A digital version of this week’s worship bulletin and sermon.





WREATH LIGHTING HYMN     “Light One Candle to Watch for Messiah”     red book # 240, verse 1




JEREMIAH 33:14-16

PSALM 25:1-10


LUKE 21:25-36

SERMON                                                                                                              Pastor Chris Halverson

An inside out Sermon

I was waiting for call and was lent out to preach a sermon at a church in Baltimore while a pastor was on vacation.

I’d just gotten up to preach, spoke the first few sentences, then I heard from behind me *Buzz* *Buzz*. And again a few minutes later *Buzz* *Buzz*.

I’d been good, I’d left my cell phone on vibrate, but I’d also left it sitting on a wooden bench.

*Buzz* *Buzz*

Once the service was over I looked at my phone, it was from a friend I’d invited to see my preach. He’d texted “I think I’m at the wrong church” “I checked the address and am at the right church, why can’t I get in?” “The doors are locked” “I tried the side door and it was locked too.”

I asked the Council President if by chance the doors might have accidently been locked. He responded, “It was the weirdest thing, the ushers saw this guy they didn’t recognize trying to get in so they locked him out, then had to run to the other door because he tried to get in that way too.

They were trying to keep the inside inside and the outside outside.

And today—on this “New Years” day of the church calendar, as we begin our reading of the Gospel of Luke. Luke, as I will show you, is an inside-out gospel—a gospel that insists that doors are open for all to enter in and that followers of Jesus live their faith outside the walls we meet in.

Today I want to tell you about the gospel of Luke, the Inside-out Gospel, and I want us to ask the question, during this year of Luke, “How can we be an Inside-out Church?” An inside-out Church for an inside-out Gospel.



Luke’s gospel is an inside-out gospel, even from the start. Matthew and Mark begin Jesus’ public ministry with the words “repent for the kingdom is near” and John begins with Jesus turning water into wine at a party—but in Luke’s gospel Jesus begins his ministry by reading a portion of scripture from the Prophets that reads,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

The outsiders—the poor, the captive, the blind, the oppressed—are brought inside, into a new reality of God’s favor.


Likewise women—often outsiders in the ancient world—the one without power or clout of her own—are found in abundance in the Gospel of Luke.

We find these women to be insiders in the Kingdom of God in the Gospel of Luke.

In fact, a barren woman and a virgin girl—Elizabeth and Mary—sing songs of God’s tender mercies, as well as the terror of the proud of heart—that the lowly ones are uplifted and the powerful are removed from power. That the insiders are brought outside and the outsiders inside.

Jesus tells stories of corrupt judges bested by lowly widows and a rich man separated from God while the poor beggar from his front yard is brought to the bosom of Abraham.

And just in case we begin to think this is a wealth thing only, once the disciples have decided tax collectors are beyond the pale—that Tax collectors are people that are outside the Kingdom of God—Jesus goes to Levi, a tax collector, and says “follow me” and eats with him.


Finally, two of the most well known of Jesus’ parables are told only in Luke’s gospel—the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Both are parables of outsiders coming in. Both inside-out parables.

In the first, the Samaritan—the perpetual outsider of the time—is lifted up as the insider who followed God and recognized his neighbor in need.

Likewise, the Prodigal Son is distrusted by his brother—he’s been outside his father’s house for a time—yet when he returns the father throws a feast in his honor to celebrate his return—his coming inside.


And even in today’s reading from Luke we find a strange inversion—an inside-out aspect of the advent season before us—

Jesus says, “you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place.”

Then the passion happens—I already said it last week, so I won’t belabor it—Christ’s kingship, glory, the coming of the Kingdom of God—is made known in the passion, comes near on the cross. Talk about an inside-out Gospel.


And consider in your hearts,

take time this year,

this year of Luke,

this new years—

to ask the question, “How can we be an Inside-out church?”

How can we live out together this gospel we read and preach with our lips?

How do we make sure we open doors to let people in, instead of close them and keeping them out?

How do we graciously bring people inside and bravely take our faith outside into the streets?

How can we be an inside-out Church for an inside-out Gospel?


For that matter how can we individually be inside-out Christians?

How can you—

how can I—

how can each of us in our day to day lives—

live lives which reflect the Gospel of Luke—

this inside-out gospel?

These questions aren’t meant to be rhetorical—a flourish of question marks to end a sermon—no, in fact I’m giving out homework so that you can ask these questions of yourself again at a later time.


See Insert:



My idea for making St. Stephen a more inside-out Church is:





Here is what I can do to make this happen:






My Luke Year Resolution:

In order to live a life that is more inside-out and upside-down I will:


HYMN of the DAY                  “Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding!”                red book # 246









Also, “Let There Be Peace On Earth”, red book #438, red book #441



SENDING SONG                        “Soon and Very Soon”                      red book # 439