“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Matthew 21:9

The word Hosanna literally means ‘save us please.’ While it can be shouted in a crowd as a term of praise, these days it feels more like a prayer we pray in the silence of our homes. Palm Sunday is this Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. It’s usually a time of great crowds on the Sundays and even a good showing at the special services of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil. We won’t have the crowds this year, although I believe we will have greater attendance than ever before for the Great Three Days before Easter. Palm Sunday, which kicks all this off, is about the coming of someone who can save us. I don’t have answers for this Corona Virus. I have fears. Fears that we will lose people from our congregation to the virus. Fears that our people will be hurt by the economic impacts. So, this Sunday, instead of shouts of Hosanna, I have prayers of Hosanna. Directed at the only one who has power. Dear Jesus, save us please.

-Pastor Travis

“Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” -Ezekiel 37: 3

This story of the dry bones begins with the Lord bringing a man out to sit amidst the dry bones and asking him if the dry bones can live. The man tells him “O Lord God, you know.” I think this parallels our own faith in so many ways. We are called to listen to the Lord, for he knows. When we are listening to the Lord he works in us, his breath enters into us and we know that he is the Lord. Sometimes our faith can feel like dry bones, scattered and piled high, sunk down in the bottom of a valley, lifeless. God sees those dry bones and encourages us to hear us words, to trust in him and that just as the dry bones were restored, so will be our faith. I like this story because it is filled with hope, that God brings new life, both to our dry bones, when they are weary and scattered and at the end of the passage reminding us that he brings new life from the grave. We continue to live in the promise of hope in the resurrection knowing that it is God who breathes new life into us so we may believe that he is the Lord.

-Pastor Carrie

“For God so loved the world”John 3-16

For some reason the idea that God loves this world strikes me as strange. There is so much about this world that is really, really awful. This Coronavirus and the ones before it and the ones after it. The way people hoard things. The panic and fear. The uneven response of governments. But when God looks at this world he looks at it with love. And not just a mediocre love, but a love that compelled him to make the greatest sacrifice. We are part of the world that God loves. We are loved. I hope we can begin to look at the world with the same love that God has. Certainly this time of crisis is an opportunity to love in a way that goes beyond what we normally do. May He teach us what it means to love the world!

-Pastor Travis

“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”” John 4:10

I watched the stock market crash on Monday after it had already declined quite a bit. I worry about those who were hoping to retire soon and those who rely on their investments for daily living. It reminded me of our gospel lesson for this week. A woman makes her daily trudge to get water from a well in the midday sun. I see parallels to our worries about money, the economy, our health and so much more. Everyday she relied on her effort and work to fill her bucket with no guarantee that there would be water the next day in that well. Then she meets Jesus offering living water, that is water that doesn’t run out, that bubbles up to eternal life. I would be skeptical too, but also hopeful. Our gospel claims that there is such a thing as a gift from God that never runs out, never bottoms out, never crashes. The gift of God isn’t like a stock market that goes up and down. The gift that Jesus offers is life that never ends, life that just gets more vibrant and full, life that is rich in love and relationships. This is the living water. As the events around us induce so much worry and anxiety, let us turn to Jesus who offers a peace that passes understanding and a gift that never runs out.

-Pastor Travis

“As [Jesus] walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” John 9: 1-3

I sure do get how the disciples came up with this question. I think it rings at least a little bit true for each of us, wondering, what did I do that things turned out this way? Jesus tells them that the troubles they have run into allow for God’s works to be revealed. Seems that God’s works could be revealed in a way that maybe didn’t require suffering first. Yet, isn’t that why he sent us Jesus, so that he could then experience an earthly, human life like the rest of us do? It was through the suffering of others that Jesus in his ministry was able to bring healing to the suffering and good news to the poor. But it was also in his humanity that he would ultimately suffer not just with us, but for us too.

When Jesus encountered suffering, he wept, and God weeps with him. What are the ways that we can see God working through us in our suffering? Perhaps our suffering brings us to a better understanding of those experiencing their own suffering and gives us opportunity to be the body of Christ together for the sake of the world. God so often uses the unexpected to bring his healing, redemption, and love to us just as he used the unexpected to bring sight back to the blind man and to bring us salvation through the death and resurrection of his Son. Where do you find the extraordinary in the ordinary?

-Pastor Carrie

“You have heard it said……But I say to you….” Jesus, Sermon on the Mount.

When Jesus gets into the meat of his sermon on the mount, with the very practical applications, he starts many of his paragraphs with “you have heard it said.” When he says this, he’s referring to the Bible. The Bible says this, but I say this. Jesus doesn’t contradict the Bible, but he does interpret it. The Bible says don’t commit adultery. Jesus says don’t even look at someone with lust in your heart. Jesus expects more from his followers than just obedience to the Bible. We are to be obedient to Jesus. Jesus is the one who will tell us what the Bible means, not just what it says.

-Pastor Travis

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived,
 what God has prepared for those who love him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God
-1 Corinthians 2: 9-11

How do you know when the Holy Spirit is moving within you or is trying to reveal itself to you? It can be difficult at best to open ourselves to the presence of the Holy Spirit, and at other times it can be so obvious that God is at work that we know it can’t be anything else. But when I read the 9th verse of this passage, in it I find great comfort that even though I may not know what God is doing, he has still prepared all things for me. My job is to be open to living into whatever it is that God has prepared for me. In the gospel reading this week we are told that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. In those gifts, revealed to us by the Spirit, we can join Christ to feed the hungry, care for the homeless, clothe the naked as called by the prophet Isaiah in the first reading for this week.

In the darkness of this winter season, we can look to the light of Epiphany and remember that we are called to embody the spirit and mission of God. To be light to the world and the salt of the earth. We are indeed created in God’s image, therefore the spark of the divine is alive in all of us. The light shines through us as we live out God’s mission for our lives each day. As Epiphany continues, we should all be prepared to let our light shine and share the good news.

-Pastor Carrie

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5:3

We call these the beatitudes because each teaching of Jesus starts with “blessed are.” They are the core of Jesus’ teaching. They are the start of a sermon that lasts for three chapters in Matthew’s gospel. If you want to know what Jesus really was about, this is a good place to start. The words still challenge us, because it’s very clear that Jesus has a special place in his heart for the underdogs in life. He focuses on the poor, the sad, the meek, the hungry and thirsty, the persecuted. In our culture of success and achievement it can be hard to admit that we fall into any of those categories. And I think maybe that’s the point. Each of the beatitudes is about someone who is incomplete, who is failing, who has weakness. If we want the blessings Jesus gives, we must start by admitting our need for them.

-Pastor Travis

“Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.”
1 Corinthians 1:10

Paul had to deal with conflict in a congregation. From the very beginning of the church there have been arguments and disagreements within. People argue about theology, about politics, about carpet color. We are after all people. Sometimes we find ourselves surprised that this kind of thing happens in a church, of all places. But it does, because the church is full of people and people have opinions.

Paul “appeals” to the Corinthians to get along. Getting along, being united, working toward a common purpose all takes effort. It doesn’t come natural to us, we need to be constantly encouraged to put others ahead of ourselves and seek unity. May God help us to love one another enough, especially those we disagree with, to put in the effort to come to agreement.

-Pastor Travis

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