Are You Satisfied?

Biblical Text: Mark 6:30-44

Blame it on reading a little Boethius recently, but in reading the feeding of the 5000 two things jumped out at me. The first was the repetition of “a desolate place.” Jesus wanted to bring the disciples to a desolate place, and when the action starts the disciples mention that they are in a desolate place. The second phrase that jumped out is the summary that “all ate and were satisfied.” What does it mean to be satisfied? This sermon looks at the ways we typically answer that, or how we look for satisfaction. And then it puts forward one more. Call it the foolish, the wise and the gospel. Only one truly gives satisfaction in a desolate place.

Virtual Bulletin – 7/18

July 18th, 2021 – 8th Sunday after Pentecost

Note about Virtual Bulletin: This is a shortened form of what gets emailed (if I have your email) and what is passed out with the bulletin on Sunday. I take out the very congregation specific info. If you want to ensure you get that, please contact me with your email.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  July 19th – July 25th

Mon-Mon.………………           Pastor’s Vacation (Stay Mon-Wed, Out of Town Thur-Sun)

Mon…………………….            6:00pm             Women’s Group

Wednesday……………..           7:30pm             Church Council

Thursday: ………………           10:00am           NO Bible Study

Sunday: ………………….          10:00am           Worship

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

Devotion & Prayer Thought

One of the cheats to following Paul’s letters is often to look for the prepositions or transition words, like “therefore” or “since” or “so then”.  Right before our Epistle lesson today Paul has restated what for me is a better gospel in a nutshell than John 3:16.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  Therefore…

What Paul says today rests on that statement of the gospel.  And what he speaks about is a new unity.  The world was once divided into Jews and Gentiles.  And this type of division was not unique then and continues to be common.  There were Greeks and Barbarians.  From what I have been told there are “Han” which means “the people” in China and everyone else. The United States certainly thinks of itself as a country set apart.  Each “tribe, people, language and nation” has “dividing walls of hostility” that are maintained by law, ordinance and culture.  Now Paul maintains that the Jewish law is special in this regard in that the Jews through Abraham also had the covenant of promise.  But by both the Jewish law and every other law, everyone was once cut off from God.  But in his flesh Christ has broken down these walls.  Christ is our peace.  He has made things that were natural enemies one in himself.  All of mankind’s laws died when Christ was crucified under Pontius Pilate.  Those who were near and those who were far have all been called to the foot of the cross to be reconciled to God.  What is divided by the fallen nature of creation has been united in one Christ, the firstborn of the new creation.

“So then…”. What does it mean that we have been united in Christ?  You who have been united to Christ, Jews and Greeks, Greeks and Barbarians, Americans and foreigners, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but fellow citizens.  You are citizens together with all the saints, and you are members of the household.  More than just fellow citizens, you are brothers and sisters, because Christ has joined us. Yes, this world and its laws will continue to separate, maybe even with hostility.  But this world is passing away.  To be part of Christ is to be freed from those separations and to grow together into a holy temple of the Spirit. God has made his dwelling place here, with you, and with all who have been called to the foot of the cross for that peace.  There are many things that divide us.  But in the church, these all disappear at the foot of the cross.  And not the least because none of us gathered here has done anything to deserve it.  The unity is a gift that flows from the grace of God which we receive by faith. May we learn to live out this faith and to live into this unity in the bonds of peace.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Galatians, come join us! (But not this week.)
  • Confirmation:  Returns in September
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Returns in September
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, Walking through the Gospel of Mark
  • Catechism Moment: Lord’s Prayer.  If you didn’t get it in your inbox, let me know please!

A Plumb Line on the Soul

Biblical Text: Amos 7:7-15

The image from the Text is a plumb line, something that checks if you built straight. The Northern Kingdom, specifically the house of Jeroboam had not, and their time was short. Amos was sent by Yahweh to tell them. But in Amaziah, the Northern Priest, and Amos’ MMA style confrontation we get some vital insight into our calls. This sermon digs into putting the plumb line on our souls.

Virtual Bulletin – 7/11

July 11th, 2021 – 7th Sunday after Pentecost

WORSHIP & Bible Study

Worship is at 10AM, Bible Study after service or 11:15ish

This week’s service Bulletin/Worship Link Here

Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6458485288?pwd=R2xGZkRNVi9TdzFPQzlaVnluNWo4QT09

Zoom Meeting ID: 645 848 5288 Passcode: miracles

Today is the last of our “Zooming” of worship services.  In the Spirit of Hebrews 10:25 we wish to encourage all to “not neglect to meet together but gather to encourage one another.”

Devotion & Prayer Thought

I think I’ve said prior that Ephesians is the Pauline letter that most resonates with me.  It does so because its metaphors are financial, familial, and cosmic, and those are the ones I get at a gut level.  Almost all of Paul’s letters start the same way.  The first couple of verses are like the return address and basic greeting.  From: Paul To: The church at Ephesus.  Grace and Peace to you.  But then, at various different lengths in the letters, Paul introduces the themes of the letter.  That introduction is our Epistle lesson today.  The cosmic background of the letter is first up.  “Blessed be God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” Everything that is in heaven has been given to you, and this was the plan from before the world was made.  The best in all creation, before there was time, is yours in Christ.  You don’t get more cosmic than that.  Such stakes will of course bring in cosmic “bad guys”, but fear not, this is God’s plan.

What is his plan?  “In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ…in Him we have obtained an inheritance.”  These are the familial themes.  We have been made part of God’s family.  And being part of God’s family means we have an inheritance.  God is not some beggar, but the cosmic King.  You have been made princes of the realm.  Even though we are but dust, we have great expectations because Our Father has given us all spiritual blessings.  The honor of His house, of our house, depends upon God keeping his promises.  Herod felt that weight of his promise enough to deliver the Head of the Baptist to Herodias, how much more The King delivering on something to his family that has been his grand plan all along?

So what are the financial stakes?  Think about the fall of man as an enemy combatant capturing a part of the King’s territory and enslaving those people.  That is what happened in the ancient world when you lost the battle.  That is exactly what Satan did in the garden.  “But in Christ we have redemption through His blood according to the riches of His grace.”  The Father would not withhold the Kingdom’s most precious item, the life of the crown prince.  The King redeemed his territory through Jesus.  And we have been given the Holy Spirit –“You were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession.”  The Holy Spirit is the earnest money.  If the King doesn’t complete the transaction – the resurrection – we keep the Spirit.  He’s going to complete it.  You don’t walk away from a person of the Trinity, if such a thing were even possible. Yes, we don’t have that inheritance just yet.  The family is still growing.  Soon.

There are other metaphors for what God has done for us in Christ: sacrificial, creation/light, food, and others.  But I’m a sucker for a big canvass that tells a family story.  What is the language of grace that most speaks to you?  

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  July 12th – July 19th

Mon-Wed.………………           Pastoral Continuing Ed

Wednesday……………..           10:00am        Saver’s delivery

Thursday: ………………           10:00am Bible Study

Sunday: ………………….          10:00am          Worship

                                                 11:00am       Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Galatians, come join us!
  • Confirmation:  Returns in September
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Returns in September
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, Walking through the Gospel of Mark
  • Catechism Moment: Lord’s Prayer.  If you didn’t get it in your inbox, let me know please!

Stay There Until You Depart

Biblical Text: Mark 6: 1-13

It happens occasionally, July 4th falls on a Sunday. And unless you’ve got your head in the sand, the role patriotism and nationalism is a cultural divide or some magnitude. This is my attempt to think through a Christian patriotism. The divide is between those from somewhere and those from anywhere. And I think this puts forward a fair case that even though the worries of anywhere are real, somewhere is necessary for the gospel.

Virtual Bulletin – 7/4

July 4th, 2021 – 6th Sunday after Pentecost

WORSHIP & Bible Study

Worship is at 10AM, Bible Study after service or 11:15ish

This week’s service Bulletin/Worship Link Here

Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6458485288?pwd=R2xGZkRNVi9TdzFPQzlaVnluNWo4QT09

Zoom Meeting ID: 645 848 5288 Passcode: miracles

You have probably noticed that we have been concluding special pandemic worship accommodations.  The last of these, our “Zooming” of worship services, will be discontinued as of July 11th.  In the Spirit of Hebrews 10:25 we wish to encourage all to “not neglect to meet together but gather to encourage one another.”

Devotion & Prayer Thought

Tom Holland is an English writer something like the American Malcom Gladwell.  They explore interesting concepts that can be told in interesting ways.  Gladwell does it from scientific or social scientific things (10,000 hours) while Holland from a historical angle.  Holland majored in writing books about the ancient word, like Rubicon about the Rome of Julius Caesar and Persian Fire about classical 5th century Greece and their conflict with Xerxes.  His most recent work is called Dominion which advanced a thesis which is quite old, but also one that nobody in the academy would touch today.  In his research and study of the ancient world he came to understand the values of Rome and Greece which are quite different than the professed modern values of the West.  The ideal was perfection.  There is a reason all those Greek statues look like “gods”.  The goal was fame or having your name and family live on.  The fundamental difference in the pagan world was between the weak and the strong.  The strong took what they wanted, and they were entitled to it, to show weakness was contemptible. What we would call casual cruelty to fellow human beings was just deserts. Holland set out to explain how “The West” moved from brooding Achilles and tricky Odysseus as the exemplars to the idea of universal human rights.  He couldn’t do it without Christ and I would add Paul.  The Dominion he Chronicled is Christendom, the Kingdom.  His thesis was that you don’t get the modern west without the meeting of Athens of Jerusalem.  And really he goes further, everything we truly say we admire today in the moral realm is the gift of the cross.

I added Paul, because you don’t get a better passage of the conflict between Athens and Jerusalem than our Epistle lesson.  The Corinthians, Greeks, heirs of Athens, are always “falling” for those boasting.  Boasting of one’s greatness – the best orator, the smartest philosopher – is how one grows their fame.  One would boast of how their words moved cities.  An itinerant teacher would boast of everything his teaching might allow you to be.  But when Paul starts “boasting”, he says “I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”  He boasts of being run out of town.  His boasts were not of his revelations, which were not minor, but of the thorn in his flesh.  Paul boasted of his hardships, his persecutions, his sufferings for preaching the gospel.  All of this would be anathema, weakness, to the Greek.  Why was it not to Paul?  Because in this he was following Christ.  Whatever “Paul” accomplished, his weakness made plain that it was not Paul, but Christ through Paul.  “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The Greek view of the fundamental difference being between the weak and the strong, if not natural law, is our fallen nature.  We get this in our bones.  But part of the witness of the cross is that even perfection will not get out alive.  Our power is not perfected in acts of strength or cunning.  “My power is made perfect in weakness.” We can’t earn it; everything comes to us by grace.  The division is not between the strong and the weak, because we are all weak.  The division is between those who will accept grace, for themselves and grant it to their neighbor as an equal, and those who would demand the law.  The dominion of grace is the Kingdom of the Gospel.  May the light of the gospel continue to enlighten our hearts toward our neighbors as fellow humans.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  July 5th – July 11th

Mon-Fri…………………           Rummage Sale Collection

Tuesday…………………           7:00pm             Elders Meeting

Thursday: ………………           10:00amBible Study

Saturday………………..           9am-3pm          Rummage Sale

Sunday: ………………….          10:00am           Worship

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Galatians, come join us!
  • Confirmation:  Returns in September
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Returns in September
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, Walking through the Gospel of Mark
  • Catechism Moment: Lord’s Prayer.  If you didn’t get it in your inbox, let me know please!

It’s Free; and Costs Everything

Biblical Text: Mark 5:21-43, Lamentations 3:22-33

The text is one of the “Markan Sandwiches” – an outside story interrupted by an inside story. That gives us a chance to reflect on things exterior and things interior. In the biblical text the the outside and the inside stories interact and intensify each other. They are told in this way because we are meant to understand them together. Likewise our internal and external selves. The first reflection this sermon delves into is the contrasts between Jesus and the Crowds in the external story in regards to hope. Internally it is the difference between hope and despair, externally it is the difference between the acts of horror and serenity. The second reflection contrasts the woman and the disciples in the internal story in regards to cost. What is the cost of this hope? There are only two answers. Give the sermon a listen to hear.

Virtual Bulletin – 6/27

June 27th, 2021 – 5th Sunday after Pentecost

WORSHIP & Bible Study

Today’s flowers are placed by the Brown Family in honor of Anna’s high school graduation.

Worship is at 10AM, Bible Study after service or 11:15ish

This week’s service Bulletin/Worship Link Here

Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6458485288?pwd=R2xGZkRNVi9TdzFPQzlaVnluNWo4QT09

Zoom Meeting ID: 645 848 5288 Passcode: miracles

You have probably noticed that we have been concluding special pandemic worship accommodations.  The last of these, our “Zooming” of worship services, will be discontinued as of July 11th.  In the Spirit of Hebrews 10:25 we wish to encourage all to “not neglect to meet together but gather to encourage one another.”

Devotion & Prayer Thought

I get a chuckle each time Larry Stojkovic (Pastor at Hope in Greece) shares his Father-in-law’s stewardship sermon.  “Kirk (Senior) used to give this sermon twice a year and whenever it was necessary.  ‘I have three points today. First, you have money.  Second, Jesus needs that money.  Third, time to hand it over.’” I only met Kirk Dueker, Sr. twice, but I can completely believe it.  Although I do wonder if he ever gave that sermon to a congregation in extremis. There is a difference asking a congregation where his first point is abundantly true to support “growth” projects and giving that to a congregation where the first point might be less sure.

Paul in the Epistle Reading for the day gives something very close to Kirk, Sr.’ s sermon.  In the background of Acts and poking out occasionally in the letters, Paul is collecting funds from his gentile churches for the saints, Jewish, in Jerusalem.  Paul opens by pointing at the churches of Macedonia’s (Thessalonians, Philippians) generosity.  Corinth was also part of Macedonia, but if you were making modern comparisons, Thessalonica and Philippi might be Buffalo and Cleveland, while Corinth was New York City or San Jose.  That is Paul making Kirk, Sr.’s first point – “You have money.”  And when they saw what Buffalo and Cleveland had contributed, “we urged Titus that he should complete among you this act of grace.”  That is Kirk’s point two.  The need remains and Titus should set it before the congregation at Corinth.  And then Paul moves on to point three, “As you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you – see that you excel in this act of grace also.” Kirk, Sr. was giving a very biblical sermon.

But Paul doesn’t stop there, he expands on a stewardship truth in two biblical ways.  The conclusion to his argument recalls the experience of Israel in the desert with the manna. “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.” That image from the life of Israel is about the providence of God.  It works in such a way that we always have exactly what we need.  It is Luther’s explanation of the First Article, “He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.” This calls for some contemplation.  Whether we appear to have a lack, or appear to have an abundance, faith sees the right amount for what we are called to do.  The lack or abundance is not in what God has supplied, it is in our use of his gifts.  Along the way to that conclusion Paul tweaks the Corinthians who did tend to think they were better than all, “in faith, in speech, in knowledge.” Paul’s tweaking is that such things are definitely great gifts, and if they were so gifted in the higher things, then such a simple gift as generosity with the less fortunate should be as nothing.  I think the wisdom here is two-fold.  Paul is right that a generous charity is a foundational grace.  “Where your money is, there your heart will be also.” Paul is also highlighting how often we grasp for higher gifts but lack the foundation.  And we lack it because it is not so simple.  Stewardship is a concrete act of faith in the Providence of God.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  June 28th – July 4th

Mon-Sat…………………           Rummage Sale Collection

Thursday: ………………           10:00amBible Study

Sunday: ………………….          10:00am           Worship

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Something New! Come Join Us.
  • Confirmation:  Returns in September
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Returns in September
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, Walking through the Gospel of Mark
  • Catechism Moment: It was a busy week.  Will return next week.

The Fear of the LORD

Biblical Text: Job 38:1-11, Mark 4:35-41

The text of this sermon is really the book of Job. The lectionary makers had a moment of inspiration in their OT and Gospel pairing. What does it mean to fear the LORD? I feel that is an uncommon topic. Even more I think that when it is taken up from the pulpit we are more like Job’s friends. And if we are we miss the gospel. It is only an unbound God, a sovereign God, who can save, who binds the winds and the wave.

Virtual Bulletin – 6/20

June 20th, 2021 – 4th Sunday after Pentecost – Happy Father’s Day

WORSHIP & Bible Study

Worship is at 10AM, Bible Study after service or 11:15ish

This week’s service Bulletin/Worship Link Here

Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6458485288?pwd=R2xGZkRNVi9TdzFPQzlaVnluNWo4QT09

Zoom Meeting ID: 645 848 5288 Passcode: miracles

You have probably noticed that we have been concluding special pandemic worship accommodations.  The last of these, our “Zooming” of worship services, will be discontinued as of July 11th.  In the Spirit of Hebrews 10:25 we wish to encourage all to “not neglect to meet together but gather to encourage one another.”

Devotion & Prayer Thought

The Corinthian Church was Paul’s “tough” one.  If you the two letters we have closely, you realize there was at last one, maybe two, which we don’t have.  One is described as “a letter of tears (2 Cor 2:4).”  As a congregation I think Paul would say they were always being blown this way and that by every wind of doctrine (Eps 4:14), and every visiting “apostle” could get their ear (2 Cor 11:5). Yet it was the gospel, the ministry of reconciliation, that Paul emphasized.  His apostolic appeal was not to lose what had been given chasing what does not save.  “We appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain…now is the day of salvation.”  It is an echo of Moses, “Today I have put before you life an death, choose life (Deut 30:15).”

Paul’s apostleship was always the ministry of Christ, and it bore the marks of Jesus words to Ananias when he is told to go to Paul after the Damascus Road – “I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name (Acts 9:16).”  As Paul often does he says, “look at my life as proof of what I preach.”  He has endured hardships with endurance, from beatings and jail to hunger and sleepless nights, never afraid of the hard work.  Such endurance is possible because Paul’s ministry has been blessed by the Spirit through: “purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, genuine love, truthful speech, the power of God.” His Apostleship is one that has used “weapons of righteousness for both left and right hand.”  Paul would preach Christ through “honor and dishonor”, “through slander and praise”.  Whatever the circumstances of its reception and his, Paul’s message was consistent.  Because even if the world thought Him and imposter, “he was true.”  If the world punished, “it could not kill.” If the world made him poor, “He made many rich.”  Paul worked through these, often at the hands of the Corinthians themselves, because that was the Apostleship.  Paul sums up his entire work as “We have spoken freely, our heart is wide open.”

So the question back to the Corinthians is why does that gospel not seem like enough?  The problem is not the apostleship of Paul. “You are not restricted by us.” The problem is “your own affections…widen your hearts.”  We so often settle for status or niceness or ease when the Spirit wants to give us the power of God or truth and kindness or purity and love.  We choose acceptance of the way things are, instead of hope.  Our loves are misdirected or lacking in appropriate ardor. God wants to give us himself, and we are not willing to make room.  Our affections are elsewhere, and the way is too hard.  The problem is not the gospel.  Christ died for you.  The problem is our hearts.  Will we receive that grace…and live it?  Do we live free people in the gospel, or prefer the faint affections which bind us? Renew a right spirit within me.  Amen.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  June 21st – June 27th

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…           9:00amPreschool

Monday…………………           6:00pm             Women’s Group

Wednesday……………..           11:00am           Preschool Picnic

Thursday: ………………           10:00amBible Study

Sunday: ………………….          10:00am           Worship

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: 2 Thessalonians, Paul has to expand what he wrote the first time on The End.
  • Confirmation:  Returns in September
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Returns in September
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, Walking through the Gospel of Mark
  • Catechism Moment: In your email, send me yours if you are not getting it.  On Lord’s Prayer

WEEKLY NEWS BULLETIN/CALENDAR

The deadline for inclusion in this weekly bulletin is Thursday evening.  It gets compiled and goes to print on Friday morning. If you have items for the bulletin, or if you have calendar items that should be in the church calendar, for right now please send them to pastor.  Compiling it would also be a job that could be picked up!