Resurrection: It’s Not Just For Jesus

Second Sunday of Easter, Year A
1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31
May 1, 2011

Christ is risen. Alleluia!

Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!


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



It’s not just last Sunday’s news. And it’s not just something that happens to Jesus.

            Resurrection is a promise and a living hope given to all of us

            who have found new birth in Christ our Lord.

Like Jesus, each and every one of us will be raised from the dead.

In flesh and blood. For real.

Our Lord’s resurrection represents for Christians

            a new birth into a new life in our Lord’s new Kingdom,

            a reign of peace that will be realized

            when Jesus comes again in glory in the last time.

Read More

Promises of Life on the Eve of Death

Holy Thursday
Exodus 12:1-14; John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Thursday, April 21, 2011

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


“This month shall mark for you the beginning of months,” the Lord says to Moses.

            It shall be the first month of the year for you.”

Beginning. First.

With these words the Lord initiates a new thing and indicates a promise of deliverance.

The beginning that the Lord announces –

            the Passover and deliverance of God’s chosen people from slavery into freedom –

            the beginning, oddly enough, hasn’t quite yet begun, actually.

Pharaoh still keeps the Israelites in bondage.

            But time has begun, the Lord says.

The promise has been spoken.

Read More

“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.

Read More


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?

Read More

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.

Read More

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?

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More