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Sermons

Celebrate Abundance

Do you have a favorite childhood story? I have long been fascinated by stories—and how we tell them—whether it is through spoken or written word, images, art, movement, or music. As an undergraduate student I studied communication arts, which included debate classes, rhetoric, radio, television, and film. As someone drawn to the stories in the bible, I love how the past, present, and future intertwine. How we tell our stories weaves into who we are as individual, as a community, a nation, and a global community. This week, one of my favorite childhood stories came to mind—all over one word....
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Pay Attention to Gifts

This day I am grateful for the gift of place. This week I found myself being grateful for the comforting, the healing, and the darkness, of this building. Specifically, in my office, and the narratives of the pastors before me who have guided the people and the Spirit of this faith community. The room is this wonderful space in which the holding of sacred rawness and woundedness occurs. This entire building has a beautiful way of reflecting the world around it. This place lives and breathes in the stories that are shared… here. Sometimes it is the light and joy that flows through the windows a...
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Notice the Gap

Notice the gaps. The cracks, the crevices that lurk all about. The shifts, the movements, the things we know so well… that are all changing. So pay attention. Acknowledge the reality. For the reality is that in the tension new hope emerges. New stories. Stories that are coming out of the shadows, shattering the shame. Pushing back against the fear. Revealing the Good News that this world can be, must be, will be… different. Be inspired. Notice the gap between what is, and what can be. Today we acknowledge that the images are graphic. That the actions Jesus calls for are drastic. That ...
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What Does THAT Mean?

Sometimes, you just need to do it. Sometimes, in the midst of the uncertainty, the arguing, the fear—you just need to step into it. Into the uncertainty. Step in with the confidence that whatever transpires in the moments ahead… the extravagant welcome of the cosmos will draw you in. Hold you tight. So step into the Divine. God’s holy embrace. Sometimes, when I read the headlines, see a social media post, a hashtag, or get and email, I am jolted. All I can do is pause and wonder, “What does THAT mean?” And sometimes, there are just too many “What does THAT means?” in one week. A day. An hou...
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Questions that Breakdown Walls

All of the talk about walls. Impenetrable boundaries. Places we cannot cross. Every time I hear the “build that wall,” I get an uneasy feeling deep in the pit of my stomach. Nowhere in today’s readings is the word “wall” mentioned. But there are questions. Lots and lots of questions. And really BIG questions. And… we are asking a lot of BIG QUESTIONS of our confirmation youth. This week I spent time preparing for the last three confirmation gatherings and our upcoming confirmation celebration on October 21. Earlier this year I sent out an “OMG!” packet, an “Oh My God!” faith packet of quest...
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Sermon on a T-Shirt

  This week is the kickoff of football season. Many of us know which Sundays we need to get out of church early to catch the 12 o’clock football game. Many more have dug out their football bling—the hats, the t-shirts, and the jerseys of our favorite teams. What we do, who we are, (of course) goes much deeper than what we wear. Yet articles of clothing have come to mean something more than a friendly(ish) sports game. You know what I am talking about. When a red baseball cap with 4 words emblazoned on it becomes a rallying cry. When a green jacket with the phrase “I don’t really car...
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In the Mirror

I stand before you on this Labor Day weekend with an offering from our coalition partners at Worker Justice Wisconsin. Worker Justice’s mission is to: “Join workers in resolving workplace problems … Develop worker leadership… (and) Engage and mobilize… individuals, labor unions, faith communities (and others)… committed to economic, racial, immigrant, and worker justice”[1]. I am on the Board of Worker Justice Wisconsin. I am also a founding member of the United Church of Christ’s national Economic Justice Movement, which was formed “with the goal of continuing and strengthening ...
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Be Prayer

For me, it is a pair of boots. Brown boots to be exact. Jedi boots. This week’s readings from Ephesians, the “put on the armor of God,” the “withstanding of evil,” the breastplate, the belt, helmet, and the shield, immediately drew me back to one of the most empowering experiences I have had in the life of the church: Dressing up for worship as a Jedi Knight. According to Wookieepedia (yes… that’s “Wookeepedia”), “Jedi Knights, like the Order they served, were guardians of peace and justice…” http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Jedi_Knight In my last church, the Sunday closest to Halloween, ever...
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Here I Am

Here I am. Amidst a rolling river rampage. Somehow, in my brain, this just doesn’t all add up. All I can do is grasp onto the words from the prophet Isaiah in which the youth immersed themselves in this week: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. (Isaiah 43:2) It seemed VERY appropriate, that for the past 2 weeks as pastor of this faith community I have needed to wear a life jacket. I needed something to help keep me afloat. First, a life jacket was needed as I kayaked down the Current River in Missouri with the confirmation youth. And then, each day during the vacation b...
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Connect Jesus (through a youth group retreat… and beyond)

This reflection goes under the category of “What happens at church when you are not here… but yet you ARE!” Last Sunday, before most of you arrived for worship, something happened. Here. In this sacred space. Around this table. A covenant was formed. Ben Hilgers, Brandon Fritz, Lynn Hilgers and I were embarking on a cross-generational confirmation trip (Sarah Fritz and Steve Gorton were here as well). Together, we put together a covenant. A covenant of how to get along with each other, with God, with ourselves, and our faith, over the course of the upcoming week. Earlier this year when the ...
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