Sunday, June 9, 2024

Sermon: "The Poetry of Water", Psalm 65 (June 9, 2024)


You may not remember this about me, but I don’t especially like preaching on the psalms. It’s not because I don’t like them; I think that the Psalms are a beautiful showcase of the depth of humanity’s emotions. But the same thing that makes them beautiful to read is what makes them difficult to preach – they’re poetry. A poem can be challenging enough to understand when it’s in your native tongue, but it gets exponentially more difficult when it’s in an unfamiliar ancient language. The goal of poetry isn’t the same as prose: it isn’t to tell a story, but to convey an emotion or a deeper truth. It uses sentence fragments, metaphor, double-entendre, and ambiguity – all very advanced linguistic concepts – to accomplish this. The fact that poetry purposely uses language in an imprecise and subjective way makes it extremely difficult to translate. Many of the words used in the psalms have multiple meanings, or meanings that don’t make sense to us in the context we find them.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Liturgy: 3rd Sunday After Pentecost, Psalm 65 (June 9, 2024)

 *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Hymns

Hymn GTG #479, “Ho, All Who Thirst”
Hymn GTG #480, “Take Me to the Water”
Hymn GTG #476, “Crashing Waters at Creation”
Hymn GTG #410, “God Is Calling through the Whisper”


Sunday, June 2, 2024

Sermon: “Mastery of All Creation; Master of None”, Job 38:1-38 (June 2, 2024)


When we talk about biblical creation stories, our minds usually jump straight to Genesis, don’t they? The first two chapters of Genesis offer two separate accounts of creation with two different objectives: the Adam and Eve creation story teaches us about humanity’s relationship with God and with one another, but before that, Genesis 1 tells us about God’s relationship with ALL of creation. As far as OUR relationship with creation, the first chapter of Genesis covers that, too – in verse 28, God tells humanity to “Fill the earth and master it. Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, and everything crawling on the ground.” Most of us have gone our whole lives assuming that this is the sum total of biblical creation accounts.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Liturgy: 2nd Sunday After Pentecost, Job 38:1-38 (June 2, 2024)

 *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Hymns

Hymn GTG #12, “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”
Hymn GTG #648, "Thankful Hearts and Voices Raise"
Hymn GTG #24, “God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens” 


Sunday, May 19, 2024

Sermon: “A Pentecostal Truth”, Acts 2:1-21/Numbers 11:24-29 (May 19, 2024 - Pentecost)


Today is the day that we remember the first Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples – the so-called “birthday of the Church”. And what a celebration it was! The Apostles started babbling in other languages, resulting in the crowd assuming they’re drunk, which in turn causes Peter to quote scripture at them and yell, “Nuh uh, it’s only 9am” – you know; just your average first birthday party. But seriously, we actually call Pentecost “the birthday of the Church” because it’s the point at which the disciples pivot from being Jesus’ sidekicks to being apostles with their own ministries. And while the “speaking in other languages” thing is a neat party trick, the Holy Spirit also gives the Church its *actual* first birthday gift on this occasion: a new sense of power and authority to create global unity through the gospel.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Liturgy: Pentecost Sunday, Acts 2:1-21/Numbers 11:24-29 (May 19, 2024)

 *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Hymns

Hymn GTG #291, “Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness”
Hymn GTG #284, “Holy Spirit, Come to Us”
Hymn GTG #280, “Come, O Spirit, Dwell Among Us”


Sunday, May 12, 2024

Sermon: “Chrysalis Victor”*, 1 Corinthians 15:12-26, 51-55 (May 12, 2024

*In case you aren't a super-nerd about theology, this is a play on words - "Christus Victor" is the name of the atonement theory (explanation of why/how the resurrection reconciled humanity to God) that says that the Resurrection was God's ultimate victory over death. And this sermon talks about cocoons.


I’m glad that we’re ending Eastertide with a passage from 1 Corinthians. This epistle contains some of the best-known passages of scripture, both cherished and controversial, but its greatest value lies in what it can teach us about life *after* Christ’s resurrection. We know that the events of Easter morning aren’t the END of the story, but the BEGINNING, and Paul is an excellent reminder of that fact. He didn’t know Jesus during his earthly ministry, so the resurrected Christ WAS the beginning of *Paul’s* story, and his life’s work became helping the larger ecclesial community write its next chapters.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Liturgy: Seventh Sunday of Easter, 1 Corinthians 15:12-26, 51-55 (May 12, 2024)

 *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Hymns

Hymn GTG #239, “Good Christians All, Rejoice and Sing!”
Hymn GTG #750, “Goodness Is Stronger than Evil”
Hymn GTG #236, “The Strife Is O’er”
Hymn GTG #369, “Blessing and Honor”


Sunday, April 28, 2024

Sermon: "Crocheted in Christ", 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 (April 28, 2024)


As we all know, the apostle Paul was an exceptionally well-travelled man. He took his call to evangelize very seriously, which resulted in journeys to over fifty cities across three continents. And the message that he preached in each of these cities never strayed far from the famous one that he wrote early on to the church in Galatia: “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

But, well – humans gonna human, right? No matter how far he trekked, no matter how often he preached this message, Paul encountered the same problem again and again: people choosing to divide themselves into rival groups, gravitating towards conflict instead of unity. In spite of the young Church’s vulnerability in the shadow of the Roman Empire. In spite of Paul’s teachings. In spite of the gospel.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Liturgy: Fifth Sunday of Easter, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 (April 28, 2024)

*You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Hymns

Hymn GTG #317, “In Christ There Is No East or West”
Hymn GTG #321, “The Church’s One Foundation”
Hymn GTG #296, “Go in Grace and Make Disciples” 


Sunday, April 14, 2024

Sermon: “Smaller Miracles”, Acts 3:1-10 (April 14, 2024)


This is a pretty miraculous story, isn’t it? If I were to ask you what makes it miraculous, what’s the first thing you think of? ...The healing, right? This is the very first time we see the disciples do something seemingly impossible in Christ’s name; it’s the first time they prove themselves to be anything other than a bunch of ordinary dudes who happen to have an extraordinary best friend. This is the moment that makes us think the apostles are somehow fundamentally different from us – there’s certainly no reason to believe that any of US are capable of such things. Either they’re somehow special, or there was something in the first-century water. This appears to be a great story for celebrating the disciples’ ministry, but there doesn’t seem to be much in it that we can learn from.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Liturgy: Third Sunday of Easter, Acts 3:1-10 (April 14, 2024)

*You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Hymns:

Hymn GTG #451, “Open My Eyes, That I May See”
Hymn GTG #205, “Live in Charity”
Hymn GTG #320, “The Church of Christ in Every Age"
Hymn GTG #315, “In the Midst of New Dimensions"


Sunday, April 7, 2024

Sermon: "Witness Protection", Acts 1:1-14 (April 7, 2024)


Happy Second Sunday of Easter! He is risen! [He is risen, indeed!]

Today, as we continue to celebrate the resurrection, we’re shifting from the terse, fast-paced narrative of Mark’s gospel to the book that contains all the stuff that Luke’s couldn’t cram into his. Although the styles of these two writers are about as different as they could possibly be, Acts is the only canonical record we have of the resurrection’s immediate aftermath, and the only one that offers us a full account of the Church’s earliest days – hence, the shift. But that’s a good thing as far as our curiosity is concerned. All those questions Mark left unanswered? The Book of Acts doesn’t leave us hanging. How did the disciples know the resurrection wasn’t a trick? “[Jesus] showed them that he was alive with many convincing proofs.” What did Jesus do in the time between the resurrection and his ascension to heaven? He instructed the apostles and spoke to them about God’s kingdom. We even find out exactly how long the resurrected Christ stuck around for (forty days).

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Liturgy: Second Sunday of Easter, Acts 1:1-14 (April 7, 2024)

   *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Hymns:

Hymn GTG #234, “Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain”
Hymn GTG #388, “Come All You People”
Hymn GTG #511, “Come, Behold! The Feast of Heaven"


Sunday, March 31, 2024

Sermon: “Be Still and Know: What Comes Next?”, Mark 16 (March 31, 2024)


He is risen! [He is risen, indeed!]

This year, March came in like a lion and is going out like the Lamb of God! Amen?

After six long weeks, we’ve finally arrived at what is inarguably the pinnacle of the Christian liturgical year: the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Since Lent is a time of preparation and reflection, we’ve spent it learning new ways to stop in the midst of our busy lives and pay closer attention to God’s work in the world. To NOTICE God around us in every moment, so that we’re even more ready to welcome the miraculous Good News of Easter Morning – that Christ is risen! [He is risen, indeed!] In case you need a reminder of all that we covered in the last month and a half, the bulletin insert provides a brief summary of each practice we’ve discussed – take it home and use it as encouragement to keep up with whatever Spiritual Practice (or practices) you’ve found most meaningful.

My Favorite Moment of Easter Worship

When I used to serve an Episcopal Church, one of the liturgical differences that stood out to me the most was the fact that we didn't have a prayer of confession during Easter. Don't get me wrong; I totally appreciate the theology behind this, but as a cradle Presbyterian, it just feels wrong not to confess our total depravity every week, even on the day that we celebrate the divine act that ensured our salvation. So I always include it in every liturgy that I write.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Liturgy: Easter Sunday Lessons and Carols, Mark 16 (March 31, 2024)

   *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Additional Hymns:

Hymn GTG #232, “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”
Hymn GTG #589, “Aleluya”
Hymn GTG #591, “Halle, Halle, Hallelujah" [Refrain only]
Hymn GTG #246, "Christ Is Alive!"
Hymn GTG #238, "Thine Is the Glory"
Hymn GTG #248, "Christ is Risen! Shout Hosanna!"


Liturgy: Good Friday Lessons and Carols, Mark 14:43 - 15:47 (March 29, 2024)

*You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*

You can watch the video HERE.

Leader: Over the course of the past six weeks of Lent, we’ve been reading through Mark’s gospel from the beginning to the end, a practice that we’ll be continuing tonight. But we’ve also been exploring different spiritual practices that can help us to “be still and know that God is God.” Tonight, we will be experiencing the story of Jesus’ betrayal, trials, crucifixion, death, and burial alongside the ancient tradition of Breath Prayer.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Liturgy: Maundy Thursday Lessons and Carols, Mark 13:1 - 14:42 (March 28, 2024)

*You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Opening Words: Mark 13:1-2

Leader: Throughout Lent, we have been hearing the story of Jesus’ life through Mark’s gospel, and we’ve been learning about how we can encounter God through different Spiritual Practices. Tonight, we continue our journey: we will hear the story of Jesus’ final moments with his disciples as we encounter God through the Spiritual Practice of Meditative singing.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Liturgy: Palm Sunday Lessons and Carols, Mark 10:46-12:44 (March 24, 2024)

  *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Additional Hymns:

Hymn GTG #199, “Filled With Excitement”
Hymn GTG #281, “Holy Spirit Come to Us”
Hymn GTG #200, “A Cheering, Chanting, Dizzy Crowd”


Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Liturgy: Lent 5 Lessons and Carols, Mark 9:33-10:45 (March 17, 2024)

 *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Additional Hymns:

Hymn GTG #188, “Jesus Loves Me!”
Hymn GTG #281, “Holy Spirit Come to Us”
Hymn GTG #749, “Come! Live in the Light!”


Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Liturgy: Lent 4 Lessons and Carols, Mark 8:22-9:32 (March 10, 2024)

 *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Additional Hymns:

Hymn GTG #410, “God Is Calling through the Whisper”
Hymn GTG #281, “Holy Spirit Come to Us”
Hymn GTG #463, “How Firm a Foundation”


Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Liturgy: Lent 3 Lessons and Carols, Mark 6:30-8:21 (March 3, 2024)

*You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Additional Hymns:

Hymn GTG #819, “Be Still, My Soul"
Hymn GTG #281, “Holy Spirit Come to Us”
Hymn GTG #498, “Loaves Were Broken, Words Were Spoken”


Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Liturgy: Lent 2 Lessons and Carols, Mark 4:35-6:29 (February 25, 2024)

     *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Additional Hymns:

Hymn GTG #724, “O Jesus, I Have Promised"
Hymn GTG #281, “Holy Spirit Come to Us”
Hymn GTG #542, “God Be with You Till We Meet Again”


Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Thirteen-Year-Old Seminary Paper About Prayer Beads

Thirteen years ago, I wrote a paper in seminary about Prayer Beads. It is FAR from my best work, and it's not the most compelling read (I hope my writing has improved since then) but it has a lot of interesting information about the history of prayer beads as used in spiritual practices. Since our Lenten theme this year is about being still and knowing that God is God, and since we created prayer beads in worship tonight, I thought I'd make this paper available as a resource for anyone who might be curious and want to develop their own practice.

(Also, from tonight's worship service, to prove that my writing has gotten better:)

A Greater Sin than Hypocrisy? (Tangential Response to "He Gets Us" Campaign)

 So.

I didn't watch the Superbowl on Sunday (except for a few minutes while we were out at dinner) and I have no regrets, so you may already be skeptical of any opinion I may have.

But I do like to think that I know Jesus and the Bible pretty well, and I've seen the "He Gets Us" ads before as well as many of the commentaries that have followed, so I figured I'd give my two cents.

Liturgy: Lent 1 Lessons and Carols, Mark 2:1-4:34 (February 18, 2024)

    *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Additional Hymns:

Hymn GTG #738, “O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee”
Hymn GTG #281, “Holy Spirit Come to Us”
Hymn GTG #542, “God Be with You Till We Meet Again”

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Sermon: “A Mountaintop View of Mark’s Gospel”, Mark 8:27-9:8 (February 11, 2024)


When we refer to a “mountaintop experience”, we generally mean any moment of revelation or transcendence, regardless of where it actually takes place. It’s a solid metaphor; after all, a mountaintop is both literally and figuratively far above the monotony of everyday life, where the air is fresh and the view is clear – ideal conditions for an epiphany. It’s no wonder that so many important biblical moments take place on top of a mountain: Abraham’s almost-sacrifice of Isaac, Moses’ encounter with the burning bush and receiving of the Ten Commandments, and of course, Jesus’ transfiguration. It’s hard NOT to gain new perspective on top of a mountain. It’s the sort of place where the heavens and the earth meet, where we can see and understand the divine in ways that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Liturgy: Transfiguration Sunday, Mark 8:27-9:8 (February 11, 2024)

    *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Hymns:

Hymn GTG #191, “We Have Come at Christ's Own Bidding”
Hymn GTG #414, “Be Still and Know”
Hymn GTG #462, “I Love to Tell the Story”
Hymn GTG #267, “Come Christians, Join to Sing”


Sunday, February 4, 2024

2024-02-04, "I Am WEnough", Mark 6:1-13 (February 4, 2024)


I’m not necessarily on what you’d call the “cutting edge” of popular culture, despite my apparent youth. I usually see new movies at least a year after they come out, if not more. So, I guess by those standards, the fact that I finally watched the new Barbie movie a mere six months after it was released in theaters makes me, if not cutting edge, at least temporarily edge-adjacent. The important part is that I managed to see it before the Oscar nominations came out, just in time to watch all the drama unfold.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Liturgy: Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Mark 6:1-13 (February 4, 2024)

   *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Hymns:

Hymn GTG #494, “Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts”
Hymn GTG #281, “Holy Spirit, Come to Us”
Hymn GTG #761, “Called as Partners in Christ's Service"


Sunday, January 28, 2024

Sermon: "What Jairus Learned," Mark 5:21-43 (January 28, 2024)


Today’s scripture reading is a long one, but it’s difficult to separate the one healing account from the other. Mark has given us a story sandwich, with two accounts of miraculous healings woven together into a single unit. Most Bible translations title this passage something like, “Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman,” or “Jairus’ Daughter and the Woman Who Touched Jesus’ Cloak”. Since most people naturally assume that our focus should be on the objects of Jesus’ miracles, it makes this passage difficult to summarize in a few words. It also raises the ire of many a feminist biblical scholar: why doesn’t Mark bother to name these two women at the center of this story? As a feminist myself, as well as a woman in ministry, I can appreciate this frustration, born out of centuries of women being relegated to the background of both history and religion.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Liturgy: Fourth Sunday After Epiphany, Mark 5:21-43 (January 28, 2024)

  *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Hymns:

Hymn GTG #386, “Come, Worship God”
Hymn GTG #466, “Come and Fill Our Hearts”
Hymn GTG #27, “Sacred the Body”


Sunday, January 21, 2024

Sermon: "Snowed In", Mark 5:1-20 (January 21, 2024)


I had a big week: I got stuck in the snow in a parking lot this past Thursday. It’s only the second time that this has happened to me, as far as I can recall (if there were other times, I must have blocked them from my memory). The previous time was, unsurprisingly, during the snowpocalypse of 2017. At that time, I vowed to never again attempt a vehicular adventure until everything was fully plowed, but this week, I decided to give it a shot, thinking that my brand-new car with a higher suspension would keep me out of trouble. Sadly, I was very much mistaken. Not only did I get stuck in that parking lot, but I almost got stuck again on my own street, and I had to park in the driveway because my car couldn’t make it up the 5˚ slope into the garage. It’s a pretty helpless feeling, sitting in your vehicle, surrounded by ice and snow, wanting to get on with your day but unable to do much more than spin your wheels.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Liturgy: Third Sunday After Epiphany, Mark 5:1-20 (January 21, 2024)

  *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Hymns:

Hymn GTG #377, “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light”
Hymn GTG #616, “Our God Is an Awesome God”
Hymn GTG #727, “Will You Let Me Be Your Servant”


Sunday, January 14, 2024

Sermon: "Read the Room", Mark 2:18-22 (23-3:6) (January 14, 2024)


If you’re especially observant, you may have noticed that today’s scripture reading is a direct continuation from last week’s reading. The truth is that the Narrative lectionary actually included most of this passage in the lectionary for last week. It was a lot of scripture to tackle in one sermon, so I chose to focus on just the first half. But if I’m being ENTIRELY honest, I also didn’t want to deal with the second part – especially the metaphor of the new cloth/old clothes and new wine/old wineskin.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Liturgy: Second Sunday After Epiphany, Mark 2:13-22 (January 14, 2024)

 *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Hymns:

Hymn GTG #415, “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy”
Hymn GTG #616, “Our God Is an Awesome God”
Hymn GTG #309, “Come, Great God of All the Ages”


Sunday, January 7, 2024

Sermon: "Blurred Lines", Mark 2:1-12 (January 7, 2024)


We’re in kind of a strange temporal place this week. We’ve officially turned the corner into a new calendar year, crossing a boundary of sorts, and yet the Narrative Lectionary seamlessly carries on with the story of our faith. There is another shift, though – Christmas marked a liturgical transition for us from First Testament readings to New Testament readings. Continuity alongside boundaries, changes and consistency, each persisting and coexisting in the same moment. It’s something to think about, especially as we continue our dive into Mark’s gospel, the version of Jesus’ life that we’ll be focusing on for the next several months.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Liturgy: Epiphany, Mark 2:1-12 (January 7, 2024)

 *You are welcome to use or adapt any of my resources for free, but I ask that you provide proper citation AND comment on this post to let me know.*


Hymns:

Hymn GTG #110, “Love Has Come" 
Hymn GTG #155, “Raise a Song of Gladness”
Hymn GTG #154, “Jesus Entered Egypt”