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Sermon – May 21 – Tea Time

Scripture: Acts 17:22-31; Psalm 66:8-20; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14;15-21
Sermon: Tea Time
Sermon Text: John 14:19-20

In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

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Sermon – May 14 – Be My Strong Rock

Scripture: Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16; 1 Peter 2:2-10; John 14;1-14
Sermon: Be My Strong Rock
Sermon Text: Psalm 31:1-5

In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Incline your ear to me; make haste to deliver me. Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe, for you are my crag and my stronghold; for the sake of your name, lead me and guide me. Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me, for you are my tower of strength. Into your hands I commend my spirit, for you have redeemed me, O Lord, God of truth.

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Notes from Pastor Steve – Summer 2017

What helps, what gives the people confidence and assurance that they can change, is that they sense [the pastor’s] own willingness to change, to be flexible. 
Kennon L. Callahan
A New Beginning for Pastors and Congregations, page 83

If you want to read a nuts-and-bolts vision of how to create a loving and missional spirit within a congregation, Callahan provides great counsel through his use of personal experiences, of common sense, and of biblical references.  This text is intended to be read every three years so pastors and church leaders may continue to grow into their faith.  Callahan provides reading that is relevant for a pastor or church leader in any stage of his/her faith development.

This congregation has changed quite a bit from January 23, 2014 when I delivered my first sermon.  The work of the Holy Spirit is obvious to me; so many of you are relating your personal experiences that clearly indicate how God is shaping your lives.  Worship is alive in Word and Sacrament.  Our number of ministries – both local and beyond – is growing because our commitment to being God’s hands and feet in the world is growing, too.  Holy Week this year brought in members, long time visitors, and strangers off the street; attendance numbers were astounding.  Also, we have adopted a comprehensive stewardship plan that keeps resources growing for future in-house uses all the while giving us the opportunity to more fully demonstrate our trust in God as we gradually increase our tithe to our Synod.  We are now a handicapped-accessible building.  All this – this loving expression of faith in God – happens every day here as little by little our memories of Hurricane Matthew and its fallout fade.

At least, that is my perspective.  Callahan notes that one person’s view of change can be that of a developing faith, while with someone else the change can be perceived as scary or even as unnecessary.  It is common for some church folks to share, “Things are moving along quite nicely, don’t you think?” while they may present the conflicting response, “Things are changing too fast and I cannot adjust.”

What is your response?  Are you satisfied with the spiritual growth of this congregation over the last three years?  Does the church council act in ways that are accurate representations of what you expect from your church leadership?  In your observation, am I growing spiritually?  I am asking you to share your thoughts about congregational, leadership, and pastoral growth.

Throughout the summer please take the opportunity to write down your thoughts and ideas about worship and the life of this congregation.  Your comments will be directed to the proper council member or will remain with me.  Expect a return contact soon; the council and I stand ready to hear your ideas about expanding spiritual growth and about improving leadership development.  Why?  Because in all we say and do as a congregation, we do so to the Glory of God.

 

To God be the Glory for all God has done,

Pastor Steve

Sermon – May 7 – Fourth Sunday of Easter

Scripture: Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:19-25; John 10:1-10
Sermon: Deacon Allison Ward No Combination Lock at the Gate
Sermon Text: John 10:9

I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.

Bulletin: 2017-05-07 Fourth Sunday of Easter

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Sermon – April 30 – Word and Sacrament

Scripture: Acts 2:14a,36-41; Psalm 116:1-4,12-19; 1 Peter 1:17-23; Luke 24:13-35
Sermon: Word and Sacrament
Sermon Text: Luke 24:33-35

O God, your Son makes himself known to all his disciples in the breaking of bread. Open the eyes of our faith, that we may see him in his redeeming work, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever

Bulletin: 2017-04-30 Third Sunday of Easter

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Notes from Pastor Steve – April 2017

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
(Matthew 28:1-10)

In Matthew’s account of the Easter morning story, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary are met at the tomb first by a “great earthquake,” and then by a descended angel who rolled away the stone in front of the tomb. It will be this same angel who will announce the risen Lord to the women, and it will be this same angel who will give them their assignment: Go tell the fellows that Jesus is risen and, oh, since Jesus is already there in Galilee, he will meet you there.” Yet, Jesus meets Mary and Mary before they arrive at the place where the disciples are hiding.

Three surprises in one morning: an earthquake, the appearance of a messenger angel, and the early arrival of Jesus. You know, if I didn’t know better, I’d say something pretty special was intended to happen three days following the Crucifixion of Jesus…

Sometimes I think my life is missing those cosmic events. I go about my business (almost all of which ya’ll know about!), yet nothing is really out of the ordinary. I read, I write, I visit, I listen, I plan, and then I go home. “How was your day today?” Kris asks, and my response is generally something like “Nothing earth- shaking.” There was no cosmic event, no angel dropped in to give me direction for the day, and most certainly Jesus did not show up…

Uh oh. I forgot. Jesus DID show up today. In fact, Jesus has shown up every day of my life.

We keep waiting for the cosmic events. We keep waiting for that sign from above. We act as though our day could not have possessed any Christ-like connection because our day was ordinary. Ordinary. Yet, I challenge you to consider this.

Every day is Easter. Every day is a new day in Christ. Every day is a new day in your baptism by the Holy Spirit. And, every day presents you with the opportunity to witness to the One who met Mary and Mary on the road to Galilee.

And he met them before they had expected to see him. Jesus is cool that way, isn’t he? Here it is, just another ordinary day, and in the busyness of your day you take a deep breath of fresh air and you take the time to notice that hummingbird flitting from flower to flower. You clear your mind of all your troubles from work or school, and suddenly the smell of the nearby swamp reminds you of your days as a youngster when Grandpa took you fishing. Suddenly, by stopping and taking the time to pay attention to God’s Creation, you realize that there is nothing – absolutely NOTHING – ordinary about any day that we have the opportunity to live in Christ in the world created by God.

You know, when you think about it, this is earth-shaking news.

To God be the Glory for all God has done,
Pastor Steve

Sermon – April 16 – Rejected but Risen Redeemer

Scripture: Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Colossians 3:1-4; Matthew 28:1-10
Sermon: Rejected but Risen Redeemer
Sermon Text: Psalm 118:22-24

I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.

The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. By the Lord has this been done; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Bulletin: 2017-04-16 Easter Sunday

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Sermon – April 9 – Jesus Cuts Them Off and Wins the Race

Scripture: Zechariah 9:9-10; 14-17; Psalm 118:19-29; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17; Luke 19: 28-40
Sermon: Jesus Cuts Them Off and Wins the Race
Sermon Text: Zechariah 9:9-10

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war-horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Bulletin: 2017-04-09 Palm Sunday

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Sermon – April 2 – Jesus Began to Weep

Scripture: Ezekiel 37: 1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8: 6-11; John 11: 1-45
Sermon: Jesus Began to Weep
Sermon Text: John 11:33-38

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb.

Bulletin: 2017-04-02 Fifth Sunday in Lent.pdf

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Gerken Scholarship Application

If you are interested receiving a Gerken scholarship, you may download the application here, or pick one up from Chairman Jim Heater or the church office. If you want one mailed to you, contact Juanita Clark in the church office, and she will send one to you. All applications must be received by May 15, 2017. There is more information about the scholarship on the application.

Sermon – March 29 – Now He Sees It So Now He Preaches

Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:1-5, 11-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5: 8-14; John 9: 1-41
Sermon: Now He Sees It So Now He Preaches
John 9:24-27

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”

2017-03-26 Fourth Sunday in Lent.pdf

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Sermon – March 19th – Well

Scripture: Exodus 17: 1-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5: 1-11; John 4: 5-42
Sermon: Well
John 4:25-26

The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

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Sermon – March 12 – The Rev. Dr. Ben Moravitz

Scripture: Genesis 12: 1-4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4: 1-5, 13-17; John 3: 1-17
Sermon: The Rev. Dr. Ben Moravitz, Assistant to the Bishop

Bulletin: 2017-03-12 Second Sunday in Lent

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