The rich man who comes to ask Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life is a good man, sincere in his asking. Mark’s gospel is alone in saying that Jesus looked on him and loved him. Out of love, not as judgment, Jesus offers him an open door to life: sell all you own and give it to the poor. Our culture bombards us with the message that we will find life by consuming. Our assemblies counter this message with the invitation to find life by divesting for the sake for the other.
Scripture Reading: Mark 10:17-31, Hebrews 4:12-16
Today’s gospel combines a saying that makes many of us uncomfortable with a story we find comforting. Jesus’ saying on divorce is another of his rejections of human legislation in favor of the original intent of God’s law. Jesus’ rebuke of the disciples who are fending off the children should challenge us as well. What does it mean to receive the kingdom of God as a child does?
Scripture Reading: Mark 10:2-16, Genesis 2:18-24
Someone is casting out demons in Jesus’ name who isn’t part of Jesus’ own circle, and the disciples want him stopped. They appeal to Jesus, as Joshua did to Moses about the elders who prophesied without official authorization. Like Moses, Jesus refuses to see this as a threat. Jesus welcomes good being done in his name, even when it is not under his control. The circle we form around Jesus’ word must be able to value good being done in ways we wouldn’t do it, by people we can’t keep tabs on.
Scripture Reading: Mark 9:38-50, Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22
Today we hear James warn against selfish ambition, while the disciples quarrel over which one of them is the greatest. Jesus tells them the way to be great is to serve. Then, to make it concrete, he puts in front of them an actual flesh-and-blood child. We are called to welcome the particular children God puts in front of us, to make room for them in daily interaction, and to give them a place of honor in the assembly.
Scripture Reading: Mark 9:30-37, James 3:13-4:3, 4:7-8
Three weeks ago we heard John’s gospel’s version of Peter’s confession of faith. This week we hear Mark’s version, when Peter says, “You are the Messiah.” In John, the stumbling block is Jesus’ invitation to eat his flesh, given for the life of the world. Mark too the scandal has to do with Jesus’ words about his own coming death, and here Peter himself stumbles over Jesus’ words. But Jesus is anointed (the meaning of “messiah”) in Mark only on the way to the cross (14:3); so we are anointed in baptism with the sign of the cross.
Scripture Reading: Mark 8:27-38, James 3:1-12, Psalm 27
James tells us to stop showing favoritism in the assembly, treating the rich visitor with more honor than the poor one. Jesus himself seems to show partiality in his first response to the Syrophoenician woman in today’s gospel. Was he testing her faith in saying Gentiles don’t deserve the goods meant for God’s children? Or was he speaking out of his worldview, but transcended those limits when she took him by surprise with her reply? Either way, the story tells us that God shows no partiality. Everyone who brings her or his need to Jesus is received with equal honor as a child and heir.
Scripture Reading: Mark 7:24-37, Isaiah 35:4-7, Psalm 146
Jesus protects against human customs being given the weight of divine law, while the essence of God’s law is ignored. True uncleanness comes not from external things, but from the intentions of the human heart. Last week Jesus told us “the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” Now James says God has given us birth by the word of truth. We, having been washed in the word when we were born in the font, return to it every Sunday to ask God to create in us clean hearts.
Scripture Reading: Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23, Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9
In today’s gospel many people take offense at Jesus’ invitation to eat his flesh and drink his blood; even many of Jesus’ disciples peel off. This is the backdrop in John’s gospel for Peter’s confession of faith. “To whom can we go?” asks Peter, in words we sometimes sing just before the gospel is read. “You have the words of eternal life.” In order to take such a stand, as Peter and Joshua did, Paul tells us to arm ourselves with the word of God. We pray in the Spirit that we might be bold ambassadors of the gospel.
Scripture Reading: John 6:56-69, Psalm 34:15-22
Wisdom prepares a feast, sets her tables, and invites all to come and eat her bread and drink her wine. The first chapter of John’s gospel owes much to the biblical tradition that imagined Wisdom as existing before anything was created and having a role in the work of creation. John’s gospel includes no account of the institution of the Lord’s supper, but here we can’t help hearing Jesus’ words as an invitation to the meal of bread and wine we share.
Scripture Reading: John 6:51-58, Deuteronomy 12:20-25
Apparently not satisfied by Jesus’ feeding of thousands, some who were there press him for a sign of his power; perhaps it is daily manna they want. As always in John’s gospel when people want a sign, Jesus offers himself. He is the bread come from heaven to give lift to the world. He calls us to come to him andbelieve in him, and through that relationship to know the one who sent him.
Scripture Reading: John 6:24-35, Exodus 16:1-15
Following the ascension of Jesus, Luke continues the story of the mission and ministry of Jesus through the books of Acts, an extension of the gospel of Luke. In Acts 2 we hear Peter preaching the good news. We're called to do the same!
Scripture Reading: Acts 2:14-24, Psalms 104:1-15
Today is the first of five Sundays with gospel readings from John 6, the first four of which focus on Jesus as bread of life. Today Jesus feeds thousands of people with five loaves and two fish. What we have, what we bring to Jesus’ table, seems like it is not nearly enough to meet all the needs we see around us. But it is not the adequacy of our supplies or our skills that finally makes the difference: it is the power of Jesus working in the littlest and least to transform this world into the world God desires, a world where all the hungry are satisfied.
Scripture Reading: John 6:1-15, Ephesians 3:14-21
The gospels report Mary Magdalene was one of the women of Galilee who followed Jesus. She was present at Jesus’ crucifixion and his burial. When she went to the tomb on the first day of the week to anoint Jesus’ body, she was the first person to whom the risen Lord appeared. She returned to the disciples with the news and has been called “the apostle to the apostles” for her proclamation of the resurrection. Because John’s gospel describes Mary as weeping at the tomb, she is often portrayed in art with red eyes. Icons depict her standing by the tomb and holding a bright red egg, a symbol of the resurrection.
Scripture Reading: John 20:1-18, Ruth 1:1-18
John the Baptist spoke truth to power and Herod had him beheaded. In Herod’s fear that Jesus is John returned from the dead, we may hear hope for the oppressed: that all the prophets killed through the ages are alive in Jesus. We are called to witness to justice in company with them.
Scripture Reading: Mark 6:14-29,Ephesians 1:3-14
Jesus does great deeds of power and gives his disciples authority over demons. Yet none of this power is unilateral; it all must be received by faith. Jesus asks his disciples to go out without money or supplies, so that they will be dependent on how others receive them. When we are sent from the assembly to witness and to heal, we are asked to be vulnerable, to be dependent on the reception of others. The Spirit always operates in the between: between Jesus and his Abba, between Jesus and us, between you and me, between us and those to whom we are sent.
Scripture Reading: Mark 6:1-13, Ezekiel 2:1-5
God allowed us choice so there is evil. Consequences of our evil affects people on a large scale and evil by itself affects individuals. But God also brings us hope and freedom. Jeremiah reminds the people in Babylon to hold on to hope, that God has plans for their future. Jesus brings freedom to the Gentle in the Gerasene tombs. Hold to the hope and faith of the freedom Jesus has for us.
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:57-64,Jeremiah 29:4-14
John the Baptist is a unique figure in Christian memory, a hinge between the Old Testament prophets and the first Christians. In the gospel stories he recognizes Jesus as one greater than himself, one for whose coming he prepares the way. But still from his prison he asks if Jesus is truly the Expected One. He is a figure of perpetual Advent and in that way stands for all of us who may be Christian believers but still wait and wonder, discern and doubt.
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:57-64, 68-80, Malachi 3:1-4
The mustard seed becomes a shrub that shelters the birds, recalling ancient images of the tree of life. We’d expect a cedar or a sequoia, but Jesus finds the power of God better imaged in a tiny, no-account seed. It’s not the way we expect divine activity to look. Yet the tree of life is here, in the cross around which we gather, the tree into which we are grafted through baptism, the true vine that nourishes us with its fruit in the cup we share. It may not appear all that impressive, but while nobody’s looking it grows with a power beyond our understanding.
Scripture Reading: Mark 4:26-34, Ezekiel 17:22-24
A house divided against itself cannot stand. Jesus makes this observation in light of charges that he is possessed. He is possessed, not by a demon, but by the Holy Spirit. We who have received the Holy Spirit through baptism have been joined to Christ’s death and resurrection and knit together in the body of Christ. Those with whom we sing and pray this day are sisters and brothers of the Lord. With them we go forth in peace to do the will of God.
Scripture Reading: Psalm 130 , 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Deuteronomy makes clear that sabbath-keeping is meant for the welfare of all. God delivered the Israelites out of slavery, so they should not ever work anyone else seven days a week. Even slaves should be able to rest; even resident aliens. Yet human beings can turn even the most liberating religious practice into a life-destroying rule. Jesus does not reject sabbath-keeping, but defends its original life-enhancing meaning. Our worship and our religious way of life are to lead to the hungry being fed and the sick being healed.
Scripture Reading: Mark 2:3-3:6, Deuteronomy 5:12-15
When we say God is the triune God, we are saying something about who God is beyond, before, and after the universe: that there is community within God. Our experience of this is reflected in Paul’s words today. When we pray to God as Jesus prayed to his Abba (an everyday, intimate parental address), the Spirit prays within us, creating between us and God the same relationship Jesus has with the one who sent him.
Scripture Reading: Genesis 1:24-31, Genesis 2:5-9
On the fiftieth day of Easter we celebrate the Spirit, through whom and in whom the people of God are created and re-created. Pentecost is sometimes called the church’s birthday, but might more appropriately be called its baptism day, since the gift of the Spirit is the fullness of baptism. Acts makes it clear that God is in the process of re-creating the entire cosmos; yet the Spirit is also at work in the most intimate and personal way, praying in us “with sighs too deep for words” when we do not know how to pray.
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:15-23; Acts 1:1-11
In today’s gospel the risen Christ ascends into heaven and his followers are assured that the Spirit will empower them to be witnesses throughout the earth. The disciples were told to not gaze up into heaven to look for Jesus; we find his presence among us as we proclaim the word and share the Easter feast. We too long for the Spirit to enliven our faith and invigorate our mission.
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:15-23; Acts 1:1-11
This Sunday’s image of the life the risen Christ shares with us is the image of friendship. We are called to serve others as Jesus came to serve; but for John’s gospel, the image of servanthood is too hierarchical, too distant, to capture the essence of life with Christ. Friendship captures the love, the joy, the deep mutuality of the relationship into which Christ invites us. The Greeks believed that true friends are willing to die for each other. This is the mutual love of Christian community commanded by Christ and enabled by the Spirit.
Scripture Reading: John 15:9-17; Acts 10:44-48
This Sunday’s image of how the risen Christ shares his life with us is the image of the vine. Christ the vine and we the branches are alive in each other, in the mystery of mutual abiding that we read of in the gospel and the first letter of John. Baptism makes us a part of Christ’s living and life-giving self and makes us alive with Christ’s life. As the vine brings food to the branches, Christ feeds us at his table. We are sent out to bear fruit for the life of the world.
Scripture Reading: John 15:1-8; 1 John 4:7-21
The image of the Good Shepherd shows us how the risen Christ brings us to life. It is the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep, one of the mutual knowledge and love, that gives the shepherd authority. The shepherd’s willingness to lay down his life for the sheep shows his love. First John illustrates what it means to lay down our lives for one another by the example of sharing our wealth with any sister or brother in need.
Scripture Reading: John 10:11-18, 1 John 3:16-24
The gospel for the third Sunday of Easter is always one in which the risen Christ shares food with the disciples, meals that are the Easter template for the meal we share each Lord’s day. In today’s gospel, Jesus both shares the disciples’ food and shows them the meaning of his suffering, death, and resurrection through the scriptures: the two main elements of our Sunday worship.
Scripture Reading: Luke 24:36b-48, 1 John 3:1-7
The Easter season is a week of weeks, seven Sundays when we play in the mystery of Christ’s presence, mostly through the glorious Gospel of John. Today we gather with the disciples on the first Easter, and Jesus breathes the Spirit on us. With Thomas we ask for a sign, and Jesus offers us his wounded self in the broken bread. From frightened individuals we are transformed into a community of open doors, peace, forgiveness, and material sharing such that no one among us is in need.
Scripture Reading: John 20:19-31, 1 John 1:1-7
On this April Fool's Day. we can rejoice that Jesus Christ has made a fool of Satan. Satan thought he had triumphed over Jesus with the crucifixtion, but Jesus Christ triumphed over Satan by rising from the dead and further gave us victory over Satan by cleansing us of our sins. Satan no longer has a hold on us. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, ALLELUIA!
Scripture Reading: Mark 16:1-8, Isaiah 25:6-9
Tonight we sit shiva, an ancient custom still used today by our Jewish friends and neighbors. We sit in deep mourning. As the story of John’s account of Good Friday unfolds, we begin to grieve. While shiva is kept for seven days, our mourning is only for three. This night is called ‘Good’, not because of anything we have done, in fact, just the opposite. Tonight we are participants as the crowd in the narration. We are the ones who put Christ on the cross. We are the ones who said “Crucify”. As we enter into this most holy, dark and difficult night, we remember, we pray, we reflect and we wait. Through it all we breathe in the Holy Spirit who gives us light and hope in the darkness.
Scripture Reading: John 18:1-19-42, Isaiah 52:13-53:12
With nightfall our Lenten observance comes to an end, and we gather with Christians around the world to celebrate the Three Days of Jesus’ death and resurrection. At the heart of the Maundy Thursday liturgy is Jesus’ commandment to love one another. As Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, we are called to follow his example as we humbly care for one another, especially the poor and the unloved. At the lord's table we remember Jesus’ sacrifice of his life, even as we are called to offer ourselves in love for the life of the world..
Scripture Reading: John 13:1-17, 31b-35, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
We are reminded in Philippians that Christ humbled himself and became human to die on the cross. In Mark we see Jesus annointed like a high priest or a sheep, obedient to his father's will.
Scripture Reading: Mark 14:1-31, Philippians 2:5-11
Listen to God in your heart and follow your intuition and faith.
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:16-22
God promises Jeremiah that a “new covenant” will be made in the future: a covenant that will allow all the people to know God by heart. The church sees this promise fulfilled in Christ, who raws all people to himself when he is lifted up on the cross. Our baptismal covenant draws us to God’s heart through Christ and draws God’s light and truth into our hearts. We see God’s heart most clearly in the way Jesus shares human suffering.
Scripture Reading: Luke 22:14-20, Jeremiah 31:31-34
Resiliant people take a licking and keep on ticking - doing it the longest and happiest. Love for God and their neighbors is a bulwark of the resiliance.
Scripture Reading: Luke 4:16-21
Of the Old Testament promises providing a baptismal lens this Lent, the fourth is the promise God makes to Moses: those who look on the bronze serpent will live. In today’s gospel Jesus says he will be lifted up on the cross like the serpent, so that those who look to him in faith will live. The cross, which we are introduced to in baptism, becomes the sign we can look to in faith, for healing, for restored relationship to God, for hope when we are dying, and more.
Scripture Reading: John 3:14-21, Numbers 21:4-9
Two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul gave us thea nswer to the modern lack life style of fear and anxiety. "Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:4-9
The third covenant in this year’s Lenten readings is the central one of Israel’s history: the gift of the law of those God freed from slavery. The ten commandments are one of the chief parts of Luther’s catechism, a core piece of baptismal instruction. They begin with the statement that because God alone has freed us from the powers that oppressed us, we are to let nothing else claim first place in our lives. When Jesus throws the merchants out of the temple, he is defending the worship of God alone and rejecting the ways commerce and profit-making can become our gods.
Scripture Reading: John 2:13-22, Exodus 20:1-17
“Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight."
- Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:43-48
The second covenant in this year’s Lenten readings is the one made with Abraham and Sarah: God’s promise to make them the ancestors of many, with whom God will remain in everlasting covenant. Paul says this promise comes to all who share Abraham’s faith in God who brings life into being where there was no life. We receive this baptismal promise of resurrection life in faith. Sarah and Abraham receive new names as a sign of the covenant, and we too get new identities in baptism, as we put on Christ.
Scripture Reading: Mark 8:31-38, Genesis 17:1-7,15-16
It's easy to think of the disciples as we see in medevial artwork - white beard, white hair, some emblematic device and haloes. What Jesus saw was different. For instance, with Simon, Andrew, James and John, he saw hard working, callused and smelly fisherman. Jesus sees us as we are. We need to ourselves as we are and accept ourselves.
Scripture Reading: Mark 4:12-22
On Ash Wednesday the church began its journey toward baptismal immersion in the death and resurrection of Christ. This year, the Sundays in Lent lead us to focus on five covenants God makes in the Hebrew Scriptures and to use them as lenses through which to view baptism. First Peter connects the way God saved Noah’s family in the flood with the way God saves us through the water of baptism. The baptismal covenant is made with us individually, but the new life we are given in baptism is for the sake of the whole world.
Scripture Reading: Mark 1:9-15, 1 Peter 3:18-22
Christians gather on this day to mark the beginning of Lent’s baptismal preparation for Easter. On this day, the people of God receive an ashen cross on the forehead (a gesture rooted in baptism), hear the solemn proclamation to keep a fast in preparation for Easter’s feast, and contemplate anew the ongoing meaning of baptismal initiation into the Lord’s death and resurrection. While marked with the ashes of human mortality, the church hears God’s promise of forgiveness and tastes God’s mercy in the bread of life and the cup of salvation. From this solemn liturgy, the church goes forth on its journey to the great baptismal feast of Easter.
Scripture Reading: Psalm 51:1-12
The Sundays after Epiphany began with Jesus’ baptism and end with three disciples’ vision of his transfiguration. In Mark’s story of Jesus’ baptism, apparently only Jesus sees the Spirit descending and hears the words from heaven. But now Jesus’ three closest friends hear the same words naming him God’s beloved Son. As believers, Paul writes, we are enabled to see the God-light in Jesus’ face, because the same God who created light in the first place has shone in our hearts to give us that vision. The light of God’s glory in Jesus has enlightened us through baptism and shines in us also for others to see.
Scripture Reading: Mark 9:2-9, 2 Kings 2:1-12
In Isaiah it is the one God who sits above the earth and numbers the stars - it is that God who strengthens the powerless. So in Jesus’ healing work we see the hand of the creator God, lifting up the sick woman to health and service (diakonia). Like Simon’s mother-in-law, we are lifted up to health and diakonia. Following Jesus, we strengthen the powerless; like Jesus, we seek to renew our strength in quiet times of prayer.
Scripture Reading: Mark 1:29-39, Isaiah 40:21-31
(Includes excerpt from Josh Groban performing "You Lift Me Up")
We all have had life experiences that have informed the way we act and relate to others. As new communities arise in the Christian Church, Paul helps people to honor each other despite their differences. We are called to do the same.
Scripture Reading: Mark 1:21-28, 1 Corinthians 8: 1-13
Stories of the call to discipleship continue as the time after Epiphany plays out the implications of our baptismal calling to show Christ to the world. Jesus begins proclaiming the good news and calling people to repentance right after John the Baptist is arrested for preaching in a similar way. Knowing that John was later executed, we see at the very outset the cost of discipleship. Still, the two sets of fisherman brothers leave everything they have known and worked for all their lives to follow Jesus and fish for people.
Scripture Reading: Mark 1:14-20, Jonah 3:1-5, 10
All the baptized have a calling in God’s world. God calls not just the clergy but also the youngest child, like Samuel. The story of the calling of Nathanael plays with the idea of place. Nathanael initially dismisses Jesus because he comes from Nazareth. But where we come from isn’t important; it’s where - or rather whom - we come to. Jesus refers to the story of the vision of Jacob, who called the place of his vision “the house of God, and … the gate of heaven” (Gen. 28:17). Jesus says he himself is the place where Nathanael will meet God.
Scripture Reading: John 1:43-51, 1 Samuel 3:1-10
Our re-creation in baptism is an image of the Genesis creation, where the Spirit/wind moved over the waters. Mark’s gospel makes clear that it is the Spirit’s movement that distinguishes Jesus’ baptism from John’s. The Spirit has come upon us as upon Jesus, calling us God’s beloved children and setting us on Jesus’ mission to re-create the world in the image of God’s vision of justice and peace.
Scripture Reading: Mark 1:4-11, Genesis 1:1-5
Approaching the new year, we wrestle to make peace with the past and the future, plagued with feelings of exile and uncertainty. But the prophet of Isaiah reminds us that goodness will shine triumphant, and the elders Anna and Simeon in the Gospel of Luke recognize how Jesus will bring forth that salvation in our past, present, and future, while acknowledging that peace-making is not smooth-sailing.
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:2-40, Isaiah 61:10-62:3
On Christmas morning the people of God gather to celebrate the birth of the Word made flesh, Christ our Lord. Luke recounts the familiar story of shepherds and angels; John’s gospel tells of the Word that dwells among us, full of grace and truth. The meaning of Christmas is made clear: the light shines in the darkness. It is in the liturgy that we encounter the Word made flesh-in the people of God gathered together as the body of Christ, and in the meal around the holy table. We go forth to be bearers of light as we proclaim this good news to all the ends of the earth.
Scripture Reading: John 1:1-14, Isaiah 9:2-7
Our gospel from Luke presents us with Mary and Joseph faced with the first registration and their first child. We to have had first in the last year, first spouses, first children but also first holiday with out spouse, without children, without parent. But overall each day is the recommemcement of out time with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:1-20, Isaiah 9:2-7
Throughout the Bible a common response to a visit from God is to sing. Mary's response to the angel was to sing. We, too, sing to rejoice in Jesus' coming.
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26-38
Isaiah makes it clear that God turning our mourning into laughter and shouts of joy. “All God’s children got a robe,” go the words of the spiritual. It is not so much a stately, formal, pressed outfit as it is a set of party clothes, clothes that make us feel happy just to put on. We receive that robe in baptism, and in worship we gather for a foretaste of God’s party.
Scripture Reading: Luke 4:16-22a, Isaiah 64: 1-4, 8-11
John called people to repent, to clear the decks, to completely reorder their lives so that nothing would get in the way of God’s arrival. The reading from Isaiah gives the context for this radical call: the assurance of forgiveness that encourages us to repent; the promise that the coming one will be gentle with the little ones. Isaiah calls us all to be heralds with John, to lift up our voices fearlessly and say, “See, your God is coming!” We say it to one another in worship in order to say it without our lives in a world in need of justice and peace.
Scripture Reading: John 1:1-8, 19-28, Isaiah 40:1-11
The new church year begins with a wake-up call: Christ is coming soon! In today’s readings Isaiah wants God to rip the heavens open. When we hear Jesus describing the coming of the Son of Man with stars falling from heaven, it can sound dire and horrible, not like anything we would ever hope for. But when we really look at the suffering of people God loves, we can share the hope that God would tear open the heavens and come.
Scripture Reading: Mark 13:19-27, Isaiah 64:1-9
(Background music: "It's a Wonderful Christmas" by Michael W. Smith)
On this final Sunday of the church year our gospel is Jesus’ great story of judgment. In the end, the faithful are those who served Christ by ministering to those who are poor, hungry, naked, sick, or estranged. In the first reading God is the shepherd who seeks the lost, weak, and injured and feeds them with justice. We gather this day to celebrate the reign of Christ and his victory over death, yet awaiting the consummation of all things yet to come. Acknowledging Christ as our merciful ruler, we go forth that God’s reign may be known in our living words and deeds.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:31-46, Ezekiel 34:11-24
A story by Will Willimon
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:15-20
Our readings during November speak of the end times. Paul says it will sneak up like a thief in the night, and urges us to avoid distractions and stay mindful of what’s going on around us, hearts open to God’s wisdom and will. In Matthew, someone gets thrown out of the banquet for lack of participation, met with weeping and gnashing of teeth. These texts can be difficult and even scary, but can also be a helpful nudge to stay active in God’s liberating work. Jesus tells the parable of the talents, calling us to use our wealth, gifts, privilege, and resources for the greater and common good – while we still have time. In a world filled with violence and despair, we gather around signs of hope, eager to welcome the good news from God and recognition of beloved community.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:14-30, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Paul urges the Thessalonians to lead a life worthy of God. Jesus warns against hypocrisy. We are all called to be humble servants. We gather for worship, we seek justice, and we welcome all people to the banquet of the abundant life.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 23:1-12, 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 (Context for the sermon can be found by clicking and reading the gospel from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson)
All Saints celebrates the baptized people of God, living and dead, who are the body of Christ. As November heralds the dying of the landscape in many northern regions, the readings and liturgy call us to remember all who have died in Christ and whose baptism is complete. At the Lord’s table we gather with the faithful of every time and place, trusting that the promises of God will be fulfilled and that all tears will be wiped away in the new Jerusalem.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:1-12, Revelation 7:9-17, Psalm 34:1-10, 22
On this date in 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 Theses (propositions) on the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church as an invitation to debate the sale of indulgences for forgiveness. That event sparked a reform movement that eventually led to a Lutheran church and separate denominations. While there is much sorrow in the disunity which the Reformation caused, Luther did establish the idea that the Church is always in need of reform in the light of the gospel. Luther's primary principal that Christians are justified by God's grace through faith in Christ has also found universal acceptance among denominations. Today we pray for church unity, for the purity of God's word, and for a church that is always open to reform and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Scripture Reading: John 8:31-38, Jeremiah 31:31-34
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
(Link to Facebook video shown during sermon)
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.