Sermon for August 28, 2016: “Don’t Be A Ueker”

Luke 14:1, 7-14
1 On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.

7 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9 and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, “Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 12 He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”A few months back, I had the chance to have lunch with member of our NC Synod Staff, including the bishop himself, Tim Smith.

Sermon for August 28, 2016: “Don’t Be A Ueker”
I was looking forward to catching up with everyone and shared my enthusiasm with my mom.
As I was about to hang up the phone, my mom wished me luck.
But then she added this little suggestion:
“Please, watch your table manners.” Continue reading

Sermon for August 21, 2016: “The Open Door Policy”

Luke 13: 10-17

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13 When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” 15 But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

Sermon for August 21, 2016: “The Open Door Policy”

The first job I ever had was at Hinkle’s Book store.
I enjoyed working there.
I had a great boss and wonderful co-workers.
We loved working with one another.
But there was one thing we all could not stand.
Closing time on Saturday night. Continue reading

Sermon for August 14, 2016: “The Procrastination Gospel”

Luke 12:49-56
49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” 54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “It is going to rain’; and so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

This morning I want to begin with a quote from the Writer J.M. Barrie.
Barrie was a Scottish novelist and playwright, and he is most famous for being the creator of Peter Pan.
Barrie once said “One of the most dangerous days of our life is when we discover the word ‘tomorrow.’”
And that is so true! Continue reading

Sermon for August 7, 2016: “Comfort > Chaos”

Luke 12: 32-40
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 35 “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36 be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. 39 “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Sermon: “Comfort > Chaos”
When I was a young kid, there was a show that came on every afternoon that I could not get enough of.
It was the Dick Van Dyke Show. Continue reading

Sermon for July 31, 2016: “Pardon This Interruption”

Gospel: Luke 12: 13-21
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

Sermon: “Pardon This Interruption”

This morning we get a very interesting parable in our Gospel lesson.
One of my favorite shows on television is Pardon The Interruption on ESPN.
On the show two former sports writers argue and banter over the day’s sports news.
Well this morning, we get a Gospel version of this show. Continue reading

Sermon for July 24, 2016: “Let’s Talk, God”

Gospel: Luke 11:1-13

1 He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.” 5 And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7 And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. 9 “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”


Sermon: “Let’s talk, God.”


This morning’s sermon is dedicated to Leslie Miller.

Because this morning I want to talk about prayer. Continue reading

The Prayer for Kabul (The Road)

Tonight let us open our hearts and minds to God and pray for:
The people killed and wounded in Kabul, Afghanistan.
For the families they leave behind.
For the suicide bombers’ families.
For the repentance of those who follow ISIS and the Taliban.
For the Shiite Hazaras who are branded “outsiders” in their own countried and face violent persection.
For those who hate on “Outsiders” and that they may be led to a changing of hearts and minds.
For those who work for peace
There. Is. Another. Way.
The Violent Road only leads to more violence and death.
The Peace Road leads to life. For everyone.
Which road will you take?
– Amen.

The Munich Prayer

Tonight let us pray for the victims of the shootings in Munich.
Let us pray that we re-learn the value of all people.
Let us pray for the brave men and women who run INTO the chaos and not away.
Let us pray for the family of the gunman, who are dealing with loss and confusion.

And tonight, think of someone you do not like. Someone you can’t stand. And pray for their wellbeing. Pray that they have a good night and a good weekend.
Because it’s easy to pray for loved ones.
And yet we are called to pray for all.


A New “Covenant”

Tonight, let us pray:
For the families of the officers who were killed today in Baton Rouge: Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald and Brad Garafola.
For the families of the offcers who were wounded.
For the family of the shooter: Gavin Long.
But let us do more than pray.
Let us act.
For those of us who are members of predominantly white faith communities, reach out to the local African-American congregations and your local police forces.
Compose a “Mission Covenant” that will be based on love, respect, confession, open-mindedness, and peace.
Hold one another accountable,
but also LOVE one another more than you have ever before.
Keep in mind: this Covenant will NOT be about which side is right, because ALL sides have seen unnecessary death and violence and hatred.
And while you are at it, invite the local Latino & Asian congregations to be a part of this Covenant.
Again: this is just a suggestion, but it is one I will be working on starting this week.
It is not the best idea, but that is not the point.
The point is I need to be a part of the Solution.
We all do.

Sermon for July 17, 2016: “Calling All Super-Heroes!”

Luke 10:38-42


Sermon: “Calling All Super-Heroes!”


Today, we are gathered around Water and Word  to celebrate the baptism of Max Long.

And I am honored to be the one to preside at Max’s baptism,

Just as I was for big sister Nora a few years ago.


This morning’s Gospel lesson on the surface may not look like it’s a good fit for a baptism.

But actually it fits very well with what we are about to do. Continue reading