Sermon for 1/28/18: On Silence

Deuteronomy 18:15-20, Psalm 111, and Mark 1:21-28

jesus fish (2).JPG
Not all of us are called to be hermits, but all of us need enough silence and solitude in our lives to enable the deeper voice of our own self to be heard at least occasionally.
— Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk

Upon Further Reflection

One of our church members left the sanctuary laughing on Sunday.  After my sermon on silence, she said, "You sure can tell you don't live alone!"  It's true.  This sermon is very much a product of someone who does not live alone.  But I have to say in thinking about it, I have never lived alone, even when no one else was with me. I have always had enough inner chatter and reflection to take up the space of a couple roommates or family members. The sermon says less about the people who populate my house and work than it does about what goes on in my inner life.  They are related to be sure. My inner life is a place of constant conversation: talking and listening and meeting needs.  (In fact, I recently started playing a musical instrument so I could take a break from my thoughts.  I was surprised to discover it works!)    

This woman's observation speaks a wide truth: all of us experience the quiet differently. For some, we fight the quiet even as we crave it (that's the sermon). For others, we have made friends with the quiet, many times after a loss. It comforts us now. Still others experience too much quiet and not enough connection.  Remember what I said about isolation as a spiritual crisis?  

Each of us knows something about silence the rest of us need. My gift to this church is an active inner life that supports my teaching and preaching and accompaniment. I wrestle my world for the quiet I get. I am not the only one with a restlessness inner life in this church.  And you too are a gift to us.  If you have too much quiet, you know something the rest of us need to remember about loneliness.  You are a gift to us as well.  If you are at peace with the quiet, than you have an essential way of being that will nurture the rest of us when we feel chaotic inside. Your gift is the stillness God has cultivated in you.  You ground this faith community.

Our relationship to silence is not straight forward.  It changes over time. This week was an invitation to pause and wonder: where am I right now?  What Word of God works on me in the silence?  What do I know that others may not because of the way I am quiet?

Ugly Food Collection

In August 2016, our church spent a month reflecting on the promise of ugly food.  Through preaching, visits and volunteering with GleanSLO, film screenings, and finally an Ugly Food Banquet, we brought a spiritual dimension to the problem of food waste in America and had fun with it.  The following is a collection of sermons and links to online films.  May they inspire you to create your own ugly food projects.

Boston     1999

Boston     1999

Sermon Notes

My favorite Genesis commentary is by Nahum Sarna -- this book tutored me on the defining narratives and themes of the Bible, including how I view the presence of drought in biblical literature. (Public Library and Reference)

Here's that super fun article about pomegranates that started it all from NPR's THE SALT:

There's a couple places to find the films we screened.  Here are some direct links.  You can also explore Gerald Iversen's post as it is a huge clearinghouse of all things Ugly Food, especially if you want to catch up on our speakers and the talks they gave.  This is a must if you want to put together your own project.  



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 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:


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

Post your comments here!!