sermons of Kimiko Karpoff
Welcome to the sermon, or reflection page. This is a selection of reflections, some older, some newer. I'm not primarily a preacher, so I don't have new reflections every week. I also don't always write what I will speak. And sometimes I use visual story or drama which you really have to experience. My hope is that you find something that speaks to you in these posted reflections.
I remember summers as a child when my family would spend long tracts of the summer travelling in our Ford pickup truck with the camper mounted on the back. The summer that we drove across Canada I was just about to turn twelve and my brother was 13.
This was the summer that we decided to become super heroes. Not like the super heroes that have special powers because of freak accident or having come, literally, from another world. But like Batman, Robin and Batgirl, regular folk who have trained themselves to be extraordinary, driven by a passion for justice in the world.
February 22, 2015 - 2 Kings 5:1-14, Mark 1:40 - 45
A story about healing a leper, is not really intended to be a medical story. A story about healing a leper is a social story. The leper represents the outcast.Think of this as a contemporary 'healing of a leper' story.
" It is difficult to acknowledge what life is like when you have to live on $500 a month. The things you think, the plans you make.
It is an isolated place, a nowhere in the middle of everything.
A loneliness among the multitude of the impoverished."
I wonder if the reversal of expectation is when the rich man realizes that his very humanness depends on his relationship to and interaction with Lazarus. Lazarus, he sees, provides something that he lacks, that can only be redeemed through an intimate act of kinship. Suddenly all of those comforts of wealth are nothing compared to this act of human interaction, a drop of water from a fingertip.
In our culture we are so arrogant. We believe that we know what is good for everyone else. We go on mission tours to build things that we think will help others. We go to the outreach ministry to offer a bit of our time and wealth to those less fortunate. But what Jesus modeled and what this story points to, is relationship. Walking out the door and past our gate, not to hand Lazarus bread, but to sit with Lazarus and receive what he has to offer us.
Isaiah 65:17-25; John 20:1-18
And with the transformational power of resurrection, we are also transformed, multiply transformed. We are forgiven. We who fell asleep, who ran away, who denied Jesus, who felt helpless to intervene, to make things go a different way, we are all forgiven. We who by our silence allow unjust power to continue, who fail to stand with the marginalized, who live as if we do not need to stand in solidarity with each other; Jesus takes our brokenness, our own inability to walk firm in the kingdom and says, it’s ok, keep going. Mary Magdalene walks to the temple as one who copes, and walks away as one empowered to spread the good news, to carry on Jesus’ quest for the kingdom of God.
April 5, 2014 - Mark 16:1-8
We are poised in a new Easter moment. It is our turn to trust resurrecting. Not resurrection, something that has already happened at some distant time and place. This resurrecting is for us to live through.
February 15, 2015 - John 3:14-21
This is, perhaps, one of the best known, and maybe even beloved scriptures of the gospels. For some people it is a summation of the gospel message.
For other people, it is also one of the most challenging scriptures because it is both popular and professes to sum up the gospel in a way that they fundamentally disagree with. I am closer to the latter camp than the former.
These are the questions I had. What is the nature of God's love for the world and how does Jesus fit into that? What does it mean to believe? And is eternal life really just about me?
As Christians we often hear “Turn the other cheek” and understand this to mean don’t fight back, don’t get into it with people, be the more gracious one and step aside. Be like our gentle Jesus, meek and mild.
That’s one way of understanding Jesus, I suppose, although I have always been confused by this myself. When I read the gospels, I read of a Jesus who acts anything but meek and mild. I see someone who challenges the status quo, who stands with the marginalized, who defies the authorities. What I do not see is Jesus as doormat and I wonder why he would tell us to behave in this way.
He didn’t. In fact, Jesus preached not submission, but subversion.
So imagine for a moment that you are the one lying on the side of road, in pain, stripped of your clothing, more vulnerable and afraid than you’ve ever been. You see a nice looking man approach and you’re so grateful, but he pauses, says a prayer then moves on.
Then you see a sweet older woman and think oh, good, someone grandmotherly. She looks at you with concern, but she too keeps going.
Then the next face you see, fills you with dread.
So who is it? Who would be your Samaritan?