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

Looking for Loopholes

February 12, 2017
  Matthew 5:21-37     6th Sunday After Epiphany   W.C. Fields, the great comedian known for his womanizing and drinking, was a self-admitted agnostic, and so it surprised his friend, Gene Fowler, to find Fields reading the Bible. ”’What are you doing, Bill?’ asked the incredulous Fowler.  ‘I’m looking for loopholes,’ Fields whispered.”[1] W.C. Fields isn’t the only one to look for an easier way out.   Years ago, I attended one of my husband’s high school reunions in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.  Griff’s friends gathered around to greet us.  He introduced me and told them that I, his wife, was a…

Your Light Shall Rise in the Darkness

February 5, 2017
Isaiah 58:1-12, 1 Corinthians 2:1-16, Matthew 5:13-20 Fifth Sunday after Epiphany (Lectionary 5) In my reading this week, I was struck by this passage from Paul’s letter to the Galatians: “For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.”[1]  It’s amazing how Paul’s warning is so applicable to us today. Tuesday mornings, our local pastors gather to talk about the readings for the coming Sunday.  In recent weeks, politics and their effect…

Doing Justice, Loving Kindness and Walking Humbly With Our God

January 30, 2017
Micah 6:1-8     Fourth Sunday after Epiphany (Lectionary 4)     January 29, 2017   Do you know what God desires?  God desires that all of creation will flourish.  That is the consistent witness throughout the Bible. God desires that all human and animal creatures, that all fish and birds, that all vegetation will flourish in interdependence.  That is the point of the two creation stories in the book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible.[1] God desires that all human beings will flourish.[2]  That is why God called Abraham and Sarah to become the parents of a nation of blessing…

Light, Good News, Healing

January 22, 2017
Matthew 4:12-23     Third Sunday after Epiphany     January 22, 2017   Good morning, citizens of the Divided States of America!  Our new president was inaugurated two days ago.  Do you feel joyous, hopeful and optimistic about our future under our new president?  Or do you believe we are in a time of great uncertainty? Do you know that Jesus struggled with uncertainty and darkness?  For instance, remember how this morning’s gospel reading begins: Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.  Who is John?  That’s John the Baptizer!  Only 13 verses earlier, in…

“What Are You Looking For?” “Come and See.”

January 15, 2017
John 1:29-42     Second Sunday after Epiphany     January 15, 2017   “What are you looking for?”  Do you remember Jesus asking that question, in this morning’s story from John?  It’s an important question! We’re in the first chapter of the gospel of John.  John is so different from Mark, Matthew and Luke!  Mark was the first gospel written, and the authors of Matthew and Luke used Mark as a template, adding material that they knew from their own traditions.  But John, composed at least a generation later, features an entirely different structure and chronology.  One glaring difference is…

Word in the Water

January 8, 2017
  Matthew 3:13-17     Baptism of Jesus     January 8, 2017   Do you remember your baptism?  I don’t remember mine, but I do remember the dress I wore.  My parents wanted me to be baptized in a Lutheran church, and so they waited for one to be built in our town.  My sister Karin and I were wearing matching dresses when we were baptized.  She was 12 years old, and I was 8.  Do you remember your baptism? Martin Luther remembered his baptism every morning.  When he washed his face, he would splash the water on his face…

Christ is Born Into Our Violent World

January 1, 2017
Matthew 2:13-23    First Sunday After Christmas    January 1, 2017   According to the Gregorian calendar, today is the first day of a new year.  Of course, according to the liturgical calendar, we’ve  already wished each other “Happy New Year!”  (When was that?  That’s right: the First Sunday of Advent!) Today is a big day for those of us who think we can do better in the future than we’ve done in the past!  Does New Year’s Day bring you a sense of renewal, of new possibilities?  If that is so for you, then this morning’s reading from Matthew…

The Light of Christ in Our Darkness

December 26, 2016
Isaiah 9:2-7      Christmas Eve, 2016   Before we begin the Easter Vigil, we wait until the sun goes down.  It’s dark.  (It’s not as dark as it would have been in Jesus’ tomb, but that’s what comes to mind).  We don’t turn on any electric lights in the worship space.  We begin outside, with a fire pit.  We light the Paschal Candle and begin processing inside, into the darkness of death.  The acolyte holds up the Paschal Candle and the first words we speak into the darkness are, “The light of Christ!” Tonight  we are celebrating the birth of…

The Coming Kingdom of Shalom: Joseph is told in a dream what God is doing in Mary’s Pregnancy

December 18, 2016
 Matthew 1:18-23     Fourth Sunday in Advent   Joseph dreamed of a house with a white picket fence and two camels parked in his garage. Mary was his dream come true, and Joseph asked her to marry him.  He was, as they said in those days, betrothed to her.  To be betrothed was somewhere between an engagement and marriage. People didn’t live together before marriage back then. More binding than an engagement, it could only be broken with an act of divorce.  A betrothed woman who became pregnant was seen as an adulteress.  And that is what happened to Joseph’s…