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Sermons

The Blessing Revealed

Happy New Year! News coverage over the past week has been filled with moments of looking backwards at the year gone by, celebrations, and glitzy lights. Day after day of newsreels flashed highlights of 2018: The most watched YouTube videos, the top 10 songs of the year, the hashtags that were trending, and Breaking News highlights – mainly from events we wished hadn’t occurred. In the spirit of looking back, I am going to ask you to wander back even further with me, into a time when, as we heard from Isaiah a “darkness cover[ed] the earth, and thick darkness the peoples.” Come back also to a t...
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Tell the Story!

I am fascinated by our ability, as people created in the image of God, to tell stories. Because of this I am convinced that our God is a storytelling God. The Gospel of John even tells us that from the beginning of time there was the Word. A story (John 1:1, NRSV). As parents and grandparents, and great-grandparents, we all know how important it is to start reading to our children even before they are old enough to understand the words. We buy books made out of heavy cardboard, cloth, and that funny spongy stuff for newborns. There are the books we read to our kids – over and over. We read poe...
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Let Us Sing!

At the beginning of worship: Pastor Kris began the story… The crèche is empty. There are no characters in the manger scene. For today, throughout worship, we will each tell our story. I invite you into Holy Imagination—that space in which God appears. In a time of long ago that resonated today, the prophet Joel says to us: “Blow the trumpet… sound the alarm…! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near—a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness!” (Joel 2:1-2, NRSV) And in that day of great fear, the darkness bir...
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Redeeming Grace

This. Is. Hilarious. This is a lot of hard work. This. Is… Good News. This is the Good News of asking the toughest questions – with the most simple, Holy, response. Let us go into the wild places and rejoice! God is near. Again I say, rejoice! How do we not read today’s bible passages back-to-back… and laugh? How do we not hear: “Rejoice in God always… you brood of vipers?” Paul and John proclaiming the Good News that the peace of God surpasses all understanding. Rejoice! Rejoice and remember where we are. Remember that we are still in that desert place, that raw place ...
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Glories Stream…

Last week in worship, I shared with you my Advent practices for this year. The fact that I would be (and have) entered a “monastery” of sorts, in Galway, Ireland, for 4 weeks. I love the blend of being present, both face-to-face and digitally, in my Advent practices. The abbey is online, and I find a deep centering in my daily retreats there, which are led by Christine Valters Paintner. This “Abbey of the Arts is a virtual monastery offering classes… integrating contemplative practice and creative expression.”[1] Each day this week I have stepped into this quiet, sacred, virtual reality. I hav...
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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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