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with a fair amount of certainty that Moses didn’t have issues like drugs, suicide, or abortion on his mind when he originally made this speech.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.