Seekers recognizes that any member of the community may be called upon by God to give us the Word, and thus we have an open pulpit with a different preacher each week. Sermons preached at Seekers, as well as sermons preached by Seekers at other churches or events, are posted here, beginning with the most recent.
Feel free to use what is helpful from these sermons. We only ask that when substantial portions are abstracted or used in a written work, please credit Seekers Church and the author, and cite the URL.
October 17, 2021
On the first Sunday of this Recommitment Season, Marjory challenged us to think of these six weeks as a time for reflection on the commitments in each of our lives, and especially our commitments here at Seekers. It is all of our answers, she reminded us, that will ultimately shape our life together.
Since then, several preachers have confessed to their own failings and shortcomings as a way to illuminate how our commitments, and how we do or do not live up to them, shape our understanding of God, of our individual selves, and our life in community.
October 10, 2021
Today, the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost for the larger Church and the fifth and next to last Sunday in Seekers Recommitment Season, offers what is for me a particularly rich group of readings in the Revised Common Lectionary. We heard peter read Job’s passionate cry of abandonment and despair. That was followed by the author of Hebrews portrayal of Jesus as able to “sympathize with our weakness,” whatever it may be and however embarrassed we might be about it. Then there is Psalm 22, which we did not read today. It builds on the passage from Job, offering the words of one who feels totally separated from God, words that Jesus quoted as he was dying on the cross, “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?” I seriously considered working with this passage, along with the one from Job because I have recently become aware of how very painful this condition, feeling totally separated from God, can be and of how many people suffer from it. I decide not to do that first, because, widespread though it is, it is not really my story and, more important, because I felt drawn to the Gospel passage, Mark 10:17-31.
I’m going to focus only on verses 17-25 of the tenth chapter of Mark, the story that is commonly referred to as that of “The Rich Young Ruler”. The Inclusive Bible, translated by Priests for Equality and from which Judy just read, provides a slightly different emphasis, using gender neutral terms to refer to the inquirer and omitting any reference to this person being a “ruler”. This slight shift makes it easier for some of us, or at least for me, to identify with the inquirer. Like them, I have done a decent job of obeying the Ten Commandments for most of my life, and I have sometimes wondered what more is needed for me to be a true follower of Jesus, what we now call a faithful Christian. Jesus is aware of his inquirer’s affluence. This was particularly important in a society that was strictly divided between the very few rich and the many poor, with no sign of what we today call a middle class, and makes what Jesus asks his inquirer to do is, therefore, even more startling and radical: “Go and sell what you have and give it to those in need; you will then have treasure in heaven. After that, come and follow me.”
October 3, 2021
I’m going to return to a theme from Elizabeth Gelfeld’s sermon two weeks ago, which Dave Lloyd also used in his sermon last week. And I’ll say right at the start that my words this morning probably won’t tell you anything you don’t already know, but I hope that the message is one we all need to be reminded of.
Elizabeth talked about children, and the qualities they have, and how Jesus picked up a child and said to his disciples, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me, but the one who sent me.”
Elizabeth began her sermon with a description of pre-schoolers that a friend of hers offered. I heard it as a pretty good description of me when my walk is taking me away from Jesus: “totally self-centered, unreasonable, uncooperative, and given to biting people who get in my way.” Yep, very familiar.
September 26, 2021
If you are a visitor or new to worshipping with us, on the third Sunday in October, everyone – people who’ve started worshipping with us since this time last year, those who have worshipped here for years, our children, and our youth — will be invited to say the words of the appropriate commitment statement aloud and to have their name recorded in our membership book. I hope you are using the questions that Celebration Circle sent out by email to help you prepare for Recommitment Sunday. If you haven’t received these, put a message in the chat box to Brenda Seat.
I think Mark’s gospel may give us some other things to reflect upon. Today’s passage is linked to previous events, so rather than consider today’s verses in isolation, I want to summarize what occurred, including some portions that were omitted by the lectionary. Our starting point is that Jesus summoned five men – Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, John, and Levi – to leave their occupations and follow him. As he began preaching and healing people began following him. Early in his ministry along the Sea of Galilee, there were so many people who wanted to be healed that he asked the disciples to get a fishing boat ready so that he could preach from it. When he decided to go up a mountain for a retreat of prayer, he picked eight of his male followers to join the original four as his companions, this time leaving out Levi, the tax collector. We know them as the Twelve. In Mark’s gospel, they didn’t make any explicit statement of commitment. First thing to reflect upon: they didn’t commit to a community, they just obeyed Jesus’ call.
September 19, 2021
When I was a student at Arizona State University, I started hanging out at the Catholic student center. I made several friends there and, despite my almost total lack of experience with the Catholic Church — or maybe because of it — I enjoyed attending the masses and study groups. One of my friends was a woman named Onoosh Garay, a graduate student who also taught part-time at a preschool. She was a devout and progressive Catholic. One day, when a few of us were talking about school and work, Onoosh said cheerfully, “Anyone who doesn’t believe in original sin should spend a day in a preschool.”
“Original sin” is the belief that we arrive on this planet already in a state of sin, just because we’re human. It’s a belief that has been replaced, for more progressive Catholics, with “original blessing,” an idea that is also the title of a 1983 book by the Episcopal priest Matthew Fox.
Onoosh was, of course, joking about the tendency of young children to be totally self-centered, unreasonable, uncooperative, and given to biting people who get in their way.