Sermons & Blog

In the hill country

There was a time when I used to travel to Cuba a lot, on business. My Cuban counterpart in those days was the director of the government department with which we were doing business. He was also a general in the Cuban military, which wasn’t unusual. When we weren’t talking business, he liked to tell me stories about the Cuban revolution. As a teenager, he had fled his home in the city and escaped to the hill country in the southwest of the island. He became part of the rebel group led by Che Guevara in the hills near Santiago de Cuba, where they organized and recruited and trained, in anticipation of the revolution. Rebels throughout the ages have often fled to the hills, away from pry

Good News?

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath that is to come? That’s how John the Baptist greets the crowds who swarm out into the wilderness by the Jordan River to be baptized. That’s how our gospel reading begins this morning. And this is how it ends: “So, with many other exhortations, John proclaimed the good news to the people” In between that first verse and the last verse of today’s gospel, Luke is telling us that there is good news. Did you hear it? Is it the bit where John says “even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire?” Or is it when John tells us that it’s not good enough to be

Repentance (Advent 2)

My high school English teacher once told me that one of the secrets to great writing is to have a good opening sentence, because it sets the stage for everything that follows. Today, after the preamble of the first two chapters, we find ourselves at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke. And the opening sentence goes like this: In the 15th year of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to … What comes next? God is about to act in history, in what is, a

Raise your heads

This season of Advent is a time for us to get ready for Jesus to come into our lives. Advent is also a drama, one that deliberately messes with our sense of time. We begin with the end, this apocalyptic vision of the last days, and then we make our way backwards in time week by week, back to the time of John the Baptist, back still further to the time of an expectant Mary. In a culture afflicted by complacency, Advent invites us into a drama meant to shake us out of our complacency. One way it does that is by running time backwards. Another is by exhorting us to look at the world around us and open our eyes. “There will be signs in the sun, the moon and the stars, and on earth distress

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