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Dueling Sermons

Each week I go through a process of study and prayer to prepare a sermon for the coming Sunday. A On Monday I was talking with a good friend of mine, the Rev. Thomas Skillings, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Burlingame, California, and I mentioned the sermon I preached on Sunday. I told him that I preached that we think we know how God works, and we look for evidence of God in our good fortune or in unlikely series of coincidences that seem too good to be true. I described challenging these ideas in my sermon. Thomas immediately stopped me, saying, “I think I preached the opposite sermon. I described how every time I pray for a parking space, I find one. Every time. I don’t know how it works or why it happens, but there you go.”

We had a good laugh about this and then we challenged each other: I would listen to his sermon and he would listen to mine. You can hear Thomas’ sermon here. I commend it to you. He is a wonderful preacher. I love that at times like this my certainty is popped like a soap bubble and I am left wondering. Thomas’ experience of praying goes beyond parking spaces, of course. He shares that every time he has prayed for help from God, somehow, some way, or someone shows up.

What was fascinating to me about comparing our sermons was that we both saw the challenge Jesus makes to our assumptions. What we assume about people and what we assume about God shapes how we see and what we know. Jesus seems to be showing us that God just keeps showing up, to Nicodemus, to the Samaritan woman at the well, and to the man born blind, but we fail to see. God shows up for us today as well. God wants us to know that we are loved, and that our purpose is to be God’s image bearers in the world, putting God’s love to work with our lives.

Yours in Christ,
David+

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