Child of God

January 13th, 2019“Child of God”Rev. Heather Jepsen
Isaiah 43:1-7 and Luke 3:15-22
So often in our world today we find ourselves searching for meaning, especially this time of year.I think that often in the New Year many of us become reflective.We think of the year past, things we did well and things we could have done better.And we think of the year to come, what are our plans for ourselves and our families.Many of us make resolutions or promises to ourselves about what kind of people we want to be in the coming year.Maybe you are trying a new diet or exercise plan these days, or maybe you are focusing on a new prayer regimen.Whatever promises we might make to ourselves, for many of us, this is a time of year to wonder just who we are and what, if anything, makes us of value.
Our Biblical texts for this morning are all about value.Our Old Testament reading from the prophet Isaiah was written to the Israelites when they were captive in Babylon.Isaiah can have some pretty harsh words for …

Jesus Was a Refugee

January 6th, 2019“Jesus Was a Refugee”Rev. Heather Jepsen
Matthew 2:1-23 and Isaiah 60:1-6
One of my favorite T-shirts is a bright blue one that declares in big letters “Jesus Was A Refugee”.I get a lot of compliments when I wear this T Shirt but I often wonder if people are really reading it.In fact, I get the feeling that at least half of the people who say they like it do so just because it says “Jesus” in big letters at the top.I often want to quiz people who compliment the shirt asking, “When was Jesus a refugee?” but that’s not really polite conversation so I just smile and keep quiet.
Well, the story of Jesus as a refugee is found here, in the second chapter of Matthew’s gospel.Rather than Luke’s story about Mary, Matthew’s gospel is all about Joseph and his role as a father.Joseph is engaged to Mary but finds out she’s pregnant before the wedding.He plans a quiet divorce but an angel visits him in dream, telling him that this child is special, one who shall be called Emmanuel.Jos…


December 23rd, 2018“BELIEVE”Rev. Heather Jepsen
Luke 1:39-56 and Micah 5:1-5a
There are many holiday decorating trends and each year something new seems to pop up.One year it was elf on the shelf, and one year it was silver trees.This year there are sure a lot of those spot lights that you can shine on your house that rotate different images or laser lights.I think we have three new sets on our street alone. Several years ago, the trend was signs that were simply one word, “Believe.”It wasn’t clear what exactly we were supposed to “believe” in.Some signs had Santa on them so I think the admonition was to “Believe in Santa”.But a lot of folks took these signs to mean “Believe” in the Christmas story of Jesus.This became a popular gift among folks in my old church and consequently your pastor has one of the best collections of “Believe” signs and ornaments around.
I was reminded of this holiday slogan as I was studying the texts for this week.Today it is still Advent, a time to prepare our…

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…