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“Tear Open the Heavens” Advent 1
The world’s a mess. If only God would rend the heavens and come down! Maybe then we would pay attention. Maybe then we would acknowledge that what we are doing is wrong. Maybe. We don’t know if seeing the awesome power of God would lead us to our knees or if it would move us to amend our ways. The Judeo-Christian tradition has always flirted with the relative advantages of brute force versus love and persuasion.
November 26th - Exodus 33:12-23
“Glory in the Rearview Mirror”
Those who want to behold God’s glory seem to fall into two camps. First, there are those who humbly want to experience God’s awesome nature and power to reassure themselves of God’s presence in their lives and as an implicit commitment on God’s part to continue that relation. Second, there are those whose egos want to feel enlarged by claiming such an experience. At the end of his life, with his mission to lead the Hebrew people to the promised land unfulfilled, Moses fell into the first camp. This is his story.
“Manna from Heaven”
Food and water are essential as Jesus makes clear in the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day, our daily bread.” So when the people grumbled from hunger in the wilderness, God provided meat in the evenings and manna from heaven in the mornings for the Hebrews to eat - that they might know who brought them out of Egypt and is meeting their needs. When we ask God for our daily bread, let us do so with hope and expectation, and with gratitude for all the
Lord has provided to satisfy our needs.
November 12th - Exodus 14:19-31; Exodus 15:20-21
After the Hebrews fled Egypt, Pharaoh regretted letting them go and pursued the Israelites to the Red Sea. God told Moses to hold out his staff above the sea so that the waters may part and the Hebrews may cross over on dry ground. Interestingly, the Talmud says that it wasn’t until the first Hebrew put a foot into the water that the seas actually parted. God promised to part the waters, but it took an act of faith to make it so.
November 5th - Exodus 8:1; 12:1-14 All Saints Sunday
“Let My People Go”
After Pharaoh refuses to let the Hebrew people go, God instructs Moses to tell Pharaoh one last time to relent. If he will not, God will visit one last, horrible plague on all Egypt - the killing of the first born. Only those who eat the Passover feast as God instructs and marks their household will be spared the violence of that night. Pharaoh cannot swallow his pride and heed God’s words causing the Israelites freedom to come at a terrible price.
October 29 - Exodus 3:1-17
Moses is walking in the wilderness when he sees a bush that is burning and yet not consumed by the flames. It is only after he turns aside to investigate that he is confronted by the great “I AM” and told that he is standing on holy ground. Everywhere we experience God is holy ground, and since God is everywhere . . . it’s fitting to take off our shoes and honor the gifts of God.
October 22 - Exodus 1:8–2:10
Afraid of how powerful the Israelites have become, Pharaoh orders the Hebrew midwives to kill every male baby at birth. Fearing for her newborn son, Moses’ mother puts him in a basket covered in pitch and places him in the river in a effort to keep him. Even though Pharaoh’s daughter finds him and pulls him from the river, it is only the midwives, Shiprah and Puah, that are named in the story for their heroism. Truly, God lifts up the lowly and saves even the basket cases.
Laity Sunday celebrates the ministry of all Christians as their lives are empowered for ministry by the Holy Spirit.
October 8 - Matthew 21:33-46
"Love Fulfills the Law"
Guest Speaker Dr. Lily Hong
October 1- Genesis 45:1-15
“Power of Forgiveness”
After putting his brothers through test after test to see if they have changed from the men willing to sell a brother into slavery in Egypt, Joseph faces his own choice: will he actually forgive them? When he does, all his bravado crashes down and he weeps as he confesses who he really is, the brother they thought long dead. When we release our anger and resentment, we can feel it in our bodies and are free of the toxicity we have held within.
As governor of Egypt, in clothes and appearance Joseph’s brothers would not recognize, Joseph tests them to see if they would sacrifice Benjamin as they had sacrificed him into slaver years before. Had the brothers amended their ways? Would they protect another son of Rachel? They passed the test. Whether Joseph will pass his own test will have to wait until next Sunday’s sermon.
“A Journey to Forgiveness”
When asked by Peter if he must forgive a brother who sins against him as many as seven times, Jesus says: not seven, but seventy-seven times. But this by no means cheap grace - something that is given without some sign of repentance. We are asked to forgive because, if we cannot, we become trapped and damaged by our inability to do so.
“Governor Over Egypt”
When Pharaoh was troubled with dreams, Joseph was able to interpret his dreams - dreams that God had given Pharaoh to save Egypt from famine. Pharaoh was so impressed that he made Joseph governor over all Egypt. Pharaoh saw that God worked in Joseph’s life and placed his trust in him. We are called to place our trust in those who God works through.
September 3 - Genesis 40:1-23
We are a people of dreams and visions. While Joseph was in prison, he interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker. Dreams are a tricky thing and without someone with the gift of interpretation, they can be easily misunderstood. If you have been gifted with dreams and visions, share them with someone who can interpret them. Likewise, if you have the gift of interpretation, don’t keep that gift to yourself. It is a spiritual gift that is purely utilitarian in nature. Such is true of every spiritual gift - they are for the benefit of the community.
“Slandered and Jailed, but Blessed by God
When Joseph rebuffs the advances of the mistress of the house he serves, she accuses him of sexual assault and gets Joseph jailed. But even in prison, God continues to bless Joseph and helps Joseph find favor with the warden.
August 20th- Isaiah 56:1-7
"What Is Permanent? What Is Temporary?"
Guest Preacher Rev. Glenn Miller
August 13th- Genesis 37:1-28
“Sold into Slavery”
When Joseph tells his older brothers of dreams where they bow down and serve him, they become so angry that that they sell him to a caravan of Ishmaelite slave traders heading for Egypt. God used that horrible action to place Joseph in a land where his dreams would one day save the whole region from famine.
“Wrestling with God”
To return to his father’s home, where God would bless him and make of him a great nation, Jacob had to pass through his brother Esau’s land - a brother who threatened to kill him for stealing his father’s blessing. On a night when his faith is at its weakest, he struggles with an angel all night and Jacob won’t release him until he receives his blessing.
July 30th Genesis 28:10-19a
"A Stolen Blessing”
“Laughing with God”
Preparing for change.
Don Forden Preaching The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus.
June 4th Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26
Jesus calls Matthew, a tax collector, to be one of his disciples.
The day of Pentecost.
Paul speaks about a variety of gifts, all
coming from the Holy Spirit.
Jesus tells his disciples, and us, that he is going to prepare a place for each one of us.
Jesus speaks of himself as the shepherd who speaks to the sheep, the gate whereby the sheep come in and go out of the sheepfold.
April 23 Luke 24:13-35
On the way to the village of Emmaus, the risen Christ appears to his disciples.
April 16 John 20:19-31
The fearful disciples are gathered behind locked doors. The risen Christ appears to them and says, “Peace.”
April 9 Easter Sunday Matthew 28:1-10
Early on Easter morning the women’s disciples go to the tomb. At the tomb, there’s an earthquake, and the stone at the door of the tomb is rolled away.
April 7 Good Friday John 18:1-19:42
The Passion Story told thru scripture and song from the betrayal and arrest of Jesus to his ultimate sacrifice by Crucifixion.
April 6 Maundy Thursday
As recorded in John's gospel, on his last night before his betrayal and arrest, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and then gave them a new commandment to love one another as he had loved them (John 13:34).
The Passion Narrative in song and word.
John tells the story of the death and raising of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha.
Jesus heals a man who has been blind from birth and thereby ignites a controversy among the religious leaders who dispute the healing.
March 12 John 4:5-42
On an ordinary day, in an ordinary Samaritan town, Jesus encounters a woman at a well and engages her in conversation.
March 5 John 3:1-17
The Pharisee Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night, but is unable to understand that entrance into God’s kingdom depends on being born of the Spirit.
February 26 Matthew 4:1-11
The Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness, where he confronts a number of temptations.
Ash Wednesday Littany
February 19 Matthew 17:1-9
Jesus leads some of his disciples up a mountain, and there he is majestically, mysteriously transfigured before them.
In his sermon on the mount, Jesus commends a higher righteousness, saying, “You have heard it said of old, but I say to you.”
Jesus calls his followers “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” as he commissions them to be his representatives in the world.
Jesus opens his Sermon on the Mount with a series of blessings.
After hearing that John the Baptist is in prison, Jesus begins his ministry.
John the Baptist hails Jesus as the ‘Lamb of God.’
Jesus comes from Galilee and is baptized by John.
Herod asks the magi to find the Christ Child and report back to him. They visit the child and return to their own country by a different route.
The infant Jesus is presented in the temple for the first time, to the delight of Anna and Simeon.
Luke tells the beloved story of the birth of Jesus and the announcement of his birth to shepherds with their flocks in the fields.
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to speak with the virgin Mary about her role in the Birth of Jesus.
Joseph, who is engaged to be married to Mary, is told that Mary’s child is conceived by the Holy Spirit and is to be called Emmanuel, God with us.
Disciples of John the Baptist come to Jesus with a question: are you the Messiah or should we expect another?
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’
Paul, urging an early church to persevere, tells this struggling congregation to take heart by singing of the coming reign of Christ.
Even in the midst of difficult times the prophet resolves to take joy in God’s salvation.
Today we celebrate All Saints Day to honor and remember those who have finished the race and gone to be with The Lord.
On his way through Jericho, Jesus scandalizes the crowd by inviting himself to dinner at a rich man who is the most notorious sinner in town. “Today salvation has come to this household,” says Jesus in reply to the complaining crowd.
Jesus tells a story of two men who went up to the temple to pray. One was a good, righteous Pharisee; the other was a disreputable but deeply repentant tax collector. When the two men went home from the temple, one was justified (made right by God), the other was not.
Jesus tells a parable about a widow who was persistent in her demands for justice, saying that her actions are a parable about prayer.
The story of the grateful Samaritan offers us another image of who and what matters to Jesus and should, therefore, matter to us.
In response to his disciples’ request, “Increase our faith,” Jesus tells two parables: the mustard seed and the dutiful servants.
Jesus tells a parable of a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus.
Jeremiah speaks of the despair and anguish in captive Israel.
When criticized for eating and drinking with sinners, Jesus tells the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin.
Before vast crowds, Jesus speaks of the high cost of following him as he journeys toward the cross.
While at the table Jesus tells some parables that give guidance on whom to invite and how to conduct ourselves as participants in God’s coming kingdom.
God tells the young Jeremiah that God has called him to be a “prophet to the nations” and gives him the words to speak.
Guest Speaker Meg Estrada teaches on the importance of authenticity in prayer.
The writer to the Hebrews speaks of the nature of faith, “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Jesus is asked to intervene in a dispute between two brothers about the distribution of their family inheritance. Jesus says, “Guard yourself against all kinds of greed.” Then he tells a parable of the rich man who was also a very foolish man.
“Teach us to pray,” asked Jesus’ disciples. In response, Jesus gave them a model prayer and also told them a parable about persistence in prayer.
Jesus visits the home of his good friends Mary and Martha and there he instructs them.
Amos speaks sternly to Israel about the judgments of God.
Jesus sends out the seventy-two to perform his wondrous works in the world and to proclaim that “the kingdom of God has come near.
Would-be followers of Jesus meet him on the road to Jerusalem, but Jesus meets them with strong words about the cost of following Jesus.
Jesus casts out Demons and drives them into a herd of pigs.