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Leaven

Written by Pastor Aaron Decker on Sunday, 30 July 2017 09:29.

Eighth Sunday After Pentecost (17-A) - Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

July is at a close, and for me, it’s been a weird month. I’ve been wapping things up and passing information on, having council retreats, personnel team conversations, an interview for the local paper, meeting about the bulletins and church website and youth ministry of these past years. Last shut-in visits, worship planning, ice cream with friends. The stress of the sad things I’ve been doing and the joyful things both has brought the disease of depression to the door after months of absence, but I’m coping. Today is my last Sunday preaching at Christ Lutheran, though I will of course be preaching twice in August at First Congregational in West Boylston, so it’s not really a last Sunday…? It’s been a weird month. And that was before I was summoned for jury duty.

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Pie Charts

Written by Pastor Aaron Decker on Sunday, 16 July 2017 18:32.

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (A) - Isaiah 55:10-13; Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Usually, when Jesus tells a story, we are left on our own to figure out what he means. Today’s story, though, is a notable exception. Jesus gives his own sermon on his parable. And I was thinking, “How can I improve on Jesus?” It’s not really possible. He’s already given his sermon, so you don’t really need one from me. But then, I thought: Visual aids! So I made a pie chart.

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What Should We Be Afraid Of?

Written by Pastor Dan Wilfrid on Sunday, 25 June 2017 13:29.

Pentecost 3 (A)    Matthew 10:24-39

It seems to me that a good way to summarize the message of today’s rather challenging Bible readings is with the words “Get your priorities straight!” Jesus certainly seems to be saying that to his disciples, and through Jesus’ words, Matthew was clearly saying that to his late-first century congregation, so I guess I’ll just say it to you: “Get your priorities straight!”

Only what I mean by that is perhaps not what you think I mean, because whenever Pastors say “Get your priorities straight!” to their congregations, we’re usually talking about things like giving priority to being at church instead of at one of the host of other things that compete for your time and attention, or urging you to offer your time or talent or money to support the church’s work instead of spending it on the host of other things that compete for those precious and limited resources.

And while those things are important and getting and keeping those priorities straight truly does matter, they are not the priorities that today’s readings call us to straighten out. Today, we’re specifically challenged to prioritize our fears – to sort out what is worth worrying about, and what is not, and among those things that ARE worth worrying about, to keep clear which are primary concerns for baptized disciples of Jesus, and which matter less or not at all.

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What Is It That You Believe?

Written by Pastor Dan Wilfrid on Sunday, 21 May 2017 21:37.

Easter 6 A    John 14:15-21

If someone who knew absolutely nothing about Christianity, the Bible or the life and practices of the church were to ask you what it is that you believe about God, what would you say? Would the words come easily, or is it more likely that the question itself would simply make you too nervous and anxious to say anything at all, so that you would just stand mute or perhaps just pretend that you didn’t hear the question!

Think about it: What if someone who genuinely wanted to know and understand asked you what you believe about God, and what God does and doesn’t do in your life and world, and how that faith helps you find purpose and meaning in your life and work? What if simply saying  “I’m a Christian,” or “I’m a Lutheran” wouldn’t be a helpful answer at all because the person asking didn’t know enough about what either of those labels or other standard religious language meant? What would you say?

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An Escape Plan?

Written by Pastor Dan Wilfrid on Sunday, 14 May 2017 15:03.

Easter 5A   John 14:1-14

I read an interesting and also rather disturbing article last week in a recent issue of the New Yorker magazine about a growing trend among some of the highest income people in our country to invest some of their wealth in what can best be called “an escape plan:”
preparing for themselves a place where they can go with their loved ones if and when American economic and civic life and order crumbles. Concerned about the growing number of ways that crumbling might happen: from nuclear war to racial unrest, to the growing gap and divide between rich and poor, to the breakdown in trusted and stable institutions of government and civic society, to the mistrust of the truthfulness of politicians and the press, to cyber-crime and the vulnerability of power grids and web-based financial transactions; many of those who have the most to guard and possibly also to lose are deciding that it’s worth preparing for the worst, and choosing an escape to a safe place when the worst begins to happen.

The author of the article visited what can best be described as a luxury condominium complex built inside of an old nuclear missile silo somewhere in Kansas. The owner has sold enough units to begin buying more silos and building more condos inside of those structures designed to withstand a nuclear blast and filled with supplies to last an extended period of time and security enough to fend off desperate intruders. Those who have purchased a place there also have a plan to get there quickly if ever chaos erupts.

Others are buying property in places like New Zealand, and getting the travel papers and approval to live there as exiles if life here ever gets too ugly or dangerous. New Zealanders, meanwhile, aren’t all that happy about these Americans who are buying up their land and who might perhaps bring the chaos they’d be fleeing, right along with them if they came.

The article made clear: these are not fringe crazies and doomsday predicters. These are Silicon Valley millionaires, entertainment and sports figures, investment and hedge fund managers, people who do not necessarily think that such a disastrous or dangerous future is likely or certain or soon to be upon us, but who nevertheless do find it prudent to be prepared for it if it comes, and of course, have the means to do so.

More and more of those with the most to guard and protect and potentially lose are apparently developing escape plans,
setting up a safe place for them and those they love, in an underground silo or in a far off country. They are preparing a place, just in case.