Sermon for 7/24/16: Ask the Pastor -- The Glorified Body

Psalm 126, Revelation 1:9-19; 19:11-16; 21:1-8; 22:16-21, Matthew 28:16-20

Naked Ladies of Cambria, 2016

Naked Ladies of Cambria, 2016

Suggested scripture readings are drawn from the alternative lectionary outlined in Brian McLaren's We Make the Road by Walking (reference and public library).  The Matthew text is an addition.

In the sermon, I land on the idea of "change of position" as a bodily discipline of justice and healthy disruption to our spiritual and public lives.  While that's the point of the incarnation, that phrase is rooted in the work of Rev. William Barbour. The following video is his sermon at Wild Goose, 2014 where I first encountered him and his amazing liberation theology.  Please watch...totally life changing experience.  Nothing I say even approaches his power:

Sermon for 7/17/6: Ask the Pastor Series - Cremation vs. Burial

Philippians 1:20-30 and Luke 20:27-38

Mt. Diablo, 2007

Mt. Diablo, 2007

Sermon Notes

Suggested scripture readings are drawn from the alternative lectionary outlined in Brian McLaren's We Make the Road by Walking (reference and public library). 

Many of the thoughts I shared about Christian attitudes toward death and the saints follow from these two books: 1) Accompany Them with Singing by Thomas Long (public library and reference) who speaks with deep conviction about funerals and the history of bodies in our liturgical tradition and 2) The World According to God by Martha Ellen Stortz (public library and reference) who explores the spiritual practice of remembering the dead and how that shapes our ideas about community. While it may be true there is no solid biblical stance on how to bury the dead, our church does have a tradition around bodily burials.  Cremations are relatively recent.  As a leader, I do not encourage people one way or the other in their choice; I do however, strongly guide families towards keeping either caskets or urns present and centered in worship.  Click on the reference link to learn more.  And then there are several articles online much like this one:

Sermon for 6/5/16: Getting Ready to Vote

Acts 10:9-16 and Matthew 9:9-17

Sermon Notes

Suggested scripture readings are drawn from the alternative lectionary outlined in Brian McLaren's We Make the Road by Walking (reference and public library).  The Matthew text was my addition.

I attribute my main idea in the this sermon to Arthur Brooks who gave a TED Talk on rethinking how conservatives and liberals work together.  He works for the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Wish I could claim these ideas myself for my sermon -- the idea of applying our family tendencies and needs to a broader spectrum are ALL his. I just put them into a Jesus context.  Totally worth listening to...Here is the link to his TED Talk as well as to the TED Radio Hour episode where I first heard his ideas.  His interview is the first segment. Please do not mistake this attribution of ideas as a political endorsement to a candidate or ideology.

Sermon for 5/29/16: A Basket of Galatian Fruit

Galatians 5:1, 13-25 and John 15:1-8

Fruits of the Spirit           Bethel, 2016

Fruits of the Spirit           Bethel, 2016

Sermon Notes

Suggested scripture readings are drawn from the alternative lectionary outlined in Brian McLaren's We Make the Road by Walking (reference and public library).

Here's a link to the proposed "Beyond Homelessness Camp" from the San Luis Tribune.  Make sure to call our state lawmakers to express your hopes for ending homelessness in our county. The article was printed before I started my Fruits of the Spirit Discipline, but I didn't actually notice it on the table until a few days ago.

Sermon for 5/22/16: A Trinity Sunday Reflection

Romans 5:1-5, Psalm 8, John 16:12-15

Trinity by Thom Shuman

While the theologians have gathered
for their annual
”Decoding the Mystery of the Trinity”
symposium

God is out early every morning,
Grace padding alongside unleashed,
stopping to chat
with the single mother
just getting off the 6am bus
from her night job;

Jesus is doing
half-pipes
with the “losers”
down at the skate park
and later hanging out at the video arcade;

Spirit pauses
from wiping the tables
down at the soup kitchen,
stretching her back
till it pops loud enough
to startle Catechism
drowsily purring under the stove;

in the evening,
while they mess up the kitchen
fixing dinner
they chat about their day,
laughing and shaking their heads
at all they have seen and heard;
then they draw straws
to see whose turn it is
to keep watch during the night,
while the others
stumble off to bed,
yawning and scratching their heads
at the mystery of humanity.
— lectionaryliturgies.blogspot.com

Usually our suggested scripture readings are drawn from the alternative lectionary outlined in Brian McLaren's We Make the Road by Walking (reference and public library). However, with Trinity Sunday here, we return for a day to the Revised Common Lectionary.

Sermon for 4/24/16: Lydia and Leymah

Acts 16:11-40, Psalm 146, Matthew 10:16-20, 11:28-30, 28:16-20

Suggested scripture readings follow the alternative lectionary in Brian McLaren's We Make the Road by Walking (public library and reference).

For Lydia who dealt in purple cloth, 2016

For Lydia who dealt in purple cloth, 2016

Sermon Notes

So lots of great resources this week to explore the story of Leymah Gbowee.  Check these out: her book Mighty be our Powers (public library and reference), a PBS series, Women, War and Peace which includes the documentary about the Liberian women's peace movement, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, and then this thorough Wikipedia article.  My quotes are drawn from Amy Goodman's interview of her with other women Nobel Peace Prize recipients last year on Democracy Now.  Watch it here...and ignore the title of the interview...sensationalist gimmick.

 

 

Sermon for 4/3/16: Avoiding Other People's Tombs Part 2

Acts 8:26-40 and John 20:19-31

Suggested Scripture readings follow the alternative lectionary outlined in Brian McLaren's book We Make the Road by Walking (reference and library).

A Post-Resurrection Faith Doodle

A Post-Resurrection Faith Doodle

Sermon Notes

This is very much an insider sermon in that I talk about the formation of the church.  I speak very specifically about the inspiration of Christian community. I say this because when I speak about the gifts of forgiveness and the peace entrusted to the first Christians and us by extension, I don't want it heard that these gifts are exclusively Christian.  Maybe it goes without saying, but too many have made that claim.  It's not an issue I take up in the body of the sermon.  However, it's worth stating here.

On my choice of words -- my use of the word "toppled" is a nod to Father Greg Boyle.  Oh my goodness, go out and listen to an interview or read his book.  Just so beautiful.  He has an awful lot of credibility when it comes to bearing up under what would otherwise be despairing. Here's the link to his book Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion (reference and public library).

Sermon for 3/27/16: Easter Sunday -- Avoiding Other People's Tombs

Acts 8:26-40 and John 20:19-31

Scripture readings follow the alternative lectionary outlined in Brian McLaren's book We Make the Road by Walking (reference and public library).

A Central Coast Collection

A Central Coast Collection

Question of the Week

When have you found yourself residing in another person's tomb?  When did you come out of it?  What happened immediately before your departure?  What happened after?

Sermon for 3/20/16: Protest and the Soul

Luke 19:29-46 and Psalm 122

Scripture readings follow the alternative lectionary outlined in Brian McLaren's We Make the Road by Walking (reference and public library).

Sermon Notes

A few weeks ago, I scanned the chapter for Palm Sunday in Brian McLaren's book. Chapter Thirty-Two is entitled "Peace March."  I think I've imagined the Palm Sunday processional as protest before, but with that simple McLaren phrase, it became all the more palpable.  It just hit me that much harder.  So thank you, Brian McLaren!  At the same time, I was listening to a Krista Tippett interview with Patrisse Cullors and Robert Ross.  They talk about the soul and protest.  Not my insight, by any stretch.  Turns out, demonstrating even has health benefits.  Anyway, all this swirled around as I thought about North County and our attitudes and the frustration I sometimes experience in teaching about the political Jesus. The historical context I offered regarding Jesus as political person comes from Reza Aslan's book, Zealot (reference and public library).  While I would argue with a number of his interpretations and his biblical analysis in the book, the contextual information he gives is really helpful in understanding the turbulent environment of Jesus' day.  My reflection on a political Jesus also holds a frustration I also have with myself and my commitments. Just sayin'.  And out of the chaos and wondering about ALL of that emerged this sermon.  I hope you feel as challenged by it as I was writing it.  Plus, here's the ever-inspiring Krista Tippett.  It's one of the sanest discussions I've heard about Black Lives Matter.  Thought provoking, challenging personally and professionally.

Question of the Week

What's your protest story?  How did it change you?

 

Sermon for 3/13/16: You Have What You Need -- Lessons from the Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 7:13-29

Scripture readings follow the alternative lectionary posed by Brian McLaren in his book, We Make the Road by Walking (reference and library).

African Daisies, Cambria 2016

African Daisies, Cambria 2016

Sermon Notes

I spent a whole lotta time thinking about this interview of Dr. Jerry Weichman by Dr. Drew Pinsky.  He covers many issues related to mental health in adolescence.  I found that much of what he says about life in those years still applies to adults and his vision of the healthy person seems to resonate with much of the words Jesus offers in the Sermon on the Mount albeit, a very different context. If you have a teenager in your life, this interview at the following link is worth listening to and learning more.

Questions of the Week

What verses do you struggle with in the Sermon on the Mount?  How do you make sense out of Jesus' no nonsense spiritual admonitions in these final verses? 

Sermon for 3/6/16: Anxiety Interrupted

Matthew 6:19-7:12

Suggested Scripture readings follow Brian McLaren's alternative lectionary in We Make the Road by walking (reference and library).

The Purple Challenge continues after the rain                             Cambria 2016

The Purple Challenge continues after the rain                             Cambria 2016

Sermon  Notes
This week we visit the issue of anxiety...not just a mental health thicket, but apparently a spiritual quandry Jesus deigns worth addressing.  I suppose any kind of thicket in our lives is a spiritual one.  

Maria Popova on her amazing website Brainpickings.org wrote a reflection on Sarah Manguso's work Ongoingness: The End of a Diary (reference and library).  It was there, she posted a thoughtful quote on the root of anxiety --  the entry into my sermon. Subscribe to her weekly newsletter.  Totally worth it.  Follow this link to her article and so much more:

Yet again, another interview by Krista Tippett to feed the spiritual imagination.  I found Brother David Steindl-Rast's words on anxiety thought provoking.  Have a listen:

Questions to Ponder this Week

When you find yourself worrying, what do you do to soothe yourself? Healthy habits? Unhealthy? Are you aware when you feel anxious or do you notice later...after the house is clean, after the punishing exercise routine, after the lost sleep, after you run out of antacids, etc.,etc.etc?

 

 

Sermon for 2/21/16: In the Beatitude Place

Matthew 5:1-16

Scriptures follow the suggested weekly readings of Brian McLaren in We Make the Road by Walking (click here for reference and library).  We are one week behind his course in reading through the Sermon on the Mount during Lent.  Next week, we will combine chapters to be on schedule for Easter.

Petals in Lent  Photo Credit: Autumn Beveridge                                    Cambria, 2016

Petals in Lent  Photo Credit: Autumn Beveridge                                    Cambria, 2016

Sermon Notes
This week, we grounded our reflection on the opening verses of the Sermon on the Mount in the the work of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services.  Click the link to see the video we watched as a congregation.  Explore the LIRS website for more video testimonials and opportunities to advocate for refugees and immigrants.  Our congregation designated this agency to receive a portion of our Christmas Eve offering.

Brian McLaren, like many a scholar and preacher before him, interprets these words of Jesus as proclamation rather than prescription.  I do to.  The emphasis is squarely on the identity of God's people, not on a program of redemption.  That's not to take a way from the call to stand in a particular place.  Refer to his chapter, A New Identity, for a closer read of the quote I offer in the sermon.  It's a helpful paraphrase of the Beatitudes in contemporary language.

Sermon for 2/14/16: Take up your body and follow me

Mark 2:1-12

This week, we return to Brian McLaren's We Make the Road by Walking following in the chapter, "Making it Real."

Lent Begins                                                                                                   Cambria 2016

Lent Begins                                                                                                   Cambria 2016

Question of the Week

My experience on Sunday tells me that the content on the sermon pushed some buttons in the congregation.  They weren't bad buttons: it's just that talking about bodies brings up a lot of stuff for people.  Did the sermon provoke in you a thought, an idea, a bodily reaction? Leave your answers here!!  

PS: This was a sermon that just brushed the tip of the iceberg for possible themes.  There were a million wrinkles and questions I couldn't address.  Again, leave these unaddressed thoughts here and continue the conversation.

The Purple Challenge

I issued a challenge to our congregation and now to you: we are taking photos of things we see in and around our lives that are purple to honor in a fun way and explore the liturgical color of the Lenten season. I start with the image of the tiny purple flower growing up at the edge of my driveway seen here. Join us and email your purple pics to thegodjournals@gmail.com or post on your Facebook page and tag Bethel Lutheran Church in Templeton.

Sermon for 1/17/2016: Why We REALLY Don't Invite People To Church

John 2:1-12 and Mark 1:21-28

Suggested Scripture Readings from Brian McLaren's We Make the Road by Walking.

Welcoming the Rain                                                                         Cambria 2016

Welcoming the Rain                                                                         Cambria 2016

Sermon Notes

Before getting into the material of the formal sermon this week, I offer the videos we viewed in worship updating us on the work of the ELCA (our denominational body) in its campaign to end malaria with our global partners.  Five years ago, our denomination had a goal of raising 15 million dollars.  See these stories and hear where we stand today in those efforts.

 

This week we continue our wander through questions of invitation: why do we and don't we invite people to our faith communities? Do we hide our connection to God from others?  It occurred to me while preaching that the real issue is far larger than church.  If you are a person who has a practice of hospitality in your "regular" life, you probably will for church as well.  The opposite applies: if you are person who is private or needs quiet or has barriers to hospitality and invitation in your "regular" life, you probably will for church as well.  I pose a lot of possibilities in this sermon.  I'm curious: consider the following:

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

What motivates you or prohibits you from inviting people into church and your faith life?  

Post your comments here!!


 

This Week's Sermon: The E Word

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22, 4:1-30, 5:1-11

Suggested Scripture Readings from Brian McLaren's We Make the Road by Walking with my own additions.

Sermon Notes
Thank you for having me as your guest last weekend, St. Mary's Episcopal Church of Barnstable, Massachusetts. Although in my sermon, I poke fun at the caricatures of our denominations, I was so glad to be with you for a morning, anonymous and nurtured.  


I used A Shy Person's Guide to the Practice of Evangelism as inspiration for this week's message.  It was published in 2004 by the Massachusetts Diocese of the Episcopal Church.  Want your own copy?  Click here.


My reflections on Christian community are drawn in part from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's classical work,  Life Together.  Click to link.

This Week's Sermon: The Virgin Mary in the Trunk of my Car

Psalm 34:1-18 and Matthew 1:1-17

Suggested Scripture Readings from Brian McLaren's We Make the Road by Walking

Breaking Dawn, Boston 1999

Breaking Dawn, Boston 1999

Sermon Notes

Lots of interference in this sound recording, but this is our last week in the fellowship hall now that the heater installation in the sanctuary is underway.  I won't be posting again until after Sunday, January 10th, so look for me then!  A blessed Christmas to you all!

This sliver of a quote from our online worship planning resource, Sundays and Seasons by Augsburg Fortress was the inspiration for a portion of my sermon...you'll know which bit when you hear it and will continue to weave through Christmas Eve preaching: "Cradle and Cross are inextricably connected..."

Oh, and a link to a beautiful Advent poem by Madeleine L'Engle.  And lots of other great poems too...



This Week's Sermon: Defeating King Herod

Micah 5:2-5a and Matthew 1:18-2:15

Scripture readings follow Brian's McLaren's alternative lectionary in his book We Make the Road by Walking.

Night Waters                            Finger Painting at the Wild Goose Festival 2014

Night Waters                            Finger Painting at the Wild Goose Festival 2014

Sermon Notes

Here's a link to a poem of Gary Snyder's -- For the Children -- an appropriate selection for the stories about King Herod in Matthew this Third Sunday in Advent.

 

Check out Carry the Future on Facebook.  Here is their spot on the Today show:


This Week's Sermon: The Happiest Place in America

Luke 1:5-55

Suggested Scripture Readings from Brian McLaren's We Make the Road by Walking.

November 1999

November 1999

Sermon Notes
For an unbelievably lovely reading of the poem Annunciation by Marie Howe, listen here:

The full report released by the Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County detailing the needs of women in this region -- I hope you find the report as surprising as I do.


This Week's Sermon: When the Stars Begin to Fall

Daniel 7:9-28 and Luke 1:67-79

Suggested Scripture Readings from We Make the Road by Walking by Brian McLaren

Boston   1999

Boston   1999

Sermon Notes
Here's a link to a poem by Jane Kenyon.  I read her beautiful words to begin Advent worship.
 

I did a fair amount of research preparing for this sermon, mostly because talking about apocalyptic literature in the Bible is so complicated especially given recent world events in the Middle East and Europe. Click titles to links. Here's a good introduction to the Book of Daniel in the New American Bible from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Graham Beynon has some useful material as well in his article The Message of Daniel -- thoughtful reflection on the questions the biblical author pushes us toward like our relationships as people of faith and as Americans to foreign nations.  Although, I should say I do not fall into his camp dating the Book of Daniel to the 6th Century BCE.  I'm with the historical-critical school on this one.  And of course, can't leave out the Lutherans.  Although written in the 1990s, this article by Wendell W. Frerichs titled "How Many Weeks until the End?" has helpful language you will hear infusing the sermon.  He very helpfully says that the visibility of violent regimes signals their impending decay, a major talking point near the close of my sermon. Such a great thought for our times! 

Here's a link to the referenced David Brooks op-ed on resilience and storytelling:



I read a passage aloud on the difference between hoping and wishing from We Make the Road by Walking by Brian McLaren to close worship.  It's in Chapter 14.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of resources.  Hope some of it is helpful to you along the way.