Sermon: Your Healing Touch

Sermon Text: Luke 8:40-56 Sermon Excerpt For the last eight weeks we have been exploring the priorities of Jesus.  This morning, we conclude our journey with what appears to be Jesus’ top priority: healing. Did you realize that the Gospels contain three dozen different healing events?  For those of you who appreciate statistics, healing lands in first place by quite a margin.  Jesus is associated with 36 unique healing events, which is 50% greater than the priority that ranks Read More …

Sermon: Persisting for the Children

Sermon Text Luke 18:1 -8 Sermon Excerpt In both the modern retelling and the original parable, you can't miss the huge power difference between the judge and the widow.  The widow has limited resources, limited mobility, and limited options.  The judge is supposed to play by the rules but has decided he is above them. The persistence of the marginalized widow is appealing.  It is an admirable quality that resonates with readers and viewers alike.  They want what she wants.  We want Read More …

Restoring Perspective: A Prayer

Yesterday a 20 year old man chose to use a gun to do harm to others and to himself.  Today 27 people are dead, including 20 children and the young man who is responsible for the deaths.  While many have opted to use social media to forward a specific political or theological agenda rather than to address the tragedy directly others have called any conversations about those matters inappropriate.  Regardless of personal preference or perspective, prayer is an appropriate and powerful response. Read More …

Review of When God Talks Back

Meet the Author T. M. Luhrmann is a psychological anthropologist and the Watkins University Professor in the Stanford Anthropology Department.  Her books include Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft (1989), The Good Parsi (1996), Of Two Minds (2000), and When God Talks Back (2012). Luhrmann was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2003) and awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (2007). Book Basics T. M. Luhrmann grew up in an environment that birthed religious Read More …

Why Do You?

Elizabeth Hagan, pastor of Washington Plaza Baptist Church (Reston, VA), recently asked two questions every follower of Jesus should seek to answer: Why do you pray? Why do you read the Bible?   So What? People often presume Christians do certain things.  While those lists vary, praying and reading the Bible are typically included.  For those committed to following the way of Jesus, it is essential not simply to engage in these activities but to understand why one is doing Read More …

Praying for Our Nation

Jena Lee Nardella offered the benediction on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention.  Nardella is the co-founder and Executive Director for Blood:Water Mission, a nonprofit focused on overcoming the HIV/AIDS and water crises in Africa. While the full text of her prayer is worth reading, the middle portion focused on the opportunity available to all Americans over the next nine weeks is especially powerful: I pray for our country in the next nine weeks leading up to this Read More …

Prayer of Dedication for Sunday, August 12

God of unexpected provision and unending love we place before You our offerings and our lives. Multiply what we bring and change who we are for the sake of advancing Your realm. Open before us the possibilities of ministry and guide our community of faith in the way of Jesus. Amen. Read More …

Prayer of Consecration/Blessing for Sunday, August 5

God of new beginnings, we approach your table desiring an enduring connection with you.  In the blessing of this bread and this cup, bring the way of Jesus into focus. Enlarge our view of the abundant life.  Remind us of the call to follow, and strengthen us to travel that path.  May our hunger be fully satisfied with the extravagant provision of the Bread of Life in whose name we pray.  Amen. Read More …

Review of Kneeling with Giants

Meet the Author Gary Neal Hansen is an ordained Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister who earned a Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1998.  He joined the faculty of the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in 1999, and currently serves as assistant professor of church history and the chair of the history and theology division.  Hansen has published articles in several journals including the Princeton Seminary Bulletin, Teaching Theology & Religion, and Presbyterian Outlook. Read More …

Just Going Through the Motions

Thom Rainer, President & CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, recently shared several statistics from Brad Waggoner's The Shape of the Faith to Come (2008), including "47 percent of Protestant churchgoers admitted to just 'going through the motions' often during the singing and prayer portions of worship services." So What? How might your congregational leadership begin a conversation about this matter?  What is an appropriate response to the statistic that roughly half of those Read More …