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That Pesky 4th Commandment

September 10, 2017 Romans 13:8-14
I’ve started the count-down to my sabbatical.  Nine days from now I’ll start with a week at an Ignatian retreat house on the coast of Massachusetts where I’ll be immersed in silence and imaginative prayer and beach walks. I’m super excited, and also very aware of how much I need this time, although I’m going to miss this place, and all of you, a lot.  But as excited as I am, and as much as I know I need this time away, as it gets closer, I’ve discovered that I feel a little sheepish talking about my sabbatical, especially with people outside the church world.  This open time in front of me is such a rare and wonderful thing.  How is it possible that I not only have the best job but also am part of a profession in which sabbatical time is built-in and understood?  So as people ask me what I’ll be doing during my sabbatical, I’ve been feeling this pressure to have something really impressive to announce.  Surely during this time I should be Accomplishing sp…

Jesus' Implicit and Explicit Bias

August 20, 2017 Matthew 15: 21-28
         I’d originally planned to preach from the Old Testament this morning.I love all the twists and turns of Joseph’s story.But after the events in Charlottesville last weekend, after listening to the national conversation brewing around me, I realized that I had to start over and preach about the Gospel. Because right now this story is our story. Jesus and his disciples are on the move, visiting the region of Tyre and Sidon.  These two places have been repeatedly condemned by the prophets of old.  The Israelites were instructed to stay away from this region when they entered the promised land.  And while Jesus and his disciples are there, this Canaanite woman approaches.  The Canaanites were held-up as “enemy” by the Israelites, identified with idolatry and perverted religion.  Additionally, this is a woman, with no clout, status or voice.  So this Canaanite woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon is at least trice marginalized — by her race, religio…

Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth, Oh My!

July 30, 2017 Matthew 13:31-52
At first, our Gospel reading from Matthew seemed like the perfect reading for me to preach about after two weeks spent several national parks in the wilderness of California.  Especially the growth-from-small-seeds part.   My family spent time among the giant sequoias at Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks and we were shocked to pick up the surprisingly tiny little pine cones that held the seeds to these unbelievably massive trees that my entire family of five’s arms outspread could not reach around!  It seemed impossible that the two could be related.   So I was ready to hang with Matthew and his mustard seed with its explosive growth.  That little pine cone, so precious that signs everywhere told us we must not take them from the park, was firmly in my mind. But then I read more closely.  And got to the part about the weeping and gnashing of teeth and the fiery furnace.  Really, Matthew?!  We are going on week three of that stuff now - enough already!  Two…

A Horrible Story Reimagined

July 2, 2017 Genesis 22:1-14
Isaac Did you know that my name, Isaac, means laughter?  What a joke that is.  I think the last time I really laughed was way back when with my brother Ishmael.  Before my mother sent him away.  But ever since then, any time something starts to bring a smile to my face, that terror comes back to me.  There I am again trudging up the mountain loaded down with wood for the fire.  My father silently walking next to me.  In my dreams I can see myself as I was then, still trusting that my father has my best interests at heart, still believing that I am a child of promise like my parents always tell me.  I try to scream, to shake my boy-self awake, to warn him to turn around, to drop the wood and run away and never look back.  But I can’t make a sound.  And the silence is deafening.  After that time on the mountain I rushed down a different path from my father and never talked to him or my mother again.  But I never really got free.  They were still part of me when …

Mission: The Mystery of the Trinity

June 11, 2017 Trinity Sunday
Somewhere chugging along in outer space right now is the Cassini orbiter, a probe that NASA sent up into space in 1997 to get a closer look at Saturn, a planet had previously been virtually unknowable.   Saturn is so ridiculously far away - more than 746 million miles - that it took the Cassini 7 years to get there.  Since it arrived, it has been orbiting Saturn and its moons, taking pictures and samples and giving a steady and amazing trove of insights that have been surprising and delighting scientists.  I love reading all about the various discoveries.  About how it tracked a monster storm that stretched around the planet and then consumed itself.   And how it landed a probe on Saturn’s largest moon — the first-ever landing on any world in the outer solar system.   About how it discovered two previously unknown moons and a few new rings around Saturn.  It detected atmosphere around one of Saturn’s moons — the first time molecules of an oxygen atmosphere have…

Lectio Divina in the World

May 21, 2017 Acts 17:22-31
Paul, the main character in our reading from Acts today, is often not my favorite.  I have trouble getting past his judgy moralizing and his ridiculous run-on sentences.  And yet, as someone engaged in this profession, I have to admit that Paul was a bold preacher.  He knew how to argue, and he turned heads.  When he entered a new city, he’d make his way to the synagogue, set up camp, and immediately begin to hold forth on the scriptures with anyone who happened to be there.  Now, sometimes - and to be honest, I am glad that I have never had this happen to me -  sometimes his preaching was so fiery, so uncompromising, so bold, that he offended people to the point of mob rampage.  And in such instances, it was helpful for him to be ready to escape quickly.  That is where we find him in our reading today.  Paul had to rush quickly away from Thessalonica, where he’d been preaching until the crowd started to look a little too menacing.  And so he came to Athens as…