Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sermon on Lay Ministry - by Jessie Maeck

“Fear and trembling,” those words we heard from St Paul this morning. You can bet I’m feeling both of those at this moment.
Nonetheless, I’m Jessie Maeck, and it’s a delight, on this day we celebrate all the amazing people who do lay ministry at Redeemer, to be invited to share with you what lay ministry has come to mean to me.
A young girl named Mary might have been the first lay minister, at least to Christians.
She said “yes.”
Another person who answered a call is the first son in the parable in today’s gospel.
We’re here to celebrate lay ministry today, right?
Most of us don’t get a visit from the Angel Gabriel, and we aren’t invited to give birth to a divine part of God either. But as soon as we move just a little beyond where those paralyzed priests and elders who challenged Jesus in our Gospel reading were, as soon as we give up enough fear to be able to listen, we will be called. And usually what we’re invited to do is, in fact, to assist in the birth of something Divine.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sermon for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

July 31, 2011  Proper 13A by the Rev. Kate Ekrem
Matthew 14:13-21

Sarah Dylan Breuer has observed, "Have you ever wondered why it is that, when we gather as a church to remember Jesus, we do it with a meal? If you think about it, it really could have been anything. We could have built statutes to remember Jesus, or held a dance. We could have made it a poetry reading, a teach-in, a weekly golf tournament -- but we didn't. When we gather as a church, our central act together in remembrance of Jesus is to have a meal."

In seminary I had sort of a left wing professor who said the symbol of Christianity should not be the cross, but the loaves and fishes.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Proper 10A July 10 by the Rev. Kate Ekrem
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Did you notice that our Gospel reading skips around a bit? We leave out verses 9-18 of this chapter and hear Jesus’s parable of the Sower, then skip to the explanation of the parable. In between, in the part that our lectionary leaves out, the disciples ask Jesus, “why do you speak in parables? They’re kind of hard to understand!” And Jesus’ response indicates that parables are not supposed to be easy to understand or easily explainable, but instead that we have to be in the right frame of mind to hear them. So the second half of our reading, the explanation, was likely not part of Jesus’ teaching

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

On flags, worship, citizenship, and faith

Article for Redeeming Features by the Rev. Kate Ekrem

            Recently the worship committee has been discussing the issue of having an American and Episcopal flag in our sanctuary, in response to questions from parishioners. The flags were moved to make room for the Giving Tree at Christmas, and when we forgot to put them back right away, some members asked that they be returned, to honor our service people.  When they were put back, that drew attention to them again and some other members asked that we reconsider having flags in the sanctuary as, to them, it was in conflict with the idea of separation of church and state. So, as always when five or six parishioners ask about something worship related, the worship committee discussed it. One of the things the worship committee concluded is that, as a parish, we should think a bit more about the reasons why we want to have flags in or out of the sanctuary. What does the presence of the flags mean to us and why? 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sermon for The Third Sunday After Pentecost by Bob King

The American Flag in Christian Worship - Bob King July 3rd, 2011

Zechariah 9:9-12 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! ... Lo your king comes to you; ... humble and riding on a donkey, ...”

Romans 7:15-25a “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate ... “

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 “To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you and you did not dance; we waited, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds ...”

O Lord, give us inquiring and discerning hearts, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy in all your works.

Last Advent, we had removed the American and Episcopal Church flags from the sanctuary to make room for the mitten tree, and no one thought to put them back until a parishioner mentioned it this spring. When the flags were returned, other parishioners questioned if they belonged. This exchange encouraged Kate to open a conversation about the flags with the congregation, and what better way to start than with a sermon on Fourth of July weekend,

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ascension Sunday

June 5, 2011, by the Rev. Kate Ekrem

Ascension Day is kind of a funny little church festival, tucked away at the end of Easter and so close to Pentecost it often gets overlooked. Maybe we also think it’s funny because of the funny pictures it has inspired. There is a whole genre of Renaissance paintings of the disciples looking up in the air, confused looking, at some little white clouds with Jesus feet poking through. That’s all you see of Jesus, just his feet as he ascends into heaven. If that’s our image of Ascension Day no wonder it gets overlooked. But actually, what Ascension Day is about is pretty important.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sermon for the Sixth Sunday in Easter

May 29 2011 by the Rev. Kate Ekrem
“Always be ready to make your defense to anyone” – 1 Peter 3:15

Warning: today’s sermon is interactive! Mentally prepare yourself for talking with your neighbor in your pew.

Do you have an elevator speech? You know what I mean, the 30 second or 1 minute pitch about what’s important to you, when someone asks “what’s up with you” on an elevator? It’s generally what you’re selling or what you want your boss to think you’re doing in? I used to work in book publishing, where people actually did have elevator speeches. It was a tall office building, and everyone was always lobbying the boss

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sermon for Third Sunday in Easter

May 8, 2011 by the Rev. Kate Ekrem
Luke 24:13-35

Imagine you are Cleopas and his companion, walking during a spring evening towards Emmaus, a few miles down the road from Jerusalem. I always like to imagine that Cleopas’ companion is actually the wife of Cleopas mentioned a few times in the Gospels, that perhaps this is a married couple.  And perhaps they are having a little marital argument or discussion as they walk down the road, talking over what the heck just

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Good Friday Sermon

Good Friday 2011
The Rev. Kate Ekrem

Last night we stripped the altar, took all the usual things out of the church. Our service today is also sort of bare bones, missing many elements, the others in an unfamiliar order. It too is stripped down, until nothing is left but the cross. In a little bit we’ll bring the cross forward and have the opportunity to kneel in front of it, or venerate it however we feel moved.
            It’s not always a comfortable thing to do, facing the cross is hard for us, but how much more emotional and terrible it was for those who were with Jesus that scary night, that awful day. By the time Jesus got to the cross, most of his friends were gone. Peter wasn’t there, most of the 12 were in hiding. Jesus’ mother was there. As any mother would be.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sermon for Fourth Sunday in Lent

Lent 4 April 3, 2011, The Rev. Kate Ekrem
Scripture of the day is here.
Early Christians took baptismal preparation very seriously. Today, at our most perfunctory it can be just a quick meeting in the pastor’s study, but in those days it was three years of study and learning. All leading up to baptism at Easter, almost always at the Easter Vigil, the crown and pinnacle of the church year. The scripture passages we read on the Sundays of Lent were their textbook. And this story of the healing of the man born blind was one of the most important of the texts they studied. We know this because it appears more than 7 times in early catacomb art, generally as an illustration of baptism.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Water in the Desert

Hello friends,
One scripture passage I didn't get to in this Sunday's sermon was the one from Exodus, about Moses finding water in the desert for the thirsty People of Israel. It's a very thought-provoking story, though, and I think that's in part because we have so much in common with those thirsty complaining folks who gave Moses such a hard time. We worry. We're anxious. We think what we need is not going to be there for us. 

Moses stops at a place in the desert where there is no water. This is unusual -- desert nomads (like Moses's wife Zipporah, who was with them) usually traveled from oasis to oasis. It makes us wonder, why the unscheduled stop? Did they overextend themselves, or not go far enough? Did they run out of water because they didn't conserve it? Whatever the case, they got off track. 

And don't we get off track in similar ways? Unlike most of the world we have plentiful clean water, but we can sometimes pay insufficient attention to our own basic needs and resources. We over-extend or over-consume. Here it's water, but what about  time, energy, sleep, silence, play? Do we plan like nomads and move carefully from oasis to oasis, from sabbath to sabbath, or do we get stuck in the middle with nothing to drink, burnt out and exhausted, like these guys?

This Lent, make sure you plan plenty of time and replenishment at the oasis that you need.

P.S. If such refreshment moves you to share with others, you might take a peak here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Atonement Theology Unpacked.. a little bit

Dear friends,

Yesterday in my sermon I brought up the topic of atonement theology (i.e. how Jesus's death saves us) because I think it's something very important for practicing Christians to have a grasp of. In today's pluralistic society, it's more and more common that a friend might ask about what we believe, or have a mis-understanding of Christianity based on TV evangelists. Or maybe we ourselves have questions about how God could possibly need Jesus to die. I only just touched on the topic in my sermon, giving the highlights of three of the dozens of ways theologians explain atonement.

So here is some unpacking, and to keep you reading I've put my own favorite theory at the very end....

Sermon for Third Sunday in Lent

Hello friends,

Here is my sermon from yesterday. You can find the scripture readings here. I realize I opened a bit of a can of worms with all those atonement theologies (it was very hard to summarize!) so I'll post another blog post unpacking that a little more for those who are interested.

Sermon for March 27 2011 by the Rev. Kate Ekrem
If you’ve been reading the Redeemer blog, you know that last Sunday I got to have dinner with the youth group and we played “stump the priest.” And they did! Well, at least it’s easier than Crainium, but they asked some tough questions. But the one question I think I really did not give a good answer to was, what does it mean that Jesus saves us? We say he died for our sins, but how did his dying fix the problem of human sin?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Youth Group Stumps the Priest

Sunday night I got to join the youth group for their Sunday night dinner, which they cook together each week as a time of support and sharing. I was foolish enough to say "ask me anything" and they had a lot of really great questions. We decided "stump the priest" was fun, and plan to do it again. But I wonder if any of you could field any of these questions that the youth group asked me. What would you have answered them? Are any of these questions which also puzzle you?

* What do Episcopalians believe about creation and evolution?
* What was Jesus' childhood and young adulthood like? Did people treat him differently?
* When we die, do we go to heaven immediately or do we "fall asleep" and get resurrected on the Last Day?
* Are some parts of the Bible antisemitic, and if so, how do we deal with that?
* Is the devil real or just a metaphor for evil in the world?
* What about people who do bad things yet go to church and people who do good things yet don't believe in God?
* What does "Jesus died to save us" really mean? Why doesn't the world look more saved?

Whew. I think there may be a sermon shaping up out of all our discussion. Or maybe a sermon series...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sermon for First Sunday in Lent

Hello friends,
Here is my sermon from yesterday. I always have second thoughts after preaching and in this case am not sure I was so fair to poor St. Augustine. Bill Fortier pointed out in yesterday's adult forum that often we are guilty of repeating what other writers have said about someone rather than reading the original for ourselves. I think I probably did that to the good Bishop of Hippo. Back to the original sources to make sure I got it right...

By the way, if you missed Bill's "Bread, Bible, and Battles", do come join us on Feb 27th! Never have I heard someone so compellingly connect church history and modern brain science. Fascinating stuff!

My ideas about sin in this sermon are very much influenced by Marcus Borg's book, The Heart of Christianity, which I recommend highly.

Sermon for 1 Lent, March 13 2011 by the Rev. Kate Ekrem

Today I’d like to talk about sin! Oh good, you are all still here. So, raise your hand if sin means for you something that makes you feel guilty, or you think is supposed to make you feel guilty, or is just a word you

Lenten challenge in the Boston Globe

Hello friends,

I saw this article in this weekend's Boston Globe by G. Jeffery MacDonald and thought it was though-provoking. The author says Lent is "widely ignored" by American Christians because we don't like to deny ourselves anything. And, he suggests, we are consumerist in general about church, seeking entertainment and emotional support rather than "the harder and more edifying parts of Christianity." He says, "Strangely, Americans recognize the value of sacrifice in pursuing material goals, such as prosperity via education. Yet we tell ourselves that spiritual growth can be cost-free." He concludes, "It’s time for American Christians to reclaim the power of their tradition. Lent is the right time to start. The season beckons Christians to grow in character and compassion by walking in their ancestors’ footprints."

What do you think? Is MacDonald on to something or off-base?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sermon for Last Epiphany

Here is my sermon from this past Sunday. I welcome any comments or reflections. The scripture readings are here.
Sermon by the Rev. Kate Ekrem for March 6 2011 Transfiguration/Last Epiphany
If light has been our theme this Epiphany, today’s readings bring it all home. Moses encounters the devouring fire of God on the mountaintop, Peter talks about the lamp shining in a dark place until the day days and the morning star rises, and Jesus shining like the sun in the gospel.

In this Epiphany seasons, we’ve been talking about light, us being God’s light and salt,

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tough words from Jesus

This Sunday's Gospel was a tough one to preach on: fire and brimstone, plus adultery and divorce! Here's my sermon. And you can find the scripture readings here. For me, this Gospel passage connected to the teachings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers about how we should just let our thoughts be thoughts and not let them control us. I was thinking a lot about this book by Benedictine nun Mary Margaret Funk, but didn't specifically reference it in the sermon.
I welcome your comments and reflections. Here's a discussion question to get you started: if you had been preaching this Sunday, what might you have said?

Sermon by the Rev. Kate Ekrem, 6 Epiphany, Feb 13th 2011
Light and salt, Sabeth reminded us last week are what Jesus asks us to be. Bringing illumination and flavor to the world. And being light and salt is not just about doing a certain thing, it’s about being a certain way. A way that Jesus continues to unpack in this next passage from Sermon on the Mount.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Follow Up from Sunday's Adult Forum

We started a discussion yesterday about what we, as Christians, should be doing in response to challenges in the world that we might consider to be issues of social justice, that was precipitated by the ouster of the Tunisian president by public revolt and the current public outcry in Egypt calling for the removal of President Mubarak.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Welcome to Redeemer's new blog

Welcome! This is the home of Church of Our Redeemer's new blog. Our idea is to offer spiritual reflections from our clergy -- Kate, Sabeth, and Ted -- and give our church community a chance to share ideas, via the comments, about living a spiritual life in today's world. We'll also post our sermons and invite you to comment on them to share what was meaningful to you, or what other things it made you think about. We hope you'll subscribe (using the tools on the right) so you can get some spiritual thoughts-for-the-day sent right to your email, phone, or whatever. Enjoy!

Peace and blessings,