Pastor Travis Norton

“But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose” 1 Corinthians 12:18 

Where do you fit in the body of Christ? That’s an important question we all must wrestle with, but it comes with an important assumption. You fit in the body of Christ. Each one of you have a place, designed by God. And besides fitting, you are a valued part of the body of Christ. Paul goes out of his way to make sure that we know that every part of the body matters. There are not more important Christians. The Pastor is not more important than the Sexton or the Parishioner. The top donor is not more important than the baby in the nursery. We all make up the body and need each other. Now that that’s out of the way, back to the original question—worthy of our time and discernment—where do you fit? What’s your part? 

-Pastor Travis Norton

Pastor Travis Norton

“to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” 1 Corinthians 12:7 

What is a spiritual gift and how do I get one? The New Testament is full of talk of spiritual gifts. People healing and prophesying and speaking in tongues. Paul talks about wisdom and knowledge and faith. Miracle working and speaking in tongues always gets the attention. I believe that the Holy Spirit is still handing out spiritual gifts to help the church accomplish our work to share the good news of Jesus with the world. I believe you have a manifestation of the Spirit. We’ll talk this week about recognizing and growing in the gifts God has given you. 

-Pastor Travis Norton

Pastor Travis Norton

“John answered all of them by saying, “ I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Luke 3:16 

John the Baptist had an interesting view of who Jesus would be. Fire and  judgement was top of mind for John. What does it mean for Jesus to baptize with the Holy spirit and with fire? We are beginning a new sermon series today on what it means to be the church. Most of our time will be spent in Corinthians, but we begin with baptism. When we are baptized we are joined to Jesus and sealed with the Holy Spirit and assured that we are the wheat Jesus gathers and not the chaff that he will burn. I like the image of being baptized with Holy Spirit and connected to God in that that way. But fire? That scares me a bit. Maybe that’s where we need to hear a word from God this week. Fire that refines and purifies. As we enter the new year, we might ask God to refine and purify our faith. What would that look like for you? 

-Pastor Travis Norton

Pastor Travis Norton

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. “ Luke 2:10-11

“To you.” Don’t you love seeing that on a Christmas present? To: your name. It means someone thought about you. It means you are about to receive something, a gift, hopefully a good one. The angels announced to the shepherds that they were receiving a gift from God that first Christmas eve.
That means God was thinking of them. The shepherds, the nobody’s, the easily forgotten, the night workers, the ordinary, the average, the ones who slept outside. To you is born this day.  
As you celebrate Christmas, keep this in mind. God is thinking about you. Christmas is about a gift given to you. And the gift is not a something, but a someone! How might you respond to that?

-Pastor Travis Norton

Pastor Travis Norton

Dwell with us Lord, and give us Love to heal. When I read Mary’s Magnificat I think of all the promises that God has begun to fulfill in Jesus. It’s a topsy turvey song of God turning the world upside down. The rich and powerful are humbled while the poor and needy are lifted up. So much of our world is hurting because of the growing chasm between rich and poor. The healing that Jesus brings is one of bridging that gap and bring the whole world an equity that heals. I admit though, it’s hard to find myself in this song of Mary. Am I one of the rich that are sent away empty or one of the lowly that are lifted up?

-Pastor Travis Norton

Pastor Travis Norton

“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion of the day of Jesus Christ.”
Philippians 1:6 

In the midst of change and fear we Christians are confident that God isn’t finished with us yet. The older I get the more I am able to see how God works in the life of the church and in individuals over time. So often we experience low points where we are tempted to despair, but then God works to bring healing and new life in unexpected ways. Our confidence in a bright future comes from our faith. This season of Advent is all about the expectation of Jesus’ return even as we remember the fulfillment of God’s promise to provide a messiah in the first place. We have confidence that God will continue His work among us and bring us all to that promised day of Jesus return and the new heaven and the new earth. So, whatever hardship we endure we know that we will get through it because God has promised us that our tomorrow is bright!

-Pastor Travis Norton

Pastor Travis Norton

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.” Revelation 21:3 

Happy Thanksgiving and blessed Advent! The holidays are here! I hope you had a great time eating and drinking with family and friends. I hope you felt grateful and returned thanks to God for all that He has given you. I know I am grateful for each of you. I’m grateful to get out of my room and back out in the world after my covid isolation. Thank you for the cards and kind words. 

This Sunday we enter into Advent and our new sermon series, Dwell With Us. When the senior staff and I were developing the theme several months ago we didn’t know what the state of the pandemic would be when we got to Advent. I had this image in my mind of a raging storm outside and a family of faith riding it out together. As we looked through scripture, this phrase “God’s dwelling place is now among the people” jumped out at us. For us it’s a prayer to God and a petition to one another. “Dwell with us?” or “Dwell with us!” 

As a prayer we ask God to weather the storm with us. Knowing that if God is present the dangers that lurk around cannot overcome us. As a petition to one another it is an invitation to remember our unity in the face of those threats that otherwise might tear us from one another. It’s a simple phrase, ‘Dwell with us’, that evokes a quiet waiting and just being together. I’m reminded of a Winne the Pooh cartoon where Piglet sidles up to Pooh and calls him by name. Pooh responds ‘yes, Piglet?’ to which Piglet says, “nothing, I just wanted to be sure of you.” Dwell with us is a call to one another to just be there so we can take comfort from one another’s presence. There’s nothing to do, but being together is important nonetheless.

The storm of the pandemic is still raging around us, but we are united and strong in our faith. We’ve lost some core members recently and we grieve together. We come together again during the holidays to do old things in new ways. But we do it together. So, let me invite you to dwell with us this Advent and Christmas. Be with your church family. Sings the songs of faith. Pray the prayers and trust that God dwells with us too.  

-Pastor Travis Norton

“Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.”
-Revelation 1: 4 & 5

This is likely one of my favorite greetings addressed to the readers, to a community, in the bible.  The notion that Jesus was, is, and is to come gives me comfort that anything we are facing, Jesus has already faced, that he is with us and will be for those who are still to come.  Nothing provides the certainty that Jesus does, his kingdom is of both earth and heaven and reigns with grace and truth.

Christ the King Sunday is upon us, the church year is coming to an end, and we are preparing for the world to turn.  It’s my hope that as we reflect on this past year we can find the ways and places that our faith has been strengthened through Jesus.  That going into this new year we are filled with hope for all that is to come, but especially for a Savior who is, who was, and who is to come.  Where will you witness to Christ in the new year?  How will our community grow together as we enter into a new season of hope?  Come, dwell with us, as we await the coming of a King.

-Pastor Carrie

Pastor Travis Norton

“For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44 

Every year I preach a stewardship sermon prior to our annual pledge drive or ingathering of commitments. And everyone seems to recognize that it needs to be done, although it’s not something we look forward to. I remember one year someone shaking my hand on the way out of worship and saying something like “nice money sermon.” Honestly, I probably should preach about money more often than I do. Jesus certainly talked about it a lot more than we do in worship. We should talk more about it because our money is so connected to our hearts. Touch your wallet or your purse and pay attention to the feelings that wash over you. Gratitude, fear, joy, insecurity, pride, shame etc. Everything we do with our money is spiritual for better or worse. Jesus sees our hearts and the truth just as he did with the widow. We’ll talk more on Sunday about our wallets and our hearts. Bring both.

-Pastor Travis

Revelation 21:1-6 and John 11:32-44

Each year we recognize the first of November as All Saints Day.  We remember the beloved’s  that have died and now make their home with Jesus.  The pain of losing a loved one is fresh and raw for many, and for others it is an ache that remembers the past yet takes comfort in the resurrection promise received.  Take some time this week and remember all the saints that have had an impact on you, those who were forebears of your faith.

Here I share with you a few verses from For All the Saints, text written by William W. How, a most appropriate hymn for this week:

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
who thee by faith before the world confessed,
thy name, O Jesus, be forever bless’d.
Alleluia, alleluia!

But lo! There breaks a yet more glorious day;
the saints triumphant rise in bright array,
as God to glory calls them all away.
Alleluia, alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
all praising Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Alleluia, alleluia!

-Pastor Carrie

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