All Saints Sunday; Year A (11/5/2017)

Lessons:
Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 34:1-10, 22
1st John 3:1-3
Saint Matthew 5:1-12

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one communion in the mystical body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Grant us grace to follow your blessed saints in lives of faith and commitment, and to know the inexpressible joys you have prepared for those who love you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Lesson:

5:1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

St. Matthew 5:1-12, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Blessed Are You! Holy Are You!
Rejoice and Be Glad! Yours Is the Kingdom of God!

Whenever I consider the Beatitudes — these beautiful and powerful words with which Jesus begins his well-known “Sermon on the Mount” — I can’t help but hear David Haas’ moving 1986 worship song: “Blessed Are They.”

Make no mistake, these are hard words from Jesus: blest are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who huger for what they don’t have, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted… And finally: blessed are you when you are reviled and persecuted and spoken about falsely. Not a collection of realities on anyone’s wish list these days! How is it that Jesus considers these as the blest ones in his world?  He certainly isn’t working with the metrics of blessing that seem operative in our culture. (more…)

Reformation Sunday (10/29/2017)

Lessons:
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 46 (7)
Romans 3:19-28
St. John 8:31-36

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, gracious Lord, we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews the church in every age. Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your word, protect and comfort them in times of trial, defend them against all enemies of the gospel, and bestow on the church your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

8:31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”  34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

St. John 8:31-36 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Happy Anniversary, You Lutherans! 

On October 31, 1517, as the story goes, a young German monk from the Augustinian order in Wittenberg, Germany made his way to the entrance of the Castle Church. On the doors there, often used as an unofficial bulletin board for the college community, he posted what has come to be known as his 95 Theses — www.luther.de/en/95thesen.html — 95 statements describing the ways in which he wanted his church, the Roman Catholic Church, to turn back to a more Biblically grounded Christian faith, and a bolder proclamation of the grace of God that can be known in Jesus Christ. (more…)

The Feast of the Holy Trinity; Year A (6/11/2017)

Lessons:
Genesis 1:1-2:4a
Psalm 8
2nd Corinthians 13:11-13
St. Matthew 28:16-20

Prayer of the Day:
God of heaven and earth, before the foundation of the universe and the beginning of time you are the triune God: Author of creation, eternal Word of salvation, life-giving Spirit of wisdom. Guide us to all truth by your Spirit, that we may proclaim all that Christ has revealed and rejoice in the glory he shares with us. Glory and praise to you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

28.16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

St. Matthew 28:16-20, New Revised Standard Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Mystery and Majesty

This coming Sunday is “The Feast of the Holy Trinity” in the Christian calendar. It is a day when we lift up the ancient belief that our God is one, and that our God is three. The Word Trinity is found nowhere in our Bible. It is a word that the church created years after the Bible was written. In a time when believers were arguing whether God was “one being” or “three beings,” Trinity — combined of “tri” for three, and “unity” for one — professes the belief that God is not one or the other. God is both. (So, in one of my favorite elusive answers, when asked, “Is God three or is God one?” the correct answer is: “No.”) (more…)

The Feast of Pentecost; Year A (6/4/2017)

Lessons:
Acts 2:1-21
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
1st Corinthians 12:3b-13
St. John 20: 19-23

Prayer of the Day:
God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as you sent upon the disciples the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, look upon your Church and open our hearts to the power of the Spirit. Kindle in us the fire of your love, and strengthen our lives for service in your kingdom; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

2.1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ”

Acts 2:1-21, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

God’s Deeds of Power

When I was in High School there was a great deal of talk about the power of the Holy Spirit. Friends of mine who hadn’t been particularly interested in faith matters were caught up in the Spirit and became believers. Young people who were embarking on careers sensed the Spirit nudging them to enroll in a certain school or take a certain job or move to a certain part of the country. Worshippers in neighboring congregations (although not in my congregation!) who were touched by the Spirit began to speak in unintelligible languages. People who were struggling with illnesses of all sorts credited the Spirit with having received the gifts of healing and new life.

I often felt intimidated when people would make witness to these kinds of experiences. (more…)

The Last Sunday after Pentecost; Christ the King Sunday, Year C (11/20/16)

 Lessons:
Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm 46 (10)
Colossians 1:11-20
St. Luke 23:33-43
Semicontinuous Series:
Jeremiah 23:1-6
St. Luke 1:68-79 (69)

Prayer of the Day: O God, our true life, to serve you is freedom, and to know you is unending joy.  We worship you, we glorify you, we give thanks to you for your great glory.  Abide with us, reign in us, and make this world into a fit habitation for your divine majesty, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

23:33 When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [ 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35 And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

St. Luke 23:33-43. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

What Kind of King?

Christ the King
Christ the King

In the Lutheran church we recognize the fifth Sunday before Christmas as the last Sunday in the liturgical church year. (The new year begins with four Sundays of Advent, as we prepare for the celebration of the Christmas season.) This Sunday is actually a festival. It is called Christ the King Sunday, or in some traditions, Reign of Christ Sunday. It is a relatively young festival, instituted by the Roman Catholic Pope, Pius XI, in 1925.

1925 was the year when Benito Mussolini dissolved the Italian Parliament and became dictator of Italy. It was a time of great uncertainty. Mussolini took advantage of the division and dissension the country was experiencing, amassed power around his Fascist party, and soon began to invade neighboring countries. By the late 1930s he would become one of Adolph Hitler’s strongest and most important allies.

Much of Europe was still reeling from World War I, and many people worried about the impact someone like Mussolini could have on the world. Pope Pius XI was worried too, and in a papal encyclical he warned believers about the increasing secular nature of Europe, and the danger of following the whims of dictators.

In response, the church established a feast which honored the kingship of Christ. Pius XI understood that when nations are spinning out of control, it is even more important for Christians to remember that there is a King above all other kings, who calls us to lives of faith and hope and peace and righteousness.

And so this day comes around each year, providing believers with a different image of what it means to have a king. Christ is pictured not on a heavenly throne, surrounded by the trappings of a powerful kingdom. Christ is pictured on a cross, suffering and dying — loving and forgiving — as an embodiment of God’s profound and sacrificial love for humankind. There is a power in this image of Christ as King, but it is a subversive power. It subverts the rule of violence in the world, and asserts that love will have the final say. Not the sort of love which blithely claims that everything is fine, but the sort of love which empowers people to risk their very lives in service of what is good and right and just.

Christ the King Sunday is a perfect time for us to consider what it means to be welcomed into God’s love just as we are, and then sent into the world as a reflection of Christ. As you and I are sent, how will our lives reflect his passionate commitment to forgiveness (even forgiving those who were crucifying him) and to new life (even welcoming a convicted criminal to Paradise)? We are all subjects of this King, and he may well lead us in other directions than worldly leaders might lead us. The question is: will we have the faith and courage to follow?

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What kind of kings ruled in first century Palestine? In first century Rome?
  2. How do God’s intentions for believers become revealed in Jesus, crucified on the cross?
  3. In what ways did the early church choose to follow Christ instead of the Emperor?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What does it mean to be subjects of a crucified king?
  2. How does both Jesus’ living and his dying instruct us about our own lives?
  3. What “powers that be” are trying to seduce me away from honoring Christ as my king?

(more…)

All Saints Day; Year C (Nov. 6, 2016)

Lessons:
Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18
Psalm 149 (1)
Ephesians 1:11-23
St. Luke 6:20-31

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one communion in the mystical body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Grant us grace to follow your blessed saints in lives of faith and commitment, and to know the inexpressible joys you have prepared for those who love you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

6.20 Then [Jesus] looked up at his disciples and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.

“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.

22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.

25 “Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.

“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.

26 “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

St. Luke 6:20-31. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Saints Among Us

November 1st is All Saints Day in the church, and has been since the eighth century; perhaps as early as the seventh century. When November 1st doesn’t fall on a Sunday, we honor the first Sunday in November as All Saints Sunday. So this weekend we will be remembering and honoring the saints during our worship. (more…)

Reformation Sunday (10/30/2016)

Lessons:
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 46 (7)
Romans 3:19-28
John 8:31-36

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, gracious Lord, we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews the church in every age. Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your word, protect and comfort them in times of trial, defend them against all enemies of the gospel, and bestow on the church your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

8:31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”  34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

St. John 8:31-36 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Lutherans, at 500 Years 

It was 499 years ago, as the story goes, that a young, German monk made his way to the large wooden doors on the Castle Church in Wittenberg, and posted 95 complaints he had about the way the church was misunderstanding and misapplying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The monk was Martin Luther. The church was the bigger-than-life Roman Catholic Church. And this simple act set off what would eventually become known as the “Protestant Reformation” — a movement that would divide the western church, but one that reinvigorated believers who began to study God’s word in earnest, and whose lives and witness were shaped by the good news of the Gospel. (more…)

Pastor Dave is on Sabbatical Leave; April 11 through July 10

Pastor Dave, the author and webmaster of One Little Word, is on Sabbatical leave until July 11, 2016. He will not be composing or posting new devotional messages during this time, although he may be posting findings from his sabbatical activities. If you are looking for devotional messages or sermons, we welcome you to view his posts from three years ago.

Easter 4C (April 17)
devotional message
sermon

Easter 5C (April 24)
devotional message
sermon

Easter 6C (May 1)
devotional message
sermon

Easter 7C (May 8)
devotional message
sermon

The Feast of Pentecost (May 15)
devotional message
sermon

The Holy Trinity (May 22)
devotional message
sermon

Pentecost 2C / Proper 4C (May 29)
devotional message
sermon

Pentecost 3C / Proper 5C (June 5)
devotional message
sermon

Pentecost 4C / Proper 6C (June 12)
– devotional message Luke 7:36-8:3
sermon

Pentecost 5C / Proper 7C (June 19)
devotional message
sermon

Pentecost 6C / Proper 8C (June 26)
devotional message
sermon

Pentecost 7C / Proper 9C (July 3)
devotional message
sermon

Pentecost 8C / Proper 10C (July 10)
devotional message
sermon

All Saints Day; Year B (Nov. 1, 2015)

Lessons:
Isaiah 25:6-9
or Wisdom 3:1-9
Psalm 24 (5)
Revelation 21:1-6a
St. John 11:32-44

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one communion in the mystical body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Grant us grace to follow your blessed saints in lives of faith and commitment, and to know the inexpressible joys you have prepared for those who love you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

11:32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” 38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

paragraph-line

 

St. John 11:32-44. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

What Is a Saint?

francisFrancis was a Saint. We’ve been more aware of this these past thirty-two months than we have been for some time, because the current Pope of the Catholic Church took the name Francis.

Born in 1181, Francis grew up living the good life. He was happy, charming and a born leader. He dreamed of being a noble; a knight. Francis believed that battle was the best place to win glory and prestige, but after a failed attempt to achieve glory in battle he returned home, and earnestly prayed to God for a purpose in life.

While he was praying at the church in San Damaina, he heard Christ on the crucifix speak to him, “Francis, repair my church.” He first thought he was to address this ancient church building, which was suffering from disrepair. But in time, Francis understood that God wanted him to lead the church back to faithfulness and he began to preach about returning to God and obedience to the Church. (more…)

Reformation Sunday (Oct. 25, 2015)

Lessons:
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 46 (7)
Romans 3:19-28
John 8:31-36

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, gracious Lord, we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews the church in every age. Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your word, protect and comfort them in times of trial, defend them against all enemies of the gospel, and bestow on the church your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

8:31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”  34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.


St. John 8:31-36 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Enthusiasm

This weekend our church celebrates “Reformation Sunday.” We do it every year on the last Sunday in October. It is an opportunity for us to acknowledge the heritage that Martin Luther and his colleagues left us: the heritage of a Christ-centered and a faith-centered life, and a church that is dedicated to stay focused on the good news of what our Lord has done. (more…)

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