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

Jesus, the Optometrist

September 25, 2016
  Luke 16:19-31 Lectionary 26 in Ordinary Time  19th Sunday after Pentecost September 25, 2016 I have a friend named Jane who collects prints and figurines of roosters.  When she told me she does this, I thought how hard they would be to find.  I had not seen any anywhere.  Well, maybe one or two.  But once they were brought to my attention, I started noticing roosters.  Do you know how many there are once you can see them?  (This is going to be like a song stuck in your head.  Now you, too, will start seeing them everywhere! …

Turning Away, and then Re-turning

September 11, 2016
Exodus 32:7-14; Luke 15:1-10      Lectionary 24 in Ordinary Time; 17th Sunday after Pentecost     September 11, 2016   All human beings hunger for God.  Many human beings do not know that it is God who they are hungering for!  It’s a hunger for something that is deeper than the surface, something indefinable.  Some who don’t know who they are hungering for will try to cover up the hunger, losing themselves in drugs or alcohol or sex.  Some, who engage in hours of intense exercise, are trying to outdistance the hunger.  Some will try to satisfy the hunger…

Choose Life

September 4, 2016
  Deuteronomy 30:15-20   Luke 14:25-33  Lectionary 22   15th Sunday after Pentecost   They had gathered to study God’s word and to discern the Holy Spirit’s working in their lives. This group of African-Americans welcomed into the holy space of their lives a young white man.  Before the night was out, nine of them would be shot by this stranger to whom they had shown hospitality.  It was a little over a year ago that this mass shooting took place at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church, the oldest black church in the south. At the accused gunman’s first court appearance,…

Following Jesus With Healthy Humility

August 28, 2016
Proverbs 25:6-7; Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16; Luke 14:1, 7-14  Lectionary 22 in Ordinary Time; 15th Sunday after Pentecost     August 28, 2016   Do we talk about humility enough?  All three of this morning’s readings point to an important gift of the Spirit: the virtue of healthy humility. If you practice humility, you run counter to our culture of self-promotion, in which celebrity is the point. Humility is not humiliation.  Healthy humility is not self-abasement.  It’s not false modesty.  You are healthy in your humility when you claim your strengths, those things you’re good at, but not for the…

Sabbath Practice: The Ground From Which We Act to Heal the World

August 21, 2016
  Isaiah 58:9b-14; Luke 13:10-17      Lectionary 21 in Ordinary Time; 14th Sunday after Pentecost     August 21, 2016   The preacher is supposed to prepare with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.[1]  (Yes, this is an iPad.  I read the newspaper on my iPad!)  In addition, on any particular week, the preacher works with the appointed Scripture out of his or her own life story.  So let’s go with this a little bit. The theme of this morning’s readings, from Isaiah and Luke, is sabbath practice.  It’s based on the Third Commandment:…

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

August 14, 2016
Jeremiah 23:23-29     Luke 12:49-56 Lectionary 20 in Ordinary Time;  13th Sunday after Pentecost People lie.  When we talk about lies, what first comes to my mind, and I would guess yours, too, is politicians.  But we all lie. I do.  You do.  We tell ourselves things like, “I have to be perfect.”  “My worth is determined by my work, by my finances, by my friends.”  “I don’t judge people.”[1]  We might not recognize these as untruths, but they are.  Don’t believe everything you think. Some lies are more dangerous than others.  Some lies have enough truth that they are…

Don’t Be Distracted! Watch for the Kingdom

August 7, 2016
Luke 12:32-40     Lectionary 19 in Ordinary Time; 12th Sunday after Pentecost     August 7, 2016   Patty and I were at the beach two weeks ago, with our extended family.  One of the few things I like about being at the beach is sharing a bedroom with our grandchildren.  Abby and Caleb are five, and we enjoyed being in the same room as they wake up, very slowly.  One or both of them would climb into bed with us, just to lie quietly for a while before starting the day. One morning, that start to the day…

Thank You!

August 1, 2016
Luke 12:13-21 Lectionary 18 in Ordinary Time; 11th Sunday after Pentecost What do you have more of in your home than perhaps you should?  Perchance you have reading glasses lying around in various places because they tend to walk off in the dark of night.  I tend to stock up on some things, including paper products.  They don’t walk off, but I don’t want to run out at an inopportune time.  Costco and Sam’s Club can be dangerous places for people like me. At the heart of my problem is fear.  I have a fear of running out of…

What Do We Pray For? What Do We Need?

July 25, 2016
Luke 11:1-13     Lectionary 17 in Ordinary Time; 10th Sunday after Pentecost      July 24, 2016    What do you pray for?  What do you need? If you are of my vintage, you remember one of Janis Joplin’s songs: Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz? My friends all drive Porches, I must make amends. Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends, So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz? What do you pray for?  What do you need?  I’m paying attention to that word, “need,” because my colleague, Rachel Hebert (who’s…