The Bread of Life Given

Biblical Text: 1 Kings 19:1-8, John 6:35-51

There is a fundamental conflict in our existence. It was present before Jesus, but in Jesus it has come in its fullness. And that conflict is the one the Elijah fought against the prophets of Baal and against himself. What is more important, what we see, or what has been given us in the Word? It is not that God has not given signs of himself. Elijah saw the fire from heaven. The people ate the bread in the wilderness. But those signs do not sustain forever. We file them away, or can’t process them correctly. Jesus gives to us the Bread of Heaven, the Word, himself. And this sustains on our 40 days and 40 nights here on our journey to the mountain of God, on our way to the Father.

Virtual Bulletin – 8/8

August 8th, 2021 – 11th Sunday after Pentecost

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Aug 9nd – Aug 15th

Mon- Fri………………..           Preschool Summer Camps

Monday: ……………….           6:00pm             Men’s Group   

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

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

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

Paul’s letters typically have two sections.  The front section is Paul’s big argument – what he is writing to express.  And in most of the letters that is some form of the good news.  In Ephesians we’ve heard the financial (“In him we have the redemption through his blood”), the familial (“We have obtained an inheritance”), and the cosmic (“he chose us in him before the foundation of the world”). And Paul has developed his argument such that we have a cosmic equity (“one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God the Father”) while also receiving different gifts.  Today’s Epistle lesson (Eph 4:17-5:2) starts the second section.  Our translation chooses to use an emphatic change word “now…now this I say and testify.”  Now, remembering that argument.  Now, on the basis of all that good news.  Now, since you have heard the big picture.  Let me – the apostle Paul– try to apply this to some specific problems in life.  In many of the letters, Paul has to be responding to other letters sent to him.  Ephesians feels like one of those letters.  How do you live the Christian life, let me tell you.

This inheritance, this election, this redemption, is not so that you can just go on living as you have.  “You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do in the futility of their minds.”  You know!  You have the mind of Christ.  You have been enlightened with His gifts.  He bought you with his blood not so that you could live like animals but so that you would be “the new-self created in the likeness of God in true righteousness.”  Using the gospel to justify “deceitful desires” is “grieving the Holy Spirit.”  What might we be talking about? Oh, let me see what people have written.

“Put away falsehood, let each one speak truth with his neighbor.”

“Be angry but do not sin.”  Settle your arguments so the devil has no opportunity.

“Tell the thief to get a job.”

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up.” What did mom say? If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything?

“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and slander be put away, along with all malice.”  So you didn’t listen to the first warning about anger, I mean it.

Instead of all these “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving.”  But the Christian life is not one run by a checklist.  The law is helpful, but you are not under the law, and it has no power anyway. The reason you have been chosen from before time and given an inheritance is because you are the children of God.  As such you are imitators of God.  “Walk in love as Christ love us.”  Follow Christ.  Out of his love, love your fellow believer.

Paul’s examples pick back up in parts that our lectionary leaves out.  What does love not look like? Read Eph 5:3-5. Instead, what does walking look like?  Read next week.  But there is one last bit to contemplate.  There are plenty of passages that would universalize the behavior that Paul is talking about (ex. The Good Samaritan), but Ephesians is concerned with how Christians treat each other.  You collectively have been chosen.  “We are members of one another.”  If we are one body growing into the fullness of Christ, this is the life blood – love.  If we do not have this, we are nothing.  

MEN’S GROUP

We haven’t had a men’s group in a while.  I’m lighting the grill Monday.  Everyone of the male persuasion welcome.  I’ve put out a sign-up, but if you aren’t on, don’t let that stop you.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: We are going to be looking at the short book of Jude which has an interesting problem.  Come Join!
  • 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: I promise to be back.

Restless Seekers Being Found

Biblical Text: John 6:22-35

The lectionary has us in John 6 for three weeks. It is one of those long watershed chapters. It all takes place in the aftermath of the feeding of the 5000. In the Gospel according to John the feeding and that crowd are a little more specific about their desires than in the other gospels. They wanted to make Jesus their King. But the type of King they wanted was not the King Jesus is. The crowds were seeking, but they were not willing to be found. God was offering the bread of life, but they wanted their bread. This sermon explores that dichotomy.

Virtual Bulletin – 8/1

August 1st, 2021 – 10th Sunday after Pentecost

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Aug 2nd – Aug 8th

Mon- Fri………………..           Preschool Summer Camps

Tuesday: ……………….           Elder’s Off for Summer

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

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

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

One of the big fights in our culture today is between two words – equality and equity.  Equality is the old term probably best defined most recently by MLK as “being judged by the content of your character not by the color of their skin.” The content of your character is something that you can build and reinforce or demolish and deconstruct daily.  The hope is that opportunity might roughly be given to those with appropriate character. Equity is something quite different.  It asserts that character and the right to judge character are of no concern.  Opportunity is not what is of concern.  It is material outcomes that matter.  Everybody should receive the same, and if they don’t there is no good reason for that.

In our Epistle lesson today there is an equity portion.  “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, on God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”  The mystical body of Christ is one.  The same Spirit that resides in you because of your baptism resides in all according to their baptism.  We all have the same hope in Christ and likewise we have the same ground of our being in the Father.  We have equity in this. It is also all completely given by the grace of the Triune God.  There is also an equality portion.  The gifts that Christ has given to his people come in different forms: “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.”  The opportunity in these gifts is for all to “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”  The gifts differ.  The parts of the body differ. But the opportunity is the same, to grow into Christ “each part working properly.”

For me there are two points of temptation.  The biblical witness is that the grace of Christ, the equity portion, is so much greater than anything in the equality portion as to make comparison meaningless.  We’ve been forgiven 10,000 talents, do we really want to argue over 100 denarii?  The first and greatest temptation is to spurn the gifts of God that we have been given, to deny the grace.  The second point of temptation is rooted in what we are aimed at by our Creator and the indwelling Spirit.  We are aimed toward love for God and love for our neighbor – “makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”  The temptation is to disagree with what God is calling from us.  I have not been given enough honor.  I cannot be called to love this person or task.  But that is the equal opportunity of the Kingdom, to grow in love.  This temptation fractures the body, “driven to and fro by the waves, carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”  Since I have been given such a poor plot, I shall take my own.

Help us to be equipped and joined and held together by every joint that we might “walk in a manner worthy of the calling.”

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: Ok, I promise, I’ll get back to this.  If you didn’t get it in your inbox, let me know please!

COFFEE HOUR

We have resumed coffee and cookies after services.  We also have a gorgeous new serving cart from the Warriner family begging to be used.  If you could pick up a week, the sign-up sheet is on the first bulletin board.  Thanks!

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!