Sermon for 1/14/18: The Dimension Of God We Forget

1 Samuel 3:1-10, Psalm 139: 1-6, 13-18, John 1:43-51

Wonder rather than doubt is the root of all human knowledge.
— Abraham Joshua Heschel

Upon Further Reflection

This week I have a smattering of other thoughts and reflections that arose as I worked with these passages evoking beginnings, and callings, and wonder.  So for your own further investigation, I commend you this:

On Truth verses Fact -- I saw this week an amazing video explaining how in recent years, for the first time, scientists have been able to capture how animal eggs send out a flash of light at the moment of conception.  Well the video mentions mice, frogs, and humans anyway.  The brighter the flash, the healthier the egg.  I was so captivated by the imagery.  Connecting to the themes of my Sunday sermon, I offer you this.  Scientific fact tells us this is a reaction involving zinc. Our faith tells us, in the beginning, the first thing God said was let their be light!  This seems true as well.  Neither one of these is wrong.  They both answer and deepen the mystery of our beginnings. If only we could remember more often in our culture wars how badly science and faith need each other.

More amazing science: One of our church members called out attention at a small group session to this podcast.  It's about the discovery of plate tectonics, a fascinating listen to how change happens both physically on earth, and also when human assumptions and entrenched ways of imagining our world are challenged.  More wonder!   CLICK HERE: The Day the Earth Moved

On DACA and Jesus: Sunday, I did not talk about one of the most important lines of our passage on Philip and Nathaniel as they are called by Jesus.  It's that amusing and ironic line, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" -- the one Nathaniel asks snidely when his friend invites him to come and follow. It's a crucial revelation: assumptions about class and place of origin almost thwart Nathaniel's encounter with Jesus.  Will he hear the call of God or will he stay rooted and unseeing and isolated in his prejudice? 

That's a question we have to navigate all the time as individuals, and a question that has brought us spiritual anguish as a global community with a migration crisis. Amidst the divisive immigration politics of our age, the who-said-what, and our  binging on the fallout of it all, we can't lose track that the issues at hand are faith issues. Tonight I heard a brilliant and touching sermon by Pastor Charlie Little of the First Presbyterian Church on Matthew 25. He said that to refuse to care for the stranger in need is an act of self-hatred.  It was a profound moment of preaching because we are seeing that wound on a national scale not just in our daily Christian living. Sobering words.  So however we choose to move forward as a nation on these issues of faith, may we do so loving the image of God that we are.  And may we love not just in church on Sunday or in our own homes, but in the messy, mucky, wider world.



Sermon for 5/15/16: Chasing the Spirit

Acts 2:1-21, Psalm 104:24-34, 35b, John 14:8-17

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

Many are convinced that the correct pronunciation [of Yahweh] is an attempt to replicate and imitate the very sound of inhalation and exhalation. The one thing we do every moment of our lives is therefore to speak the name of God. This makes it our first and our last word as we enter and leave the world.
— Richard Rohr in The Naked Now

Sermon Notes

Take a peek at The Naked Now by Richard Rohr (reference and public library) for some thought-provoking reflections, some of which appear in my sermon.

Judging the Judger: Genesis 2-4

Genesis 3:1-13, Psalm 32, Philippians 2:3-11, John 3:11, 16-21

Suggested Scripture Readings from Brian McLaren's We Make the Road by Walking.  The verses from John are my own supplement.

More Proverbial Fruit                                                                                  Boston, 1999

More Proverbial Fruit                                                                                  Boston, 1999

When we talk to each other we must listen to the currents that run underneath the words. Moses stumbled in speech, but not because his feelings were slight; Bilaam was fluent but not because his heart was great.
— Rabbi David Wolpe

Sermon Notes
     The observation that rivalry flows from the experience of judgment is presented in its fullness in Brian McLaren's book, We Make the Road by Walking.  This book is the conversation partner for this sermon series. McLaren roots the pitfalls of judging and therefore subsequent rivalries and jealousies in misshapen human desires.

      I first encountered the phrase Listening Beyond Words in Rabbi David Wolpe's weekly email blast from Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.  The full article can be found  here:




The Great Press of Humanity: Creation 1

Genesis 1:1-2:3; Psalm 19:1-14; Matthew 6:25-34

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

The Fourth Day     Boston, 1999

The Fourth Day     Boston, 1999

Sermon Notes

·       This sermon marks the beginning of a series structured by and in conversation with We Make the Road by Walking by Brian McLaren.

·       Aside from Jesus, the core message of belonging to each other was inspired by a comment made by a congregation member several years ago about Genesis 1 and the value of belonging.  A radio interview with John A. Powell by Krista Tippett resurfaced that language and summoned this sermon as a response. Hear the whole interview with Powell here:

·       For more on the refugee crisis in Europe visit:

·       Language describing Jesus in the breach is a nod to Psalm 78 about Moses.