Princeton University Religious Life

How Shall We Then Live?

How Shall We Then Live?

“I never saw it coming!” Those are the words with which I opened my remarks for my biography for the 50th reunion of the class of 1960 – to be added to other people’s remarks and memories and reflections. “I never saw it coming!” That summed up the last 50 years for me. So much has happened in my life that I never would have dreamed would happen, never guessed.

Freshman year, 1956, I sat over there, having just joined the Chapel Choir. But I was singing in the choir only because I love to sing – and we were required to come to chapel, freshman and sophomore year, a minimum number of times in order to graduate.

Acts 9:1-20, John 21:1-19

Acts 9:1-20, John 21:1-19

A woman sits quietly at the back of a church. She’s come a few times before. Her heart and spirit are agitated. She fights back tears for a while, then gives in to them and lets them run down her cheeks. Maybe she feels loved for the first time. Maybe what she’s hearing at last makes spiritual sense. Maybe she feels forgiven. Maybe she feels she can forgive herself. When the pastor later invites forward all people who want to commit themselves to Christ, she comes down the aisle, trembling inside.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday

It is the Day of Resurrection. God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead. The power of death is blasted away. Heaven is opened; new life is opened to us all. No longer will the fear of death keep us from living life to the fullest. The life that really is life is ours for the grasping. The love of God is the strongest force in the universe. What have we left to worry about? At the end of our days is an eternity of blessing - enjoyed right now by the ones we love who have gone before.

Right Things, Wrong Reasons

Right Things, Wrong Reasons

The weeks and months of our lives move forward. Inexorably they move ; there is nothing we can do to make time literally go faster or to slow it down. I think back with regret over periods of my life that were too, too busy and very stressed, times in which I was prompted to wish time away – to want to fast-forward, times when I paid lip service to what was going on around me in order to keep my eye on the harried line, hold out for the end of the bumpy patch. My challenges were real, but along the way I was wishing away precious days, the gift of b

Worthy

Worthy

I find that the writer Fred Buechner is often able to describe Biblical stories with such freshness that I get a new understanding and a new feeling for the text after reading his interpretation. So I begin by sharing with you his telling of the call of Isaiah:

“There were banks of candles flickering in the distance and clouds of incense thickening the air with holiness, and stinging his eyes, and high above him, as if it had always been there but was only now seen for what it was (like a face in the leaves of a tree or a bear among the stars), there was the Mystery itself whose gown was the incense and the candles a dusting of fold at the hem.

Dry Spells

Dry Spells

What a glorious outpouring of holy love do we read about in our Bible passages for today – God’s bottomless love for Israel, God’s claiming of the newly baptized Jesus as beloved. I read each of these texts as a reminder of God’s bottomless love for all humanity. I could preach multiple sermons on why I believe this to be true, but let me get back to that briefly at the end of this sermon, and more substantively on other mornings. I’d like to reflect now on Israel’s experience of God’s presence from the Book of Isaiah, and to discern together how it may deepen ou