Sunday Sermons

November 25, 2018 – The Rev. Pamela Moore

Year B, Proper 29, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Psalm 93
Revelation 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37

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 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Who do you say I am?

During hard times, when people want to be helpful and they really do not know what to do, they will often come up with a saying in the hope that it might make things a little better for us. My mother used to say, “And this too, shall pass.” It was to remind me that all experiences, good and bad, have their time and place and will not last forever. I once heard someone say, “Stop telling God how big your problems are and start telling your problems how big your God is.” This, I find, is a good reminder for those times when one feels especially overwhelmed by life’s difficulties. Another saying I heard recently is to remember Grace over Drama. G-O-D. It helps us to remember to pause, center, and focus on God’s grace rather than give into the emotional turmoil of the moment. (more…)

November 18, 2018 – The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver

Year B, Proper 28, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
Daniel 12:1-3
Psalm 16
Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18) 19-25
Mark 13:1-8

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As a teenager in the 1990s I spent a few years identifying with a particular kind of evangelical Christian subculture. My youth group friends and I wore bracelets with the initials WWJD on them, for “What Would Jesus Do?,” and shopped at Christian bookstores for CDs by popular Christian bands with names like Jars of Clay and the Newsboys. None of these references will probably make sense to you unless you happened to come up through the same subculture. But they functioned as markers of identity. (more…)

November 11, 2018 – The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver

Year B, Proper 27, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
1 Kings 17:8-16
Psalm 146
Hebrews 9:24-28
Mark 12:38-44

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It’s almost too easy, really. Hearing this gospel story the week before the end of our annual pledge campaign. This is one of the classic so-called stewardship texts, isn’t it? This poor widow has put in more than everyone else, for she has put in everything; all she had to live on. Now I’m supposed to say: go and do likewise. Increase your pledge! Classic stewardship sermon, and I can go sit down—which is good, because sermons are supposed to be short during the pledge campaign so there’s time for the testimonials later. (more…)

November 4, 2018 – The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver

Year B, All Saints’ Sunday, Revised Common Lectionary
Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9
Psalm 24
Revelation 21:1-6a
John 11:32-44

John looked into heaven, and saw a great multitude from every nation, robed in white, crying praise to our God and to the Lamb.

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There are times when the church calendar and current events come together more than you could ever have guessed.

We didn’t need for it to be All Saints’ Day to come close to the great mystery of death and what lies beyond death this week. (more…)

October 28, 2018 – The Rev. Pamela Moore

Year B, Proper 25, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
Jeremiah 31:7-9
Psalm 126
Hebrews 7:23-28
Mark 10:46-52

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23)

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Restoration

Whenever I read the name of someone who is featured in a Gospel story I learn two things. One is that someone thought enough of the person to remember their name and two that the story is like the underline in a written document as it is meant to draw our attention to something important. I do not know about you, however, these days I have difficulty remembering a person’s name within minutes of having been told what it is. I am much more likely to remember their face what they wore or some part of what they shared with me than their name. It is different though if they have a dog. I will remember the dog’s name. And from then on the person who I met will forever be remembered as “Fluffy’s” mom or dad. I do not care how famous they are or how well known they may be in the community, for me their primary identity will be as a pet. (more…)

October 21, 2018 – The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver

Year B, Proper 24, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
Isaiah 53:4-12
Psalm 91:9-16
Hebrews 5:1-10
Mark 10:35-45

In the name of God, Source of all being, Incarnate Word, and Holy Spirit: Amen.

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What comes to mind when I say the word “Ambition”?

Maybe it’s a positive word for you, something to do with setting goals and working hard. Maybe it’s more of a negative word, something to do with lacking humility and trying to be better than other people. (more…)

October 7, 2018 – The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver

Year B, Proper 22, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
Genesis 2:18-24
Psalm 8
Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12
Mark 10:2-16

Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, to you be praises, glory, honor, and blessing.

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That’s the opening line from the Canticle of the Creatures, a famous text composed by St. Francis in the 1200s. Francis is well known for his strong sense of kinship, not only with animals, whom we’re blessing today, but with the entire natural creation. His feast day fell this past Thursday, on October 4. We’ll get back to Francis in a minute. But first we’d better talk a little about divorce. (more…)

September 30, 2018 – The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver

Year B, Proper 21, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
Numbers 11:4-6,10-16,24-29
Psalm 19:7-14
James 5:13-20
Mark 9:38-50

In the name of the one, holy, and living God: Amen.

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What do aspirin, cellophane, a trampoline, and an escalator have in common?

It’s not a trick question. All four of those words started out as trademarks, but eventually became generic terms.

When a brand name becomes used generically by enough people, a company can lose its trademark. Lots of companies today are fighting very hard against that very possibility. Think of Kleenex … or should I say Kleenex brand facial tissues, as the company would prefer we say. You can probably think of other trademarks that people often use generically: Jello. Xerox. Band-Aid. (more…)

September 16, 2018 – The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver

Year B, Proper 19, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
Baptism of Parker Jaye Deniz
Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 116:1-8
James 3:1-12
Mark 8:27-38

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Today is an occasion of great joy. Today we celebrate the baptism of Parker, who is already a child of God by nature and now becomes a second time the child of God by grace. Today Parker becomes a member of Christ’s Body. Today the Holy Spirit descends on him, just as the Spirit descended on Jesus, and God says, “This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased!” Today, too, Parker is joined with us as part of the communion of saints, all God’s people in all places and times, past, present, and yet to come. (more…)

September 9, 2018 – The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver

Year B, Proper 18, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
Isaiah 35:4-7a
Psalm 146
James 2:1-10, [11-13], 14-17
Mark 7:24-37

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A couple of years ago I first became aware of an online test you can take through Harvard University. Maybe you know of it: it’s called the Implicit Association Test, and it’s designed to measure the subtle biases and stereotypes many of us carry around, both consciously and unconsciously. The best-known version is about race. Images of black people and white people are flashed on the screen, together with words with either positive or negative associations, like “kind” or “sneaky” or “hardworking” or “lazy.” The test measures your response times as you push a button to categorize the images you see. The results for most people in our culture can be sobering. It’s easier and quicker for most participants to associate a picture of a white person with a positive descriptor, and a picture of a black person with a negative descriptor, than the other way around. Most people show some level of preference for white people over people of color. (more…)

September 2, 2018 – The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver

Year B, Proper 17, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9
Psalm 15
James 1:17-27
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Lord, speak to us this day: and may we have ears to hear.

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Today’s gospel reading was a long one—and you can blame me for that. The lectionary, our schedule of readings, actually abbreviated this passage, but in doing that it left out some verses that are key to what’s going on … so I decided to take advantage of a permission in the Prayer Book and put them back in.[1] I did this after it was too late to change the bulletins, so you might have noticed hearing some lines that weren’t printed in! Let’s dive in and figure out what’s happening between Jesus and this group of Pharisees. (more…)

August 26, 2018 – The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver

Year B, Proper 16, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
Joshua 24:1-2a,14-18
Psalm 34:15-22
Ephesians 6:10-20
John 6:56-69

In the name of God: Source of all Being, Incarnate Word, and Holy Spirit.

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“Choose this day whom you will serve,” said Joshua to the people of Israel. This was probably the passage Bob Dylan had in mind when he wrote his song “Gotta Serve Somebody.” “It might be the devil or it might be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” It was 1979 and he had just entered a born-again Christian phase that would last about three years. Many of his fans were aghast. Here was Bob Dylan, symbol of the counterculture, suddenly turning into some kind of churchy altar boy. John Lennon was so upset he sat down and wrote a response song called “Serve Yourself.” (more…)

August 5, 2018 – The Rev. Pamela Moore

Year B, Proper 13, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
Exodus 16:2-4,9-15
Psalm 78:23-29
Ephesians 4:1-16
John 6:24-35

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Spiritual Hunger

“So they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they craved.” Psalm 78:29

Sometimes we have everything we need and yet, we are still hungry. See if this situation sounds familiar to you. You’ve come home from grocery shopping. You bought enough food for you and your family to last at least two weeks. After you finish putting everything away in the fridge you realize that you want to eat a little something. You open the refrigerator, look through all the shelves and decide, wait for it, there’s nothing to eat. (more…)

July 29, 2018 – The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver

Year B, Proper 12, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
2 Kings 4:42-44
Psalm 145:10-19
Ephesians 3:14-21
John 6:1-21

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Have you ever had a family story where the point was clear, but the facts might have varied a bit in the retelling?

The lore in my father’s family was that Great-Grandfather Shaver had been married seven times. They told and retold that story: the man who couldn’t settle down, who went through six divorces before he finally found someone he could live with. A few years ago my father got interested in genealogy and started doing some actual research, looking up marriage certificates and burial records. It turned out Great-Grandpa Shaver was married four times. It really did take him a long time to settle down, and some of those marriages really were tumultuous. So the story was clear although the details had fluctuated. That’s oral tradition at work. (more…)

July 22, 2018 – The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver

Year B, Proper 11, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm 23
Ephesians 2:11-22
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

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As a child growing up around Lake Tahoe, I remember visiting the famous resort called the Cal-Neva Lodge. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s been closed since 2013, but its glory days were much longer ago; it was a hangout in the fifties and sixties for Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack and other assorted celebrities and hangers-on. I remember being fascinated by its swimming pool, which straddles the Nevada-California border, so you can swim from one state to the next. There was something so strange about the idea that an arbitrary line down the middle of a pool was a real boundary between two places. In a way, the line was completely imaginary. Birds could hop from one side to the other. The pines and aspens were the same on both sides. Yet in another way this artificial, human-made line had very real consequences, because the gambling laws were very different on each side. Inside the lobby, inches from the Nevada side of the line, the slot machines began. (more…)