Sunday, February 28, 2016

February 28, 2016 - Lent 3C

In the name of God, amen.
            God. We use that word all the time: sometimes in discussions about religion, sometimes in prayer, sometimes in vain. But how often do we stop and consider what we mean when we say “God”? What do you think of that word “God”? Is it provocative, troubling, overused, comforting? How has your view of God shifted through the years?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

February 21, 2016 - Lent 2C

Be with us, O Lord, for if you are with us, nothing else matters; and if you are not with us, nothing else matters. Amen.
            FDR famously said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He said that in his first inaugural address in 1933 at a time when the nation was in the depths of the Great Depression. Fear can be paralyzing, keeping us from moving forward. When we are gripped by fear we do things that we never do otherwise. When we are afraid of being caught, we will lie. When we are threatened, we will hurt others to protect ourselves. When we fear that there might not be enough, we hoard. When we fear death, we end up denying the vigor of life. Fear narrows our vision and calls out the worst in us. That’s probably the reason why so often in Scripture we hear the refrain “Do not be afraid.” As author Marilynne Robinson recently wrote, “Contemporary America is full of fear, and fear is not a Christian habit of mind.”  Today, the Psalmist puts it this way: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?”

Sunday, February 14, 2016

February 14, 2016 - Lent 1C

In the name of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            Every first Sunday of Lent, our Gospel reading narrates the story of Jesus being cast out into the wilderness after his Baptism to be tested by the devil. And generally, sermons on the first Sunday of Lent focus on what it’s like to be in the wilderness or how we might resist temptation. Those make fine sermon topics, and I’ve preached them in years past, and will likely do so again. But today, I’d like to consider this passage from a different perspective.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday - February 10, 2016

In the name of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            “Have mercy, Lord, for we are sinners in your sight.” That line comes from Eucharistic Prayer C, which we used over the past several Sundays. It had been a while since I had used Prayer C, and I’ll confess that I was uncomfortable with that line from it. There is a particular brand of Christianity that focuses on sin and buys into the theological concept of “total depravity,” believing that humans are wretched creatures who are overrun with sin. Those ideas though have never resonated with me; in fact, that’s the opposite of what I believe.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

February 7, 2016 - Last Sunday after Epiphany

In the name of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            Over the past week, as memorials have been made to the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger that exploded thirty years ago, I was reminded of then-President Reagan’s remark that the crew “touched the face of God.” That beautifully poetic line reminded me of another, from the great hymn writer, Charles Wesley, that we are “changed from glory into glory.” The glory of humanity climbing into a rocket to visit outer space was changed into a strangely beautiful cloud of smoke that brought a group of explorers to see the face of God. And so, by reflecting on the Challenger tragedy and our Scripture readings today, I’ve been pondering what it means to “see the face of God.”