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

Turn Around

December 9, 2018
Luke 1:68-79  Luke 3:1-6     2ndSunday in Advent   Our Gospel reading this morning begins with a list of the top seven people in “Who’s Who in the world of the rich and powerful.”  While names like Tiberius and Lysanias are not on the tips of our tongues, their mention would evoke a strong response from those under their rule.  These leaders were people of power and privilege who shaped the political, economic and religious landscape. These were very important people! Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip, Lysanias, Annas and Caiaphas were busy reinforcing systems that kept them exactly where…

Focus, People! Focus!

December 2, 2018
Luke 21:25-36     First Sunday of Advent     December 2, 2018   I love Advent!  Do you know why?  It’s because now is when we are most weird, compared with what’s going on outside the liturgical world.  Out there, more than a month ago, as soon as the Halloween displays came down, the Christmas displays went up.  Thanksgiving – Thanksgiving! – is now nothing more than a break of six or seven hours, until the stores open at 2:00 in the afternoon to get a jump on “Black Friday.”  And now, what will you and I be up to, if…

What Is Truth?

November 25, 2018
John 18:33-37 Lectionary 25 Christ the King Sunday “What is truth?” Pilate asked.  Every time I hear this question, I think of Jack Nicholson on the witness stand, in the movie A Few Good Men, emphatically saying, “You want the truth?  You can’t handle the truth.” That’s true for all of at one time or another. What is truth?  Do you know?  For certain? Webster’s defines it as that which is in accordance with fact.  But what we are certain is true today may be found not to be tomorrow.  There was a time when It was a fact…

Is This The End? Is This God’s Deliverance?

November 18, 2018
Daniel 12:1-3; Mark 13:1-8     Pentecost 26     Lectionary 33     November 18, 2018   We look for God to end the world.  Soon!  God’s promises to do that are good news!  We can’t wait for it to happen!  We yearn for Christ to “come to judge the living and the dead,”[1] because that will bring in the new heaven and the new earth! That is how to understand the writings in the Bible that are called “apocalyptic.” “The apocalyptic books report mysterious revelations that are mediated by angels and disclose a supernatural world.  They…often [include] cosmic transformation and always involve…

Blessed Are the Poor

November 11, 2018
Matthew 12:38-44 Lectionary 32 ~ Pentecost 25   We have had a couple weeks of horror, and I am not referring to the midterm elections.  In Thousand Oaks, California, only days after the killing of thirteen people, raging wildfires in that same area drove people from their homes.  A couple of weeks ago, after finding the doors of predominantly black church locked, a gunman killed two African Americans at a nearby Kroger.  In Pittsburgh, on October 27, 11 Jewish people were murdered while in their house of worship, Tree of Life Congregation. The shooter, Robert Bowers, was injured, and taken…

Baptized Into a New Heaven and a New Earth

November 4, 2018
Isaiah 25:6-9; Revelation 21:1-6; John 11:32-44 All Saints’ Sunday     November 4, 2018   “Jesus began to weep.”  Is this the single most moving verse in all the Bible?  How good it is to have this morning’s gospel reading for All Saints’ Sunday – to be reminded that, in Jesus, God is with us, intimately; weeping with us when a loved one dies. You may remember the entire story, in the 11th chapter of the gospel of John.  Jesus is especially close friends with two sisters and a brother: Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.  In their company, Jesus can relax. …

Baptized Into Christ’s Community of Servants

October 21, 2018
Mark 10:35-45     Lectionary 29     Pentecost 22     October 21, 2018   It was 1943.  General George C. Marshall very much wanted to command the Allied armies that would invade Nazi-occupied France in 1944.  But he would not put himself forward for the job.  President Franklin Roosevelt was trying to decide who should be the commanding general for the invasion that would be known as D-Day.  According to David Brooks, Roosevelt sent his adviser, Harry Hopkins, “to gauge Marshall’s feelings about the appointment.  Marshall would not be drawn in.  He told Hopkins that he had served with honor.  He would…

A Generous God

October 14, 2018
Mark 19:17-31  Lectionary 28 ~ Pentecost 21 In case you have not noticed, we are a generous congregation! This year, we donated over 200 pairs of sneakers to children so that they could begin the new school year without the embarrassment of wearing worn out shoes that don’t fit.  As a result of our scholarship money given to our Preschool, a child has been afforded the chance to form healthy relationships with teachers and other children, and to engage in learning that provides foundational skills needed to grow.  We have funded education for young people in Africa through Godparents for…

When We Cannot Do What Jesus Teaches Us To Do

October 7, 2018
Mark 10:2-16     Lectionary 27     Pentecost 20     October 7, 2018   The topic for this sermon occurred to me on the morning after an evening at the brewery![1]  It happened during my Wednesday morning bicycle ride.  I get out on my bike as the sun is rising several times a week, and during my Wednesday ride, a sermon often comes together in my mind.  By Wednesday, I’ve done the commentary reading.  I’ve put together an outline (that I’m usually not very happy with).  On Wednesday morning, pedaling, I’m not trying to force anything.  I’m listening for the point of…