Possibly my shortest sermon ever

Revelation 22 & John 17 May 8, 2016 Baby B., this sermon is for you. In just a few minutes, you will be washed with the water of baptism, the water of life that Jesus offers to you as a gift. Now, I know that you are far too young to understand words. What I will say to you won't make much sense right now. But I also know that you know your father's voice, and especially your mother's voice. Whether or not you understand their words, you understand the love that is behind them. The water of life is God's way of speaking his love to you, and to all of us. God loves you tenderly and intimately, just like your mother. Soon your life will be hidden in Christ. He will be the first thing in your life and the last thing, your beginning and your end. When you are older, this may seem like a bad deal, as though you were losing anything that would make you distinctly you. Nothing could be further from the truth. It means you will die, as we all must. But Jesus died too. So now, because you will die like Christ, you will also live like Christ. In baptism your robes will be washed, and you will have the right to eat from the tree of life. You will live forever with Christ. This will not be easy. There are many things in life that will try to kill you—not »

Tonight your very soul is demanded of you, fool

Luke 12:13-21 May 1, 2016 The lesson from today's gospel text seems straightforward. In fact, I am somewhat tempted to kick things over to you to see if you can puzzle it out for yourself. But a good sermon is what you pay me for, and a good sermon is what you will get. A sermon, anyway. It will be quite brief, which I think makes it good in most people's book. Anyway. You probably understand the parable of the rich fool already, without knowing it. We have prayed this morning for God's richest blessings on our dirt, on our water, our seeds, our work. I say "our," but in truth these things don't belong to us at all. We are recipients of God's great generosity. All that we have is a gift from God, and we ought to share with the world, not hoard it away for our private use. God blesses us, we share that blessing, Amen. End of sermon. Isn't that simple? Not so fast. It is tempting to make the rich fool out to be a old greed-head. Jesus certainly seems to want us to understand that this fool is selfish. But there is more to the story. There is always more to the story. The parable seems to interrupt a longer teaching on the end times. Jesus tells the crowds that God is coming soon. They will need to have their affairs in order before he arrives. He speaks about thieves coming in the »

Hardly any of my sermons involve cocaine-fried guys with shotguns, tbh

Revelation 21 & John 13 April 27, 2016 If you were here last week—you all were here last week, right?—you'll remember that I cited this morning's reading from Revelation in the sermon. Indeed, this is what John was pointing toward. This is the endgame, the destination of our salvation and of the world itself. That world, and all those who dwell upon its face, are remade in a new creation, not quite a return to the Garden of Eden, but a restored creation, one that is healed and brought back into the presence of God. Call it Earth 2.0, if you must. The new creation contains of a new Jerusalem, the "holy city" of Jews like John, where God will live among his people in a world where there is no more pain, no more sorrow, no more death. You can see why this is a good text for a funeral sermon. Jesus, who has been with God since the very beginning, declares "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life." This is the part that gets my attention. I've mentioned before that recently I've been on a sacramental theology kick, which means simply that I've become very interested in the ways that common elements—earth and water and trees and birds and all of nature—can reveal to us something of God. So I »

Seriously, read that article - it's *fascinating*

Revelation 7:9-17 Back in December, Smithsonian magazine featured an article concerning archaeologists exploring a site at Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene and a place Jesus would have passed through frequently. (I find these things fascinating, and expect you to do so too.) Scholars think they may have uncovered a synagogue from that era. Obviously, it’s a pretty big deal to find a place where Jesus might have actually visited, but it’s actually weirder than that. It’s a fancy building, but small. It might have been designed as a sort of miniature version of the Temple, which would be an extremely odd thing for the time, especially since Magdala isn’t very far from Jerusalem, where they could visit the Temple itself. There was no need for a fancy synagogue there. It makes more sense if you understand a bit of the politics at the time. The Temple in Jerusalem was where God “lived.” You wanted to be in God’s presence? Go to the Temple. But the establishment running the place was fantastically corrupt. There were crony appointments to the Temple priesthood, and those priests didn’t mind shaking down visitors for a little coin. That’s why Jesus drives the moneychangers out with a whip. He and his disciples felt the religious establishment was taking advantage of ordinary people and keeping them from God. Now, to the north of Magdala was another little town called Bethsaida, where five of the twelve disciples were from. »

Would you be more freaked out to see Jesus alive, or asking for fish for breakfast? Be honest.

John 21:1–19 Recently, Mrs. Pastor and I have been conducting some psychological research. By “psychological research,” of course, I mean that she has been doing some reading, and I say, “Oh, that’s interesting.” Nevertheless, we—by which I mean she—has been onto some interesting stuff. For example, did you know that some psychologists believe that there are only two basic emotions, love and fear? The idea is that all of our other emotions boil down to these two. So when you’re happy and content after a big meal, it’s because you feel loved, for example. You feel nurtured. Or when you’re irritable and angry while sitting in a traffic jam, it’s because on some basic level, you perceive a threat and are frightened. (Not many of us here actually get stuck in traffic, so let’s change that to “When you are irritable and angry because you’re trapped behind a giant tractor on a narrow country road.”) I should say in all honesty that this is a fairly uncommon view. There are all kinds of psychologists and all kinds of ways to understand emotions and where they come from. So don’t take the idea that love and fear are the two basic emotions as gospel truth, as it were. I only mention it because it makes for an interesting way to look at scripture. Love and fear turn out to be all over the Bible. This morning’s gospel lesson, »