Quirky Sermons

Preaching my first sermon at seven months pregnant, 12/1/2013.

Preaching my first sermon at seven months pregnant, 12/1/2013.

I get the pleasure & privilege of giving sermons from time to time, usually from the stage of True North Community Church, a non-denominational Christian church on Long Island. I love it.  I usually crack up laughing in the middle of it. I feel so lucky to do it.

Just so you know: I’ve never gone to seminary; my education consists of a BA and MFA in Writing & Literature. But if you’re curious how a non-religiously-raised writer ended up preaching oddball Christian sermons, see the bottom of this post.

All these videos start with the band, so you’ll have to skip forward a bit to find the sermon…

Wonder and Beauty (click/tap to watch)

Part One: A sermon about God’s presence in our times of suffering often arrives in the form of wonder and beauty.
Also: Whale hearts, peacock mantis shrimp, morbid rumination, and the book of Job.

Part Two: A sermon about how we can be present to others in their suffering through small acts of beauty.
Also: Eric the Flying Man, tiny beautiful things, and the story of The Killing Machine vs. Chanel #5.

Straight Outta Context (click/tap to watch)

A sermon about not taking the Bible out of context, and the dubious practice of calling oneself #blessed.
Also: The Devil’s Own Page-A-Day Calendar, psychiatric units, bacon, BMWs and Beatitudes.
The sermon is several minutes in, after the band, so you’ll have to skip ahead. 

Holy Beach House!

A sermon about being a house, and the ancient practice of confession.
Also: Genetic improbability, sperm, Grandma’s house, exhilarating possibilities, beach houses.
The sermon is several minutes in, after the band, so you’ll have to skip ahead.

Snapshots, Part 1

A sermon about the fascinating literary form of parables, and how to let go of things that don’t fit.
Also: Puerto Rican rainforest, scratch-off lottery tickets, alternate dimensions, animal carcasses, funny adjectives for wine.
The sermon is several minutes in, after the band, so you’ll have to skip ahead.

The Creature from the Black Lagoon

A sermon about the classic monster movie, and the hidden motives that lurk in the depths of us.
Sermon is 16:11 minutes into the video.

Staying in Love, Part 5

A sermon about what to do when your marriage is dead, and where to go from there.
Also: Tennessee, Pop-pop is a Samurai, the third way, sermons that terrified me to deliver because who the %$& am I to talk about your marriage?
The sermon is several minutes in, after the band, so you’ll have to skip ahead.

Make Space to Listen

A sermon about how to go about hearing the voice of an invisible and often inaudible God, and the necessary practice of creating empty spaces in our lives.
Also: Tattoo artists, the role of women, Spotify playlists, WNYC’s Bored and Brilliant project, and a life hack discovered by a 17th century monk.

Love Notes & Wake-Up Calls

A sermon about God as the divine Lover in pursuit, plus the wild and social-change-inducing role of Biblical prophets.
Also: This one’s just audio, and you need to know that it begins with a 6’3″, very hairy-chested man in a ruffled, fruit-decked Carmen Miranda outfit walking out and handing me a mango and a love note.

Knock Knock

My very first sermon, given at seven months pregnant, around Christmas of 2013. I talk about the fine print that churches often put on their doors, and my own journey from a completely nonreligious upbringing to a strangely wonderful new life of attempting to follow Jesus.
Also: Doors, fine print, Mary, Magi, sweat and sheep manure, grand invitations.
The sermon is several minutes in, after the band, so skip ahead until you see a pregnant lady.

*        *        *

If you’re curious how all this came about:

Who am I to preach? Yeah, agreed. I was raised in a completely nonreligious house, went to an artsy secular college, and had a long journey of seeking that eventually brought me to this life of attempting to follow Jesus.

How did I end up preaching, given that I never went to seminary? I did take the Episcopal Church’s Education for Ministry course and learned a ton about sermon-crafting through the example of Bert Crabbe, lead pastor of True North Community Church, and Rob Bell’s Poets, Prophets and Preachers series. But mostly I just read the Bible for years on end with deep fascination, and I like to nerd out seeking cultural/historical background and other people’s thinking on it; and through my MFA in Writing program, I realized I love to teach.

Why do I call these quirky sermons? My outsider eyes/nonreligious background/progressive/artsy/social justice roots often bleed through, and I’m drawn to the wonderfully weird (see subtitles above), and that is why I warn people these are Quirky Sermons. But giving them is one of the things that makes me most come alive, every time, and I still can’t believe that they let me do it.

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