Sermons

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.

“Remembering Fred Taylor” by Marjory Bankson

Fish and anchor inscription from catacomb of St Priscilla (Rome)
Fish and anchor inscription
from catacomb of St Priscilla (Rome)

January 19, 2020

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Yesterday, there was a fine memorial service for Fred Taylor at St. Marks Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill. We will not try to repeat that here. The first Washington Post obituary, which is posted on the bulletin board in the hallway, made much of his role as Executive Director of FLOC (For Love of Children), but it made no mention of Seekers, and there was barely a mention of Church of the Saviour, so I will try to fill in some of those details. A second obituary did mention that he “co-pastored Seekers.” That’s the story I want to share with you today.

Starting with our practice of sharing the worship leadership every Sunday, Fred had a profound influence on who we are today. In Fred’s own words, from his book Roll Away the Stone, FLOC began with prayer: One of the clergy at Selma was Gordon Cosby, founder of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washingotn, DC. When he returned from Selma, he committed an hour a day to meditate on both the Bible and the newspaper in order to discern a direction for himself in the freedom movement. (p. 100)

“Songs of Time and Space” by the Time and Space Mission Group

Fish and anchor inscription from catacomb of St Priscilla (Rome)
Fish and anchor inscription
from catacomb of St Priscilla (Rome)

January 12, 2020

The First Sunday after the Epiphany

We believe that the Holy One continues to speak to us, and that sharing what we have heard with one another enriches our common understanding of the divine voice. In this season between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday, Celebration Circle has invited several of the Seekers mission groups to share their sense of call and ministry. Last week, we heard from Kolya on behalf of the new Earth and Spirit mission group. Today, the Time and Space mission group has offered to preach.

Time and Space grew out of Seekers’ decision to buy and renovate this building. The conversation about moving from the Church of the Saviour headquarters near Dupont Circle—commonly referred to “2025” from its address on Massachusetts Avenue—to a building of our own started around 1996 with Gordon’s insistence that all of the CofS communities should separately incorporate. After several years of searching, we bought this run-down, unloved building, hired an architect, and our friends at Manna’s for-profit affiliate, Providence Construction, agreed to serve as general contractor. Over the next two years, Peter, Keith, Glen, and I met with the project supervisor every Friday morning at 7am to help keep the long, complicated renovation process on track. Finally, on June 20, 2004, the whole congregation gathered to bless our new home here at 276 Carroll Street NW.

“Epiphanies Everywhere” by Kolya Braun-Greiner

Fish and anchor inscription from catacomb of St Priscilla (Rome)
Fish and anchor inscription
from catacomb of St Priscilla (Rome)

January 5, 2020

Epiphany [observed]

We celebrate Epiphany today, the 12th day of Christmas commemorating when Magi, wise ones or astrologers “observed the star and came in search of the child to worship him.” There is no common agreement as to the true meaning of the Magi – suffice it to say they had a deep wisdom that discerned this sign of the cosmos, the star, as a sign that Christ had become incarnate in the world in the birth of Jesus.  The occasion of their arrival and inquiries around Jerusalem were so spiritually and politically threatening that Herod gathered all spiritual leaders of the city to interrogate them about the place foretold of Christ’s birth. He then connived a way to discover the exact location of the Christ child by directing the wise ones to inform him where they found the baby.

I want to focus on the Magi’s capacity for discerning the signs of the natural world as epiphanies of a spiritual reality that offers a model for a kind of spiritual practice as we move in the world.

Epiphanies can be harbingers of news that is either frightening and full of doom or inspiring and full of hope, depending on your perspective.

“Sorrow and Joy” by Elizabeth Gelfeld

December 29, 2019

Christmastide

Years ago when my children were young, I taught the first grade Sunday School class with the Interfaith Families Project, and I told the kids the big stories about the Hebrew people and their God: Creation, Noah and the Ark, Abraham and Sarah, the Exodus, and so on. One year there was a precociously skeptical little boy in my class. After I told the story of, say, Noah’s Ark, he would ask, “Did that really happen?” And I would answer, “I don’t know if these things really happened. But what I do know is that there is so much truth in this story that people are still telling it, thousands of years later.”

The gospel stories about the birth of Jesus include many hard-to-believe elements: visits from angels; babies miraculously born to an elderly couple and to a young virgin; a star that moves across the sky, to name a few.

Today, many scholars consider these stories to be Christian midrash. Midrash refers to a Jewish method of studying sacred scripture. Midrash is a collection of stories and interpretations from Judaism’s long oral history that seeks to fill in the gaps of the biblical story. The purpose is to create understanding, meaning, and application of the scriptures.

“The No-Rehearsal Christmas Pageant” organized by Deborah Sokolove

Image of black hole with a blue center, surrounded by starsDecember 22, 2019

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

This “No-Rehearsal Christmas Pageant” is borrowed from Rev. Dan Harper, who adapted and modified it for use at First Unitarian in New Bedford from Rev. Jory Agate of First Parish in Cambridge, who got it from someone else. This version was modified by Deborah Sokolove for Seekers Church from the Harper version found at https://www.danielharper.org/archive/?p=40, which says that it is in the public domain.

Parts: Mary, Joseph, Caesar Augustus, Herod, Wise Persons, Stable Animals, Star, Angels, Shepherds, Sheep

Places: Nazareth, Bethlehem, Fields, Jerusalem,

The Christmas story is rooted in old, old tales of the winter solstice. In ancient times in Europe, when the solstice came, our distant ancestors sometimes told stories of a miraculous child born to return us to the light. Throughout the world, people tell stories of a child born to a royal family, or to an important and rich family, who would grow up to lead humankind into a time of truth and justice.

The early Christians adapted these stories of miraculous births — but they added a twist to the old stories. Their miraculous child was not the son  of a king, but was merely the son of a carpenter; he was not the son of a wealthy queen, but was instead the son of a woman whose only wealth was her willingness to accept the task. And that Christian story has been told and retold innumerable times since those early Christians first began telling it 18 or 19 hundred years ago.

We are going to recreate the old story of the miraculous birth of Jesus this morning, and like many Christmas pageants, we’ll draw on two early Christian accounts of Jesus’s birth, from the books of Matthew and Luke.

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