Sermon: Fig Cakes, Tamales, and a Heap of Raisins

tamalesBy Joyce Hollyday
Circle of Mercy: October 1, 2017, World Communion Sunday
1 Samuel 25

We held a sheep-shearing day every spring at Swan Mountain Farm, where I used to live. Mark, the chief shearer, always started with the rams because, he explained, they “come with handles.” Mark grabbed Charlie by the horns and wrestled him over on his side. Charlie, like all the sheep, began that morning as a massive ball of fluff, as wide as he was tall, his wool discolored a dingy brown by dirt. By the time the clipping was done, he was a skinny thing, and the thin layer of wool left on him was shockingly white. As soon as he could get his feet under him, Charlie escaped into the pasture. Mark then repeated the process with Chip. And when he ran into the pasture, the two rams, not recognizing each other with their new haircuts, aimed their horns, charged at each other, and butted heads repeatedly. Continue reading

Sermon: It’s Like Burning Fire Shut Up in my Bones

roseBy Rose Berger, preached at St. Stephen’s & The Incarnation Episcopal Church (Washington, D.C.)
June 25, 2017

Jeremiah 20:7-13, Psalm 69: 8-11, (12-17), 18-20, Romans 6:1b-11, Matthew 10:24-39

[Piscataway people on whose land this church stands. Bishop Budde, Pastor Sam, Rev. Linda. The Beloved Community that gathers at St. Stephen’s and the Incarnation.]

The prophet Jeremiah was asked to carry out one of the most difficult tasks ever assigned to any servant of God.[1]

During the last years of the kingdom of Judah, Jeremiah was to prophesy to King and Congress that because of their sin their fragile nation would be subsumed by the Babylonian Empire and they would all forcibly removed to the capital city of Babylon. Continue reading

Sermon: Power of Names

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My Grandma Bea, me, my mom, and my sister Lucy

Preached by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann at the Day House Catholic Worker
August 27, 2017

Exodus 1:8-2:10
Matthew 16:13-20

As I read the opening piece of the text from Exodus, it feels like I am reading a script from the white men who marched on Charlottesville two weeks ago.

It begins with the Pharaoh naming his fear that the Israelites are becoming too numerous and powerful. He is scared they will out-number and over-take him. He orders that they be forced into labor and when that doesn’t work, he orders murder.

It echoes of the treacherous low-wage labor forced on undocumented folks living in constant fear.

It echoes of a prison industrial complex holding captive more black men today than were enslaved in the south. Continue reading

Sermon: On Charlottesville

index.jpgBy Ross M. Reddick, Pastor
A gospel message delivered to Spanish Fort Presbyterian Church
8/13/2017
Text: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

Today’s scripture lesson is about hatred, and the results of hatred. Joseph’s brothers hated him. The reasons why, while they are important for a full understanding, seem to fade in importance today.

As our session met yesterday in the fellowship hall, as we were laughing together, making plans, praying and visioning, the city of Charlottesville, Virginia…erupted. Violently. As of last night, dozens of serious injuries are being dealt with by the medical community there, and at least three have died–two police officers (in the line of duty), and a 32 year old woman…crushed to death as a car intentionally rammed through a crowd of people.  Continue reading

Sermon: Walking in the Way of Righteousness

IMG_4625By Joanna Shenk

Psalm 85:8-13

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a loved one in which they asked me if I thought holiness and righteousness were important… or if I valued them as a Christian. I can’t remember exactly how they said it, but it was said in a way that assumed I probably didn’t think they were important. I explained to them that it was frustrating to be asked the question in that way because it put me on the defensive… like I needed to prove something to them. To their credit, they understood and agreed it made for better conversation if they asked me how I understand holiness and righteousness or what has been my journey with those things. Continue reading

Sermon: Religious liberty, or social mischief? Understanding the “wall of separation” between church and state

indexBy Ken Sehested, 9 July 2017, Circle of Mercy Congregation, Asheville, NC

Text: Psalm 72

(The text below has been expanded from the original sermon.)

Not so long ago a sermon on religious liberty would likely provoke yawns. The widespread and diverse claims of “religious freedom” are so common and unquestioned in our culture, they mostly go without notice. (Which, if anything, may be testimony to how tamed our assumptions have become.) Continue reading