Sermon: Proper 12 RCL C – “Teach Us to Pray”

In Mt. Vernon, Texas, Drummond’s Bar began construction on expansion of their building to increase their business.  In response, one of the local churches started a campaign to block the bar from expanding with petitions and prayers.  Work progressed right up until the week before the grand reopening when lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground.  Afterwards, the church folks were rather smug in their outlook, bragging about “the power of prayer,” until the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that the church “was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building, either through direct or indirect actions or means.”  In its reply to the court, the church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building’s demise.  The judge read through the plaintiff’s complaint and the defendant’s reply and at the opening hearing he commented, Continue reading “Sermon: Proper 12 RCL C – “Teach Us to Pray””

Sermon: Mary Magdalene

I do enjoy reading. I’ve got my theology books that keep me company, but when it comes to relaxing, I’m all about the fiction. I particularly like how the authors develop and describe the characters.

J.K. Rowling described Harry Potter: “Harry had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair, and bright green eyes. He wore round glasses held together with a lot of Scotch tape because of all the times Dudley had punched him on the nose. The only thing Harry liked about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead that was shaped like a bolt of lightning.” In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (not that I would ever read such a book!), Stieg Larson described Lisbeth Salander as “an information junkie with a delinquent child’s take on morals and ethics.” Continue reading “Sermon: Mary Magdalene”

Sermon: Proper 11 RCL C – “Stop Moving”

True story: In the early 1950’s an upholsterer from San Francisco was called into a doctor’s office to reupholster the chairs in the waiting room. As he discussed the chairs and options with the doctor, he said, “People don’t wear out chairs this way.” The problem: it was just the front edge of the chairs that were worn. Further back in the seat was just fine. Five years later, the same problem appeared.

It was in 1959 that Drs. Friedman and Rosenman began to put the pieces together. They had noticed an odd pattern shared by many of their patients, a pattern that centered on a “chronic sense of time urgency.” Patients showed irritability at being made to wait in line, had difficulty relaxing, and were anxious over delays. Obsessed with not wasting a moment, they spoke quickly, interrupted often, hurried those around them, and were forever rushing. Hence the waiting room chairs: the patients sat on the edge of their seats, nervously fidgeting at the arms of the chairs as they watched time tick by. Continue reading “Sermon: Proper 11 RCL C – “Stop Moving””

Funerals and Names

I stopped keeping track of the number of funerals that I have presided over when it reached 100.  The youngest was age 4 and the oldest was 101.  Some had their lives taken from them, others took their own lives, and some lived full lives.  I have been present at the time of death on a number occasions.  I have sat quietly praying next to the deceased in emergency rooms, hospital rooms, nursing homes, private homes, in a garage – wherever they lie in the end.  It sometimes bothers me that I can’t remember all their names.  It seems I should.

May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Amen.

Sermon: Proper 10 RCL C – “Neighbors”

The audio version of the sermon can be found here.

You won’t like this story. You may even get mad at me for telling it:

There were two great rivals, both lovers of art and literature, Jerome and Sasha.  One day, while going through an antique shop, Jerome came across what he thought to be an authentic genie’s lamp, so paying for it he took it home.  After hiding himself in his office he began to rub the lamp and call to the genie.  Amazingly enough, after just a few moments a cloud of smoke billowed out of the spout and in the center of the cloud was a genie.  Jerome was elated.  The genie said to him, “I am here to grant you three wishes, but there is a catch, for everything I do for you, I will do twice for your greatest rival Sasha.”  Jerome thinks for a while and then says, “Fine.  For my first wish I would like to have an enormous house and in it the greatest collection of art in the world.”   The genie gives a nod and a wink and poof, all the great masterpieces are suddenly Jerome’s.”  A moment later the phone rings, it is Sasha. Continue reading “Sermon: Proper 10 RCL C – “Neighbors””

Stop Talking… Do!

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

We are laying down our lives, but it is not for love. It is for hate. It is for pride. It is for fear. It is for…. But it is not for love.

I am not so naïve as to think, “All we need is love.” We live in a fallen world, so not all have the capacity or even the desire to love, but for those who do… love. Not some happy clappy Valentine’s Day card love, but the kind of love that causes your soul to ache. The kind of love that has faith. The kind of radical love that brings you to lay down your life for another.

Please note: You do not get to choose who you will and will not love! Love.

Go and DO likewise.

Stop talking.

Do.

Sermon: Simple

She had watched her husband bite his fingernails for years and even though it did her no harm, it made her crazy. She tried all sorts of remedies to get him to stop – wearing gloves, getting a manicure, foul tasting fingernail polish, yelling and screaming – but nothing worked. Given to such trials, she would often complain to her friends, but one day she happily reported: “I’ve cured my husband of biting his nails.”

The friend asked, “How did you manage to do that?” Continue reading “Sermon: Simple”

Sermon: Proper 9 RCL C – “Authentic Sign”

The Audio of the sermon can be found here.

A young woman was filling out an application to attend a very prestigious business school. After completing the normal name, address, social security number questions she began working her way through the essay questions. “Describe the most difficult situation you have had to overcome.” “Describe your method of problem solving.” All of these came with the directions, “Answer in less than 250 words;” however there was one question that she couldn’t come up with a good answer. She avoided it until the end, but finally had to tackle it: “Are you a leader?” Being both honest and conscientious, she eventually wrote one word for her 250 word answer: “Are you a leader?” “No.” She returned the application, expecting the worst. To her surprise, she received this letter from the college: “Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower.” Continue reading “Sermon: Proper 9 RCL C – “Authentic Sign””