Richard E. Helmer

Sermons and Bible Studies

Who Is This Child?, Christmas Day (III) – 2003

December 25, 2003

Who is this child born into our midst? It’s the question left before us on Christmas Eve, when the story opens with Jesus’ birth to Mary and Joseph, the angels sing, and the shepherds, real working and struggling people like us, come and behold this strange new gift to a world on the edge of […]

Incarnation and Transformation, Christmas Eve – 2003

December 24, 2003

This sermon, appropriate for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, focuses on Luke 2:1-20 from either of the first two lections appropriate for Christmas. “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19, NRSV The beauty of Luke’s narrative seems so appropriate for this time of year, when many of us […]

This At Last…, Proper 22 (B) – 2003

October 05, 2003

“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,” says Adam in today’s reading from Genesis. He immediately recognizes his deep connection to the new human being standing before him, a connection that God has woven deeply into the fabric of their lives. For us in the West today, it’s very […]

On This, the Next-To-Last…, Proper 28 (A) – 2002

November 17, 2002

On this, the next-to-the-last Sunday of the church year, we hear one resounding theme in all our readings: “Stay awake. Be alert. Be found working with what you have been given.” For Christians in the early church, this was a message of absolute urgency, especially because much of the ancient church, as we hear implied […]

How Human Samuel Is…, Lent 4 (A) – 2002

March 10, 2002

How human Samuel is in today’s reading! His story begins with him grieving over the disobedience of Saul, over the loss of a great king to selfish interest and, if we read further in the story, ultimately to madness. Just like us in our Lenten journey, Samuel reluctantly agreed to God’s call to set aside […]

For the Day of the Lord Is Coming…, Ash Wednesday – 2002

February 13, 2002

[Note to the reader: this sermon is based heavily on the Joel reading for Ash Wednesday] For the day of the Lord is coming, it is near — a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! The powerful symbolism of ashes this year seems to need little explanation. For all […]

But He Was Wounded…, Good Friday – 2001

April 13, 2001

But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole. It’s pretty lofty, this writing from Isaiah. So, too, is the long discussion of sacrifice from the letter to the Hebrews that we read every Good Friday. By reading these passages we are encouraged to […]

You Are Dust…, Ash Wednesday – 2001

February 28, 2001

“You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” It is one of the most ancient phrases of Scripture, coming right out of the early chapters of Genesis. As we are about to be reminded by our tradition, it forms the central theme of what we’re about here today on Ash Wednesday. We’re being reminded […]

Oh, to Have Been around…, Lent 5 (B) – 2000

April 09, 2000

Oh, to have been around to hear the conversation Philip and Andrew had about the Greeks’ request! Surely they were having a lively discussion about these outsiders who were bold enough to approach Jesus to speak with him. It seems that Philip and Andrew went together to hear Jesus’ reaction, wondering what their Jewish teacher […]

Today’s Reading Make Us…, Lent 1 (B) – 2000

March 12, 2000

Today’s readings might make us wonder what season of the church year we are really in. We hear the stuff of rainbows in Genesis, the great signs of baptism in Peter, the skies opening and the Spirit descending in Mark. The theme is ever the same: God’s Word is shattering the remnants of an old […]

Of Mice, Lions, and Dogs, Proper 15 (A) – 1999

August 15, 1999

Of Mice, Lions, and Dogs I first met today’s Gospel a long time ago in a children’s story by C. S. Lewis, part of his famous Chronicles of Narnia. Reepicheep, the bravest mouse of all Narnia, loses his tail in battle. As he bows to Aslan, the Great Lion, the King of Narnia, he realizes […]

Jesus on “Family Values”, Proper 8 (A) – 1999

June 27, 1999

For all the talk recently in our country about “family values,” we find ourselves in a distressingly uncomfortable situation listening to Jesus’ teachings today. How much more startling this Gospel lesson must have seemed to the ancient people to whom Jesus was preaching. They didn’t argue about “family values” as we do. They lived them. […]

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Christopher Sikkema