Sermons

The Wisdom of an Army Family

An irresistible if also quite sobering paragraph from an unpublished Tim Kreider essay about impermanence, “Up in the Air”:

lego_arrested_development_home_bare“My friend Robin grew up in an army family, and learned early on that she wouldn’t live anywhere or know anyone for very long, that things like houses and best friends were strictly provisional and temporary. It makes me sad to know that she had to internalize this lesson so early–kids like me, with stabler lives, were brought up with the delusion, fuzzy and comforting as a favorite blanket, that home and friendship were givens, fixed forever. But, as Robin points out, transience wasn’t just a peculiarity of her own upbringing; it turns out to be the reality of life, for all of us. Everything is contingent and ephemeral, and the flimsy little Potemkin villages of permanence and security we rig up for ourselves—real estate, possessions, tenure and retirement plans, circles of friends and long-term relationships–are easily demolished by layoffs or divorce, accidents or diagnoses, even, on occasion, non-metaphorical hurricanes.”

If I’d had it on hand this past August, it would’ve definitely been included in this sermon, “Plank to Plank”:


Speaking of both Kreider and anxiety, we are finally ready to announce the theme for the upcoming NYC conference (4/3-5)! Curious? You know the drill. Preliminary Schedule coming next week.

Hopelessly Devoted: Emmanuel Ransoms Captive Israel

Hopelessly Devoted: Emmanuel Ransoms Captive Israel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Who is Jesus? Simple: Jesus Christ is Emmanuel, God with us. If Jesus Christ is Emmanuel, God with us, then where are we?

According to the portion of lyrics I just read to the Christmas Hymn “O come, O come Emmanuel” we are in captivity, in lonely exile, in mourning. And it’s true. Apart form what Christ has done for us we are held captive and in exile. We are in chains, imprisoned; we are in a…

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A Referendum on Midlife Friendships

A Referendum on Midlife Friendships

“We haven’t seen them in a while,” I hear myself observing every few weeks, usually in reference to friends with whom my wife and I have lost touch. Most of the time, the estrangement is purely logistical, schedules being what they are in a house with two working parents and two napping toddlers. But guilt nevertheless sets in and triggers defensiveness. Soon platitudes like “it takes two to tango” or “life happens” are being trotted out and before long, you’re castigating yourself or the other person(s), possibly deconstructing society as a whole, and any chance of reconnection has been essentially…

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Malicious Agencies and Intangible Malignities in Moby Dick

A sublime passage from the 41st chapter of Moby Dick on Original Sin and scapegoating, or -whaling as the case may be, followed by a sermon that references it to great effect, ht PW:

P762The White Whale swam before him as the monomaniac incarnation of all those malicious agencies which some deep men feel eating in them, till they are left living on with half a heart and half a lung. That intangible malignity which has been from the beginning; to whose dominion even the modern Christians ascribe one-half of the worlds; which the ancient Ophites of the east reverenced in their statue devil;—Ahab did not fall down and worship it like them; but deliriously transferring its idea to the abhorred white whale, he pitted himself, all mutilated, against it. All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby Dick. He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it.

And here’s “A-R0d, Ahab, and the Daughter of Abraham” from Paul Walker:


Return of The Mockingresources (and Advent of The Mockingpulpit)!

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You may have noticed that our Resources page has been under construction most of the summer. That’s because we have been hard at work expanding our sermon archive and doing a complete overhaul of its functionality. The new page went live this past weekend! A couple of features to highlight:

  1. Searchability — Simplified dropdown menus and tabs for easier sorting, plus sidebar widgets to highlight things you may have missed.
  2. Size — Twice as many files in the archive, including a number of new speakers and venues. Of the 200 or so that have been added since June, most are older, so if you think you’ve heard everything, guess again!
  3. Speed — New software allows for much faster browsing.
  4. Mobility — Unlike the old one, the new page is fully compatible with smartphones and other such devices. Files are easily accessible and playable via the menu on the mobile version of the site.
  5. Snazzy New Look — In other words, silly images galore.
  6. The Mockingpulpit Podcast! Mbird now has a dedicated podcast on iTunes, which you can subscribe to by clicking here. Subscribers will automatically receive every new sermon or talk that gets uploaded, regardless of when they were recorded.

Major thanks to Win Jordan and James Fishwick for making this happen. And while it may take a week or two to work out the kinks, please don’t hesitate to let us know if your run into any issues (info@mbird.com).

Another Week Ends: Blame Games, Law/Gospel Lunches, FOMO, Tom Wolfe, Lou Reed on Yeezus, Luther S3, and Middleton’s Law

Another Week Ends: Blame Games, Law/Gospel Lunches, FOMO, Tom Wolfe, Lou Reed on Yeezus, Luther S3, and Middleton’s Law

Let the pinning commence – not sure what we were waiting for but Mbird is now on Pinterest! Pretty gratifying to see six year’s worth of visual silliness in one place. Also, pre-registration for our Fall Conference near Houston, TX opens next week, on August 1st. Theme this time will be “Overextended, Under God: Christian Freedom in a Non-Stop World.”

1. Kicking things off this week in the mercy-not-sacrifice department is a doozie of an essay by Barbara Fried in the Boston Review entitled “Beyond Blame,” which takes as its starting point the observation that “recent decades have been boom years…

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Prone to Wander…from the Pickle Jar?

Prone to Wander…from the Pickle Jar?

A few Sundays ago, I preached a sermon on Galatians 1:11-24, and we had a rough landing. It was one of those Sundays where I felt the plane take off perfectly, maintaining altitude for most of the sermon, but somewhere along the descent we hit turbulence.

As I drove home that day I asked myself, “What made the last part of my sermon so rough?” Why did I struggle so much with the last five minutes? Well, I realized I was trying to deliver a truth that I wasn’t actually believing myself. During the final point of my sermon–“Who is the…

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PZ’s Podcast: Soul Coaxing and Sermon for the Feast Day of Hey Jude

PZ’s Podcast: Soul Coaxing and Sermon for the Feast Day of Hey Jude

EPISODE 145: Soul Coaxing

This is about the music. For it’s the music that makes me want to speak.

The other night, right in the middle of sleep — no kidding — said a “voice from above” (Joe Meek via John Leyton): “You have got to talk about ‘Soul Coaxing’”. So I did.

The music, which was actually once the soundtrack of our lives — the real soundtrack, not The Doors and Jimi Hendrix, who, great as they were, were not what most people were actually hearing at the time — is beyond good. “Soul Coaxing” is a little like “Baby, I’m Amazed”:…

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Through the Wire: A Reading From the Post-Punk Gospel

Through the Wire: A Reading From the Post-Punk Gospel

Wire’s initial three albums have long been favorites of mine, especially the first and the third. The debut album, Pink Flag, employed punk minimalism and acidity with a slyly absurd literal-ism, while completely throwing out punk’s reliance on traditional rock n’ roll song structure. It’s fast and fun and leaves you off kilter in a way you don’t quite get at first. The third album, 154, is to me the consummate post-punk album, more so than say the usual suggestions of something by the Gang of Four, Joy Division or Pere Ubu. It’s polished and often desolate art rock (cold…

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MLK’s Eulogy for Martyred Children

MLK’s Eulogy for Martyred Children

The following speech/sermon was given by Martin Luther King, Jr after the bombing at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963, just three weeks after the March on Washington.

This afternoon we gather in the quiet of this sanctuary to pay our last tribute of respect to these beautiful children of God. They entered the stage of history just a few years ago, and in the brief years that they were privileged to act on this mortal stage, they played their parts exceedingly well. Now the curtain falls; they move through the exit; the drama of their earthly life comes…

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Another Week Ends: Assurance Anxiety, Genesis Lessons, Tumblr Love, Lost in the Cosmos, Iron Man Prep, and Hatsune Miku’s Pizza Stage

Another Week Ends: Assurance Anxiety, Genesis Lessons, Tumblr Love, Lost in the Cosmos, Iron Man Prep, and Hatsune Miku’s Pizza Stage

1. First off, a little pop theology. Phillip Cary contributed an encouraging review of J.D. Greear’s sensationally titled Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart to the recent issue of Christianity Today, under the header “Anxious About Assurance”. As he does in his book Good News for Anxious Christians, Cary gets straight to the heart of the matter:

Greear is not saying it’s wrong to ask Jesus into your heart. He’s saying it’s not the same thing as believing the gospel. And if we want to be assured of salvation, it’s believing the gospel that actually counts. We are saved by faith…

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Freedom in the Rat Race: An Excerpt from Grace upon Grace

Freedom in the Rat Race: An Excerpt from Grace upon Grace

Grace Upon Grace is the new book of sermons from David Johnson, a great friend of Mockingbird’s here in Charlottesville, VA. You may have heard some of his sermons on our Resources page, or had the pleasure of listening to his talk on parenting at our conference this past Fall. This particular collection spans topics from all the “personal matters” of life: parents and kids, wives and husbands, money matters and big decisions, corporate ladders and childhood mistakes. In doing so, Dr. Johnson brings the heart of the gospel into the common corners of our daily lives–but not without first…

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Augustine on the Word Becoming Flesh

Augustine on the Word Becoming Flesh

Here are some poetic words from Saint Augustine’s Sermon 69: On the same words, John 1: “In the beginning was the Word, etc.” excerpted from the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers edited by Philip Schaff. There are some beautiful lines here on the Incarnation—the Word of God becoming flesh—that could make this a Christmas sermon.

Do not follow the current of the flesh. For this flesh is indeed a current; for it has none abiding. As it were from a kind of secret fount of nature men are born, they live, they die; or whence they come, or whither they go, we know not….

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Rod Rosenbladt Reads Martin Luther’s Christmas Sermon

This recording of the Great Reformer’s Christmas sermon was posted by the good folks at the White Horse Inn a couple of years ago (it was dug up from their tape archives). It’s a great read and an even better listen from the lips of Dr. Rosenbladt. I should note that it isn’t one of Luther’s actual sermons but an assembly of pieces from his many Christmas writings, put together by Roland Bainton as he envisioned Luther might have preached them.


“And Death’s Dark Shadow Put to Flight…” A Post for Newtown, Connecticut

“And Death’s Dark Shadow Put to Flight…” A Post for Newtown, Connecticut

It goes without saying that our prayers and hearts have been with Sandy Hook Elementary and the Newtown community since last week. On this side of our Sunday services, “Lord have mercy” is pretty much all I have left to say in my spiritually and emotionally exhausted state, and I don’t think I’m alone when I say that.

For those of us who are still struggling to maintain composure in light of tragedy, or for those exhausted from the 24 hour media coverage, or for those wrestling with the relationship between a good God and an evil…

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