WEEKLY MESSAGES


11/27/22

 Sermon

Finding Hope in Hopelessness

About the year 700 B.C., King Hezekiah of the Southern Kingdom of Judah looked over the protective walls of Jerusalem and saw there the army from the great Assyrian Empire, more than 150,000 soldiers strong.  He had known that they were coming and what they would do. This army was like a great wrecking ball from the north destroying cities in its path and enslaving their residents.  Humanly speaking, the future of Jerusalem looked bleak. The future of Jerusalem and, consequently, the future of the people of God looked out of control and hopeless.  Chapters 36 and 37 of the Old Testament book of Isaiah tell us the story of how King Hezekiah reacted and, more importantly, how God responded.  What do we do when we look over our protective walls and see chaos and hopelessness?  What can we learn from King Hezekiah?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 

11/20/22

 Sermon

Christ the King (?) Sunday!!!

This week is the last Sunday of the church year and we will sing praise to Christ our King, singing favorite church hymns, like "Crown Him with Many Crowns" and "Jesus Shall Reign."   As we celebrate and give praise for all that Jesus has given for our sake, this week we will also hear a text from the gospel of Luke . . . a somewhat disconcerting text that focuses on the crucifixion of Jesus.  We will hear about the actions of those who mocked Jesus on the cross . . . and those who loved and believed in Jesus the Messiah.  And we will hear how Jesus, the real Messiah, responds.  Join us as we enter into this holy space together and ponder how this text might help us think about our own responses to a world that is often filled with violence and hatred.  Whose voice do we listen to in the midst of chaos?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 

11/13/22

 Sermon

Regardless of where you attend Christian worship on a Sunday morning, you will see and hear variations of the same sorts of things. There will be prayer and the singing of hymns/songs/canticles. There will be the reading of scripture/Bible/God's word. There will be some sort of sermon/message/homily given by some sort of priest/preacher/minister. In the more historical churches (Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal, etc.), you will probably share in Holy Communion/Lord's Supper/Eucharist. Each faith tradition has its own way of worshiping God, some more exuberant, some more serene.  

About 700 years before the birth of Jesus, God used a prophet named Micah to share a poignant message. The people of Jerusalem were under attack. The armies of Assyrian were at their front gate and they were terrified. Fear is a strong motivator for people to pray. What do you want from us, God? We are desperate! Do you want burnt offerings of 1000's of rams? Do you want rivers of oil?  Shall I sacrifice those things most dear to me (like my children)? Is that what you want?

God answers His people with something surprising. "I'm not interested in your animal sacrifices. I'm not interested in your rivers of oil. Good Heavens, NO! I'm certainly not interested in the sacrifice of your children." What does the LORD require of us? "God has told us what is good: do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God." (Micah 6:8) If our worship doesn't drive us to justice, kindness, and a humble walk with God - then we have more work to do.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 

11/06/22

 Sermon

What is a saint? For most of us, the word conjures up images of people who have lived - if not perfect - then exemplary lives. We think of St. Peter and St. Paul in the Bible who tirelessly traveled the known world proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, eventually becoming martyrs for their Christian faith. Or perhaps, we think of a particularly 'saintly' mother, grandmother, or aunt whose life was distinguished in service, patience, and love.  The Bible talks about 'saints' in another way. When Paul addresses his letter to the 'saints in Ephesus,' he is referring to those whom Jesus has called, gathered, and set aside for lives of faithful service to God and neighbor. When Paul refers to 'saints', he is not referring to perfect people (or even exemplary people); he is referring to people redeemed by the blood of Jesus. In this meaning of 'sainthood,' we are saints. In Jesus Christ, through His Holy Spirit, we have been called, gathered, enlightened, and set aside for God's work! In and through Jesus, we are the saints to whom Paul is writing.

This weekend we celebrate two things: All Saints' Day and Confirmation. This weekend we toll the bell for those saints in our lives who have died this past year, giving thanks to God that they had been called, gathered, and sanctified in Christ Jesus. On Sunday, we will also witness eight young people confess and affirm the faith that that their parents confessed on the day when they were baptized. On Sunday, these eight young people proclaim that they are part of this community of 'saints' both living and dead.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 

10/30/2022

 Sermon

Wisdom and Reformation!  

This week we hear a story about Solomon, king of Israel.  Solomon is probably best known for the great wisdom that was bestowed upon him when God appeared to him in a dream; yet there is another aspect of God's visit with Solomon that is important to recall.  It is God's call for Solomon to follow in God's ways and to keep God's statutes.

We consider the significance of God's call, especially in light of this "Reformation Sunday" when we also recall the work of Martin Luther in following the call of Jesus in working to reform the church.   In the same way that Solomon and Luther had a call to follow, we, too, have a call to follow.  The question is: follow whom?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 

10/23/2022

 Sermon

King David has often been called, "a man after God's own heart?"  Really?  After reading this passage you will discover that David  is one deeply flawed, sinful person. Is he still a man after God's own heart?  Our guest preacher, Pastor Tom Redig, will explore what it takes to have God's heart.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


10/16/2022

 Sermon

Moses had led God’s people to the very front door of the Promised Land. But, in one of the sadder moments of the Old Testament, Moses died before they could enter. Upon Moses’ death, the mantel of leadership passed to one of his most trusted lieutenants; it would be up to Joshua to lead God's people in their conquest. There was a problem, however. The land that God had promised to Abraham and his descendants was not empty; the Promised Land already had inhabitants. To take possession of the Promised Land, Abraham’s descendants would have to fight and fight they did. With God’s help and Joshua's leadership, the Israelites took possession of what would come to be known as Israel.  

This week's Bible reading takes place a few years later. Joshua is an old man and knows that he is about to die. He gathers the tribes around him for one final word. He begins with a recounting of their history. He reminds them of the story of  Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Egypt, Moses, the Red Sea, and the crossing of the Jordan. Joshua reminds the people that their victory was the LORD's doing and  “not by your sword or by your bow.” Joshua needs to retell the story so they will not forget. And before he dies he finishes with some of the Old Testament’s most famous words, "Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’ (Joshua 24:15)

In our baptisms, we have been included into the story of God. That story of God's love, grace, power, forgiveness, and inclusion shapes our lives. We need to hear it over and over and - more importantly - we need to be like Joshua and tell it to those who have never heard.


10/09/2022

 Sermon

The word 'holy' often gets a bad rap. When we hear about a person being referred to as 'holy', the first thing that many of us think is negative. He is 'holier than Thou.' She thinks she is better than me. In the Bible, that is not what 'holy' means. When the word 'holy' is applied to a person or thing, it means that that person or thing has been set aside for a particular task or responsibility. 

My mother once told me about an epidemic that went through her neighborhood when she was a little girl. The sickness hit the homes of her neighbors and killed a couple of children that she new. She remembered her father going over to the neighbors to help prepare their little bodies for burial. He would then come home and change his clothes in the barn so to not run the risk of infecting his own family. Those clothes that he wore were made holy - they were set aside to help the family in need and yet to keep his family safe.  

In the Bible reading for this week (Exodus 19:3-7 & 20:1-17), God tells His people that He has made them a 'priestly kingdom and a holy nation.' It is not that they are better than anyone else, it is that they are given a special purpose, a special responsibility. They are to be a blessing for the rest of the families of the earth. We, as part of God's people, have also been set aside. We, too, are given that purpose and responsibility: to be a blessing for the world. Come and see how we can learn to live that purpose and responsibility.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


10/02/2022

 Sermon

It is one of the most well known stories of the entire Bible.  Through Abraham's great grandson, Joseph, God's people are saved from starvation by being allowed to live in Egypt.  But, over time, the good news sours.  As time passes, the welcome of God's people wears out and they are enslaved by the king of Egypt for 400 years.  As their voices cry out, "How long?" God sends a savior, Moses.  Through the powerful works of God, Pharaoh finally decides to let them go, all 600,000 of them.  As they reach the edge of the Red Sea, they look back and see that Pharaoh has changed his mind and the entire Egyptian army is crashing towards them.  

Join us this weekend as we hear the rest of this familiar story and consider together how God shepherds us in this life . . . guiding, protecting and providing even when circumstances seem insurmountable.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 6:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


09/25/2022

 Sermon

Years ago, if someone were to ask me, “Pastor, how are you?” and I was feeling particularly good that day, I would nearly always answer, “I am blessed.”  If someone were to comment on my car or home or on something positive about my children, I would respond, “Well I have been blessed.”  Of course, what I intended by this is that all good things I have, I have because God has given them to me and that God has been with me.  Of course, there is truth in that. 

However, there is an unintended barb in that response.  If I identify only the smooth times of my life as examples of God blessing me, then I am implying that God is no longer blessing me in those times when I do not feel so well or when my pastoral call is particularly challenging or when my faith wavers and I cannot sleep at night. This week's Bible story reminds us that this is not true.  God was with Joseph not just in his happy and easy moments.  God was there especially in the most difficult moments.  The same is true for us.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 6:15 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


09/18/2022

 Sermon

This week we encounter the story of God's call to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-9.  God says to him, "I will make of you a great nation." But wait . . . what is so special about Abraham that God would choose him to be a great nation? What does that even mean?  And about those offspring . . Sarah is barren . . . so . .  ?

The questions are valid.  But remember this: these questions speak to the power of the Creator who created order out of chaos, creating light and sky, seas and land and vegetation and then created us.  These questions speak to the power of the God who knows us intimately and the God who, throughout history has used un-mighty and flawed people, like us, to serve God's purpose.  God called Abraham because God had a purpose.  Join us this week as we listen to this story of God's call.  Where will God's Holy Spirit draw our attention?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 6:30 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


09/11/2022

 Sermon

One of the great stories to come out of my hometown was about a woman named Elsie Andersen. A flash flood caught Elsie trapped in her home. She made her way out of the window and onto the branch of a tree. As that tree buckled under the pressure of the rushing water, she held on for dear life and was swept down the Nishnabotna River for more than 25 miles. She was rescued the next morning by some brave souls who hung over a bridge and plucked her bruised and battered body from danger. I knew Elsie. Every year we would see her at a neighbor’s birthday party and every year we would hear the story of her harrowing trip down the Nishnabotna clinging to a tree.  Floods (and draughts and fires and hurricanes and tornados) are horrible, destructive things.  

Our Bible reading for this weekend is the story of Noah and the flood (Genesis 6-9). We treat this story as such a cute children's tale used in decorating the walls of our kid's bedrooms.  But this story has a very dark side.  Floods are nothing to play around with. However, the story of Noah ends with a promise from God: “I will never again allow all flesh to be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” The key word is "all flesh." Our world is still filled with 'natural' and 'man-made' disasters - storms, wars, and economic hardships.  For those of us who have not felt the brunt of these terrible storms, we now have a job to do. We are the ones called to hang over the bridge and lend a hand.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 6:45 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


09/04/2022

 Sermon

While not many of us can boast of having survived a shipwreck, many of us love movies and books about stormy seas; boats and passengers in peril of being overcome by immense storm surges as the sea threatens to crash in upon them.  This is exactly where we find the apostle Paul and almost 300 other passengers in this week's story from Acts 27.   These folks are in the eye of the storm for days upon days, frightened for their very lives as the storm grows more violent, and the ship threatens to break apart at any moment.   But Paul knows that everyone on board will survive this storm . . . even if the ship wrecks.  

How wonderful would it be if we could all be so certain of a good outcome, even in the most dire situations in our lives?  Join us this week as we hear the story of this stormy shipwreck and contemplate Paul's  assurance that, no matter how great the storm, no matter how bad the shipwreck may be, all will be saved.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 7:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


08/29/2022

 Sermon

Paul, the great evangelist, has journeyed far and wide to spread the good news of Jesus Christ throughout Greece and Asia.  All along his journey, he has been followed by groups of Jewish religious leaders who pale at the idea of sharing the God of Abraham with outsiders.  They watch Paul and challenge him frequently, claiming that he is acting against God's laws.  Now, while on a visit to Jerusalem, Paul spends time in the temple. The religious leaders find him there, drag him out and begin beating him with the intent to kill him.  He is rescued from death by Roman soldiers, who cart him off to prison.

Paul must defend himself, in front of the Roman Governor Felix, against those who still conspire to kill him.  Join us this week as we hear Paul's defense and ponder how God worked in and through Paul to achieve God's own purpose.  Join as we contemplate how we too might be called to serve God's purpose in the challenging circumstances of life today.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 7:15 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


08/21/2022

 Sermon

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4)

In Acts chapters 20-21, St. Paul is on his way back to Jerusalem from his mission work in Asia.  Through the Holy Spirit, he knows that the trip will not end well. He knows that suffering and perhaps even death await him. Yet, it is a trip that he knows he has to make; it is his 'valley of the shadow of death.' 

We all have dark valleys through which we have to walk. There are times when these valleys are of our own making - the consequences of unwise decisions.  Most of the time, however, these valleys are thrust upon us by life in a broken world. Regardless of why, we have the assurance that we are not alone in these difficult walks; the Good Shepherd walks with us. 

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 7:30 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


08/14/2022

 Sermon

The apostle Paul and some other disciples have traveled to the bustling city of Ephesus, eager to meet with the people there who have become believers and to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those who don't yet know about him!  They are there to share the news of God's love and grace for all people.   Imagine their surprise when a riot breaks out because they are there . . . how could the good news of peace and love cause a riot?   

Join us this week as we explore Acts 19:23-34 and contemplate some questions.  How could the good news of Jesus Christ cause enough panic and fear to lead the people of Ephesus into a riot?  What are the things in our own lives that might cause us to panic?  What might cause us to turn away from God?  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 7:30 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


08/07/2022

 Sermon

Many years ago, a dear friend of mine shared with me that she had been adopted.  Both of her adoptive parents had died and she had felt that there was something missing in her, something that was incomplete.  So, after much soul searching, she came to the conclusion that she was going to search for her birth mother.  In her case, the search led to a wonderful reunion and relationship that lasted many years (something - of course - that does not always happen).  

St. Augustine wrote more than 1600 years ago, "My heart is restless until it finds its rest in God." We bear the image of God. God's love formed and shaped us. Thus we are wired to reach out to God and search for Him. In this week's Bible story, Paul is speaking to a group of people from a completely different culture.  How would Paul begin to share the good news of Jesus?  He begins with what all people have in common: we are all made in the image of God. This God loves us and has reached out to us in Jesus.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


07/31/2022

 Sermon

This past week five high school age youth spent the week serving the residents of Huntington, West Virginia. During the week they along with 94 youth from across the Midwest and Southeast served local residents by painting houses, cleaning yards, and repairing and building decks.

Not only did they serve the local residents but their day was packed with worship, devotions, and youth group meetings. This week's theme was "Hear I Am, Send Me," a text taken from Isaiah 6:1-8. Come and hear the stories of how our youth heard the call of God and said, "Hear I am, send me," by serving the people of Huntington and also learning about the God's work in their life.  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Wednesday evening at 6:30 and Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


07/24/2022

 Sermon

Christ were Jewish descendants of Abraham.  They already had church buildings, synagogues, and they worshiped there.  As more and more people came to believe that Jesus was the savior and the news of Jesus spread outside of Israel and into gentile territories, the first believers gathered together in peoples' homes.  And as Christianity became more organized and the number of members grew, church buildings were created.

In the very early years of the Church, buildings were not a problem.  More pressing was the need for the very first believers to understand what the death and resurrection of Jesus meant for their own salvation.  Jesus brought a new understanding to God's love and salvation . . . an understanding that God's grace and forgiveness were not reserved only for devoutly religious Jews who followed all of the Old Testament laws, but for all people, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.  This created quite a dilemma for this new church, raising questions about the prerequisites for non-Jewish persons to be "members" of the new church.  

That's where the Good News comes in! Join us this week as we ponder God's love and forgiveness as a gift given freely for all . . . not just those who "qualify" . . . not just those who agree with us . . . but for everyone!

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Wednesday evening at 6:30 and Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


07/17/2022

 Sermon

The New Testament book of Acts is filled with dramatic stories of conversion. Two weeks ago, we heard the story of the conversion of a man named Saul who was a persecutor of the church.  Last week we heard the story of the conversion of a court official in the palace of Queen Candace of Ethiopia.  This week, we hear the story of the conversion of a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Roman army. 

In each of these stories, it wasn't just the main character who needed conversion, it was also the person bringing the good news.  God had to convince Ananias to heal Saul the persecutor.  God had to convince Philip to approach the Ethiopian eunuch.  This week, God needs to convince Peter to enter into the house of the Gentile, Cornelius.  Ananias, Philip, and Peter needed converting as much as Saul, the Ethiopian eunuch, and Cornelius.  As we are told to go out and make disciples of all nations, in what ways do we need to be converted?  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Wednesday evening at 6:30 and Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


07/10/2022

 Sermon


Think about a time when a door was shut in your face; when there was something that you really wanted, even felt you deserved, and for whatever reason – you didn’t get.  Maybe it was a job or a loan or a house or a relationship.  Maybe the door was shut because you were too young or too old.  Maybe the door was shut because of your gender.  Maybe the door was shut because you didn’t have the right kind of experience or you had too much experience.  Maybe it was the color of your skin or something in your history.  Maybe it was your sexual orientation or body shape.  

In this week's Bible lesson (Acts 8:26-40), the door of the temple had been shut to a man not because he wasn't faithful, not because he wasn't Jewish.  It was shut to him because he was a eunuch.  As he was returning home from his disappointing pilgrimage, the eunuch runs into an apostle of Jesus named Philip.  In listening to the man's story, Philip was able to share something new to him: Jesus - this Son of God who opens doors instead of closes them.  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Wednesday evening at 6:30 and Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


07/03/2022

 Sermon


A flash of light enveloped him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice from heaven saying, "Saul!  Saul!  Why do you persecute me?" 
Saul, a great persecutor of early followers of Christ, hears the voice of Jesus and is struck blind.  From that moment forward Saul is forever changed; no longer the violent persecutor, Saul begins to understand the love, forgiveness, grace and inclusion provided to all of God's children through Jesus Christ.
Join us as we ponder this transformative love that God has given to us; and the Holy Spirit that empowers us to share that love with all of God's creation.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Wednesday evening at 6:30 and Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


06/26/2022

 Sermon

This week five of our confirmation youth went to Lutheran Outdoor Ministry Center (LOMC) for confirmation camp. They spent a week at LOMC canoeing, hiking, swimming, and connecting to God through outdoor experiences.  The theme for the week was the goodness of God's creation and how we are called to care for it.  During this weekend's worship service these five youth will be sharing their experiences from confirmation camp, and what impact the theme has had on them.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Wednesday evening at 6:30 and Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 



06/19/2022

 Sermon

Grumbling in the church?  Believe it or not, even the very early Christian church experienced growing pains.  In this week's text from the book of Acts, we learn that the leaders of the church, the apostles, had their hands full as the church began to grow.  Alongside having more people to care for, the number of people who differed in language and culture (outsiders?) also continued to grow.  People began to grumble that their widows were not being cared for.  The apostles had their hands full. 

This story from Acts speaks to us today, reminding us of groups, church and otherwise, that we have been part of . . . either as an insider or an outsider coming in. Join us this week as we consider what it means to belong, and how God's Holy Spirit calls us to blur the lines between insider and outsider in a world that continues to draw lines and build walls to keep "others" out.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Wednesday evening at 6:30 and Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 



06/12/2022

 Sermon

Last week we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost, the day when God let loose God's Holy Spirit into the world.  It must have been quite the drama - these uneducated followers of Jesus suddenly able to tell the story of Jesus in all of the languages of the world.  The crowds were confused.  "What does this all mean?" they ask.  Peter stands us to explain.  "What you are seeing in front of you is a fulfillment of the prophet Joel."  Peter then goes on to explain - in so many words - "The Spirit of God is tearing down walls - walls of gender, walls of race, and walls of class."  Today's story of Peter and John in the Temple (Acts 3-4) represents another demolition of walls - the wall that kept a man born lame from worshipping God.  How?  Join us to find out.  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Wednesday evening at 6:30 and Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 

 


06/05/2022

 Sermon

Just before he was lifted into heaven, Jesus promised his disciples that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and that they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.  And ten days later it happened . . . the sound of a violent rush of wind came upon them . . . and tongues of fire rested on each of their heads . . . and suddenly the large crowd of believers were able to speak to one another and hear one another in their own native language . . . and they all began to speak of God's mighty deeds.

Pentecost . . . the coming of the Holy Spirit.  It is a magnificent story, but it is much more than a story.  Join us this week as we ponder this Holy Spirit.  What did it mean for those gathered in Jerusalem?  What was its purpose?  And how does this Holy Spirit relate to our lives today?  What are we to do with this Holy Spirit?  Come as you are . . . join us as we contemplate the power of God's Holy Spirit together.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 and Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 



05/29/2022

 Sermon

Where do you look for Jesus?  When someone asks you where Jesus lives, what do you say?  On the day of Jesus' ascension, the disciples received their last instructions from Jesus; "Stay in Jerusalem . . . and you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)  As Jesus speaks these words, he is taken up into heaven - into the very presence of God the Father.  As the shocked disciples are left with their mouths open, gazing at the sky, two messengers from God break their trance, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven?" (v. 11) This is a good question for all of us.  Where do we expect to find Christ?  Where should we look?  What does it matter?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 and Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 

 


05/22/2022

 Sermon

A man had a huge boulder in the middle of his yard.  He decided it was ugly so he went to work with a hammer and chisel and chipped away at the boulder until it was this beautiful stone elephant. A neighbor came up and asked, “Wow!  I didn’t know you could carve like that.  How did you ever accomplish that?”  “I just chipped away everything that didn’t look like an elephant.”  

Today's Bible lesson comes from the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, Revelation 22. It is a vision of the end of all times - a new heaven and a new earth.  It is a vision of abundance, light, peace, and joy.  As we open each morning's newspaper, it seems as if we are a long way from that new heaven and new earth.  What, then, is our call in the midst of such turbulent times?  Could it be to chip away everything in this world that doesn't look like abundance, light, peace, and joy? 

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 and Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 



05/15/2022

 Sermon

The gospel lesson for this week is short, really short - five verses short.  Yet - in spite of its brevity - this gospel lesson has the capacity to change lives.  Jesus is meeting with his disciples for one last time - a meal that will last for five whole chapters in the Gospel of John.  In the midst of this meal, Jesus tells his disciples, "“Little children, I am with you only a little longer.  You will look for me . . . [but] where I am going you cannot come.  I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” (John 13:33-34) 

Being told to love one another doesn't seem like a big thing - as long as you like the person you are told to love.  But what happens if you are told to love someone that you are not fond of?  Someone who may look, believe, or act differently than you?  Someone who has done you wrong?  What do we do with that?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 and Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 

 


05/08/2022

 Sermon

"He leads me beside still waters: he restores my soul." (Psalm 23:2-3)
"My sheep hear my voice.  I know them and they follow me."  (John 10:27) 

These two scriptures, together, speak to the heart of Good Shepherd Sunday.  Psalm 23 is frequently used during funeral services, appropriately, as it evokes imagery of God's peace, comfort, and rest; and the text from John 10 recalls the voice of Jesus, reminding us that we are called.  It may also lead us to our own questions, "How do we know when Jesus is calling?"  "How do we recognize the voice of Jesus?"  And . . . "how do we follow?"  Join us this weekend as we gather together to worship and to ponder what it means to be part of the fold of Jesus.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 and Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 



05/01/2022

 Sermon

 

For the disciples, it must have felt like they had been on a three-year roller coaster ride. Imagine what it would have been like to see Jesus with your own eyes, to see His miracles, to hear His teaching, to feel His power through you as you taught and did miracles, then to see Him ride into Jerusalem hailed as a king and, four days later, abused as He heard the shouts of "Crucify Him." Then imagine seeing Him crucified, dead, and buried and then, on the third day, to have Mary Magdalene waking you with word that the tomb was empty. Finally, imagine what it would have been like to have the resurrected Jesus, scars and all, appearing to you not just once but a number of times. That is quite a ride!

Today's lesson takes place a few days (weeks?) later. The adrenaline has dropped back to normal level. The disciples are now back home and they are a little lost. What now? It is then when Jesus appears again, in all of His abundant power and grace. It is then that He gives a new purpose: "Feed my sheep." (John 21)  How is the disciples' purpose also ours? 

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 and Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 

 


04/24/2022

 Sermon

 

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  And on the night his empty tomb was discovered Jesus appeared to his disciples, who were afraid and hiding in a locked room together.  Jesus brings the gift of peace to those who are hiding and afraid, saying, "Peace be with you."  He also shares the gift of the Holy Spirit with them and tells them "I am sending you out, just as the Father sent me, so I am sending you."  They are equipped with the Holy Spirit and sent out. But wait . . . the disciples are still locked in the same room a week later when Jesus again appears in the same room, despite the locked doors.  We may wonder why the disciples have not yet gone out as Jesus instructed.  

We, too, in baptism, receive this same Holy Spirit.  We, too, are equipped and sent by Jesus to go out.  Yet we, too, are sometimes afraid.  We question the value of our going out . . . after all we are just one little person.  Sometimes we, too, doubt.  

Join us this week as we ponder John's gospel story of the resurrected Christ who brings peace, who gives the Holy Spirit, and who sends the disciples . . . and us . . . out.  We will ponder what this sending meant to the disciples of Jesus and what it means in our own lives as disciples of Christ.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 and Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 

 


04/17/2022

 Sermon

 

We are a world much more in tune with Good Friday than Easter morning.  We are a world that experiences death each time we see the news coming from Ukraine.  Even in our own country, all too often we open the paper to mass shootings in our streets, nightclubs, and subways.  In the past few months, we have had to walk with families who have lost daughters to suicide, sons to drug overdoses, and parents to sudden and unexpected deaths.  Yeah, the shock of Good Friday we know.  But what do we do with Easter?  How can we make sense out of it?  If you are confused, join the club. So were the disciples. But - little by little, their eyes opened to a God even more powerful than death.  That is our faith walk as well.  What does it mean for you that the grave could not hold Jesus? 

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Sunday morning at 8:00 and 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 

 


04/10/2022

 Sermon

This weekend we celebrate Palm Sunday.  To be perfectly honest, I have always had an ambivalent relationship with Palm Sunday.  On one hand, after 34 days of Lent, we are all ready for some celebration.  The parade-like atmosphere of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey while the crowds wave palm branches and shout 'Hosanna!' seems to provide a new and hopeful mood.  But, for those who know the story, we know what Jesus will encounter in just a few days.  Shouts of 'Hosanna' will turn into screams of 'Crucify him!'  Jesus comes in the gate as a king and leaves the gate as a prisoner marching towards execution.  The reality is, however, that Jesus comes in like a king and leaves still a king - a king who gives up his life for the sake of the world.  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or  Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 



04/03/2022

 Sermon

Accused by the religious leaders, Jesus has been brought before the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate in order that he might be found guilty and put to death for the crime of blasphemy . . . this Jesus has claimed to be the Son of God as well as the Messiah.  After questioning Jesus about being the "King of the Jews," Pilate cannot find him guilty of any crime.  Yet the religious leaders are zealous and go out of their way to convince Pilate that Jesus is a threat to Pilate's own authority and possibly to his well-being.  And so Pilate is convinced and Jesus is convicted.  This gospel raises some questions.  Why were the religious leaders so threatened by Jesus?  Why were they so hard-hearted against this mild teacher whose wisdom had been shown time and time again?  Why could they not see who Jesus really was?  

This gospel story raises some questions for us today as well.  Who do we say is King?  How many kings do we worship?  And what holds us back from recognizing the true King, Jesus Christ, in our lives every day? Join us as we faithfully contemplate what it means to worship a king, and the challenges we all face in recognizing the true king in our own lives.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or  Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 



03/27/2022

 Sermon

In this week's Bible reading, Pilate asks Jesus, "Are you a king?"  In the end, the answer is 'yes' - just not in the way that Pilate would expect.  The fact that Jesus was king was not news.  The question would always be, “What kind of king would Jesus be?”  How would he use his kingship?  Would he use his power to serve himself – to fulfill his own needs and desires?  Would he use his power to dominate the peoples of the world – like the Romans?  Would he use his power to rain fire and brimstone on those who would not follow?  No, Jesus' kingship would always look different.  How? 

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or  Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 

 


03/20/2022

 Sermon

Jesus has been betrayed and arrested by the temple police, assisted by a throng of Roman soldiers carrying weapons and torches.  The disciples, especially Peter, are frightened and overwhelmed as Jesus willingly surrenders himself, then is bound and led off to face his accusers.  Peter, who vowed to give up his own life to protect Jesus, suddenly cowers in the moment.  He denies knowing Jesus, not once but three times.  What are we to understand about this event? What does it say about our faith in God in the face of our own fears?  What does it say about the God's faith in us in the face of our fears and worries?

Join us this weekend as we hear the story and imagine ourselves in the midst of the same kind of fear.  Join us as we contemplate how this story relates to God's grace and God's hope for us today, in a world rife with chaos and discontent.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or  Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 



03/13/2022

 Sermon

At the beginning of the 13th chapter of John, Jesus gathers with his disciples for one last time. It is one last opportunity to teach and to fellowship. It is a meal that will last for five chapters.  As they enter in, Jesus does something completely unexpected. Jesus takes the place of a common house servant and begins to wash the feet of his disciples.  It is Peter who vocalizes what the rest are no doubt thinking, "No, Lord, you will never wash my feet." Jesus answers gently but firmly, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me."

It often is harder to receive than it is to give.  However, unless we learn to receive grace, we have a tough time being able to give grace. How can we learn to receive grace?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or  Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.



03/06/2022

 Sermon

"I am the resurrection and the life."  These words of Jesus sound powerful and they are, but what do they really mean and how do they relate to our faith and to our own lives today?  Join us this week as we dive into the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and as we contemplate how these powerful words bring new life into our own lives today and forever.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or  Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 



02/27/2022

 Sermon

Here is a quick lesson that you might learn if you go to seminary: when the Bible talks about blindness, it nearly always means something more than just not being able to physically see. Jesus and his disciples encounter a man on the street who had been blind since birth.  His disciples ask, "Why was this man born blind?  Was it some sin that he committed or something his parents did? "  Jesus' answer surprised them.  "Neither this man sinned nor his parents, but watch what God can do."  As Jesus heals the man, we realize that this story is about much more than physical sight.  As the story progresses, this man's spiritual sight becomes clearer and clearer.  Meanwhile, the religious leaders around him, who supposedly can see, grow dimmer and dimmer in their understanding of who Jesus is.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or  Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 

 


02/20/2022

 Sermon

Are you thirsty?  What is it that you thirst?  Maybe it is actually water.  1/3 of the world (over two billion people) do not have access to water in their own home.  Maybe you thirst for peace.  As Russia readies to invade the Ukraine, as our political system is split into two extremes with seemingly little common ground, as we enter into a third year of pandemic, we seem to live in a world where peace is in short supply. Maybe you thirst for forgiveness, identity, or purpose.  This week, Jesus tells us, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink." (John 7:37-38) Join us as we talk about thirst and this 'Living Water' that Jesus gives.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or  Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 

 


02/14/2022

 Sermon

 

In the New Testament, the Greek words, psuche and zoe, are both translated into the same English word, "life." But there is a difference between these two words. Psuche life is our biological life. It is the life of our beating heart and our breathing lungs.  It is the life that is concerned about the car we have and the cell phone in our pocket. Psuche life is temporary. Zoe life is different. Zoe life will not end, it will continue even though our heart stops beating and our lungs stop breathing. Zoe life includes our job, kids, health, and even our cell phone – but it is not limited to it. Zoe life is a communion with God in Jesus Christ that starts now and never ends. 

In the Bible reading for this weekend (John 6), Jesus tells us, "I am the Bread of Life from heaven." The 'life' he speaks of is zoe life. One wakes up in the middle of the night, obsessed by psuche things – afraid for one's job – afraid for one's kids or spouse or nation. Remembering that we are part of zoe life reminds us that there is something bigger going on. Zoe life reminds us that we are in God’s strong and loving embrace and that will NEVER change.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or  Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.  

 


02/06/2022

 Sermon

 

Having exhausted all other options, a desperate man walks 20 miles to persuade Jesus to heal his dying son. At first, Jesus isn't warm to the idea as he criticizes those who have gathered to watch, "Unless you [all] see signs, you [all] will not believe." (John 4:48) The man only wanted to see one sign: his son recovered from his illness. He continues to beg, "Sir, come down before my little boy dies."  Jesus did not go with the man, however.  Instead Jesus gave a promise, "Go, your son will live."  (v. 50)  The story tells us that the man trusted in Jesus and set off to walk the 20 miles back home. The man believed, but it would be a day's walk to see if what Jesus said would come true.  How often is this true in our own lives? We hear the promises of Jesus but we still need to walk to see them fulfilled. It often is a long walk of faith between believing and seeing.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or  Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 

 


1/30/2022

 Sermon

This week we hear the story of Jesus and a Samaritan woman at the well near a city in Samaria.  (John 4:5-42)  Jesus asks the woman for a drink of water. The Samaritan woman has a history of her own and she appears to be an outcast, marginalized by her people and culture.  Because she is a Samaritan woman with a "complicated" history, it seems odd that Jesus would interact with her, let alone ask for a drink of water.  Yet as the story unfolds, we begin to understand that it is Jesus who provides a different kind of water. The water that Jesus offers is living water and it is offered for all of God's people; Samaritans, gentiles, outcast and marginalized, down-trodden and broken.  The woman asks, "Where can I get this living water?"   

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or  Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


01/23/2022

 Sermon

In the story for this weekend (John 2:13-22), Jesus walks into the courtyards around the temple in Jerusalem and does the unthinkable. He drives away the cattle and sheep that were there for the purpose of temple sacrifice and he upset the table where the money changers were exchanging Roman money for Jewish money. After the dust settles, the priests come up to Jesus and ask, "What gives you the right to do what you just did?" Jesus points to Himself and says, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Why?  Jesus was proclaiming Himself as the new temple. Jesus was telling us that He was the place (or person) through whom we know God.

What does it mean for us that we can know God by knowing Jesus? How does it change our lives knowing that God is not confined to a building but lives were we live?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or  Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


01/16/2022

 Sermon

Imagine it . . .  Jesus and the disciples attend a wedding celebration where beloved family and friends gather to eat, to drink and to give thanks and praise that God has brought these two people together!  Lovely!  As was customary in the ancient culture of Jerusalem, the party was expected to last for several days . . . but Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the first to notice that the wine has run out.  Wishing to avoid the shame that would fall upon the bridegroom, Mary brings the matter to the attention of Jesus.  Jesus responds with his first public miracle and quietly changes water into wine.  Meanwhile, the disciples of Jesus witness this first miracle and they believe in him.  

Join us this weekend as we dive into the story of this miracle and consider how the elements of this story relate to our own lives; as believers in Jesus Christ, as participants in the feast of life, as witnesses to God's power in our own lives, and as imperfect recipients of God's unending grace, mercy, and love.  Beloved, come to the feast, behold the miracle and know you are loved!

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or  Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


01/09/2022

 Sermon

In the Bible, baptism is presented in a number of different ways.  For John the Baptizer, baptism was a symbolic washing away of our past sins.  For Paul, we were baptized into the Body of Christ.  For Jesus, baptism was an entrance into his mission and ministry.  Which of these is true for us as baptized followers of Jesus?  I will give you a hint; the answer is "d" all of the above.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or  Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 


01/02/2022

 Sermon

Epiphany! Eureka!  How blessed is our world by the birth of the Christ child!  Wise men bearing gifts, astrologers who followed the star of Jesus, sought out the place where they might honor the new king!  Jesus the Messiah is born!  

This week we hear through scripture this story of the wise men bearing gifts for Jesus who is revealed to the world as king.  We contemplate the significance of this event, not only to those present at the time, but for all of creation and for all of the ages . . . including our own.  

Join us as we think about the breath of this little Christ child and how deeply that breath connects in a very real way to our own today and every day.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or  Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link. 



12/24/2021

 Sermon

For many years I have taught that true love always involves sacrifice.  While that is true, as I get older I also have come to the conclusion that true love also involves vulnerability.  Jesus not only showed God's love through his sacrificial death on the cross, but also through the vulnerable life that he was born into.  The Son of God became the most vulnerable of all creatures - a human baby.  God's Son would know birth, pain, puberty, touch, friendship, laughter, heartache, success, failure, joy, and death.  To live is to experience all of that and more.  God came to this earth and became vulnerable.  What love!  Join us as we celebrate that love and that God.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  Christmas Eve, December 24th, in person 5:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.  Online: you can also join us online. See above for the links to the two services.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.

 


12/19/2021

 Sermon

One of the things that I love most about the Christmas story is how God uses some of the most unlikely characters in the story of Jesus' birth.  God uses an adolescent girl and her reluctant fiancée.  God uses a formally barren mother-to-be and the emperor of the known world.  God uses a group of shabby shepherds, a very unhelpful innkeeper, and a group of astronomers from the East.  God uses a cross section of humanity to enter into the very heart of the human story through God's Son, Jesus.  Join us this weekend as we tell this traditional Christmas story in a not-so-traditional way using A Christmas Pageant written by Amanda Meisenheimer. 

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.

 


12/12/2021

 Sermon

By the year 550 B.C., the people of Israel had suffered near total annihilation.  They came within an eyelash of disappearing from the face of the earth.  For nearly 70 years, the Jews had lived in exile in Babylon.  But the people of God did not disappear.  God would save them from their exile.  They would feast again in their own land. God, in Isaiah 55, invites his people to a party, 'Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. . . Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.' (Isaiah 55:1-2)

The salvation of God's people would not be just for their sake, however, it would be for the sake of the world. The salvation that God gives us in Jesus Christ is not just for our sake, it is for the sake of the hurting world around us. What does this look like? 

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.

 


12/05/2021

 Sermon

 

Like the prophet Jeremiah, Ezekiel was called to deliver messages from God to the people of Israel during the time when Israel was in exile in Babylon.  For Ezekiel, God shared God's instructions to prophesy through spectacular (and sometimes really weird) visions.  

Join us this week as we hear about Ezekiel's vision of the Valley of the Dry Bones and Ezekiel's prophetic vision of God's redeeming power to resurrect Israel, even after they had turned away from God to worship idols and had been sent by God into exile.   Join us as we also contemplate God's redeeming power in our world today.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.

 


11/28/2021

 Sermon

It is a dark time for God's people of Judah.  King Jeconiah has been forced from his throne, the sacred city of Jerusalem is being destroyed, and God's people have been driven out to Babylon.  They are now aliens in this foreign land, hoping that this time of exile will soon end so they can go home.  In this time of darkness the prophet Jeremiah has a message from God to those in exile . . . hunker down, build homes, find wives for your sons and husbands for your daughters . . . multiply and prosper, because you will be in Babylon for generations.  

Imagine being suddenly displaced from your hometown and taken to a foreign country where the food and customs are different and the native language is not your own.  You may have a trade, but no job and the money in your pocket is useless.  Meanwhile, your cozy home is inaccessible and you have no idea when you will be able to return there.  You are almost hopeless.  But God has words of hope in this darkness and the prophet Jeremiah shares those words of hope in this time of exile.  God has a plan for your welfare.

Join us as we explore this time of exile and seek to understand what it meant for the ancient people of Judah and what those times of exile mean in our lives as we ask ourselves, "What might God doing with and for us as we experience feelings of exile?"  "What might God be preparing us for?"

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.

 


11/21/2021

 Sermon

About 700 years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah wrote these words, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness - on them light has shined. (Isaiah 9:2)."  The world around Isaiah was turbulent and threatening.  The armies of the Assyrian Empire were gobbling up land and peoples and it looked like Jerusalem was next.  All looked dark.  Yet God, through Isaiah, proclaimed hope; God proclaimed that light has come.  It was true; the people of God would survive. 

In another dark time for God's people, 700 years later, these same words would be applied to Jesus, who would come as the light of the world.  What does it mean for Jesus to be the light in a dark world?  Join us to find out.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.



11/14/2021

 Sermon

About 750 years before the birth of Jesus, the country of Israel was in a time of relative peace and prosperity. In this time of success the people believed that they were the most blessed people on earth.  After all, God was certainly on their side – look how rich and successful they were! The worship services were full. But the success of 8th Century Israel was not well distributed; the wealth was concentrated in very small circles and many were left without. 
  
God, who has always had a special affinity for the poor, sent a prophet named Amos to the leaders of Israel and God spoke powerfully through him. Especially upsetting was what was being done to hurt the poor under the guise of religiosity.  God had seen enough. God, through Amos, said, 
'I hate, I despise your festivals,
   and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. . . . 
Take away from me the noise of your songs;

   I will not listen to the melody of your harps. 
But let justice roll down like waters,
   and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.' (Amos 5:21-24)

What matters more to God than beautiful worship? Justice and righteousness.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.



11/07/2021

 Sermon

Elijah! This ancient name may sound familiar as the 9th century BCE prophet who proved Baal to be a false god and then ordered the slaying of 450 of Baal's prophets.  You may remember that Elijah's life was in danger from King Ahab's wife Jezebel, the evil queen of Israel, and that Elijah ran away to the mountains in fear of his life.  There he hid, anxious and worried and perhaps even angry with God, grieving that his life had come to this point.  In the mountains, Elijah, in the midst of his grief, encounters God in a very peculiar way. 

On this weekend, as we observe All Saints Day, some of us grieve for our loved ones and may wonder if God hears our cries and feels our grief.  We may feel out of touch and cannot feel God's presence, perhaps like Elijah in the midst of his own anxiety, fear and grief.  Join us as we ponder this story and contemplate how God may speak to us in our grief and in the many seasons of our lives.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.

 


10/31/2021

 Sermon

In this week's gospel lesson (John 8:31-36), Jesus is talking to group of people who are just starting to believe in him.  Jesus says to them, “If you continue (abide, hang out) in my word, you will know the truth and that truth will set you free.”  What we abide in, what we hang out in, shapes us.  There is a saying in Spanish that I have always liked, “Dime con quien anda, y te digo quien eres.” (Tell me who you hang out with and I will tell you who you are.)  As we celebrate the Confirmation of five young people this weekend, the best counsel we can give them is to do all that they can to hang out with Jesus and allow him to hang out with them. In doing so, Jesus will shape their lives.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.

 


10/24/2021

 Sermon

A young shepherd boy named David is minding his father's sheep one day when he receives a call that would change his life forever. God had told the prophet, Samuel, to anoint this young boy to be the next king of Israel. There was a problem, however: Israel already had a king and he was very much alive and very, very jealous. God's call to David would put David on a journey that take more than 40 chapters of the Bible to tell. David would not only eventually be known as Israel's greatest poet, musician, warrior, and king, he would be known as one of Israel's most famous fallen saints and forgiven sinners. Through it all, God would refer to him as "A Man after God's Own Heart." What are we to learn from this most famous saint and sinner?  How does David's call from God inform our own call from God?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:30 (indoors) or Sunday morning (indoors) at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.

 


10/17/2021

 Sermon

If you attended Sunday school as a child, this was probably a story you learned. A young boy named Samuel is living in the temple and he hears a call from God.  "Samuel, Samuel."  At first Samuel thinks it is Eli, the priest. So he runs in to ask. "Here I am. You called?"  But it wasn't the priest who called. "Go back to bed."  The call comes again and again.  Again and again, Samuel runs in to ask Eli.  Finally, Eli suspects that this call is more than a nightmare.  Eli tells the boy, "If you hear the call again, say 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'" Sure enough, the call from God comes again. (1 Samuel 3)

Is it just pastors who are called or does God call each of us? Is there a voice in the middle of the night calling you to a deeper relationship with God or a deeper commitment to God's plan to renew God's creation and gather all things back to Godself?   

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:45 (outdoors - bring a lawn chair and probably a blanket) or Sunday morning (indoors) at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.

 


10/10/2021

 Sermon

This week we hear the story of the ancient Israelites.  Having recently been freed after 400 years of slavery in Egypt, they are led through the Red Sea by Moses and into the wilderness.  They are tired, hungry, thirsty and . . . complaining, "We were better off in Egypt!  At least we had something to eat!"  God hears their complaints . . . and provides.

This story reminds me of how often we take God's provision for granted, sometimes taking it lightly or treating it dismissively.  We have all been at some point in a bind, needing something or needing something resolved.  Can you see yourself under those circumstances, shrugging your shoulders and rolling your eyes, saying, "Oh well . . . God will provide."?  Ho hum.

Join us this week as we contemplate God's provision. How did God's provision show up in the lives of our ancient ancestors?  How and where does God's provision show up in our own lives today?  And what does that mean?  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 6:00 (outdoors - bring a lawn chair and probably a blanket) or Sunday morning (indoors) at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


10/03/2021

 Sermon

I would be willing to bet that you have heard the story many, many times. Most of us have grown up with the movies, The 10 Commandments and the Prince of Egypt. God's people had been enslaved in Egypt for many years. Their cry rises up to a God who they were convinced had forgotten them. But God had not forgotten. He heard their cry and remembered the promises He had made many years before. Out of a burning bush, God calls a man named Moses and issues a call, 'I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people out of Egypt.' 

Moses has a multitude of excuses why that would be a bad idea. But God's answer is always the same, 'Don't worry about it, I will be with you.' Moses asks, 'Who am I to do this great thing?' God replies, 'Don't worry about it, I will be with you.' Moses responds, 'What if they ask me who sent me, what shall I say?' God repeats, 'Don't worry about it, I will be with you.' 'What if they don't believe me?' 'Don't worry about it, I will be with you.' 'I am not eloquent of speech; I'm slow of tongue.' 'Don't worry about it, I will be with you.' Moses will not go alone. God will be with him.

What is God calling you to do right now? What excuses are you putting forth in response? Regardless of the excuse, we can trust the answer will be the same, 'Don't worry about it, I will be with you.'

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 6:15 (outdoors - bring a lawn chair and probably a blanket) or Sunday morning (indoors) at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


09/26/2021

 Sermon

Ladders are not only used to climb up.  Sometimes ladders are used to come down.  Even theologically, we often think that somehow, someway, our job is to climb up to God when in fact in the Bible it is God who always comes down to us, even if we don't deserve it.

In this week's Bible story (Genesis 28), it seems like the main character, Jacob, is one of those who just doesn't deserve it.  Jacob is dishonest, underhanded, and - at times - just mean.  Yet, in this week's story, God comes down to him - not to punish, but to bless.  Wait!!!!  That seems messed up!!!!  But God sees a much bigger picture than we do.  Just what picture?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 6:30 (outdoors - bring a lawn chair and probably a blanket) or Sunday morning (indoors) at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


09/19/2021

 Sermon

When our children were small, it was part of our job as parents to help them become independent and capable of making good choices.  It isn't easy work, in fact it is hard and frustrating.  It is much easier and faster to choose their clothes for them, to cut their meat, to put the straw in their juice boxes.  Somewhere along the line, a wise person gave Sonya and me some great advise.  Offer choices to our children but limit the choices to two.  'Do you want the blue shorts or the red shorts?'  Inevitably, the cry would go out - "I WANT THE YELLOW SHORTS!!"  Sorry, do you want the blue or the red? You choose.

There are many times in life where the options we are given are not what we want.  In this week's Bible lesson (Genesis 22), Abraham is given the option between two horrible and unimaginable choices.  How would Abraham survive the choice he would have to make?  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 6:45 (outdoors - bring a lawn chair) or Sunday morning (indoors) at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


09/12/2021

 Sermon

During this last 18 months of pandemic, we have spent a great deal of time talking about the essential workers around us.  We have been reminded over and over again that our sick and our elderly are not cared for via Zoom but by people (nurses, CNA's, doctors, techs) who put themselves in harm’s way to serve and care.  The hamburger that we eat from the drive-thru, the bread that we use to make our sandwiches, the orange juice that we take from our refrigerators comes through a chain of people who needed to work to provide for us. God gave this food to us through farmers and ranchers, truckers and packing house workers, factory workers and grocers.

In this week's Bible reading (Genesis 1), we are reminded of what God had to create first before humans could be created: light, air, dry land, vegetation, seasons, and animals.  God had to set the stage before we could appear.  Knowing this, how are we called to respond?   

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 7:15 (outdoors - bring a lawn chair) or Sunday morning (indoors) at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


09/05/2021

 Sermon

This week's gospel tells the story of Jesus healing the young daughter of a Gentile woman.  Gentiles were not part of the Jewish community of faith and this healing was a significant moment of change for the ministry of Jesus.  Join us as we ponder the significance of this healing as an example of the healing love, comfort, and humanity that we, too, are called to show all of our fellow human beings.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 7:30 (outdoors - bring a lawn chair) or Sunday morning (indoors) at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


08/29/2021

 Sermon

Most of us were told sometime in our youth, "When you point a finger at someone, there are three more fingers pointing back at you."  It is easy to point.  It is easy to identify something outside of ourselves and label it as evil.  But - what is easy is not always what is best. The Russian theologian, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, says it well in his book, The Gulag Archipelago, “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”  It is easy to point fingers at others.  It is hard to truly examine our own heart. 

In today's gospel lesson (Mark 7), a group of religious leaders criticize Jesus for not enforcing the 'traditions of the elders.' In the eyes of the leaders, Jesus and his disciples are thus 'unclean' before God.  Jesus counters by telling those religious leaders that we all must begin not by pointing outward, but examining inward. 

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


08/22/2021

 Sermon

"Choose this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my house we will serve the LORD."  (Joshua 24:15)  I do not know for certain but I would hazard a sizable wager that somewhere in your house - on a plaque or a refrigerator magnet - you have this verse written.  It sounds like such a good idea.  In the midst of all the choices we have around us, we should choose the LORD.  On a plaque or refrigerator magnet, it sounds easy.  But it is far from easy.  In fact, it is impossible.  What do I mean? 

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


08/16/2021

 Sermon

Towards the end of Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he uses wonderful imagery about the whole armor of God, the battle gear God equips us with that makes us strong to fend off the devil and all evil.  

Join us this weekend as we worship together and contemplate our reliance on God's strength and on the power of God's armor in our lives.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 7:00 in our parking lot (see above) or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See above for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


08/08/2021

 Sermon

The apostle Paul, once a great persecutor of Christians, was transformed by Jesus and became one of the most prolific leaders of the early Christian church; teaching, spreading the good news of Jesus Christ and planting churches in many places.  Paul also wrote letters to many of those churches, reminding them of their identity in Christ and exhorting them to live out their lives as children of God, in the image of God.

Join us in worship this weekend as we visit Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus and as we too are reminded of God's great love for us and of how that love transforms to live out our identity in Christ.  Come, hear the good news!     

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See below for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


08/01/2021

 Sermon

By the end of King Solomon's life, he had it all: wealth, respect, wisdom, and countless monuments and projects that bore his name. Yet, as old age settled in, Solomon began to have his doubts. As the old king reflected on his wealth and conquest he came to the conclusion that it was all ultimately just smoke; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." (Ecclesiastes 1:2) It is all just vapor, smoke, mist.  It is here today and gone tomorrow.

In this week's Bible story (John 6:24-35), the people come up to Jesus looking once again for another miracle. Jesus had just fed 5000 with five loaves and two fish; they wanted more. Jesus tells them, "Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which [I] will give you." (John 6:27)  I wonder if many of our problems could be solved if we just knew the difference between food that perishes and food that endures for eternal life.  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See below for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


07/25/2021

 Sermon

This week we encounter Jesus through two stories in the Gospel of John.  First, a throng of at least 5,000 people has been fed by Jesus  with only five loaves of bread and two fish; and the crowd begins to see Jesus as the long-awaited prophet sent to save them from opression.  They want to make him their king . . . right now!  In the next story, it is night.  The disciples are rowing through a stormy sea when Jesus appears, walking on water, and they are terrified . . . until Jesus speaks and miraculously the boat they are on immediately reaches shore.  Join us as we reflect on the connection between these stories and make connections to our own lives today.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See below for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


07/18/2021

 Sermon

Jesus had just finished a long day of teaching and preaching and healing. The 5000+ who had gathered were hungry and the grocery stores were closed.  The disciples were concerned, where would they get enough food to feed the throngs?  Then Jesus throws them a curveball. "You feed them," he says.  Wait.  What?  The best caterers with a $30,000 budget could not feed this mob. 

"What have you got?" Jesus asked.  "Five loaves of bread and two fish," they responded. What happens next is the stuff that miracles are made of.  Jesus takes the meager scarcity and creates abundance from it.  "All ate and were satisfied." (Mark 6:30-44)  We all know what it is like to think we do not have enough. How does Jesus take our scarcity and create abundance from it?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 7:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See below for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


07/11/2021

 Sermon

In the gospel lesson for this weekend, Jesus sends his apprentices out into the world to get some real-world experience. Up until now they have been rather passive learners, sitting at the feet of Jesus as he teaches, preaches, heals, and casts out unclean spirits. Now it is their turn. After all, apprentices need their practice. 

The twist in the story, however, is the instructions that Jesus sends with them, "Take nothing for your journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in your belts; but wear sandals and don't put on two tunics." (Mark 6:8-9)  No company credit card. No hotel reservations. No meal per diem.  What does Jesus want his apprentices to learn from this?  What can we learn?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 7:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See below for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


07/04/2021

 Sermon

The Gospel of Mark for this week poses two very different stories.  The first one tells of the rejection of Jesus in his hometown, prompting Jesus to be "amazed at their unbelief."  The second tells of Jesus sending the apostles out, two by two, to heal by the power and authority of Jesus.  You might ask "What does one have to do with the other?"  

Join us for worship this week as we hear the gospel and contemplate the connection between faith and healing, and how we as members of the body of Christ and disciples of Christ are part of this connection.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  RSVP's for Sunday are required (Saturdays no).  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See below for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


06/27/2021

 Sermon

Faith can take many shapes and forms.  Jesus and his disciples are surrounded by a crowd of people when the president of the local synagogue, a man named Jairus, comes up to him and throws himself at Jesus' feet. "My little daughter is at the point of death.  Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live." (Mark 5:23)  As Jesus and Jairus make their way to Jairus' home, another desperate person is introduced into the story: a nameless woman who had been sick for 12 years. In her desperation, she also throws herself at Jesus' feet with faith that Jesus can help. How does Jesus respond?  What can we learn from the faith of these two people?  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  RSVP's for Sunday are required (Saturdays no).  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See below for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link


06/20/2021

 Sermon

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church, was a man of great faith who probably did more than any other person to positively transform England in the 18th Century.  Early in Wesley’s career, he accepted the call to do mission work in the new colony of Georgia in the United States.  During one of his Atlantic crossings a severe storm broke out.  Wesley clung to his bunk and hid his head, nearly dead from fear.  When he raised his head, there he saw a group of Moravian Christians calmly gathered to hold their daily worship service and sing praises to God.  Watching this group of Christians, so calm, so unperturbed by the howling winds and crashing waves, Wesley realized he was witnessing something that he lacked.  Their faith seemed waterproof.  In that moment, Wesley asked God to show him how to have that kind of faith – faith that would give him an inner calm, even in the midst of outer storms.  Perhaps Wesley's prayer should be ours as well.  How do we open ourselves to a waterproof faith?    

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  RSVP's for Sunday are required (Saturdays no).  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See below for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


06/13/2021

 Sermon

About 600 years before Jesus was born, the King of the Babylonian Empire, King Nebuchadnezzar, has a dream.  He dreams of an enormous tree that covers the entire known world.  He calls upon the prophet Daniel to interpret the meaning of the dream.  Daniel tells the king that that tree is a metaphor for the growing Babylonian Empire and that it would cover 250,000 square miles.  That is a big plant!! 

630 years later, Jesus is teaching the crowds about a different kingdom, the Kingdom of God.  Instead of comparing it to a mighty tree, he takes the opposite approach: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown, it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (Mark 4:31-32)  Why would Jesus pick such an unimpressive plant?  How is God's reign in this world like a scrubby little bush?  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  RSVP's for Sunday are required (Saturdays no).  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See below for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


06/06/2021

 Sermon

The gospel for this week, Mark 3:20-35, is a strong and somewhat complex story about the power of Jesus over Satan and what it means to be a follower (a disciple) of Jesus Christ.  Join us as we dive into the text to gain a clear understanding of God's goodness and power over evil and what it means to be part of the family of Jesus Christ. 

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  RSVP's for Sunday are required (Saturdays no).  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See below for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


05/30/2021

 Sermon

This weekend, we mark something a little different in our church year.  Normally, the festival days of the church calendar revolve around the life of Jesus.  Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus; Epiphany - the coming of the wise men; Good Friday - his death.  Holy Trinity Sunday marks a Church doctrine: the Doctrine of the Trinity.  Holy Trinity Sunday marks the way that we can be called children of the Most High God. 

We have been called into the presence of a God powerful enough to create the universe – out of nothing.  We have been called into the presence of a God who set the electron spinning around the nucleus of the first hydrogen atom.  Yet, this God loved us so much that He came to live with us in God's Son, Jesus.  This same God knows us by name and names us as His children.  How can this be?  It is the Holy Trinity that helps us understand.  

Come and see!  Come and worship this Triune God!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  RSVP's for Sunday are required (Saturdays no).  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See below for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


05/23/2021

 Sermon

When I was a kid in Southwest Iowa, people in my hometown would have to go to Missouri to buy their fireworks. Every summer, about two weeks before the 4th, you knew the neighbors who had made the 100 mile trip.   Nowadays, the fireworks that people buy are the fancy stuff – the fountains, the ground spinners, rockets, missiles, and peonies.  There are fireworks displays in my cul-de-sac that rival what the local cities put on.  I don’t remember that stuff being available 45 years ago.  We had firecrackers: Lady-fingers, Blackcats, and (the holy grail of firecrackers) the M-80. 45 years ago, the goal wasn't to light up the sky; the goal was to blow stuff up.  Pop cans, dirt clods, old shoes, it didn’t matter – it was about destruction. 

This weekend we celebrate Pentecost, the day when God's Holy Spirit is set loose upon the world to blow stuff up.  What do I mean by that?  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  RSVP's for Sunday are required (Saturdays no).  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See below for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


05/16/2021

 Sermon

This week we observe the Ascension of Jesus, marking the end of the earthly ministry for the Son of God. "He ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father."  Each time we recite the Apostles Creed together, we repeat this verse.  But what was the significance of the ascension of Jesus when it occurred and what is the significance in our lives now?  Join us this weekend as we reflect on the Ascension of Jesus and the bearing it has on our lives today.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  RSVP's for Sunday are required (Saturdays no).  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See below for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


05/09/2021

 Sermon

There is a peculiar little story in Exodus 17.  By God's hand, Moses had just led the Israelites out of their slavery in Egypt. They were on the road to Mt. Sinai where they would worship God and receive His law.  But these lands through which they were passing were not empty.  While in route, the Israelites were attacked. Moses ordered Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”  So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered.  As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites would prevail, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites would recover. The battle continued throughout the day and Moses’ hands grew tired. His helpers took a stone and put it under him so he could sit.  For a while that helped, but the battle continued and Moses became more and more fatigued.  Finally, Aaron and Hur, two of Moses' closest advisors, held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.  Thus Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. 

Some 1400 years later, Jesus told His disciples, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12)   For Jesus, love is not an emotion, it is an action.  I wonder if Aaron and Hur actions toward Moses give us the best definition of love - to support each other, to hold each other up so we can do what we are called to do.  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  RSVP's required.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See below for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


05/02/2021

 Sermon

The last words that Jesus gave to his disciples before he ascended into heaven were, "Stay here in Jerusalem and you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)  The rest of the Book of Acts follows that geographical trajectory.  It begins in Jerusalem, then expands to Judea and Samaria, and continues to the end of their known world.  The disciples would soon discover, however, that the ends of the earth was not just a point on the map.  God's love, grace, and acceptance were meant for a whole host of people they were not expecting. In the Bible story for this weekend (Acts 8:26-40), one of those disciples is led to an encounter with one of those unexpected recipients of God's grace: an Ethiopian eunuch.  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  RSVP's required.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See below for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.


04/25/2021

 Sermon

For more than 50 years, the Fourth Sunday of Easter - this Sunday - has been known as Good Shepherd Sunday.  Every year, the Bible readings assigned for this Sunday speak of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.  Of course, this begs the question, what makes for a "good" shepherd?  The 23rd Psalm reminds us that a good shepherd leads the sheep to green pastures and still waters.  The good shepherd restores and heals.  The good shepherd leads the sheep on good paths even through difficult times.  Jesus also reminds us that a good shepherd knows their sheep and the sheep know them.  On one hand, this sounds kind of cozy; Jesus and his flock hanging out together.  But - in this week's reading (John 10) - Jesus reminds us that there are more sheep than just us.  Jesus calls out to the wider community.  Jesus never stops looking and calling.  What does that mean for us?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person: Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  RSVP's required.  Online: you can join us online for our live-streamed service beginning at 10:00 on Sundays. See below for the link.  If you miss the live-stream, you can watch a recording of the same service afterwards using the same link.  God willing.  


04/18/2021

 Sermon

I would imagine that unless one has been a caretaker for someone with a disability, you don’t know what it feels like.  Whether the person cared for is a child or an adult, a parent or a spouse, it is hard, hard, hard work.  If it is hard now, how much harder must it have been in Jesus’ day? 

So begins the story that lies behind this week's Bible text, Acts 3:12-21.  The story begins with a man who was lame from birth, begging for alms outside of the gate to the Jerusalem temple.  Each and every day, someone from his family would carry him from home and lay him near the busiest street corner of the city.  Day after day hundreds of people would pass him by, dropping change in his cup. None of them, least of all the man born lame, could imagine a different life.  But something different came: the power of the resurrected Jesus through two of His disciples.  What happened next?    

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person, Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  RSVP's required.  A video of Saturday's worship service will be available by 7:00 p.m. Saturday - God willing.  


04/11/2021

 Sermon

It is the week after Easter.  Jesus has died.  Jesus has risen.  But Jesus' disciple, Thomas, still needs proof.  He needs to see the holes in Jesus' hands and side to believe that Jesus is alive.  Join us this week as we consider how and where those holes fit in the context of our own complicated lives and in our faith in the risen Savior.

Come and see!  Come and worship!  In person, Saturday evening at 5:00 or Sunday morning at 10:00.  RSVP's required.  A video of Saturday's worship service will be available by 7:00 p.m. Saturday - God willing.    


04/04/2021

 Sermon

I bet that you know the Bible story (Mark 16:1-8) that will be preached this weekend.  Three followers of Jesus go to the tomb expecting to do what they felt they needed to do. They hadn't had time to properly prepare Jesus' body for burial. They hadn't had time to give Jesus' body the love and respect it deserved. When they arrived at the grave, expecting the stench of death, they were met by a messenger with an unexpected message.  "You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He has been raised. . . Go and tell his disciples."  (vv. 6-7)  But here is where this weird story gets even weirder. The story ends with these women sprinting from the tomb, in terror and amazement, and they said nothing to anyone. 

Hmmmm..... they must have said something to someone, otherwise Easter worship will feel pretty empty.  Obviously, the story didn't end there.  Who told you?  Who will you tell?  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  Sunday morning at 8:00 in our parking lot.  Bring your lawn chairs!  No reservation needed.  OR  Sunday morning at 10:00 indoors but RSVP needed.  This service will be recorded.  


03/28/2021

 Sermon

This weekend we celebrate Palm Sunday.  To be perfectly honest, I have always had an ambivalent relationship with Palm Sunday.  On one hand, after 34 days of Lent, we are all ready for some celebration.  The parade-like atmosphere of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey while the crowds wave palm branches and shout 'Hosanna!' seems to provide a new and hopeful mood.  But, for those who know the story, we know what Jesus will encounter in just a few days.  Shouts of 'Hosanna' will turn into screams of 'Crucify him!'  Jesus comes in the gate as a king and leaves the gate as a prisoner marching towards execution.  The reality is, however, that Jesus comes in like a king and leaves still a king - a king who gives up his life for the sake of the world.  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  Digitally beginning Saturday at 7:00 p.m. via our Website or in person - Saturdays at 5:00 or Sundays at 10:00 (reservations required).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


03/21/2021

 Sermon

If you were to ask me my favorite Bible verse, it probably would not be John 3:16.  I have nothing against John 3:16. I think that it is a perfectly fine summation of the Gospel.  But, over the years I have grown very fond of Ephesians 1:9-10.  “God has made known to us the mystery of God’s will, . . . set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in Jesus, things in heaven and things on earth.”  In these two verses, we see the eternal plan of God – we see the purpose of scripture:  God's desire to take this broken, divided world and bring it back home, gathering it back to himself.  In today's gospel lesson (John 12:20-33), Jesus shares with the world how he will draw all people to himself.  How?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  Digitally beginning Saturday at 7:00 p.m. via our Website or in person - Saturdays at 5:00 or Sundays at 10:00 (reservations required).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


03/14/2021

 Sermon

In this week's text. Ephesians 2:1-10, the apostle Paul vividly describes the spiritual state of the church in Ephesus as "dead."  What?????  Yes, dead. With an ominous beginning, the letter explains how and why the people of the church were dead.  The letter takes a turn, though, and ultimately bears the message of God's transformative grace, forgiveness, and salvation for all who believe in Jesus Christ.  

This letter was relevant for the church in Ephesus, still in its infancy in the first century. Early Christians there were not far removed from a Roman culture that thrived on power and opulence, in which there were countless opportunities to sin.  Perhaps, not too surprisingly, 2000 years later, Paul's message . . . all of it . . . resonates today.  Join us to hear how God's gift of grace transforms us from "dead" to fully alive.   

Come and see!  Come and worship!  Digitally beginning Saturday at 7:00 p.m. via our Website or in person - Saturdays at 5:00 or Sundays at 10:00 (reservations required).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


03/07/2021

 Sermon

In the story for this weekend (John 2:13-22), Jesus walks into the courtyards around the temple in Jerusalem and does the unthinkable. He drives away the cattle and sheep that were there for the purpose of temple sacrifice and he upset the table where the money changers were exchanging Roman money for Jewish money. After the dust settles, the priests come up to Jesus and ask, "What gives you the right to do what you just did?" Jesus points to Himself and says, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Jesus was proclaiming Himself as the new temple. Jesus was telling us that He was the place (or person) through whom we know God.

What does it mean for us that we can know God by knowing Jesus? How does it change our lives knowing that God is not confined to a building but lives were we live? 

Come and see!  Come and worship!  Digitally beginning Saturday at 7:00 p.m. via our Website or in person - Saturdays at 5:00 or Sundays at 10:00 (reservations required).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


02/28/2021

 Sermon

As World War II broke out, most of England's coal miners wanted to leave the mines and become soldiers.  They felt that soldiers received more social acceptance and recognition than coal miners.  Knowing the importance of the work these brave men were doing, Winston Churchill delivered a speech one day to thousands of coal miners.  He painted for them a mental picture of how important their job really was. Churchill said, “We shall not fail, and then some day, when children ask, ‘What did you do to win this inheritance for us, and to make our name so respected among men?’ one will say: ‘I was a fighter pilot’; another will say: ‘I was in the Submarine Service’; another: ‘I marched with the Eighth Army’; a fourth will say: ‘None of you could have lived without the convoys and the Merchant Seamen’; and you in your turn will say, with equal pride and with equal right: ‘We cut the coal.'”  

In today's gospel message, Jesus tells his disciples that sacrifice is the central feature of what it means to be a disciple.  Sacrifice comes in many shapes and sizes, often unseen and underground.  What does sacrifice look like for you?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  Digitally beginning Saturday at 7:00 p.m. via our Website or in person - Saturdays at 5:00 or Sundays at 10:00 (reservations required).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


02/21/2021

 Sermon

In this week's gospel lesson we hear that Jesus is baptized, anointed by the Holy Spirit, called "Beloved Son" by a voice from heaven and driven into the desert wilderness by the Holy Spirit . . . all activity that appears to be within the space of mere minutes.  Life sometimes changes just that quickly.  A child is born . . . and a parent's life changes.  A loved one dies . . . and life is not the same.  Something grievous occurs in our own life . . . and we find ourselves thrust into an unknown place at the beginning of our own wilderness experience.  In these verses (Mark 1:9-15) we find few words to describe this wilderness, but also much to ponder together and to reflect upon.  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via Facebook or in person - Saturdays at 5:00 or Sundays at 10:00 (reservations required).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


02/14/2021

 Sermon

Six days before today's Bible story (Mark 9:2-9), Jesus told his disciples what was going to meet them when they get to Jerusalem.  "The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”  (v. 31) The road that they will enter will not be easy.  Six days later, he takes three of his disciples up the side of a mountain and shows them a glimpse of hope; he shows them a glimpse of his resurrected self.  When we are in the midst of difficult times, where can we find such glimpses of hope?  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or from the Shepherd of the Hill webpage or in person - Saturdays at 5:00 or Sundays at 10:00 (reservations required).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


02/07/2021

 Sermon

According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus began his ministry with a sermon of 18 words, "The time is fulfilled. The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the Good News." (Mark 1:15)  From that point on, Jesus sought to set people free.  Last week we spoke of a man who had an unclean spirit.  With a word, Jesus set him free and the people marvel at Jesus' authority. In this week's reading (Mark 1:29-39), the story continues.   That same night, Jesus enters into the home of one of his newly called disciples, Simon Peter.  Peter's mother-in-law is sick in bed with a fever.  Sickness and pain are cages that entrap one’s own spirit and destiny.  Like a caged bird, Peter's mother-in-law is unable to do what she feels called to do: to be hostess of the house, to serve Jesus.  What cages entrap our spirits?  What does Jesus do to free us?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or from the Shepherd of the Hill webpage.  We will be celebrating Holy Communion online this week.  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, communion bread recipes, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


01/31/2021

 Sermon

According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus began his ministry with a sermon of 18 words, "The time is fulfilled. The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the Good News." (Mark 1:15)  Today's Bible reading (Mark 1:21-28) begins to show us what it looks like when the Kingdom of God has come near:  in Jesus, unclean spirits are cast away.  What does the casting out of unclean spirits look like in our lives?    

Come and see!  Come and worship!  Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or from the Shepherd of the Hill webpage.  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


01/24/2021

 Sermon

One of the really cool keepsakes that Sonya and I have from Sonya’s father is a grandfather clock that he made for our wedding, 35 years ago.  On the front of the clock, on a small brass plate, it says, “It is always kairos time.”  The Greek language has two words for the concept of time.  The first word is “chronos.”  If someone walks up to you and asks you, “What time is it?” and you answer, “It is 7:30 or 12:20 or 5:45,” you are answering using the idea of “chronos” time.  Chronos is measurable, verifiable – chronological.  It has exact answers.  Kairos is a different idea of time.  Kairos time is not measurable.  Kairos time is "when you are good and ready" time.  Kairos time is "game time."   A baby – unless it is born caesarian - is born on kairos time not chronos time.  When you were ready to pop the question to that special person – that was kairos time. 

In this week's gospel lesson, Jesus begins his ministry with the words, "The time (kairos) is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news." What made that time - kairos time?  Could it be that our time is also kairos time?  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or from the Shepherd of the Hill webpage.  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


01/17/2021

 Sermon

The Bible story for this week (1 Samuel 3:1-10) is one of my favorites.  A little boy named Samuel is sleeping in the temple when he hears a voice calling his name, "Samuel. Samuel."  Logically, he thinks that it was the old priest, Eli, who called him so he runs in to investigate.  "You called?" he asks.  But it wasn't Eli that called.  "No, my son, I didn't call you. Go back to bed."  No more had Samuel snuggled back under the covers when he hears the voice again - "Samuel. Samuel."  Once again he runs to see what Eli wants. Same result. After a third time, Eli has an idea. "If this happens again, Samuel, answer with the words, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'" It does happen again. This time, Samuel responds, "Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening."  Does God still speak to us?  What can we do to listen for the voice of God?  How can we respond?  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or from the Shepherd of the Hill webpage.  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


01/10/2021

 Sermon

The scene found in this week's Bible story created quite the conundrum in the early Church.  Mark 1:1-11 tells the story of Jesus' baptism. The chapter begins with John the Baptist proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  Suddenly Jesus appears, not just to watch but to be baptized.  Wait a minute!  Jesus never committed any sins, what was there to confess and be cleansed from?

What happens next teaches us that baptism is more than just the washing away of sins.  As Jesus comes out of the water, the Spirit descends upon him and the voice of God echoes in the valley, "You are my Son, my beloved, in whom I am well pleased."  Jesus' true identity is proclaimed and He begins His ministry. Sooooooo.....good for Jesus, but what about us?  What does our baptism mean for us?

Come and see!  Come and worship!  Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or from the Shepherd of the Hill webpage.  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


01/03/2021

 Sermon

This Christmas many of us received a special gift that we will cherish for a long time from a beloved family member or friend.  It could have been a card or a book or a bauble, but it was chosen, given and received with much love; and we will reflect on that gift of love again and again.  The Christmas season is a time of reflection.  Join us this week as we reflect on the greatest gift of all: the gift we received through the birth of Jesus Christ.  Join us as we contemplate the significance of this gift for each of us personally and as a member of God's vast family . . . humanity.

(Just a reminder that we will be celebrating Holy Communion during this week's online worship.  Have bread and wine/juice ready.  If you would like to use the same bread recipe that we use for our online worship, scroll down to find the recipe.  There are also cups/wafers available for pickup on the bench in front of the church.  Take as many as you need.)  

Come and see!  Come and worship!  Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or from the Shepherd of the Hill webpage.  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


12/27/2020

 Sermon

For nearly the entire history of the Christian Church, hymns and other songs of worship have helped us to understand who God is and what God has done in His Son, Jesus Christ. Older hymns like "What Child Is This, Joy to the World, Silent Night, and Away in a Manger not only provoke nostalgic memories of our childhood, they also teach us important truths about Jesus. Newer songs of worship like Carol at the Manger remind us that Jesus is still present in our midst leading us to lives of love and service.

This weekend, join us as we sing these powerful proclamations of God's love, grace, power, and presence. In the words of Angels from the Realms of Glory, 'Come and worship! Come and worship! Worship Christ the new born King!

Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or from the Shepherd of the Hill webpage.  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


12/20/2020

 Sermon

In 2005, the Chicago White Sox won the World Series. Entering game 3 of the series they had a 2-0 lead. A win would all but assure their victory. The game went into extra innings and in the top of the 14th Geoff Blum who had only hit .200 all season came through with the game winning home run. He was perhaps the player least expected to make such a large contribution.

God, too, uses the least expected. In this weekend’s gospel lesson, we are told the story of Gabriel announcing to Mary that she is pregnant and will give birth to Jesus. Mary, a young, poor girl will give birth to “the Son of the Most High” and “the one who will reign over the house of Jacob forever” (Luke 1:32-33). God uses Mary to bring Jesus into the world. Like Mary we are all called by God, even if it is in a way that we least expect it.

Come and see.  Come and worship.  Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or from the Shepherd of the Hill webpage.  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


12/12/2020

 Sermon

In the year 587 B.C. armies from the Babylonian Empire broke through the walls of Jerusalem.  About 1/3 of Jerusalem's residents were killed that day.  Another 1/3, escaped out the back door, living to fight another day.  The final 1/3 were bound together in chains of misery and marched more than 500 miles to live the rest of their lives (and the lives of their children) in slavery and exile.

In Isaiah 40, God comes to His people with a word of hope.  This exile has been horrible, but it will not last forever. "Comfort, comfort my people . . . Speak tenderly to Jerusalem . . . In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD . . . Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low."  Why?  The LORD God comes with might and He will feed his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms. 

In this age of COVID - we have had a taste of exile. We are exiled from hugging our kids, from visiting our parents, from gathering with friends to eat and laugh.  For many, this exile has extolled a tremendous cost of life and livelihood.  But there is hope.  Exile has been hard, but it will not last forever.  Comfort, comfort my people God says. Immanuel (God with us) is here. 

Come and see.  Come and worship.  Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or from the Shepherd of the Hill webpage.  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


12/06/2020

 Sermon

In the year 587 B.C. armies from the Babylonian Empire broke through the walls of Jerusalem.  About 1/3 of Jerusalem's residents were killed that day.  Another 1/3, escaped out the back door, living to fight another day.  The final 1/3 were bound together in chains of misery and marched more than 500 miles to live the rest of their lives (and the lives of their children) in slavery and exile.

In Isaiah 40, God comes to His people with a word of hope.  This exile has been horrible, but it will not last forever. "Comfort, comfort my people . . . Speak tenderly to Jerusalem . . . In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD . . . Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low."  Why?  The LORD God comes with might and He will feed his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms. 

In this age of COVID - we have had a taste of exile. We are exiled from hugging our kids, from visiting our parents, from gathering with friends to eat and laugh.  For many, this exile has extolled a tremendous cost of life and livelihood.  But there is hope.  Exile has been hard, but it will not last forever.  Comfort, comfort my people God says. Immanuel (God with us) is here. 

Come and see.  Come and worship.  Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or from the Shepherd of the Hill webpage.  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


11/29/2020

 Sermon

Advent . . . the beginning of a new Church year!  Wow! We get to start a new year already???  Soon 2020 will be a distant memory???  Wait a minute . . . that's a new CHURCH year . . . 

Just when it seems that you cannot take another piece of bad news . . . the good news has arrived . . . Jesus is coming.  As we enter into the season of Advent, we prepare and we wait for the coming of the King.  2020 has been a long and difficult year; and we may not be able to put the troubles of this past year behind us quickly. But as we await the coming of Christ Jesus, even with our fears, frustrations and anxieties, in the midst of the chaos, we lean on and pray for the strength and love of the God who made us, who sustains us and who loves us beyond our comprehension.   Join us as we worship and share the good news!

Come and see.  Come and worship.  Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or from the Shepherd of the Hill webpage.  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


11/22/2020

 Sermon

We are in a time of waiting and we don't like it.  We have been told the good news that there are at least two COVID vaccines somewhere on the horizon.  They are in the test phases and the results look promising but . . . it will take a while.  The scientific process is tedious and tries our patience.  In the meantime we wait and we don't like it. 

Jesus has told his disciples that he will come back again.  It isn't a question of 'if' Jesus is coming, it is a question of when.  How will we know when he is here?  How will we know what to look for?  How do we wait faithfully?  We wait and we don't like it.  Jesus shares with us a story of faithful waiting
(Matthew 25:31-46). 

Come and see.  Come and worship.  Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or from the Shepherd of the Hill webpage.  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


11/15/2020

 Sermon

If we had to put a dollar value on what God has given us, what would it be?  Martin Luther gives us a good place to begin in his explanation of the phrase, "What is meant by 'daily bread'?" from the Small Catechism. Here is what Luther says, "Everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, such as meat, drink, clothing, shoes, house, homestead, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful magistrates, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like." (Luther's Small Catechism, Part Three, Fifth Petition) I'm not sure that it is even possible to put a dollar amount on all that.  

In this week's gospel lesson (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus gives us a parable about the importance of living faithfully. A landowner leaves for a long trip and gives three of his servants huge sums of money to take care of.  When the landowner returns, he discovers that two of the three have invested the money and earned massive returns.  The third, however, buried his money in a hole in the ground.  What happens next you will have to wait and find out.  But the question remains, "How are we called to invest the great gifts that God has given to us?"

Come and see.  Come and worship.  Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or from the Shepherd of the Hill webpage.  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, etc.) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. . 


11/08/2020

 Sermon

I'm not sure where I picked up the habit, but I am really bad about keeping the gas tank of my cars filled. There are people out there who - when that tank hits 1/2 full - they stop at the next available gas station and fill it up.  I am not one of those people. I wait until I'm way below 1/4 tank.  Why?  I don't know. I just do. The obvious question, of course, is: have I ever run out of gas? I refuse to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me.

In this week's gospel lesson, Jesus gives us a parable about the importance of being ready. Ten young people have been invited to a wedding celebration. As part of the wedding customs of the day, they are expected to bring oil lamps to light the way for the bride and groom. All ten of them had lamps, but only five had oil.  The other five, the foolish ones, were left outside, not able to attend the wedding party.  In life, unexpected things happen: accidents, illness, divorce, bankruptcy, pandemic. Do we have enough oil in our lamps?

Come and see.  Come and worship.  Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account, or making a reservation to worship indoors, Saturdays at 5:00 or Sundays at 10:00 a.m..  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


11/01/2020

 Sermon

What is a saint? For most of us, the word conjures up images of people who have lived - if not perfect - then exemplary lives. We think of St. Peter and St. Paul in the Bible who tirelessly traveled the known world proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, eventually becoming martyrs for their Christian faith. Or perhaps, we think of a particularly 'saintly' mother, grandmother, or aunt whose life was distinguished in service, patience, and love.  The Bible talks about 'saints' in another way. When Paul addresses his letter to the 'saints in Ephesus,' he is referring to those whom Jesus has called, gathered, and set aside for lives of faithful service to God and neighbor. When Paul refers to 'saints', he is not referring to perfect people (or even exemplary people); he is referring to people redeemed by the blood of Jesus. In this meaning of 'sainthood,' we are saints. In Jesus Christ, through His Holy Spirit, we have been called, gathered, enlightened, and set aside for God's work! In and through Jesus, we are the saints to whom Paul is writing.

This weekend we celebrate two things: All Saints' Day and Confirmation. This weekend we toll the bell for those saints in our lives who have died this past year, giving thanks to God that they had been called, gathered, and sanctified in Christ Jesus. On Sunday, in two afternoon services, nine young people will confess and affirm the faith that their parents confessed on the day when they were baptized. On Sunday, these nine young people proclaim that they are part of this community of 'saints' both living and dead. 

You, too, are part of this communion of saints. Come and see.  Come and worship.  Come and celebrate. Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account, or making a reservation to worship indoors, Saturdays at 5:00 or Sundays at 10:00 a.m..  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


10/25/2020

 Sermon

This weekend we celebrate Reformation Day.  On October 31, 1517, Dr. Martin Luther posted a list of 95 Theses for debate on the front door of the church in Wittenberg.  These 95 Theses all had something in common:  how is it that we can be freed from the spiritual chains that bind us.  Can we pay to have them removed?  Can we work harder to have them removed?  Can we follow more rules to have these chains removed?  

No, the only way that these chains can be removed is trusting in Jesus, who gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins.  It is this Jesus, who takes the links of the chains that bind us – many of which we have forged ourselves – and shatters them.  This wasn’t easy or painless.  Jesus took our spiritual chains and forged them into nails and by those nails, we were set free.  This is why the gospel of John proclaims to us, “When the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:31-36)

Come and see.  Come and worship.  Come and celebrate. Digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account, or making a reservation to worship indoors, Sundays at 10:00 a.m..  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


10/18/2020

 Sermon

One of the things that I so appreciate about Jesus is that he is not just Savior and Lord, but he is really smart as well. A group of people opposed to Jesus come up to him with a trick question, "Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to the emperor [according to religious law]?" (Matthew 22:15-22) Jesus asks them to show him a coin, "Whose image is imprinted on this coin?"  "Caesar," they reply.  "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God." 

I wish Jesus would have asked them, "Whose image is imprinted on you?"  The first chapter of the Bible is clear.  We are made in the image of God; God's image is imprinted on us.  I guess that means that we belong to God.  What does that mean for us? 

Come and see.  Come and worship.  Outside in the parking lot - Saturdays at 6:00 p.m., digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account, or making a reservation to worship indoors, Sundays at 10:00 a.m..  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


10/11/2020

 Sermon

In the Lutheran church where I grew up, I always knew when the sermon was coming to a close. Almost always, the pastor would end the sermon with the words, "And may the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7) When we heard these words, people would begin to stir. They would start reaching for the hymnals, getting ready to sing the hymn of the day. 

That 'peace of God which passes all understanding' sounds pretty good to us right now. Every day the news brings us something more to upset us: hurricanes, wildfires, COVID numbers, election ads, presidential debates, etc., etc., etc.,  So how we stop worrying and start enjoying this peace of God?

Come and see.  Come and worship.  Outside in the parking lot - Saturdays at 6:00 p.m., digitally beginning Saturday at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account, or making a reservation to worship indoors, Sundays at 10:00 a.m..  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website (shepherdofthehill.com) near the top of the home page. 


10/04/2020

 Sermon

Feeling confused? Overwhelmed?  Sometimes it seems as if we are confronted with more distressing information every time we read the news or turn on the radio or the television.  If our lives were the title of a hit song, perhaps the first line would be something like "I lost my head in a paper bag . . . can't find my way outa this mess."  Well, maybe it wouldn't hit the top of the charts, but you get the idea!

In this week's gospel (Matthew 21:33-46), Jesus tells the story of the Wicked Tenants who avoid paying the landowner who has generously provided land to them. They committed acts of violence against the landowner's servants and even against the landowner's son.  This story may remind us of the chaos and violence that permeates the world even today, but it also reminds us of God's  generosity.  God's steadfast love for us provides comfort in the chaos. God's vineyard provides a place for us to thrive and through God's son, Jesus Christ, God has provided the promise of salvation.  Join us this week as we wind our way through the vineyard!

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page. 


9/27/2020

 Sermon

When I was growing up, I was told “actions speak louder than words.” In the gospel this weekend, Jesus tells the parable of two brothers (Matthew 21:23-32). Both brothers are asked to go into the vineyard and work. The first says no, but later went to the vineyard to work. The second brother says yes, but later changes his mind and does not go. Jesus poses the question in verse 31, “Which of the two did the will of his father?” It is obvious to the crowd that it was the one who’s actions reflected the father's wish.

How do we proclaim our faith? Do those who know us and interact with us know our faith because of the words we say? Or do our actions reflect and proclaim the faith that we have? There is more than one way to share the gospel; we will explore the ways our actions can speak to the gospel louder than our words. 

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page. 


9/20/2020

 Sermon

When we pray the words, "Your kingdom come.  Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," what are we asking of God? Quite simply, we are praying that God's kingdom be more than just a future reality; we are praying that God's kingdom be with us now, in this world.  We are praying that God's preferred way for this world be in line with the world's preferred way. The most common theme of Jesus' teaching is showing us what the kingdom of heaven (God's preferred way) looks like.

In this week's Bible reading (Matthew 20:1-16), Jesus gives us a parable about the kingdom of heaven. "The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard." (Matthew 20:1) The parable starts off innocent enough, but by the end we are left surprised. Some hear this parable and get angry. Why? Well sometimes our preferred way and God's preferred way are not the same. Hmmmm. . . imagine that.

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page. 


9/13/2020

 Sermon

I don't know about the rest of you but I do not like being told what to do. I bristle even if that thing that I am told to do is good for me ("Eat your vegetables." "Brush your teeth." "Wear your mask."). I may bristle, but I'm not unreasonable. If I'm honest with myself, I know that these things will benefit me - even if I don't want to do them.

There are times when Jesus tells us what to do and we are not immediately convinced of the benefit. Peter, one of Jesus' disciples, comes up to him and asks, "How many times should I forgive someone who has sinned against me?  Seven times?"  (Matthew 18:21)  I'm sure that Peter thought he was being generous. Seven times is a lot - above and beyond in most people's thought. But Jesus blows Peter's idea of generosity out the window: "Not seven times but seven times seventy times." Hmmmm.... That doesn't seem possible. That doesn't seem smart. That even sounds dangerous. What are we to make of these words of Jesus? 

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page.


9/06/2020

 Sermon

The teaching of Jesus for this week (Matthew 18:15-20) is something that each one of us can relate to. As followers of Jesus Christ, how should we react when someone sins against us? If someone speaks unkindly to us or misrepresents something we said or breaks a confidence, how should we respond? All too common, our initial human reaction is to plot some kind of revenge. All too common our human reaction is to talk about them behind their back or post something retaliatory on social media. As Jesus is teaching his disciples about the community of believers called the Church, Jesus has a different idea. If someone has sinned against you, first go and talk to the person privately (if it is safe to do so, of course).  If they listen to you, you have regained a friend and sibling. Hmmmm. . . . open conversation that shares feelings might work? Imagine that. Of course, there are times when it won't work. Then what?  

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page.


8/30/2020

 Sermon

Poor Peter. In last week's Bible lesson, Jesus gives him high praise. Jesus had asked his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter responded, "You are the Messiah (the Anointed One), the Son of the Living God." Peter's answer was on the nose and Jesus responded, "Blessed are you . . . you are Peter (a name that means 'rock') and on this rock I will build my church." (Matthew 16:17-18)

Peter would have been well served if the story would have stopped there. But Jesus continued his teaching. From that point on, Jesus began to show his disciples that being Messiah meant something that Peter couldn't fathom; being Messiah for Jesus meant suffering, sacrifice, death, and resurrection. Peter was shocked. "No, Lord, this must never happen!" Jesus response? "Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block for me." (v. 23) In five verses Peter goes from being a foundation to being a stumbling block. How can this happen?  What can we learn from Peter's quick fall?

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page. 


8/23/2020

 Sermon

About 25 miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee sit the ruins of the city called Caesarea Philippi.  In Jesus’ day, this was the boundary between the Jewish lands to the south and the gentile lands to the north. One of the main tourist attractions of Caesarea Philippi was a famous cave out of which flowed the head waters of the Jordan River. Long before Jesus was born, this cave had become a place of pagan worship. Over the years, niches were cut in the walls of the cave where altars were made to pagan gods, including the Greek god, Pan. So influential was this Cave of Pan, that, nearby, Herod the Great built a temple dedicated to Caesar Augustus, who also thought himself a god. This one cave and the area that surrounded it was like a shopping mall dedicated to false gods.
 
    In today’s gospel lesson (Matthew 16:13-20), while Jesus and his disciples are walking through this smorgasbord of ancient religions, Jesus turns to his disciples and asks, “Who do the people say that I am?”  They answered, “Some say that you are John the Baptist, others say that you are Jeremiah.  Still others say Elijah or one of the prophets.”  But here is when things get serious, Jesus asks the defining question.  “Who do you say that I am?”  The answer that Peter gives has repercussions for us nearly 2000 years later. What was it that Peter said?  

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page. 


8/16/2020

 Sermon

Years ago my wife and I used to have a children’s painting at our home which showed Jesus surrounded by children of every nationality: African, Asian, Caucasian, Latin.  We envision Jesus as loving and serving everyone.  We envision Jesus as the one person in this world who truly saw no ethnic or gender boundaries.  Yet, this weekend's Bible lesson (Matthew 15:21-28) tells us that Jesus ignores a desperate woman acting on behalf of her sick child, seemingly only because of her race.  Something seems wrong with this story.  

But, there is something that changes Jesus' mind.  It isn't the disciples - they are annoyed at the woman's persistence.  But Jesus becomes impressed by the faith and tenacity of this woman.  This woman pulls no punches.  She takes a knee in front of Jesus and will not leave until he heals her daughter.  In the end, Jesus relents, "Great is your faith.  May it be as you wish."  This woman has much to teach us, not only about faith, but about the world we live in right now. 

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page. 


8/09/2020

 Sermon

The people of the Bible were desert people. Palestine, Egypt, Mesopotamia – these are dry, deserty places.  Therefore, when water is mentioned, pay attention. The people of Israel were a nation born through water. Exodus tells the story of how God saved God's people from slavery in Egypt, leading them through the water of the Red Sea.  The book of Joshua tells us that after 40 years of wandering in the desert, these people of Israel would enter into their Promised Land through the waters of Jordan River.  Of course, the gospels tell us how Jesus would begin his ministry passing through that same Jordan River in the waters of his baptism.  In the Bible, when the people of God are passing through water – something exciting is going to happen. 

In this weekend's Bible story, Jesus needs some space to rest so he sends his disciples ahead of him to row across the Sea of Galilee. (Matthew 14:22-33) It is a rough night; the wind is in their faces and the disciples are doing everything they can just to hold their position. In the midst of their struggle, they look up to see Jesus coming at them, walking on the water. Thinking him to be a ghost, they yell out in fear. What happens next is one of the most famous stories of the entire Bible. It also becomes a pivotal moment for the ministry of Jesus and his disciples (and for us). 

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page. 


8/02/2020

 Sermon

Jesus had had a rough few days.  At the end of chapter 13 He had a rather uncomfortable trip to His hometown where, instead of being received as a favorite son, He was belittled and rejected.  Shortly thereafter, Jesus received word of the horrific death of His cousin and mentor, John the Baptist.  In the spirit of the old Southwest Airlines commercials - sometimes you just need to get away.  That is how this weekend's Bible lesson begins, "Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself." (Matthew 14:13)  Sometimes, however, getting away isn't so easy, especially when crowds of sick and hungry people follow.  How does Jesus respond?  He heals and provides food.

This is the background of one the Bible's most famous stories, the feeding of the 5000.  As followers of Jesus, what is our call in the midst of pandemic life and its consequences - even when we just want to get away?  How does Jesus provide even when we think we have too little to offer?

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page. 



7/27/2020

 Sermon

How would you describe the Kingdom of Heaven?  In his ministry, Jesus used parables to help the disciples think about the Kingdom of Heaven.  Using familiar things like yeast and fish, Jesus shepherded the disciples to a new understanding of faith, treasures, and the joy of God's righteousness.  

Through his stories and teaching, Jesus Christ also helps us to understand that the Kingdom of Heaven is not only a promise for eternal life, but one that exists within and between all of God's children today.  This is the kingdom that strengthens us, holds us up, and urges us to do the same for the least of our brothers and sisters.

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page.


7/19/2020

 Sermon

Over the course of the last five years, my wife and I have planted many, many perennials in our front yard: fire bushes, spirea, red wine, foxglove, hydrangeas, peonies, bluebells, lilacs, tulips - just to name a few.  Our goal is to have something in bloom from earliest spring to first frost.  However, because we have planted so much, we have lost track of what is supposed to be there and what is not.  When the warms days of April and May come upon us, we will often be confronted with a new plant growing in our flower beds and we can't tell whether it is a weed or a flower; whether we should we leave it or pull it.  In those cases, we just have to wait and see.  It just seems wrong to pull up something that has the potential of making our lives more beautiful.  

In this weekend's Bible lesson, Jesus tells a parable about a farmer who plants good seed in the field and later that night an enemy plants weeds (Matthew 13:24-30).  When the field hands see that something is amiss, they ask, "Do you want us to pull up the weeds?"  The farmer's answer is interesting.  "No. Let them be; lest you pull up the wheat with the weeds." (Matthew 13:29)  Sometimes, we are quick to try and separate what is wheat in our lives and what is weed.  Sometimes we just have to wait and see.  How does that work in our spiritual lives?

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page.


7/12/2020

 Sermon

As many of you know, gardening is a long-term commitment.  It is not as easy as just throwing some flowers in the ground and hoping all turns out alright. For the best results, a good gardener has to make a plan, putting the right plants in the right spots, taking into account the condition of the soil, the amount of sun/shade, and the accessibility to water.  Perennial shrubs and flowers are simply too costly to throw in the ground haphazardly.  

That is what makes the story that Jesus tells this week (Matthew 13:1-9) kind of strange.  Jesus tells a parable about a farmer who goes out to sow seed, taking no account of the kind of soil that the seed falls on.  Some seed fell on hard and packed soil, some fell among rocky soil, some fell in the midst of thorns, and some fell on good and fertile soil.  Surprise!  Only the seed that fell on good soil bore fruit.  Seems like the farmer should have known better than to waste 3/4's of the seed on 'unproductive' soil.  And yet, that is what the farmer does.  Maybe - just maybe - it isn't such a waste after all.  Maybe - just maybe - the seed has the ability to change the soil.  Hmmmm.......

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page.


7/05/2020

 Sermon

Feeling stressed lately?  No doubt we all have reason to worry and heavy burdens to carry, both now and throughout our lives.  In this week's Bible reading (Matthew 11:25-30), Jesus offers his yoke to share so that our load might be lightened.  And Jesus teaches us, saying "learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart" (Matthew 11:29), to respond gently to ourselves and to others, even in times of extreme stress.

The offering of his yoke is an invitation for each of us to turn towards Jesus and to lay our burdens at the feet of the cross, remembering always that Jesus shares our burdens, walking with us, holding out his hand to take ours and even carrying us in those times that we are unable to walk alone.

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page.


6/28/2020

 Sermon

Which is harder for you: to give hospitality or to receive hospitality? To be welcoming or to be welcomed?  I would guess that for many of us, it is more comfortable to give hospitality that to receive it. Why? In part it is a control thing. When we invite someone to our house, we meet in our space, eat our food, and we are the ones who guide the conversation.  When we accept someone else's hospitality, we meet in their kitchen, eat their food, and hear their stories.  

In this week's gospel reading (Matthew 10:40-42), Jesus is giving final instructions to his disciples as he sends them out to preach, teach, and heal.  He ends by saying, "Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me . . . whoever gives a cup of cold water to one of [you] in the name of the disciple . . . will [not] lose their reward."  Jesus is reminding them that they will be receiving hospitality and not giving it.  Like Jesus, the disciples will be sitting in someone else's kitchen, eating someone else's food, and hearing someone else's stories.  Why does this matter? 

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page.


6/21/2020

 Sermon

This week's Bible lesson (Matthew 10:24-39) is a continuation of last week's.  Jesus looks out upon a whole host of harassed and hurting people and, in His compassion, calls together His disciples (apprentices) and empowers them to preach, teach, heal, and cast out demons.  Then Jesus gives what has to be one of the worst pep talks ever.  Jesus tells them, "See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues." (Matthew 10:16-17)  Then Jesus goes on to reassure them, "Do not be afraid."

What is it about this message of Jesus that would cause such anger that the 'every-day church folk' in the synagogues would attack the messengers?  I have a strong suspicion that Jesus' message has the tendency to raise the same sort of hackles even today.  

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page.


6/14/2020

 Sermon

Jesus is really, really busy in Chapters 8 and 9 of the Gospel of Matthew. Just in those two chapter alone we hear stories of eight healings, two exorcisms, one resurrection, and a calming of a storm. It is verse 36 of chapter 9 that tells us why: "When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless."  The word compassion literally means to 'suffer alongside of.'  When Jesus saw these men and women abused, hurting, and discarded, his gut hurt. What does Jesus do? He calls his apprentices (disciples) and empowers them to preach, teach, cure, and cast out demons (Matthew 9:35 - 10:14). 

We, too, are called to be apprentices of Jesus. We, too, are called to see how Jesus speaks, thinks, acts, and feels, and then set out to be like him.  After all, the goal of an apprentice is to be like the master. What does that mean for us in these gut-wrenching days?

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page.


6/07/2020

 Sermon

Each year, on the Sunday that follows Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate "Holy Trinity Sunday." I must admit that Holy Trinity Sunday is not one of my favorites. How can we explain this great mystery of the God-head: One in Three, Three in One - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? In the end, the meaning of the Trinity is that God's very substance is relationship. God never acts alone. But God's relationship is not just reserved for God; God's inner relationship spills out to include us - ALL OF US!  After all, we are baptized into the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. 

We have seen horrible images these past 10 days of George Floyd, a man whom God created and redeemed, robbed of God's very breath of life. We have seen anger and protest spill into the streets of our communities.  How do we respond as baptized children of God?   

Come and hear Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, as she shares God's prophetic word. Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page.


5/31/2020

 Sermon

When I think of the Holy Spirit, more often than not the image that comes to mind is a peaceful dove descending upon the head of Jesus at his baptism.  When I think 'Spirit-filled', I think peace, health, and wholeness.  As we celebrate Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit was given to the followers of Jesus (Acts 2:1-21), this coming of the Holy Spirit is anything but peaceful.  The sound of the coming of the Spirit came "like a rush of a violent wind. . . . Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them."  (Acts 2:2-3).  Sounds pretty chaotic to me, not too peaceful, not too 'Spirit-like'.  

Fire and wind have a destructive quality.  We spent January watching Australia burn.  We hide when the tornado sirens blare because tornadoes destroy.  But sometimes fire and wind are necessary to clear the way for something new to come.  They blow away (or burn away) the chaff so that the wheat can be enjoyed.  The fire and wind of the Holy Spirit did something extraordinary that day of Pentecost; they turned the world upside down.  How?

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page.


5/24/2020

 Sermon

The gospels tell us over and over again, especially during the most trying episodes of Jesus’ life and ministry, that Jesus would withdraw to a quiet place to pray.  Jesus, this sinless man who lived a perfect faith, still needed time with His heavenly parent to clear His head, to recharge His batteries, to discern the next move.  In nearly all of these prayers, we do not know the content of the prayer. We don’t get the chance to overhear the prayer.  

This week is different. Jesus has been meeting with His anxious disciples one last time. He has shown them what love looks like by washing their feet. He has left them with the commandment to love each other as He has loved them. He has reminded them that He will not leave them orphaned, but will send another Comforter - the Holy Spirit. As the meeting is ready to adjourn, Jesus ends in prayer (John 17:1-11) - and we get to hear it.  What is Jesus' prayer both for His disciples and for us?  

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page.


5/17/2020

 Sermon

Recently I was reading a story about the great blues musician Jimmy Reed.  The Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Grateful Dead, and Elvis Presley all credited Reed as a major influence of their music.  One of the numerous hits he had in the 1950’s was a song called, Shame, Shame, Shame.  There is a story around that if you listened very carefully to his original recording of Shame, Shame, Shame you could hear a woman’s voice faintly whispering in the background.  Supposedly Reed would become so absorbed in the bluesy beat and guitar riffs that he simply could not remember the words of his own songs.  To help with the lyrics, his wife would sit next to Jimmy and coach him through the recording session, whispering the upcoming stanzas into his ear as he sang.  

In this week's Bible story (John 14:15-21), Jesus is meeting with His disciples for one last time.  They are anxious.  They are scared.  They know that as soon as Jesus leaves that upper room, He will be arrested, put on trial, and crucified.  He will be leaving them and, for the moment, they cannot follow.  Then Jesus says this, “I will not leave you as orphans.  I will come to you.”  How?  He continues, "I will ask the Father and He will give you another advocate to help you." (John 14:16)  He will send the Holy Spirit.  In Greek, the word is paraclete.   The word 'paraclete' means someone who comes alongside of you to help you, to comfort you, to advocate for you; someone who comes alongside of you to whisper the words in your ear. 

Eight weeks is a long time to shelter in place.  Like the disciples, we feel like orphans.  But we are not alone.  Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit (the Paraclete), is by our side - comforting, empowering, advocating, loving. 

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page.


5/10/2020

 Sermon

The Bible text for this week has Jesus meeting with His disciples for the last time before the Crucifixion.  It is Thursday of Holy Week and He has met for one last meal, for one last teaching.  Those disciples were an anxious lot.  They had just been told not only that this was His last night – that crucifixion and death lay just outside the door - but that one among them would betray Him.  Another among them would deny Him.  They had just been told that He would soon leave them to a place where they could not follow.  This was an anxious bunch.  

After seven weeks of 'sheltering-in-place', I think that most of us have at least an inkling of the anxiety the disciples were feeling that night.  For the good of our neighbors, we, too, have been told that there are places we cannot follow.  We have parents, siblings, and friends who have spent long stretches of time in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities and we cannot follow.  We itch to be able to gather in churches and ballparks and graduation ceremonies and mom or grandma's house and we cannot follow.  Yeah, after seven weeks of this we know a little about anxiety and fear.  It is in the context of anxiety and fear that Jesus tells us, "Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You believe in God.  Believe also in me."  (John 14:1)  We need these words as much as Jesus' disciples needed them.  

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page.


5/03/2020

 Sermon

In the days of Jesus, a sheepfold was a protective pen in which the shepherd could keep his sheep safe.  These flocks of sheep could travel for miles in search of good pasture land and it was not always possible to return home every evening.  Over the years the local shepherds would construct sheepfolds in different strategic locations.  As evening would descend, the shepherds of the area would drive their sheep into these walled-in enclosures and they would take turns guarding their enclosed sheep. 

By morning, the sheep from the various flocks would mingle, leaving a mishmash of sheep from different shepherds.  How could they ever sort out the mess?  Each shepherd had a particular way to call his sheep – a click, a hiss, a Yoo Hoo that his sheep knew and the rest didn’t.  The shepherd had been with his sheep since the day they had been born.  It was his voice that day after day, week after week, month after month they had heard and their obedience brought the reward of grass and water and rest and protection.  Those sheep knew their “Yoo Hoo.”

In the mishmash of voices that we hear screaming at us every single day - how can we identify the voice of the Good Shepherd? 

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.com).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page.


4/26/2020

 Sermon

Luke 24:13-35 is a powerful story.  On the afternoon of the Resurrection of Jesus, two of Jesus' followers are walking back to their home in the small town of Emmaus. They are depressed, disillusioned, and downcast.  Their hope died on that cross with Jesus.  They had hoped that He was it - that He was the Messiah they had been waiting for and now He lies in a tomb - SO THEY THOUGHT.

Yeah, they had heard rumors of an empty tomb.  Some of their cohort had even gone to investigate and all they found were grave clothes.  But that just made them more confused.  As they walked towards home, talking and discussing, they were joined in the road by the very same resurrected Jesus.  Yet they didn't recognize Him.  

How often in our lives do we not recognize Jesus in our midst, especially when we walk depressed, disillusioned, and hopeless (kind of like now)?  How were the eyes of those followers opened to whom was walking with them?

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.come).  We will celebrate communion during the watch party at 10:30 Sunday.  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page.


4/19/2020

 Sermon

How many times have you heard the old adage “Seeing is believing?”  If I did not know better, I would think we are living the adage now.  It is mid-April and I am seeing snow covered trees out my windows.  Every day I look at the news, I see the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths increasing.  The Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016.  Seeing is believing yet sometimes we really can’t believe what we are seeing right before our eyes.

One thing we did not see, yet we believe today, is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The people who followed Jesus 2000 years ago could not believe what happened at that time, but as Jesus revealed himself to them after the resurrection, they began to understand.  Join us this week as we continue the journey of life and resurrection in the midst of a situation that frankly seems hard to fathom.

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.come).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website near the top of the home page


4/12/2020

 Easter Sermon

I'm getting tired of saying it and I'm sure you are getting tired of hearing it, but this is the strangest Lent and Easter season any of us have ever experienced.  In a 'normal' year, the church building would be abuzz right now.  If I were writing this last year at this time, we would have been in the middle of our Community Easter Celebration for Children.  There would have been more than 100 children doing crafts, taking their picture with the Easter bunny, and looking for Easter eggs.  As it is now, it is really, really, really quiet.  Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, we would have had the a sanctuary full of the sounds and smells of Easter - lilies, brass quartets, huge hymns, and the ever present greeting - "He is risen!  He is risen indeed!"  Instead we will be singing these hymns on our couches and greeting just the people sheltering in place next to us.  

Yet, the irony is that what we are going through right now is much, much closer to what the disciples were experiencing on that first Easter morning.  They, too, were sheltering in place for fear of what was waiting for them outside.  Instead of COVID-19, they were afraid of Roman soldiers.  It was in the midst of sheltering in place that the disciples first heard the good news of Easter when Mary Magdalene, breathless from running from Jesus' empty tomb, shouted, "I have seen the Lord!"  

What does the empty tomb mean for us, now? What does Jesus' resurrection hold for our lives nearly 2000 years later during our 21st Century version of sheltering in place? 

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Sunday April 12, at 10:30 a.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account or via our website (shepherdofthehill.come).  Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website under the button "Resources for Digital Worship."  


4/05/2020

 Sermon

As a pastor, I have always had an ambivalent relationship with Palm Sunday. On the one hand, after 34 days of Lent (especially this Lent), I'm ready for some celebration. I'm ready to wave palms and shout out 'Hosanna!' I'm itching to get to spring and Easter and the empty tomb (let alone a movie and baseball game). 

On the other hand, Palm Sunday is deceiving. It is like fool's gold. It looks like it should be the end of the journey but it is not. As Jesus enters the gates of the city, He knows the truth of what will happen in the coming days. The crowds holler, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9) It sounds so triumphant and joyous. But it also sounds hollow and empty. In just a few days, the same people who hollered “Hosanna!” will scream, “Crucify Him!” Jesus has prepared us for this. He has told us again and again that there will be no glory for Him without the pain. There will be no resurrection with out the cross, no Easter without Good Friday.

If you think about it, it sounds familiar to the news we keep hearing.  We want good news.  We want this whole pandemic to be over.  We want to be told that we can go back to our regular lives.  But we know that there is more in front of us.  What can we learn as we enter into this Holy Week?  

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, April 4, at 5:00 p.m. via the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account. Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website under the button "Resources for Digital Worship."  


3/29/2020

 Sermon

In the year 587 B.C., the armies of the Babylonia Empire broke through the walls of Jerusalem and destroyed what was the center of Jewish culture and religious practice, Solomon’s Temple.  As Jerusalem fell, approximately 1/3 of its residents were killed.  Another 1/3 escaped out the back door and settled in such faraway places like Alexandria, Egypt and Carthage, Tunisia. The final 1/3 were marched more than 500 miles to become slaves in Babylon.  The people of God, the Jews, came within an eyelash of extinction.

In these most dramatic of times, God sent a prophet named Ezekiel to comfort and challenge God's people.  God gave Ezekiel a series of really, really weird visions which Ezekiel used to bring hope to the hopeless.  One of those visions was the Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14).  What does a valley filled with dry bones have to do with giving hope to a traumatized people like the Jewish exiles in Babylon?  What does a valley filled with dry bones have to do with a traumatized people like the residents of a country ordered to 'shelter in place' for the foreseeable future?  

Come and see.  Come and worship, digitally, beginning Saturday, March 28, 5:00 p.m. via a watch party on the Shepherd of the Hill Facebook account. Worship resources (bulletin, Yellow Pages, instructions) are available on our website under the button "Resources for Digital Worship."  


3/21/2020

 Sermon

3/15/2020

 Sermon


As Jesus is walking through the heat of the mid-day sun, He comes upon a well and decides to catch His breath. Just as Jesus is sitting down, a Samaritan woman comes to draw water from the well.  When Jesus asks her for a drink, He and the Samaritan woman enter into a conversation that will change not only the life of the woman, but her whole village as well.  (John 4:4-42) In less than an hour, this unnamed woman with a very tragic past comes to see this Jesus as the long awaited source of living water and she becomes the first evangelist in all of Samaria.

What happened in that conversation?    
 
Come and see. Come and worship.
Saturday at 5:00. Sunday at 9:00 and 10:35.


3/08/2020

 Sermon

One evening, as darkness closes in, Jesus hears a knock on the door.  A man named Nicodemus is at the door.  What makes this a really interesting story (John 3:1-17) is what we know about Nicodemus: he is a pharisee; he is part of the temple leadership.  By the time Nicodemus appears in the story, the world is already splitting into pro-Jesus and anti-Jesus camps and the camp from which Nicodemus comes is beginning to line up with the anti-Jesus crowd.  And yet, here comes Nicodemus – at night – not in attack mode, but genuinely curious.  Something just doesn’t quite compute.  Something about Jesus doesn’t fit the traditional molds.  

I must confess that for much of my life, I hadn’t had a very high opinion of Nicodemus.  Come on, Nick, stop skulking around at night.  But, my opinions of Nicodemus have changed.  In a world that all to easily divides itself into pro and anti camps, there is much to learn from this curious Nicodemus and much more to learn about this Jesus who receives him.
 
Come and see. Come and worship.
Saturday at 5:00. Sunday at 9:00 and 10:35.


3/01/2020

 Sermon

At the baptism of Jesus, we hear a voice of God proclaiming Jesus' deepest identity, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."  (Matthew 3:17)  As soon as these words are spoken, the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness to test that newly proclaimed identity.  As Jesus completes a 40-day fast, Satan appears with a series of tests.  In a thinly disguised taunt, Satan says, "You are hungry, Jesus. Who will provide for you?"  "If you are the Son of God, command the stones to become bread." (Matthew 4:3) "If you are the Son of God, jump off the pinnacle of the temple; God's angels will catch you." (Matt. 4:5) "If you but bow to me, all the nations will be yours." (Matt. 4:9)  In what do you trust, Jesus? 

In our baptisms, we were given our deepest identities.  We were named beloved children of God.  As our deepest identities are tested, in whom do we trust?  

Come and see. Come and worship.
Saturday at 5:00. Sunday at 9:00 and 10:35.


2/26/2020

 Sermon

In the Church’s first centuries, baptisms were done only once a year. The day chosen for baptisms was the Easter Vigil, the worship service between Good Friday and Easter morning. If you think about it, that makes sense. In our baptisms, our old selves die with Jesus (Good Friday) so that our new selves can be raised with Jesus (Easter morning). In order to prepare for their entrance into God’s family, there was a 40-day period of preparation before the baptism, what would later be known as Lent. If you count 40 days beginning with Ash Wednesday, not including Sundays, the 40th day will land on Holy Saturday, the day of the Easter Vigil.

 

Lent is more than just a time of penitence; it is a time of preparation. It is a time to prepare our hearts so that we are able to grasp the life-changing beauty, majesty, and wonder of the Resurrection of Jesus. Grasping something implies that we first must open our hands, hearts, eyes, ears, and lives. This year, the theme for our midweek Lenten services will be: Open Our Lives, Lord. As we prepare for the celebration of the Resurrection, join us as we seek to allow God to open our lives.


2/23/2020

 Sermon

The Bible story for this weekend is from Matthew 17:1-9; it is a story called the Transfiguration of Jesus.  Jesus takes three of his disciples up on a mountain and there Jesus is transfigured in front of them. For a few brief moments, His face shines like the sun and His clothes become dazzling white.  Those three disciples are given a glimpse of Jesus' true glory.  While transfigured, Moses and Elijah join Jesus and a voice from God declares, "This is my Son, the beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!" 
The disciples do what we would probably do; they are overcome by awe and fear and hit the ground.  But Jesus comes up to them and touches their shoulders and says, "Get up and do not be afraid."   

This week the members of our delegation to Nicaragua are going to share about their impressions of their eight days in Central America.  What sights, sounds, and experiences brought them awe?  In what ways do they feel that Jesus is touching them on the shoulder and telling them to 'Get up and not be afraid'? 

Come and see. Come and worship.
Saturday at 5:00. Sunday at 9:00 and 10:35.


2/16/2020

 Sermon

In this week’s Bible story (Matthew 5:21-37), there is a sense of authority and urgency in the message Jesus delivers to the crowds.  Jesus gives a series of lessons about anger, adultery, divorce and oaths; shining an intense light on our human-ness and revealing a new standard for our hearts.  Jesus tells the crowd to reconcile with their brother or sister before going to the altar; and to push away lustful thoughts . . . or they will be cast into the fires of hell.  Jesus says some pretty radical, uncomfortable things.  Jesus challenges hearts and minds, giving a new template for living in reconciliation with one another; with a heart and eye turned towards God and away from things that draw us to sin. 

God created people to be in relationship with God and with one another.  It is good to be reminded of this and to take some time to examine our own hearts and minds for the things that may be holding us back from living in the freedom and joy found in Jesus Christ. 


Come and see. Come and worship.
Saturday at 5:00. Sunday at 9:00 and 10:35.


2/9/2020

 Sermon

The Bible reading for this weekend, Matthew 5:13-20, is a continuation of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus tells the crowds that are surrounding him, "You are the salt of the earth. . . . You are the light of the world."  We all know what light does.  Light pokes a hole in the darkness of our lives.  But what about salt?  What does salt do?  Salt seasons; it makes our food taste better.  Salt gives life.  Scientists say that without salt, we couldn’t survive.  Salt preserves food.  In the days before electricity, meat was packed in salt to keep from rotting.  And, of course, as we look out onto our streets and parking lots, salt keeps us from slipping and falling.  

How are we, as disciples of Jesus, salt?  How do we make life taste better for those around us?  How do we keep life fresh in the society around us?  This weekend, we will hear two testimonies from our own congregation of how we can be salt and light in our families, congregations, and communities.

Come and see. Come and worship.
Saturday at 5:00. Sunday at 9:00 and 10:35.


2/2/2020

 Sermon

Take a moment and think about the ways that you have heard the word ‘blessed.’ When my mother held my children as babies, she would whisper in their ear, “Oh, bless your little heart.”  I know a number of people who answer the question, “How are you?” with the phrase, “I am blessed." Sometimes we use the word 'blessed' to indicate giftedness or talent as in, "She is blessed with a beautiful singing voice."  At the very least, most of us use the word 'blessed' to suggest that God has somehow been favorable with us.

In this week's Bible story (Matthew 4:23 - 5:12), Jesus uses the word 'blessed' in a way that confuses us.  "Blessed are the poor in spirit", "Blessed are those who mourn", "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice." For most of us, the poor in spirit, the mourning, and those who hungry for justice are far from blessed. Yet Jesus makes this work in the way that only Jesus can.  How?  

Come and see. Come and worship and you will be blessed.
Saturday at 5:00. Sunday at 9:00 and 10:35.


1/26/2020

 Sermon

If I were to ask you what the fundamental essence of Jesus' preaching was, how would you answer?  Love?  Forgiveness?  Salvation?  While Jesus does mention all of these things in His preaching, the topic that is mentioned more than any other is the Kingdom of God.  This week's Bible lesson contains the outline of Jesus' first message to the world: "Repent (change your thinking, wrap your mind around this new thing), for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."  (Matthew 4:17)  Over and over again, Jesus invites His listeners to consider that God's kingdom is not light years away in heaven but here in our midst.  

What difference does it make in your life when you know that you are not alone?  What difference does it make in your life when you know that someone has your back?  What does life look like when we cooperate with God's creative presence in our midst?  

Come and see. Come and worship.
Saturday at 5:00. Sunday at 9:00 and 10:35.


1/19/2020

 Sermon

In this week's Bible reading (John 1:29-42), John the Baptizer is standing with two of his followers when Jesus walks by. "Look," John says, "here is the Lamb of God." That was enough to pique the interest of the two men. Peeling off of John, they begin to follow Jesus. When Jesus turns and sees them following, He asks a surprising, yet, logical question, "What are you looking for?" 

The followers answer the question with a question, "Rabbi, where are you staying? [Let us see where you hang out.]" Jesus responds, "Come and see." There is a lot that can be told when you see where people hang out. Our homes give clues as to what is important in our lives. It may be as simple as what pictures are hanging on the refrigerator or what CD's we have next to our stereo. Our homes help tell the story of our lives.

Whatever Jesus showed them, they must have been satisfied; for these two men became disciples of Jesus Christ. How can we see where Jesus hangs out? How do we see the pictures hanging on Jesus' refrigerator?  
 
Come and worship. Come and worship.
Saturday at 5:00. Sunday at 9:00 and 10:35.


1/12/2020

 Sermon

In order to save Martin Luther's life from those who wanted him dead, Prince Frederick of Saxony "kidnapped" Luther and hid him away in Wartburg Castle for more than a year. During Luther's absence from the front line of the Reformation fight, Andreas Karlstad, a fellow faculty member of the U. of Wittenberg, took the Reformation in a radically extremist direction. In Luther’s absence, Karlstad encouraged a full out peasant rebellion against their aristocratic overlords. The ensuing wars saw as many as 100,000 deaths, mostly from the ranks of the poorest of poor.  
 
A story is told that Luther could see from the castle window the smoke and dust caused by the battles on the horizon. That sight brought him to deep despair and, at a weak moment, Satan appeared to him. “Look what you have done. It is your work that has caused this death and destruction. You and your reformation are wrong and you will be damned for it.”  As the story goes, Luther grabs the bottle of ink that he is using and throws it at Satan and screams out, “Leave me, Satan! You cannot touch me for I am baptized.” For Luther, baptism wasn't just an act in his past, but an identity in the present.
 
This weekend we read the story of Jesus' baptism by John in the Jordan River. This text reminds us that baptism means more than just the forgiveness of sins; in baptism our identity as God's children is announced and celebrated. Baptism is not just a "churchy" event in our past; baptism is our present condition before God. Rather than saying, "I was baptized," it is better to say, "I am baptized."  
 
Come and worship. Come and worship. Worship Christ the ne


1/5/2020

 Sermon

At the beginning of nearly every musical there is an introductory instrumental piece called the overture.  The overture serves an important purpose: the overture gives a preview of the songs that we will hear in the musical that is coming.  The Bible reading for this weekend, John 1:1-18, is a type of overture for the Gospel of John.  In it, we get a glimpse of themes that will come up over and over again in the next 20 chapters; themes like Jesus as life, Jesus as light, Jesus as new birth, and Jesus as God's presence in our midst.

What does it mean that God's Son became life, light, and flesh and 'pitched His tent' in the midst of our messy lives?  Come and see. Come and worship.

Saturday at 5:00pm. Sunday at 9:00am and 10:35am.