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Advent 1 Sunday December 1, 2019: Seeing God in the World

The first Sunday of the new church year always brings readings about the end of things. As Christians we begin at the end. We know the ultimate outcome. The question is not what will happen, but what will the journey be like on the way there. 

 

Gospel: Matthew 24:36-44

Jesus describes his second coming as a sudden, turbulent event that will bring about deep change to our normal, day-to-day lives. Therefore, he urges people to stay awake, be aware, and wait expectantly, because the Son of Man will come unannounced.
[Jesus said to the disciples,] 36“About that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Past Sermons

Jesus is Bringing Fire! Sunday August 18, 2019 Luke 12:49-56

Jesus is Bringing Fire! Sunday August 18, 2019 Luke 12:49-56

Jesus tells us he does to bring fire to the earth, which sounds pretty scary at first. But fire is not all bad and maybe we all could use a little fire in our lives from Jesus!

Gospel: Luke 12:49-56

Jesus delivers harsh words about the purifying and potentially divisive effects of obedience to God’s call. The way of the cross often leads followers to encounter hostility and rejection, even from those they love.
[Jesus said:] 49“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53they will be divided:
 father against son
  and son against father,
 mother against daughter
  and daughter against mother,
 mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
  and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
54He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. 55And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 56You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”

Sermon Sunday July 28, 2019: Lord teach us to pray…

Sermon Sunday July 28, 2019: Lord teach us to pray…

The disciples see Jesus praying time and again in Luke’s Gospel. Finally, they ask and Jesus gives us all the gift of the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer in which we ask for God’s justice and mercy to reign, for there to be enough for all and for God’s forgiveness to be our way of living. It is our holy privileges to be part of God’s work in this world. 

 

Gospel: Luke 11:1-13

In teaching his disciples this prayer, Jesus also reminds them to focus on God’s coming reign, God’s mercy, and the strengthening of the community. Jesus encourages his disciples to child-like trust and persistence in prayer.
1[Jesus] was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”2He said to them, “When you pray, say:
 Father, hallowed be your name.
  Your kingdom come.
  3Give us each day our daily bread.
  4And forgive us our sins,
   for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
  And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
5And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
9“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Sunday July 21, 2019: Mary or Martha? Luke 10:38-42

Sunday July 21, 2019: Mary or Martha? Luke 10:38-42

Should you be more like Mary or Martha? Yes. 

 

Gospel: Luke 10:38-42

Jesus uses his visit to two sisters as an occasion to remind disciples that an important aspect of obedience is singleminded devotion to Jesus and his word.
38Now as [Jesus and his disciples] went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

The Good Samaritan Sunday July 14, 2019 Luke 10:25-37

The Good Samaritan Sunday July 14, 2019 Luke 10:25-37

Whose eyes do you see this parable through today? Are you the Good Samaritan or the bandits? The Priest or Levite or the Innkeeper? Or today will we find you in the ditch? No matter what God comes to you this day.

 

Gospel: Luke 10:25-37

Jesus is challenged to explain what is involved in obeying the greatest commandment. Jesus tells a parable rich in surprises: those expected to show pity display hard hearts while the lowly give and receive unexpected and lavish mercy.
25Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
29But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Sunday June 23, 2019: One in Christ: Galatians 3:23-29

Sunday June 23, 2019: One in Christ: Galatians 3:23-29

Paul invites us to a vision of the church and the world where all are one in Christ and the labels with separate us disappear. When we begin to see others not as things or labels but as people we love and care for the world really can change.

 

Galatians 3:23-29

For Paul, baptism is a powerful bond that unites people not only with God but with other believers. Those who call themselves children of God experience a transformation that removes prejudices of race, social class, or gender in favor of true unity in Christ.
23Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Let the Dead Bury the Dead: Sermon June 30, 2019 Luke 9:51-62

Let the Dead Bury the Dead: Sermon June 30, 2019 Luke 9:51-62

Let the dead bury the dead. How’s that for a nice summer theme? In the end our faithfulness will fail us. We will doubt and question. We will be found imperfect. Our hope is in Jesus and his faithfulness.

 

Gospel: Luke 9:51-62

Jesus is unwavering in his commitment to his mission in Jerusalem and will not be swayed by pettiness. In a series of striking cases in point, he calls his disciples to a similar single-mindedness.
51When the days drew near for [Jesus] to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55But he turned and rebuked them. 56Then they went on to another village.
57As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Holy Trinity Sunday: The Power and Presence of God: John 16:12-15

Holy Trinity Sunday: The Power and Presence of God: John 16:12-15

Holy Trinity Sunday is a day to reflect on the ways God is revealed to us, ways we experience the power and presence of God. 

 

Gospel: John 16:12-15

Jesus’ ongoing presence with the disciples will be borne by the coming Spirit, who will guide them and communicate to them Jesus’ will and glory.
[Jesus said,] 12“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

Bound and Free: Easter 7 June 2, 2019 Acts 16:16-34

Bound and Free: Easter 7 June 2, 2019 Acts 16:16-34

We confess we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. For years these words began Lutheran worship. As much as we claim our freedom, we remain bound by our bodies, bound by the need for income, bound by government rules and regulations which control our lives. Yet in Christ and through his forgiveness we are free. We are free to love, free to serve, free to work for justice and mercy. 

 

First Reading: Acts 16:16-34

The owners of a slave-girl who used her powers to tell fortunes threw Paul and Silas into jail for “healing” her and, consequently, ruining their business. In prison, Paul and Silas bring the good news of the gospel to the jailer and his family.
16One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. 17While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” 18She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
19But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. 20When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews 21and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” 22The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. 24Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. 34He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.

True Glory: John 13:31-35

True Glory: John 13:31-35

There are plenty of bad news stories masquerading as good news stories. With Jesus true glory is found in the truth of the basin and towel and cross. True glory is found as Jesus washes the disciples’ feet and goes to the cross for the sake of the world.

Gospel: John 13:31-35

After washing the disciples’ feet, predicting his betrayal, and then revealing his betrayer, Jesus speaks of his glorification on the cross. This deep complicated love of Jesus, even to death on the cross, will be the distinctive mark of Jesus’ community.
31When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Confirmation Sunday: Gifts, Courage and Companions: Acts 9:1-20

Confirmation Sunday: Gifts, Courage and Companions: Acts 9:1-20

On Confirmation Sunday we meet Saul and Ananias who teach about the life of faith. We learn God can use anyone, even a persecutor of the faith. We learn following Jesus takes courage. We learn we can’t go it alone and we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses to encourage us and be with us on the journey. 

First Reading: Acts 9:1-20

Each of us has a story of meeting God’s grace. Saul (later called Paul) was an ardent persecutor of all who followed the Way of Christ. This reading recounts the story of his transformation, beginning with an encounter with Jesus Christ on the way to Damascus.
1Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. 8Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
10Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” 11The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; 14and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” 15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, 19and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
  For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, 20and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”

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