Can A Story Change Your Life?


Message Title: Can A Story Change Your Life?
Active Faith (St francis quote about preaching the gopsel at all times)
Season: Easter
Main Text: *Acts 5:27-32;
Scripture Reading: John 20:19-31
RCL Scripture: *Acts 5:27-32; Psalm 118:14-29; Psalm 150; Revelation 1:4-8; John 20:19-31
Focus:  The knowledge of the Resurrected Jesus is transformative.
 To align our priorities and loyalties with Christ above every earthly authority.
Other Notes:
STORIES OF ACTIVE FAITH PEOPLE – st Francis, Shane Claiborne, mother Theresa, “hell’s kitchen” & Walter rauschenbach,

SCRIPTURE READING: John 20:19-31 19 It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.” 24 Thomas, the one called Didymus,[a] one of the Twelve, wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples told him, “We’ve seen the Lord!” But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and put my hand into his side, I won’t believe.” 26 After eight days his disciples were again in a house and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!” 28 Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus replied, “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.” 30 Then Jesus did many other miraculous signs in his disciples’ presence, signs that aren’t recorded in this scroll. 31 But these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name.

ACTIVE FAITH SERIES INTRODUCTION:  A quote frequently mis-attributed to St. Francis of Assisi is “Preach the Gospel at all times, when necessary, use words.” Regardless of who coined this phrase, it is a solid phrase to live by. Over the season of Easter, we will study stories from Acts and John while considering how we can transform our faith to an active faith.

ACTIVE FAITH EXAMPLE:  As we journey through the our Active Faith series, I’ll also find examples of Christians throughout history who have lived an Active Faith.

We’ll talk about St. Francis first.

  1. Details about St Fran:
    1. From a wealthy family
    2. Went to war and was traumatized by the injuries and death he saw
      1. Rejected his family status of wealth and position for a role as a monk
      2. Took a vow of poverty and basically established a new “order” (Franciscan monks vs. Benedictine or Gregorian or other monks)
    3. He preached to birds and the response was so spiritual that he had a revelation of all creation being part of God’s family. He regularly preached to animals from that point forward.
      1. Source:
  2. St Francis was a tender and tortured soul that carried the burdens of war yet found peace in nature.
    1. Personal irony—I own a cat, she’s named after St Francis, we call her Franny. She however, is not a lover of animals. She doesn’t like her 4 cat siblings or 2 doggie siblings.

TRANSITION: St Francis loved preaching to animals but in our text for today we will hear how Peter broke the law by preaching. Two unconventional men with active faith to very different crowds! Let’s see how their faith will guide our own.

MAIN TEXT: Acts 5:27-32 27 The apostles were brought before the council where the high priest confronted them: 28 “In no uncertain terms, we demanded that you not teach in this name. And look at you! You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching. And you are determined to hold us responsible for this man’s death.” 29 Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than humans30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God has exalted Jesus to his right side as leader and savior so that he could enable Israel to change its heart and life and to find forgiveness for sins. 32 We are witnesses of such things, as is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”


  1. Context:
    1. After math of Easter- Remember, Jesus was executed by his own people through the authority of Rome. He was considered a criminal and a blasphemer by officials.
      1. They executed Jesus and hoped that it would squash this movement. Hopefully fear of being executed would quiet his disciples.
    2. By the time of Acts 5, Pentecost has already happened. The disciples were commissioned and equipped with the Holy Spirit to spread the story of Jesus to the ends of the earth.
      1. Though they are out preaching, this didn’t mean the tension in the air had calmed.
  2. Jesus’ disciples were not silenced by the high priest or Sadducees. They continued to preach the word of Jesus even though they had been strictly forbidden to do so.


  1. Connect to scripture reading:
    1. We can see that the gospel passage we read for our scripture reading had a transforming impact on their lives.
    2. The disciples saw the resurrected Jesus, Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on them (yes this is described differently in Acts 2) and then told them to go and serve.
    3. Thomas wasn’t there and didn’t believe the other disciples. He wanted the same proof they received.
  2. This event changed their lives. The disciples were willing to risk their own death by continuing to preach the story of Jesus throughout Jerusalem.
    1. Eventually all 12 of the apostles would die for the Gospel.
      1. Judas out of guilt for his part in the story
      2. John in exile on an island
      3. The rest as martyrs
  3. The truth of Jesus Christ gave the disciples the bravery to stand up to human authority. The disciples aren’t looking for human approval in order to carry out the Great Commission. They would be faithful to Jesus at all cost.
    1. They are faithful to Jesus above their religion & religious leaders.
    2. They are faithful to Jesus above the government.
    3. They are faithful to Jesus above the culture.


  1. Not their own gain: The disciples were not rebellious against authorities in order to push any human agenda. They were preaching the hope of Christ regardless of what any authorities said.
    1. It’s no wonder that, later, the Apostle Paul writes to the Philippians about their citizenship in Heaven not on Earth. They had put too much emphasis on national pride.
  2. Political Loyalty: A podcast I listened to discussed a political candidate’s interview for a local election—I forget the state or candidate or political party. However, they asked him if he was loyal to his state or to his political party. The people wanted him to be loyal to his state first and foremost.
    1. Divided loyalty is not loyalty. Eventually, one will demand the whole amount. We cannot be loyal to two separate groups.
    2. i.e. Jesus speaks of not being able to serve both God and money in Matthew 6.

  3. Sorting our Priorities:
    1. Our priority isn’t to make sure the government (of any country) behaves in accordance to our faith.
      1. Our priority isn’t to a political party or politician.
        1. This is a tough one for me—it’s so easy to equate my hopes with what government officials say or the laws that will be passed. I can get wrapped up in hoping that all of America will see the world through the same Gospel lens as me.
      2. BUT the disciples were faithful to Jesus even at the risk of their lives- religion, government & culture.
        1. Early Christians were faithful to Jesus even when Christianity was illegal and punishable by death (including a gladiator death by wild beasts). It wasn’t until Constantine that Christianity was legalized. … and then we became the killers (aka the Holy Roman Empire slaughtering anyone who wouldn’t say yes to Jesus.)
      3. When faith and government mix, it makes a mess of both. It splits our priorities…. Eventually we choose one over the other.
    1. Our priority is to the teachings of Jesus.
      1. Does Jesus alter our politics or do our politics alter Jesus?
      2. Our faith acts outside of ANY authority apart from Jesus.
      3. There are countless martyrs (talked about in SS) we could study who died for their faith—the first that come to mind are Felicitas and Perpetua. Perpetua gave birth in jail, her father took the child. And then the two women were killed in arena games… (think gladiator games) … all because they loved Jesus. Theses mothers gave up their life & ability to raise their children for the Gospel.
        1. We get mad about books with words in them that we disagree with and call it persecution. We get mad about Christmas not being celebrated “properly” in retail stores or restaurants. These women died for their faith.


  1. We’ve lost our perspective much like St. Francis before he went to war.
  2. No matter what events are happening in the world (war, food shortage, elections, etc) our priority is to be faithful to Christ.
    1. Faithfulness to Christ does not look like cruelty to others.
    2. Faithfulness to Christ looks like compassion, hope, and mercy.
    3. Faithfulness to Christ looks like spending our energy on ministry, not on passing our beliefs in to laws.
    4. The laws of this world don’t dictate our mission, God does. Our job is to care for the vulnerable and spread the hope of the Resurrected Christ.
  3. Join with the bold Christians who have gone before us. Don’t cling to hope in human authorities but in Christ.

May we be transformed by the resurrected Jesus. May our priorities and loyalties be only to him.

Easter Sunday


Message Title:
Main Text:
 All Scripture Readings
Scripture Reading:
Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:19-26; Luke 24:1-12
RCL Scripture:
*Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 65:17-25; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:19-26 or Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18 or Luke 24:1-12
Focus: Jesus resurrected for all people to be invited to the family of God.
 To be comfortable in the unknown, to learn through the Spirit, and respond with praise.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING 1: Psalm 118 :1-2, 14-24 Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever. Let Israel say it: “God’s faithful love lasts forever!”… 14 The Lord was my strength and protection; he was my saving help! 15 The sounds of joyful songs and deliverance are heard in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s strong hand is victorious! 16The Lord’s strong hand is ready to strike! The Lord’s strong hand is victorious!” 17 I won’t die—no, I will live and declare what the Lord has done. 18 Yes, the Lord definitely disciplined me, but he didn’t hand me over to death. 19 Open the gates of righteousness for me so I can come in and give thanks to the Lord! 20 This is the Lord’s gate; those who are righteous enter through it. 21 I thank you because you answered me, because you were my saving help. 22 The stone rejected by the builders is now the main foundation stone! 23 This has happened because of the Lord; it is astounding in our sight! 24 This is the day the Lord acted; we will rejoice and celebrate in it!

SCRIPTURE READING 2: Acts 10: 34-43 34 Peter said, “I really am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another. 35 Rather, in every nation, whoever worships him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 This is the message of peace he sent to the Israelites by proclaiming the good news through Jesus Christ: He is Lord of all! 37 You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism John preached. 38 You know about Jesus of Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit and endowed with power. Jesus traveled around doing good and healing everyone oppressed by the devil because God was with him. 39 We are witnesses of everything he did, both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him up on the third day and allowed him to be seen, 41 not by everyone but by us. We are witnesses whom God chose beforehand, who ate and drank with him after God raised him from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

SCRIPTURE READING 3:  1 Corinthians 15; 19-26 19 If we have a hope in Christ only in this life, then we deserve to be pitied more than anyone else. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead. He’s the first crop of the harvest[a] of those who have died. 21 Since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came through one too. 22 In the same way that everyone dies in Adam, so also everyone will be given life in Christ. 23 Each event will happen in the right order: Christ, the first crop of the harvest,[b] then those who belong to Christ at his coming, 24 and then the end, when Christ hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he brings every form of rule, every authority and power to an end. 25 It is necessary for him to rule until he puts all enemies under his feet.[c] 26 Death is the last enemy to be brought to an end,

SCRIPTURE READING 4: Luke 24: 1-12  Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. They didn’t know what to make of this. Suddenly, two men were standing beside them in gleaming bright clothing. The women were frightened and bowed their faces toward the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He isn’t here, but has been raised. Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee, that the Human One[a] must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words. When they returned from the tomb, they reported all these things to the eleven and all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. 11 Their words struck the apostles as nonsense, and they didn’t believe the women. 12 But Peter ran to the tomb. When he bent over to look inside, he saw only the linen cloth. Then he returned home, wondering what had happened.


  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How many of you love home improvement projects? Which projects are always worth the money?
    1. Have you ever taken a short cut to save money?
    2. Have you ever found something bizarre while in the midst of a project?
  2. Perhaps it’s pregnancy, but house projects have been on my mind the last six months or so. I particularly love learning about home renos with weird discoveries. Sure, I always ask “Why would you cover up beautiful hard wood floors with carpet?” But what if they find something else under the carpet?
    1. One of my favorite stories is of a couple who decided to rip up the carpet in a room in their house and they discovered a fully tiled hot tub. PHOTO

TRANSITION:  While we may not understand *why* our previous home owner made their decorating decisions; we’ve got bigger puzzles to solve.

It’s Easter Sunday! He has risen- he has risen indeed. Today we will discuss the PUZZLING story of Jesus’ resurrection through our scripture readings. We’ll address the text in reverse order, starting with Luke and ending with Psalm 118. Join me as we walk through scripture and hunt for understanding in this complex story.

THE TEXT:  Luke 24:1-12; 1 Corinthians 15:19-26; Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24


  1. WHAT HAPPENED: Luke 24:1-12
    1. Gospel disclaimer: Each Gospel is different about who went to the tomb and what happened at the Tomb. This is Luke’s perspective. Not a resurrection text but a discovery of the empty tomb (Wp)
      1. I think we’re given this passage as examples of our own experience. We weren’t there on Easter Sunday. We didn’t get to see the resurrected Messiah. BUT we’re still called to believe.
    2. Fear was present: it was not a good time to be connected to Jesus. Jesus had just been brutally executed; you could easily assume the same fate – guilty by association. Therefore, many of the disciples went into hiding.
      1. BUT the women went to the tomb. The women did not dwell in their fear. They lived in their love for Jesus.
    3. The text tells us “men” appeared (angels) and announce to the women that Jesus is alive and remind them of what Jesus taught them.
      1. The women remembered and went to spread the news.
    4. Then they went to tell the men, but the men didn’t believe them. The disciples treated the women like their culture expected—women are property, they can’t speak truth. Women couldn’t even testify in court… I mean if a cow or a table can’t testify, why should a woman? (just considered it “hen talk” as Gary would call it.)
      1. Peter even goes to the Tomb and leaves wondering.
    5. Disbelief is part of the Easter Story
      1. Belief is not the natural response of anyone (WP)
  2. SIGNIFICANCE: 1 Corinthians 15:19-26 can’t rewrite history or faith so that it makes you feel good.
    1. Struggles with belief was not a problem for just the disciples. Early Christians, especially those who didn’t meet Jesus or witness the resurrection struggled to understand and build their faith.
    2. Many tried to explain things away that they didn’t understand so Paul wrote to show them how their “solutions” to the “problems” made different problems.
      1. Christ was resurrected… if not, then we have not hope of being resurrected and our faith is silly.
    3. The concept is difficult to comprehend BUT Jesus resurrected FOR US and we have hope in our own resurrection because of Easter.
  3. INVITATION: Acts 10:34-43 Learning and growing with God
      1. Both Paul and Peter had to learn the lesson that God was opening doors for Gentiles, not just for Jews. They learned that we didn’t have to become Jewish to follow Jesus, who was Jewish. The resurrection was a promise not simply for a select few, but for everyone to expect.
    2. This passage in acts is beautiful because Peter has to admit that God is doing things he didn’t expect. Peter sees the Holy Spirit work in people that he had written off and was forced to adjust his own beliefs to fit how God ACTUALLY works.
      1. (Pentecost of the Gentiles- Peter’s eyes have opened that God calls Gentiles as well as Jews).
      2. “I am learning” – He’s a work in progress, he’s undoing his preconceived ideas and working on opening his mind to how God had designed things.
    3. God doesn’t show partiality to one group over another
      1. Audience engagement: Let’s unpack verse 35 in a way that hits home. Every nation—reflection time: “every ____” (political party, generation, country, race, etc)
  4. WORSHIP: Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24- a partial repeat of last week.
    1. We read part of this psalm last week for Palm Sunday but the sentiment remains: God’s plans are bigger than we understand. God’s methods are frequently puzzling. BUT God’s motives are always praise worthy.
      1. Praising God in the midst of our unknown
    2. We’re praising God from the other side of a promise. Easter Sunday is waiting on one less promise than Palm Sunday’s praises.


  1. You don’t have to have God all figured out.
    1. Jesus’ disciples (who were there! Who travelled with Jesus, ate with Jesus, saw miracles were inconsistent!)
    2. Faith doesn’t mean “I understand completely.”  Faith means “I’ll trust in the midst of the unknown.”
  2. There will be learning opportunities as you stick it out.
    1. An ongoing relationship with God will open doors of understanding in many ways— in other ways it will open peace for the unanswered.
    2. Peter was “learning” – we can learn too.
  3. Jesus’ resurrection is full of mysteries but his love for you is unquestioningly true.

CONCLUSION:  The Good news? You won’t find any hidden hot tubs under the carpet. The truth? There will be plenty more puzzling parts of faith as you grow with God. Embrace the mysteries. Expect new things. Welcome to the resurrection.

Good Friday

4/15/2022 Good Friday Tenebrae service
  1. Welcome & Instructions: Thank you for joining us this evening. Our previous gathering was last night for Maundy Thursday where we left the place in candle light. Tonight, the room will get even darker. Readers will come and read a passage then extinguish candles.
    The room will grow dark as we progress through the story of “Good Friday.” This type of service is known as a Tenebrae service which connects us with the darkness the disciples felt and the darkness Jesus experienced on this holy day.
  2. Unison Prayer: let’s open in prayer together. Join me in reading the prayer on the screen out loud.

Holy God, We are caught in the tension of light and shadow, death and resurrection. You spoke the world into being, you illuminated the universe by your very speech, then filled the void with life. Indeed, you have filled the void of darkness and death, the empty promises of the abyss, with new life and new creation. We look to you in the space between the world and the Kingdom, longing for the fulfillment of your word in the work of the Holy Spirit and the reign of Christ, our Creator and King. Amen.

  • Tenebrae Readings: 15 Candles + Christ Candle.

Matthew 26:31-75

MERIAH 31-3531 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Tonight you will all fall away because of me. This is because it is written, I will hit the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will go off in all directions.[d] 32 But after I’m raised up, I’ll go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter replied, “If everyone else stumbles because of you, I’ll never stumble.” 34 Jesus said to him, “I assure you that, before the rooster crows tonight, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said, “Even if I must die alongside you, I won’t deny you.” All the disciples said the same thing. EXTINGUISH YOUR CANDLE

JOSH 36-46 36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to the disciples, “Stay here while I go and pray over there.” 37 When he took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, he began to feel sad and anxious. 38 Then he said to them, “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying. Stay here and keep alert with me.” 39 Then he went a short distance farther and fell on his face and prayed, “My Father, if it’s possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. However—not what I want but what you want.” 40 He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you stay alert one hour with me? 41 Stay alert and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation. The spirit is eager, but the flesh is weak.” 42 A second time he went away and prayed, “My Father, if it’s not possible that this cup be taken away unless I drink it, then let it be what you want.” 43 Again he came and found them sleeping. Their eyes were heavy with sleep. 44 But he left them and again went and prayed the same words for the third time. 45 Then he came to his disciples and said to them, “Will you sleep and rest all night? Look, the time has come for the Human One[e] to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up. Let’s go. Look, here comes my betrayer.”


CHRIS 47-56 47 While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, came. With him was a large crowd carrying swords and clubs. They had been sent by the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 His betrayer had given them a sign: “Arrest the man I kiss.” 49 Just then he came to Jesus and said, “Hello, Rabbi.” Then he kissed him. 50 But Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came and grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 51 One of those with Jesus reached for his sword. Striking the high priest’s slave, he cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put the sword back into its place. All those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I’m not able to ask my Father and he will send to me more than twelve battle groups[f] of angels right away? 54 But if I did that, how would the scriptures be fulfilled that say this must happen?” 55 Then Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come with swords and clubs to arrest me, like a thief? Day after day, I sat in the temple teaching, but you didn’t arrest me. 56 But all this has happened so that what the prophets said in the scriptures might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left Jesus and ran away.

BO 57-68 57 Those who arrested Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest. The legal experts and the elders had gathered there. 58 Peter followed him from a distance until he came to the high priest’s courtyard. He entered that area and sat outside with the officers to see how it would turn out. 59 The chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 They didn’t find anything they could use from the many false witnesses who were willing to come forward. But finally they found two 61 who said, “This man said, ‘I can destroy God’s temple and rebuild it in three days.’” 62 Then the high priest stood and said to Jesus, “Aren’t you going to respond to the testimony these people have brought against you?” 63 But Jesus was silent. The high priest said, “By the living God, I demand that you tell us whether you are the Christ, God’s Son.” 64 “You said it,” Jesus replied. “But I say to you that from now on you’ll see the Human One[g] sitting on the right side of the Almighty[h] and coming on the heavenly clouds.”[i] 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He’s insulting God! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, you’ve heard his insult against God. 66 What do you think?” And they answered, “He deserves to die!” 67 Then they spit in his face and beat him. They hit him 68 and said, “Prophesy for us, Christ! Who hit you?”

ABBY 69-75 69 Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant woman came and said to him, “You were also with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it in front of all of them, saying, “I don’t know what you are talking about.” 71 When he went over to the gate, another woman saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” 72 With a solemn pledge, he denied it again, saying, “I don’t know the man.” 73 A short time later those standing there came and said to Peter, “You must be one of them. The way you talk gives you away.” 74 Then he cursed and swore, “I don’t know the man!” At that very moment the rooster crowed. 75 Peter remembered Jesus’ words, “Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times.”And Peter went out and cried uncontrollably.

Matthew 27: 1-37

RUTH 1-2 Early in the morning all the chief priests and the elders of the people reached the decision to have Jesus put to death. They bound him, led him away, and turned him over to Pilate the governor.

MERIAH 3-10 When Judas, who betrayed Jesus, saw that Jesus was condemned to die, he felt deep regret. He returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, and said, “I did wrong because I betrayed an innocent man.” But they said, “What is that to us? That’s your problem.” Judas threw the silver pieces into the temple and left. Then he went and hanged himself. The chief priests picked up the silver pieces and said, “According to the Law it’s not right to put this money in the treasury. Since it was used to pay for someone’s life, it’s unclean.” So they decided to use it to buy the potter’s field where strangers could be buried. That’s why that field is called “Field of Blood” to this very day. This fulfilled the words of Jeremiah the prophet: And I took the thirty pieces of silver, the price for the one whose price had been set by some of the Israelites, 10 and I gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.[a]

JOSH 11-14 11 Jesus was brought before the governor. The governor said, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “That’s what you say.” 12 But he didn’t answer when the chief priests and elders accused him. 13 Then Pilate said, “Don’t you hear the testimony they bring against you?” 14 But he didn’t answer, not even a single word. So the governor was greatly amazed.

CHRIS 15-26 15 It was customary during the festival for the governor to release to the crowd one prisoner, whomever they might choose. 16 At that time there was a well-known prisoner named Jesus Barabbas. 17 When the crowd had come together, Pilate asked them, “Whom would you like me to release to you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 He knew that the leaders of the people had handed him over because of jealousy. 19 While he was serving as judge, his wife sent this message to him, “Leave that righteous man alone. I’ve suffered much today in a dream because of him.” 20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and kill Jesus. 21 The governor said, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” “Barabbas,” they replied. 22 Pilate said, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Crucify him!” 23 But he said, “Why? What wrong has he done?” They shouted even louder, “Crucify him!” 24 Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere and that a riot was starting. So he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I’m innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It’s your problem.” 25 All the people replied, “Let his blood be on us and on our children.” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus whipped, then handed him over to be crucified.

BO 27-31 27 The governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s house, and they gathered the whole company[b] of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a red military coat on him. 29 They twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand. Then they bowed down in front of him and mocked him, saying, “Hey! King of the Jews!” 30 After they spit on him, they took the stick and struck his head again and again. 31 When they finished mocking him, they stripped him of the military coat and put his own clothes back on him. They led him away to crucify him.

ABBY 32-37 32 As they were going out, they found Simon, a man from Cyrene. They forced him to carry his cross. 33 When they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Skull Place, 34 they gave Jesus wine mixed with vinegar to drink. But after tasting it, he didn’t want to drink it. 35 After they crucified him, they divided up his clothes among them by drawing lots. 36 They sat there, guarding him. 37 They placed above his head the charge against him. It read, “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.” 

RUTH Isaiah 53:1-12 Who can believe what we have heard, and for whose sake has the Lord’s arm[a] been revealed? He grew up like a young plant before us,[b] like a root from dry ground. He possessed no splendid form for us to see, no desirable appearance. He was despised and avoided by others; a man who suffered, who knew sickness well. Like someone from whom people hid their faces, he was despised, and we didn’t think about him. It was certainly our sickness that he carried, and our sufferings that he bore, but we thought him afflicted, struck down by God and tormented. He was pierced because of our rebellions and crushed because of our crimes. He bore the punishment that made us whole; by his wounds we are healed. Like sheep we had all wandered away, each going its own way, but the Lord let fall on him all our crimes. He was oppressed and tormented, but didn’t open his mouth. Like a lamb being brought to slaughter, like a ewe silent before her shearers, he didn’t open his mouth. Due to an unjust ruling he was taken away, and his fate—who will think about it? He was eliminated from the land of the living, struck dead because of my people’s rebellion. His grave was among the wicked, his tomb with evildoers,[c] though he had done no violence, and had spoken nothing false. 10 But the Lord wanted to crush him and to make him suffer. If his life is offered[d] as restitution, he will see his offspring; he will enjoy long life. The Lord’s plans will come to fruition through him. 11 After his deep anguish he will see light,[e] and he will be satisfied. Through his knowledge, the righteous one, my servant, will make many righteous, and will bear their guilt. 12 Therefore, I will give him a share with the great, and he will divide the spoil with the strong, in return for exposing his life to death and being numbered with rebels, though he carried the sin of many and pleaded on behalf of those who rebelled.


Matthew 27: 38-50

MERIAH 38-44 38 They crucified with him two outlaws, one on his right side and one on his left. 39 Those who were walking by insulted Jesus, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “So you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, were you? Save yourself! If you are God’s Son, come down from the cross.” 41 In the same way, the chief priests, along with the legal experts and the elders, were making fun of him, saying, 42 “He saved others, but he can’t save himself. He’s the king of Israel, so let him come down from the cross now. Then we’ll believe in him. 43 He trusts in God, so let God deliver him now if he wants to. He said, ‘I’m God’s Son.’” 44 The outlaws who were crucified with him insulted him in the same way.

JOSH 45-50 45 From noon until three in the afternoon the whole earth was dark. 46 At about three Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani,” which means, “My God, my God, why have you left me?”[c] 47 After hearing him, some standing there said, “He’s calling Elijah.” 48 One of them ran over, took a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a pole. He offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 But the rest of them said, “Let’s see if Elijah will come and save him.” 50 Again Jesus cried out with a loud shout. Then he died.

  • Christ CandleChrist candle is suddenly and loudly blown out at the end of the reading as lights in the room are turned off so that darkness prevails. Long dark silence.

MERIAH Matthew 27:51-54 51 Look, the curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, 52 and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised. 53 After Jesus’ resurrection they came out of their graves and went into the holy city where they appeared to many people. 54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and what had just happened, they were filled with awe and said, “This was certainly God’s Son.”


SONG: Watch the Lamb– Ray Bolz

After the song, the Christ candle is relit with the strike of a match.

Short silence.

  • Concluding Prayer & Dismissal: The true light that enlightens everyone that came into the world through Christ. Though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. In him was life, and his life was the light of all. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.

May you walk through the darkness clinging to the light of Christ. Amen

All depart in silence

Maundy Thursday

4/14/2022 Maundy Thursday

Message Title: Maundy Thursday
Holy Week
RCL Scripture: Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14; Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Focus: The actions we engage in tonight are rooted in the history and promises of God.
 To find new connections in Communion and Washings.
Other Notes:


  1. In the fellowship hall, the lights are dark. The room is lit by candles on the table.
  2. The table is shaped in a cross with black table cloths.
  3. On the table: loaves of bread, pitchers of grape juice, and the hand washing supplies.

Welcome & Instructions: Welcome to Maundy Thursday. Maundy can be translated in two different ways – Holy or Mandate. This Holy Thursday reminds us of the mandate or commandment Jesus gave his disciples as he washed their feet. We’re going to walk through some scripture & lessons together and then dive into some acts of remembrance.

First, we’ll start out with prayer.

Prayer:  Gracious God, Thank you for this evening in the midst of the winds. We pray we feel your presence blow into this place. Bless this time we set aside to look at your scripture and to act out our remembrance of your goodness. May we be transformed by your truth. Amen.

Scriptures & Teachings: On the night that Jesus and his disciples got together to share their Passover meal, they disciples thought this was just another Passover with Jesus. They would have had two previous Passover meals with Jesus but this time everything was different.

  1. Exodus 12:1-14 The Passover
    1. Instructions on the door
    2. Instructions on the meal
    3. Keep it as a festival to remember for each generation
    4. (Psalm 116 “the cup of salvation”)
  2. Paul’s instructions on Communion
    1. Background: Corinthians were using the communion table as a place for showing off their wealth. The wealthy & elite would get drunk off of the wine and stuff themselves with the bread, while the poor and destitute would get none.
    2. Paul describing the Last Supper
    3. Bread “do this to remember me”
    4. Cup “do this to remember me”
    5. Every time you participate in communion you are pointing to God’s promise
  3. Foot washing & New Commandment
    1. Pt 1
      1. Passover was coming
      2. Foot washing
        1. Peter’s resistance
        2. Jesus washed Judas’ feet
        3. Do as I have done
          1. Humility & service are the pathway of disciples
    2. Pt 2 New Commandment
      1. Love as I have loved you.

Actions of Remembrance:

  1. Communion
    1. Bread
      1. Blessing
    2. Cup
      1. Blessing
  2. Washing
    1. Instructions:
      1. Play music during this time
    1. Washing each other’s hands- start in 2 spots- top and bottom of cross
      1. Soap & dry
      2. Lotion
      3. Blessing- You are loved by God. Love as I have loved you.

Closing prayer

Palm Sunday

4/10/2022 Palm Sunday

Message Title:
Holy Week
Palm Sunday
Main Text: Luke 19:28-40
Scripture Reading:
Luke 19:28-40; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Philippians 2:5-11; Isaiah 50:4-9a
RCL Scripture: Psalm 31:9-16; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Isaiah 50:4-9a; Luke 19:28-40; Luke 22:14-23:56 or Luke 23:1-49; Philippians 2:5-11
Jesus enters Jerusalem and God keeps God’s promises.
To form a celebratory heart for Holy Week.
Other Notes:

Scripture Reading 1: Luke 19:28-40- Josh 28 After Jesus said this, he continued on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As Jesus came to Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he gave two disciples a task. 30 He said, “Go into the village over there. When you enter it, you will find tied up there a colt that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say, ‘Its master needs it.’” 32 Those who had been sent found it exactly as he had said. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They replied, “Its master needs it.” 35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their clothes on the colt, and lifted Jesus onto it. 36 As Jesus rode along, they spread their clothes on the road. 37 As Jesus approached the road leading down from the Mount of Olives, the whole throng of his disciples began rejoicing. They praised God with a loud voice because of all the mighty things they had seen. 38 They said, “Blessings on the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens.” 39 Some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, scold your disciples! Tell them to stop!” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if they were silent, the stones would shout.”

Scripture Reading 2: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29- Christy Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever. Let Israel say it: “God’s faithful love lasts forever!”… 19 Open the gates of righteousness for me so I can come in and give thanks to the Lord! 20 This is the Lord’s gate; those who are righteous enter through it. 21 I thank you because you answered me, because you were my saving help. 22 The stone rejected by the builders is now the main foundation stone! 23 This has happened because of the Lord; it is astounding in our sight! 24 This is the day the Lord acted; we will rejoice and celebrate in it! 25 Lord, please save us! Lord, please let us succeed! 26 The one who enters in the Lord’s name is blessed; we bless all of you from the Lord’s house. 27 The Lord is God! He has shined a light on us! So lead the festival offering with ropes all the way to the horns of the altar.[d] 28 You are my God—I will give thanks to you! You are my God—I will lift you up high! 29 Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever.

Scripture Reading 3: Philippians 2:5-11 – Lori R Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus: Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit. But he emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings. When he found himself in the form of a human, 8he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God highly honored him and gave him a name above all names, 10so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Scripture Reading 4: Isaiah 50:4-9a- Jay The Lord God gave me an educated tongue to know how to respond to the weary with a word that will awaken them in the morning.[b] God awakens my ear in the morning to listen, as educated people do. The Lord God opened my ear; I didn’t rebel; I didn’t turn my back. Instead, I gave my body to attackers, and my cheeks to beard pluckers. I didn’t hide my face from insults and spitting. The Lord God will help me; therefore, I haven’t been insulted. Therefore, I set my face like flint, and knew I wouldn’t be ashamed. The one who will declare me innocent is near. Who will argue with me? Let’s stand up together. Who will bring judgment against me? Let him approach me. Look! The Lord God will help me. Who will condemn me?


  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMNT: Let’s test how old you are: When you think of a donkey in a animated movie, what is the first image that comes to mind?
    1. Pinocchio & Donkey Island
    2. Eeyore
    3. Donkey from Shrek
    4. The donkeys that Luisa carries around in Encanto
  2. Of the donkeys listed, I’m personally fond of Eeyore. Donkey from Shrek is a little too clingy for my taste.
  3. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Can you name any famous biblical donkeys?
    1. Num 22- Baalam’s talking donkey
    2. Jud 15- Samson using the jawbone of a donkey to kill Philistines
    3. The assumed donkey at the nativity (there is no donkey mentioned)
    4. Luke 19- Jesus’ Triumphal Entry on a donkey
    5. Honorable mention: donkeys listed in the laws (about how to treat or care for your livestock), I’ll spare you the donkey’s listed in Joshua that did not survive for various reasons.

TRANSITION:  Don’t you worry, donkeys won’t be the focus of our sermon today! We are going to connect our scripture readings into a broader story; a story that has more hope than Pinocchio becoming a real boy!

MAIN TEXT: – the Scripture Readings- Isaiah 50:4-9a; Luke 19:28-40; Philippians 2:5-11; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29


  1. Isaiah 50:4-9a
    1. The promise in the background of the Triumphal Entry
      1. Character described is labeled the “Suffering Servant”—this is a description of the Messiah that we sometimes ignore. He isn’t a warrior and his kingship looks VERY different from earthly kings.
    2. Condition of Israel at the time of this promise from Isaiah (wicked, lost, in exile)
  2. Luke 19:28-40
    1. What happened: Triumphal Entry
      1. Israel had been back in the Land (post exile) for centuries now. But had they learned anything from their Babylonian exile? Why had God been silent for so long?
        1. We (and Israel) didn’t understand the Messiah or the way that God was going to fulfill God’s promises.
      2. Jesus entered Jerusalem during FESTIVAL (norms of festival include palms & coats on the road)
        1. Other Gospels tell us palms & the crowds shouting
  3. Philippians 2:5-11
    1. The significance
      1. Jesus’ actions point to the suffering servant of Isaiah. God is consistent from Old Testament to New Testament.
      2. Jesus is The Father’s equal. God the Son came to earth. He humbled himself for our sake- being fully God yet full man to heal humanity.
        1. I know it’s confusing to think about how 1+1+1=1 or 100% + 100% = 100%
        2. We’re still trying to grasp what God did through Jesus. Paul’s words are just a hint of Christians trying to make sense of the depths of Easter.
        3. Christmas w/o easter
  4. Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
    1. Our response:
      1. The language of Psalm 118 is of a return from Egypt, but likely the writters were using Egypt to understand their exile to Babylon.
      2. “The stone the builders rejected” – we didn’t understand God’s ways.
      3. God’s plans are for salvation. God’s plans don’t match what we’ve expected or even still expect.
        1. We see this in the Pharisees trying to silence Jesus’ disciples.


  1. The Season of Lent is ending. This season of reflection, repentance, and growth is coming to an end. Easter approaches. But Easter isn’t 1 day. The church calendar celebrates easter until Pentecost (June 5th).
    1. Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week. Palm Sunday starts out the week with joy before we go to the darkest places by Good Friday.
    2. As Lent wraps up, we continue to reflect on where we have journeyed these last few weeks. Hopefully, we’ve developed a desire to regularly connect with God
    3. Lent isn’t the only time of year that we can change our lives- transformation can happen in the middle of winter, summer, or fall as well.
  2. Holy Week reminds us that God desires our flourishing, not our destruction. God isn’t changing humans this time through a flood or exile. God is taking matters into God’s own hands.
    1. God desires our flourishing SO MUCH that God came down to heal our destructive patterns and open doors for a new life.
    2. God desires all of us, our whole selves. Salvation comes through belief in Jesus.
  3. Psalm 118:29 29 Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever.
    1. God hasn’t given up on creation. God doesn’t want our destruction. This week, This season, this faith is a constant reminder of God’s goodness. Let’s praise our God.

CONCLUSION: Grab your palm branches before our closing benediction. We will sing our benediction and then wave our branches as we shout praise to God. We’ve got a slide with the words we’ll repeat together.

Hosanna in the highest Heaven! Blessings on the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” Welcome to Holy Week—our savior is coming! Have a great week!

Labels and Identities


Message Title:  Labels and Identities
Theme: A Season for Growing
Season: Lent
Main Text: Philippians 3:4b-14
Scripture Reading: John 12:1-8
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:4b-14; John 12:1-8
Focus: Christ is the foundation of our identity.
 To redefine the labels we use to build our identity and our mission.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: John 12:1-8 Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, home of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Lazarus and his sisters hosted a dinner for him. Martha served and Lazarus was among those who joined him at the table. Then Mary took an extraordinary amount, almost three-quarters of a pound,[a] of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She anointed Jesus’ feet with it, then wiped his feet dry with her hair. The house was filled with the aroma of the perfume. Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), complained, “This perfume was worth a year’s wages![b] Why wasn’t it sold and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He carried the money bag and would take what was in it.) Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone. This perfume was to be used in preparation for my burial, and this is how she has used it. You will always have the poor among you, but you won’t always have me.”


  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What is Indiana’s state tree?
    1. Indiana’s state tree: Tulip tree. Also known as Tulip Poplar or Yellow poplar.
    2. BUT! The tulip tree is not a true poplar. (Wiki: slide 1 & 2)
      1. While poplars have about 25 different flowering deciduous plants that fall in that genus, the tulip tree is not one of them. (wiki: )
    3. Here is a chart with the scientific classifications of living things. (slide 3)
  2. Tulip Trees are related to poplar in the same way you and your third cousin are related.
    1. Don’t know who you’re third cousin is? There are these great charts—
      1. 3rd cousin means: 1. You share the same great grandparents, and 2. are in the same generation line (not same age). (Your parent’s parent’s parent’s sibling’s great grand kid.) – Slide 4

TRANSITION:  If I’m honest, the proper labels for family relations and plant classifications seem like splitting hairs. In some cultures, especially many indigenous cultures- any relative your age is a cousin, any relative older is an auntie or uncle outside of your grandparents. The reason is to identify “I claim you” rather than “what percentage of related are we?”

Why do we have a habit of splitting hairs to claim details that aren’t REALLY important?  Our Scripture pairing today is John 12:1-8 and Philippians 3:4b-14. We were in this same chapter 4 weeks ago. We read the end already, here is the passage just before that.

MAIN TEXT: Philippians 3:4b-14 4bIf anyone else has reason to put their confidence in physical advantages, I have even more: 5I was circumcised on the eighth day. I am from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin. I am a Hebrew of the Hebrews. With respect to observing the Law, I’m a Pharisee. 6With respect to devotion to the faith, I harassed the church. With respect to righteousness under the Law, I’m blameless. 7These things were my assets, but I wrote them off as a loss for the sake of Christ. 8But even beyond that, I consider everything a loss in comparison with the superior value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have lost everything for him, but what I lost I think of as sewer trash, so that I might gain Christ 9and be found in him. In Christ I have a righteousness that is not my own and that does not come from the Law but rather from the faithfulness of Christ. It is the righteousness of God that is based on faith. 10The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death 11so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead. 12It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. 13Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. 14The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.


  1. Philippian’s Context:
    1. Paul in prison, Epaphroditus came to care for him from Philippi
    2. Philippi (Acts 16)- Roman city, Retired soldiers, patriotic nationalism
    3. Message- Christ poem at the center of the letter and all the details of his letter point to this poem.
  2. Today’s Passage:
    1. We talked about this about a month ago when Paul values his citizenship in heaven over his earthly reputation.
    2. Paul identifies how amazing he is- Paul is of good breeding, roman citizen, and pharisee trained by Rabbi Gamaliel. Paul lived zealously to HIS beliefs. Paul is crème of the crop! (taxes analogy)
    3. Yet, Paul gives up his reputation and considers it so worthless he uses a curse word to describe it. (Yes, there is swearing in the Bible.)
    4. Paul doesn’t claim that he has FINISHED his faith but that he is continuing in the process.


  1. Epistle: Paul is willing to shed every claim to fame, every piece of clout or wealth for the knowledge of Christ. 
  2. Gospel:
    1. Mary—is willing to pour out literal wealth to bless Jesus.
      1. Mary anoints Jesus
    2. Mary gets it before the other disciples
      1. Jesus has to wash their feet before they get it and even then they struggle
    3. Judas claims to care about the poor—he’s splitting hairs: “what is the scientific class of this action? Show me the dna!”
      1. In reality he was a thief
    4. Mary’s identity had shifted from the norms of this world to worshipping God.
    5. Judas was still worshipping himself


  1. Back to the intro: While Judas claims to be a poplar tree, Mary claims “I’m a tree.”
    1. Judas’ words are a mindset used to avoid helping anyone—a tool of distraction
    2. “What about the poor?!”
      1. Don’t give addicts Narcan! What about the diabetics & insulin!?
      2. Don’t help immigrants! What about our unhoused and veterans!?
    3. But Judas, like the rest of us, has made a false dichotomy.
      1. It isn’t poor vs. loving Jesus. It isn’t diabetics vs recovering addicts. It isn’t immigrants vs. unhoused & veterans. It’s BOTH AND!
        1. Deut 15:11
        2. (Poplar? It’s a tree!)
  2. We are not using the world’s standards to determine our ministry.
    1. We are called to love the vulnerable: including addicts or medically ill, immigrants, unhoused, or veterans, ALSO the elderly, foster kids, the unwed mother, the high school dropout, the grocery store clerk.
    2. It’s more natural for us to love those who are respectable- soldiers, police, respectable public servants, etc BUT – their earthly reputation doesn’t determine their worthiness, Christ does.

CONCLUSION: Stop splitting hairs. Reject earthly labels. Claim the broader identity of the family of God.


 A Bee By Any Other Name Would Sting


Message Title:  A Bee By Any Other Name Would Sting
A Season of Growing
Main Text:
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Scripture Reading:
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

RCL Scripture: Joshua 5:9-12; Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
 The blessing of being in the family of God transforms our behavior.
 To recognize our role as ambassadors NOT law makers for Christ.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 All the tax collectors and sinners were gathering around Jesus to listen to him. The Pharisees and legal experts were grumbling, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Jesus told them this parable:…. 11b “A certain man had two sons. 12 The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the inheritance.’ Then the father divided his estate between them. 13 Soon afterward, the younger son gathered everything together and took a trip to a land far away. There, he wasted his wealth through extravagant living. 14 “When he had used up his resources, a severe food shortage arose in that country and he began to be in need. 15 He hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to eat his fill from what the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything. 17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, but I’m starving to death! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I no longer deserve to be called your son. Take me on as one of your hired hands.” ’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion. His father ran to him, hugged him, and kissed him. 21 Then his son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly, bring out the best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! 23 Fetch the fattened calf and slaughter it. We must celebrate with feasting 24 because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. 25 “Now his older son was in the field. Coming in from the field, he approached the house and heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the servants and asked what was going on. 27 The servant replied, ‘Your brother has arrived, and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he received his son back safe and sound.’ 28 Then the older son was furious and didn’t want to enter in, but his father came out and begged him. 29 He answered his father, ‘Look, I’ve served you all these years, and I never disobeyed your instruction. Yet you’ve never given me as much as a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours returned, after gobbling up your estate on prostitutes, you slaughtered the fattened calf for him.’ 31 Then his father said, ‘Son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive. He was lost and is found.’”

INTRODUCTION: Last week I mentioned the importance of dandelions as a bee’s first food in spring. Today I want to test your knowledge of bees.

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: (Disclaimer: I’m a pastor, not an Entomologist. Always consult bug professionals. This exercise is for general fun and not to be considered an official science lesson.)
    1. Can you tell the difference between yellow & black stripped & winged things?
      1. Word bank: Carpenter Bee, Bumblebee, Honeybee, Hoverfly, Yellow Jacket
      2. Answers: A. Carpenter Bee, B. Bumblebee, C. Hoverfly, D. Honeybee, E. Yellow Jacket
    2. Which of these pollenates? all!
    3. Which of these can sting? A. females only (the aggressive ones are males w/o stingers), B. rarely (can multiple times), C. no/can’t, D. in extreme circumstances (will kill them), E. yes, easily & repeatedly
  1. Sources;
  2. Family story: As a child, my little brother would refuse to wear yellow or bright colors because he didn’t want to attract bees. We all teased him and thought he was silly. It wasn’t until much later that we learned that bees see colors different than humans and yellow would definitely attract them.

TRANSITION: The problem with flying yellow stripey things is they all get lumped into the same “ouch” category. However, not all flying yellow stripey things do provide ouches or want to provide ouches. In the same way Christians are given a collective label. Anyone who claims to be a “Christian” impacts the label as a whole and impacted by the label. We are going to consider two separate passages today and how we can positively impact the Christian label.

MAIN TEXT:  2 Corinthians 5:16-21 16So then, from this point on we won’t recognize people by human standards. Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know him now. 17So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived! 18All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 19In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation. 20So we are ambassadors who represent Christ. God is negotiating with you through us. We beg you as Christ’s representatives, “Be reconciled to God!” 21God caused the one who didn’t know sin to be sin for our sake so that through him we could become the righteousness of God.

EXPLAINATION: Remember this second letter to the Corinthians is a follow up that included a whole bunch of drama since the last letter. Paul is still teaching the Corinthians what it means to live for Jesus.  

  1. Vs 16 “we won’t recognize people by human standards.”—living for Jesus means our metric for success changes. It’s not the same as the world’s metric for success.
  2. Vs 17 “if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation”—living for Jesus means we are part of a new creation. We have been transformed.
  3. Vs 19 “God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ,” – living for Jesus means we participate in the Great Reconciliation work that God is doing through Jesus.
  4. Vs 20 “So we are ambassadors who represent Christ.” -living for Jesus means we represent Jesus to the world.
    1. Hint: if you’ve ever wondered what the tattoo on my forearm says…. Now you know. It is the Greek for “ambassadors for Christ” taken directly from this passage.
    2. And not hate the sin, love the sinner BUT invite all in. There isn’t a disclaimer for worthiness. We’re ambassadors not law makers.


  1. Epistle: As believers in Christ, we are a new creation and become representatives of Christ in this world.
  2. Gospel:  Shifting to the Gospel, these may not seems connected but I promise we’ll get there together.
    1. Context:  Jesus was hanging out with tax collectors and sinners but speaking to the Pharisees and Sadducees. This parable wasn’t for the “sinner” it was for the one who thought they were good.
    2. The Prodigal Son: The normal focus of this parable is typically on the son who returned. After all, we call this parable The Prodigal Son Returns.
    3. The son who stayed:  ANYWAY…. I want to consider the older son today.
      1. The older brother needs a transformation just as much as the younger brother. Sure, the younger brother basically says to dad “I wish you were dead so I could have your stuff.” BUT the older brother resents the work that he is putting in TO HIS OWN INHERITANCE.
        1. Where are my rewards for being good?! Why can’t I party with my friends? (which is an insult to the father as well: “I don’t want you around in my joyful moments. AND I’m ungrateful for all you are giving me.”)
    4. The brother who leaves is seen as the “bad kid” but is the older brother any better? Both of their hearts need a transformation. How did they grow so jaded with a father as loving and compassionate as the man in the story?
      1. He is furious that his brother is invited/welcomed back. He even stops calling his brother brother: “my brother” vs “your son.” He assumes a story about his brother wasting his money to prostitutes (which the narrator does not specify).
  3. Together:  On the surface, the older brother looks good. He stays. He works. I mean, he’s even in the fields when his brother returns and the party starts… no one goes to get him?!?!?! BUT his heart is full of resentment and venom. He resents his father’s compassion. He resents his labors as the oldest son. He is obedient but not transformed by his blessed state.
    1. Is the older brother really good if he’s filled with bitterness?
      1. Matthew 20:1-15 vineyard workers & a day’s wage
    2. If you identify as a Christian but do not change your life (heart & celebrating the reunion) through the Spirit’s guidance, you are no different than the brother who stayed and complained.
      1. We are God’s representatives on this earth.
      2. This isn’t about being morally good. It’s about being spiritually transformed.
      3. You follow the law… well good for you… BUT has your heart changed?

APPLICATION/RESPONSE: To recognize our role as ambassadors NOT law makers for Christ.

  1. BACK TO INTRO: VULNERABLE MOMENT– Like my little brother being hesitant to wear yellow (T-SHIRT) , I catch myself being hesitant to use the word “Christian” (T-SHIRT) because of how frequently it gets used for the wrong reasons. Instead, I say I follow Jesus or that I’m a Christ follower.
    1. I am not ashamed of Christ or Scripture, but I am sometimes embarrassed at churches and Christians.
  2. Specifically, my embarrassment blossoms when Christians try to speak for God without consulting Scripture or the Spirit.
    1. I am embarrassed when “Christians” use their label to push a particular political agenda…. Especially when Jesus specifically commissioned his disciples NOT ROME to be his hands and feet in the world.
      1. If I’m honest with you, one of the biggest crutches for Christians in America is the belief that America was founded as a Christian nation. We have merged together our faith and our patriotism. Separately both are good things but merged together, they create a mess.
    2. Matthew 22: 19-22 19 Show me the coin used to pay the tax.” And they brought him a denarion. 20 “Whose image and inscription is this?” he asked. 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” 22 When they heard this they were astonished, and they departed.
  3. We are participants in this world. We are law abiding citizens in this world UP UNTIL the point where a law prevents us from being faithful to Christ.
    1. No earthly nation is bound to follow our faith. Christ followers are not citizens of this world, we are citizens of heaven. We talked about this previously.
    2. Our role is ambassadors for Christ.
      1. “Stationed in a specific country, an ambassador is responsible for taking the pulse of the country’s political climate and representing the interests of the United States. Public diplomacy, communicating key positions of the United States and managing the U.S. Embassy are important duties of an ambassador.”
      2. An ambassador does not make the laws or make the plans. An ambassador represents the wishes of their government or company to another government or company.
        1. Don’t have their own power. They represent the power of the one who sent them (gov’t or company).

CONCLUSION:  We don’t decide on who or how God’s grace is poured out. We are to proclaim that it is happening.

  1. Our role is to be Christ’s ambassadors NOT law makers.
    1. We are the pollinators NOT stingers.

Fancy Words & Family Trees


Message Title: Fancy Words & Family Trees
Theme: A Season of Growing
Season: Lent
Main Text: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Scripture Reading: Luke 13:1-9
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 55:1-9; Psalm 63:1-8; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Luke 13:1-9
Focus: Jesus and Paul want to see people transformed by their faith.
Function: To release our grip on heritage or fancy prayers and cling to Christ.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 13:1-9 Some who were present on that occasion told Jesus about the Galileans whom Pilate had killed while they were offering sacrifices. He replied, “Do you think the suffering of these Galileans proves that they were more sinful than all the other Galileans? No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did. What about those eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them? Do you think that they were more guilty of wrongdoing than everyone else who lives in Jerusalem? No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did.” Jesus told this parable: “A man owned a fig tree planted in his vineyard. He came looking for fruit on it and found none. He said to his gardener, ‘Look, I’ve come looking for fruit on this fig tree for the past three years, and I’ve never found any. Cut it down! Why should it continue depleting the soil’s nutrients?’ The gardener responded, ‘Lord, give it one more year, and I will dig around it and give it fertilizer. Maybe it will produce fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.’”


  1. AUDIENCE: How do you feel about dandelions? Do you remove them from your yard or let them grow?
    1. Can you name any uses for dandelions?
      1. Dandelions are a bee’s first food in spring before the rest of the flowers bloom.
        1. Source:
      2. Dandelion jelly, wine, fried dandelions
      3. Source:
        1. Parts Used for Food: Roots, leaves, buds and flowers.
        2. Dandelion-and-burdock is a popular fizzy drink made in the north of England. The root has also traditionally been used to make a coffee substitute.
        3. The leaves of the plant are considered to be very nutritious and can be eaten as a salad or fresh vegetable. In Asian cooking, for example, the leaves are used like lettuce, boiled, made into soup or fried.
        4. The flower buds can be added to omelettes and fritters, the flowers baked into cakes, and even the pollen sprinkled on food for decoration and colouring. Blossoms make a delicious country wine and beer is brewed from the whole plant before it flowers.
      4. Source:
        1. Dandelion Capers
  2. Last year Josh and I left our Dandelions out at the beginning of spring while we were still planting our garden. Much to Josh’s chagrin. I know many people hate those “weeds” BUT dandelions are an extremely useful plant. –we did harvest some blossoms and josh fried them up. Though it wasn’t my favorite.

TRANSITION: This disliked weekd is a very important part of our echo system. Where the majority see Dandelions as weeds– God provided it was sustinance. Speaking of being disliked…. we’re going to continue the conversation about not being popular in this world.

MAIN TEXT: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Brothers and sisters, I want you to be sure of the fact that our ancestors were all under the cloud and they all went through the sea. All were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. They drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.  However, God was unhappy with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness. These things were examples for us, so we won’t crave evil things like they did. Don’t worship false gods like some of them did, as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink and they got up to play.[a] Let’s not practice sexual immorality, like some of them did, and twenty-three thousand died in one day. Let’s not test Christ, like some of them did, and were killed by the snakes. 10 Let’s not grumble, like some of them did, and were killed by the destroyer.  11 These things happened to them as an example and were written as a warning for us to whom the end of time has come. 12 So those who think they are standing need to watch out or else they may fall. 13 No temptation has seized you that isn’t common for people. But God is faithful. He won’t allow you to be tempted beyond your abilities. Instead, with the temptation, God will also supply a way out so that you will be able to endure it.


  1. History lesson– a retelling of stories from hindsight. (NOT THE MAIN POINT OF THE PASSAGE)
    1. FYI- Here are the scripture references to stories Paul references. We won’t focus on these today but you are more than welcome to explore these passages and contact me if you want to talk. Or join Bible study where we talk about this kind of stuff all the time!
      1. Exodus 13:21; 14:21-31; 16:4, 35; 17:1-7; 32: 1-10
      2. Numbers 14:26-35; 16:41-49; 20:11; 21:5-9; 25:1-9; 26:63-65
  2. Vs 12 think you’re fine but you really need to watch out
  3. *Vs 13* commonly misinterpreted as “God wont’ give you more than you can handle”


  1. Epistle
    1. Paul is taking excuses away from the Corinthians. They know better than their ancestors, therefore they are expected to do better.
    2. The main point of this passage ISN’T highlighting the failures of previous generations—because each generation has it’s failures.
    3. The main point IS to turn to God when you are struggling or failing. God will guide you. God will equip you.
  2. Gospel:
    1. Tragic events of Jesus’ time: our gospel passage starts with current events (as opposed to Paul’s history lesson). Unfortunately, these events are only recorded here in Luke’s gospel and not in other sources. They didn’t have the “gift” of our media to share news in milliseconds across the globe.
    2. Change your hearts and lives!! REPEAT: Change your hearts and lives!!
    3. Parable of the fig tree
  3. Together:
    1. Both the Gospel & the Epistle use events (historical or current) to highlight their main point.
      1. For Paul: know better, do better.
      2. For Jesus: faith leads to changed lives.


  1. Both these men want to see you practice what you preach. Don’t simply cling to fancy prayers or your ancestry as your salvation. Your faith is your own.
  2. Clinging to a prayer
    1. No where in scripture is our salvation tied to a prayer. It is tied to BELIEF IN JESUS.
    2. Neither our words or actions are salvation. (We can’t “good” our way to heaven.) No fancy prayers or memorized scripture. No special service to the church or community. ONLY BELIEF IN JESUS.
  3. Clinging to heritage
    1. We cannot boast in our Christianity anymore than we can boast in being Americans. We had no control over our nationality. As Christians, our salvation is to boast in Christ—not ourselves.
    2. It’s easy of us to interpret tragic events and assume God is placing judgement on a people or land—I have heard some say as much about Ukraine.
      1. This is frequently built off of taking 2 Chronicles 7:14 out of context. “14 if my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
    3. We conflate Israel with modern day governments. Israel was a people, a religious group, & governmental body. No other country has God built in that same structure.
      1. Yes, humans may set intentions for a land—but that is not the same as Israel’s relationship with God. Immigrants came to America and fought a revolution to allow religious freedom. BUT that isn’t the same as God’s relationship with Israel.
      2. NOR is God’s relationship with the 12 tribes the same as the modern country of Israel’s relationship with God.
      3. Our nationality doesn’t save us. Our ancestral heritage doesn’t save us.
  4. Cling to Christ:
    1. Though we cannot boast in our prayers or our heritage—we can boast in Christ. Our label as Christians is not connected to a prayer or our faith family tree, it is connected to Christ.
      1. “Christ-ians”—means Little Christs. No, we’re not called to die on little crosses BUT we are called to be transformed.
    2. We won’t fit in with the rest of the world when we live like Jesus. Just like dandelions are seen as weeds to the uneducated eye.
    3. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What ways can we stand out? Ways we can do better because we know better.
      1. Opening our homes- allow someone to stay with you whether it be a few hours or a few years.
        1. i.e. fostering, adoption, refugee help, veteran or homeless assistance.
      2. Giving away our excess (or even more)—Ruth is a good example of that. How many times has she given away a couch or her phone to someone who needed it?
        1. I met a pastor in seminary whose goal was to live on 20% of his income and give away the other 80%. Though he had a small pastor’s salary, his goal was to give away $1million dollars in his life time. He lived in a small old home that was always full of guests. He drove an old car. They lived a simple yet full life.
      3. Serving – See people face to face that need love and support. I think the best place to serve is connected to people who make you uncomfortable- the poor, the refugee, the “different”, the recovering addict. We must see their faces and learn the love of God through loving them even when we’re uncomfortable.
        1. I.e. CAM, Jackson Morrow, Kokomo Urban Outreach, Kokomo Rescue Mission
      4. Mentoring-  creating relationships with those older and younger than us to build our connection with God and God’s people. Get yourself a mentor. Be open to mentoring. You don’t have to have all the answers BUT you could be a support when someone is in their darkest place.

CONCLUSION: Know better, Do better. Be the Dandelion blessing rather than the cursed weed.

Can new life grow from ashes? – Ash Wednesday


Opening Song: Great Are You Lord by All Sons & Daughters

Closing Song: Dry Bones by Lauren Daigle

Message Title: Can new life grow from ashes? 
 Ash Wednesday
Main Text:  
Ezekiel 37:1-14
Scripture Reading:
invite others to read as a spiritual practice this week
RCL Scripture: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
 God has not abandoned God’s people, even in their suffering.
 To find our hope, joy, and daily renewal in the Spirit of God.
Other Notes:

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP: Welcome. We’re glad you are with us this evening to start of the Lenten season with intention. Let’s open up with prayer.

  1. PRAYER: Gracious God, God of our troubles and our triumphs. Be present with us tonight as we set our intentions for the season of Lent. We have the habit of losing our way or getting distracted from you. The burdens of our daily lives and current events can pull our eyes off of you. Help us to take this time to come back to you with great intentions. Help us to see your grace as we try and potentially fail. Build in us a craving for your Spirit and comfort. Amen.
  2. HOLY SPIRIT CANDLE – light the candles.
  3. INCENSE- I’m also lighting incense tonight as a specific symbol of this purifying time. I use Frankincense and Myrrh not only because they were gifts Jesus received but also because they are known to help calm and focus the mind.

SONG: Great Are You Lord by All Sons & Daughters

I want to start with a song of praise. My hope is this sets our attitude for the service. You are welcome to sing a long or simply reflect on the words on the screen.

DEVOTION: Can new life grow from ashes? 

Because of the burdens we all have experienced over the last few years and especially the last week with the crisis in Ukraine, I wanted us to take this time to find hope again. Normally Ash Wednesday is specifically designed to remind us of our mortality. I, however, think we’ve had a lot of reminders of that as of late.

So today we’re going to be diving in to Ezekiel 37 rather than the normal RCL passages.

Let’s set the scene: Ezekiel is a priest in training during the first Babylonian siege on the city. (think the same time as the book of Daniel.) Some of the skilled workers, aristocrats, and artisans were pulled from Jerusalem to Babylon to serve Babylon. Ezekiel was one of those people. He received multiple visions from God while in exile and we’re going to read one of them together today.

  1. Ezekiel 37:1-14 The Lord’s power overcame me, and while I was in the Lord’s spirit, he led me out and set me down in the middle of a certain valley. It was full of bones. 2He led me through them all around, and I saw that there were a great many of them on the valley floor, and they were very dry. 3He asked me, “Human one, can these bones live again?” I said, “Lord God, only you know.” 4He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, Dry bones, hear the Lord’s word! 5The Lord God proclaims to these bones: I am about to put breath in you, and you will live again. 6I will put sinews on you, place flesh on you, and cover you with skin. When I put breath in you, and you come to life, you will know that I am the Lord.” 7I prophesied just as I was commanded. There was a great noise as I was prophesying, then a great quaking, and the bones came together, bone by bone. 8When I looked, suddenly there were sinews on them. The flesh appeared, and then they were covered over with skin. But there was still no breath in them. 9He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, human one! Say to the breath, The Lord God proclaims: Come from the four winds, breath! Breathe into these dead bodies and let them live.” 10I prophesied just as he commanded me. When the breath entered them, they came to life and stood on their feet, an extraordinarily large company. 11He said to me, “Human one, these bones are the entire house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely finished.’ 12So now, prophesy and say to them, The Lord God proclaims: I’m opening your graves! I will raise you up from your graves, my people, and I will bring you to Israel’s fertile land. 13You will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you up from your graves, my people. 14I will put my breathin you, and you will live. I will plant you on your fertile land, and you will know that I am the Lord. I’ve spoken, and I will do it. This is what the Lord says.”
    1. It would be natural for Ezekiel to feel abandoned by God and far away from God as Ezekiel was far away from the Holy City of Jerusalem. BUT God met him in his grief. God met him in the ashes and told him there would be life again.
    2. Ezekiel’s vision is of a valley of dried bones (think cow skull in a desert withered from the sun…tumble weeds rolling in the background). There is no marrow left in those bones. Yet God showed Ezekiel that God could bring even those bones back to life again.
    3. This vision was supposed to give Ezekiel hope that 1. God had not abandoned Ezekiel or the people of Israel just because they were experiencing the consequences of their actions. 2. God would restore the people again as the turned to him.


  1. For so many of us 2020 was a year of weariness. We had hoped 2 weeks to flatten the curve would be all we needed and then we could go back to our normal lives. Then reality hit—no family is removed from the pain of someone being affected by COVID either by illness, career, or life’s milestones being skipped or altered. We missed our honeymoon… and now we’re joyfully pregnant. Maybe by out 5th anniversary we’ll get to go.
    2020 ended and 2021 still didn’t see the end of COVID. Things have changed and we’ve had high spikes and low spikes but most of society has tried to “go back to normal-ish” as much as they can. I’m obviously skipping over all the politics woven into that time as well.
    For many, 2020 and 2021represent pain, loss, and anxiety. NOW we see the crisis in Ukraine and know that this is only one example of war and conflict happening in our world. Our hearts are overburdened. This year, I want us to twist lent. Rather than MORE time to consider mortality—which I’m sure we’ve all had enough of—let’s take time to renew our lives. To put breath in our lungs and have hope again.
  2. The point of this season is to reset our spiritual mind, to bring us back to Christ. This season was instituted to balance out the season of Easter’s 40 days of feasting with 40 days of fasting. (Perhaps we all desperately need the 40 days of feasting this year!) If you count the days from now until Easter, you will notice that adds up to more than 40 days. Each Sunday you get to break your fast and remember that Easter is coming, though some people choose to maintain the discipline.
  3. How to practice the season of Lent: We will take some time to look at some simple options for engaging in a new practice. I will also have a few handouts in the back available for those interested in trying a particular practice.
    1. Fasting (Traditional)
      1. The most traditional form of fasting is abstaining from anything caloric for a period of time. The point is that your hunger pangs remind you to connect with God like an internal alarm clock for prayer.
      2. Some alternative forms:
        1. Day fasts- fasting caloric intake from sun up to sun down or for a certain amount of hours i.e. 8 am to 8 pm.
        2. Fasting particular foods- i.e. giving up sweets, soda, coffee
        3. Fasting particular entertainment or habits- i.e. giving up tv, social media, smoking etc.
    2. Start a new spiritual discipline: here are a few examples.
      1. Bible Reading: This could take shape in many ways including listening to the audio Bible, Bible Journaling, Lectio Divina, or simply picking a book of the bible to read during Lent.
        1. Devotional
        2. Meditation
        3. Memorization
      2. Prayer-
        1. Breath Prayer
        2. Center Prayer
        3. Contemplative prayer
      3. Community Connection
        1. Accountability Partner
        2. Mentoring
        3. Volunteer (Service)
    3. Read the RCL readings each week.
      1. For Ash Wednesday: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

LORD’S PRAYER: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom,and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen

Instructions & Dismissal: We will close with the Imposition of Ashes. All are welcome forward to receive ashes and a blessing. I ask that you leave quietly for those who may choose to sit and reflect.

Imposition of Ashes: Heather plays song & I invite people forward.

*Song- Dry Bones by Lauren Daigle*

When Opposites Repel


Message Title:  When Opposites Repel
A Season of Growth
Main Text:
Philippians 3:17-4:1;
Scripture Reading: Luke 13:31-35;
RCL Scripture: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35; Luke 9:28-36, (37-43a)
Focus:  Paul and Jesus test the allegiance of their audience.
To choose to align ourselves with God or to align ourselves with the world.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 13:31-35 31 At that time, some Pharisees approached Jesus and said, “Go! Get away from here, because Herod wants to kill you.” 32 Jesus said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Look, I’m throwing out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will complete my work. 33 However, it’s necessary for me to travel today, tomorrow, and the next day because it’s impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who were sent to you! How often I have wanted to gather your people just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you didn’t want that. 35 Look, your house is abandoned. I tell you, you won’t see me until the time comes when you say, Blessings on the one who comes in the Lord’s name.”[b]


  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How many of you grow a garden? What is your favorite thing to plant?
  2. I’ve known for years the importance of rotating crops to make sure that soil nutrient levels stay balanced.
  3. However, I recently learned about how plants have “bed fellows” and “bed enemies.” There are certain plants that shouldn’t grow next to each other. While other plants thrive off of each other. Let’s look at one example:
    1. What shouldn’t you plant with CARROTS: –
      1. Chives -; Dill -; Leaf lettuce; Onions; Parsnip- ; Tomatoes; Radish

TRANSITION:  Sometimes opposites repel each other and we can’t force them to “get along.” For vegetables, there are hard rules about success with gardening. For Christians, the guidelines are much more nuanced.

As we look at the next pairing of scriptures, Luke 13 and Philippians, we will discuss how Christians fit in… or stand out. Do we attract our opposites or repel?

MAIN TEXT: Philippians 3:17-4:1a; 17 Brothers and sisters, become imitators of me and watch those who live this way—you can use us as models. 18 As I have told you many times and now say with deep sadness, many people live as enemies of the cross19 Their lives end with destruction. Their god is their stomach, and they take pride in their disgrace because their thoughts focus on earthly things. 20 Our citizenship is in heaven. We look forward to a savior that comes from there—the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform our humble bodies so that they are like his glorious body, by the power that also makes him able to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brothers and sisters whom I love and miss, who are my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord.


  1. Background of Philippians (Map)
    1. Paul writes to the church in Philippi
    2. Paul is in prison, Philippians send Epaphroditus to bring Paul a care package and Paul sends him back with a letter.
    3. Philippi had strong identity as Romans. Very patriotic and nationalistic. (TBP)
      1. Paul wants to correct their allegiance
  2. “Become imitators of me”
  3. **“many people live as enemies of the cross”
  4. “our citizenship is in heaven” – our citizenship is IN God. (Greek heaven/sky)
  5. “stand firm in the Lord”


    1. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is full of gratitude for their care BUT remember—he’s in prison. As far as society sees it, Paul has a criminal record. This isn’t the last time he’ll be imprisoned either. Paul will eventually be executed for his faithfulness to the Gospel.
      1. Paul destroys his earthly reputation as a Pharisee and a Roman Citizen
    2. Paul is fighting a mindset that values earthly citizenship over their allegiance to Christ. Philippi was proud of their fealty as citizens of Rome.
      1. Paul was executed by his own countrymen. He was a Roman citizen with Roman privileges and eventually his countrymen rejected him for his message.
    1. Sassy Jesus shows up in our Gospel text today. He calls Herod Antipas a FOX! (Blanford’s Fox) The Tetrarch over Galilee! The guy who executed his cousin for insulting his wife!
      1. (Btw that wife was actually his brother’s wife! Herod killed his brother and took his wife and John the Baptist called him out.)
      2. Herod is keeping an eye on Jesus but (just like Paul) Jesus doesn’t hold back his ministry because of a threat.
    2. Aware of the shocking nature of Jesus: This passage reminds us of the shocking nature of Jesus. He was controversial to the authorities—both religious and government.
      1. Sometimes we focus in on the Birkenstock Jesus and picture him handing out free hugs at a festival while forgetting about Table Flipping Jesus. Table Flipping Jesus called for a radically different way of living in community.
        1. This is the Jesus who included individuals the religious leaders/zealots would exclude
        2. This is the Jesus calling out the religious leaders for their own hypocrisy
        3. This is the Jesus who said the law exists to benefit people, not people to benefit the law.
    3. Side note: this is one time where you see that Pharisees aren’t bad guys
    1. Personal Lord & Savior/ Stuffed Animal Jesus isn’t’ an accurate picture of Jesus. Jesus isn’t just FOR you. Jesus is FOR all of creation. Jesus isn’t on OUR side, we are called to HIS side.
      1. He loves people that others cast out. He gave second chances to those others had given up on. He pushed back on religious traditions/habits and people felt threatened.
      1. He died a criminal’s death—that’s right, his siblings sit on death row.
    2. Jesus called out the hypocritical behavior within his religious branch.
      1. Herod Antipas was a hypocrite for claiming his Jewish faith but being in the pocket of the Romans. His rule was founded by the Romans, not the Jews. The Romans thought the Jews would be easier to subdue if they put a “jew” in place.
    3. Those of us who grew up in the church: if we were transplanted to Jesus’ time, would be at risk of being offended by Jesus’ teachings rather than empowered by them.

APPLICATION: To Choose to align ourselves with God or to align ourselves with the world.

  1. It’s a little uncomfortable to think that Paul has a criminal record and that Jesus was executed by Roman capital punishment at the behest of the religious leaders. In fact, aside from John, all of Jesus’ disciples will be executed for their faithfulness to Jesus’ message.
    1. Compare to MLK Jr.: MLK was assassinated – there was a reason. We now paint him with rose colored glasses as we celebrate MLK day in February BUT his contemporaries hated him. They hated that the status quo was being disrupted. 
      1. Jesus was hated too. Sure, he was loved by the outcasts and oddballs BUT the ones in leadership with power, the ones with wealth, the ones in allegiance with Rome— they hated Jesus.
  2. Our story is a lived expression of Jesus’ story. (TBP)
    1. If we follow Jesus, we will not be fit in with the rest of the world.
      1. We won’t fit in with a political party.
      2. We won’t fit in with the cultural norms of our country.
      3. We won’t fit in anywhere because our citizenship is in heaven.
    2. INSTEAD:
      1. We will be welcoming the ones who are kicked out.
      2. We will be opening doors that others shut.
      3. Our connections will cross borders. Citizenship isn’t defined by earthly standards.
  3. DISCLAIEMER: Not a justification for being an asshole.
    1. There have been Christians who have used the concept “not part of this world” or “animosity with the world” as an excuse to be jerks.
      1. “Christians” protesting at soldiers’ funerals proclaiming their beliefs about homosexuals in vulgar ways.
      2. “Christians” protesting at women’s clinics by shaming women who need medical attention or are considering hard decisions about the future.
      3. “Christians” so convinced their political party is correct that the use slurs against leaders they disagree with. – All sides do this.
      4. “Christians” pastors who would refuse to marry a couple who are living together rather than unite them under God.
      5. “Christians” saying there is a war on Christmas based on the design on a cup at a coffee shop.
  4. Your Will, Not Mine: Following Jesus doesn’t mean that every belief we hold is now endorsed by God. Following Jesus means we will scrutinize each of our beliefs through the Holy Spirit and invite God to change our mind.
    1. Following Jesus means we let go of our own plans, hopes, desires and invite God’s desire to blossom within us.
    2. Jesus prayed in the Garden before he was arrested “Yet your will be done.” He didn’t want to suffer BUT he gave it all up for the glory of God.


A CHALLENGE: I invite you to pray Jesus’ prayer during lent. To share with God the struggles on your heart, the hopes you have, or the plans you’re making. AND THEN have the guts to say “yet your will be done.”

Help me want what you want.

Let go of our allegiance to party, country, or denomination and place our citizenship in heaven.