Sermon for the 1st Sunday of Christmas December 31, 2017

Based on Luke 2:22-40
It is the last day of 2017. It is almost a new year elsewhere. Some people probably insist it is still yesterday. Consciousness differs. It is also true that we started a new liturgical year just a month ago. The Jewish New Year started some months ago. The Chinese New Year is yet to come. In other words, how we mark time is mostly a social contract. Like stop signs, they do not mean anything in themselves and they only work as long as everybody goes along with the idea. Does that mean there is no such thing as “time”? Or no such thing as New Year’s Eve? If you think so, don’t try out your thesis in any public place tonight. Continue reading

Sermon for Christmas Eve 2017 Based on Luke 2:1-20

Beloved Gathered, peace and grace to you from the Son of God! We come here with many reasons for so gathering tonight. What are yours? Are you expecting mystery, or beauty, or holiness tonight? Are you looking for peace that surpasses human understanding and lasts longer than a news cycle? It is not an unreasonable desire. But it comes in ways that typical less-than-human imagination does not expect. Continue reading

Sermon for the First Sunday of Advent Based on Mark 13:24-37

This past week was quite the week. The resonances from last Sunday still echo. Frankly, I have never seen any installation service like that before, and I have a lifetime full of them. Appropriately celebrated on Christ the King Sunday, the service was a superb Holy Spirit-filled occasion for us to give thanks for what we have been, and to rededicate our ministry with faithfulness to God’s care of us and the world’s. I am so thankful to so many of you for its planning. More so, I am so thankful to God for the privilege now of ministry for you and ministry with you. It was a great day. Continue reading

Sermon for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost – October 15, 2017

Based on Matthew 22:1-14.

It is an off-putting gospel text to hear for a healing service. A rich fellow throws a wedding party to which his friends will not come. Then, throwing the doors wide open for everyone from the streets, he blows a gasket in anger that one of them came without appropriate attire. How fair is that? He’s a street dude, for goodness sake. But so were the others, who did manage to scavenge something fitting at a Goodwill or whatever. If this parable is about God, and God’s people, the story does not sound at first hearing like a god who is fair. Then again, it is a parable. Jesus is not necessarily talking about real clothes here. Continue reading

Sermon for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost Based on Philippians 2:1-13

Today I have no doubt that pastors throughout the country who follow the lectionary, as do we, are talking about knees. How could they not? How could the climactic verse of Philippians chapter 2 –itself quoted from an early Christian hymn–not command attention? “…so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.”

Yes, today preachers are talking about “talking a knee.” Continue reading