Jesus promises us that we already are salt and light in the world. Yet in such a divided world, where our differences seem more pronounced than ever, we sometimes have different ideas of what it looks like to be salt and light. Our challenge, as Christ-followers, is finding a way to embrace what unites us, even as we use our different viewpoints and skills to bring God’s love to the world in whatever way we are able.
Jesus begins his famous Sermon on the Mount by calling “blessed” a bunch of people we wouldn’t consider blessed – the meek, the poor, the hungry, the persecuted… In doing so, he is promising them, “You are already blessed, because I am with you – especially when you feel less than blessed!” Jesus makes clear in this sermon that his priorities lie with the oppressed and disenfranchised. Whom would Jesus call blessed today?
“Come to Bethlehem and see him whose birth the angels sing!”
Join us this evening for Christmas Eve worship at 5pm. Holy communion, a special children’s sermon, candle-lighting, and of course plenty of Christmas carols. (If you are unable to attend at 5pm, consider coming to our partner congregation, St. Martin, 813 Bay Rd, Webster, at 7:30pm. The services are nearly identical.) Pastor Richard Johnson, preaching and presiding.
We hope to see you also for Christmas morning worship at 9am on Dec. 25. We will celebrate Holy Communion, and give thanks and praise for the light shining in the darkness. Pastor Frank Hanrahan, preaching and presiding.
Texts: Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Luke 24:36-44
How easy it is to love Jesus, the “Prince of Peace”… until he is less peaceful and more disruptive! But sometimes disruption is what love and peace look like, and our readings in Advent show us this. Today Jesus tells us to “Keep awake,” not to fall into the peaceful slumber of complacency that allows our most vulnerable brothers and sisters to live lives that know no peace.
“It seems Jesus is quite clear about where and for whom our peace-seeking efforts should lie: with the most vulnerable, the most needy members of society. For all his hard-to-love disruptive qualities, this is what the love of Jesus looks like: like keeping awake and constantly vigilant to serve “the least of these,” to do what is necessary to bring peace to them.”
Texts: Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 46; Colossians 1:11-20; Luke 23:33-43
We have an image of what a king or ruler should be like, but today’s passage from Luke, describing Jesus on the cross, is not it! So this sermon addresses two questions: if this is our king, then what does it mean for us as followers of this king, and second, does this picture differ from what we expect of our secular rulers?
“I have been thinking more than usual this week about what my Christian call means in public life, or said another way, how to be a patriotic American who is also living out her faith in civil society. I wonder if part of it might be to ask these questions about how Christ would reign in America today, and then to hold our elected leaders accountable to that (by calling, visiting, writing letters, etc). And then to fight for those same things President Jesus would. To work in whatever way we are able to bring Christ’s reign here to earth, through our prayers and petitions, our love and compassion, our faith-full voices, our willingness to use our particular gifts and positions for helping those in need, as well as our willingness to forgive, and our invitation into Christ’s salvation.”
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
Our country is divided after this election. With emotions and reactions all over the map, how do we be the Church together? First of all, we allow people space to feel what they need to feel. Then we trust wholeheartedly in the Lord, who is our salvation – which doesn’t mean sitting back and waiting and watching, but actively doing our part to continue to reach out to those in need, and never stopping to speak up on their behalf.
Lutherans believe you don’t have to have died to be a saint; we are all saints because God made us so in our baptism (even as we also continue to be sinners). So what does it mean to be a saint in this broken and weary world? Jesus gives us a good idea in his Sermon on the Plain (Luke’s version of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount).
In the midst of a one of the darkest times of Israel’s history, Jeremiah offers God’s new covenant: that God’s law will be written on their hearts, and they will be God’s people, and their sins will be forgotten. What a liberating promise to live by! What about you? What is written on your heart? What promises do you live by?
Just like the Pharisee in today’s parable, we often are quick to lift up our own attributes and point out others’ wrongs. But what about when we are wrong? Today’s parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector praying in the temple points us toward the role of confession in mending our relationship with God and with others. As Luther famously wrote in his last days, “We are all beggars. This is true.”
We all face wrestling matches with God at some point in our lives, times when we can’t make sense of what is going on around us. In the story of Jacob wrestling God by the Jabbok, we see Jacob walk away from the match with a blessing and a new identity… but also with a limp where he was wounded from the battle. We never walk away from such an encounter with God unchanged – and even if it hurts a bit, we also never leave the match without God’s blessing and promise.