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Give Me a Drink—A Sermon on World Water Day

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Grace and Peace from God our Creator, hope in our Redeemer Jesus the Christ, and the promised gifts of the Holy Spirit are with you, always.

Sometimes, I start sermons by asking everyone to take a deep breath together. Because it’s finals, I’m going to do that. Ready? Inhale, exhale. Good. Again? Inhale, exhale. Good. But because I’ve just read you the approximately 4,000 verses of tonight’s Gospel, within which Jesus had a convoluted conversation about water, I’m also going to ask everyone to take a drink of water. (Note to my dear readers at home: at this point, I literally poured glasses of water for my students. You should get up and get a glass of water, if you can. Stay hydrated!)

As your pastor, attending to a holistic view of your needs--spiritual, mental, emotional, physical--is my job. That’s why we feed you dinner every Wednesday, and keep a bowl full of snacks on the coffee table. It’s why I pray for you, especially during finals week, or when you’ve let me know there’s some…

History is Happening—A Sermon on Abraham, Nicodemus, Jesus, and Us

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Grace and peace from God our Creator, hope in our Redeemer Jesus the Christ, and the promised gifts of the Holy Spirit are with you, always.
Here we are in week 2 of Lent, in week 10 of the quarter. If you’ve been keeping up with a Lenten discipline that involves fasting—giving up meat, perhaps? Coffee? Sugar? Chocolate?—you might be feeling a little...tense. You may be wishing you’d given up finals for Lent.
Whether you're fasting or not, in the season of Lent, we take time to reflect on our sin, our shortcomings, our growing edges, the things we’ve noted in the margins to remember to do differently or better next time. And yet, we do this every year. We know that, over and over, we will need to return to this season of reflection. The new goals we set, the new selves we envision, the patterns we try to unlearn are so precarious that we just pencil in six weeks of “reset” every year. Hey, at least we’re honest.
This self-awareness does not always extend to the collective, though. A…

Fasting From Frenzy

If you read my sermon from last night (aka the previous post) you will not be surprised by the content of this post about my Lenten discipline. 

Like many people do during the season of Lent, I am going to spend the next 40ish days fasting. I am going to be fasting from frenzy. I am going to resist the urge to get whipped into a panic about things that do not merit panic. I am not going to allow poor planning on the part of others to become an emergency on mine.

Oh, and I am going to read more. This likely will not come as a shock to you, unless you are shocked that I can possibly read more than I already do. February was a crazy month during which I told myself I'd have plenty of time to read and then spent approximately none of that time reading. In one respect, I am "behind schedule" on my reading (which sounds like participating in frenzy!) but in another, I am bummed out by how little time I've spent slowed down with my face in a book.

As Lent approaches each year…

Quick and Dirty or Fasting and Dusty—A Sermon on Ash Wednesday

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Grace and peace from God our Creator, hope in our Redeemer Jesus the Christ, and the promised gifts of the Holy Spirit are with you, always.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but, you are dying. Every day, as you live, you also die. Cells are reproducing rapidly, and you’re sloughing off unneeded ones all the while. You inhale deep luscious oxygen, and exhale that which your body does not need, cannot use. In the moments after your every exhale, it could be that you never inhale again. Life and death are like that.

You and I, by most standards, are very young. We have our whole lives ahead of us. We are, God willing, going to live out our full, lengthy, natural lives in freedom and fullness. That is what God desires for us. To talk about our impending death, then, feels jarring. But for those who have lived a long, hard life, it can be a comfort to know that God awaits us beyond this life. And as the great sage Albus Dumbledore once said, “to the well-organized mind, death is but the nex…

#Blessed—An Audience-Participation-Required Sermon on the Beatitudes

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Grace and peace from God our Creator, hope in our Redeemer Jesus the Christ, and the promised gifts of the Holy Spirit are with you, always.

It’s been quite a week in our nation, hasn’t it? Last week, the President signed several Executive Orders that sent vulnerable Americans—and incoming immigrants and refugees—into a state of panic. Many responded in protest. Are your social media feeds full of photos of people swarming airports, or folks urging you to call your representatives in Congress? Americans in opposition to the policies of the new administration have been deeply motivated to engage in our ongoing civic responsibilities. This is encouraging those of us interested in change.

In the last week or so, my social media feeds had more Bible verses strewn across them than any time I can remember. Leviticus 19 made the rounds: “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as you…

Follow and Fish—Another Sermon on Christian Unity, it Turns Out

Grace and peace from God our Creator, hope in our Redeemer, Jesus the Christ, and the promised gifts of the Holy Spirit are with you, always.
Last night, it was Christian Unity Week over at the Newman Center. It’s still Christian Unity Week over here! Don’t worry, I’m not going to preach the same sermon as last night. Well, inasmuch as I am always preaching the same good news of Jesus Christ, I suppose I am going to preach a similar sermon. And, like we talked about two weeks ago, there are some Christian Fundamentals we can tend to. But, as one of my seminary professors often said, “it is a sin to bore people with the gospel.” So! No repeat sermons. No boring—well, hopefully, no boring.

Tonight’s gospel is a classic. “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people,” Jesus says.

I know very little about fishing. I have gone fishing like two times as a child, and was not super into it. I don’t eat fish, and getting to eat what you caught is, apparently, one of the joys of fishing. Lost o…

The Love of Christ Urges Us On—A Sermon on Christian Unity, in Celebration of the Reformation

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Annually, Christian campus ministries at UC Davis gather in celebration of the World Council of Churches' Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This year, the liturgy was penned by the churches in Germany, and themed in honor of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation. As such, I—the Lutheran—was invited to preach to our students.
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Grace and peace from God our Creator, hope in our Redeemer Jesus the Christ, and the promised gifts of the Holy Spirit are with you, always.

It is such a blessing and privilege to speak good news into this room tonight. Gathered together as the body of Christ, one body with many members, many denominations, many expressions of our faith. It is so important to me, personally, and I hope to you, that we do this, at least once a year in this official capacity. It’s important that we stand together to sit together, pray together, sing together, eat cookies together, laugh together—because there are forces in the world around us tha…