No Human Being is Illegal

Sermon by Rev. Elizabeth Durant delivered on June 18, 2018 at First Congregational UCC Portland.

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Each Maundy Thursday we must peer beyond Passover lambs and scapegoats if we are to catch a glimpse of the LOVE that we call God

Every Sunday I stand at the altar and preside over a mystery. A mystery that has its roots in the events we remember this Holy Thursday. On Maundy Thursday, we gather together to contemplate MYSTERY. We know what will happen tomorrow as Good Friday plunges us into darkness. So is it any wonder that we cannot fully comprehend this MYSTERY.

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Honest to Jesus

The Christian tradition is now in the midst of Holy Week, the high holy days of our religion, concluding the season of Lent, the six-week period of repentance, prayer, fasting, and reflection in preparation for Easter.  The language and tone of Lent address the ego, known in traditional language as our ‘sinful nature.’  According to traditional Christian theology, Jesus died to ‘save’ us from our inherently depraved nature inherited from Adam & Eve, because we can’t do it for ourselves.  For the sake of biblical and religious literacy, we need to acknowledge a disclaimer.

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Making Sense of the Easter Stories in the 21st century

You may have sung this morning’s hymns and heard the gospel reading and wondered “Is this make-believe?” Perhaps you’ve never entered this church before, let alone attended on an Easter morning. You’re home for the weekend with your family or boyfriend or girlfriend or you’re here alone. Are you’re sitting here struggling over some of the details of the resurrection story that leave you perplexed, cynical or simply scratching your head. These are claims made by the apostle Paul and others who struggle to convey an experience of possibilities that cannot be fully expressed in words.

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Just Wave the White Flag of Surrender and Go Into the Party: a Sermon for the Lost – Luke 15 – Lent 4C

I am indebted to Amy-Jill Levine’s book “Short Stories by Jesus” and Bernard Brandon Scott’s book “Hear Then the Parable” for challenging me to look beyond the Christian bias of interpreting Jesus’ parables through the lens of the repentance and forgiveness and attempting to hear this story in ways more in keeping with Judaism.

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Sensible Gun Laws Save Lives

Six days after the attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand has outlawed military style weapons. Australia had done the same thing just 12 days after the Port Arthur massacre. From Columbine to the present, we have had more than 50 well publicized mass murders. While we can be frustrated by a government that ignores the fact that 75% of Americans want more sensible gun laws but what can we say about the silence of 400,000 churches in the face of this crazy situation?

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Augustine, Scripture, and Science

While there are many factors that lead up to tragedy like the mass murders in mosques in New Zealand

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Introducing the Last 7 Words of Christ Our Black Mother – A Lenten Series

This is public theology. As precious Patrons, I’m inviting you in to my theological process. Beginning on Ash Wednesday (March 6) and concluding on Good Friday (April 19), each week I will publish a photo and brief reflection on each of Christ’s 7 Last Words on the Cross.

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Embrace Your Mortality in MYSTERY: Ash Wednesday Our Wake-up Call!

An Ash Wednesday Reflection: Our changing understanding of what it means to be human, changes the nature of Ash Wednesday’s wake-up call.

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The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off!

A Reformation Sermon – John 8:31-36

“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Let me take a moment to face the truth about who we are as Lutherans. The truth is that from the beginning Lutherans have participated in hate-filled tribalism that gives rise to anti-Semitism. The irony of attempting to commemorate the Reformation on the day after the slaughter of Jewish sisters and brothers cannot be ignored. Sadly, our church’s tragic participation in anti-Semitism goes all the way back to Martin Luther himself. Luther’s anti-Semitic rants provided the theological grounding that empowered Nazi’s to fan the flames of the Holocaust. It took until 1983 for the Lutheran World Federation to confess and repent Luther’s words.

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Jesus – Teacher of Radical Compassion

The one sentence from the gospels that even the most critical Biblical scholars tend to agree was quoted directly from the historical Jesus is this: Love your enemies. The first century of the common era had dozens of Jewish messiahs, many of whom were said to be exorcists and miracle workers. The titles of “king,” “Lord,” and even “Savior,” were all ascribed to the Caesar as well as to noted religious leaders. The early Jesus movement may have created narratives and titles to distinguish Jesus as being a rival to the empire or on an equal footing to Moses or Elijah but his truly unique message was a call to radical compassion.

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Preaching on Luke 6:27-38: Jesus’ Teaching on Non-Violent Resistance

In the Gospels According to Matthew and Luke, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Plain provide distillations of the teachings of Jesus; teachings Jesus lived for, teachings that eventually made Jesus so dangerous to the oppressive Roman Empire that they executed him as an enemy of the state. The very heart of these sermons is Jesus’ teaching on non-violence.  

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Christianity As A Contributing Cause Of The Current Ecological Crisis

Durham Street Methodist ChristChurch New Zealand (Aotearoa) January 20, 2019 service led by Rev. Bill Wallace featuring some of his hymns. Our theme today is Christian Theology and global warming.

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Reality 101 – Widening Our Circle of Compassion

Rev. Michael Dowd’s guest sermon at Unitarian Universalist Metro Atlanta North on February 10, 2019.

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The Bible and Immigration

The Christian Bible contains a debate that raged over several centuries between nationalist protectionism and an admirably compassionate treatment of immigrants and refugees. Progressives chose to reject the xenophobic and racist passages in favor of the radical compassion which we believe is at the heart of a spiritual life. In which case, the proposed border wall between the USA and Mexico becomes not simply unnecessary, and economically unwise, but a real failure of American morality.

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Coffee and Poetry – a Valentine’s Reflection

Frida Kahlo wrote the ultimate lovers’ poem that concludes with this assurance, “You deserve a lover who takes away the lies and brings you hope, coffee, and poetry.” In this age when couples typically no longer stay married out of economic necessity or for mere survival, what is it that keeps people together. Even more, what inspires a couple who are already past child bearing years or even career concerns, to sacrifice independence and freedom in order to share a common life? I think that it is meaning we seek even more than a mere surcease of loneliness. What we really want is not just someone with whom to share our morning coffee but also someone who will read poetry to us. Is that too much to ask, or do we, as Kahlo suggests, what we deserve?

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Locavore Gospel

Sermon by Rev. Elizabeth Durant

A Locavore is a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food.

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Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

The poem, Desiderata, enjoyed a great deal of popularity in the 20th century but its counsel to “speak your truth” both calmly and without surrender, while still being willing to listen to the thoughts of even the simple and uninformed, is excellent advice for our internet age where social media can sometimes lead even saints down a path of mudslinging and name calling. Let’s think about how we can be helpful in public discourse to both share ideas and heal our partisan divide.
 

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