Sermon: Lights on the Way

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Monday, August 13, 2018
Funeral of Bill Swanda
Svoboda North Chapel, Schuyler, NE
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Psalm 23
John 14:1-6

One summer, many years ago, I drove through a terrible, terrible storm.  It was the fourth of July.  My family and I had driven down to Norfolk, about an hour from my hometown, to go watch the fireworks.  The show ended up getting cut short by a tornado warning, so we decided to hightail it out of there to try to get out of the storm’s path.  By the time we finally got out on the highway, the rain was pouring down in thick sheets and the wind howled around us as it ripped through the darkness. It was pitch black and almost impossible to see anything, even the road.  It felt like all I could do just to keep my car between the fog lines.  But up ahead of me, I realized I could just make out two little red lights in the darkness – the taillights of my dad’s SUV. As I gripped the steering wheel of my car with white-knuckled hands, I kept my eyes on those lights and followed them all the way through the darkness to home and safety.

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Sermon: Sweet Corn for the Soul

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Sunday, August 12, 2018
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Schuyler, NE
Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost

Taste and see that the Lord is good!  The psalmist exults in the graciousness and generosity of God.  Today is the third of five Sundays that focus on the theme of the bread of life, as we continue our gospel journey through John 6.  All of our texts for today are full of stories of the good gifts that God has given to God’s people.  It’s a very bready Sunday!

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Sermon: The Calling

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Sunday, August 5, 2018
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Schuyler, NE
Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost

Good morning!  It is such a delight to be here with you all on our first official Sunday together!

We have some really good texts to dig into this morning.  But I have to admit that one of them in particular just really reached out and grabbed me by the collar as I was preparing my sermon this week.

Our reading from Ephesians starts out: “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”  …Are you talking to me?  That’s kind of an intimidating text to read as a first call pastor on your first Sunday!  It’s humbling to be reminded right off the bat that the privilege of this calling carries with it certain responsibility.

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Sermon: Scope for the Imagination

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Sunday, July 8, 2018
Peace Lutheran Church, Las Cruces, NM
Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

Grace to you and peace from God our Creator and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.  I’m very sad to say that my time with you all is getting very short.  Next weekend will be my last Sunday as Vicar Day.  And those of you who’ve seen my anxiety over the past week know that I still have a LOT of packing left to do!

So, naturally, with so much to do, I decided this past week that I what I really needed to  do was catch up on my Netflix binge-watching.  I’ve been watching the show “Anne with an E” – have any of you seen it?  It’s really good.  The series is an adaptation of the novel Anne of Green Gables, which many of you have probably read.  The story follows an orphaned girl named Anne who is adopted by a middle-aged brother and sister.  Anne as a child is, let’s say, precocious.  She is a romantic with a free spirit, who loves to use big words. In her words, “If you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them!”

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Sermon: Get in the Boat

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Sunday, June 24, 2018
Peace Lutheran Church, Las Cruces, NM
Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

Our gospel reading for today begins with an invitation.  Jesus says to the disciples: “Let us go across to the other side.”  Jesus had been casting out demons and healing and preaching to the multitudes on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.  He’d just finished preaching several parables, including the parable of the sower and the parable of the mustard seed.  By the time he finished, it was evening, and the disciples were probably pooped and ready for bed.  But instead of calling it a day, Jesus decides: no, we need to get in the boat right now and sail across the Sea of Galilee.  And that’s what he and the disciples do.  There is an urgency to this story that we’ve kind of come to expect from the gospel of Mark.

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Sermon: The Holy Heist

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Sunday, June 10, 2018
Peace Lutheran Church, Las Cruces, NM
Third Sunday After Pentecost

I feel a lot of sympathy for Jesus’ family in our gospel reading for today.  Jesus has been wandering all over Galilee, doing God-knows-what (literally, God knows what!).  But then reports start to reach his family from other people that Jesus has lost his mind. And not only that, but that massive crowds of people have started to follow him around everywhere, just waiting to see what he will say or do next!  And on top of all that, whatever it is he’s been doing has made the religious leaders of the people absolutely furious.  So, naturally, Jesus’ family rushed off to check on Jesus, hoping to reason with him and bring him home.

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Exciting News!!!

This is the 100th post I have made on this blog, and it seems like a perfect opportunity to share some exciting news!

I received the official word this morning that the people of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Schuyler, NE, have decided to call me as their pastor — and I have accepted!!!  I am so excited for this call, which will start on August 1.  We’re still working on pinning down a date, but I anticipate being ordained sometime in the latter half of August!

I am so grateful to God for the privilege of this call and for the movement of the Spirit in bringing all this together.  I am grateful to all the people who have walked alongside me on this journey and helped form me to be the best leader in this church I can be.  And I am both stoked and humbled to get to serve the people of St. John’s — and looking forward with eager anticipation to the ministry we will do together!

God is good!!!

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