Who Are You Looking For?

Sermon for Friday, April 7, 2023 || Good Friday || Passion According to John

I know this is way out of sequence, but I forgot to post my Good Friday sermon back in April, and since we did not have a normal sermon for Trinity Sunday yesterday, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share what I said on Good Friday.

The Passion narrative we just heard can be quite overwhelming. It is by far and away the longest reading we listen to all year, and there’s a lot going on. So instead of talking about the entire Passion narrative, each year I like to focus on one little moment of it that speaks to the whole story. On this Good Friday, that moment happens right at the beginning of the story, so cast your minds back about ten minutes to the garden where Jesus is arrested.

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The Wind Blows Where It Chooses

Sermon for Sunday, May 28, 2023 || Pentecost A || Number 11:24-30; Acts 2:1-21

At the end of last Sunday’s sermon, I asked this question: “Where do you see God’s presence today?” We talked about recognizing the presence of God in big things like sunsets and star-strewn skies and little things like the veins of a leaf and our breath. Today, I’d like to follow up last week’s sermon with a very simple concept that I’m then going to talk about for ten minutes. The simple concept is this: God’s presence is everywhere, so we must be careful not to limit the places where we look for that presence.

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Sermon for Sunday, May 21, 2023 || Easter 7A || John 17:1-11

A lot of the songs we sing in church talk about God’s glory. And just in case our hymn selections don’t mention God’s glory on a particular Sunday, every service begins with a song we call The Gloria: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth.” With these words we echo the angels singing to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth. Glory to God…we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.

Today we’re going to talk about glorifying God. This will be a nice, tidy three-point sermon: (1) why we glorify God, (2) how Jesus glorifies God, and (3) how we glorify God. And we’ll throw in some lyrics by Lin-Manual Miranda at the end for good measure. Sound good? OK, let’s go.

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The Spirit of Truth

Sermon for Sunday, May 14, 2023 || Easter 6B || John 14:15-21

This sermon is about truth and lies. Specifically, this sermon is about the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves and the truth that helps us confront those lies. Every one of us constructs and reconstructs our personal narratives again and again. And the closer we come to the truth of those narratives, the more we will live authentically, resonating with the Spirit of Truth that is within us.

Jesus uses this term, “Spirit of truth,” in today’s Gospel lesson. He says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know [the Spirit], because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”

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Stephen the Red Shirt

Sermon for Sunday, May 7, 2023 || Easter 5A || Acts 7:55-60

The folks who put together our schedule of Bible readings did something really weird today. In our first lesson, they gave us the very end of the story about Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian faith. But they skipped everything about him leading up to his execution. So for the sermon today, I’m going to go back and talk through his story because the way it is written gives us a few things to think about.

But first – Star Trek.

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Even the Good One

Sermon for Sunday, April 30, 2023 || Easter 4A || Psalm 23; John 10:1-10

This sermon is about God remaining faithful even when tragedy or pain or grief keep us from acting out our faith. Before I start, though, I need to share a trigger warning. I will be briefly talking about the death of a child.

Between March 2020 and May 2021, this building was closed to the public due to the pandemic restrictions. For fourteen long months, we gathered together via Zoom and YouTube, worshiping together in love any way we could as we supported one another through the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic. During those services of Morning Prayer, I shared with you 27 of the songs I’ve written over the course of my life. That’s every song I’ve ever written (that’s fit for people to listen to). Well, every song but one. There’s one particular song of mine that I deliberately did not sing during those fearful months because I didn’t think I’d be able to get through it. The song is raw and it does not end on a particularly joyful note. But I think now the time is finally right to sing this song for you.

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Where is God?

Sermon for Sunday, April 23, 2023 || Easter 3A || Luke 24:13-35

One of the most common questions people ask me in my role as priest is, “Where is God? Where is God in all of this?” I usually turn the question back on the other person and ask where they think God is. And this usually elicits a sigh or a raised eyebrow – they like had asked their doctor for a diagnosis and the doctor had said, “Well, what do you think you have?”

So, today, outside of any particular situation or context of a person asking me this question – Where is God? – I thought I’d share with you my answer. This answer may or may not speak to you, which is why I’m sharing it in a sermon and not a one-on-one conversation. Or maybe it will. First off, we need to talk about prepositions.

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The Two Endings of John

Sermon for Sunday, April 16, 2023 || Easter 2A || John 20:19-31

The year was 2003. It was a drab, wet December day in Charleston, West Virginia. I was at my parents’ house for Christmas break during my junior year of college. We went to the movies and saw The Return of the King, the third and final film in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I’ve been a huge Tolkien fan since I was a kid, and I loved the movies. I was nervous going into the third one, hoping fervently that the filmmakers wouldn’t mess it up. They didn’t, and I wound up crying so hard for the last half hour of the movie that I gave myself a migraine headache.

The thing about this movie, and the biggest thing that critics disliked about it – despite it winning all eleven academy awards it was nominated for – is that the movie ends about six times. Over the last twenty minutes or so, the movie keeps ending! It closes the story on this region and this set of characters, then on that region and that set of characters. Again and again, it ends, until, finally, Samwise Gamgee walks home to his front door, picks up his little daughter and says, “Well, I’m back,” which is exactly how the book ends too.

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Simon, Lazarus, Philip, Mary

Sermon for Sunday, April 9, 2023 || Easter Sunday A || John 20:1-18

Good morning and welcome to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on this cold and sunny Easter Sunday. I’m Pastor Adam Thomas, and today we are celebrating our tenth Easter together in this special place on Pearl Street. During the season of Lent, I preached a four-part sermon series on the verse John 3:16, which culminated in this new interpretation of the most famous verse in the Bible: 

For God so loved the entirety of Creation that God revealed God’s own self in the gift of God’s only Child: to draw us deeper into relationship with God, to find our place in God’s story of reconciliation, and to embrace the true life of God’s presence now and forever.

I’d like to spend today’s sermon offering a bit of a coda to the sermon series and speak again about God drawing us into deeper relationship. This makes sense to do on Easter Sunday because today is the day we celebrate God’s full and eternal embrace of Creation through the power of the Resurrection of Jesus.

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The Crowd’s Four Lines

Sermon for Sunday, April 2, 2023 || Palm/Passion Sunday A || Matthew 26:36 – 27:56

At the end of today’s service, we will present the Passion Gospel, the story of Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, and death. We will read it like a play, with myself and others taking on the various parts. One of the parts is the crowd, and that’s where you come in. If you follow along in your program, you will notice about two-thirds of the way through the reading that you, the members of the congregation, are playing the part of the crowd. You have four lines, and I’d like to spend a few minutes during this short sermon to talk through those four lines in order to prepare you to say them.

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