A Message for Easter: I don't mean to be political but... and other thoughts on resurrection

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.
— EB White
Photo Credit: Katie Bariel

Photo Credit: Katie Bariel

Sermon Notes

I make reference in this message to a pastor I sometimes listen to in the midwest. He’s a Methodist and the author of Seeing Grey in a World of Black and White — Adam Hamilton. Here’s the talk he gave at the Aspen Institute on partisanship and the pulpit. You will hear familiar words about the difference between politics and ethics in the church. A wortwhile listen…from Aspen Ideas Festival, Offstage.

Sermon for 2/25/18: A Death like His

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16, Psalm 22:23-31, Mark 8:31-38

Onawa Unfiltered, 2003

Onawa Unfiltered, 2003

If you depend on being emotionally inspired or newly motivated, you will need a new fix almost every day. If it is a true Gospel message, it will be more about regrounding, reshaping and redirecting you from your core.
— Richard Rohr

Sermon Notes

What kind of change does God want from us?  Well maybe that's not the right question. What kind of change is God doing to us in our encounter with Jesus Christ? That's the question we were trying to put answer on Tuesday night with our Lent series, How Men Change.  When God says change, what kind of change is at hand?  

I have found that is easier to talk about what real change is NOT.  And Richard Rohr helped us with this: it is not changing your friends.  Although sometimes real change means new people in your life.  But they are not the change itself.  Real change is not adopting new ideas or new dogmas or a new set of rules or new rituals or new denominations.  Change can bring those things to us...but again, they are not the change itself.  Change is something deeper, more destabilizing, more scary, more humbling, more transforming.  It is a whole lot more about admitting what we do not know than asserting what we do.  And that's the kind of change God does to us in our encounter with Jesus Christ.  And here's the kicker: we have no control over it. 

This is just a taste of the wrestling we have been doing together.  I hope it's challenging you; I hope it's confronting you.  But again, God is entirely responsible for that.  So it's my prayer that you should be confronted with a vision real change in this season. Amen

For a great discussion about change, read this article by Richard Rohr.  It's where I lifted this quote.  And this season, he's how I'm sharpening my understanding of the core biblical message.  Blessings, friends.

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: