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‘Cancel Culture’ is a hot button topic, and too often it assumes redemption is impossible. Today’s focus text tells the story of God using a seemingly unredeemable persecutor of the disciples to do great things. Saul was literally hunting down the followers of Jesus when he has an encounter with Jesus that changes his course. The disciple Ananias d…
 
Life isn’t a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Book. We don’t get to choose the circumstances or the outcomes in our lives. And we don’t usually get an opportunity to go back and make a different choice for a better outcome. As much as we want to have control over our lives the reality is our lives are full of peaks of great joy and valleys of great grie…
 
Where do you belong? As we kick-off a new year of learning with a new theme we are using the Momentum of knowing God’s Story to find our Community that is then sent out in Service to our neighbors. This month we will be exploring Believable Belonging. Pastor Stephanie invites us to consider where we find belonging. How does our understanding of God…
 
Is it worth it? Jesus tells his disciples: “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” So, have you done the cost-benefit analysis of following Jesus? Is it worth it? While hating your family is certainly hyperbole used for emphasis the cost is…
 
In a world obsessed with status & power it is easy to see everyone else as your competition. In this week’s Gospel Jesus shares a story that reshapes our understanding of power. The Kingdom of God turns our worldly understanding upside down, those who exalt themselves are humbled and the humble are exalted. Pastor Chad invites us to let this story …
 
Christians are tempted to view their suffering and pain as coming from an uncaring God who wants us to suffer and die. Part of the reason we choose this perspective is due to a misunderstanding of the terms: discipline, punishment, and consequences and that we commonly interpret discipline as punishment. Sadly, we forget God's perspective on His re…
 
Are you a Rule Follower? Or a Rule Breaker? In this week’s Gospel Jesus is a Rule Breaker! Pastor Stephanie reminds us that sometimes in order to “Do the Right Thing” we have to break some rules or social norms that get in the way. It truly is good news that God remains willing to break the rules in order to extend us healing and love when the worl…
 
What Race are you 'Running'? Even if you are not running a marathon, or 5K, or any literal race, you have a challenge in front of you that requires stamina. This week Pastor Stephanie reminds us that no matter the 'race' we're running we have the support of a "great cloud of witnesses" cheering us on, supporting us, and even pacesetting. So when we…
 
We are a wondrous treasure to God, and where we (His treasure) are, there also is His heart. God treasures us so much that He sent His own Son to be killed by and die for the very treasure that He loves so much. Being a treasure in God’s eyes places our heart in the right place to see things clearly. Thus, faith is strong because it comes from God.…
 
There’s a lot of jargon, thrown around in our modern world. We seem to be very fond of acronyms and made up words that are meaningless to anyone outside our line of work. The same could be said for our modern interpretation of the biblical story. In this week’s Gospel there are two catchphrases that Pastor Chad invites us to look at differently. Wi…
 
Inheritance can be a tricky thing. Many of us would love to inherit a fortune because things in this world cost money, right! But they can also cause strain on family relationships, deepen our sense of greed, and take our focus from the more important things in life! Pastor Stephanie reminds us that our most important inheritance is one that cannot…
 
There is a wide range of experiences and beliefs surrounding prayer among those with a faith tradition, including Christians. This week Pastor Chad shares how The Lord’s Prayer helped change his perspective on prayer. Jesus was teaching his disciples a lot more than a simple prayer to recite from memory, sometimes in a single breath! Jesus uses the…
 
So many words! Words that shape a story. Words that can distort a story. Words that can inspire. Words that can harm. Today Pastor Chad invites us to consider the words that Jesus used. Words that formed a powerful story. A story so powerful it caused Mary to stop what she was doing, what was expected of her, what her sister continued to do. The st…
 
The parable of the Good Samaritan is actually every person’s story with Jesus always the hero. It's about what Jesus has done to save us in our need. All of us by nature were dead in our sin and thus helpless to save ourselves. In our Baptism, Jesus picked us up in His arms and delivered us from death to life. The price He paid was His own life on …
 
Who is my neighbor? This week Pastor Stephanie helps us explore the Story of the Good Samaritan to better understand God’s definition of a neighbor. Sometimes in life we get too focused on our own path to recognize our neighbor’s need passing them by. Sometimes we don’t stop to help because we don’t know what to do. Sometimes we think that the pers…
 
Social Media can be a wonderful tool for connecting with family, friends, and the world around us. It can also be a home to misinformation, hatred, and otherwise nasty comments. Sometimes engaging others online feels like being a lamb amongst wolves. At other times we get trapped in the algorithm that surrounds us with posts that match our beliefs.…
 
We understand that there will be storms in life and so we take the necessary precautions. We educate ourselves on how to prevent identity theft. We wear seatbelts every time we ride in the car and bike helmets every time we ride our bikes. We try to eat right. We see our doctor faithfully. We take our meds religiously. We put our savings in safe pl…
 
What do you do? What do you make? How do you use your gifts & passions? Is it a ‘Higher Calling’? We might be too quick to dismiss our career, vocation, or work as unworthy of being a Higher Calling, thinking it is a title reserved for religious professionals. In the Gospel reading for today, Jesus’ disciples learn that following Jesus has a high c…
 
The blessings of home and family are a gift from God. By His Word he heals homes and families broken by sin, and He calls us to share that Word in our homes, whether it’s “Leave It To Beaver” homes, blended families, empty nests, or nursing homes. He gives Fathers a special responsibility and special influence in the home, which should encourage al…
 
What are you afraid of? In today’s message Pastor Stephanie shares a scary story from the Gospel of Luke about a man who was possessed by demons and cast out of his community to wander the cemetery. His community used the God’s Law as a weapon to exclude him from their community. God’s Law isn’t intended to be policed by the faithful but is rather …
 
This week we celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday. The Trinity, Father—Son—Holy Spirit, being one God is difficult to describe without diminishing the power of each ‘Person’ within the Trinity or dividing the power of the One True God. Perhaps it is best left as a mystery of our faith. While we can’t comprehend God’s complete being, we do have God’s gift …
 
Today, more people are asking how they may experience God in their own lives than they are asking what God says about Himself. Americans are looking for a deeper and immediate personal feeling of God within them. If they have it, the important question is settled; the rest are details. A "spiritual feeling" has become more important than spiritual …
 
Pentecost is the church holiday that remembers the Spirit of God descending on the followers of Jesus after he had ascended to Heaven. The Spirit empowered the disciples to share the good news of God’s Kingdom in the native languages of the diverse crowd gathered in Jerusalem. It’s worth celebrating, certainly, but is the Spirit of God still active…
 
Throughout the year we have been hearing from members of the Bethlehem Community as an opportunity to hear how God's Story has resonated with our neighbor and hopefully finding some resonance between our story and theirs. In our final Story of Resonance we hear, appropriately, from a Physics Teacher who knows a thing or two about resonance. Charles…
 
Why did Jesus go away? It’s a good question. Fortunately, the Bible gives us some good answers to that question, answers that can help us understand what a blessing it is for us that our Lord did not stay, but ascended into heaven. Jesus ascended into heaven: to take His rightful place as the King of kings - exercising His authority over all creati…
 
Sometimes in life the words we intend to bring comfort to our loved ones fall flat, or worse, cause more harm than good. This week’s Gospel is filled with what have become Christian buzzwords and depending on where you are at in life may seem to be hollow. So how can we find hope in these words almost seem like God is silent? The Good News is that …
 
John 16 is part of a much larger narrative (John 13-17) in which Jesus prepares His disciples for His departure. Delivered on the night He was betrayed, Jesus teaches His disciples about what was about to happen and why. And yet, when the events of the next two days "suddenly" blew up in their faces, the disciples were traumatized…leaving them over…
 
WARNING: The reading from Acts in worship today is DANGEROUS! It is dangerous to those who insist on keeping their faith practices and understanding the same at all costs. God challenges Peter's understanding of being a disciple by showing him that God's love and salvation is meant for everyone even those that Peter saw as unclean. We too are chall…
 
Voices are distinct. When we recognize a voice we can recall the speaker with great detail. Some voices instill a sense of calm and comfort. This week Jesus says the “sheep” of his flock recognize his voice and are comforted. He also reminds us that there is nothing that can snatch his sheep away from his care. As we continue in this Easter Season …
 
In all the Gospels, the Disciples’ encounters with the resurrected Jesus have a common theme: skepticism. In today’s Gospel lesson Jesus doesn’t try to reason with the Disciples, instead he allows them to experience their resurrected teacher. Encountering Jesus in the everyday experience of their life helps them move from skepticism to trust. In to…
 
Throughout the year we are hearing from members of the Bethlehem Community as an opportunity to hear how God's Story has resonated with our neighbor and hopefully finding some resonance between our story and theirs. This month, Bill Vossler shares his story of finding resonance with God’s Story again after 18 years away from religion. Bill’s childh…
 
Upon reaching Jesus' tomb that first Easter morning, the women were confused that the stone had already been moved and the grave was empty. Where is Jesus? So many things in life can raise the same confusion and fear. The question remains the same: Where is Jesus in all this mess? Where is Jesus? He has risen! He is here now! He is here in Baptism,…
 
It’s Easter you know the story. At least you think you do?!? Pastor Chad, has a reminder that even though we think we know the story the details escape us. But are the details important or do they just get in the way? The Gospels all share the same lesson for us told in different ways. The Good News of Easter is that God has not given up on the wor…
 
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