Sermons

  • “Feeling Lost, Then Getting Found”

    The parable of the Lost Sheep is one of the more familiar of the little stories that Jesus told his audiences. At the start of this one, Jesus poses a seemingly simple question, Which one of you, who had a flock of onehundred sheep, one of which is lost, wouldn’t leave your ninety–nine other sheep behind in the wilderness andsearch for the one that you lost until it is found?   Huh . . . Leave the ninety-nine exposed out in the wilderness until we can find the […]

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  • Abba

    Prayer . . . is a thorny subject. What is it? How does it work? What about when it doesn’t seem to work? These days, I admit, I have grown tired of battling these questions in my head. I gravitate toward prayer that is contemplative, that is less about asking, and less about words, and […]

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  • One Thing

    I want to teach you a song. It’s from the day camp First Church hosts with a bunch of partner congregations. Please repeat after me. If anybody asks you who you are, who you are, who you are. If anybody asks you who you are, tell’m you’re a child of God. Here’s the coolest thing about this song. […]

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  • Agitational Jesus

    In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus proclaims: “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” This Jesus agitates me. He’s pretty uncompromising. Hearing these words, my first response is to feel judged and harassed. Where is the room for grace? Where is the understanding of my limitations and imperfections? In full […]

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  • How We Heal

    Chimayo, New Mexico is a wonderful and weird place. This little village’s claim to fame is holy dirt. Pueblo and Tewa peoples who have inhabited the area since the 12th century named the town for healing properties they found in the soil there. And, of course, the native peoples of New Mexico are potters for whomthe clay […]

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  • Apprenticed to Wisdom

    Last weekend, I played in an orchestra for the first time since college. Alums of the St. Olaf orchestra gathered to honor our conductor, Steven Amundson, who is retiring. The experience felt so familiar, like a muscle memory—shared breaths before entrances; bowing in sync with other string players; the symphony of sound resonating in my […]

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  • How the Spirit Moves

    among us, that there is an unseen river of divine guidance present and active in the world. Beneath the surface of thoughts and feelings, there is a flow of love, healing, and justice, a current of meaning and connection. And I notice that there are things that help me live in harmony with the Spirit—walking, […]

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  • At the Table

    At a recent meeting of the congregational care team, we had an exuberant conversation about how we will re-connect, as a congregation, over the summer. You will soon hear more details about the fun we’re planning—a series of backyard gatherings and a late summer ice-cream social. We want to keep these events light-hearted and at […]

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  • Hefted

    Alice and I both love fantasy stories. Right now, we are reading The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander. Alice’s favorite character is Gurgi, the loyal companion of the hero, Taran. Gurgi is covered in fur that is perpetually matted with sticks and leaves. He has extra-long arms. He’s always hungry. His speech is filled with rhymed pairs of words […]

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  • Memoir Theology

    In her book, Freeing Jesus, Diana Butler Bass begins with the story of a time she was praying in the National Cathedral. As she knelt before an icon of Jesus, she heard a voice. The voice said, not once, but three times, “Get me out of here!” No one else was around. She could only conclude that Jesus himself […]

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  • Weeping, Sowing, Rejoicing

    I said off-handedly to our nearly 13-year-old: “I need some inspiration! I don’t know where to start with this sermon!” “You know what you should preach about?” was the reply. “You should preach about what happened in Michigan.”  “Umm, what do you mean?”  “Another Black man murdered by the police.“ “It’s supposed to be an […]

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  • Coming to Ourselves

    \We work on communication a lot in our house: naming and processing feelings; asking for what we need; not leaping to conclusions; checking out our assumptions; taking responsibility for our words and actions. It’s not just the kids practice these skills! Grown-ups too! The other day, we were dealing with something that had happened between […]

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  • Bearing Fruit in a Perishing World

    I’m learning about mosses—slowly. A few paragraphs at a time, I’m studying Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book Gathering Moss. Kimmerer, who is better known for her bestseller Braiding Sweetgrass. is actually a moss expert. She writes with reverence and creativity about her subject, as both a scientist and a member of the Potawatomi nation steeped in indigenous way of knowing. […]

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  • Under Her Wings

     I drove around this week delivering Lenten bags to our families with young kids. The bags included simple, kid-friendly paraphrases of each of our Lenten Psalms and supplies to help families learn these verses. The main project is a fleece blanket, because, as their version of Psalm 91 says, “When I trust in God, it’s like […]

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  • The Transfiguration: What (Really) Happened?

    When I was sixteen years old, I drove to Chesterfield, Indiana, with two of my high school buddies. We had visitor reservations at a materialization séance at a Spiritualist Church camp. Located on a modest tree-shaded campus, the meeting room for the séance seemed more like a small church or school building. I was surprised […]

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  • Today’s Gospel passage addresses the question of how we show up, for each other and in the world. This text seeks to guide us in creating human community grounded in the mercy, generosity, and abundance of divine love. In William Kent Krueger’s novel, This Tender Land, something happens that illustrates both the risks and the possibilities inherent […]

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  • Blessings and Woes

     “She’s not just rich, she’s loaded!” I was startled to overhear our daughter Alice say this about a classmate the other day. “How do you know that?” I asked. “She told me” I laughed. It was really funny to imagine an eight-year-old saying this outrageous thing. And then I had some more serious thoughts. I wondered what we grown-ups […]

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  • “The Great Deception”

    Some months ago, my laptop keyboard began to fail. It was the “e” key that gave me trouble. Only the most-used letter in the English language! For months, I put up a persistent stiffness in the key that impeded fluent typing. Then the problem reached a new level: the key would only work when pressed repeatedly. I knew I should […]

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  • “Offensive Grace”

     Jesus’ experience in his hometown synagogue reminds us: sometimes preachers offend people. In my former congregation, I quoted a passage from a hilarious book I was reading, supposedly written by a childhood pal of Christ named Biff. The author described a man who was so stern and judgmental, so cranky and out of touch, it […]

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  • Can You Be a Stone Catcher?

    by Rev. Kwame Osei Reed Today I remember words that were spoken on the eve of the first official celebration of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. My pastor, a friend of Martin King said, We need this holy day: not just to honor one man, though he is the martyred prophet whose […]

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