Who Do You Say that I Am?

Date: August 27, 2017
Liturgical Day: The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 16A

Peter’s confession
Messiah and Son of God
a rock-solid faith

Christ’s Charge to Peter, by Rafael (1515-1516)

Summary:
Peter confesses Jesus to be Messiah and Son of the Living God, and Jesus declares that this confession will be the rock-solid foundation of the church. How is our faith, and our capacity to trust in God above all else, a foundation for living?

Some discussion Questions:
1. What does it mean to trust Jesus with all of our heart, even when we find ourselves in the midst of trouble and difficulty?
2. What gifts has God given me? (In Romans 12:1-8, the Apostle mentions ministry, teaching, exhortation, generosity, leadership, compassion…)?
3. What does it entail, in my life, to “pursue righteousness?”

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In God We Trust

Date: August 13, 2017
Liturgical Day: The 10th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 14A

trusting in our God
with neither fear nor hatred
living faithfully

Saint Pierre Attempting to Walk on Water by Francois Boucher; Versailles, 1766

Summary:
Faith is a word that can have a variety of meanings. Some think of it as “correct belief.” Others think of it as “trust.” In this week’s Gospel lesson, Jesus encourages Peter to have faith in a difficult and dangerous situation: to trust. How might we, in these divided and dangerous days, learn how to trust in God, and in God’s ability to lead us forward to a better and more faithful future?

Some discussion Questions:
1. What led to Peter’s success (and failure) in his attempt to walk on water with Jesus?
2. In Romans 10, how is the righteousness that comes from the law different from the righteousness that comes from faith?
3. In 1st Kings 19, what does it mean that Elijah heard God’s voice coming from “a sound of sheer silence?”

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It Is Christ Who Feeds

August 6, 2017
Liturgical Day: The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 13A

thousands of people
hungry in the wilderness
fed by Jesus’ hand

The Feeding of the Five Thousand by Hendrick de Clerck (1590)

Summary:
In the wilderness, the compassion of God is evident when Jesus feeds a great crowd of men, women and children. He continues to feed us today, through bread and wine, word and presence, community and solitude…

Some discussion Questions:
1. In what ways does Jesus satisfy the hunger of those who believe in him?
2. Using the image of food that is rich and good, what does Isaiah (in Isaiah 55:1-5) want his listeners to experience about God?
3. For whom would we love enough to be willing to be excluded from Gods family, if it led to their inclusion?

Download Sermon and Presentation Slides: 2017-08-06 sermon

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Rules, Rules and More Rules

Date: July 30, 2017
Liturgical Day: The 8th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 12A

Jesus’ parables
new insights to faithfulness
living lives of love

Summary:
With four puzzling parables, Jesus calls us to reimagine what it means to be God’s faithful people. Pastor Dave reflects on how campers are stirred to faithfulness at Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp, and how we can be too.

Some discussion Questions:
1. As Lutherans we are fond both of what is old and what is new — how is this helpful for my faith?
2. When have I noticed the kind of faithfulness, righteousness or uprightness of heart toward God in someone that Solomon mentions in 1 Kings 3:5-12?
3. According to Romans 8:28, what does it mean that all things (even bad things) work together for good for those who love God?

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An Approach to Evil

Date: July 23, 2017
Liturgical Day: The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 11A

weeds sown among wheat
let them be — plant seeds of faith
our call to service

Summary:
In today’s Gospel lesson Jesus uses a surprising image which encourages us to leave the eradication of evil to others, and spend our time being agents for good. Our church has a long tradition of encouraging this. How will we live it out in our day-to-day lives?

Some discussion Questions:
1. How will I focus less on the evil around me and more on the good I am called to do?
2. What encouragement does Paul provide  in Romans 8:12-25 for those of us who want to follow Christ with our lives?
3. Reflecting on Isaiah 44:6-8, why does following and trusting in God allow a believer to be less captivated by fear?

Download Sermon and Presentation Slides: 2017-07-23 sermon

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A Sower Went Out to Sow

July 16, 2017
Liturgical Day: The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 10A

parables of life
a sower sowing his seeds
extravagant grace

Sower with Setting Sun; Vincent Van Gogh (1888)

Summary:
Today’s parable speaks to us on multiple levels. The image of the Sower teaches us about God. The image of the seed teaches us about the power of God’s word. The image of the harvest teaches us about ourselves. How is God speaking to each of us today through this story?

Some discussion Questions:
1. When have I doubted that good could come… that sowing seed could lead to bearing fruit?
2. In Isaiah 55:10-13, what does it say about Isaiah’s faith that he imagines all of creation praising God’s work?
3. In Romans 8:1-11, how does the Apostle Paul describe the way life changes for those whose hearts are captured by God’s Spirit?

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Rest for Your Souls

Date: July 9, 2017
Liturgical Day: The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 9A

learning from Jesus
discovering life with God
the gift of sacred rest

Jesus, the Teacher; by Durio di Buoninsegna (1308-11)

Summary:

There have always been numerous, conflicting expectations of who God is and what God will do. Many of these expectations, including our own, can be unrealistic. But when we allow God to be God, our souls can know true rest.

Some discussion Questions:
1. How do the concepts of yoke, burden and rest relate to one another in today’s Gospel lesson?
2. How do the concepts of triumph, victory, dominion and humility relate to one another in Zechariah 9:9-12?
3. When have I experienced the inner turmoil that the Apostle Paul describes in Romans 7?

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Laboring Together with Christ

Date: June 18, 2017
Liturgical Day: The Second Sunday after Pentecost; Year A

a prayer of Jesus
laborers in the harvest
our call to mission

Summary:
Filled with compassion for the people, Jesus cries out for God to send “laborers into the harvest.” This work of love and compassion and grace is the work God’s people continue today.

Some discussion Questions:
1. What does St. Matthew mean by “proclaiming the good news of the kingdom?”
2. How is it that suffering has led to endurance, character and hope in my life?
3. What, in my experience, causes me to be thankful for what God has accomplished?

Download Sermon and Presentation Slides: 2017-06-18 sermon

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The 2nd Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 6A (6/18/2017)

Lessons:
Exodus 19:2-8a
Psalm 100
Romans 5:1-8
St. Matthew 9:35-10:8 (9-23)
Semicontinuous Readings:
Genesis 18:1-15 [21:1-7]
Psalm 116:1, 10-17

Prayer of the Day:

Teach us, good Lord God, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward, except that of knowing we do your will, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

9.35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

10.1 Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. (more…)

Majesty and Mistery

Date: June 11, 2017
Liturgical Day: The Feast of the Holy Trinity; Year A

holy trinity
majesty and mystery
the presence of God

Adoration of the Trinity

Summary:
Scripture proclaims God to be one, yet three. We experience our one God as Father (Creator), Son (Savior) and Spirit (Sustainer). Reflecting on our experience of God, we draw near to the majesty and mystery of One who loves us.

Some discussion Questions:
1. How have I experienced God as Creator, Savior and Sustainer?
2. How do Father, Son and Spirit relate to grace, love and communion?
3. What does the first chapter of Genesis mean when, at the end of a day of creating, “God saw that it was good?”

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