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Sunday
Apr042010

Every New Beginning

Today's bumper sticker theology: "If going to church makes you a Christian, then going to the garage makes me a car." Any veterans present today? Thank you for your service to our country. Veterans tell great stories; you should ask one of these folks to tell theirs. One of my favorite stories was told by a gay WWII vet: he and a straight friend to whom he was out during the war were in a foxhole on the Western European front, in miserable weather, with short rations, getting shelled to smithereens for days with no end in sight. The straight soldier turned to the gay one and said, "I need to tell you something. I just want you to know, we have got to fire our decorator."

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Sunday
Mar282010

Everybody’s Free to Feel Good

Today’s bumper sticker theology: “Happiness is an inside job.” Today is Palm Sunday, so named because in Gospels other than Luke, people lay down palm branches in front of Jesus’ donkey; cloaks in today’s Gospel reading, but I guess palms stuck. Palm Sunday has many layers of meaning, and even though today is the last Sunday of Lent, when we look at the bodies and the voices of the people in the text, Palm Sunday is a celebration. That’s part of why even though we’re in Lent, the colors in the sanctuary are red instead of purple. Red is the rarest color in worship—it’s used only for times of great cel

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Sunday
Mar212010

Reality Check

Today’s bumper sticker theology: Save the whales! Trade them for valuable prizes. Leaving aside what the text tells us about Judas’ motives, Judas’ question—“why wasn’t this valuable thing sold and the money used to benefit the poor?”—this question is on its surface a fair one. How can we justify extravagance in a world that seems saturated with suffering? A denarius in the Roman empire was a coin equal to a day’s wages, so 300 denarii is almost a year’s wages. Think of what you make in a year—and imagine spending that on a one-shot luxury item. That seems, to our social justice conscience, unjustifiable. But consider: when we’re talking about money here, we’re also talking about value. And how do we decide what is and is not valuable? Who decides? Where do we draw the line between value and waste?

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Sunday
Mar142010

Can’t Buy Me Love

Today’s bumper sticker theology: “Forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past.” Today’s Gospel reading, the parable of the prodigal son, is one of those texts that comes around like clockwork. Chances are good that you have heard one, if not many sermons on this parable. My sermon may not give you anything new, but it may remind you of what you already know, and that too has value.

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Sunday
Mar072010

It’s Not Fair!

In this week’s Gospel reading, we start with an allusion to an absolutely outrageous story. Pontius Pilate, we hear, killed Jews who were making a sacrifice in the temple—an act custom-made to provoke outrage. Mixing human blood with the blood of a sacrifice in the temple made it ritually unclean and invalid; Pilate ordering the murder of Galileans during sacrifice was the equivalent of committing murder, then publicly defiling the bodies in a way that caused God to turn away from the murder victims. Like any good story of outrage, I’m guessing this one had all sorts of salacious details at the time. Some might even have been true. True or not, it probably told well, and that’s how it made its way to Jesus.

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