It Doesn’t Matter What You Came Here To See

Third Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 35:1-10; Matthew 11:2-11
Sunday, December 12, 2010


Grace to you and peace, from the one who is, who was, and who is to come.  Amen.

Steve Martin, the noted actor, comedian, and writer, is a funny guy.
Find videos of his performances on YouTube, and you’ll be laughing for hours,
    often at jokes and references that are not entirely appropriate for church.
Tickets sell out quickly when he does live appearances,
    because people will gladly pay big bucks to have this living legend make them laugh.
And so when Steve Martin agreed to do a live appearance at the 92nd Street Y in NYC
    it was a surprise to no one that tickets sold out quickly.
Now, this particular appearance, back on November 29, was not a stand-up comedy act.
Rather, it was billed as an interview between Mr. Martin and Deborah Solomon,
    a columnist for the New York Times Magazine,
    about his most recent book, An Object of Beauty, which is about the art world.
Perhaps not the most scintillating of settings or topics,
    but about 900 tickets were sold, for $50 each, to benefit the work of the Y.
Even if Steve Martin were standing on stage reading a phone book,
    it would probably be worth watching.

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The Question of When, and The Parable of the Piñata

First Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44
Sunday, November 28, 2010

Grace to you and peace, from the one who is, who was, and who is to come.  Amen.

“But about that day and hour no one knows,” Jesus says,
    “neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
What day, what hour does Jesus speak about here?
The day and hour when the “Son of Man” will come in judgment
    to remake and reorder the world according to God’s priorities.
That’s the day and the hour of which Jesus speaks in the first verse of today’s Gospel,
    and it is a day and an hour that even Jesus doesn’t know.
Nobody knows when these things will take place, Jesus says.
    Not angels, not Jesus, nobody.
But it will take place.
In this way, the coming of the Kingdom of God
    is like a bunch of kids hitting a piñata at a party.

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A Holy Ruckus (Advent 4, Year C)

4th Sunday of Advent
Luke 1:39-55 (Psalmody and Gospel Text)
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Day after 17" snowfall in DC area – 7th largest recorded storm of all time

Grace to you and peace, from the one who is, and who was, and who is to come.  Amen.

John the Baptist gets all the credit for being the pre-Jesus weirdo –
    the wild honey and bug-eating, camel's hair-wearing, repentance-preaching
    prophet who stood in the wilderness, at the margins of civilized society,
    simultaneously causing and announcing a ruckus.

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A Straight Path in our Spiritual Garage (Advent 2, Year C)

Second Sunday of Advent
Luke 3:1-6
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Service of Advent Lessons and Carols

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come.  Amen.

In just one year, my family has managed to clutter up the garage of the parsonage.
You see, there is no way that we'd ever fit our minivan in that garage, anyway,
    built long before the minivan era.
And in a house built in an day when closets needed to hold only a few suits or dresses and nothing else,
    the garage has become our storage unit,
    our massive walk-in closet holding everything from
        bulk-purchased canned and dry food, to
        children's bikes, extra diapers and wipes,
        and a weed trimmer I swear I'll eventually fix.

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The Extraordinary in the Ordinary (Advent 4, Year B)

Advent 4, Year B
December 21, 2008
Luke 1:26-38

First sermon preached as an ordained Lutheran pastor, and as Associate Pastor of Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church in Arlington, VA.

Grace, Mercy, and Peace be to you from God the Blessed Trinity.  Amen.

It wasn’t quite what I had expected,
    not really like what I had envisioned . . .
Years ago, when I first gave serious thought to becoming a pastor,
    I would try to picture my ordination and the days immediately leading up to it.
I imagined that perhaps I’d go on a retreat to a monastery for prayer and reflection,
        or perhaps take a few days away to a mountain retreat
for rest, prayer, and devotion     prior to ordination.
I had these visions of setting myself apart,
    of gearing up in a holy way for a holy thing,
    of preparing for this ministry with a prelude of piety and prayer.
Well . . . . this week wasn’t quite like those prior visions of pious preparation.

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