Coffee Grinds and Ashes (March reflection for church newsletter)

A coffee stand in Blue Hill, Maine, makes my favorite espresso. Lauren’s family has a place they share, not too far away. We get there about once a year. Most days, I slip over to Bucklyn Coffee and wait in line.  It takes a while, but it’s rare that anyone gets impatient about it. It’s really like a communion line. Once you get through it, the server – sometimes the owner – greets you in a way like you’re the first person they’ve served all day. They rarely rush. I order an espresso, and they smile. Eventually, they hand me … Continue reading Coffee Grinds and Ashes (March reflection for church newsletter)

Digging deeper (2/12/23 Reflection on Matthew 5:21-37) #pittsfield #sermon #berkshires

During political campaigns, one of the ways to try and discredit a politician is to share one of their quotes or pictures out of context. We’ve all heard or seen this happen. For example, the attack ad starts with a close-up of a politician saying something seemingly disgusting that, when read later in the full context of their speech or interview, isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds. Or, we’ve seen or shared a picture in which the look on a politician’s face or where they’re looking has nothing to do with the named context of the picture. More recently, … Continue reading Digging deeper (2/12/23 Reflection on Matthew 5:21-37) #pittsfield #sermon #berkshires

“45,000” (2/5/23 Reflection on Matthew 5:13-20) #sermon #pittsfield #berkshires

Some sermons pop up quickly. You look at the text, pieces start to come together, and a sermon starts to emerge. Other times, it feels like a meandering journey that visits a few different points. Instead of one sermon, it seems more of a few short ones. Today’s sermon feels more like that second journey and starts with discussing religion in the big picture. The religious landscape of the world is vast. About 84% of people identify with some religious group, and there are close to 4,200 different religions with which people identify. We hear about Christianity, Islam, and Judaism … Continue reading “45,000” (2/5/23 Reflection on Matthew 5:13-20) #sermon #pittsfield #berkshires

“The Space in Between” Reflection on Matthew 5:1-12 for 1/29/23 #sermon #pittsfield #berkshires

The Beatitudes we read this morning begin what is traditionally called “The Sermon on the Mount.” Although there’s a good chance that these were not shared all at one time by Jesus, these are an essential collection of stories, parables, and words of wisdom that begin here in chapter 5 and end with chapter 7.  Reading these chapters would cover a good bit if you were thinking about being a Christian and wanted a basic understanding of Jesus’ teaching. If you took more time and studied what Jesus was talking about in his context, these chapters would cover most of … Continue reading “The Space in Between” Reflection on Matthew 5:1-12 for 1/29/23 #sermon #pittsfield #berkshires

“…of the world.” (Sermon on John 1:29-42) #Bershires #Pittsfield #Sermon

John 1:29-42 The speedometer on our family car suggests that our car could go 160 miles an hour if we wanted it to. It could save so much time if we zipped along at that speed! The 8-hour trip to my folks in Ohio could be reduced to about three hours and 15 minutes. Pittsfield to Boston? About 52 minutes. The drive from our home to Big Y World Class Market would be reduced from 6 minutes to about 50 seconds. Oh, how much time I could save! But, no. Some government officials decided that, for some reason, driving 160 … Continue reading “…of the world.” (Sermon on John 1:29-42) #Bershires #Pittsfield #Sermon

“Well Pleased…” (Sermon on Matthew 3:3-17) #berkshire #pittsfield #sermon

Biblical scholars love to debate, and when they do, for a church geek like me, it’s kind of fun to listen to. I know this isn’t true for everyone, but at some point, watching a good debate is almost more like watching sports. You can almost imagine a sports announcer: “That round goes to the Old Testament scholar from Yale. Next up, a debate about ECONOMICS IN THE BIBLICAL WORLD between the scholar from Emory University and the scholar from Chicago Theological Seminary, followed by a debate about Old Testament punctuation between the scholar from Harvard and Saint Pius the … Continue reading “Well Pleased…” (Sermon on Matthew 3:3-17) #berkshire #pittsfield #sermon

Starlight (Sermon on Psalm 148) #Berkshires #Pittsfield #Sermon

I’ve been thinking about the stars quite a bit these days. I grew up and have lived in or near cities my whole life, so the sky was almost entirely washed out with all those additional lights. I’d have to visit somewhere else to see more than a dozen stars, and even then, I would need to remember to look up. Here, I can see them. They’re just there. I find myself looking up quite a bit. Whenever I think about stars, I think about Dr. Ron Olowin. Ron was an astrophysicist. I did not understand what an astrophysicist was … Continue reading Starlight (Sermon on Psalm 148) #Berkshires #Pittsfield #Sermon

Christmas Eve Sermon 2022 #berkshires #pittsfield

The story of Christmas Eve, as we tell it in church and ritual, has order to it.  Many of us know the story and have heard it again and again. There is a calm to the repetition, the songs, and the candle lighting. I love that part, and I know that many of you are here because you love it, too. But have you ever imagined being there when it all happened? As described in the Bible, it must have seemed like a strange chaotic mess for all the people there. What we read is all of what people saw … Continue reading Christmas Eve Sermon 2022 #berkshires #pittsfield

Icicles and Stars (A Sermon on Matthew 1:18-25) #pittsfield #berkshires

Sermon for 12/18/22 Matthew 1:18-25 Last Wednesday, we were between storms. Icicles had started forming. The sky was clear. For all the wonder and excitement of this time of year, it can also be a season of rushing about. Last Wednesday night was one of those times I was going from this to that, and my mind was spinning with everything I hadn’t yet done or needed to do when someone asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks. “Do you think that stars or icicles are more beautiful?” Everything slowed down. It felt as though the question … Continue reading Icicles and Stars (A Sermon on Matthew 1:18-25) #pittsfield #berkshires