Print

All Things Right

Written by Pastor Dan Wilfrid on Sunday, 08 January 2017 16:54.

Epiphany 1A    Matthew 3:13-17

With Christmas now past and a New Year begun,
it’s time for my annual sermonic fun:
for preaching that’s crafted in rhythm and rhymes,
an annual tradition, done dozens of times.

Kept up by belief that traditions are good.
That certain things happen at times when they should.
Traditions are anchors in the rough seas of life.
They hold us securely, and calm us in strife.

They stay and endure when so much else changes.
They unite us when so much divides and estranges.
They give daily life an eternal perspective.
They root us in truths more shared than subjective.

Print

We're Going to Need God

Written by Pastor Dan Wilfrid on Sunday, 01 January 2017 10:26.

Christmas 1A    Matthew 2:13-23

It’s good to start the New Year with worship. And it’s very good to be here with you not yet ten hours into this New Year of 2017. It’s good to start this New Year close to God, close together, because we’re going to need God this year. We’re going to need faith in God, guidance from God, courage from God, hope from God, inspiration from God, focus and direction from God in the year ahead. Specifically, we’re going to need the God who entered this world in Jesus: the incarnate God, the God who came to dwell among us, full of grace and truth; the God who came as a light shining in the darkness of the world he was born into.

It was John’s gospel, on Christmas morning that spoke to us about that true light from God, come into the world in Jesus. And now, today, a week later, at the start of a New Year, it’s Matthew’s ancient story of children slaughtered and families fleeing from their homes as refugees to foreign lands - lands no doubt reluctant to welcome them - that shows us just how dark the world was that Jesus was born into, …and just how dark the world is, that we live in.

Then …it was Bethlehem. Today it’s Aleppo.  Then it was Jews fleeing to Egypt to get away from Herod and his attempts to protect his throne. Now it’s Syrians fleeing to Europe to get away from Bashar al-Assad and his fight with a host of rebel armies. In both cases, it’s innocent children who suffer and die.

Print

Darkness and Light

Written by Pastor Aaron Decker on Sunday, 25 December 2016 15:29.

Christmas Day - John 1:1-14

On Wednesday night this past week, our Confirmation Class gathered to talk about the story of the Exodus, when the Israelites left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, and traveled out into the desert toward the land God had promised them.  We heard how God gave them the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, and how the Israelites began to put their worship life into place in the desert, building a movable temple and consecrating priests to serve God in this special place where he would come to visit them.  That notion of the temple as a thin place on earth, where God’s presence and glory comes to dwell among humankind, is a bit of an odd concept for Christians—at least at first glance.  For our students, it became even more strange when we noted that only consecrated priests were allowed to enter into the temple’s inner sanctum, the tabernacle.  Anyone else going there would die.

Print

Righteous Son of David

Written by Pastor Dan Wilfrid on Sunday, 18 December 2016 15:30.

Advent 4(A)    Matthew 1:18-25

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, this final Sunday BEFORE Christmas, we get to hear Matthew’s Christmas story, and the first thing we notice is that Matthew’s Christmas story is pretty much Joseph’s story from start to finish. When Mary turns up pregnant, Joseph puzzles over what to do. God’s angel comes - not to Mary to enlist her cooperation - but to Joseph to enlist his. Matthew seems not to care at all about Mary’s character or background or how she deals with this surprising turn of events.

The seventeen verses that begin his gospel and precede this passage are a genealogy of Joseph – starting with Abraham and passing through King David on the way to Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born. Joseph, Joseph, Joseph – Matthew’s Christmas story is all about Joseph.

Print

God of Promise

Written by Pastor Dan Wilfrid on Sunday, 20 November 2016 08:13.

Christ the King C       Luke  23:33-43

This festival day of Christ the King is a kind of New Year’s Eve for the church. It marks the end of another liturgical journey through the seasons of our Christian story and faith, celebrated on this final Sunday before we begin anew next Sunday with another Advent dawn. It’s day on which our Bible readings offer us a vision of all divine promises kept and of a world fulfilled in all peace and justice by a faithful God under the reign of our risen Lord Jesus.

Only unlike the other New Year’s Eve that will come in about forty days, this one is less focused on what we resolve to do to make our lives and world better, and instead focuses on what God has done and promises to do through the already begun and sure to be completed reign of the crucified and risen Messiah King, Jesus. This day marks an ending that cycles us right back to the beginning, reminding us that our faith story is not one that begins with promise and ends with fulfillment, but is in fact a journey that both begins and ends with promise, that the life of Christian faith is for us from beginning to end a story of not-yet-ness, and that fulfillment, or something that looks even remotely like fulfillment, is still at some undetermined time and place in the future for us and not where we’ve already arrived. The church year that begins with the promise of a Messiah’s birth, ends with a story of that same Messiah dying on a cross, with the title of King nailed over his head only in derision, and yet that King still promising paradise; promising fulfillment and future joy to a dying thief beside him.