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Look Up: Sermon Advent 1 Sunday December 2, 2018: Luke 21:25-36

Endings will come in this life. Bad things are going to happen. The question is to if but when. More importantly how do we respond as people of faith? In the gospel reading Jesus invites us to "look up." And in scripture when God's people look up, good things happen.

Gospel: Luke 21:25-36

God will fulfill God’s purposes and, already, hidden signs of that fulfillment abound. On that great day there will be dismay, perplexity, confusion, and terror, but God’s people shall be given strength to stand boldly and receive God’s promised redemption.
[Jesus said:] 25“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
34“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

 


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Look Up: Sermon Advent 1 Sunday December 2, 2018: Luke 21:25-36

Look Up: Sermon Advent 1 Sunday December 2, 2018: Luke 21:25-36

Endings will come in this life. Bad things are going to happen. The question is to if but when. More importantly how do we respond as people of faith? In the gospel reading Jesus invites us to “look up.” And in scripture when God’s people look up, good things happen.

Gospel: Luke 21:25-36

God will fulfill God’s purposes and, already, hidden signs of that fulfillment abound. On that great day there will be dismay, perplexity, confusion, and terror, but God’s people shall be given strength to stand boldly and receive God’s promised redemption.
[Jesus said:] 25“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
34“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

 

Christ the King Sunday November 25, 2018: John 18:33-37

Christ the King Sunday November 25, 2018: John 18:33-37

So much of our lives are controlled by fear of punishment, fear if consequences. And truth be told this world can be cold and cruel. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. It is a kingdom grounded in love and mercy, compassion and justice. May that kingdom come. 

Gospel: John 18:33-37

In John’s gospel, the story of Jesus and Pilate presents two different ways of exercising power: through force or with love.
33Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

 

Who holds the future? Sunday November 18, 2018 Mark 13:1-8

Who holds the future? Sunday November 18, 2018 Mark 13:1-8

We do not know what the future holds, but we trust in God who holds our future. We trust in the ultimate promise that one day God’s kingdom of justice and mercy will come in its fullness. 

Gospel: Mark 13:1-8

In the last week of his life, Jesus warned his disciples concerning trials that were to come upon them and upon the world. He exhorts the listener: Do not be alarmed.
1As [Jesus] came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 2Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”
3When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4“Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 6Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.”

Reformation Sunday: Where the Past, Present and Future Collide John 8:31-36

Reformation Sunday: Where the Past, Present and Future Collide John 8:31-36

Reformation Sunday is not just about what happened way back when. It is also a reality that speaks to s on this day in this moment. The Reformation is also about our future as we say in the ELCA: Always being made new. 

Gospel: John 8:31-36

Jesus speaks of truth and freedom as spiritual realities known through his word. He reveals the truth that sets people free from sin.
31Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”
34Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

 

Are you good enough? Sunday October 14, 2018 Mark 10:17-31

Are you good enough? Sunday October 14, 2018 Mark 10:17-31

Are you good enough? We try hard to manage this text because it is so clear and so uncomfortable. in the end we rely on God’s grace while we listen for God’s call to sacrificial living. 

Mark 10:17-31

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'” 20He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
23Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
28Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age — houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions — and in the age to come eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

 

Called to Protect the Vulnerable: Mark 10:2-16

Called to Protect the Vulnerable: Mark 10:2-16

This gospel seems to be about divorce, but that only points us where we need to look. In. reality this text has more to say about protecting the vulnerable. This is what Jesus does and how Jesus calls his followers to live.

 

Gospel: Mark 10:2-16

Jesus announced and enacted in history the new reality of God’s surprising activity. These two stories demonstrate this new reality: Women and children are accepted and valued, not dismissed as inferior to adult men.
2Some Pharisees came, and to test [Jesus] they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
10Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

13People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

The Arc of Our Lives: Sermon for Sunday September 30, 2018

The Arc of Our Lives: Sermon for Sunday September 30, 2018

As humans we divide people we encounter into groups. Rightly or wrongly. Some of the cultural norms and divisions of the day even creep into scripture. But God has a bigger vision. One that welcomes the stranger and the other and values people for who they are. We are the people on the way. Not fully as God intended, but always moving towards compassion and grace.

Gospel reading for the day: 

Mark 9:38-50

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus teaches his disciples about ministry that involves service and sacrifice. His disciples are slow to realize that these words apply to them as well as to others.
38John said to [Jesus,] “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40Whoever is not against us is for us. 41For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
42“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. 47And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
49“For everyone will be salted with fire. 50Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

The Heart of Christianity in Seven Words: Sermon for Sunday September 16, 2018

The Heart of Christianity in Seven Words: Sermon for Sunday September 16, 2018

A theologian once summed up the Christian message in this way: We’re all jerks. God loves us anyhow. 

It is important to listen to the voices of scholars and theologians and pastors. It is also important for you to know who God is for you. So now it is your turn. Sum up the Christian faith in seven words or less. 

 

Breaking Barriers: Sermon for Sunday September 9, 2018

Breaking Barriers: Sermon for Sunday September 9, 2018

When Jesus insults the Gentile woman in the gospel he shows us just how damaging and painful our words can be. Yet he is able to rise above the the divisions and racism of his day to bring healing to this woman and her daughter.

Unless your mother is Jewish you are a Gentile. That should humble us all, for we are only here because of God’s amazing grace. 

Practicing for when it really counts: Sunday September 2, 2018

Practicing for when it really counts: Sunday September 2, 2018

We gather for worship to practice. We practice forgiving. We practice being peacemakers. We practice seeing resurrection in our lives and in our world. We practice in worship so out there in the world when it really count we can get it right.

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