In this sermon, we celebrate good news of a great joy, which shall be for all people! This is news that acknowledges the hardship we face and yet opens a world-transforming, power-disrupting, almighty and yet deeply vulnerable Way for joy. Christmas is the unexpected inbreaking of divine presence and joy.
How are you feeling as Christmas approaches? This festive family season can intensify feelings of loneliness or missing someone. The pressure to spend on gifts can bring up money anxiety. But when we move into the gospel story, we see that the Christmas angel meets us where we are. In this week’s story, the angel Gabriel meets Mary on the streets. The following week, a host of angels meet some shepherds at their workplace. The invitation of Christmas is to look deep into who and what is being born. What is being born in you and among us? It's easy to fixate on what’s dying, like a relationship, the planet, democracy, and human decency. Christmas, however, is about what and who is being born: courage, possibility, faith community, love, and purpose.
When you have a hard decision to make, where do you find support to take a risk and follow your heart? This week's gospel story tells the story of Joseph deciding to leave Mary when he found out she was pregnant and knew he was not the father. When an angel speaks to him in a dream, however, he is instructed to confront his fear, take Mary as his wife, and care for this new child who is "from the Holy Spirit." This week we'll reflect on the ways angels call us into risk.
The mystery of Christmas connects people on the margins with the glorious divine. In the Christmas story, God is born to unmarried parents and laid in an animal trough in a barn. This birth inspires a heavenly chorus of angels to sing Glory to God to shepherds who are on the night shift out in a field. What does this story reveal about God? What does this story reveal about angels? Do we experience angels in the midst of our daily lives? The word angel, which comes from "angelos," is the Greek word for "messenger." Godly insight may come from the most unlikely places. Together, we'll attune our hearts to seek and find angels in the Bronx, angels in our homes — angels everywhere.
Healthy community means no one is less, no one is dispensable. Can we build community in which conflict doesn't mean demeaning or excluding people, but rather is a healthy part of growing together? What boundaries must be maintained to achieve such a task? Harassment, abuse and assaults against women are in the news, but Hollywood and government are not the only oppressive and unhealthy environments. Harassment is rampant in work places, schools, the subway and even in the home. The church is notorious for justifying and supporting the circumstances that lead to injustice and abuse. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), 2016 was the most violent year on record for hate violence related homicides of LGBTQ and HIV affected people. The teaching of Jesus is sharp and bold in its call for the end not only of abusive acts, but also for the end of thoughts, words and images that help maintain a culture of abuse. We must address our wounds.This work is messy, difficult, vulnerable, and critical to our survival. Healing lies on the other side. The work requires dialogue, vulnerability, and accountability. We hope you will join in the conversation about how we can build a healthy community of gender justice, healing and transformation together.
In this sermon, we hear of a widow who is trying to get justice from "a judge who neither fears God nor has respect for people." Have you ever been in a situation that didn't seem to have a solution? This sermon also continues our sermon series on adrienne maree brown’s new text, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. In this week's chapter, brown suggests that the pathway to real breakthrough is "nonlinear." That means it may not unfold in one clear path, step by step. Instead, real change comes in "cycles, convergences, explosions." A setback is simply part of the learning. Join us: Together we'll learn from She Who Persisted, remembering that God is with us. Our own "cycles, convergences" and "explosions" are only taking us deeper into our purpose.
In her first sermon, Alyssa Roberts blesses our community with her deep reflections on what it means to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. She will put Scripture and her relationship with God in conversation with her lived experiences. We will be reminded to be salty, available — the light of the world. We'll be reminded of who we are in the face of so-called-authority. We'll reflect on the uses of silence and the necessity of voice. This enfleshed Word is needed now more than ever.
Relationships can be a real challenge in our day. Stress, busy-ness, and individualism are all obstacles to the compassion and patience it takes to build them. This sermon explores the ways Creation stories in Genesis centralize the importance of relationship with one another, with God, and with the rest of creation.
What's your conversion story? Conversion is much more than realizing a belief in a higher power. It is entering into a process with God to heal the trauma of Empire and co-create justice in ourselves and our community. In this sermon, we looked at the conversion story of Thecla and the women of all classes and species that conspire for her baptism and freedom from the powerful patriarchs that assaulted her. We'll explore the practices of witnessing the sacred in ourselves and each other, turning from Empire, and becoming an accomplice in each other's liberation in order to embrace our full humanity.
We certainly have much to mourn lately, but Jesus reminds us that God is with us during the hard times. Grieving can go on for months and years, but as resurrection people, we have comfort in a love that is eternal and more powerful that hate. We also don't need to grieve alone.
In this message, Pastor Lisa Asedillo-Pratt explores the roots of shame and invites us into the healing and power we find in God's unfailing love. She preaches from the extra canonical text, The Thunder: Perfect Mind. This is one of the early Christian texts discovered in 1945 in the Egyptian village of Nag Hammadi. It's not included in the biblical canon, but may well have been read as a sacred text by early Christians.