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Introduction:

The Christmas Eve texts (Is. 9:2-7; Tit. 3:4-7; Lk. 2:1-20) were full of wonderful promises for now and the New Year!  And they all had their beginning in that humble smelly manger holding the One we call "God With Us."   But, how would those promises ever be realized if Jesus stays in that cradle?  For many, the only time Jesus is encountered is as an infant.  What's wrong with that picture?

Introduction:

Have you ever considered all those forever interruptions that at times seem to unendingly mess up our schedules?  Have you ever considered that they just might not be "coincidental?"  Give a listen to the Gospel text (Matthew 1:18-25) which speaks of some pretty significant interruptions in the lives of two parents whose baby's birthday we celbrate in just a few days......

Introduction:

John the baptizing prophet comes onto the scene calling those who came to the Jordan to repent.  "Repent, prepare the way!"  was the prophet's cry (Matthew 3:1-12).  So often in our life's journey, especially during this time of political unrest and upheaval, we may think that it is "them" who voted differently than us who are the ones needing repentance.  Perhaps that "Us vs. Them" attitude is the first thing of which WE need to repent.  That kind of attitude is a Pandora's box of demons that has the great potential to hurt and paralyze us.  There's more.........

Introduction:

Jesus' first words in the Gospel of Mathhew (chapter 24) are an invitation:  "Learn a lesson from the fig tree."  What on earth do fig trees have to do with us and what possible lesson could we learn from them?  Or from Isaiah's words (chapter 2) anticipating a time when swords will be reforged into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks-- specially in this time of political uncertainty and transition.  It may be the most important lesson you learn today..........

Introduction

This was a day of recalling, remambering, and the telling of sacred stories of the loved ones we so desparately missed at times.  The momentos and narratives were deeply touching.  Wish all could've been recorded.  After a time, Pr. Alex "summarized" this time by speaking of the nesting dolls he brought on behalf of his mother--as a metaphor for our own lives.  The Gospel was the beatitudes as recoreded in Luke, chapter 6.

 

Introduction:

Both the Old Testament (Gen. 32:22-31) and the Gospel (Luke 18:1-8) speak of characters wrestling.  Jacob with an anonymous man (angel?) and a dstraught widow with an uncaring judge.  Both struggle and both gain from their persistence.  Jesus encourages his first hearers to pray always and not to lose heart.  But there is another important lesson hidden in these texts:  the vital and life giving act of wrestling with God.  What might that mean for us today?

Introduction:

The Gospel story of the 10 lepers, one of whom returns to give thanks (the "foreigner," by the way) in Luke 17, is often read on Stewardship Sunday or on Thanksgiving.  Surely gratitude is a lesson to continually keep learning.  But, there is another more subtle but just as important message here as well as in the O.T. reading of Naaman's healing (2Kings 5:1-15).  In some ways, it is a harder "practice" than being grateful--and perhaps even more important.  What might that be?  How could it apply to us personally, and then to our congregation which will soon be in transition......?

Introduciton:

The Disciples (Luke 17:5-10) have a critical request, especially as they approach Jerusalem for the last time with the shadows of the cross becoming increasigly dark and ominous:  Jesus, increase our faith!  Paul (2Tim. 1:1-14) sensing that perhaps Timothy may be fearful about beginning his work as a missionary, encourages him to "rekindle" the faith.  Sound like a familiar personal plea?  Well, the object lesson that I used was an empty yougurt container with some surprises--and it has had a lot to do with me!

Introduction:

The three lessons for this Sunday are some of the most troubling for us, if we take them seriously (Amos 6:1-7; 1Tim 6:6-19; Luke 16:19-31).  Uncomfortable in that they speak of the danger of riches and wealth.  There is nothing inherently wrong with either.  The Timothy text reminds us that it is the LOVE of money and the PURSUIT of wealth that leads us into the shadows.  Nevertheless, there are consequences, and one of them quite subtle.  Two object lessons led us into this message: a Judges' Choice Ribbon of a photograph that Pr. Alex submitted to the Chelan County Fair last year.  How do these all connect--to us?

Introduction:

Well, I forgot to hit the record button so you'll have to look up and read the Gospel Text on your own (Luke 16:1-13).  As I mention in the message, it's one of my least favorites, to say the least.  I find parts of it "incomprehensible and confusing."  But there are other portions that are perfectly clear--and disturbing, if we take them seriously.  Someone taught me (again!) some profound lessons that I needed to learn.  Who do you suppose that was?  The least likely........