August 18, 2019

Luke 12:49-56

A sermon by Andrew Fleishman.

Division amongst people is a challenging reality of the world that we live in. Our decisions divide our values and when we say yes to something, we necessarily say no to something else. Jesus speaks of the division that he causes and those who follow him come face to face with a crisis, a moment of decision. The people of God are left asking "What are we to do?", and it is in this questioning that the people of God are changed.

August 4, 2019

Do you really need to hear this parable?

A sermon by Reverend Catherine Putnam-Netto

This parable really isn’t about your money; whether you have too much of it or too little; or give it away or don’t. It’s not about inheritances or possessions at all.  David Brooks, the NY Times commentator, in his book, The Road to Character suggests our adult lives are sandwiched between two documents: our resumes recounting our skills and external success, and our obituary or eulogy, recounting the virtues at the core of our being. And he essentially says, ‘Life is about reconciling the two’. I think this parable is about that….

July 21, 2019

The Better and the Less-Better Parts

A sermon by Luana Uluave

In this version of the story, each of the women is what’s called a trope - a trope is a sort of short cut writers use in literature, to make readers think of a particular stereotype and all that goes with it. We know lots of tropes. Princesses are helpless and wait to be rescued by handsome princes. Nerd girls get contact lenses and turn out to be secret beauty queens. Grandmas are Mrs. Piggle-Wiggles and give you cookies and read you books. But real women are not tropes. Real women are practical and faithful, grumpy and serene, active and contemplative, homemakerly and ministerial. I prefer to read Mary and Martha as real women, and that means that I can’t be content to treat them as tropes. How can I make room for a fuller reading of both sisters?

July 14, 2019

The Compassionate One

A sermon by Reverend Catherine Putnam-Netto

In classic form, Jesus turns the lawyer’s question back to him and asks, “Now think clearly dear lawyer, who of the three was the neighbor to the one half-dead in the ditch?” “Wait” says the lawyer, “I asked you who is my neighbor? Who is the one who would be worth my time to care for?” Good grief, all he wanted was to know the limits on whom he is to love - and Jesus hits him with this. The term ‘question’ comes from the shorter word ‘quest’, meaning ‘to search out,’ ‘to go on a journey’. And Jesus takes the lawyer on a quest beyond the reaches of his belief and the boundaries of his compassion, and then shoves him over the limit!  After a moment, the lawyer grudgingly replies – “I guess, I suppose it was the one who had compassion.”  He can’t even use the term ‘Samaritan’ it’s so hard for him.

July 7, 2019

I Send You Out

A sermon by Andrew Fleishman.

The gospel of Jesus is intentional and reciprocal. It is never a one-way transaction, it is deeply connected. Reciprocity is a vehicle by which creation is restored and a conduit where the love of Jesus is conveyed in most powerful ways. As I reflect on this I am reminded of the protestation that the apostles gave to Jesus when he bid them to come to him so that he might wash their feet. The Apostles responded exactly how I would have responded. Surely not!! No way Jesus, I’ll wash your feet but you should never wash mine. I mean, you are Jesus, surely you aren’t thinking clearly right now. And Jesus hit them and us with these revelatory and haunting words. “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

June 30, 2019

Jesus on a Road Trip

A sermon by Luana Uluave.

If I were on the road trip, would I stay or would I go? Notice who stays with Jesus, and who doesn’t. The ones who stay are not in any way perfect or perfectly fit for the service they have taken on. But they are willing to stay the course, walk the path, traipse through unfriendly Samaria, learn to make good time on the road.

This part of the story reminds us that Jesus - the Jesus of the text - is a radical, intense leader, and if we’re getting too cozy with Pleasant Jesus we might be missing out on our own call issued through Revolutionary Jesus.

June 23, 2019

A Meeting at the Edge

A sermon by Reverend Catherine Putnam-Netto.

The world is no longer a place where seas split and donkeys talk, and where water turns into wine. Now, instead of instantaneous miracles, we live mostly in an age when God’s presence and healing touch are made known much more ploddingly… though our hands, our prayers, through medicine and healing therapies.

It was Jesus’ humanity that first touched the man’s soul and invited him into a safe place – a place where God’s love for the man could be heard. And it was then – once the man was in this space - that Jesus’ divinity could offer a cure to the ails of his mind and body.

June 16, 2019

“The Furious Struggle”

A sermon by Andrew Fleishman.

I ask this question. What does one do when light has shined into one’s soul and the light within is darkness? Heavy words I know. Darkness could mean many things, resistance, hesitance, skepticism, stubbornness… The question I am asking is where do we go while in the midst of the furious struggle of our heart when light is shined upon it?

June 9, 2019

Pentecost for Today

A sermon by Luana Uluave.

I think by taking a look at the “they” and the “where” in this story, we can commemorate them in that faraway place—but as important, I hope we can take a moment to find the us, in this place, as we celebrate Pentecost for today. Here we are, fifty days past Easter, together in a place, in this place—and I want you to look around right now and see the “we” that we are. What is being born among us, as we gather all together in this one place today?

May 26, 2019

“Do You Want To Be Healed?”

You know, Jesus is often identified with the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Jesus is, in fact, often stamped with the authorship of that phrase, but you can find a number of versions of it cropping up in cultures all around the globe. And listen, there are limits to the Golden Rule.  For my money, if Jesus is the author of any “rule” it would have to have been what is becoming known today as the Platinum Rule. That one goes this way –  “Do unto others as they would be done by.”  That is to say, don’t just do for people what you would like – take the time to find out what they might really like before you “help” them.

May 19, 2019

“By This Everyone Will Know”

This week I heard of  a church that put up a banner outside saying, “We Love Our Muslim Neighbors.” That’s a very Christian sentiment, but that’s not the love in this morning’s text. I mean, sometimes it’s easier to love the Muslim in Iraq whom we don’t know than it is to love the disagreeable fellow Christian who sits next to us in church, right?  How much easier for us if Jesus had simply said, “Love as much as you can within your natural limitations.” No, to be a disciple of Jesus means to practice self-sacrificing love, not because it pleases us — it often doesn’t — but because it pleases the one who commands us to love.

May 12, 2019

“If There Is Any Excellence”

My guess is that Paul was so moved by the love of these people lived out in the example of the young man, Epaphroditus, that he saw in that boy’s love and sacrifice all the steadfast love of God.  When Epaphroditus stuck his head in Paul’s cell, what Paul saw was the face of Christ.  I imagine we’ve all something akin to that experience, from the time we were children, I hope,  – maybe in a hospital bed, or late at night when your car broke down … you know what it feels like to see that face.

May 5, 2019

A WHOLE NEW LIFE

Just last week I read something about a woman who was in her mid-thirties, I think, and she got a terminal diagnosis -- some sort of cancer.  It was something that would kill her but not right away.  She was working in a non-tenure track academic position that frustrated her so she quit, but she still had to work, so she got a job at Trader Joe’s because she loved the cheerful friendly atmosphere.  It didn’t pay much, but it got her up in the morning. I get that.

April 21, 2019

Finding the Holy In The Everyday

My favorite part of the story is when the two, sitting there in the motel cafe, all alone now, make a mutual observation. They say, “Weren’t our hearts burning within us as he spoke to us? Even before our blindness left us and we saw who he really was, something deep within us was catching on?”  That seals it for them.  That changes them. They will never be the same people again. In the wake of that dinner, everything that before was complex and puzzling for them, became totally simple.  It was suddenly a matter only of their hearts and nothing else.  Barbara Brown Taylor says the resurrection of Jesus permanently rearranges our understanding of reality. Just ask any of the millions of non-religious people who were moved to tears watching Notre Dame burn.  This stuff is deep in us, no doubt about it.

April 14, 2019

Three Crosses on a Hill

It has been noted that dying people often become more who they are in those moments than they have ever been.  Any pretense they may have previously held up as a defense falls away. Right?  I mean, what would be the point of being anything but who you are at such a moment?  One interpreter, citing this tendency, says that at the point of death, we all become the condensed version of ourselves.  We become who we are at our core.

April 7, 2019

“You Won’t Always Have Me”

.... Then Mary does four remarkable things in a row.  First she loosens her hair in a room where there are men, which a respectable woman would never do.  Then she pours this balm on the feet of Jesus, which also is not done -- maybe on the head, but not on the feet.  The intimacy of the event more than doubles when she touches his feet with her hands.  Finally the coup de gras--  she wipes his feet with strands of her flint black hair.  Love and death bound together forever in one picture.  The whole thing leaves them all speechless.

March 31, 2019

The Prodigal Father

Eight hundred years ago the Italian poet, Dante, posited that hell was not really a place of punishment.  Instead, he argued that it was a place God, in God’s infinite love, offered to those who, for whatever reason, don’t want to walk humbly and eternally with God.  Dante argued that “hell” was not a place where God slaps people with the right hand of God’s wrath but, rather, offers them the left hand of God’s love.