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

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…

How Much Faith Is Enough?

October 6, 2019
Luke 17:5-10 17th Sunday after Pentecost  ~  Lectionary 27  “Moderation is for monks,” my husband says.  “More is better!” is his motto.  This explains the shrubs in my yard are burnt by fertilizer.  Do we ever have enough?  Do we think in terms of and focus more on scarcity than we do abundance?  Do we wrestle with deficits instead recognizing gifts?  How often do we feel inadequate?  Couldn’t we benefit from more?  Perhaps we could profit from a better ability to speak in public, greater engagement with other people, more knowledge, or greater faith. Today we hear the disciples…

Angels Among Us

September 29, 2019
  Daniel 10:10-14; 12:1-3   Revelation 12:7-12   Luke 10:17-20 St. Michael and All Angels   Are angels real?  A Google search for “angels” turns up pages of entries for the Los Angeles baseball team Angels.  (They have a zero percent chance to win the World Series this year.)  Are angels real? Amazon Alexa won’t commit.  My seminary professor for theology did not believe in angels.  When class got a bit too intense, asking him a question about angels provided a distraction, and often some comic relief. We talk about angels frequently. This is especially true when we speak of children. …

The Dishonest Steward

September 22, 2019
Luke 16:1-13     Lectionary 25   15th Sunday after Pentecost Do I look like I’ve been through a wrestling match?  Is my hip out of place like Jacob’s?  Our reading from Luke this morning challenges even scholars.  It’s been said that this passage “poses significant theological challenges,” and “is difficult to read and difficult to preach.”  One commentary read, “It is no exaggeration to say that the parable’s meaning has stumped even the best and most creative interpreters of Scripture.”  *Someone* even questioned God’s sense of humor. Had I been wiser, Pastor Wertz would have been here and preached this week instead…

Choose Life

September 8, 2019
Deuteronomy 30:15-20     Luke 14:25-33     13th Sunday after Pentecost   We are faced with choices every day.  Some choices, such as which cereal to buy, are relatively inconsequential.  The college we attend, and what major we choose have more impact on our lives.  Choosing to have a life-partner will change our life in ways we cannot even begin to imagine.  We are faced with literal choices when filling out an Advance Directive for our medical care.  Even in our dying, we have choices. In his book Being Mortal, Atul Gawande explores what it means to live a good life when our…