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
May 22, 2011

In my twenty years of ministry, I have never, I will admit, chosen to preach on the death of Stephen. The bloody texts of martyrdom are troubling. I just had all I can take with the crucifixion of Christ! And Stephen is killed by the most devout leaders of the Jewish community in the Holy City. For those who endeavor to remove anti-Judaism from their preaching (and I try), this fact can be a challenge. As one who works to separate the easy, critical association that so many people have of...

Sermon
May 8, 2011

A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew: “Now someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” … The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven....

Sermon
April 10, 2011

“The person who dies with the most toys wins.” I don’t know who coined this phrase, but I hope that he or she meant it tongue-in-cheek. In any event, there are innumerable people around the globe who believe it, because they apparently are dedicating their lives to amassing as many material commodities as possible and, more to the point, would seem to have this really as their life’s goal, or point . Such an approach is only inflamed, I think, by a broader culture that is heavily...

Sermon
March 13, 2011

We began our Lenten journey last Wednesday. Ashes were placed on our foreheads to remind us of our mortality – of the brevity of human life, and also of our need for penitence – the urgency with which we are to repent of our sin and live as grace-fully as possible in the days left to us. A favorite benediction of mine comes from the liturgy of the Episcopal Church: “Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. So let us be swift to...

Sermon
March 6, 2011

We live lives of wonder, we live lives of monotony, we live them at the same time. We live regular lives, sometimes pierced by grief or new love or fear, things that break through the surface. Routine is not bad, in and of itself: it is good to work and good to learn and good to serve and good to read and to shop and to connect to others – the stuff of a routine day. When very bad news comes, we realize most deeply what a gift our routines really are.

Sermon
February 20, 2011

has been six weeks since I last preached in this Chapel, and as I reflected on the scripture passages for this week I thought, “Wow, a lot has changed.” For instance, six weeks ago it never would have occurred to me that Egypt might ever be governed by anyone other than Hosni Mubarak and his inner circle. There, and in Tunisia, massive change has so recently been brought about by ordinary citizens committed to nonviolence – using the power of moral argument, of audacious presence in...

Sermon
January 9, 2011

It was Albert Einstein who said, “Before God, we are all equally wise – and equally foolish.” It was the Apostle Peter who said, in the sermon recorded in our passage from the Book of Acts, “Before God, we are all equal.”    As he put it, “God shows no partiality.” How could this not be amazing, wonderful news? Those who care for, work for, even die for human equality can only rejoice – the equality we understand to be inherent in the human...

Sermon
December 24, 2010

Let me begin this sermon by saying – don’t get any big ideas!

In 1995, I began serving as Dean of another university’s chapel, and I quickly learned that, only a few years earlier, my predecessor had nixed a Christmas Eve tradition that was loved by many (as much as it was not loved by many!). He got rid of the donkey. Their tradition had been to have the children who were portraying Mary and Joseph in the nativity pageant come down the long center aisle with a live donkey, little...

Sermon
December 5, 2010

A little over a year ago a British politician (I don’t remember who) announced that, in the morass of the global economic freefall, there were now “green shoots” beginning to appear - after many months of financial devastation, a few sprouts of new life were coming up in the economic wasteland of grey brambles. It was a phrase that was picked up by many people in a number of countries - it was an idea that all certainly wanted to be true, but more so it was...

Sermon
November 7, 2010

I can sympathize with Jesus, I think, in what he is experiencing at the beginning of our passage from Luke. The Sadducees, the religious tradionalists of his day, are trying to trap him into saying something that they can use against him. I experience this kind of thing – I bet many of us do in our own ways. For me, it is the email message from a person, perhaps on campus, perhaps someone far away whom I’ve never heard of but who has been looking at our Religious...