Sermon for Sunday, October 30, 2022 || Proper 26C || 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12
The last three Sundays, I stumbled my way into a sermon series on prayer. Three weeks ago, we talked about prayers of thanksgiving shaping our lives. Two weeks ago, we talked about prayer as a response to God’s constant invitations. And last week, we talked about making sure God is the subject of our prayers and not our own egos. Which brings me to today. Today we’re going to talk about a specific type of prayer – intercessory prayer. So, with four Sundays in a row all on one topic, I’ve decided to call this month my “Accidental Sermon Series About Prayer.”
Continue reading “Intercession” →
Sermon for Sunday, October 23, 2022 || Proper 25C || Luke 18:9-14
Today’s sermon is a natural follow-up to last week’s, so here’s a quick recap. When we pray, we never initiate a prayer; we only ever respond to God’s invitation to pray. Everything we do in response to God’s movement in our lives is a form of prayer. Everything – literally everything – begins with God. And in our lives of faith, we can inhabit right relationships with God and one another when we humbly recognize our true place in the great web of relationships. Here’s a hint: it’s not in the middle.
But our egos try to convince us otherwise. Or maybe I shouldn’t pluralize that. Let me try again. MY ego tries to convince me otherwise. My ego tells me that of course I’m in the middle, that of course my identity should be centered above all others, that of course any experience that didn’t happen to me is not valid. There are centuries of unjust social structures that buttress these things my ego tells me. And so I have to practice reminding myself that my ego is lying to me, that I am not, in fact, the center of the universe.
And still, that sneaky sneaky ego keeps tricking me. Here’s a recent example.
Continue reading “Intentions, Revisited” →
Sermon for Sunday, October 16, 2022 || Proper 24C || Luke 18:1-8
“Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.” So Luke tells us before sharing the story of a woman whose primary attribute is her unflagging persistence. But I wonder how many of us might like to tiptoe past Jesus’ reason for telling the story in the first place – his desire for his followers (then and now) to pray with dogged persistence, to pray always.
We might like to tiptoe past this notion because it seems so unrealistic. How could we possibly pray all the time? Maybe Jesus is thinking that if he starts as high as “always,” then when we bargain him down, we’ll still be praying sometimes.
Or maybe not. Jesus doesn’t really seem to be one for haggling. Maybe he really does yearn for us to pray always, to pray with the same unflagging persistence as the widow demonstrates in her quest for justice. If that’s the case, then the popular understanding of prayer isn’t going to cut it; that is, an understanding of prayer as simple wish fulfillment. We need a bigger definition of prayer.
Continue reading “Calling to You” →
Sermon for Sunday, October 9, 2022 || Proper 23C || Luke 17:11-19
I’d like to talk today about the action of giving thanks. In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus heals ten people of the skin conditions that have marginalized them from their society. One of them returns and thanks Jesus for healing him. And Jesus commends him for his faith. If you remember from last week, faith sharpens our vision and motivates our actions. This person, who is healed of his leprosy, acts on his faith in Jesus by giving thanks to him. We can learn from his example and find God’s abundance in so many surprising places in our lives when we intentionally practice thanksgiving. At the end of this sermon, we’re going to sing a song about thanksgiving that I guarantee is going to get stuck in your heads, so…fair warning.
But for the bulk of my time with you this morning, I’d like to take you through a framework for intentionally giving thanks that you can use every day. Your program has a bookmark of this framework stapled to it, which I invite you to take home with you today. This framework splits our thanksgivings into five categories: the Now, the Always, the Never, the Past, and the Future. I know that sounds vague and strange, but stick with me. We’ll give each one about a minute, starting with the Now.
Continue reading “See All the Gifts“ →
This past Sunday, in lieu of a sermon, I presented an instructed Eucharist based on my pamphlet, 12 Moments. I commend it to you. You can watch what I said during three times of instruction during the service be viewing the YouTube video below. Or you can download the 12 Moments pamphlet by clicking here.
Continue reading “12 Moments, An Instructed Eucharist” →
Sermon for Sunday, February 27, 2022 || Last Epiphany C || Luke 9:28-36
I’ve spent the last 12 days recovering from jaw surgery. During that time, I have felt so enfolded in love and care by the prayers of this congregation. I can’t thank you enough. I’ve also done a lot of praying recently myself; mostly prayer as pain management. Also, a lot of prayer for the state of the world, prayers for peace, prayers for the people of Ukraine and the courageous protesters in Russia. So I want to talk about prayer this morning, specifically when we feel the need to pray and what that says about who we think God is.
Continue reading “Seven Moments of Prayer” →
Sermon for Sunday, August 15, 2021 || Proper 15B || 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14
I grew up in arguably the best decade for animated Disney movies of all time. They call it the Disney Renaissance, and it featured such classics as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Aladdin. I loved them all (except Little Mermaid, which scared the heck out of me), but I think at the time I loved Aladdin most. Robin Williams hits it out of the park as the genie in the lamp, and I guarantee you I can sing every line from his song “Friend Like Me.” The timeless story of Aladdin invites everyone who hears it to ponder what they would wish for if they stumbled across a magic lamp. In the Disney film, the genie gives Aladdin only three restrictions: you can’t wish for someone to fall in love with you, for someone to come back from the dead, or for more wishes.
Aladdin uses his wishes to become a prince, to not die of drowning, and *spoiler alert* to free the genie at the end of the movie. The selfless act of freeing the genie contrasts with the selfish act of the villain Jafar when he wishes to become the most powerful sorcerer ever (and ultimately a bound genie himself when the hero tricks him in order to save the day). Okay, now I’m just telling you all the plot of Aladdin. Sorry. The point is, what would you wish for if you stumbled across the genie’s lamp?
Continue reading “The Wishing Prayer” →
Sermon for Sunday, October 18, 2020 || Proper 24A || Exodus 33:12-23
Today I’d like to talk about prayer and anxiety. You can probably figure out why these things are on my mind since we are less than three weeks from a presidential election, cases of covid-19 are spiking in our county, millions of people are out of work, many are on the verge of eviction, and the governor of Michigan was recently the target of an attempted kidnapping by a group by domestic terrorists. And that’s like ten percent of the stuff I wanted to put in this introduction. Whew. Deep breath.
Continue reading “Prayer and Anxiety” →
Sermon for Sunday, August 9, 2020 || Proper 14A || Matthew 14:22-33
Before I jump into my sermon, I’d like to say I was hoping that at least some of us would be gathering in person outside this morning. Our reopening team decided that we would wait until I was back from vacation to begin our in person experimentation. But that was all predicated on Connecticut being in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan. Our prudent and cautious officials have kept us in Phase 2 as much of the rest of the country experiences a huge upsurge in their cases. We will have in person outdoor services during Phase 3, and we will be bringing back Holy Communion during Phase 4. For now, patience, perseverance, and continued compassionate sacrifice mark us citizens of both the state of Connecticut and the Kingdom of God. We don’t know when we will move to Phase 3, but I am very much looking forward to seeing you all when the state reaches that goal.
Continue reading “40,000 Words” →
Sermon for Sunday, May 31, 2020 || Pentecost A || Acts 2:1-21; John 20:19-23
Today is the day of Pentecost, the day we celebrate the Holy Spirit empowering Jesus’ first followers to spread his loving, liberating, and life-giving message. If you were listening closely to the readings, you might have noticed we actually read two different versions of the sending of the Holy Spirit. In the first one from the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit spirals into the house like a rushing wind from heaven and anoints the disciples with tongues like fire. In this story, we sense the glorious upheaval in the lives of the disciples as these elemental forces – wind, fire – disrupt and invigorate them to embrace their new ministry as Jesus’ witnesses.
In the second story from the Gospel of John, Jesus comes to his disciples on the evening of the resurrection. They lean in close as he breathes on them, saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In this intimate story, Jesus delivers the Comforter, the enlivening companion the disciples need to be about their work.
Continue reading “Disrupt/Comfort” →