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A Fresh Start

March 24th, 2019“A Fresh Start”Rev. Heather Jepsen
Luke 13:1-9 with Isaiah 55:1-9
“O Jesus, why did those people suffer?”That is the question that appears to have been brought to our Lord this morning.And I am afraid to say that Jesus does not give us an answer to this age old question of humankind.Instead he reminds us that our time is short, and that we should be ready for our own end at any time.It is a dark picture that offers little comfort – but nonetheless is suited to our season of Lenten repentance.
Some from the crowd approach Jesus telling him about some Galileans who were killed by Pilate in the temple.Their very own blood even mixed with the blood of the sacrifices they were offering, a very grave insult.In this time, and sometimes even in ours, people assumed that those who suffered did so because of something they had done wrong.It is not as big of a leap as it seems at first.Surely God would not let the innocent suffer; therefore those who suffer must have committed some …

Mother Prophet

March 17th, 2019“Mother Prophet”Rev. Heather Jepsen
Luke 13:31-35
We continue our Lenten season with stories of Jesus in Luke’s gospel and today we find our Lord in conflict.This isn’t a big surprise as Jesus is often in conflict.After all, his big mouth will eventually get him killed.Today he is up against the church and the state, the very forces which will bring about his demise.
Lectionary readings always take things out of context so let’s take a moment and center ourselves in the text.Jesus has set his face toward Jerusalem, knowing that the time for his suffering and death is drawing near.As he travels the highways and byways of Israel he has been busy.He is teaching and preaching, healing and praying.Just before our reading he healed a woman in a synagogue on the Sabbath, a big no-no.He’s been teaching his followers about who will be saved and saying crazy things like “strive to enter through the narrow door” and “people will come from east and west and north and south in the kin…

The Devil Within

March 10th, 2019“The Devil Within”Rev. Heather Jepsen
Luke 4:1-13
Today is the first Sunday of Lent, a time when we turn our hearts and minds toward a period of reflection.In the church, the period of Lent lasts for forty days, which doesn’t include Sundays, leading up to our celebration of Easter which will be April 21st this year.The first text of the Lenten season is always the temptation of Christ which gives us an opportunity to reflect on our own experiences of temptation, as well as our own sinful nature.
This year of course, we are reading in the gospel of Luke.As with the other gospels, in Luke Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit out into the wilderness immediately following his baptism in the river Jordan.Jesus has been baptized by John, he has witnessed the Holy Spirit descending on him in the bodily form of a dove, and he has heard a voice from the heavens.God has spoken and declared that Jesus is God’s beloved Son, and that God is pleased with him.The moment of baptism is the mo…

Woe is Me!

February 17th, 2019“Woe is Me!”Rev. Heather Jepsen
Luke 6:17-26 with Jeremiah 17:5-10
This morning we return to Jesus’ teaching in the gospel of Luke and once again we find that these lessons are difficult for modern Americans.When Jesus gathers the people on the plain to offer his sermon, he doesn’t pull any punches.This is Luke, where scholars find what is often called God’s “preferential option for the poor”.Or in plain language, God loves poor people more than you.No one likes to hear those words, and yet that is one way to read what Luke has for us today.Let’s dig deeper.
Last week we read about Jesus calling the disciples Peter, James, and John from their lives as fisherman.Since that time he has been healing, calling other disciples, arguing with the Pharisees, and praying.Just prior to the section we read this morning, Jesus is on a mountaintop praying and he spends the whole night in prayer.In the morning he decides to gather a special group to his side and so he chooses 12 of h…

Fishing with Jesus

February 10th, 2019“Fishing with Jesus”Rev. Heather Jepsen
Luke 5:1-11
Imagine this . . . the camera pans out and we see a lake and a small fishing dock.This is no major port or big city area; rather this is a small fishing group on a rural lake.These guys have had a long night, and they haven’t caught anything.They are sitting on the edge of the lake untangling and cleaning nets which the night before floated empty in the darkness.Their frustration and fatigue are apparent in their downcast eyes.
In the meantime, the great teacher Jesus has left the metropolis of Capernaum and come out to speak with the country folk.Word about him has spread and the crowd is so thick he can’t really teach them anything because everyone is standing too close and blocking everyone else out.So, Jesus decides to get into a boat and pull out on to the lake.
I can just see Simon, who we will later know as Peter, in this scene.He’s crouched beside the lake, working through the twisted knots of his netting.He lo…

What is Love?

February 3rd, 2019“What is Love?”Rev. Heather Jepsen
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 and Luke 4:21-30
This morning’s readings are a continuation of where we left off last week.Last week we read chapter 12 in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, where he compares the church to the body of Christ, reminding us that every member is of value.We also looked at Jesus’ teaching at the Nazareth synagogue in Luke’s gospel, where he read about the Messiah from the scroll of Isaiah and claimed that those words were fulfilled in his presence.Last week we realized that the Messiah in Luke asks a lot of us; to bring good news to the poor, freedom to the oppressed, and release to the captives.This week we will look deeper into this call of the church by looking at love.
So, what is love?Our reading from Paul, 1 Corinthians 13 is most famous for its use at weddings.Some will argue that this text has no place at weddings because it was not written for that but I would disagree. Verses 4-7 detailing the things t…