One Little Word

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Category: Devotional Messages (page 1 of 44)

Weekly Devotional Message

The 20th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 23B (Oct. 11, 2015)

Amos 5:6-7, 10-15
Psalm 90:12-17
Hebrews 4:12-16
St. Mark 10:17-31
Semicontinuous Series
Job 23:1-9, 16-17
Psalm 22:1-15 (1)

Prayer of the Day
Almighty and ever-living God, increase in us your gift of faith, that, forsaking what lies behind and reaching out to what lies ahead, we may follow the way of your commandments and receive the crown of everlasting joy, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

10:17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’ ” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

28 Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age-houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions – and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

St. Mark 10:17-31 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.

A devotional message based on this text will be posted by Tuesday evening.

The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 22B (Oct. 4, 2015)

Genesis 2:18-24
Psalm 8 (5)
Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12
St. Mark 10:2-16
Semicontinuous Series:
Job 1:1; 2:1-10
Psalm 26 (3)

Prayer of the Day:
Sovereign God, you have created us to live in loving community with one another. Form us for life that is faithful and steadfast, and teach us to trust like little children, that we may reflect the image of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

10:2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”  10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”  13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

St. Mark 10:2-16 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.

Marriage, Divorce and Family Matters

It isn’t easy, these days, to speak publicly about marriage, divorce and family matters. Oh, it’s not that the church (and its leaders) has nothing to say. And it’s not that we are afraid of the response we’ll get when we say it. It is, instead, that we are called to both a pastoral and a prophetic ministry. In other words, when people are hurting and broken we are called to offer a pastoral presence — a comforting and encouraging presence that allows them to gain their footing and begin moving forward again. And when people are sinning, and have lost sight of God’s call to them, we are called to offer a prophet presence — a challenging presence that names their sin, invites them to repentance and forgiveness, and calls them to new life.

The problem is, when it comes to marriage, divorce and family matters, both a pastoral and a prophetic message are necessary. When we are gathered for worship, when we are tending to Bible study, even when we are visiting with friends for coffee, it is inevitable. There will be some among us whose hearts are broken because of family difficulties that have spun out of their control. They long for a word of grace in the midst of their brokenness. And there will be some among us whose behaviors are having a negative impact on the families they have pledged to nurture and respect. They need a word of challenge to help them return to what God requires of them.

All that said, divorce is not God’s will for us. When two commit themselves to one another in marriage they become one. No longer two, Jesus says, but one. To tear apart this one is contrary to what God wants for us. And so those who have entered into this unity are committed to preserve it. Committed not just to “stay in it no matter what” — but to nurture it; to strengthen it; to make it stronger and healthier and more vibrant as the years go by.

Jesus speaks these challenging words to his listeners. Later, he emphasizes this with his disciples. And after doing so, he continues to explore marriage and family matters. He commands his followers to “let the little children come to me.” Why does Mark put the words of Jesus about marriage and the action of Jesus about children back-to-back? Some understand this to mean that when we are committed to marriage and family matters we are no longer two; not even any longer one; but but we are three or four or five… Marriage, divorce and family do matter, because in the home and in the family faith is shared, and faithfulness is encouraged.

Jesus, who loves married couples, divorcing couples and growing children, wants the family to be a blessing for the children who are part of it. The command to preserve the unity of marriage is not just for the benefit of those who are married (although it is in indeed this), but it is also a command to live as servants of those around us — even servants of the children who live in our homes.


David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. Why did Moses give men permission to divorce their wives?
  2. How does Jesus interpret the actions of Moses?
  3. What is the connection between the unity of marriage and the wellbeing of children?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. How can we most compassionately minister to those who are experiencing the pain of divorce, or who are being affected by unhealthy family dynamics?
  2. What might the church do to strengthen marriages?
  3. What can families do to bless and nurture the children who are part of them?

The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 21B (Sept. 27, 2015)

Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29
Psalm 19:7-14 (8)
James 5:13-20
St. Mark 9:38-50
Semicontinuous Series:
Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22
Psalm 124 (7)

Prayer of the Day:
Generous God, your Son gave his life that we might come to peace with you. Give us a share of your Spirit, and in all we do empower us to bear the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

9:38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 Whoever is not against us is for us. 41 For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward. 42 “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. 47And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. 49 “For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

St. Mark 9:38-50 New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Do No Harm

Hippocrates (460 b.c. – 370 b.c.) was an ancient Greek physician, regarded by many as the father of western Medicine, largely due to his work as the founder of the Hippocratic School of Medicine. The Hippocratic Oath, a mission statement of sorts for practicing physicians, continues still to inspire medical professionals today, and includes the phrase, “to abstain from doing harm” (ἐπὶ δηλήσει δὲ καὶ ἀδικίῃ εἴρξειν). When providing medical care to patients, physicians, at the very least, are to do nothing that harms them in any way.

In this week’s Gospel lesson, it appears that Jesus is commending a similar oath to us. Continue reading

The 17th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 20B (Sept. 20, 2015)

Jeremiah 11:18-20 or Wisdom 1:16 – 2:1, 12-22
Psalm 54 (4)
James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a
St. Mark 9:30-37
Semicontinuous Series
Proverbs 31:10-31
Psalm 1 (3)

Prayer of the Day:
O God, our teacher and guide, you draw us to yourself and welcome us as beloved children. Help us to lay aside all envy and selfish ambition, that we may walk in your ways of wisdom and understanding as servants of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

9:30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.  33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

St. Mark 9:30-37 New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Last of All and Servant of All

“He was teaching his disciples, but they did not understand.” In this way, St. Mark characterizes the ministry of Jesus. We may be tempted to think poorly of these men, who live in the presence of the Savior yet never seem to figure out what he is all about. But if we are honest about it, there are no shortage of ways that people misunderstand him still today. The Prosperity Gospel argues that God wants all believers to be financially successful. Focusing on the family shifts the believer’s attention from the world to his or her own home. Over-emphasis on liturgy suggests that faith is all about ritual behavior. Making rules and regulations central to life suggests that faith is all about moral or ethical commitments. Muscular Christianity promotes manly behavior and rewards those with physical prowess. The list seems to go on and on. Continue reading

The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 19B (Sept. 13, 2015)

Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 116:1-9 (9)
James 3:1-12
St. Mark 8:27-38
Semicontinuous Series
Proverbs 1:20-33
Psalm 19 (7) or Wisdom 7:26 – 8:1 (7:28)

Prayer of the Day
O God, through suffering and rejection you bring forth our salvation, and by the glory of the cross you transform our lives. Grant that for the sake of the gospel we may turn from the lure of evil, take up our cross, and follow your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

8:27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” 30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. 31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”  34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

St. Mark 8:27-38 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.

What Does It Mean to Be a Christian?

“What does it mean to be a Christian?” That was the name of a video series featuring ELCA Bishop Herbert Chilstrom in the early days of our denomination. It is a good question for us to ask. What does it mean to be a Christian? What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus, the Christ? People have offered many different answers to that question. To be a Christian means having membership in a Christian Church, or believing the teachings that one’s own tradition embraces about Jesus, or having a living relationship with God through Jesus Christ, or declaring faith publicly in the workplace and the neighborhood (or some combination of these). For Bishop Chilstrom, it meant being grounded in God’s grace in such away that causes the believer to live all of life as an opportunity to share this grace with others. Continue reading

The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 18B (Sept. 6, 2015)

Isaiah 35:4-7a
Psalm 146
James 2:1-10 [11-13] 14-17
St. Mark 7:24-37

Semicontinuous Series
Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
Psalm 125

Prayer of the Day:
Gracious God, throughout the ages you transform sickness into health and death into life. Open us to the power of your presence, and make us a people ready to proclaim your promises to the whole world, through Jesus Christ, our healer and Lord. Amen.

7:24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

St. Mark 7:24-37, New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

The Syrophoenician Divide

She is a woman. (Jesus seems to have a soft spot for women — in many ways second-class citizens in first century life.) She is a Gentile. (Specifically, a Syrophoenician, possibly with lineage that connects her with one or more of Israel’s historic enemies: the Canaanites, the Greeks, and the Romans — just the kind of outsider that Jesus often seems drawn to.) And she has a little daughter who is troubled by an unclean spirit. (In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is portrayed as being particularly interested in those who are held captive by unclean spirits.) There seems to be ample reason for Jesus to respond positively when this woman approaches him, which makes his response to her quite surprising.

She bows down at his feet and begs for her daughter’s healing. His chilling response is: “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” In other words, what he has to give is intended to nourish God’s children (the Jewish people), and it wouldn’t be fair to waste it on dogs (outsiders like her). Is this the Jesus we have come to know and love?

Continue reading

The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 17B (Aug. 30, 2015)

Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9
Psalm 15
James 1:17-27
St. Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Semicontinuous Series:
Song of Solomon 2:8-13
Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9

Prayer of the Day:
O God our strength, without you we are weak and wayward creatures. Protect us from all dangers that attack us from the outside, and cleanse us from all evil that arises from within ourselves, that we may be preserved through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

7:1 Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2 they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many  other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me;  7 in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’  8 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
14 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

St. Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.


Cherished Beliefs

Jesus.GermsIn the men’s room at Saint Peter there has been (for years) a small card taped to the mirror, at about eye’s level for a 5-year-old. It says, “Jesus and germs are everywhere, so wash your hands and say a prayer.” I have no idea whether there is one in the women’s room. It reminds me of the old joke that ends with, “Jesus and germs, Jesus and germs; that’s all you talk about, and I can’t see either one!”

This week’s Gospel lesson is about Jesus and germs, but the intent of the teaching is not to prevent us from spreading diseases. The intent is to explore religious tradition, and discern the ways in which it promotes or inhibits our participation in the kingdom of God.

The Lutheran church is a liturgical church, with 500 years of rich history behind it. We have many cherished beliefs and practices, and most of them are far more significant than the color of our seat cushions or the Sunday morning worship schedule. At the same time, we think of ourselves as a reforming movement within the catholic tradition — a church that is always committed to evaluating our beliefs and practices (even the ones we cherish the most!) with one question in mind: “Do they strengthen our church’s proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” Continue reading

The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 16B (Aug. 23, 2015)

St. Luke 2:41-52

Prayer of the Day:
Holy God, your word feeds your people with life that is eternal. Direct our choices and preserve us in your truth, that, renouncing what is false and evil, we may live in you, through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

2:41 Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43 When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44 Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” 49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

St. Luke 2:41-52 New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

In My Father’s House

We don’t know much about Jesus’ childhood. There are stories about his birth, of course. And stories of the first visit his family made to the Temple after he was born. But nothing, really, between then and his baptism by John in the Jordan River (when most scholars suspect he was in his early 30s). Except for this story. Continue reading

The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 15B (Aug. 16, 2015)

Proverbs 9:1-6
Psalm 34:9-14
Ephesians 5:15-20
St. John 6:51-58

Semicontinuous Series:
1st Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14
Psalm 111

Prayer of the Day:
Ever-loving God, your Son gives himself as living bread for the life of the world. Fill us with such a knowledge of his presence that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life to serve you continually, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

St. John 6:51-58 New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

”Whoever Eats Me Will Live because of Me.”

I love to imagine the original setting for the words of Jesus. Where were they gathered? Who was present? What events prompted his words? How did his audience respond? How did the religious officials react (always an interesting question…)? What event(s) took place just before or just after the saying? Often it is the case that addressing questions like these helps the reader understand what Jesus is trying to teach us, and leads to a much more fruitful reading of the text.

That said, as we use these kinds of questions to help us identify with his original listeners, this weekend’s Gospel had to be one of the most confusing statements he ever made to them.

It is recorded in the sixth chapter of John — quite early, actually, in John’s 21 chapter narrative. Jesus has performed miracles of feeding, and the crowd is impressed. No doubt experiencing physical hunger, they follow him around the country mostly, it seems, because of the bread he provides. But now he tries to stretch their understanding. He is shifting his focus from the bread that fills the stomach and sustains the body, to the bread that fills the soul and sustains faith.

Long before Maundy Thursday; long before his passion; long before his resurrection, long before the events that will give meaning to the meal his followers will celebrate in his name, Jesus speaks these words to his listeners. At best, one imagines them leaving the synagogue in Capernaum completely bewildered. (Verses 60 and 66 suggests exactly this…) “Whoever eats me.” — what can this possibly mean to someone who has never heard of his Last Supper? “Will live because of me.” — what can this possibly mean to someone who has never heard of his resurrection?

Years later, though, the early church will come to understand how important these words are. Having instituted the meal (“This is my body… this is my blood…”) and commissioned his followers (“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”), Jesus now becomes their source of life. Opposed by many of their Jewish brothers and sisters, persecuted by the Roman Emperor and his armies, misunderstood by almost everyone else, these faithful ancestors of ours took great comfort from the meal; great strength from the presence of Christ in the bread and the wine.

This weekend, at Saint Peter and at most Lutheran churches throughout the world, we will gather for the same meal. We will celebrate the real presence of Jesus in the bread and the wine. We will recall the story of salvation that gives us meaning and hope. We will take comfort and strength from this gathering, and we will indeed live because of him.

Thank God for this source of life. May our weekly gathering strengthen us, as it did the people of the early church. And fed and nourished by our Lord, may we love him profoundly, and serve him faithfully.


David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What did Jesus mean that “eating him” will lead to life?
  2. How must his followers have responded to this saying?
  3. What did the early church come to believe about these words?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. When has participating in Holy Communion given me new life?
  2. In what ways am I changed when I receive the bread and wine?
  3. What do I most appreciate about participating in this meal?

The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 14B (Aug. 9, 2015)

1st Kings 19:4-8
Psalm 34:1-8
Ephesians 4:25-5:2
St. John 6:35, 41-51
Semicontinuous Series:
2nd Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33
Psalm 130

Prayer of the Day:
Gracious God, your blessed Son came down from heaven to be the true bread that gives life to the world. Give us this bread always, that he may live in us and we in him, and that, strengthened by this food, we may live as his body in the world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven.     

St. John 6:35, 41-51 New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Drawn by the Father

On the airplane yesterday, returning to Denver from a family vacation in Washington D.C. and Richmond, VA, I read an article by Professor David Lose (in the April Lutheran Magazine) suggesting that one goal of preaching is to “help us see God and, having seen God, to participate in God’s ongoing work to love and bless this world.” For the record: I agree with him, and try to accomplish this as often as I can. So this morning I find myself wondering how this weekend’s Gospel lesson can help us to see God and participate in God’s work. Continue reading

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