What are you waiting for? – A sermon on for Advent 1

Jeremiah 33:14-16

As I sometimes do when I’m preparing for Sunday, early last week I went back to read a sermon I wrote on this same text several years ago.  I always do so with fear and trepidation because I never know what I will find – a memory of a difficult time or a special celebration in the life of the church, a sermon I don’t think I can top this time, or a trainwreck I’m embarrassed I ever delivered.

By the time I read my 6 year old sermon on Tuesday afternoon last week 22654306929_5a32b321catwo men in their twenties had been arrested for shooting five people involved in the protests around the recent police killing of an African American man in north Minneapolis.  Two more were later arrested, all four were suspected white supremacists.  It was just hours before the dashboard cam video of the horrific killing of teenager Laquan McDonald in Chicago was released worldwide. Add these recent events to the recent terrifying tide of violence and centuries old systemic racism against African Americans in this country and in this week of giving thanks instead I was asking, along with throngs of others online and around the country, “How long, O Lord?” Continue reading

Ministry Snapshot – Your mess is mine

I walked in my office this morning to find this:Pentecost mess

It should not have been a surprise since that’s exactly what it looked like when I walked out the door on Sunday after worship and fellowship.  These are what my mom calls “little ones out of big ones” – the scraps left over from the flames my daughter was diligently cutting out to help me get ready for an activity we were doing in worship.  It’s a mess, and a mess that needs to be cleaned up, but it is by no means the biggest mess in my office right now.  It also isn’t the mess that got my first attention today. Continue reading

Top Ten – a sermon for Pentecost on Acts 2:1-13

Acts 2:1-13

Last week was the final episode of The Late Show with David Letterman, and like many TV viewers I watched with curiosity to see what he would do with his final Top Ten list.  On the TV show the Top Ten list comes with all sorts of fanfare and anticipation.  There’s this big dramatic build up with an animated introduction. Dave waves his cards around triumphantly, “I have here in my hand tonight’s Top Ten list!” Even if you’re not really a late night person you can usually stay awake for the mock excitement of the Top Ten list.
top_ten
Well, Pentecost was real excitement, not mock excitement. Continue reading

Ungodly? Who? Me? – A sermon based on Romans 5:1-11

A friend of mine from college likes to tell the cautionary tale of her first video conference job interview.  It was several years ago when using Skype to talk to a potential new employer was still fairly new and some of the kinks in the system or best practices in general hadn’t quite been identified.  With all the technology tested once and then again, she got dressed for 4549892831_2bdbd6e5b7the interview.  It only being in front of a camera she decided to take advantage of the set-up putting on her best blouse and suit jacket and her comfiest pair of flannel pajama pants.  After all they would be out of sight.

Everything started out well.  It took an unfortunate turn however, when she excused herself momentarily to grab a resource from across the room.   Standing up in front of the camera it was only as she saw the image of her comfiest flannel pajama pants flash not-quickly-enough across the little box in the corner of her own screen that she remembered her chosen attire.

She was mortified when she heard, coming through the speakers, the compassionate snickers of the team of interviewers.  Coming back to the table after retrieving the book she needed, she apologized as best she could, which was met with gracious understanding.  Each of the interviewers on the other end of the call admitted to choosing the same sort of attire for their own interview, and the whole group had a nice laugh about it.

We’ve all gotten pretty adept at showing the world just the parts of ourselves that we want to be seen.  Continue reading

Ministry snapshots – Telling stories

There wasn’t a whole lot on the schedule for today which was good because my absence on this blog reflects how much has been on my calendar in recent weeks.  I’m not worshiping at the altar of busy.  Just stating a fact.

But anyway, there wasn’t a whole lot on the schedule for today except for two visits – one with a retiring pastor in my presbytery who had invited me to come take what I wanted off of his bookshelves, and another with one of the oldest members of the congregation I serve who had some music to share.  It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon, and in a sense both of these visits were about the same thing – telling and hearing stories.

Ministry Snapshot 1

Continue reading