Sermons by Lori Leopold (Page 2)
Today we begin a four-week sermon series that will take us through a variety of questions that begin with the phrase “I’ve Been Meaning to Ask You.”
Today we talk a little bit about our own sanctuary project as it relates to building but, just as importantly, we’ll talk about God’s notions around this topic of building. What does God want from God’s people when it comes to buildings? What does God NOT want? What needs to be broken down first in order to build up? How do we know, in God’s realm, when it’s time to build? Who is the builder? What is being built? Join us as we ponder this and more!
Our scripture reading this Sunday is from Paul’s second letter to the community in Corinth. It’s in this passage that Paul talks about the “thorn in his flesh,” that unknown affliction or malady that companioned him all his life. As he grapples with that particular “truth,” he explores the notion of God’s strength as it makes itself known in our human weakness, inviting us into that powerful and profound reflection along with him.
Our scripture passage for today highlights a Pharisee named Nicodemus whose interest, curiosity and hope appeared to be piqued by Jesus. Jesus tells him that all must be “born again” or “born from above” and Nicodemus struggles with what that might possibly mean. “How can we possibly be born again when we’ve already been born?”
Today is Ascension Sunday, a day that is not particularly recognized or highly anticipated in our culture at large. I doubt anyone woke up this morning saying, “Yay! It’s Ascension Sunday!” But, despite that fact, it’s a day that is special…significant in the life of the church. Luke writes about the ascension of Jesus into heaven, his return back to God, both at the end of the gospel of Luke and at the beginning of Acts. Curiously, these accounts are somewhat different.
Our scripture today continues in the Eastertide theme of life in relationship with God. Jesus talks about his love for the disciples and their love for one another using the language of friendship. And, even as we read his words, we might find ourselves asking, “How do we, frail, fallible human beings even come close to fulfilling this commandment?”
n today’s scripture passage from Acts, the Ethiopian eunuch was reading precisely these words from Isaiah when the Spirit instructed Philip to approach his chariot and engage him in conversation. The full name of this book is The Acts of the Apostles but it contains so much more than just that! In fact, the Philip in this story is not Philip the apostle, but rather Philip the evangelist, one of seven Greek speaking Jewish Christians who were appointed to tend to the needs of others, especially to the widows in the Greek speaking portion of the Christian community. This wonderful, Spirit-driven encounter reminds us of the ever-widening circle of inclusion that has always been at the heart of the gospel, way back when and all the way up to our here and now.
Our lectionary readings for today include Psalm 23 along with a portion of John’s gospel that reminds us that Jesus is the good shepherd. What does it mean for us to be sheep? What does it mean to have a shepherd?
Into the midst of angst and struggle, Jesus comes to the disciples with a word of greeting, “Peace be with you.” How often are we, just like those early disciples, a mix of joy and disbelief and wonder?
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.