The Good News of Repentance

Luke 3:1-6 Only ten days till Christmas, and we’re stuck with John the Baptist.  As we go about our merry-making, John is a real killjoy.  We don’t need a prophet or curmudgeon, we need jolly old Saint Nick, with sacks of presents, candy, and libations.  But, there are times when you need to hear the […]

Spiritual Practices for Advent and Christmas

Philippians  1:3-11; 4:4-9 This morning, amid the joyful heavenly bells, I want to share a few words about spiritual practices. Advent is an appropriate time to reflect on our spiritual lives.  Before the coming of Christmas as a consumer holiday, Advent was a time of prayer, fasting, and preparation for the celebration of the birth […]

A Different Kind of King: An Intergenerational Sermon

Philippians 2:5-11 Do you ever dream at night?  What do you dream about? Recently I had a dream.   In my dream, I had a study in the basement of a seminary – a place where ministers go to school.  It was a large study, as big as one of the classrooms at West Villages and […]

A Challenging Question

Mark 12:28-34 Occasionally, a friend of mine will post the following on the relationship information section of Facebook, “It’s complicated.” Perhaps, they are embarking on a new romance, in search of a companion, or have second thoughts about a challenging relationship – “It’s complicated.” Last month, our women’s spirituality book group studied Charles Sheldon’s “In […]

Resources Enough for Everyone

I Kings 7:8-16 Mark 12:38-44 My parents were both Depression children. Times were difficult in small town America and people lived from paycheck to paycheck, if they got paid at all. But, as I queried my parents about their youth, they revealed something startling – almost countercultural- when a hobo, out of work, or a family […]

An Adventure that Includes Us All

Ruth 1:1-18 “There was a famine in the land, and a certain family from Bethlehem crossed the border to live in Moab.”  They were strangers in a strange land, Naomi and Elimelech and their two sons, migrating to a foreign country, most likely with scores of other Judeans.  No doubt the Moabites were concerned with […]

Limitations and Possibilities

Job 38:1-7 John 10:35-45 There is a memorable line from one of Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry movies – after a villain has a fiery end, Harry pauses, squints his eyes in the Eastwood way, and says, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” These lines could easily describe the two encounters in today’s readings.  Job […]

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 […]