Princeton University Religious Life

Sermon Archive

2012-13 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.

January 13, 2013

This Sunday each year is known in the churches as Baptism of Christ Sunday.   The texts appointed for the day, as you’ll notice, refer to Jesus’ baptism, and to baptism in other early Christian communities.    Samaria was one of them.   The Samaritans weren’t just any neighbors to the Jews of Judea.   They were Israelites too, historically.   But at some point they had parted ways enormously, and were worshipping God not on what Judeans considered the holy...

December 24, 2012

A teenage boy and pregnant girl.   A donkey ride, long and lumbering.   A buzzing small city, packed with travelers.   No bed, but some family kind enough to let them bunk with their animals.   A beautiful newborn boy, ten fingers and ten toes, adorable button nose.   Besotted new parents, delirious, exhausted, inebriated with love.   Angels proclaim, shepherds recoil, shepherds recover, shepherds go to see their savior, maybe deserting their sheep, maybe...

December 16, 2012

This morning we begin our third week of Advent, our season of expectation and longing and anticipation about the birth of Jesus, the birth of hope, peace, and ultimate salvation.   Many people, myself included, have this as a favorite time of year.   But we begin this next stage of Advent reeling with the fact of the massacre of first graders, their teachers, and administrators in Connecticut.   It is the very opposite of all that we cherish about these weeks – we...

December 2, 2012

When I was a seminarian, a growing number of years ago, my homiletics professor would sometimes begin her comments after a student’s classroom sermon with the words, “So, where is the Good News?”  That was her greatest single criterion for any sermon - forget drama, gestures, stories, jokes, poems, songs, tears, learned quotes, mountain tops - she wanted every young Christian preacher to deliver the Good News.   If it came through any of the aforementioned...

November 25, 2012

Every once in a while, someone will ask me, “So, what do you do?” I appreciate the question; I understand that my title, “Dean of Religious Life and of the Chapel” might not leave many people with a concrete idea of what I actually do day in and day out.  I am glad to tell them.  I like to describe it as a three-legged stool, one leg being pastoral work, another leg being administrative work, and the third leg academic.  I give details...

November 4, 2012

The story of the family of Naomi and Elimelech plays out in real time within a half mile of this beautiful chapel.  A family can't eat, can't support itself, in the homeland that it loves, and so, with their beloved children, they make the perilous journey to another country, one where, they hear people can have enough food if they work hard.  It is forced migration.  They get to the other country, one whose people don't particularly like them, and they become...

October 14, 2012

When the lectionary texts turn each fall, as regular as the turning of the leaves, towards themes of wealth and poverty, and of being generous with one’s assets, I am reminded that in most churches in the land we have entered Pledge Season.   It’s time to make budgets for the year, and that means that congregations need to know how much money they have to work with, and that means they need to get promises from every member as to how much money they...

October 7, 2012

“Why am I here?”

We all ask ourselves that question from time to time. And we should ask it.

Understood most generally, the question is profound: “Why am I here?,” in the sense of how should I understand my place and my purpose in the cosmos. “How am I living, and how should I live...

September 30, 2012

This coming week is a very important one for those who work or study at Princeton University - it’s not midterms (yet!), it’s not Alumni Day or Commencement or even open enrollment at the Benefits Office.   It is the week of FluFest, Princeton’s annual opportunity to get a flu shot.   I reminded my colleagues of this important fact at our staff meeting last week - I encouraged everyone to get their vaccine, not simply for their own sake, but because if each of us...

September 23, 2012

“All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” is a popular poem by Robert Fulghum - “Share everything.  Play fair.  Don’t hit people,” it reads.  “Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody…Live a balanced life.  Learn some and think some,” it continues.  This isn’t biblical literature of course, but if it did have a biblical counterpart it might well be our passage from the Gospel of Mark.  In it, Jesus stops the bickering of his...