A Sermon for the Second Sunday after Christmas

By: Amelia McDaniel, Lay Associate for Christian Formation

 

I heard that last Sunday while I was away, Bob Hetherington laid down a challenge for me in his sermon. He mentioned the part of today’s story from the Flight into Egypt that has been omitted by the lectionary. It’s the story of the Massacre of the Innocents. It is only three verses that have been picked out. And they are three of the most brutal verses contained in our story of God’s love.

I’ve heard of other sermon challenges, like giving someone a crazy word or phrase to figure out how to incorporate into the sermon like aluminum siding or castor oil. This one is harder. But in my time with Bob Hetherington I have learned to listen to his words carefully because his wisdom is Spirit-led and powerful. So here I go.

In the start of today’s story, Joseph has been warned in a dream to get Mary and Jesus out of Bethlehem. Herod was searching for them and they were in grave danger. It’s unclear exactly how long they had been in Bethlehem when they leave. But Joseph acts and is ready to care for his family.

Now here is where the part that’s left out in today’s Gospel reading falls. It fits in just after the gospel cites the prophet Hosea’s words, “Out of Egypt I have called my son”.

Verses 16-18 of the 2nd Chapter of Matthew read…
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all the region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
Wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
She refused to be consoled,
Because they were no more.”

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A Sermon for the Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King

By: Amelia McDaniel, Lay Associate for Christian Formation

 

Recently, a friend who clearly knows me well sent me this quote…

Some parents run a tight ship. I run a pirate ship. There is some swearing, some drinking, and a touch of mutiny.

I run a house with two teenagers.  I identify.  But I imagine that God belly laughs at this just as much as I do.  We humans are a regular goat rodeo on a good day.  Wrangling us into some kind of order?  I cannot even fathom.  Thank goodness God is merciful.  In my home we’ve gone from chore charts to texting chores and reminders as one of the ways I try to impose some order on our days. I keep a family calendar with the ridiculous number of activities and events all logged in.  It is a moving target.  Often I miss things and am unaware of something I was supposed to know or do.  Getting my arms and my head around the daily life we lead is near impossible.

One of the things that I cherish about our way of worship is the liturgical year, the order we try to impose so we can pay attention to the life of Jesus.  That may sound horribly dry and boring.  But it’s true.  I love this way of ordering our days so we know what we are supposed to be doing when we show up.  But it also much more than that, it is a perpetual way to show up and meet Jesus again anew.

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A Sermon for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

By: Amelia McDaniel, Lay Associate for Christian Formation

 

The air finally got a little crisper this week and for the first time it felt like it might actually be fall. The cooler weather made it more palatable as I stood at the Lowe’s looking at the pumpkins and mums and large inflatable ghosts with Christmas wreaths and flashing trees just behind them.

We do this crazy mash of seasons from the start of October onward. It’s such a strange slide from the ghosts and goblins and gluttony of mini candy bars of Halloween, into this season where we are supposed to be grateful in the month of November while in actuality we are lavishly and frantically planning and spending away in preparation for Christmas, the commercial one, not the one we are truly called to celebrate.

In today’s reading, Jesus’ response to the Samaritan’s gratitude gave me pause. A chance to stop and think before the onslaught of the merged seasons begins to truly work on what being grateful looks like.

Gratitude is a commonly used word. We make lists of things we are grateful for and around this time of year we make our children do the same often making them write these “blessings” on construction paper tail feathers for their Thanksgiving turkey artwork. The word gratitude bears many different levels of meaning in our discourse. Some of it trite and cheap, some of it maudlin and dripping with something less than wholehearted sincerity, and some of it deep down to the bone.

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A Sermon for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

By: Amelia McDaniel, Lay Associate for Christian Formation

 

I recently heard the writer Kristen Schell speak at a conference.  She may not be on your radar, but I’m pretty sure if you heard her speak you would want to be her friend.

She wrote a book titled The Turquoise Table and she has sparked a quiet movement.  She may also likely be the topic of many a homeowner association meeting.  You see the book is based on Schell’s experiences after she placed a large picnic table painted a bright shade of turquoise in her front yard in Austin, TX.  She did it because she was pretty sure it was what God wanted her to do.  She had been rumbling with how to serve God.  But she was stuck.  She was a stay at home mom.  She felt a call to mission, but that did not seem a possibility for her with a large family rooted in Austin.  And then she had a picnic table delivered to her house for a backyard barbeque and she knew what she was supposed to do.

After the barbeque, she painted it a lovely shade of turquoise and put it smack in her front yard.  One morning she took her cup of coffee and her laptop out there and started working.  Pretty soon what she had hoped would happen did.  She started to meet her neighbors. At first it was a casual hello as someone walked by with the dog.  But in time her turquoise table became a meeting point for people in the neighborhood.  People started connecting.  They sat down together, really got to know each other. Everyone was welcome.  Real connections were formed.

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A Sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

By: Amelia McDaniel, Lay Associate for Christian Formation

 

This week we celebrated our new sexton Tyrell’s birthday. For some reason while eating cake with the staff, I remembered my the cake from my 5th birthday. It was an ice cream hedgehog cake my mother made. Why a hedgehog birthday cake? It took me a minute but I remembered that I loved the book Miss Jaster’s Garden which featured a kind old lady and a hedgehog living in her garden. My sweet mother had not batted an eye when I asked for a hedgehog cake. It was a creation of chocolate, mocha and coffee ice cream layers with slivered almonds as the hedgehog’s prickles. I called her to talk about it and we laughed and remembered the story together. It is for certain the BEST birthday cake I’ve ever had. More than loving the book or hedgehogs or birthdays the thing that lay at the core of that memory was how much my mother loved and adored me. Stories can cut through to what is most true.

We come here today to remember our shared story of God’s love. Today we will welcome Libbie into this love story and we will honor our beloved Mike Koschak’s place in our story at St. Mary’s. This is one of the things I cherish most about being part of the church, this getting to share our stories together. To hold up what is most true together

Today’s lectionary offers us two of my favorite stories from scriptures. The stories of Sarah and Martha and Mary.

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