Archive for June, 2013

Can I Get a Witness?

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Rev. Dr. Melanie Miller

June 23, 2013

Listen to Sermon

Contemporary Testimony:   From Political Theology by The Rev. Amy Lindeman Allen

In any time, in any place, there are demons to fear.  There are those things and people and ideas that we prefer to keep in shackles and under guard.  But they have an annoying tendency of breaking loose.  And when they do, the question is not solely the immediate consequences or even the economic ones, but more pressing: by what power has this been done?  Who is in control—really? The ones who possess the shackles and the chains (our governments, intelligence agencies, police)?  Is it strangers from another country (Judea,China, or anywhere else)?  Or is it—perhaps most frightening of all—the Son of the Most High God whose power transcends all of us?

Biblical Testimony:  Luke 8:26-39

Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is oppositeGalilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”—for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.  Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

Poured Out, Spent

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Rev. Dr. Melanie Miller

June 16, 2013

Listen to Sermon

Contemporary Testimony:   “Are You Saved?”  by Linder Unders

All this talk of saving souls,
Souls weren’t meant to save,
Like Sunday clothes that
give out at the seams.

They’re made for wear;
they come with a lifetime guarantee.
Don’t save your soul.
Pour it out like rain
on cracked, parched earth.

Give your soul away,
or pass it like a candle flame.
Sing it out,
or laugh it up the wind.

Souls were meant for hearing
breaking hearts, for puzzling dreams,
remembering August flowers,
forgetting hurts.

These folk who talk of saving souls!
They have the look of bullies
who blow out candles before you
sing happy birthday,
and want the world to be in alphabetical order.

I will spend my soul,
Playing it out like sticky string
Into the world …
So I can catch every last thing I touch.

Next time someone asks, “Is your soul saved?”
Say, “No, it’s spent, spent, spent!”

Biblical Testimony:  Luke 7:36 – 47

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him — that she is a sinner.” Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “Speak.” “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.”44Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.  Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”


The Parade of Life

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Rev. Deb Huffman

June 9, 2013

Listen to Sermon

Contemporary Testimony:  “From Procession to Party,” sermon by The Rev. Dr. Kimberleigh Buchanan

From what I’ve heard, a New Orleans jazz funeral is an experience like no other. The brass band begins its solemn procession at the church, playing hymns like “Free as a Bird” and “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” – no improvisation, no frills. Nothing but sadness blown low and blue to the beat of a muted snare drum.

Once the procession arrives at the cemetery, though, after the final words are spoken and the body is lowered into the ground, the mood shifts. Brightly festooned umbrellas burst open, the snare drummer removes his mute, and the funeral procession heads back into town to the raucous strains of “Didn’t He Ramble?” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Folks who heard the somber hymns earlier in the day wait for the procession’s return . . . because they know a celebration’s coming . . . and no one inNew Orleanswants to miss the funeral celebration.

Biblical Testimony: Luke 7:11-19 (NRSV)

Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him.  As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town.  When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!”  The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.  Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” This word about him spread throughoutJudea and all the surrounding country.

From the Edge

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Rev. Dr. Melanie Miller

June 2, 2013

Listen to Sermon

Contemporary Testimony: Rowan Williams, Archbishop’s speech to the International Bonhoeffer Congress, Poland, 3rd February 2006

[T]here is one story, which contains all others; and the center of that story is the perpetually displaced God who addresses us from the edge of human affairs, who has chosen the place of the excluded. Culture is not to be rejected or given theological legitimacy; it is a fact with which we have no choice but to engage. However, our engagement as Christians must be determined by the question of who or what the culture is currently forgetting, since it is there that we are likely to find God waiting for us. This cannot therefore be a prescription for liberalism or for conservatism. The more fashionable a cause, the more likely that the crucified God has moved on; the more embedded a practice or trend, the more likely that God is elsewhere. There is nothing to be recommended except the daily development of the mind of the crucified, what some recent theologians like James Alison (following René Girard) have come to call “the intelligence of the victim.”

 Biblical Testimony:  Luke 7:1-10

After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he enteredCapernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even inIsraelhave I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

The Invitation to the Table:  Only Speak the Word, A Blessing by Jan Richardson

You might not have guessed how far this blessing can travel.

But it is worth believing that it is built for crossing distances for stretching itself for making its way without hesitation to the place where it is needed most.

Only believe— or, failing this, latch onto someone who will believe for you, who will ask on your behalf, who will plead for this blessing to come.

Trust one who knows with a certainty fierce as fire that this blessing will find its way to you, that it will treat miles and time as nothing, that it will push through each boundary, cross every order, pass through all obstacles to reach you.

Trust that these words know the path into your anguish, that in your ache they will become balm
and in your pain they will become soothing. Trust that they will be for you a sweet and stunning peace.

© Jan L. Richardson.