Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Kingdom of Heaven July 30,2017

╬ “I want to walk as a child of the light.
I want to follow Jesus!”
╬ The words of this wonderful hymn frame the life of true
discipleship. We have heard Jesus’ call to “Follow,” the
blessed invitation to make the journey of life in step with him. In this Pentecost season – the time of the church – the people of God seek to live out all that Jesus has revealed about God … the way and the truth that leads to life. The good news is that we don’t make that journey alone. We go together, in the company of one another, filled with the Spirit and walking the path with the One who has come to make all things new.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Focus for the Day:
╬ “The Kingdom of Heaven”
Jesus speaks of the “kingdom of heaven” in tantalizing and mysterious ways. He uses
parables to make us think and probe for the deeper truths that God is revealing.
These stories are filled with paradox and irony and unexpected twists and turns. But one constant remains: this “kingdom” he is talking about is not some distant reality,
beyond this life; it is a present potential reality, waiting to break free in the midst of the world. Jesus invites all who will follow to enter into this kingdom reality God is calling
forth in the here and now, and to let nothing come between us and the love and goodness of God.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Walking with Jesus July 23, 2017

THIS SUNDAY, July 23 …

We continue our Pentecost series – “Walking with Jesus” – as together we make sense and meaning of his teachings for our lives.  This Sunday, we explore the parable of the “Wheat and the Tares.”

╬ “Where’d all these weeds come from?”
Many of those who follow Jesus are peasants, many farmers and tenants.  The symbolic elements in the parables he tells reflect this:  stories about food, provision, harvest and abundance resonate strongly with hungry people.  Jesus uses this wisdom to tailor his gospel to his hearers and speak to directly into their collective experience.  What symbols and images might he use – and might we use – to communicate God’s truth in contemporary culture?

“Polka Sunday.”  The Prayer of the Day and the Readings are below.  Let’s enjoy the richness of these diverse worship styles that bring a change of pace to our summer Sundays!

Blessings all,

- Pr. Brad Highum

PRAYER OF THE DAY -------------------------

Lord, in the world you love wheat and weeds fill your fields.  Help us to grow in your life-giving abundance.  Give us the wisdom to know, the strength to resist and the patience to endure all that would seek to spoil your harvest.  Amen.

READINGS ----------------------------------

First Reading:  Isaiah 44:6-8

6 Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.  7 Who is like me? Let them proclaim it, let them declare and set it forth before me. Who has announced from of old the things to come? Let them tell us what is yet to be.  8 Do not fear, or be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it?  You are my witnesses! IIs there any god besides me?  There is no other rock; I know not one.

Psalm 86:11-17

11 Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
14 O God, the insolent rise up against me; a band of ruffians seeks my life, and they do not set you before them.
15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant; save the child of your serving girl.
17 Show me a sign of your favor, so that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame, because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Second Reading:  Romans 8:12-25

12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ — if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.  18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Gospel:  Matthew 13:24-30

24 He put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?' 28 He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' The slaves said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' 29 But he replied, 'No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Parable of the Sower, July 16, 2017

My friends, this Sunday we move into our second Pentecost series for this year:  “Walking With Jesus”

We begin with one of his central teachings … the Parable of the Sower!

╬ “A sower went out to sow seed.”
One of Jesus’ favorite ways to teach is story-telling!  In parables and stories, Jesus uses elements from the everyday lives of people to reveal and communicate deep truths.  Agricultural stories capture the imaginations of agrarian people and turn the commonplace into rich, evocative symbols.  Sheep become communities of disciples.  A budding fig tree becomes the faithful people of God. And in the Parable of the Sower, seeds become the life-giving word of God, scattered across the land, seeking to root and grow and bring forth a harvest of righteousness.

The Prayer of the Day and Readings are below.

We make this journey together, in the company of one another and the One who lights the path ahead1

Blessings to all,

- Pastor Brad Highum

PRAYER OF THE DAY ------------------------------------------------

Lord, you sow your word in abundance.  Help it to find rich soil in us.  Help it to root and grow in us.  Bring forth an abundant harvest of your truth and goodness in us, that we might bless the world you love. Amen.

READINGS -----------------------------------------------------------

First Reading:  Isaiah 55:10-13

10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.  12 For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.  13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

Psalm 65:9-13

9 You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it.
10 You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.
11 You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
12 The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy,
13 the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.

Second Reading:  Romans 8:1-11

8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law — indeed it cannot, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Gospel:  Matthew 13:1-9

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: "Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 Let anyone with ears listen!" 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

take up your cross daily. July 9 ,2017

We continue in our series – Follow – with a dramatic exchange between Jesus and his disciples.

╬ “take up your cross daily”

In one of his most profound teachings on discipleship, Jesus asks those with him, “Who do people say that I am?”  They respond with the speculation – the “word on the street” – about this one who is creating such controversy.  But Jesus follows with an even more challenging question, one that rings in the air in our day and time: “Who do YOU say that I am?”  It is on this that everything else depends.  How we answer this question determines virtually everything else in the lives we lead.  Who will Jesus be for us?

Below are the Readings and the Prayer of the Day.

God’s blessings and peace to you all,

- Pr. Brad Highum

PRAYER OF THE DAY ----------------------------------

Lord, you call us to name you and proclaim you in the midst of our lives.  Help us to hold to the truth of you and to follow as you lead.  Help us to live your way in the world. Amen.

READINGS -------------------------------------------

First Reading:  2 Kings 23:1-3

23 Then the king directed that all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem should be gathered to him. 2 The king went up to the house of the Lord, and with him went all the people of Judah, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. 3 The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. All the people joined in the covenant.

Psalm 61:1-5

1 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
2 From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint.  Lead me to the rock that is higher than I;
3 for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
4 Let me abide in your tent forever, find refuge under the shelter of your wings. 
5 For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who revere your name.

Second Reading:  Acts 5:17-21,2732

17 Then the high priest took action; he and all who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, 18 arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and said, 20 "Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life." 21 When they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching.  When the high priest and those with him arrived, they called together the council and the whole body of the elders of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.  27 When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man's blood on us." 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than any human authority. 30 The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."

Gospel:  Luke 9:18-26

18 Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" 19 They answered, "John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen." 20 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "The Messiah of God."  21 He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, 22 saying, "The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised." 23 Then he said to them all, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. 25 What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Peter Do you love Me July 2

LOOKING AHEAD to worship on July 2 …

We continue in our Pentecost series – “Follow” – with focus on Jesus’ invitation to Peter, and to all of us, to show our love in service, especially to the least and lost among us.

╬ “Do you love me …”
In a poignant moment in John’s Gospel, the Risen Christ engages Peter.  Three times he asks, “Do you love me?”  And Peter responds each time with, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  Each time, the invitation from God in Christ is the same:  “Then feed my sheep, tend my lambs; come, and follow me.”  It is one of those stories of the “Gospel in microcosm” … the story of deliverance believers experience in Christ and the invitation to discipleship that flows naturally, in gratitude for grace.

Here is a bulletin cover image.  Sermon and Reflection slides are attached.  Below are the Prayer of the Day and Readings.

On July 2, our ROCK High School Youth will just have returned from a mission trip to Laredo.  We will invite them in our sermon time to reflect on their experiences and this Gospel in the gathered community.

I ask that two songs be included in worship that day: 

Gathering Song:  Let Us Go Now to the Banquet (ELW#523)
Song of the Day:  You Have Come Down to the Lakeshore (ELW#817)

Blessings and peace to you all,

- Pr. Brad Highum

PRAYER OF THE DAY -------------------------------------------

Lord, you meet us in the midst of life and invite us to place our faith and our trust in you.  You invite us to name our love for you and then you invite us to express it in the world you love.  Lead us, Lord, and we will follow. Amen.

READINGS ---------------------------------------------------------

First Reading:  Exodus 13:17-22

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, "If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt." 18 So God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of the land of Egypt prepared for battle. 19 And Moses took with him the bones of Joseph who had required a solemn oath of the Israelites, saying, "God will surely take notice of you, and then you must carry my bones with you from here." 20 They set

out from Succoth, and camped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

Psalm 23

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. 
3 He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff — they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

Second Reading:  Acts 12:6-11

6 The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, "Get up quickly." And the chains fell off his wrists. 8 The angel said to him, "Fasten your belt and put on your sandals." He did so. Then he said to him, "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me." 9 Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel's help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 After they had passed the first and the second guard, they came before the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went outside and walked along a lane, when suddenly the angel left him. 11 Then Peter came to himself and said, "Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hands of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting."

Gospel:  John 21:15-17,19

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." 16 A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." 17 He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. 19 After this he said to him, "Follow me."