Sermons from 2016

110 of 40 items

Reflecting the Light | Christmas Sunday

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There is a story that I have come to associate with this passage that I would like to share with you. Author Robert Fulghum, the author of Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, tells this story of one of his professors, a wise man whose name was Alexander Papaderos.
At the last session on the last morning of a two-week seminar on Greek culture, Dr. Papaderos turned and made the ritual gesture: “Are there any questions?”
Quiet quilted the room. These two weeks had generated enough questions for a lifetime, but for now, there was only silence.

Christmas Eve Service

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Every year the Christmas story is told in millions of American households by a child. Surrounded by a timeless storyline, it is Linus that steps forward year after year to remind us what Christmas is all about.

God has a long history of using unlikely messengers.

People listen to Linus because he doesn’t have an agenda. He has nothing to sell and nothing to prove. He courageously steps into the spotlight to tell the story. And while telling the story he does something surprising—something powerful. It is so subtle it is easy to miss – but sure enough it is there. As Linus speaks the line that begins, “Fear not!” he releases his grip on his security blanket and it falls to the floor.

On Earth, Love | Fourth Sunday in Advent

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One Christian blogger feels obligated to tell us that Placide Cappeau got it all wrong back in 1847 when he wrote the words to O Holy Night. The night Jesus was born wasn’t holy. It was ordinary, with average shepherds, and a lowly mother. The night wasn’t holy – it was dark with slavery and oppression and violence – just like it is today. If you ask me the guy is nitpicking. The actual night of Jesus’ birth may not be holy but “God with us” is the definition of holy! There is something about this song seems to have its foot in both the sacred and the secular.

On Earth, Hope | First Sunday in Advent

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I just have one question. Do you think Jesus will show? How long should we wait before we give up?

Have you ever wondered if God is waiting on us? While we wait for God to intervene and fix things – maybe God is waiting on us to be Jesus’ body and gospel to the world. Archbishop Desmond TuTu knows what it is to live in a land of darkness. He says,“God without you won’t; you without God can’t.” “God without you won’t; you without God can’t.”

Desmond Tutu can say stuff like that. He actively participated in the dismantling of apartheid. He lives on the front lines of social justice. But what about us? What about you? What about me? If God has been waiting on me, we’re all in trouble! But then again…it’s always been a collaboration. God has a track record of using average people to do extraordinary things.

Rejoice Always | Thanksgiving Sunday

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This is Thanksgiving Sunday, and the last Sunday before we transition to the season of Advent. Many of us grew up hearing stories about the first Thanksgiving; the Pilgrims and Indians, a big feast, everybody happy and getting along. We learned that Pilgrims wore funny shoes and big buckles and the Indians taught them how to grow corn by using fish as fertilizer. They are all great stories. Unfortunately, most of them are myths and legends. But does it matter if it causes us to pause and give thanks?

We know that life was hard for the Pilgrims. They didn’t land in the new world and sit down to a turkey dinner. They saw their friends die. They struggled with starvation and illness and missed desperately the comforts of their former lives.

And that was just the first years. There were more bad years. Legend has it that one winter rations got so low that each person received 5 kernels of corn each day. Can you imagine giving thanks for that? And yet they did.

Keep Your Fork – Part V of Worship Series on Communion

This is the fifth and final Sunday of our worship series on communion. The theme is “We’re Havin’ A Party,” and on the first Sunday we talked about who is invited. The second Sunday we planned the menu, looking at several ways of understanding body and blood. The third Sunday, we talked about what we “do” at the party in terms of ritual – how it is physical – so much more than words. Last week it was time to eat and we remembered there is no first-class seating at God’s party. This week, finally, it’s time for dessert. Reminding you that this is part of my Doctor of Ministry project, I am going to send out a second survey this week to see if the series enlarged your understanding of communion. If you missed any Sundays, links to the services have been put in FCCO news each week. Thank you so much for help.

Let’s Eat – Part IV of a Worship Series on Communion

Originally, the Lord’s Supper included a full meal that incorporated the symbolism of the bread and cup. There are two possibilities for how this worked; the meal either came between the bread and cup or happened before the bread and cup. It sounds like a trivial concern until you try to figure out this passage. If the symbolic meal of the bread and cup comes after the meal then it makes sense that the problem at Corinth is that the ones who get there first, presumably the wealthier ones, go ahead and eat all the food, and drink all the wine instead of waiting for the entire community to arrive.

Doing Communion – Part III of Worship Series on Communion

When you look at communion through the lens of ritual you begin to realize that communion isn’t just about the words spoken at the table – communion is something we do – it is physical – it is embodied. Communion isn’t something you believe – it is something you do. It is where the word once again becomes flesh as we act out the meals Jesus shared with sinners and outcasts. At the table we enact the kindom God is bringing into existence. We see it. We taste it. We take it into ourselves and it has the power to change us.

You’re Invited

My interest in communion stems from the fact that we say the table is the center of our life together—which is another way of saying it is important to us. Yet, given the fact that it is something we do every week, we run the risk of making it something we do without much thought. So what we are going to do over the next five weeks is think about it and raise our conscious awareness of its meaning and importance for our lives as people striving to follow Jesus.