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Showing posts from February, 2013

Wait for the Lord

[A sermon based on Psalm 27 for the Second Sunday in Lent]

The early 17th century scientist Galileo held, contrary to the scientific and religious beliefs of his day, that the earth orbited the sun rather than the other way around. He was forced by the Roman Catholic powers to recant his belief. According to a long-held legend, at some point following that recanting the great scientist muttered, “But it does move,” meaning that regardless of what anyone said, the Earth did in fact orbit the sun. Galileo was right, of course, because facts are facts. Facts are facts no matter what opinions are; facts are facts no matter what appearances are. Anybody can see that the sun comes up in the morning and sets in the evening—only it doesn’t. Anybody with any sense would believe that the Earth is the center of the solar system—only it isn’t.

Psalm 27 opens with some of the surest of all sure facts: “The LORD is my light and my salvation” and “The LORD is the stronghold of my life” alo…

Preaching Toward the Ellipsis

One does not preach for forty years without undergoing some changes in the ways one preaches. At least one shouldn’t.

I have recently noticed a change in the way that I end sermons. I put it that way because I don’t think I planned it.

For thirty-nine or so of my forty preaching years I ended all of my sermons with a period, an exclamation point, or a question mark.

I ended with a period if the sermon closed with a declarative statement. So a Lent sermon ended like this: “On our way to the Cross, let’s remember that it is the Lord Jesus—and not the institution of the church—that we worship, because it is his crucifixion and resurrection that have made all the difference.”

I ended with an exclamation point if the sermon closed with a thought that seemed to call for a little extra emphasis. So a Christmas season sermon ended like this: “Jesus, then, took on our life with all its suffering and pain and struggle—and he did that throughout his life, not just at the end. He did so as…

We Have God to Talk About

In March of 1973, just two months after his first album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. was released, the first major article on Bruce Springsteen was published in Crawdaddy! magazine. Here is an excerpt from the article in which Springsteen is talking about his songwriting.

He had stopped picking, and he looked up and smiled. "It's exciting to me! It's very weird, you know. I'm happy and the music is exciting to me." He looked for an explanation, his eyes glazing over for a moment. "It's like I'll write a song and I'll think back on some of the lines, and they get me off!" He was so pleased a grin almost shone. "As an observor, you know.

"'Cause in my mind, my mind was thinking, 'Hmmm, need something to rhyme with night, need something to rhyme with...all night.' And it works like that; it focuses it in. 'Well, you got the universe to think about but you need something that rhymes with night!'&qu…

Transfiguration and Transformation

(A sermon based on Luke 9:28-36 & 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 for Transfiguration Sunday)

Anne Lamott has written a book about prayer that we all should read; it’s called Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. In a blog post, Lamott noted with appreciation that her book was #9 on last Sunday’s New York Times Advice, How-To, and Miscellaneous Best-Sellers List. She further observed that numbers 1-8 were diet books, number 10 was a recipe book, and numbers 11-15 were also diet books. That’s right—thirteen of the top fifteen books were diet books! Lamott went on to say that she should retitle her book Hips Thighs Waist: Three Essential Diet Tips for Emaciation and Wealth.

It says something about our culture’s obsession with personal transformation, doesn’t it? If we could only change something about ourselves—our weight or our shape, for examples—then we would at least feel better about ourselves and—who knows?—we might even become a better version of ourselves.

There is…