Sermon Notes

Sermon Notes

Nearly every week, Sermon Notes are provided to help us prepare for upcoming sermons.  Feel free to use these Sermon Notes in your personal study or in a group!

A Commandment to Love?

In our reading for this Sunday, Jesus continues with that language and presses this point, the life-giving connection between him and his disciples, as he prepares them for his upcoming departure.  It’s as if he’s saying, “Even though I won’t be here in person, our connection is real and will be more profound and necessary than ever.”  And then, as one often does when giving last minute instructions, he circles back to something important and something he’s said before, “Love one another as I have loved you.”

What Is to Prevent Me?

On Sunday, we’ll ponder the words of this rather remarkable individual, Philip the evangelist, an outsider on many levels, who asked, perhaps hesitantly or perhaps boldly, “What is to prevent me from being baptized?” It’s a great question. What indeed? We’ll explore ways in which worldly forces, external and internal, might try to put up barriers for those who seek to enter fully into life with Christ, all the while mindful that the divine response to such questions is generally quite different and always grounded in radical grace.


Jesus is the good shepherd.  What does it mean for us to be sheep? What does it mean to have a shepherd?  This week we’ll spend some time in the shelter of Psalm 23…remembering all those who have gone before us who have known and cherished this psalm and reflecting on the ways we know and are known by the ultimate shepherd, Jesus.    

The Peace of Christ

Into the midst of this angst and struggle, Jesus comes to the disciples with a word of greeting, “Peace be with you.” He then emphasizes the fact that he’s there in the flesh. Jesus invites them to touch him…something they couldn’t do if he was a ghost! And then he does something equally delightful…he asks for a snack. They get him a little leftover fish and find themselves “joyful, disbelieving and still wondering.” Isn’t that a great description? How often are we, just like those early disciples, a mix of joy and disbelief and wonder?

The Empty Tomb

Despite anything and everything that has come before, despite hardship and struggle, despite pain and suffering, despite plagues and pandemics, despite any and all circumstances that have felt as if they were too much to bear, morning comes…day breaks…Easter arrives.  And we are reminded, once again, that God’s goodness, God’s love, God’s life-giving, life-restoring, life-saving force has been at work, is at work and will continue to be at work until God’s kingdom comes in its fullness.  Christ is risen!  Christ is risen indeed!  Alleluia! 


On Sunday we enter into Holy Week with what’s often called Palm/Passion Sunday.  Holy Week, in its entirety, begins on Palm Sunday as we remember Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper and the giving of a new commandment.  The word “maundy” comes from the Latin word for “mandate” and Jesus gives a new mandate to “love one another as I have loved you.”  On Good Friday we traverse the desolation and despair of the crucifixion and on Easter morning we celebrate the risen Christ! 

Life Interrupted

I don’t know about you, but I find interruptions to be bothersome. If I have finally found myself “on task” it can be a real nuisance for someone (or something) to pull my attention away. Maybe I finally catch that groove where I can be productive and efficient. Maybe I’m so deep in thought or action that I find it difficult to form words along any other train of thought. Interruptions can be frustratingly intrusive, and the same is true across experiences of life. 

Lifted Up

Our lectionary readings this week bring us two fairly complex and curious passages with which to wrestle.  The first testament reading from Numbers may be totally unfamiliar. Our Gospel reading, on the other hand, is likely to be familiar to all.  It contains perhaps the best known and often repeated line of Christian scripture that’s out there…“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…”  But just because it’s familiar, doesn’t mean it’s straightforward.  Not only are these two passages interrelated but they both hold, in tension, the dual reality of sin/judgment and God’s amazing grace.

Holy Zeal

The account of Jesus “cleansing the temple” is told in all four Gospels but with several significant differences.  Matthew, Mark and Luke place this account toward the end of Jesus’ life, while John places it much closer to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.  Jesus enters the temple during Passover – a very active, busy time – and turns everything, literally and figuratively, upside down.  The temple was THE established place to meet and encounter God.  And, through this encounter, Jesus suggests that the old order is passing and something new is being established. 

The Power of a Name

Ready or not, we are upon the threshold of Lent.  This is a season that is typically marked by themes of light and shadow, confession and repentance, frailty and humility. It is a season that reminds us of our finiteness as human beings.