You Have More Treasures Than You Think

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans, 12:6-8, NIV)This is the season of giving. We’re used to it. We shop.…

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little black fridays

I continue to be impressed at the lengths that people will go to save money on purchasing the gifts during the Christmas season. Black friday is a perfect example. Frankly, I haven’t ever been in the black friday rush—I don’t even know, with the month-long extended internet blitz, whether people go to the lengths they used to with the brick and mortar stores. They used to camp out in lines, sometimes for an entire night, just to secure the closest spot to the door. Others would wake incredibly early. Come morning, the mad rush began as people run to get to the big deals.

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Welcomed at the Table

As I begin the week of this Thanksgiving holiday, I am filled with positive childhood memories of great family time, while also being stirred about what this holiday can mean to others different than me and those who do not feel included, valued, or seen with these celebrations.Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday as I am filled with memories as a child, growing up driving down to my Grandma Hartman’s farm down in Southern Illinois. The day car trip was well worth the 4…

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Focused on the Goal

"I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back." (Philippians 3:12-14 The Message)The day started out with…

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Receiving Joy

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11) “Saying Christmas is at risk due to supply chain problems leads me to believe that you don’t know the reason for Christmas.” This statement has been showing up daily on Facebook, and I have mixed thoughts about it. I find myself caught between the desire to keep Christ as the center of my Christmas AND AT THE SAME TIME…

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A Father’s Love

"For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love." (1 Cor. 13:12-13).I realized this last year that there were many pieces of my dad that I lost before his actual death in December 2020. My dad, whose birthday was Nov. 10, used…

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Divinity and Humanity

The text assigned for today is from John 11:32-44, where we hear of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. We are given a glimpse of both the divinity and the humanity of Jesus in this text. The humanity appears when Jesus, as we are told, was deeply moved as he came near the tomb of his friend. The divinity is pointed up as we see the relationship between Jesus and the Father. There is a tension between this humanity and divinity that…

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All Saints Day

“Without a doubt, that’s the most important aspect of the saints for me: they teach me about being who I am. Each of the saints has been, to quote St. John XXIII, ‘holy in a different way.’ Each was placed in a different situation and time. Each had a different personality and dealt with life differently. And each related to God a little differently.” Fr. James Martin, SJ, “My Life With the Saints” I guess I could say my life with the saints…

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On the Way to the Future

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”(John 8:31-32)This coming Sunday, October 31, is Reformation Day. This is the day in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany, the event that gave rise to the Protestant Reformation.It is a dilemma for us Lutherans as to whether we want…

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Remember and Grieve Together

We inhabit a world where life plus the pandemic have given us much to grieve. Simultaneously, that same pandemic has robbed us of access to many of the opportunities we, historically, have leaned into during times of sorrow. On September 29th, Trinity Lutheran held a “grief evening”. There was time in the sanctuary for individual contemplation with live music as the background, plus a 20-minute gathering with readings and prayers. “Remember and Grieve Together” was designed as a time to name the losses…

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“Good Tired”

The Gospel assigned for this week is from Mark 10:17-31, and is one of those texts where each verse might be the topic of a complete sermon. I am going after a single portion of verse twenty-seven.This text group is often called “The Rich Young Man”. It is a conversation with a wealthy person about the nature of the Kingdom of God and what our service to others might look like.In verse 21 Jesus tells the man to sell all that he has…

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Sunday Morning Worship Came Alive!

“Your word is a lamp to my feet  and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)In 2014 I began a pastorate at a church in San Mateo, CA. The church had two years in between their called pastors. As I began my ministry there I realized that they had not had a Bible Study for many months.I talked to several people and they agreed to meet on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. There were four people who joined and others came along the way.…

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Spotters

Years ago, a fellow whom I visited in a VA hospital told me this story. He, (we’ll call him “Bruce”), was at the gym observing a power lifter, (we’ll call him “James”), who was bench-pressing more than 350 pounds. For those who are wondering what bench-pressing is, it’s a form of exercise where the lifter lies on a bench, under a rack that holds a bar that has a series of weights added to it and lifts the weight with his arms enough…

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Teachable Moments on Steroids

(Jesus and his disciples) went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. (Mark 9:30-32) I am struck by the number of occasions in Mark’s gospel…

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Called to Action

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to…

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Think About Such Things

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—thing about such things.(Philippians 4:6-8, NIV)One morning, as I prayed for members of my family, I realized how much anxiety…

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Grief and Hope

1How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2How long shall I have perplexity in my mind, and grief in my heart, day after day? How long shall my enemy triumph over me? 3Look upon me and answer me, O Lord my God; give light to my eyes, lest I sleep in death; 4lest my enemy say, “I have defeated you,” and my foes rejoice that I have fallen. 5But I trust in…

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Grateful for Labor Movement

“Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” (James 5:4) I recently watched the 2004 BBC mini-series “North & South”. This was set in a mill town in the north of England around 1850; it follows the clash of values between a clergyman’s daughter from the rural south of England and the owner of a cotton mill. The…

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You Can Go Home Again

I lift my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1) I recently had the chance to visit my hometown - Duluth, Minnesota. I only lived in Duluth until I was four, when we moved to Omaha, Nebraska. After Omaha, we moved to Schaumburg, Illinois, and after that, to Natick, Massachusetts. My childhood years were marked by these moves and experiences of different places. Duluth is rich in…

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