Sermons

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/20170618sermon.mp3

Twelve Hymns Project: When peace like a river

Text: Job 29:1-5; 30:16-20

In May of 1373 Julian of Norwich was deathly ill.  Close enough to death that she was given last rites.  No one knows what Julian’s birth name was.  She was an anchoress, meaning she had anchored herself, stationed herself, within a small church cell, itself attached to the larger building, like a barnacle on a rock, or a ship.  This was common in the late Middle Ages.  She had chosen a solitary life of prayer and contemplation, committed to staying in that particular place.  It was a tiny world spent mostly inside the anchorhold, food and water handed in through a window.  But it held a promise of opening one’s mind and soul to the vast expanse of Divine reality.  This is the life Julian had chosen, or the life that had chosen her.

Her cell was attached to the Church of St. Julian, which is where she likely got her name.  The church was in Norwich, England.  Julian of Norwich.

Along with her physical ailments, Julian had been overwhelmed to despair by sin.  It consumed her thoughts.  She felt so deeply about this, she wrote...

Twelve Hymns Project: My life flows on

Texts: Psalm 46; 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2

 

Sacrament

Back in the fourth century the great North African theologian Augustine wrote that a sacrament is “an outward sign of an inward grace.”  It’s a phrase that stuck.  Many Christian denominations still use this as a definition for sacrament.  An outward sign of an inward grace.

Through the centuries the Western Church developed the rituals and meaning of sacraments, eventually recognizing seven: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist or Communion, Reconciliation or Confession, Anointing the Sick, Marriage, and Holy Orders or Ordination.  These signs are outward.  They are enacted, spoken, even tasted.  They involve material reality: water, oil, bread and wine, bodies.  Through these things, one experiences the Presence of God, an inward grace.  Eventually the church taught that although not everyone had to receive every sacrament, the sacraments were necessary for salvation.

It’s quite a thing for an institution, and its leaders, to hold the means of salvation.  To be the access point for experiencing the grace of God.  That’s a lot of power.

During the 16th century various Anabaptists questioned and ultimately rejected this notion of salvation and the sacraments.  They still practiced many of them,...

David Denlinger  |  FIVE OBSERVATIONS FROM MY YEARS ON THE BIKE PATH

I’ve encountered Joel a few times on the Olentangy bike path, and I think that’s what prompted his asking me to share five reflections about my bicycle commute to work.

Judy and I first encountered bicycling as a way of life during my postdoc in the Netherlands in the early 1970’s. That was the first time we saw paths dedicated to bicycles.  We didn’t have a car nor did we need one. We went everywhere, rain or shine, on our bicycles, and in those short days of the Dutch winter I went off to the university in the dark and came home in the dark.

When we returned to the U.S. and lived in the Boston area I continued to ride by bicycle, but riding down Massachusetts Avenue never felt very safe.  So, we’ve been excited to see the construction of bike paths take off in the U.S., and now that a bike path is complete from Worthington to the university and beyond, I can use a bike path nearly the whole distance of my commute. Unlike the Dutch, I’m a fair weather rider so I don’t do...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/20170529sermon.mp3

Texts: John 14:15-17; Acts 1:6-14

 

Last Friday the New York Times published an essay titled “We aren’t built to live in the moment.”  The authors point out that none of the things we’ve previously proposed that set humans apart from other animals actually do.  It turns out language, tools, cooperation, and culture aren’t unique to us.

But, they argue, there is a defining characteristic that sets us, humanity, apart: “We contemplate the future.”  They write: “Our singular foresight created civilization and sustains society. It usually lifts our spirits, but it’s also the source of most depression and anxiety, whether we’re evaluating our own lives or worrying about the nation. Other animals have springtime rituals for educating the young, but only we subject them to ‘commencement’ speeches grandly informing them that today is the first day of the rest of their lives.”

The essay goes on to weave insights from psychology, brain science, and various forms of therapy to make its case.  Much more than looking back at the past, we seem to direct most of our mental energy toward anticipating the future and adjusting our behavior accordingly.  We do the things we do and feel the...

Text: Psalm 23; Acts 2:42-47

The sermon today and next week will be multi-voiced.  We’ll be hearing from our new members.  I’ve gently suggested they keep their sharing brief, so I’ll follow my own counsel.

Today’s scriptures speak of a faith that is deeply personal and radically communal.

Psalm 23 proclaims God as a shepherd.  And not just any shepherd, but my shepherd.  “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.”  How many people have recited these lines through the millennia?

And who doesn’t need shepherded?  Is there anyone out there who has it all figured out, knows exactly where they’re going and why?  Does anyone always know the way to green pastures and still waters?  Most of the time we’re stumbling in the dark, or, as the Psalmist says, in “the valley of the shadow of death.”  It doesn’t say we avoid the valley or the darkness.  It says we are accompanied through it, and that we need fear no evil.

There is a dimension of faith that is deeply personal, and there are paths we alone have to walk.  Psalm 23 proclaims that when we do, we are accompanied by the great Shepherd, with goodness and mercy trailing...

Pages