Sermons

    • Donkey Detail Philippians 2: 5 – 11 Mark 11: 1 – 11   The gospel of Mark was the first of the four gospels to be written.  According to scholars of the Bible, both Matthew and Luke drew on Mark when they wrote their gospels.  The gospel of Mark is also the most concise.  Mark is not wordy.  He doesn’t use a lot of descriptive language.  He goes right to the heart of the matter, using as few words as possible.  That’s why it’s puzzling that, in our gospel for today, Mark spends so muc... [read more]
    • Reflections on the Cross Mark 15: 25 – 39   A couple of weeks ago, in a magazine about current events in churches, a photograph grabbed my attention.  It was a picture of the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Paul in downtown Boston, near Boston Common.  The church building has a new symbol on the front.  It’s in a place above the front door that architects call a pediment.  It’s a large sculpture of a seashell.  The sculpture is gleaming aluminum on a bright blue background.  If you lo... [read more]
    • Introduction:  The parable of the Prodigal Son is a familiar one to many of us.  The parable is so powerful and so poignant that a preacher doesn’t really have to expand on it.  All we need to do is tell the parable; it speaks for itself.  In the parable, Jesus describes the three characters: father, elder son, younger son.  You and I can see ourselves in each one.  We can enter into the story and experience it from each person’s point of view.  Maybe, as you listened, you imagined yourself as t... [read more]
    •   When the Faithful Answer is No Luke 4: 1 - 13 This morning as a congregation we enter into the season of Lent.  Lent is a season of preparation, a time for reflection, a time for introspection.  It’s a time to turn away from distractions, and focus on our relationship with God.  Lent has been compared to a kind of spiritual spring training.  In the same way that baseball players spend time getting in shape for the season every spring, Christians spend the forty days of Lent getting in ... [read more]
    • Bad News!  Good News! I Peter 2: 1 – 10   One day last week, as I was going into the supermarket, I noticed a sign on the door:  “New Store Hours: We will now be open seven days a week, from 7 AM to 10 PM.”  The store would now be open Sunday morning, just like any other morning.  For shoppers, Sunday would be like any other day.  In a way I wasn’t surprised.  Stores have been open on Sundays for years now.  But the sign seemed to confirm something that had already happened.  There’s n... [read more]
    • A Radiant, Righteous Life Psalm 1   Winter is still in full swing, but before long it will be the beautiful month of May.  The month of May, among other delights, ushers in a season of graduations.  On campuses all over the country, students and faculty walk in stately processions, wearing costumes dating from the Middle Ages.  Sometimes the mortarboards the students wear are decorated with twenty-first century touches.  Sometimes a student does a goofy dance of celebration as he receives h... [read more]
    •    He Went Under to Win Us Over Luke 3: 15 – 18; 21 – 22   The Masterpiece Classic TV series, Downton Abbey, was a huge hit when it first came out some years ago.  It was so popular that some public broadcasting stations still offer the series on Sunday evenings.  Downton Abbey portrays a family and their servants in England in the early 1900s.  It’s full of historical details.  The very first episode shows you’re in the early 1900s, because you see a telegraph operator tapping out a messag... [read more]
    •   Following a Star and Finding a Stable Matthew 2: 1 – 12 The wise men in our passage for today from Matthew’s gospel were men of learning. Like other people of learning in the ancient world, they knew the night sky very well. Year after year they observed and recorded the movement of the stars. When the brilliant star appeared in the East, announcing the birth of the King of the Jews, they were thrilled. They were eager to make the long journey to Bethlehem. They packed up and heade... [read more]
    • Luke 2:  41-52 Who is This Child_December 30, 2018 So…how was your Christmas? Did you have a good day? Did you enjoy your celebration of the holiday? I had a very good Christmas, and hope you did as well. I find that over the years my definition of a good Christmas has changed. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to open all my presents. I remember one year in particular, when the gift I wanted more than anything was a Barbie doll. These days Barbie dolls have fallen out of favor with some folks... [read more]
    • The Quiet One Matthew 1: 18 – 25   One of the best things about the Christmas season, for me, is the pageants that children put on at this time of year.  Pageants are dramatic on stage and off.  Feelings can run especially high when children try out to play the parts of Mary, Joseph, the tax collector, the innkeeper, and so on.  In one grade school pageant, one boy in the class wanted very much to be Joseph.  But another boy, his biggest rival, also wanted the part.  When the parts wer... [read more]
    • A Voice in the Wilderness Luke 3: 1 – 11   This is a busy time of year, full of preparations for Christmas and the festive yuletide season.  Of course there are many ways to get ready for Christmas.  Two men who were next door neighbors had an unusual way of getting ready.  Just a few days before Christmas, they decided to go sailing while their wives went Christmas shopping.  It was a beautiful day with a fair wind, but after a few hours they noticed the skies were clouding over.  The ... [read more]
    • When There Is Woe Amidst the Mistletoe Jeremiah 33: 14 – 16 Like all pastors, I draw on a variety of material for sermons. For some of the sermon today, I have drawn on the words and wisdom of a longtime friend and mentor, the Rev. Dr. Richard Hughes. Rick is the pastor of the church where I experienced my call to ordained ministry, Union Congregational Church in North Reading. At this time of year, just about everywhere you go, you can hear Christmas music playing in the background. You ... [read more]