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Showing posts from September, 2012

Sermon for September 30, 2012

Faith in the Public Square: Americans on the Margins


Whenever I confront the evil of which we humans are capable, I feel guilty, and saddened, angry and tired. How about you? I resonate with the words once written by Franz Kafka:
You can hold back from
suffering of the world,
you have permission to do so,
and it is in accordance
with your nature,
but perhaps this very holding back
is the one suffering
you could have avoided
These are the questions I want to think about today: Are we better off as a nation when we engage the suffering of nation or when we hold back?  Does holding back actually cause more personal suffering, or is this protective posture necessary for our health? Let’s dig in by looking at an episode on Mark’s gospel.

John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.”

“Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not …

Sermon for September 23, 2012

Faith in the Public Square: The Power of Heartbreak

God heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
Even in laughter the heart is sad, and the end of joy is grief. Proverbs 14:13
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

Hope deferred makes the heart sick. How true. How true. I confess, I struggled with the misery of hopelessness this past Summer. In this pulpit last August, after yet another set of public shootings and horrible violence at home and abroad, I confessed my melancholy.  As I look at the world today, it just seems too much: Too much violence, too much fear; too much of demands and problems; too much of broken dreams and broken lives; too much of wars and slums and dying; too much of greed and squishy fatness and the sounds of people devouring each other and the earth; too much of stale routines and quarrels, unpaid bills and dead ends; too much of cruelty and selfishness and indifference.  Yes, I want so…

Sermon for September 16, 2012

Generosity in an Age of Fear

Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do. So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving. Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. I am not commandin…

Sermon for September 9, 2012

Partners

Before there was anything, there was God, a few angels, and a huge swirling glob of rocks and water with no place to go. The angels asked God, “Why don’t you clean up this mess?” So God collected rocks from the huge swirling glob and put them together in clumps and said, “Some of these clumps of rocks will be planets, and some will be stars, and some of these rocks will be . . . just rocks.” Then God collected water from the huge swirling glob and put it together in pools of water and said, “Some of these pools of water will be oceans, and some will become clouds, and some of the water will be...just water.” Then the angels said, “Well, God, it’s neater now, but is it finished?”

And God answered: “NOPE!”

On some of the rocks God placed growing things, and creeping things, and things that only God knows what they are, and when God had done all this, the angels asked God, “Is the world finished now?”

 And God answered: “NOPE!”

God made a man and a woman from some of the water and d…

Likrat Shabbat

So . . . I accidentally just deleted last Sunday's sermon on prayer, study and service. Many of you asked about the prayer I used to close the sermon. It is entitled Likrat Shabbat. The original  text is below. I altered it to make it more gender inclusive in worship.
--mbb

We cannot merely pray to you, O God,
     to end war;
For we know that You have made the world
     in a way
That man must find his own path to peace.
Within himself and with his neighbor.

We cannot merely pray to You, O God,
     to end starvation;
For You have already given us the
     resources
With which to feed the entire world,
If we would only use them wisely.

We cannot merely pray to You, O God,
     to root out prejudice;
For You have already given us eyes
With which to see the good in all men,
If we would only use them rightly.

We cannot merely pray to You, O God,
     to end despair,
For You have already given us the power
To clear away slums and to give hope,
If we would only use our power justly.

We cannot merely pray t…

Sermon for August 26, 2012

Do We Need Any More Heroes?

This is the account of Terah’s family. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot. But Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, the land of his birth, while his father, Terah, was still living. Meanwhile, Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah. (Milcah and her sister Iscah were daughters of Nahor’s brother Haran.) But Sarai was unable to become pregnant and had no children. One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai (his son Abram’s wife), and his grandson Lot (his son Haran’s child) and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there. Terah lived for 205 years and died while still in Haran. The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will ble…