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
April 21, 2013

It has been quite a week.  Particularly unnerving, in a way so unique to terrorism, are the marathon bombings in Boston.  And then there is the massive explosion in West, Texas.  Those are added to the “regular” acts of nature or humanity that are the background to every week – deadly earthquakes in Iran and China, tornadoes and severe weather in the center of the U.S., bombings of innocent civilians in public places in far-off countries – bombings...

Sermon
April 17, 2013

This passage that we have just heard from the Book of Acts is only a fragment of a much larger story.  In it, the apostles are on fire with the Holy Spirit, which had come upon them earlier at Pentecost.  They are teaching and healing all over Jerusalem, they are proclaiming the truth of the resurrection, they are bringing faith to life in many, they are easing so much suffering of body, mind, and spirit.  The Sanhedrin, the religious council, had told them to...

Sermon
March 31, 2013

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.”   The beginning of all that is – formed, fashioned, crafted in love by the Creator to be lovely, to reflect divine love, to have in bearing and essence the simplicity of beauty, grace, holiness – exquisitely the beloved of God.  This is the beginning of the...

Sermon
March 17, 2013

On a visit to friends in London 22 years ago, I found myself a guest for lunch at the home of one of their friends.  When that gentleman heard that I lived in New York City, he lit up; he asked me if I were familiar with New York Hospital.  I was.  He proclaimed with deep fervor, “They saved my baby!”  It turns out he’d been working in Manhattan ten years earlier, and his only child was born during that time.  He was very premature, had many health...

Sermon
March 3, 2013

“When Bad Things Happen to Good People” is the title of a best-selling book by Rabbi Harold Kushner.  It addresses theodicy – the perennial challenge to people in every religious, spiritual, and secular community, of the great WHY.  Why do horrible things happen to anyone, especially those who are really fine people?  For those of us who believe in God, and who do not believe that God to be capricious, mean, uncaring, uninvolved or vindictive, but...

Sermon
February 10, 2013

On the church calendar, the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent is Transfiguration Sunday, when we reflect on Christ’s divine transformation in the presence of several of his disciples. I’ll confess that the Transfiguration Sunday sermon is among my least favorite to prepare of the church year. The disciples didn’t understand or know what to say in reponse to Christ’s transfiguration, and neither do I! It’s a holy mystery. This year, as you’ll hear, I have striven to understand...

Sermon
February 3, 2013

Jeremiah is called to be the prophet of the nations; no other prophet has been called to such an international expectation. Many prophets have been called to the north and south and to even a nearby village or two, even Amos enters another kingdom far from his home, but no prophet has ever been called to such an international dominion. Furthermore, God is has called Jeremiah from his birth, from the womb even, and God knows and trusts all of the gifts that...

Sermon
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...

Sermon
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...

Sermon
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...