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.

“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.

“The Hope of Advent” by Brenda Seat

Image of black hole with a blue center, surrounded by starsDecember 15, 2019

The Third Sunday of Advent

After mission group last Wednesday night, I drove Deborah to the Silver Spring metro so she could catch her bus home. As we were driving, I told her that growing up, the Sundays leading up to Christmas (I am pretty sure the term Advent was never used) were easy. The first Sunday you got a sermon about the Annunciation, the second Sunday was about Joseph and the journey to Bethlehem, the third Sunday was about the shepherds and the choir of angels and the fourth Sunday was about the birth of Jesus and even the Wise Men might get squeezed into that already crowded barn, because more is always better, right? It was simple, straightforward, and hit all the important stuff. After I finished saying all that there was a pregnant silence and then Deborah said, Yeah, that was Baptist Advent, not Liturgical Advent.

So you are spared a sermon about the shepherds watching their flock by night and instead we have Isaiah waxing eloquent about deserts blooming and the lame leaping and the mute shouting for joy; the Psalmist reminds us that God executes justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry and sets prisoners free; the Epistle tells us that we must be patient; and in our Gospel, John the Baptist is in prison and sends word to Jesus asking, Are you the one or should we wait for another?

A Service in the Style of Taizé for Advent 2019

Image of black hole with a blue center, surrounded by starsDecember 8, 2019

The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Several times each year, Seekers Church takes time out from its regular preaching schedule for a service of chant, prayer and reflection modeled on the worship of the Taizé Community in France. This Sunday was one such time. Repeating the chants together until they die away into the silence provides rest for our world-weary spirits as well as an opportunity for individual reflection on our faith journeys. This time, as we joined in spirit with the monks at Taizé, we were nourished by their faithfulness as well as by their music and accompanied by the sounds of recorders played by Liz, Jacqie, and some of their friends.