Jan 22, 2017
Mending Our Nets
Series: (All)
January 22, 2017. Today we hear from the Gospel of Matthew. In the beginning of Jesus' ministry, he picks up John the Baptist's message of repentance, going around telling people about a new way to live. He convinces Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew, who were suffering under the thumb of the Roman government, to leave their fishing nets and follow him. Pastor Keith reminds us that while government is a gift, our ultimate allegiance is not to government but to our Lord, who comes to us with good news and a new way to order things. *** [Keywords: Andrew Capernaum Gentiles God's benevolent style Greece Herod James Jesus John John the Baptist Joseph Mary Matthew Nazareth Pastor Keith Persia Roman Sea of Galilee Simon called Peter abundance allegiance daily bread democracy disease empire of God fishermen fishing follow me frayed good news government healing healthcare inauguration mending ministry mixed-race nets new economy new way to live politics refugees repentance scarcity separation sickness taxing center trading route wellness wise men]
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  • Jan 22, 2017Mending Our Nets
    Jan 22, 2017
    Mending Our Nets
    Series: (All)
    January 22, 2017. Today we hear from the Gospel of Matthew. In the beginning of Jesus' ministry, he picks up John the Baptist's message of repentance, going around telling people about a new way to live. He convinces Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew, who were suffering under the thumb of the Roman government, to leave their fishing nets and follow him. Pastor Keith reminds us that while government is a gift, our ultimate allegiance is not to government but to our Lord, who comes to us with good news and a new way to order things. *** [Keywords: Andrew Capernaum Gentiles God's benevolent style Greece Herod James Jesus John John the Baptist Joseph Mary Matthew Nazareth Pastor Keith Persia Roman Sea of Galilee Simon called Peter abundance allegiance daily bread democracy disease empire of God fishermen fishing follow me frayed good news government healing healthcare inauguration mending ministry mixed-race nets new economy new way to live politics refugees repentance scarcity separation sickness taxing center trading route wellness wise men]
  • Jan 8, 2017Fulfilling Our Promise
    Jan 8, 2017
    Fulfilling Our Promise
    Series: (All)
    January 8, 2017. Baptism is a two-way street. God promises us his unconditional love, and we too make a promise. We promise to follow in God's way. The roles we play in our lives may describe us, but only God can define us. He has made us more. Pastor Penny talks today about how we can use the encouragement God gives to us to live out his way and fulfill the promise we made at our baptisms.
     
    *** Transcript ***
     
    We begin in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
     
    It has been said that when Sam Houston, famous politician and soldier and also given to fights, was baptized as an adult in a spring in a river, when he came up out of the water his friends congratulated him and they said, "Well general, now all your sins have been washed away." "If that be the case," Houston said, "Then God help the fish." He was an honest politician. And certainly when we think of baptism, as I mentioned with the children, we think of our sins being washed away. But baptism is so much more. And it kind of caught me off guard in our text study: baptism is a two-way street. We think of baptism as God's promise of unconditional love and strength. But we make a promise too. We make a promise at our baptisms, as a response to God's gracious offer. We promise to stay away from sin and to follow in God's way. I think it's really hard to keep in mind that second part. You know, it's wonderful to know that your parents love you. But then if that means you have to clean your room, that's a little harder. It's wonderful to know that God loves us unconditionally, but it's not always easy to pry ourselves out of a warm house on a cold January morning -- which you did -- and write out that check for the offering when you have other needs. It's easy to focus only on what God is doing and not what we do. Maybe when our response seems hard, when it's hard to come to focus on our response to God's promise, we need to look at God's promise again. What is actually being promised in baptism?
     
    Jesus' baptism is a good case in point. And it may have surprised you, as it does every year, that Jesus was just born two weeks ago and now he is an adult and he's being baptized. Well, of course it's because we know so little about his life in those intervening years. There's one story about him. But it serves our purpose well today to think that Jesus arrives at his baptism with a clean slate. He has not begun his ministry. He's done no miracles. He's done no teaching, no healings, no self-sacrificial acts. And still God says to him in baptism, "This is my Son, my Beloved, in whom I am well pleased." We hear God also saying a similar thing to another unnamed servant, in the Old Testament lesson in Isaiah we read this morning where God says to his servant, "My soul is delighted in you." Those are the words that are meant to be conveyed to us in our baptisms: that God is delighted in us.
     
    And you know, this is unconditional. Just as Jesus had not done anything yet in his ministry, just as an infant has done nothing to deserve God's love, and the promise is made -- so that promise continues throughout our lives unconditionally, whether we begrudgingly came to church this morning, or whether we have had an argument with our best friend, whether we have recently fallen off the wagon (whatever that could mean in your life), whether we have shirked our duties and instead involved ourselves in activities that gave us pleasure, whether we have hurt someone we love. Even then God is delighted in us, because that is who God is. Because that is who God chose to be. Because God chose us as children. Now I think we need to know, I think we have a yearning to know, that God loves us unconditionally.
     
    A few days ago Keith and I went to the movie "Fences" starring Denzel Washington. He plays a man in the early 20th century who is from a poor neighborhood, but he does have a job, a home, a wife. He loves a child, but he has a yearning for more. He has a yearning, he says, to be able to laugh from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head, to be able to sing. I think he needed fulfillment. He needed to know he was more than his job or his marriage or his parenthood. And I think we can understand that, because we are many things too. We play many roles. We have many interests in life. We are husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, children. We are doctors, lawyers, students, teachers. We are knitters, we are bridge players, we are runners, we are golfers. And these things bring us joy, and sometimes they don't. But is that really who we are? Don't we have a yearning to know that there's more to us than that? These things come and go. These things might describe us, but they do not define us. We are more than all the things we do and all the roles we play and all the things we've accomplished. And God tells us what does tell us who we are. And it is God's promise of unconditional love, no matter what, that we are bringing delight to God's soul. That is what defines us. And when we focus on that, that does give us the encouragement to live out our part of the bargain, to live out God's righteousness.
     
    The word "righteous" comes up a couple times in today's texts. And it has a lot of meanings. But you notice that at first, John wouldn't baptize Jesus because Jesus had no sins to wash away. But Jesus insisted. He said no, we'll do it to fulfill all righteousness. And then in Isaiah, the passage that Brett read, God says to this unnamed servant, "I have called you in righteousness to be a covenant to the world, to be a light to the nations, to bring sight to the blind, to open the dungeons of all those who are slaves." Now, this isn't talking about keeping the rules. When we pledge to God at our baptisms we are not saying that we are going to keep all the rules, because we know we won't. But what we are pledging is to let God use us to bring righteousness to the world, to make the world all right.
     
    Sometimes we see that done in people's lives, that response to their baptismal vow in such a clear way. Many of you know about Harriet Tubman. I don't know a lot about her, but I've been hearing more about her lately, and she is so intriguing. An African-American woman who was born in the early 1800s, born a slave in the state of Maryland. And she was in a horrible situation, as most slaves are. And by using the Underground Railroad, that network of people that helped slaves escape, she was able to get away to her freedom in Philadelphia. She was a strong Christian. She felt that God called her to certain things. She had dreams. So she went back into slave territory 13 times, risking her own freedom and her own life so that she could free hundreds of others, hundreds more slaves than herself. And this is the reason she did it. She says, "Twant me, 'twas the Lord. I always told Him, 'I trust to you. I don't know where to go or what to do, but I expect you to lead me,' and He always did." Because not only does God give us this promise of unconditional love but God gives us the Holy Spirit and our baptisms. God gives us strength. In the Old Testament lesson, God said to this unknown, unnamed servant, "I take you by the hand."
     
    And that is what God does: God takes us by the hand. God has our back as we work to free people from their various dungeons. God gives us the courage, for instance, to talk to the woman who comes to work every day with eyes red from crying, and ask her what's going on in her life. God may give us the courage to talk to a family member whose behavior we feel is getting really self-destructive, to talk to them about it. God may give us the courage to write a letter to the editor of a paper about something we see going on in the community that is unjust. God may give us the courage to stand up when we hear someone being badmouthed, whether they're there or not, or whether someone is being bullied. God gives us this courage because we have the Holy Spirit. We are not alone. And maybe when we shy away from these things, when we want to forget about our part of this bargain, our response to God's unbelievable promise -- maybe the only thing we can do -- is very simple: maybe we should just ask at the beginning of each morning just a simple prayer, a simple thought that as we're washing our faces, as we're taking our showers, as we're cleaning our bodies, to ask God to remind us of how we were baptized. And how everything that will happen to us that day, all the things we'll be involved with, the things that we'll throw ourselves into and maybe we'll be successful or maybe we won't, they are not us. They may describe us, but they do not define us. That God has made us more, that we are sons and daughters of God, beloved ones in whom God finds delight.
     
    Amen.
     
    *** Keywords ***
     
    2017, Christ Lutheran Church, Webster Groves, sermon, podcast, transcript, Pastor Penny Holste, Isaiah 42:1-9, Matthew 3:13-17
  • Dec 24, 2016Go Change the World
    Dec 24, 2016
    Go Change the World
    Series: (All)
    December 24, 2016. On this Christmas Eve we might imagine a future only of good and beauty, but we know the burdens of reality will set back in. We know we can't expect forgiveness for all our selfishness. But God gives us a gift we don't expect: a new reality. We know we don't have to follow Santa's rules. We don't have to worry about how successful or productive we've been, or even whether we've pleased God. In her sermon this evening, Pastor Penny reminds us that God gives us the best gift when he says that we're his daughters and sons whom he loves, and that this gift is so great we need to share it. *** [Keywords: "Go change the world" Christmas tree Christmas Eve Francisco Ortega God's children Mexico Pastor Penny Santa animals beauty belonging burdens of reality childhood daughters expect expectation forgiveness future future gift glimmering ornaments glowing lights good good and beauty immigrant joy magical feeling merit naughty new reality nice peace pressure productive respectable selfishness shepherds smell good socioeconomic pole sons successful tension unearned unexpected]
  • Dec 4, 2016A New American Dream
    Dec 4, 2016
    A New American Dream
    Series: (All)
    December 4, 2016. People flock to find a leader. Why did people stream from all over to hear John the Baptist? Did his stark message of repentance represent an alternative reality for them, a new hope? Today Pastor Penny wonders whether it's time for us as Americans to not just repent, but to bear fruit too. A new American dream, a kingdom of God, is unfolding right now in our lives. How can we work with God to make it a reality on earth? *** [Keywords: Bernie Sanders Charles Dew Chicken Coop Church Donald Trump Grantsburg WI Hail Mary full of grapes Holy Redeemer Howard be thy name John the Baptist Our father Martin in heaven Pastor Penny Pharisees Roman government Romans Sadducees The Making of a Racist Wisconsin alternative reality animal skin clothes baptism bear fruit children of God confess confession conservatives country end of life options flock healthcare historian holy fishes income tax kingdom of God leader leaders liberals lifestyle mental health issues new American dream new hope new laws oppressed peaceable kingdom poor racism recovering addicts repent repentance stark message tour unfolding unjust wild wilderness willing to change]
  • Nov 27, 2016Watching and Waiting
    Nov 27, 2016
    Watching and Waiting
    Series: (All)
    November 27, 2016. During this holiday shopping season, it can be difficult for us to wait for the hot sale. Waiting is hard. Christians have been waiting for the return of Jesus for a long time, even though we've always thought it would be any day now. In the gospel we are commanded to keep watch, for we do not know the hour of Jesus' return. If we do not keep watch, if we allow ourselves to become distracted, we might miss the voice of Jesus even if he calls us by name. In Pastor Keith's sermon today, he asks how can we do this? How can we live in the mean time, and still be ready for the end time? *** [Keywords: Abraham Abram Barabbas Black Friday Egyptians God sightings Hagar King Saul Martin Luther Matthew 24:37-44 Noah Romans Second Coming Side x Side Creative Syrians Thanksgiving asleep community distracted distraction end time impatient instant gratification keep watch mean time one taken one not pairs of people patience remarriage return sale shopping side by side unexpected hour waiting watchful watching]
  • Nov 20, 2016Paradise
    Nov 20, 2016
    Christ Lutheran Church
    Paradise
    Series: (All)
    November 20, 2016. If he were alive today, could Jesus have been elected president? In his own time, he was running to be the son of God, the Messiah. The religious leaders of the day saw him as a threat to their power, so they demanded his crucifixion. But the thief being crucified alongside him saw what he was. Jesus said he would be with him that day in paradise. In her sermon, Pastor Penny talks about the nature of paradise. Is it a place? How do we know? *** [Keywords: Gandhi India Jesus reigns Jewish Martin Luther King, Jr. Messiah Remember me when you come into your kingdom Today you will be with me in paradise action assassinated be there becoming right with God blinded campaign commander in chief crucified crucifixion defame opponents die by the sword elected end of the story face of God king king of love live by the sword mocking no formal leadership out of control pacifist paradise power president presidential material religious leaders salvation savior show up son of God spoiler take part thief threat undermined unpopular]
  • Nov 13, 2016If the Temple Begins to Crumble
    Nov 13, 2016
    If the Temple Begins to Crumble
    Series: (All)
    November 13, 2016. The election of 2016 is behind us. Some of us are exhilarated and our hearts are warm. Others of us have nothing but despair and anxiety for the future. Today Pastor Penny talks about the temples in our lives, the investments we make that can be vulnerable to destruction, and the advice Jesus has for us in times like these. He is our real temple, the rock on which we stand. In Jesus we are transformed and freed from being servants of hatred. *** [Keywords: Cathedral Basilica Jerusalem Jews KKK Ku Klux Klan Lincoln Memorial Lincoln, Nebraska Madrid National Cathedral Notre Dame Rome St. Peter's Basilica Westminster Abbey addiction aftermath animosity anxiety buildings church country crumble death despair destruction disease don't check out edifaces election exhilarated family festivals freed future gun control heartwarming immigration invested investments love political rabbi rebellion rock sacred holidays servants servants of hatred success temple transformed values volunteer vulnerable]
  • Nov 6, 2016Blessed to Be a Blessing
    Nov 6, 2016
    Blessed to Be a Blessing
    Series: (All)
    November 6, 2016. Pastor Keith preaches on the Beatitudes from Luke 6:20-22, in which Jesus tells us both who is blessed and what is expected of them. God's blessings are meant to be shared and given away, not hoarded. So how can we do this? How can we share our blessings with others when we live in such a divided world? *** [Keywords: A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members African Americans Beatitudes Donald Trump Gandhi Golden Rule Hillary Clinton His representative Jewish Keith Wharton Luke 6:20-22 Roman soldiers SNL Saturday Night Live TV show Times Square Webster Rock Hill Ministries blessed to be a blessing blessings bumper sticker called into relationship candidates country debates defamed demons divided world do to others as you would have them do to you earthly income election excluded family gentile gift given away grocery store hated healed hoarding hungry leaders materially merciful mercy misunderstood not earned but received not hoarded parents poor prosperity gospel rancor reconciliation reputation reviled reward is great in Heaven shared skit spiritually support understand one another vote weep]
  • Oct 30, 2016Free in Christ
    Oct 30, 2016
    Free in Christ
    Series: (All)
    October 30, 2016. What does it mean to be free in Christ? Today Pastor Penny talks about the ways Christ's freedom shows itself in life. He can free us from peer pressure, from anger, or from perfectionism. He shows us that our successes and failures do not define us. So who are we, really? Martin Luther says we are both sinners and saints. But by God's grace, the saint is who becomes our new identity. *** [Keywords: Americans Claire God's grace I have called you by name; you are mine I know whose I am If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed Isaiah 43:1 John 8:36 Land of the free and home of the brave Martin Luther Martin Luther King, Jr. Reformation anger ballgame blog bullying clothes we can take off confirmation dreamt essays failures free at last free in Christ freedom girls new identity new school old Negro spiritual peer pressure perfectionism prejudice saints shoplifting sinners successes ugliest student]
  • Oct 23, 2016An Empty Cup
    Oct 23, 2016
    An Empty Cup
    Series: (All)
    October 23, 2016. After illustrating with a skit the Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector in Luke 18:10-14, Pastor Penny talks about our need to come to God with an empty cup. The Pharisee in the story came seeking God's favor, his cup already full of what he thought was his virtue. But the tax collector came with his head down and acknowledged his sins. Is there something of the Pharisee in us? In our highly polarized society, how can we find common ground with our brothers and sisters? How can we come to God with an empty cup? *** [Keywords: Dianne Deck Luke 18:10-14 Pharisee Tax Collector Tom Palazzolo Twin Cities accomplishments beg for mercy beverage brothers burden chaplain common ground common sense confession cup already full diluted domestic violence simulation effective government empty cup fear firearms training fly by night offer forgiveness gun head down highly polarized society homeless industrious integrity justification justified mug narrow minded product racist remorse richness seeking God's favor self made self sufficient selfishness sinner sisters skit thin trigger virtues wedge]