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Don't Talk - Follow!

Last week we read about Peter's confession of faith that Jesus was the Messiah, and Jesus saying "You are Peter, and on this rock I shall build my church . . ." The sermon was about the "Keys of the Kingdom" and my understanding of the difference between "Remembrance" and "Recollection." I did not, however, make any mention of the last, what some p...

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Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you.

Our Gospel reading for this Sunday, August 27, 2023, is Matthew 16:13-20. In it Jesus asks his disciples who people think he is - for which there are lots of answers. And then Jesus asks them who they think he is, and Peter says, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!" Right you are, Peter. And you didn't come up with that one a...

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The Sheer Audacity!

This Sunday, August 13, 2023, our Gospel Lesson is Matthew 14:22-33. It may be a familiar story to you - Jesus walking on the water.  The story is this. Jesus has just fed the 5,000 - last week's Gospel Lesson. He has told his disciples to take their boat back across the lake while he dismisses the crowd - and then Jesus goes back up into the ...

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Love those blackberries, but . . .

The Kingdom of Heaven is like invasive blackberry bushes in your backyard. They are really tenacious and aggravating, but you like blackberry pie and enjoy watching the little bunnies run in and out of them for protection. The Kingdom of Heaven is alike a computer virus . . . The Kingdom of Heaven is like the city fixing sewer lines in your ne...

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Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus

Last Sunday, June 18, we looked together at Jesus' assessment that the people around him were "harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." I suggested that this was "political commentary" in the spirit of the prophet Ezekiel who lambasted the political and religious leaders of his day for failing to care for those most in ...

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Like Sheep without a Shepherd

I'm sure there must have been a time in pre-human history or whatever when sheep did just fine without shepherds. I mean, they must have been wild at some point, wandering around feeding themselves, living in little flocks or 'family' groups or whatever. I have no idea, I'm just pretty sure they didn't evolve as a domestic food source. But ent...

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"Hello, my name is El Shaddai!"

This coming Sunday, June 4, is the Sunday of the Holy Trinity. Join us for worship as your favorite 'church self' and we'll talk about the masks we wear and the various ways (count 'em - three) that God shows up for us. Fun, fun, fun. This Sunday is also graduate Sunday so at Hazel Dell we'll have some of this year's graduates joinin...

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Does not compute!

The human brain is an amazing machine. Our eyes receive images, our ears sounds, our skin touch. Then, all of this input runs along highways called nerves. It flies from synapse to synapse and is compared to other information in vast, organic data banks. All of this happens with the goal of answering just one question....

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Okay, Cleopas and his friend weren't ambushed. But, deep in grief over the death of Jesus (and possible theft of his body) as these two men walk home from Jerusalem to Emmaus they totally don't recognize the stranger that joins them. And, Jesus isn't volunteering any clarity about who he is. I guess he knows they'll figure it out whe...

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What the body knows . . .

Fredrick Nietzsche once said, "There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy." The mind may be able to understand complex philosophical concepts, but it can never experience the joys and sorrows of life as the body can. The body knows what it is like to feel pain and pleasure, love and hate, happiness and sadness. The mind ...

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Know it by Heart!!

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I know John 3:16 by heart - and for some reason in the old King James translation. I've never had a KJV Bible. I also know most of the 23rd Psalm, the Lord's Prayer, the 10 Commandments and the Apostle'...

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Mind If I Smoke?

Once when I was a kid, maybe 10 years old or so, my friend Tim and I found a pack of cigarettes in the street. We hid them away, and then one day snuck into the bushes to try smoking one of the them - living on the wild side! Apparently we thought we were doing something wrong. Temptation, of course, isn't really about such things as smoking, drink...

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The Vital Role of "Nothing" - Ash Wednesday

"Ashes present a great diminishment away from the living tree with its huge crown and its abundant shade. The recognition of this diminishment is a proper experience for men who are over thirty. If the man doesn't experience that diminishment sharply, he will retain his inflation, and continue to identify himself with all in him that can fly: his s...

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Salty encounters!

"You are the salt of the earth ..." says Jesus in this Sunday's Gospel Lesson. Salt makes a bad main dish in my opinion! Rather, salt is a seasoning or flavor enhancer, right? Even more, let's recognize that salt's usually invisible in a good dinner and if you actually taste the salt itself somebody is likely to scrunch up their...

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Blessed are the . . .

There is method to Matthew's madness in telling the story of Jesus! In Matthew 3 we read about the baptism of Jesus. Through his baptism Jesus is identified as the one who will be the Savior of the world. In Matthew 4 Jesus is tempted by Satan to abandon his call and sell out to dependence on his own power and privilege. "Denied!" Je...

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Come and See!

Our Gospel Lesson for this Sunday, January 15, 2023, is John 1:29-42.  This is John's version of the baptism of Jesus and it is quite different than the one I preached on last Sunday, Matthew 3:13-17. What is the same, though, is that the story focuses on proclamation of who Jesus is as opposed to Jesus' personal experience of being claimed by...

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Why be Baptized?

This coming Sunday, January 8, is the "Baptism of our Lord" Sunday. My question, "Why be baptized?" certainly is a personal, contemporary question. People - like you and me - get baptized for many different reasons. For some it is a family, cultural thing. For others is a "rite of joining" a church thing. In theory it's suppose to be a commitm...

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It's Complicated!

It's complicated, as politics often are. Israel fell into civil war after the death of King Solomon, dividing the country into two nations. A couple hundred years later the 'Northern Kingdom' was being attacked by the Assyrians, so they made a defense pact with Syria. Together Syria and the Northern Kingdom wanted to set up a pu...

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Straw Steak

Welcome to Advent, a season of four Sundays before Christmas. Historically Advent has been considered a time of quiet, prayerful preparation for the coming of our Lord. In reality our 'Black Friday,' 'Giving Tuesday,' 'Grateful Thursday' and on and on doesn't allow this to happen unless we work at it - but we try. This year Pr. Tom and I have ...

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Pie in Holy Hands

Sorry. Cheap ploy. I'm just trying to get you to read this post!! However, please do join us for a time of giving thanks and enjoying a piece of pie Wednesday evening, November 23, beginning at 6 PM. All are welcome!Mostly, though, I would like to thank you for your participation and gracious spirit through our now completed "In Holy...

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