“Tenous and Tedious” (Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15)

September 25th, 2022 Sermon @ South Congregational Church UCC Pittsfield, MA Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 (I started by placing a brick on the pulpit. Yep. A plain old brick.) On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the lowest and ten being the highest), how would you rate how exciting this brick is? Hold that thought…. The book of Jeremiah is filled with a lot of prophetic poetry and wisdom, but it all emerges from a horrifying time. One of the reasons Jeremiah is sometimes lifted is because he saw a clear connection between the structural violence against those who were poor … Continue reading “Tenous and Tedious” (Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15)

What Are You Doing Here?

(This was my candidating sermon [6-19-22] for South Congregational Church in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Following the sermon, they invited me to be their pastor! I’ll leave my position with the Pacific Northwest Conference in the middle of September and join South Church soon afterward.) 1 Kings 19:1-15 (NRSVUE)  I always appreciate the legal disclaimer at the beginning of a video or book that says something like, “This story is based on actual events. In certain cases incidents, characters and timelines have been changed for dramatic purposes. Certain characters may be composites, or entirely fictitious.” It gives you a fair heads up … Continue reading What Are You Doing Here?

Unpossessed

(Sermon shared with Taiwanese Christian Church 5/29/22) Acts 16:16-34 (NRSV)  Today’s text from Acts is an odd one. Paul and Silas are followed by a slave girl possessed by a spirit that allows her to tell the future and see hidden things that others cannot see. During this time and place, being possessed by such a spirit wasn’t seen in the same way as being possessed by a demon. A demon was an entity motivated to spiritual destruction and harm for the one who possessed and those the demon-possessed person encountered. The kind of spirit that possessed this girl was more … Continue reading Unpossessed

Hope Is Built

(I’m catching up on some posts, today. This is my April ’22 address to the Pacific Northwest Conference of the UCC’s Annual Meeting) I’ve struggled more with this particular message than any other I’ve ever shared with you. When developing the theme for this meeting, the idea that emerged was around hope, recognizing the exhaustion of almost everyone.  It’s entirely the right theme, and I was looking forward to hearing from someone else about it. I’m struggling with staying hopeful, too. On the one hand, the idea that I might have anything to say about hope feels almost ludicrous when … Continue reading Hope Is Built

Among these Lenten ashes…

Dear Siblings in Christ:I’ve been struggling with this letter for a while now. We’re figuring out who will continue on our committees, who is stepping down, and what positions we need to fill. This was supposed to be a letter encouraging you to consider being part of our committees or nominating someone else. That’s still going to be a part of this note, but I can’t go forward with acknowledging something else.These times are hard, and we’re all feeling it. There isn’t one organization I’m part of or one congregation I’m in conversation with that isn’t struggling at least a … Continue reading Among these Lenten ashes…

3/15/22 PNC COVID-19 Update

Dear Siblings in Christ: Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Take another deep breath, then let that one out slowly, too. This week’s text from Isaiah is a beautiful one. It’s one of my favorites. It’s a message of courage, compassion, grace, and persistence. It’s a message to those on the edge of losing hope that also invites a rootedness in faithfulness. The idea of listening is central to this text’s invitation. It’s an invitation to focus, pay attention, and discern what we hear with an open mind and heart. It’s an invitation to connect the experience of … Continue reading 3/15/22 PNC COVID-19 Update

2/16/22 PNC COVID-19 Update

Dear Siblings in Christ: This week’s text from Genesis tells the story of Joseph being willing to forgive and help his brothers even though they tried to kill him. It’s a heck of a plot twist. However, this time, what stood out was why the brothers needed help in the first place When we meet Joseph and his brothers, there had already been a famine for two years, but it wasn’t even half done. I’m sure they were all tired of it and exhausted, at this point. Their suffering had to have been immense. I’m sure they were hoping things … Continue reading 2/16/22 PNC COVID-19 Update

12-16-21 PNC COVID-19 Update

Dear Siblings in Christ: The song Mary sings in this week’s text from Luke is one of my favorites of the whole Bible. It pre-dated her, of course. It was an old song. It comes at a point in Luke when she’s been told that the one growing inside of her is hope for the world. She finds this old song, and it becomes a song of protest against the current time, a song of celebration, and a lullaby. Somewhere in that moment when this teenager sings, a premise becomes a promise, and the world starts to seem right before … Continue reading 12-16-21 PNC COVID-19 Update

Before you join the Great Resignation…

Dear Siblings in Christ: I’ve been listening to a book by James Suzman called Work: A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of Robots. I don’t know why I’m so surprised, but he writes about the relationship between work and religion quite a bit. One of the themes he leans into is about how work was related to the tendency to try and create or shape order: “It is no coincidence that tension between chaos and order is a feature of the world’s mythologies. After all, science also insists that there is a universal relationship between disorder … Continue reading Before you join the Great Resignation…

11/29/21 COVID-19 PNC Update

Dear Siblings in Christ: This coming Sunday’s text is from Luke. What jumps out at me the most isn’t the story of John, but the intentionality of the context-setting of the author: In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was the ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. Luke 3:1-2 (NRSV)  Before the story … Continue reading 11/29/21 COVID-19 PNC Update