Admittedly, today’s sermon starts on a grim note, right out of our reading from Hebrews 9:24-29: we will all one day die. But this isn’t a doom and gloom sermon! Today, we start a three-week series called “What’s the Point,” looking at how we can live lives that have eternal significance. We are encouraged by the “last things” (the hope of salvation beyond death), even as we are challenged to keep the “first things” (love for God and for each other) first.
On All Saints’ Sunday, the Bible readings, especially Revelation 21:1-6, proclaim the hope that believers have in Jesus’ resurrection to eternal life. Pastor Paige invites listeners to remember with thanksgiving the saints they’ve loved—those who lived and died in the faith, and have been called home to be with Jesus. All Saints’ Day is also a day to hold fast to God’s promise that we, too, are glory bound. The confidence we have in our ultimate future powerfully shapes our lives on earth today.
On Reformation Sunday and Confirmation Day for two of our congregation’s young people, Pastor Paige explores Jesus’ teaching about truth and freedom in John 8:31-36. Jesus’ promise that the truth sets his disciples free inspired Martin Luther’s courageous statement when he faced fierce opposition. Luther said, “Here I stand. I can do no other.” This sermon calls today’s believers to stake their claim and anchor their lives on the truth that is Jesus.
Two cents, no fair shares, willing hearts, and burying seed in the ground. That’s what we have before us on this Commitment Sunday for our annual stewardship campaign. Jesus’ story of the generous widow (Mark 12:38-44), the Israelites’ willing generosity to build the tabernacle and mercy seat (Exodus 35:4-5a, 20-29), and the Apostle Paul’s challenge for us to sow abundantly (2 Corinthians 9:6-15) guide us through the territory of growing our generosity. The goal is not raising funds, but raising faith. Will you accept the invitation?
“Church” is not a building. It is no ordinary gathering. “Church” is a “holy partnership in a heavenly calling” (Hebrews 3:1-6). We are called to be the people among whom and through whom the world can encounter the mercy of Jesus. But often that’s not what the reality of “church” looks like. Our Gospel story from Mark 11:15-19 gives us insight why. Will we settle for a faith that is easy and convenient? Or will we make the sacrifices necessary for our life together truly to be mercy’s house?