Sermons from 2020

On Believing the Impossible

Luke 1:26-56 It has been said that all the great religions of the world are grounded in mystical experiences.  Moses encountering a burning bush.  Buddha meditating under the Bo Tree.  Mohammed retreating to a cave to listen for God’s voice.  And then there is Mary’s encounter with an angelic messenger. We don’t know much about Mary and since the […]

Risk and Reward

Matthew 25:14-30 It was a championship game.  I was an up and coming baseball player.  It was two outs in the bottom of the ninth, no one on, our team down by one.  The first couple pitches were outside, then I fouled off a few.  Two balls and two strikes, the pitcher wound up and threw. A fast ball.  It […]

A New Order is Needed!

Amos 5:18-24, Matthew 25:1-13 Election Day has passed and we are struggling to come together as a country, wondering about where we go from here. Most of us worry about our nation’s future. Regardless of our joy or sorrow at the election, we have work to do.  Our nation is in dire trouble. Last month’s west […]

A Higher Citizenship

Exodus 33:12-23 and Matthew 22:15-22               We are in the height of the political season with the election just two weeks away.  It is appropriate that today’s readings are about the intersection of politics and religion because our American political system has involved from the very beginning an uneasy relationship between political and religious power.  Our founding parents […]


Philippians 4:4-9 Joy in a time of pandemic?  Peace in a time of protest?  It sounds crass after all the carnage, tens of thousands of deaths, an economy in shambles, children sent home from school, anxiety and low level depression abounding and Covid fatigue near universal, and uncertainty in the body politic. How can we talk about […]

Living by a vision

Phil 3:4-14 Good teachers and spiritual guides are known by their solidarity with their students and congregants. They see their oneness in joy and sorrow and don’t hold themselves apart, despite their expertise and experience.  As the saying goes, they don’t care about what you know until they know that you care. And caring comes from recognizing […]

The Good Work Continues

Philippians 1:3-5, 21-30 Philippians is one of my favorite books in the bible.  It’s a letter from a pastor to a community he loves – a community that despite social and legal challenges as a religious and cultural minority is keeping the faith and living out the gospel. A community like South Congregational Church in this […]

Words that change the world

(James 3:1-10; 5:13-16) When Matt was a young boy, he took piano lessons with a lovely and prim and proper Christian woman, Sylvia Swisher.  One day, she reported an interaction during a piano lesson. When Matt hit a wrong note, he said “Jesus Christ” under this breath.  To which Mrs. Swisher responded, “I hope that was a […]

Doers of the Word

 (James 1:22-25; 2:1-7; 2:14-26) My home state California is a paradise for bumper sticker watchers. Nothing is off limits in the point-counterpoint battle of bumper stickers, even religion.  Years ago, there was a popular bumper sticker that exclaimed, “Honk, if you love Jesus.” Not to be outdone, a counter bumper sticker emerged with an equally ardent […]

Philemon – There is no “other”

Philemon 1-21 With just 335 words, you have to wonder why Philemon is in the New Testament.  Like Ruth and Esther, there is little explicit theology, doctrine, and ethical discussion.  Yet, like Ruth, Esther, Jonah, and Song of Solomon, Philemon may be an important book for just such a time as this – our time of racial […]