Sunday Sermons

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…)

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…)