Shift Happens: Finding God in Suffering

Job 1:1, 2:1-10, Job 23:1-9, 16-17 John 9:1-12 In my home state California, after an earthquake, the old-timers often say “shift happens” to comfort – or tease – frightened newcomers to the state. Everything seems stable until the tectonic plates shift, and your life is turned upside down.  “Shift happens” is an apt description happens […]

Who is Jesus?

Mark 8:27-38 When I was nine years old, a traveling evangelist – the cowboy evangelist Leonard Eilers – came to town with his “Round Up for God” crusade.  I was “rounded up” and came forward to the altar, where one of the deacons, a farmer who had come straight from the fields, asked, “Do you […]

Does God Love Sharks?

Job 38:4-7; 41:1-11 Many of us become interested in certain topics because of our children or grandchildren.  A few years back my grandchildren became fascinated by sharks – hammerheads, great whites, makos, and the legendary megalodon, the largest creature ever to live on our planet.  We read books, saw movies, followed Shark Week on the […]

A World of Praise

Psalm 148 I was raised among the Baptists and it was commonplace to hear people shout, “Praise the Lord” in our worship services.  When the pastor hit the right note in the sermon, folks would exclaim “Amen” or when the choir sang an especially lively anthem, the response would be “Hallelujah.”  When people gave witness […]

Joy to the World

Matthew 5:14-16 Philippians 4:4-9, 12-13, 19-20 Many of us have struggled with feelings of anxiety over the past two years: we have seen the rise and normalization of racism, incivility, xenophobia, and environmental neglect. We see our social fabric fraying and divisiveness threatens the nation. Each day brings drama and uncertainty, and we ask how […]

The Power to Heal

For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen. In some ways, it really is all about power, whether we’re talking about politics, relationships, or religious life. Leaders assert “might is right,” without regard to morality or the long-term consequences of their actions.  A legendary football coach proclaims, “winning […]

From Temptation to Transformation

“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”  This is the question that got our series started. To many of us, the notion of God tempting us seems inconceivable.  If God is loving and good, why would God be the source temptations that might lead to our personal or professional undoing?  Why would […]

The Lord’s Prayer – Week Four – Bread for Today

Matthew 7:9-12 I love good bread.  San Francisco sour dough bread, Italian garlic bread, recently baked whole grain bread, and the rosemary olive bread I treat myself to at Pan D’Avignon.  My heart is filled with joy as I bite into a scone or croissant or dollop a large smear of cream cheese with lox […]

The Lord’s Prayer – Week Two: The Parent of Us All

Luke 11:1-13 All life is vocational.  All life involves a dynamic call and response in which God, usually hidden in our unique personal journey, calls us, questions us, and challenges us through our particular gifts, family of origin, life and times, and encounters. A good life is guided by aspiration, commitment, and love. I was […]