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.

March 24, 2019

The Rescue

Way back when the narrative about Abram and Lot begins in Genesis 12,  Abram is called by God and this interesting piece of information is inserted.  God says, “Abram, through you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”  Note that God does NOT say, “Through you, only those people who are your DNA matches on ancestry.com will be saved.  No, God has in mind to bless ALL the families of the earth.  It’s counter-intuitive.  And it’s easily forgotten, which is why 80+% of Christians in this country condone racism and xenophobia.

March 17, 2019

“Out of Egypt”

Vladimir Putin, interviewed on NPR a year after 9/11, spoke of Osama bin Laden as very like Pharaoh. He was asked, “What did you think when Reagan spoke of the USSR as an evil empire.”  His answer:  “It was just a manner of speaking -- just cold war rhetoric.  We didn’t take it too seriously.” “What about when Pres. Bush spoke of Osama Bin Laden as evil?”  Pres. Putin answered, “It was an understatement.  I cannot use words to describe him on the air.” Then he said something to make one’s blood run cold. “We are as dust to them."  Just like the Israelites were to Pharaoh.  Just like the Muslims were to the white supremacist shooter in New Zealand on Friday.

March 10, 2019

“A Strange Romance”

According to the story, it took some time for Hosea to begin to get an idea of what God was doing by calling him into such a marriage, but that part of the narrative makes this rather fascinating, because it takes a long time for most people to understand why he or she marries the particular person they choose to marry, does it not?  The real reason, I mean.

February 24, 2019

The Heart of Our Faith

The Apostles’ Creed leaves out all the teachings of Jesus.  Every one of them.  Here is how some have put the problem. The place for the teachings of Jesus in the Apostles’ Creed is held by a comma – it’s the comma between “born of the Virgin Mary” [comma] and … “suffered under Pontius Pilate.”  Do you see?  Jesus’ whole life is left out, as if the only important thing is that he was born, and that he died.  That amounts to “Christianity-lite,” to me, especially when it comes to this morning’s text. It leaves out the hard stuff. It says to Christians, pay no attention to what the man Jesus said.  Just believe he died for your sins and live however the heck you want.

February 17, 2019

A SENTIMENTAL EDUCATION

Life, according to Jesus, is like the medieval symbol of life, a great WHEEL OF FORTUNE.  It just keeps moving around and around. Jesus’ point is simply that those at the top, with the wind blowing in their hair, will eventually have their turn at the bottom.  And those at the bottom, in the mud and the mire, will one day fly with the eagles.  They may not think so. Being at the bottom is debilitating, but things change even when you are there in the pit.