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

Master Gardener

July 23, 2017
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 7th Sunday after Pentecost – Lectionary 16 It’s been called the mile-a-minute vine, and other things that I cannot say in church.  Yes, I am talking about Kudzu, the vine that ate the South. It came to the United States through the Japanese government, which had constructed a beautiful plant exhibit for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, and this vine captured the attention of American gardeners.  We can thank our government for the plethora of Kudzu.  During the depression of the 1930’s, hundreds of workers for the Soil Conservation Service planted kudzu for the purpose…

The Word Accomplishing That Which God Purposes

July 16, 2017
Isaiah 55:10-13     Lectionary 15     Pentecost 6     July 16, 2017   During these summer Sunday mornings, I’ve been gathering with folks to explore the morning’s gospel reading.  I’ve asked them to listen, first, while I read the passage.  Then we all follow along with the text, while the passage is read again.  I ask: “What catches your attention?  What seems important?”  We talk about that. Then I try to get to this question before we conclude: “What do you think God is saying to you in that verse that caught your attention?”  That’s a harder question!  A person…

The Yoke That Is Easy. The Burden That Is Light.

July 9, 2017
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30     Lectionary 14     Pentecost 5     July 9, 2017   When has your work been a burden?  When your work is a burden, does God call you to continue doing it? These are a couple of questions that occur to me, from the passage in Matthew this morning.  I’m thinking, particularly, of these words as from Jesus: "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will…

Freedom

July 3, 2017
Romans 6:12-23  Matthew 10:40-42     4th Sunday after Pentecost – Lectionary 13   Americans are celebrating 241 years of freedom this week.  We do it with picnics, fireworks and shopping the sales in stores.  Freedom always comes at a cost, and ours is no different.  One of the many stories from the Revolutionary war is the pivotal battle on Kings Mountain.  Patrick Ferguson led British Loyalists against the Overmountain Men. Ferguson was certain that the trees and rocks on top of the mountain gave him a military advantage.  It’s reported that Ferguson declared that, “he was king of that mountain,…

Where Are You Dying? Where Is God Raising You Up?

June 30, 2017
Romans 6:1b-11     Lectionary 12     Pentecost 3     June 25, 2017   Where are you dying?  Where is God raising you up? Both are true!  Where are you called to die to yourself, knowing that God will raise you up?  This paradox is especially strong in Lutheran teaching.  On this 500th anniversary of the Reformation, it’s one specific of what it means to be Lutheran.  It is rooted in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Listen to these words from our funeral liturgy: “When we were baptized in Christ Jesus, we were baptized into his death.  We were buried therefore…

Holy Hope

June 18, 2017
Romans 5:1-5     Pentecost 2   You can find this sign above the door of a resident’s room in an assisted living community, “This is not the life I ordered.”   There seems to be no end to the different ways that we have experiences we would never want.  Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome altars the lives of those who endure our worst nightmares.  Serious illness, either our own or a loved one’s, challenges our functioning, and even our faith.  Unemployment takes more than a financial toll.  Infidelity, physical and emotional abuse, drug dependency,--the things we suffer can leave us hopeless.  This is…

Dreaming Dreams

June 4, 2017
  Acts 2:1-21, 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13, John 20:19-23     Pentecost Did you ever receive a gift that you did not know what to do with?  Or even a gift that you didn’t know what it is?  Once my father asked me if I could use some parfait dessert glasses that he had received for his birthday.  He said that the gift was very confusing to him.  The glasses had been shipped directly from Neiman Marcus, but from whom?  And why would he want parfait glasses?  The mystery was solved when he received a note from his long-time friend asking him…

We Are Not of This World.  We Are People of Hope, and Patience, and Openness to What God is Doing

May 28, 2017
John 17:1-19     Seventh Sunday of Easter     May 28, 2017   Are you getting ready to begin Ordinary Time?  For you and me who are living in the liturgical world, Ordinary Time comprises about half the year.  It will begin two Sundays from today (on Trinity Sunday, the Sunday after Pentecost), and it will extend until the First Sunday of Advent.  (“Ordinary” probably comes from the word, “ordinal,” and the Sundays after Pentecost are numbered.) The liturgical year causes some folks’ heads to spin!  But here’s why it’s such a great gift to us: because it helps us…

Naming God — Who, Indeed, Is Not Far From Each One of Us

May 21, 2017
Acts 17:22-31     Sixth Sunday of Easter     May 21, 2017   We read one of my all-time favorite Bible stories this morning!  It’s from the Acts of the Apostles.  Did you know that Acts was written by the same author as the gospel of Luke?  In “Part I” – the gospel of Luke – we read stories of Jesus.  In “Part II” – The Acts of the Apostles – we read stories of the first followers of the risen Jesus, beginning to tell the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection. In the early chapters of Acts, Peter…