“Lord, if you had been here …”

Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A
John 11:1-45
Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lent 5 – Year A 2011

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

Martha, grieving her brother,
    says to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Actually, I’m pretty certain she didn’t say it the perfectly calm tone of a church lector
    reading the Scriptures on a Sunday morning.
Rather, I think she would have said it a bit more emphatically, sadly, angrily, emotionally:
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
If you had been here …

This isn’t just Martha’s comment, question, plea, either.
We share this sentiment with her.

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Belonging

Third Sunday in Lent
John 4:5-42
Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lent 3 – Year A 2011

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

“But I’m a creep.
    I’m a weirdo.
    What the hell am I doing here?
        I don’t belong here. I don’t belong here ….”

So sings one of the alternative rock anthems of my youth, a song called “Creep,”
    by the massively successful but never quite mainstream band Radiohead.
“I don’t belong here,” they sing.
How do we determine who belongs anywhere?
How do we determine who does not belong?
And more – what does it say about a generation, my generation, Generation X,
    when one of its defining songs laments not belonging here … or anywhere?
Belonging.

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Our temptation: to trust sin more than we trust God

First Sunday in Lent
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11
Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lent 1 – Year A 2011

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

On this first Sunday in Lent,
    we begin with sin.
And not only do we begin with sin, but we begin with the beginning of sin.
In our first reading, we are introduced to The Fall,
    the Biblical account of how sin entered into the world.
To hear the author of Genesis put it,
    our first sin was to disobey one of the laws that God gave to man.
Now, in this brand new creation, God had already given several laws,
    perhaps not formally formulated or laid down in written code,
    but God put man in the garden of Eden
    with the expressed responsibility to till the land and to keep it,
        a form of law, a command, to care for the earth that God has just made.
And, too, God laid down one prohibition:
    Man was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

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Shiny Jesus, and His Shiny Happy Kingdom

Transfiguration Sunday, Year A
Matthew 17:1-9
Sunday, March 6, 2011

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

In preparation for today’s Transfiguration Sunday sermon
    I couldn’t help but think of the peppy 1991 song Shiny Happy People
    by the great alternative rock band of my generation, REM.
This song is quite peppy – nauseatingly so, perhaps – but as you watch the video,
    you can’t help but smile as you see smiling, happy people
    sing and dance and come together in a celebration of happiness.
Lead singer Michael Stipe sings the repeated refrain,
    “Shiny happy people holding hands, shiny happy people laughing”
    while dancing in circles with a silly hat on his head.
It is pure, unadulterated – and terribly cheesy – happiness.
And so I think of this song today, on Transfiguration Sunday,
    as we read of Jesus standing atop the mountain alongside Moses and Elijah,
    with his face shining bright like the sun.
Shiny happy people, shiny happy Jesus, right?

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Loving our enemies – and our youth – for the sake of the Gospel

Lectionary 7 (Seventh Sunday after Epiphany)
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18; Matthew 5:38-48
Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lectionary 7 Year A 2011

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

Last week’s Confirmation Class began with a thud.  I told the class,
“Alright, open up your Bibles to the book of Ruth. It might be hard to find –
    it’s a small book, buried in the Old Testament somewhere.
    Use the table of contents if you like.”
“Pastor Chris,” one of them said, “We know where it is. We read from Ruth last week.”
Oh, crud, I thought to myself.
I had prepared the wrong lesson, the one that Randy Correll,
    one of our wonderful Confirmation Ministry teachers, had taught the week before.
So, while my brain was spinning about what to do,
    I showed the class a video on YouTube of a Doritos commercial from the Super Bowl,
    something I had planned to do anyway. 
The commercial dealt with Doritos, yes, but also with resurrection,
    and I thought it would be a good way to start our class.

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It ain’t about us

Lectionary 3 (Third Sunday after Epiphany)
Isaiah 9:1-4; Psalm 27:1, 4-9; Matthew 4:12-23
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Sermon manuscript as PDF: Download Lectionary 3 – Year A 2011

Lectionary 3 – Year A 2011

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

Why did they do it?
Why did they drop everything and follow Jesus?
    And more than why … how?
In today’s Gospel, we hear the story of Jesus calling the first four of his disciples,
    Simon and Andrew, James and John.
These guys drop their nets, leave their boats and even their loved ones,
    and follow Jesus.
I’ll be honest … on the surface this can seem like a scene out of a bad zombie movie,
    or like something out of an old Gilligan’s Island or I Dream of Jeannie episode,
    in which someone watching a pocket watch swing
        back and forth, in front of their eyes
    falls into a trance and does whatever the holder of the pocket watch says.

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God is Doing a New Thing

Baptism of our Lord
Isaiah 42:1-9; Matthew 3:13-17
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Preached on the day following the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

Baptism of our Lord – Year A 2011

A few months ago,
    when comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held a rally on the Mall,
    a lot of people dismissed their efforts as little more than a publicity stunt
    and thinly-veiled politicking just two weeks prior to the election.
Part satire, part political demonstration,
    these comedians lampooned our nation’s broken politics,
    and assailed its hateful, vitriolic political rhetoric.
Comedians did this, because few others had the guts to do so.

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