Connecting the East Lake community and beyond

July 2021 – December 2021 Archived Sermon Notes

July 4, 2021: Set Free to Be, Tell & Do

Jesus encourages the disciples to “shake the dust from their feet” as testimony against a bad encounter as they go about their missional work. How often do we carry negative encounters with us from station to station in this life? Feel encouraged to reflect on what you continue to carry from bad encounters, perhaps even bad encounters within the community of the faithful? Mercy, reconciliation, forgiveness, & resilience are all at play in this one act. Read more

July 11, 2021: Listening to and Speaking Truth

Few of us want to hear a hard truth, & perhaps fewer of us want to be the ones called to deliver one. Today’s texts remind us that bearing God’s word is risky business. Herod delivers John the baptizer’s head on a platter to his wife, Herodias, to fulfill a promise he never should have made. Speaking truth to power can cost us our lives. Yet this is exactly what God calls & privileges us to do. God’s prophets are ordinary people called to deliver an extraordinary message. We are sent from worship each week to proclaim God’s in-breaking reign to all the powers that profess to rule this world. Read more

July 24/25, 2021: Wanna Make a Miracle Real?

Recognizing the power of action, John calls to mind the ways prophets fed & nourished the people, & then he multiplies this in the person & action of Jesus. Jesus uses earthly gifts to provide for the gathered community—the gospel’s vision of Jesus’ life & God’s abundance in creation. Read more

August 1, 2021: Pulling the Curtain Back

Today’s texts move us from rumbling tummies & flaring tempers to a refocusing on the blessings poured out & the primary benefactor. We see the gifts of God, which come in a variety of ways: physical nourishment, roles & talents lifted up in community, new life given now & into the ages of ages. Yet each of these actions & the gifts mean little if we are not able to see the one who is the giver & to recognize that the gifts are not merely about what we can do to get them or what signs are needed to prove them; Read more

August 8, 2021: But it’s the Olympics!

Belief is the key to receiving the benefits of the bread of life. Eternal life comes from putting faith in Jesus Christ. It’s not about the bread. It’s about the belief. “What you see is the bread & the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ & the chalice the blood of Christ.” Read more

August 15, 2021: My Mind is Made Up I am What I Eat

Today Jesus invites us to a meal. It is an extraordinary invitation to do an ordinary thing: form bonds of love & community through shared food & drink. Jesus’ invitation to share in the meal of his body & blood teaches us about the breadth & depth of God’s love & about God’s desire for us to abide in that love (John 6:56). Read more

August 22, 2021: The Hard Work of Belief

The good news of Jesus is too radical, unsettling, and illogical for us to accept. Through the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit we are able to echo Peter’s profession of
faith: “You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69). Like Peter, we have come to believe—despite our doubts and weakness of faith—through the Spirit’s work in the word. Read more

August 29, 2021: Put Your Seats Back … Run for Your Lives

The Israelites believed the law was a divine gift that provided guidelines for living out the covenant. Moses commands the people to obey the law and to neither add to nor subtract from it. The Israelites are also to teach the law to their children and their children’s children. Read more

September 5, 2021: Being Open to God in a Crisis

The waters of baptism wash away all distinctions. Like streams breaking forth in the desert, these waters surprise us with mercy in unexpected places. These waters open our eyes, unstop our ears, & loose our tongues to see, hear, & speak God’s partiality for the poor, the weak, & the outcast. Baptized into Christ’s death & resurrection, the Spirit fills us with faith—a faith active in showing mercy that knows no limits. Around the table, rich & poor, haughty & humble, all who gather receive a feast fit for the family of God. All are honored & all are fed, because the Lord is the maker of them all. Read more

September 12, 2021: Enough Already! Shut Up, Learn and Live!

Jesus invites people of faith & those who doubt Jesus’ way to engage rather than avoid, conquer, or escape. What practices will help worshipers today to imagine the ways they are being called to “lose” their life in order to save it? From what does Jesus want to free people so that they will be able to pick up a different kind of burden & follow him? Then & now, Jesus invites followers on the way of the cross—a path of daily learning, dying, & new life. Read more

September 19, 2021: Inverted Hierarchies of Greatness & Phony Privileges of Prestige

Whoever receives a child receives Jesus, & whoever receives Jesus receives God, who sent him. Both child & servant are without status. They are unable to repay a kindness, in earthly terms. Today, some little children are treasured, but we kid ourselves if we forget that the little child is still the most vulnerable, manipulated, & readily discarded. We are to welcome those who are vulnerable, manipulated, discarded, as was Jesus himself. To welcome others into our community is now a popular Christian understanding. Yet Christ welcomes us all to a community of suffering, of servanthood, of being the last. This message of the cross will nuance how we think about how we welcome others & what we are welcoming them into. Read more

September 26, 2021: God Drove by in a Ford

Jesus welcomes good being done in his name, even when it is not under his control. The circle we form around Jesus’ word must be able to value good being done in ways we wouldn’t do it, by people we can’t keep tabs on. Read more

October 3, 2021: A Vision Treatment for Marriages

The life of many children in North America is one of relative privilege, with carefree days in which they often experience the care & love of grown-ups. Jesus, by bringing the children to him, identifies himself with those who were among the most vulnerable & helpless in society. In ancient times, children often were treated like property. They had few protections from those who would treat them badly. But Jesus came into the world for ones such as these children. Who, in our communities, is in the place of the children of ancient times? As Christ’s church, do we provide a place of welcome & care for the most vulnerable & weak in our society? Read more  And study some current Marriage Statistics here

October 10, 2021: The Currency of a Validated Life

A rich man approaches Jesus & asks how to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to sell what he owns, give the money to the poor, & follow. Jesus will accept nothing less than our very selves. Like the rich man, we too are left defenseless & grieving by Jesus’ radical call to leave behind & give away what we count on for our own security (it may not be $!). He wants US, & therefore also wants the things that keep us from him; he gazes upon us in love, even as he calls us to leave behind our false sources of security. Read more

October 17, 2021: The Making of Servant Leaders

Like James & John, we too are quick to assume that following Christ leads to success, power, & glory. Yet Jesus turns our lust for success, power, & glory on its head: “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, & whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” This servant leadership that finds power in self-giving is to be a hallmark of Christian community. For this servant-leadership is both modeled on & empowered by the living Jesus himself. His greatness is exactly in his humility, his strength is in his weakness, & his whole life is given a ransom for our sake. Those who end up sitting at his right & left hand in his glory will not be the privileged & powerful, or even the disciples, who shrink back from sharing in his cup of suffering. Read more

October 24, 2021: Spiritual Smart Glasses

The word for today is restoration. Both the Old Testament reading & the psalm speak of God’s restoration of the people of Israel, gathering them from sorrowful exile into joyful community. The gospel tells the story of Jesus healing Bartimaeus, restoring his sight in response to his faith. This promise of restoration is acted out through worship. Much of what happens in worship is concerned with restoration. In the word, in the meal, in confession & forgiveness, we are restored to wholeness (& holiness) with God & with one another. Read more

October 31, 2021: Reforming a Life

Review your Identity
▪ God has given gifts, personality, characteristics, talents, etc.
▪ We are Free to develop, change, ignore, enhance them
Ask the deeper Question: “Who are you at your Core”
▪ Think about the source of your life & Life in general
▪ Think about what is promised to happen after death
▪ To Whom are you ‘responsible’ for your life?

Read more

November 7, 2021: Bring Your Grief to the Table

On All Saints Day we celebrate the victory won for all the faithful dead, but we grieve for our beloved dead as well, knowing that God honors our tears. We bring our grief to the table & find there a foretaste of Isaiah’s feast to come. Read more

November 14, 2021: Humpty Dumpty Hope

In order for human beings to build structures of great strength, they must rely on sacrifice & compromise. Can any human standard of strength be achieved without making something else weak? Real strength, however, is not shown in things built by human hands. The new, true temple, Jesus’ faithful strength, succumbs in weakness to human-made nails. While the nails lie rusting away, the wounded hands & body rise again to break bread with all on the journey down the path of life. Read more

November 28, 2021: Big Questions – Big Answers

This ADVENT season at LCR we are looking at BIG Questions & BIG Answers in our faith. Advent is an in-between time: Jesus has secured and confirmed the promises of God yet the world continues in much the same way it has for centuries. How as people of faith are we to understand this? People have been invited to share and submit faith questions and have them addressed as much as possible as part of the sermons in Advent. Tune in to see how the conversations go. Read more

December 5, 2021: Big Questions – Big Answers Part 2

The gospel writer Luke is intentional about locating the advent of John the Baptist in a particular time & place. This provides a backdrop for one of Luke’s main points: John the Baptist, & the one he proclaims, differs greatly from the rulers of the day, both in appearance & in focus. Consider reflecting on some of the leaders in our world today. Rather than being critical, try to find examples of people who lead & act in ways that connect with God’s life-giving work of caring for the vulnerable & loving the neighbor. Read more

December 19, 2021: Big Questions – Big Answers Part 4

What does Mary do after the angel announces she will give birth to Jesus? She dashes off to visit Elizabeth. Like Mary, when we bear Christ within our very selves, we too feel an urge to connect with others. As the earth reels from species extinction, toxic waste, & climate emergency, God calls us out of isolation & into community. How do we deepen loving connection with our human neighbors & our other-than-human kin? Maybe we learn the names of our neighbors & share tools, resources, skills, & expertise.

Maybe we learn the names of local trees & birds, support farms & join the fight to stop pipelines, incinerators, & dumps often sited in low-income neighborhoods. Read more