Lost & Found

A Sermon for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

I am the younger of two brothers, and whenever a story begins, “There were two sons,” I know it’s going to be good. In the Bible especially, stories with two siblings typically involve an older, more dutiful one and a younger, more free-spirited one—think Mary and Martha or Jacob and Esau.

As his audience might expect, Jesus sticks to this trope.

“There was a man who had two sons,” he says. The younger one is eager to make it on his own and knows he can live large with his inheritance, so he asks his dad for that and goes on his way. Of course, this is probably devastating to his father, but he goes along with it knowing that he may never see his son again.

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Bushes Burning and Hearts on Fire

The Third Sunday in Lent

My parents exposed me to a whole lot of church as soon as I was born, and for eighteen years we were in those folding chairs, and later wooden pews, every single Sunday.

I was an acolyte (that’s right acolytes, this could be your future too). Continue reading “Bushes Burning and Hearts on Fire”

Wondrous Love

The Second Sunday in Lent

Not only is there no evidence of a snake infestation in Ireland during the fifth century, there is evidence that strongly affirms that there were absolutely no snakes at all for Patrick to drive out during the time he was helping to establish Christianity on the island.

Don’t worry, you can still eat your corned beef and cabbage.

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Civilized or Not

Palm Sunday

I was called upon recently to serve on a jury, and I immediately began asking myself how I could get out of it. It seems ironic that, for the most part, when one receives a summons for jury duty the first inclination is to devise a way to avoid it. Some people show up for jury selection and subtly accentuate their most polarizing traits, people might voice political leanings or strong opinions about this or that, priests might wear their clerical collars, and Tiny Fey’s character from a popular show of recent past once dressed as Princess Leia and claimed an unfair ability to read minds.

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What doesn’t kill you…

The Fourth Sunday of Lent

We’ve all heard that, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Whether you are used to hearing this from your grandparent or from Kelly Clarkson, the old adage about doing difficult things in order to build character is a familiar one to most every one of us. And it is useful in many circumstances.

For example, when my left knee refused to stop violently sneaking around to the backside of my leg during some painful dislocations, a knee surgeon took “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” to a whole other level. He decided to slice off a chunk off of my shinbone, relocate it, and adjust how the rest of my tendons and ligaments moved. As a result, I can jump, lunge, squat, and otherwise move with ease.

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Holy Losers

After one service, a younger, more precocious member of our congregation told me she had been contemplating our practice of consuming bread and wine during the service. She asked me if we, in fact, were cannibals since we spoke about the bread and wine being Jesus’ body and blood. This is a terrific question—one that would cause many of us to strain while attempting to provide a clear, theologically-sound response.

Many of our traditions seem a little odd to the outsider. We wake up early on a day that so many people choose to sleep in, we all stand, sing, and pray the same words while facing the same direction, and on Ash Wednesday, we read about not practicing our piety before others, right before splat ashen crosses on our foreheads for everyone to see.

The most profoundly odd thing we do is follow a man who, by so many people’s standards, was a loser.

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