All Saints: Tobit 3:7-8, 7:10-12; Revelation 7:9-17; Matthew 22:23-29: Who’s Doing the Counting?

All the counting in Scripture.  On its first page, the words, “In the beginning” ring out, commencing the count.  So tabulate the days as they unfold.  “The evening came and morning followed—the first day” all the way to “the seventh day” when the Creator “finished his work” (Genesis 1:5, 2:2). Much later, after recounting so […]

Making Sense of God when Our World Doesn’t

This is our pastor’s newsletter for November 2018.   In our grief, we sigh, “Why, Lord?”  Such words formed in my mouth when Dean Webb died, with Sandy, his wife, a short time later.  Today, as I write this article, I still am grappling with losing them both.  Though I am a pastor, God sends […]

Isaiah 66:1-2: Reformation, God Working Through Our Human Failures

A monk at Wittenberg, nails a document on a church door.  Written in Latin, he desires to spark a debate.  For this man spots others selling something called “indulgences,” which claim to cut short someone’s time in purgatory. So, what’s the issue?  For the Church of Rome, unless someone lives a super-virtuous life, he dies […]

Ecclesiastes 5:10-20, Luke 12:13-21: Enjoy All in Christ

In the realm of wealth, we listen today to an expert.  The teacher is Solomon, the wealthiest king of Israel.  To put his life in modern terms—he owned cars, houses, yachts.  Personal chefs, women, entertainment, the best food, an enormous wine cellar, gardens, and vineyards all occupied his life. In Ecclesiastes, he writes his report, […]

Mark 4:35-41, Revelation 14:13: Donna Kind-Gappa’s Funeral Sermon: Blessed are the Dead Who Die in the Lord

The story is the tale of your life, soaked into the bones and marrow of your being.  The sun warms your face, but distant thunder cleaves your ears.  Soon, dark clouds banish the brightness, and blackness descends, unasked for and unwanted. The still waters rebel and lash out in chaos.  Venomous bile stings your throat, […]

Mark 9:14-29: Faith and Faithfulness

In today’s Gospel, Jesus triumphs in a spiritual miracle, casting out a demon.  For us, this is almost unrelatable because we can explain, in some way, people’s bizarre conduct.  In our world, people exhibit many weird behaviors.  Still, we almost always come up with some explanation, often traceable to an illness—Bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s, a horrible […]

A Lesson on Grieving

With two deaths within a week, a lesson like this made sense.  For when someone you know and love dies, you suffer an enormous sense of loss.  It is like an amputation. Initially, there’s a sharp pain. Eventually, there’s healing—but there’s always a loss. Grief is the expression of this loss, which someone can express […]

Sandy Webb’s Funeral Homily: Baptism Does What?

John 3:1-7, 14-17; Genesis 7:11-13, 22-23; 8:1, 9:8-15; 1 Peter 3:18-21 Sometimes, someone enters your life who speaks the truth, flowing from a heart of love, without pretense or agenda.  Whenever a friend like this becomes part of your life, don’t let him go.  Such people are rare.  Don’t allow being comfortable to obstruct genuine […]

Mark 7:24-37: Knocked Down by Sin and Death

In less than a week, two deaths—Sandy Webb and Donna Kind-Gappa.  So close together, we are left unable to make sense of this.  Inside, we are a mess of emotions, disturbed and rattled. Somehow, this smacks of betrayal.  For if God is real, how can he let this happen, a few days apart?  Only a […]

Ephesians 5:22-33: Love and Submission?

Such a reviled word, submission.  Given a different worldview, which concerns itself for others, we set aside our desires and rights for the benefit of another.  Now, this is part of following Jesus because He did the same for us.  The rights and privileges of being God, He put away, becoming human, walking the road […]