God’s best for ALL of us

Whenever I hear the story of the wedding feast at Cana, I am reminded of one of my favorite Russell family stories. Some years ago, my older sister, who some of you have met, was visiting my brother’s family in Virginia. Like a good aunt would, she offered to read some bedtime Bible stories to my brother’s two young daughters. Now, my sister would probably describe herself as “unchurched”. She, like all of us, grew up a pastor’s kids, but we each find our own path as adults. Meanwhile, my brother and his family were committed Southern Baptists for most … Continue reading God’s best for ALL of us

Of Superheroes and Messiahs

Christ the King, Year B, Revelation 1:4b-8; John 18:33-37 “But MOMMMMM!” “You can’t go!” “But everyone else is!” “No! You’ll get scared!” “No I won’t!” “I don’t want you coming home, having nightmares!” “Puhleeeeease!!!” “No!” This was the conversation my mother had with me in the summer of 1977. I was 9. And what was the summer blockbuster that year? Star Wars! My 11 year-old brother had seen it. So had my 13 year-old sister. I was being left out. Somehow, I knew that this was a defining moment for those of us in Generation X. My mother, however, was afraid … Continue reading Of Superheroes and Messiahs

To weep no more…

A sermon for the Feast of All the Saints, Year B Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 24; Revelation 21:1-6a; John 11:32-44 In our readings this morning we have heard stories of suffering but also of restoration. God’s people have suffered. In Isaiah’s prophecy, Isaiah is speaking to God’s people in exile. They have been weeping because of their suffering. They have been crying out to God for salvation. In this morning’s text we are shown a glorious image of God’s restoration. The setting is on a mountain. Mountains are best, because they are high ground. No enemy can sneak up on you. … Continue reading To weep no more…

Humility and Ambition

James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a; Mark 9:30-37 A sermon for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B The year was 1957, and Americans were suddenly very worried. In the twelve years after the end of WWII, it was clear that the world had two superpowers: the United States and the Soviet Union. A “cold war” was raging, with both nations scrambling for the upper hand. The competition was not limited to the land, however. On October 4 of that year, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite in history. Americans grew very concerned. Were we losing the Space … Continue reading Humility and Ambition

Opening More than Just Ears

A sermon for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B Isaiah 35:4-7a; James 2:1-17; Mark 7:31-37 There is a classic story told by sociologist and pastor Dr. Tony Campolo. He was attending a conference in Honolulu. His jetlag was keeping him up the first night he was there. At 3 am he ventured out into the dark streets in search of something to eat. He found a tiny coffee shop. He ordered coffee and a donut from Harry, the man behind the counter, and sat down in a booth. Around 3:30, the diner door burst open and group of boisterous … Continue reading Opening More than Just Ears

When a King Sins

A sermon for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2 Samuel 11:1-15 David sinned. Scripture leaves no question in our mind. King David sinned. It’s springtime in the story from 2 Samuel we heard this morning. Apparently spring is the favorite time of year for kings to wage war on each other, who knew? Springtime, as we know from poetry, is also a time when men’s thoughts turn to love as well. David has sent his army away to fight the Ammonites, but he remains behind in Jerusalem. Can trouble be far off? Up to this point in the … Continue reading When a King Sins