Rev. Liz Goodman, Lenox & Monterey UCC

Serious faith isn't about "believing" in what seems impossible. It's about allowing the story of our faith work in our lives, bearing forth all its implications for how and why to live.

This sermon wanders through kitsch and art, sin and salvation, history and that which is beyond history.

Monterey Church

Church on the Hill, Lenox

Direct download: The_Virgin_Birth.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 10:15am EDT

Sheela Clary joins Liz once again, this time to talk about living in a Meritocracy, and how to resist its appeals.

Monterey Church

Church on the Hill, Lenox

Direct download: Rel_Rdtable_airs_12-15-19.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:58pm EDT

John was expecting a Messiah who would eradicate all that's (so obviously) wrong with the world. What he got was a Messiah who would redeem. The question is whether there's joy to be found in that.

Monterey Church

Church on the Hill, Lenox

Direct download: The_Joy_of_Being_Wrong.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:56pm EDT

It's not clear how things will change with the advent of the one for whom we wait. What we do know is that, in order for us to truly perceive the kingdom come near, we'll need to repent, which is to expand our imagining of what is possible and even dare to consider what seems impossible. 

Monterey Church

Church on the Hill, Lenox

Direct download: Cosmic_Crisp.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:56pm EDT

Here's to beginning the new church year off right.

Monterey Church

Church on the Hill, Lenox (UCC)

Direct download: Dont_Freak_Out.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 7:12pm EDT

A stuffy poet writes of the elegance of not being overstuffed. 

Church on the Hill, UCC

Monterey Church

Direct download: Thanksgiving_Sunday_2019.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30pm EDT

This one wanders from social imaginary to social imaginary, considers the soothing nature of even distressing truth, touches base with Baudrillard and B.B. King, and ends up amidst the generation war though in a spirit of an honest account of what it's like to be alive right now. 

Oh, and Peter Pomerantsev makes another showing.

Monterey Church

Church on the Hill, Lenox


Direct download: Metanarratives_Are_Dead.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:31pm EDT

Place-based names; trying to make something great again; energized instead to build something new, though in honor of what's passed; not falling for trolls; and engaging the world most immediately around you in the faith that this is the way to build up the reign of God in our midst: this sermon meanders, but might get you to where you need to go.

Direct download: We_Would_Be_Building.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 4:31pm EDT

Sharing in sacrifice is a great way to build relationship. But there are lots of people who are after other things in life--like money. That's why money makes for a good gauge as to where peoples' priorities lie and why Jesus according to Luke won't stop talking about.

Church on the Hill, Lenox

Monterey Church

Direct download: Breaking_the_Fourth_Wall.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

The apostle Paul said to the Romans, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritualworship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect." 

This sermon says something sort of like that, but it goes on a little longer. 

Peter Pomerantsev's This Is Not Propaganda. 

Monterey Church

Church on the Hill, Lenox  


Direct download: Left_to_Our_Own_Devices--corrected.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 7:02pm EDT

Jacob likes to claim to be Esau. When he finally admits, "I am Jacob," he's finally free of all that name implies. 

Church on the Hill, Lenox UCC


Direct download: Just_Admit_It.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:29pm EDT

Church on the Hill

Monterey Church

Direct download: Good_Grief.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:55pm EDT

This is a conversation between Liz and Rev. Jen Bloesch, the director of Gideon's Garden, a farm and food ministry of Grace Church, Episcopal in Great Barrington. 

Monterey Church

Church on the Hill

Direct download: Rel_Rdtable_airs_10-06-19.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:54am EDT

`This isn't a "feel good" sermon, unless you like being taken seriously and to be met with high expectations.

Monterey UCC

Church on the Hill, Lenox

Direct download: This_Might_Not_Work.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 7:22pm EDT

Social Inequality, Then and Now: the Rich Man and Poor Lazarus present us with an easy parable to understand but a tricky one to live out. And yet the challenge remains as imperative.

Monterey Church

Church on the Hill

Direct download: Meet_Me_in_the_Middle.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 1:30pm EDT

Lots of people have apparently believe our society should be left to destroy itself, even that they should help it along. It'd be nice if Jesus weren't one of them.

Monterey UCC

Church on the Hill, Lenox (UCC)

Direct download: Promise_and_Compromise.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 1:35pm EDT

Notice what is demanding your attention, and then wonder why it is demanding it. Perhaps it's worth more than you think?

Monterey Church, UCC

Church on the Hill, Lenox UCC

Direct download: The_Mined_Mind.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:28pm EDT

When you're thinking about taking on a big commitment, you need to do a little discerning before hand.


Direct download: Trying_Out.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 9:04pm EDT

When the driving question is whether or not you like something, you miss a lot of what makes life beautiful and surprising and delightful. 

Direct download: Stranger_Things.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 2:28pm EDT

Jesus worked on the Sabbath so a woman in stooped subservience could be freed. 

Direct download: 1619.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 2:17pm EDT

What if Jesus told a funny story and only the truly faithful laughed?

For more information about the church or the preacher, go to 

Direct download: No_Joke.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:27pm EDT

Martha and Mary, the latest biblical rivals, and what appears to be Jesus weighing on which is better. Will it be a matter of Cain and Abel redux, or will this turn out in a better way? Tune in and find out!

Direct download: The_One_Needful_Thing.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 10:44am EDT

Overcoming our studied unseeing is a central aim of the gospel, at least according to Luke. 

Direct download: Seeing_the_Sights.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 4:50pm EDT

This is a second attempt with this sermon, with less ambient noise.

When Jesus sent those seventy out, he spent as much time instructing on the manner in which they were to behave on the mission as on the purpose of the mission. Maybe we should spend time on that too. But, look out. The implications of how they were to behave are no light matter. 

For more information about us, or to be in touch, go to our church website,

Also, the comic mentioned in this sermon is Sebastian Maniscalco. You can find the bit here.

Direct download: Mind_Their_Manner.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:47pm EDT

When a demon named Legion occupies a man to violent ends, it's nearly impossible not to think of when a Roman legion occupies a Jewish village to violent ends--which is probably what Luke was up to in telling this story as he did. 

For more information, or to be in touch, go to our church website:

Direct download: Legion.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:51pm EDT

Martin Buber used familiar words but in unfamiliar ways to name a way of relating that is as present as it is surprising, as commonly open to all as it is a rare treat when it arrives. Pentecost Sunday is the perfect day to consider I-Thou relating as it calls to mind Jesus, Resurrected, breathing on the disciples and saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit." By this sermon, may thou so receive as well.

For more information, or to be in touch, go to our church website:

Direct download: You_Had_to_Be_There.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 11:37am EDT

Of pavement and dandelions, uniforms and free range, settled matters and unsettling truth.

Direct download: From_Out_Of_State.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 1:04pm EDT

Why does patriarchy persist, and how can the church resist?

The book referred to: Why Does Patriarchy Persist?

The video referenced: The Still Face Experiment

Church web address:

Direct download: The_Oxymoronic_Patriarchal_Church.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:56pm EDT

Direct download: Taking_Attendance.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:26pm EDT

If you've never spent time with Tabitha, now's your chance.

Direct download: Tabitha_the_Good.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 8:43pm EDT

On the Sunday after Easter, we Christians have the chance to stoke anti-Semitism in our midst. What Christ would have us do is something altogether different. There is no place for anti-Semitism in our faith practice, and any theology or preaching that proclaims otherwise is false. 

Direct download: Theology_Matters.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 9:49am EDT

At the 30th reunion of the class of 1989 of Phillips Exeter Academy, of which Liz is a member, there gathered to discuss goodness and knowledge in education at Exeter a panel of classmates who've gone on to become educators--in the order appearing on this podcast a professor of computer science and artificial intelligence, a physician who teaches medical residents, a professor of English and Zen priest, a professor of political theory, and two current members of the Exeter faculty, one an instructor in health and human development, and the other the chaplain of the school.

The quality of the audio varies person to person. Here's how to scroll though if you like: Todd Neller is at 5:00; Ming-Hui Fan is at 16:00; Bernie Rhie is at 25:00; Jacob is at 37:06; Brandon Thomas is at 52:07; Heidi Carington-Heath is at 58:27; and Chris Artzer asks a fantastic question at 1:04:20. 

Here's the prompt:

John Phillips wrote in his deed of gift: “Above all, it is expected that the attention of the instructors to the disposition of the minds and morals of the youth under their charge will exceed every other care; well considering that goodness without knowledge is weak and feeble, yet knowledge without goodness is dangerous, and that both united form the noblest character, and lay the surest foundation of usefulness to mankind.

An old document, this is currently featured on the Exeter website so continues to be a lodestar. How is it put into practice, though?

Complicating it is the fact that John Phillips was a religious man, a Calvinist, and therefore likely comfortable using such value-laden terms as “goodness,” probably even with a clear sense of what “goodness” consists of.

Complicating it further is that Phillips founded the academy that it might “ever be equally open to youth of requisite qualifications from every quarter.” So, the conundrum confounding the modern West is written right into the deed of gift, thus making Exeter a microcosm: in a multi-cultural setting where classic liberal values are paramount, how do we understand what goodness even is?

As an educator, do you feel it as part of your duty to impart “goodness” as you impart knowledge?

If not, why not? Whence comes goodness into the world if not through education?

If so, what do you understand “goodness” to be? Whence comes your own, if you think of yourself as “good”? As regards your students, how do you impart “goodness” and how do you measure your success at this?

As graduates, do you remember “goodness” being a part of your education here? If so, how did it come into the frame? If not, did you “miss” it? Where might it have fit?

Direct download: Goodness__Knowledge.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 1:49pm EDT

Easter isn't about re-creating that first experience of resurrection that's so long ago and that we've heard countless times; it's about reinforcing the strange good news to which the resurrection is signifier. We look in the wrong direction for resurrection when we look to that ancient tomb and those faithful women. We should be looking forward to where Jesus has gone ahead.

Direct download: Easter_Sunday_2019.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:10pm EDT

Jesus' "triumphal entry" might just be street theater, satirical with the aim of subversion. The question is, are we in the mood for this?

Direct download: Palm_Sunday_2019.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 4:57pm EDT

In which we revisit one of those problems that has no clear solution. In which a classic dialectic begs for a middle way. In which the art of being human is as a sailboat tacking into the wind, a straight line made by way zigzag.

Direct download: Dis_Order.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 2:38pm EDT

...and then listen to Sheela and Liz discuss it on this, which isn't a sermon but the bi-monthly radio program. 

Direct download: RR_Sheela_Dubus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:24pm EDT

Compassion is "suffering with." No wonder it can be so hard. The last thing many of us would ever do is admit our own suffering, so why on earth would we, and how on earth could we, allow into our lives other people's suffering?

Direct download: Admit_It.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 10:56am EDT

The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness isn't an experience of temptation in general. It's more specific, the temptation as to how he would, and would not, exercise power in the world. Therefore, if our Lenten discipline is to "give something up" and is done with the aim of imitating Christ, then what we should focus on "giving up" is exercising what power we find ourselves to have at any given moment in such a way as dominates, choosing instead to exercise this power as love, which is to be freely offered so to be freely received. There is no coercion in this; there is no captivity in this. Love empowers and frees, which is what Christ accomplished in the wilderness. We might do so in the wilderness of Lent as well, and beyond.

Direct download: What_Power_Is_For.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 11:36am EDT

I don't know why it's the weightiness of glory that stood out to me this year as we're to consider "glory" once again....Maybe it's that I've never really been able to enter these stories as they seemed about weightless ecstasy, a lofty journey of the soul in to light free of all heft...Maybe it's that the unseriousness of our common life as of late is really getting to me...Or maybe it's just that I've always been heavier than I'd like to be--and I suppose I mean that in all its meanings. The fact is, I've always been someone to take this whole thing rather seriously. Worse, I fear it's church that has me in an ever-tightening feedback loop of substantiveness....Yeah, I realize now it's this regular practice of seeking encounter with the divine that would also have us be a rather heavy presence out there amidst a world that lately prefers air-spun silliness...

Direct download: On_Being_a_Drag.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30pm EDT

I find it touching--such magnanimity as makes our deepest insecurities the least interesting thing about us, such magnanimous regard as makes that one aspect of ourselves we find most loathsome and shameful actually so unimportant that it's only hardly noticed, only summoned and spoken of to the most bring ends. Who cares that you're imperfect, that you're aging, that you're recovering from any number of things, that you're forgetful sometimes? So not important. What's important is that you're a vessel of love.

Direct download: Making_Me_Feel_Bad.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 2:20pm EDT

This is a conversation, not a sermon but an episode of WSBS's Religious Roundtable, at the spur of this article in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin.

Direct download: Rel_Rdtbale-airs_02-10-19.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:53pm EDT

When what we want is stories of "in addition to" but what we get is stories of "instead." 

Direct download: Mobbed_Up.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:56pm EDT

It's been forever, it seems, that we've reading old texts and interpreting them for meaning. It's a bizarre practice, one you might think we can get over. But in the age of the Twitter mob. it might be newly important.

Direct download: What_Are_We_Doing.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:04pm EDT

What does it matter what we believe? Nothing, if our belief never takes on matter. That's Gnosticism, and it just never seems to go away.

Direct download: Messed_Up_2.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:49pm EDT

I'll admit, I can't relate to the fear "all Jerusalem" had as regards the magi. But I can muster fear at the prospect of life together now playing out amidst a social context of everything thrown into question, every once clear thing now thrown into doubt. When old values, long settled, have been upset; when established truths meet with deep skepticism (and, worse, eventual cynicism): that's pretty frightening. If we come not only not to know what we long have known, but also not to know how we're to come to know what's to be known, which then comes a doubt that there is anything to be known, that's frightening--a crisis not only of authority but, more fundamentally, of epistemology.

Direct download: Epiphany_Sunday_2019--2.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04am EDT

"The birth of Christ invites us into such astonishment at life's loveliness, presses upon us the distressing awareness that it could all go suddenly wrong, pushes us to the edge of all we can muster: the awe, the hope, the fear, the wonder. And by this, God calls us--the mewing cry of a newborn, which makes all else secondary to the demand of succor and love."

Direct download: Christmas_Eve.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:01pm EDT

This encounter between old Elizabeth, nor pregnant with John, and young Mary, now pregnant with Jesus: it's so very real. It's almost embarrassing--that it's there in scripture, that we're to talk of it in worship, bodies doing what no willpower could make them do but which they do because that's what they're made to do. women's bodies, burgeoning, bulbous and weighty, bone and brain and fluid and pain...This is so strangely,m astonishingly real."

Direct download: About_to_Get_Real.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 4:56pm EDT

"See, God's authority and human authority, though related, aren't always in accord. It's an obvious point. It's funny it's lost on Jeff Sessions. To say otherwise is to make the state equal in power and authority to the divine. And you know who really hates this sort of assertion, that the state is equal to God? Evangelical Christians..."

Direct download: The_Sessions_Verses.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:25pm EDT

"His power flowed out of him like that woman's power flowed out of her, and depleting as as each might have been to the host, the effect his had on his environment was as evident as the effect hers would have had, though to her shame. Her flow kept her an outcast; his flow gathered crowds--until, that is, they'd in effect have traded places, him, bleeding and ashamed on the cross and her restored to full standing in her community...I love that understanding of him--absolute presence, immediate light amidst otherwise darkness, absolute power outpouring that it might find equilibrium in the world, everyone having enough of it (though not too much) in order to be free."

Direct download: On_Power.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:19pm EDT