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

Finding Jesus

January 20, 2020
John 1:29-42     Second Sunday after Epiphany It’s not often that I get out into stores, but a friend and I made plans to have lunch together at a restaurant that was part of a large shop.  I arrived five minutes early, and suspected that my friend would arrive five minutes late. The facilities were design such that in order to get to the restaurant, you must walk through sections of things available for purchase.  I’ve heard that IKEA is designed this way, too.  In this store, you must walk through the displays of seasonal items, quite attractively arranged. Then…

Word Made Flesh

January 5, 2020
  John 1:1-20     Second Sunday of Christmas Our reading of the birth narrative this morning doesn’t tell of a compassionate innkeeper or smelly sheep and shepherds.  In fact, you can hunt John’s gospel for the Virgin Mother Mary or a carpenter named Joseph, and you won’t find them.  Instead, on this second Sunday of the Christmas season, we hear:  In the beginning was the Word, Do you hear the echo of those first words in the book of Genesis?  In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth…In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was…

Christmas Gifts

December 25, 2019
Luke 2:1-20     Christmas Eve   Are you ready for Christmas?  Amazon and FedX have been doing their best to help!  You can have this year’s hottest Christmas gifts delivered to your door within 24 hours. (Those of you who haven’t gotten presents yet – see what gas stations are open.) This year, the best-selling presents for children include a Baby Shark Song Puppet with Tempo Control, a “Frozen 2” Elsa doll, and the gaming system Nintendo Switch Lite. I remember when my children so desperately wanted Cabbage Patch Dolls.  They were sold out everywhere, and I struggled with every…

What Did You Expect?

December 16, 2019
Isaiah 35:1-10, Matthew 11:2-11     Third Sunday of Advent John leapt in his mother’s womb when he heard Jesus’ mother’s voice.  He called people to a life of repentance.  John the Baptizer is the one who announced Jesus’ coming from the vastness of the wilderness. John was a truth-teller.  He told the king a truth he did not want to face. John condemned King Herod’s divorce from his wife to marry Herodias, his brother’s wife.  John confronted King Herod about his illicit marriage. John, confined and captive, now had questions.  He needed to know.  From his jail cell, he sent…

John, Judgment and Jesus

December 8, 2019
  Matthew 3:1-12     Second Sunday of Advent   We are busy this time of year! Has your credit card melted yet? Buying presents,  then wrapping them, making our plans to travel, or getting ready to host house guests, parties and baking butter cookies and cookies with chocolate and nuts—there is a lot we try to accomplish before December 25!  What’s on your to-do list? What things do you push yourself to get finished before Christmas?  We do all this hoping for a picture-perfect Christmas. What would make this a memorable Christmas for you? Interrupting our own ideas and visions…

Sleeping at Night

December 1, 2019
Sleeping at Night Matthew 24:36-44    First Sunday of Advent It is tradition in many homes on Thanksgiving Day for each person around the dinner table to name the blessings for which they are most grateful. What did you give thanks for this past Thanksgiving Day?  Perhaps this Thanksgiving Day interrupted your Christmas shopping; Black Friday sales are now taking place every day for weeks.  Our culture says this is the Christmas season, but in the church, it is Advent.  Our society paints this as a joyful time of year. Our church readings are ominous. Society’s portrayal of our lives…

Tricky Question

November 10, 2019
Luke 20:27-38 Lectionary 31 There is nothing simple about this story.  The relationship between Jesus and the Sadducees, marriage, Jewish law, and resurrection, --all of these are complicated, and all of them are integral to our gospel reading this morning. The Sadducees were priests who had power and influence. They kept company with others who had power and could enhance theirs.  They benefitted from the current system.  It was in their self-interest to maintain the status quo. Jesus, on the other hand, challenged and disrupted those systems that kept people oppressed, and preyed on the vulnerable.  The last shall…

Sinner and Holy

October 27, 2019
  Romans 3:19-28  John 8:31-36 October 27, 2019  Reformation Sunday   You will know the truth, Jesus says.  Was truth as muddy and confusing then as it is now?  Postmodernism rejects universal truths.  We question everything, and for good reason. Facts seem to change.  Pluto was a full- fledged planet.  Now demoted to a dwarf planet. I had learned that there were three states of matter, solid, liquid and gas.  Then plasma was discovered, and now there are four.  Eggs were good for you, then they weren’t, now they are. Don’t even get me started on the dinosaur brontosaurus. …

Assumptions

October 20, 2019
Luke 18:1-8 Lectionary 29    19th Sunday after Pentecost   How did you hear this story?  What characteristics did you ascribe to the judge?  How about the widow?  What things were we actually told about the judge, and about the widow?  Sometimes, our brain takes perceived information and turns it into “facts.” To illustrate this, I am sharing a story, which you may have already heard, but listen again. Standing in line to check out at the store was a young mother, Susie, with her toddler. Behind her was a well-dressed couple.  In front of her was a woman struggling…