Prince of Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church
Worshipping with Trinity Episcopal Church
120 Broad Street ~  Claremont, New Hampshire 03743 



Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo on her last Sunday as our
Interim Priest/Pastor, December 17, 2017 III Advent
Trinity Episcopal/Prince of Peace Lutheran, Claremont, NH

Who are you they ask of John, Who are you? John clearly knows who he is, he is not the Messiah, he is not Elijah, he is not a prophet. John is the voice of one crying in the wilderness. I have been with you for 2 years and 10 months. Sometimes I have felt a bit like a voice crying in the wilderness. Knowing who you are is critical for the life and success of this church. Knowing who you are and who you are not is critical for a healthy congregation. I have been your interim and I think I have been very clear about that. We have done some hard work together and now you are ready to start on a new chapter. 

My parting words to you as a faith community is to remember who you are. Remember first and foremost you are a community of faith gathering each week to worship God, to hear the call of scripture and to support each other on your journey. You are not a family, you are a community of faith. Family is a dangerous word for communities of faith. There are only a few ways into a family; birth, adoption and marriage. And only two ways out; divorce and death. You as a community of faith want to be more open, you want to welcome people in without them having to make a big commitment. You want to focus on the purpose of your faith, serving God and the community, learning how to be a better Christian and stretching each other, encouraging each other to be stronger in faith and belief. 

As a community of faith, you have a unique role in this community, to serve others, to bring the light of Christ out into the world. You do this with your backpack ministry, you do this in offering free suppers. Serving others is not about raising money for yourselves or this building, serving others is about giving with no expectation of a return. In the purest sense it is giving a gift in love not wanting, needing or expecting anything in return. Many of you do this when you give of your time, talent and treasure to the work of this community. Giving is often hard because it is selfless act of love, some of us are better at it than others. The point here is to know who you are and who you are not. You will not fix everything in Claremont and you should not try to. You need to know where God calls you as a community of faith and be clear about your mission, individually and corporately. You cannot do it all. Just as John would not say he was all those things that people hoped he was, you too, need to know where you are called.

As a community, you cannot do it all and as individuals you are not responsible for it all. One of your challenges as a community is to trust each other to do, to let people do what they say they will do. This includes your clergy. I have gotten lots of advice on how to do my job, as have other people here. It is not helpful; it speaks to a lack of trust. If someone says they will do something, let them. If they don’t get it done then ask how you can help them. Failure is a learning opportunity, it is better to let something fail then to always be checking up on someone.

John was clear about his role, he was clear about his responsibilities and he knew when and how to step back. Stepping back can be really hard, stepping back means that you trust someone else to step forward, trust God to lead the way. John stepped back, it must have been hard to trust God, to trust that Jesus would pick up where he left off. You have to remember Jesus was new, untested but John still stepped back. It’s hard to trust someone else to pick up where you left off. 

I firmly believe that my work here is done. That Richard will pick up where I left off. Richard will do things differently and that is good. Because I know you want to know, I am not sure what I will do next but I do trust that God will call me to something new, maybe something unexpected, maybe just like all of you. I will continue to pray for all of you and for this community of Claremont. I ask for your prayers as I start my next adventure. I will not be in contact with you, not because I don’t want to but because I don’t want to interfere with the work Richard will do. It has been my privilege to walk with you on this part of the journey and you will always be a part of my ministry. I want to especially thank the Lutherans, you have clearly been a bright spot in my ministry here and have stretched me to embrace new liturgies, I will miss that. I also want to thank the choir particularly Ginny and Karen. I have loved watching you two choose the music from both traditions keeping a balance, yet willing to be flexible. It is my belief that the choir will grow this church, you all do a remarkable job! Thank You!

I want to thank the vestry. I have really seen a growth in your leadership this past year. This vestry will continue as is for another year. The vestry felt and the Bishop agreed it is best not to change leadership in the midst of this transition. 

I end with our reading from 1 Thessalonians:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. Amen.


Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo

Christ the King Sunday - November 26, 2017
Trinity/Prince of Peace, Claremont, NH

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 100
Ephesians 1:15-23
Matthew 25:31-46

Some of you know I am a Scuba Diver. I really like finding small things when I dive. One of my favorites is the lettuce leaf sea slug. Lettuce leaf sea slugs are tiny creatures in the underwater world, they are about 2 inches long and about a half an inch wide. They blend in amazing well with their environment and can be hard to spot. Lettuce slugs look like a little lettuce garden; their top is covered in ruffles or lettuce leaves. I am entranced by them. I am entranced that something so small can exist in a very harsh environment and when they move they look like a miniature moving garden. Most people would never notice them. They are hard to spot and may seem insignificant to most. In some places, they come in 3 different colors; a bright blue, a bright white and a light green. At first I didn’t find any even though people told me they were there. I knew I liked them so I was determined to find them. So, I started to look for Lettuce slugs. The underwater world is much like the above water world, there are lots of things to see which is complicated by the fact that you are looking through the water to see them. Another complication is that the environment is constantly shifting as the water surges in and out. In some ways, it is a miracle to see anything at all under the sea. 

My quest for lettuce slugs was well rewarded. What appeared to be lettuce slug free zones were teaming with them. On each successive dive, I would see more and more lettuce slugs. The blue ones were the easiest for me to find and then the white, the green were harder to spot. Hence, I became the expert of the lettuce slug, showing everyone in my group the tiny little creatures. People were amazed how I could spot them everywhere. It seemed to me that once I found them they seemed to pop out everywhere. The more I saw the better I was at finding them. Now, I saw other things too but lettuce slugs are still one of my favorites.

It was fascinating to me how easy it was for me to spot them and how difficult it was for others to see them even when I was pointing them out. They never would have seen them on their own. It strikes me that life is a lot like finding lettuce slugs; it is just as easy to walk right by and not notice the people and things right under our noses. I think we do a particularly good job of walking right by the people who need us, the poor in our midst, the helpless, the hurting, people who are different from us. We have our blinders on and walk right by. Jesus in this morning’s gospel calls us to pay attention. Pay attention to those who need our help, those who need our care. When we pay attention to those who are hungry, who are thirsty, who are sick, those who are different from us, we pay attention to Jesus. When we pay attention to the stranger in our midst and welcome them we also welcome Jesus. To do this we need to be alert, be awake, live in the moment. We will never see what God calls us to if we are zooming by and not living in the present moment.

We also need guides to see the needs of the world. We need people who are good at seeing a need and let them show us that need so that we too, can help. We also need to be guides showing Jesus to others. We often forget that not everyone knows Jesus, knows God like we do. It is our job to invite them to come and see. See what God is doing here. See where God is calling this community. We are the guides, guides that can show others another way to live and love. Next week we begin the season of Advent. Advent is a time to see with new eyes the gifts and blessings God has given us. These may be hard to see, given the glitz and glamour our culture focuses on for the holidays, but we need to see, we need to see clearly the surprises God has planned for us, the true gifts that are hidden under all that silver and gold. Take time this Advent to open your eyes and see the gifts that God is giving you. Pay attention because when you look closely, Gods gifts can be found around every turn. I pray that each of us will see those very things that are right before us, that our eyes will be opened and that our hearts will rejoice as God leads us into a season of preparing for the greatest gift of all. Find some time this Advent to see with new eyes God’s blessings and God’s calling to each of us. Amen


Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
November 19, 2017 –24th Sunday after Pentecost
Trinity Episcopal/Prince of Peace Lutheran, Claremont, NH

Judges 4:1-7
Psalm 123
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Matthew 25:14-30

Fear is a powerful emotion. For most of us when we are fearful we are frozen in inaction, we are afraid to move. I find fear to be paralyzing. I can’t act because I am afraid I will get it wrong. I am stuck in a state of paralysis. When I am unafraid I can act with enthusiasm, I can take out my gifts and let them shine but if I am afraid I just want to hide. Has this ever happened to you? I think Jesus is telling us today not to live our lives in fear. This is easier said than done. The Gospel story is about our ability to act boldly and confidently for the Gospel. 

Fear is pervasive in our culture. Do this, take that or this or that will happen. Vote for so and so or we will all self destruct. We have lost our ability to trust each other, to trust ourselves. 
So we need to get better at trusting God. We don’t want to be like the poor steward who was so afraid that he buried all that he could be, for fear of losing it, for fear of failure. Trusting in God takes a risk, takes a leap. We don’t always know how things will work out or how things will be. Trusting in God means we don’t have all the answers, or the final destination, but we trust that if we start walking the spirit will get us there. 

This happens in communities too. We are packing bags for kids to take home. How will this work out, will we have enough resources, enough help? Sometimes you just have to start doing and figure it out as you go. We as the people of God need to set the example for our community, the example of generosity and faith. The example that God’s love is big enough for all. 
We as a people hate to look foolish, hate to be shamed. Yet stepping out as a disciple of Jesus involves risk. Stepping out means you might be rejected, might lose face. Stepping out for God involves risk. When we step out we may experience failure, rejection or loss but these things help us to grow into stronger disciples for Jesus. Failure, rejection or loss help us to stretch ourselves and learn new ways of being God’s hands in the world. Prince of Peace did this when they sold their building and moved in with Trinity. Trinity, you have experienced this in the change of leadership. You all will experience this as I leave and Richard comes. Yet it is through this loss that you will see new ways to be God’s agents in the world, new ways to be God’s community in this place. Stepping out in faith involves risk, using your gifts to bring about God’s kingdom is scary. Yet it is only when we take that step, when we set aside our fear that we will see the multiplication of our efforts, the transformation of our souls. 

Today’s gospel talks about living your life without fear. When we are fearful we bury our treasures underground where no one can see them or take them. When we are fearless our lives open in new and unexpected directions. We live with our gifts in full view, we live with a sense of abundance and we live with gratitude and generosity. That is how I want to live, to live fully, to live into who God calls me to be, without fears. I want to live grateful for all that I have been given, I want to live sharing those gifts with others. I want to remember each and every day the great abundance of blessings that God has given us. I want to live without fear, defying the constraints of our culture. Free to fully be the person God has called me to be. This is a work in progress, this is “counter cultural” work. But I know that in doing this, I will discover new joys, to live my life without fear, trusting in the One who loves me and you more than we can imagine. How about you? Amen


Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo on October 29th, 2017
Reformation Sunday ~ Trinity/Prince of Peace, Claremont, NH

Reformation definition:
1. the action or process of reforming an institution or practice.
2. a 16th-century movement for the reform of abuses in the Roman Catholic Church ending in the establishment of the Reformed and Protestant Churches.

Reformation Sunday, commemorates Martin Luther nailing of his 95 theses to the door of the church, and the beginning of the reformation in Europe. 

Luther, “Committed to the idea that salvation could be reached through faith and by divine grace only,” Luther vigorously objected to the corrupt practice of selling indulgences common in the Catholic Church. Acting on this belief, he wrote the “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” also known as “The 95 Theses,” a list of questions and propositions for debate. Popular legend has it that on October 31, 1517 Luther defiantly nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. The reality was probably not so dramatic; Luther more likely hung the document on the door of the church matter-of-factly to announce the ensuing academic discussion around it that he was organizing.

The 95 Theses, which would later become the foundation of the Protestant Reformation, were written in a remarkably humble and academic tone, questioning rather than accusing. The overall thrust of the document was nonetheless quite provocative. The first two of the theses contained Luther’s central idea, that God intended believers to seek repentance and that faith alone, and not deeds, would lead to salvation. The other 93 theses, a number of them directly criticizing the practice of indulgences, supported these first two.

In addition to his criticisms of indulgences, Luther also reflected popular sentiment about the “St. Peter’s scandal” in the 95 Theses:
“Why does not the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?”

Luther, refusing to recant, was eventually excommunicated from the Catholic Church. As Luther was doing this in Germany, the reformation was also occurring in England around the same time. Although the straws that broke the camel’s back were different in each place, the reformation was against the power and wealth that was held by the Catholic Church. So here we are 500 years later, an Episcopal congregation and a Lutheran one, joining together; I think Luther and the other reformers would be proud. Their frustration was not with each other but with the corruption in the Catholic Church. 

The question I want to ask is what needs reforming today? What in our system is broken and corrupt? We no longer have a pope to lead us but a similar question could be asked of the billionaires that run our country, of the very wealthy who do not look out for those in need. We need reformation, we need to look at ourselves the institutional church and see how we like Luther can stand up for what is right, stand up for those who are unable to stand up for themselves. Luther fought for the poor, the indulgences were a hardship for them. The rich had the money for them, Luther fought for those without a voice against the powerful. 

Our Gospel this morning talks about how truth brings you freedom and it made me ponder our state motto “Live Free or die”. Freedom is an essential part of our democracy. Freedom is based on truth and trust. How do we live into our truth as Luther did at the time of the Reformation? Luther stood up to the injustices of power, Luther named the truth. How do we follow his example? How do we see clearly that which is put before us in our lives? What is the truth of your life? What do you want to do differently? Jesus calls us to look at the truth in our lives in our world and through that truth we will know the true freedom that only God can give. How can you live your life differently trusting in God and the freedom that comes with that. Jesus calls us this morning to open our eyes, just like Martin Luther and see things for how they really are. Find the truth and hold it so that your life may be reflective of your faith, knowing that God alone can save us and give us the freedom we most desire. Today is a call to action; 500 years and there is still so much work to be done; 500 years; how does the church have to adapt to meet the NEXT 500 years, how do we need to take part in this new reformation? Luther started it now it is up to us to continue in his footsteps. Amen


Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
Trinity Episcopal/Prince of Peace Lutheran, Claremont, NH
July 23, 2017 - 7th Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 29:15-28
Psalm 105:1-11, 45b
Romans 8:26-39
Matthew 13:31-33,44-52

Words have meaning. Every word we use has the potential to build someone up or tear them down. Words matter, what we say really does matter. Just look at our President and how his tweets are interpreted, words matter. The problem these days is we often just have the words to go on. So much of our communication is words in black and white. We can temper them a bit by emoji’s or smiley faces or short abbreviations that mean we are joking, but often words take on a life of their own, often different than the original intent. This happens most often in emails, texts or tweets but it also happens in face to face. Someone says something meaning X and we hear it thinking they mean Y. How does this happen? It happens because we bring our own bias to every conversation that we participate in. It’s often amazing to me and maybe you too, the different ways that our words or actions can be interpreted or better misinterpreted. These misinterpretations are less likely to occur face to face because we get so much information by looking at someone and listening to the tone of their voice. We get so much when we understand the context of their experience and the context in which the words are spoken. But sadly, we often don’t take the time or effort to truly understand one another. 

I see this most often in relationships. One partner says something that the other perceives as hurtful and maybe the words were hurtful but the other partner did not mean it in that way. I see it in communities, where things are said and misinterpreted and many suffer for it. I think the problem is that we are always in a hurry. We don’t pause to ask the other “what did you mean by that” or “can you explain it further.” We are quicker to rush to judgement rather than spending the time to sort out exactly what was meant to be said. 

Words are tricky like that, they often have a life of their own. On the other side, some people often say offensive things and communities write it off as, “that’s just so and so, they are always like that”. Instead of really listening to so and so and find out what exactly they are trying to say, then telling them clearly what attitude or behaviors will be tolerated in our community. We do this with children all the time, we tell them what we will accept and what we will not accept and what is appropriate behavior. Right, but we fail to help the adults in our midst to see that words do in fact matter. 

Our Gospel story this morning is about judgement, evil and transformation. Judgement in that we often decide who is a ‘wheat’ and who is a ‘weed’. We make judgements about people lumping them in the bad pile without truly knowing what was their intention or who they are deep down. After all, we all have our weedy moments. All of us are made of wheat and weed. We cast judgement often believing the worst about people, the worst about ourselves. 

I think what Jesus is telling us this morning is to stop and take a deep breath. Not everything has to be decided in an instant. Not everything has to be done right now. Think how your life might be different if instead of reacting you paused and took a deep breath. I mean a deep breath all the way down into your diaphragm. A deep breath does two things it reduces our stress and it gives us a moment to think, to pause. You see if you are breathing in you are not talking. If you take a deep breath you are less likely to pull out the wheat with the weeds.

Our lives, our culture has become very reactive. We have lost the art of breathing. When we know how to breathe we allow a space for God to work, a space for transformation. That is our story this morning, let us see how the spirit can work, changing the weeds to wheat, changing us deep in our hearts. Take a breath, a really deep breath and let the love of God hold and strengthen you. Amen


Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
May 14th, 2017 - 5th Sunday of Easter/ Mother’s Day
Trinity Episcopal/Prince of Peace Lutheran, Claremont, NH

Acts 7:55-60
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
1 Peter 2:2-10
John 14:1-14

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me”.

I have moved many times in my life, big moves, moves across the country. I have lived on the West Coast, the South, the East Coast and New England. Moving always comes with its own sets of challenges. Big moves are more disorienting than moves across town or within a geographic area. I have moved across the country on 4 different occasions. There is something exciting about moving but it is hard. It’s hard to say good-bye to the friends you have made or even the places you like to visit. Moving involves an enormous amount of energy and a fair bit of stress. The hardest part often was saying good-bye to friends, yet I also knew that I would carry a piece of them with me for the rest of my life. My good friend Mary and Judy from my time in San Francisco, my church friends and Gail from Georgia, Susan and Paulette from Washington, D.C., Linda and Judy from Tacoma. These people were significant to me at certain periods of my life and they always will be. For me my friendships with them will always be tied to a particular place and period of my life. 

I bring this history up because I think we forget that Jesus too had personal relationships with the people in his life. This morning as Jesus knows he is about to leave them, he tries to give them/us some perspective, some hope. Relationships are the foundation of our faith. Our relationship with Jesus, Jesus’ relationship with us. How we negotiate our lives living into and out of our relationship with God. Our relationships with each other, how we strengthen each other in faith, how we work together as a community living into God’s calling to us. Like all things, we sometimes get off track and need a course correction. Systems are slow to change, slow to correct but it is essential for us to do that if we want to survive. Just like in your own lives, when things are off kilter sometimes strong measures are needed to right the ship. Setting a new course like moving can be disorienting at first, it can be scary and you may not have faith in the new direction working out. Like moving to a new place the fastest way to acclimate is to dive in, accept the changes and work to find your footing. Some of us do this easier than others. The disciples are faced with a course correction this week.

Jesus tries to prepare them that although they will no longer see them He will be with them. Jesus has shown them the way to be, the way to act; Jesus has shown them God. They should not fear they should not be troubled. These are strong and powerful words “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me”. Jesus is telling them it will be okay, God is with them, God is with us. Never in my life have these words had more context in our culture. So many are troubled today by politics, by drugs, by racism, by immigration status; so many are fearful of what tomorrow holds. 

Jesus says: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” How can we hear that and apply it to our lives? How can we hear that and know that it is true? It’s really hard to give up our illusion of control, it’s hard to let go of all our worries and trust in God. This has been most clear to me with my children. I am a Mother and Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who are mothers, we as mothers and fathers worry about our children. Maybe we worry less as they get older, maybe it depends on the child. Some children need more worrying about than others but it also depends on us. How are we willing to believe in God and Jesus? How are we willing to trust our children to be who God created them to be without our constant interference? 

God walks with us on this journey of life, Jesus is by our side. We need to believe in that and trust that God will provide, more likely in ways we had not thought of, in ways we could not imagine. Belief is about trust, trust that we will find our footing, that God is with us, no matter where we go or how our life may change. 
This is what Jesus was telling the disciples, this is what Jesus is telling us. 


Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
May 7th, 2017 - 4th Sunday of Easter/Good Shepherd Sunday
Trinity Episcopal/Prince of Peace Lutheran, Claremont, NH

Acts 2:42-47
Psalm 23
1 Peter 2:19-25
John 10:1-10

In my family growing up I was the navigator. I was the one who would read the map and tell my Father where to go. My Mother and sister were not interested in this job. I was good at it. I got my bearings and sense of place by looking at a map and visually seeing how the world was laid out. This skill has served me well over many moves and different locations. When arriving in a new place one of the first things I would do is get a map and discover how the area is laid out and what I needed to know to get from one place to another. Maps have been critical for me to really learn a new place and understand how it is laid out. Without studying a map, I often feel confused and lost in a new place. Maps are harder and harder to come by these days. You see our phones and GPS systems have become our maps and they will direct us to get anywhere we want to go. This was very hard for me to accept in the beginning, because it was hard to trust that a device would take me where I needed to go. I still have what I would call a healthy sense of mistrust for these devices and I have had them lead me astray from time to time, but they are getting better and better. With their improvements, I find I trust them more and more. Yet I don’t trust them blindly, in other words I am unlikely to drive myself into a lake just because they say so, but others have not been as discerning! We have all heard the stories of people following their GPS blindly into very challenging and sometimes life threatening situations.

Even though I am more comfortable using my GPS I still like to check a map to really know a place. I say this every time I visit my daughter in California, her area is set on a grid system around a curvy coast line, there are a few key roads but I have a hard time placing them in context. I am learning them slowing by looking at the map on my phone, not as good as the old paper maps but it is working. I still would like a paper map but as I said they are not so easy to find these days! I feel like maps are becoming a product of a bygone era, I have read that many children these days don’t know how to read them, that our reliance on technology has just about made them obsolete. I remember fondly our many trips across this country relying on our Triple A trip tix and a map for every state!

So, you may be wondering what this has to do with our readings. Today is Good Shepherd Sunday and I think we have lost our way, not just us individually but our society and culture as a whole. Jesus is our shepherd and our map. As a shepherd leads the sheep, Jesus leads us. I think one of our problems is that we have lost the map. We have crowded that map out with all sorts of other distractions. It used to be you could come to church to get your directions for the week; less and less of us find that helpful. It used to be you could use the bible stories to make sense of your life but they are less and less known. We need to find new ways to share the map we have found in Jesus. It’s up to us. We are the holders of the map and the ones to share how helpful it has been in our lives. Faith and belief in God and Jesus are timeless, they have survived throughout the centuries but how that gets transmitted has changed throughout the centuries. In the beginning people gathered in small communities, house churches, in some places they did this in fear, hiding their community and faith. Maybe that’s where we are today, hiding, fearful to share our beliefs with a larger culture who doesn’t understand or believe. Over the years, the church gained more power and prestige, but not without challenges and misdirection. Just look at the power given to popes and clergy, just look at the crusades, killing innocent people who believed differently than us. We have always had a problem with people who thought differently or acted differently than us. Look at the witch trials held in our neighboring state. People burned at the stake in the name of Jesus. Then we have the worship of these big beautiful buildings, maybe 100 years from now that will be our crime, we couldn’t sacrifice our buildings for the sake of Jesus. 

Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t have the answers, nor am I truly sure what is wrong, but I do know that something is wrong. I do know that individually and collectively we have lost our way and that our old maps are not working. I know we want the old paper maps and they have value but we need to figure out how God is calling us out in new ways. How we are to respond in new ways to the Gospel, new ways to follow our Shepherd. Throughout the centuries, the church has reinvented itself to follow God’s calling, we are living in that time, a time of reinvention. We cannot continue doing things as they have always been done, it’s not working and it is unlikely to work in our world. Jesus is still our Shepherd, that has never changed but we the sheep need to listen carefully for how our Savior is calling us through the gate, how we need to respond in a new way, how God calls us to share our stories and our faith, how God calls us to minister to each other and those we don’t yet know. How is the Shepherd calling you?


Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
April 30th, 2017 - 3rd Sunday of Easter
Trinity Episcopal/Prince of Peace Lutheran, Claremont, NH

Acts 2:14a, 36-41
Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17
1 Peter 1:17-23
Luke 24:13-35

Sometimes I like to go incognito. I find it very interesting to hide my vocation; sometimes I like to be a regular person and not an Episcopal Priest. Now I know I can never truly hide my vocation, and most conversations get around to what do you do? When I tell people, depending where I am, they are shocked, impressed or afraid. Shocked because they don’t expect clergy to be regular people, impressed because they may be religious themselves and have a great respect for clergy or afraid, and I get this most often, gee I hope I haven’t said anything offensive; that talking with a clergy person requires a certain decorum, that they may not always use. I always find this interesting, since I, maybe even more than you, have heard every human predicament that you can imagine. I have even heard bad language and on rare occasion have used it myself. Some of my best conversations have been with people who have no idea who I am, maybe because they can hear me not as a religious expert but as a regular person.

This is the gift of the gospel story this morning. Jesus appears to his disciples as a regular person and they engage in a meaningful conversation. He opens the scriptures for them in new and exciting ways. Jesus was content to just carry on his way, but his new friends insist that he stay. They invite him into their lives. Here is where the miraculous happens, and they see Jesus for who he truly is. How do we invite Jesus into our lives? Do we miss opportunities to invite Jesus into our hearts? Of course, we do, how can we not, but what is most important is that we see Jesus for who he really is. Today’s story is about the importance of sharing our faith, sharing our faith to say this faith that I have has made my life better. This faith that I have has made the bad times bearable and the good times more joyous. Our faith is not meant to be a secret, it should shine out from our very being.

The story this morning also offers us hope that in our darkest hour Jesus walks with us, that when we least expect it the Son of God will break into our life and give us renewed hope, renewed strength and courage. It also gives us an example of how we might be the presence of God for someone else; that we don’t need to be ordained, and maybe it’s better if we’re not, to share our faith to help someone else to see things in a new light. God calls us to walk the journey to Emmaus repeatedly, to hear the stories of our salvation and to find new understandings and insights. I am so grateful for those that shared their faith with me, for without them I would not be standing here today. Who are you called to share your faith with? Who do you need to meet on your journey? Jesus calls each of us maybe in disguise but each of us are called, it is up to us to invite Jesus in. 

So, pay attention, you never know who you might be talking to, and how they might enrich your journey or how you might enrich theirs. We have a received a powerful gift that is revealed in the breaking of the bread, and just as the breaking of the bread opened the disciple’s eyes, Jesus comes to you each and every Sunday morning in the breaking of the bread. Don’t miss it. God is alive and well in our midst. It is up to us to invite God in and it is up to us to be God’s presence in this world.

It is time for us to stop going incognito through our lives. We are Christians and it is time for us to come out of hiding, to share the love and faith that has been given to us and that we share in the breaking of the bread. Life with God is better than life without God and each of us has a story to share. Go and tell! 


Sermon preached by The Rev. Janet Lombardo
1st Sunday in Lent, March 5, 2017
Trinity Episcopal/Prince of Peace Lutheran, Claremont, NH

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
Psalm 32
Romans 5:12-19
Matthew 4:1-11

It seems to me that we spend a large part of our lives wishing for something different. We often focus on this difference as if it would make all the difference in our lives. Let’s use the church as an example, if only the pews were filled, if only we had the perfect priest, if only we had a bigger endowment, if only people pledged more, if only we had more children in the church. None of these things are bad but they miss the point of why we are here. They are temptations in a way a seduction of how things used to be or how we think things should be. Maybe you do this in your own life. If only we had saved more money, if only our kids were more successful, it only we had kids, if only we didn’t have kids, if only we had more kids. You really could fill in any topic; things always seem like they could be better somehow. It’s our culture really, we always want to be better than we are, always striving to relive the glory days or find the glory days.

Our gospel reading and the reading from Genesis are about having enough. About knowing that we are enough. Adam and Eve, right from the get go, wanted more. All the trees and fruits were not enough; they wanted the one tree they were not suppose to have. Sound familiar? It’s in our DNA and I’m not really sure we can help it, but we can choose to live differently. We can choose to live not with this desire to always want more but with the satisfaction that we are enough. Jesus understood this most clearly by saying no to the temptations of the world and understanding that what he had was enough. What he had by our standards was very little, but it wasn’t about stuff was it? Jesus understood deep into his core that He was God’s beloved and everything else was just stuff. How do we live more fully into this reality? You see we are God’s beloved, you are, I am, we all are the beloved of God.

How can we act more like God’s beloved and less like the reality TV that pervades our culture? Facebook is full of it people living lives out loud, look at me isn’t my life great, don’t you wish you were me? Advertisements if only you had this, your life would be complete. The examples go on and on. When we live like that we miss the very life that we are having now. We stop living in the present and we live in the “someday.” Living in the present is what God calls us to do. On Ash Wednesday we get ashes to remind us of our mortality, to remind us that everything in this life eventually turns to ash. God reminds us to live for today, today is what is before you. Now this doesn’t mean not to plan for a future, but more to appreciate what you have now. Accept that what you have been given is enough.

Sometimes the simplest things can shift our perspectives. On Ash Wednesday I left the church door unlocked between the services, I was in my office and suddenly I heard the crying of a young child. I went to investigate and there was a pregnant woman with her 2 year old child. She told me that she had tried a few churches and this was the only one that was open. She was looking for a priest to receive ashes, get a blessing for the baby in her womb and also to make a connection, to know that there was more than her complicated life and that someone cared. She and her children had recently been homeless. Yet she was grateful, grateful that God loved her and that God would take care of her. She arrived here simply because the door wasn’t locked. An open door, a listening ear, God’s blessing, that is the essence of who we are. It wasn’t fancy or sophisticated, it wasn’t a big program…it was an unlocked door.

What are the doors in your heart that need to be unlocked? What are the doors in this community that need to be unlocked? I can promise you that everything we need and have is enough. I can promise you that the spirit will show up. God is always sending us signs if only we can pay attention. God is always steering us to what is most important if only we take the time to listen. We have so many distractions, maybe that’s why Jesus went to the wilderness. We need time away to see things clearly, we need time set apart to find our center, to know God’s presence. We need time away from the temptations in our lives to re-center and refocus on God’s calling and love for us.
Can you find the time?


Sermon Preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
5th Sunday after Epiphany, February 5, 2017
Trinity Episcopal/ Prince of Peace Lutheran

Isaiah 58:1-9a, [9b-12]
Psalm 112:1-9, (10)
1 Corinthians 2:1-12, [13-16]
Matthew 5:13-20

Many years ago, when we lived in Georgia, I was the chair of the Newcomers Committee. While I was chair we started baking small loaves of bread to be delivered to every newcomer each Sunday. To do this I taught a group how to bake bread. Then I was asked to teach bread baking at the community college. I was surprised but agreed. The time frame for a class at the community college was short so I had to adapt my recipes from regular yeast to quick rise yeast. If you are a bread baker you would know that this is not a simple substitute. The recipes have to be reworked to accommodate the quick rise yeast. I tried out the reworked recipes at home and made a beautiful loaf of bread that looked fabulous. The texture was perfect, it baked evenly with a great crust. In fact I thought I had never baked such a consistent loaf of bread; it was amazing! So I slice it up and take a bite. It was awful; I mean really awful. It was immediately obvious what was missing – Salt! I had forgotten to write the salt into the new recipe. Salt hinders the rising process so that is how my bread looked so perfect, but bread is meant to be eaten and this bread was almost inedible. I never realized how critical salt was to bread, after all, you don’t put all that much in, until I inadvertently left it out. I always think about that when I read the gospel for this morning. How critical salt is not only for flavor but also as a necessary nutrient. We forget that today, that our bodies need salt and in Jesus’ time it was sometimes hard to get. In fact salt was so essential that Roman soldiers were paid in salt rations, the origin of our word salary. Salt was needed not just for flavor but to sustain life. 

Jesus reminds us this morning how essential we are to God’s work in this world. Each of us are the salt and light to the world. Each of us does something each and every day that provides something critical to the people we love or in the work we do that makes a real difference in the world. 

How are we to be the salt and light to the Claremont community? How is it that the community sees you? How do you see yourselves? How do you get fed? What spiritual nourishment do you need to continue to reach out to the larger community? Who are we, and who do we hope to be?

Jesus needs us to be the salt and light to the world. Jesus is our salt and light. We need to make sure we are nurtured and fed so that we can feed the world. It is not enough to look good, we must more importantly taste good. It is not enough to know the light of God but we must shine it out. It is not enough to share it here with each other; light and salt is meant to be shared with all. 

I want you this week to think about how you are the salt and light in the world. How you touch other lives with God’s love. How God’s love nourishes you. We have something amazing to offer the world but we need to let them know. No hiding under a bushel basket, no hiding behind our Yankee reserve. Jesus reminds us that growing God’s kingdom is up to us. We have to be out there offering God’s love to all and then we have to invite them to come and see for themselves. 

People come to church because they are asked, I learned that when I chaired the Newcomers committee. When was the last time you invited someone to church? It is not enough to help people we must also invite them to come and see for themselves; to come and be fed by Christ’s body and blood. This is about helping others to find the Spirit we have found here. It is about sharing God’s salt and light. So, salt of the earth and light of the world, it is time we act on it. It is time we set out trusting in the spirit to guide us, trusting in God’s love to sustain us. It is time for us to live into our Baptismal promises and help others to find their way in this lost and broken world. It is time to help others find their way here to be welcomed into God’s loving embrace to know that they, too, are the salt and light of this world. 


Sermon Preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
January 22, 2017 – 3rd Sunday after Epiphany – Trinity/Prince of Peace – Claremont, NH

Isaiah 9:1-4
Psalm 27:1, 5-13
1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Matthew 4:12-23

Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose his disciples from fishermen? After all Jesus was a carpenter, why not invite some of them. Why choose fishermen? It is interesting to think about the qualities that make up fishermen. Each and every day they go out in a boat to find fish. They don’t see the fish they want to catch but they go out trusting that they are there, dropping their nets hoping they have found the right spot, hoping to catch the fish. Day after day they do this, sometimes successfully sometimes not. It takes real perseverance to go out each and every day trusting that the fish are there and hoping to catch some. Is this not the perfect temperament for a disciple? Seeking after what others cannot see, trusting that what they need will be provided for. Disciples trust that who they are is enough; they trust that their faith is enough, that God will give them what thy need to share their faith with others, that God will help them change the world. Disciples believe that their faith is enough to encourage faith in others, they believe that God works in the world and that by trusting in God others will see how Jesus lights their life, how Jesus can light everyone’s life. Disciples who happen to be fishermen is who Jesus calls this morning. Disciples who are not fishermen is who Jesus calls this morning. You are who Jesus calls this morning. It is not easy to be a fisherman; it takes patience, perseverance and faith the same for Disciples. For fishermen faith that the fish are indeed there even when they can’t see them, for us faith that God’s light can and will shine through us and in us even when we are not sure that it is there. 

I envy the commitment that the fishermen show in our story today dropping all that they knew to embark on a new adventure, a new call to follow Jesus. This did not come without sacrifice, this did not come without loss, but they sensed their greater mission and left all to follow Jesus. How can we follow the example of the first disciples, how can we be better disciples? 

Discipleship is hard work. Nothing makes this clearer than Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. Already the Corinthian’s are fighting over who is the best, who is in charge, who has it right, who is wrong. How quickly they have lost sight of their overall purpose how quickly they get pushed into taking sides. Paul reminds them this is not what it is about, Paul reminds them that they need to be united with the same mind and purpose, that there be no divisions among them. Paul reminds them that their mission is to proclaim the gospel so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. They had lost sight of their primary purpose, fishing for people. They had gotten caught up in struggles for power and importance. Sound familiar? We often lose sight of the overall mission and struggle with the unimportant things we get stuck on. We lose sight of our primary mission as fishermen, as disciples, having faith that the fish are there, having faith that inside everyone is God’s love, God’s light.

Jesus calls his disciples this morning Jesus calls us. Jesus calls us to be the light to the world, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, “the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned” Jesus is our light and it is our job as disciples of Jesus to shine that light in all the dark corners of the world. Everywhere people are persecuted, everywhere there is oppression, and everywhere justice is not served. We are to be the fishermen, finding God’s light everywhere. Looking for that light in each other, strengthening and nourishing that light in all whom we meet. Discipleship is hard work, but each step of the way we have Jesus shining God’s light so that we can have faith and find our way. Find our way even in the dark and on a stormy sea. God’s light cannot be extinguished, God’s light is for us and for all the world to see. May we have faith like the fishermen and clarity of purpose like the first disciples so that we will not get caught up in the distractions of this world and use our gifts, our light to proclaim the gospel to everyone we meet. This is what Jesus calls us to this morning, this is who God needs us to be. Amen


Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo 
Trinity Episcopal and Prince of Peace Lutheran Churches, Claremont, NH

January 15, 2017
– Epiphany 2A –

This weekend we honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. King as you all know worked for racial justice; he became the leader of the civil rights movement; he empowered many to live and act differently. He was not elected to any office but worked out of a passion for justice and Jesus. He was a minister first and saw the oppressions inflicted because of the color of one’s skin and could not be silent. He changed the way this country looks at race and was targeted and assassinated because others could not see his vision. Jonathan Daniels a native of Keene, NH, inspired by this movement went to stand against injustice in the South and was killed protecting a young black girl. The Episcopal Church has honored his life and his witness is celebrated in Lessor feasts and fasts, a daily reading of Saints and others who have lived their faith in remarkable ways.

How we live our faith is the question I ask you this morning. How are you living your faith? Our Gospel reading this morning is about John the Baptist relinquishing his authority to Jesus. Telling his disciples that Jesus is the one they should be following. Jesus tells the disciples to Come and See. Jesus offers a simple invitation – Come and See. There was no doctrine presented, no requirements set forth, just simply Come and See. So much of our faith journey is about showing up. Showing up to be present, showing up to be counted. We underestimate the power of presence, the power of just showing up. Jesus invites us to Come and See, just as Jesus invited Andrew and Simon Peter, but here is your warning - showing up means you might be changed. Jesus is about changing our lives, helping us to see in new ways the world all around us. Helping us to see where we are called to be God’s agents in the world, where we are called to transform the world in new and maybe unexpected ways.

Simon Peter and Andrew went and saw, but their lives were never the same. Simon was given a new name almost immediately. He was now to be called Peter. I wonder what he thought about that and it got me to thinking about how taking on a new role or a new name changes you in ways you might not expect. I changed my name when I got married over thirty years ago. That day and the subsequent years changed me in ways I could never have anticipated. I added to my name when I was ordained, I was now The Rev., even more powerfully than changing my name to Lombardo, the day I was ordained shifted something within me that I could never have predicted. You see I thought I had this God thing all figured out but God surprised me that day by touching me in a new way right to my very core. When we are called by our name we are changed in ways that we can never anticipate. When we are invited to Come and See we are moved in a way that defies logic.

Jesus invites you this morning to Come and See. Jesus empowers you to invite your friends to Come and See. Just as Martin Luther King invited many, Jesus calls us to invite others. Not to increase church attendance, but to change their lives, to change them and you in ways we could not imagine. Our faith is about transformation and that often comes about in a way and a time that we could not predict. Just as Simon did not expect to be called Peter, just as Jonathan did not expect to give his life to save another, God calls us to Come and See. Come and See where I need you to work, Come and See where I need you to be. Most of life is about showing up, most of life is about being present. Where is God calling you to Come and See, where is Jesus leading you to ask another to Come and See. Our faith is essential to this world, our presence is critical to its success, we can not afford to be complacent we must with our whole being Come and See and I know that our lives will be changed in ways we could never predict or expect. This is the witness of Dr. Martin Luther King and Jonathan Merrick Daniels. This is the witness of Simon now called Peter, this is who God created us to be, Come and See.


Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo 
Trinity Episcopal and Prince of Peace Lutheran Churches, Claremont, NH

LESSONS for Sunday, October 2nd, 2016 – 20th Sunday after Pentecost
Lamentations 1:1-6
Psalm 137
2 Timothy 1:1-14
Luke 17:5-10

Fear is a powerful emotion. Fear for our safety, fear of not having enough, and fear of not being enough; fear, we have so many fears. Our society announces our fears at every corner; fear of a terrorist attack, fear of the wrong candidate being elected president, whichever one that might be for you. We are fearful that we don’t have enough money, that we don’t have the right skills, that we don’t have enough faith. We are living in a culture and climate that magnifies our fears and our own sense of inadequacy. Did you know that our brains have a preference for negative thoughts and behaviors, that we remember negative things better than the positive? You can see how that may have been useful one thousand years ago, remembering where the dangers were, but now the whole world’s dangers are brought into our living rooms, every night and we are taught to fear those things that may never effect us. We are bombarded by these fearful images. This year seems worst to me than most. I think the presidential campaign has magnified these fears to make us vote for one candidate or another. It has also played on our fears of who may be elected and how they would lead the country to ruin. Both sides are fearful if the other candidate wins. I don’t ever remember feeling this way. I may have in the past liked one candidate over another and had a strong preference but I don’t ever remember feeling afraid of what might happen if the wrong candidate got elected. How did we get to such a state of fear?

I have read some articles that talk about how politics has been magnifying our fears so that we would vote for one side or another. Fear can be a strong motivator and that motivation turns into votes. The political parties have been using this so much that we don’t even know what is truth and what has been manufactured to make us fearful.
So how do we start to change the culture and climate that we live in? Jesus gives us the answer this morning. We need to be about planting mustard seeds of hope and love. We need to be about planting mustard seeds of tolerance and acceptance. We need to be about planting mustard seeds of safety and pride. We need to be about planting mustard seeds of positivity! We can start right here in church and we can branch that out to our communities. Let’s stop the negativity and embrace the positivity, the love, the joy, and the hope that Jesus offers us this morning.

We are all guilty of spreading the negativity and we need to stop, as a church, as a community, as a country, as a world. Jesus offers us this morning a parable of hope, a parable of love, a parable of light. You only need the tiniest of seed, the smallest amount to be who God calls us to be, to be the change agents in this community. Jesus’ disciples are afraid, afraid that they don’t have enough, that they aren’t enough to do the job set before them and Jesus tells them you have everything you need, just look inside. It’s all there, everything you need to do what God calls you to do. The tiniest of seeds is enough, we are enough to do and be what God calls us to. The disciples are fed by Jesus words and go on to bring God’s message of hope and love to all people. In fact we sit here today because the disciples believed that they were enough, that God would help and that Jesus taught them what they needed to know. They were only 12 and they started a worldwide movement. How much more we can do, there are so many more of us!

Trinity/Prince of Peace you are enough, we have everything we need to do the work God has called us to. It starts with us accepting the love that God has for each of us and then we take that love and give it away. Give it to the guy that cuts you off or cuts in line, give it to each other when someone hurts your feelings, give it to the people at work, those you love at home. That’s how we will move mountains, that’s how we will live into God’s call to us. Jesus tells us this morning we don’t have to see the whole picture or know with certainty that we can do it, we just have to hold onto the tiniest of seeds within ourselves and nurture that seed by using it over and over. Through love, joy and hope we will indeed move things in ways we never expected, big things and small things. God has given us everything we need. Amen


Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
Trinity Episcopal and Prince of Peace Lutheran Churches, Claremont, NH

LESSONS for September 25th, 2016 19th Sunday after Pentecost
Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16
1 Timothy 6:6-19
Luke 16:19-31

The Gospel reading this week is hard for us to grab a hold of. First of all none of us are wealthy enough to have poor people sitting at our gates, second the concept of heaven and hell are hard to grasp. I don’t think we often think in the imagery or way the Gospel offers this morning. Some of this imagery has to do with the assumptions and beliefs of Jesus’ time. To be rich was seen as being granted God’s favor, you were rich because God deemed it so. To be poor meant that you were paying for sins that either you or your family did. God decided who was rich and poor. We still think this way somewhat today. The prosperity gospel touted by some evangelicals states that if you believe enough, God will reward you. God will reward you with material wealth. This cause and effect relationship with wealth is still with us today.

Today’s gospel turns that upside down. God is not deciding who goes to heaven or hell because of their wealth but how they treat each other. Being rich is not a ticket to hell just as being poor is not a ticket to heaven. How we treat one another, how we see one another is key to how we embody our faith. Seeing is probably the harder concept to work on. Seeing each other as children of God is especially hard. Seeing everyone as equally valued, being compassionate to all, really seeing those who surround us, is a big challenge. Just like the rich man barely noticed Lazarus we often overlook the poor in our midst. We don’t have to look far to see the poor in our community. We don’t have to look far to see someone who needs compassion and tenderness. How do we treat everyone with love and compassion?

This is not as easy as we might think. The biggest barrier I find for treating people with love and compassion is our assumptions. We make assumptions about people all the time. Someone told me a story just this week of seeking medical help for her husband a large man with a couple of tattoos and the first thing out of the doctors mouth was we don’t give pain medications here. Compassion was sorely lacking in this approach, but that Doctor made some assumptions about the man’s appearance.

How do we check our assumptions? How do we recognize that we are making them and work on thinking in a different way? We have become so full of our own assumptions that we have lost the ability to communicate with each other in a respectful way. Look at our politics Republicans and Democrats can’t even talk to one another without resorting to name calling or disrespect. Black people can’t even have their car break down without coming under suspicion from the police. Or how about the 15-year-old black girl handcuffed and pepper sprayed for riding her bike into a car. In each of these cases there was a failure to communicate in a respectful and rational way because of assumptions.

This was the rich man’s problem he made assumptions about the poor, assumptions that he held so strongly that even in death he refused to talk directly to Lazarus. Lazarus was so different from him that even in the after-life he addresses Abraham another rich man instead of Lazarus.

We are losing our ability to have respectful and meaningful conversations to resolve differences and to see another point of view. We are becoming or maybe we are as polarized as the rich and poor were in Jesus day. Maybe we should substitute Republican and Democrat or Black and white for the rich and poor analogy, or maybe refugee and native or Muslim and Christian. We are all the children of God and I would say we are all doing our best to live into our faith in the best way we know how, but we need stories like this to show us how we are making assumptions about people, we need a faith community to help us see another point of view. We need to practice meaningful and respectful dialogue not just with those who share our point of view but also with those who don’t. I think that is what Jesus is saying to us today that we are more alike than different and we need to open our gates and our hearts to see each person as God’s beloved and maybe then we will be able to accept God’s love for ourselves. We are God’s beloved every single one of us, without exception. Thanks be to God. Amen.


Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo on July 3rd, 2016 , 7th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 9C – Trinity Episcopal & Prince of Peace Lutheran

2 Kings 5:1-14
Psalm 30
Galatians 6:(1-6)7-16
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Many of you will remember the song “Looking for Love in all the wrong places”, how often have we watched others and maybe even ourselves look for love in all the wrong places. How often have we distracted ourselves with possessions or bad habits not to face our deepest needs or desires. It’s very much like looking for love in all the wrong places. It’s how you could define addictions - a seeking for wholeness in all the wrong places. We are a culture and society that believes in looking for things in all the wrong places, including our quest for the Holy.

Finding God could be a title of a book, maybe it is. Much can be written on how to find God in our culture today. Some will say you only have to hike a mountain to find God, others say a walk in the woods, some might say a trip to the casino, others a walk on the beach and even some might say go to church.

Finding God is a 21st century quest for some, others would say that’s old school and find spiritual meaning in nature or the newest form of yoga. I want to say finding God is not the issue; it is recognizing God that we don’t understand. We have become so focused on the nature of spirituality as an individual pursuit that we have lost or misunderstood the need for community to find and recognize God. Community helps us to see God where we may not have seen God before. Community helps us to recognize the false idols of our lives and how to replace them with the one God found in our lives as Christians. Community is so important that even Jesus surrounded himself with one and even Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs. All of us need a community to help us see God in the most unlikely places.

In our readings today we have the story of Naaman a great leader and important person. Naaman has leprosy, but it is his wife’s servant girl that tells her how he can be healed. Naaman goes to his king with this plan – then to the king of Israel who thinks it is a plan to start a war. Finally Naaman is sent to Elisha, the prophet to receive his healing. Naaman arrives with his gold and silver and lots of gifts to meet with Elisha. Elisha doesn’t even grant him an audience instead he sends out his servant to tell Naaman what to do. Go wash in the Jordan seven times. Naaman is incensed and is planning to storm home, but his servant convinces him otherwise and Naaman is healed. Do you see that the powerful in this story are useless, but that the servants announce all the changes. The servants are the ones who make the healing happen. Not at all how Naaman expected it to occur, not how any who held power expected it to come about. The servants taught the powerful how to see God in some seemingly everyday events, like washing in a river. Without a community Naaman would not have been healed.

Community takes people. Community is people gathered and when gathered as a community new things are revealed in new ways. We to a large extent have lost the understanding of the importance of community. We don’t seem to value the importance of being part of a community not just for ourselves but for the health of the community as well as our own spiritual well being. Coming to church is one way of forming Christian community. It is a tested way and has served well through the generations yet many people today find it unimportant. Somehow gathering as Christians for worship has lost its soul; now not everywhere or in every place, but many churches are more empty than full. I think its because we have forgotten how to recognize God. We look for God in all sorts of places but we have forgotten how to recognize God in a community gathered in faith and worship. We need each other to take back our souls. We need to be that community in which people who enter recognize God in us and through us. That community of deep and mature faith willing to teach others how to find the peace that only God can give. Jesus sent out his disciples with very clear instructions if a community welcomes you stay if not wipe the dust off your feet and move on. How do we Trinity and Prince of Peace become that community in which others can find and recognize God? How do we become a place where all are welcomed and receive God’s love? I don’t have the answers but I know for sure that it is only through the work of this community that we will find God and learn how to recognize God more and more. Each of you are needed for this place to be a community of faith. Amen


Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo – June 26th, 2016 – 6th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 8C - Trinity Episcopal & Prince of Peace Lutheran 

2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
Galatians 5:1,13-25
Luke 9:51-62

As many of you know I am a scuba diver. When I go scuba diving one of my favorite things to look for is a Lettuce Leaf Sea Slug. The lettuce leaf sea slug is pretty small about one inch wide and 2-3 inches long. It hangs out on the reef and comes in a variety of colors. They look like a miniature lettuce gardens on the move. When I am focused on looking for sea slugs I often miss the other things that are going on around me. I’m so focused in looking for these tiny slugs that I miss the other sea creatures all around me. Its easy for us to do that, focus on one thing or get stuck in thinking a particular way that we lose sight of other things and ways of thinking going on around us. Sometimes being focused is really useful but we can be too focused on our way of seeing or doing. Life is about integrating many opinions and ideas and integrating them into our lives in new and interesting ways.

In today’s gospel reading Jesus has his sights set on Jerusalem and the events that will happen there. He is focused and determined, nothing will distract him and he is demanding the same of his disciples. Jesus is helping us to see what is most important; how following Jesus must be a priority in our life and it won’t always be easy; how sometimes the things we feel are important must be let go of and we will need to refocus on where God is calling us.

By virtue of our Baptism we are a follower of Jesus, but how we incorporate this into our lives varies. Some of the saints have devoted their whole lives toward living as a disciple of Jesus. Many have made great sacrifices to do this. Others of us have tried to do our best, living our lives and reminding each other of God’s love for us. Many of us have given up Sunday mornings to come to church, a sacrifice of sorts. Many of us contribute financially to the church and other charitable causes, another sacrifice. Others of us give generously of our time and talents. All are gifts that we give freely to support this community in this place. This community is essential for us to be disciples of Jesus. Every Christian needs a community to remind them to whom they belong and whom they serve. This is an important starting point. Now we take it to the next level.

Here is my counter cultural argument. It seems the more we sacrifice as a follower of Jesus the more we receive in return. The more we give of ourselves the more we are given. It takes some maturity to appreciate this. When I was young getting presents was much better than giving them, but as I got older and had children of my own giving gifts became better than getting them. My joy was greatest when giving joy to others. It seems our faith journey is a lot like that. We start out needing to receive and as we mature we have a stronger and stronger need to give. Our wants and desires though still important, become secondary to others needs. How strongly we accept this call is up to us. This is what Jesus is calling us to. To understand that to follow God takes a radical change in heart; to let go of our wants and desires and to live more and more into God’s love.

How we do this is up to us. Paul, in today’s reading from Galatians, talks about the fruit of the spirit being “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” This world can use some more of that and I believe it is up to us to do that. Our society has become more and more competitive, there is more and more pressure for results, for profits, for action. We all play a part in this cycle and we all have a responsibility to it. Jesus came to change the world and it is our job to bring about that change, to focus on where God is calling us to be agents of change.

In everything we do let us be loving, kind, generous, gentle and patient, let us live each day more fully into God’s calling to us, let us live each day knowing more and more God’s love for us. When we live by the spirit our lives will fill with God’s love and our reward will be much more than we can imagine. So practice patience, kindness and generosity and there is no telling how we might change the world. Amen


Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo - June 19th, 2016 - 5th Sunday after Pentecost; 
Proper 7C - Trinity Episcopal & Prince of Peace Lutheran

1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a
Psalm 42 and 43
Galatians 3:23-29
Luke 8:26-39

Finding Silence and Peace in a broken World

Our first reading this morning from 1 Kings is one of my favorite passages in all of scripture. Elijah hears the voice of God, not in the wind, fire or earthquake but in the sound of sheer silence. In the Hebrew Scriptures we hear about God’s bold acts, stories filled with action and purpose, but in this story Elijah finally hears God not in the wind, fire or earthquake but in the silence. I love this passage so much because in our high-tech, crazy world we rarely find time for silence and yet it is in the silence that God gives Elijah peace and purpose.

How do we hear God’s voice in the noises of our world? How do we find the time to listen to God’s still small voice of peace and love in this hate filled and scary world? Hate and fear are such powerful emotions that it is so easy for us to get stuck there, it is so easy to trigger our fear response and so hard to reverse it.

I have the sense that everything today is urgent. Emails need to be responded to right away, news is almost instantaneous, there is face-book, insta-gram, snap chat in which pictures and events can be broadcast almost immediately. Thoughts and pictures fly across the world in seconds. How does one find a moment of peace never mind the time for silence? How can we maintain an equilibrium in this frantic pace? I think the gospel story this morning gives us some clues.

The man possessed by demons in this morning’s reading from Luke lives a frantic existence, he is held captive by his demons and lives at the edges of society. He can’t find peace and he can’t find rest. Jesus releases him of his fears and demons, the demons head off into a herd of pigs and they run off the cliff and drown in the sea. Now the man possessed seeks to be a disciple. The people who knew this man are afraid. They are fearful because they don’t understand, they are fearful because their world has changed and they send Jesus away. The very person who could calm their fears they send away. Jesus offers us a place of peace and rest in this very stormy world. Jesus offers us a way of hope and love. Prayer is what we are called to, and through that we will gain new understanding and peace.

This past week we have been bombarded with the tragic killings in Orlando Florida, our hearts break for those families, our minds can’t absorb the breadth of the tragedy. Terrorism has found its way to Florida, and it puts everyone on edge.

Finding peace in this world is not easy but as Christians it is our calling. It is our calling to love all, heal the sick, comfort the grieving, strengthen the brokenhearted and pray. Find time each day to pray and then find time to listen. Listen to the still small voice and listen to where God is calling you. You won’t have an earthquake or fire but when you listen you will hear God’s still small voice calling you to wholeness and peace. This world desperately needs us to listen, this world needs us not to fear, this world needs us to offer a voice of peace and love. We have to stop isolating ourselves and open ourselves to a fuller understanding of what it means to love and to live in this world; how everyone, and I mean everyone is welcome in God’s arms.

There is a Children’s book called There’s a Nightmare in My Closet (N. Y.: E. P. Dutton, Inc., 1968), by Mercer Mayer; the child in the story is afraid to fall asleep at night because of the nightmares he might have. In the story, the child decides to face the nightmares, the fears and armed with his pop-gun stays awake. To the child’s surprise a monster comes out of the closet but is so terrified of the child that the monster begins to cry. The story ends with the monster and the child asleep together in the bed. This story is a good reminder that facing our fears may turn out differently than we expect.

So we mustn’t live in fear, but with love and hope. The world is changing maybe faster than we can keep up, but it is love that will save us, it is love and hope that will lead us. We must not be afraid because Jesus walks with us, the Jesus who calmed the storm and healed the man with many demons, walks with us to lead us and guide us each and every day. So, THANKS be to God. Amen


Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo - June 5th, 2016 - 3rd Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 5 – Trinity Episcopal & Prince of Peace Lutheran

1 Kings 17:8-16 (17-24)
Psalm 146
Galatians 1:11-24
Luke 7:11-17

Fear - a dictionary definition - an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Our culture abounds in images to be fearful of. Just watch any news station, the threats from all over the world enter into our living rooms. We have this belief that the world is a fearful place that at any time we or our loved ones can be under attack. This is not a rational belief. The world is in many ways much safer today than it was 50 years ago, but fear is not a rational emotion. It is a universal emotion, deep seated in our human psyche. At one time it was very useful; it warned us of real and present danger, but now it just seems to keep some of us in a perpetual state of anxiety. There are so many things for us to be afraid of and yet most of these things happen to a very small number of us. Terrorism is all over every news cycle and yet a very small percentage of the human population has been killed by terrorism. Many more people have died from Cancer and yet that does not elicit the same fear response that terrorism does. Or take super bugs, infections that are resistant to antibiotics, we hardly give them a thought but scientifically they maybe something we should be doing more to stop. They very well may have a bigger impact on our lives than terrorism.

Fear is a funny thing, because it is not often based in reality but more in perception and our perceptions can be manipulated, by what we see and hear. When we focus on fear it saps our energy for other more creative and life giving things. Right? You all know this, when you have been particularly worried about something it has taken over your life. The other odd thing about fear is it rarely saves us from pain or dangerous situations, unless of course you are a teenager. Otherwise most of us know what situations to avoid to keep our bodies safe. The riskiest thing I do from an outsider’s perspective is to go Scuba Diving. Everyone thinks that is dangerous or scary but in my experience downhill skiing is much more dangerous to my body than scuba diving, but most people don’t see it that way. Again fear or the perception of danger is different depending on your perspective.

I have been thinking a lot about fear this week. How our politicians have heightened our sense of fear by manipulating our beliefs and perceptions. I have thought about how I attended a Donald Trump rally right here in Claremont, without feeling afraid and how I would not do that today, given what has happened in California. Violence is never a good response. I also attended a Bernie Sanders rally in Claremont and a Hillary Clinton event in Concord. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves about our political candidates and not let fear dictate our decisions. When we feel afraid we give up our power and give others power over us. Operating out of fear is never a good way to live.

The Bible knows this, because over and over in our Biblical stories we are told not to be afraid, not to fear. In 1 Kings the widow is preparing to die and Elijah says: Do not be afraid, go and do as I said……. God will provide. Do not be afraid the jar of meal and oil will not run out; how can this be when there is a famine in the land? And yet it was so. In our gospel story this morning we are told “Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God”. The people were afraid because Jesus raised a child from the dead but their reaction was not to run away but instead they glorified God. That is a very different response to fear than we do today. Fear can be motivating but it can also incapacitate. Our problem today is that we are fearful when we are told to be, even when that has no basis in our experience. The chance of terrorism coming to Claremont, NH I would say is pretty small and yet we seem to have this collective fear of terrorism. The chance of a super-bug coming here is more likely and yet very few talk about that. Some responses to fear is to build walls or close boarders to keep us safe, but again how practical or rational is that. Do we want to live in a world where we are walled in or everyone around us thinks and believes just like us? Believe me I don’t have the answers; we live in a complicated world, but I don’t want to live my life mired in fear. God doesn’t want us to live our lives consumed by fears. We are told over and over again in our readings do not be afraid. How can we live our lives with less fear and more compassion and kindness? Jesus had compassion on the Mother and raised her only son. Let us try to treat each other with more compassion and kindness and not let our fears consume us. Amen


Sermon Preached by the Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
to the people of Trinity Episcopal and Prince of Peace Lutheran, Claremont, NH
Sunday, May 8th, 2016; the 7th Sunday of Easter

Acts 16:16-34
Psalm 97
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17,20-21
John 17:20-26
This Sunday between the ascension of Jesus and before the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost is about prayer. In this morning’s gospel from John, Jesus prays for us. Jesus prays for us, not just his disciples, but for us. Prayer is a powerful thing; most of us pray, many of us would not miss our evening or morning prayers, others pray throughout the day. Many of us were taught as a child a going to bed prayer, mine was: 
“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep 
and if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” 
Not really very cheery if you think about it! Some of us don’t think about praying until something terrible happens or is about to happen. We pray a prayer of intervention “Please God stop this from happening.” Some prayers come from deep within us and others are said almost automatically, but all of them shape us in ways we can’t even imagine.

I met a woman on Hospice who had lived in England during World War II and she told me about going into the bomb shelters each night and saying this prayer: “Lord keep us safe this night, Secure from all our fears, 
May angels guard us while we sleep, Till morning light appears.” 
She continued to say this prayer every night of her life. Talk about a prayer shaping your life. This prayer was the road map to her life. What is the prayer that has shaped your life? How has this prayer changed over the years? As Christians we have a prayer that Jesus gave us that we all hold in common, the Lord’s Prayer. And we don’t like it changed do we? We are convinced Jesus said it just the way we do, even if it was in Aramaic. There is a modernized version of the Lord’s Prayer, but I don’t think it is used much. We like our prayers to stay the same. 
The prayer that I say most often is the Doxology: 
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow, 
Praise God above ye heavenly hosts, 
Praise God all creatures here below, 
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” 
This is not a prayer of intervention or intersession but a prayer of praise. This prayer helps me to remember to whom I belong and helps to de-stress my life, remembering there are bigger things in life then my current concerns. I know this prayer/song well because I have sung it most Sundays in church - my whole life. Prayers shape us in ways we can’t even imagine. What is your prayer?

In our gospel reading this morning Jesus leaves us by praying for us. Jesus begins by hoping that we all may be one, and that we will understand that Jesus is in us. To be one, like God and Jesus are one, to understand that our relationship with God and Jesus is the most important. That the things we use to separate ourselves from each other and God are truly not important. Jesus wants us to show the world what is most important about our faith, how Jesus abides in us and we in Him. 

Next Jesus talks about Love. Jesus uses the word Love five times in these six verses. Love is what defines Jesus’ relationship with God and our relationship with Jesus and God. This is a self-giving love. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, it is love that will meet all our needs and conquer all our fears. There is a real freedom in this unconditional love, a freedom that reminds us that we don’t have to be held captive by the things of this world, that God’s love for us is much bigger than that. It is through this Love that we will find our way to God’s loving embrace. It is not an easy journey, this world has many things that want to hold us captive, so we need to be reminded again and again, God’s love is most important, God’s love is shown to us by Jesus, God’s love is known to us in the coming of the Holy Spirit. God’s love is there for us, when we can let go of the things that hold us so tightly, when we can let go of our fears and let Gods light shine in our darkest places. This is Jesus’ prayer for us.

What are the things that hold you captive? What are the things you are most afraid of? God’s love can help us let go of our fears, to trust that God is there for us. Maybe our prayer can be,
“Lord keep us safe this day, Secure from all our fears, 
May angels guard us while we live, until your great light appears.” 
Prayer is a powerful thing and may we continue to be shaped by Jesus’ prayer for us and our prayers for each other. Amen


Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
2nd Sunday of Easter - April 3rd, 2016 – Trinity/Prince of Peace – Claremont, NH

Acts 5:27-32
Psalm 150
Revelation 1:4-8
John 20:19-31

What is truth? Do any of us know the whole truth? We only know our truth, our particular perspective, and our particular way of looking at things. None of us has an understanding of the whole truth. Do you realize that we could each watch the exact same event and each of us would describe it differently? Each of us would see and remember different parts, different things. Together we might be able to put together an accurate account but we would still look at things through our own perspective. Today in the age of recording everything, we think we have a better understanding of truth but even then we see things through our particular lenses, or in our particular way. Experiences are much more nuanced than a short recording can explain. Oh, we think we are seeing the whole picture, which makes it very difficult to understand when someone else sees it differently.

This happens all the time in our lives; we think we have all the information and we make a decision about what happened, that may or may not be based in reality. It may be our reality but not everyone else’s. It is often very hard to sort this out, because we are convinced that we have all the information. We can only see it our way. One of my jobs as an interim is to help you see things differently. To see things in a new way, this can be a very challenging task. Sometimes churches do things because it has always been done that way, maybe for so long that it is hard to remember how or why it started. God is not about doing things the way they have always been done. God is about us finding new life and new understandings as we continue to work to see Jesus in our lives. It is hard work finding Jesus, because our lives are so full of many other things. If you have ever seen the children’s books – Where’s Waldo – you may have a good idea of how hard it is to find Jesus in our day to day existence. Just like in finding Waldo, the more you look for Jesus the easier it will be to find Him.

In today’s Gospel reading Thomas is looking for Jesus. Thomas will not believe the disciples that they have seen Jesus, Thomas does not believe they got it right. Thomas must see Jesus himself, no one else’s account is going to be sufficient for Thomas. Given what we know about truth, I can’t blame Thomas for thinking the other disciples got it all wrong. After all Jesus is dead how could they have seen Him? And if you remember the story, the disciples did not believe Mary when she told them she had seen the Lord. Truth; it is so hard to find the truth. Jesus risen from the dead – this can’t be right or can it? I wonder what we would think in this day and age, if someone recorded Jesus being alive. Would we think it was photo-shopped, would we trust the one telling, or would we need, like Thomas, to see it for ourselves.

Finding the truth is about faith, and faith is about trust. Trust in your own experience of Jesus; trust in other’s experiences of Jesus. Sometimes where we have thought God was at work was an illusion of our own perception, and other times when we thought God was absent we were mistaken. Churches, faith communities are about finding God and telling others where to go and see. Faith communities are always pointing the way to show others where God is. Sometimes we do that well and sometimes we do it poorly, but I think our test for every endeavor should be how is this pointing to God, how will doing this show others where Jesus is. It won’t be easy because we are so easily swayed by our own agendas, but finding and sharing God is what we are called to do. We are called to help show God to the world and everything we do should be a reflection of that. We are all like Thomas wanting to see things for ourselves, but together we will see more clearly, together we will understand more fully, where God is in our lives and the life of this community. Let us open our minds and hearts to see God in new and life-giving ways. Amen


Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
Easter Day – March 27th, 2016 - Trinity/ Prince of Peace – Claremont, NH

Acts 10:34-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
1 Corinthians 15:19-26
John 20:1-18

Here we are Easter Day! Today we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. Jesus who died on the cross on Friday is alive again today – somehow God has turned a very bad event into a new and life giving one. Today is a new beginning for all of us. Today we celebrate the Baptism of Katelyn and Carter; it is also a chance for us to renew our own Baptismal Promises. What does it mean when we say we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior? How does it change our life? Being Easter, there are some here who don’t make it to church very often and then there are others who are here each week. The question I want to ask those who are here every Sunday is, why do you come?

I mean really, why is it that you set aside time each and every Sunday morning to come to church? For me, before I was ordained, it was my time each week to find my center, to be in community with others seeking the same. Sometimes I went to church because others needed me to be there. Sometimes I had a bad week and I needed to regroup. Sometimes I just went because it was a habit and those weeks were usually the weeks something special happened. It was always surprising to me that the weeks I least wanted to be in church were the weeks that meant the most to me spiritually. God has a way of surprising us in ways we never suspect.

I am asking those of you who come here each week to figure out why you come and to share it with those you love. Everyone’s answer may be a bit different, for some it may be a sense of peace in a pretty chaotic world, some may find comfort amidst the terrors of this world, some may come because they believe it is what you do to be a good person, some may come to see friends, be part of a community, some may believe in the work of the church and come to support that or participate in it, some come for the music, the sermon or communion. All of these reasons are great reasons to come to church, but until we fully understand that we are God’s hands in this world and that through this community, we try to figure out how to do that, we are missing a big piece of what it means to be a Christian. God calls us, each of us to be a part of bringing about the kingdom of God. We do this by our walk in the world, we do this by knowing God’s love for us and sharing that love in every way we can imagine.

In this mornings readings Jesus calls Mary by name and in calling her name, Mary recognizes Jesus. This morning we call Katelyn and Carter by name, and baptize them into our Christian Community, but this is only the first step. Unless we walk with them and teach them they will not understand who Jesus is. Unless we are willing to share our stories and what Jesus has meant to us they will not understand why they should, in a few years, put aside the Sunday paper and show up here in church. It is time for we who show up here each week, to share our story. To give the world a different narrative, than the one of hatred and bigotry, the narrative that only money matters, the narrative of materialism and entitlement. We have something to offer the world, we have something to offer this community and it is Jesus. Jesus offers us a new way to be, a new way to love, a new way to live in community. As we reaffirm our baptismal promises listen to what we are promising, really hear what we are saying and think about where God is calling you by name. It is a powerful thing to be called and each of us has an opportunity to answer, what will your answer be? There is much work to be done and through the sharing of our stories, the sharing of Jesus’ story we will step by step make the world a very different place. That indeed would be an Easter Miracle! Amen


Sermon preached by the The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
Good Friday – March 25th, 2016

Isaiah 52:13--53:12
Psalm 22:1-11
Hebrews 10:16-25
John 18:1-19:42

I have always hated waiting. Maybe we all do. We often go through extraordinary means to avoid waiting. Today we have no choice. Jesus is dead and to his disciples this is it, this is the end. How many times have we thought that in our own lives. How many times have we lost our hope, lost our way, lost our faith. We may think we will never smile again, never laugh, never be happy. It is our Good Friday moment. What we have a hard time remembering in that moment is that in a few days time everything will be different. Everything will be new… but that is not today. Today we are waiting. Waiting is hard. I think of the loved ones of the Brussels’ bombing victims of how they waited for a word from their loved ones. I think of those waiting for test results from a serious illness. I think of those waiting to die, wondering how their family will survive. I think of our life transitions and how scary they can be not sure how they will turn out. I think of the world waiting to see how far this terrorism will go, when will it end, when will we learn to honor each other. 

Today we remember how people in power killed an innocent man and I remember all the other innocents who have died at the hands of those we have given power to. Today I wonder how things would have been different if we didn’t crucify Jesus, if we chose instead to follow Him and be a new people. I wonder how many more will die before we can see the errors of our ways. Today is about waiting and despair, today is about recognizing who we are crucifying in our own time in our own way.

Today is also about love. The love of John for Mary the mother of Jesus. Jesus’ love for us, that he would be crucified to help us see God’s glory. Today is about love, how the disciples gathered to share their grief, how we gather to share ours. We know today is not the end, but still we must wait, because we so often forget that love, that God always has the last word. So no matter what our burdens God invites us to leave them here today, at the foot of the cross, at the foot of that symbol of torture and death. Leave your burdens here because God knows what it is like to wait and love. Amen


Sermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Janet V. Lombardo –
Maundy Thursday – March 24, 2016

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14
Psalm 116:1, 10-17
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35

We will fail, I will fail, and you will fail. These are not words that are spoken in our culture. We are all about success! There is no room for failure. Oh, people talk about their failures but only in light of their successes. Rarely does someone talk about his or her inability to be successful. 12 step programs may be the exception where one must acknowledge their powerlessness to their addiction. So why when we know failure is inevitable do we try to deny that it could happen to us? Why don’t we acknowledge and talk about our failures more?

In today’s Gospel reading Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, all of his disciples, including Judas who will betray him and Peter who will deny him. You could see the betrayal as a failure on Jesus’ part; you could even see Jesus’ crucifixion in that way. It seems to me that the standards of failure are different in God’s terms. Jesus does not blame Judas or Peter for their failures; he acknowledges them in a way that makes it seems that it’s inevitable. Failure is sometimes just the way it has to be. It’s not about God’s punishment, it’s not about us being good or bad, it just happens.

When stuff happens I often want to blame something for it. I want to find a reason for it so that it doesn’t happen again, or maybe because it’s suppose to mean something or be a part of God’s plan but it just happens, stuff happens, life happens. In the grand scheme of things many things are no big deal, but denying Jesus, that sounds like a much bigger deal, right? You and I, we deny Jesus each and every day. Sometimes we don’t even know we have done it. Jesus forgives Peter even before he does it. Peter forgives himself and goes on to start the church. We deny Jesus each time we focus on our failures and beat ourselves up about them. We deny Jesus when we don’t invite Him to part of our lives each and every day.

Today is Maundy Thursday and Jesus gives us a commandment to love one another, but we can’t do that if we don’t first love ourselves and we can’t do that if we don’t know that God loves us. Sometimes letting ourselves be loved is the hardest part, letting our feet be washed, letting God’s care and love wash over us. So let your feet be washed today, let your heart be cleansed, let God’s hands wash your feet in a new way so that you too, will know the love of Jesus for his disciples, know the love of God for you. So whether you take off your shoes, or just let yourself be embraced, may you know this day that you will fail, we all do, but that Jesus will be there to hold you and love you. That failure is so different in the arms of a loving God. Amen


Ash Wednesday Homily – Given by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
Trinity Church/Prince o
f Peace, Claremont, NH

Masks…we all spend our liveswearing many different masks. The mask of self-confidence, mask of beauty, mask of competence – when deep inside we may not feel so self-assured. We wear a mask because we often feel we are not good enough, not worthy enough. Today is the start of Lent and all God asks of us is to be ourselves, to be the person who God created us to be, to live into the fullness that God has created for us.

We often feel in this day and age that to do that we must work really hard. We work really hard but I think to focus on work may miss a key part of who God calls us to be. God calls us to play. To revel in God’s creation, to joyfully live into the world that God has created. We are really good at working but we have a much harder time playing. So my challenge to you this Lent is to spend 10 minutes each day in play. Do something that brings you joy, do something creative, do something that allows you to have fun. To play allows us to move deeper into our relationship with God, to move deeper into our true self. This may be one of the harder Lenten disciplines but I am hoping it will move you in ways you never expected. That is my Lenten challenge to you to spend 10 minutes a day in play.

I would like to close with a quote from Joan Chittister that helps me to see Lent in a new way:
“Lent is a call to weep for what we could have been and are not. Lent is the grace to grieve for what we should have done and did not. Lent is the opportunity to change what we ought to change but have not. Lent is not about penance. Lent is about becoming, doing and changing whatever it is that is blocking the fullness of life in us right now. Lent is a summons to live life anew.” ~ Joan Chittister

May you have a holy and grace filled Lent. Amen


Sermon Preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
to the people of Trinity Episcopal and Prince of Peace Lutheran, Claremont, NH
Sunday, February 7th, 2016 ; the Last Sunday after Epiphany

First Lesson: Exodus 34:29-35
Psalm 99
Second Lesson: 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Gospel: Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a]

On this last Sunday of the Epiphany we have the reading of Jesus’ transfiguration. Most of us have heard the story before; it is an important story. Jesus and a couple of his disciples journey up a high mountain; on top of this mountain Jesus’ appearance changes, as if he was lit from within. Then Moses and Elijah begin talking with Him and before the disciples knew what was happening a cloud comes over them and the voice of God is heard, “This is my son… listen to him.” It is no wonder the disciples fell to the ground overcome with fear. This pivotal moment occurs right before Jesus’ march to Jerusalem and the cross. Jesus’ true nature is revealed for all to see for those few moments. The light of God within Him shines out in such radiance that it is hard to imagine. This was to give the disciples hope and courage in the days ahead, this was to help them understand exactly what has been going on. I think we lose the importance of this moment because we look back at these events knowing the outcome. Knowing that Jesus is the savior and the messiah, and that he will be crucified, and resurrected. The disciples did not understand this yet.

How is the transfiguration to affect us today? How are we to make sense of a seemingly impossible event? How does this event give us hope in our times of despair, in our times of great need? The disciples were about to embark on a very difficult road with Jesus, it would not be a road they expected, and just like us bad things often come as a shock. They could not have possibly guessed that their Jesus would be tortured and crucified. But they will have this mountain top moment, this time of revelation, this time of transformation to hold on to, when all else seems to go wrong. This is God’s promise to us, that no matter what happens God will be present with us. No matter what life brings our way our God, our incarnate God is there with us. Now our temptation is like Peter’s to build a booth for our God to keep everyone safe, but this too, is not to be. We cannot keep the people we love safe, we cannot lock them in a tower, we cannot build a monument to hold on to them. Jesus could not be kept safe anymore than we can hold on to the people we love.

Yet the promise is that no matter how dark the moment, how deep the despair, God is with us. God transfigured on the mountaintop is present to us even when it seems impossible, even when we are not expecting it, even when we don’t want it. God’s promise is to be there for us. This is the reason for the transfiguration, so that we will know as the disciples knew, that all things are possible with God. The transfiguration offers us a glimpse of the Kingdom of God, a glimpse of how things could be, if we could open our eyes to the glory of God around us.

Immanuel, God with us, the transfiguration is here to remind us of that fact, to remind us as we walk into Lent and Holy week, that we need not be afraid, for God is with us; to remind us that whatever we face in life, that God is with us, in our joys and most especially in our sorrows. Thank God for these mountain top experiences, and although we can’t stay in them, they give us much comfort and support for the journey, they give us light in the darkness and hope in a sometimes pretty hopeless world. This is why the church puts this reading right before the season of Lent, this is why this reading closes out the season of Epiphany, a season of Jesus incarnate, a season of hope and promise of what is yet to come. So with renewed strength let us forge ahead, knowing that no matter what happens God is with us, always and forever. Amen


The Sermon preached to the people of Trinity Episcopal and Prince of Peace Lutheran, Claremont, NH
on January 31, 2016, the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany by

The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo

Truth. What is truth? Why is the truth always so hard to hear? In today’s reading from Jeremiah, Jeremiah says “I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy." God says "Do not say, 'I am only a boy'; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you; Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord." Truth - Jeremiah is told to speak the truth and not to be afraid. “Boy” in this passage could also be translated as servant, “I am only a servant”. Jeremiah is already a servant and can’t imagine doing anything more. Do you know how that feels? How can I possibly do any more God? You can’t ask anything more of me? Then the Lord touches Jeremiah and emboldens him to speak the truth, to speak God’s truth to all that can hear. God emboldens us to do the same. Speaking the truth is a hard thing to do. 

Fast forward to Jesus’ time. Jesus speaks the truth to the people of Nazareth. At first they like it, they are amazed, but then he says some things they don’t want to hear and they try to kill him. Speaking the truth almost gets Jesus killed and in three years time Jesus will indeed die for speaking the truth. What is our truth? What is it that God is calling us to speak?

Fast forward again to Corinthians and this famous passage about love that we read at many weddings. Paul writes this piece because the Corinthians were arguing about who had the best spiritual gifts. Can you imagine people arguing about who was better than the other? Of course you can, we do it all the time especially in this primary season. Paul speaks the truth to them in saying your gifts mean nothing without love and compassion for one another. In other words, you can be the best at something but without love it is meaningless. Love is the foundation of all of our gifts, love is what makes it all work.

Speaking the truth is a dangerous business but when the truth is spoken in love it can be a transformational experience. Sometimes we have a hard time with the truth like the people of Nazareth, they did not want to hear that Jesus was sent to all people; they thought God should send the Messiah for them. Not those heathens over there but for the good and faithful of Israel. They couldn’t see the bigger picture, they were only concerned about their own self-interests. It’s normal for us to worry about ourselves first but we can only be transformed when we set aside our own interests and broaden our view. This is very hard to do when we believe that what we feel is the truth, the whole truth. Just because we see things a certain way doesn’t make it the truth. It may be our truth but often not the truth of others. We get so stuck in our way of thinking that it becomes inconceivable for us to believe there might be another way to think, another side to the story.

So how do we seek the truth - we seek it through community. We seek it by testing what we believe with others, by listening to another viewpoint with respect and love. We have a bad habit in this culture of ours to make sweeping generalizations, just look at the political sound bites, but life is more nuanced than that. Life is more complicated than that. There are no simple fixes just a continual movement to seek the truth, to seek God’s calling to us.

This has been an amazing year at Trinity and Prince of Peace; I don’t think there is one person here who could have predicted last January that this is where we would be today. So where do we go from here? I don’t know… but I do know that if we continue to listen to God’s calling to us, if we continue to speak the truth in love, if we continue to listen to each other with love and respect, we will have another amazing year. There is power in community, there is power in the truth and there is amazing power in love. May we continue our journey together, seeking the truth, seeking God’s call and speaking in love, both here in this community and in all that we do. Amen


Sermon preached on Sunday, January 24, 2016 – 3rd Sunday after Epiphany –
to the people of Trinity Episcopal/ Prince of Peace Lutheran, Claremont, NH
By The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo

First Lesson: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
Psalm 19
Epistle/Second Lesson: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
Holy Gospel: Luke 4:14-21

Today is your lucky day. No you did not win the lottery, no I am not giving anything away, but today is your lucky day. Today Jesus says:
“He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

That means you. Jesus says to you today that he releases you from all that holds you captive, today Jesus will help you to see all that you refuse to face, today Jesus tells you that you are free of everything that oppresses you and on top of that it is a year of the Lord’s favor, a year when all that keeps you from loving yourself, loving each other is redeemed. Today is your lucky day.

How do we let go of the things that hold us captive? What are the things that are keeping you from living your best life? What is it that stops you from living more and more into God’s love? Jesus says to you today that he is releasing you from those doubts that say you are not good enough, not smart enough, not whatever enough, Jesus is releasing you today. Releasing you from what has happened in the past, what has shaped you in the wrong ways, Jesus is releasing you. Today is a new day.

We are so blind, blind to how we act, blind to the needs of others, blind to all that God offers us in Jesus. Today you receive your sight. Today Jesus will help you see your life with new clarity, will help you see how you can reorient your priorities, how you can live into God’s love for you. What are the things that are pulling you away from God, what are the things that prevent you from seeing the truth. Today you receive your sight.

Today all who are oppressed are free. God offers us freedom from all that oppresses us, all that makes us feel less than, less than who we are created to be. Oppression takes many forms, sometimes it is a subtle putting down of someone, sometimes it is a feeling of victimization, we are not victims… we are children of God. Jesus offers us today freedom from our oppression, Jesus asks us to help others to be free from their oppression.

Finally Jesus proclaims the year of the Lord’s favor, a time of forgiveness and reorientation. A time when debts were forgiven and slaves were set free. A year in which the poor received preferential treatment, and the rich redistributed their wealth.

Why is it so hard for us to accept this? We have such a hard time trusting this. Trusting that God offers us a better way to be, a better way to see. We don’t like it… we like being stuck in our old ways of doing things, our old ways of thinking. We don’t like to be uncomfortable; when something makes us uncomfortable we want to go back to the way things were. We don’t like change and we want to keep things the same. This is not the way of the spirit. The spirit moves us to see things in new ways, to be a bit uncomfortable until we live into a new way to see. It’s not easy living into the freedom that Jesus offers us this morning. How will we live without our old rules, without our blinders on, without our hierarchy of how things should be.

Today is your lucky day, but only if you choose to live into Jesus statement to us. Only if we let go of how things always have been and see things in new ways. The people of Jesus’ time could not do it, they crucified Him… I’m not sure we are doing a whole lot better. Just look at our politics, the name-calling, the mean spiritedness, the pointing of fingers, the blaming of someone else. Where do we have an opportunity to show love and compassion to each other, to our families, to ourselves?

When I worked for Hospice I used to talk to dying people about what makes their heart sing. What makes your heart sing? Its time we start doing more of that and less of the things that drag us down, hold us back. Find your priorities, find the things that make you feel most alive and you will find the work of the spirit. Jesus offers us a new way, promises us a new way. We are all part of it, we are all important. Today is the year of the Lord’s favor. Will you accept all that God offers to you? Amen

Sermon Preached Sunday, January 17th, 2016 – Epiphany 2C to the People of Trinity Episcopal Church and Prince of Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Claremont, NH
By The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo

Welcome to Trinity Episcopal Church and Prince of Peace Lutheran Church; we are a community of abundance. A year ago we could never have imagined that we all would be sitting here today celebrating a community that has come together beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings. We are a community that should understand God’s abundance. 

Our world and our culture do not understand abundance. In fact our world and culture operate out of a feeling of scarcity; “There isn’t enough for everyone so quick get your share.” A by-product of this culture is an increase in hoarders and survivalists – who focus on creating a stock-pile of goods just in case. As a culture, we operate out of the premise that we never have enough, that’s why we are always buying more stuff. I mean, think about it, will we ever have enough stuff? Why just look at the recent lottery craze, people standing on line for hours to have a chance to have more money than anyone else. We live in a culture of fear and scarcity. How hard then is it to understand the gospel story this morning that talks about God’s abundance. 

Jesus turns a whole lot of water into very fine wine. I mean gallons and gallons of water into wine. What would possess him to make so much wine? Maybe it has something to do with God’s abundance. Jesus wanted us to know that God is a God of abundance and we, you and I, are invited to be part of that abundance. To celebrate God’s love for us, and God’s hope for us of changing our world from an economy of scarcity to one of abundance. 

To do this we need to start with ourselves. Each of us has to look inside to see where Jesus is transforming us. The Jesus who turned water into wine is looking to change us too. The culture of abundance starts with us. Where are you hoping Jesus will help you make a change? Maybe you are struggling with an addiction, maybe you don’t like who you’ve become, maybe you want to live a simpler life focused on what’s most important and not be swayed by every passing trend. Whatever the change you want/need to make, Jesus is here for you. Jesus is here to help you change your water into wine. Not throwing out the old but transforming it into something new, something that will show the world the abundance of God. Each Sunday we gather to share the bread and the wine transformed into God’s body and blood, transformed to transform us. A new creation given to us, so that we too, may be made new.

We have a God of abundance and we need to work at living into that abundance each and every day. Each of us has something to contribute, something to make new. Each of us has a gift, as our reading from Corinthians tells us this morning, each of us has a gift to contribute, we don’t have the same gifts. What is God calling you to share, where does God need your particular gift? Sometimes it is hard to share our gifts, we may need encouragement; just like Jesus needed a little encouragement from his Mother, we all need encouragement to share the gifts God has given us. 

The world is hungry for a new way to be. A new way to live into the fullness God offers for us. That’s what Martin Luther King whom we honor tomorrow saw, he saw a new way for us to be - loving each other regardless of the color of our skin. Having everyone standing tall as equals before God. Jesus calls you by name, and Jesus calls you to transformation. Jesus, who turned the water into wine will help you live your life with new purpose and new focus, living into God’s abundance. Thanks be to God that we have an opportunity to show the world a new way to be - not stuck in the model of fear and scarcity but living our lives with God’s promise of abundance. It’s all here… we just have to live into it. Amen


Sermon Preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
On January 3, 2016 to the people of Trinity/Prince of Peace, Claremont, NH

Change – most of us dislike changes, disruptions in our routines, new ways to think about things, new way to do things. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say we dislike changes that are forced upon us, things that are out of our control. After all, this is the start of a new year and many of you have made New Year resolutions, things that we may want to change in our lives, things we wish we did differently. Those kind of changes, although challenging, are ones we initiate, and we can be excited about those. Other changes may not be so nice; we may lose a job, we may get divorced, we may lose someone we love- all of these changes are much harder, even when they are for the best, it is still a challenge to cope in the moment. How do you cope with change? Sometimes we just want to bury our heads and pretend it is not happening. We just keep moving on as if nothing is different. Other times we embrace the change, experiencing it fully and cope with it, struggle with it and come out on the other side with a different perspective, letting it change us. I think both of these strategies have a place in our lives; when we can embrace the change, we allow it to change us in fundamental ways, we are changed in ways we could not have predicted often with wonderful life-giving results. When we ignore the change we miss an opportunity to live our lives fully, we miss an opportunity to learn and grow.

In this morning’s Gospel story the three wise men are changed forever. They are changed because they took a big risk and followed a star. Imagine leaving everything that was familiar and setting out on a journey not knowing where it will end. I can’t imagine any of us doing that, but maybe we can do it in small ways, looking for where God calls us to set aside what we are doing for the moment and pay attention to something new at hand. Something that will make us see the world differently, something that will change us. To follow the small stars that come across our path, not the big once-in-a-millennium, but the small ways God calls us to change. 

What would your life look like if you were a little better at embracing those small stars that come our way? If you let God make the course adjustments that you need, shifting your energy to where God calls you. Making the small changes that God calls you to. How can we as a church community embrace changes in our church life? Can we let new ideas and new ways of being seep into our community life so that we may be transformed into a richer and stronger community? Can we let God walk with us through these changes, being guided by the Spirit? Can we do it together? Can we trust each other, can we trust God? These are the questions we will wrestle with as we journey into the New Year. This can be an exciting time; it can also be a bit scary. We need to trust like the three kings, that God is with us. We need to trust that the Spirit is alive and well in our midst and will guide us through it. So like the three kings we can follow our stars, both big and small trusting God to lead us to a new way of being, a new way to share God’s love.

We can trust in a God who loves us more than we can imagine to walk with us, to guide us, to lead us. We can trust in Jesus who continually calls us to live our lives more fully, to embrace his teachings so that we can see with new eyes, see in new ways so that each of us may be transformed. It is an exciting time, but it is not easy - but with God’s help we will see God’s light shining forth. With God’s help we will embrace the changes and become stronger for it. Amen


Sermon Preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
Christmas Eve – 2015 – Trinity Episcopal/ Prince of Peace Lutheran

Here we are, the most magical of nights. The music, the setting, all brings us this sense of nostalgia, a sense of peace and joy. Why are we here? What brought you here this night? Whatever the reason that you are here, you need to know that God called you here. The God wrapped up in bands of cloth; the God lying in a manger. But make no mistake, the Baby Jesus did not call you here, but the crucified and risen Jesus did. There is no birth story without the crucifixion and resurrection. God came into the world to show us another way to be. A way to love each other deeply, not just giving lip service but a way to be present to each other in a powerful way. Jesus seems so innocent on this night, but Jesus is on a mission. A mission to speak for the poor, the outcast, the vulnerable, Jesus is on a mission to let us know how much God loves us. Jesus called you here tonight to tell you how much he loves you, yes you with all your broken pieces, with all your shining parts, Jesus called you here to let you know how important you are.

So wherever you are on your faith journey Jesus offers you a fresh start tonight. Will you accept the challenge? Will you accept the love that God is offering you tonight? In our culture we don’t talk much about how Christmas is tied to the Christian tradition, how we have Christmas to honor the birth of a child 2,000 plus years ago. Sometimes it seems that Jesus gets lost in the cultural machine that talks about how many presents got bought and when. Christmas has become so much a part of our cultural psyche that even those who are not Christian buy into the cultural part of Christmas, but to do so misses the greatest gift of Christmas – Jesus. Jesus enters this night as a babe lying in a manger, but Jesus offers us a way to be, a way to love, a way to be free. The magic of tonight has to do with a God who loves us so much that he came to be with us – to be incarnate – God with us, and Jesus is with us still. Tonight is the start of something new. Something new in your life, something new in the life of this community, something new on a cosmic level, Jesus offers us a fresh start. 

Tonight we light candles, sing the timeless songs, but it is Jesus who called you here; what is it that Jesus is calling you to do? Are you called to restart your faith journey, are you called to reach out to the poor, are you here to change your life, start something new. All that you need is here, all that really matters, is here. You see, this community needs to hear of the love offered here, the love offered this night. There is so much to do, so much hatred to fix, so many disagreements, so much fear, so much uncertainty. God needs your help to spread the word, God needs your help to show the world the light of Jesus. Are you up for it? Are you ready for it? I can promise you, Jesus will change your life if you will open your heart, just a crack, Jesus will make you new, Jesus will heal the broken pieces and offer you a new way to be. Thanks be to God for the babe lying in a manger may we always remember the greatest gift that we have been given. Amen


The Sermon Preached by The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo on the
Third Sunday of Advent, December 13, 2015
Trinity Episcopal/Prince of Peace Lutheran – Claremont, NH

I love the opening collects of Advent. “Stir up your power, O Lord and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins… “ Do we really mean any of that? Do we really want God to stir up the power, do we really want God to come among us with great might? And do we really believe we are so hindered by our sins or do we think we have everything under control? This is such a hard season to remember what we are about. This is such a hard time of year to remember that its not about the Christmas tree, decorations or presents but about opening our hearts so that God may begin a new work in us. So that God can help us see where we are hindered by our sins, so that we can live the life God intends for us. “Stir up your power O Lord and with great might come among us.”

This morning we heard from John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a stir up kind of guy. John the Baptist got you thinking. He made you pay attention, made you look at your life in new and exciting ways. John the Baptist was a remarkable person in that he was always focused on God and the coming of Jesus. John never lost his focus, never got swayed by popular opinion or the latest fads. John knew who he was and what he was sent to do. John’s humility and clarity of purpose are totally amazing. John also saw with clarity our need for repentance. John knew we were heavily burdened with our sins and offers us a new way to be. John teaches us how we might share giving out of the abundance God has given to us. John offers to those who were corrupt a new way to do business, treating each other fairly and without greed. John’s lessons are as relevant for us today as they were then.

Why do we have this season of Advent and why are we reading about John the Baptist. Advent is about waiting, waiting for Jesus to come. We read about John because John was the herald of Jesus’ coming. But John did not get caught up in his own importance, no John stayed true to his mission. How about us? Do we stay true to our mission or do we get caught up in the craziness of the season? Do we with clarity of purpose await the coming of Jesus or are we too busy lining up the presents that we just about miss Advent entirely. For me it depends on the day. Some days I can take my cues from the season, slowing down, breathing in, waiting for God’s peace to envelope me. Other days seem to fly by at a frantic pace, filled with lists and more lists. It is no coincidence that Christmas falls in the quietest time of year, at least here in the Northeast. The earth is sleeping, resting, waiting. There is less and less daylight, darkness comes sooner and lasts longer. Our bodies crave rest, our souls crave peace. John the Baptist is here to remind us of that. John the Baptist is here to remind us of the one who created us, the one who loves us enough to send us His son.

When we remember this we are ready to have God come, we are ready for God to stir up God’s power and come among us. Ready to embrace Jesus come anew to save us, to remind us how we are to live how we are to be. John the Baptist is an essential reminder to us that it’s not all about me, we live to proclaim the coming of Jesus. John reminds us to remember who we are, we are children of God. John reminds us what is important that Christmas is about the coming of Christ, not the collecting of gifts or the stuffing of treats. John reminds us from whence we come and to whom we belong. “Stir up your power, O Lord and with great might come among us; and , because we are sorely hindered by our sins… “ Have a peace filled and Holy Advent, so that you will be ready for God’s power to come anew on Christmas morning. Amen


Sermon for the 25th Sunday after Pentecost
Lectionary 33B Proper 28B
Texts: 1 Samuel 1:4-20; 1 Samuel 2:1-10; Hebrews 10:11-25; Mark 13:1-8
November 15, 2015
Preached to Trinity Episcopal/Prince of Peace Lutheran Churches—Claremont NH

Who does not like the story of Hannah? She is such a strong character who engages our sympathies and our hopes.

Earlier this week, as I began preparing for this sermon, I was really looking forward to preaching about Hannah. On Friday, as I delved into the commentaries on 1 Samuel, a sermon began to take shape in my head. Alas, that is a sermon, which will have to wait for another time, another place, another year.

On Friday evening, six sites in Paris were brutally attacked by machine gun toting terrorists, with explosive devices mounted on their belts. On Friday evening, our world was again sent into upheaval, as innocent people in the City of Light, enjoying life on a Friday evening were violently murdered. At six coordinated sites, which reflected the multi-cultural nature of Paris, including a Cambodian restaurant, an international soccer match, and a concert featuring a US band, at least 129 people were killed and hundreds taken hostage and wounded.

In light of these events, by Saturday morning, I realized that I was called, or, rather I should say, compelled to preach from Mark’s Gospel with its descriptions of wars, earthquakes and nations rising against nations. In this passage from the Gospel of Mark, in the context of one of Jesus’ disciples, gawking at the magnificence of the Jerusalem temple, Jesus predicts the destruction of this grand temple, an event which actually occurred during the Roman—Jewish war in 70 AD. Jesus then begins a long discussion with his four closest disciples, from the vantage point of the Mount of Olives, looking back at the temple. This speech is essentially Jesus’ farewell discussion with these disciples, as his crucifixion is only a few days away.

This part of Mark’s Gospel is called the “Little Apocalypse”, as it is characteristic of Jewish and Christian writings found in the Book of Daniel, Matthew’s Gospel, Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians and the Book of Revelation. The word apocalypse means revelation, and such writings contain a revelation, often from a heavenly messenger. The message has a dualistic nature to it that includes battles between forces of good and evil, and a final triumph of good over evil, along with salvation for those on the side of good. Frequently the resolution of the battle between good and evil, occurs with the advent of a messianic figure, who ushers in the reign of God. In this discourse from the Mount of Olives, Jesus tells his closest disciples that they are to keep watch, be alert and not be alarmed, when they hear about wars and earthquakes, because false Messiahs and false prophets will come attempting to lead people astray.

Many scholars today believe that Mark recorded these words of Jesus, concerning the temple, around the time that the temple was actually being destroyed, a time during the Roman—Jewish war, when many of Mark’s own Christian followers would have been lured by false prophets, predicting the end times because of the chaos of this deadly war. As Christians living in the turmoil of the 21st century, we might wonder if we, ourselves, are living through Jesus’ prediction of wars, earthquakes and nations rising against nation.

The seemingly inhuman behavior of ISIS and Al-Qaida before it, resonates with Jesus’ admonition, that there will be wars and nations rising against nation. We have certainly had many false prophets who have made end-time predictions, often down to the exact day and time. Not surprisingly, they have been wrong, as Jesus himself has told us that we cannot know the time or place of the end-times.

In addition to Christian and Judaic apocalyptic writings, there is a stream of apocalyptic thought in Islam. There are verses in the Koran that are have very similar themes to those in the Biblical Book of Revelation. ISIS subscribes to these apocalyptic beliefs, particularly in a cosmic battle of good vs. evil. In the Islamic State belief structure, all who are not Sunni Muslims are on the side of evil, and must be defeated.

When I reflect on the events of Friday in Paris, I have to wonder what role this belief in a cosmic battle of Good vs. Evil, with the evil ones including all who do not subscribe to Sunni doctrine, plays into the willingness of young adults to act as suicide bombers, willing to die in order to kill. In claiming credit for the attacks in Paris, ISIS made the statement, that the attack at the Stade de France football stadium was targeted because it featured a game between two Christian nations. The fact that French President Francois Hollande was in attendance may have also played into the decision to target this venue.

In ISIS version of the cosmic battle of Good vs. Evil, both Christians and Shi’a Muslims represent Evil. Surprisingly, at least for me, in the strain of Islamic apocalyptic belief, in the final cosmic battle of good vs. evil, Jesus, called in Islam, Isa son of Maryam, who is revered as Islam’s second most important prophet, will come again to earth. In this version of Jesus’ return, He is supposed to defeat the anti-Messiah, and lead the Muslims to victory. In my own belief structure, when I hear these words about Jesus leading Muslims to victory, I have to view them through the lens of Jesus’ own teaching, that Mark records in this morning’s lesson:

“Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say ‘I am he!’, and they will lead many astray.”

Beware that no one leads you astray! In the chaos, pain and turmoil, that accompanies cataclysmic world events, it is very easy to listen to false prophets and to be led astray. The question arises every time something unthinkable happens in our world. What are we as Christians called to do? This question came up post-911. It came up in Newtown CT three years ago. It came up in Roseburg Oregon last month, particularly when it was revealed that the shooter had targeted Christians.

Again, this weekend, we, unfortunately have to ask ourselves the question yet again. In the aftermath of a terrorist attack
that targeted Christians, and the western open style of life, what are we as Christians to do?

First, as Jesus teaches and role models in Mark and elsewhere in the Gospels, we are to pray. Keep awake and pray, as Jesus tells the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. Pray for the victims and their families, that God might grant salvation to those who were murdered, and comfort to their friends and families. Pray for leaders and governments, that God’s own wisdom be poured into them. Pray for yourself that you might maintain faith in difficult times. And even pray for the perpetrators that God might touch their hearts and minds.

Next, as Jesus tells his select disciples in this apocalyptic discourse in Mark, we are to “beware and keep alert” that we are not led astray by false prophets, claiming to teach in Jesus’ name. “Beware, keep alert, for you do not know when the time will come.” Live your life as it you might meet Jesus tomorrow.

Another aspect of how we are to act in these uncertain times is shared with us by the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews, which we also heard this morning:

“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.”

We are to ground our hope for the future, in God’s faithful promises to us. In the midst of the pain and chaos of world events, We need to acknowledge that each event affects us and steals a little more of our innocence and contentment. Yet we must also acknowledge that we can only continue, by grounding our hope, in the One who promises to be faithful. We are not to focus on the signs and the events, but rather on the One who has promised to return, on the one who gives us strength, in the midst of despair and devastation.

Jesus tells us that the seeming disasters are the beginning of the birth pains. What is being birthed is new life in Christ Jesus. From the darkness of human actions and despair, light emerges, and that light is Christ, bringing with it the salvation, given to us only by God’s grace.

For those who keep awake, for those who hold fast to the hope for those encourage one another, there will be a pathway in and through God’s grace from darkness into light, and from death into life.  Amen


All Saints Day 
The Rev. Dr. Janet Lombardo
November 1, 2015
Trinity Church, Claremont

Today is all about Hope. Hope in things unseen. Hope in things yet to come. Hope. This week I finished my course at the State Prison in Concord. For the last four weeks I have been training inmates how to sit vigil with other inmates who are dying. This past week they had an inmate die on Hospice care. The Chaplain at the prison asked the inmates how long did it take for them to experience hope after they had been incarcerated. Their answers varied from a short time to years. What I found remarkable was that they could find hope at all. Having worked with most of this group last time I did the training and again for this training, I knew that they had found hope. I knew they had found a way to reach outside themselves, and find hope and peace in a very difficult place. You can not imagine how hard the men’s prison is and yet even in that challenging circumstance this group of men had found hope and not only had they found it but they wanted to share with others. That is why they had signed up and been approved to be hospice volunteers, they wanted a way to give back. Hospice care in prison is known to reduce violence and lower anxiety through out the prison system. When inmates know that they will not be alone when they die it has a ripple effect throughout the prison. Hospice offers hope that they will be treated with dignity and respect in their last hours. Hospice offers hope that they will not die alone. This is a big deal for those who are serving life sentences.

Hope is the message of the church. Hope not only that we will have life eternal but that our lives today will be better because God is with us. Hope that even when we think all is lost God will be there with us. Something both Trinity and Prince of Peace have experienced this year in somewhat different ways. Prince of Peace in selling your building you have found hope in a new way here at Trinity. You could not have imagined how this could ever work but it is working. Trinity you were declining and were wondering if the church could survive and then Prince of Peace shows up and things begin to change and hope was revived. Hope is what we have to offer to everyone who walks through our doors.

Hope is God’s ability to make all things new as we read from Revelation this morning. Hope that mourning and crying and pain will be no more, hope that God will wipe away every tear, Hope that we will know God’s love in new and amazing ways. As we remember this morning those who have died, who we miss, we must also remember the love that we have shared with them, the love that God offers to us. God will transform our grief and our tears, God will offer us a way to make all things new and God will give us a way to offer that hope to those who have yet to walk through our doors. God’s love can conquer all and through that love we are a people of hope. Thanks be to God.  Amen


November 23, 2014
Sermon by Pastor Patricia Harris

November 16, 2014
Sermon by William Corey

November 9, 2014
Sermon by Judy Hayward

October 26, 2014
Sermon by Pastor Patricia Harris

September 8, 2013
Kick Off Service for our 50 years of serving God and the community
Come Celebrate with us!
Sermon by Guest Pastor Donald Meyers (who was our first pastor, 50 years ago!)

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