The promise and risk of life come to us asking for a response. Jesus had decisions to make. And so do we. We make decisions everyday of our life; decisions and choices about what to do, who we want to be, how we want to live. We sometimes call them temptations. We feel torn and pulled between the promise and the risk. Temptations hold before us the illusion of promise without risk. But that’s not the way the wilderness works, and Jesus knows that.
With each decision we’re betting that the future will be better, not because it necessarily is, but because it might be. And that “might,” the possibility of a better future, of more life, is what gives us the strength, the faith, the hope, to risk a decision and remain open to the future, even when we don’t know how it will turn out. Continue reading Life Is Promise And Risk – A Sermon On Luke 4:1-13
Maybe Lent and the gospel of Jesus are not primarily about being good, a program for changing from a bad person to a good person, so we can get a future reward. I’ve got nothing against being a good person (whatever that might mean) but I’ve never read where Jesus said, “I came that you might be good, better, an improved version of yourself.” What I have read is that Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Throughout the gospel he shows himself to be giving life, revealing life, and calling to life. And that’s not about tomorrow, after you die, or some heavenly future. “Now is the day of salvation,” Paul tells us (2 Corinthians 6:2). Now, in this time and in this place. Life is now. Continue reading Life Before Death – An Ash Wednesday Sermon
Those are not demands we make on each other. They are gifts we offer each other. And with a true gift there is no holding back. It’s all or nothing. If there is a measure of your marriage, it is love, and the only measure of love is love without measure (St. Augustine).
So you must always keep your ears and heart open to the urging and wooing of each other. It just might be the urging and wooing of God. Because if “God is love” (1 John 4:8) then the wooing of love is the wooing of God. Continue reading The Beautiful Risk – A Wedding Sermon
On the surface it would be easy to hear today’s story (Luke 5:1-11) as one in which Jesus fulfills the desires of Peter and the others; the desire to catch fish, the desire to be successful, the desire to make a living. I don’t think that’s a correct reading of this story. I don’t think that’s what happened. I think there is more to this than fish, success, and making a living. Here’s why I say that. What did they do with the fish, their success, the money they would have made at the market, once they got back to shore? “They left everything and followed [Jesus].” They walked away. Those were not the end of the story but the beginning of the story. Their initial desires took them to the lake but it was a “desire beyond desire” that called them beyond the lake. Continue reading Desire Beyond Desire – A Sermon On Luke 5:1-11
The people in the synagogue were looking forward to some hometown privilege. They see themselves as special and they are ticked off when they realize that Jesus won’t play to their presumed privilege and that they are being passed over. That’s what enrages them. They are raging mad about being passed over.
And I can’t help but wonder if we might not be the hometown crowd, if we somehow see ourselves as Jesus’ favorites. I can’t help but wonder if we don’t also assume some privileged status when it comes to Jesus, as if he always chooses (or should choose) our side, our church, our party, our country. And I can’t help but wonder if we’re not also in danger of being passed over. Continue reading The One Thing We All Have In Common – A Sermon On Luke 4:21-30
How far will I go for this gospel I claim to love and follow? What am I willing to do and what am I not? I struggle and wrestle with these questions every day.
Because here’s what I see in the world and read in the life of Jesus. Sometimes, perhaps more often than not, the gospel asks us to make a choice, to take a stand, that will inconvenience us, be contrary to our self-interest, or put us in conflict and even opposition with others, ourselves, our family, our country, our religion. Continue reading Where And With Whom Will You Stand? – A Sermon On Luke 4:14-21
I don’t know if Jesus literally and physically turned water into wine. But then I don’t think that’s the point of today’s gospel. I don’t think this gospel is ultimately about turning water into wine. It’s about calling forth life where there is none. It’s about transformation. It’s about living a new life. Continue reading Water Does Not Turn Into Wine – A Sermon On John 2:1-11
The question is never, “Do I get a yes? Am I the son or daughter of God, the Beloved, with whom God is well pleased?” That’s a given, the gift of God. It’s the insistence of God in each of our lives. The only question is whether we can discern that gift in the conditions and circumstances of our lives.
We are always discerning God’s insistence in our lives, to hear God’s call and claim on us. We are always listening for the yes to which we can answer yes. Continue reading With You I Am Well Pleased – A Sermon On Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
Whatever God’s insisting for you might be, whatever the “it” is in your life, “it” is God desiring, maybe even needing, to be seen, known, experienced by you. Epiphany happens at the intersection of God’s insistence and our response, and it requires both. A star that is not seen and followed is just another luminous ball of gas. A journey that has no guiding star is just another road trip. You and I give existence to God’s insistence through our actions, our words, our lives. Continue reading God Insists – An Epiphany Sermon On Matthew 2:1-12
There is a tradition of blessing homes on the Feast of the Epiphany and during the weeks that follow. One way of doing this is to use blessed chalk to mark the doorway as follows: Marking the doorway to one’s home is rooted in the Old Testament. Holy Scripture reminds us that God has at times commanded his people to mark their doors. The Israelites … Continue reading Blessing Chalk For An Epiphany House Blessing