Sermons To Go

What to Take with You, What to Leave Behind

Preached FCCW July 7, 2019

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

The difference between an enjoyable hike and a miserable hike often comes down to what you take with you, and what you leave behind. Ideally, your backpack will be light enough to not be a burden. So, you don’t want to pack it with non-essentials that could have been left behind. On the other hand, you want to make sure that you take with you those supplies that you might regret not having if a situation arose where they would be needed.

Century Plant

Preached FCCW June 30-2019

Luke 9:51-61 and Galatians 5:1, 13-25

 

The agave americana is a succulent plant commonly found in the deserts of Sedona. With its enormous leaves, capable of storing large amounts of water and sharp spikes along the edges of those leaves for discouraging thirsty animals from preying upon it, it is clear that evolution has given the agave americana the right tools for living a long and healthy life in the desert. Which is why the agave americana’s non-scientific name is, the Century Plant. And, even though Century Plants don’t literally live for 100 years, they can live 10, 20 or 30 years!

Cryptobiotic

Preached FCCW June 23, 2019

Luke 8:26-39 and Galatians 3:23-39

 

While the plants and trees that grow in Sedona’s desert landscape appear to be rugged and just about indestructible, something I learned on my Summer vacation is that it is actually an extremely fragile ecosystem. At most trailheads there are signs emphasizing the importance of not wandering from established trails just to get a better look at a scenic vista or to take a selfie beside a prickly-pear cactus. “Don’t Bust the Crust” is a slogan found at just about every trail kiosk.

Fatherly Advice from a Shaggy Bark Juniper

Preached FCCW June, 16, 2019 (Father’s Day and Trinity Sunday)

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 and Romans 5:1-5

 

Much of the Book of Proverbs is written in the style of fatherly wisdom that is intended to shape the character of children so that they may grow to be in alignment with God’s purpose for their lives. So, you can see why Proverbs can be a treasure trove of material for a Father’s Day sermon.

It may seem strange then, that on this Father’s Day, the passage we read from Proverbs is all about a woman. This is not just any woman, though. Or, even an actual woman. She is a personification of Godly wisdom. Like the way we would use the name “Mother Nature” to describe the natural world. Or, “Lady Luck” to speak about good fortune. The “Wisdom Woman” of Proverbs is described as having been there when God created the universe, and created life. It is a way of saying that Divine Wisdom is in the very DNA of the universe.

Plans and Goals

Preached FCCW, May 12, 2019 (Senior Sunday)

Jeremiah 29:11-13

 

In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat advises Alice that, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” In the adventures of real life though, whether it’s going from Point A to Point B on a map, going from High School to a future career, or going from a career to retirement, most of us would rather have a good idea of where we are heading and the most efficient route to get us there.

The Exception to the Rule

Preached FCCW, April 21 2019 (Easter Sunday)

Luke 24:1-12

I subscribe to a news magazine that, week after week delivers a pretty comprehensive summary of current events from around the globe. In every issue of this magazine, you will find a section named, “It Wasn’t All Bad.” As the name implies, this section is devoted to showcasing positive and upbeat stories about people acting courageously, kindly and selflessly. It is also the smallest section of every issue. Never taking up more than a quarter page or so at most.

Some Secrets Are Made for Shouting

Preached Palm Sunday (April 14) 2019

Luke 19:28-40 and 23:13-25, 44-47

Secrets generally fall into two distinct categories. There are secrets that we guard with our very life because they are connected to some deep personal shame within us. We may carry these secrets for a lifetime and never come close to revealing them to another living soul. Because we can’t bear the thought of the rejection that would follow. Ironically, the only way to break the power that such secrets hold over us is to confess them to a safe person who can receive the secret with grace and help us to cease letting it define us.

Anointed

Preached FCCW, April 7, 2019

John 12:1-8

 

In the town of Bethany in Judea there was a party going on. You could say that it was a welcome home party, but what an understatement that would be! I dare say that there has never been a homecoming to compare with what was being celebrated that evening.

Lazarus sat at the dinner table. He had returned from a unique journey. Not from a trip to some far-off land, but from a four-day sojourn within a sealed tomb. Lazarus, you see, had been raised from the dead.

The Parable of the Dishonored Father

Preached FCCW, March 31, 2019

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

 

Some of the religious folks began to take notice that many people who were coming to hear Jesus teach were not like the audiences other rabbis attracted. And not in a good way. They said, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them!”

So, Jesus told them this parable…

In other words, this was how Jesus responded to their criticism about the company he kept and what it said about his own character. Actually, Jesus told them, not just a parable, but three parables. The 15th Chapter of Luke’s Gospel could be aptly named “The Trilogy of Lost Animals, Objects and Relationships.” The entire chapter consists of three parables, each one directly addressed to the insinuation by the scribes and Pharisees that his acceptance of sinners and outcasts cast doubts upon the legitimacy of his ministry.

Pinky Swear

Preached FCCW, March 17, 2019
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

Hooking little fingers together in a “pinky swear” is one of the ways we learn while growing up, the importance of respecting a solemn promise. A pinky swear seems like all fun and games…until you know what it stands for; which is that the consequence of breaking the agreement is to lose your pinky finger! Then, suddenly it all sounds pretty barbaric.

But, still not as barbaric as the way Abram sealed a covenant with God by bisecting a bunch of animals. Let’s face it, any ceremony that includes the necessity of shooing vultures away is not for the faint of heart. Maybe though, it is exactly the faintest of heart who most need promises that come with extreme demonstrations of trust.

Bodily Temptations

Preached FCCW, March 10, 2019 Lent 1C

Luke 4:1-13

It’s not what it sounds like. The sermon title I mean. Whether this comes as a relief or a letdown, you’re not about to hear a racy message about temptations of the flesh.

The Apostle Paul often referred to the Church as the Body of Christ. It’s the temptations that we face as part of that Body – as a community of believers – that we’ll be looking at this morning.

Every Day an Ash Wednesday

Preached FCCW, March 6, 2019, Ash Wednesday

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 and Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

The church calendar is filled with holy seasons, like Advent, Epiphany, and lent; and holy days like Christmas, Easter, Pentecost – and the one we are here to observe tonight, Ash Wednesday. Often, there are certain visible and tangible practices associated with these special times. Like being anointed with ashes on Ash Wednesday.

Veils

Preached FCCW March 3. 2019

Transfiguration Sunday

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 and Luke 9:28-43a

The quote for meditation on the cover of your bulletin comes from a prominent leader in the early days of the Christian Church, named Irenaeus.

It begins with these words, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”

But, what does it mean to be fully alive?

For some it might involve some kind of thrill-seeking adventure.

Maybe bungee jumping, climbing Mt. Everest, or booking a seat on one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX orbiters.

Transformers or Transmitters?

Preached FCCW, February 24, 2019

Genesis 45:3-11, 15 and Luke 6:27-38

Four trees and an empty field. That is all that remains of the West Nickel Mines Amish School. It’s been that way pretty much since October of 2006. That was when the world was appalled by one of the most horrific mass shootings in a school full of children… at least, up to that time. The parents of the perpetrator, who took his own life, thought for certain that the fury of the victims’ parents would be directed at them.

They were wrong.

Blessed Be

Preached FCCW on February 17, 2019

Jeremiah 17:5-10 and Luke 6:17-26

When I was a kid, my parents gave me a subscription to Highlights for Children, a monthly magazine for kids. Other than the grown-up feeling I got from having magazines delivered in the mail just for me, there’s not a lot else I can recall about the magazine’s content.

Except for Goofus and Gallant.

Goofus and Gallant were the names of two characters who appeared in a comic strip that ran in every issue of Highlights. The intent of the Goofus and Gallant page was to prompt kids like me to think about right and wrong behaviors and hopefully to help us make good choices in life. The comic was always divided into two separate panels presented side by side. One for Goofus and one for Gallant. Neither one ever crossed over to interact with the other one. It was like they dwelt in two totally separate universes. Gallant’s actions were always virtuous and respectful. Goofus’ actions were always rude and selfish.