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Archive for November, 2009

Welcome to a new church year and to the first Sunday of Advent.  With Advent beginning, Christmas is never far behind.  Last night the lights on the Christmas tree in St. Paul were lit and Rice Park was transformed into a sparkling winter wonderland.  KOOL 108 has now entered its Christmas music 24/7 phase – actually waiting until after Thanksgiving this year.  We’ve done a good chunk of our Christmas shopping online already and I even ventured out a bit on Black Friday.    I find this all very exciting and fun. 

But there is something is a little jarring about today.  There is no Christmas tree, no poinsettias, just a wreath with four blue candles – not exactly a Christmas color and not even all the candles are lit!  Then the hymns today – set in minor keys and sobering melodies.  “The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns” – that’s a far cry from Joy to the World!  (more…)

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We sang a version of Psalm 136  a few minutes ago and that same psalm will be the basis for our Act of Thanksgiving which we will offer together in a few moments.  Psalm 136 contains a refrain – a phrase repeated in a poem or a song.  The refrain in this particular psalm is “His love endures forever.”  When the people sang this psalm in David’s time they repeated those words after each verse of the song “his love endures forever.”  As the refrain repeats over and over again and seems to “endure forever” we can’t help but get the point:  God’s love endures forever.  This refrain is the theme of the psalm and the theme of David’s whole life.  In times of prosperity and times of sorrow and hardship; in times of victory and in times of personal failure David had learned to trust in the enduring love of God.

What kind of a refrain do you have that runs through your life?  What kind of attitude or perspective dominates your life?  Do you have a repeated response to events in your life that you repeat over and over again?  A kind of theme that expresses how you look at things? (more…)

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Christ the King

John 18:33-37

This Sunday, Christ the King, is unique among church festivals and seasons on the church calendar.  It is the only Sunday that does not commemorate an event in the life of Christ or the church.  Today is the last Sunday of the church year and so we end with a celebration of Christ as King.  As we close off the church calendar, we celebrate Christ himself — He is everything – the beginning and the end – the Alpha, the Omega – he is and always will be our King.

The Bible reveals Jesus as our king. It tells of how he rules over the world in his kingdom of power; how he rules over believers in his kingdom of grace and how he will rule forever in heaven in his kingdom of glory.  So it is good and right for us to celebrate and praise our King. 

But I wonder if we really want him.  I wonder if we really want a king like Jesus. (more…)

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Text:  Mark 13:108

Did anybody see the movie 2012 this weekend?  Or have you seen the trailer for it?  It’s a movie about the end of the world.  It’s not that great of a movie, but the special effects are amazing!  California slipping into the ocean – a tidal wave swallowing up the White House – St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican toppling over.   It looks frightening real.

Click here for a clip:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz86TsGx3fc

The whole premise of the movie is something that has had a lot of internet buzz for some time now.  The ancient Mayan calendar is set to expire in December of 2012 and there have been many who fear that this could mean the end of the world.  Of course, this is not the first time people have predicted the end of time. (more…)

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Text:  Mark 12:38-44

The widow in our Gospel reading for today is a remarkable and irresistible character.   She is a role model for all believers in Christ.  She trusted God with her life and was not afraid to give it all back to him.  Her sacrificial, extravagant offering – the widow’s mite –has been the inspiration for many stewardship sermons. 

But there’s another point that Jesus wants to make in our Gospel today that goes beyond the questions of stewardship and giving and offerings.  (more…)

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2009 Confirmation

2009 Confirmation Class

Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.  Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

It’s hard to let go.  We had to let two of our kids go this fall so they could go to college.  And it was hard.  There were tears.   We still want it like it was when they were home.  But they have to go out and find their way.  They need to test out the freedom of being their own person.  So they have to be let go. 

It’s even harder, of course, to let go of someone who has died.  The grieving process takes time.  And it can be very painful.  Today on All Saints Day we remember those we have had to let go of and we celebrate that they remain in the grip of their Savior.  We miss them, but we love them too much to wish they were still here.  We have let them go into a much better, fuller, freer life than they ever had on this earth.

Today in our Gospel, we have the story of Jesus’ friend Lazarus who had died.  He must have been a very close friend of Jesus, because we are told that Jesus wept at his graveside.  He knew how much Mary and Martha loved their brother and how hard it was for them to let him go.  They wanted him back home with them.  Jesus understood how tied we are to this world and to this life.  And Jesus came to grieve with them at their loss.  But also to do something more.  He came to let Lazarus go. (more…)

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“Our Charter of Salvation”

Today is Reformation Sunday on the church calendar.  Technically, Reformation Day is October 31.  That is the date in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Church door; an event which sparked the reformation movement in the Church.  We celebrate Reformation Day in the church every year, even when it doesn’t fall on a Sunday because it is a moment in history in which we recognize God’s gracious hand in saving his people and setting us free.  It’s a great day to celebrate the Gospel, the church and the grace of God.

Reformation Day did fall on a Sunday, however, in October of 2004.  And so, the original group of believers here at Grace of God decided it was the perfect day to formally organize as a congregation.  Since October 31 was the day Luther took a stand for the truth of the Gospel, it seemed very appropriate to stand together as a church, under the name Grace of God and to begin to carry out the ministry of the Gospel to which we were called.  So on that day we signed a document – our charter – our constitution and by-laws which define us a legal entity and give us official standing as an incorporated, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3), non-profit religious organization.  59 adults signed the charter that day; 35 adults have signed it since then.  The most recent signatures were added just a few weeks ago.

And so we have layered on another celebration to Reformation Day:  our own Charter Sunday.  And this year as we celebrate the 492nd anniversary of the Reformation, we also celebrate 5 years as a congregation.  

But before we get too carried away with Charter Sunday hoopla, there’s one thing that needs to be said.  And I realize it’s going to sound very out of place on a day we are celebrating our charter as a congregation, but here it goes:

We don’t need this charter. (more…)

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