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

The Grace of Forgiveness. The Demand of Forgiveness. The Transformation of Our Hearts.

September 17, 2017
Matthew 18:21-35     Lectionary 24     Pentecost 15     September 17, 2017   You and I are saints.  We begin with this. God has made us saints because Jesus the Christ rose from the dead to “[redeem] us from death and the devil, and [to give] eternal salvation to all who believe it.[1]  You and I are saints because we have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection. But, also, and at the same time, we are sinners.  We are sinners, every day, all the way through our human lives.   This “both and” is one reason why Lutheran theology describes…

Making The First Move Towards Reconciliation

September 10, 2017
Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20     Lectionary 23     Pentecost 14     September 10, 2017   “God is love.”[1]  Who here agrees with that? “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.’...‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”[2]  Who here agrees that “on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”?  That’s good!  That means you agree with Jesus!  (And, not only Jesus, but also with the Jewish Biblical scholars who taught him.)  In fact, Paul writes something very similar, in his letter to the Jesus…

How to Save Your Life

September 3, 2017
Romans 12:1-8   Matthew 16:24-28     Lectionary 22   13th Sunday after Pentecost At the advanced age of four, an intelligent young man who has exceptional grandparents rode a Busch Gardens roller coaster for the first time.  As the coaster climbed the hill to its crest, and then immediately plummeted, Jonathan screamed, “Help! Somebody save me!” I imagine that’s how Jesus’ disciple Peter felt.  It wasn’t that long ago that he and his brother Andrew were casting nets into the sea. Jesus walked by and “said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.  Immediately they left their…

Who Do You Say That I Am?

August 27, 2017
Matthew 16:13-20 12th Sunday After Pentecost ~ Lectionary 21 Who is Jesus?  The answer to this question depends upon when, where and whom you ask.  Your 10-year old self will answer differently than your 45-year old sel.  Someone in Tanzania may answer in a way unlike someone from London or New York, or Williamsburg.  For Muslims, Jesus is one of the greatest messengers of God.  Jews have respect for Jesus, but do not view him as the son of God.  Some people say Jesus was a good teacher, or simply a moral person. When Jesus asked his disciples this…

Becoming Radically Open in God’s Love

August 20, 2017
Matthew 15:10-28     Lectionary 20     Pentecost 11     August 20, 2017   We are called to love those we do not even like.  This is crucially important at this moment in our nation’s history.  It’s easy to love those who love us back!  It’s not hard to love those who have the same political and social beliefs as we do.  But as followers of Jesus, in our words and in our actions, we are called to love those we do not like. To a degree, that’s what we do when we gather as church!  It’s not that we don’t…

Faith and Fear

August 13, 2017
Matthew 14:22-33    10th Sunday after Pentecost – Lectionary 19 Yesterday, Charlottesville, VA was filled with fear.  The alt-right community, which is a white supremacist, neo-Nazi community, protested the removal of the statue of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  Clergy, members of Black Lives Matter, along with others, gathered there to counter-protest, to confront, racism.  The event turned violent and deadly.  The pinnacle of violence, as of the time I am writing this, occurred when three cars plowed into a group of peaceful counter-protestors, and one driver then backed up, injuring more people.  One person has died from this…

Our Hunger and The World’s Hunger and How God Feeds Us

August 6, 2017
Matthew 14:13-21     Lectionary 18     Pentecost 9      August 6, 2017   Jesus is devastated.  He has just learned that John the Baptizer has been executed by King Herod. Do some of you remember who  John the Baptizer is?  He’s the one who baptized Jesus into his movement of renewal and trouble-making for the religious and political powers-that-be.  His ending was gruesome.  The story is told in the 12 verses just before this morning’s reading.  It’s a story full of intrigue and betrayal – and you really need to read it.  Here’s how the story ends: during a night…

Neither Life Nor Death

July 30, 2017
Romans 8:26-39   Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52 Lectionary 17 ~ 8th Sunday after Pentecost  If you were to design and create your own kingdom of heaven, what would it look like?  Would there be crystal blue oceans and diamond like sand?  Would mountains be made especially for hiking?  Would cookies always be served warm?  And would cats really be necessary?[1] We have, over the past weeks, heard parables about the kingdom of heaven, to use Matthew’s terminology.  This kingdom has seeds falling all over the place—on rocky ground, on dry, sun-bleached earth, in the middle of thorns, and some fell…

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…