O. M. G.

Sermon preached on April 3, 2016 at The First Church of Amherst

I wonder how many OMGs have travelled around the globe in the last minute, the last day, or even the last year. More than we can count. I wonder what millennials and the rest of us are thinking about when we/they text this message! Is it a shorthand form of prayer?

I wonder to what these mini-prayers are being addressed, especially by Millennials. I even wonder to what our prayers are being addressed.

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The Challenges of Jesus, Confronting Evil

A sermon for Epiphany 5B – Mark 1:29-39

  Listen to sermon: This sermon was preached 3 years ago. Alas, while the politicians have declared that ISIS has been defeated, conditions on the ground indicate that ISIS has merely gone into hiding. The Canadian military …

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Fishing for Young People Will NOT Save the Church!

A sermon for Epiphany 3B – Mark1:14-20

What I am suggesting is that if we be authentic to who we are; if we play to our many strengths we will continue to be the kind of congregation which is attractive to all ages. Healthy communities are attractive. Communities who know who they are and who they serve are healthy communities. Healthy communities are able to play to their strengths. We don’t need to become what we are not in order to survive. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need to challenge ourselves to be more than we are. It does mean that we need to remain open to the challenges of the world in which we live.

But from time to time, we need to hold up a mirror and celebrate who we are together. Holy Cross is fearfully and wonderfully made. We have so much potential. So many strengths. Yes, there is so much more that we can be.

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Sermon: Us, Evolution, and the Universe

Everyone in this room shares 99% of their DNA with everyone else. And 98.8% with chimps. And 50% with bananas. How can that be? Well, most of our DNA contains instruction on cell reproduction, a process that all living things share. But it’s that 1% that differentiates us- blue eyes and brown, a big nose, a little nose, 5’6” and 6’5”. And 4% of that one per cent is from our Neanderthal cousins. Homo Sapiens who stayed in Africa never met Neanderthal and so have none of that DNA. The rest of us do.

Given these facts, certain questions arise. The first question is: who are we?? What are we??

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Every Christmas is a Thin Place – Christmas Eve Sermon

Christmas, every Christmas is a Thin Place. According to the Irish, a Thin Place is a place where the boundaries between heaven and earth fall away. Every Christmas is a Thin Place where the boundaries between our everyday existence and the reality that we are all part of something so much bigger than ourselves, well these boundaries fade away at Christmas. Thin Places are those precious moments in time when the sacred can be seen in the everyday stuff of life. Christmas with its powerful parables, myths, metaphors, and symbols acts as a giant welcoming Thin Place were the boundaries and veils fall away and we are able to recognize the sacred in ourselves, in one another, and in the world around us. I could go on and on about the power of Thin Places to open us to the reality of the LOVE that we call God. But rather than try to explain how the Christmas stories, parables, myths, metaphors, and symbols create thin places, let me tell you a story designed to create a thin place where together we can see the veil between the scared and the everyday fade away.

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Some Virgins and a Rabbi meet Sophia: a sermon on the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids and Sophia

The parable of the ten, what??? Bridesmaids??? Really, ten bridesmaids, it sounds like the set up for some elaborate joke. Ten bridesmaids were waiting for a bridegroom, they waited so long that they fell asleep! I don’t know, you fill in the rest! I’ve never been much good at telling jokes, I’m more of a storyteller. Part of the fun of a story is the journey itself, but when you tell a joke you have to worry about punch lines. I tend to forget punch lines, or if I do remember them, I usually manage to mess them up and loose the laugh. So, there were these ten bridesmaids waiting for a bridegroom. Five of the bridesmaids were wise and five of the bridesmaids were foolish. The wise bridesmaids brought along some extra oil for their lamps, the foolish bridesmaids did not. Long before the bridegroom arrived all ten of the bridesmaids fell asleep. Yada yada yada!

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For Christ’s Sake! It’s Not About God!

– a sermon on the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25: 14-30

We all know full well that millions and millions are suffering and dying and yet to protect ourselves we bury what has been given to us, because we are afraid of being consumed by the wicked master who will surely banish us into the darkness if we do not keep safe what we have been given. We dare not risk loosing anything at all, lest we end up in the outer darkness weeping and gnashing our teeth.

So, for the most part we play it safe and we don’t take any risks and we spend our lives living in fear of that wicked master. If I had to draw a line between the wicked slave-master and some character, I wouldn’t have that line end up with God. Indeed, I’m sure that the wicked master is not God.

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Sermon: God and the Universe

It’s that old approach that St Anselm wrote about in the 11th c, fides quarens intellectum, faith seeking understanding. It’s important to distinguish faith and belief. Faith is an attitude of trust, and belief is trying to make sense of that attitude. What you believe is serious, but not too serious. Karl Barth, who wrote many, many books, including his voluminous Church Dogmatics, once commented that the angels would have a good laugh when they saw him pushing a wheelbarrow full of his books through the pearly gate. That we all agree in our belief is not the point. Each of us is seeking understanding. Agreement is not the point. Openness and respect is.

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To Whom Shall We Go to Say Thank-you After We Move Beyond Personifying God?

Thanksgiving Sunday Sermons

Expressing gratitude is a skill that all tiny little people must learn in order to develop into well-rounded human beings. Indeed, scientists insist that being grateful is a prerequisite of happiness. Happy humans it seems, are humans who embody gratitude. But there is more to gratitude than simply saying thank-you. I remember learning that gratitude includes more than simply expressing our thanks. It happened when I was about sixteen and actually noticed the beauty of a sunset and for the first time I realized that I was part of something so much bigger than myself.

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All Saints – Giving thanks for the Divine in One-another!

All Saints’ Day is a day for remembering. The word saint simply means “holy”. In the New Testament, all those who believe and were baptized were referred to as saints. It wasn’t until round about the third century that the church began using the word saint to refer to those who had been martyred for the faith. Over time these martyred saints were held up for veneration and people used to pray to them to intercede on their behalf. I’m not going to go into all of the institutional abuses that led Martin Luther and the later reformers to abolish the veneration of the saints. Except to say, that while the Reformation put an end to the veneration of the saints in the protestant churches, it did not abolish the concept of sainthood.

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Sometimes You Just Have to Be a Bitch!

Sometimes, we have to erase the boundaries that we have drawn and let some really annoying people in. Sometimes, we have to be a bitch so that we can push people beyond the boundaries. When push comes to shove, this being human requires that we live in community and life in community is messy and it is annoying, but life in community can also shape us in ways that open us to new ways of being human.

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“Who Do You Say I AM?” – Jesus IS? – Part 3

We cannot un-know what we have learned. In the past one-hundred years biblical scholarship has exploded. In the halls of academia, in the seminaries of mainline denominations the quest for knowledge about Jesus has born so very much fruit. Now thanks to the explosions of the information age, information that was once reserved to the carefully initiated, is available to everyone. Wander into your local bookstore, or turn on your computer and you will discover more information than any one person could ever digest on the subject of Jesus. And yet, despite more than 2000 years of scholarship, theologizing, speculating, preaching, and teaching, the question, put on the lips of Jesus by the anonymous gospel-storyteller that we call Matthew, remains a daunting question to answer.

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Who Do You Say that I AM? Part 2

Matthew 16:13-28

  This sermon is the second in a series of three sermons responding to questions about Jesus’ identity. You can explore the part one here Part Two of this exploration of Jesus’ identity includes three reflections interspersed …

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Who Do You Say that I AM? Part 1

Matthew 16:13-20 and Romans 12: 1-8 – a sermon

“Who do you say that I Am?” For most of my life I have been trying to figure out who I think Jesus was and is. Your very presence here on a beautiful summer morning, suggests to me that many of you have also tried to figure out who Jesus was and is. From time to time, I suspect that most of us have believed that we have worked it out; that we know just who Jesus is. But Jesus, just like every person we have ever known and or ever loved, Jesus keeps changing on us.

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Beneath the Surface: What difference does it make how we interpret this little story?

A sermon for Pentecost 10A – Matthew 14:22-33 and 1 Kings19:9-18

After a splendid month-long vacation, I have returned to work as two mad men toss rhetoric into the ether that is designed to to strike fear of a nuclear holocaust into the hearts of people everywhere. Looking at Sunday’s readings: 1 Kings 19:9-18 in which Elijah hears the still small voice of God and Matthew 14:22-33 in which Jesus walks on water. Somehow, this sermon that I preached three years ago seems appropriate to repost so as to encourage us all to look beneath the surface of what we see, hear, and read! Shalom…

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Excuse me, this is important, I need you to pay attention. I’m here! I AM right here!

A sermon on Eternal Life

To approach intimacy with the One Who Is Was and Every More Shall Be LOVE, is life eternal. To make LOVE with the Sacred, the Divine, the HOLY ONE, is life eternal. Life without limits. Light beyond Light. Light that penetrates our distractions. A light that shines on the beauty and the pain of life; all life with an intimacy that opens us to a way of being that is eternal. I AM here. YAHWEH. I AM WHO AM.

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About “Markingsmass: A Liturgy for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation”

Dag Hammarskjold was Secretary General of the United Nations when he died in a plane crash in Africa in 1961 while on a peace-keeping mission. Widely admired for his performance in that role, he was rewarded posthumously with the Nobel Peace Prize.

Distinguished as his diplomatic career was, it has been equaled remarkably in public interest in a very different sphere—that of Christian spirituality–by the publication of Markings, a sort of diary or journal published after his death. It has remained in print since the 1960’s and is generally considered one of the great Christian devotional classics of the twentieth century, frequently compared with the works of St. Augustine, Pascal, Merton and other important Christian writers.

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MARKINGSMASS – A Liturgy for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation

Based on excerpts from Dag Hammarskjold’s Markings

Our work of peace must begin with the private world of each one of us. To build for man a world without fear, we must be without fear. To build a world of justice we must be just. And how can we fight for liberty if we are not free in our own minds? Dag Hammarskjold

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