Stop Saying the Church is Dying (a sermon for the Rocky Mountain Synod Assembly)

  A week ago I was fortunate enough to be standing near a cliff in Cappadocia, Turkey taking in the view of hundreds of caves carved from volcanic rock in an alien looking valley. My friend Sara asked what I was thinking about. When I confessed that I was worrying about preaching at my Synod’s assembly next week, Sara didn’t hesitate to remind me sarcastically,  “Oh, you mean that little text on how Jesus tells us not to worry?” So, yeah, nothing like worrying about preaching … [Read More...]


Maundy Thursday Sermon on Loving One Another and Why That Can Sting

2014 Maundy Thurs NBW Hfass Podcast - 41814, 8.06 AM<----click here to listen along. In our Gospel reading for today, which, oddly, you will hear AFTER the sermon, Jesus had his final meal, his last supper with his friends, then he washed their feet and said Little children, I am with you only a little longer. I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you 35By this everyone will know that you are my … [Read More...]


Sermon on Empty Tombs and the Suddenness of Dawn

2014-04-06 HFASS Podcast NBW Sermon(1) <---- click here to listen along Years ago, when I was faced with preaching this text about the raising of Lazarus, I was struggling with what to say about it, so instead of writing my sermon, I went that week and got this tattoo of Lazarus. And then, the next day, I finally came up with a sermon. It was like magic. Don't know what to say about a Bible story? Easy. Go sit under a tattoo needle for a few hours and it will come to you. But this … [Read More...]


Sermon on earthly things, wombs and the resurrection of the dead

  2014-03-16 NBW Sermon<----click here to listen along. When I first re-entered the Christian faith as an adult, I took a catechumenate class (like an adult confirmation program) at the Lutheran church Matthew and I attended.  This is where I learned about and fell in love with Lutheran theology. It just made sense to me. Mostly. Pastor Ross grew quickly accustomed to my raised hand in the back row as I waited to ask clarifying, and at times, belligerent questions.  The week … [Read More...]

Phyllis and I. (photo by Courtney Perry)

Happy 80th Birthday to Phyllis Tickle

Happy 80th birthday to you, Phyllis Tickle. You are simply one of the smartest, most beautiful women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  In you I have found inspiration to pray, to write, to love God, to cherish the sacraments, to think historically, to age gracefully and to, when necessary, swap clothing and die laughing. Yesterday when I spoke to you, the first thing you said was “kiddo, I pray for you every single day”.  I’m certain you do.  You’re just like that, and I … [Read More...]


Ash Wednesday Sermon on Truth, Dust, Babies, and Funerals

2014 Ash Weds NBW Sermon<--- click here to listen along. People who think Ash Wednesday is depressing totally don’t get it.  I mean, I understand why confessing our sins, marking ourselves with ashes and reminding each other that we are all going to die isn’t exactly Disney on Ice, but it’s not depressing.  If anything it’s refreshing. It’s refreshing in a way that only the truth can be… because we know deep down that we live in a death-denying culture which tries to tell … [Read More...]


Sermon on Jesus Rolling His Eyes (and also divorce)

2014-02-16 NBW Sermon<-----click here to listen along (sermons are spoken events. So much of the meaning comes from the hearing of it.) Years ago there was a project undertaken by Bible scholars whereby they were trying to ascertain what was really knowable about Jesus of Nazareth as a historical figure.  The scholars would take the Gospels, verse by verse and vote as to which things they thought Jesus actually said and which they thought were made up later. They wanted to determine the … [Read More...]

Salt by Salt Shaker   Original Filename: 6507-000073.jpg

Sermon on that special class of salty, light-bearing people to whom Jesus preaches

2014-02-09 NBW Sermon - 2_12_14, 10.42 AM <----click here to listen along If you are able to hear that you are the salt of the earth reading from today and NOT have a song from the musical Godspell worm through your head, then more power to ya.  But I am not that mentally strong and I have been reading this text over and over all week, ergo I have had “let your light so shine before men” stuck in my head for about 5 days now. See, we are in the middle of 4 weeks worth of Gospel … [Read More...]


Meaningless Church Jargon

After my quiet time with the Lord, where I was bathing in prayer, God laid it on my heart to be a transformational leader by just loving up on my blog readers and offering them some ideas from my missional imagination. Earlier this morning, I saw a tweet from @JesusofNazareth316: Blessed are they who stop using the word "‪#missional", which caused me to post something on Twitter and Facebook asking people what their favorite church jargon is – mine being “Missional Imagination”. The … [Read More...]


Sermon on What We Think We Want

2014-01-19 NBW HFASS Podcast - 1_21_14, 7.07 PM<----click here to listen along One Saturday last month over a 12 hour period a group of us gathered to listen to the Gospels read aloud.  We sat in sofas in a warm renovated barn, busied our hands with eating, and knitting and whittling, and we took turns reading aloud Mark, then Matthew, then Luke and finally John.  Folks came and went and some diehards were there the whole time.  It was one of my favorite things about Advent this year. … [Read More...]