When the Pharisees try to trap Jesus, he tells them to give the emperor what belongs to him and to God what belongs to God. To gather for worship reminds us that our ultimate allegiance is to God rather than to any earthly authority. Created in the image of God, we offer our entire selves in the service of God and for the sake of the world.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 22:15-22, 1 Thessalonians 1
In Isaiah we are given a vision of the great feast to come, when God will wipe away death forever. In Jesus’ parable about a great banquet, those invited do not come, so the invitation is extended to others. In our liturgy God spreads a table before us. Even amid anxiety and hardship we rejoice in the peace of God which surpasses all understanding. With great joy we feast at the table of the Lord, and we go forth to share the wonderful invitation with others hungering and thirsting for the abundant life of God.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 22:1-14, Isaiah 25:1-9
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus tells a parable of the vineyard, an image of Israel, the prophets’ mission, and Christ’s death. For Christians, the vineyard also speaks of God’s love poured out in the blood of Christ, given to us for the forgiveness of sin. Grafted onto Christ the vine at baptism, we are nourished with wine and bread, that we may share Christ’s sufferings and know the power of his resurrection.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:33-46, Philippians 3:4-14
Jesus' parable about two sons who don't do what they say reveals surprises in the reign of God, such as prostitutes and tax collectors going before others into God's kingdom. Paul urges us to look to Christ as a model of humility, looking to the interests of others above our own. Nourished by the broken bread and shared cup we offer our lives for the sake of our needy world..
Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:23-32, Philippians 2:1-13
We get the end of Jonah's story; after the running, after the fish, after preaching at Ninevah. We come in at Jonah's anger at God, both for not destroying Ninevah and for destroying the shade plant. In Jesus parable as well, the first workers get angry about generosity that is not accorded them. We too can rejoice in any blessings we get from God, knowing we don't deserve them, and ignoring undeserved blessings of anyone else.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 20:1-16, Jonah 3:10-4:11
Both Matthew and Romans come down hard on not forgiving each other. We need to get closer to each other to better know who we are, to move in closer and get to know each other. Not forgiving is like eating rat poison to poison rat. It's harder on us than on the rat.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 18:21-35, Romans 14:1-12
The closest that seminarys come to a course on Practical Ministries is sending students out on internships, as lambs before the wolves. Both Bible passages for today form a basis for practical ministry, namely, love God and love your neighbor as yourself. There still exists the matter of interpreting those scriptures to fit the present situation.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 18:15-20, Romans 13:8-14
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Many people view who they are by other people's opinion of them, either the ones in the Box Seats, whose expectations we feel we should meet; or the ones in the Critics Section, the ones whose messages are comparison, scarcity and shame. Listen instead to the Support section, the ones who understand us and care for us and give us our Job description: Show up. Do good. Be kind.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:21-28, Romans 12:9-21
In response to Peter's recognition of Jesus as Messiah, Jesus promises Peter will be the rock the church is built on. Paul expands further that we all have a roll to play in the church. Paul encourages us to be what God has made us to be, not what others think we should be. .
Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:13-20, Romans 12:1-8
It's easy to see life as us vs them, and we're right. Isaiah promises that those who love the Lord will go into his kingdom. Jesus agrees with this, saying that what is in the heart is most important. He demonstrates this with the Canaanite woman who knows Jesus can heal her daughter. But even though she is not Jewish, Jesus heals her daughter because of the mother's faith.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 15:10-28, Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
When Elijah looks for God on a mountain, he dos not look for Godin the wind, earthquake or fire but recognizes God in the gentle whisper giving him direction. Similarly, as the disciples are buffeted by wind and waves, where Jesus is, is calm. We let ourselves be tossed and tumbled by our lives, grab some quiet time with God.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 14:22-33, 1 Kings 19:9-16
It is common to be troubled by by comparing yourself with others and with what you perceive you should have from advertisements and media. In Isaiah God bids you to come to him for satisfaction and in the Gospel lesson Jesus feeds 20,000 from five loaves and two fish. All are satisfied and there are twelve baskets left over. Come to God and find satisfaction in what is enough.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 14:13-21, Isaiah 55:1-5
We often think that life is pretty dark, nothing is going our way and nothing can improve. Jesus parables assure us that we are of great worth to God. So much so that God gave his Son to die in our place. In the Light of God, darkness cannot abide. As Paul summarizes, "if God is for us, who can be against us?"
Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52, Romans 8:26-39, Psalm 139:1-12
Some interpret the parable of the wheat and thistles as justifying the identification of some people as the thistles and so to be avoided. But Jesus' points out that the parable is saying just the opposite. We are to treat all as fellow wheat and let God distinguish in the end, not us.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43, Romans 8:12-25, Psalm 139:1-12
Today's Gospel is the parable of the Soils. Generally attention is given to the different types of soil, but consider the Sower. Seeds in that time were wealth, literally the stuff of life. You put it where you knew it would grow. But the Sower of this parable is extravagant, throwing seeds everywhere they might grow. There is no condemnation of the soil because of its past, only an offering of opportunity for the future.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23, Romans 8:1-11
Here is the passage where Jesus sounds fed up with his followers. They rejected John the Baptist for being to strict, they reject Jesus for being too lax, or rather, for not being who they want. On His way to the cross, Jesus pleads with them still to accept His way and His help. Yoked to Jesus, He takes your burden and lightens your load.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30, Zechariah 9:9-12
Jesus has condensed the Old Testament Law to one - "Love God" - with the corollary - "love your neighbor as yourself". One method of showing this love is to help them. Look for ways to help. If you don't know how to help, so much the better - ask THEM! Be vulnerable, show them you need their help, that they can help you because they know things you do not. To one who is thirsty, a cup o cool water is precious. Love your neighbor, give help, ask for help.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 10:40-42, Romans 6:12-23
Last week's gospel had Jesus telling his disciples to Show Up!, to be present for those that they are with. Today's lesson has Jesus cautioning his followers that because they are his followers they will be targets, like pop bottles on a fence. Nonetheless, they are to be God's light in the world and present the cross and love God and love their neighbor.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 10:24-39, Romans 6:1-11
Just as a hockey coach exhorts his players to "Show up!", to pay attention to what's happening in the game, Jesus exhorted his disciples to go out and minister to the Jews, paying attention to who greets them warmly and who is against them. We too are given the authority of the Holy Spirit and told to go and minister to the people we are with. Show Up!
Scripture Reading: Matthew 9:35-10:23
Essential oils have a long history of affecting our environment to change how we feel, often smelling better. The woman at Jesus' feet released fragrance in to the air, but Simon did not think that things smelled better. We, too, are called to act out of love for Jesus Christ and filled with though Holy Spirit. There will be those who think we stink, but it is fragrant to God, and God is the One who counts.
Scripture Reading: Luke 7:36-50, Galatians 3:23-29
Pentecost is the festival of Harvest, fifty days after Passover; it is also the celebration of the in rushing of the Holy Spirit to the Disciples. We, too, are called to accept the Spirit within ourselves, letting the joy overflow to those around us.
Scripture Reading: John 7:37-39, Acts 2:1-21
Pneumatology is the name of the study of the Breath of God - the Holy Spirit. Unlike the other three gospels, John does not give the Lord's prayer. But John does show Jesus praying for the disciples, showing prayer as using the Holy Spirit to be the means of relating to God and helping us proclaim the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Scripture Reading: John 17:1-12, Acts 1:6-14
Pneumatology is the name of the study of the Breath of God - the Holy Spirit. Jesus gives hint of this to the disciples as he tells them that he will not leave them comfortless, but will send a Friend to them. Since Jesus is standing right alongside God, what He says, goes. Even for today's priesthood of believers.
Scripture Reading: John 14:15-21, 1 Peter 3:13-22
Heraclitus said you can never step in the same river twice, for it is always changing and so are you. Rivers are always changing but always flowing down to the ocean. We are always changing but always moving toward the kingdom of God. We know Jesus is there in the Father and the Father in Him, and because we are the children of God we are in the Father as well. Some come, rejoice in the changes taking you ever closer to God.
Scripture Reading: John 14:1-14, 1 Peter 2:2-10
It's common to view Jesus as the Good Shepherd and we as sheep. Pastor Jules reflects on assistants that shepherds often have - sheep dogs. We, too, can act as sheep dogs, listening for our master's voice to follow his commands and help lead the sheep where Jesus would like them.
Scripture Reading: John 10:1-10, Psalm 23
"Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let's not be afraid to receive each day's surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity" - Henri Nouwen
Scripture Reading: Luke 24:13-35, Acts 2:14, 36-41
On this Holy Humor Sunday, we consider the truth of 1 Corinthians 1:18; the wisdom of the cross is foolishness to those perishing. We proclaim a baby born of a virgin, a Samaritan hero, a farmer planting seeds on rocks and in weeds, the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame rise up and walk. And craziest of all, a Messiah who is killed, but after 3 days arises. God constrained by the world's wisdom? Inconceivable!
Scripture Reading: John 20:19-31, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
From our Lenten studies of Brene Brown's Rising Strong, we've learned to consider three forms of transitions - the Reckoning, the Rumble and the Revolution. Good Friday is the Rumble - change with uncertainty and fear. Easter is the Revolution with hope held high. Jesus tells us we don't need to be good enough, we may have life abundantly here and now. We're not alone, God is with us. Christ is Risen, Alleluia!
Scripture Reading: Mark 16:1-8; Isaiah 25:6-9
The women went to the tomb in grief, hoping to tend further to the body. They, as well as Peter and John, found the tomb empty. When Mary stayed, Jesus came and told her he was on his way to God but and to tell his disciples he had risen. Christ is risen! Alleluia!
Scripture Reading: John 20:1-18
It is dark. Our beloved Teacher has been crucified. We are afraid and lonely. Those of us closest to him can only gather and pray and wait. Everything is unsettled. It is The Rumble.
Scripture Reading: John 18:1-19:42, Isaiah 52:13-53:9, 11b-12
God makes three covenants in the Old Testament; blessings to and through Abraham; 10 commandments through Moses; a promise of a House of David. Jesus comes with a new commandment - bread and wine in remembrance of Jesus - and a new promise - forgiveness of our sins and Christ with us always. Be a billboard for Christ, love others as Jesus loves you.
Scripture Reading: John 13:1-17, Psalm 23
Faced with troubles and problems, we wonder not only how much God loves us, but whether God loves us. We have the gospels telling us how Jesus came from infinity to the manger, to the cross, to the tomb, then rose and came back again. Because he loves us that much.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 27:11-54, Luke 19:29-38
It is common to think that being stong and brave means being independent. Jesus points out that in God's economy strength and bravery come through the new commandment - Love God, love your neighbor as yourself. It is by opening up to others that you are encouraged.
Scripture Reading: John 16:25-33
Human babies are born without capability but a lot of potential. As they grow, their bodies learn to do things: to walk, to talk, ride bicycles, throw clay. Some direction and practice can go far. Jesus gave Lazarus direction -"Come out!" and the mourners were directed to get in touch with the reality of resurrection. By baptism we have the Holy Spirit in us, by practice with the Holy Spirit we can strengthen our love of God and of our neighbor. “Proclaim, Grow & Serve"!
Scripture Reading: John 11:1-44, Romans 8:15-17
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Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non-judgment, Generosity. With small bits of trustworthiness with each other, you can build honesty and trust with each other.
Scripture Reading: Romans 8:1-4
Baptism is sometimes called enlightenment. The gospel for this Sunday is the story of the man born blind healed by Christ. I was blind, but now I see, declares the man. Like the blind man, let us make a journey of faith to realization that Jesus is the Son of Man, the Messiah.
Scripture Reading: 9:1-41, Psalm 23
Boundaries, Integrity and Generosity, bywords for living B.I.G. Know your boundaries and accept the limits of others, be honest with yourself and God, share God's blessings with others. Neither a borrower nor a lender be and to your own self be true.
Scripture Reading: John 4:1-42, Psalm 16:5-6
The Samaritan women comes to the well as an outcast, coming in the middle of the day when no one else should be there. But there is someone, Jesus. She expects Jesus, as a male Jew, to ignore her, if he doesn't prevent her from getting to the water. But he talks to her, and more than talks, gives her hope and through her brings hope to her whole village. You can get hope, also, and spread that hope to your village.
Scripture reading: John 4:1-42, Romans 5:1-8
Pixar uses a standard template for their stories. Protagonist is given challenge, protagonist works through possibilities, protagonist meets challenge in spite of ristk and effort. You're likely caught in the middle of your own story. The day to day of working through the usual irritations. The rumble, as Brene Brown puts it. But we have God on our side. As Paul puts it, 'perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.' You can do it. Get out there and rumble.
Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 4:5-12
In today’s gospel Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born of water and Spirit. At the font we are given a new birth as daughters and sons of God. As God made a covenant with Abraham, in baptism God promises to raise us up with Christ to new life. From Worship we are sent forth to proclaim God’s love for all the world.
Scripture reading: John 3:1-17, Genesis 12:1-4
Our God is a God of Truth. Accordingly, when we are truthful, open and honest with God, our self and others, God takes our vulnerability and makes us free and strong. It may not be easy, you will be different and the people nearest you may work hard to make you the way you were, but God will be with you to support you. Scripture reading: Luke 10:25-37
We begin our journey into Lent with further consideration of trials and temptations we are exposed to. We have as examples the temptations Jesus faces in the wilderness. All pose questions to Jesus: If you can change rocks to loaves; does God love you enough; can you handle the people worshiping you? Jesus answers 'God is enough'. We are the beloved children of God. Shut fear down and lean further into Love.
Scripture readings: Matthew 4:1-11 and Psalm 91
With the start of Lent, many people feel that they have to give something up. Close on those feelings are the feelings that they haven't given up enough. Jesus makes a different request. He tells us to give up our worries, our concerns, our anxieties; to let him carry them. His burden is light - he is doing all the carrying. If you let him.
He will create in you a clean heart and put a right and new spirit in you, if you let him. Scripture readings: Matthew 11:28-30 and Psalm 51:1-12
Today we're talking about making a shift, from one thing to another thing. Putting the words of ancient scripture to a Garth Brooks tune. Making the Word of God accessible to all. Scripture readings: Matthew 17:1-9 & Exodus 24:12-18.
We simply do not know the impact we will have on someone's life. Love triumphs and strengthens us in wondrous ways, gathered at camp beneath the stars, or in a scribbled note rediscovered decades later. Scripture Readings from Matthew 5:38-48 & Galations 5:6.
The law isn't here to allow you to judge others or feel better than others for living in righteousness - the law is wisdom to form healthier relationships with God and our neighbors. Jesus came to show us in person how to live the righteousness of God, which surpasses the requirements of the law as we have come to understand it. It is life-giving wisdom to do our best. Scripture readings from Matthew 5:21-37 and Deuteronomy 30:15-20.
How do we reflect Christ's light in the world? What was Ghandi's suggestions for Christians? Scripture readings from Matthew 5:13-20 and 1 Corinthians 2:1-12.
Let's begin with "Benediction" - from Latin meaning "good" and "speech" - and explore how blessings brighten our days. Scripture readings from Matthew 5:1-12 and Micah 6:1-8.
In times of change and heavy darkness, we continue "becoming" and recognizing the light. Scripture readings from Matthew 4:12-23, Psalm 27:1,4-9, and Isaiah 9:1-4
While our social self helps us navigate daily life, we must keep it in balance so that our essential self is not crushed. Scripture readings from John 1:29-42 and 1 Corinthians 1:1-9.
ELCA Deacon Amy Hartman preaches about strategies for prayer and reminding young people that they are not alone, especially those who have been harmed by human trafficking and abuse. Scripture readings from Matthew 3:13-17 and Isaiah 42:1-9.
Whatever we do that is kind, just, and loving is living out the name we share in Jesus. As we remember how Jesus got his name, we reaffirm our baptismal promise in Jesus' name. Scripture readings from Luke 2:15-21 & Philippians 2:5-11.