I didn’t preach yesterday, so in the time-honored tradition of TV shows trying to fill out their seasons in a low-budget way, here’s a clip show of the last ten years on WheretheWind.com. I chose one sermon from each year to highlight that was either extra meaningful to me, showed an evolution in my preaching, or was especially timely and important. May God bless you in this new year.
I was still an associate rector back in 2012, so I did not have as many preaching opportunities. This one jumped out at me because I really liked focusing on “the bad guys.” I updated this sermon in 2018 as “Good Guys and Bad Guys.”
I chose this sermon for 2013 because I preached a version of it at my interview for the rector position at St. Mark’s in Mystic. The Spirit was, indeed, moving at that interview, and I was called to be their rector. I celebrate my 8th anniversary next month.
The few months after the twins were born were really hard. Out of the hundreds of sermons I’ve preached, this is still the one that I most needed to hear at the time I preached it. There is a dear woman at my church that still reminds me how much this sermon meant to her.
Out of all the seasons of the church year, I think preaching during Advent is the most challenging. In 2015, I spent a whirlwind few days in Haiti, and my understanding of Advent grew. This sermon is a series of reflections based on my experience in Haiti.
I almost never preach without a text, but for a month in 2016, I decided to try it. Two weeks into the experiment, I was ready to preach about one thing (I can’t remember what), but then multiple Black men, including Philando Castille, were gunned down by police. I had only ever addressed racism in sermons vaguely – usually as an element in a list of bad stuff. This was the first time I ever made racism the entire topic of the sermon. After the 8am sermon, which I preached extemporaneously, I transcribed the text so I could say the same thing to the folks at the second service.
Three of the sermons on this list were given in direct response to terrible events in our country. This is the second. After the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, I wrote a new sermon at 6am Sunday morning. I had less than two hours before the church service, so I keyed in on the element that I knew I could speak on concretely – the horrible misuse of scripture to justify wicked antisemitism.
This is the sermon in which I shared my daily intention with my parish. The intention grew out of the work of the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the latter of whom died last week after a gloriously humble life of confronting injustice and loving people through all manner of collective trauma.
This sermon began a soapbox of sorts for me. Whenever I get a chance to define and redefine the word “repent” I’ll take it. This sermon borrows heavily from the work of Fr. Richard Rohr’s book The Universal Christ.
Only a few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic closure, Easter happened. This is the sermon I preached to a camera and one of the only sermons I’ve ever cried while preaching it.
A year ago this weekend, I preached this sermon in light of the January 6th insurrection. White Christian Nationalism remains a clear and present danger to our country. They have tried to redefine Jesus as an assault-rifle-wielding, immigrant-hating, jingoistic white supremacist, but we won’t let them.
There you have it: my clip show. Ten sermons out of well over 400 I’ve preached in the last ten years. I look forward to the next 400. I’ll leave you with the prayer I pray before writing every one:
Dear God, I offer this sermon to you, and I ask that you grant me the grace to put such grace into words; help me, an imperfect being, speak of perfection; help me, a fallen being, speak of the one who has arisen. Make my unworthy words worthy, my poor offering rich. May I listen well enough to hear what you would have me say, and together may we find the words to bring your good news to those yearning to hear it. In Jesus Christ’s name, I pray. Amen.