Princeton University Religious Life

Sermon Archive

2016-17 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 21, 2017

The news sources that I click on or listen to are saying that the American public today is entirely split in its social and political opinion, that we have never been more divided, and that the differences are so profound that we may forever be two Americas. I think, hope, and pray that this isn’t accurate, and that it is more the kind of dramatic journalism that seeks consumer loyalty with dire assessments and predictions. There would seem truly to be a tremendous difference of many...

May 7, 2017

These lovely words that we’ve just heard from the Book of Acts are about a community that is on fire – they are passionate, they are glowing, they are unstoppable. They are, together, like a person in the throes of a great new love: they are, in every moment, their best selves. Their sense of personal ethics they now proudly proclaim and go to new lengths to live out. They are starry-eyed; they are devoted to noticing the welfare of others, to selflessness and a giving spirit. Their...

April 30, 2017

Easter happened – it was two weeks ago. We know Easter happened because we were there, or here – we woke up that Sunday morning and came to Chapel and the whole world was here and there were kites flying and special music and even, in 2017, a few Easter hats. We might need to remind ourselves that Easter happened, though. Fourteen days later and life is pretty much the same – the people we know who are sick remain a continuing source of worry for us. The stresses of the semester are only...

April 16, 2017

A very happy Easter to all of you! It is a glorious day in every way – warm sunshine, the earth coming alive with millions of colorful buds, and yes – the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which summons us all together in this magnificent chapel. The long winter of our disobedience, our evil towards one another and to God, it is over; Christ rises from the dead and he takes us with him. While we are yet sinners, Christ opens wide the doors of heaven today, and our lives and our universe are...

March 26, 2017

My thanks to Zoe for that elegant reading of such a long passage – 41 verses! – the entirety of the story in John’s gospel of the man who was born blind. Those who were here last week were treated to the entire story, of equal length, of Jesus’s encounter with the woman at the well. Next week we will hear the equally lengthy story of the raising of Lazarus. These are the assigned texts for these weeks – what is known as “the lectionary.” We on the Chapel staff have not simply chosen to...

March 5, 2017

This past Wednesday we began the journey together through the holy season of Lent.  These next forty days are not a dreary obligation but a wonderful opportunity to live as we want to live.  I don’t mean that we are to indulge our every desire – I’m not talking about the “wants” in our life that conform to the world – our real yearnings for status, “success” (whatever that means), things, money.  We are human and so we want these things.  I’m...

February 12, 2017

The text that we’ve just heard from Matthew’s gospel is best known to most people because of the several verses that, in a literal reading, advocate for the ripping out of one’s own eye or the chopping off of one’s own hand. This is hyperbole on the part of Jesus Christ, I assure you! He offers an outrageous example, beyond the pale of human experience or of divine expectation, in order to make his point about how seriously we must reckon with every temptation to sin. This morning, let’s...

January 22, 2017

At this time in January each year the churches are encouraged to preach and to reflect upon Christ’s calling of his first disciples. After all, we have just celebrated the Advent of the Messiah’s arrival, then his birth, his family’s forced migration to Egypt to escape the pogrom of Herod against all Jewish baby boys. We’ve celebrated the young man Jesus’ baptism by John, and now it is time for him, as it were, to have the “launch” of his ministry. This is as close as the Bible gets to...

December 24, 2016

            Home for Christmas – that means so many things, doesn’t it.  We’ve just passed the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, which sent a generation off to war, a war in which one of its great holiday ballads proclaimed, “I’ll be home for Christmas, but only in my dreams.”  Home can indeed be a very far-off place of longing. 

December 11, 2016

On this third Sunday in Advent, churches everywhere are reflecting on this wonderful song of Mary’s. For so many of us it is one of our favorite parts of scripture. We associate it with Christmas, for starters - with the birth of the Messiah. We hear Mary’s proclamation as the utterance of someone innocent, loving, lovely. We see Mary as the ultimate person of obedience and of faith. God gives her a really challenging role to play and she just yells, “Yes!” There’s no prevaricating...