On November 16, 2013 I preached the ordination of John Russell Stanger, my colleague and friend. This was such a glorious day and I couldn’t be more proud and happy to welcome him to this ministry to which we are called. Below is the sermon:

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The Rev. Mieke Vandersall
Central Presbyterian Church, Austin, TX
Sermon preached at the ordination of John Russell Stanger
November 16, 2013
John 2:1-11

I have had quite a few adventures already here in Texas since I arrived a day or so ago, and have seen and done things that I have never before in my life had the opportunity to see or do. There is much beauty here in this state, that is for sure, and it is remarkable to be here at this very moment in history in this congregation, this presbytery,  this denomination and in the life of this remarkable man that has grown to be as connected to my heart as my definition of family. For those who don’t know, John has doubled our staff at our tiny organization in New York City that tirelessly works for LGBTQ people inside and outside of the church and so–let’s just say that we spend a lot of time together. Not a minute ill-spent. It is an honor, a privilege, a quite emotional gift to stand in this pulpit today.

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I preached this sermon at Not So Churchy on November 19. Musicians for that evening were Linda Jimenez, Emily Scott and Jacob Schlichter. The Scripture reading, found below is Luke 3:7-14.

7John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” 12Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” 14Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” Read the rest of this entry »

I was so excited to have this write up in the Local Section of the New York Times of Not So Churchy, a project of Presbyterian Weclcome. So grateful for people willing to tell our story!

I preached the following sermon on September 17 at Not So Churchy.

ImageEcclesiastes 1:12-14 I, The Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to busy with. I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.

In the new TV show, the New Normal, two gay men are trying to have a baby. They have a surrogate and the surrogate has a daughter. Through this whole process a new family is being created as the men, the surrogate and the daughter are bonding. Through this process, in the last episode, it has come to the attention of Brian, one of the men, that someone, the daughter he thought, took a marker to his rare leather sofa he got at an auction. He was furious. After taking some time with this reality of his pristine furniture eventually, if they had a child, being defaced and destroyed, he says to his partner John, “I’m letting the couch thing go. I mean it’s just stuff right and it’s not like stuff can love you or take care of you in your old age. Then again, I don’t really intend to age.”

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As the question of whether or not Presbyterian clergy can or should officiate at the weddings of same-sex couples I felt the need to explain myself to the most conservative publication of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Layman. This Letter to the Editor was published today. So all with ears might hear…

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This sermon was preached by me on August 20, 2012 at Not So Churchy.

…So when we find ourselves in wilderness times in our lives, starving, tired, alone, confused, perhaps our reading is letting us know today that they are really rich times where you have the opportunity to claim who you and whose you are. They are opportunities for you to take what is most challenging and transform it. They are opportunities for you to reflect on the core gifts you were given and then make choices based on those to systematically work your way out of the wilderness with a deeper foundation… Read the rest of this entry »

A dear friend, mentor and encourager of mine, Rev. Janet Edwards, asked to interview me for her blog. She has been a model in ministry for many years, a patient and faithful follower of Jesus who listens with her ear to the ground for the heart and call of God. Through her witness she has taught me how important public ministry is and the incredible pulpit of the internet. And so it is with privilege and humility that I share this interview with you. Thank you Janet for giving me space to put my my thoughts! 

This sermon was preached by me (Rev. Mieke Vandersall) on July 16, 2012 at Not So Churchy.

Luke 9: 1-6 Then Jesus Called the 12 together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money–not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

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This sermon was preached for Pride Sunday at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church on June 24, 2012. The scripture for the morning was Mark 4:35-41

35On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

You might have heard of a man named Bishop Gene Robinson. He was the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church and due to the homophobia in the church, after his election as bishop of New Hampshire the global Episcopal Church turned itself into a tizzy. One example of this tizzy is the conference of bishops that happens every many years—it is called the Lambeth Conference and it is in the U.K. Bishops from all over the world come together for fellowship and to make decisions. Due to the outcry around Bishop Robinson’s election it was deemed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams that he be uninvited. Read the rest of this entry »

A version of this sermon was preached about a year ago at St. James Presbyterian Church in Harlem. After David Kato’s death in Uganda, and considering what is happening in our country around bullying and in our church around marriage and ordination “standards,” I had an opportunity to pull this out again and retool it for Watchung Avenue Presbyterian Church in New Jersey. I was there to welcome them to Presbyterian Welcome This was preached on February 13, 2011 and is based on Isaiah 43: 1-7 and Luke 3:15-17, 21-22.

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