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

The Good News of Jesus’ Blessings and Woes

February 17, 2019
Luke 6:17-26; Jeremiah 17:5-10     Sixth Sunday after Epiphany     February 17, 2019   How does this morning’s gospel passage strike you?  Are there any verses in the entire Bible that are more challenging for us who have more stuff than we need? Then [Jesus] looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." God prefers those who are poor.  That’s consistent throughout the Bible and, in the gospel of Luke, Jesus is in our face about this.  (It’s interesting to notice that this causes a problem for the…


February 10, 2019
Luke 5:1-11 Lectionary 5    ~  Fifth Sunday after Epiphany   To be or to do things in our world, you must be qualified.  You must meet certain qualifications to graduate from high school and to enter college.  Doctors and Certified Public accountants have requirements to practice.  Athletes and horses need to qualify for competitions. Discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930, Pluto became the ninth planet in our solar system.  But in 1992, some people began to question Pluto’s status. In 2006, Pluto was demoted.  Pluto failed; it no longer qualified as a planet.[1] Of course, there are formal and informal qualifications.  Informal…

God’s Love, God’s Call

February 3, 2019
Jeremiah 1:4-10     Fourth Sunday after Epiphany     February 2, 2019   Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." These are such striking words, from the prophet Jeremiah!  They are words of how intimately God knows us: “before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”  They are words describing how God has work for us to do: “before you were born I consecrated you.” Out of God’s love for…

Fingers and Toes

January 28, 2019
1 Corinthians 12:12-31   Luke 4:14-21 3rd Sunday after Epiphany What is the best part of your physicality?  Is it a strong jaw, or thick hair, or muscular legs? What is your least favorite part of your body? As I have gotten older, the list of my not so favorite parts has grown. In recent decades, people’s perception of their bodies has become increasingly important to them, even to the point of affecting personal happiness. Cosmetic surgery is on the rise. Oh, the things people do to themselves! And then show it all on YouTube! The magazine Psychology Today reports: When most people think of body…

God’s Kingdom — Rejoicing! Feasting! Abundance!

January 20, 2019
John 2:1-11     Second Sunday after Epiphany     January 20, 2019   “On the third day”: that’s how the gospel reading begins this morning.  (This is the third day after Jesus called Philip and Nathanael to follow him, but you and I know how important that phrase is, since the resurrection will happen on the third day!  The author of the gospel is already setting that as the context for all that Jesus will say and do.)  On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  Jesus and his disciples…

Daughters and Sons

January 13, 2019
Isaiah 43:1-7 Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, our scriptures begin.  In the beginning, what was thought to exist was a watery void.  God separated the waters and brought into being sky. Then God gathered the waters into lakes and oceans and rivers, and dry land appeared.   The Psalmist asked God to lead him to still waters, and Peter joined Jesus walking on water. Water cleans and purifies. It has no shape of its own, and if you hold it in your cupped hands, it will slip right through your fingers.  Watery…

Memorial Service Homily for Karen Steinmuller VanRosendale

January 7, 2019
In “sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.” January 6, 2019   My wife, Patty, said it yesterday: “How can we be preparing for Karen’s funeral?  We just saw her on Christmas Eve.”  And one of our folks told me this morning that, when she read the news about Karen’s death, she realized that Karen had e-mailed income tax preparation documents only minutes before.             Karen’s death is a shocking tragedy.  I would expect that some of you here are just beginning to think beyond your shock.  We gather here, realizing…

Being Led to Faith

January 6, 2019
Matthew 2:1-12     The Epiphany of Our Lord    January 6, 2019   Today is the Epiphany of Our Lord.  It’s unusual that it falls on a Sunday.  I want to take advantage of this opportunity.  (I’m not assuming any knowledge of what the Epiphany is!) An epiphany is a manifestation.  It is an instance of seeing; of something coming clear; of illumination; of insight; of understanding.  An epiphany is an instance of receiving revelation.  In the liturgical calendar, The Epiphany of Our Lord is the day we celebrate the Wise Men arriving to visit the newborn Jesus, the Christ,…

Light in the Darkness

December 25, 2018
Isaiah 9:2-7   Christmas Eve, 2018     Tomorrow afternoon, after all the presents are opened, will you feel a letdown?  Many will.  Is that because so many of us try to play pretend at Christmas? I remember one Christmas Day when I was a child.  A radio news report was on about fighting in the Middle East, and I objected to my mother.  I said, “I don’t think they should tell us any bad news on Christmas.”  She replied, “You think we should pretend there is no bad news for one day?” Yes!  I do want to play pretend!  But…