Sermons To Go

Sermons To Go

Giving Thanks in the Worst Year of the 21st Century

Psalm 100 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Thanksgiving is the one time when families that never give a thought to saying grace at the table on the other 364 days of the year, will expect it to happen over this meal. They will insist on not carving the turkey or doling out the cranberry sauce, until someone has given thanks. One Thanksgiving a family was seated at their table, which was laden with turkey and all the fixings. Before digging in,…

The God We Think We Know

Matthew 25:14-30 The Parable of the Talents was never exactly one of my favorites. The way that my eyes glaze over at the sight of a spreadsheet reminds me that my management of the master’s portfolio might have been no better handled that of the unfortunate slave in this story. So, it follows that my fate would also have matched his. The parable tells the story of a master who entrusts three slaves with varying shares of his wealth, for…

Generation We

Joshua 24: 1-3a, 14-25 The story that the Bible tells often reads like a family tree of faith. Scattered throughout the Old Testament and the gospels are genealogies, like mile markers along a road. Those are the passages that never get read in worship, and the ones that we most likely skip over when we read the Bible ourselves. Why take the time to wade through lists of people who most have never heard of, with names that few can…

That You May Not Grieve as Others Do Who Have No Hope

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 The burial service had just ended, and after saying my goodbyes to the family of the deceased, I made my way through the gravestones to where my car was parked. Someone called out my name and I turned to see the daughter of the man who I had eulogized minutes before. “Pastor” she said, “have you got a minute?” She shared her concern that she would never see her father again. Not in the obvious way, of…

Law and Order and Love

Matthew 22:34-46 A man entered a store and walked up to the counter. The saleswoman who was behind the counter ignored him. The customer rang the bell on the counter to get her attention. The saleswoman said, “You got a number?” “I got a what?” asked the man. “You got a number?” the saleswoman repeated.  You gotta have a number.” The man glanced around the store, which was empty, and replied, “Lady, I’m the only customer in the store! Why…

Chasing Glory

Exodus 33:12-23 A young woman who was filling out a college entrance application came across a question which asked, “Are you a leader?” She hesitated, guessing that the response to the question that the admissions department was looking for was a “Yes.” Being an honest sort of person though, she marked the space for “No.” As in, “No,” she was not a leader. Several weeks later a letter of acceptance arrived that read, “Upon receiving 1340 applications from students to…

Sunday Best

Matthew 22:1-14      There’s a certain kind of dream that most people seem to have had at one time or another. It is a dream where you find yourself underdressed, or even undressed in a public place, or at a social event. Typically, in this dream, nobody else really seems to notice that you’re only wearing underwear or pajamas, or whatever you’re wearing, or not wearing as the case may be. But, you know how exposed you are; how inappropriately dressed…

First Comes Love

  Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-18 When a couple comes to me to be married part of the time we spend together involves me getting to know them and engaging in some pre-marital counseling to prepare them to enter the covenant of marriage well equipped for success. But a large part of the time is also dedicated to planning the wedding ceremony itself. I go over each part of the ceremony carefully with them so that they understand the meaning and…

The Obedient One

Matthew 21: 23-32        T. S. Eliot once wrote, Oh my soul, be prepared to meet Him who knows how to ask questions.” Let me tell you, Jesus knew how to ask questions. Almost every time someone asked Jesus a question, he replied with a question of his own. So it was, one day while Jesus was in Jerusalem, that the religious leaders came to Jesus with a question, as he was teaching in the Temple. “By what authority are you…

When Kingdoms Collide

Matthew 20:1-16 and Philippians 1:20-30 Frederick Beuchner once defined a parable as “a small story with a large point.” He was speaking of a metaphorical point, of course. As in, a moral or spiritual lesson to be learned from the parable. But, many of Jesus’ parables also pack a literal point. Like the pointy end of a thumbtack left on the floor, which we accidentally step on in our bare feet in the middle of the night while making our…

Freedom Trail

Exodus 14:10-31 When I was a kid in school, I always looked forward to field trips. Partly because it felt like a day off from being in a classroom. But more than that, field trips made history come alive for me in ways that a textbook alone never could. Simply reading about the perilous voyage of the Mayflower, for instance, failed to impress on me the harsh realities of that journey. What did the trick was walking the dark, claustrophobic…
feet on ground

Holy Ground All Around

Exodus 3:1-15   Certain holidays that we celebrate are easily associated with matters of faith. Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving, to name a few.  Pretty much, Labor Day is not that kind of holiday.       Maybe it should be. One reason that it isn’t is that labor and commerce are considered to be secular matters. But it wasn’t always so. For centuries, what came to be known as the Protestant Work Ethic gave people a sense that what they did to make a…
Losers, Keepers Crosses

Losers, Keepers

Matthew 16:21 – 28 “Finders, keepers; losers, weepers.” We’ve all grown up with those words. Just an innocent little kid’s rhyme, right? Until you think about what those words actually mean, and what kind of lesson it teaches about how we treat each other. Finders, keepers; losers, weepers, boils down to something like this: You lose something of value (whether material or sentimental value) and that loss causes you grief. Losing it makes you a weeper. Then I have the…

Prevailing Against the Gates of Hades

Matthew 16:13-18 and Romans 12:1-8 The weather on this particular day of our Holy Land pilgrimage was uncharacteristically gloomy. Gray clouds hung ominously above us and the misty air dampened our enthusiasm for outdoor exploration. You couldn’t have asked for better weather for a visit to the Gates of Hell. In Old Testament times the place had been the site of a cult to the Canaanite fertility god, Ba’al. In a culture that depended on agriculture for its survival, fertility…

Like Oil and Water

Psalm 133 and Matthew  15:21-28 The 133rd Psalm is one of a group of Psalms in the Bible called Songs of Ascent. They are called Songs of Ascent because it is believed that these Psalms were sung by Israelite pilgrims traveling from their homes to worship in Solomon’s Temple; which meant literally ascending up to the city of Jerusalem where the Temple was located. The Ascent Psalms were mostly upbeat and hopeful in tone. They reverberated with praises to God,…