Text: Philippians 2:12-18


Talking about the importance of church conference during worship feels a little bit like Ira Glass talking about the importance of public radio during an NPR fund drive.   Rather than try and go directly for the hard ask, Ira Glass takes the more subtle approach of reminding listeners how much they benefit from NPR, whether they give or not.  NPR is a part of your life, he says.  You like it so much you even listen to it during fund drives.  It’s supported by listeners just like you, and even if you don’t give, it will continue giving you the programming you’ve come to depend on.

It could be an annoying tactic if Ira Glass wasn’t so disarmingly charming.  So, maybe that’s what finally nudges you over the edge to donate to public radio, or maybe you just smile at the clever, pure-hearted marketing attempt and keep driving.

Our main goal today isn’t to get people to give to conference, although Central District will always accept your money and would put it right to good use.  Our conference has encouraged its congregations to have a CDC Sunday to highlight how we do church together...

Text: Acts 2:42-47

At the risk of sabotaging my own sermon by drawing your attention completely away from it, I want to draw your attention completely away from the sermon for a bit and invite you to take out the insert in your bulletins for the 12 and 6 scriptures project.  We figured one way to get high participation was to get it to you while you’re a captive audience and have you at least start to fill it out and maybe even complete it and hand it in before you leave the church today.  Hopefully you’ve caught some drift of this project and know that we are asking each person, young and old, to submit up to 12 of your personal most important and meaningful scriptures and six most personally troubling and difficult scriptures.  From these submissions an adult Sunday school class will discern our congregational 12 and 6 scriptures and we will use these to focus some of our worship themes for the next year as well as help further name our gifts and mission.  At least a couple of you have asked if you can flip the lists so you can name your 12 most...


Text: Luke 24:13-35

The most difficult part of preaching a sermon on the Road to Emmaus story isn’t finding something to say, but choosing what not to say. The passage has so many entry points and sub-themes that it can be a little overwhelming choosing which part to zoom in on and which to keep at the periphery. This is exactly as the gospel writer intends it to be. This story occurs in the final chapter of Luke and serves as something of a summary of Luke’s entire gospel message. It’s his way of bringing his message to a climax and conclusion, and it’s also the gospel itself in miniature: We are on a journey, confused and disoriented. Jesus comes and walks alongside us, only we don’t recognize him for who he truly is. The scriptures are opened and illuminated. Hospitality is extended around a meal, the bread is taken, blessed, broken, and given. We, the travelers, have our eyes opened to Christ, are transformed, and go and share it with others.

There it is, the gospel in one narrative sweep.

Today we are welcoming five people into membership in our congregation. It’s a day I’ve been...

Texts: John 20:1-18; Psalm 118:1-2; 14-24


Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!

“Easter is late this year.” I’ve heard this said many times over the last number of months, and have said it a few times myself. A late Easter affects worship planners and pushes back spring breaks for some schools. It would normally mean that the early signs of spring would already be starting to look like the full greenery of summer. But it just so happens that spring is also late this year, so it actually feels like we’re about on track.

The date for determining Easter is complicated enough that it can’t be stated succinctly in a few sentences, especially since it has changed a few times throughout church history. In Western Christianity it involves a combination of factors including the spring equinox, the full moon, and the date of Passover. Sun, earth, moon, all hurling through cosmic space; and the commemoration of ancient Hebrew slaves liberated from the captivity of empire. When everything aligns, Easter has arrived. For us Easter can be as early as March 22 and as late as April 25, so today, April 20th is pushing the back...

Texts: Matthew 21:1-11, Isaiah 50:4-9 

“You are a peculiar people.” We know each other well enough by now that I can say that, right? This is actually how the King James Version of the Bible translates a line from the letter of 1 Peter written to a group of early Christians. It comes at a place where Peter is offering different phrases to tell these folks just what kind of people they are for choosing to follow the Jesus way of life. “You are a royal priesthood, you are a holy nation, you are a peculiar people.” Peculiar isn’t a word we use much anymore, so it hasn’t made it into the more recent English translations, but it still has a nice ring to it. Peculiar can mean that one is distinctive and belongs to only one master, such that we are peculiar in belonging only to God. But peculiar can also simply mean strange, odd, not fitting in to the ordinary pattern of things. Most of us already knew this about ourselves – that when you get right down to it, we’re all pretty strange. But Peter is speaking this to a collective personality, the church, the...