Sermons


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

Blessed Are the Poor

November 11, 2018
Matthew 12:38-44 Lectionary 32 ~ Pentecost 25   We have had a couple weeks of horror, and I am not referring to the midterm elections.  In Thousand Oaks, California, only days after the killing of thirteen people, raging wildfires in that same area drove people from their homes.  A couple of weeks ago, after finding the doors of predominantly black church locked, a gunman killed two African Americans at a nearby Kroger.  In Pittsburgh, on October 27, 11 Jewish people were murdered while in their house of worship, Tree of Life Congregation. The shooter, Robert Bowers, was injured, and taken…

Baptized Into a New Heaven and a New Earth

November 4, 2018
Isaiah 25:6-9; Revelation 21:1-6; John 11:32-44 All Saints’ Sunday     November 4, 2018   “Jesus began to weep.”  Is this the single most moving verse in all the Bible?  How good it is to have this morning’s gospel reading for All Saints’ Sunday – to be reminded that, in Jesus, God is with us, intimately; weeping with us when a loved one dies. You may remember the entire story, in the 11th chapter of the gospel of John.  Jesus is especially close friends with two sisters and a brother: Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.  In their company, Jesus can relax. …

Baptized Into Christ’s Community of Servants

October 21, 2018
Mark 10:35-45     Lectionary 29     Pentecost 22     October 21, 2018   It was 1943.  General George C. Marshall very much wanted to command the Allied armies that would invade Nazi-occupied France in 1944.  But he would not put himself forward for the job.  President Franklin Roosevelt was trying to decide who should be the commanding general for the invasion that would be known as D-Day.  According to David Brooks, Roosevelt sent his adviser, Harry Hopkins, “to gauge Marshall’s feelings about the appointment.  Marshall would not be drawn in.  He told Hopkins that he had served with honor.  He would…

A Generous God

October 14, 2018
Mark 19:17-31  Lectionary 28 ~ Pentecost 21 In case you have not noticed, we are a generous congregation! This year, we donated over 200 pairs of sneakers to children so that they could begin the new school year without the embarrassment of wearing worn out shoes that don’t fit.  As a result of our scholarship money given to our Preschool, a child has been afforded the chance to form healthy relationships with teachers and other children, and to engage in learning that provides foundational skills needed to grow.  We have funded education for young people in Africa through Godparents for…

When We Cannot Do What Jesus Teaches Us To Do

October 7, 2018
Mark 10:2-16     Lectionary 27     Pentecost 20     October 7, 2018   The topic for this sermon occurred to me on the morning after an evening at the brewery![1]  It happened during my Wednesday morning bicycle ride.  I get out on my bike as the sun is rising several times a week, and during my Wednesday ride, a sermon often comes together in my mind.  By Wednesday, I’ve done the commentary reading.  I’ve put together an outline (that I’m usually not very happy with).  On Wednesday morning, pedaling, I’m not trying to force anything.  I’m listening for the point of…

Pruning

October 1, 2018
  Mark 9:38-50 Lectionary 26    Pentecost 19 “’If your hand or your foot gets in God’s way, chop it off and throw it away” Jesus says.  “You’re better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owner of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away.  You’re better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.’”[1]  Four times, Jesus says, “It would…

Reading James While Lutheran

September 23, 2018
James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a     Lectionary 25     Pentecost 18     September 23, 2018   Martin Luther didn’t like the book of James.  That’s because of one verse in particular, verse 24 in chapter two: You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  Do you know that that flatly contradicts St. Paul?  Paul, over and over again emphasizes this, instead: The one who is righteous will live by faith.[1] Well, this is just one example of something you may know from your own reading: there are many portions of books in the Bible that…

Losing Your Life

September 16, 2018
Mark 8:27-38 Lectionary 24 ~  17thSunday after Pentecost What kind of investor are you?  How much are you willing to risk in order to gain? Are you conservative, hiding your dollar bills under your mattress?  Are you one who takes risks, helping to fund speculative start-up companies?  Maybe you keep your money in safe savings accounts, or certificates of deposit. I’m only asking because in our reading today Jesus talks about saving, and losing, profit and gain, forfeit and return. We also hear about suffering and rejection, denying ourselves, picking up our cross, being killed and losing our life. …

What Is God Doing in the Interruptions — Breaking In, Opening You Up, Drawing You More Deeply Into God?

September 9, 2018
Mark 7:24-37     Lectionary 23     Pentecost 16     September 9, 2018   How do you do with interruptions?  Think of when you’re intent on what you’re doing, focused on your agenda – and you’re interrupted.  Does that make you frustrated?  Impatient? Isn’t that what’s happening to Jesus, in this morning’s story in the gospel of Mark? So far in the story, as Mark presents it, Jesus has been quite intent and even urgent in his agenda.  It’s stirking how often we come across the word, “immediately.”  Jesus is conscious that he is embodying the kingdom of God; he is speaking…