Share the good news ... in word and deed!
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The gift of God in Jesus Christ is so truly amazing that it seems almost unbelievable that people would find it offensive.
The grace we receive in the Gospel is the gift of a relationship with God that sustains us in this life and through death to an eternal life. This relationship with God is a gift that gives our life purpose, meaning and direction. In accordance with God’s will and God’s purposes, it is a gift that sets us free, truly free, to live as God’s children, whole and well in God’s praise. And so it seems almost incomprehensible that this word, this grace, this promise would evoke such violent reactions and responses in the hearts of the very people it sets out to love, save and bless.
Behold! I Make All Things New
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
This is a night to remember Ursula. Even though remembering makes us feel the sadness of Ursula’s absence, it also keeps her present and part of our lives. Our memories of Ursula can be expressions the love we had and shared together, and so, those memories are simultaneously painful and happy. There are other memories there as well, I am sure. Maybe memories that fill us not so much with love as with regret or guilt or shame. These too are part of the reckoning me all must do at the end of something, a settling of accounts, so to speak. That is why a service such as this reminds us that we will be okay, and that we will not have to bear the full weight of our mourning or grief all by ourselves, but that Jesus himself bears that weight with us and for us so that we might remember love, receive forgiveness and pardon, and live on in hope of the new thing that God Himself is revealing in the world.
Get Up and Get Moving
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
I want to commend you on being present.
I know that it took some effort to get up and get moving so that you might gather here in Christ and receive the benefits that come from hearing God’s Word and participating in the Lord’s Supper. It is the standard practice of a pastor to contact you if you have been absent for a while, to check and see how you are doing, but too rarely do I take a minute to tell you how happy I am to see you here in worship, and how I much I am encouraged by your faithfulness and diligence in persevering in the promise of your baptism.
How have you been changed?
“The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me. ... Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” (John 1:43, 45-46)
This may seem a strange passage to use as a superscript for the pastor’s annual report, but in these few verses we find something that can help us understand our life together in Christ. It begins with Jesus’ invitation. Jesus takes the initiative to call us and form us into a fellowship. Jesus invites people into the fellowship and promise of God’s kingdom with a command to follow him. Next, we see the response of the disciple. A disciple affirms Jesus’ choice by hearing and believing, saying yes by getting up and following. Finally, we see how Jesus’ disciples share the good news with their friends. Through that witness, the Holy Spirit draws people to Jesus, changes their hearts and minds and opens their ears and eyes to hear and see God at work in the world.
Among the items discussed at the November church council meeting were:
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