Seekers recognizes that any member of the community may be called upon by God to give us the Word. Our Guidelines for Preaching help us prepare sermons. This section collects for study and reflection drafts of sermons that happen to have been prepared in electronic form. The most recent sermon is on the top of the page.
November 19, 2017
Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Text: Matthew 25: 14-30 the Parable of the Talents
A strange picture of God has emerged from the gospel texts in the past several weeks. At a wedding feast, the “master” expels a guest who isn’t wearing the right clothes. Last week, five foolish virgins are locked out of the wedding festivities because they hadn’t planned well. And this week, a fearful man with only one talent is cast into “utter darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.” On the surface, each of these stories picture God as harsh and unforgiving – an arbitrary and judgmental master.
That image is just the opposite of the compassionate God that Jesus has been preaching about earlier in Matthew. If we take this particular parable literally, the poorest man fares very badly. And in some Christian circles, this parable has been used to justify prosperity-gospel thinking: that the rich deserve to get richer and the poor should literally be punished.
November 12, 2017
Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost
Why Be Polite
When do we live,
When do we stand up to ourselves
When forces rage against authenticity?
When will we hold up mirrors of God’s love,
Reality and fierceness?
Will we become battering rams of freedom
And flags of generosity and peace?
How will we say no to injustice and hurl love letters
Into fires of discrimination, loneliness and platitudes of grandiosity?
No, I will not be polite
When it comes to tamping down my real self,
My real feelings, my real loving.
(Read twice) (2017)
I, for some time now, have been exploring the meaning of shadow, the unconscious, our inner parts, if you will, to understand their nature and value to my life. I seem to be only scratching the surface as it comes to interfacing their meaning and allowing them to help transform my life.
November 5, 2017
Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost
Long, long ago, in a land far, far away … at a time when the anger and fear and frustration around us was less well-developed, I looked at the Scripture for this week and thought the lessons might give me an opportunity to reflect with you on what it might mean to be called by God to speak truth to power. So, I volunteered to bring the Word this morning.
Then, Celebration Circle decided to invite us to focus on All Saints Day, and chose to use the lessons we’ve been reading this week, which include the Beatitudes, but NOT that passage from Matthew about narcistic community leaders. In fact, even though I printed the lectionary for the season, I hadn’t really read what we’d decided for this week until the week began.
As I started working with the ASSIGNED lessons for this week I was immediately struck by the image from Revelation, with the crowd of people all dressed in white: All Saints Day! One thing I immediately wanted to share about was how we are all called to be saints, and what difference that makes in our lives. Then, after the reminder that we are also reflecting on the Beatitudes, I realized that although I needed to let my planned sermon wait. But, the change in focus had given me an opportunity to take a fresh look at one of those parts of the Gospel that I thought I knew … but probably didn’t.
So, I want to start with that image from Revelation about the great multitude that no one could count, from all tribes and peoples and languages: the ones who have come out of the great ordeal and gathered to thank God. Then I can offer some thoughts about the beatitudes, and how they might serve as guides for our journey as members of that multitude.
October 29, 2017
Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost
I’ve had a couple of months to think about what I want to lift up in this sermon and I’ve changed my mind several times. Deborah began her sermon earlier this month with a list of her concerns about some of the bad things happening since Trump became President. It caught my attention. Some additional comments within our mission group, and some of our prayers, have steered me to look for the good news of salvation in our current disheartening context.
I follow Elizabeth in seeing Matthew’s gospel in the context of the exile narrative in Hebrew Scripture. This sermon picks up the exile theme, but differs from Hebrew Scripture in an important way. This sermon is about exile in place, not exile in a foreign land, not much focused on land ownership in general.
I confess I feel alienated from Trump, and have constructed enemy pictures of the people who still support Trump, but I am not about to give up my hopeful vision of the United States. I’m not about to step aside from the challenges Trump poses and moan about my powerlessness. I offer just a taste of my alienation from Trump by drawing upon Aristotle’s Book One of Nichomachean Ethics, a book referenced for the current School of Christian Growth Class on virtue ethics. Aristotle describes a man named Sardanapullus, a man in a high place, as an example of the most vulgar type of men, men who prefer a life suitable to beasts, men who focuses on being entertained as the highest good. I did not do all that was mine to do to stop Trump and I accept some of the guilt for the results. And let me clear. I would have felt guilty in a different way if Hilary Clinton had won.
October 22, 2017
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Hear again the beginning of our reading today from Isaiah:
45:1 Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him– and the gates shall not be closed:
45:2 I will go before you and level the mountains, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron,
45:3 I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
Now I’d like you each to find a partner – the person sitting next to you, or maybe in front of you or behind you. When I say go, talk with your partner about what this phrase might mean: “treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places.” After you’ve all had a couple of minutes to discuss the question, I’m going to ask a few of you to share out.
Some examples from the sharing:
“Making the soil that sustains us.”
“Entering recovery as a tunnel leading to centering prayer.”
“Some people speak easily about deep experience. Others, who are silent, might experience even more deeply.”
“Treasures of ultimate consciousness.”
Darkness itself is a treasure.”