“Now Joseph was taken down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there.”

We are starting a new sermon series called “the messy middle.” We begin with the story of the middle of Joseph’s life. After the coat of many colors but before he was in charge of all of Egypt. The middle is a hard place where there aren’t easy answers or a clear road ahead. It feels like that’s where we are now, not just with the pandemic, but with the state of racism in our country. Usually when I’ve read this story of Joseph I’ve thought of myself in his shoes, and that’s been helpful. But today I wonder if I have more in common with Potiphar than with Joseph. I’ve never been a slave. I’ve never been sold out by my family. I’ve never been in jail. As I read this story today, I feel God encouraging me to think of those who have slavery in their not too distant history, who feel betrayed, who’ve been in or threatened with jail. That’s not a thought journey I want to be on, but one that God has put me on this week.

-Pastor Travis

This week we celebrate Pentecost a time when the first believers are filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and are charged with moving the church, through witness to Christ, to all the ends of the earth. The disciples who were gathered when this rush of wind came and the divided tongues danced as flames had been through a fair amount of trauma at this point. They were still gathered in a house, praying waiting for the promise of the Father to come, they had already been witness to Jesus death and resurrection and now as Jesus had told them the Father would come, they are waiting for that promise to be fulfilled.

The ruckus of the rushing wind, the flaming tongues resting upon them, and then being filled with a multitude of languages by the Holy Spirit who was now residing within each of them was not an act to be missed or ignored. When I read this it almost comes to me like a wake-up call, what do I miss when I’m so focused on what I expect to come next? In the last two+ months I would say that we’ve had some real lessons in learning that we don’t know what is going to come next, so we need to be open to the unexpected. That we might need to change our plans and our expectations mid-course and follow the breath of the Holy Spirit to live out our calls to bring the church to all the ends of the earth. Now is the time to remember that we are church together and we are church becoming, bringing the message of Christ to all the ends of the earth.

-Pastor Carrie

“He replied, it is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.” Acts 1:7

Oh man, I wish Jesus hadn’t said that. He was talking about the time when he would restore the kingdom. His disciples asked and he said it’s on a need to know basis and you don’t need to know. How many of us are comfortable with not knowing? I want all the information so I can make decisions about the future. But I hear Jesus reminding me to trust instead of know. Trust instead of know. There’s so much we want to know right now and so much that we don’t know. When will we get a vaccine, when will the coronavirus be defeated. It’s not for you to know. When will Jesus come back and restore this world to what God intended from the beginning? It’s not for you to know. Our job is to trust God’s knowledge and perspective and do what He has asked us to do. We don’t even need to know how our acts of kindness and self-sacrifice fit into the big picture. Our job is to trust and leave it to the Father to know.

-Pastor Travis

“While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols.” Acts 17:16

I’ll be preaching on Acts 17 this week, and while our passage starts with verse 22, I can’t help but think about this verse that really starts the passage. Paul will address the Athenians and try to persuade them as best he can of the good news of salvation given through Jesus. But it starts with this distress at the idols. I think of the Acropolis full of ruins of the temples to gods made of stone. Why would this distress Paul so much? I think it comes from a love for people and desire that they would know the truth of God’s love and salvation. Here they are following the dead end path of worshipping gods that aren’t gods at all when they could know the God who raised Jesus from the dead and have a loving relationship with their creator. I wonder if we share Paul’s distress for those who don’t know God today? Are we motivated to share the good news and appeal to our family and friends to turn away from false idols and turn to the God who loves them? Oh, that all people would know their creator and experience His love. May our love for people and our love for God motivate all that we do.

-Pastor Travis

-Pastor Travis

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”- John 14: 8

When I read through the gospel reading for Sunday verse 8 jumped out at me immediately. We use this reading quite often for a memorial service but I don’t know that I’ve ever paid much attention to this particular verse before. Today when I read it I almost responded out loud thinking “Philip is lying!” To even suggest that we might be satisfied if Jesus would just show us the Lord seems absurd, it’s just like a few weeks ago when Thomas said, I need to see him, to see the scars to know that he is real. I think it strikes me more deeply during this time, because I know that even though I may not see the Father, I know that he is with us in the dawning of each new day and close of the night, in the trees and the flowers that are coming back to life, in the hope that I feel deep within knowing that we are promised new life through the death and resurrection of Christ. Jesus was with his disciples that day and he told them that he was the way, the truth, and the life. They had to decide if they would trust in who Jesus was and claimed to be, they had to decide if they would do the works that he did, they had to decide that Jesus was for them and the Father was with and for all of them. I think that Jesus did a pretty good job of giving them assurances (maybe after a little bit of chiding…) for in the final verse he tells them, “If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.” And on the cross and then by the sight of the empty tomb, he proved it. I hope they were satisfied.

-Pastor Carrie

“He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” John 10:3

This Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday, when we read several scriptures about the imagery of sheep and shepherd. The shepherd is an image that scripture often uses to refer to leadership, especially the leadership God provides. Jesus declares himself the good shepherd. The part I resonate most with in John 10 is this line that the shepherd knows the name of the sheep. Just think about what Jesus is saying. He knows our name. Not just our name but he knows us, everything about us. Jesus is our leader and he cares for us. I hope we can dwell on that good news this week. Our leader knows us and loves us. It’s easy to follow someone when you know they care about you. Jesus is the good shepherd who leads us through the valley of the shadow of death. We can follow him through scary times because we trust in his love for us.

-Pastor Travis

How do we open our eyes to the faith that abounds all around us? In times that seem dark and perhaps even hopeless who is walking alongside of you, perhaps unseen, yet holding the story of Christ who is for us. The disciples on the road to Emmaus didn’t know that it was Christ who joined them on their walk. They had just heard earlier in the day that the tomb of Jesus was empty and they weren’t sure what that even meant. Where was Jesus, what about all that he had told them before he was crucified, perhaps this afternoon walk wasn’t as joyful or hopeful as we might imagine. It seems they lived into the uncertainty of the empty tomb before they lived in the joy and hope of the resurrection. So as this man journeyed with them and heard there story, he offered stories of his own. He must have exuded quiet confidence that they were uncertain of as he reminded them of the story of the prophets and offered interpretations on the life of Jesus. Didn’t they wonder who this man, that knew so much about Jesus was? Did his sharing of the stories bring them comfort in all they remembered about their friend, or were they sad not knowing what the future would hold. They would find their reassurance as they stopped for the night and broke bread together. It was in the breaking of bread that they would recognize Jesus, where they would realize it was not just an empty tomb, but that Christ lives!

I’m wondering what our Emmaus stories are today? While we are walking into the unknown who is walking alongside of you and what is the good news being shared? How is the good news being revealed to you, are you finding it in the scripture, in the kindness of others, in unexpected ways that are being revealed new to us each day? Our faith remains steadfast in the promise of the resurrection yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Easter Blessings!

-Pastor Carrie

“The he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. reach out your hand and put it my side. Do not doubt but believe.” -John 20:27

It just so physical. So different from where we are right now, connecting with people via screens, behind masks, at least six feet apart. But Thomas traces Jesus’ scars with his finger, feeling the places where nails and spear pierced the Lord’s skin. Now those spots are warm with life. The whole thing is affirming of physical life and the physical connection. If there’s anything that’s become clear these past several weeks, it’s that we need to be in touch(literally) with each other. We need hugs and handshakes and pats on the back. We need each other’s physical presence and closeness. We are made to be in contact with one another. We believe in resurrection of the body, not just a spiritual life after death, but a physical one. Jesus’ resurrection reminds us that God cares about our physical lives. God will restore us to life again, where we can see and touch and love as we were meant to. We are more than just spiritual beings, we are physical ones as well.

-Pastor Travis

“And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.” Matthew 28:2

It’s my favorite detail from Matthew’s account of the resurrection. The angel rolled the stone back and sat on it. I picture him dangling his legs, giggling over the surprise he gets to share with the women. It’s a picture of playfulness, of joy and of confidence. The angel perched on the stone that had represented death, sorrow and finality. What does it represent now? Total victory! Jesus has conquered death, nothing can contain him, he is out and free and fully in charge.

The joy of Easter is not dampened by the events of today. Rather the reverse. Even as we are surrounded by threats of disease and death we do not lose heart. We know how this story ends. It ends with life, resurrection, eternal joy with our creator in heaven. It is that knowledge that allows us to persevere in the hard work of serving our neighbor during this time. We can persevere and not lose heart because we know the tomb is empty. We remember the angel dangling his legs over the rolled away stone. We may not be happy now, but our hearts are full of hope that comes from the joy of Easter.

-Pastor Travis

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