Sermons (Page 2)

Laughing Jesus

Risus Paschalis (the Easter Laugh) and the Sorrow Jar

For centuries in Eastern Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant countries, the week following Easter Sunday, culminated in “Bright Sunday” (the 2nd Sunday of the Easter season). It was observed by the faithful as “days of joy and laughter” with parties and picnics to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. The custom was rooted in the musings of early church theologians (like Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and John Chrysostom) that God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. Early theologians called it “Risus paschalis – the Easter laugh.” Lately we call it Holy Humor or Holy Hilarity Sunday.

Empty Isn’t Really

Easter unplugged. Those are the words that have been running through my heart. Easter in small rooms. Easter confined. I’ve mentioned that this year Easter feels like peering inside one of those sugar eggs that contain tiny dioramas, each one a household. AND – That is exactly what we intend to do Sunday morning.

Palm Sunday: An Expression of Deepening Devotion

It is Palm Sunday! We open the gates wide and enter Holy Week. We may think of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as a measured walk down the sanctuary aisle adorned with palm branches and orderly singing. BUT in reality the procession undoubtedly looked more like a pack of sports fans jostling for position to get through the gates and into the stadium for the main event. Palm branches waving? Of course! There were palm trees everywhere.

This service follows a pattern of scripture, characters, candle lighting and sung response in this service of deepening devotion.

1. A scripture passage introduces one of six characters close to Jesus.
2. A short, first-person reflection – in the words of that character – follows.
3. We pause to light a candle, in love, hope and faith.
4. Then, we sing, and move on.

We often remember Holy Week with a Tenebrae service of descending darkness. This year we choose to create a service of ascending devotion.

Hamlet’s Walnut Shell: Dry Bones and Lazarus

Sunday is the 5th and final Sunday of Lent. Lent is typically a season of pilgrimage, of journeying with Jesus, and this year we are in the midst of an extraordinary journey! For most of us, every familiar pattern has been altered or disrupted. There are moments this “social distancing,” let alone, “sheltering at home,” can seem a little like being entombed, or at the very least, en-wombed, hibernating; developing. There’s a story for that! We may find nurture in our ancient literature, the lectionary stories for this week: Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones awakening to walk again – a vision of life reconstructing amidst desolation. From the Newer Testament, comes the story of the resurrection of Lazarus – new life exiting a tomb.

Pono Like Jesus – John 3

Our worship together this Sunday is inspired, in part, by Pastor Chris and Dave’s recent vacation in Hawaii! The jet lag is passing and we thank the congregation sending us off and receiving us again with beautiful blessings. The reflection is titled “Pono Like Jesus – John 3.” The seed was a window decal featured on a sleek little, lime green SUV in a grocery store parking lot. And, as God would have it, one of the lectionary texts for this week – the 2nd week of the season of Lent – just happens to be John 3:1-17. Do you catch the God-wink? So, what does pono mean? What does a plumeria blossom lei smell like? Is paradise real? Does aloha mean hello or goodbye? And what does any of that have to do with LENT?!

Nonviolence – Re-weaving the Social Fabric: Nonviolent Public Work and the Commonwealth

Harry Boyte delivered the reflection during worship on Sunday, January 26 to conclude a month-long focus on nonviolence in January. Boyte connected nonviolence with the value of public work. Today’s need is for “many examples of nonviolent work with public purpose and also we need many stories of connection and common effort across differences,” said Boyte.

Nonviolence – A Wellspring of Hope for a World in Flames

People remember nonviolence today wrongly. They believe it is pacifism —the refusal of violence in any circumstance. Even more widely they think it is a useful tactic, marches or sit-ins or civil disobedience without violence. Both are wrong as the essence of nonviolence, which is a transformative philosophy of everyday life. It involves spiritual, moral, and psychological disciplines that refuse to demonize opponents or reduce them to caricatures. It advances public love instead.