Sermon: “The Tale of the Lady and the Prayer Shawl”

John 10:1-10 and Acts 2:42-47 Fourth Sunday of Easter May 11, 2014 First Christian Church Mahtomedi, MN   It’s Springtime and that means that it’s time for the  spring pledge drive on public radio.  Now, I love listening to Minnesota Public Radio and I’ve been a supporter for about a decade.  I get that public radio and television in the United States is not funded totally by the government, but mostly by donations from listeners.  But every time I hear that the pledge drive is coming, I get sullen.  I’m sad because I know that the this pledge drive is … Continue reading Sermon: “The Tale of the Lady and the Prayer Shawl”

Sermon: “Waiting to Exhale”

Here’s a sermon I preached in 2007 on Pentecost Sunday.

“Waiting to Exhale”
Act 2:1-21
May 27, 2007 (Pentecost Sunday)
Lake Harriet Christian Church
Minneapolis, MN


When I was about two years old, I was diagnosed with asthma.  From about age two until maybe age 9, I dealt with constant asthma attacks where I had hard time breathing.  I can remember sitting in the doctor’s office of Dr. Cory Cookingham, who was my allergy and asthma doctor, who would sometimes have to give me a shot of adrenalin to open up my constricted lungs.  More than once he worried if this didn’t work, that the hospital would be the next stop.

Growing up as a kid with asthma was not fun in the early 70s.  I still had a pretty full childhood, but there were things I was limited in doing.  My made sure all the schools I attended were clean and not dusty so as not to trigger an attack.  I remember when I was very young, not playing outdoors again for fear of an attack.

As I got older the spectre of asthma grew smaller.  I was able to play outdoors and have fun, no longer fearful for another attack.  In fact I went without an asthma attack for eight years until the summer I graduated high school.  I still have attacks few and far between, but I do carry an inhaler just in case. Continue reading “Sermon: “Waiting to Exhale””

Discipleship or Consumerism?

A few days ago, I was at a church retreat.  In response to a question on what challenges the church is facing, a woman remarked that one challenge is how people don’t really want to get involved in church.  They don’t see it as a life, as much as a place where they can get their needs met and be on their way. I was glad to see someone in the pews notice this.  It’s been a growing frustration of mine over the years.  Pastors are pushed in many ways to try to make their churches appealing to folk, especially … Continue reading Discipleship or Consumerism?

Ashes to Ashes…We All Fall Down.

Like many people, I’ve been rather surprised to hear that Oscar Pistorius has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend. The South African athelete, who is a double amputee, is known as “Blade Runner” for his carbon fiber legs and his speed.  Pistorius was a symbol that persons with disabilities can achieve great feats, like being a world champion runner.  Yes, he was to use that tired cliche, an inspiration.  He helped put the Paralympics on the map, helping us to see it as a serious sporting event on par with its sister event, the Olympics. I remember watching … Continue reading Ashes to Ashes…We All Fall Down.

About That Interview…

Some of you might have noticed that there is an article in the most recent Christian Century with a Disciples pastor in Minneapolis by the name of Dennis Sanders.  I haven’t said much about it, but I wanted to provide some background to the article. Steve Thorngate, the editor sent me an email over the summer asking if I would take part in the magazine’s series on ministry in the 21st century.  So began a number of emails back and forth, with Steve asking some really good questions and I trying to answer them as best as I could. I … Continue reading About That Interview…

Sunday Sermon: “In God We Trust”

“In God We Trust”
Mark 10:17-31
Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost
October 14, 2012
First Christian Church
Minneapolis, MN

I will admit it: I really don’t like this passage.

Why don’t I like it?  For a lot of reasons.  I don’t like how people sometimes use this passage to lord over others.  People who are full of themselves and like to preach against all those confortable folks in the pews with their nice houses in the suburbs.  Never mind said preacher has most of the accutrments of modern society like an iPhone and/or a laptop and nice clothes.  If you’re gonna go around acting like a prophet, you might want to actually try living as one.

I also don’t like this text for some opposite reasons.  I don’t like how we try to soften this passage.  Pastors and others try to make the text more palatable by saying that the whole camel thought the eye of a needle referred to the beast entering a smaller door fit for them.  We try to say that Jesus was just testing the young man on what was keeping him from God.  It might be wealth for one person, but it might be something else entirely for another person.

There is another reason I don’t like this text and it comes down to this: it’s just too personal for me.  There’s a fear that this verse is speaking to me as well and if it came down to selling everything I have and giving it to the poor to follow Jesus, my response would be just like the young ruler.  I’m hardly rich, by American means, but I don’t know if I could give up my car or iPad or home and follow some long-haired hippie. Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: “In God We Trust””

Occupy or Confess?

The whole Occupy Wall Street protests have been fascinating to watch. Even moreso is how Christians respond to the event. I know that there have been clergy taking part and other tweeting positively about the protests, which have now spread around the country. I’m not very sold on the whole thing.  Yes, they are talking about some important issues, but in many ways they tend to be the inverse of the Tea Party movement.  Where the Tea Partiers blame government for, well… everything, the Occupy folks blame corporations.  Instead of trying to find ways to alleviate the suffering that is … Continue reading Occupy or Confess?