Sermons

Get On Board

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen
Today we kick off our 4th year of using the narrative lectionary. If you are not familiar with what a lectionary is, it is the readings from the bible we use every Sunday. The narrative lectionary starts in Genesis and we will work our way thru the Old testament until Xmas and then the Gospel of Matthew thru Easter.
We begin the story not with creation but with Noah and the great flood. God is having second thoughts about creation; especially human beings. That alone shouldn’t surprise any of us but what God decides to do about it is a bit of a surprise.

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The Jesus Test, Part 2

Do you have a favorite Bible verse? If you don’t, I encourage you to find one. A favorite Bible verse is something you can return to time and time again, regardless of the circumstances. It’s something that you have memorized that you can recite when you’re happy and grateful, when you’re sad and anxious, or when you’re struggling and lost. It is a verse that you can share with someone in the elevator when they ask you about what you believe. It is a piece of scripture that summarizes for you what your faith is about, and what your relationship with God truly means.

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The Jesus Test

Let’s take a quick survey. Consider the events of the past several weeks. Murder and terror in Iraq and Syria at the hands of terrorist groups. The spread of Ebola throughout West Africa and the threat of infection in our own country. Ongoing military campaigns in Gaza and Syria. Escalating tensions between Russia and the Ukraine. The tragic and terrible death of Officer Scott Patrick. Violence, aggression, and rioting following the death of an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri. And these are only the events on my heart and mind that I can list right now. So think about the news that you’ve been getting lately, on the nightly news, on the front page of the paper, in your twitter feed, and tell me: does it feel overwhelming? In fact, why don’t you honk your horn / raise your hand right now if it feels like it’s too much.

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Love: A Field Guide

Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father and
from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
In the end, it all comes down to love. If we seek out the basis of the
Christian faith, love is what we find.
This is true on multiple levels. Love is what we believe about God. Love is
what we know about God because of Jesus.

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The Last Hour

Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
It’s been a horrible couple of weeks for a lot of people.
You don’t need me to make a list for you; you’ll probably have your own things to add to whatever I might come
up with.
Right here in our own city, there was the cold-blooded murder of a police officer, a husband and father, a week and
a half ago.

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What Do You Say?

A few weeks ago, I was gathered with fellow worship leaders Pastor Aune, Kathy Andrews, and Lisa Griffin to plan a year’s worth of worship at Augustana. It is a tall task to sit together and envision what our worship lives will look like together through an entire year, and as we work together we also suggest new ideas and re-envision old ones. As I was suggesting one idea, the always-sage Kathy Andrews asked how it might work from a liturgical and theological perspective. I explained how I thought it would work, and I’ll admit I stretched a little to make the point. She noted that I could probably find a way to make anything make sense. She joked, “If we said we should have a zebra in worship, you’d find a way for it to work.” At which point, I explained that since zebras are white and black they do a good job of representing both our pure, sinless selves and our dark, sinful selves and were actually a very liturgical animal.

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A Practical Faith

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen.
Webster defines practical in this way – pertaining to practice or action; or capable of being turned to use or account; useful, in distinction from ideal or theoretical.
But you already knew that didn’t you.
Practical is something you can use and put into action.
Practical is helpful, hands on, not theoretical or abstract.

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Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

Paul didn’t know what to expect when he got on board that ship. They’d been traipsing for weeks all over Asia Minor, what we would now call the Asian part of Turkey, with no luck. Now all of a sudden, Paul had this dream, telling him to cross the sea and head for Macedonia. With nothing else to guide them but that vision, they got on board a ship. How were they to know what they would find over there?

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My People

The story of Esther is one of the great stories of the Bible. It has intrigue, humor, danger, and victory. It is the story that sets up the Jewish festival of Purim, which is marked with great celebrations and public readings of this very story. But there are a few things that this story doesn’t have: namely, it has no mention of God. Martin Luther once said that he wished the book did not exist at all for this reason. However, if we were without Esther’s story, we would be without a story of themes that are central to our faith, even if our faith is not specifically named. The story of Esther is a story of boldness in proclamation, of unified identity with all believers, of confidence in God’s guidance, and ultimately, salvation.

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