Advent Homily Series

Preached at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Bellevue, WA
on December 1, 2015

A mid-week series for Advent

Isaiah 64:1-9 Jesus Christ is the light of the world. The light no darkness can overcome. They blamed the darkness on God. It’s your fault, God, the people of Isaiah cried out. You were angry. So we sinned. You hid yourself. So we sinned. You have hidden your face from us. So we sinned. You can’t blame us for all this darkness. It’s your fault, God, not ours. They blamed the darkness on God. Oh that you would tear open

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The Vine and the Branches

on May 3, 2021

Opening Sermon Theological Continuing Education at Koinonia

I chair the Candidacy Committee for the NWWA Synod, and in our tiny little supposedly godless synod, we have more candidates than most synods, even those in the brass buckle of the Lutheran Bible belt. So I go to a lot of ordinations. A lot. It never ceases to amaze me that these opening words of the bishop to the candidate still bring terror to my soul: Before Almighty God, to whom you must give account… One of the last

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Jesus the Thief

Preached in Salt Lake City, UT
on November 11, 2014

Opening Eucharist, ELCA Region 2 First Call Theological Education

The Good Shepherd. The Door. Even the Gate of the Sheep. The Dayspring, the Morningstar, the Light of the World. We call Jesus the Lamb of God, the Son of Man, the Savior. In our hymns and in our hearts we hold him as the Vine, the Tree of Life, the Seed that falls into the earth and dies. And with good reason. All these ways of thinking about Jesus come from the Bible – many of them are references

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…Give to God what is God’s

Preached at St. John Lutheran Church in Cardington (Windfall), OH
on October 19, 2014

Lectionary 24, Series A

We have 18-month-old twin boys who live next door to us in Seattle. We have known them since they were born – before, even: we were among the first to see their little bodies forming via the miracle of a sonogram. We visited them in the hospital during their long, early stay there. We made banners for their front porch to welcome them home. We think having them next door is pretty darned cool. On Fridays, when we each have

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Sermon for Forming Disciples in Worship

Preached at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Marion, OH
on October 18, 2014

Northwestern Ohio Synod

You know that moment. That moment when you’re caught. That moment when they finally find out – Yes! He is the fraud we always knew him to be. Despite all appearances to the contrary, she is exactly like the rest of us. We all know that moment. We all know it. And we don’t like it. We don’t like it one little bit. Caught in a lie, backed into a corner of our own sloppy painting. Caught. Wrong. Down.  

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Baptismal Sermon for Clara Jean Berkebile

Preached at St. John's Lutheran Church in Abbottstown, PA
on October 12, 2014

Sometimes a king is just a king. The king in this story must be God, right? Hold on – not so fast. It’s not, I think, as if Matthew wants us to compare the mean, enraged king of Jesus’ story to the King of the Universe. The God we worship and adore is hardly consistent with a picture of a king-off-the-rails who murders subjects and burns their cities, all on the occasion of his son’s wedding day.   If we

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Luther Memorial Lutheran Church

Preached at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church in Seattle, WA
on August 10, 2014

Mary and Martha Welcome Jesus

I love it that Jesus is all about what’s best for us. That he can just zoom right in to the middle of a situation and strip away all that would distract us – all the “yes, buts… — and help us to see with just a little more clarity the path for our steps. That’s the Jesus that Luke wants his young church to know – his church of misfits and broken people. Of all the Gospelers – and,

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Advent II

Preached at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church in Seattle, WA
on December 8, 2013

I met Johann Detweiler quite by accident.  It was just a few weeks ago, on the light rail between the airport in Minneapolis and downtown.  I’m trying hard to break myself of the habit of talking to every single person that I meet, and I was doing pretty well with that until Johann dropped a stack of papers that landed all over the aisle of the car.  As I stooped over to help him pick them up, it just seemed

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Reformation Sunday

Preached at Advent Lutheran Church in Mill Creek, WA
on October 27, 2013

“We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been slaves to anyone.”  I’ll cut him some slack on the “We are descendants of Abraham” line.  100% true.  But really:  “Have never been slaves to anyone…”  I think he either forgot, or is repressing Israel’s bondage at the hands of the Egyptians, from which Moses led them to freedom and the promised land.  And then there was the Babylonian exile.  More:  even as these religious leaders speak with Jesus, they are

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The Installation of Pastor Ron Valadez

Preached at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Clovis, CA
on October 20, 2013

If you’ve installed anything at all lately, it was probably an update for your laptop software.  A patch, I think they call it in the biz.  You know the drill:  first there’s a pop-up message that something new is available.  (Is it just me, or do those always seem to come at the most irritatingly inconvenient moments?)  Then a dialog box:  You will be guided through the necessary steps to install this software…  Licensing agreement.  (Click)  Validating packages.  Writing files. 

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