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.
Continue reading “The Wind Blows Where It Chooses” →
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.
Continue reading “Alabanza” →
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.”
Continue reading “The Spirit of Truth” →
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.
Continue reading “Stephen the Red Shirt” →
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.
Continue reading “The Two Endings of John” →
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.
Continue reading “Simon, Lazarus, Philip, Mary” →
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.
Continue reading “The Crowd’s Four Lines” →
Sermon for Sunday, March 19, 2023 || Lent 5A || John 11:1-45
(Part Four of Sermon Series on John 3:16 – Part One – Part Two – Part Three)
Today we finish up our sermon series on John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Three weeks ago, we talked about God loving every nook and cranny of creation. Two weeks ago, we said that God gave the gift of God’s only son to show us how to enter into the story God is telling. Last week, we looked at the concept of belief as “abiding in relationship” with Jesus. And that brings us to the final phrase of John 3:16 – “may not perish but may have eternal life.”
Continue reading “May Not Perish But May Have Eternal Life” →
Sermon for Sunday, March 19, 2023 || Lent 4A || John 9:1-41
(Part Three of Sermon Series on John 3:16 – Part One – Part Two)
Today we are going to continue our four-week sermon series on John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Two weeks ago, we talked about God loving every nook and cranny of the universe. Last week, we talked about what God did because God loved the universe; namely, God gave God’s only son to show us how to enter into the story God is telling. We’ll finish up the series next week, but first we’ll tackle the next phrase: “so that everyone who believes in him.”
The thrust of this sermon is very simple: Jesus will always be present. That’s the simple idea at the heart of this sermon. But I’ve got to warn you. I’m going to over-complicate things for a few minutes before returning to this simple and beautiful idea: “Jesus will always be present.”
Continue reading “So that Everyone Who Believes in Him…” →
Sermon for Sunday, March 12, 2023 || Lent 3A || John 4:5-42
(Part Two of Sermon Series on John 3:16 – Part One)
Last week we talked about God loving the kosmos – every nook and cranny of creation – into being. We focused on the first six words of John 3:16. “For God so loved the world.” The next few words tell us what God does because God loves the world. And that’s what we’re going to focus on today.
For God so loved the world that God gave…
Let’s just pause there for a minute. Let’s pause on that verb “gave” and appreciate the truth that Jesus shares about God. God loved creation so much that God gave. God’s love propels God’s gift-giving. This giving expects nothing in return. This giving is free, not earned or purchased. This giving is an outpouring of God’s love, which is the only thing God’s love ever does. God’s love pours out; it spills from a wellspring that never runs dry; it gushes up like living water, bringing new life to creation.
Continue reading “That God Gave God’s Only Son…” →