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Looking for Hope

December 2nd, 2018“Looking for Hope”Rev. Heather Jepsen
Jeremiah 33:14-16 and Luke 21:25-36
The first Sunday of Advent is always a jarring experience.We come in here ready for the Christmas story and the church is nowhere near that message.Instead of joy and carols, we have people fainting from fear.Instead of sparkling lights, we have the shaking of the heavens and the earth.Instead of messages of peace and goodwill, we have nations in an uproar.Not exactly Christmas cheer.
This is Advent, not Christmas, and we have four Sundays to go until we meet the babe in the manger on Christmas Eve.Advent means “coming” or “arrival” and this is a time when we focus our faith and prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ.When we talk about Christ’s coming this time of year, we are talking about two different events.First of course, the babe in the manger the Christmas story that we know and love so well, we are preparing our hearts to celebrate the birth of our Savior.But we are also preparing ou…

The Truth

November 25th, 2018“The Truth”Rev. Heather Jepsen
Revelation 1:4b-8 and John 18:33-38a
Today is Christ the King Sunday.Smack dab in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, this is one of those liturgical holidays that we totally miss.Advent and Lent have enough Sundays in them that we are not likely to miss them.But Christ the King is right up there with Baptism of the Lord and Trinity Sunday when it comes to easy days to miss.Christ the King is always the last Sunday in the liturgical calendar, sort of a final statement in the church year.Next Sunday we start the cycle all over again as we begin Advent and get ready for the babe in the manger.
Though we always forget about it, and it can be a doozey to preach, I happen to like Christ the King Sunday.It’s a sort of “in-your-face” to the powers that be, and I think the rebel in me gets a kick out of that.You see, today is the day that we declare we are not of this world.We declare that political powers and systems may come and go, but we have…

Ever, Always, in the End Times

November 18th, 2018“Ever, Always, in the End Times”Rev. Heather Jepsen
Mark 13:1-8 with 1 Samuel 2:1-10
This morning we return to our readings in Mark.This is Jesus’ final days in the gospel of Mark and he is visiting the temple with his disciples.His followers are awed by the spectacle of the Temple Mount.Such great and glorious buildings, such a wonderful expression of man’s faith in God.Surely Jesus can see the glory of the place.But Jesus warns that this man-made glory will not last.All will be thrown down.In fact, everything that the disciples have thought was stable in their world; religion, culture, government, identity, all will be torn down.Jesus makes it clear that the only thing the disciples can count on is him.
In the historical context of this passage, in the time it was written, Jesus is speaking mostly about the temple culture.Jesus believed that the religion had become false and idolatrous.The temple authorities, the religious leaders, had aligned themselves with the Rom…

The family of hospitality and fidelity

November 11th, 2018“The Family of Hospitality and Fidelity”Rev. Heather Jepsen
Ruth 3:1-5, 4:13-17
This morning we continue the story of Ruth and Naomi, as well as our discussion about what it means to be the family of faith.In typical lectionary fashion, we only have snippets from the book of Ruth today.Last week we studied the beginning of the story.Naomi and her husband Elimelech along with their two sons had fled the land of Judah during a time of famine.They landed in Moab, the neighboring and enemy country, only to have Elimelech and both the sons die.Naomi and her Moabite daughters-in-law journey back to Judah.Orpah turns back for Moab, but Ruth decides to cast her lot with Naomi.“Where you go, I will go.”And so, the women, a strange and sad family, returned to Judah.
In the chapters before our reading for today, Ruth and Naomi find themselves in Bethlehem just in time for the barley harvest.Naomi has a kinsman named Boaz, a relative of her dead husband, and she sends Ruth to gle…

Opening Our Eyes

October 28th, 2018“Opening Our Eyes”Rev. Heather Jepsen
Mark 10:46-52
This morning our gospel reading picks up right where we left off last week.Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for his final days.He has told the disciples repeatedly about the suffering that awaits him there, but they still are unable to hear and understand his message.In our reading for last Sunday, the Zebedee brothers James and John asked for seats of honor in Jesus’ kingdom.Jesus made it clear that they will suffer a similar fate to his own, but that places of honor were not his to give.He reminded everyone that the path to greatness in the kingdom of God is the path of service.As the crowd passes on we have our healing story for today, which is immediately followed by Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city.
At first this appears to be just one more healing story.Jesus heals a man who was born blind, and you might wonder what I could find to say about such a thing.But, if we examine this story closer, we can see that i…

The Community that Heals

September 30th, 2018“The Community that Heals”Rev. Heather Jepsen
James 5:13-20 with Psalm 124
This morning we are taking a break from the gospel of Mark and taking a moment to consider the letter from James to the early church.While I appreciate the challenge of crafting a weekly sermon on whatever gospel reading comes up, I think this week’s lectionary reading from the epistles seems more suited to our church context.You may remember that we did a Lenten sermon series on James a few years ago and that the book of James is more of a sermon or collection of moral teachings then it is a letter.In this book, the author is offering lessons, advice, and encouragement to the early church.
In the reading for today, James is talking about how the community should lift each other up in prayer.Throughout this letter, James has offered encouragement to the Christian community in how to live in ways that are different than the ways of the world.In this passage James is encouraging the community of …

Divine Wisdom

September 16th, 2018“Divine Wisdom”Rev. Heather Jepsen
Mark 8:27-38 with Proverbs 1:20-38
This morning we continue our readings in the Gospel of Mark.As we have seen in our previous readings, the Jesus of Mark’s gospel is quick witted and doesn’t hesitate to say what he thinks or offer a difficult teaching.This morning’s reading is no exception.
Jesus has been busy teaching, healing, and generally mixing it up with Pharisees and the like and today he is on the road with his disciples to a prominent Roman city.Jesus asks about what the word on the street is regarding him and in general the view seems to be that he is some sort of prophet brought back from the dead.Peter though, has a different idea as he states that Jesus is the Messiah.
One would imagine that this would be a time of great celebration but Jesus immediately rains on everyone’s parade as he starts talking about all the suffering that is on the horizon.Yes, he may be the Messiah, but the Son of Man will have to undergo great …