Preach it.

At First Church we value engaging sermons that relate our Biblical texts to our contemporary world.

Transformed “…from one degree of glory to another”

Exodus 24:12-18 Matthew 17:1-9 If there is one constant in life, aside from the grounding love of God, it is that all things change. The transfiguration story we have today claims that as we change, we are becoming a more mature, more fully realized version of our true self. The root of the word Transfigure in Greek is the same word we use for metamorphosis, like when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Amazing. It is the process of transformation from one form to a more mature form in two or more distinct stages, or a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means. The most common response to change, by others around us, when we define who we are in new ways, can you guess what it is? The most common response to change is, “Change back! We understood you and liked you that way!” But the more we self-define, the more we transition into who we really are, the more we encourage others to do the same. Today on Transfiguration Sunday we assert that God is with us in transitions, and that when we transfigure, and change, it may affect the people around us even more than ourselves. Jesus is truly a glowing example of this, not only because the story of transfiguration Sunday is when Jesus actually glows, but because God takes all of Jesus intense life transitions and makes an example out of them. God uses Jesus birth, death, and transfiguration, to show God’s love. Let’s go into the transfiguration story. The scene... read more

Be A Salt Lamp for Jesus

Be a Salt Lamp for Jesus In 1630, ten ships left Southampton, England headed to the Massachusetts bay carrying a thousand Puritans, among them, John Winthrop, on ship Arbella. Winthrop was the spiritual and political leader of these Puritans, and we have record of a sermon he gave, we imagine him on the bow of the ship, with ocean waves crashing against the boat, telling these Puritans how to be together when they arrived in New England. “We must be knit together in this work as one man,” he said, with ocean mist spraying behind him, “we must entertain each other in brotherly Affection, we must be willing to abridge our selves of our superfluities, for the supply of others necessities,” “we must uphold a familiar Commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality,” Isn’t that beautiful? “We must make others Conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labour, and suffer together,” And never lose sight of why we are here, he says. If we do this, he promised, “the Lord will be our God and delight to dwell among us, as his own people and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways.”[1] People are watching, he warned, we will be an example for the world. “For we must Consider,” Winthrop said, “that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.” “If we deal falsely with our God in this work, God shall withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world, we shall open the mouths... read more

I am afraid

The sermon time today will be contemplative. We will hear the scripture read slowly and chant “Bless the lord my soul,” at least 4 times, then hold silence. We will do this after each scripture reading. We do this today, because we need to feel the presence of God- I need to feel the presence of God with you today. Friends, before we get to contemplative sermon portion of today’s service, I want to be very honest with you, that I am afraid. I have prayed on this, and I believe God calls me to be honest with you, to be authentic, to be exactly where I am, so that you can be exactly where you are, and that does not need to be the same place. I share with you that I am afraid, not because I think this is the appropriate way to feel, but because as the spiritual leader of this church, it would be a disservice for all of us for me to do anything different than tell the truth. It is a particular gift of feminist leadership to regard feelings, sensitivities and emotional radar as important information- not the ultimate truth or final answer, but as legitimate players. Claiming our feelings allows for mutuality and eliminates the idea that we have to be of one mind in order to be one body. We claim today that our diversity of responses and awareness of them, strengthen our body. I am devastated after this election- and not just because my candidate lost. As a woman called to leadership myself, to see the first female candidate lose... read more

Root to Rise

Psalm 149 Romans 8:26-39 It is an uprooting experience when we lose someone we love. Death comes suddenly, traumatically, with an accident, or for no particular reason. Sometimes death comes peacefully by the bedside; expected in some ways, with comfort care and family around, with massaging feet and peaceful music. Death comes as a comfort for those who have lived a long life- but still, it is uprooting when we lose someone we love, even if we are expecting it. When we lose someone we love, it is important to remember to eat, to remember to do normal human things. Because death uproots. When we lose someone we love, who was part of how we understood ourselves, we know that an essential part of us has died along with this person. When death comes, sometimes we feel guilty. We should have called more, we should have been kinder, we should have dropped everything to be there for every moment of their life. I should have know death was going to come in this way- I could have done something to prevent it. Sometimes we feel relief, then we feel guilty about that. And then we get angry, at God, and the world, at ourselves; why would a loving God allow for this devastating fate? Does God cause death, if God is powerful at all, why wouldn’t God have stepped in? There is no right way to grieve, no proper order or right amount of tears or timeline or road map. Sometimes in grief we draw closer to God, because the mystery of life and death is too big to... read more

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