Princeton University Religious Life

Sermon Archive

2014-15 Sermons

We invite you to reflect upon these sermons, offered at the Sunday morning service at the Princeton University Chapel. We hope that you find them to be a resource to you in your own spiritual journey.

May 17, 2015

Do you want to be happy?   I hope your answer is “yes.”  The healthy answer is, “Yes.”  We should all want to be happy.  We should all pursue happiness most vigorously; it should be the goal of our lives.  “Happy,” begins the first word of the first Psalm : “Happy.”  It’s a Psalm that ancient texts don’t even give a title to.  It’s a kind of preface, an introduction into the whole of the Psalms, and it begins, “Happy.” 

May 3, 2015

Our story from the Book of Acts is from a time in the life of the apostles when they have left Jerusalem in order to bring the gospel to non-Jews as well as Jews.  They began in Samaria, and it was there that an angel told Philip simply to start walking – walking or riding an animal or anything – but to head in the direction of the far side of Jerusalem along the road that goes down to Gaza on the Mediterranean coast.  He goes.  He isn’t told why to go, but he must...

April 5, 2015

Easter begins in the dark, in the quiet, before roosters and dogs begin to make their noise – no light, not a sound.  Three women get up in the dark and assemble the collection of spices that they had bought the evening before, as soon as the Sabbath had ended.  When dawn breaks, they start to make their way to the cave where their friend’s broken corpse was placed.  Three days after his execution, their spices are not going to do any good; the stench of death and decay will overpower any...

March 15, 2015

Last week, our guest preacher, Ernesto Cortés Jr., spoke also at the lunch that followed, and those of us who were there heard him quote a writer who said, “It took one day to get the Hebrews out of Egypt; it took forty years to get Egypt out of the Hebrews.”  How true.  The text appointed for today from the First Testament shows us just one example of how the people, liberated from their slavery under Pharaoh, still had Pharaoh lodged inside them.  They are free.  They are being...

March 1, 2015

On this second Sunday in Lent, we proceed deeper and deeper into God, into Christ, and perhaps most challengingly - into ourselves.  We examine ourselves - our sinfulness, pride, our integrity and honor - and we strive to align all that is within ourselves, the worthy and the wrong, with the teachings and ethics of Christ.  It is hard work - we’ve made our peace with so many personal shortcomings rather than face them down.  We decide that they are somehow actually...

February 21, 2015

Good afternoon.

Dean Boden and President Eisgruber, thank you for your welcome to my husband Home and myself.

February 15, 2015

Are you a person who has had a religious experience?  Have you, perhaps, seen an angel, heard the voice of God or Christ, woken in the night certain that the Holy Spirit was hovering, lovingly, next to your bed?  Have you had some kind of experience that, it is clear to you, was a holy sign?  Was it something you saw, or that was said to you?  Was it a near-death experience?

February 8, 2015

Do you talk to different people about the same thing in different ways?  I do.  To a colleague who has asked my opinion on something, I might say, “The resources and potential of both budget and audience mean that your programmatic idea is probably untenable.”   To a child who is trying to wrap a present with a too-small piece of paper (this is a true example from the recent holidays), I might say the exact same thing, although in different words: “I don’t think that’s going to work...

December 24, 2014

J. Robert Oppenheimer once said, “The best way to send an idea is to wrap it up in a person.” I don’t know if that theoretical physicist, leader of the Manhattan Project and, later, director of our Institute for Advanced Study would ever dream that words of his would headline a Christmas Eve sermon, but there you go!
December 14, 2014

Almost 3,000 years ago, a bedraggled group of refugees returned to their war-torn home. Today, millions wish that they could have that good luck - that they could go home even to rubble, to ruins - that they could simply go home to what remains of neighborhoods in Syria, Israel, and Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Rakhine state in Burma, Tibet, North Korea, tribal lands in the United States, villages in Somalia, South Sudan, Congo, parts of Finland that now are...