Meditations, Quotes and Benedictions

These were originally delivered as Benedictions at Saratoga Federated Church in Saratoga, CA. The passage on which that day’s sermon was based is listed in the title.

Benediction: Parenting

One of my favorite songs is called “Broken Tether” by the Collection. The singer is wrestling with his failure and claims that if he were to meet God in person he’d change all his ways and be a better person–which might be true. But then comes a line that gets me every time: I hope … Continue reading Benediction: Parenting

Benediction: Jonah 1

Jonah is clearly a failed Christ figure. He even spent 3 days in a tomb that should have been the end of his life. Both were asked to go into the middle of those who hated them and preach the love and grace of God. Jonah chose to run, but Christ chose to die, even … Continue reading Benediction: Jonah 1

Benediction: Jonah 2

Many of the questions we ask God can’t be answered directly, not because God doesn’t know the answers but because our questions don’t make sense. As C.S. Lewis once pointed out, many of our questions are, from God’s point of view, rather like someone asking, “Is yellow square or round?” or “How many hours are … Continue reading Benediction: Jonah 2

Benediction: Isaiah 42:1-9

One of our biggest roadblocks to justice is the zero sum, winner takes all mentality.We also can’t just pursue Justice, but we must do so from a properly oriented heart.Maybe one helpful step in getting there, especially as we continue through this season of lent, is to remember that we were playing a zero sum … Continue reading Benediction: Isaiah 42:1-9

Benediction: Luke 2:8-20

I’m really fascinated by the Shepherds. This reprehensible, foul-smelling, swearing, group of men that spend their days with stupid animals, far from the center of anything important. But I’m really fixated on the moment of entry into the stable, or cave, or whatever it actually was where Jesus was born. Joseph, after the previous night’s … Continue reading Benediction: Luke 2:8-20

Benediction: Luke 1:26-28

I’ve always been fascinated by the “Island of Misfit Toys”. But it’s also always bothered me, because honestly, most of the residents aren’t that misfitted — a lot of them are really just misnamed and if I were empty-handed and on my to a child’s birthday party, I wouldn’t feel that terrible about buying one … Continue reading Benediction: Luke 1:26-28

Benediction: Luke 2:22-28

If I were asked what emotion I most associate with Christmas, it would probably be melancholy. Not sadness, but whatever feeling it is that accompanies “Christmas Time is Here” from a Charlie Brown Christmas. That lonely melody, to which a chorus of children sing “Christmas time is here, happiness and cheer, fun for all that … Continue reading Benediction: Luke 2:22-28

Benediction: Philippians 3:1-14

In the Old Testament, God established many feasts and celebrations. These were often command performances — no opting out. Because God loves His parties, and while they are certainly for His people, they are not about His people–but about His provision, His love, His faithfulness. I have to imagine there were plenty of Jewish people … Continue reading Benediction: Philippians 3:1-14

Benediction: Philippians 3:15-21

Wendell Berry has characterized modern political discourse as “groups pressuring other groups to do the things they themselves are unwilling to do.” Certainly the way we vote should reflect the love we are called to as Christians, but if it is not accompanied by person to person expressions of that same love, what good is … Continue reading Benediction: Philippians 3:15-21

Benediction: Matthew 11

Jesus invites his listeners — “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens.” You’re burdens aren’t too heavy. You’re not too stuck. Jesus is in the business of defying expectations, defeating death and raising us from the grave. Move toward him. Take a step toward the God of Grace.Go in … Continue reading Benediction: Matthew 11

Benediction: John 13:34

When John first heard the commandment “as I have loved you” he may have thought it was a reachable goal. But I imagine him standing at the foot of the cross remembering “as I have loved you” and realizing that it was always an impossibly high bar. But at the same time realizing what it … Continue reading Benediction: John 13:34

Benediction: Mark 5:21-43

When you’re afraid, when you’re alone, when you’re angry, when you’re hurting, when you’re overwhelmed with the reality that there’s not a part of you that isn’t broken, when you’re at the end of your rope, may you let go and fall into the hands of Jesus May you be constantly surprised by the grace … Continue reading Benediction: Mark 5:21-43

Benediction: Ruth 2

We risk when we value what we can gain and determine that we can ultimately afford the potential cost–whether it is a lot of money, a relationship, an experience of pain, our pride, or whatever else we put on the line. But what if the cost was a 100% chance of betrayal by closest friends, … Continue reading Benediction: Ruth 2