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 Courage to Do and Say What God Calls You to Do and Say

July 15, 2018
Amos 7:7-15; Mark 6:14-29     Lectionary 15     Pentecost 8     July 15, 2018   A new Congregation Council year begins with the July meeting, so that was this past Tuesday.  We elected officers for the coming year and determined Council liaisons to St. Stephen’s ministry committees.  We also spent time going over why we do what we do and, believe it or not, our congregational constitution has very helpful sections for that orientation!  For instance, chapter four of the constitution addresses: Why do we gather as a congregation?  What are our purposes? Chapter four lists six purposes.  Let me read…

Proclaiming God’s Powerful Love

July 8, 2018
Mark 6:1-13     Lectionary 14     Pentecost 7     July 8, 2018   Look at what’s been happening, in the gospel of Mark.  In the past two chapters, Jesus has been teaching and drawing “a very large crowd.”  Jesus has calmed a storm at sea!  Jesus has cast a demon out of a man who nobody else had ever been able to help!  Jesus has healed a woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years!  Jesus has resuscitated the dead daughter of a leader of the synagogue!  A large crowd has been following him and pressing in on him.[1] Now Jesus…

Hungering and Hoping, in Faith, for Healing

July 1, 2018
Mark 5:21-43     Lectionary 13     Pentecost 6     July 1, 2018   Do you notice the desperation, in this morning’s story in Mark? Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw [Jesus], fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, "My little daughter is at the point of death.  Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live."  Do you hear the anguish?   Some of us in this room have kept vigil at the sides of hospital beds with our children in them.  Some of us…

God of Wind and Waves

June 24, 2018
Job 38:1-11     Mark 4:35-41     Lectionary 12    5thSunday after Pentecost   On that day, our reading begins. That daywas a long one, it was the day Jesus, using parables about seeds and sowers, taught about God’s kingdom.  He spoke to the crowds that had gathered, and then explained the parables more fully to his disciples in private.  It was the end of the day, and Jesus now wanted them to go with him to the other side. He was talking about going across the Sea of Galilee.  This is their first venture into gentile territory, the country of the Gerasenes. There…

Invasive Hope

June 18, 2018
Mark 4:26-34  4thSunday after Pentecost Lectionary 11     Do you remember your high school English class, the one where you learned about allegories and fables?  David Lose, to whom I give great thanks for his guidance with our passage, says that fables and allegories are meant to teach and instruct.  Filtering the mustard seed story through an allegory lens leads us to conclude that our faith starts out small, and when it is tended, it grows.  Approached as a fable, and we learn that God will use our small faith to do big things. These are certainly safe ways to…

Family Ties

June 10, 2018
Genesis 3:8-15   Mark 3:20-35 Pentecost 3 ~ Lectionary 10 I got to hold my baby granddaughter, Haddie, in my arms this week.  As we stared at each other, everything else faded; all we could see was each other.  Then her eyes smiled, and for the first time, she made sweet baby sounds, cooing and gurgling.  As I looked at this beautiful blessing, the words from Genesis ran through my mind--God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them[Genesis 1:27]. So, while I think Haddie Rose looks like me,…

Receiving the Sabbath Gift of Freedom

June 3, 2018
Deuteronomy 5:12-15     Lectionary 9     Pentecost 2     June 3, 2018   My spiritual director said to me, “I think you’re addicted to your work.”  She told me to read Breathing Underwater, by Richard Rohr.  It’s a very helpful book.  Rohr links the journey of faith with the 12 step program of recovery for those addicted to alcohol – because, he asserts, we are all addicted to something.  If it’s not a chemical, physical addiction, then it’s an addiction to an emotional need,  and it’s rooted in fear, and it has us enslaved. So.  Am I enslaved by an addiction…

Like a Cat Trying to Do Calculus

May 27, 2018
John 3:1-17     Holy Trinity Sunday   Today is Holy Trinity Sunday. Since the time of Christ, people have tried to nail down the Trinity, but understanding the Trinity is like getting a cat to figure out integral calculus.[1] Can we ever fully express who God is as Father? Our words fail when we try to convey God as Son, crucified and risen. Try accurately defining the Holy Spirit and you might as well join your cat.[2]  While it is helpful know what we believe, sometimes we limit our view of God by defining God.  Words can never bear God’s fullness. Richard…

Where Does the Spirit Send You, In Hope, Bringing Liberation?

May 20, 2018
  Acts 2:1-21     The Day of Pentecost     May 20, 2018   “Living With Anxiety”  That was the headline for a story on the Richmond Times-Dispatch website.  The American Psychiatric Association conducted a survey.  According the article: “Worries about personal safety topped the list of anxieties, with 36 percent of Americans describing themselves as extremely anxious about ‘keeping myself or my family safe.’ … Financial fears were close behind. … And then there were concerns about health.”[1] According to the article, in each case, when you add the “extremely anxious” and “somewhat anxious” totals together, 67 percent of Americans…