Sunday, January 15, 2017

Eating With Strangers - A Sermon


Genesis 18:1-8

Today we begin a conversation I call “Eating with Jesus.” It’s my contribution to our emphasis on the relationship of an Open Table to our call to Mission, which is being underwritten by a Vital Worship grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. While most of the sermons in this series will draw from the New Testament, I thought it might be good to start with a story from Genesis about the day that Abraham and Sarah welcomed God to their Table. To give a bit of New Testament support to my thesis, consider this word from Hebrews 13: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Heb. 13:1, CEB).

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Don't Withhold the Water - Sermon for Baptism of Jesus Sunday


Acts 10:34-48


Today is Baptism of Jesus Sunday. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus journeyed from his home in Nazareth to the Jordan, where John was baptizing. Jesus got in line, and when he got to the front of the line, John asked Jesus to baptize him. But, Jesus insisted on being baptized, so John buried him in the waters of the Jordan. When Jesus emerged from the water, the heavens opened, the Holy Spirit descended, and a voice from heaven declared: “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13-17). 

In receiving this baptism, Jesus not only set an example, but his experience reminds us that when we are baptized we should expect to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the message that Peter delivered on the Day of Pentecost, and it’s the message we see revealed in the experience of Cornelius and his household.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Light Shining in the Darkness -- Homily for Christmas Eve 2016

 

We all have our favorite Christmas shows. It might be the Christmas Carol or the Grinch – two of my favorites – or maybe White Christmas or It’s a Wonderful Life. As a preacher, I have a Christmas Eve tradition of drawing an image or two from these cultural icons as part of my Christmas Eve meditation. My family always asks whether it will be Scrooge, the Grinch, or Charlie Brown. This year, as you’‘ll see, I decided to go with a different Christmas story.


This year I’m looking to the reading from Isaiah for guidance, and the opening line of the passage caught my eye: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." So, can you guess which Christmas show features an image of light shining in the darkness? Let me give you a hint. There’s a red nose involved!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Behold the Sign -- Sermon for Advent 4A

Nativity with the Prophets Ezekiel & Isaiah

Isaiah 7:10-17

When I was younger, we would occasionally drive to Portland, which was a 300-mile drive from Klamath Falls. On a good day the trip took about five hours. Of course, if you’re a child that’s a long time, and you can get antsy. So my brother and I would pepper our parents with questions about when we would arrive. Over time, we learned to watch for certain signs that signaled that we were getting close. One sure sign was the big Farmers Insurance building that sat alongside Interstate 5. When we saw it, we knew that Portland was just around the corner!

The season of Advent offers signs that Christmas is close at hand. Each week we’ve lit candles that help us prepare to receive the promise of Christmas.  Since we lit the fourth candle this morning, which is the candle of love, we can be quite certain that the next candle we light will be the Christ Candle, marking the coming of Christmas. So, be on the alert, the time of celebration is at hand!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Day of Everlasting Joy - Sermon for Advent 3A

Isaiah 35:1-10


Advent is a season of expectation and anticipation. Signs of Christmas are all around us, but it hasn’t arrived. We’re still waiting to join together in celebrating the coming of the promised one, the one born in Bethlehem who will inaugurate the realm of God.  

On this third Sunday of Advent, we look forward with great anticipation to the coming of the day of everlasting joy. We recognize that this day hasn’t been revealed, but we find hope in the promise that a day will come when we “shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”