Sermons and Bulletins


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

Gathering

PRELUDE                        “Prelude in C”                        J. S. Bach

CONGREGATIONAL WELCOME

CONFESSION & FORGIVENESS

Gathering Song         “O Holy Spirit, Root of Life”        red book # 399

GREETING

KYRIE                                                         red book # 157

CANTICLE OF PRAISE        “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”     red book # 836

PRAYER of the DAY

Word

ISAIAH 44:6-8

PSALM 86:11-17

ROMANS 8:12-25

MATTHEW 13:24-30, 36-43

SERMON                                                   Pastor Chris Halverson

HYMN of the DAY               “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”           red book # 693

APOSTLES CREED

PRAYERS of INTERCESSION

PEACE

Meal

OFFERING

OFFERTORY               “We Plow the Fields and Scatter”               red book # 681

GREAT THANKSGIVING

A MOMENT OF THANKFUL REFLECTION

 

 

LORD’S PRAYER

COMMUNION SONGS                  “Lamb of God”

Also, red book # 733, red book # 629

Sending

BLESSING

ANNOUNCEMENTS

SENDING SONG          “Spread, Oh, Spread, Almighty Word”      red book # 663

DISMISSAL

POSTLUDE               Arrangement of “Joyful, Joyful”             James Koerts

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

Gathering

PRELUDE

CONGREGATIONAL WELCOME

CONFESSION and FORGIVENESS

Gathering Song            “Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty”            red book # 533

GREETING

KYRIE                                                                                  red book page 98 (set 1)

Canticle of Praise                                                            red book page 101(set 1)

PRAYER of the DAY

Word

ISAIAH 55:10-13

PSALM 65:1-13

ROMANS 8:1-11

MATTHEW 13:1-9, 18-23

SERMON                                                                      Pastor Chris Halverson

Dear Christian Siblings,

 

I pray to God  that I have not left you in despair.

I ended my last letter with you lamenting the infection of both the Law and our Flesh by that Parasite, Sin.

But know this—Christ’s coming has scrambled sin, in order that the Spirit might move in.

It has acted as an anti-Parasitic—chasing out Sin from all things. You flesh, once hellish, may be Holy.

Christ came in the Flesh, flesh like yours and like mine—that we all might have a holiness like his. And so, there is no condemnation! Through the power of the Spirit Christ Jesus is in you!

 

Not only that, he fulfilled the Law, which Sin would not allow, and as such, by his frustration of Sin’s hold there, the Law is made whole—Disinfected and filled too with the Spirit.

Therefore, you are now in the Spirit and the Spirit in you, and the Law is now a Law of Spirit.

Wow, you may live the Law, you might inhabit your flesh—both of these in a Spiritual way!

 

Let’s go back to another metaphor, you were enslaved to Sin, but the Spirit is now your adoption papers—you are not only freed, but made a child in the household of God.

That doesn’t do it for you? Well, maybe you have better men in your day than in mine… In my time men had children everywhere, but rarely were they fathers to them. It was only the rare child who would be adopted—for they were the man’s favorite—they became his heir.

So too, you are adopted—you receive God’s favor—you are Christ’s heir! You, through the power of the Spirit, may cry out as Christ did—“Father! Father!” To God, our first parent.

 

Yet, I can hear, even through the vastness of time and space—there is some harumphing going on at these simple statements. And it is fair that you consider my words carefully. That you think a bit about my proclamation that you are disinfected—free to follow the Law of the Spirit, Adopted as highly favored children of God, blessed among a big and growing family of God—you say sure, but those are just words… it often doesn’t feel like that—the Spirit has not launched me into a perfect paradise… It seems that all these things are still far from me!

To this I respond—exactly!

In fact, the Spirit makes you realize that—the Spirit infects you with longing—with hope—you note the chasm between the world as it is, and as it should be.

You shoulder too, the sweeping disparity in your soul between Saint and Sinner!

In short, you notice that time and our flesh conspire, you notice these great divides, both within you and outside of you. You notice…

You notice, that too is of God—that uncomfortable space between it all, is filled with Spirit.

If you saw everything in yourself and the world around you—as all right, when it isn’t—then you’d have much to fear! Then you’d be lost to your Sin infection—but no! No, you know the needs of the world, the absence in your soul! That is the Spirit moving you!

Moving you to cry out—to pray! Pray for the gap between intention and actuality—pray for the tears in your soul, that they may become balm.

 

What then ought we say about all these things? About the liberation of our Flesh and the Conduct now allowed under the Law of the Spirit? About our first cry as Children of God? About the tensions pulled taut in this world as it is being redeemed by God? What ought we say when the Spirit speaks through us with glad but strange prayers, which we on our own are unable to pray?

In all this—God is for us, so who might be against us? God has given his own Son to us, so is not everything ours? To the mad barks of judgement against us, let us remember it is God our Father who is the only judge. When all condemn—let us remember it is all except Jesus Christ, who does not condemn, but instead speaks well of us—and that is all that matters!

I admit, that the tension of this world pulls us to the breaking point—hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword—yes even slaughter—but the Spirit also points us to the conquest of all these things done by God for us!

Death, sure it looms, life itself—heavier than we’d like, powers beyond our control twist us this way then that, our fate and inclinations attempt to imprison—but it is my conviction that none of these may separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen!

 

HYMN of the DAY                   “As Rain from the Clouds”                  red book # 508

APOSTLES CREED

PRAYERS of INTERCESSION

PEACE

Meal

OFFERING

OFFERTORY

GREAT THANKSGIVING

A MOMENT OF THANKFUL REFLECTION

LORD’S PRAYER

COMMUNION SONGS

Also, “Let There Be Peace On Earth”, red book # 679, red book # 681

Sending

Blessing

ANNOUNCEMENTS

SENDING SONG                  “Sent Forth by God’s Blessing”                red book # 547

DISMISSAL

POSTLUDE

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

Gathering

PRELUDE

CONGREGATIONAL WELCOME

CONFESSION and FORGIVENESS

Gathering Song                 “Lord of All Hopefulness”               red book # 765

GREETING

KYRIE                                                                    red book page 98 (set 1)

Canticle of Praise                                              red book page 101(set 1)

PRAYER of the DAY

Word

ZECHARIAH 9:9-12

PSALM 145:8-14

ROMANS 7:15-25a

MATTHEW 11:16-19, 25-30

SERMON                                                             Pastor Chris Halverson

Dear Siblings in the faith,

I Paul write to you once again, for I believe you need yet another metaphor for Sin. I have already told you it is like an enslaving contract, but today, I wish to tell you about Sin another way, that you might more fully feel the insidious nature of sin, and understand the way in which you are trapped.

Sin is a parasite. Your Pastor, Pastor Chris, once told you about the Holy Spirit—the Paraclete, and how it was like a Paramedic, Paralegal, and Parallel… perhaps you’ve grasped that the pre-fix Para means beside. And if so, you no doubt know that a Parasite comes from Para-Sitos—Eating at another’s table.

And that’s just what Sin does. It lives by living in another creature—using it.

Sin is a parasite—such creatures were unknown in my time—but through your natural sciences are now well known. They are creatures that infect hosts and use them to live and reproduce. In extreme cases you get parasites like Toxoplasmosis, which can only reproduce in cats, so they infect mice and birds, scramble their brains, and make them unafraid of cats, which leads to their host’s death and the parasite’s life.

 

Yes, Sin is just such a parasite, with no life or strength of its own, save infection and manipulation.

And know this, Sin has infected the Law and infected your Flesh.

 

Now, when I say that Sin has infected the Law, you as a Gentile Church—that is a non-Jewish Christian Congregation, may hear something heading toward heresy—you may assume the Law of Moses is a throw away, or even you may make a simple equation of my warning of infection—you may say “Law=Sin.”

This is by no means true!

Instead, the Law has been infected by that parasite Sin… in fact, I’d venture if you looked at any law, those of Moses or those of any other peoples, including your own, with careful eyes, you’d see Sin’s sinister hold upon it.

But, let’s stick with Moses’ Laws… I know in my bones—if not in literal history—that God said “Take Anything But This”… and I, we, coveted that thing immediately. Sin swept into that Command of God and commandeered it.

It said, “Really? Not even a little taste? Not even a little lie? Not even a small death?”

At the same time as it chipped away at it, it also built up the Law—making it more than it was, “Don’t just avoid this sin, avoid nearness to it at all costs!”

Like cattle being rustled, it used the Law to chase me—one way, then another—it shouted, “Never! Never!” and “Just a little! Just a little!” until I nearly exploded. Popped like a pimple—my worst self revealed and inflamed.

Yes, the Holy Law of God—reprogrammed to do me ill!

How much more then the Laws of men? Imagine what Sin can do with them!

 

And so too, my own Flesh

—Am I not of the Earth—this good home of ours?

Has it not been said that we are the height of the created order?

Are we not little lower than angels?

For that matter, do I not have a moral compass? Do I not hear my conscience guiding me?

I do!

I really do!

Yet, hear I as well the parasite disrupting paradise. The very good I am granted in my soul sloshes away from me. I am stuck!

I wish to paddle toward the North Star, but instead I choose to sink my boat!

I know what is life giving, yet I give into death—for Sin uses me—riding roughshod over my better self!

 

I, Paul, have experienced the Tempest released when these two goods—Law and Flesh—are infected, when the Parasite Sin sends them a clashing against one another!

I heard the early church—they preached Jesus as Lord and Messiah—the Blessed One, the Savior.

But I knew the Law. “All who die upon a tree are accursed.”—Deuteronomy 21:23. So says the Law!

Infected with Sin, the Law blinded me to its central command—“Love God, Love Neighbor.”—Deuteronomy 6:5.

Infected with Sin, my Flesh took it several steps further—I first held coats as Stephen was stoned to death for his faith.

I then, with great zeal and righteousness

—as a religious duty, to fulfill the Law of God

—went and persecuted the Church of God.

 

See how that all worked? Sin stunted the Law of God and lived in my most religious self. It infected us both—taking our best, so that it might be embittered and become our worst.

Wretched man that I am, who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Amen.

HYMN of the DAY                “Light Dawns on a Weary World”             red book # 726

APOSTLES CREED

PRAYERS of INTERCESSION

PEACE

Meal

OFFERING

OFFERTORY

 

GREAT THANKSGIVING

A MOMENT OF THANKFUL REFLECTION

LORD’S PRAYER

COMMUNION SONGS

Also, “Let There Be Peace On Earth”, red book # 697, red book # 770

 Sending

Blessing

ANNOUNCEMENTS

SENDING SONG            “If You But Trust in God to Guide You”          red book # 769

DISMISSAL

POSTLUDE

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

Gathering

PRELUDE

CONGREGATIONAL WELCOME

CONFESSION and FORGIVENESS

Gathering Song              “Let Us Go Now to the Banquet”            red book # 523

GREETING

KYRIE                                                            red book page 98 (set 1)

Canticle of Praise                                       red book page 101(set 1)

PRAYER of the DAY

Word

JEREMIAH 28:5-9

PSALM 89:1-4, 15-18

ROMANS 6:12-23

MATTHEW 10:40-42

SERMON                                                        Pastor Chris Halverson

Duck Feathers

 

Have you ever thought about duck feathers?

They’re ingenious, they come in three types, Contour, Flight, and Down. The first keep the water out, the second allow for flight, and the third serves as insulation. They act like armor, water rolls off a ducks back, yet ducks remain fluffy, warm, and cuddly.

And, I would suggest today, that duck feathers can be an image for us to hold onto as Disciples of Christ—a unique type of armor to help us spread the gospel.

Yes, Duck feathers.

 

Prayer

 

There are plenty of good reasons we might want to be defensive as people sent out with a message from God.

Look at the argument between Hananiah and Jeremiah. Hananiah’s prophecy—that God’s going to make everything just fine right now—Hananiah’s quick fix fortune telling—is seen by Jeremiah as nothing more than pie in the sky wishful thinking—he says, in effect, “You know what—pretty much every prophet I know of, prophecies doom—and by and large they get it right. If someone prophecies peace, and we find peace—wow! We’ll know God’s is deeply involved in that prophecy, because that’s not usually what we find in this world.”

Prophets—people telling folk what the world looks like to God’s eyes—rarely tell folk that everything is alright, that we humans have everything under control—instead they point to wars, famines, pestilence. They call out injustice and idolatry.

As you might imagine this sort of thing doesn’t make prophets popular—Jeremiah who we read today, gets shoved down a well and later drug off to Egypt by Hananiah’s political backers—and he is left to die there, lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem which he told folk was going to happen if they bought into Hananiah’s easy vision of their country.

Yes—it would be easy to armor up in order to safely serve God.

 

Then there is the letter to Rome printed from Paul’s pen—he describes the human struggle with Sin and Death as akin to enslavement and war. We’ll always serve a master, either Sin or Righteousness. We’ll always be at war, the question is do we side with Sin or Righteousness? That famous phrase he coins, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” He’s talking Hazard Duty Pay, Commission, the Soldier’s Wage.

For that matter, we know from Paul’s biography that he’s no stranger to troubles—for the Gospel he proclaims he receives hunger, imprisonment, shipwreck, lashings, beatings, and a stoning. With all that, his talk about the armor of God is not misplaced.

 

And then we have the ongoing sending of the 12 disciples in Matthew 10—they’re given the important and seemingly impossible task of replicating Jesus’ ministry throughout Israel—doing so without wallet or backpack or change of clothing—there as sheep among wolves, being hauled before public officials and having to give answer, demonized—literally—you’re a devil just like that Jesus—threatened with death, denied, family turned against them… tough stuff they, and we, are called to… again, enough to get into a crouch, enough to make you expect the worst from everyone you meet—enough to demonize right back, after a while…

Yet, we don’t stop at verse 39, thank God—Jesus leaves his disciples, and us, with some comforting words.

Guess what—there are people waiting to hear the Word of God from you. People who will welcome you, whose hearts are ready to hold the Gospel, whose ears are ready to hear–the field is ripe and ready and wide, it is only the harvesters, the workers, we disciples, who are few.

There will be some on your disciples journey who are willing to welcomes you as Jesus, hear your words of prophetic admonishment, be built up in righteousness, and acts of charity.

What I’m saying is even as we give the Gospel in many ways, we will also receive it—there will be acts great and small upholding you in your ministries—be prepared for God to revive you, through other people, to receive you kindly—we can’t start with the assumption of persecution—there are also moments of great grace in this vocation of ours. Receiving grace from those you tell about the Kingdom of Heaven, opens them up to the hearing and the experience.

You teach a kid about the faith—you may yourself hear the faith afresh. You serve the hungry a meal, you too are fed. You visit a lonely neighbor, your lives are linked by that connection… It matters to them! They care so deeply that you care for them! You’ve brought the very Kingdom of Heaven near, that ain’t nothin’!

 

And these God moments don’t happen if you are closed off… but they can also eat you alive if you show up emotionally naked.

That’s why I recommend trying on a duck-feather kind of attitude toward this calling that Jesus has on our lives. Duck Feathers are a happy medium between the constraining armor of cynicism and the vulnerability of naïveté. Water rolls off a duck’s back, yet they are still free to move and act and fly!

 

HYMN of the DAY                 “Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus”                 red book # 802

APOSTLES CREED

PRAYERS of INTERCESSION

PEACE

Meal

OFFERING

OFFERTORY

GREAT THANKSGIVING

A MOMENT OF THANKFUL REFLECTION

LORD’S PRAYER

COMMUNION SONGS

Also, “Let There Be Peace On Earth”, red book # 592, red book # 497

Sending

Blessing

ANNOUNCEMENTS

SENDING SONG                     “All Are Welcome”                    red book # 641

DISMISSAL

POSTLUDE

A digital version of this week’s worship bulletin.

Gathering

PRELUDE              L. Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”             Taryn Stives

S. Bach’s “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring”           Tom Baker and Meilu Wu-Manz

CONGREGATIONAL WELCOME

CONFESSION and FORGIVENESS

Gathering Song            “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”          red book # 504

GREETING

KYRIE                                                            red book page 184 (set 8)

CANTICLE OF PRAISE                                                     red book page 169 (set 6)

PRAYER of the DAY

Word

JEREMIAH 20:7-13

PSALM 69:7-18

ROMANS 6:1b-11

MATTHEW 10:24-39

SERMON                                                                             Pastor Chris Halverson

Dear Siblings in Christ,

I hear that some of you wonder at the Grace you’ve received from God through Jesus Christ. But, you wonder in a strange direction, perhaps even you wander, more than wonder—it is as if you are children seeking boundaries, participants in a new game wondering about breaking the rules, or explorers looking for the edge of the map, instead of paying attention to your footing.

You ask of this Grace, if it is a great thing, because it overcomes Sin, how much greater would it be if we sinned a whole bunch more, so that it could overcome more Sin still?

You may not ask the question exactly like that of course, but you do ask questions like:

-If we’re saved by grace, what’s the point of doing good things?

-If God saves us despite ourselves, why does any of this matter?

-If it’s all about the love of God, why even talk about Sin?

 

And when I hear these questions, I wonder at you all. It’s like you’ve waited your whole life for the woman of your dreams, you meet her, and the first question out of your mouth is, “I can cheat on her, right?”

Dear Lord, what’s wrong with you people?

Don’t you know you’ve been fused to Jesus?

It’s like a marriage, all his stuff is yours and all your stuff is his.

It’s like that famous exchange between Ruth and Naomi, where Ruth refuses to abandon Naomi, but instead says, “Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

It’s like the poor disciples in Matthew’s Gospel, “the disciple is like the teacher”… when they say he’s of the Devil, they’ll say that about you too—guilt by association—in this case association with Jesus.

You’ve been buried with him, you share a grave. His resurrection is your new life, you share life!

 

Don’t you get it?

-Sin and Death made you their slave.

-You were indebted to Sin and Death.

… okay, maybe those metaphors don’t work with you all… a couple millennia have passed since I wrote Romans, after all…

Let’s try this one, I’ve watched your “TV” and have seen those ads that make cell phone plans out to be the worst thing ever to happen to humanity… You are so put upon by a wireless contract that you just don’t know what to do with yourself.

Well, you have just such a contract with Sin and Death, there is no way out!

Yet, such contracts only work if you’re alive,

-dead people don’t have cell phone plans

—the contract is considered terminated, when you are.

For that matter, going back to my original metaphors…

-Debts can’t be collected from the dead.

-Slaves can’t be ordered around, if they’ve slipped this mortal coil…

 

Still not getting it? Need me to connect the dots for you… okay.

 

Have you heard of Jujitsu?

It is a Japanese martial art started during the Samurai era—there was no way for a common person to defeat a heavily armored Samurai by force—the armored combatant always had the advantage as long as it was a question of force.

—but counterforce easily disables the much heavier opponent.

Jujitsu uses an opponent’s momentum and weight against them.

Why rush at an opponent rushing at you, when you can simply step out of the way and they fall down a hole or trip into a wall?

So too, Jesus uses that inevitable crushing weight and momentum of Death, to nullify this contract Sin and Death has on you!

In Christ’s death, Death kills all who are found on the side of Christ. And in so doing, they are all freed from the clutches of Sin and Death—the contract is null and void.

Yes, we lose our life through this baptism into Christ, yet we find it in his resurrection. He has died to sin and now lives to God—and so do you.

 

So, to answer your question, “Why not sin more so that there is more grace?”

I say: It is the same reason you don’t talk on the MaBell network, you don’t have a contract with MaBell anymore!

You don’t go around sinning, because you’ve been freed from that relationship with Sin—you are Christ’s disciple now, not a Disciple of Sin!

Q: If it’s all about the love of God, why even talk about Sin?

A: We talk about Sin, because it is worth remembering what you are freed from… just as we Jews, remember I Paul am a Jew among Jews, recount the Passover—we’ve been freed from slavery in Egypt—so too do we Christians tell our story of captivity and liberation.

Q: If God saves us despite ourselves, why does any of this matter?

A: It all matters deeply, because you live in the deep life of God, now. We’re infused with the unending love of God–and it means everything!

Q: If we’re saved by grace, what’s the point of doing good things?

A: You do good because you’re freed for that very task. We have to be slaves to something, let’s be slaves to doing good… It’s in our contract.

 

Therefore, siblings in the faith, consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Amen!

HYMN of the DAY               “Have You Thanked the Lord?”               red book # 829

APOSTLES CREED

PRAYERS of INTERCESSION

PEACE

Meal

OFFERING

OFFERTORY                 Chopin’s “Waltz, op 64, No. 2”                 Hao Chen

OFFERTORY ANTHEM                      “With My Song”

GREAT THANKSGIVING

A MOMENT OF THANKFUL REFLECTION

LORD’S PRAYER

COMMUNION SONGS

Also, “Let There Be Peace On Earth”, red book # 523, red book # 779, red book # 697

Sending

Blessing

ANNOUNCEMENTS

SENDING SONG               “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”                red book # 742

DISMISSAL

POSTLUDE                  “Hymn Improvisation”                   by Tom Baker    

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