The Gift of the Real Three Kings (Luke 3:15-22; Isaiah 43:1-7)

The Gift of the Real Three Kings (Luke 3:15-22; Isaiah 43:1-7)

The gift of the real Three Kings is a game-changer because nothing…neither fire/brimstone nor the overwhelming force of the mightiest waters (Is 43:2) can ultimately overwhelm us and do us in. Why be anxious about tomorrow? What is left to fear?

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Seekers...and the One Who Finds (Matthew 2:1-12)

Seekers...and the One Who Finds (Matthew 2:1-12)

Last Sunday gave us an invitation to rejoice with Simeon and Anna (the faithful people of God in the temple) over a “God-sighting,” as they saw the very face of God in the person of the baby Jesus. This Sunday is a reminder that there are also those who are “on the way” to seeing Jesus. And maybe God’s way of helping them see Jesus (and so, know they are “found” by Him) is to put you and me in their path.

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Forgiveness, at Year's End (Col. 3:13)

Forgiveness, at Year's End (Col. 3:13)

Much of the advice we get from folks who smooth out the wrinkles in the fabric of our shared community is wise and helpful. But St. Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, adds a more profound rationale to forgive: “Bear with one another, and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive (Col 3:13).”

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God's Exclamation Mark (Luke 1:39--56)

God's Exclamation Mark (Luke 1:39--56)

In a world overflowing with crisis, confusion, and tension, in the day-to-day world of tragic events that cause unanswered question to be asked, the gift of the Christ child is God’s definitive reply that brings hope and healing to even unlovable people: Jesus is the sign that God’s love is at the bottom of life.

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Countercultural Joy (Philippians 4:4-7)

Countercultural Joy (Philippians 4:4-7)

It really struck me this week as I was considering how joy works that there are so many images in our popular culture (especially from my favorite, classic Christmas films) that give us impressions of what true Christmas joy is. The trouble is…in some manner they all fall short of the mark.

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Seeing Possibilities (Luke 3:1-14)

Seeing Possibilities (Luke 3:1-14)

The glory of the angels is preceded by the fire proclaimed by John the Baptist for those not stirred to look around and yearn for peace. Not one of us can save the world…and at times, even on Christmas Day, we may have a hard time just maintaining peace with the people we share the world with! Yet we are children of a God who fulfills His promise to restore, renew, and work out the possibilities His Spirit brings to fulfillment in us.

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First Light (Jeremiah 33:14-16)

First Light (Jeremiah 33:14-16)

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent and the beginning of a new church year. Advent this year starts with a promise…a promise given to people who are sitting in the dark wondering if they will ever see the light of God’s favor again. It is the Promise extended to those who feel as if they are in the tomb already, with immovable rock enclosing them. It is God’s YES and it is spoken in the face of the world’s MAYBE and the Devil’s NO. It is the Promise that “[You] will be saved and live in safety.” For all of us who live after the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the promise voiced by Jeremiah has been fulfilled in Christ. About this YES of God, St. Paul wrote this: “For in [Christ] every one of God’s promises is a YES. For this reason it is through Him that we say the ‘Amen’ to the glory of God.”

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Enthroned (John 18:33-37)

Enthroned (John 18:33-37)

I don’t know about you, but in this era of “fake news” and “ideological narratives” I can’t help thinking about the “capital T” Truth that Jesus describes in our text today. (To read the text from the Gospel of John, click here.) Is the real force that gives rise to meaningful human actions merely the “truth of power”…. or is it the power of Truth?

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Living with the "End" in View (Mark 13:1-13)

Living with the "End" in View (Mark 13:1-13)

Christ our King, is coming. And Jesus has already told us how things will end, saying “Do not be alarmed” (7); “do not be anxious” (11). He is coming to right every wrong. Because of all that he accomplished through his death and resurrection (which we are given to see through faith) that will not result in our own destruction and punishment, but with the free gift of eternal life and a “new creation”!

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Never Invisible (Mark 12:38-44)

Never Invisible (Mark 12:38-44)

These are busy days at Trinity. As I write this, Little Sonbeams Christian Preschool is celebrating Thanksgiving Feast Week. What a great opportunity to hang out with our preschool kids and their families…giving thanks for one another and for whatever else comes to mind! Then, this Sunday we take a moment to remember how God has made us stewards over all that we have (time, abilities, material possessions) and to pledge a portion of that for carrying out God’s mission together. Later that same evening, we welcome our WARM guests and settle in for a week of meals together, conversation with new friends, and opportunities for service. We are all people who love to be noticed for our busy-ness and generosity, but that, of course, is not what this is about. Our text this week reminds us that even when we appear to be at the very limits of what we are able to give (like the impoverished widow of our text), Jesus sees and cares for us.

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God's Present- and Future-Tense People (Matthew 5:2-16)

God's Present- and Future-Tense People (Matthew 5:2-16)

All Saints’ Day in our tradition is an opportunity to celebrate all Christians. The “Church Militant,” remembered last week on Reformation Sunday, is the Church here below. It is made up of all us saints/sinners who confess faith in Jesus (1 Cor 1:5)…saints/sinners who sing “A Mighty Fortress” and get misty-eyed when we hear it with brass instruments (as I did last Sunday…thank you Morgan, Jaylen, and all who took part). It is composed of saints who are poor in spirit, who mourn, who hunger and thirst for righteousness. It highlights what I’d like to call the “present-tense” church of God. All Saints Sunday takes that notion of Church one step further. It connects the present-tense people of God, the “Church Militant,” with the future-tense people of God, the “Church Triumphant.”

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"What Do You Want Me to Do for You?" (Mark 10:46-52)

"What Do You Want Me to Do for You?" (Mark 10:46-52)

As I sit at my desk writing this week’s devotion, I’m looking at our friend Martin Luther (a PlayMobil version of old Marty that I received from one of you last year, on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation). There Marty stands with writing instrument in one hand and the Bible he translated into the vernacular of his countrymen in the other. It would be easy to get things mixed up and assume that LUTHER was the hero of the Reformation movement. The truth is, it was the Holy Spirit, working through the life-giving Word of God, that’s the real hero of the story. The Word of God delivered and lived through the Son of God, Jesus Christ, continues to raise up, bestow the gift of faith—hearts that see Jesus—-to people 500 years later.

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It's Who (and Whose) We Are, That Matters (Mark 10:23-31)

It's Who (and Whose) We Are, That Matters (Mark 10:23-31)

In a few weeks (November 11) we will once again hold our annual Pledge Sunday event at Trinity. That means that the topic over the course of the next several weeks turns to the theme of Christian stewardship. The goal is not to focus on what we do or don’t do in responding to our gracious God as cheerful givers or generous stewards. Our goal is to identify who…and whose…we are: children of a loving heavenly Father who continues to give us all that we need to care for ourselves, one another, and empowers us to introduce Him to a world that does not know the security and joy of a Father’s unconditional love.

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God's Goal for Our Relationships, Fulfilled (Genesis 2:18-25)

God's Goal for Our Relationships, Fulfilled (Genesis 2:18-25)

Interacting with flesh-and-blood people is a messy and at times disappointing business! It can at times even break your heart. The beautiful and intimate relationship of the first human couple at their outset of their marriage became fraught from the time of the original Fall into sin. The joy of the first couple and the integrity of their intimacy with one another has never been a foregone conclusion since. … Jesus, God’s Son, entered our world as a flesh-and-blood human being that he might restore our relationships to God and one another.

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Blessed Are the Peacemakers (James 3:14-4:10)

Blessed Are the Peacemakers (James 3:14-4:10)

Making peace by asking one another for forgiveness is a uniquely Christian task. Above all other things, it is what churches should be facilitating followers of Jesus to do! And yet, humbling ourselves to admit wrongdoing and living in peace with one another is outside of our ability as fallen, strife-loving people. Especially when we are used to being right (as parents, teachers, administrators, and yes…even pastors!), to admit that we are indeed wrong requires a real stepping-down. Join us this Sunday as we celebrate the Prince of Peace, the One who humbled himself to death..even death on the cross…that we sinners might be reconciled to God and take part in a ministry of reconciliation, too.

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It Only Takes a Spark (James 3:1-12)

It Only Takes a Spark (James 3:1-12)

I remember a song from my childhood that we sometimes sang on parochial school trips or youth retreats. “It only takes a spark…to get a fire going. And soon all those around can warm up to its glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love…” It is an image that stays with me today. Though I might feel at times that the measure of God’s love I am able to pass on to others will not..cannot…make a difference in the world, the reality is actually quite different. God’s promise to me is that even the smallest gift of love I give can produce unforeseen good in the long run (2 Cor 4:1-6, Gal 6:9, et al.).

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Finding Completeness (James 1:2-4)

Finding Completeness (James 1:2-4)

If we seek God's answers to the most important questions in life ("Who am I?" "What Makes Me Unique?" "Why am I here?") rather than simply following our best instincts or inclinations in answering those questions, God promises to lead us to a greater maturity and stronger faith that is sure to grant us greater fulfillment and joy,.

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Conversation with an Armor Wearer (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Conversation with an Armor Wearer (Ephesians 6:10-20)

I don't know much about ordinary armor...let alone have I actually ever worn it myself. So when it came time to do a deep dive on the text for this weekend, a text where St. Paul encourages us to "put on the full armor of God" (6:11) I thought I would enlist the help of my friend Daniel Mehaffey. Daniel takes part in the Society of Creative Anachronism.

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When Our OWN Words Fail (John 6:51-69)

When Our OWN Words Fail (John 6:51-69)

Words fail us when we see the ugliness of the human condition, as it truly is. There is no excusing or somehow rising above the sin of the world in which we all share. But God's Word ultimately turns our attention away from exclusive focus on human failure to the only perfect sacrifice that will ever be made: the sacrifice of the Son of God, who died for us.

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Extraordinary (John 6:35-51)

Extraordinary (John 6:35-51)

This past week many of us heard in the news the story of an ordinary man used in an extraordinary situation. Zac Edwards and his bride Cindy were lingering for a bit after their seaside wedding taking photographs when they heard a cry for help 50 yards out. A young man had gotten a little too far out in the surf and was now fighting for his life in a rip tide.

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