Sunday Sermons

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.

+ + +

“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

+ + +

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

+ + +

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

+ + +

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…)

July 15, 2018 – The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver

Year B, Proper 10, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
Amos 7:7-15
Psalm 85:8-13
Ephesians 1:3-14
Mark 6:14-29

+ + +

What a sad and sordid tale that was.

The word Gospel means good news, but it can feel strange to hear “The Gospel of the Lord” after a tale like that one. Where’s the good news here? The story we just heard is full of manipulation and violence. There’s a hint of prurient interest in the description of this group of men watching and pleased by this young girl’s dance. There’s exploitation of a child as her own mother uses her daughter’s innocent request as an opportunity to get back at her enemy. There’s the pathetic weakness of King Herod, trapped by his pride into going along with a beheading he didn’t really want but wasn’t willing to say no to.

It seems like a good Sunday for a sermon about sin. (more…)

July 8, 2018 – The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver

Year B, Proper 9, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
Ezekiel 2:1-5
Psalm 123
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
Mark 6:1-13

+ + +

Have you ever wondered how many people have ever lived on Earth?

The people at a think tank called the Population Reference Bureau have. Of course a lot depends on how far back on the evolutionary tree you start. But starting about 50,000 years ago with the emergence of modern Homo sapiens, they came up with an educated guess of about 108 billion human beings ever born.[1] (more…)

July 1, 2018 – The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver

Year B, Proper 8, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15; 2:23-24
Psalm 30
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
Mark 5:21-43

+ + +

If you go to Terminal E in the Atlanta, Georgia, airport, you can see a display of pictures and items from the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.[1] There’s the original permit for the March on Washington and the suit Dr. King wore to meet with President Lyndon B. Johnson. When I first saw the exhibit as a college student flying home from Atlanta, the thing that struck me most was a photograph of Dr. King playing baseball in the yard with his children, displayed alongside the actual little toy bat and ball themselves. I remember the odd but compelling feeling of seeing these homely artifacts that had been touched by this great person, just one degree of separation away from me through these physical relics of his life. (more…)

June 24, 2018 – The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver

Year B, Proper 7, Track 2, Revised Common Lectionary
Job 38:1-11
Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Mark 4:35-41

+ + +

Oh, I’m so happy to be here with you.

I have been looking forward to this moment for months. To finally stand here in this parish, with these people. In this beautiful building, full of light and color and 145 years of prayers. Here in the center of Santa Rosa and the heart of Sonoma County. We are the church of the Incarnation, which means the Word of God made flesh. Today we’re here to encounter the very physical and sacramental presence of Jesus Christ together in our hearts and hands and faces, and soon in our holy meal. Thanks be to God. (more…)

June 17, 2018 – The Rev. Rod McAulay

Gardener, Healer, Guide

Jesus teaches in parables. Mark says he only talked in parables. These parables typically used metaphors to open the meaning of something deeper – the kingdom of heaven or the meaning of neighbor, for example – and, as parables do, they often had a surprise twist at the end. Many of the metaphors used by Jesus involved agrarian images, shepherds and sheep, vines and vine branches, and, today, growing grain and mustard seeds. The Bible, as a whole, is dense with agricultural images: the psalms sing with references to plants, forests, cattle, sheep, birds of the air and fish of the sea. Our lesson today from Ezekiel talks of a great, thriving tree, a huge cedar with great boughs that produces fruit and offers shelter to birds of all kinds. (more…)

June 10, 2018 – The Rev. Pamela Moore

We Are Family

This morning I want to talk a bit about God’s family. Desmond Tutu once said, “You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” In the best of all possible worlds we are born into families where there is lots of love, kindness, support and care. If you have ever witnessed the birth of a child, you have hopefully experienced what it is like to be part of such a joyous occasion. One in which there are hopes and dreams for a good life for this new person and a commitment on the part of the parents and caregivers to do their best to provide all that is needed for the child to thrive and be healthy. (more…)

May 20, 2018 – The Rev. Pamela Moore


A Time for Evangelism

“Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that we may perfectly love thee and worthily magnify thy Holy Name”

Jesus told the disciples,26 “The Helper will come—the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God and who comes from the Father. I will send him to you from the Father, and he will speak about me.27 And you, too, will speak about me, because you have been with me from the very beginning. (Good News Translation).

There are, in that passage, two very important ideas. One is that Jesus will send to his followers a spirit that will help us understand the truth of who God is. The second idea is that we are expected to share our experience of Jesus with others. (more…)

May 6, 2018 – The Rev. James Richardson

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Last Sunday at Incarnation

In the gospel lesson this morning, we hear about how Jesus has been with his disciples through many ups and downs, many storms, and many joys. He is soon to leave them.

As Jesus prepares to depart, he has a new name for these disciples: he now calls them “friends.”

Well, I don’t have disciples, and that would be a very bad and ridiculous idea anyway.

But I am proud to call you friends.

My friends, this is my last Sunday with you. I am enormously grateful to you – each and every one of you – for the time we have spent together. (more…)

April 29, 2018 – The Rev. James Richardson

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

The first lesson we hear this morning, from the Acts of the Apostles, is among my favorite stories in the Bible. But it is a story that, I suspect, is probably much overlooked by many people.

The reason I love this story is it explodes all kinds of assumptions about religion and religious rules. So I’d like us to spend a little time with it.

The story begins, like many of these stories do, with an angel. When you see an angel show up, you know something important is about to happen. (more…)

April 22,2018 – The Rev. James Richardson

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Today we celebrate what is commonly known as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Good Shepherd Sunday is one of these unofficial church holidays we get each year that isn’t listed on the calendar exactly, but which comes with the same regularity as Christmas and Easter each year.

Good Shepherd Sunday can sound a little cuddly and fluffy. You might think of this like the beautiful window behind me. (more…)

April 1, 2018 – The Rev. James Richardson

Easter Sunday 2018

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

The Lord is Risen Indeed!

On that first Easter morning, long, long ago, there were no Alleluias! No Christ is Risen Indeed!

No Easter candle, no hymns, no lilies, no spring wardrobe.

No Easter bonnets. No yellow shoes. No hot buttered cross buns.

No, none of that. (more…)