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Sermons

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

Welcome! Welcome into this sacred journey, this walk through the season of Advent. A time of pastoral care. Individual, community, and cosmic pastoral care. A time of signs all around us, wrapping us in the eternal prayer shawls… like those scattered around this sanctuary… of the Holy. As our nights lengthen in the northern hemisphere, we have more time to immerse ourselves in the waning of the sun, and the cold, crisp companionship of the moon and stars, 14 to 15 hours per day throughout the next 4 weeks. A time for nurturing, waiting, and birthing something new. The pastoral care of the worl...
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It. Is. So. Real.

It. Is. So. Real. Pick up any book. Any pen. Any toy. Step on any Lego, and it-is-all-so-real. Ouch. The world around us. The people. The needs. The wants. The anxieties. The hunger. The excitement. The goals. The gifts. The losses. Life. Love. Grief. Pain. Relationships. It is all… so… real… Last week was Memorial UCC’s “Celebration Sunday,” and we celebrated. We celebrated the active presence of God’s abundance in our midst. We talked about gratitude. We talked about stewardship. We enjoyed a meal of lasagna together. We reflected on the world around us. The need for that world to s...
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GPS: Gratitude, Prayer, & __________

In the 1980s, GPS came out into public use. The acronym stands for “global positioning system.” As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, and the launch of Black Friday sales on Thursday, and Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday… we hear Hannah’s lament. That gut wrenching prayer deep in the soul that has been lifted time and time again on millions of lips. That prayer so painful, so real, so embodied that observers scoff: “She is drunk. A spectacle.” A prayer which arises out of the “pouring out of (one’s) soul before God” (1 Sam. 1:15b, NRSV). That great anxiety, that...
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Gratitude: Habit and Witness (or… Out of Sync)

Habits. How do habits become purposeful? Life changing? Lifesaving? Community transforming? The answer is, in part, faith development. Those skills that we learn and practice and grow into throughout our life journeys. And we know that specifically intergenerational habits—purposeful time together across the generations—become “more than” habits: Spending time together in prayer. Reading scripture. Gathering as a faith community to worship. Getting together to serve. Actively doing advocacy work. Visiting one another. Sending cards, calling, one another. Giving financially to the church. Be...
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Transformation

This is IT. THE characteristic of God. Hesed. The embodiment, the living into, the Great Commandment. Hesed is a Hebrew term for which we have no equivalent in English. Hesed, is that which God describes to Moses as God’s self which “abounds in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6b, NRSV). Karoline Lewis says that hesed is, “the way in which to believe in God, trust in God—which also means that you act out God’s characteristics… doing what God is.”[1] Hesed is that deep, abiding, faithful love. God’s Love. In what ways do we see God doing that today? And, as we lean into, ...
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Thanks in Action

The reflection today will include a bit of wandering, so get comfortable as I guide you on this journey. For today we receive a charge: Thanks in action. Love… in action. To be a Church… in action. And in the 21st century, Reformation in action. On this Reformation Sunday we are living, active, participants in the Second Reformation, 500 years after the first. Re-Form. Re-new. Re-store… heaven on earth. This reflection comes about, in part, because this week Job and I have had our differences. Over the past 4 weeks our bible readings have immersed us in Job’s slow, painful, downward spiral ...
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Take Time for Wonder

The whirlwind. Merriam-Webster defines a whirlwind as “a confused rush…a violent or destructive force…”[1] Ben, Brandon, Calvin, Izzy, and Jack—This is the moment we’ve been waiting for: confirmation. Now, you may not feel the “woo hoo” of the covenant you will be affirming in a few minutes. You might be wondering just exactly what you will be doing. You might not be sure why you are doing this. You might be thinking “whew… all those classes are over.” You might be looking forward to Jesus Core, the high school retreat in January, or Youth at Synod—your participation in the national United Chu...
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Celebrate Abundance

Do you have a favorite childhood story? I have long been fascinated by stories—and how we tell them—whether it is through spoken or written word, images, art, movement, or music. As an undergraduate student I studied communication arts, which included debate classes, rhetoric, radio, television, and film. As someone drawn to the stories in the bible, I love how the past, present, and future intertwine. How we tell our stories weaves into who we are as individual, as a community, a nation, and a global community. This week, one of my favorite childhood stories came to mind—all over one word....
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Pay Attention to Gifts

This day I am grateful for the gift of place. This week I found myself being grateful for the comforting, the healing, and the darkness, of this building. Specifically, in my office, and the narratives of the pastors before me who have guided the people and the Spirit of this faith community. The room is this wonderful space in which the holding of sacred rawness and woundedness occurs. This entire building has a beautiful way of reflecting the world around it. This place lives and breathes in the stories that are shared… here. Sometimes it is the light and joy that flows through the windows a...
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Notice the Gap

Notice the gaps. The cracks, the crevices that lurk all about. The shifts, the movements, the things we know so well… that are all changing. So pay attention. Acknowledge the reality. For the reality is that in the tension new hope emerges. New stories. Stories that are coming out of the shadows, shattering the shame. Pushing back against the fear. Revealing the Good News that this world can be, must be, will be… different. Be inspired. Notice the gap between what is, and what can be. Today we acknowledge that the images are graphic. That the actions Jesus calls for are drastic. That ...
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