Category: Sermons

Today is the second Sunday of Advent, the season when we look forward to God coming into the world: long ago, as a baby, among a dispossessed people in an occupied land and on a day no one knows, in triumph and glory, to usher in the kingdom of God. Today is the second Sunday of Advent, when we light a candle for peace. There is a room in Building 87 of the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, where there is next to no sound. A chainsaw makes noise at about 109 decibels (dB). Regular, prolonged, unprotected exposure for more than…
Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the season when we look forward to God coming into the world: long ago, as a baby, among a dispossessed people in an occupied land and on a day no one knows, in triumph and glory, to usher in the kingdom of God. Today is the first Sunday of Advent, when we light a candle for hope. And, I’ll be honest, I’m… conflicted… about hope. A few years ago, I was working with an organization that was trying to choose a new mission statement. They wanted something short, punchy, and memorable; something they could use…
As you all know, before I became your pastor, I worked for an organization called Back Bay Mission. One of the things that we did was rehabilitate houses for low-income families. Sometimes, those were houses that had been through a flood or a fire. Sometimes, those were houses that had just fallen into disrepair. When a family needed help to stay in their home, we stepped in. I didn’t work with the construction team. I didn’t rehab the houses. I raised the money so that the team could afford to rehab the houses. But one of the things that…
I believe that we have established that I am a nerd. I watch Doctor Who. I see Marvel movies and Star Wars movies pretty close to opening night. I play Dungeons & Dragons. My credentials as a nerd are well-established. So it might not surprise you to know that a while ago, I did something very nerdy. I went through our Sunday-morning attendance records and made a spreadsheet… for every Sunday service… since January 5, 1997. Because I wanted to see the trends. So I can tell you that on the third Sunday of February in 2003 there were…
Someone once told me about this pastor. Now, I heard this second hand, so I don’t know exactly where she was, or exactly who she was speaking to, or exactly what the context for what she said was. But someone once told me that this pastor was preaching a sermon. And she said, “If you’re going to pray for rain, you better have an umbrella with you.” And I take that to mean something like this: If we are going to pray to God—if we are going to ask the creator of the universe for something, if we are…
Years ago, my mom gave Mariah a Peruvian nativity set. You can tell that it’s Peruvian because of how the figures are dressed, and because one of them is playing a flute, and because there are llamas. And we set it up. And because we’re lazy about Christmas decorations, it stayed up. Hildegard’s favorite game is fetch, which she likes to play with a stuffed squeaky slipper. And, sometimes, when you’re throwing a stuffed squeaky slipper around the house and there’s a Peruvian nativity set on an end table… the slipper hits the nativity set and a llama falls…
Way back last December, on the first Sunday of Advent, I gave a sermon about hope. I’m sure you remember it. In that sermon, I quoted a line from Ghostbusters. It was just a little throwaway reference. It was just a little Easter Egg. I said, “dogs and cats… living together… mass hysteria!” And when I said that—in that tiny moment when I raised my voice little bit and said, “mass hysteria!”—someone, some kid, shouted, “Yay!” Because sometimes, you just gotta shout. I grew up in the First Congregational United Church of Christ, in Platteville, Wisconsin. I grew up…
There’s a beautiful song by an artist named Gwyneth Glyn. It’s in another language, but the title, in English, is Home. She sings about the things people have said about home… …and all of the places she’s been all around the world… …and how her home is her haven and her homeland her world… …and how she’s still lost, without a map, or a sign, or a rough guide for the journey. And the chorus goes like this: “There’s no place like home,” is what they told me There’s no place like home, no. But home… is very much…
It was all supposed to be so simple. On my first or second Sunday here, I said to you that I had a plan. It was one of those plans that you read about in books about how to be a good pastor. I was going to call around and make appointments; I was going to come to your home, or take you out for coffee, or whatever. I was my big plan to meet each and every one of you. And I tried. I made some calls and left some messages and waited to hear back. And then…
Years ago, before we were married, Mariah and I went to visit Mariah’s parents for some holiday or another. And Mariah’s aunt and her cousin were also there. One day, Mariah and I were in the living room playing Jenga. And Mariah’s cousin wanted to play, too, so we invited her into the game. And, after a few moves, she pulled on the wrong block… and the tower teetered… and the tower came crashing down. Now, Mariah’s cousin was pretty young at the time. And she made that face—you know the one—that tells you that tears and wails are…

Pin It on Pinterest