Category Archives: Upcoming Events


Jesus begins his beatitudes by pronouncing blessing on “the poor in spirit.”  It is hard to see how poverty of any kind can be a good thing; certainly none of us wants to be poor.  This Sunday we will explore what it might mean to be poor in spirit, and how this could indeed be a blessed state.  To listen to Pastor Ernie’s message, click on the title, “Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit”


This Sunday we will begin a nine week sermon series on Jesus’ teaching on living a blessed life, summed up in eight short sayings known as “The Beatitudes.”  I believe it is critically important for those of us who call ourselves Christians to seek to understand what Jesus taught, what he valued, and what he modeled, and then to live that way, as best we can.  Of course we will fall short, but still we must do our humble best to live by his values in both our private and public lives.  I am dismayed and ashamed by the blatant disregard of the teachings and values of Jesus by many who claim the name Christian most publicly.  ”Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46), Jesus asks them and us.  May we be those who build our lives on the foundation of God’s grace, love and justice, as taught by our Lord.

To listen to Pastor Ernie’s sermon series introduction, click on “Jesus on Living a Blessed Life”


The world is groaning in pain, both the natural world and our social world.  How do we understand what is going on?  What can we do in response?  I find guidance and encouragement in Romans 8:22-27, where the apostle hears the groans of creation as labor pains as a new world struggles to be born and proclaims the good news that God’s Spirit is there to help us in our weakness!  We each have a part to play, but it is not all up to us.  We can’t do it alone, but we have help.  May God grant us faith, courage, and  wisdom for the living of these days.  To listen to Pastor Ernie’s message, click on the title “LABORING TO BE BORN”


What is faith?  And how much faith do you need?  This Sunday the gospel lectionary passage from Matthew 14:22-33 tells the symbolically rich story of Peter getting out of safety of his boat to walk toward his teacher Jesus.  Peter finds himself walking on the water, until he ins’t! As Peter begins to sink beneath the waves, Jesus needs to reach out and save him.  “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Jesus asks him.  How would you answer that question?

To listen to pastor Ernie’s message, “Just a Little Faith (Matt 14:22-3)”, just click on the title.  Also included is a prayer for Charlottesville.

IT’S OK TO TURN OFF THE NEWS! Enjoy some Sabbath Rest

This Sunday in my message I’m going to suggest that It’s OK to Turn Off the News to engage in the biblical practice of Sabbath rest; more than that, it’s essential for our sanity and spiritual health. Last February I read an online article that helped me a lot titled, “How To Avoid Being Psychologically Destroyed By Your Newsfeed”.  Particularly helpful to me at that time was her first piece of advice: “Recognize that there’s a difference between being immersed and being informed –  Sure, you want to be aware of what’s happening in the world, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be plugged into your Twitter or Facebook feed 24/7. Give yourself permission to take breaks.”   Permission to take a break – that is what Sabbath time is.  It is giving yourself time to take a break, time to recenter and refuel one’s spirit.  Jesus knew this.  Scripture shows us that it was his regular practice to withdraw to a deserted place for time alone in prayer (see Mark 1:35-39 and Luke 5:15-16).  May we learn from his example.

To listen to Pastor Ernie’s message, click on “It’s OK to Turn Off the News and Enjoy Sabbath Rest”

Jacob the Wrestler

We conclude our July sermon series on Jacob, the Man Who Wrestled With God, with the dramatic, mysterious experience (see Genesis 32:22-31) that gave us our sermon series title.  After 20 years living in exile during which he earned a family and a fortune, Jacob is finally returning home at God’s command, but he faces an uncertain reception from his brother Esau whom he had cheated out of his birthright and blessing.  The night before he must face Esau who is riding to meet him with 400 armed men, he finds himself attacked by a mysterious stranger in the dark.  They wrestle all night until Jacob receives a blessing, and a new name, Israel.  And he realizes that he has been wrestling with God, wrestling for a blessing.  As you know, I wrote a song about this that I will sing again (see the lyrics below).   May we recognize God in our encounters as we too wrestle for a blessing.  Click on the title, “Jacob the Wrestler”

Wrestling for a Blessing

I found myself wrestling for a blessing with a stranger in the night.

I don’t know if I’ll survive this but I’m gonna hold on tight, hold on for my life.

All my life I’ve been a fighter, grasping, clawing to make my way.

I even stole my brother’s birthright I’m now ashamed to say.

Wrestling for a blessing, don’t know if I’ll find my way.

Wrestling with my Shadow all night till the break of day.

“Help me God!” I pray.

Oh it’s been a long, hard journey, went out searching for a wife.

Won a family and a fortune. Learned even more about life.

But now my past is there before me, all the things that I have done.

No excusing or evading, from my shadow I can’t run. Oh I wish I could run.

Somehow I hold on for a blessing. So the stranger asks my name.

I say “Jacob,” He says, “No longer, Israel will be your name, for striving is your game.”

As I limped from that encounter, I knew I’d never be the same.

For I’d met God in that stranger, left me wiser but in pain, stronger and yet lame.

Wrestling for a blessing, don’t know if I’ll find my way.

Wrestling with my Shadow all night till the break of day.

“Help me God!” I pray.

Jacob the Lover

This month have been following the story of Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, as it is told in the book of Genesis, primarily in chapters 25 through 35.  Two weeks ago, we looked at Jacob as an egocentric young man, a schemer, who steals his older brother Esau’s birthright and blessing.  Last week we found Jacob on the run for his life from his very angry big brother.  It was in this situation of unexpected hardship that he had a powerful experience of God’s reality and God’s care for him, through that dream of a ladder stretching from heaven to earth, on which messengers of God traveled back and forth. This week, bolstered by God’s promise, Jacob has arrived at his destination, the land of his mother’s relative Laban in Haran.   “What now happens to Jacob is the third great event that shatters Jacob’s egocentricity and paves the way for a larger life: HE FALLS IN LOVE.”  Love changes us like nothing else can.  Come see how love played out in Jacob’s life,“Jacob the Lover” (Genesis 29) Click on title to listen to Pastor Ernie’s message.



On this coming Sunday we will reflect on the great faith of the Canaanite mother who comes to Jesus begging for healing for her tormented daughter.  You can read this troubling and powerful story in Mathew 15:21-28.  We will also explore Jesus’ humanity and his spiritual greatness as a model for us.  My message is titled, “A Mother’s Faith Changed His Mind” (click on title to listen).

An Attitude of Gratitude and Appreciation


On this Sunday before Thanksgiving, we will reflect on how we can nourish our souls and gain strength for living through the daily practice of gratitude and appreciation.  Philippians 4:6-13 will be our text.  Join us for thanksgiving worship at either of our two services this Sunday, at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. and learn how you can develop a life giving Attitude of Gratitude!

Things That Make for Peace


A word from Pastor Ernie –

Throughout Lent we have been exploring the events of the last week of Jesus’ life.  Now Holy Week itself is finally here!  It begins this Sunday, March 20, with Palm Sunday.  On March 24 we will have a special Maundy Thursday dinner & service in the Celebration center at 6:30 p.m.   Then on March 27, we will celebrate Easter, News Too Good to Believe!  I hope to see you at all of these very special services.

Listen to Pastor Ernie’s message on Palm Sunday, March 20:  “The Things That Make for Peace”