Princeton University Religious Life

Sermon Archive

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.

Sermon
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...

Sermon
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...

Sermon
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. 

Sermon
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...

Sermon
November 27, 2016

Here we are, amazingly to me, on the first Sunday in Advent. It’s a day when our appointed biblical texts call us to wake up – to rouse ourselves from sleep as we prepare for the coming of Christ. We cannot be ready for the Messiah’s birth among us if we are snoozing – literally, intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually. I imagine that most of us consider portions of our lives as having been lived at some time or another on cruise control, auto pilot – whatever we want to call it –...

Sermon
November 6, 2016

          One of the things I most loved when I moved to this area nine years ago was discovering how much colonial history fills our campus and towns.  The aesthetic of colonial era architecture is my absolute favorite.  My late father used to enjoy reminding me that my ancestors fought on both sides of the American War of Independence.  I’ve always been glad that my American forebears prevailed.  The American project of democracy, flawed as it has been and is...

Sermon
October 9, 2016

            Welcome to leprosy Sunday here at the Princeton University Chapel, the day once every three years in which the appointed biblical texts give us the opportunity to reflect on Hansen’s disease and be grateful that we don’t have it.   Actually, our texts have so much more in common than skin disease—they do prompt us to consider where healing lies, and what true healing is.  They are stories about outsiders...

Sermon
September 25, 2016

            I had the indescribable privilege this past week of journeying to Assisi, home of St.

Sermon
September 11, 2016

            A few years ago, I heard a story on the radio while driving about differences between classroom pedagogy in Japan versus the United States.  A classroom recording was played of a Japanese group of 12 or 13 year-olds and their teacher in which one boy was the last in the group to understand the concept being discussed.  Over the audio transcript, an American reporter narrated what was going on – the teacher’s clues and encouragement, the classmates’ enthusiastic encouragement, and...

Sermon
September 4, 2016

            Happy New Year!  New academic year, that is.