Jun 2014 - "Life in the Spirit" sermon series

Life in the Spirit sermon series
Four sermons, four weeks, three sites.


Joy, Inc. - Dan will interview Rich Sheridan about his book and how Rich’s Christian faith plays itself out in the work place. We want to do this at all three sites. The Rich and Dan interview will be about living out your Christian faith not only in your work place but through your vocation.

June is also Pentecost month, and Justin has a Pentecost sermon he can take on the road (and may be preaching it at the Wiki Conference in September—don’t tell!)

Justin worked with David Maier to put together the sermon and worship for the theological conference. Since we have that Salt and Light sermon (and service) put together already, and David is preaching on June 1 at the Chapel, it should be easy enough to pass on notes and even a manuscript to use that same theme for the two other guest preachers

Filled Up and Overflowing is a Pentecost sermon about the Holy Spirit being poured out on us, about being oriented toward the pouring so it doesn’t just spill all over the ground, and the difference between living always running back to the tap and having a  spring f living water that allows you to be full even when you are filling others.

Salt and Light is about our relationship to our culture and the tension in living a Christian life in a secular world and FOR a secular word.

Gifts and Fruit will be a sermon on the Christian walk, keeping in step with the Spirit, and the way both gifts and fruit show up in our live (what’s the difference and why does it matter?


May 25 - Choose Your Own Adventure

Each site will plan and execute their own worship plan. 

SLAA will hold the installation for Pastor Matt at one service @ 10A. 


May 11/18 - Good Shepherd Sunday


May 11, SLAA confirmation, Good Shepherd Sunday at ULC; LW 

May 18, LW confirmation, Good Shepherd Sunday at SLAA; ULC something referring to Confirmation of faith. 


May 11/18 - Confirmation Sunday


May 11, SLAA confirmation, Good Shepherd Sunday at ULC; LW 

May 18, LW confirmation, Good Shepherd Sunday at SLAA; ULC something referring to Confirmation of faith. 


May 04 - On the Road Again

On the Road Again
Text: Luke 24:13-36
Goal: That the hearers share the story of Jesus as they return to places of doubt
Date: Sunday, May 4, 2014

[Introduction—set up theme of story and how story ties people together]

Do you have a “family story”?  You know what I’m talking about—one of those tales that has become just a punch line because everyone has heard the joke a million times.  They are humorous short cuts, stories told again and again over the years, jokes that bind people together across generations.

So do you have a “family story” you could recount, an anecdote that gets told every major holiday and family get-together?  You probably have a few.  And you know when you’ve finally become a part of a team or a community or a family when you can laugh with the rest when someone, once again, brings up the time Bill made potato soup with powder sugar instead of flour, or the time two dogs ran up the center aisle in the middle of one of Grandpa’s sermons.

[Do what you are talking about: share a story that is part of the standard fare for your family or small group or team. This one’s mine: get your own.]

One of the many family stories around our house comes from my second or third Easter.  We were doing the traditional Rossow Easter Egg Hunt at Grandma and Grandpa’s farmhouse.  I was walking and talking, very excitable and as gullible as only young children can be.

Enter my Uncle David.  Dave hid one of the colorful Easter Eggs for little Justin in a bucket in the broom closet.  The bucket “somehow” got filled with cold water as well.

So there I was, in my little Easter knickers running around the house, bouncing off the walls.  The big people were all making a big fuss over the eggs and I was beside myself with youthful joy.  That’s when I was encouraged and cheered on to opening the closet door . . .

And then I saw it.  The still water acted like a magnifying glass, so my tender young eyes beheld the largest Easter Egg they had ever seen.  The crowd cheered.  I leapt forward.  With a lunge from the waist, I reached down into the bucket for the mother of all eggs . . .

The splash soaked my little dress shirt.  It soaked my clip-on tie.  It soaked my matching knickers.  It drenched my little hopes and shocked me to tears.

My Uncle contends to this day that he never meant to make me cry and he felt very guilty about it at the time.  But he can’t tell the story without smiling—and he WILL tell the story. Every year.

That’s one of our family stories.  By tradition, it must be alluded to whenever the topic of Easter egg hunts comes up.  Being a part of the Rossow clan means knowing that story.

[Even better if you can show someone using the story in a way that makes them an insider.]

I remember, early in our marriage, Miriam proved she had become part of the family.  We were doing an egg hunt with Grandma and Grandpa Rossow, and the notorious Uncle Dave and Aunt Nancy and their family.  When Dave found an egg in the bottom of an empty flower vase, Miriam turned to him with a wry smile and said rather dryly, “Too bad there wasn’t any water in it.”  The ensuing snorts and giggles at the inside joke again proved Miriam was an insider: she had truly become a part of our family.

[Turn toward the Text]

Stories have a special was of binding people together.  Good or bad, by relating our own personal history and experience, we find meaning and a way of sharing our lives with other people.

Just look at what the two disciples were doing on the road from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus:  “They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.”  They were telling and retelling their story.

In this time of disappointment, despair and disbelief, these two disciples were trying to make sense of it all.  Our text says they were discussing the events surrounding Jesus of Nazareth.
Listen again to their account of the story: 

 “Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?"  [19] And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,  [20] and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.  [21] But 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 happened.  [22] Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning,  [23] and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.  [24] Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see."”

The Emmaus disciples were walking away from a confusing situation, a time of crisis and grief.  Life had thrown them a curveball and they couldn’t see how God could possibly be working in this situation.  

They are going back to Emmaus, but I imagine them troubled and preoccupied.  Things weren’t working out the way they thought.  Their future was suddenly insecure.  The road had taken a sudden and frightening turn.  Their life was not progressing the way they had planned.  They were headed to Emmaus, but they were going nowhere.

Does that sound at all familiar?  What kind of situation did you walk away from to come to worship this week?  These disciples left a troubled Jerusalem.  Did you come from a troubled work place?  Do you have stress in your family relationships?  Are you coming from a hospital or a nursing home?  Has your road taken a sudden turn you didn’t expect?  Do you feel like you don’t know where you are headed?  Are you having trouble making sense out of your life?  Is it hard to understand how God could possibly be working right now?

Then listen to what happens to your fellow travelers, these men on the road to Emmaus:
“While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.”

“Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” 

“He went in to stay with them.  [30] When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.  [31] And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.”

In their hour of confusion and doubt, Jesus Himself meets them on the road. Jesus journeys with them, He incorporates them into the Easter story, to help them understand, to strengthen their faith, to give them Himself.

And how does Jesus bring these two travelers into His story?  He opens the Scriptures to them.  Then he breaks bread with them.  That’s when their eyes are opened.

And then something really amazing happens.  Even though they had just finished the journey, even though it was dark outside and they didn’t have streetlights or taxicabs, even though they had just come from Jerusalem, these two disciples get back on the road.  

They went back to their place of confusion and despair because they had been changed.  Jesus had opened the Scriptures to them.  Jesus had broken bread with them.  Their story had been swallowed up in Jesus’ story.  

Their hearts burned within them and they had to get back, back to the confusion, back to the stress, back to the loneliness and the despair—back to where people needed to hear that Jesus is alive!

But it doesn’t stop there!  Then comes the best part of the story!  The Emmaus disciples get back to Jerusalem, they share the Story of Jesus, the Story that has now become their own story, and Jesus Himself shows up!

“Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you!"”

The Emmaus disciples left a place of stress and confusion and despair.  Jesus came to them in Word and Sacrament and changed their story into His Story.  The disciples took that story back to the same exact place of confusion and despair, and Jesus shows up!  
As they told their story, as they shared His story, Jesus himself came and said, “Peace be with you.”

[I have another family story that has to do with my Dad’s first day as a teacher at St. Paul in Flint. It serves to reinforce the family story idea and emphasizes the calling for each of us in our lives to point people to Jesus. I am not even going to write this one out for you; you might steal it …]

“Show them Jesus!”  family story.

You have come to worship from a wide range of homes and work places.  You are each facing your own problems, stresses, sins, pains, confusions, doubts, fears.  But you have come where the story of Jesus interests with your life.  Jesus is here in His Word.  Jesus is here in the breaking of the bread.  He is here to forgive your sins and strengthen your faith.  His story changes your story.

But you don’t leave Jesus behind when you exit the sanctuary. Like the Emmaus disciples, Jesus find you on the road. Jesus journeys with into your week. Jesus walks with you down that road and listens, and opens scripture, and swallows your story up in His.

So you can go back to that stressful situation at home, you can go back to those problems at work, you can go back to the uncertainty of the hospital or nursing home because Christ is Risen!  

His story changes your story.  And as you take His story with you back to those exact same places of confusion and despair, He promises to be there with you, too.  Jesus shows up to say, “Peace be with you.”  



May 2014

May 04, Road to Emmaus 

May 11, SL confirmation, Good Shepherd Sunday at other two sites 

May 18, LW confirmation, Good Shepherd Sunday at SL 

May 25, stand alone service at the three sites as a transition to the Pentecost service: SLAA will hold one service at 10A and hold the Installation of Pastor Matt Hein. [It is also Memorial Day weekend.] 


Apr 27 "Season of the Cross" - Celtic Cross [Easter 2]

Celtic Cross: different theories behind origins, but focus on circles as rising sun and symbol of eternity.
Jesus resurrection is related to both.

Luke 1:67-79
Zechariah’s song points to the rising of the sun and the completion of God’s promises. Christmas/Easter connection. 

And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

John 20:19-31
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

There is a great variety of ideas about the meaning of circle on the Celtic cross.  These include, in no particular order:  

It represents a halo.
A circle represents eternity, it has no end.
God's endless love.
Symbol of Sun or Moon in pagan worship. Over written by the cross.
Strengthens the cross physically. Think simple mechanics or as an analogy.
Christ's death on the cross and resurrection stretches through all time.
Jesus Christ, Yesterday, Today and Forever. (Merry Christmas, He is risen!)
An unending gift.
An unending mystery
The circle is the sun gives light, The Son the true light.
Christ over sun worship.
Never ending sunrise.
There is a story of St. Patrick making the symbol of a cross over a pagan symbol of a circle. (“Baptizing” the pagan symbol?) He certainly was one to turn Druid priests into Christian priests.  

I mention these. In part, because you might want to use some of them when discussing the Celtic Cross. I am not sure yet how I will put it all together. The themes that stand out to me are: the circle having no end, God having no end, eternity, it is always sun rise (or Son rise). This expands to: Easter is not a day, but the way we live. I think that main thing that I want to accomplish is to help people spend a little more time being aware of the Holy, while living in the mundane. Recognizing that we have three areas that we deal with: Sin - Mundane – Holy.  We think of God in the holy, not in the sin, but all to often forget that He is also in what we might think of as the mundane. Perhaps a title like: It is still Easter or Everyday Easter or It is always Easter.

I'm thinking of beginning like this:

This is our last week to be looking at different crosses. This series is over, and it is fitting, because Easter is over as well. We had Lent, forty days worth, and now Easter is done. Except for maybe a few headless chocolate rabbits and stray green cellophane grass. So finish the chocolate rabbit, put away the Easter Baskets. It is all done. Right?

OK, maybe not quite. OK, maybe not at all. Among other things, we are now into the Easter season in our liturgical calendar. Seven Sundays of Easter, up to Pentecost. So it is still Easter, even without Easter baskets.  

But of course, beyond that, Christ's Death and Resurrection stretches throughout all time. It isn't a day, a week, seven weeks, a year, a life time, it is forever.  Easter is never over.

The cross that we are looking at today is called a Celtic Cross. It's exact origins are a bit foggy. We know that they have been around for at least a millennium and a half.  

Then look at the Celtic Cross. Reminder of the Death and Resurrection and what is means. The circle has no end or beginning. The impact of the D & R spans all time.  

It is still Easter. He is risen!

The significance of the circle has been conjectured, but can't be truly known.  That's OK. The purpose of the symbol to to remind us of truths.  

Mundane - Strengthen the arms of the cross - We are strengthened by...

Perhaps St. Patrick really did take a pagan symbol of the sun or moon and overwrite it with a cross. He certainly was one to co-opt pagan things for Christianity, including turning Druid Priests into Christian Priests. But the rising sun and the risen Son certainly go together.

Both give light.

The sun in the sky was put there to give us light and life. Like all of creation, not to be worshiped, but to point us to the Lord. Christ is the true light. Perhaps we could say that it is always sun rise.

Weaving the theme of continuous Easter with the idea that it is always sun rise.  (Zechariah's prophesy used the sun rise image.)

The finite and the temporal through the lens of eternity. We don't have an end, all this is a beginning. Everything is “baptized”, everything is done under the sunrise.  

I might try something like, “Merry Christmas, He is Risen” or other ways to emphasize Christ's resurrection embedded in everything.

We live in the mundane and forget that God is there. He is present, but we often have trouble seeing him.  

Perhaps the analogy of not hearing one particular sound, because of all the back ground noise. Even if a particular noise is very loud, if we don't listen for it, it can get lost.

A light might be very noticeable when there is only one, but when there are lights everywhere, it is easy to miss the important one. 

I was working on a 1000 piece puzzle and was having a hard time. It was of trains, it should have been fun. But  I was lost in the chaos of the scattered pieces. I needed to pause, get a new perspective, look for patterns, clues and suddenly, the puzzle was almost doing itself. I needed to step back and not be lost in the “noise”. 

Much of life can be like that.  Busyness. It is so easy to lose focus. I forget that God is in all of our life. The power of His resurrection changed our world and changes even the most mundane details of our lives.

Some times we can help each other remember what we forget when we are dealing with day to day challenges.

This week I was at work, caught up in multiple aggravations of the day. Someone asked me how I was doing, and I said something about the alligators in the swamp. Instead of asking about the alligators, they asked me about my family, etc. Very quickly I was talking about the blessings in my life and God was more obviously present to me. Same situation. I still had the alligators. But I could be a bit more aware of God's presence and light.  

Easter doesn't have an ending, it signifies what is for us a beginning. A beginning without ending. An ongoing sunrise. Pre-modern people were more in touch with the natural world and needed the sunrise. We all to often never see it or perhaps dislike the glare on our windshield on the way to work. But with out the real sun rise...Without the Son rise...

The excitement of Easter Sunday might be over. The candy eaten, the relatives gone home. But Easter continues, filling our life and permeating our very being.