Recent Sermons

Below are excerpts from some recent sermons.  You can also explore the full list since June 2015.  Some sermons include the podcast at the bottom of the page, with older podcasts from 2013-2015 still available. 

Preaching from St. Stephen’s Pulpit

Sabbath Practice: The Ground From Which We Act to Heal the World

August 21, 2016
  Isaiah 58:9b-14; Luke 13:10-17      Lectionary 21 in Ordinary Time; 14th Sunday after Pentecost     August 21, 2016   The preacher is supposed to prepare with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.[1]  (Yes, this is an iPad.  I read the newspaper on my iPad!)  In addition, on any particular week, the preacher works with the appointed Scripture out of his or her own life story.  So let’s go with this a little bit. The theme of this morning’s readings, from Isaiah and Luke, is sabbath practice.  It’s based on the Third Commandment:…

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

August 14, 2016
Jeremiah 23:23-29     Luke 12:49-56 Lectionary 20 in Ordinary Time;  13th Sunday after Pentecost People lie.  When we talk about lies, what first comes to my mind, and I would guess yours, too, is politicians.  But we all lie. I do.  You do.  We tell ourselves things like, “I have to be perfect.”  “My worth is determined by my work, by my finances, by my friends.”  “I don’t judge people.”[1]  We might not recognize these as untruths, but they are.  Don’t believe everything you think. Some lies are more dangerous than others.  Some lies have enough truth that they are…

Don’t Be Distracted! Watch for the Kingdom

August 7, 2016
Luke 12:32-40     Lectionary 19 in Ordinary Time; 12th Sunday after Pentecost     August 7, 2016   Patty and I were at the beach two weeks ago, with our extended family.  One of the few things I like about being at the beach is sharing a bedroom with our grandchildren.  Abby and Caleb are five, and we enjoyed being in the same room as they wake up, very slowly.  One or both of them would climb into bed with us, just to lie quietly for a while before starting the day. One morning, that start to the day…

Thank You!

August 1, 2016
Luke 12:13-21 Lectionary 18 in Ordinary Time; 11th Sunday after Pentecost What do you have more of in your home than perhaps you should?  Perchance you have reading glasses lying around in various places because they tend to walk off in the dark of night.  I tend to stock up on some things, including paper products.  They don’t walk off, but I don’t want to run out at an inopportune time.  Costco and Sam’s Club can be dangerous places for people like me. At the heart of my problem is fear.  I have a fear of running out of…

What Do We Pray For? What Do We Need?

July 25, 2016
Luke 11:1-13     Lectionary 17 in Ordinary Time; 10th Sunday after Pentecost      July 24, 2016    What do you pray for?  What do you need? If you are of my vintage, you remember one of Janis Joplin’s songs: Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz? My friends all drive Porches, I must make amends. Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends, So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz? What do you pray for?  What do you need?  I’m paying attention to that word, “need,” because my colleague, Rachel Hebert (who’s…

Singing the Hymn

July 17, 2016
Colossians 1:15-28   Lectionary 16 in Ordinary Time    9th Sunday after Pentecost July 17, 2016   He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible (vs. 15-16a).  The author of the letter to the Colossians writes to the people about Jesus, and who Jesus is.  Who is Jesus to you?  Does who Jesus is depend upon what your circumstances are? I love bad movies, and Talladega Nights is one I really like.  Ricky Bobby, the lead character and…


July 5, 2016
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 Lectionary 14 in Ordinary Time; 7th Sunday after Pentecost   (Pastor Judy Cobb raises an extraordinary point in this sermon: Jesus invites us to go out to, simply, offer to serve others!  She refers back to the Hymn of the Day for this Sunday, #659 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship: “Will you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you?”  Pastor Cobb does not preach from a manuscript.  At my urging  she provided me with this text so I could make it available! – Pastor Andy Ballentine)   IT ALL STARTED WITH AN…


June 25, 2016
Luke 9:51-62 6th Sunday after Pentecost  Lectionary 13 We’ve got lots of excuses.  “I can’t come.  I’ve got to check the expiration date on my milk.”  “My cat is high-maintenance.”  Then there are our standard reasons for not getting out of the house on time.  “Let me find my book first.”  “I’ll be there after I water my plants.”  We are good at minor delays. “I will start an exercise program when the weather gets colder.”  “Another weight gain of five pounds and then I will go on a diet.”  We are also good at delaying major things.  “We…

Stepping Out Into Evil With Jesus

June 19, 2016
  Luke 8:26-39      Lectionary 12 in Ordinary Time     Fifth Sunday after Pentecost     June 19, 2016   Jesus provokes strong reactions in this morning’s story from Luke.  Do you notice that?  This is no “gentle Jesus, meek and mild.”  This is a Jesus with incredible courage.  This is a Jesus who is confrontational. Do you remember how this morning’s story begins?  Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.   As he stepped out on land,…  As Jesus steps out on land, he is stepping out into evil!  This side of the…