WEEKLY MESSAGES


12/09/18

 Sermon

If Christmas is the birth of God’s Son into the world, then the season of Advent is a type of pregnancy. In pregnancy, the body of the mother-to-be changes and rearranges in order to create a good and healthy space for the embryo that is growing within her. In pregnancy, the mother is asked to sacrifice certain things for the health of the baby, such as the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine. In pregnancy, the family gathers and prepares a physical place for the coming child in order that he/she find safety, warmth, and food. All of these things – and more – happen in pregnancy. 

2000 years ago, the word of God came to a man named John, a preacher and prophet who lived in the desert outside of Jerusalem. He was called to ‘prepare the way of the Lord.’ John was part of the preparation for the coming of Jesus. John was part of the pre-Christmas pregnancy. What was John’s role? He proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 3:1-6)

So what does repentance, baptism, and the forgiveness of sins have to do with preparation for the coming of Jesus?  Come and see. Come and worship. Saturday at 5:00. Sunday at 9:00 and 10:35.


12/02/18

 Sermon

Jesus was sitting with His disciples looking at the great temple in Jerusalem. It was awe-inspiring. The smallest blocks used in its construction weighed anywhere from 2 – 5 tons; the largest weighed more than 500 tons. It was about these stones that Jesus reminded his disciples, “The day will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”  (Luke 21:6) Of course, the disciples had only one question in mind, "When?” 

Jesus didn’t share a date but He chooses to share a warning. “Beware of those who will try to take advantage of you by using the threat of the final days.”  In this fallen world, nation will rise against nation, earthquakes will come and go, as will famines and plagues. There will be things that in your specific place will look like the world is coming to an end. To the folks of Paradise, California a few weeks ago, it must have seemed that the world was coming to an end. All that Jesus says in this regard is that when the end of the world comes, there will not be any doubt that it is happening; it will be clear to everyone all at once. 

So how do we prepare? Jesus tells us, “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life.” What does this look like?

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


11/25/18

 Sermon

This weekend we celebrate the last Sunday of the Church year, a Sunday known as 'Christ the King Sunday'. Christ the King Sunday was one of the last festivals developed by the Church.  For nearly 2000 years we have celebrated Easter and Pentecost.  Since the year 336 A.D. we have celebrated Christmas.  But Christ the King Sunday wasn’t brought into the Church year until 1925. 

In 1925, the world was in the midst of some rapid and dangerous changes.  Early in 1923, Mussolini seized control of Italy.  By late 1923, Hitler had made his first attempt to overthrow democratic Germany.  By 1924 Stalin was firmly in control of the Soviet Union.  American society was in the height of the pre-Depression boom, becoming more and more secular.  Christ the King Sunday was placed on the calendar to remind the Christian nations of the world that the real king was not Mussolini nor Hitler nor Stalin nor some out of control materialism, the real king was Jesus Himself.  

Today we ask the question, "If Jesus is king, what kind of king is He?"  

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


11/18/18

 Sermon

In this week's Bible story, Jesus was watching people file by the box where the offerings were being deposited outside of the temple (Mark 12:41-44).  There, the rich and poor, men and women would file by, some depositing $10, some $100, and then there was this woman, who happened to be a widow, and all she had was two small coins – a mere pittance in comparison.  This drew Jesus' attention.  "Do you see that woman?" Jesus asked His disciples, "All the rest have given out of their abundance, but this woman has given much, much more.  She has given all she had."  Jesus never goes into why that is – but I imagine He knew.  This woman had all of the normal identities of her society and culture taken from her.  She had no father, husband, or son.  The only identity left to her was the identity most fundamental and important.  She saw herself as a daughter of God.  She was able to give 100% because she had no choice but to depend 100% upon her heavenly Father. 

How can we develop the kind of faith that sustained this woman at the temple?  How can we learn to depend upon God as we make decisions about the money that God has given to us?

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


11/11/18

 Sermon

A young man comes up to ask Jesus with a really good question, ‘Which commandment is the most important commandment of all?’  (Mark 12:28-34).  Jesus answers the question with what the Jewish people call the Shema: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is one; you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.  And the second most important is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.’  The entire Old Testament law is summed up in these two commandments.  When we talk about the first – the loving our God part – it is fairly clear cut.  We love God by obeying God.  We love God by worshiping God.  We love God by seeking to imitate Him and loving as He loves. 
 
It is the second part of Jesus’ answer that that often throws us for a loop.  Who is our neighbor?  Is our neighbor just the guy who lives next door?  Is our neighbor the friend or family member that we happen to like?  Is our neighbor the person who looks like me and worships likes me?  Ultimately Jesus teaches that our neighbor is the person who needs our help.  Our neighbor is the person who needs our mercy. And conversely, our neighbor is the person who gives us help when we are in need of mercy.
           
This week we will hear two presentations about how we can be neighborly in the neighborhood that surrounds us as well as on the other side of the world. 

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


11/04/18

 Sermon

Revelation 21 promises that everything will be made new. The reconciliation that God has been seeking with humanity since the fall of man in Genesis is finally realized. Revelation 21 reads “he said to me, “it is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” Since the fall of man God has been working to restore the relationship with humanity. In revelation 21 we see where that is finally realized. Once again there will be “no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more.”
               
This Sunday we will recognize All Saints Sunday. On a Sunday when we celebrate all the saints who have gone before us. We are reminded that death is not final, restoration will come, and relationship with the creator will be restored, as Adam and Eve walked in the Garden of Eden, we will dwell with God.


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


10/28/18

 Sermon

Some 650 years before Jesus was born, God appeared to a young boy named Jeremiah.  God said to him, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you and before you were born I consecrated you.  I have appointed you to be a prophet to all the nations.”  This young Jeremiah, maybe 16 years old, was having none of it.  He started to make excuses.  “Lord, I do not know how to speak.  I am only a boy.”  God, in turn, didn’t want to hear his excuses: “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:4-10)
    
This weekend, eight young people will be asked to say ‘Yes’ to something that their parents said ‘yes’ to many, many years ago.  After having made public profession of their faith, they will be asked to say ‘Yes’ to the following charge, “Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in holy baptism: to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and dee, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth?” (ELW Hymnal, page 236)  

In the same way that God came up to Jeremiah and called him into mission, God has called these eight young people in their baptisms to serve all people, proclaim Jesus in word and deed, and strive for peace and justice in all the world.  Guess what!  God has called each of us to that same mission.  What does that look like for you?

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


10/21/18

 Sermon

In 1933 Helen Keller wrote an article for the Atlantic Monthly. The title of the article was, “Three Days to See.” In that article she outlined what she would do if God were to grant her three days to see. She said that she would dedicate the first day just among friends and family, to finally see the faces of all those who have touched her all these years. The next day she would dedicate to nature, just to concentrate on what trees and lakes and mountains. Finally, the third day she would spend around her home in New York, just watching the busy city. She concluded it with these words: "I who am blind can give one hint to those who see: Use your eyes as if tomorrow you were stricken blind.”  Why is it that someone who was born blind seems to see life better than those of us who have supposedly 'seen' all of our lives?  

While Jesus is passing through the city of Jericho, a blind man hollers out to Him, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me." (Mark 10:46-52). Jesus asked him, 'What do you want me to do for you?' Interesting question. At first it should be obvious, but maybe it's not. If Jesus passed by you today with the same question, how would you answer? What can we, who supposedly can see, learn from this man who supposedly can not? 

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


10/14/18

 Sermon

We live in a culture that has some pretty screwed up ideas about models for leadership. 2003 was a very infamous year for many NCAA men's basketball coaches and their programs. On April 28, 2003, The Des Moines Register carried pictures of Iowa State head coach, Larry Eustachy, kissing several young women and holding a beer at a frat party near the University of Missouri's campus just hours after the Tigers defeated his Cyclones. That same year St. Bonaventure’s basketball program was heavily penalized when the president of the university claimed that a great basketball recruit from an area junior college had an Associates degree from that college when, if fact, all that he had was a welding certificate. The most egregious of the violations that year took place in Baylor University where a young man on the basketball team was murdered by a teammate and the coach was caught on tape saying about the infractions in his program, “Let’s blame it on the dead guy.”  Just in sports? Do we dare open up the conversation about the Church – where the scandals of sex abuse continue to ripple outward and upward?  Then – of course – where would we even begin regarding the abuse of power within our governments: local, state, and national?
 
Two of Jesus' disciples come up to Him with a peculiar request, "When you come into your glory, grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left." (Mark 10:37) Jesus called together His disciples and reminded them of a different standard of leadership, "Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (vv. 44-45)  What can we learn from Jesus in our own expectations of good leadership? More importantly, how can we be empowered to be a Christ-like leader?

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


10/07/18

 Sermon

Smack dab in the middle of our baptismal liturgy is a series of six questions that invite us to say ‘no’ to one way of life so that we can say ‘yes’ to God. ‘Do you renounce the devil and all the forces that defy God? Do you renounce the powers of this world that rebel against God? Do you renounce the ways of sin that draw you from God?’ In renouncing these things, we say ‘no’ to that which draws us away from God. Then comes the three questions to which we are invited to say ‘yes.’ ‘Do you believe in God, the Father? Do you believe in God, the Son? Do you believe in God, the Holy Spirit?’ In the end, one cannot be walking away from God and still follow Him. We say ‘no’ to those things that claim to be God, so that we can say ‘yes’ to the true God. 
 
A man comes up to Jesus and asks Him a loaded question, ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus responds, ‘You know the commandments: Do not steal, murder, bear false witness, or commit adultery.’ The man responded, ‘I’ve honored these since my youth.’ Jesus believed him, but added one final and most difficult thing, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have, give it to the poor, and follow me.’ In other words, ‘Say ‘no’ to your riches so that you can say ‘yes’ to following me.’ Whoa! Scary words. What do we need to say ‘no’ to, so that we can say ‘yes’ to God?
 
Come and worship: Saturday at 5:00. Sunday at 9:00 and 10:35. Sunday school at 10:35.


09/30/18

 Sermon

To be a disciple of Jesus is to be His apprentice. Apprenticeship is a little different than being a regular student. The job of a student is to learn the material being taught and then move on. The job of an apprentice is not only to learn the material but - in the end - become like the teacher. To be a disciple/apprentice of Jesus is to seek to be and do as Jesus is and does.  

This weekend's Bible story has Jesus continuing to teach His disciples about what it means to be apprentices of Him. But these guys are pretty thick-headed. Moments after Jesus' lesson about self-sacrifice, the disciples break into an argument about which of them is the greatest. (Mark 9:30-37) Will these guys ever learn? Jesus, being a really good teacher, uses the moment to teach an important lesson about what it really means to be great. It isn't what they (or we) would normally think. Come and hear what Jesus did.

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


09/23/18

 Sermon

One day when Jesus is walking with His disciples, He asks them an interesting question, 'Who do the people say that I am?' The disciples respond with what they have heard, 'Some say you are John the Baptist back from the dead. Some say you are Elijah. Some say you are one of the prophets.' Then Jesus turns and asks them the all-important question, 'Who do YOU say that I am?' (Mark 8:29)

Why is this question so important? Very simply, if we are called to be apprentices of Jesus and if apprentices are called to become like their masters, then we need to understand who Jesus is in order to be like Him. After all, if I am an apprenticed electrician then my goal is to become like my journeyman electrician teacher. Who does Jesus say that He is? The answer to this question tells us not only how Jesus sees His own life but how we are to live our lives.

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


09/16/18

 Sermon

There are times in our life when we just need to get away. There are times when we just need a change of landscape to clear our minds. Travel has the potential to not only just entertain us but change long-help opinions and perspectives. This is especially true when we get off of the beaten path - when we venture beyond the bus tour or the cruise ship. The more we have a chance to immerse ourselves in the daily lives of other cultures and races, the more our minds and hearts are expanded.

This seemed also true for Jesus. Jesus and His disciples went on a trip to the region of Tyre, a place where no Jews lived. Jesus needed some time away and chose a place where He had hoped to go unnoticed. But, in spite of Jesus' desires, His reputation proceeded Him. A local woman with a demon-possessed daughter threw herself at Jesus feet. She was desperate. Her daughter was desperate. Help!!!!! At first, Jesus was anything but helpful - in fact He was darn right rude. But the woman was not to be denied. She had a determined faith. That faith not only changed the life of her daughter, it seemed to change Jesus as well.

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


09/09/18

 Sermon

One of the reasons that I love baseball is that I am a math guy. I grasp numbers pretty well. Baseball is a game dominated by statistics. We judge a player's success by the particular statistics of his position. One's batting average, earned run average, or fielding percentage has been the topic of conversation among baseball fans for more than 100 years. If one finishes a season with a .300 batting average and has also hit 25 home runs, that player has enormous value.  If a pitcher wins 15 games and has an Earned Run Average of less than 2.5, that pitcher is a sought-after commodity.  Over the course of the last ten to fifteen years, however, we have been inundated with a whole host of other statistics that measure a player's value.  We are now just as likely to hear about OBP (On Base Percentage), OPS (On-Base Plus Slugging), or RISP (Runners in Scoring Position). There never seems to be a lack of ways that we can measure a player's success. 

In the Bible story for this week, a group of religious leaders ask Jesus a very pointed (and very 'judgy') question, "Why don't your disciples follow the traditions of our religion like we do?" (Mark 7:1-23) For those religious leaders, one was judged based upon how closely one would follow a particular set of laws and traditions. But Jesus throws a different statistic into the conversation:  the condition of one's heart. How we treat and talk about others are also important measures of one's spiritual well-being. 

What does this mean for us, both as individuals and community?  
Come and see. Come and worship. Saturday at 5:00. Sunday at 9:00 & 10:35.


09/02/18

 Sermon