In this part of our “Just Ask” series, Pastor Eric responds to the question, “If Jesus forgives all, why is there hell?” The answer is not fire and brimstone. Hell is not a punishment an angry God inflicts; hell is a problem a loving God solves. The sermon is based on 1Peter 3:18-22 and Luke 15:11b-32.
Asking questions and wondering about God are important ways that we grow in faith throughout our lives. To kick off our August sermon series called, “Just Ask,” Pastor Paige lifts up two stories from the Bible, Genesis 32:22-32 and Mark 9:14-29. Both stories show people wrestling with God and coming out of that experience with a profound blessing. While we might want our faith to always be strong and certain, it’s natural to have questions as we face challenges in life. God wants us to turn to him as we turn to a loving father with our questions and doubts. No matter what our questions are, when we trust in God we will come away with God’s love and peace holding us up in the midst of our struggles.
“All things work together for the good for those who love God.” Really? All things? Including divorce? Cancer? What can this promise really mean? In this sermon, Pastor Eric looks at Paul’s words from Romans 8:26-39. This isn’t about pretending that bad things are really good, or about a God who makes bad things happen to you “for your own good.” It’s about the power of God at work in us, even in the middle of our trials. We need the victory of God. The world needs the victory of God. In Christ, you are given that victory to share with others!
The bishop of our DE-MD Synod, The Rev. Bill Gohl (http://www.demdsynod.org/our-bishop.html), was our guest preacher this morning! His sermon from Romans 8 and Matthew 13 explores how we live in the gap between “what is” and “what could, and will, be.” We think you will be deeply blessed by his words.
Just like little drops of water are part of a complicated water cycle that produces and sustains life…just like little seeds can produce great fields of grain, so God multiplies who we are and what we can do. We may be filled with despair, but God makes us hopeful. We may be hateful, but God makes us loving. The takes the little we have, the little we are, and multiplies it.
I had a young man in my congregation who, in what was to be an act of discipline, beat his 5-year-old nephew to death. He will spent the rest of his life in prison, but he has learned about the mercy of God. I learned the story of Henry Gerecke, an Army chaplain in WW II who was sent to be the chaplain for the men accused of Nazi war crimes in the trial at Nuremberg. Gerecke hated their crimes, but he still believed in the mercy of God. We all have hidden stories in our lives, and the mercy of God is for us too.
What does real freedom look like? How is it that we can live in one of the most “free” nations in the world, and yet still feel so stuck? Maybe the reason is that we don’t understand what freedom is really all about. Reflecting on the Apostle Paul’s words from Romans 6:12-23, Pastor Eric explores what it means to be enslaved to sin, enslaved to ourselves, or enslaved to God. One of those ways is the path to freedom.
The words of Matthew 10:24-39 are challenging. That’s even more the case hearing words about Jesus creating family conflict on the day we welcome families of our Vacation Bible School kids to worship as kids shared music they learned during the past week! But, this is the Gospel reading that was assigned for the day. And there is very good news found in these hard-to-hear words! So often, we feel “stuck” in our jobs, our relationships, our life, or our souls. What if the reason is that we are living in an illusion of peace? What if there is a way into life that is real? We can follow Jesus out of our illusions and into life that is real, full, and eternal.
Jesus calls disciples, travels with disciples, trains disciples, and then he sends them out to minister to others. In this sermon, “Simple Instructions,” Pastor Paige explores what Jesus’ instructions to the twelve disciples in Matthew 9:35-10:23 mean for us today. The sermon highlights how we are called and sent out to share the good news that in Jesus, the kingdom of heaven has come near.
The doctrine of the Holy Trinity isn’t about weird math where 1+1+1=1, or scoring obscure philosophical points. It’s a way of naming the God of the universe who loves us with infinite love. In today’s sermon, Pastor Eric looks at Genesis 1 and 2 and Matthew 28 to unpack what we can discover about the saving, healing presence of the God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
On the Festival of Pentecost, we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit in wind and flame. The Spirit is the risen Jesus’ continued presence with the disciples as they move into a new future. Pastor Paige explores the many gifts that Jesus gives the disciples in the Pentecost reading from John 20:19-23, including his peace, the proof of his death and resurrection in the marks on his body, and his breathing on them in order to give them the Holy Spirit. The Spirit empowers, enlivens, and enlists believers today as well. Through the Holy Spirit, God sends us out to share the good news of Jesus’ love and grace.
In 1Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11, we are told to “resist” the devil. What does that mean? Is it all about our willpower? Is it all up to us? Actually, there is some good news of great promise. This isn’t just a matter of temptation; it’s a matter of becoming the people God created us to be. In this last sermon of our “Forged” series, we will look at how, in our struggles against evil, Jesus is always at work to forge us into tried, tested, and true instruments of his kingdom.
Sermon based on Psalm 66:8-20 and 1Peter 2:19-25. What happens when life seems to turn against us? Trying to get an answer to “why” won’t get you anywhere. But while we don't always see the “victories” in life, Jesus is always at work to make you victorious. What if our trials are the very places where our character and destiny are forged?
As we continue our sermon series about being strengthened and forged by God in the midst of our struggles, Pastor Paige explores the image of Jesus as our cornerstone from 1 Peter 2:2-10. God gives us Jesus as the foundation upon which we build our lives. Like Jesus, we are “living stones,” growing in faith and expanding our community as we invite others into God’s marvelous light. 1 Peter proclaims that together we are “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people.” As believers, we are called to share God’s mercy with others and invite them to stand with us on the cornerstone that is Jesus Christ.
Ever feel like you don’t belong? In today’s sermon based on 1Peter 1:17-23, we explore two kinds of “misfits:” the outcast, and the exile. Christians live as “exiles” in this world. What does that mean? How can that calling be a blessing, not just to us, but to the world around us?
Today we begin a new sermon series based on 1Peter. Our theme is “Forged: From Counterfeit Hope to Strength That Is True.” Today (1Peter 1:3-9), we look at the difference between pretending that we can somehow avoid struggles and trials and instead discovering the real strength that comes from the presence of Jesus in our trials.
In this sermon on John 20:19-31, Pastor Gordon Simmons, a member of Reformation, tells us the good news of the forgiveness and peace not just given to us, but offered to all people, in the resurrection of Jesus.
Christ is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed! Alleluia! We’ve all experienced trying to solve a problem and getting frustrated when nothing we do seems to help. That’s what Mary Magdalene was feeling on that first Easter morning in John 20:1-18. She was grieving and unable to locate Jesus’ crucified body. The miracle of Easter is that God was doing something entirely new. Something that would solve the problem. Not only the problem of a missing body, but of death itself. Pastor Paige explores how Easter opens up a new future, God’s bright and beautiful future, for everyone.
“What is truth?” Pilate asks Jesus in the middle of our Lord’s arrest, trial, and crucifixion on Good Friday. It’s a question we all wrestle with, especially in our world today. Who speaks the truth? Who can I trust to tell me the truth? What is truth? Pastor Paige points to the cross to answer Pilate’s question. The cross of Christ gives us hope that even as sinners who hide from the truth of our condition, Jesus still loves us. He gave up his life, so we could experience the truth of God’s never-ending mercy for us.
On Jesus’ last night with his disciples before the crucifixion, he gave them the sign of foot washing as a symbol of how they are to love one another. (You can find this story in John 13:1-17; 31-35.) He also instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion, as Paul tells in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. At this meal, we are transformed. Indeed, at this table, the world finds new life. Come to the table.