Sermons

Sermon: Not Impossible

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, December 24, 2017

The sermon in the morning is called “Not Impossible”—it is an awkward, though literal, translation of the angel’s promise to Mary: All things will be not impossible with God. Fred Craddock says that this verse the creed behind all other creeds. “The church should recite it often,” he says, “not only at the manger, not only at the empty tomb, but on any occasion when the church reflects on its own life, joy, and hope.” Join us while we reflect on that life, joy, and hope.


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Sermon: Longing with Expectation

Rev. Chandler Stokes

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

There’s a little airstrip in Garberville, California, where we used to live. The runway is maybe 3,500 feet long. Cessnas and Piper Cubs could land on it easily. The runways at San Francisco International Airport are some 12,000 feet long. You can land any com­mercial airliner on them. You would not want to land a jumbo jet in Garberville. And, as long as there is no way prepared for those jets, we don’t have to worry about one landing there. But if you want to let something big in, you’ve got quite a runway to prepare.


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Sermon: Longing for Love

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, December 10, 2017

Three years ago, Westminster introduced the Mental Health Referral Panel, which is a community resource for finding appropriate mental health support. After three years that program has grown significantly, and I want to remind us of this valuable resource for both members and non-members. There is money available and therapists, whom we deeply trust.


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Sermon: Longing

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, December 3, 2017

This story always seems to come to my mind, when Advent rolls around. In Robert Altman’s film “Grand Canyon,” the comedic actor, Kevin Kline, drives his car into a run-down neighborhood, and breaks down. It’s the dead of night, he can’t get his car to re-start, and he calls for a tow-truck, and, while he is waiting for it to arrive, a gang of thuggish characters shows up. They get up in his face, and the fact that Kline usually plays comedy gives the scene a little extra jolt. When they threaten him with a pistol, it’s shocking—what we expect might be a light-hearted escapade becomes very sober. Danny Glover shows up in this tense scene as the tow-truck driver. He keeps up a casual-toned, but cautious, and hopefully distracting, conversation with the thugs while he, one “feigned casual” step at a time, attempts to hitch Kline’s car to his tow-truck. Push comes to shove with the mugger and, when Glover is confronted, he says to the hoodlum, Man, the world ain't supposed to work like this. Maybe you don't know that, but this ain't the way it's supposed to be. I'm supposed to be able to do my job without askin' you if I can. And that dude is supposed to be able to wait with his car without you rippin' him off. Everything's supposed to be different than what it is here. (Script by Lawrence Kasdan, available at http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/g/grand-canyon-script-transcript-kasdan.html)


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Sermon: Family

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, November 26, 2017

This Sunday is the last Sunday in the “liturgical year”—the week after becomes Advent and annual the build-up and preparation for Christmas. The text is a well-known one about the separating of the sheep and the goats in the fullness of time. It’s a curious story: faith in Jesus is not as important as seeing him—seeing Christ in those who suffer.


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Sermon: Turning the Corner: Fear, Protest, or Thanksgiving

Rev. David Baak

Sermon    
Sunday, November 19, 2017

Life is a series of turning corners—as we walk along life’s pathway we easily abandon the past after we’ve turned the bend, especially if it’s been difficult. We’re certainly not able to see the future around the next turn. So, we live in the present. But, we should not forget the meaning of the past nor fail to anticipate the future with hope. Matthew 25 pairs with the Thanksgiving reading of Deuteronomy 8 and they show a way to live with thanksgiving. Rev. David Baak preaching on “Turning the Corner: Fear, Protest, or Thanksgiving”


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Sermon: Connection in the Chasm

Rev. Jeremy Bork

Sermon    
Sunday, November 12, 2017

For the past couple of months, we've been exploring the idea of connection. This Sunday, our text from Luke shows us the devastation of disconnection. We'll wonder together about the chasms in our own lives and the ways we might try to cross them. We'll explore illusions of connection and consider how we might live more authentically connected to God, one another, and our own truest life.​


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Sermon: Stones in the River

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, November 5, 2017

Last week I talked about how we, as a congregation, have offered and can offer glimpses of that Promised Land. This week, I want to talk about how certain individuals do. Barbara Brown Taylor once talking about going to libraries as a child and how she was drawn to “biographies because [she] was a child and needed lives to grow into.”


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Sermon: We Don’t Get There

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, October 29, 2017

The story is that none of those who escaped Egypt eventually crossed over into the Promised Land—none of them. It was the next generation who finally made it. We are those who have inherited this promise of deliverance from and destiny in the heart of God. What does the fact that that first generation did not cross over mean for us as the inheritors of the promise?


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Sermon: God’s Elusive Presence

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, October 22, 2017

So, if God must remain elusive, how then with our words, our human language, our very limited ability to speak, how do we maintain God’s transcendence and not reduce God to our ideas about God? How do we avoid the very easy way that words about become idolatrous and end up trapping God in our words? Well, that is one of the reasons that we very intentionally use more than one gender for God. We really can limit God’s ability to touch us, if we get overly limited in our speech. What will we newly receive from God, if we remember that God is portrayed as Mother as well as Father? What love might be waiting for us in the heart of that elusive God?


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Sermon: While We Are Down the Mountain

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, October 15, 2017

Walter Brueggemann says that the Israelites choose “an available, produced God [over] the sovereign one who is not immediately available and who is not made with human hands.” Israel “cannot tolerate the risk of faith (exemplified by the absence of Moses), so it incessantly seeks to reduce that risk by domesticating God to manageable proportion.” And we have the same temptation. Nevertheless, we carry on the legacy of those who, like the early Christians, the abolitionists, and those who supported ordination for women and LGBTQ+ folks, have chosen to reject idols and follow that living, liberating God.


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Sermon: We Walk in Freedom

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, October 8, 2017

This week we will sing, Jesus Loves Me, to open the service. As our third graders receive their Bibles, we want them to know that they already know something about what it says: Jesus loves me. And this is a song they already know. And every week, we offer a summary of the law. We remember that when Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment, he didn’t recite the Ten. He reminded us of the law of love.


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Sermon: Even When We Don’t Like It

Rev. Jen Porter

Sermon    
Sunday, October 1, 2017

Israel quickly moves from celebration at their deliverance across the Red Sea to quickly complaining at the fate of their lives in the wilderness. As we listen to the story of Jonah, this theme echoes clearly again. God delivers him to safety, and he too quickly moves from gratitude to anger. This is our story of human relationship and connection.


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Sermon: We Walk in the Wilderness

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, September 24, 2017

I know that, when we are in touch with the amazing, persistent love of God, we are made glad. We become joyful. We celebrate. An old teacher of mine used to say that Israel had two ways of being—off the land (in the wilderness or in exile) and on the land (in the Promised Land). When they were off the land, he said, they celebrated. All the feasts were wilderness feasts. When they were on the land…, he said, …they worried. And I have to confess that I can go for long periods of time when I’m far better at worry than I am at celebration. Join us as we seek the source of celebration.


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Sermon: Into the Water and Out

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, September 17, 2017

Maybe the grace that gets us through our crossing of our Red Seas should be held the way Maya Angelou lays out her sense of grace: We, unaccustomed to courage, exiles from delight live coiled in shells of loneliness until love leaves its high holy temple and comes into our sight to liberate us to life.


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