Heart Attack: the Illusion of Independence

Most preachers I know are always on alert for a good story to enliven their sermons: a compelling anecdote, a funny personal experience, a touching memory. Craig tells us tales of growing up in Zimbabwe; Jered talks about stalking defenseless mushrooms in the forest, Chelsea has spoken about her job with immigrants….

Today, I happen to have a doozy of a story….

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Managing Doubt

“… We are called to act faithfully even while doubting. Even to fake it until we make it, and then repeat the process again—to live, being as faithful as we can, to the truth that keeps beckoning us.”

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The Shape of Things

The ashes today are created by burning what is left of the palms from Palm Sunday — From the green to black in twelve months; from “alleluia” to burned ash. A reminder of our mortality yes, but also, a reminder of our interconnectedness with all of creation, out to the stars above. Today we not only face our mortality, we mark ourselves with the ashes of mortality.

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Ice Capades

I suggest that there are two categories of vulnerability: that which is forced upon us and that which we freely choose. The life of Jesus reflects both. He risked talking to the outcasts of society: the woman at the well, his own disciples with their many issues like Peter in all of his complexity. Vulnerability is second only to love in the Christian story.

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So many things come as compete surprises in our personal and collective lives: Covid, 9/11, the almost-daily shootings; the pervasiveness and depth of racism; sexism and homophobia; but also fabulous fall weather; a magical dinner with friends; recovery, dogs. We live in the tyranny and grace of the unexpected.

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“But first….”
A Case for Coming to Church

Many of us here today are carrying a lot on our shoulders. Not only the joy of the Pride Festival and all it represents to the LBGTQ community and to those of us who support and admire your courage, your resilience, your pride in who you are, but we also carry the blessings of summer weather, and the things in our own lives that sustain and nourish us— a moment of connection with someone we love, a sunset, a garden, the effusive love of a pet.

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The Baby

“Why is this night different from all other nights?”
The youngest child asks this question at the seder dinner, during the Jewish Passover, which begins tomorrow. The answer is about history that on this night God sent the angel of death to kill the firstborn sons of the Egyptians (who had enslaved the Jews), but the Israelites were told to sacrifice a lamb and smear the blood on the door of their houses so that the angel would know to “pass over” their homes.

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The Sunflowers

Which is worse:
-Bombing a maternity hospital or a military base?
-Detonating a bomb in a church or in a prison?
-Assaulting a senior citizen or a teenager?
-Shooting a black person or a white person?

It’s tempting to rate sins, to put them in a hierarchy, to assign each a relative value in terms of how many people suffered or died, the degree of vulnerability of the victims, the motivation of the perpetrator, or the cultural and historical context in which the transgression took place.

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Unroll the Scroll

It’s the elephant in the virtual room, as evident as the mask on my face. It dictates the format and form of our worship; it saturates the news; it affects each of us in individual ways.
In a week full of losses– from Buddhist master Thich Nat Han to the performer Meat Loaf, a week when Russian troops surround the country of Ukraine and Mitch McConnel separates black voters and “Americans,” even as we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King (whom we will honor later with one of his favorite songs), Covid remains the story of the day.

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