly children’s song loops round and round and round, never ending, driving me to distraction.

Once in a while, the DJ chooses to play something I need at that moment—a hymn, a favorite oldie, some calming classical music. It is as though he has actually listened to God’s advice and has given me something worth pondering for a change. Once I have enjoyed the selection, I am able to make a request to the DJ to play my hymn of choice to sing in my mind.

Today’s Scripture reading, Psalm 100, tells us to “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord...” We often think of making a joyful noise as singing. But consider this. The Message version of Psalm 100 says, “ On your feet now—applaud God.” There just might be other ways to make a joyful noise.

Walt Whitman’s poem, “I Hear America Singing” speaks of workers across this land who sing through their work. It isn’t a long poem, so I can share it with you.
“I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong, 
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.”
We, too, can sing. We can applaud God, as we go about our daily lives.

When I use geometric shapes to piece together a quilt, I sing the orderliness of God’s creation.

The neighbor who shares those ubiquitous tomatoes and zucchinis from his garden sings God’s bounty and abundance.

A piece of artwork, a culinary masterpiece, or a garden landscape--each sings the beauty of His world.

The school volunteer who sits and reads with children sings God’s love for His children.

Demonstrators marching against injustice to the oppressed sing God’s justice.

Those who minister to children locked up at the border sing His compassion.

Oskar Schindler who employed Jews in his factory to save them from the deadly horrors of Auschwitz, sang God’s concern for the oppressed.

The food bank volunteer who packs and distributes boxes of needed commodities sings His command to feed those in need.

When former President Jimmy Carter helps build houses with Habitat for Humanity, he sings dignity for those who are struggling and need a hand up.

Sister Helen Prejean whose story is told in Dead Man Walking, sat and prayed with death row inmates as they were about to be executed and sang His mercy.

The songs we sing to God, the joyful noises we make are as many and as varied as the people who inhabit the earth. So make a joyful noise! Find your song. Share your produce. Make a quilt. Paint a picture. Volunteer where there is a need. Sing God’s mercy, His love, His compassion, His beauty, His abundance. Belt it out when no one else is around. Sing it in your mind! Whatever your song and however you sing it, God hears you. Amen


*LA Times, CDC

(c) Donna Oyama, 2020

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Sermon: “Make a Joyful Noise: Faith Begins By Letting Go” (“The New Normal”), Exodus 1:8-14, 2:5-10 (August 23, 2020)


Today, the lectionary draws our attention to the very beginning of the Exodus story. You may recall that at the end of Genesis, Joseph and his family were reunited in Egypt, with Joseph second only to Pharaoh in power and influence: a happy ending if there ever was one. Their descendants, the Hebrew people, flourished for years in their adopted homeland, and they built a very comfortable life for themselves. But by the beginning of Exodus, things have changed. We meet a new Pharaoh who “didn’t know Joseph”, who felt threatened by his descendants, and therefore decided to put a stop to their prosperity. He put them to work for the Egyptians.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Sermon: “Make a Joyful Noise: What A Friend We Have In Jesus” ("Thoughts & Prayers"), Matthew 15:21-28 (August 16, 2020)


As people of faith, we believe in the power of prayer. We believe that prayer is a gift, a way for us to connect with the divine and to be heard in our petitions. Today’s hymn, “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”, describes prayer in glowing terms, making it sound downright miraculous—any pain, no matter how profound; any sorrow, no matter how deep; any burden, no matter how heavy, evaporates into thin air if we just bring it to Jesus in prayer. Ask, and ye shall instantly receive, so to speak. It’s no wonder that when something terrible happens, we’ve been conditioned to lift up prayers as our very first response. After all, why not start with our most powerful tool right out of the gate?

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Sermon: “Make a Joyful Noise: Great Is Thy Faithfulness” (“Get Off the Fence”), Genesis 37:17b-30 (August 9, 2020)


I want to begin today’s sermon with a story. There once was a little girl named Ruby. Ruby loved cookies. I mean LOVED them. Like, Cookie Monster had nothing on her. Her mother couldn't even keep cookies in the house, because as soon as Ruby discovered them, they were as good as gone. She seemed to have the metabolism of a teenage boy; otherwise, there was no way to explain how so many cookies could fit into such a tiny body.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Sermon: “Make a Joyful Noise: God of Grace and God of Glory” (“Mythbusting for Jesus”), Matthew 14:13-21 (August 2, 2020)


The Church has many roles to fill: gospel-spreader, caretaker, relationship-builder, and so on. None of that should be surprising to you. But it MAY surprise you to know that one of the Church’s most important roles is that of myth-buster. No, I don’t mean that Christians should have their own TV show on Discovery Channel, but we should be similarly concerned about making sure that pervasive cultural myths, especially those directly related to our faith, get disproven (or “busted”). Believe it or not, God’s people have been involved in myth-busting since the days of Abraham: the Torah’s laws were intended to help the Hebrew people demonstrate that the larger culture’s way of life wasn’t the only or best way to live—myth busted. Scripture recorded and codified all of the myth-busting from Abraham through Jesus (who was VERY disruptive to the status quo) and beyond, and today we’re still supposed to live it out in every aspect of Church life. Disproving society’s expectations and turning them on their head is in our very DNA!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

COVID-19 Communion Liturgy

Invitation to the Lord’s Table

Leader: Communion is a very physical sacrament, and it’s supposed to be done when the community is all physically gathered together. But of course, it’s not safe for everyone to be gathered here, and we choose to worship differently as an act of love for one another. And we believe that NOTHING—neither death, nor life, nor heights, nor depths, nor anything in all creation—can keep Jesus away from us.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Sermon: “Make a Joyful Noise: In the Bulb There Is a Flower”, Romans 8:12-25 (July 26, 2020)


Throughout your life, every choice you make is influenced by an endless list of considerations: what the weather will be like, how much gas is left in your car, how much sleep you got last night, how close you are to payday, and so on and so on. But at this particular moment, one factor looms larger in our decision-making than any other: the novel Coronavirus. This microscopic nightmare has managed to infiltrate not only the bodies of more than 15 million people worldwide, but also the lives of every single human being on earth. It seems like every decision we make these days is dictated by the threat of this tiny adversary, from what we wear to where we shop to how we fulfill our obligations to our jobs—even how we worship has changed dramatically in our efforts to avoid catching or spreading this malicious virus. The entire world is on high alert, and we’re all working as hard and as fast as we can to figure out how to defend ourselves against this new enemy.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Sermon: “Make a Joyful Noise: Take My Life”, Genesis 28:10-19 (July 19, 2020)


Sometimes, you make plans. Sometimes, they’re great plans: they’re carefully thought-out and designed to make the world a better place. Other times, your plans are less than noble: they involve putting yourself first or running away from your responsibilities. Either way, God often has plans that are quite different than yours: as the saying goes, we plan, and God laughs.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sermon: "Make A Joyful Noise: Go, Tell It on the Mountain", Isaiah 55:10-13 (July 12, 2020)


Do you all remember what it’s like applying to jobs? I sure do. Personally, I didn’t mind the ones that gave you an actual application form too much, but I HATED the ones that required a resume. It’s not that I had a problem sharing my employment history with potential employers (although early on, it was hard to make three years of babysitting fill up an entire page). No, what I hated about it was the fact that submitting a resume also requires writing a cover letter. Did you ever have to write one? Did you struggle with them as much as I did? As I understand it, a cover letter serves several purposes: it’s primarily a matter of etiquette, thanking the employer for their time and consideration, but it’s also an opportunity to grab the employer’s attention. A good cover letter hits the highlights of your job history and connects the dots as to why you’d be a good fit for the position. It summarizes you as an employee in a way that compels the employer to want to know more. It’s basically the Cliffsnotes of your resume.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Sermon: "Make A Joyful Noise: This Is My Song", Psalm 33, 10-16, 20-22 (July 5, 2020)


Independence Day weekend is often a complicated thing for churches to navigate, and I’m already worn out from…well, life these days. I’m sure you are too. So I’m gonna go ahead and make this easy for all of us. Instead of building up to the message with a clever metaphor or a cultural reference or something, I’m just gonna get straight to the point of telling you what the scripture reading and the hymn are teaching us today. Here it is:

It’s not wrong to love your country. It’s wrong to assume that God loves it more than others.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sermon: “Make a Joyful Noise: Be Thou My Vision”, Jeremiah 28:1-9 (June 28, 2020)


We all know that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, right? This is a fact of life, especially today. If you’ve ever bought anything online, you’ve undoubtedly learned that some sellers will say anything to make a sale, regardless of their claim’s veracity. And in this age of so called “fake news” and unfettered social media sharing, we all know to be on our guard for assertions that agree just a little bit too perfectly with our perspective. Anyone living in the modern world knows that you can’t necessarily accept information, especially from a stranger, at face value.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Sermon: "Make a Joyful Noise: His Eye Is on the Sparrow", Matthew 10:24-39 (June 21, 2020)


“His eye is on the sparrow…” Sparrows are common birds, small and unassuming, that today can be found in almost every corner of the world. In Jesus’ day, they were so common that even the poorest person could afford a sparrow—two, in fact, as long as they had a single coin. Most people would have viewed them as essentially worthless, certainly not noteworthy in any way. And yet, Jesus tells us, God knows every single one of them so well, that if even one were to fall to the ground, God would notice. How much more, then, must God take notice of US? We are, after all, “worth more than many sparrows.”

Friday, June 19, 2020

We Need to Talk--er, Listen...

Fellow white people, we need to talk.

Actually, no; we need to listen.

...Oh, but not to me. 

Well, listen to me first; then listen to other people.

Okay, let me explain...

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Sermon: "Make A Joyful Noise: Joyful, Joyful", Psalm 100 (June 14, 2020)


While my heart is full at being able to worship with you in this beautiful space once again, it’s impossible to forget that everything’s different now. When we first went into lockdown at the end of March, we told each other, “Don’t worry; it’ll just be a few weeks before we’re back to normal.” As we approached Easter, we reassured ourselves, “It’s an *authentic* Easter, hearing the Good News while hiding away in our homes. When we get back into the church building, we’ll have a REAL Easter celebration, with singing and bells and hugs and joy!” And yet, here we are, halfway through June, and we’ve been told on no uncertain terms that although we can begin to gather again, we must continue social distancing and refrain from singing together—ESPECIALLY in Church. None of us want to be in the news for becoming a hotspot for the virus’ spread. So, many of us are still staying home, and those of us who are physically gathered still remain physically distant from one another. While it’s wonderful to be back in this sacred space, it feels like a far cry from the Easter Celebration that we’ve been waiting and hoping for. We’re navigating a new worship experience, one that’s quieter, lonelier, and more technologically complicated than we’re used to.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Sermon: "Confessional Excerpts" (June 7 2020)


These last couple of weeks have been emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and even physically taxing. We were already worn out from the isolation and caution demanded by COVID-19, and now there’s a national movement of civil unrest that’s rightly demanding the last remnants of our energy and attention. One thought that’s been haunting me ever since the news of George Floyd’s death broke is that, if I’m this bone-weary after a week of mourning the sins of our nation and doing my best to stand against racism, it must be absolutely debilitating for those who don’t have that choice, whose very existence makes it impossible to ignore or deny the injustices of American society. This thought has convicted me that I can’t afford to look away, even when it’s hard to watch.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Sermon: "Pentecostal Power", Acts 2:1-21/Numbers 11:24-30 (May 31, 2020--Pentecost)


Today is Pentecost. We’re all familiar with the account from Acts 2 that I read “In Other Words” a few minutes ago, where the Holy Spirit descends on the gathered community like “divided tongues of fire”. It’s a beloved story that we fondly call “the birthday of the Church” because it’s the point at which the disciples pivot from feeling lost without Jesus to taking ownership of their own ministry. It’s the point at which the gift of the Holy Spirit gives the community a sense of unity and agency.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Sermon: "Hide & Seek in the Desert", Acts 1:6-14/1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11 (May 24, 2020--Ascension Sunday)


We’ve all played “Hide & Seek” before, right? Or at least we know the concept? All the players except one are hiding somewhere “out there”, and it’s the seeker’s job to go out and find them. This is essentially what Jesus is telling the disciples to do in the beginning of Acts, and calls us to do still: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” We are the seekers, and we’re tasked to go out into the world and find God’s beloved children, wherever they are, in order to share the Good News of Christ’s love with them. This echo of the Great Commission confirms that we, as people of faith, are engaged in the largest and longest-running game of Hide & Seek ever undertaken in human history. (I wonder if anyone’s called Guinness World Records yet…probably not.)

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Sermon: “The Paraclete Sandwich”, John 14:15-21 (May 17, 2020)


This week’s reading from John follows directly after the passage that we read last week. Last week, we learned that there’s no “magic feather” that we need in order to do ministry, that we already have all the knowledge and skills we need to share the gospel. But just because we don’t need anything outside of ourselves to follow God’s call doesn’t mean that we’re on our own. This week, Jesus assures us that he’ll send a companion to be with us forever: the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Sermon: “Dumbo Disciples”, John 14:1-14 (May 10, 2020)


Have you ever seen the 1941 Disney movie, “Dumbo”? It’s the story of Jumbo Jr., a young circus elephant who’s mocked and scorned for his enormous ears. The other elephants mockingly call him “Dumbo” as a way to belittle him, and it works: he takes their cruelty to heart. One day, he awakes to find himself somehow perched on top of a tree. His only friend Timothy, a circus mouse, is convinced that his abnormally large ears flew him up there while he was sleeping. Being…well…an elephant (and one with low self-esteem, at that), Dumbo is, of course, skeptical. To help him overcome his uncertainty, Timothy gives Dumbo a feather, insisting that it’s magic and will allow him to fly. The feather does the trick, and Dumbo finds that he can, indeed, fly like a bird.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Sermon: "The Three(ish) Stages of Life", Acts 2:42-47/Psalm 23 (May 3, 2020)


Psalm 23 may seem to be a pretty straightforward description of God’s care, but it’s not quite as simple a passage as we might think. If we look closely, we can see that there are actually three distinct movements that grow naturally out of one another and reflect the rhythm of human life in relationship with God.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Reflections on Spring

Spring Makes Me Feel...

Spring makes me feel like I belong in the world. 

Winter makes me feel like the universe is trying to shut me out, to keep me from participating. Fall makes me feel like I'm on the outside looking in, appreciating nature but distinctly separate from it. Summer makes me feel like I'm fighting for my right to be here. 

But spring makes me feel like I belong in the world. 

Entirely Random Reflection

When I was younger, I hated being outside. I didn't like the warmth, I didn't like the brightness, I didn't like that it required moving around. Like, I spent the better part of several days of a family cruise in our (interior) cabin watching movies instead of sitting by the pool. The prospect of going outside for anything other than necessary errands made me feel anxious and physically uncomfortable.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Sermon: “The Witness of Unexpected Reactions”, Acts 2.14a, 36-41 (April 26, 2020)


Have you ever heard of “reaction videos”? It’s an online phenomenon where people post videos of themselves (or others) as they encounter things for the first time. They can be experiencing anything from a video game to popular music to unfamiliar technology to a viral video, but no matter what it is, the whole point is to watch their reaction. Yes, you heard that right: the entertainment value of one of the most popular trends on YouTube lies entirely in the unfiltered reactions of strangers.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Sermon: "What Is It We Believe?", John 20:19-31 (April 19, 2020)


Imagine that you were one of Jesus’ disciples who had followed him devotedly throughout his ministry. Imagine that you cared deeply for your teacher, insisting on accompanying him in dangerous situations[1] and wanting to follow him everywhere he went, forever.[2] Now imagine that, just a few days after your beloved rabbi had been taken from you in a horrifying, violent way, your friends insist that he’s not dead after all. Sure, he’d been saying that all along, but none of you REALLY thought that was possible. Not only that, but he’s appeared to them and NOT to you. These are the same buddies who’d been known to argue over who was the best disciple, and who’d probably joked around with you plenty over the past several years. This was a pretty mean joke to play on you, though, just to “prove” that Jesus loved them best. So you respond, “I won’t let you trick me that easily. It’s mean to get my hopes up. The only way you can convince me is if I see his wounds with my own eyes. I KNOW you can’t fake that.”

It doesn’t seem very fair to have the adjective “doubting” disparagingly added to your name in popular consciousness, does it?

We tend to make an awful lot of assumptions about Thomas when we read this passage from John. We assume that his response to his friends is the result of some sort of moral defect that makes him inferior to the other disciples. We assume that he’s arrogantly making selfish demands for his own benefit. We assume that after everything he’d seen following Jesus, he almost wound up an atheist. We assume that the “Doubting Thomas” story is a cautionary tale.

But scripture doesn’t say any of this. It doesn’t even necessarily imply it. The scenario I outlined at the beginning of this sermon doesn’t contradict scripture at all. It just interprets what’s already there and fills in some of the gaps imaginatively—and in the process, changes our understanding of this familiar story.

The fact is, while we often assume that the issue at stake is Thomas’ belief in the facts of the resurrection or Jesus’ divinity, it’s not clear at all. Thomas simply says, “Unless I see these things, I won’t believe.” Not “I won’t believe that Jesus is alive.” Not “I won’t believe that Jesus is the messiah.” Just a vague “I won’t believe.” I wonder if Thomas was even experiencing active doubt, as his modern nickname implies. I wonder if he was choosing not to believe out of stubbornness or skepticism, or if he was just finding belief to be frustratingly elusive in his time of grief. I wonder if his declaration that “I won’t believe” would be better interpreted as “I refuse to believe” or “I can’t believe”.

Even Jesus’ eventual appearance doesn’t clarify matters; he doesn’t specify in what way Thomas’ perception should change. We often read his words to Thomas as a criticism, but that, too, is an interpretation. All scripture says is that Jesus offers his wounds as evidence and issues a simple invitation: “Believe.” I wonder if Jesus’ priority really is for Thomas to get the facts of the resurrection right, as we often assume. That doesn’t seem likely to me; after all, if Jesus were preoccupied with factual accuracy, don’t you think he would have been a bit less enigmatic in his teachings? If not that, then, what on earth is the point of this passage?

Maybe scripture leaves Thomas’ and Jesus’ statements vague on purpose. Maybe the issue of “belief” isn’t meant to be about specific facts and details, but about larger ideas and truths. Maybe the “problem” isn’t whether or not Thomas adhered to the correct doctrine or whether or not his lack of belief was a choice. Maybe, the real point of this passage can be found in Jesus’ words at the end of this chapter: “Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.”

If we interpret this traditionally, from a biblical literalist’s perspective (“Happy are those who don’t see that Jesus has been resurrected and yet believe that it’s true”), it leaves us with a distressingly narrow definition of who gets to be blessed, who belongs, who’s “in”. You don’t need to have been there, but you MUST believe in this fact in this way. No room for grace. But if we take Jesus’ statement at face value and allow ourselves to interpret it more broadly, it could mean all sorts of things, with all sorts of implications. And these implications go far beyond which religion we belong to. They touch every aspect of human life throughout human history.

Early in the book of Acts,[3] the disciples ask, “Okay, Jesus, NOW are you going to restore the kingdom of Israel, now that you’ve conquered death? It’s what we’ve been waiting for. Surely, that’s the next step!” Perhaps to them, Jesus would say, “Happy are those who don’t see the totality of God’s plan, and yet believe.”

During the Holocaust, Anne Frank famously said, “It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.” Perhaps to her, Jesus would say, “Happy are those who don’t see the goodness of humanity, and yet believe.”

Many today are struggling to understand how our being confined to our homes or wearing face masks when we don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19 can help others—it doesn’t seem logical, and aside from some abstract graphs, we can’t see that it’s making any difference. Perhaps to us, Jesus would say, “Happy are those who don’t see the consequences of their loving actions, and yet believe.”

Belief is bigger than just buying into a particular set of facts. Belief is about being able to imagine the world the way God imagines it, and being willing to do something about it, even when you don’t understand it completely. It’s about knowing, in the deepest part of yourself, who God is and how God works in the world, not just at one particular moment over 2000 years ago, but every single day.

THIS type of belief is more real, more powerful, more complete, than simple “orthodoxy”. THIS type of belief opens the door to a relationship with God that touches every part of your life. But this type of belief also has consequences. It demands action. Belief in doctrine doesn’t require anything beyond assent: you answer the questions correctly, and you’re in. That’s why so many people are drawn to this version of faith—even to the point of hostility towards other perspectives. But real belief in God’s essence and identity demands a response. If you know who God is, then you understand the goals of God’s kingdom and the desires of God’s heart. And you know that you have a role to play in making them a reality.

When Thomas cried, “My Lord and my God!” it was a cry of deep recognition. He’d had an epiphany, finally able to fully comprehend through Jesus’ appearance what three years of ministry together had been leading up to. The Lord is a God of compassion, of reaching out to people wherever they are, of overcoming impossibilities to meet the needs of humanity. The Lord is a God of infinite mercy and love. And the Lord is a God who expects the same from those who call themselves disciples. After all, a disciple is more than a follower—a disciple is an apprentice whose goal is to imitate the life of the teacher in every way.

So, fellow disciples…what is it we believe? If we believe, like Thomas, that the Lord is a God of compassion, mercy, and love, then how are we living our lives in imitation of our teacher? What is it that our beliefs are demanding of us in this very moment? And when is it that we’ll finally listen and respond? Amen.


[1] Cf. John 11:16.
[2] Cf. John 14:5.
[3] Cf. Acts 1:6-8.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Sermon: "Sensing the Sacred: Easter Sunday", Matthew 28:1-10 (April 12, 2020--Easter Sunday)

(This is the eighth and final sermon in our Lenten series, "Sensing the Sacred". 
The others can be found herehereherehereherehere, and here.
This message was a part of a larger worship service created by the Presbytery of Boise.)


This Lent, Boone Memorial Presbyterian Church has been exploring the ways we experience the sacred through our senses—smell, sight, taste, sound, touch, and thirst (since there are six weeks of Lent, I had to get creative and branch out from the traditional five senses). Since Christ was fully human and experienced life the way we do, there was plenty to explore in Scripture through our senses. We read about Nicodemus’ inability to see what Jesus was trying to show him, the thirst of the Samaritan woman, the touch that healed the blind man, the smell of a newly-resurrected Lazarus, the sound of the crowd on Palm Sunday, and the taste of the bread at the Last Supper. And on Good Friday, we immersed ourselves in the difficult sensory experience that is Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Sermon: “Sensing the Sacred: The Sound of Victory”, Luke 19:29-40 (April 5, 2020--Palm Sunday)

(This is the seventh sermon in our Lenten series, "Sensing the Sacred". 
The others can be found here, here, here, herehere, and here.)


Today is Palm Sunday, the last Sunday before Easter, when we remember Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. This is one of the few stories from Jesus’ life that can be found in all four gospels (even the Christmas story is only found in Matthew and Luke). From a scriptural perspective, this is one of the best-documented events in the New Testament. Because of this, we might be tempted to think that we have a good handle on what actually happened that day long ago on the Mount of Olives. But just because we retell the story year after year with the same basic elements every time doesn’t mean that the accounts themselves are consistent. On the contrary, there are a LOT of discrepancies between the four gospels. Here are just a few questions that arise when comparing them:

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Sermon: “Sensing the Sacred: What’s That Smell?”, John 11:1-45 (March 29, 2020)

(This is the sixth sermon in our Lenten series, "Sensing the Sacred". 
The others can be found here, here, herehere, and here.)


In my Junior year of college, I took a course called “Art and the Bible”. I remember sitting in a large auditorium with images of classical art depicting scriptural stories projected in front of us. Most of the class time was spent with the professor explaining what we were seeing in detail. We’d have the scripture in front of us as we listened to him so that we could figure out for ourselves what aspects of the art were true to the text and which were “creative license”. It was a fascinating class (to me, anyway).

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Sermon: "Sensing the Sacred: The Power of Touch", John 9:1-17 (March 22, 2020)

(This is the fifth sermon in our Lenten series, "Sensing the Sacred". 
The others can be found here, here, here, and here.)


Since I assume y’all are at home and either properly disinfecting your surroundings or at least comfortable with your own family’s germs, go ahead and touch something that’s next to you. If there’s someone watching worship with you, touch them (with their permission), or touch your own hand. Take a moment and reflect on what these sensations make you think or feel. If you touched your warm cup of coffee, did that sensation fill you with feelings of comfort or thoughts of routine? If you touched a family member or pet, did that that sensation fill you with feelings of love and reassurance or thoughts of gratitude? If you touched your own hand, did that sensation make you feel grounded, or fill you with thoughts about who you are? Really reflect for a minute…how do these sensations affect you? When you stop to think about it, the impact that a simple touch can have on our thoughts and feelings is pretty incredible.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Sermon: “Sensing the Sacred: When We Thirst”, Exodus 17:1-7/John 4:5-30 (March 15, 2020)

(This is the fourth sermon in our Lenten series, "Sensing the Sacred". 
The others can be found here, here, and here.)


This week’s sermon is a bit of an outlier in our Lenten series, in that we’ll be talking about “thirst”, and thirst isn’t considered one of the traditional senses. However, technically speaking, a sense is any faculty by which we perceive stimuli originating from outside or inside the body.[1] Since our thirst is a way for us to perceive a need of our body, I’d argue that it can be considered a sense just as much as smell, sight, taste, sound, or touch (also, Lent is six weeks long so I had to get creative. Cut me some slack, here).

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Sermon: "Sensing the Sacred: Do You Not Perceive It?", Numbers 21:4-9/John 3:1-17 (March 8, 2020)

(This is the third sermon in our Lenten series, "Sensing the Sacred". 
The others can be found here and here.)

Out of all of the senses that we’ll be talking about during Lent, sight is the one that we tend to rely on the most. It’s on the front lines of our perception. A very unscientific poll that I found online indicated that, if they had to choose one sense to lose, only 4% of respondents would be willing to give up their sight—the lowest percentage of all the possible responses.[1] Conventional knowledge says that “seeing is believing,” and while it may not be the ONLY path to belief, it certainly helps. This proverb even has a 21st century iteration—“Pics [pictures] or it didn’t happen.” Different words, same sentiment: if it can’t be observed with the eyes, then it’s irrelevant. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Prayer Cairn Revisited

Today was a beautiful day in Caldwell (60 degrees and sunny...sorry, Rochesterians!) so I decided to take a break from sermon writing and take care of a project I've been meaning to do for a while: neatening up the church's prayer cairn.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Sermon: “Sensing the Sacred: Taste the Divine”, Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7/Matthew 4:1-11 (March 1, 2020)

(This is the second sermon in our Lenten series, "Sensing the Sacred". 
The first sermon can be found here.)


Food is DANGEROUS. Or at least, we tend to think of food as dangerous. How many of you have ever described yourself as “bad” for taking a second helping at dinner? How many of you have ever described dessert as “a temptation”? If you’re giving something up for Lent, how many of you have chosen to forgo some sort of food item? Our relationship with food isn’t all lighthearted self-deprivation, either: over 30 million Americans struggle with disordered eating;[1] for these people, any event involving food is a minefield of emotional, physical, and psychological danger. What’s more, about 32 million Americans have allergies to food, with 200,000 people being hospitalized for them in the U.S. every year.[2] For these people, the prospect of eating food at any given time can literally be a matter of life and death. Suffice it to say, even though food is the necessary fuel to sustain human life, many of us have a complicated relationship with it, for all sorts of reasons.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Sermon: "Sensing the Sacred: A Clean Slate", Psalm 51:1-17/2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 (February 26, 2020--Ash Wednesday)


Lent is such a rich liturgical season, but it’s one that we often struggle to embrace. Most of us know the overarching themes—penitence, solemnity, self-discipline, sacrifice—but our understanding often doesn’t go much deeper than a superficial awareness of those buzzwords. This is the result of historical Protestant suspicion of all things Catholic: mid-week observances and liturgical seasons reeked of popery, so generations of Protestants have rejected anything associated with Lent or its rituals beyond normal Sunday worship. Although the pendulum has begun to swing back the other way and we’ve begun to reclaim these ancient traditions, we’ve lost a lot of the understanding that comes with consistency. As a result, we’ve inherited a pre-Easter that’s heavy on asceticism but light on pretty much anything else.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sermon: "Get It?" Matthew 17:1-9/Acts 8:26-39 (February 23, 2020--Transfiguration Sunday)


Some of you may not know this about me, but while I’ve been ordained for almost six years now, I’ve actually been working in churches professionally for more than ten years. The vast majority of the time, my career has been focused on Christian Education. I was also a Religious Studies major in college before that, so you might say that I have a bit of experience—both formal and “on the job”—learning and teaching about God.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sermon: “Who Are You?”, Deuteronomy 30:15-20/1 Corinthians 3:1-9 (February 16, 2020)


“Who am I?” That’s the question at the root of both of our scripture readings today. This may surprise you; after all, the words of the Deuteronomy passage have a loaded and complex history that has very little to do with identity. The phrase “Choose life” has been co-opted by Hollywood for the 1996 film “Trainspotting” (a movie about drug use); it’s been used to adorn t-shirts in the ‘80s in a suicide prevention campaign; it’s been embraced by the “pro-life” movement to bolster their position.[1] But we can assume with a fair amount of certainty that Moses didn’t have issues like drugs, suicide, or abortion on his mind when he originally made this speech.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Sermon: "Clear the Fog", Psalm 112:1-9/Matthew 5:13-20 (February 9, 2020)


Today’s gospel reading, from the so-called “Sermon on the Mount”, is an important one. In it, Jesus offers a job description to all those who would call themselves his followers. As usual, his sermon is peppered with metaphors pulled from everyday life in the first century C.E., and given that he explicitly interprets those metaphors in verse 16, we can probably assume that Jesus expects all of his listeners to get what he’s trying to say.

Friday, February 7, 2020

The Point of Religion

Friends, the point of religion--any religion--isn't to reassure you about how right you are.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Sermon: “My House, My Rules”, Psalm 15/Micah 6:1-8 (February 2, 2020)


By invoking the image of a courtroom, today’s reading from Micah seems to be implying that we’re criminals. I mean, why else would God have brought us to court? There’s no way that God would wrongly accuse us. Besides, as good Calvinists, we believe in total depravity; we already know that we’re as guilty as guilty can be. So it’s natural that we, the readers, would identify our role in this metaphor as the corrupt defendants facing the righteous plaintiff, submitting to the rage and punishment of a God who’s been unapologetically wronged. It’s just a matter of time before they lock us up and throw away the key.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Sermon: “When Christ Turns Away”, Psalm 27:1, 4-9/Matthew 4:18-23 (January 26, 2020)


“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?...Of whom shall I be afraid?” Sometimes, it seems like scripture is telling us that the mark of true faith is a lack of fear. There’s even a rumor that the Bible says “Do not be afraid” 365 times, one for each day of the year. While that’s a pretty dramatic exaggeration, this phrase certainly is a common refrain throughout scripture. It’s no wonder, then, that we fall into the pattern of thinking that as long as we follow God, as long as we live a life of faith, we will never be afraid. We’ll have everything we need: safety, shelter, victory, comfort…a life entirely free from fear!

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sermon: “Making Room in God’s House” (a.k.a., "Invitangelism", "Think Bigger", or "The Parable of the Architect"), Isaiah 49:1, 4-6/Psalm 40:1-4/John 1:35-42 (January 19, 2020)


A new parable: there once was an architect who needed to design and build a house for her own family. She, her spouse, and their two children had been displaced by a natural disaster a few years back, but the time had come for them to return to their hometown, to rebuild and start again. She was full of hope as she sat down at the drafting table, but as she considered everything that needed to go into this new house—her spouse wanted a large kitchen, her son wanted a bedroom with enough space for all of his toys while her daughter wanted one as far from her brother as possible, not to mention her own need for an at-home office—she began to become discouraged. She felt that after everything they’d been through, she didn’t have the strength to create a new home for her family, one that would meet all of their needs and help them feel safe and secure again. But, they needed somewhere to live, so she did the best she could, and they began construction.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Sermon: "Turn the Page", Isaiah 42:1-9/Matthew 3:13-17 (January 12, 2020)


With all that’s going on in the world today, it’s understandable that one might want to take a break from the news once in a while. Everyone has their own way to escape from the realities of life; one of mine happens to be reading. I particularly love fantasy novels. My favorites are the ones that follow the familiar quest narrative, the hero’s journey. They do tend to be fairly predictable, but that’s part of their appeal. The Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter…the literary landscape is filled with these sorts of beloved tales.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Sermon: "Guiding Light", Isaiah 60:1-6/Matthew 2:1-12 (January 5, 2020)


Today is Epiphany Sunday, the day that we celebrate the magi’s arrival at Jesus’ home. This is a wonderful story with much to teach us: that the story of Christmas is one of ancient scripture being fulfilled, that Jesus’ birth was for Gentiles and Jews alike, and that mortal power often protects itself at any cost. But I don’t want to talk about any of that today.