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Sermon for November 30, 2014

Mini-Apocalypses
Jesus said to his disciples, "In those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
    and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
Then they will see `the Son of Man coming in clouds' with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time…

Sermon for November 21, 2014 / Thanksgiving Sunday

Thanksgiving: Turning Guilt to Gratitude
With attribution and thanks to "Gratitude Alleluias Becoming Reckless Generosity" (October 7, 2012) by Pastor Dawn Hutchings, http://pastordawn.com.
On your feet now—applaud God!
Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into God’s presence.
Know this: God is God.
God made us.
We’re God’s people, well-tended sheep.
Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank God. Worship God.
For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever. Psalm 100
When I was a kid, the adults in my life were very fond of telling me how grateful I ought to be because things were so much harder back when they were kids. I’m sure some of us can remember being told by our elders just how tough times were when they were back in the day. The way they talked, my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and just about every adult I knew must have grown up poor.

Today, when I hear the words, “We were so poor that…”  I brace my…

Sermon for October 26, 2014

Who would Jesus Shoot?

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.
Matthew 26:52 I don’t know about you, but I was captivated by the unfolding story of the 33 miners trapped underground in Chile. Remember them, back in 2010? I remember seeing artifacts from the rescue at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. A single piece of rock fell while 33 miners worked underground, blocking the ramp to the surface. It was later estimated to weigh seven hundred thousand tons, twice the weight of the Empire State Building. The buried men were trapped 2,300 ft underground and 3 miles from the mine's entrance. The mixed crew of experienced miners and technical support personnel survived for a record 69 days deep underground before their rescue. The resources used to save these 33 men was truly awesome. The dedication, the creativity, the l…

Sermon for October 12, 2014

The Secular World: Stealing Jesus
Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world. God did not send him to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him. People who believe in God’s Son are not judged guilty. But people who do not believe are already judged, because they have not believed in God’s only Son. They are judged by this fact: The light has come into the world. But they did not want light. They wanted darkness, because they were doing evil things. Everyone who does evil hates the light. They will not come to the light, because the light will show all the bad things they have done. But anyone who follows the true way comes to the light. Then the light will show that whatever they have done was done through God. John 3:16-21, ERV "Are you a Christian?”

Mainline Protestants, especially many who tend to go to churches like ours have a hard time…

Sermon for September 28, 2014

Singing in a Strange Land

Two poems . . .

—one—

By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our harps.
For there our captors
asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’
How could we sing the Lord’s song
in a strange land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither!
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy. Psalm 137

—two—

The sea of faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round Earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating....
– from Matthew Arnold's “Dover Beach”

Philosopher-historian Will Durant called it "the basic event of modern times." He didn't mean the world wars, or the end of colonialism, or the rise of electronics. He was talking about the decline of religion in Western democracies.

L…