Sunday Sermons

April 17, 2016 – The Rev. Pamela Moore

The Set Aside Prayer

“God, please set aside all I think I know about myself, my obstacles, my spiritual path and You, for an open mind, a changeable mind, and a new experience with myself, my obstacles, my spiritual path, and You.” (Anonymous).

The Set Aside Prayer that I just read to you has become a new favorite for me because it challenges me to think about what it is I know and what I believe. When I ask God to set aside what I think and invite God to show me or teach me, then there I have an opportunity to learn and grow in my faith, and to gain new perspectives about life. (more…)

April 10, 2016 (9:15 a.m.) – The Rev. James Richardson

Baptism

Alleluia! The Lord is Risen!

What comes next?

That must have been going through the minds of the disciples as Jesus kept showing up on roads and in closed rooms in the days after his death. What’s next?

The disciples have been through a lot already – and there will be more.

What’s next? (more…)

April 10, 2016 (11:15 a.m.) – The Rev. James Richardson

Alleluia! The Lord is Risen!

What comes next?

That must have been going through the minds of the disciples as Jesus kept showing up on roads and in closed rooms in the days after his death. What’s next?

The disciples have been through a lot already – and there will be more.

What’s next? (more…)

April 3, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!  

So where the heck was Thomas?

Where was he when all these amazing things are taking place?

Let’s put ourselves in his shoes for a moment. The disciples are in hiding, in a locked room, afraid for their lives.

Maybe Thomas is out getting them lunch.

Thomas gets back to the secret hideout, and he finds his friends all happy-clappy because they’ve encountered Jesus risen from the dead. (more…)

March 27, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

Easter Sunday

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

It is early on that first day of the week. Very early, and so at first she mistakes him for the gardener.

This young woman, Mary from the town of Magdala, is the first to see him, but she doesn’t recognize him. She thinks he is the gardener.

Mary Magdalene had followed this Jewish holy man, Jesus, all the way to end; she loved him, and she could not bear to leave him now. (more…)

March 26, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

The Great Vigil of Easter

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Long ago, our ancestors sat around a campfire in the dark, sharing a simple meal of bread and a little fish.

They told a story to their children: the most important story that they could possibly tell.

They told this story often because they wanted their children to know it well.

The story began in the darkness, where there was only nothing – a vast incomprehensible void.

Then there was a spark, and there was light, and there were stars and planets, and in time, this fragile earth, our island home. (more…)

March 25, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

Good Friday

Today we gather to remember a murder committed long, long ago – the murder of an innocent Jewish Holy Man – a rabbi – at the hands of the most powerful government on earth, the Roman Empire, assisted by its collaborators.

There are always collaborators.

We gather amidst the symbols of this political murder — symbols that have perhaps grown too familiar and too heavy with religious baggage across the span of two thousand years.

Some of these familiar images can mislead us. (more…)

March 24, 2016 – The Rev. Pamela Moore

Maundy Thursday

I invite you to join me in this Maundy Thursday meditation. It may be helpful for you to close your eyes, take a couple of slow deep breaths and relax your body to the best of your ability. We will travel back in time to an upper room in the city of Jerusalem during the Feast of the Passover.

It was early morning and the cool night air reluctantly began to give way to the warming rays of the sun. I sat in the window watching the streets below mindful of a growing hustle and bustle as shops began to open and vendors prepared for the day. (more…)

March 20, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

Palm Sunday

And so it begins:

The procession with palms, a Passover dinner, and words that Peter will live to regret:

“I will never deny you. Never. Not me.”

Today we enter the swirl of Holy Week, entering again into an ancient story of hope and betrayal, courage and cowardice, fear and tragedy. We descend again into the valley of the shadow of death, and then beyond. (more…)

March 13, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

I did something extravagant this week, something I’ve dreamed about doing for the last seven years while living on the East Coast.

I went to the New Camaldoli monastery at Big Sur, high on cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. It felt like I was on the edge of the planet overlooking the vast sea.

The monks chant psalms three times a day in the chapel, and their chanting shapes the rhythm of the day.

In my short time there, I found a few precious moments of solitude and prayer, and a time to just be still, listen, watch God’s awesome creation unfold in front of me. (more…)

March 6, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

One of my favorite movies, Smoke Signals, has a scene where a character, Arnold, is walking down an isolated road in the Arizona desert with his neighbor, Suzy.

Arnold and Suzy barely know each other until he gives her a lift. They run out of gas and have to walk home.

As they walk, Arnold asks Suzy to tell him the worst thing she has ever done. (more…)

February 28, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

This morning we are treated to an avalanche of colorful biblical images about clouds, burning bushes, a pile of manure, and threats to a fig tree in a vineyard.

And that’s just the shortened version of these passages. The longer version, not in your program, includes references to falling towers, blood mingled with meat, and serpents.

What on earth is going on here?

And what is it with fig trees? Fig trees always seem to be getting cursed in the New Testament. (more…)

February 14, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

Take a deep breath. Relax.

My entire sermon today can be summed up in two words: Enjoy Lent.

Let me repeat that: Enjoy Lent.

This Lent, give yourself a break – a Sabbath, if you will, from the heaviness of life.

Traditionally Lent is a time of austerity and self-denial. All the Alleluias in our worship go away for a time.

But let me suggest that rather than seeing Lent as an obligation, look at Lent as a gift. (more…)

February 7, 2016 – The Rev. Pamela Moore

In the opening sequence of the Sound of Music Julie Andrews sings about the hills of Austria and how they are alive with the sound of music. You can almost hear the ancient, ancestral voices filled with history and the majesty of God in the stirring notes of a song that springs from the earth. In each note there is glory, there is beauty and there is a vision of a life that is joyous and free. And these are just the hills! The mountains the family eventually have to cross to reach freedom come much later in the story. (more…)

January 31, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

Picture this scene if you will: Jesus walks into the synagogue in Nazareth, opens the scroll, and reads the scripture from Isaiah – the one you heard last week about feeding the poor, freeing the captives, giving sight to the blind, and all that.

He closes the scroll and declares: “Today the Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

That’s it.

Well, almost. (more…)

January 24, 2016 – The Rev. Pamela Moore

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.”

Years ago there used to be a television show called the A Team. Remember Mr. T, “I pity the fool!” It was about a group of former U.S. Army Special Forces men who worked as soldiers of fortune. These were the guys you called when it seemed like there was no one else to help with the problem you had and/or the mission was next to impossible. Their leader, Hannibal, was known to say at some point in the story, “I love it when a plan comes together.” Fans of the show loved it too. These guys were creative, committed, funny, skillful and very talented. They did not always like each other and they did not always get along, however they worked as a team to get the job done, and any job, especially the nearly impossible ones, were all neatly wrapped up start to finish in sixty minutes of air time. Rarely is real life like that. (more…)

January 17, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

Many years ago, my wife Lori and I accompanied our teenage youth group on a mission trip to the Shoshone-Paiute Indian reservation in Central Nevada.

We were as far from the comfortable suburbs where our kids lived as you can get.

We fixed houses by day, and then in the evening we would gather around the campfire, share a meal, tell stories, and talk about our experience. (more…)

January 10, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

We hear today about people long, long ago who are searching for something new in their lives.

What must these people have seen and heard while standing in line at the river, hoping and waiting?

They had come from seemingly everywhere, traveling a long perilous journey across desert and mountains, to the lowest place on earth – the Jordan River Valley. (more…)