• The Energy of Reconciliation is the Dynamo at the Heart of the Universe.

    Ephesians 2: 4-10 and Ephesians 2:19-22 Last week, we began this sermon series on the Letter to the Ephesians. Because it’s the work in the New Testament that gives the most insight into how we might grow up or mature in Christ. I sort of spoiled the surprise. If the question is how is it [...]

  • What’s Christmas Mean to You?, Old First Sermon 12.22.13

    Isaiah 7:10-16; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; Romans 1:1-7 The Gospel lesson for today is Matthew’s story of the birth of Jesus. But when I was choosing the readings for today, I decided, if you want to hear that story, you should come to church on Christmas Eve! So we’re left with the Isaiah prophecy, the Psalm [...]

  • Dancing in the Streets with Jesus, Old First Sermon 11.24.13

    Psalm 46 and Colossians 1:11-20. Today is Christ the King Sunday. If you aren’t sure exactly what that means, you are not alone. I’ve always known, well at least since my seminary years, that it was the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Right before we get started again with Advent. But for the first [...]

  • Change Is the Church’s Promise of Continuity, Old First Sermons 11.10.13 (preached at Lincoln Congregational Temple, UCC, Washington, D.C.)

    Proverbs 3:1-6; John 21: 1-11; Hebrews 11:1-3 A word of thanks to begin with. To your Interim Minister, Dr. Tendai, an old friend from our shared NYC days. And to his wife, Dotty who I am glad to see. I think she’d rather not be referred to as the First Lady, but I do hope [...]

  • Exiles and Locals: How Are We Supposed to be Both?, Old First Sermon 10.13.13

    Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7 and Luke 17:11-19 Last week, I asked us to think of ourselves as outsiders.  Now, I know most weeks, today’s congregation isn’t the same as last weeks. So only some of you heard last Sunday’s sermon. So then I’m asking you to begin again this week, or asking for the first time [...]

  • The World as a Table with A Place for All, Old First Sermon 10.06.13

    Psalm 137 and 2 Timothy 1-14 Some churches function as a sanctuary, a hideout, really, where saints seek safety from the dangers of the world. I remember a pentecostal pastor from the church down the street from the congregation I served in East Harlem. We were having coffee, – much as I had lunch this [...]

  • When Half-Measures Aren’t Enough, Old First Sermon 09.22.13

    Last Sunday, trying to open a more approachable way to God, I quoted Bill Coffin, Riverside Church in New York City’s former pastor. Coffin’s insight was that in the face of painful and particularly apparently unnecessary suffering, God is always the first to cry. How surprising then when checking my preaching schedule on Monday morning, [...]

  • Start Here and Now, Old First Sermon 09.08.13

    Deuteronomy 30:15-20 and Luke 14:25-33 Our Scripture lessons today are both a bit stringent. In our Deuteronomy passage, Moses finishes his sermonizing to the people of Israel on the plains of Moab before they enter into the Promised Land. He has reheated and served up the Law to the people again, and he’s hardly mincing [...]

  • Meet Over Eat, Old First Sermon 07.21.13

    Somewhere in that space between us
    as we open ourselves to one another,
    – in that space that can be even as small as
    the distance we left between ourselves at our first junior high school dance –
    there, in that infinitesimal space,
    we also begin to become more present to God.

  • What If There’s a New Victim Every Time You Pass… Old First Sermon: 07.14.13

    Colossians 1:1-14 and Luke 10:25-37 The “Parable of the Good Samaritan” is one of the most well known, beloved, and influential stories in the New Testament. So much so, it’s taken on in our western culture a life of its own, quite independent of the specific religious tradition that it springs from. A striking narrative [...]