Sunday, April 29, 2012

great commission

Good morning brothers and sisters,
This morning I'm running in the Flower City Half-Marathon and then heading off to a conference/retreat for newer ministers. It's a great conference and I'm grateful to be able to Go. I'll still have access to email, and if you need me, feel free to call. I'll be back in town Thursday evening.

Today's passage is known as the "Great Commission" because in it, Jesus gives the disciples (and thus, the church) their mission for the rest of history. This is still a good way to think about what the church's job is. Not only do we claim Jesus' calling to make disciples and teach to the ends of the earth, we also claim his promise to be with us forever. What a great promise to put our faith in.

God bless,


Matthew 28:16-20
16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Friday, April 27, 2012

surprising audience

Good morning sisters and brothers,
After Jesus' disciples returned from their mission to heal and preach he thanked God for God's surprising calling. God often chooses to reveal important things to people the world doesn't think much of. At the same time, the "important" people in the world are often too busy or too wrapped up in themselves to notice God's calling anyway. God has given each of us gifts to serve others and build up the kingdom. Our role is to listen for God's voice and see where it leads us. I'm grateful for the community of faith gathered together and scattered across the world.

God bless,


Luke 10:21-24
21At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” 23Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Christ calls

Good morning friends,
I was truly blessed to be part of an installation service for my friend Cindy Rasmussen as Rector of St. Mark's and St. John's Episcopal Church on Culver Rd on Wednesday evening. It was a great celebration of Christian unity and urban ministry. The Episcopal bishop was there with his ornate robes and shepherds staff. He celebrated communion with Cindy, their Deacon Mike Finn, myself and a Catholic nun, Sr. Marlene Vigna assisting with the serving. A Presbyterian lay woman preached the sermon and shared some powerful experiences of transformation in the city through Christ's love. It was an awesome reminder of why we are in ministry.

Jesus' words to the disciples he sends out in ministry echo some similar themes. He laments for some cities nearby, because, even though he ministered powerfully in them they didn't repent. He also rejoices with his disciples about the way God's power is at work in them. Like us, they were ordinary people, but they made themselves available in trust to God. So the question comes to us: are we going to see God's love and shut our ears or will we be agents of grace-filled transformation through Christ?

God bless,


Luke 10:13-20
13“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14But at the judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. 16“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

17The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” 18He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

sent in mission, part 2

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Today's passage is similar to yesterday in that Jesus sends out disciples to heal, teach and prepare the way for his message. The difference is that here he sends out more disciples and gives more detailed instruction. We often think of Jesus as a "one man operation" or think only about him and the 12 disciples. This passage reminds us that there were many disciples and all played important roles. Where might Jesus want to send you?


God bless,

Luke 10:1-12
After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ 6And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 

7Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

sent in mission, part 1

Good evening friends,
This weekend we'll be reading about Jesus' "Great Commission" to his disciples after he rose from the dead. To get us thinking about their mission and our mission we're going to take a look a a couple examples of earlier commissions from Jesus. In our passage for today, Jesus gives his disciples power and sends them out to heal and preach the good news of God's kingdom. That's still a core piece of the church's mission today. How can you live that out in your life this week?

God bless,

Luke 9:1-6
Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. 4Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. 5Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 6They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

leading and following

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Our story of the disciples' fishing trip continues with a special discussion between Peter and Jesus. Jesus takes an opportunity to restore Peter after his denial and to prepare him to lead the early church. Love is going to be the heart of his leadership, so Jesus emphasizes love as he calls him to tend the flock. He also warns him that the days ahead will be difficult. Tradition tells us that most of the disciples ended up losing their life for their faith, and Peter was no exception. Our calling may not be as high profile as Peter's, but we are all called to love, care and follow.

Blessings as you seek the details of your unique calling,

John 21:15-26
15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.” 

20Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” 22Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” 23So the rumor spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” 24This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. 25But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

fishing trip

Good afternoon friends,
Today's reading takes us to the lakeshore and a third appearance of the risen Jesus to the disciples. Each Gospel tells the story of Jesus a little differently. In John, the risen Jesus appears first to Mary Magdalene at the tomb. That evening he appears to 10 of the original 12 apostles, but Thomas is missing. A week or so later he appears to the disciples again, this time with Thomas there. Today's reading is another appearance. Here the apostles know Jesus by a miracle. The fishing part of the story reminds us where the disciples started with Jesus and that God often appears to us in everyday events. 

Blessings on your weekend,


John 21:1-14
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.

7That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. 9When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Friday, April 20, 2012

doubting Thomas

Good morning sisters and brothers,
Today's reading comes from John's account of Jesus' resurrection. In John, Jesus appears first to Mary Magdalene and then, in today's passage, to the 11 apostles. This is the story of "doubting" Thomas, a character many of us might identify with. Doubt is a part of faith, but trusting Jesus goes deeper than our doubts. Don't let your doubts make you feel like you're not a disciple, because discipleship is about the journey. At the same time, doubts that keep us from moving forward do hinder our development as people and as believers. When doubt leads to exploration and growth, it's a huge blessing. Take your doubts to God in prayer and study; you may be surprised what you learn.

God bless,


John 20:19-31
19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 

26A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

risen indeed

Good afternoon friends,
Sorry it's been so long since I sent out a reading. Today's reading picks up after the two disciples met the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus. They didn't recognize him until he broke bread with them. Right away they came back to Jerusalem to share what had happened with the other disciples. Amazingly, the other disciples were already talking about Christ's resurrection because he had also appeared to Peter. Then, in our passage today, Jesus appears to all the disciples and promises to send the Holy Spirit to equip them for ministry. We'll be hearing more about the promise of the Spirit in a couple of weeks, for now, let's consider the transforming presence of Christ in our lives.

God bless,


Luke 24:36-50
36While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate in their presence. 

44Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

50Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. 51While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; 53and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

on the road to Emmaus

Good morning sisters and brothers,
Today's reading picks up where yesterday's left off: Jesus is walking with two of his disciples after his resurrection, but they don't know it is Jesus. He has just drawn out from them their sense of what has happened; now he responds to teach them how his death and resurrection fulfill the prophecies about the Messiah. This lesson will prepare the disciples to use the Bible to bear witness to Christ's love as they share the good news with the world.

God bless,

Luke 24:25-35
25Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. 28As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

questions on the road

Good morning brothers and sisters,
First I'd like to remind you about the exciting opportunity to participate in the Christian Life and Witness Class offered by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association over the next three weeks. It is a series of three classes focused on deepening our faith and sharing that faith with others. From the preview I received at a pastor's gathering, the quality and style is excellent. I think you'll find it refreshing, encouraging and challenging. The class is offered Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings from 7-9 and Saturday mornings from 10-noon at various sites. I'll be attending the class on Saturdays at Bridge Builders Church at 1787 Norton Street (between Waring and Goodman). The class is free and is an great opportunity to deepen your faith and hear a different perspective than you'll normally hear from me.

Today's reading takes place Easter afternoon. Two of Jesus' disciples are going to a nearby town after hearing the report of the women who went to Jesus' tomb and found it empty. As you read, try to imagine being one of Jesus' disciples processing the crazy last week of his life.

God bless,


Luke 24:13-24
13Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 

18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. 

Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

Thursday, April 12, 2012

training in godliness

Good morning friends,
Today's reading is another piece of advice for Timothy, a young leader in the church whom Paul mentored. I really value the tenderness and encouragement. This is great support for a leader working hard in a community of faith. Two things Paul lifts up are the importance of training in godliness. Our faith is something we have to practice and work at. It doesn't just happen. Any work we do to become more faithful is more than worth the time we put into it. He also emphasizes the importance of scripture, both because it is part of the training in godliness and because he encourages Timothy to read scripture publicly as an important part of his ministry. That's a good reminder for our daily lives as well.

Blessings on your journey today,


1 Timothy 4:6-16
6 If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. 7Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales. Train yourself in godliness, 8for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. 10For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

11 These are the things you must insist on and teach. 12Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. 14Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. 15Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. 16Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

God's sword

Good morning brothers and sisters,
In today's reading the author of the Letter to the Hebrews compares God's word with a sharp sword. He or she talks about how scripture exposes our inner self to God, who sees everything about us. When we read scripture, especially when we read it prayerfully, we don't just learn stories about our faith or pieces of doctrine. We see God revealed through the word. We also see ourselves clearly. When the psalmist talks honestly about his sin and the joy of forgiveness, we see how we get tangled up in sin as well. When ordinary people do amazing things for God we are inspired to claim our own ministry. When biblical characters do mean or stupid things, we reflect on the areas we still need to work on.

Scripture convicts us of our shortcomings and it lifts up our potential. It also reminds us that no matter what we have done, God is merciful and wants to forgive us. So open the word, confess your brokenness, and come to the throne of grace.

God bless,


Hebrews 4:12-16
12Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.

14Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

the word of truth

Good afternoon friends,
The two letters to Timothy are gems of advice for church leaders, but are applicable to all Christians. Here Paul talks about how he is chained, and in fact was often in prison, but that even so God's word isn't chained. Paul found ways even to use his captivity to spread the gospel about Jesus further, which is great encouragement for us. We can use any of the situations in our life to bear witness to God's love in Christ. 

Paul also tells Timothy that one of the signs of being a faithful leader is "rightly explaining the word of truth." I think of explaining and helping you to understand God's word in scripture as a critical part of my calling too. At the same time, I can only help if you are willing to do your part. If we want to understand scripture, which is wonderful, we need to read on our own and study together. God does amazing things when we make the word a priority. Tonight, and every Wednesday until some time in May, at 5:30 we'll gather for supper and Bible study. The menu changes weekly as does the group around the table. No matter what, the discussion is open and welcoming. It would be great to have you there.

God bless,


2 Timothy 2:8-15
8Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David—that is my gospel, 9for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. 10Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. 11The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; 13if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. 

14Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. 15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

copying scripture

Good afternoon sisters and brothers,
On Sunday we'll be talking about how explained scripture to his disciples after his resurrection. With that in mind we'll spend some of our daily reading this week looking at why scripture is important. Today's reading is from Deuteronomy and takes us back to Moses instructing Israel in the desert for their life in the Promised Land. He looks ahead to when they will want a king. He tells them it's OK to have a king, but the king can't think too much of himself and has to follow God carefully. We know from Israel's history (and every other kind of history) that powerful people tend to get caught up in their power and forget where they come from and why they are called to lead. Moses' warnings prove prescient, as things develop.

One of the things that catches my attention whenever I read this is the idea that the king should personally copy God's law and read it every day. That would be a powerful exercise in humility and faithfulness. Even though we aren't kings, it's a good reminder that reading scripture everyday shapes us the way God wants us.

God bless,


Deuteronomy 17:14-20
When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,” 15you may indeed set over you a king whom the Lord your God will choose. One of your own community you may set as king over you; you are not permitted to put a foreigner over you, who is not of your own community. 16Even so, he must not acquire many horses for himself, or return the people to Egypt in order to acquire more horses, since the Lord has said to you, “You must never return that way again.” 17And he must not acquire many wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; also silver and gold he must not acquire in great quantity for himself.

When he has taken the throne of his kingdom, he shall have a copy of this law written for him in the presence of the levitical priests. 19It shall remain with him and he shall read in it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, diligently observing all the words of this law and these statutes, 20neither exalting himself above other members of the community nor turning aside from the commandment, either to the right or to the left, so that he and his descendants may reign long over his kingdom in Israel.

Monday, April 9, 2012

death and life

Good morning friends,
I hope your Easter was wonderful. Laurelton's sunrise service was lovely and our regular worship was joyful including many friends and a baptism. Christ's resurrection is a lot to reflect on, so we get a whole season to do it. I'll be doing lots of planning this week for the weeks ahead, so if there's anything you'd like to hear about in worship, please let me know.

Today's reading is a reflection on Christ's death and resurrection in terms of our baptism. In baptism we're joined to Christ's death and resurrection. Faith and baptism are not just some cultural ritual, they are a matter of life and death. We commit ourselves to Christ and put our trust in him.

blessings on your resurrection journey,



Romans 6:1-11
What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

4Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

6We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For whoever has died is freed from sin. 8But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Christ is risen!

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Christ is risen! It was a true blessing to begin this Easter morning with worship at the lakeshore. The sunrise reminds us that God's creative power always surrounds us and that Jesus, who died and rose for us was there at the beginning when the world was created. We hear this story every year because it is the heart of our faith. Because Christ has been risen, we become part of God's eternal life. Come hear the story and celebrate God's amazing love at 10 this morning.

God bless,


Luke 23:55-24:12
55The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment. But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in, they did not find the body. 

4While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. 6Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”

8Then they remembered his words, 9and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Good morning brothers and sisters,
There's no reading exactly for the day between Good Friday and Easter. It was the Sabbath, so nothing happened. Our reading concludes Jesus' death and shows him laid in the tomb. On the Sabbath the women who followed Jesus and the other disciples followed the commandment to rest. The disciples, including us, and all of creation waits to see what will happen next. May your waiting be fertile time for your faith to grow.

God bless,


Mark 15:33-47
33When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 35When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, "Listen, he is calling for Elijah." 36And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down." 37Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was God's Son!"

40There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

42When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. 45When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. 46Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.

Friday, April 6, 2012

the shadow of the cross

Good afternoon sisters and brothers,
Today we stand in the shadow of Christ's cross to see his suffering and his love for us. We see him abandoned by his disciples, beaten and mocked and tortured. It's tempting to skip right to Easter, but first we need to spend time with the condemned Jesus. He suffered for us out of amazing love.

God bless,


Mark 15:16-32
16Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor's headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. 17And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18And they began saluting him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" 19They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. 20After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

21They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.

25It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26The inscription of the charge against him read, "The King of the Jews." 27And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. 29Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30save yourself, and come down from the cross!" 31In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

table talk

Good morning sisters and brothers,
Just a quick reminder that there is no supper and scripture tonight, but everyone is invited to our potluck supper and worship service tomorrow evening beginning at 6pm in Christler Hall. Today's reading begins the story we'll focus on tomorrow: Jesus' last supper with his disciples. It's hard to imagine what it would be like for those disciples. They were surrounded by the excitement of the big city and Jesus had been welcomed like a king. Now they were celebrating the Passover, remembering God's liberation of Israel from Egypt. 

At the same time, Jesus kept talking about his death, and the conflict with the religious leaders was getting worse. At the meal Jesus starts talking about being betrayed by one of his closest followers. This is a powerful week in our faith story; I pray it's a powerful week for you personally.

God bless,


Mark 14:12-21
12On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?" 13So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "'Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, 14and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' 15He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there." 16So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

17When it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me." 19They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, "Surely, not I?" 20He said to them, "It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. 21For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

like a mother's love

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Today's passage emphasizes that God's love is even deeper than we can imagine. Isaiah compares God's love to a mother's love to remind Israel that even in exile, they will never be forgotten. Isaiah didn't have this in mind when he wrote the passage, but reading this passage during holy week, I think about Jesus and his incredible love for us. One line keeps sticking in my mind; God says to God's people; "I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands..." I think about our Lord Jesus inscribing our names on his palms with the nails of the cross. Truly, God's love has no limit.

God bless,


Isaiah 49:13-17
13Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones. 14But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” 15Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. 16See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. 17Your builders outdo your destroyers, and those who laid you waste go away from you.

Monday, April 2, 2012

God is love

Good morning friends,
There's a lot going on at and around Laurelton this week as we remember the last week before Jesus death. I'll get the schedule of events on the website as soon as I can. Tonight at St. Ambrose (Culver and Empire) there will be an ecumenical tenebrae service at 7:30. In the tenebrae service we tell the story of Jesus' passion with readings and music. As the story moves towards Christ's death, candles are extinguished and the sanctuary grows darker. We've participated in the service the last three years, and it is quite powerful.

Today's reading comes from the Apostle John's first letter. John reminds his readers that God is love, so we should love each other. He also emphasizes that we know God's love best through Jesus' life and death for us. This week is all about entering into the mystery of Jesus' suffering. Try to take some extra time each day to reflect on Christ's love and walk the road with him.

God bless,


1 John 4:7-21
7Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

14And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

17Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19We love because he first loved us. 20Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

for everyone

Good morning sisters and brothers,
In this passage some Greeks who worship Israel’s God want to meet Jesus. Jesus doesn’t directly respond to this request, but the moment is a sign that Jesus is not just the savior of Israel, but also of the whole world. Approaching his death Jesus talks about life and death. He also says that his death is both glorification and the moment where the evil powers that seem to rule the world are judged and defeated. Life in Christ is bigger than us; it’s about being part of God’s life-giving rule in the world.

God bless,

John 12:20-33
20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

27“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.