Sunday Sermons

November 24, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

Thanksgiving 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have much to be thankful for today, beginning with each of you. Thank you for being here, for sharing with in this journey of faith that brings us together here in this sacred place.

All of us have much to be thankful for, beginning with this gift of life from God we share, this privilege to walk the earth with each other.

As my grandmother used to say, let’s count our blessings. (more…)

November 20, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

Christ the King Sunday

I want to begin by acknowledging that in the wake of the current election, many of you are feeling raw, fatigued, or anxious, or all of that. This is a fact we need to acknowledge up front. This would have been true no matter whoever won.

I do not propose to rehash the election. The results are what they are. We do need time to get over this, so let’s be gentle with each other.

I said this before the election, and I will say this again: we already have a messiah. His name is Jesus of Nazareth. (more…)

November 13, 2016 – The Rev. Pamela Moore

Do the Right Thing

I am beginning this sermon with a prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen. (more…)

November 6, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

All Saints Sunday

Today we mark the feast of All Saints Sunday, combined with another feast day on the Christian calendar, the commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.

These are ancient feast days, going back to the very early church when it was truly one.

While we probably have an intuitive idea of what is a “saint,” I thought we should pause for a few moments to talk about why we remember the saints – and all the departed – on this Sunday.

First, all of the great religions of the world have saints. In Judaism they are called “tzadik,” in Islam “wali,” in Hinduism “rishi,” and in Buddhism “arhat.” (more…)

October 30, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

When was the last time you climbed a tree? For some of you, maybe that was a long time ago.

I’d like you to climb a tree with me this morning – figuratively – and imagine the scene as it unfolds in Luke’s gospel you just heard. Let us set the scene.

Last week, you may recall, Jesus told a hypothetical story about two men at worship.

One is a very pious man who misses the point of worship – that would be God – and the other is a tax collector who has hit rock bottom and prays for God’s mercy.

Today in the gospel lesson, we go from the hypothetical to the real. (more…)

October 23, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

This morning we hear this tale of two men at worship in the Temple. It might as well be in a church, but of course, there is no church yet.

As Jesus describes this in his parable, the first man, a Pharisee, does everything right.

He prays, he gives generously, he volunteers, he leads a good life. He is every pastor’s dream candidate for the Vestry.

Then we have this other man, a tax collector. He’s messed up a lot of things in life. He keeps to himself.

Something inside him brought him here. (more…)

October 9, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

I want to tell you a story:[i]

Once there was a man, and he was walking down a street. Through no fault of his own, he fell into a hole, and he could not get out. It was dark in the hole, and very deep, and the man waited and waited for help.

Eventually, he looked up and he saw a police officer.

“Officer, officer, please help me get out the hole!”

But the officer said, sorry, I am on my way to an emergency,” and wrote on a piece of paper and threw it in the hole.

“Call 911, they’ll get you out of the hole.”

But the guy in the hole had no phone. (more…)

October 2, 2014 – The Rev. James Richardson

A long, long time ago – 835 years ago to be exact – lived a young man whose inner light shined beyond his own time, and into ours.

His name was Giovanni Francesco Bernardone, born in Italy to a wealthy family in the year 1181.

His mother was French, and his father a rich Italian merchant. Giovanni grew up in Assisi, Italy.

As a young man, he was popular with his friends. He served in the military, was a prisoner of war for a year, and when freed, he looked forward to a life of ease and wealth. But he fell ill, nearly died and remained in a delirium for weeks.

When he woke up, he noticed God’s blessings all around him – and he felt an intense pull to give of himself so that others could to notice their blessings.

He is better known to us as Saint Francis of Assisi, and today we mark his feast day. (more…)

September 25, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

If someone asks you, “What do you see?” you probably can answer pretty easily.

Even if you your eyesight is weak or gone, you can probably describe what you can touch, taste, smell and hear.

Using all your senses is seeing in the widest possible meaning.

But what is it you don’t see?

Not an easy question to answer, is it?

You don’t know what you don’t see.

What are you missing that is right in front of you? (more…)

September 11, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

Imagine an autumn evening long ago in the Holy City of Jerusalem:

It is still hot this time of year in Jerusalem. Not many venture outside until the sun is low in the sky, and the cool Mediterranean breeze from the northwest begins to blow across the rooftops.

A few people begin to gather upstairs in one of the houses in the center of Jerusalem.

They find themselves in a big open room upstairs next to a wide veranda with a spectacular view of the Jerusalem skyline and the streets below. All the windows are large and open letting the cool air in.

Jesus and his followers gather in this upstairs room for supper like they do every night. (more…)

September 4, 2016 – The Rev. Pamela Moore

I am struck by the beautiful greeting in Paul’s letter to Philemon: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank God because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith towards the Lord Jesus.” The letter starts with a wish for grace and peace and goes on to let Philemon know that he is being prayed for and that Paul is grateful for him because of who he is, a man of faith.


August 28, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

I have not been in this pulpit in a month. It feels good to be standing here again, sharing a few words with you.

Please forgive me if I am a little rusty.

We heard from four extraordinary lay preachers in the last four weeks, each bringing to us his or her unique perspective on faith and the ministries each of these wonderful people are involved with. (more…)

July 31, 2016 – Dr. Jill Joseph

Clothing Ourselves with the New Self

Behind us is the anticipation of Advent, the mid-winter light and song of Christmas and Epiphany. Behind us are the grit of ashes on our foreheads and the reminder that we are dust and to dust we return. Behind us are Lent and Holy Week and the horrifying cross. Behind us is the astounding story of resurrection and Pentecost.

Here we are for the long weeks after Pentecost, outside the narrative march from Bethlehem to the upstairs room. In this time, called ordinary time, our circumstances in many ways resemble those of the early disciples. We ponder the questions raised by these remarkable stories, wondering what all this might mean, really mean, if we were to call ourselves disciples. Challenging ourselves by asking how we might, “clothe ourselves with the new self,” as Paul says in his letter to the Colossians. (more…)

July 24, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

Luke 11: 1-13

I love the story of Abraham making a plea bargain with God this morning – it is among my favorites in the Bible. But that’s not where I want to go this morning.

Rather, in this warm summer day, I want to take you to the beach – the our beautiful Pacific coastline.

One of my favorites places on this good earth is a trail that stretches along the coastline south of Monterey at Asilomar. Along the trail is a sign that says “The Restless Sea,” and it explains why the surf looks so choppy at that spot. (more…)

July 17, 2016 – The Rev. Pamela Moore

It seems to me that today’s Gospel is about the importance of being present. As we heard, Jesus was welcomed into the home of Martha and Mary. And as we might imagine, there were others present as well so one could understand Martha’s need for someone to help her provide the hospitality that was customary at the time. We do not know a lot about Martha however it is not hard to envision a woman who wanted to be a good hostess. Most likely her home was orderly. Her guests were always offered whatever they needed to refresh themselves after travel. The food was prepared from scratch (as “takeout” or pizza delivery were yet to be invented) and she probably did not have servants. I could also imagine that Martha might have been one of those people that everyone counted on because she always got things done and whatever she did was done right. Like many people who everyone counts on to take care of things, Martha may have spent a lot of time being overwhelmed and a bit resentful because she never felt as though she could say “No.” The Gospel tells us that Martha is distracted by her many tasks, and I daresay, is a bit “peeved” that her sister, Mary seemed to be oblivious to the need to do anything to help her. So Martha appeals to her friend Jesus and asks him to intervene. Imagine her surprise when he chooses not to do so. (more…)

July 10, 2016 – The Rev. James Richardson

I have lived most of my adult life in big cities, including Los Angeles, Washington DC, San Diego and Sacramento. I tell you this by way of saying that I am not naïve about the challenges of living in the urban environment.

A few years ago one evening, Lori and I were returning home. It could have been in any of those cities – or in this city. It doesn’t matter where.

To get home, we had to drive down a particular street that can be, how shall we say? A little rough after dark.

On that particular night, on that particular street, we ran out of gas. (more…)