Behold, My Servant

At the end of “the Beauty and the Beast” the spell is broken and the true nature of the beast is revealed. You might call this a manifestation, a sign that shows something clearly. The season of Epiphany is all about manifestations that reveal the true nature of Jesus as both fully God and fully man. As the old hymn says “God in man made manifest.” Today we see such a manifestation just after Jesus is baptized in the Jordan river.

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God has Been There

Imagine what it might have been like for Mary to answer the door and see Magi with their whole entourage! Strange men from far away bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. What became of these gifts, we don’t know, the Bible doesn’t tell us. They may have been a part of God’s provision for the Holy Family during what happens next.

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Unfolding the Master Plan

The Ulm Minster is the tallest church in the world (530 ft). It was planned and begun by Heinrich Parler in 1377, but it was not completed until 1890. That’s 513 years of construction! In the beginning, God had a clear plan for the heavens and the earth, for the garden, and for Adam and Eve. Unlike Ulm Minster, which had many architects and builders along with way, God has overseen the development of his plan over thousands of years.

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Go Before the Lord

What was it like when you were born? Was there joy, excitement, wonder, anticipation? Some babies are born with a clear purpose, like princes and princesses. For others, their sense of purpose develops over time. While John the Baptist wasn’t born into a royal household, he was born with a purpose. 

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The Kinsman Redeemer

In this third sermon in our series on the Book of Ruth, we see Naomi craft a plan to help Ruth find rest in the home of a loving husband who will protect her and care for her. The plan is a risky one and could easily have been misinterpreted! In fact, many have interpreted Naomi’s plan as risqué and provocative, but it need not be seen as such. It would not be in line with the character of the woman we have come to see in Ruth, or of the “worthy man,” Boaz.

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Coincidence? I Think Not!

As Christians, we don’t believe in luck. We see the hand of God in the arrangement of circumstances. At the same time, the Bible affirms that we are each free to make choices. There is, of course, a difficult tension in these two ideas, but we hold them together because the Bible holds them together. In the Book of Ruth “there’s a string of ‘just-so-happens’ that would never have happened without human effort and could never have happened without God’s unseen, providential hand working in His ordinary ways” (David Roseberry, “The Ordinary Ways of God”).

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When Everything Goes Wrong

You might think of 2020-2021 as “The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad” years: a Global pandemic, racial tension, political discord, and an insurrection in the Capitol Building. Just when we thought things were getting better, the Delta surge! This is not unlike the situation we read about at the beginning of the Book of Ruth. Today we begin a new sermon series as we meet Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth.

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Marriage and Divorce

In the Gospel today, Jesus teaches about divorce in response to a question from the Pharisees. Jesus is not speaking to make the divorced person feel condemned, he is addressing the Pharisee’s faulty thinking. Jesus points beyond their debate to the very beginning, to the very first marriage, to show how God intended for marriage to be permanent…”till death do us part.” Part of the the beauty of marriage is in this permanence. But it doesn’t always end that way because of the hardness of our hearts.

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The Way to the Top

“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). This might seem backwards to you, it would have seemed backwards to the disciples as well. The way of the world is to promote yourself. To fight your way to the top. To make sure you get ahead so you aren’t left behind. This attitude comes from a lack of trust in God.

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Evident Faith

I’m glad that we began our worship this morning with “A Mighty Fortress,” one of Martin Luther’s most famous hymns, because today we are going to dig into the Letter of James which Luther deemed “an Epistle of straw” when compared with the letters of Paul and Peter.

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