Sermons

Woken Up

Professor Jan Schnell Rippentrop writes that,

This (gospel) text (from John), which falls during the season of Epiphany, is an epiphany. Epiphanies tend to transform people. This is seen in Nathaniel’s change and in an epiphany-induced change that Martin Luther King, Jr. describes in his book, “Stride Toward Freedom.” (King writes):

I was ready to give up. With my cup of coffee sitting untouched before me, I tried to think of a way to move out of the picture without appearing a coward. In this state of exhaustion, when my courage had all but gone, I decided to take my problem to God. With my head in my hands, I bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud.

The words I spoke to God that midnight are still vivid in my memory. "I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I am afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they too will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I've come to the point where I can't face it alone.
At that moment, I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced God before. It seemed as though I could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice saying: "Stand up for justice, stand up for truth; and God will be at your side forever." Almost at once my fears began to go. My uncertainty disappeared. I was ready to face anything.1

Martin Luther King, Jr. was changed by this epiphany often referred to as his “vision in the kitchen.” (from “Working Preacher,” Jan 14th, 2018)

Read more: Woken Up

The Biggest Production, Ever

Some day I want to be part of staging the biggest Christmas Pageant ever!

There will be beautiful organ music playing and a gigantic children and adult’s choir singing classical Christmas carols, but there will also be an African steel drum band and interpretive dance ensemble. The woman who designed the larger than life animal puppets (carried by two people each) for the Lion King on Broadway will create animals for the manger scene. We’ll build an actual stable, complete with hayloft and cooing doves. We’ll set up the stable far ahead of time and outside somewhere so that real animals can live inside for a while so that the whole area, even after it is cleansed from all that animals can leave behind that we’d rather none of the actors step in, have a more authentic smell and feel to it. There will be real flying angels – children strapped in harnesses singing “Glory to God in the Highest and Peace to God’s people on earth.” This staging of the Christmas Nativity will be multicultural and multinational. I’m thinking Disney meets the United Nations meets the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall meets the acrobatic circus Cirque De Soleil.

Read more: The Biggest Production, Ever

Welcome Christ

Some years ago I, along with my parents and younger brother, had the good fortune to travel to Europe with the local music group, Ars Choralis. And it so happened that the flight home to the United States stopped over Finland, which is where my great, great grandfather Johan emigrated from at the end of the 1800s. My parents decided there would not likely be another time to stop in Finland and visit distant relatives and perhaps see a few places connected to our family history.

Read more: Welcome Christ

Faith & Doubt

In the little daily prayer books that we make available out in the Narthex here at Redeemer, New Paltz, today’s Psalm – Psalm 85 - is listed together with mention of Clare of Assisi, who lived from 1193 until 1254. “Let me hear what the Lord will speak…that His glory may live in the land.”

Clare of Assisi was one heck of a faithful, persistent woman. Sometimes referred to as alter Francis, or “the other Francis,” because she followed so closely in the footsteps of Francis of Assisi, seeking to emulate his virtues and way of life, Clare nevertheless distinguished herself in her own right as a person and leader of faith. Her devotion to founding the order of nuns that would become known, after her death, as the Order of St Clare, was single-mindedly carried out from the time that she heard God’s call to leave her life of wealth and her prestigious family in order to carve out a different way forward in the world. She built an order of nuns and a mission of faith that would stay true to it’s course even when that meant constant petitioning and at times defiance of the Church powers that sought to influence their order in other directions.

Read more: Faith & Doubt

Alive

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

- Romans 6:11

As Paul reminds us in today’s reading from Romans, Christ is the center of our lives; God in Christ makes us alive. How is this so?

Christ is the center of our lives because we have been united with him in a death like his and therefore united with him in a resurrection like his. Death and despair and all the fears that loom in our lives and in this world right now have turned out not to be the final story. Our Pac Man session just bleeped out “game over” to us, and then we discovered that we’re still, somehow, miraculously alive.

Read more: Alive

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21 Jan 2018;
09:00AM - 10:30AM
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28 Jan 2018;
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