Category Archives: Sermons

The River


This sermon was given at Foothills Congregational Church (UCC) on September 28, 2014.

It’s the final week of the creation series at our church. We started the month with a sermon from Rev. Matt about the forest. The next Sunday Rev. Evelyn talked with us about the land, and last week John and Wil Aney talked about the wilderness. This week our topic is rivers.

Rivers are wondrous. They’re powerful and deep. They may appear still and silent on the surface, but underneath they have enormous strength. Rivers are also a source of life – they feed and nourish the land. Here in California during our drought, we know how important it is for us to have water in our rivers.

Rivers appear throughout the holy stories that make up our tradition. We start out with Abraham, who comes from Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia means “between two rivers,” referring to its location between the Tigris and Euphrates. Later, we have the story of Moses and the Nile in Egypt, then the story of Jesus and John the Baptist in the Jordan. Finally, at the very end of the Christian scriptures, John the Evangelist tells us about a new river, a river that doesn’t exist yet.

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I’m a Pilgrim


I was in the Old City of Jerusalem, not far from the Lions’ Gate, when the reporter from CBS Radio found me. He got right to the point, “Are you a pilgrim?”

This was not first time I’d been asked this question. It was Good Friday, and I had come to walk the Via Dolorosa, spending fifteen minutes in meditation at each of the Stations of the Cross. Periodically along my journey, people would ask me, “Are you a pilgrim?”

I hadn’t planned this trip to Jerusalem in advance, but an unexpected business trip had brought me to Israel. So the first few times I was asked, I was able to answer quickly and easily. “I’m not a pilgrim. I’m just here by accident.”

But when you’re talking to a news reporter, you have to be a little more careful. If your remarks make it onto the air, all your friends will be calling you up to tell you what they heard, so it’s good to think things through before responding.

“No,” I wanted to reply, “I’m not a pilgrim. I’m just someone who got up at four o’clock this morning in order to drive an hour and arrive here before dawn, and then walk the ancient city streets of Jerusalem barefoot, spending fifteen minutes in meditation at each of the stations of the cross. Why would you think that I’m a pilgrim?”

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