"A Lifetime of Reconciliation"
Genesis 45: 1-15
Matthew 15: 1-28
Twenty years ago, after being in ministry for a dozen years, I was mentoring a Seminary student in preaching, writing sermons, when it occurred to me that every sermon I preached and believe I would ever preach, is about “rebuilding trust”. That seems so simple, but all of us, all humanity in all places in every time throughout the history of the world, have had relationships with our parents, siblings, loved ones, co-workers, superiors, our children, neighbors, and God: broken with anger & hurt. This, is the most basic reason for our Sacraments; that in BAPTISM you would know, every single one of us hear and are made to remember: “You are loved! Almighty God claims you saying Well Done!” In COMMUNION, that Jesus gave a new LAW to love one another, offering his life for our brokenness, to reconcile us, and to God. But as simple as that realization, Reconciliation does not happen instantly. To truly reconcile, to forgive and rebuild trust, especially when shamed, insulted, violated for generations, is something that requires a lifetime to heal. When we do not talk about differences, when we do not and cannot listen to one another, when all we can do is protest and counter-protest and riot, our brokenness festers like infected wounds, like a cancer multiplying exponentially until there is nothing healthy left in us, we are defiled by what has come from our hearts out our mouths.
"A Lonely Place Apart" August 6, 2017
Matthew 14: 13-21
There is a routine to life. Sunset, sunrise, sunset, sunrise, Sunday comes once each week, which helps us maintain our balance and routine, order and schedule. Different from childhood, as an adult on vacation, I find I covet every day. But there come points in life, a birthday or anniversary, survival of trauma, loss and crisis that we find ourselves in a lonely place, apart. Not depression but self-examination.
"Believing in Rainbows" September 25, 2016
Genesis 6-8 Jeremiah 32: 6-15 Luke 16: 19-31 This morning, in addition to new members, we welcome Amour Aleer from South Sudan to America. In 2001, this church became sponsors to Andrew Chol. In recent years, we grieved with Andrew as the last of his birth family were killed in civil war, and he declared "You, this church, are my family." But also, Andrew found and married Mary Nankiir, and together they have five children. Both work full-time. So Amour, Mary Nankin's mother, has come to be Grandmother. A few months ago, Andrew came to me saying that Immigration and Naturalization Services needed an American to sponsor Amour, which meant my sending my taxes and all financial information to Nairobi... not for millions of dollars, but for the treasure of a grandmother! As we open the Scriptures and attempt to be a people faithful unto God, we have an impediment to address. Everything about our culture and relationships today is immediate, transitory and disposable.
"Deceiving God by Hiding From Ourselves," September 18, 2016
Genesis 2 Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 Luke 16:1-13 As we begin this morning, I confess to being struck by how we seem to live from crisis to crisis, yet when crises happen, we avoid responsibility, and like ostriches hide from ourselves. Instead of questioning what did I do, where were my priorities, we blame others and ask “Where is God?” “Why did God not do something?” “Is there a God?” In the time when Jeremiah was very young, King Josiah had all of the little chapels and churches and altars across the countryside, that people went to every day to pray, torn down, so there was only one, and it was The Temple of Solomon at Jerusalem. Annually every person could come to Jerusalem to worship, making sacrifices to God and Taxes to the King, the King and the Temple were at Jerusalem, so the Nation would be assured of prosperity. The people of Israel made the assumption that no matter what, God would protect them.
"We Love To Tell The Story" September 11, 2016
Genesis 1 Jeremiah 4: 18-27 Luke 15:1-11 We love to tell the story of Unseen things above, of Jesus and God’s glory, of Jesus and God’s love, We love to tell the story, because we know ‘tis true; it satisfies our longings as nothing else could do. We love to tell the story, twill be our theme in glory, to tell the old old story, of Jesus and God’s love. Through out the last several years I have driven many of crazy by intentionally using rhyming poetry and iambic pentameter for the Call to worship and Assurance of Pardon, the Hebrew Psalms for our Prayer of Confession. I have done so to emphasize that our Worship of God is different from everything else in the norm of our daily existence; and in the same way, poetry has a different cadence than the speech of mortals, poetry calls attention to images of nature and life and emotions, just as we do in prayer and worship. Beginning with Rally Day this morning, instead I hope to have us begin each Sunday worship with retelling of a story of our faith in God. This week, I met with a couple planning their wedding, and the groom grew up Roman Catholic from Europe.
"We become What We Believe" August 28, 2016
Jeremiah 2: 4-13 Luke 14: 1-14 Where did you learn your faith, ethics, beliefs and manners? As a Preacher’s kid, I had an abnormal upbringing, with perfect attendance at Sunday School and Vacation Church School and Choir, but I also grew up in a family with four sons, and Dinners particularly Sunday Dinners were a full-family occasion where everyone had their place, we took turns setting the table, clearing the table, saying Grace, and were expected to be part of the conversation. When we first came to Skaneateles, I made the point that we had two sons who at the time were 3rd and 5th Grade, and that I treasured the time driving them to school and having them stop by on their way home. I recall when I candidated here in 1996, being asked if family time is so important, just how many hours per week I intended to work? I hope you have felt you got your monies worth. But talking together before and after school, and family discussions at the table, were where we learned our faith, ethics, values and manners. How to say “Please” and “Thank you” even to your brother.