Princeton University Religious Life

Sermon Archive

2015-16 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 1, 2016

            In 2006 I organized a trip to Tibet for students, staff, and faculty at the university I was then serving in Chicago.  We were there to learn about religion, human rights, and social change, and were hosted by a wonderful tour company that was owned and operated by Tibetans.  One day we visited the marvelous monastery called Drepung, outside the capital Lhasa.  The word “drepung” means, essentially, “rice pile,” and indeed the whitewashed low buildings built...

April 17, 2016

            “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.”  So wrote the mystic Julian of Norwich; she was the head of an order of nuns in England some 8 centuries ago.  “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.”  Her words capture beautifully the spirit of both of our readings for today, Psalm 23 and Revelation 7.  They, too, are words of assurance and comfort. 

March 27, 2016

            The heartbreaking thing is that the week we’ve just been through is really so ordinary.  People were blown up as they checked in at their airline or as they took the subway to school.  An army raided a town and took more girls as sex slaves.  A family watched their beloved child waste away and die because even basic medical care is not permitted by those who have forced them into an internment...

March 13, 2016

Some years ago a student came to speak to me about many things.  He was a Christian, very devout.  Our conversation turned to the suffering of so many people across this country and around the world who live in poverty.  We spoke about what our faith means in terms of our commitment to those who are poor.  We talked about what comprises a life of dignity – that it isn’t large houses and fancy cars but a good education, sufficient nutritious food, healing health care for whatever health...

February 21, 2016

Human communities are complicated.  Christian communities are complicated.  Academic communities are complicated.  Paul the Apostle was writing to a very complicated community of new Christians in Philippi.  Some were interpreting the radical freedom they had in Christ as giving them complete license to eat, drink, have intimate relationships, and live in any way they wanted.  Others were interpreting the Gospel as a binding set of rules, and were stultifyingly strict in what they considered...

February 7, 2016

Today is the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent—Ash Wednesday is this coming Wednesday (unbelievably!)—and so, as every year, the Biblical texts that we are encouraged to consider are those of Moses’ shining face after his interview with God and the shining splendor of Christ as he is transfigured before three disciples on a mountaintop. Before we descend, down the mountain into the valley of real life and the real spiritual reckoning of Lent, our liturgical journey takes us to the...

January 31, 2016

            Five years ago, when my husband moved to serving a church in Philadelphia, he enjoyed getting to know the other clergy in the neighborhood.  One particularly fine colleague was the pastor of the Mennonite church in the area, and recognizing the breadth of the Mennonite tradition my husband asked her, “So, what kind of Mennonite are you?”...

January 10, 2016

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? I have, and in an act of total cowardice I’m not going to tell you what they are unless and until they eventually become demonstrably successful. I must say, though, that I was prompted, in writing this sermon, to think more expansively about New Year’s resolutions - to take them beyond the health/wellness/self-affirmation categories where they have always resided for me (that is to say, what I look like and how I feel about myself) and to broaden...

December 13, 2015

           It has been four Sundays since I’ve been in this pulpit, as we’ve enjoyed the Gospel preachments of fellow staff and a guest.  On Princeton’s campus, a lot has happened since then.  As you may well know, a group of students held a sit-in in the University president’s office.  They, and their supportive friends elsewhere in Nassau Hall and camped outside, demanded a variety of actions from the senior administration, including designated space within the university’s multicultural...

November 15, 2015

            Earlier in the week, I gave this sermon the title “A Way out of No Way,” with the intention of preaching about Hannah, and her release from a situation of such suffering, and from a dead end place where all she was really supposed to do was to resign herself to her own (admittedly undeserved) fate.  I will preach that message this morning, but what I couldn’t have known last Monday when this bulletin went to print is that Parisians would be so...