Preparing Your Spirit: Faithful Waiting

Corinthians 1:3-9 Mark 13:24-37 Only twenty five days till Christmas and in this brief moment, we will be spending four Sundays in Advent. Advent is a tough season and is easily lost in the busyness of Christmas. Hallmark Channel began two months of Christmas movies on November 1 and Black Friday sales now begin in […]

Leading with Love

Matthew 25:34-40 Bible scholar Terence Fretheim asserts that there are two key questions related to our faith: Do you believe in God? What kind of God do you believe in? How we answer can be a matter of life and death, it can shape foreign and domestic government policy, give us hope, fill us with […]

For Just Such a Time as This

Esther 4:13-14 There are crucial moments when you need to make a decision, when your future or the future of something important to you stands in the balance. This was Esther’s situation. According to legend, she ascended to the throne of Persia, during the 5th century before Christ, the wife of King Xerxes I. Although […]

Steadfastness and Adventure

Lamentations 3:22-26 I have to confess that I am a big fan of Facebook. I usually post something on my personal page every day and send out church notices on Facebook as well. One of the greatest joys of Facebook has been reconnecting with classmates from the James Lick High School Class of 1970. Once […]

Everyday Saints

I Thessalonians 2:9-13 Matthew 23:1-12 When I was a young boy, growing up among the Baptists, I used to hear my dad and other pastors refer to folk in the church as “saints.” I heard phrases such as “I’m going to visit one of the saints of the church this afternoon,” or “she was truly […]

Always Reforming

Galatians 6:14-18 Matthew 22:34-40 Today, I want to be a bit professorial and give a little lesson in the fundamentals of the 16th Century Reformation. Our parents in the faith, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, and others did not initially intend to provoke a church split. They believed that they were calling the Western […]

On Worshiping the Right God

Exodus 32:1-4 Philippians 4:4-9 The bible is as much a tale of dead ends and poor attempts at discipleship as heroic and faithful actions. In some ways this is consoling. When we see how badly the disciples misunderstood Jesus or the prophets ran in the opposite direction or doubted their calling despite the intensity of […]

The Graceful Law of God

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20 Philippians 3:4b-14 For many people, religion is all about rules: the “do’s” and “don’ts” of life, especially the “killjoy” do’s and don’ts that come into play whenever we want to have a little fun.   At first glance, today’s readings might leave that impression as well. The Ten Commandments tell us what […]

Salvation Without Limitation

Philippians 2:1-13 Christianity begins with a marvelous story, a simple carpenter, a pilgrimage of faith, a welcome table, and a healing touch. The story ends, or so it seems, with a cross and utter defeat; but to everyone’s surprise an empty tomb, a resurrection, and new life for all of us. The first gospel teachers […]

Grace Beyond Fairness

Exodus 16:2-15 Matthew 20:1-16 We all have a sense of fairness. Even from earliest childhood, we notice if our brother or sister is ahead of us or gets a larger cookie, or more attention from our parents. We want, and most of the time, deserve equal opportunities to succeed, a fair day’s wage for a […]