Ten years ago last month I had the opportunity to give testimony before the senate committee of the RI state legislature in support of the SB 38 bill making same-sex marriage legal. I had no idea this existed on YouTube until my daughter, who is making a documentary film about our family’s story called it to my attention today . . . So I thought I’d share.
Sermon by Rev. Dr. Todd Grant Yonkman at First Church of Christ in Saybrook 8 January 2023
Christmas Eve Reflection 2022
Sermon by Rev. Dr. Todd Grant Yonkman at First Church of Christ in Saybrook 24 December 2022
Sermon by Rev. Dr. Todd Grant Yonkman at First Church of Christ in Saybrook 20 November 2022
Worship Resource for Galatians 2:11-21
Call To Worship (from Psalm 32)
One: Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy are those to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
All: Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.
One: You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.
All: Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy all you upright in heart.
We thank you, God, for offering us new life in Christ. Each of us comes to this time and place facing challenges whether in our work, our families, our finances, our health, or the fact of our own mortality. Show us how we can experience a life-changing relationship with you through the person and message of Jesus. We thank you for this community of faith, which for many generations has been your hands and heart of love to countless people and to us. Amen.
Prayer of Dedication
God of love, we thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus, who died and rose again that we might have abundant life now and eternal life in the world to come. We make our offerings with joy and confidence knowing that your abundant provision knows no bounds. Amen.
God is a Dance v.1
Worship Resources 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year C
* Call To Worship (from Psalm 30)
Leader: Sing praises to the LORD, O you faithful ones, and give thanks to God’s holy name.
All: For God’s anger is but for a moment; God’s favor is for a lifetime.
Leader: Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
All: O LORD, my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
* Gathering Prayer (Unison)
God of joy, God of adventure, give us the courage to try. Not every endeavor works out the way we plan. Sometimes we feel awkward trying new things. Because you are the master, we can join the adventure of lifelong learning. Thank you for the example of our ancestors in faith who fell down nine times and got up ten. Amen.
Prayer of Dedication
God of abundance, we too often act out of an attitude of scarcity. Teach us to give freely so that we might live freely. Amen.
What’s Up with Pastor Todd 2-4-22
What’s Up with Pastor Todd 2-4-22
This week’s gospel text, Luke 5:1-11, is Luke’s version of the “miraculous catch” story. Jesus is walking along the Sea of Galilee when he notices two boats. By this time Jesus’ fame has spread throughout the countryside. Crowds follow him from place to place and press in around him so that he has difficulty addressing them. The boats happen to belong to some of Jesus’ fishermen friends, so he gets into one of them and they push away from the shore to give Jesus a little breathing room. While they’re out there Jesus tells one of the fishermen, Simon, a.k.a. Peter, to let down his nets for a catch. Peter hesitates–saying he and his crew have fished all night and caught nothing–but agrees to give it one more try. They let down their nets and to their surprise find them filled to bursting with fish. Peter realizes he’s in the presence of the divine and responds with appropriate awe and wonder. Then Jesus makes what has become a famous pronouncement, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people” (vs. 10).
Christians throughout history have rightly understood this story as a metaphor for Christian evangelism–that is, sharing good news of God’s love in Jesus. Evangelism is a sensitive subject for many people–Christians and non-Christians alike. A lot of harm has been done for the cause of evangelism. For example the colonial project on this continent which resulted in the genocide of indigenous people was done under the sanctifying aegis of evangelism. Nevertheless, the Bible continues to confront us with this call from Jesus to “catch people.”
A couple of points: one theological, one Biblical. The theological point has to do with “exclusive” versus “inclusive” religion. (See my previous essay.) Even though historically Christianity has claimed to be the “one true” religion (an exclusive claim to truth) I don’t think it’s necessary to believe this to be a Christian. I am an inclusive Christian, that is, I believe Christian truth is universal–potentially helpful and healing to anyone and everyone regardless of culture, race, ethnicity, gender, class, ability, politics, etc. And I don’t believe it necessary or even desirable for everyone to become Christian in order to be saved. It isn’t my job to make everyone Christian. It’s my job to love everyone as God loves us: in all of our diversity religious and otherwise. I love my Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, agnostic, seeker, New Age friends and wouldn’t want them to change–unless in their heart of hearts they are called to, which brings me to my Biblical point.
The Greek for “catch people” in verse 10 could also be translated “captivate.” I can think of a number of examples from my life of the kind of captivation hinted at here. I remember when my daughters were born. Each one in her own unique way captivated–even captured–my heart the moment I laid eyes on her. I remember a particularly moving moment singing in gospel choir for a church service when the clear thought arose within me, “I will follow you anywhere.” I remember a moment on silent retreat when I heard a bird call and for a split second or maybe it was many minutes or more–who knows, time gets strange when you’re truly captivated–the universe opened and I knew for myself a peace that passes understanding.
Just like many Christians believe Jesus will return one day, many Buddhists believe that the Buddha will return in the form of a fat, jolly Santa Claus, who will enter our everyday world with “bliss bestowing hands.” This vision for religious mission is not so different from Jesus’, who himself was captivated and invites us all into the captivating presence of God’s boundless love.