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Sermons

A Few Last Words

Here are some of the important phrases for my life. Maybe they will reflect some of the phrases that are important to you as well. Today's texts: 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 and Matthew 5 (selected verses) One of the common lines for pastors who are leaving their congregations is, “Well, now you can tell them what you really think!” One of the wonderful things about the decade of being at Memorial is that I have never felt any hesitation about telling you what I really think. And part of the wonder of that is you haven’t seemed to have any trouble telling me what you think, either. ...
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Council minutes for March 14, 2017

Present: Janine Bessemer, Jacy Boldebuck, Ryan Estrella, Sarah Fritz, Rita Elver, Orion Jetzer, Phil Haslanger, Rebecca Malke, Sue Webb, and John Van Overbeke. Absent: Jan Klawitter Guest: Dean Baumgardner, Finance Committee Pastor Phil opened with a prayer. Minutes of February 10, 2017: Motion to approve February minutes by Janine, seconded by Rita, passed. Financial Report: John reports all funds are on target for the year. The Centennial Fund balance is approximately $4,500. Sue moved, seconded by Rita to accept John’s financial report. Motion passed. Trustees Report: John...
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Following Jesus

In a story from 9/11, can you hear the echoes of Abraham and Sarah and their three visitors? Can imagine being with Jesus in the midst of his rag-tag band? Today's Texts - Genesis 18: 1-10 and Matthew 9 and 10, selected verses Those of you who are musical theater fans might know that Come From Away was one of the finalists for best musical at the Tony Awards last Sunday evening. It did not win the Tony, but it has won the hearts of lots of people who have seen it. I think it’s a musical that Abraham and Sarah might have liked as well. And I think it’s part of the story we are cons...
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Trinity, Immigration and Domestic Violence

This is the text of a brief reflection from Pastor Phil on the concept of the Trinity and then what our understanding of God might mean in a world of immigrants and refugees and those among them who find them selves trapped in violent relationships. Megan Sprecher, an attorney for End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, joined Phil in a conversation after his brief reflection. Resources that she provided for those who would like to know how to help are posted after the reflection. Thanks to Megan for her presentation. Today's texts - 2 Corinthians 13: 11-13 and Matthew 28: 16-20 I’d like to...
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100 Years Bold

Today's Texts: Acts 2: 1-21 and John 6:1-13 The reflection for our Centennial was given by Rev. Franz Rigert, the conference minister for the Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ. He talked about how in its 100 years, Memorial UCC has had a spirit abundance and generosity, of reformation and adaptability, of a commitment to justice and a vision of collaboration and partnerships. Here is a link to the video of his sermon. It is about 18 minutes long.
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Is Jesus Missing?

I’d like to make the case that Jesus is in that intersection between prayer and action. Today's Texts: 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11 and John 17:1-11 First, think back to these opening words from the letter we heard from the community that had gathered around Peter, the leader of the Apostles: “Dear friends, don’t be surprised about the fiery trials that have come among you to test you. These are not strange happenings.” Those sound like some words we can relate to in our era. Now think about those final words from Jesus with his closest followers at that meal they had the night b...
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Talk Less, Smile More

Words from Burr to Hamilton might have made sense to both Peter and Paul in the early days of Christianity - with a slight twist. Today's texts: 1 Peter 3: 13-22 and Acts 17: 22-31 Early in the hit musical Hamilton, the two central characters meet for the first time. One, of course, is Alexander Hamilton, the orphaned immigrant you see on the $10 bill who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the American Revolution, whose writings helped shape the U.S. Constitution and then who became the nation’s first secretary of the Treasury. The other is Aaron Burr, also an orp...
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Room to Spare

I want to stay with the images, because I think they open some windows for us to look into the world and become part of its transformation – even as we are transforming ourselves. Today's texts - 1 Peter 2:2-10 and John 14:1-14  I am wondering what you are feeling like this morning. Are you feeling like a newborn baby, nourished by your mother’s milk? Are you feeling like a stone on the road? Or maybe like a stone kicked aside? Are you feeling a bit homeless, wandering the world and wondering if there is a room for you somewhere? Or are you feeling like part of a royal pr...
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Back on the Road

The story of meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus reflects disappointments and hopes, misunderstandings and then understandings, loneliness and community, distrust and renewed trust, a time of hunger and a meal shared. Today's texts - Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19 and Luke 24: 13-35 And Jesus said to them, “What are you talking about as you walk along?” They stopped, their faces downcast. Have you ever been in a situation like this? You encounter someone who seems really distressed. Or you are the one feeling distressed and someone asks you what’s wrong. From either side of the conver...
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Resurrection Stories

These are stories that might give us hope at a time when hope can seem in short supply. Today's texts - John 20: 1-18 and Acts 10: 34-43 For Morgan William, new life came on a basketball court. For Billie Moore, new life came on death row. For Garry Civitello, it came in conversation with a woman named Heather McGhee. I’m going to tell you a bit about their stories today because I think that in a variety of ways, they illustrate some of the central themes of Jesus’ resurrection story: life emerging out of death, goodness overcoming evil. I think their stories might give us h...
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