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Sermons

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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Flashback: What’s Going On Around Here?

A flashback: I was 5 years old. It was the first day of kindergarten. My parents and I had practiced this – I was familiar with the bus route to and from school. There I sat. A little kid on a great big bus, coming home from school. I was prepared. I was ready for this. But… then… the bus turned here, and then there, onto roadways I did not expect. We were NOT on a direct route to my home. When I was finally dropped off at the house, after zig-zagging along back roads, my mom asked me how the first day of school went. My comment to her regarding the bus ride home was, “I looked out the window ...
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Inclusive Hospitality. Extravagant Welcome.

The past several months, you might have read information in the eNews and/or bulletin regarding the various ways in which you can get (and/or we can get) involved as a faith community in our local neighborhoods this summer. For example, the Fitchburg Library is offering free English lessons and free lunches to the kids each week. In addition, they are coordinating Community Nights from 5-7 pm each Tuesday at Leopold Park, one of the neighborhoods targeted by the city of Fitchburg’s Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative. During the announcements on Sundays, you might have heard me invite you into a ...
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Faith, Civility, and Healing (or, is there such a thing as #GoodTrouble?)

Reaching out in desperate times. Once again, there is orange cloth on the communion table. Orange. A color symbolizing a need to respond to issues of gun violence in schools, out on the streets, at places of work, in newsrooms. Once again, we hear of about the overwhelming crowds gathered about. Yesterday in cities across the country. Millennia ago in Jerusalem, as a father reaches out to Jesus and pleads for the life of his daughter. A woman pushing through the dusty crowds… to… just… touch… Reaching out. This is gut wrenching hope beyond all hope. Faith stretching out, towards the extrava...
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Hearts Wide Open

The title for today’s reflections, Hearts Wide Open, initially emerged from one of the assigned bible readings for today that we didn’t hear read from 2 Corinthians. 2 Corinthians was going to be one of our two readings on which to reflect, but through the events of this past week the Spirit has shifted our attention to the Psalm instead. However, the title of the sermon—Hearts Wide Open—is what I would like to offer before you in this sacred space this morning. For, Beloved, in a time of desert places and wild seas, I am going to ask you to turn away from the turmoil. Get comfortable. If y...
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Holy-Scattered-About

From the mustard seed to the cosmos, the complexity of everything that surrounds us is unveiled today in its simplicity through the parables. A person scattering seeds with wild abandon. Who is it? God? Jesus? Us? It is as if we grasp it all… but yet not. There is a grand Truth here that we understand, but don’t quite get. Here in this space faith, science, technology, and Word intersect. Merge. Stretch. It is as if Jesus was calling on us to see things differently. This isn’t so dissimilar from what the world of science is revealing to us. In his chapter on The Architecture of the Cosmos, ...
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Too Jesus-y?

This morning I am coming back to Wisconsin following a week of listening to 20(ish) amazingly amazing preachers, with an unlikely question. Last week I spent 6 days in Washington, D.C., at the Festival of Homiletics. Homiletics. One of those funny church words that my husband always accuses me of making up. As in, when I say “homiletics,” and he says “you are just making up words now…” Homiletics. Preaching. From sessions entitled, “Preaching to Save the Soul of a Nation,” with Rev. Cynthia Hale, to “Jesus vs. Rome: The Biblical Politics of Gratitude” with Diana Butler Bass, to attending Hi...
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Overhearing God

Shhh!!! Listen. We are given opportunities to overhear. Overhear God. God’s prayer. God’s prayer for creation. The world. The Church. Us. A word of hope. Love. Support. Transformation. A sending out. Continuing the story. But too often we miss out on the opportunities to be fully immersed in God’s prayer. We miss out on the opportunities right before our eyes. Jesus here. Jesus now. Praying. Through every breath, every movement, every conversation that we have: with young, old, family, friends, strangers. All too often we don’t see, don’t hear, don’t get—what is… right… here… And this is...
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Becoming God

Imagine a world free from disease and hunger. Cancer is cured. Genetic imperfections are corrected. Transmittable diseases are prevented. You never get the flu or a cold. No one has diabetes and heart disease. Children never die of malnutrition. Imagine a world like that. Then try to imagine the consequences. The story of Adam and Eve is a creation story. But its purpose was not scientific or historical accuracy, but rather to account for why people are the way they are. It is a story about mortality, the loss of innocence, self-awareness, responsibility and consequences. Let’s take a look....
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Will We Find… ?

Wondering about the wandering sheep. Lost. Snatched. Scattered. A sin revealed, named, in the simplicity of a hashtag. The complexity of a movement. Before I step too far into the reflection for today, I wanted to take a moment and remind you about those elusive hashtags that can be so unsettling. Just what are they? You have likely heard about hashtags, and seen them embedded in news reports and advertisements on T.V. and social media. For example, from the Super Bowl, do you remember Coke’s #AmericanIsBeautiful? Or Amazon’s ad, “#JustAsk Alexa”? No? How about the, “It’s a #TideAd”? Has...
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