Demons and Marvin

I wrote out this week's sermon, but had a last-minute detour, and so preached from an adapted outline. You can catch the video on the St. Paul's site, or read it in Twitter form below. As a bonus, here's a different take on the same text that I wrote on Thursday. [View the story "Gerasene II" on Storify] »

Sin, Judgment, Healing

I usually post my sermon texts here straight from the file, but I think Dropbox might not be syncing between my office and home. Fortunately, as you will see, I decided to give Twitter a preview of today's sermon. I've also appended a few thoughts on sin and mental illness, in response to a question, and a different angle on the story of Jesus healing an unnamed woman who washes his feet with her tears, in light of this morning's horrific news from Orlando. [View the story "A Sermon-and-a-half on Luke 7:36-8:3" on Storify] »

Photo Diary Blogging 1

The weather has been unsettled lately. Bands of warm and cold fronts move through, sun and cloud. There was very nearly a tornado on Saturday. It was stifling and hot when we went to pick out mulch for the flowerbeds at the local home superstore. A cool breeze showed up by the time we got home, but the sticky heat reappeared minutes later. We checked the radar, decided to get as much done as we could. As I carted heavy bags of mulch around the corner—from underneath balanced on my forearms, like you would a calf, mindful of my back—a tiny rabbit darted from the lawn into a downspout. Unsure of what I'd seen, I separated the pipe from the rest of gutter. Soon, I was face to face with a baby rabbit. I wasn't entirely sure if he'd bite my nose or come up to sniff me. But no, he squirmed back into the pipe, safely beyond my reach. I took a couple of pictures with different cameras. My wife came and shook him loose. He bounded off across the lawn and through a hole he and his relatives have bent in the neighbor's fence. We were able to get the mulch spread, a few plants in the ground, even stop down at the Dairy Queen around the corner for dinner, before the skies exploded, briefly. The storms come quickly and depart the same way these days. Usually, it's a sharp blast of wind—some times sharper »

LACEy Sunday Afternoon Sermon

Luke 7:1-10 By an intriguing coincidence, we hear about a Centurion this Memorial Day weekend. Centurions, of course, were mid-level Roman military officers, roughly equivalent to a Lieutenant or Captain today. So far this seems appropriate enough. We remember this weekend the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our nation as heroes. But Centurions would have been considered nearly the opposite by Jesus and his friends. Oh sure, they were thought of as brave individuals: they led battles from the front, wading into combat alongside the men they commanded. But in Palestine, they were the backbone of an occupying army that had no qualms about using violence to get its way. If you saw a Centurion coming, the smart thing do would be to turn and walk away as fast as you could. The guy who could make you walk a mile carrying a burden was a Centurion. The guy who carried a stick around with which he could beat even Roman citizens was a Centurion. The guy whose men crucified Jesus was a Centurion. Centurions were scary, and they were the enemy. But they weren't all bad. The centurion mentioned here and in the parallel story in Matthew gets along with the Jewish elders in his district, and builds the neighborhood synagogue. And there is Cornelius, the Centurion Peter is sent to convert in the Book of Acts. Still, they were the enemy to most Jews, symbols of repression and ritual uncleanness in the land of »

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 »