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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Miracles of Miracles (John 6:22-35)

Miracles of Miracles (John 6:22-35)

When you think of miracles what sort of image comes to mind? A prayer answered? Impossibilities made possible? Do you see miracles everywhere…a sunset…an upset victory on the gridiron…a newborn child? Or is your first thought about miracles that your own life seems especially short of them?

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That Second Tomb Account (Mark 6:14-29; 16:1-8)

 That Second Tomb Account (Mark 6:14-29; 16:1-8)

As a pastor I sometimes meet people who tell heartbreaking stories of how evil and injustice have impacted them in traumatic ways, leaving them numb and robbing them of their joy. I imagine something similar must have been going through the hearts of those who had been followers of John the Baptist, as they buried his earthly remains in a tomb (6:29). … St. Mark tells the story as one chapter of a greater story that would also end with an execution and a tomb. But though this injustice would be much greater--the death of an innocent man for the sins of the world--so would the nature of the comfort that would arise from his tomb: a tomb that did not stay occupied for long.

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The Freedom of Travelling Light (Mark 6:1-13)

The Freedom of Travelling Light (Mark 6:1-13)

Lack of ordinary capacity is actually a call to build on the extraordinary capacity of God’s own gift of Life to us: the precious gift of God's Word, and the mysteriously enriching work of the Sacraments. Everything else, when you think about it, is kind of like icing on the cake. We are disciples of Christ, given to “travel light” in the things of this world…confident that God has provided what we truly need: Jesus, and the eternal inheritance that awaits us.

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When a Brave Face Isn't Enough (Mark 4:21-43)

When a Brave Face Isn't Enough (Mark 4:21-43)

This week has been Vacation Bible School week at Trinity. What joy to see the spirit of Life in the children of our community as they sing songs and learn about the love of Jesus, the Great Physician of the soul, while making friends and having fun! Which makes me wonder: At what point do we stop approaching our Great Physician with the wonder, awe, and unabashed helplessness of small children?

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Of Refugees and the Republic (Romans 13:1-7; Zechariah 7:9-10)

Of Refugees and the Republic (Romans 13:1-7; Zechariah 7:9-10)

Every so often it's good to take a break from the usual routine of finding a devotional slant to the appointed readings on Sunday morning. This week, the national spotlight was on the immigration debate. I do not believe it is the role of a pastor to take a political stance and to advocate from the pulpit for one political position or another. However, the invocation of Romans 13 by two government officials recently, an action intended to produce what can only be described as "political goals," warrants--you might even say, necessitates--a brief reflection on Romans 13 and the Scriptures in general by all of us who claim those Scriptures as our own. 

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Where to Look When You Have Trust Issues (Mark 4:26-34)

Where to Look When You Have Trust Issues (Mark 4:26-34)

Trusting in God won't mean that bad things won't happen. It will mean that we hold on to a God who makes all things new in spite of the bad stuff. As we celebrate this Father's Day, let us also give thanks for the Father who loves us. We put our trust in the one Candidate who is worthy of that trust. And we live...never completely sure (yet free and at peace) about where the next bend in the road will take us.


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