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Date Title Series Speaker
  1/22/2017 Who Do You Think You Are?

Paul was frustrated with his fractious little church in Corinth. Not long he left this little group of newly baptized Christians they were already at each other’s throats and threatening to tear apart what the Spirit had so patiently put together. So Paul had to step in (by letter) and remind them of who they are because of Whose they are.

Epiphany 2017 Pastor Tom Norris
  1/15/2017 The Lamb of God

Last week we looked at the baptism of Jesus and saw how God uses people, sinful people, as the vessels and participants in God’s plan of salvation. Immediately following this moment, John returns to his position of prophet. He is the one who proclaims to the entire world that Jesus is the Messiah. The Lamb of God is the one promised to Abraham when Isaac was spared. The Lamb of God is the one sacrificed so that blood will allow the angel of death to Passover the Israelites. The Lamb of God is Jesus, who fulfills all prophecy.

Epiphany 2017 Pastor Jon Coyne
  1/8/2017 Understanding Our Place in the Kingdom

John the Baptist understood his place in Kingdom of God. He understood that Jesus is the Son of God and that only Jesus could deliver the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. However, at this moment in time, John the Baptist is the vessel of God who participates in God’s plan of redemption. John brings Jesus into the waters of baptism. While Jesus does all of the work, John is the instrument of God. Today we will consider how this is all still true in our lives.

Pastor Jon Coyne
  12/18/2016 Nine Months to a Year

When the angel Gabriel appears to Mary and later when an unnamed angel appears to Joseph, Mary and Joseph have already been engaged for a period of time. While we do not know the period of time, we can make the projection that Mary and Joseph will have almost 9 months to consider the information of the angels after some time (up to about 9 months) of engagement. During the last 6 months prior to Christmas, Mary and Joseph worked through the highs and lows of life, wondered about the proclamation of and hoped for the miracle which was coming. Today we will consider how this still happens in our lives.

Advent 2016 Pastor Jon Coyne
  12/11/2016 “Are You the One or Should We Look for Another?”

John’s question from prison puts the question in stark terms. Either/or. Yes/no. It’s an overarching question that needs answering, but it’s also a very personal question for John. It’s the same in every age. Is Jesus “the One” or should we look for another? But what, then, does Jesus answer mean?

Advent 2016 Pastor Tom Norris
  11/27/2016 Then and Now, A Big Christmas Difference

When Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem, only a few people had heard Jesus would be the long awaited Messiah. Who would have believed the few people who had been told? The shepherds needed an announcement from angels and the Wise Men needed a star. Today we spend weeks preparing for Christmas, but little thought goes toward the fact that one day Jesus will return. Today we will consider how this joyous reality should be part of our celebration and everyday life.

Advent 2016 Pastor Jon Coyne
  11/20/2016 Trust God’s Judgment

It’s hard to “let go and let God.” It’s even harder when it comes to our gifts. We want to know that when we provide service or funding (which is just service in a storable and exchangeable form), that it will accomplish what we want. “But what if ‘they’ don’t use it like ‘we’ want,” we ask. Or, “What if ‘they’ misuse it?” Maybe what we should really be asking is, “Do I trust God’s judgment?”

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  11/13/2016 Lay Up Your Treasures in Heaven

Jesus tells us to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” On the surface this seems like a good idea, but one which is difficult to judge since I do not get a bank statement from heaven. As a short-sighted human being, it is easy for me to lose track of this vision and fall back into an all too familiar pattern of short term investments of treasure. Today we will consider how we enter and leave this world and what happens with the gifts God provides during our time on earth and our time in heaven.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  11/6/2016 God Doesn’t Just Add, He Multiplies

Do you ever think that you may be selling God short—already deciding what he can’t do before there’s been a chance for him to do anything? We learn in today’s lesson that disciples have been doing that since the very beginning. We may only have small gifts to offer, but, God doesn’t just add our efforts together, he multiplies them to fill his larger purposes.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  10/30/2016 Into the 500th Year

As we enter the 500th year since the Reformation and hurtle toward the anniversary itself and the celebrations being planned, there are many times when I wonder if Luther would be happy with the church bodies bearing his name. In fact, the mere naming of the church as Lutheran is one of the things I wonder about. Luther wanted to reform the church – not change the name of the church. We are Christians, called to be one in Christ. Today we will consider what that looks like from God’s point of view.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  10/23/2016 Never Give Up

To live is struggle. From our first breath to our last breath, life is a struggle. There are many philosophical and religious responses to this fundamental truth. It’s a very human thing to think that faith makes life less of a struggle, but that’s not true. In fact it sometimes intensifies the struggles we face. In today’s message, we look at some words of St. Paul’s which reflect his struggle, but also find strength and help and hope.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  10/16/2016 What it Is, What it Was, What it Shall Be

We tend to think about how “God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow,” but we probably think of ourselves in a different light. We tend to think of ourselves as changing, for better or worse, but changing. We hope our generation is more advanced than previous ones. We hope that all of our technology brings a certain intellectual, moral and societal sophistication. The truth is far different and we consistently need the message of the Gospel to save us from the messages of our broken hearts.

Pastor Jon Coyne
  10/9/2016 Faithful to the Faithless

Last week we discussed the struggles associated with forgiveness. Today we will consider the concept that God is faithful even when we are faithless. God is constantly working, through the Holy Spirit, to proclaim Jesus into our hearts and minds. Faith in Jesus is not just an intellectual pursuit, but is an all-encompassing inclusion into God’s presence. Paul uses the analogy of the human body to give us a picture of this connection we have through God’s faithfulness.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  9/25/2016 Do You See?

Right now, social and economic questions are tearing at the fabric of our country. What should be done for the poor and the oppressed? And just who exactly are the poor and the oppressed? In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus tells a parable that addresses the issues we face… and makes them personal. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus teaches the way for his people to think about and think through these issues so that we can act as his disciples.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  9/18/2016 Dishonest or Shrewd

Right after one of the most beloved of Jesus’ parables, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, comes the most befuddling one, the Parable of the Dishonest/Shrewd Manager. Which is he? Dishonest? Shrewd? The word used depends on the translation you’re reading. What in the world is this parable about? Perhaps it depends on how you think about the Kingdom of God that Jesus came preaching.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  9/11/2016 Those Who Get the One

The most interesting part of the parable Jesus tells is found in the question that begins the parable. Because we are not shepherds in first century Jerusalem, the nuance of the question is easily lost on us. Today, we will consider the fact that in the context of the parable, Jesus is the ONLY one who would go after the lost sheep. We will also reflect on how the message of Christ has and continues to permeate society in ways we often do not notice without the lenses of crisis and sacrifice which we remember on the anniversary of 9/11.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  9/4/2016 A Heart for Souls

In order to understand St. Paul’s letter to Philemon, it is necessary to review a few points about society at the time this is written. Onesimus was a slave, who left his master and was subject to severe punishment. Paul was writing from prison and did not have control over the most basic freedoms in his own life. However, in the midst of these things we see an incredible, Gospel centered, letter which is illustrative of how we can and should care for the souls of other people.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  8/28/2016 Live Your Life Differently

Today we will hear two passages where we are encouraged to live our lives in a way that is different than other people. Unfortunately we tend to focus on one part of each passage and miss many of the other parts. In doing so, we dissect the passage and we may miss the true message of living in God’s mercy which allows us to serve others in humility.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  8/21/2016 Live by Faith

Easy to say. Hard to do. That’s what we hear when listening to the author of the letter to the Hebrews discuss what it means to live by faith. He chose some examples of people who were seriously challenged to live by faith in God rather than the “religions” of those around them. In this part of his letter, the author gives courage and hope that no matter how trying our circumstances, we can live by faith.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  8/14/2016 A Cloud of Witnesses, Like Us

When we think about a “cloud of witnesses” it is easy to think that these people are looking at us and condemning us for our sins. This is the problem of guilt. However, this “cloud of witnesses” has experienced the Grace of God and knows the joy of forgiveness. These people witness to Jesus and want us to persevere in life, knowing that we have been forgiven and live in the Grace of God – just like they do.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  8/7/2016 What is Not Seen

God works through things we cannot see more frequently than we can imagine. We are created with senses which allow us to see, hear, feel and smell the creation. However, when it comes to God, we are given faith, which cannot see, hear, touch, or smell until Jesus arrives and puts God in our flesh. Today we will consider how God still uses things we cannot see to bring us peace and joy. We will think about how faith is that which we cannot comprehend without our senses, even as our senses are overjoyed to be in the presence of God through faith.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  7/24/2016 Why Do We Still Do All This?

St. Paul was a lawyer. He had studied the Old Testament law and had used that law to persecute Christians before God called him to know the living Christ. Today Paul shares with us a number of ways to think about the amazing grace of God. We will consider just one of these ideas as we look at the cancellation of our legal debt through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  7/10/2016 Who is “the man?”

When we read this passage and hear the question and the parable which answers the question, our focus is usually on the man we have come to call, “The Good Samaritan.” We prefer to think of ourselves as people who are confronted with opportunities to help, rather than seeing ourselves as people who need help. No one like to feel helpless, which is the condition of “the man.” Today we consider who this person is who, “fell into the hands of robbers.”

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  6/26/2016 Freedom, Part Two: We’ve Been Set Free

Christ has broken the chains that held us under sin, death, and the devil. So now what? It’s the question Christians have faced since the beginning. In today’s message, we learn the contours of the path we walk when we follow Jesus.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  6/12/2016 Sinners are Obvious – What do we do?

It seems everyone in the room knows that the woman who is anointing Jesus is “a sinner.” At the same time, they all assume that Jesus is the ONLY person in the room who does not know she is a sinner. In some ways this is true. While all of the people are focusing on the fact that she is a sinner, Jesus is focusing on the fact that her sins have been forgiven and she is responding to this forgiveness. What do you see when you look at other people? Do you see sinners or people for whom Christ died and rose again to take away their sins?

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  5/29/2016 The Faith of the Centurion

The faith of the centurion, who is not a Jew, allows him to understand that Jesus can do whatever he asks, without ever coming into the home of the centurion and without ever meeting the slave he values so highly. This is a rare and amazing faith which does not need constant affirmation or visual proof. Are we more like the centurion or more like others in our lives? What can we do to be more like the centurion in our faith life?

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  5/22/2016 We Glory in Our Sufferings

By nature, humans try to avoid suffering; yet suffering comes to all. But faith in the Triune God changes the meaning of our suffering. We aren’t suffering because we’re being punished. We aren’t suffering because God doesn’t care. We aren’t suffering because we’re being toyed with. In today’s lesson, St. Paul reminds us that faith changes how we understand our suffering… and gives us hope as we suffer.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  5/16/2016 In Our Own Tongues

So many different angry voices. That’s what we hear in our country and in our world today. People are angry… because they are afraid; because they are self-righteous; because they think those with whom they disagree are either evil or stupid. Today’s lesson points us to a hope that there is One whose Word cuts through the chaos so that even those who speak different languages and hold wildly divergent points of view can hear clearly the Word of God and find a way that leads to peace and hope and eternal life.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  5/8/2016 A Mother’s Prayer, Jesus’ Prayer

Jesus comes so that all people might know the love and forgiveness of God which will lead to heaven. However, Jesus also prays for the unity of all people and for the faith of all people. In many ways this has been the prayer of women who are biologically, socially, and emotionally mothers for the whole world. It is more likely that women pray and when the pray is seems more likely that the prayer is for faith and unity. Jesus provides us with the prayer of and points us to a love which is for all people. Today we will recognize that we honor Jesus when we pray his prayer.

Easter (March 27 - May 8) Pastor Jon Coyne
  5/3/2016 How Does the World Give?

Jesus says, “I do not give to you as the world gives.” This creates the question in our mind, how does the world give? In order to understand this, we should first look at a story of how God gives, the surprising, fulfilling, and amazing ways God gives to us. Then we will be able to understand that this is completely different from the way the world gives.

Pastor Mike Lange
  4/24/2016 What Was The Old Commandment?

Jesus is about to leave his disciples and tells them that he is giving them a new commandment. The commandment seems simple – “love one another”. However, the commandment is not so simple as it seems. What was the old commandment? Was it easier to follow? Today we will consider the old and new commandments to see how Jesus changes everything in our lives.

Easter (March 27 - May 8) Pastor Jon Coyne
  4/17/2016 Christ Would Make Us Believe; We Make Ourselves Doubt

The title for this morning’s message comes from a commentary on John’s Gospel written over 100 years ago. It was true then as today because it is always the case with us weak and doubtful human beings. The reason is this: if Jesus IS the Messiah, if he IS the Good Shepherd, then there is no other, and all others who claim to be so, and all ideas and philosophies that claim otherwise are lies. It’s this exclusive claim of Jesus’ that is the reason we “make ourselves doubt.” We wish there were some other way that fit us better that we could walk, but the Good Shepherd will lead us only in His way because His way alone is the way of life.

Easter (March 27 - May 8) Pastor Jon Coyne
  4/10/2016 Jumping in the Water? Or Dragging in the Fish?

Peter realizes that Jesus is near and gets very excited. He jumps into the water fully clothed and swims away from the boat and the fish in order to see Jesus again. However, the other disciples continued to bring the boat ashore and pulled the fish with them. The fish were ultimately part of breakfast which Jesus has been preparing by making a fire into coals. Today we will consider how God still calls people to different activities and purposes, but how each are important in the Kingdom.

Easter (March 27 - May 8) Pastor Tom Norris
  4/3/2016 Believing in What We See, Along With What We Do Not

Often we feel that we need to be the blessed people who “have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Yet, God provides us with numerous things we CAN see which help us to believe in God. Today we will consider some of the things we can see which not only point us to God, but lead us to the ability to believe in the things we cannot see.

Easter (March 27 - May 8) Pastor Jon Coyne
  3/27/2016 What’s Missing from the Resurrection Stories?

Today we hear again the story of Jesus’ resurrection – the foundation of Christian faith. But there’s something conspicuously missing from all of the resurrection accounts that we unconsciously add to them; and in doing so we may mute the message of the day. Today we’ll consider what is a part of the resurrection accounts – and what isn’t – and find again the central meaning of Jesus’ resurrection.

Easter (March 27 - May 8) Pastor Tom Norris
  3/20/2016 The Holy City, The City of Peace

Today we listen to most of the Passion Week story on the Sunday when we celebrate that Jesus rode into Jerusalem. The story stands in stark contrast with the joy of Palm Sunday. The story also stands in stark contrast with the name Jerusalem. Salem means peace, and while Jerusalem also has a meaning that it was God’s before given to Israel, it still means City of Peace, along with being the Holy City or City of God. Today we will consider how this contrast helps us focus on Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace even has he faces everything opposite of peace.

Easter (March 27 - May 8) Pastor Jon Coyne
  3/13/2016 Generous of Jealous

The generosity of Mary is clear when she uses an expensive gift of perfume to anoint Jesus in response to the raising of her brother Lazarus. In hindsight, we can also see that this anointing is appropriate as the King of kings gives his life as a ransom for all people. However, Judas is jealous of the gift. It is not so much that he wants the perfume poured upon himself. It is either that he wants the money or maybe that he just wants control of the money which is just as good. Today we will look at what it meant to be generous with God rather than jealous of God’s gifts.

Lent ( Feb. 14 - Mar. 13) Pastor Jon Coyne
  3/6/2016 The Prodigal God

It has been a number of years since we read the book, The Prodigal God, together and heard a sermon series on each chapter. However, there are a number of lessons which have been imprinted on my mind since that new reading of this story. Today we will consider the role of each person in the story, but most importantly, the role of God who loves us with an extravagance so great we can never overestimate the love and forgiveness which is available to us in our lives.

Lent ( Feb. 14 - Mar. 13) Pastor Jon Coyne
  2/21/2016 Our Citizenship Is In Heaven

Citizenship matters. Not only does the country to which you belong shape the way you view the world and the way you live, it also distinguishes you from citizens of other countries. In today’s message, we’ll examine what it means that God has made us citizens of heaven.

Lent ( Feb. 14 - Mar. 13) Pastor Tom Norris
  2/14/2016 Confident in Our Speaking

“What is truth?” Pilate asked Jesus. It’s easy to hear the pathos behind Pilate’s words even two millennia later. The powers of this world have always worked to distort the truth, which is simply a euphemism for “lie.” In today’s message we hear St. John’s admonition not to be confused by the many challenges to God’s truth, but to know Him who is light, and to live and proclaim the truth of His word which is the light for our path.

Lent ( Feb. 14 - Mar. 13) Pastor Jon Coyne
  2/7/2016 Are You Ready for Some...Jesus?

Today, Super Bowl 50 will be played just down the road in Santa Clara. Thousands will attend the game, millions will watch on television, and billions of dollars will be made and lost through this singular event. Men will become heroes, hailed for years as champions and most will believe the accolades they receive just as Moses wanted to believe that the glory of God continued to glow in his face. Today we will consider how Jesus is the only hero who lives forever and the only hope we have in this world.

Epiphany (Jan 17. - Feb. 7) Pastor Jon Coyne
  1/31/2016 What Love Is Not

The first three verses of the chapter on love talk about all of the things which seem to be valuable in life, but which really have no value without love. In these brief sentences, Paul is showing how our works, our good deeds, and our accomplishments have no value in comparison to God. Paul is helping us understand that love, or being in Christ – God is love – is the most important aspect of our life. Today we will consider how to focus our lives on God, who is love.

Epiphany (Jan 17. - Feb. 7) Pastor Jon Coyne
  1/24/2016 Synagogues in Galilee

The Gospel of Luke is clear about the concept that Jesus preached in the synagogues which were in the “surrounding country” of Galilee. For many years, archaeologists challenged this statement because they could not find any traces of synagogues in that area. However, God reveals information where and when God chooses. This time, God chose to reveal a synagogue in the area of Galilee just as a catholic priest was trying to finish building a retreat center. Today, we will consider what all of this means to us.

Epiphany (Jan 17. - Feb. 7) Pastor Jon Coyne
  12/27/2015 A Chosen People Has Been Born

When we celebrate Christ’s birth, we also celebrate the birth of the Church, which is the body of Christ. We’re a new and “being renewed” people who are called and empowered to be Christ’s continuing presence in the world.

Christmas (Dec. 25 - Jan. 3) Pastor Tom Norris
  12/20/2015 Mary’s Song in Uncertain Times

The news of late has alternated between absurd, surreal, and horrific. It’s in the context of a greater awareness of political polarization, economic uncertainty, and global violence that we’ll celebrate Christmas this year. It’s good, then, that Mary’s song is a part of our Advent lectionary. She reminds us that what God is up to is always different from what anyone expects.

Advent (Nov. 29 - Dec. 20) Pastor Tom Norris
  12/13/2015 The Peace of God

The Peace of God that passes all understanding is a simple, but also, complex concept. Over the years, especially my years of ministry, I thought I understood this concept. However, this past year has provided new insights to the idea. The message of Jesus to the people of Israel is part of this complex concept. When we are concerned about what we need to do in order to earn eternal life, receive or keep our faith, we are on the wrong track. When we understand that God has done everything for us, we have that peace which God provides.

Advent (Nov. 29 - Dec. 20) Pastor Jon Coyne
  12/6/2015 The Voice

One of the many television shows tasked with finding new vocal talent is called, “The Voice.” That title implies there will be one voice which is better than all others, or which speaks to us better than all others. Today we will hear John the Baptist called “The Voice” by the prophet Isaiah. The interesting thing about a voice, is that it ALWAYS conveys something more important, The Word. Jesus is The Word who was made flesh and who dwelt among us. Today we will consider how The Word sent The Voice to proclaim His coming.

Advent (Nov. 29 - Dec. 20) Pastor Jon Coyne
  11/22/2015 Confident in God’s Love

It all begins with God. It’s true when we consider creation, our salvation, and our life as God’s people. God’s love, writes St. John, had to be revealed to us, and was in Jesus. It was revealed in God’s initiative, not because of any human insight. And God keeps demonstrating His love for us and moving us to share that love with one another.

Pentecost (Nov. 8 - 22) Pastor Jon Coyne
  11/15/2015 Confident through Discernment

In Everlasting Man, G.K. Chesterton wrote: "It was said truly enough that human Christianity in its recurrent weakness was sometimes too much wedded to the powers of the world; but if it was wedded it has very often been widowed." Chasing the spirit of the age in order to find a more culturally acceptable way of following Jesus is a losing game. First, because the spirit of the age soon changes. Second, because it leads away from the Spirit of God. In today’s lesson, St. John reminds us that proper discernment helps lead to confident faith.

Pentecost (Nov. 8 - 22) Pastor Tom Norris
  11/1/2015 Confident through Hope

Loving children, or for that matter, loving anyone is easiest when we are in complete agreement. However, it gets harder when someone goes against our wishes, worse when a person flagrantly disobeys us and rebels, but still it is worse when a person rejects and hates us. God has witnessed the rejection of creation; Jesus would endure death at the hands of the people God loved. Still, that love would rise again to make us children of God and more than we can know. We have confidence in this hope.

All Saint's Day Pastor Jon Coyne
  10/25/2015 Confident through Faithful Living

St. John’s words in today’s lesson remind us that it’s a more difficult thing to live one’s faith than to simply say one believes. As the saying goes, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” So to, the proof of our faith is in the living. What makes for a confident faith that endures through the difficulties? The living of it, especially when it calls us to do things we’d rather not.

Reformation Pastor Tom Norris
  10/18/2015 Confident in Our Speaking

“What is truth?” Pilate asked Jesus. It’s easy to hear the pathos behind Pilate’s words even two millennia later. The powers of this world have always worked to distort the truth, which is simply a euphemism for “lie.” In today’s message we hear St. John’s admonition not to be confused by the many challenges to God’s truth, but to know Him who is light, and to live and proclaim the truth of His word which is the light for our path.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Tom Norris
  10/11/2015 Confident in Fellowship

Most of the time we think of our fellowship as just the people who attend church at Bethany Lutheran. Sometimes we think about the other Lutheran churches and occasionally we might think about other Christians. However, we are connected into a fellowship with Jesus Christ, which also connects us to all believers for all time. This means we are in fellowship with the Israelites, those who believed in God prior to Abraham, and all who have come to faith in Christ for all time. What does this mean for our lives? Today we will consider the benefit of our confidence through fellowship.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
  10/4/2015 Confident in Christ

This passage from the Gospel of John is often read at funerals and memorial services because it provides hope in the midst of great sorrow. Today we will consider how this passage also creates confidence for us in our life, not just in the time of death. When we know Jesus, we know the Father. When we know the Father, we know the way to heaven. When we have the gift of heaven, we can be confident in this life and the next.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
  9/27/2015 Standing Firm in Jesus the Messiah

The word Satan means the deceiver. The greatest deception, the one Satan wants for all of us, is to take our focus away from Jesus, the Messiah, in order to follow anything or anyone else. There are constantly people in the world who are attempting to create a following for themselves. A few people have even created very large followings. The attraction of “recent Messiahs” is a real temptation, but we will see how Jesus is the only true Messiah, providing us with “words that will never pass away.”

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
  9/27/2015 Standing Firm in Jesus the Messiah

The word Satan means the deceiver. The greatest deception, the one Satan wants for all of us, is to take our focus away from Jesus, the Messiah, in order to follow anything or anyone else. There are constantly people in the world who are attempting to create a following for themselves. A few people have even created very large followings. The attraction of “recent Messiahs” is a real temptation, but we will see how Jesus is the only true Messiah, providing us with “words that will never pass away.”

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
  9/20/2015 Standing Firm in Love

The words from St. Paul that are in today’s lesson are very popular. They’re frequently used in weddings. We like what they have to say about love. But there’s one phrase in there that bears special examination; love, St. Paul admonishes, is not selfish.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Tom Norris
  9/13/2015 Stand Firm in the Peace of Contentment

“Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Being God’s “present people” takes on new meaning when we realize that Jesus was the one who spoke these words of truth about “each day.” We tend to worry about the future and live in regret about missed opportunities and mistakes of the past. Similarly, we are constantly confronted with temptation to chase after the things we think will make our lives better. Today, we will look at the contentment which is provided through faith in Jesus.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Tom Norris
  9/6/2015 Standing Firm in Thoughtful Faith

It’s all in the title today. Standing firm has little meaning unless there is a reason to stand firm. A thoughtful faith is one ready to explore the realities of this world while applying the truths of scripture to those realities. We stand firm against the concept of little understanding. St. Paul was caught in a situation where some of his people had little understanding and challenged him because of their limited understanding. Today we will consider how God has provided us with the One resource necessary to combat this problem.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
  8/23/2015 Standing Firm in Peace

Patience is usually defined as “an ability to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.” In this context, most of us find that we have moments of impatience, but it is not a time of great concern. However, the first meaning of the word is, “the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation or the like.” In the parable of the sower, Jesus helps us understand that there are “annoyances” and “provocations” of life which will try to negatively impact our faith. Today we will consider how to be patient in the Lord.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
  8/16/2015 Christian

What does it mean to be a “Christian?” Is it someone who belongs to a church? Someone who tries to live a good life? From Jesus’ own teaching, and from the earliest days of the church, it meant one thing: one who follows Jesus.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Tom Norris
  8/2/2015 Church

In our culture, the word “church” is first understood either as a building or an institution. But if you asked one of the earliest Christians to tell you about their church, they would have started talking to you about the other people who gathered with them to worship the risen Christ.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
  7/26/2015 Submit

“Submission” is one of those words we Westerners have a difficult time with. The idea of submitting to someone else’s will goes against the grain of our individualist ideal. But the truth is that we all submit to both other people and to ideas that we did not necessarily choose. Christian faith calls us to submit first to the gracious Christ in order to properly enter into other relationships and to evaluate the world’s ideas and philosophies.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
7/19/2015 Confess

Christian worship services regularly include a “Confession.” Well, actually, they include two. They include a confession of sins and a confession of faith… weird? Only unless you understand what the word means: “I agree.”

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Tom Norris
7/12/2015 Saved

“Are you saved?” The question might be meant innocently enough, but there’s something about it that seems… judgmental. It seems to wonder if we’re really good enough for God. But “saved” in the Bible is the opposite of a judgmental word. It identifies Christ’s selfless rescue of humanity by his life, death, resurrection, and ascension.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
6/28/2015 "Hell"

Medieval art notwithstanding, the biblical understanding of “hell” doesn’t imagine demons with pitchforks and other implements of torture causing people to be forever in physical pain. While hell is real, it’s not so much a place to which we might be consigned for eternal pain because of our failure. Rather, it’s existence without hope and without God’s mercy… and it can be found here and now.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
6/14/2015 Sin

There may not be a word worse understood than “sin.” Today it’s often viewed as an ancient concept that we’ve outgrown, or a simply personal matter between an individual and his/her conscience, or even a word used by the powerful to keep others in line. But the word “sin” recognized an important aspect of being human. It points to a rupture in our relationship with God that warps not just what we do, but who we are.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Tom Norris
6/7/2015 Word

Our ears are filled with words every day. Some of those words are important or helpful. Many are unimportant or irrelevant. Others are downright wrong or a lie. IF we’re going to use words to communicate our faith in God, those words need to be used in the way they’re intended… and they need to be rooted in the One who is the Word of God: Jesus.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
5/31/2015 To Believe

More than any other scripture passage, John 3:16 is flashed, memorized, posterized (not a word except to basketball fans), and repeated in the media, in church, and in our minds. The brief passage hinges on two concepts: God’s love and our belief or faith. Today we will consider what it means to believe. We will think about what it means to have faith that only God can give to us. We will consider also the words of a parent in Mark 9, who is confronted with his sick son meeting God’s Son, and proclaims, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
5/24/2015 The Spirit of Truth

Jesus tells his disciples and all of us “it is to your advantage that I go away…” I have never been able to automatically and naturally assent to that statement. Having Jesus around, every day, seems like a pretty good deal and a great way to live my life. Clearly, the disciples were not happy about the prospect of Jesus leaving. How many times do we think we know what is best in our lives, think we know the right path, think we are unhappy, disappointed, or angry when really God has a plan for us and “it is to our advantage” that God is in charge of the plan?

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
5/17/2015 Not of this World

It is never easy to feel isolated or distanced from other people. There is a deep human need to be accepted and feel integrated into the culture of friends and neighbors. At the same time, there is a spiritual battle which rages in our world. Satan wants all people to be separated from God and will use any means possible to accomplish this goal. In contrast, God will only use love, the sacrificial gift of Jesus Christ, to accomplish the goal of bringing all people in the Kingdom of Heaven. Today we will consider the importance of this goal and how Jesus enlightens us through prayer.

Easter Pastor Jon Coyne
5/10/2015 A Radically Inclusive God

When God created the world, all people were included in the Kingdom. After the flood, all people were included in the Kingdom. It was not until the time of Abraham that God chose a people so that Jesus could come into the world through that people group. It was a covenant God made and God would keep even when God’s people did not keep the covenant. It should not surprise us that when Jesus came, salvation was for all people. The basics need to be preached and comprehended over and over. Today we will consider a basic teaching of inclusivity as shared by St. Peter.

Easter Pastor Jon Coyne
5/3/2015 Strange Love

As much as people talk about love these days, there seems to be little of it. From all the things said and done in the name of love, one might get the impression that many don’t really have a helpful understanding of what love is. In today’s lesson, our understanding of love gets (re)grounded in God and reshaped by the tough, sacrificial, and life-giving love we witness in Jesus.

Easter Pastor Jon Coyne
4/26/2015 Love in Truth and Action

John makes a clear distinction between two types of love. He states, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech but in truth and action.” There are so many ways we can talk about love, make speeches about love, and even tell stories about love. However, the kind of love we bring as Christians is the kind of love that comes from following Jesus. Christ loved people who were hurting, distressed, and isolated from others because they were not loved by most people. Today we will consider how we are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Easter Pastor Jon Coyne
4/19/2015 Revealed in the Breaking of the Bread

Anything we do frequently can be done unconsciously. It can happen, too, with Holy Communion. The story of two disciples on the road to Emmaus who are joined by Jesus helps us to keep our eyes open when the bread is broken and given for us so that we can see Jesus and gain greater insight into the life he shares with us.

Easter Pastor Tom Norris
4/12/2015 Resurrection Response

The response of the disciples and others who followed Jesus was significant in the days, weeks, months, and years following the death and resurrection of our Savior. We could spend years debating whether or not the financial decisions and social structure of these early Christians was the best. We could argue about what it means that there was “great grace” or what their testimony was like. However, today we will consider the resurrection response in light of Easter. For our response as the redeemed in Christ had been, and always will be, needed in the world.

Easter Pastor Jon Coyne
4/5/2015 Daring to Hope

The words of today’s Gospel lesson are the original ending to Mark’s Gospel. And an unusual ending it is. As one commentator put it, Mark doesn’t really seem to finish the Gospel, he just stops. On this Easter Sunday, we’ll examine Mark’s story of reaction to the resurrection and find that it gives us much reason to dare to hope in Christ in the face of doubt and uncertainty.

Easter Pastor Tom Norris
3/29/2015 God’s Circle of Life

Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem, whether he wanted this or not, as a conquering hero and a king. He was lifted up so that even his beast of burden would not be walking on the ground, but on the palms and cloaks of the people who adored Jesus. Knowing the reality of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, it must have been difficult for Jesus to participate in this human reception, which would fall apart when he is later put to death. Still, Jesus also knows that the true procession of the king will happen at Easter when he is raised by God, bringing us with Him into glory.

Palm Sunday (March 29, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
3/22/2015 A Troubled Soul Responds…Mercifully

When Jesus says, “Now my soul is troubled,” we might be tempted to skip over this part of the Bible as quickly as possible. We want to think of Jesus as confident and secure. We want him to be a fearless leader. We want Jesus to show power more than compassion. However, there are good reasons for Jesus to feel troubled for creation. Helping the disciples and followers understand his journey is both important and impossible. They cannot accept the path of Jesus until after it has happened, yet their eternal lives rest in the reality of a journey only Jesus can see and accept.

Lent (February 22 - March 22) Pastor Jon Coyne
3/15/2015 Solve for n

Many people today have difficulty with the Christian teaching that Jesus is the way to salvation and life with God. After all, they reason there are many other religions in the world, and it seems arrogant to claim that Christians have some special access to God prohibited to adherents of other religions. Today’s Gospel lesson, a foundational text regarding God’s love and salvation, helps to answer that charge, and shows a hope for all people beyond any expectation.

Lent (February 22 - March 22) Pastor Tom Norris
3/8/2015 Garuna Foundation

Today we are blessed to welcome Rev. Jeff Ehlers, who is the founder of The Garuna Foundation. Garuna means Grace, Mercy, and Compassion in the Thai and Khmer languages. The mission of the Garuna Foundation is to support and encourage, through prayer and financial assistance, the proclamation of the grace, mercy and compassion (garuna) of Jesus Christ to the peoples of Thailand, Cambodia and surrounding countries.

Lent (February 22 - March 22) Pastor Jon Coyne
3/1/2015 Theology or Anthropology

In Lent, we return to the foundations of Christian faith... its either/or’s. In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus states a stark either/or with which his disciples always struggle. It’s either the cross or no salvation. It’s either theology or anthropology.

Lent (February 22 - March 22) Pastor Tom Norris
2/22/2015 He Descended Into Hell

Peter tells us much about the death of Jesus and the impact of his death to bring us life. Peter writes, “He went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah…” Today we will look at this passage, which we confess each week in the creed and consider what it means in light of the promise God made to Noah and to all people after the flood.

Lent (February 22 - March 22) Pastor Jon Coyne
2/15/2015 Tough Questions

What about those who don’t know or don’t follow Jesus? That isn’t just a question that challenges the church today. It has challenged the church since its very beginning. How Christians think about and address that question is developed from how they think about what’s going on in “the world” and how Jesus is at work. Paul’s words from this passage provide a helpful way.

Epiphany (January 6 - February 15 Pastor Tom Norris
2/8/2015 Why Pray?

Jesus has the power to heal the sick and the word spreads so quickly that the whole city ends up gathered around the door of the house so that people can see Jesus. This is more than just an impressive power. This is the power of God, to heal a broken world, to take away sin and to end the consequences of sin. With all of this power, why does Jesus go off to pray? Today we will consider why prayer is important in our lives and how Jesus models this in his.

Epiphany (January 6 - February 15 Pastor Jon Coyne
2/1/2015 Responsible Freedom in Christ

Our faith in Jesus creates freedom we have from sin and freedom we have to know that God has provided for all aspects of our lives. At the time of St. Paul, there were people who wanted to shut down the freedoms we have in Christ and there were people who wanted to exploit those freedoms to the point they were harming others. Today, we will explore how those two problems still exist. There are people who deny Christianity because Christians are not perfect. Similarly, there are people who lose their way because they think Christians are sinning in their freedom.

Epiphany (January 6 - February 15 Pastor Jon Coyne
1/18/2015 Come and See

How can we grow deeper in faith? How is it that we can invite others to get to know Jesus in a winsome way? In the first account of someone inviting another to meet Jesus, we find a template for growing in faith and for inviting others to meet and to know Jesus. To a skeptical Nathanael, Philip offers this invitation: “Come and See.”

Epiphany (January 6 - February 15 Pastor Tom Norris
12/14/2014 Sanctified

The earliest letter we have from Paul, 1 Thessalonians, was written before 50 to a church that Paul founded in what is now northern Greece. Paul calls the Christians in Thessalonica, a provincial capital in the Roman Empire, to be ready for the coming of Christ, despite civic resistance. Today's selection, part of the letter's conclusion, helps us gain a healthier understanding of what it means to be sanctified.

Advent Pastor Tom Norris
12/7/2014 One Important Fact

St. Peter provides an interesting fact, which he wants us to remember. God is outside of time and space as we understand these concepts. It is interesting to note that human beings have often tried to put God back into our constraints of time in order to make this passage serve our human needs. The truth is that Isaiah helps us understand how God is in control of all things: God controls time, space, and all of creation. In this way God can bring about God’s own purpose which is salvation for all people.

Advent Pastor Jon Coyne
11/23/2014 We Will All Question, See God in the Creation

The climax of numerous stories about the end of days comes with Jesus describing the separating of the sheep and goats (the saved and unsaved). In this story, we are once again confronted with the importance of God’s Grace, which overwhelms any feeble attempts to earn heaven. However, we are also confronted with the fact that we need to see God in all of Creation and respond accordingly.

Pentecost (June 22 - November 23, 2014) Pastor Jon Coyne
11/16/2014 Harsh Master? Not Really!

Jesus tells a story ending with a slave who is thrown “into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.” It may seem incongruent with our vision of God as the loving and caring God who sent his Son to die for us. Yet, the message of Jesus is one that needs to be understood as a strong concern for those who have rejected God’s love and particularly the people of Israel who are rejecting Jesus.

Pentecost (June 22 - November 23, 2014) Pastor Jon Coyne
11/9/2014 The Coming of the Lord

We humans get very concerned about “The End Times.” It’s the subject of popular apocalyptic television and movies. It’s such a reliable anxiety that many have used it to bilk the fearful out of their life savings and disrupt their lives. But the Bible says one thing very clearly: the coming of the Lord will be cause for great joy!

Pentecost (June 22 - November 23, 2014) Pastor Tom Norris
11/2/2014 God's Word at Work

Martin Luther once said that since the Christian is really and fully forgiven, the only one place where we are vulnerable to the attack of our enemy is in our conscience… to make us doubt. Our sins can no longer keep us from life with God because they’ve been forgiven. But doubt about God’s word tries to weasel its way into our minds. In today’s lesson, St. Paul reminds us that we need not doubt because the word is at work in us.

All Saints' Day Pastor Tom Norris
10/26/2014 Only Jesus Sets Us Free

It may seem overused to say only Jesus set us free, but there are so many ways we can be fooled into believing that we have power to create our own salvation. While this was a great problem in the time of Luther, the form of the problem has changed over the centuries. What do we have in common with the Israelites of Jesus’ time and the church leaders at the time of Luther? More importantly how do we keep our focus on the one who truly has power to give us and ensure our salvation?

Reformation Pastor Jon Coyne
10/19/2014 What We Give to God

I wonder if it was easier when people were giving animals, crops, and similar gifts to God in the temple. However, I realize that the problems faced by Cain and Abel, which later are used to create a trap for Jesus, are still the problems of our sin as we try to possess what God has created. Today we will consider our gifts to God as we work through the question, “What will we give God?”

Pentecost (June 22 - November 23, 2014) Pastor Jon Coyne
10/12/2014 A Reason to Rejoice

Economic uncertainty, political polarization at home, crises around the globe, and our own personal troubles. All of these can combine to make us anxious, fearful and depressed. But St. Paul reminds us that Christian faith has a fundamentally joyful way of understanding and living in God’s world.

Pentecost (June 22 - November 23, 2014) Pastor Tom Norris
9/28/2014 Faith Expressed in Deeds

Hype. Hype is what you need in order to make people believe you are doing great and wonderful things when really you are not doing much at all. Hype is at the center of the statement, “Actions speak louder than words,” because we have all known people who say the right things and act differently. As Christians, we can easily be caught up in the act of saying the right words in church and living the wrong life outside of church. Today we will consider how our faith needs to be expressed in our deeds as a response to God’s Love.

Pentecost (June 22 - November 23, 2014) Pastor Jon Coyne
9/21/2014 Why Couldn’t Inspector Javert Just Let It Go

Sunday, September 21, 2014 – If you’re familiar with Les Miserables, Victor Hugo’s novel which was recently turned into a Broadway play and Hollywood movie, you’ll no doubt remember that Inspector Javert was obsessed with re-incarcerating Jean Valjean. But why? Why couldn’t he just let it go? The problem of the day-long-laborers in today’s Gospel lesson helps us to understand both Javert… and ourselves.

Pentecost (June 22 - November 23, 2014) Pastor Tom Norris
9/14/2014 The Struggle to Forgive as Jesus Does

The Struggle to Forgive as Jesus Does (Matthew 18:21-35) Forgiving other people is one of the hardest things to do in life. When we have been harmed by other people, we feel not just a right for vindication, but a subconscious drive to complete both vindication and punishment for the person who caused the harm. It is easy to question the logic of Jesus when God claims to forgive as the King does in our story. When we think about the response of the slaves, the ones who were forgiven and the one who was not, we can begin to see that the logic of this world pales in comparison to the logic of Jesus, especially when it comes to forgiveness.

Pentecost (June 22 - November 23, 2014) Pastor Jon Coyne
9/7/2014 Confront Sin and Forgive

Confront Sin and Forgive (Matthew 18:15-22) Your bulletin only shows Matthew 18:15-20 as the text for the day. I have long wondered why we cut off the text at that point and push the next two verses into the next week. I understand that the next two verses introduce a parable from Jesus. However, I also understand that these two verses are the logical question of Peter and the compassionate answer of Jesus after hearing the initial statement from Jesus. Today we will consider what it means to confront sin and more importantly what it means to forgive with great frequency.

Pentecost (June 22 - November 23, 2014) Pastor Jon Coyne
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