Sermon for July 7, 2019: Reflections, Distortions, and the Image of God

Isaiah 66:10-14, Psalm 66:1-9, Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Photo courtesy Jo Hobart

Photo courtesy Jo Hobart

Sermon Notes — After I preached this sermon about images, I stumbled upon some other helpful voices. Karen Harris, a Bethel member, sent me a link to this segment on 60 Minutes with artist JR — a totally beautiful exploration of the mystery of the incarnation and the role of the creative Spirit in social change.

And then I found this book at the rummage sale at my mom’s church. In it was this gem that reminded me of my own intolerant voice toward my kiddos…

Mirrors are Funny from The Golden Bedtime Book, 1955

Mirrors are funny ---

When I look in mine,

I always see someone who's looking just fine.

Though people insist that my shoes are undone,

And instead of two mittens, I only have one,

That my hair isn't combed,

And my face isn't clean,

That's not like the someone I always have seen!

They say, "Stand up straight!"

And, "Stop frowning like that!"

And, "Here let me brush the dry mud from your hat!"

And, "If you could see yourself, I'll tell you, Miss ---

You surely would try to do better than this!

Go look in the mirror!"

I do. And in mine

I always see someone who's looking just fine.

Do you think, if I tiptoe when I go upstairs,

And look in the mirror when it’s unawares —-

I’ll see what they see — when I didn’t prepare

To look in the mirror up over the stair?

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 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.