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

“What Are You Looking For?” “Come and See.”

January 15, 2017
John 1:29-42     Second Sunday after Epiphany     January 15, 2017   “What are you looking for?”  Do you remember Jesus asking that question, in this morning’s story from John?  It’s an important question! We’re in the first chapter of the gospel of John.  John is so different from Mark, Matthew and Luke!  Mark was the first gospel written, and the authors of Matthew and Luke used Mark as a template, adding material that they knew from their own traditions.  But John, composed at least a generation later, features an entirely different structure and chronology.  One glaring difference is…

Word in the Water

January 8, 2017
  Matthew 3:13-17     Baptism of Jesus     January 8, 2017   Do you remember your baptism?  I don’t remember mine, but I do remember the dress I wore.  My parents wanted me to be baptized in a Lutheran church, and so they waited for one to be built in our town.  My sister Karin and I were wearing matching dresses when we were baptized.  She was 12 years old, and I was 8.  Do you remember your baptism? Martin Luther remembered his baptism every morning.  When he washed his face, he would splash the water on his face…

Christ is Born Into Our Violent World

January 1, 2017
Matthew 2:13-23    First Sunday After Christmas    January 1, 2017   According to the Gregorian calendar, today is the first day of a new year.  Of course, according to the liturgical calendar, we’ve  already wished each other “Happy New Year!”  (When was that?  That’s right: the First Sunday of Advent!) Today is a big day for those of us who think we can do better in the future than we’ve done in the past!  Does New Year’s Day bring you a sense of renewal, of new possibilities?  If that is so for you, then this morning’s reading from Matthew…

The Light of Christ in Our Darkness

December 26, 2016
Isaiah 9:2-7      Christmas Eve, 2016   Before we begin the Easter Vigil, we wait until the sun goes down.  It’s dark.  (It’s not as dark as it would have been in Jesus’ tomb, but that’s what comes to mind).  We don’t turn on any electric lights in the worship space.  We begin outside, with a fire pit.  We light the Paschal Candle and begin processing inside, into the darkness of death.  The acolyte holds up the Paschal Candle and the first words we speak into the darkness are, “The light of Christ!” Tonight  we are celebrating the birth of…

The Coming Kingdom of Shalom: Joseph is told in a dream what God is doing in Mary’s Pregnancy

December 18, 2016
 Matthew 1:18-23     Fourth Sunday in Advent   Joseph dreamed of a house with a white picket fence and two camels parked in his garage. Mary was his dream come true, and Joseph asked her to marry him.  He was, as they said in those days, betrothed to her.  To be betrothed was somewhere between an engagement and marriage. People didn’t live together before marriage back then. More binding than an engagement, it could only be broken with an act of divorce.  A betrothed woman who became pregnant was seen as an adulteress.  And that is what happened to Joseph’s…

The Coming Kingdom of Shalom:  God’s Peaceful Cosmic Order

December 5, 2016
Isaiah 11:1-10, Matthew 3:1-12 Advent 2 Our theme on this second Sunday of Advent is peace. What has disturbed your peace?   For many, if not all, our culture of fear and recent acts of hatred impact peace. Peace is broken by our experience of violence, not only against ourselves, but also against neighbor. The peace of shalom means more than just the absence of war or hostility or fear.  The peace of shalom means wholeness, harmony and well-being.  What disrupts your peace? Gerald Holtom’s peace was disturbed by nuclear armament. In 1958, he designed his peace sign from a…

The Coming Kingdom of Shalom: The End of War

November 27, 2016
Isaiah 2:1-5     First Sunday in Advent     November 27, 2016   We watch for Jesus, the Prince of Peace.  We pray for the end of war.  Does God exercise judgment on us, as a nation, for our sins, before peace is possible?  One of our greatest presidents thought so.  He was speaking about the sin of slavery.  On March 4, 1865, during the fifth year of Civil War, in his second inaugural address, President Abraham Lincoln spoke some words of theology that are entirely true to the Biblical witness of what God is like. Lincoln began by…

Jesus, Why Don’t You Save Yourself?

November 20, 2016
Luke 23:33-43 Christ the King Sunday   Police in Portland declared a riot after demonstrators were seen attacking drivers and committing acts of vandalism.  A swastika was carved into the metal of a towel dispenser in a bathroom at the College of William and Mary.   Police in Ann Arbor were investigating reports that a man approached a Muslim student and threatened to set her on fire with a lighter. Are you weary?  I am.  My reserves are exhausted from the multitude of reports of hateful behavior.  I cannot imagine how those who are marginalized feel.   I was born into…

God Is in Charge — Which in the Bible, Often Means That Things Do Not Go Well in the Short Run

November 13, 2016
  Luke 21:5-19    Lectionary 33 in Ordinary Time; 26th Sunday after Pentecost     November 13, 2016   Before the election, I put a tongue-in-cheek political post on facebook.  (Tongue-in-cheek humor is always a dangerous thing.  The danger is that people will take it seriously!)  I posted that we really had to decide which vice presidential candidate we liked, because either presidential candidate would be impeached and thrown out of office.  (Heh, heh, get it?)  Many folks replied with humor, clicking on that “laugh out loud” face thingie.  But then, there were people who replied seriously.  One wonderful…