Jun 12, 2016
The New Simon
Series: (All)
June 12, 2016. Storyteller Roger Rose presents an ending to the Gospel story of Jesus being anointed by the sinful woman in the home of Simon, and Pastor Penny relates it to how we can be tempted to use the very advantages God has given us to shelter us from having to face sins of the heart. How nice it would be to feel the sense of forgiveness the woman in the story had. If Simon had been able to feel the same forgiveness, how might his life look different? *** [Keywords: Amos worked in orchard Bible scholars David humble shepherd Egyptian murderer God renounced right to punish us Gospel story Harry Potter Hunger Games James Bond Jesus being anointed Katniss Everdeen Moses Pastor Penny Holste Pharisee Princess Leia Roger Rose Spirit drawn us here today Star Wars The New Simon absolution admit our sins admit sins of the heart advantages alternate ending approval love of God authority of Temple in Jerusalem basket of food bling bowl of water bows of respect bread and wine community confession conversations country bumpkin crashed party decision has already been made defiled different life disapproval dramatist faith forgive means forth giving garb and tattoos go in peace head table host house humble status belie divine nature ice breaker if you could be any character in famous book or movie impudent upstart inferior inner city drive joy love contentment utter peace judgement kissed feet lawn landscaping crew learned scribe less visible sins of the heart lifestyle loose woman model citizen monied and educated motorcyclist no desire or power to punish ongoing problems only speak one language open doors party guests passion of woman priest prostitute receiving full impact of forgiveness reclining around low table reputation saggy jeans scandalized scorn sense of forgiveness sent by God shelter sit down by Jesus' feet smiling look of love and joy songs we sing speak English status storyteller temptation tempted touched sinful woman's elbow true peace unnamed woman voices that have judged contradicted scorned us walked through market warm climate washed feet with tears what would change look like wiped feet with hair words we hear workshop wrong about healer from Nazareth your sins are forgiven]
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  • Jun 12, 2016The New Simon
    Jun 12, 2016
    The New Simon
    Series: (All)
    June 12, 2016. Storyteller Roger Rose presents an ending to the Gospel story of Jesus being anointed by the sinful woman in the home of Simon, and Pastor Penny relates it to how we can be tempted to use the very advantages God has given us to shelter us from having to face sins of the heart. How nice it would be to feel the sense of forgiveness the woman in the story had. If Simon had been able to feel the same forgiveness, how might his life look different? *** [Keywords: Amos worked in orchard Bible scholars David humble shepherd Egyptian murderer God renounced right to punish us Gospel story Harry Potter Hunger Games James Bond Jesus being anointed Katniss Everdeen Moses Pastor Penny Holste Pharisee Princess Leia Roger Rose Spirit drawn us here today Star Wars The New Simon absolution admit our sins admit sins of the heart advantages alternate ending approval love of God authority of Temple in Jerusalem basket of food bling bowl of water bows of respect bread and wine community confession conversations country bumpkin crashed party decision has already been made defiled different life disapproval dramatist faith forgive means forth giving garb and tattoos go in peace head table host house humble status belie divine nature ice breaker if you could be any character in famous book or movie impudent upstart inferior inner city drive joy love contentment utter peace judgement kissed feet lawn landscaping crew learned scribe less visible sins of the heart lifestyle loose woman model citizen monied and educated motorcyclist no desire or power to punish ongoing problems only speak one language open doors party guests passion of woman priest prostitute receiving full impact of forgiveness reclining around low table reputation saggy jeans scandalized scorn sense of forgiveness sent by God shelter sit down by Jesus' feet smiling look of love and joy songs we sing speak English status storyteller temptation tempted touched sinful woman's elbow true peace unnamed woman voices that have judged contradicted scorned us walked through market warm climate washed feet with tears what would change look like wiped feet with hair words we hear workshop wrong about healer from Nazareth your sins are forgiven]
  • Jun 5, 2016Death or Life
    Jun 5, 2016
    Death or Life
    Series: (All)
    June 5, 2016. Pastor Penny tells the story in Luke 7:11-16 of Jesus raising the widow's son at Nain. The crowd was terrified. They believed that death was their fate. Would we have been terrified too? God is not content for us to be ruled by fear. He sent Jesus so that we don't have to go through life accepting death as our fate. *** [Keywords: Abigail Garden of Eden God about life not death God interacted with people God sees us God sent Jesus Good Samaritan Gospel lesson Greek word for compassion Jesus will keep his promise Luke 7:11-16 Nain Nation of Israel Pastor Penny Holste Young man I tell you rise up above laws of nature accepting death after harvest beggar bier bloodied body of dead son bring light to whole world cemetary clearly moved clothes goods taken compassion confused could not help himself crazy crowd's response custom death or life defile himself depend on laws of nature destitute disciples don't cry earn living end of this life is not the end ends of the earth fate father of Prodigal Son fear of death feeling lost feelings come from stomach framework full of joy grandmother grasped in fear happy hard for us to believe in miracles have property hold job kissed his son know the depth of God's compassion life full of love life given back light of God's love live without death looked at her face my heart bled my heart hurt nearly dead next life out of control pain paralyzed platform rational belief reaction to widow reason he came and died robbed ruled by fear sat up and began speaking scared screaming and fainting silent person speaks to dead body story told by someone who was there stranger supernatural miracle terrified crowd the body moved there will be a place for us touched the bier unseemly to go running wave of illness wave of sickness we can believe it we would be afraid too who is that man widow's son women]
  • May 29, 2016Jesus is For All
    May 29, 2016
    Jesus is For All
    Series: (All)
    May 29, 2016. Pastor Keith preaches on the story of the Roman centurion in whom Jesus found faith even when the Jews had been rejecting him because he forgave sins in the name of God, and healed people even on the Sabbath. But we know Jesus is for all. He brings the kind of world where nations can be seen as one, where all are equal in the eyes of God, and where the spirit can work in all kinds of ways to bring healing to the whole world. *** [Keywords: Acts Americans Capernaum Christ Christians are not to be feared Cyrus Elisha God Sightings God through and in all people God uses all people God's agent Gospel writer Luke Israelites captivity in Bablylon Japanese man at Hiroshima Jesus Jesus is for all Jew nor Greek Jewish slave girl Jews Jews against him Jews can be okay Judaism Matthew Memorial Day weekend Messian in midst already North Israel Not even with the Jews have I found such faith as with this man Original Sin Partnership for a Missional Church Pastor Keith Holste Paul President Obama Roman center Roman centurion Sabbath Sea of Galilee Sermon on the Mount Syrian general Naaman able to be whole able to recognize grace accepting belief accepting of others act out of kindness affection all are equal and one in eyes of God another centurion army ascended to Heaven bomb city book knowledge both Jews and Romans called by God caravans ceremony city with regional center coming to fruition compassion on slave connections with other people crippled devout Jews distance divisions are melting don't come to my house dying on cross economic benefit endears people to him equal on same level examine faith believe properly faith of Roman soldier faith of the Roman centurion fishing village foot of cross foreign leaders foreigner had faith forgive enemy forgiveness gender color ethnic language backgrounds gentler approach great faith heal from wherever you are healed many people healing to world held dear by God help those who have been hurt helping his slave get well hierarchy historian how much God has done for us in charge of peace instead of rejoicing instruments of God keep the rules kindness rather than force law was broken lay on hands live law perfectly love your enemies lowered man through roof magnanimous main characters male nor female messages sent between messed up the law ministry miracle nationality new leader Jesus no account for Jesus no doubt not worthy of ourselves notified families occupation force only God can forgive sins orders of difference gone outlying area paralyzed hand people furious phone it in places in society police in charge postpone coming Messiah prisoners of war killed prohpets prompting collective religious memory of community raised from dead reach out to others reaches out to all ready to forgive receive health bring healing reception in nearby cities recite creed remote healing restored in relationship with God and one another selfish on our own sin was erased sins are forgiven slave is ill slave nor free soldier someone who appreciates healing spirit works in all kinds of ways swords and spears synagogue tax collector theology tough guy approach trade route to Far East truly this was a good man wants slave to be healed wash in river we can be closed to way God is working in world]
  • May 22, 2016God is Community
    May 22, 2016
    God is Community
    Series: (All)
    May 22, 2016. On this Holy Trinity Sunday, Pastor Penny preaches on the history and doctrine of the Trinity, and how it is a blessing to understand God in this way. How do we relate to people who have a different understand of God than ours? We are invited to the table of God, and are part of the conversation. On Holy Trinity Sunday we celebrate that God is not alone, but rather that God is community. *** [Keywords: 1400s Adam and Eve Andrei Rublev Bible Christian Father Father and I are one God is community God is depending on us God is not alone God needs us Hindu faith Holy Spirit Holy Trinity Sunday Jesus was God Jesus' followers Jewish Louisa Nation of Israel Pentecost Russian artist Son TV series Doc Martin Ellingham Trinity painting advantages all faiths all one God already done perfectly amazing inclusive God amazing thing to imagine anything but peaceful apartment as faith communities we agree baptism beautiful biblical carefully or accurately celebrate circle is complete complicated confidently confusing description of God congregation conversation courage to preach created creator or builder cross death died and rose again different understanding of God difficult relationship disciples drawn to space eat whatever you want when you want everything nice and tidy excommunicated experience that Spirit factions fought about it falls in love first Christians forced upon us freedom of God friends give them power given to the Spirit good things about living alone guided by fear guiding us throughout our lives hard to relate to people healing people history doctrine Trinity how do we relate icon impossible to live together include people initiated conversation with Samaritan woman at well interfaith partnership invited killed each other life in community life of Jesus life of compassion list live out understanding love of God marriage counselor married messy or tidy as you want miracles mountaintop no social graces obedience one God three persons organizations ostracized our space at the table own house own schedule parents very cold and distant part of community pastor people were delight to God place at table made secure poor bedside manner prefer promise to love punished resurrection root of rancor run and hide school teacher send a spirit sense of awe and gratitude seven Ecumenical Councils shaped him for life shared words spiritual events table of God teaching thinking about living apart three different ways tradition tree unconditional love understanding God as community unique blessing unite to serve unpredictable victory we can control we differ where we fit wisdom word of God words that I say are not mine they are Fathers work together worship with wife and child wouldn't be saved]
  • May 15, 2016Modern Day Prophets
    May 15, 2016
    Modern Day Prophets
    Series: (All)
    May 15, 2016. What does Pentecost mean? On the first Pentecost, the followers of Jesus asked Peter, who expanded on the words of the prophet Joel, and told them that they would be prophets themselves. We are modern day prophets. Emboldened, inspired, and ignited by the Holy Spirit, we too can share the importance of our faith. In Pastor Penny's message today, she talks about how we can see the hand of God at work in difficult times, and how we can convey our message of hope to people even when they aren't asking the question. *** [Keywords: Auschwitz Holy Spirit I'm willing Mac Man's Search for Meaning book Nazi prison camps Pastor Penny Holste Peter Troy Viktor Frankl ability to see achieve and they will prophesy are you okay avoiding going home back on track barbecue coach son's baseball team coffee comment under his breath concerns cosmopolitan crowds courage crowds of people discovery donuts shop downturn in economy early Christians emboldened even slaves everyday faith made life meaningful feelings felt good financial problems finding meaning in difficult times first Pentecost first grandchild born flooding down on us forgiven gift granddaughter saved my life hand of God help us what we're going through high school his old self how God is working to relieve our pain how to convey to people ideas ignited inspired interpretation invite to Lutheran church inviting jokes joy took some pain away leader lost clients meaning in our lives meetings modern day disciple modern day prophet mug on desk no meaning in life anymore not asking questions not enthusiastic not getting along office meetings one person at a time pamphlet parents love their children phenomenon pour out my spirit prayer precious to God predicted new era priests promise given us in baptism prophet Joel purpose pursuit of happiness or power question most religions tried to answer rabbis recognizing reluctant restaurant scribes scripture living vehicle selling something sit down with you small office some people survived speaking languages they had not been taught spirit of understanding stayed at work late tell the future tells people who don't already see it terrible circumstances tongues trouble try church turned back on his father uneducated followers of Jesus unprecedented democracy use me voices of support we are God's children we are alive we are important we are prophets what God is doing right now what does Pentecost mean what does life mean woman lost husband words in church words of hope words of the prophets workers world wrong wrong crowd]
  • May 8, 2016The Foundation of Faith
    May 8, 2016
    The Foundation of Faith
    Series: (All)
    May 8, 2016. How do we pass on the faith to our children? On this Ascension Sunday and Mothers Day, Pastor Keith reflects on how, just as the early church was based in Jerusalem before it went out into the world, our children's faith begins at home. Discussions around the dinner table, friends from church who share common experiences, church music, and Sunday School teachers are all important factors in children's learning the basics of living out the faith, demonstrating to children in concrete ways the love of God. *** [Keywords: 20 year plus pin Acts Ascension Day Christian education God in conversation God's gift God's love Jesus Loves Me Jesus as friend Judea Mothers Day Pastor Keith Holste Samaria Saturday night Sunday School teacher Sunday morning This Little Light of Mine active adults affirmed any time or place in life ascended aunts baptismal sponsors basics of living out the faith began in Jerusalem believing brothers and sisters care for each other childhood days children of Jesus children's music children's songs church friends church participation college commitment common experiences community building community of caring Christians concrete way congregation context craft project or activity demonstrating development of faith devotionals dinner table disciples discipline discussions early church begins at home efforts elders factors faith begins at home faithfulness families firm love forgiving formation of faith foundational family life funeral service good times goodness of faith grandparents growing up hang out together hard work healing heavens home base home makers hug important work imprint on our minds interplay invisible it takes a village knowing child life events moms and dads motherhood mothers and fathers music of the faith musicians nursery class out into the world parenting parents part of our mindset pedigree piano player play activities praying at meals quality of faith raise the child recognized reinforces relational resistance resurrection routine school singing sports strong base sympathetic talent taught as child teach tell the story tender thankful they are loved touch two uncles died we need each other week to week western Kansas who taught who whole world word and meal workers worshipping community young children young or old]
  • May 1, 2016Promise of Peace
    May 1, 2016
    Promise of Peace
    Series: (All)
    May 1, 2016. Guest pastor Tom Schoenherr preaches on Jesus' words from John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." Where does peace come from? Sometimes we find peace, but it doesn't last. Sometimes it seems that our prayers are not heard, that Jesus has left the room, and we're on our own. Or is it that we don't really believe promises that may be difficult to receive?
     
    *** Transcript ***
     
    Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
     
    If we think about this passage from the gospel, John 14 that we just heard, I think we could think of Jesus as being very sad at this point. He may be welling up with tears, choking back emotion, because he's preparing the disciples for his crucifixion, for his resurrection, for his return to the Father. And in chapter 12 and 13, we also see this word "troubled" being used in relation to Jesus. Jesus is troubled. And that word can be translated as "disturbed." We're stirred up. We're unsettled. Jesus is with the disciples. He's brought them to the Upper Room, where he has consecrated the Lord's Supper and the bread and wine, his own body and blood, for the forgiveness and life of his people. He has washed their feet and shown them how they are to live and love and care for others in the world. He gives them a new commandment, that "you love one another as I have loved you." So Jesus has done all of this, gives them the promise that he is not going to leave them orphaned, he gives them the Holy Spirit, he gives them peace, and then he comes to these words: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."
     
    How does the world give peace? Sometimes peace comes, but it seems as though it's not necessarily lasting. Since 3,600 BC, in the past over 5,600 years in recorded history, there have only been 286 years of peace. In all of that time there have been over 8,000 treaties that have been signed. So we can use all kinds of force, all kinds of power in order to guarantee peace, but it does not last. I know that in many times, I am troubled and anxious. And you may be too. I get troubled and stirred up and disturbed, because of the continued violence that goes on against women, that gun violence, all kinds of violence against people in our society that continues. I get stirred up and troubled and anxious about presidential politics in this primary season. I get stirred up and anxious about the ways in which our society continues to be separated and divided racially and spiritually and economically. And then I hear Jesus say, "Don't let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." And I say sure Jesus, easy for you to say. Because lots of us have also lost loved ones whom we miss dearly. Some of us have illnesses that seem to come at no matter what age and leave us struggling, questioning. And I also find, and maybe you do too, that sometimes our prayers just seem as though they are going out into the air, and God isn't listening. And doesn't seem to be responding. And it seems as though Jesus has left the room, left the house. And we are on our own.
     
    But left to ourselves, as we said earlier, we don't have any lasting peace. Left to ourselves we cry out into the emptiness, and there is only the sound of silence. And no peace. Why is it that we — who are God's people, to whom Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit and giving peace — are people who are very anxious and troubled? Is it because we have too high of expectations of the world and of Jesus? Is it because we feel so passed by by this rapidly changing world? Is it because maybe we really don't believe Jesus' promise?
     
    Let's go back to those words again. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." That peace is not something that comes from the world or inside of us. It comes from outside of us. It comes from Christ, who also then lives in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. That Spirit is given to us from Christ, in order that we might have peace. And Jesus continues to draw us to the table, and welcomes us to that table, where we are strengthened for the work that we do in peacemaking in the world. He draws us to the table again this morning, and he gives us his own body and blood. He forgives our sin, renews our lives, empowers us with his spirit, and sends us out that we might be those people of peace and hope in a broken world.
     
    If we think that we're going to see the end of conflicts, the end of war in our lifetime, we may be very disappointed. But what Jesus is giving us is deeper than that. What Jesus is giving us is a sense of well-being, a sense of calm in the midst of the storm. Then, in light of all of the anxiety, all of the trouble, all of the pain, all of the struggle that's going on in our world, we can still be at peace. And sometimes that's difficult to receive, and maybe we're left with those words that I used before. Sure Jesus, easy for you to say. But always, Jesus is inviting us into that peace, to receive that well-being, to receive that confidence in the word that he gives us, in the promise that he continues to put into our hearts and minds. You might think of a time when you were able to be a sharer of that peace with another person. Or when you were able to receive that peace from someone else — not maybe in those words, but just because that person was a person of peace in your life, and shared that presence with you. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives give I unto you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."
     
    Now we are sent out into this world as people who receive that gift of peace in order to speak to a troubled, anxious people — wondering about the world, wondering about a vision, wondering about the future, troubled in many ways. But we have a better story, a hope that is within us, a promise of peace that does not end, a promise of peace that is for the whole world.
     
    In Jesus' name, amen.
     
    *** Keywords ***
     
    2016, Christ Lutheran Church, Webster Groves, sermon, podcast, transcript, Tom Schoenherr, John 14:23-29
  • Apr 17, 2016Hearing the Promise
    Apr 17, 2016
    Hearing the Promise
    Series: (All)
    April 17, 2016. In her sermon today, Pastor Penny plays a clip from StoryCorps on NPR, an interview with Francois Clemmons about appearing as a police officer on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. In the interview, Clemmons recalls how meaningful Fred Rogers' offer of friendship was for him, once he was able to hear it. It can be hard for us to listen to difficult things. But this fear can also prevent us from hearing God's promise of love. *** [Keywords: Asher Francois Clemmons Fred Rogers GPS God favored people God's promise of love God's voice clearly Great Sanhedrin I am your good shepherd I have told you I might lose face I will protect you I've lost everything Jesus enemies Jesus supporters Jew MPS Middlebury Vermont Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Mr. Rogers NPR Officer Clemmons Pastor Penny Holste Pharisees Portico of Solomon StoryCorps Torah achieve afraid going to lose something afraid of being hurt are you the Messiah big decisions big pillars born brown skin bullied burning candle at both ends carrying burdens chamber cold winter air conquered death conscience date young woman dealing with destroying culture destroying their tradition device didn't listen died doctor's office dogs don't get lost down driving dry feet every day first African American actor follow me friend for life friends get rid of that man ghetto global positioning system gold embellished temple good for nothing good shepherd greatest thing I have guidance hangs up sweater hard time hard time listening have another child hear a voice heard me today icon important times in lives interview isolated job market joined the cast just the way you are listen to me lived long marble halls lose edge lose my position losing our edge love of child manuscript map marry man meaningful experiences memorizing every snippet of tradition might lose friendship money moral positioning system most precious possession I own no one not my sheep nothing opera singer ornate box plastic pool police officers policeman policemen positive influence power of fear purity laws putting myself in role rabbi rabble rouser racism real world neighborhood religious leaders rest my feet robe role in kids TV series rose for us rule on concerns scary scene sing in church slow snatch you out of my hands sneakers son or daughter speak up against injustice special day strained relationship synagogue school take that job talking to you for years taunting Jesus teacher of the law teaching people team temple touched me troublemaker from Galilee trust of coworkers water hoses we don't hear promises when we are afraid words of friendship work worst of our fears would we listen wouldn't listen]
  • Apr 10, 2016Feed My Sheep
    Apr 10, 2016
    Feed My Sheep
    Series: (All)
    April 10, 2016. Pastor Keith talks about John 21:1-19. Following his resurrection, Jesus appears to the disciples, who are fishing but not catching anything. He tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, and then they catch fish in abundance. Peter, now recognizing Jesus, jumps into the water to get to him as quickly as possible. We too have the opportunity to jump in and follow Jesus. He calls us too with the water of baptism, and sends us, as he sent Peter, into the world to feed and tend his sheep.
     
    *** Transcript ***
     
    We begin in the name of the Father, and Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
     
    There's almost a sense in the Gospel of John that you can say, "Here we go again." John does well at starting themes early on in the ministry of Jesus, and then picking them up late in the end — and taking them a step further. The scene of the disciples in the boat that night was not the first time that Jesus had been with them when they had been fishing. Very early on in his ministry, you'll remember that the disciples were fishing all night and caught nothing, and Jesus said cast your nets to the other side, and they did and they caught many fish. That was the time when Jesus was first calling the disciples, and it was the moment when Peter first heard the call that he should be a follower of Jesus. So now again, after the resurrection, eight of the disciples are fishing one night. Again they catch nothing. In the early morning they hear this man on the shore say, "Cast your net to the other side." So they do, and the net is full of fish — so much that they had trouble pulling it into the boat. This is the time when John recognizes Jesus. At first they don't quite catch what's going on, but then they realize this is Jesus who's over there on the shore. John says, "It is the Lord!" And Peter jumps in the water as soon as he can, and Jesus has a special conversation with Peter, in a sense re-commissions him as a missionary and caretaker of the church.
     
    The little fire that Jesus has on the shoreline reminds us of a previous fire in the Book of John. It was on the night of the trial of Jesus that Peter was close by Jesus, but not feeling very confident as the leaders and the crowds were out to get Jesus. And in the glow of that little fire outside the hall where Jesus was on trial, the maids were there and the men were there who were kind of interested in this trial also. And they identify Peter and say hey, you're one of his disciples aren't you? And Peter denies it. And three times Peter says, "I don't know the man." So now on the lakeshore, where the disciples gather around Jesus, there is a fire. Jesus uses it to cook some fish that they caught. But also Jesus has a conversation with Peter. Three times he asks Peter, "Do you love me?" Three times Peter replies, "Yes Lord, you know that I love you." And Peter re-commits to the Lord. Peter re-commits to such a degree that he is a powerful spokesman for the church and a missionary for the Lord. And as this reading foreshadows, he will die because he is so committed to the Lord. He will be bound. His arms will be outstretched. And Peter dies on a cross himself for the sake of Jesus.
     
    The third thing that takes us back to the beginning of John is that there is this abundance that we just talked about with the young people. John is a gospel that proclaims the abundant love and grace of God. And it's presented in the miracles of Jesus that he does in the Book of John. The first miracle we hear about in John, that we talked about earlier this year, was when he and his mother Mary were at a wedding and the hosts run out of wine. Jesus makes wine miraculously and in abundance, with huge jars being filled with wine. This is the first sign that John wants us to know: this man does things with abundance. So now at the end, Jesus is still making miracles in abundance. After catching no fish all night, at the command of Jesus to change the sides of the boat where they throw the net out, they catch so many fish they have difficulty pulling the net back in then. It says it was a hundred and fifty-three we assume large fish. Again, Jesus points to this not as a small thing. They go from zero to so many they can barely pull all the fish into the boat.
     
    Jesus says in John, "I came that they might have life and have it abundantly." Jesus shows us that God is not stingy with love. God loves in abundance. Jesus loves in abundance when he reclaims the disciple Peter and commissions him to, "Feed my sheep. Tend my sheep." Jesus also loves in abundance when, with this fire he started, he uses some of the fish that they have caught to cook fish for them and serve it with bread that he has. These are the same people who, on that night when Peter had denied the Lord three times, were also fleeing themselves and hiding and getting as far away from Jesus as they could, because they were fearful. They were hiding on the morning of Easter. A couple of them did go out to look at the tomb, but rushed back where they hid behind closed doors. They had sold Jesus short along the way, not trusting him on that previous occasion. But yet on another occasion when Jesus was going to feed a whole crowd of people and they questioned him then, they said how can you feed so many with so little? This little boy had his lunch with some fish and bread in it. There again was an abundance of fish and bread. The disciples had doubted that Jesus could feed with abundance. Now Jesus is abundant in his forgiveness of them. He cooks the meal for these men who had denied him that night and run away from him and fled and hidden as much as they could. He lets them know that they are back in the fold. Even though they had run away, he receives them back to himself and commissions them to be disciple missionaries to the world. His love, his forgiveness are abundant.
     
    This abundant love, this true and abundant forgiveness we see demonstrated in this shore lunch, with the disciples and re-commissioning of Peter, is something that's really a game changer we could say — or better said, a life changer and a vision changer — for those who see the significance of what Jesus means for the world. The world tends towards zero sum thinking, saying there's only so much and we have to share or get by with what we can in the world. The world worries that there isn't enough and that God is out to judge them. And now Jesus comes with this new vision, proclaiming through John that through him we might have life and have it abundantly.
     
    When the disciple John puts together that the man who was over there on the shore and said "cast your nets on the other side" is Jesus, he told Peter, "It's the Lord." And so they made haste to get to the shore to be with Jesus. He knew that this was a man who could make abundant fish appear. He was the one who had taught and lived by law. When they saw him it was a literal God sighting.
     
    A few years ago, as part of the language we learned with the Missional Church project, one of the words we learned was "God sighting" — how to look for God sightings in the world around us. There's a way to see God at work in the world, how abundant life and love in Jesus can be lived out in different ways. We learned such things as dwelling in the word as a spiritual practice, to be better in tune with the word and with the world, that we might perceive God at work. We did interviews with people in the congregation, outside the congregation, in the community. We see where our acting out this love might be beneficial. We experimented to see how and where this might happen. And I was pleased a couple years ago when I was with the youth on the trip to Hastings, Michigan. The youth group YouthWorks Camps do work in the community, but by night they gather and worship in a youth-friendly kind of way. And some nights they give the kids the opportunity to share their God sightings from the day. And two of our kids that night — Tommy and Taimika — got up before four or five hundred kids and said what their God sightings were during the day. It shows how we can be trained to see how God is at work in the world. John and Peter saw and heard the Lord. We all want to be ready to see God at work and present in our world and in our lives.
     
    I hear the experiences our members have as they enter into conversations with people they haven't met before, and discover a need and begin to talk with that person more deeply. The relationship develops and it creates a place for God to dwell. Some will enter into deeper conversations with people they've known previously, and good things develop from that. Opportunities become apparent, and the presence of God can be seen and known. A person is open to seeing God in that conversation or in that relationship. We may not see Jesus in the flesh, but we can see the love of Jesus and the presence of God in what transpires. We can see the presence of God in what we do each day.
     
    When John told Peter that it was the Lord who was on the shore, Peter put on some clothes as quickly as he could. He leaves the others in the boat behind, and jumps in the water to get to Jesus. Peter knew, when he saw Jesus, that he needed to get to Jesus right away. Peter reminds us that when we see an opportunity to serve with Jesus, we need to jump in too. Our tendency can be to hang back. The tendency can be to strategize too long and think about doing something, and while we're thinking about doing something we lose the opportunity to do it. This doesn't mean we lose all sense about things and just go without thinking. Peter did think to put his clothes on before he went to the shore, so there was some thought before he jumped in. So we want to give some thought too. But it's a reminder that just as Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me?" and then told him to "Feed my sheep," Jesus forgives us, invites us to a meal with him and into a relationship with him, and expects us to love him and to feed his sheep. Jesus sends us out also with the command and with a promise. Sometimes we don't engage. This lesson is an encouragement for us to jump in where there is an opportunity to see Jesus in the action that we take.
     
    Jesus began the ministry with the disciples, and after his death and resurrection he was with them again, and sent them out again before he ascended. Jesus has come and claimed us. He calls us, and with water — the water of baptism — he begins anew with us. He calls us. Just as he called them, he calls us, to come in out of the wet water — the wet water of baptism — and to receive others as he says to us as well, "Feed my sheep. Tend my Lambs." Jesus wants us to be feeders and tenders as well of the people who are around us. And as we come out of the waters of baptism, we are called also to feed and tend. We're called to see opportunities where God may be present, and to jump in and multiply the love of God that's there, so the abundant life of God may be seen and known.
     
    We're sustained in that through the bread and through the wine in the meal that Jesus gives us. It may not be on the beach most of the time, but we have this meal with Jesus, with bread and wine. He's present with us. He receives us where we are, forgiven sinners as we are, just as the disciples were that morning. They were forgiven sinners. But he receives them back, and as he sent them out he sends us out from the meal of communion to feed and tend, just as he sent out the disciples. Amen.
     
    Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
     
    *** Keywords ***
     
    2016, Christ Lutheran Church, Webster Groves, sermon, podcast, transcript, Pastor Keith Holste, John 21:1-19
  • Apr 3, 2016Just Live Out Your Faith
    Apr 3, 2016
    Just Live Out Your Faith
    Series: (All)
    April 3, 2016. In John 20:24-31, Jesus says to “doubting Thomas” blessed are they who do not see, and yet believe. For us, it doesn’t always feel very blessed not to be able to see Jesus and yet to believe, even as more and more skeptics pull away from the church or don’t believe in God at all. In her sermon today, Pastor Penny talks about how important trust is in believing — even more important than seeing. Maybe God puts people in our lives we can trust, people who believe that their faith is vital and live-giving, so that even when we don’t have Jesus to look at, we don’t have to be distracted by beliefs that serve only our own purposes and which may not be life-giving, but we can have the life that God wants for us and for the world. And by the power of the Holy Spirit we can become the people others trust, we can be witnesses, and by just living out our faith, someday others may see that Christ brings life to the world.
     
    *** Transcript ***
     
    We begin this morning in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
     
    I have to confess that there's a part of this gospel that always has bothered me and maybe, until lately, it's really made me angry. And it's where Jesus tells the disciples that "blessed are those who haven't seen me and still believe." Because that's where we are, isn't it? We didn't see Jesus after the resurrection in bodily form. And so we believe in a God we can't see. We believe in a resurrection that we haven't experienced. We believe in the power of sacraments that we can't explain. Meanwhile, all around us, there are more and more skeptics about the church. More people have pulled away from the church. And there's a vocal, if not growing, group of people that call themselves atheists, that don't believe in God at all. So, it doesn't feel very blessed to be here without the opportunity to see Jesus and yet to believe.
     
    Well we say seeing is believing. But that's not really true, is it. You know, if we watch a magician do a card trick or pull a coin out from behind the ear, we see that. We don't believe that it's really happening. There is something more important than seeing that makes us believe, and that's being able to trust. And in fact when Jesus told Thomas, "Thomas, don't doubt me," that's the way we have the translation that we read. In the Greek it's, "Thomas, don't not trust me." — in other words: trust me Thomas. When we don't trust, even if we see, we won't believe. A case in point are the people that gave so much trouble to Jesus — the leaders, the religious leaders who saw him heal a blind man, who saw that Lazarus had been brought back to life, but who would not allow themselves to believe that Jesus' actions were from God. Because their trust was really not in God as much as in themselves. They trusted their own way of living that they believed would bring them closer to God. They trusted their own political savvy. They had determined that it was better for Jesus to die and prevent a riot by his followers that would bring the Roman troops down on them. And so Jesus stood right before them, God in the flesh, and they should have recognized his words and his actions as Godly. But they wouldn't let themselves trust, and so they didn't believe.
     
    Now it's true that we have not been blessed with the ability to see Jesus walking around, though I'm sure some of you have had visions. And they count for a lot. But God has done something more important for our faith. The Holy Spirit has put people in our lives we can trust. And those people have shown us that they believe their faith is vital and life-giving. You know, we teach our children, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so." But really (and you've heard this before) it should say "but Mommy told me so" or "Grandpa taught me." Because we first learned the faith from people we care about, often people we love, and that's why we believe it. Some of you probably have hymnals or catechisms or Bibles written in a language that you don't speak or know very little of, that have been handed on to you from great-great-grandparents that came here with not very many things to this country. But they brought the symbols of their faith. They brought the word to delve into, because it was a life-giving source of strength. And it still is. I know Keith was helping clean out an apartment where some summer laborers from Mexico had lived, and they had gone back to Mexico for the season. And there's a poster with the Ten Commandments in Spanish, and some other Christian literature in their tongue, because they were coming to a country where (especially in our area) people didn't speak Spanish. It was their source and their rock.
     
    So we have been given people that have found the faith to be life-giving and have found the community of faith to be life-giving. We know that when relatives or friends lose a loved one, we see them turning to the community of faith for a listening ear, for prayers, for support, to hear again the promise of the resurrection.
     
    So we don't have Jesus to look at. But maybe this is the blessing. I'm still not sure about that passage, but maybe this is the blessing: we are not distracted by trying to understand "Oh did I see that, or didn't I see that?" It's not all on us. It's much easier, I think, to embrace the life of a person you love, and to watch through their lives how they find their faith to be life-giving, and to believe because of it. It is life-giving for us and for the world, and sometimes that means that we need to give up some of the beliefs that get in the way that are not life-giving.
     
    I don't know if any of you have seen "Zootopia" but it's a really fun movie, Disney's latest animated movie. And of course, it's about animals, Zootopia. And so the main character is Judy Hopps. She's a rabbit, and she had a dream to do something no rabbit had ever done before, and that was to be part of the law enforcement, to be a police officer. But it would require her to leave the safe little town that all the rabbits lived in and go to Zootopia, which was a city full of different kinds of animals, including the animal her parents most feared, which was a fox. And so they begged her not to go. Finally they relented because she was so adamant, and sent her off with three different fox-fighting weapons in her arsenal. Well Judy gets to Zootopia, and sure enough the first character that she begins to have a relationship with is a fox. And at first she's a little shy, but she soon understands that underneath that street-savvy demeanor is somebody who has become a really loyal and good friend. But her prejudices that she learned as a child bubbled up again later on in the movie when Judy, now a police officer in high standing, is making an announcement to the public explaining why some predatory animals — including that would be foxes — have suddenly gone violent when they hadn't before, and she chalked it up to their evil nature. Of course when her friend the fox heard that, really he was cut to the heart.
     
    Like the Jewish leaders in Jesus' day, we are so prone to having beliefs that serve our own purposes, and they're not serving God's. If they seem to make us feel safer, if they promote whatever ambitious idea we have, they're so easy to hang onto. But they can be so divisive, between our friends, between other people in the world. And we push God away. God wants life for us and for the world, and the two do go together.
     
    I don't know if any of you read the story in the paper a couple days ago about a man named Johnel Langerston. He moved here from California. He grew up in Oakland, in a tough neighborhood, got involved with drugs, went to prison, and when he got out of prison he made a change in his life. He got involved in business. He soon owned his own marketing business. And a few years ago he decided he wanted a new challenge. And this is a sad thing: he Googled worst places to live, and St. Louis came up. And I did it, and we're on some of the lists. Anyway but he did that, and then he moved his family to the College Hill neighborhood — not an easy neighborhood to live in in St. Louis — and he bought an old UCC Church that wasn't being used. His family lives in the Sunday School area, and he refurbished the gym. And he has an after-school program to encourage the youth in the neighborhood to be serious about their studies. He wants them to make better choices than he did. He wants to see that their lives have life. And his program has a time limit, because a few years ago, before he moved here, he was told that he has an immune disorder and only a few years to live. He's outlived the estimate, but this is what he has chosen to do with the remaining few years of his life: showing us, I think, that to live in a way that gives life to the world is also life-giving to ourselves.
     
    It is not an easy time to be a Christian, not with so many people believing so many different things. But at a workshop recently on the New Atheists, the professor said this. He said, "Don't argue with people who don't believe what you believe. Just live out your faith." And what I believe he was telling us is that as we live in ways that are life-giving to the world, we become those people that they can trust, we become those witnesses, through our lives, through the work of the Holy Spirit, that allow them someday to see that Christ brings life to the world.
     
    Amen.
     
    *** Keywords ***
     
    2016, Christ Lutheran Church, Webster Groves, sermon, podcast, transcript, Pastor Penny Holste, John 20:19-31, Sarcoidosis, Urban Born