Monthly Archives: March 2015

Get Behind Me, Witch! On God & Name-calling

Lent 2 / March 1, 2015 / Year B

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 / Psalm 22:22-30 / Romans 4:13-25 / Mark 8:31-38

Preached: March 1, 2015, All Saints’ Church, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY

This morning, we’ve just heard two stories about name-calling. In the Old Testament, God appears to an old married couple–Abram is 99 years old–God appears with words of encouragement and promises new life. God says, “Walk before me”–as if pushing them into the future with comforting hands. God makes a covenant, a promise, to them, that they will have many powerful children, even though they haven’t been able to have any children yet and they’re very old. It is an outrageous promise to make to these 90 year-olds! But God does it.

And that isn’t all God does. God also gives them new names. God says to the man, you will no longer be Abram, but Abraham. Sarai will no longer be Sarai, but Sarah. They want children desperately and deeply. It is outrageous and unexpected that God is promising them children now, and that it comes along with these new names–kinda weird names. You can imagine Abram & Sarai saying “Ok??? Like, I just got a lot of stationery with Abram printed on it??? But ok, God, I’ll try out Abraham.”

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Jesus: The College Years

Epiphany 4 / February 1, 2015 / Year B

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 / Psalm 22:22-30 / Romans 4:13-25 / Mark 8:31-38

Preached: February 1, 2015, All Saints’ Church, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY

In 2010, when I was 24, I went on a pilgrimage to The Holy Land. At the time, I was working as an executive assistant at a TV network–a very entry level job with long hours and little vacation and low pay. I didn’t really have much money or time to spare, but the church that I grew up going to (St. David’s in Radnor, Pennsylvania) was organizing this trip–a tour of all the big cities and sights in Israel-Palestine–and something tugged at me to figure out how to make it work to go on this trip.

It didn’t really make any sense, to go on a pilgrimage to The Holy Land, at ths point in my life. I had never really wanted to go there before. The place seemed very far away to me, very foreign. It seemed, perhaps, better left unknown. And I didn’t really think of myself as someone who would do this–go on a “pilgrimage.” I knew–still know–that the politics are very complicated in Israel/Palestine, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a tourist there. But after living for 6 years in New York City, as I held the brochure for this pilgrimage in my hands, wondering how my old church had found my new address in lonely Manhattan, I felt compelled to go, like a hand pushing gently at my back. A voice saying, “Go on this trip; go with your people.”

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A 4-Watt Bulb at Christmas

Christmas 1 / December 28, 2014 / Year B

Isaiah 61:10-62:3 / Psalm 147 / John 1:1-18

Preached: December 28, 2014, All Saints’ Church, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY

(This sermon was inspired by a sermon written by my mother about this same nativity scene. I’ve re-contextualized here for the All Saints’ congregation.)

Merry Christmas!

I guess it’s a little bit like saying, I love chocolate, or I love summer, but I do love Christmas. And I especially love the part of Christmas that comes after Christmas Day. These 12 days of Christmas, when the city slows down, and we get to travel and see our families, and play around with our presents. And I love the decorations, the poinsettias, the trees with their humming electric lights, and the nativity scenes.

I really love the nativity scenes. Probably more than anything else, these mean Christmas to me. This has got a lot to do with my house growing up and my mother’s huge collection of nativity scenes. We’d get down the boxes at the beginning of every Advent and I’d carefully help her unwrap piece after piece of seemingly endless creche pieces. I love this weird little nativity family and all the different representations of it: an unmarried woman, a sweet young man, a brand new baby, shepherds, and kings, and hay-chewing animals, all in their dirty stable-house. And always, somehow, miraculously, God is in there. God chooses that dirty, smelly manger, every time.

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