February 23, 2020

Plum Transfigured

Introduction: Prunes
There are certain dates that, if you ask people where they were or what they were doing on that day, they can remember. To older generations, dates like December 7, 1941, and November 22, 1963 come to mind. To most of us, September 11, 2001 stands out.

But what about June 23, 2000? Do you remember where you were or what you were doing? I know I’ll never forget that day. I was driving down Loiza Street in San Juan, Puerto Rico, when a news report came over WOSO-AM radio informing me of the demise of the California prune. Yes, it was on that day that the Food & Drug Administration gave the California Prune Board permission to change the prune’s name to the dried

February 16, 2020

Grant Us New Hearts

A Prayer for the 6th Sunday after Epiphany

Thank you, O Holy One,
for calling us together this morning.
Thank you
that you have given us friends, neighbors, brothers, and sisters
to offer us encouragement and support.
Thank you that you grant us forgiveness—

Call to Integrity

Jesus opened the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are a kind of reinterpretation of blessing.
  • What is a blessing?
  • Who is blessed?
The Beatitudes answer those questions by turning the whole idea of blessing on its head.

So it’s clear that this guy Jesus—who, remember, is quite new on the scene at this point in Matthew’s gospel—has studied the traditional beliefs of his people. But it’s even more clear that, after studying traditional beliefs, he’s come out on the other side—the other side,

February 9, 2020

Salt and Light

Today’s scripture reading is the part of the Sermon on the Mount that comes right after the Beatitudes— Jesus’ blessings that I talked about in last week’s sermon. In the verses I shared with you this morning, Jesus talks about two things: Salt and light.

Well, he doesn’t just talk about them— he’s not sharing some theory he’s got about the nature of salt and the nature of light. He’s telling his listeners that they are the salt of the earth and that they are the light of the world.

Who are “they”?

They’re the very ones upon whom he just pronounced his blessings: the poor,

February 2, 2020


There’s a word we use in church a lot that hasn’t until recently been very popular in the world outside. At least not everywhere. The word I’m thinking of is a very positive word, but southerners have always known how to use it as a sort of insult… especially southern women. So if you’re in Kentucky or Alabama and somebody says to you, “Well bless your heart,” please know (if you don’t already) that you are at best just pitiful. At worst, somebody has just said to you—in the kindest way possible— that you are perhaps the most mean-spirited, hateful person that they’ve met in at least a month.

So the word I’m talking about is bless—more specifically blessed. It’s really made a comeback. And usually used in a very positive way these days. Now you’re as likely to hear somebody say to you, “Have a blest day,” as “Have a nice day.” And I bet that most of you probably like that.

And I bet that most of us like it that the idea of blessing has left the confines of