Monthly Archives: December 2011

Christmas 2011

We read the lessons for Christmas II. However, Christmas is one of the times my preaching is as much about the season as the lessons.

Christmas Presents: giving and opening. How could this be about Jesus?

(There will be a few moments of silence before the sermon begins. Thank you for your patience.)

Listen: Christmas, 2011

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It was the best of sermons, it was the worst of sermons

I love preaching.  (I was shy enough growing up to still wonder at this delight in speaking in front of people.)  I’ve even gotten enough compliments beyond “Nice sermon” to think that I’m at least not horrible at it.  I am not naive enough, however, to think that every sermon is my best.  It would be nice, but not only does real life intervene, my job can and suddenly I don’t have the time or creative energy to write the best sermon of the week.  And it is a weekly deadline.  Lightening does strike in the same place, but usually not 52+ times in a row.

In preaching, I often ask people to look at the Biblical text differently (sometimes quite differently), I make jokes, I ask questions, I tell stories, I make comparisons, I talk about money (Jesus did!).  Sometimes this all works and people seem to think.  Sometimes I worry about who I just offended.

My preaching professor in seminary would tell us that, “when you have a dog of a sermon, walk it proud.”  Which works, but better in person.  Delivery can cover many shortcomings.

And I podcast my sermons.  (More surprisingly, people listen!)  Which means that anyone could stumble or search for me and get me at, not only my not-best, but sometimes my worst in quite awhile.  (When exactly is my rock bottom worst will be a question for my non-existent biographers or quite existent siblings.)

This bothers me.  Not for the sake of my ego.  Okay, not just for the sake of my ego.  My job in preaching, my role, is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I regularly pray that I have the right sermon, a germane point for the people sitting in the pews or on the other side of the speakers.  I hope that they leave with something to ponder, some new way of seeing God.  But the point of all of that, the purpose of my time and effort, is to point to Jesus Christ, who changes lives.

And when I have not done my best, when my life or my job have unavoidably spilled over into the time I set aside for a sermon, when I am worn out, when the sermon, despite hours of work, has just not settled into a coherent form, I pray harder.  That God is still greater than my failings.  That whatever it is I have to say on Sunday morning will have meaning for someone.  That next week will be better.

But, regardless of what next week winds up being like, there will be more weeks, in all varieties of good and busy.  And most every week, I’ll be there preaching and trying.

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Advent 4, 2011

The Lessons for Advent 4 can be found here. I worked with 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16, Luke 1: 26-38, and Canticle 15 (Luke 1:46-55).

The Ark of the Covenant, the Temple, Mary and Jesus. God has had a lot of ways of being with God’s people. And how has that worked?

(There will be a few moments of silence before the sermon begins. Thank you for your patience.)

Listen: Advent 4, 2011

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Advent 3, 2011

The Lessons for Advent 3 can be found here.  I worked most closely with John 1:6-8, 19-28.

The Pharisees and their friends have a question for John, “Who are you?” It’s a good question. But it’s not what they mean. Fortunately, John has more than one answer.

(There will be a few seconds of silence before the sermon starts. Thank you for your patience.)

Listen here: Advent 3, 2011

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Theology Reading List

The catch-all line in any job description is always “and other jobs as requested.”  When you are an Episcopal Priest sometimes that line means cleaning bathrooms, negotiating with copiers, or shoveling walkways, and sometimes it means teaching theology.

For the past three months, I’ve had the joyous privilege of teaching theology to future deacons.  (We’ll just side-step the whole Episcopal ordination process bit.)  Altogether I had a lot of fun and they seemed to also.

Of course, there is always more to discuss than we had time to, so one of the things I left them with was a reading list.

The process for compiling this was pretty simple.  I looked at my bookshelves and my RSS reader and asked, “What should people at least experience?”  A few caveats: it is by no means exclusive, or complete.

Further Reading List

In fact, we discussed names that could be added to it: Jim Wallis, Phyllis Tickle.  And for those who had not had their religious funny bones appropriately tickled: Lamb by Christopher Moore and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

So, what authors or books did I miss?

Categories: Theology | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Advent 2, 2011

The lessons for Advent 2 can be found here. I worked with Isaiah 40:1-11 and Mark 1:1-8.

What do John the Baptist and Isaiah have in common?

(There will be a few moments of silence before the sermon starts. Thank you for your patience.)

Listen here: Advent 2, 2011

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