Can Love Conquer All?

33206141733_66dcfe4527_z (1)

I am addicted to love stories. I have been known to throw aside novels and to quit tv series if I find out that the ending does not include a happy union of the protagonists. Much to Jordan’s dismay, I will read the synopses of shows online to make sure the ending meets with my approval. Once I know the outcome, then I can fully enjoy the story. He thinks this is a betrayal of the art form, learning more than the creator intends for the audience to know. I think it’s just common sense — why waste your time on a story with a sad end? Continue reading

The Stewardship of Our Hearts


Here in the twilight of the year, little hands looking for donations start popping up all over. The public radio station has just finished its fall fund drive, non-profits have undertaken their year-end mailings, the Salvation Army is soon to show up with ringing bells at grocery stores around the nation, and as happens each year, the church’s assigned readings turn toward the subject of money.

I’m not a fan of all this focus on our pocketbooks, not only does it seem like something sort of impolite to talk about, which is not a good reason to avoid conversation about income and pledges and giving, but also because it seems a little too easy, too cut-and-dried, and that problem, I believe is part of Jesus’s point in the response he gives to his questioners in this morning’s Gospel lesson. Continue reading

Sermon: Get Me Off This Ride


In pointing to the truth, we often need helping hands from one another to grope toward the light; this morning I’m going to open with a passage from the newspaper, this columnist Peggy Noonan talks about the events of this past week better than I could put them myself, and so I cede the pulpit to her for a moment:

When news broke at Christmastime five years ago of what had happened at Newtown a friend, a news anchor, called and said with a broken voice: “What is the word for what we feel?” I thought for a moment. “Shattered,” I said. “We are shattered, all of us.” When people in ensuing days spoke of what had been done to the little children in the classrooms, I’d put up my hands and say no, we can’t keep putting those words in the air, we can’t afford it. When terrible images enter our heads and settle in, they become too real, and what is real is soon, by the unstable, imitated, repeated.

When Columbine happened in the spring of 1999, it hit me like a wave of sickness…

We were bringing up our children in an unwell atmosphere. It would enter and distort them. Could we turn this around?

And here is the horror for me of Las Vegas: I was not shattered. That shatters me.

It was just another terrible story. It is not the new normal it is the new abnormal and deep down we know it’s not going to stop. There is too much instability in our country, too much rage and lovelessness, too many weapons.  (“The Culture of Death–and of Disdain” Peggy Noonan, WSJ, Saturday/Sunday, October 7 – 8, 2017)

Brothers and sisters, we keep seeing the same story over and over and over again. Continue reading

The Easy Waffle – Sermon

Whenever I start writing a sermon, I ask myself, “What is God revealing about himself in this passage? Who is God teaching us that he is?” Today, I want to ask that question of a larger section of Scripture, I want to ask, “What is God revealing about himself?” in the whole of the Gospels. In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is this God revealing himself to be? Travel with me a moment, if you would, imagining the whole of Jesus’s life before us; we’ll start from the end and move back to the beginning. Continue reading

St. Augustine’s Sunday sermon

Let us pray: Grant, O merciful God, that your church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, throughout all ages. Amen.

“Brothers and sisters; by the mercies of God, present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.”

Last week, visiting family in Northern Minnesota and in North Dakota, I was struck over and over by the ways we who live in cities have moved on from our bodies, from the ways that nature guides our behavior. When night falls, both on the Hylden farm, and at the Thomey cabin, the world turns black as pitch. There’s no need for those black-out curtains in the baby’s room — everybody is plunged into darkness. It made me think about how electricity can trick us into thinking that we are in control of our own destinies rather than living at the mercy of the cosmos. Continue reading