SIGNS AND SYMBOLS

Advent 1(C) - Luke 21:25-36

This time of year is no fun at all. The sun is going away, and we now have about ten hours of sunlight every day. It’s gotten cold—mostly, though if the weather ever makes up its mind about what it wants to do it will be a minor miracle. And all the rain we were missing this summer has suddenly arrived, making it gray and dreary almost all of the time. At the same time, the stress of the season is starting to increase, with holidays and shopping and all kinds of things to do. I won’t pretend the church has a monopoly on that, but I’ll claim that we do have it here. Just this afternoon we’re doing a big Advent event with our Sing and Play worship service. And there are all kinds of events happening as we lead up to Christmas. It all makes me want to go home and hide under the covers until it all goes away. Think about it. Think about all the things you are going to have to take care of over the next month. Do you really want to do all this? Is it worth it? Is the fleeting joy of the season really worth all the lead-up? If you had the option, would you maybe pass on the holidays? Okay, so some people would think that kind of talk is crazy; they get into Christmas like it’s the most important thing to ever happen in the history of humankind. But I’m not one of those people.

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TRULY FREE, TRULY SERVANTS

Commitment Sunday, 25th Sunday After Pentecost (B) - Deuteronomy 8:10-18; Mark 13:1-8

I want to preach on Deuteronomy today, in connection with our Commitment Sunday offering of pledges. But before I do, I need to take a moment to address the terrorist attacks in France yesterday. They are, of course, only the latest in a spate of terrorist attacks from the fundamentalist Islamic State that have been taking place around the globe. Like I imagine you are, I am distressed, disheartened, a little bit frightened, and worst of all, not particularly surprised by all this. What kind of a world are we living in when 129 people are killed in a series of attacks across the city of Paris and we think, “Oh, no, another one?”

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CONFUSING

Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost (B) - Mark 10:35-45

Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand him. People were drawn to him in huge crowds, and Jesus would teach them, and his teachings were strange. “A sower went out to sow some seed, and some of it fell on rocky ground.” There was something compelling about him, so people kept coming back. Maybe some of them came for the healing miracles, but others were drawn to his teaching, even though it didn’t quite make sense. You’d have thought that maybe his disciples, the people who got to hear all of his teaching, would have understood. But they didn’t either. So the disciples would pull him aside and ask him what he meant. And he’d explain: “The seed is the word of God, and the rocky ground is the people who receive it but have no root in themselves.” And the disciples would all smile and nod, hoping that Jesus and the others couldn’t tell that they still had no idea what he was talking about.

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ATTACHMENTS

Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost (B) - Mark 10:17-31

When I was visiting my mother in August, I took one last look around for things that belonged to me, things that I wanted to keep. It is, after all, about time I fully move out of her house; at age 35, I don’t need to still have things there to go back to. It is her home, but it is no longer mine. My home is here. So, last look around. I had done a pretty good job of cleaning things out in previous visits; after poking into every corner I could find, there was just one large box full of items that belonged to me. Into my car it went. And, into my car it stayed, until just yesterday, when I finally decided it was time to go through it.

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FALLING IN LOVE

Ninteenth Sunday After Pentecost (B) - Genesis 2:18-24, Mark 10:2-16

My freshman year of college, I fell in love for the first time. Her name was Bethany. I came late to the dating game, not really being interested while I was in High School. (I was a little socially awkward back then. Not quite boyfriend material.) Anyway, I got to college, and made friends, and Bethany and I found ourselves spending more and more time with each other, and it seemed perfectly obvious what the next step was. So after Christmas break, we decided to start dating. Which, admittedly, didn’t change much about our relationship, but at least it was official.

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