This Sunday I’m going to begin a new sermon series on the theme: Good News You Can Use. It is all too easy to become overwhelmed by all the “bad news” we encounter daily in our personal and public lives. To keep from being overwhelmed and discouraged, we need some good news that we can take in and use to keep going and even flourish. Our Scriptures are full of “good news” about life and God. We will begin by reflecting on “The Good News of GRACE” (click on title to listen to my message) So come, hear, and be encouraged by God’s amazing grace. We all can use some good news! blessings, Ernie
On this coming Epiphany Sunday, we will revisit the story found in Matthew 2 of the mysterious Magi who traveled far to see the infant king, Jesus, and honor him with rich gifts. T.S. Eliot presents an imaginative, thought-provoking look at what their long journey was like and what effect it had on them in his poem, The Journey of the Magi. The title of my message, “No Longer at Ease Here”, (click on title to listen) is taken from one of the concluding lines. So with the Magi, come to Bethlehem and see, and be changed!
I hope everyone is having a blessed Christmas season. I know that I felt truly blessed by our Christmas worship services last Sunday and Monday, by the the beautiful music and thought provoking drama. This coming Sunday falls on New Year’s Eve. My message, “A Blessing for the New Year”, will focus on the power of blessing others. What does it mean to bless someone? What does a blessing do? I believe it does more than you might think. Come and be blessed. To listen to my message and a couple of songs, click on “A Blessing for the New Year”
Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year, so we will have both morning and evening services at St Andrew’s on December 24th. Both services will include scriptures, carols and special music. The message at the 10 a.m. morning service will be in the form of a drama by Cornerstone titled “The Annual Meeting of the Archangels” (click on title to listen). Following worship we hope you will stay for a potluck brunch in the Celebration Center. Then in the evening we will have our traditional Christmas Eve Candlelight service at 7 p.m. with a Christmas message titled, “Good News of a Child’s Birth” (Isaiah 9, Luke 2) Click on title to listen to the message.
On Christmas morning at 10 a.m. we will have an intimate, informal service in the sanctuary led by the Mizutani family with carols and communion.
These special services are a wonderful opportunity to share the good news with others by inviting friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. Merry Christmas to all!
This coming third Sunday in Advent, we will celebrate the “Good News of Salvation” as proclaimed by Isaiah 61:1-11. Jesus read from this text during worship at his home synagogue in Nazareth and then startled the congregation by saying, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21) Jesus cites this text as a description of his mission. For Isaiah and Jesus, “salvation” is not just about getting to heaven, but is a present reality of liberation, healing, justice and peace. Now that is some really good news! To listen to pastor Ernie’s message, click on “The Good News of Salvation”
We all need some good news. This Advent season, I will be preaching on the “THE GOOD NEWS ACCORDING TO ISAIAH,” using the lectionary texts from the Hebrew prophets whose words are written down in the scroll of Isaiah. This coming Sunday, December 10, my message will proclaim Good News for a Hurting People (Isaiah 40:1-11). The following Sunday, December 17, my message will be The Good News of Salvation (Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11); then on the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, we will reflect on Good News of a Child’s Birth (Isaiah 9:2-7). We all need some good news. Come, hear, and rejoice!
On this coming first Sunday in Advent, we will reflect together on the meaning of baptism as we celebrate the baptism of my granddaughter, Genevieve Mia Newell. My message, Baptized In Love, will relate Evie’s baptism (and our own) to the stories found in the gospel of Luke of Jesus’ presentation in the Temple (Luke 2:21-40) and his later baptism by John in the Jordan River (3:21-22). As Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, presented him in trust and obedience as an infant in the Temple to God, so too are Evie’s parents, Marie and Mitch, presenting her in love, trust, and hope to God here at St Andrew’s. I believe that God delights to acknowledge Evie publicly as a beloved child of God, even as we delight to welcome her as the newest baptized member of our church family. To listen to my message, just click on “Baptized in Love”
This coming Thursday, November 23rd, is Thanksgiving Day, the annual National holiday celebrated in homes around the country. On this day families and friends gather together, sometimes traveling long distances, to share food and drink, and hopefully to experience and express their gratitude for the gifts of life. Wherever you are this Thanksgiving Day I invite you to bring to mind the things for which you are thankful. Such gratitude is food for the soul. Then when we gather together for worship on the Sunday following Thanksgiving Day, we will reflect together on what it might mean for us to make “Thanksgiving, not just a day but a way” Click here.
In his Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12 Jesus pronounced blessing on the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the gentle, the merciful, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted. This sounds like a very humble, down and out, and powerless group of people. But Jesus immediately follow in vv. 14-16 with a powerful affirmation of the calling and the impact, that these humble, blessed ones can have on the world. “YOU are the salt of the earth” says Jesus. “YOU are the light of the world!” This Sunday we will ponder our calling to be a blessing. To listen to Pastor Ernie and the congregation’s conversation, click on You Are Salt and Light
Jesus’ final Beatitude, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”, is the most difficult to accept. For none of us desire to be persecuted, or insulted, or slandered; if we did, I would question our mental health! But for me the key to understanding this Beatitude is the qualifying phrase “because of righteousness.” To do what is right, and just, and good is blessed even if it brings persecution and suffering upon us. Better that than to do what is wrong, unjust or evil. Jesus models the way of faithful integrity for us. May we follow in his Way.