Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sermon: Not Worth Waiting For

Mark 5:21-43

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Or download the sermon video.

Date: 06-28-2009
Description: Sermon that asks: What is so important to you that you would not wait, that you would reach out and grab it?...
Sermon : First Congregational, San Francisco

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Philadelphia - womb of the gay rights movement

This weekend is Pride in San Francisco and the anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion. I'll be preaching at First Congregational in San Francisco (Polk and Bush at 11am) and I'll post the sermon. But today I'll send one reminder that most people may not know:
A 1965 gay march held in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, according to some historians, marked the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. It was not Stonewall. In fact the Compton Cafeteria Riots also predate Stonewall.

In honor of the birth place of the gay rights movement I post some videos that I made while I was in Philadelphia recently. Enjoy:

In(dependence Hall):

Liberty Bell:


Sunday, June 21, 2009

The lesson of fear

Mark 4:35-41
What a strange and marvelous passage. On the one had it's a terrible idea to tell people to ignore their bodies and their fears. As humans living in a time when all we have to rely on is our intuition and our need to protect ourselves, we must listen to those voices of fear. Of course, they are not always rational. Sometimes the voices of fear are telling us to take a closer look at ourselves, that we need care, that we are racist and that we have more to learn. Regardless of whether our fear is rooted in truth or bias, we need to listen to them in order to keep ourselves safe and to grow.

In this week's text we have a story of fishermen afraid at sea. They knew when a storm was bad. And anyone who has feared a teacher can imagine the dread and pacing that probably happened for an hour before they had the guts to wake up Jesus, until they were pushed past the point of fear to necessity. At the point that they wake him up, there was nothing else they could have done. And yet, knowing he was their only hope they are still amazing when they get the calm they were seeking.

The sea represents the unfathomable uncontrollable chaos. And for the uncontrollable to be controlled means that sometime extraordinary is happening. Yet, there are moments in our lives when things grow calm unexpectedly, when the person who always lets us down finally gets it right, when we suddenly understand the thing that made no sense for so long.

Today's text is a prayer for those who have a hard time asking for help, for those who have waited too long to transition into the healthier life that has been long waiting, for those who have lived in chaos for too long and for those who are desperately longing for peace and stillness in their lives.

Proper 7B/Ordinary 12B/Pentecost 3

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sermon: Seven - the little thing that makes a big difference

Mark 4:26-34

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Date: 06-14-2009
Description: A sermon about the second two seed parables in the Gospel of Mark. About Welcome's identity crises. What does a homeless ministry do when it helps the homeless move indoors....
Location: University Lutheran, Philadelphia

Monday, June 1, 2009

pastors called to be boring?

Isaiah 6:1-13
“Go and say to this people: ‘Keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep looking, but do not understand.’ 10Make the mind of this people dull, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, so that they may not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and comprehend with their minds, and turn and be healed.”

One of the things I hear the most often when I preach in churches is: "thank you for coming to preach, I feel like someone said something alive for the first time in a long time from that pulpit." I always feel sad from the congregants that say that to me. How many churches are full of pastors who have the same call as the one in Isaiah above? Would we admit it if we did?

Today's text is for all the pastors out there. I don't think you mean to be boring. But, the thing I know is that congregations all over this country keep telling me they are ready for more, to be challanged, to hear the truth, to engage messy issues and to feel like their pastors are passionate about something.

So how to we become less boring when we preach? Don't bore yourself. If you are excited and care about what you are talking about, that is 75% of the battle of a good sermon. Yes, we want to speak to the needs of the congregation. But, if you are preaching the message they need to hear -and never the message you need to hear- then people will not feel engaged, like they are part of a conversation.

The Spirit is a gust of wind that blows through us, it moves and swirls and is passionately alive. She wants to be a part of your sermon, to wake you up and help your congregation grow. Will you let it?