WEEKLY MESSAGES


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.