Why We Cannot Forget that God’s Gifts are Free

Second Sunday after Pentecost

1 Kings 8:22-23, 41-43

Galatians 1:1-12

Luke 7:1-10

Paulo Uccello The Stoning of Stephen

Click here to listen to the sermon.


Lectionary Mixtape: 2nd Sunday after Pentecost C

Second Sunday after Pentecost C

Text: Galatians 1:3-9

3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! 9As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!

Song: Living Without Love

Artist: Saves the Day


Take my hand let me see you rise again
I know you said we don’t have a chance to be saved
We’re lost, we’re torn, we praise, we scorn, we’re stuck, and we’ll stay
The same

Oh you are not the one to blame
The past, the pain, all that it had once became.

Too much to hold, too dark, too cold.
You lost your way that’s all

Living without you, living without love… is it the life I need?
No more tomorrow, no morning sorrow – now it’s all up to me…


Here Paul is frustrated with the Galatian church. They have bought into the idea from some folks that the Good News of Jesus’ unconditional love isn’t enough for the Christian life. These opponents argued that a Christian first needs to follow a set of laws to really make their faith count. Paul warns against the dangers of making the Gospel of God’s love depend on our actions, no matter how noble they might seem. Paul yearns to see the church rise again and to cease living without love.

The Triune God Loves Doing this With You

Trinity Sunday C

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Romans 5:1-5

John 16:12-15

Aidan Salakhova Trinty Fascinans et Tremendum

I don’t think I can explain the Trinity without inevitably committing some sort of heresy. God is three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; but the three persons are still one God. Divine math just doesn’t add up like we’re used to: 1+1+1 somehow equals 1. What I think I can confidently say about the Trinity without finding myself in heresy, is that in the Triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we encounter God who is intimately present with us in many and various ways. The Triune God is deeply in relationship within itself and with us human beings.

This God encounters us in the form of Wisdom. She was present with God at the beginning of God’s work of Creation and has been with God for every step of the way. God’s Wisdom or the Word of God seems to show up all over the place in this text. She is on the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads… by the gates of town, at the entrances to the portals (Prov. 8:1, 2). Wisdom shows up in these places and she raises her voice demanding to be heard. God’s wisdom is not restricted to be found only in temples or within the minds of distinguished religious sages. Wisdom is speaking to all people and she speaks from the most public of places. She is all over town and she calls to everyone.

So what is she saying? What is wisdom? Surely no one can plumb the depths of God’s wisdom, but we get a snapshot of what God’s wisdom looks like in some of the verses that were omitted in our lectionary reading:

Proverbs 8:5-7, 13, 20

5O simple ones, learn prudence;
acquire intelligence, you who lack it.
6Hear, for I will speak noble things,
and from my lips will come what is right;
7for my mouth will utter truth;
wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
13The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.
20I walk in the way of righteousness,
along the paths of justice

In short, wisdom is intelligence, truth, opposition to wickedness, and the pursuit of justice. Where would Wisdom show up if she popped into our lives and what would she be saying to us? She would show up at our courthouses demanding that mercy and restoration triumph over vengeance and fear. She would show up at our schools encouraging children and teachers to value education and to use it for the betterment of the world. She would show up when someone utters a hateful, racist or sexist word to open their eyes to the beauty of God-given diversity and love of neighbor. She would show up at government buildings demanding just laws that protect the most vulnerable of our community. She would show up at our churches raising her voice to compel us to hold fast to our hope in Christ and share that same hope with the world- not to be an underwhelming social club.

God cares about us enough to be present with us and to send wisdom to us and to send hope to us. Continue reading

Lectionary Mixtape: 1st Sunday after Pentecost C

First Sunday after Pentecost C

Text: Psalm 8

3When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars that you have established;

4what are human beings that you are mindful of them,

mortals that you care for them?

Song: Northern Lights by St. Vincent

It’s a champagne year full of sober months
Through my mulling days, through my dry moments
I saw the morning Northern Lights
Convinced it was the end of times
I saw the morning Northern Lights

Lectionary Mixtape: Day of Pentecost C

So I am starting a new thing. Lectionary Mixtape. Each week, I will select a song that goes with one or more of the lectionary readings. Then, after a season, I will put together a Spotify playlist with the whole “mixtape.”

Day of Pentecost C

Text: Acts 2:1-21

1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Song: July Flame by Laura Veirs

July flame
Fiery kite
Lead me through the night

July flame
Sweet summer peach
High up in the branch
Just out of my reach

Can I call you mine?

God’s Absence: For Ascenion Day, Cinco de Mayo, & Yom HaShoah

Ascension of our Lord

Acts 1:1-11

Ephesians 1:17-23

Luke 24:44-53


There is a silly joke that I like. I’ve seen it in the form of a picture and a caption. The picture is of Jesus standing behind a sofa and the caption reads “I found Jesus… he was behind the couch the whole time!” The joke is certainly tongue-in-cheek and probably not even that funny. Finding Jesus, rather than being a transformative, life-changing moment akin to finding purpose and meaning in life, is jokingly put on the same level as misplacing the remote for your TV.

The search for Jesus is real and it isn’t as simple as the search for your TV remote. Jesus isn’t misplaced behind the couch. Today is Ascension Sunday when we celebrate Jesus being lifted up into Heaven. When he was lifted up, where did he end up? Where exactly is heaven? Maybe folks in 1st century Palestine thought of heaven as simply being up, but not us. We are too smart for that. All that is up is clouds, ozone, and beyond the atmosphere of our planet is the vast emptiness of space. We know better, right? Right?

Well, maybe the specifics of where Jesus physically went are not the most important part of the Ascension story. Finding Jesus or losing Jesus, be it in the clouds, outer space, or behind the couch is not really what finding or losing, Jesus is all about. Finding Jesus is about receiving the gift of the power of his love and the new life it brings. Losing Jesus is about serious doubts as to whether or not he really loves us or whether or not that love makes a difference in the world.

The disciples lose Jesus. Can you imagine how crushing that must have been? Here is the person who embodies God’s steadfast and abundant love for all people. Here is the one who welcomes all- especially the broken and outcast. Here is the one who forgives sins. Here is the one who gave his life for our sake and destroyed the power of death through his own resurrection. And then that amazing person floats away, carried out of sight.

Most of us have felt that kind of crushing absence. Continue reading