Sermons

        

Oct 6, 2019
How Long, O Lord?
Series: (All)
October 6, 2019. We see it all around us: injustice, violence, strife, contention. In challenging times, what's a person to do? Is our faith enough? Today Pastor Stephanie preaches on Luke 17:5-7 and the Book of Habakkuk and relates them to all we see and hear around us and in the world.
 
*** [Keywords: 2019 Christ Lutheran Church sermon Apostle Paul English translation Garden of Gethsemane God's own timetable Grandmother Lois How long, O Lord? Jesus Laura Martin pastor MSP Middle Eastern people Ministry Site Profile Mother Eunice New Testament Greek On Seeking Mustard Seed People Prophet Habakkak Psalm 37 Psalms able to guard airing grievances all of us together all that is not right with the world all we see and hear also be translated angry another piece another word authentically grateful for big God big issues bodies of water challenging times chaos chemotherapy clear the air commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will act contention dealing with pain deepen our despair demands desired results destruction disciples discouraged discrimination disillusionments emotional illnesses entrusted to him even the smallest evidences of God's grace exhorted to do the same faith faith inadequate faith is too small faith of another family of origin feeling judged full flowering tree hang onto faith hateful have to bear headed to cross hiddenness hold the faith for each other holding out hope honest honest expressions hope and encouragement hopes how much more if you all have faith if you all hold faith if you have faith the size of a mustard seed injustice instability it is enough because of god's grace items job promotions labor under these challenges lamented life out of death little bit of faith losing job macro level marital strife me in Jesus mental merciful God micro level mulberry tree mustard seed off balance other places in the world our Savior in whom we trust our own city pastoral interactions patience people of faith pie in the sky planted in the ground plural you poem political mood praise God anyway prayer prison proclamation of faith protege Timothy relate righteous shall live by faith serious illnesses shriveled up dead dried up seed singular you solutions elude something good something significant southerners speak these concerns standalone people strife struggling suffering sufficient that is faith this congregation this country throughout the ages time of pain tiniest amount of faith trials trust uncomfortable unrest unspoken cares uprooted cast into sea violence wait and watch waiting not our favorite thing way they thought we are made righteous weary what God was going to do what's a person to do? y'all you in your faith]
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  • Oct 6, 2019How Long, O Lord?
    Oct 6, 2019
    How Long, O Lord?
    Series: (All)
    October 6, 2019. We see it all around us: injustice, violence, strife, contention. In challenging times, what's a person to do? Is our faith enough? Today Pastor Stephanie preaches on Luke 17:5-7 and the Book of Habakkuk and relates them to all we see and hear around us and in the world.
     
    *** [Keywords: 2019 Christ Lutheran Church sermon Apostle Paul English translation Garden of Gethsemane God's own timetable Grandmother Lois How long, O Lord? Jesus Laura Martin pastor MSP Middle Eastern people Ministry Site Profile Mother Eunice New Testament Greek On Seeking Mustard Seed People Prophet Habakkak Psalm 37 Psalms able to guard airing grievances all of us together all that is not right with the world all we see and hear also be translated angry another piece another word authentically grateful for big God big issues bodies of water challenging times chaos chemotherapy clear the air commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will act contention dealing with pain deepen our despair demands desired results destruction disciples discouraged discrimination disillusionments emotional illnesses entrusted to him even the smallest evidences of God's grace exhorted to do the same faith faith inadequate faith is too small faith of another family of origin feeling judged full flowering tree hang onto faith hateful have to bear headed to cross hiddenness hold the faith for each other holding out hope honest honest expressions hope and encouragement hopes how much more if you all have faith if you all hold faith if you have faith the size of a mustard seed injustice instability it is enough because of god's grace items job promotions labor under these challenges lamented life out of death little bit of faith losing job macro level marital strife me in Jesus mental merciful God micro level mulberry tree mustard seed off balance other places in the world our Savior in whom we trust our own city pastoral interactions patience people of faith pie in the sky planted in the ground plural you poem political mood praise God anyway prayer prison proclamation of faith protege Timothy relate righteous shall live by faith serious illnesses shriveled up dead dried up seed singular you solutions elude something good something significant southerners speak these concerns standalone people strife struggling suffering sufficient that is faith this congregation this country throughout the ages time of pain tiniest amount of faith trials trust uncomfortable unrest unspoken cares uprooted cast into sea violence wait and watch waiting not our favorite thing way they thought we are made righteous weary what God was going to do what's a person to do? y'all you in your faith]
  • May 20, 2018Parting Words
    May 20, 2018
    Parting Words
    Series: (All)
    May 20, 2018. As Pastors Penny and Keith retire, they leave us with a twofer sermon. These are their parting words to the congregation of Christ Lutheran Church.
     
    *** Transcript ***
     
    [Pastor Penny] Well, you're getting a twofer for today. We decided we would do everything together. So you'll have two messages, but they'll be short.
     
    And it will seem strange after we retire when Sunday comes and I won't put on my clergy shirt. But sometimes I've worn that clergy shirt outside of worship, and I don't wear it very long without remembering that I have it on. If I go to the grocery store, this being a predominantly Catholic community I always get a few looks. And I know they're thinking, "A woman priest?" Or maybe a smile or two and right away I remember I'm wearing a clergy shirt. And my demeanor and my actions might change. I hope not, but they probably do because I realize that I am a witness, or as our gospel said, one who testifies to our Christian faith.
     
    But in truth, whether you're wearing a blue t-shirt or not, we are all witnesses. We all testify to our faith by our demeanor, by our actions. And that's good because the gospel today says we really should testify to the world. But what exactly are we supposed to testify? What is it that we want to convey to the world about our faith?
     
    I was at Rolling Ridge nursery in Webster Groves last week and a friend came up who was buying mint. His mint died. We had a pretty rough summer last summer, even though that's a hardy plant. He looked at me and said, "You're a woman of the cloth. Maybe I should have just had you come over and resurrect my plant." And then he said something really interesting. He said, "Resurrection, that was a one-time thing, wasn't it? It was kind of a 'one-off.'"
     
    And I thought he was right, that really is the heart of our faith. And that's what we hear in the gospel: that the world does not really get Jesus because he was so different, because he really was a "one-off." And in fact a lot of times we don't get Jesus because we are really part of the world. The world of nature is beautiful, especially at this time of the year. Everything that can bloom is blooming. But the laws of nature are not so beautiful: survival of the fittest, dog eat dog. The natural law is that we are born, we decay, and we die. Even where we live, the accident of where we happen to be born, sets something in motion that doesn't seem to be able to be changed. Being born in the United States gives us a much different path than if we were born in a Palestinian refugee camp.
     
    So the world seems to move with laws that just keep going along. And then there's human nature. And there too, we are kind of set. We know as humans that we are born selfish. Of course, sometimes we can do things that are better. Often our minds and our bodies lead us to hurt people, and later we feel bad. The church of course has words for this: original sin and guilt. But if you just set those church words aside, the simple truth that we all know is that we are human and we are born selfish. And so we hurt people and we hurt the world.
     
    In short, we are caught. With the laws of nature and the laws of human nature, we are trapped. We are in this machine that seems to go on without any sense of justice, that just keeps moving along. And we are caught up in it.
     
    But God would not tolerate that. God interceded. Intervened. God threw a wrench in the machine and stopped that cycle, first by giving unmerited goodness to the people of Israel as we hear in the Old Testament, but most perfectly we see that God intervened in the life of Jesus Christ. He lived for justice, and in truth he gave everything and died for justice. And with Jesus, his life defies selfishness and his resurrection defies death.
     
    Now on this Pentecost, we are celebrating that the Holy Spirit came to Jesus' followers long ago. But we also celebrate that it came to us when we were baptized, and that it is with us daily, giving us the strength to testify to the world. And we testify by our actions, by the way we treat people, by the way we raise our children, by the way we spend money, by the things that give us joy and the things that make us sad. We testify. We testify something amazing.
     
    We testify that in a world that is caught and trapped in inevitable selfishness and death, Jesus brings grace. And what that means is there is forgiveness. There are second chances, do-overs. There is the opportunity to turn your life around a hundred and eighty degrees. With Jesus there is mercy for those who don't deserve it and bread for those who haven't earned it and salvation for all, and life. Life here and life after this life.
     
    So in short, we testify. We testify that there is grace in the world. By the love of God and by the life of Jesus Christ there is grace, and that changes everything.
     
     
    [Pastor Keith]
     
    In our gospel today, Jesus says I will not leave you bereft. He's preparing his disciples for the fact that he will not be visible to them anymore, but that the Holy Spirit will come to them. And through the working of the Holy Spirit, they will have his presence to be with them all the time.
     
    The red banner that's before us today is one that was made by my mother on the occasion of my ordination back in 1974. And on that day, I acknowledged the call of God to let the Holy Spirit work through me as a minister of the gospel. The banner shows the main tools that we have to work with as they have the spirit working through us, the word and the sacraments of Communion and of Holy Baptism. And so it's through these ways the spirit works in the congregation.
     
    So as Pastor Penny and I take leave from you, there will be others who will come with the consecration of the spirit to preach and to teach and consecrate Holy Communion. These gifts of the Spirit will continue to be with you. We need to remember that the Holy Spirit doesn't just work through pastors -- that's the main thing -- but works in the congregation through the people of the congregation. Those of you who are gathering here as a people of Christ Lutheran Church, God's spirit will continue to work through you.
     
    While it's not completely accurate because it doesn't really capture the spirituality of the work, I often think of my role as a pastor of being like a coach. The coach brings guidance to a team, but the real playing is done on the soccer field or on the football field or on the basketball court, whatever the sport is. It's the players who do the playing and score the points. At the church, it's the spirit who works through all the people to do the real playing of the church in the world. The pastors kind of guide as coaches.
     
    So we've been here and we've endeavored to be good coaches for Christ Lutheran. We've spoken God's word to you the best that we know how to as you're gathered on Sunday mornings. Maybe worked and hopefully coached you well enough. We've worked with you in different ways through committees, and confirmation classes. We've been with young people. In all kinds of ways, we've tried to exert the influence of the spirit. We've encouraged the music of worship which helps people to internalize the work of God's spirit in us and to lead people to live in that spirit.
     
    But as we know one person can only do so much. When many get involved a whole lot more can be done. So our goal has been to lead in a way that all of you, or many of you, will become more and more involved in different ways of living out the gospel, not only here at church but especially out in the world. Just this week we heard of yet another person in the congregation say, well I do this and I do this and I do this in service in the community, another member of Christ Lutheran. We've been hearing that for years. We've been hearing people saying, I do this, I do that.
     
    And that's the key thing. It's mostly not what happens here on Sunday, but happens Monday through Saturday. That's the important work. You come here and then you go into the world to serve, and that's what we've been about. That's the court. That's the playing field. That's where things happen. We hope that our coaching here helps you be the church out in the world. Coaches have different styles. Some do everything but play the game, as they point out every little play that's supposed to be done on the court or on the field. Other coaches do their work in the locker room where through the work we can do all the preparations -- say this is where we're at, this is a strategy. Now you go do it. We know that the Holy Spirit has been unleashed upon the world. Jesus says, I'm only one. It's much more effective, Jesus says, that I leave and that the spirit comes so that you can be out there in the world living in my name, sharing my word in the world.
     
    And so it is with pastoral leaders. Pastors are only one. They can't do all the living of the Holy Spirit on Earth, but they can coach and teach and inspire others to live the Christian life. And I have no doubt that the spirit will continue to be active among you as you continue to accept your role as people of God in the community and in the world. So as I speak my parting words to you, I want to remind you of that phrase. Really Pastor Penny was kind of talking about this too, we hadn't coordinated quite well enough, but there's that phrase we are saying a lot last fall especially: live generously.
     
    So on the Thrivent and t-shirts, live generously. I think that's a key phrase I want to leave with you. I preached about that several months ago as well. I just really think that's a key phrase for where we are: to live in the spirit of the gospel. God was so generous that he gave us the life of Jesus. There's no greater gift or sacrifice one can make than what Jesus made for us. God has shown us that and God said to us: live generously. I've been generous to you. I gave you my son. Now with that same spirit of self giving live generously to the world. Luther reminded us of that original sin that means that we're basically selfish people. Adam and Eve were tempted right away and they succumbed to the temptation that was come to them to live for their self-interest. We as human beings are so inclined to turn in on ourselves. Jesus has given us a different way, as ones forgiven to live generously for the sake of others.
     
    This congregation has strived to do that and done it. Endeavor to do that in the spirit of generosity that lives this life that way, and I pray that you continue to do that -- to live generously as people of his congregation and as a congregation in the world. That will be a sign that indeed the Holy Spirit is alive and well among you. Because the Holy Spirit calls you to do this, I have no doubt that you will live in the way of Jesus.
     
    Amen.
     
    *** Keywords ***
     
    2018, Christ Lutheran Church, Webster Groves, podcast, sermon, transcript, Pastor Penny Holste, Pastor Keith Holste
  • May 13, 2018Romans and Christians
    May 13, 2018
    Romans and Christians
    Series: (All)
    May 13, 2018. How do we as Christians live in a society that is so politicized? That is so anxious? That is so materialistic? That tells us again and again that we should look out for ourselves first? How do we live out our lives as children of God? How do we live in the world and for the world without being of the world? Pastor Penny takes on these questions today and offers some thoughts. Jesus gives us all we need.
     
    *** Transcript ***
     
    We begin this morning in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
     
    As some of the people in the congregation know from their own experience, one game that is played at Confirmation Camp, probably every year, is called Romans and Christians. In this game the counselors, and many other adults that happen to be around, make makeshift togas out of bed sheets and they have spears that are cardboard with foil wrapped around, and then they wander around a very large area in this large camp looking for Christians.
     
    If they find Christians then they take them to jail or prison -- a special building on the grounds. They are re-enacting the persecution that the early church suffered at the hands of Rome. The Christians, of course, are the campers. So their first goal is to avoid the Romans, and avoid them long enough, to find the underground church, which will be hidden in some Grove of trees somewhere with a candle that's lit. Once they find that area, they're safe from the Romans.
     
    But safety isn't the only goal of the Christians. Once they get to the underground church where they're safe, then they are encouraged to think about those other Christians wandering out there who haven't found the church and are still in danger, and to willingly leave the safety of the church and go out and bring them in.
     
    There's still a higher goal for these campers as Christians, and that is to consider that once they are in the safety of the church, they might leave it. Not for the other Christians, but to willingly interact with the Romans and possibly, in conversation, convince the Romans to become Christian, and then they would all go to the safety of the church.
     
    And you know, even today churches do have a sense of an aura of safety about them. I think this church in particular, with its big stone walls. We feel that we are leaving day-to-day life for maybe a more sacred, safer place than arched doorways, and the stained glass windows all remind us of that. And of course that's good. You know, we need to on a regular basis extract ourselves from the everyday concerns and spend time here together, hearing the word, praying, receiving Holy Communion, and being sent out as those campers were with the faith into the world.
     
    Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Minneapolis had a fire a number of years ago. It's a church that's bigger than ours, but similar, with stained glass windows. When they rebuilt or remodeled, the stained glass windows had been destroyed. And rather than replacing them with new stained glass windows, they replaced them with plate glass, clear glass. So the front of the church is a clear window. And so while they are hearing the word and singing and coming up and receiving communion, they are seeing city buses drive by and people walking their dogs and people biking by and homeless people. So they are always aware that they're being nurtured to be sent out to bring that love to the world.
     
    Well, it occurred to me that the game of Romans and Christians would be quite different if the Romans didn't wear costumes. Because you wouldn't know who was who then, at least not from a distance. You wouldn't know where the Christians were, who the Romans were, and Christians would be very tempted to just blend in with the Romans for safety's sake.
     
    And I think that is our challenge today. Just on the radio this morning, I did hear of Christians being killed in other parts of the world, but in general we are not being persecuted the way the Romans for 300 years persecuted Christians in the early church. We are not taken to jails. We are not forced to fight gladiators and lions. And that is exactly the problem for us because we are in a position to be tempted to blend in.
     
    You don't really know who's a Christian or isn't a Christian in this world. Unless you're a priest and you wear your clerical to the grocery store as some pastors do, you don't know. And so this world, rather than persecuting us, is much more likely to ignore us and leave us alone. We can blend in. But that's the problem. There is a greater danger in blending in than in being persecuted physically, because while we won't lose our physical lives, we can lose something even more precious: our identity, our soul.
     
    It is very easy to blend in with the values of our society. To not say anything. For instance, when a friend makes a racial slur. Or to join with the media when they demonize one political party or the other. It's so tempting to feel inferior around people who are attractive, gifted, and successful by the standards of our society
     
    And I think it's very easy for us to feel anxious for ourselves or a family member if they don't get into the right class. If they don't get into the right team. If they don't get the right career that would ensure their future happiness. As if God doesn't have promises of happiness and joy for us in our futures.
     
    The writer of the Gospel of John really thought the world was dangerous. While you read in John that God loved the world, John also says the world is enslaved by the evil one. And that is exactly our challenge. How do we as Christians live in a society that is so politicized? That is so anxious? That is so materialistic? That tells us again and again that we should look out for ourselves first? How do we live out our lives as children of God? How do we live in the world and for the world without being of the world?
     
    Well, that's why we have the gospel that we have today, because Jesus says I will help you. And the first way Jesus promises to help is to give us a name. A name that sets us apart and a name that protects us. His name: Christian. We get that name when we are christened and baptized, and in baptism a seed is planted. We are given Jesus' identity. We are given his value. We are given his power. And that seed has DNA in it that, all through our lives, as we water it and nurture it spiritually, we grow and flower and are able to live out our identity as Christians, even in this world. So Jesus gives us the name.
     
    The other thing Jesus gives us is, he makes us one. He gives us Christian Community. The Presbyterian USA church is having their biennial convention in St. Louis this summer, and they expect there'll be about 5,000 people attending. So they've told the Presbyterian churches in our area: we want you to be prepared to host on Sunday morning some of these attendees.
     
    Well, one church is small, predominantly white, and they were a little apprehensive. How will our guests feel? Will they be disappointed if they outnumber us in worship, we're so small? So they looked to a neighboring church, which happened to be predominantly African American, and said let's co-host. But then it became clear that if they were going to both work together to be inviting people, they needed to know one another. So they have set up a number of events this spring to become one community.
     
    God has strange ways of making us into one community. And it's not just that there's strength in numbers. It's that when we are in community -- especially with Christians who don't always see things the way we do, especially with people who come from a different background -- we grow. We grow in our strength. We grow in our ability to maintain our Christian identity.
     
    So Jesus gives us a name and he gives us community. And the last thing we see in the gospel today is that he holds up the power of prayer. Now, you may have recognized the fact that the whole gospel today is a prayer. Jesus is praying to his Heavenly Father for the disciples, who are listening in. And if you've ever been in that situation where someone prays for you, sometimes even you didn't expect it and there you are hearing them pray for you. It's a very uplifting experience. So I want to read a few verses that come right after our gospel lesson. Toward the end of Jesus' prayer he says to the Heavenly Father, "I ask not only on behalf of these," his disciples, "but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word that they may be won." And then he explains this a little later on when he says, "I in them and you and me, Father, that they may become completely one so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
     
    In the gospel today, Jesus is not only praying for the disciples. He is praying for us. And we know from Romans 8 that he continues to pray for us and be our advocate at the throne of God throughout our lives.
     
    It is not easy to live out our values as Christians in our society, but we have nothing less than the power of God through the prayer of Christ to protect us and to empower us to carry this love out into the world.
     
    Amen
     
    *** Keywords ***
     
    2018, Christ Lutheran Church, Webster Groves, sermon, podcast, Pastor Penny Holste, transcript
  • May 6, 2018Pep Talk
    May 6, 2018
    Pep Talk
    Series: (All)
    May 6, 2018. Pastor Penny tells us today that Jesus has chosen us. When he told his followers that he would be leaving them and asked them to carry on his work, they were devastated and scared. But he reminded them and he reminds us that he chose us, and he loves us, and that carrying on his work will bring us joy.
     
    *** Transcript ***
     
    We begin in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
     
    It's halftime. The team is losing and their morale is very low. So the coach gathers them all around him. And he looks carefully at them in the face, each one of them, and he gives them a pep talk. Now, have any of you ever had a halftime pep talk from your coach when you were involved in sports? I don't see any heads nodding. Oh there is. All right. Did it work? Yes, it worked. Okay. Well, I'm glad I worked because that's exactly what's happening in the gospel this morning.
     
    The followers of Jesus for three years have been with him, and when they first encountered Jesus they were probably drawn to him because he was very charismatic. He was popular, but he was a miracle worker. And not only that, but when they met him he looked at them in the eye and said, "I choose you to follow me." Now, they might have been drawn to him because of his charisma, but they stayed with him because of his love, because of the friendship that developed over those three years as they walked from town to town, as they sometimes had to sleep out under the stars, sit around campfire at night. They could see his love for them. He listened to them and he shared his dream -- his dream that people would begin to care about each other, that there would be no more hatred. And that love they had for him, that friendship also grew into admiration as they watched and saw how he was always willing to help, even when it cost him. When his feet were sore from walking or his stomach was very hungry and he'd rather eat. Or when he was so tired he could hardly keep his eyes open. If someone came and needed to be healed, he did it. He was there.
     
    So after these three years of this love and admiration and friendship, all of a sudden there is this blow to them, to these followers, because Jesus says, 'I am leaving you, and where I go you cannot follow this time. And I want you to carry on my work."
     
    Well, they were devastated like Jimmy in the puppet show. They were devastated. They were heartbroken to lose Jesus. And not only that but they were afraid -- afraid to lose their leader. And then they weren't at all sure that they had the ability to carry on his work. And it's been two thousand years, but I think we probably can understand that feeling that they had. We have it at times in big ways and small. Our hearts are broken, when we lose someone we love or when we are afraid for our own health. Our hearts get broken when we see our children make decisions that we know will hurt them. Our hearts are broken when we see people in the inner city, innocent people living in a trap of violence with no way to get out. Our hearts are broken and we are scared too at times, sometimes with distinct fears. Sometimes just a general sense of anxiety about what's coming next.
     
    And I think we also do share times when we're not sure we're ready for what's coming next. We're not sure that we will handle it well, whether it's college or a first job or getting married or being parents for the first time or a change in career or retirement or as you look to the last years of life and you consider your death, we're not always sure we're prepared to handle those things.
     
    So that's why we have these verses today in the gospel. They are for Jesus' followers back then and they are for Jesus' followers now. It is his pep talk to us, words of encouragement and above all words of promise.
     
    Jesus' pep talk starts probably differently than most coaches. I don't think Mike Matheny would start this way. He looked at each one and said, "I love you. I love you." And then here's his twist on it, a strange request. He says, "Don't just think from time to time and remember that I love you." He says, "Abide in my love. Stay in it. Rest in it. Depend on it. Live in my love."
     
    You know, there's a difference between living somewhere and visiting that place. Maybe some of you have visited a small town. Maybe a nice little town by the river. You stayed in a bed and breakfast and it was charming and quaint. It's a whole other thing to live in a small town. And I remember being very surprised the first small town we lived in. Right away I'd walk down the street and people who I didn't know -- teenagers, adults, didn't matter -- would look at me, smile, and say hello. They didn't look the other way or kind of shyly look back. They greeted me as if they knew me, and they didn't.
     
    And pretense at appearance was not as important as it had been growing up in the suburbs. I remember women could wear their hair in rollers at the grocery store and people would think nothing of it. They wouldn't be embarrassed. And everyone knew what everyone else was doing, for better or for worse. But what I found after living there for a while is that you learn you can trust people. And their values become your values, and it changes you.
     
    So Jesus said, "Live in my love. Don't just visit it on Sunday morning, but stay in it. Think of it every moment of your life. Depended on it. Let it change you." So that was his word to us. And then he went on to say, "To live in my love this is what you need to do: you need to keep my commandment." Well now, that sounds very dictatorial, "Keep my commandments." You know, we don't like to hear that, and not that we shouldn't but it really isn't exactly what Jesus was saying. The word "keep" has a lot more meaning than we think. He was saying, "Revere my words. Treasure my words," much as you would revere the advice of a favorite coach or your favorite grandpa. And this was the word that he wanted us to revere. This was the command: "Love one another as I have loved you, and be willing to lay down your life if need be." Those are strong words and yet we understand, and we do. We do in small ways -- sometimes in large ways -- but in small ways certainly we do know how to lay down our lives for someone else.
     
    I think of when I was a teenager and I was a nurse's aide in a nursing home and one of the other young women thought nothing of taking her day off to go with the residents to the parade because she had so much joy in watching them enjoy the parade. Or a father who had a fairly good job, but he got tired of missing his kids' ballgames and finally he just quit and took a job that was much lower pay, feeling that it was better to work hard to put food on the table, but to stay with his kids. Or the woman who gave up a job without another job to fall back on, because she felt that her company was asking her to do unethical things. Or the caring acts that we do, and we saw it in the puppet show where Jimmy sought out his cousin and knew how to comfort her. We know how to lay down our lives in little ways, day by day, for others.
     
    And this is what we can expect, Jesus says, when we do it. Joy, not necessarily happiness. Not necessarily comfort, but joy. And that's because as we risk ourselves for others, we make relationships and we learn to depend on God above all else. And I know that you have all experienced that, whether it's tutoring children after school, or parenting foster children, or giving people rides to places like church. You know that when you risk your time and your energy for others it builds relationships, and that brings joy.
     
    In the last council meeting we talked about how our congregation can not only give money to people who need help, which is very important, but how we can also get involved in their lives -- learn from them, form relationships -- because we know that it is relationships that bring joy. And above all we know that those relationships that we enter into out of love for each other bring joy to the one who gave his life for us.
     
    And then Jesus leaves us with one last word of encouragement, and it's very simple. He says, "I chose you. I chose you."
     
    And it's good to be chosen, isn't it? I mean don't we all feel good about that, whether we're chosen for the team or chosen for a scholarship or chosen for some recognition or honor. Don't we all imagine as adults getting that phone call, "Our company thinks you would be so good when you come in for an interview," but they would come to us that we would be chosen.
     
    Jesus says you did not choose me. But I chose you. There is no good reason that God would become human and suffer and die to relieve us of the consequences of our selfishness. God simply chose to do that, and God continues to choose to do that in every baptism that we have. So little Paige will experience that because what happens in baptism is that God says, "I choose you. I love you. And I appoint you to reveal my love to the world. And as you do, I promise you joy. Not just any joy. My joy. Complete joy. The joy that only I can give."
     
    Amen.
     
    *** Keywords ***
     
    2018, Christ Lutheran Church, Webster Groves, sermon, podcast, Pastor Penny Holste, transcript
  • Apr 29, 2018Pruning
    Apr 29, 2018
    Pruning
    Series: (All)
    April 29, 2018. Pastor Keith preaches today on Jesus preparing the disciples for his departure by using the image of grape vines being pruned. Like the earliest Christians, cut off from Jesus and going out into the world to spread the gospel, we too are God's vineyard. God cares for us one by one, as a vigneron lovingly prunes grape vines by hand. *** [Keywords: 2018 Christ Lutheran Church Easter Garden of Gethsemane Good Friday Gospel of John Holy Communion Island of Patmos Jesus is with us Jesus' first miracle Last Supper Matthew Maundy Thursday Pastor Keith Holste Prophet Isaiah Sermon on the Mount abide in me abide with me as I abide with you abiding in you acting in his stead address disciples argument arrest arrested assurances attached to him authorities balance baskets full left over being pruned bereft best wine better things down the road better wine brain disease branch by branch branches extending broken for us budget stay in the black celebration come to life common cup communal meal condemned connected to him convert sunlight crucified cut off cut off from others cyber bullied deeper roots deepest roots of all drink the wine early Christians eat the bread employment endure most intense pruning everything changes exiled faithful fed a crowd flourish followers of Jesus forewarns them forgiven fruit of life fruits we produce gathered in his name gracious words of presence grafted to him grape orchards grape vine grapes planted on marginal soil grieving process growing of grapes hard to bear harvested haters his roots are our roots holding us hope of life for all image important for community improve upon grapes individual care interpret their lives isn't worst thing job prospect last meal led to hill left there to hang life cut off life for all people life gets hard living out this love lonely love one another low unemployment lush and wet make ends meet makes life better in end merged together miraculously more character wine most severe pruning mowed down by life multiplied no machines not cutting but pruning not letting us go oneness in community pays off persecuted person by person plant by plant planted us prayer preparing disciples for departure produce the fruit profound loneliness pruned beyond bearing pruned by hand pruned from human race pruned on the cross pruning pure promise pushed and pulled receive new life receiving bread and wine renewed promise robust economy rocky on hillside sermon set apart single mom or dad soil strengthening tastes better terminated they will know we are Christians by our love thrown down tough soil tried trivia night questions vineyard we are God's vineyard what we were to suffer whispered in moments wine and bread wine at wedding wine left over won't be the same words of comfort]
  • Apr 15, 2018Released From Captivity
    Apr 15, 2018
    Released From Captivity
    Series: (All)
    April 15, 2018. Pastor Penny preaches on Jesus' purposes when he appeared to his followers following his resurrection. *** [Keywords: 2018 Christ Lutheran Church Gospel Greek I am alive again I say no I want to convert to Judaism I will be left out Jesus Jewish rabbi Mark Zuckerberg Muslim Imam Pastor Penny Holste RSV Romans accept his mission accept this mission admitting your sins all eyes on Jesus all suffering was part of God's plan allow to be held captive anger and selfishness attitude baptized in the name of Jesus become Christian become a Jew being released from captivity blinking blood running through both good and bad bought for us bound to pole breaches in security break Passover bread cavalier changed college class sociology of religion congress convince crucifixion death itself doubt and dread dust all over eat enabled to bring release to the world enemies evangelism tactics extremities eyes of joy facebook feet on the ground final say first Easter evening first reasons flawed as we are flogged followers founder freedom friend values you ghost tests in antiquity gift give them a mission glowing with joy of seeing him again good news and bad news hands and feet hands wash their feet he was present higher purposes holding food hopeful hovering how do you recruit new members impose on ourselves imposed upon us instant coffee invited to baptism inviting your best friend over it's me jewel entrusted to us join your congregation just the opposite kids fighting large group lawn isn't mowed leads to forgiveness life death resurrection live in the water loved and cherished made an appearance make sure they have bones makeup more honest more important to be quick than careful motto move fast and be willing to be broken move fast and break things myself nailed to a cross narrowed with fear or disbelief not just the twelve only way they can receive forgiveness open a door open the scriptures painful process panel persecution in recent times popcorn all over preach repentance and forgiveness to the world purposes really seeing him really there really was alive release from captivity religious leaders repentance for forgiveness requirements risk same clothes second purpose seeing a ghost share it shoulds slogan something good about suffering stamp of God's approval strength students sure you want to join us take time teeth think very highly of me third purpose translated treasured undergo suffering as well very different motto victorious warned them it might be difficult washed and blessed way of living way of operating we are all captive we have his presence what eyes of God look like what might come in what they had seen what you're getting into when we fail wide eyes with astonishment women there as well]
  • Apr 8, 2018Resurrection As Relationship
    Apr 8, 2018
    Resurrection As Relationship
    Series: (All)
    April 8, 2018. Christians are a diverse group, but we are all gathered together in the risen Lord's offer of peace, wholeness, and newness. For us, the resurrection is more an experience than something to be proved. Pastor Keith discusses this idea today, and suggests that maybe the resurrection is not about something to believe, but about the someone who makes believing possible. *** [Keywords: 2018 50th anniversary Acts Christ Lutheran Church Christians Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I've been to the mountaintop Jesus Jesus alive again Jesus has risen Memphis Pastor Keith Holste Psalm Thomas Upper Room abandoned after resurrection all gathered together all kinds of people all that we do all that we say all things in common assortment of people be held onto believed right away came to see caught up in the experience certain organization claiming private possessions close up come and see come close to someone come to give his life come together on Sunday common experience confused congregation criticized day of resurrection death and resurrection denied deserted different distance distinctive distribute as any had need diverse doors locked tight doubting early Christian community early disciples embrace Thomas emotions empty tomb excluded faith and action faith leader faith lived out fear fearful fearfully few hundred people saw Jesus alive after resurrection first day of the week foot of the altar forgive sins of any they are forgiven forgive the sins of any and they are forgiven free give life to us good and pleasant group of people heard in the voices of others held fast as well help the world to see highlights of speech hold fast hold fast or embrace impact on what we do in midst of us in terms of relationships indeed inspires join others joys and testimony kindred last decade lay possessions life abundantly life in faith lifestyle live boldly in the world live out this resurrection live simply live with hope living well enough loving style membership millions have come to follow him missed the point modeling moods more experience than proof mountaintop experience moved by resurrection needy newness next Sunday no proof for that nonviolently not judging not really accurate on the rolls or not one heart and one soul original Greek own encounter with Jesus own eyes passed on through those others peace peace be with you picture of resurrection community presents himself to us professor Sandra M. Schneiders questions reactions receive God's grace resurrection as relationship resurrection experienced in different ways retain the sins of any and they are retained risen from the dead rose to life seeing Jesus seeing something seen in lives sensible way to look at passage sermon share in community of faith shared style shunned skepticism someone who makes the believing possible something to believe spoken to them strive for fellowship struggled struggling takes away stress tell what they've seen three times he says together in unity translated two weeks urges us on violent death was killed watched him die way of life way to believing way to measure what we do in life we all gather we've seen Jesus weekly activities what John wants for all of us what he saw what we hold in common whether we see it who we are who we are today whole is larger than sum of its parts wholeness will make sense to you with God and one another witness word sin isn't there]
  • Apr 1, 2018Who Played the Fool
    Apr 1, 2018
    Who Played the Fool
    Series: (All)
    April 1, 2018. Easter and April Fools' Day fall on the same date this year. Some say we Christians are foolish to celebrate a man who came back from the dead. How believable is it after all? But Pastor Penny tells us that in this story it's Jesus who plays the fool. He allows himself to be arrested, doesn't speak for himself when given the opportunity, and while being crucified he prays forgiveness for those taunting him. Why does he do all this? For us. In playing the fool for us, Jesus took away our fear of death so that he can help us with life. *** [Keywords: 2018 April Fools April Fools' Day Chicago Christ Lutheran Church Christians Christians live differently Easter Sunday Easter card Eden Seminary God came to earth as human being Pastor Penny Holste Phyllis Tickle Prudential Building They thought I was dead absolute peace abused adult angry associated with Jesus badmouthed befriend unclean people began to breathe again begins here and goes into eternity better blowout body isn't thin enough born into poor family bumper sticker came back from the dead celebrate man chance to live normal life church historian city had no end comparison game contend with courage to take risks death is simply a portal do amazing things do not have to be afraid to die do you want to come eating enough authority enough friends enough money enough strength enough time enough years experience that death family far as I could see fears in life feel foolish for other people force free to live get married gift given on Easter give us life give word of love and forgiveness given opportunity go back and have my baby go to every town grades aren't good enough hard for us to believe sometimes too hard to make the jump have children he is with us he was silent heal blind man on the Sabbath here and eternally hold our lives up home how foolish in his defense ire isn't end of story it was for us job joke joke's on us just a different person keep us from caring kindness leave everything let himself be arrested let himself be crucified life that has no end look different made a difference in her life mission more open-minded most people believe in God near death experience never afraid to die again never see results of efforts new and better life new medication observation deck once the fear of death goes other fears other people's lives overshadowing true worship part of his mission performance play the fool played on them played the fool political view power and desire to help power to help us with life powerful pray forgiveness precious enough prevent miscarriages reminds us resume resurrection resuscitate revealed in complaints rub important religious leaders wrong way school self accusations sermon sexual orientation she said no sleeping speak differently speak for him stand up for people stop buying and selling in temple stopped breathing t-shirt taken away sting of death tallest building team three years on the road to give us something to her dying day tower tribute to loving savior tribute to God try to live as Christ lived tunnel turns us in unbelievable up from the dead voice asked her we don't want to be fooled while on the cross whole story you're not so afraid of live]
  • Mar 25, 2018Break Down Our Prison Walls
    Mar 25, 2018
    Break Down Our Prison Walls
    Series: (All)
    March 25, 2018. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the adoring crowds shouted, "Hosanna!" On this Palm Sunday Pastor Penny preaches on that word, which means "save us." We not only need to be saved from our fears, we also need to be changed so that we can reach out beyond ourselves. *** [Keywords: Chief of Police Willoughby played by Woody Harrelson Christ Lutheran Church Easter Sunday dawns God leads us Greek word Hebrew Jesus has won Mildred Hayes played by Frances McDormand Palm Sunday Palm Sunday crowd Pastor Penny Holste Roman occupation Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri adoration affecting us alcohol led to violence be the kind of police detective you want to be believe in himself beyond their own lives break down our prison walls chief of police city comfortable consumed contribute to low level anxiety council met Tuesday country criticized crowds darkness daughter had been killed dealing with cancer dissolve like shadows of the night don't cry out for help don't look beyond don't want to be changed ecological future as a planet emerge from their prisons expression failed failure family fear of future fears fears tend to trap us focus on ourselves follow Jesus to Good Friday friend go beyond ourselves guilt had to look it up he would save them health issues here at the cross holy are you hopeful hosanna hunker down important messages impossible to improve lot in their lives jubilant keep us awake at night lack of money lashed out lead us leave Palm Sunday like to know lived up to father's expectations living with his mother make it all his responsibility meaning meant neighborhoods not doing his duty not free in their own country own prison of shame own schedules paralyze us parts of this country passionately desires perpetrator prevent it prone to violence publicly shamed him reached out retirement rigid social system rush to Easter satisfy our deepest desires save us saved from their poverty see clearly see other people selfishness sermon setting bombs in Austin shouting singing start loving people stop hating suffers with us and for us talk only to people they know tendency terrible price terrorism they felt trapped through his life and his death took words to heart trying new things trying to teach us turn us inward victory over death evil violence terror guilt shame violence violent movie want to be saved from our fears we will be changed what that word means when Jesus came why would they say that won't appreciate amazing gift world wrote in a letter you have it in you young police officer 2018]
  • Mar 18, 2018The Car Stuck In the Mud
    Mar 18, 2018
    The Car Stuck In the Mud
    Series: (All)
    March 18, 2018. If we were witnesses of the crucifixion -- the blood, the violence, and the inhumanity of it -- would we be able to see the glory in it? Pastor Penny preaches today on how the world looks different to us once we realize that through the cross, Jesus bought us a life we wouldn't have had otherwise. *** [Keywords: 2018 Adult Forum African American woman Christ Lutheran Church God bless us that day God is there God is with us Gospel Greek speaking people Jeff Bezos Jesus is the one who pulls us out Jesus used the cross Jesus was famous Jesus' crucifixion Keith serving rural parish LeBron James Meryl Streep Muslim woman Pastor Penny Holste Pastor Regina Gray Wednesday Bible class admit failure after he was dead another town answer the call to die as we realize assumptions be my follower becomes evident big house big yard birthmark on their face blood bottom of the hill buy us into the family of God can't do it on our own car stuck in the mud caucasian group clearly see color of skin corn could we see glory country roads instead of highway cross becomes real cross bought us priceless gift deeper point did not sound like the Lord difference we see disciples discover amazing new thoughts and ideas doing miracles drive around that sign driving by in tractor each one of us entrusted to youth of congregation eternity everyone needs to be seen failure farmer fears for the Son of Man forgiveness gift themselves for others go into the mud go to college great guest on talk show has to die to produce hate he bought us a life higher paying job hijab hook up chain to bumper hopelessly stuck in the mud hour of glory identity ruined if a grain of wheat if they really want to see me if we were there important part inhumanity it had rained just raised Lazarus from the dead knew her parents needed her know real life know that we are forgiven leisurely Sunday afternoons lifelong friends lifted out from earth lifted up little engine that could looked very intently looks different makes a difference man who loved God so much marry meet someone my soul is troubled nervous next words he spoke not be torn apart not otherwise have had not something we can do not the person nothing less than imminent crucifixion of course open house our color differences out of the grave party pulled him out real estate agent reject parts of this life religious university request road closed see glory in my cross see her point see how it has touched my life see the world differently sell any product sermon set aside prejudice shame sheer will power showing houses sign society speaker speaking about death spent years caring for ailing husband standing in front of me stay at home mothers strengthened faith such a privilege suffer test the hour has come theology time for hobbies to be glorified touchstone truly see person turn away uncomfortable until you get to know them very divided world violence wake up in the morning we can't see her we know who we are we want to see Jesus weakness what wearing wheelchair who would want to follow him will draw all people to myself willing to die without saying anything worked world will never look the same again worship]