The Profanity of ‘Thoughts and Prayers’

Offering our “thoughts and prayers” in a crisis can be an expression of sincere empathy but when you are capable of doing more and all you do is offer your thoughts and prayers then we quickly realize that such words are reflective of hollow hypocrisy. Prayer can be very helpful to our spiritual journey but as the African proverb teaches, “when you pray, move your feet.” We pray to change the one who prays so that we will do all that we can to meaningfully respond to the many crises we see happening all around us.

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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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Spiritual but not Religious…

Winston Churchill said that it takes courage to stand up and speak but it also takes courage to listen. Now, in the wake of a cascade of sexual predator and harassment cases involving powerful and wealthy men, we must have the courage to listen to victims without judgment. Truth does depend upon perspective and we should never assume that our own perspective is either universal or normative. Only through generous listening can we really understand other races, genders, and faiths in a way that fosters honest community.

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Dedication to Reality and Balancing

Scott Peck identified four tools of discipline that are crucial to meaningful living. This sermon addresses the last two of those four: Dedication to reality, and balancing. In our time of both religious duplicity and political “alternative truth” a firm reminder of the importance of being devoted to reality is a timely and helpful message.

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Living a Life Worth Living

M. Scott Peck writes in the Road Less Traveled that there are four basic tools of discipline that allow a person to live a problem solving life rather than a life problem avoiding (which argues leads not only to sorrow but also to mental illness). This sermon addresses the first two of those four: the ability to delay gratification and acceptance of responsibility. While most of this channel’s material addresses systemic injustice this sermon and the one that will follow next week are more personally focused on how we avoid “renting space in our skull” to the painful challenges of life.

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Long Overdue Reform of Gun Control

Not because of Vegas (or Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Orlando, Dallas, or even Sandy Hook) and not because of the 50 women who are murdered by their significant other every month, but because a predictable 32,000 Americans die every year from gunshot wounds and another 100,000 are wounded. No other western democracy comes anywhere close to our astonishingly high numbers and we cannot just nibble at the edges of this issue any longer. It isn’t “bump stocks” or semi-automatic weapons that gives us this annual bloodbath. It is primarily hand guns but on the whole, the USA is holding nearly half of the guns in the world and we just have to move in the direction of more sane and effective gun laws.

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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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Tribalism, Narcissism, Nationalism, and their Offspring

The religious left often finds itself at odds with the marketplace but when it comes to refugees and the undocumented, there is a purely profit driven approach that can give spiritual people a reason to cheer. There is more than a moral reason not to deport the 80,000 DACA youth living in the USA, looked at purely for their law-abiding, tax-paying potential, we need for them to stay here! A similarly strong economic argument can be made in favor of granting citizenship to foreign students who come here to earn advanced STEM degrees. Looked at from either a spiritual/compassionate perspective, or from an economic viewpoint: we do not need a Muslim ban, we don’t need a wall on the Mexican border, and we need to be much more welcoming of refugees.

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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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The Challenge of Community: Sermon by Rev. Roger Ray

The comedian, Dave Berry, observed that if the person you are with is kind to you but mean to the waiter, the person you are with is not a good person. For progressive communities to thrive and gain influence both in the world of religion and in public policy, we simply must stop engaging in liberal cannibalism and find ways to lovingly network with people who are something other than a perfect match with our own beliefs and opinions. Michael Moore has predicted a 2020 win Donald Trump, not because he deserves to be re-elected but because of the fractured nature of progressives in America. We really must do better.

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It’s Probably About Sex

Sexual mores evolve from generation to generation. We cannot reasonably assume that religion sets the rules for sexual relationships, after all, the preponderance of biblical references to marriage praise and promote polygamy. We must strive to find what is true, just, merciful, and liberating in our search for sexual ethics.

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Race in America

The removal of Confederate memorials from government properties and the racist tensions created by these decisions becomes an opportunity to have a serious conversation about America’s original sin of slavery and the lingering racism that still haunts this nation. Donald Trump’s failure to provide clear leadership in the midst of the current racial crisis also demands the serious consideration of everyone who hopes for a better America.

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Listen Beyond the Tweets to the Deep Peace of the Still Small Voice

On this quiet summer morning, I arise to find the airwaves clamouring with the sound of Tweets. As news of war and rumours of war penetrates my consciousness and awaken me to the surreal clamouring of madmen who hold the power of life and death in the grasp of their tiny hands, it is so very tempting to give in to the cynicism of the talking heads.

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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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Income Disparity: The Lethal DisEase

The growing gap between the incomes of the rich and the much smaller incomes of the poor poses the greatest threat to our nation’s future as a democracy. While Eastern European nations have managed to erect reasonable “guard rails” on capitalism that distribute wealth in a way that has eradicated the worst ills of poverty, the United States seems to be going in the opposite direction, hastening our own demise.

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