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Sermons

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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Be the Church: Care for the Poor

I invite you to get comfortable. Settle into your chair. And start thinking about your super powers. For one thing that I learned this week is that this passage from the book of Luke takes a while to unpack. Your super powers are needed! For today, Jesus challenges us. Get ready. We have listened. We have been taught. We have the tools. And now we need to recognize that we have God-given super powers. So look again. Listen. Jesus speaks: “I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky… Safe passage (to you) as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of ...
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Be the Church: Protect the Environment

Over the course of the week, whenever I can throughout the year, I make time to walk around the church. Each time I do, my experience is unique. There is always a slight shift, something new, from the walk before. A different sound. A different song. A different color. A new branch arching out over the path. A scooter laying out on the grass. A Spiderman ball in the back garden. When I first came to Memorial UCC as pastor, it was clear that good stewardship of the environment was an important ministry in this faith community. Creation care. Nature is intimately woven into everything this ...
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Gathered and Scattered

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting…” (Acts 2:1-2, NRSV) Gathered together in one place. What does “all together in one place” mean today? In this global community, packed with online neighborhoods, as we “gather together” with 7+ billion other people, what languages do we need to be listening for? How is the Spirit falling anew in ways that will open us to the possibility of understanding one another? Take a ...
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Resurrection: Wait Here…

A little over a week ago, Rebecca approached me with a question. As she was preparing the lessons for the past two Sundays, the Holy Moly curriculum presented two versions of Jesus’ final days with the disciples. In the book of Matthew, the story includes the Great Commission—the charge Jesus gave those who followed him: “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life… instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:18-20, The Message). In Luke and Acts, as we heard read today, the story goes on to include Jesus' ascension. Rebecca was wonderi...
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Resurrection: Vision

I would like you to imagine yourself here – in the midst of biblical bookends: One, the first bible story read today from Acts, which happens after Jesus’ death and resurrection (and after Jesus’ ascension… and after the “woo hoo” of the Holy Spirit showing up… and after Paul launches his ministry).And the other story, from the book of John, as we hear Jesus’ words prior to his death. Today we have a before story, and an after story. What are we to do with these narrative bookends guiding our reflection? The story in Acts begins in the night. A vision. A stirring of the Spiri...
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Resurrection: In Community

This Easter season, I am been thinking a lot about “resurrection.” I am intrigued by what this concept, “resurrection”, this idea that the Living Christ shows up for us today means. For this is who we are as followers of Jesus, right? We are people that believe in resurrection. This Jesus who is and who was and who is to come,” (Rev. 1:4b, NRSV). But… really? Resurrection? How are we to understand—in 2019—the ways in which death does not have the last word? This is why I loved hanging out with Tabitha, also known as Dorcus, this week. And reflecting on the faith community into which her li...
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