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Sermons

Unraveled: Weaving Something New

The prophet cries out to us through generations of sacred text: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile…” (Jer. 29:7) There were two parts of Jeremiah’s letter that kept catching my attention this past week. The first, was to “seek the welfare of the place where you are at.” Seek the welfare of the place where you are at. As an adjective, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes “welfare” as “… relating to, or concerned with welfare and especially with improvement of the welfare of disadvantaged social groups.”[1] Merriam-Webster lists as synonyms to welfare ...
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When Humans Unravel God’s Plans for Justice

OK, there is no getting around it. I need to start this reflection by confessing that this was not an easy one to write. It is a story that will leave us today without a resolution, as you will hear in a moment in the form of a question from one of the youth in our congregation. Today there is no ending. No happily ever after. Yet… As I wrote these open words this week, I found myself weaving together the sermon—and the confirmation lesson that the teens will be engaging in today. I would like to share a part of that experience with you visually, so… Welcome to Bible Boot Camp! T...
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Radical Unraveling of Vocation

Our repetitive retelling of the stories in the bible is a big part of who we are as Church. We are a people of the story. God’s story. That thread deep in our collective memory of who we are as God’s beloved. Today God’s story is retold through the interaction between Jesus and Zacchaeus. This is a story that is—for at least some people here— familiar. Yet it is always good to repeat the narrative. This is how we learn. This is how we teach our children. Repetition. Over and over. Our retellings of our biblical stories are our living, breathing chronicles of who we are as people of God. A...
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Unraveled by Uncertainty

It seems that following Jesus has a bit… to do… with… becoming unraveled. Today, it is Peter—and when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened. Other days it is the young rich man—who heard Jesus’ word, and went away grieving for he had… (what…do you remember… ???) many possessions (Matthew 19:16-30). Next week we will hear about Zacchaeus, whom Diana Butler Bass writes Jesus called out from the crowds “… to stop participating in a corrupt system of gratitude that oppressed his own people. In a moment, Jesus turned (Zacchaeus’) world upside down: Who was the guest and who wa...
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Unraveled: Unexpected Joy and Surprise

If you have read the eNews, or if you glanced through today’s bulletin, you might have wondered the upcoming bible study and sermon series on which we are embarking today entitled Unraveled: Seeking God When Our Plans Fall Apart. So, I liked to start be telling you a bit about why we are going to be reflecting on the ways in which life becomes unraveled, and the unexpected that meets us there… As I get together with people in the community, and gather in the homes at members and friends of the congregation, and talk with those who gather for bible study on Wednesdays, it has occurred t...
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Be the Church: Embrace Diversity

Be the Church: Embrace Diversity This is a reflection on radical hospitality, broken pieces, and being fed. I want to start by noting that there are many lenses through which we could talk about diversity: Merriam-Webster defines diversity as “The condition of having or being composed of differing elements : VARIETY especially : the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.”[1] Our own Open and Affirming statement proclaims that— “We have a commitment to welcome all people here, whoeve...
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Be the Church: Love God

As we continue with our summer series on the ways in which we are called to Be the Church, today we come to “Love God”. This is a basic tenet of our faith. In the Hebrew scriptures, in both Exodus (20:1-4) and Deuteronomy (5:6) “God spoke… these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me” (Exod.). To the man who raised the question, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus responded, ‘”the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all yo...
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Be the Church: Forgive Often

Today’s passage from Luke is packed with multiple mini-sermons. Soooo… Where do you think we should start? One option would be to jump right into a reflection on the Lord’s Prayer. But, which version should we use? Luke’s? Or maybe we should use Matthew’s which is longer, but has words with which we are more familiar? Or… should we focus translation each of us knows best? Which of those prayers should we pick? In the bulletin each week we print the Prayer of Jesus. We include the text because not all of us regularly use the words “debts and debtors.” Some of us that are here grew up saying...
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Be the Church: Fight for the Powerless

You would think that this would be easy. The topic is straight forward, Be the Church: Fight for the Powerless. Then we sit down with Mary and Martha… and Jesus… and things get a bit… well… complicated. Just what is Jesus saying? But we can’t stop there. Just how do we wrap our head around God’s comments to Amos when God says, “… I’m calling it quits with my people Israel. I’m no longer acting as if everything is just fine” (Amos 8:2b, The Message). This is God. A God can no longer act as if everything is just fine. Into this mix, as your pastor, I have a story that I need to share it ...
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Be the Church: Reject Racism

This is one of those sermons that needed to be written, and re-written, over and over several times during the course of the week. There were just so many jumping off points, so many interconnections. By Friday evening I had the reflection done, but then events and conversations led to something else. So yep. Rewritten. I kept going back to a comment made by the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III, who is the pastor of Trinity UCC—an unapologetically black congregation in Chicago. Moss stated that “God acts in extravagant diversity.”[1] Extravagant diversity. I look around our community, our world...
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