• More Daily Discipleship, Old First Sermon 05.17.15

    Acts 1.15-17, 21-26 and John 17.6-19. We’re in a busy, funny time in the church year: When all of a sudden everything’s getting shifted around as, now past the “mortal Jesus period,” we’re even moving past the “risen, but still right with us Jesus period,” into what we’ve known ever since, “the ascended but still [...]

  • Remember to Forgive, Old First Sermon 02.22.15

    Genesis 9:8-17 and Mark 1:9-15 I set out to create a sermon about what happens to us in Baptism. I was aiming for a bit of down-to-earth theology, some user-friendly teaching to help us understand why the sacrament is important and how it makes a difference. I was going to use the story of Noah [...]

  • Seeing What You Hadn’t Recognized, Old First Sermon 02.15.15

    2 Corinthians 4:3-6 and Mark 9:2-9 (A Sermon for the UCC’s Race Relations Sunday) How many of you have seen the movie “To Kill A Mockingbird?” How many of you have read the novel. You might guess that the news of the publication of Harper Lee’s second novel “So Set a Watchman” is the occasion [...]

  • Are We Grasshoppers Or Not?

    Numbers 13: 25-33 and Isaiah 40:21-31 A week ago Friday, I was in Harrisburg with others, for the first meeting of “Faith in PA,” the statewide coalition of faith-based, justice organizations in Philly, Pittsburgh and the Lehigh Valley, that are now reaching out further across the state, to build an effective faith coalition for public [...]

  • Lest We Think We Can Limit the Love of God, Old First Sermon 01.25.15

    Jonah 3:1-5, 10 and Mark 1:14-20 (and Theo’s baptism) I always thought my love of the story of Jonah was it’s being one of Holy Scripture’s more inclusive ,universalist chapters. Like the Book of Ruth insisting King David’s grandmother was not an Jew, but a Moabite,  …you almost have to wonder how these kinds of stories [...]

  • “Yes” to Stepping Out, Old First Sermon 01.18.15

    1 Samuel 3:1-10 and John 1: 45-53 When I was a young man, my father-in-law, David, told me about a man he knew growing up in Brooklyn. The occasion of his sharing the story was my choosing to apply to a Ph.D. program in Religion. And, as I retell the story today, I smile, thinking [...]

  • Magnifying a Pregnant Moment

    Isaiah 61: 1-4, 8-11 and Luke 1:46b-55. Early last the week, when I titled the sermon, I came up with “Magnificat for a Pregnant Moment,” a take-off on an article I read in the Huffington Post a few years ago. Having prepared the sermon; now ready to preach it, It occurs to me, “Magnifying a [...]

  • The Community Is Made Up of Many Lifetimes, Old First Sermon 10.26.14

    Here’s the insight of leaders who shadows are long enough to reach into the Promised Land.
    It’s almost counterintuitive, but in Moses’ and Martin’s sight, It’s far easier to lay your life down when it’s been full and you feel you’ve used it well, done something important with it, contributed what you could. It’s only when we haven’t gotten much done, that we get sort of desperate for more time and another chance…

  • Fashioning a Place Where People Can Meet God

    Exodus 25:1-9 and Exodus 40:33-38 and John 1:10-18. As I put the sign out on the bulletin board with this week’s sermon title on it, a man I didn’t know, looking over my shoulder, said: “Excuse me, but God doesn’t need you all to make a place for Him to meet people.” I responded, “I [...]

  • Courageously Seeking Reconciliaton (or Jesus’ Approach to Life and Ours), Old First Sermon 09.07.14.

    Shouldn’t we start to embody some of the tenacity and grace God’s show us? Or are we just going to keep denying our problems, nursing our hurts, picking our scabs and adding to our resentments like scars we’re proud of? Honestly answering those two questions, might be where the two different paths — how Jesus invites us to walk and how we mislead ourselves — start to diverge.