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Sermons

Reflections on Scripture for God's People

Jesus Saves!

Scripture Readings: Luke 4:14–21 and John 5:1–18 A few years ago, Alan Deutschman wrote an article for Fast Company entitled “Change or Die” that has been referenced in the years since by leaders of all sorts. The article deals with a persistent problem with human beings: we’re resistent to change. Deutschman puts it this way: “What if a well-informed, trusted authority figure said you had to make difficult and enduring changes in the way you think and act? If you didn’t, your time would end soon — a lot sooner than it had to. Could you change when change really mattered? When it mattered most?” If your life, your career, your closest relationships were on the line, would you change so you could save them? We would like to think that the answer would be yes. Especially because we’re Christians! We want to be able to say that we willingly follow the guidance of God’s Spirit. But Deutchman says that humans are persistently resistant to change. The odds of us actually changing our behavior when it really matters is about nine to one. 90% of the time, we as human beings continue on our current trajectory, even if that path leads to disaster. Now, Deutchman’s article is primarily concerned with change in the business world—whether or not a business will adapt to a changing market around them. But this problem manifests itself in every sphere of human life. Doctors tell us, “you need to eat more vegetables and exercise every day.” We might try it for a day and then decide that we liked our old lifestyle a lot... read more

Began Again

Matthew 2:1–12 (NRSV) In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense,... read more

2018 Year in Review

This past year has been full of grief, tragedy, and confusion. Yet, it has also been a year filled the knowledge of God’s abiding presence with us. Take a moment to reflect on God’s goodness to us in Eldersville this year. Share with others ways that God has spoken to you through worship and service. Thank you to all who gave of their time, talent, and treasure that we might worship God together and grow in the love of God and our neighbor. God bless you all. – Pastor Joel Peterson Most Viewed Sermons Online Do “All Dogs Go to Heaven?” Get in the Boat! The War to End War – Veterans Day Witnesses of the Resurrection – Easter The Good Shepherd Becomes a Sheep Offering the Real Jesus A Juice Box Faith If you missed some of the sermons in our “Focus” series, now is a great time to catch up! We’ll be building on this solid foundation in 2019 as our Church Council leads us in making new places for new people, doing ministry with the poor, dismantling racism, improving health, and developing principled... read more

Sunday After Christmas – Put the Dragons Back in Christmas

Scripture Reading: Matthew 2:13-18; 14:1-12 I appreciate the dedication that has brought you to worship today, even on the Sunday after Christmas. The Sunday after Christmas is a time for us to consider the consequences of the Christmas message. On Monday and Tuesday we celebrated the good news that a child has been born to us! The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Word on which all creation was spoken into being has come into the world. Hallelujah! It’s appropriate for our celebrations to continue. After all, the Christmas season continues all the way up to Epiphany on January 6th. Don’t put your Christmas decorations away yet! Today is only the 6th day of Christmas! Yet, as we worship in reduced numbers on this awkward Sunday between Christmas an New Years when many people are still traveling and thinking about everything except church, today is an appropriate day for a little reality check. What did Jesus’ birth at Christmas really accomplish? How did the world react to the good news we’ve been spending our week celebrating. We all know what ultimately becomes of this little child born in a manger—he’s baptized, he teaches and heals, he calls 12 disciples to participate in his mission, and then… he’s killed by the Romans on a cross. Not exactly what we would expect to result from the grand entrance at Christmas. This baby is, after all, the prince of peace, the mighty God himself! But anyone who has spent any time with Matthew’s verison of the Nativity knows that death doesn’t even wait that long to rear its ugly head... read more

Christmas Day: Coming Home

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 52:7-10, 62:10-12; Revelation 21:3 John 1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and made his home among us, and we have seen his glory. After a long season of waiting, Christmas is finally here! During these twelve days of Christmas, many will gather with family and friends, exchanging gifts, sharing food, and spending precious time together. In their annual report, AAA forecasts that one-third of Americans will travel this holiday season. That’s 112.5 million of us clogging the nation’s roads and runways. Mallory and I will join in the procession, visiting our families and spending time just being with those we love for a few days. Christmas is a season of going home, remembering who we are and who our God is. Yet, all this travel betrays the fact that we can’t actually go home. Sure, the home where we grew up may still be standing. Many of our family members are still around to share life with. But others have gone to eternal glory. My Christmas travels no longer include the treks to my grandparents houses because they have gone to their eternal homes. I can’t go back to the physical homes where I celebrated Christmas with family during my childhood because other people live in those houses now. At another level, we can never really go home because we have changed. We’re different people now then we were even last year. The places have changed even if we have gone nowhere. In the current of time, we can only go... read more

Christmas Eve – The Best Gift

Scripture Readings: Genesis 3:8-19; 22:15-18. Isaiah 9:2-7; 11:1-9. Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-16. On December 21, 1968, three astronauts launched from Cape Canaveral atop a Saturn V rocket. It was only the third manned Apollo mission, following the deadly Apollo 1 lauchpad fire and the successful Apollo 7 Earth-orbit flight only two months earlier. The original plans for Apollo 8 called for another Earth-orbiting mission to test the lunar and command modules, but when it became apparent that the lunar module would not be ready, a more ambitious goal was set. Apollo 8 was to boldly go where no human being had been before—into the orbit of the moon. It had been a tumultous year, and humanity was in need of hope. The Vietnam War continued to wage abroad. Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot dead in Tennessee on April 4th. In June, Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed. Each of these events led to protests and division within our country. Apollo 8 was tasked with orbiting the moon, but the biggest “discovery” of that journey had nothing to do with the moon. On December 24, 1968, the three astronauts had become the first humans to witness the rise of Earth from lunar orbit. Suddenly, three men saw with their own eyes, and the rest of us saw through photography, an image of earth that had previously only been known to God. The heavens and the earth were put into perspective for the first time. Humanity began to grasp the fragility of our common home and its place within the vast universe. From their rocket ship, propelled into space by... read more

Advent 4: Let it Be!

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26-38 On this, the fourth Sunday of our waiting for the appearance of Christ, we finally get to the parts of the story that we associate with Jesus’ birth. After trudging through Gospel lessons on the last judgment, Jesus’ thievery of our sins, and trusting God in silence, we find ourselves at the beginning of Luke’s gospel with the familiar stories of angels, Mary, promises, praise, and soon the baby Jesus himself. We’ve been waiting a long time for this, but the celebration of Jesus’ birth is coming. Over these next three days various subsets of us will gather to celebrate this good news for the world, that Jesus comes and makes a home among us. But before we can celebrate, we have to spend some time dwelling on the one whose obedience set this whole celebration in motion. She waited a lot longer than we have. For nine months, Mary carried the Messiah in her womb before that day when he was finally evicted from his temporary dwelling and was born as a child in a manger. Mary is a fascinating character in this great drama, and it’s a shame we don’t get much time to reflect on her contributions to God’s work. We talk about Abraham, Moses, Peter, and Paul all the time. We think about their faith and the ways that they paved the way for our faith. If we talk about Mary at all, it’s on this fourth Sunday of Advent when we’re trying to hurry the story along and get to the birth of Jesus! If we hear about Mary at all... read more

Advent 3: Trust!

John 1 (NRSV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.... read more

Advent 2: Let Go!

Luke 3: 1–20 (NRSV) In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ” John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who... read more

Advent 1: Wait for the Lord

Luke 21:7–11, 25–36 (NRSV) They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away... read more

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