A Good Word: Some Sermons of Hope

Update: I’ve just released a free PDF ebook containing 87 sermons, prayers, and liturgies. Many of the sermons I found for this post were submitted, and you can find it here.

I spent most of this afternoon reading sermons.

I love sermons. I love reading them. I love hearing them. I’m not a fan of having to write them, but when people ask me what I miss about serving a congregation, I almost immediately say, “Preaching.”

There is something about bringing the word. It is a call no one should ever take lightly. It is a call that demands quite a bit of a person, because it asks us, for one brief moment, to be willing to say what we’ve seen in a text and risk having people not believe us.

This weekend, after the shooting at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, CT, was a test of the mettle of many preachers. Did they have it in them? Could they rise above or use their own emotions to offer a glimpse of the Good News? Could they say “Hope” when everyone else was saying “Despair”? Could they withstand the ridicule, of being called naive?

Many did. I asked for and received copies of sermons from worthy practitioners of the craft.

They are proof positive that God kept the promise made to those who are called. They gave themselves as a vessel and the Word of the Lord came breaking through. Thanks be to God for these women and men, who struggled to be true to the calling.

Here’s some quotes from a few that really resonated with my soul, but I encourage you to take some time and dig through this entire list. I’ll update it as more come in.

A Holy “No” – MaryAnn Mckibben Dana

It’s that longing in the midst of joy that we hear from Mary’s lips. Mary sings for the weak and the lowly, the poor and the hungry. And there is a stubbornness to Mary. She’s no fool, after all. She must look around and see rich getting richer and poor getting poorer. Surely she must see the powerful comfortably on their thrones and the lowly begging for food. She is singing of a world that does not yet exist, but still could.

And Mary invites that same holy stubbornness to erupt from our own hearts and lives.

We must refuse to be defeated.

We must refuse to let the darkness win.

We must refuse to let Friday’s atrocities be the lasting legacy of our age.

Sermon for the Third Sunday of Advent – Lauren Lyon

That journey from fear and sorrow to joy and hope is what Advent prepares us for. We await the telling of that story in which a man and woman travel to a distant and unknown place, endure a birth under the most difficult of circumstances and together, look into the face of the child that has been born to them, with all its innocence and promise. His death would be the broken hallelujah that made humanity whole and holy again. May God give us the grace to see the promise of Advent in all that is and will be broken in the seasons of our sorrow and the seasons of our rejoicing; may God bring comfort to those who mourn and healing to those whose innocence has been lost too soon. May there be abundant peace from heaven and life for us and for all.

Rejoice in the Lord Always – Robert Cornwall

Pray, Paul says, and lay your burdens down before the Lord, so that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NRSV) This peace isn’t the kind of peace that the world gives us. It’s not an absence of conflict or problems. Karl Barth writes that “the peace of God is the order and security of the kingdom of Christ among those who are his.” It’s a sense of calmness in the midst of the storm.

Rejoicing In Spite of it All – Kate LeFranc

And so today is still the Sunday of Joy. We rejoice not because everything is already right with our world, but because we have seen the promise of something better. We rejoice because we have seen our God working in and through and despite the brokenness of these times, we rejoice because brave and loving people protect each other and those around them, we rejoice because we today can show forth God’s love and God’s presence in our own community. We rejoice because we know that this is not the end of the story.

Discomfort and Joy – Martha Spong

Experts will tell us how to care for our children. It’s okay to let them know we are sad, but we shouldn’t show so much emotion that we upset them. They need to count on us, so we need to mask our distress to comfort them. Teach them to follow each worried thought with a brave one.[i] (Easier said than done, I fear, for most of us.)

That’s all psychological advice, and it’s good as far as it goes. But my area is the theological. I want to know where God is in all this. Mr. Rogers, perhaps my favorite Wise Man, drew on his faith when he wrote,

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”[ii]

The “Why” Questions Can’t Be Answered – Laura Becker

…as writer Anne Lamott reminds us “Advent is not for the naïve.” She writes: “Because in spite of the dark and cold, we see light—you look up, or you make light, with candles, trees. And you give light. Beauty helps, in art and nature and faces. Friends help. Solidarity helps. If you ask me, when people return phone calls, it’s about as good as it gets. And who knows beyond that.”
Advent says that there is a way out of this trap—that we embrace our humanity, and Jesus’s humanity, and then we remember that he is wrapped up in God. It’s good to know where to find Jesus —in the least of these–among the broken, the very poor and marginalized. Jesus says, ‘You want to see me? Look there.’”

Everything is Broken, and Flashes of Light – Kara Root

Our lives are a gift. We are given to each other – family, friends, communities, to share life with one another. We are called to do that faithfully. To be faithful friends, parents, brothers and sisters, faithful members of our communities and responsible for the place we’ve been planted for this time in life. Everywhere in the world right now, Newtown included, there are people standing with other people, sharing suffering and joy, and that is the place God is present. We are called to live faithfully where we are and God-with-us is with us.

JOY to the World – Marci Auld Glass

One of my friends shared this quote with me.

Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God.

This is joy Sunday, the day of Advent we remind each other of this truth. God is present with us. God is being born for us again, a babe in a manger.

There is joy in the world because of this. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

And ever o’er it’s Babel sounds the blessed angels sing (A Children’s Sermon) – Mary Newberg Gale

All those things, feeling sad, scared, or angry, are ok. I feel that way. One of the things our Advent Candles means is that even when something really bad happens, even when we feel sad, scared, or angry, God is there with us. When we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus, we celebrate that God came to us. When we’re happy, when we’re sad, when we’re safe, or when we’re scared, God is with us.

It’s also ok if you don’t feel sad, or scared, or angry. Because God isn’t just with us when bad things happen, God is with us all the time.

What Then Should We Do? – Leanne Masters

Joy Abundant – Andy James

Tenebrae: A Service for Shadows and Grieving after the Sandy Hook Shooting – David Hensen

Of Snakes and Imperatives – James Sledge

With The Holy Spirit and Fire – Eric Beene

Light – Kirk Jeffery

Waiting For A Child – Mihee Kim-Kort

Sermon for Dec 16, Two Days After a School Shooting – Drew Lugwig

A Cold and Broken Hallelujah – Mark Davis

Peace & Peace (A Reflection on Tragedy) – Jamie McLeod

God in our midst… – Jeff Binder

Reconciling Joy after Sandy Hook – Stephen McKinney-Whitaker

Hope…and other Absurdities – Paul Alcorn

In Our Midst – Teri Peterson

What Should We Do? – Jonathan Carroll

Dead babies. – Paul Rack

Nurturing Generations – Andrew Whaley

Joy – Jeff Tindall

Rachel Weeps – Carla Gentry

The Promise of Joy: A Response to the MAssacre in Connecticut – Eric Lederman

Estas buenas noticias (THIS good news) – Jose Manuel Capella-Pratts

What should we do? – Rob Dyer

The Longing of God: Restoration – Stephanie Anthony

If this is Good News, I’d hate to hear Bad News – Ken Evers-Hood

Singing Out Against The Darkness – Jim Kitchens

Be a Scrooge! – David Hansen

4 thoughts on “A Good Word: Some Sermons of Hope”

  1. Amy Miracle’s sermon today is worthy of reflection. Both audio and print are usually up on BSPC.org by Tuesday. Actually, all of her sermons are outstanding.

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