Sunday Sermons

January 3, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

“Arise, shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!”

– Isaiah 60:1

My father served in the U.S. Navy in World War II as the navigator on a small ship in the South Pacific. In those days, ships navigated by star and chart.

He used a sextant to pinpoint the position of stars against the horizon, and from that he could calculate the position of his ship on the sea. (more…)

December 24, 2015 – The Rev. James Richardson

Christmas Eve 2015

In the words of the prophet…

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.”

Something extraordinary happened long ago. Yet it seemed utterly ordinary at first:

The birth of a baby.

No wise men came, no shepherds, no disciples, no adoring masses, no one was there but his parents. (more…)

December 20, 2015 – The Rev. James Richardson

Her name in Hebrew was Miriam. She was very young, maybe 13 or 14 when she became pregnant out of wedlock.

In the society of her day, her pregnancy out of wedlock was considered a scandal, bringing shame on her parents.

She soon fled to the protection of her older cousin, Elisheba, who was wife of a Temple priest, Zechariah, and as such enjoyed a certain privilege. (more…)

December 6, 2015 – The Rev. Pamela Moore

“Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God.”

It is less than a month since the terrorist attack in Paris and not even a week since the senseless murder of innocent people in San Bernardino. Take off the garment of our sorrow and affliction? These first words from Baruch ask too much of us. We mourn. Many of us are still in shock and challenged by thoughts of fear and a desire for vengeance. How can we put on forever the beauty of the glory from God when our hearts are breaking and anxiety is residing like an unwelcome guest in our minds? What, if anything, can this season of Advent, offer to us? (more…)

November 29, 2015 – The Rev. James Richardson

Every Sunday morning, I am on the road to church before dawn.

This morning, the sky was a deep, indigo blue. A bright morning star shimmered just above Orion’s belt.

I had to stop and look for a time at the spectacle of God’s creation just above my head in the time before the dawn.

Today begins the season of Advent, the time before an even more amazing dawn, the time of expectancy awaiting the light coming into the world: The birth of the Christ child. (more…)

November 22, 2015 – The Rev. James Richardson

As you know, this coming week we will observe our annual national celebration of Thanksgiving, which also happens to be one of two secular holidays that are on the Episcopal Church’s calendar of sacred feast days.

The other secular holiday on our church feast days is the Fourth of July, when not only was our nation founded, so was our church.

You may think you know the origins of Thanksgiving Day as an annual national holiday – but you might be wrong. (more…)

November 15, 2015 – The Rev. James Richardson

As you know, our world is reeling from horrific violence as Islamic extremists set off bombs and massacred scores of people in Paris this weekend. Bombs and carnage are a daily fact of life in Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere.

We must acknowledge that these are acts perpetrated in the name of God.

It is tempting, as one of my oldest friends did yesterday, to blame all religion for propagating extremist ideologies that lead only to hate and evil. (more…)

November 8, 2015 – The Rev. Pamela Moore

I grew up in an upper middle class to wealthy community in New York back in the 1950’s and even though we did not officially have an entrenched caste system like India, it was pretty clear who was considered part of the in crowd and who was an “outcaste.” There were very few African American families in town and as I recall almost all of us were either working class or somewhere between there and lower middle class. The civil rights movement was just beginning to take hold in other parts of the country however given the times it was still wiser in my community to keep your head down and accept the social role you were assigned when in the company of the folks who knew they were “all that and a bag of chips.”

(more…)

November 1, 2015 – The Rev. James Richardson

A few years ago, Lori and I went on a pilgrimage here in California, traveling the length of the state to all 21 California missions founded by 18th century Spanish Franciscans.

As any California fourth grader can tell you, the first mission was founded in San Diego by Father Junipero Serra, and the last mission was founded right over the hill from here in Sonoma. (more…)

October 25, 2015 – The Rev. James Richardson

On a recent Wednesday morning, I joined an extraordinary circle of people sitting in the chancel up here: Our Anam Cara prayer group.

“Anam Cara,” by the way, is a Celtic phrase that means “soul friend.”

We chanted a psalm, and sat for a time in silent meditation and prayer.

There is something powerful about sitting in a circle with soul friends praying in silence. (more…)

October 18, 2015 – The Rev. James Richardson

This morning we are back on the road with Jesus and the disciples. Everyone is walking and talking all at the same time.

The story begins with two self-absorbed disciples, almost comically asking Jesus for the best seats in the house in heaven.

They are so wrapped up in their worries about the hereafter they are forgetting the here-and-now.

The story ends with Jesus talking about his own death as a “ransom for many.” He is already in the hereafter. (more…)

October 11, 2015 – The Rev. James Richardson

“Jesus, looking at him, loved him…”

Have you ever asked a question you just knew you shouldn’t ask? And when you did, you discovered you just volunteered for something?

In this morning’s gospel lesson, I can almost hear Peter slapping his forehead and groaning, “Oh, now what?” (more…)

October 4, 2015 – The Rev. James Knutsen

I’ve been listening quite a bit lately to the modern French composer Olivier Messiaen. Messiaen was a devout Christian, a Roman Catholic, and was for over 50 years the organist at the Holy Trinity Church in Paris. Now, I warn you, if you run out and buy some of Messiaen’s music, you’re likely to find it jarring and off-putting at first. (more…)

September 27, 2015 – The Rev. Linda Lee Clader

What if?

I’d like you to remember that question. I’ll try to keep asking, to remind you and me. What if?

What if?

For the past several weeks, we’ve been hearing snippets from the biblical book we call the Letter of James. If you’re like me, you’ve listened during the reading, and maybe followed along on your service sheet insert, and then promptly forgotten what you had heard. (more…)

September 20, 2015 – The Rev. James Richardson

A couple of years ago, Lori and I traveled to Jerusalem with a group of friends from Northern California.

When we arrived in the Holy City we could immediately feel the tension on every corner.

Armed soldiers were everywhere, and the resentments and suspicions were etched on the faces of everyone we saw on the streets. (more…)

September 6, 2015 – The Rev. James Richardson

Stop.

Stop right here.

Did we just hear Jesus calling a woman a “dog”?

Well, yes, we did.

Go back and look at this story from the Gospel of Mark. The story this morning is not easy to hear.

This woman was of a different tribe, a Gentile ­– a non-Jew – from Syrophoenicia, which is now modern Syria. Her people were idol worshippers. (more…)

August 30, 2015 – The Rev. James Richardson

Imagine this scene for a few moments:

Jesus and his followers are camping along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. They have been there for several days, and it is hot and their work is intense.

Crowds gather.

He tells many parables about seeds and small things that grow to big things, and how everyone should let their lights shine that others may see. (more…)