Sermons


Testing

As is characteristic in Mark’s Gospel, we have only this brief and mysterious account of the time Jesus spent in the desert wilderness: “And the Spirit immediately drove [Jesus] out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tested by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on… Read More

In a New Light

I’ve lived close to the Mississippi River most of my life. The river is an anchor, a solace, a companion, a teacher. The river provides my drinking, bathing, cooking and gardening water. She is, literally, my life. I grew up in La Crosse, WI, another river town. I have a vivid memory of how, at… Read More

Healing Reciprocity, Mutual Flourishing

The doorbell rang at church. The young woman standing at the door said the pantry was empty, and she wondered if we had more food. So I invited her inside to choose some items from our supply. We got to talking—about her struggles to make ends meet while working and going to school, about walking… Read More

Bah

Our dog Ace is sweet, gentle and patient. He has a cat-like way of showing affection. He’s enthusiastic about walks and runs. When he gets excited, his tail wags in a twirling pattern we call the “windmill.” Ace has a wonderfully soft, extra furry spot under his chin. His ears perk out sideways in the… Read More

A Deeper Loyalty

Amanda Gorman. When I expressed enthusiasm for her inauguration poem to my daughter, Eliza, Eliza said “Oh, yeah, I follow her on TikTok.” Well, I’ll tell you, I’ve got a whole new level of respect for TikTok! The poem says so much in such a beautiful, powerful way. I have many favorite lines. What I… Read More

The Land of Promise and the Year of Jubilee

This year our congregation is devoting considerable time to study, to conversation, and to prayerful self-scrutiny with regard to the consequences of our presence on land that was taken from the Indigenous Dakota people. Along with the rest of the European-American settlers in Minnesota, our forebears obtained the land on which our beautiful building sits… Read More

Water and Spirit

Truth be told, we Americans are in deep shit. Our lofty ideals and our soaring rhetoric mask our great national hypocrisy. Claims of liberty and justice for all are simply absurd. You’ve seen the photos and the footage. When peaceful “BLM” protestors gathered at the nation’s capitol, police in full riot gear lined the steps…. Read More

Christmas for Elders

In the fall of 2006, my colleague Rev. Nancy Swanson was serving as interim pastor at a church in St. Paul. The church had many older members, and very few young families. In fact, there were not enough children in the congregation to stage even a very simple Christmas pageant. And the people were feeling… Read More

You Are with Us, O God, in Darkness and in Light

Those little waving fingers in the nativity video belonged to our daughter, Alice. It might appear she was greeting the baby Jesus. I can tell you that’s not what was going on. She was doing a very natural thing for a seven-year-old—trying to turn attention onto her polished red nails. This was, I assure you,… Read More

Testify

I notice that, as a congregation, we’re ambivalent about the ancient Christian practice of testimony. We’re reluctant to speak publicly about our faith. We’re allergic to fervor and fanaticism. We don’t want to be viewed as pushing Jesus on anyone. We want no part of the versions of Christianity that our ancestors used to exploit,… Read More