Preparation, Repentance, Forgiveness

Date: December 10, 2017
Liturgical Day: The Second Sunday of Advent; Year B

John, the baptizer
preparing the way for Christ
the gift of new life

Summary:
The story of John, the Baptizer, stands front and center at the beginning of all four Gospel accounts. We turn to him every Advent, as we explore the importance of baptism in our life together today.

Some discussion Questions:
1. How does John the Baptizer prepare the people to receive Jesus into their lives?
2. In Isaiah 40, what relationship does the prophet envision between the people of Israel and God?
3. Is the promised end of time good news or bad news for us today?

Download Sermon and Presentation Slides: 2017-12-10 sermon

Download Discussion Questions: 2017-12-10 TIH

The Sign Read: “Ashes and Prayer”

Here is an extremely cool story from The Lutheran Magazine, about Lutherans who decided to head out into the public square and make a difference. On Ash Wednesday they set up in New York City’s Union Square Park to offer ashes and prayer to anyone seeking God’s blessing. I love the end of the article:

“By the end of this blessed day, our small church had anointed and prayed for more than 350 people. In the church, at the town square, on the street, and even in a local pub, seven of us offered the light and love of Christ to all. We prayed with Christians, Muslims and Buddhists. We felt God’s power among us and through us, bringing healing, hope and possibility.

“As one of our team members came up from the subway in Brooklyn on his way home, he ran into a neighbor who spotted his forehead. Pointing to the ashes, the neighbor asked, “How do I get me some of that?” So he wiped ashes from his own forehead and anointed his neighbor.

“This is the church at work. God loose in the world!”

 

link to Lutheran Magazine article

 

In Pursuit of Excellence Awards

One of my personal goals for 2013 is to keep my eyes open for examples of excellence in Christian ministry. I hope, by doing so, to discover ideas that might be helpful for us at Saint Peter, and to be inspired, myself, to offer my very best as a pastor and as a leader.

Excellence Awards 2013

At the beginning of this new year, I’d also like to offer my words of gratitude and admiration for those who have moved our ministries at Saint Peter a step or two closer to excellence. I had the opportunity to honor three of these at our Annual Congregation Meeting on February 10, 2013: our support of Selian Lutheran Hospital in Arusha, Tanzania, led by Carol Mayer (left); Saint Peter Stitchers, co-led by Carmen Faaiu (center); and Sharing Our Suppers, led by Annie Harnett (right). (more…)

In Pursuit of Excellence

Pastor’s Monthly Newsletter Article for February, 2013

Our Lutheran theology is grounded in the notion that Christ does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. As the founder of our movement within the Christian family (Martin Luther) understood, try as we might, we can never fully live up to the expectations God has for us. In fact, the harder we try, the farther we seem to fall short.

This has led us to a high appreciation for God’s grace, and a deep sense of peace, since our eternal wellbeing is based not on what we can accomplish, but on what God has already accomplished for us (a much more reliable source of peace!).

The unintended consequence of this notion is that there are times when Christians (and in particular, Lutheran Christians) tend to settle for mediocrity. After all, why try to excel, when in the end our efforts are not what matter? (more…)

Crave

Take a look at this ministry idea from our friends in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. Crave (“Peace. Coffee. More. What do YOU crave?”) is the name of a coffee shop / church / ministry on the St. Louis University Medical Campus. They promote awesome food, unbelievable community and incredible drinks. It looks like a remarkable place to sit and visit (Saint Peter members Bill and Jordan Hunter confirm that it, indeed, is).

But what makes this an extraordinary ministry idea for me is that I can imagine people worshipping in this rather tired 1950s-ish church for years, wondering what it would be like to gather in a more inspiring space. At some point, somebody suggested that they (1) take advantage of their potential retro setting, (2) re-create it in a way that promotes their focus on building relationships with God and with one another, and (3) commit themselves to the standard of excellence (no “Mr. Coffee” coffee makers visible on that coffee bar!), communicating to anyone who stops by for a visit that they are serious about their mission, and willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish it.

Crave
www.cravestl.org
Mon-Fri 6am to 6pm
Worship:  Saturday at 5:30pm

At CRAVE, relationships are what we are here for. We believe that relationships matter. Relationships at our work. Relationships in our family. Relationships with fellow students. Relationships with those who serve us at restaurants. Relationships with those whom we serve. Relationships matter. Especially our relationship with God. We believe that God has something important to say about life…and about our relationships.