Annoying the Authorities

*This post is excerpted from a sermon  on Acts 3:1-12a; 4:1-4.   My friend, Jay Yoder, has been supporting Black organizers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and shared a video of what happened when they were filming police badge numbers: as Jay neared the end of the line of officers, one stepped forward and, with no warning…

Small Easter

  A few years ago I audited a class at St. Paul seminary on “Preaching and the Short Story.” There was a story on the syllabus with “Easter” in the title, and I kept thinking I should read that before I wrote my Easter sermon. So this story title, “Small Easter,” kept rattling around in…

God’s Presence on the Mountain

(Transfiguration: Luke 9:28-36) The second Moses and Elijah show up on that mountain, the entire Jewish tradition of the Exodus and the prophets is brought to bear on this story—and on Jesus’ life and ministry. To understand the story of the Transfiguration, we have to understand the narratives of all three men:

Reflections on 1 Samuel 3

[This post is excerpted from this full sermon.] The very first sentence of this story tells us that “the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli.” And this sentence tells us right away how things are supposed to work. Samuel is a boy and Eli is a grown-up. Samuel is serving under Eli.…

Reflections on Mark 1:14-20

[This reflection is an edited excerpt from this sermon on Matthew 4:18-22.] Think, for a minute, about a time in the past few days that you were at work–your job work or working on some project or responsibility. You are grading papers or standing in front of a class full of kids. You are making…

Dear Peter

[This is an excerpt from a sermon I preached on 1 Peter. My husband, who does not usually provide sermon commentary, said, “It was gimmicky, but you pulled it off.” Clearly he was deeply moved in the Spirit by my words.]   Dear Peter, I just wanted to write to you as one church leader…

The Mountain of Fear and the Mountain of Joy

[This reflection is excerpted from a sermon I preached on Hebrews 12:18-29. You can find the full text here and the audio here.]     Generally, I find the section headings in Bibles less than helpful. But the section heading for this week’s scripture stopped me in my tracks: “The Mountain of Fear and the…

On Being Church

*This reflection is excerpted from a sermon based on Matthew 18:15-20 that  I preached about three years ago. (Funny how the lectionary works like that!) – – – – – The Greek word that gets translated as “church”–ekklesia–shows up on only two occasions in the Gospels. Both in Matthew. The first is: “You are Peter,…