Invitation to Prayer on March 25th at 12:00 Noon.

A Message from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton – Invitation to Prayer on March 25 at 12:00 pm
Dear Church, The Evangelical Lutheran Church America, as part of the body of Christ, is united with other Christians in our communities, in our country and around the world. This unity takes many forms, including prayer.

I am writing to extend an invitation we have received from Pope Francis, through the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches, to join in the Lord’s Prayer tomorrow, March 25, at noon local time. During the global pandemic of COVID-19, the church can and should give witness to our unity in Christ and express our deep concern for God’s creation. Despite social distancing, through prayer we are able to enter together into the presence of Christ and the communion of believers. By praying the prayer that Christ taught us, we are united with followers of Jesus in every time and in every place. When the church gathers in this way, we can be assured that Christ, our eternal hope, is present in the midst of suffering.

In Christ,
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Sermon- 9/4/16

9.4.16 sermon- I watched a TV show this week where the teenage daughter and the mother were at odds with each other. The mother argued that the daughter should not attend a college party because something might happen. The daughter argued that she’s always been responsible. As the argument continued, the mother finally said the words that Moses addresses in the first lesson today. The mother trusted her daughter- she didn’t trust the people or events that could happen at the party.
We make the best possible decisions for ourselves and our families based on what we know and believe. There’s a whole world outside that can change the plan we’ve put into place.
This lesson is Moses’ final advice to people he’s taught for the past forty years. That exodus of nearly a million people that he brought out of slavery in Egypt should have reached the promised land a month later. It shouldn’t have been a long trip.
But after living as slaves in Egypt for generations and forgetting the God who claimed them, they needed some reeducation. God can’t hand down land to God’s faithful people if they were no longer faithful. Moses began to teach them about the God who has always been faithful to them and to their ancestors before them.
Moses says choose life- choose God who first chose you. The people have seen God’s miracles; they’ve heard God’s stories from their ancestors-the waters of the sea parted so they could leave Egypt. The manna and quail appeared each day so they would not starve. The water gushed from the rock to ease their thirst. The poison serpents in the camp could not kill the people who looked on the bronze serpent as Moses instructed them to do.
The first generation of unfaithful people died in the desert. But then God was remembered. The people knew God provided and these blessings showed the invisible God whose only form is spirit.
Moses reminds them of the lessons they learned -choose life or death, choose prosperity or adversity, choose blessing or curses. Under God’s eye and with Moses’ guidance, the people are now ready to take possession of the land that God promised. They have the commandments and Joshua, their new leader. They have everything they need to finally take their place as God’s people in the land that God promised.
Moses reminds them that they are part of the line of God’s people, dating back to God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Hold fast to what you believe. Don’t be swayed by other gods. Stand strong in the Lord, remembering the foundation that God set for you long ago, inscribing God’s own name on your heart.
In the gospel lesson Jesus teaches the same lesson to the people. Jesus is facing death in Jerusalem, but he’s got a lot of teaching to do before that journey ends. Jesus’ lesson is about counting and comparing the cost of what is life or death for you.
When Jesus talks about all that we have to give up to be disciples, he reinforces Moses’ words-choose life, so you may live, loving God. That is the greatest commandment and the greatest benefit.
The greatest gift God gives is in our lives now. God gives us love and blessings, in spite of the hurt and pain we continue to experience on earth. God gives forgiveness and peace, so we can live at peace with other people. Jesus came to show us God’s abundant life, here and now and later, after death. We should be living in the full freedom God has given with a sense of joy.
God has given us the freedom to a life that has no conditions set on it. God called us through baptism, into this freedom. An open door is waiting for us, but remember. Upon entering, we trust God above the world-one holy and eternal God. Amen.

Rev. Dawn Richie

Holy Trinity Sunday sermon-5/22/16

This week, when I started reading Psalm 8, I remembered the musical version that my daughter used to sing from her children’s book.
Oh Lord our Lord, how excellent your name is, how excellent your name in all the earth. Your glory fills the heavens beyond the farthest star. How excellent your name in all the earth. When I think about the heavens, the moon and all the stars, I wonder what you ever saw in me. But you took me and you loved me and you’ve given me a crown and now I’ll praise your name eternally. Oh Lord our Lord, how excellent your name is, how excellent your name in all the earth.
Without naming each name, this song describes how our Lord, who is called Father, Son and Holy Spirit, continues to touch and bless us in the same way God has always blessed God’s creation-from the beginning of time right through to the end. On this Trinity Sunday, we learn the ways that God touches our lives, in big and small ways, but always with pure devotion and love because God loved us first.Trinity 03
The word Trinity isn’t in the Bible, because the idea of God as three persons wasn’t discussed until after the disciples. The church fathers saw God in three ways as God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, God acts like a father. In the New Testament, Jesus acts like a son who explains his Father’s actions to us. The Holy Spirit is God’s spirit that comes to earth to do the work that God and Jesus began. Each acts in different ways in the world and in us. There’s a lot of spiritual activity going on that we can’t see. But we can feel it as God’s spirit invades our lives and pushes us to do what God has planned for us. Father, Son and Holy Spirit work in harmony with each other, undivided, faithful and with a single minded plan that comes from God.
Let’s look at God as the father of creation, the parent of infants Adam and Eve. Although we’re told they’re a man and a woman, they were new, innocent and naive. They lived in the Garden of Eden and were totally dependent on God-until an outside force encouraged them to explore the big world outside of God’s view.
God said, Ok, go and explore and sent them out of the garden. They’d build their own home, grow their own food, raise their own children and make their own living. This is where God’s creation began to rebel against God, almost from the beginning. Throughout the book of Genesis, we read conflict stories between children, parents and in laws. But we also remember that one member of the family always remembers the God of their ancestors and calls to God for help. God hasn’t gone anywhere; God is always waiting for us to come back again, no matter how far away we’ve tried to run.
People make a lot of mistakes in their relationship with God-they’re bossy, demanding, rude and arrogant and most of the time, God lets them have their own way. Most of the time our bad decisions cause us grief and misery, but that doesn’t chase God away. God always brings us to God’s grace, mercy and peace when we ask to come there.
God deals with some bad decisions in the Old Testament as people want to pull away from God as their leader and be lead by people instead. The people want judges, so God gave them judges. The people want kings, so God gave them kings. By the end of the Old Testament stories, the people have lost everything of value and return to rebuild what’s left of their homeland. For 400 years, the time between the Old and New Testaments, God no longer sends prophets speaking God’s word to God’s people because they’ve stopped listening. God sets phase two of God’s plan in motion by sending Jesus.
Jesus comes into a world that’s been corrupted from top to bottom; top legal, religious and state officials obey the emperor and the people on the bottom are crushed by taxes, disease and misery. While priests continue to make sacrifices, the temple officials hold so tightly to the law that they don’t care that the people are suffering. But God cares that people are suffering and that’s why Jesus comes.
Jesus shows the ridiculous arguments in the light of day. Just because it’s the Sabbath day doesn’t mean you let your animals go thirsty or hungry. The day of rest is for people, slaves and animals, too.
Just because people are sick doesn’t mean you keep them away from other people. In times of illness and misery, we need each other to become whole and healthy again.
If anyone who calls on God’s name is answered, then you can’t exclude the Syrophonecian woman, the gentiles or any other nationality. We are all God’s people, not just a chosen few. Jesus came to explain all of this to the people; he set in motion the next phase of God’s action in God’s world.
The world Jesus is born into doesn’t love Jesus any more than it loved God. It’s a world that forces people to choose sides, insisting that you’re either with us or against us. Jesus came to teach that with God there are no sides. There’s just God. And that’s the teaching that challenged the local authorities. They’re the people who killed Jesus.
We know that God will always have the last word on God’s world, so Jesus didn’t stay dead. God raised Jesus from the dead and Jesus explained the scriptures to his disciples. Then he tried to prepare them for the Pentecost Spirit that filled them with courage and faith and blew them out into the streets to carry out phase three of God’s plan to save God’s people.
This Pentecost spirit is still with us today, when we gather our courage to act and to do what matters to God. There is no us and them in the church. There’s only God, in three persons, who continue to move and to interact with us, bringing us insight and understanding, mercy and forgiveness and a peace that the world will never know.
I believe in a very big and powerful, all knowing and all seeing God. My God is too big and too busy to bother finding people parking places near the mall at Christmas. And my God is too big and too powerful to help find the perfect dress or suit for the next big occasion.
In the past five years with you, I’ve seen God work miracles of growth and healing in these young people who will soon graduate from high school. I’ve seen God’s powerful action work in the lives of Morgan and Cyrick and Joshua. High school graduation is one stepping stone to close a chapter of life as we watch another chapter begin.
So let’s close in the same way we began, in worship and awe of the God who neither slumbers nor sleeps. Oh Lord our Lord, how excellent your name is, how excellent your name in all the earth. Your glory fills the heavens beyond the farthest star. How excellent your name in all the earth. When I think about the heavens, the moon and all the stars, I wonder what you ever saw in me. But you took me and you loved me and you’ve given me a crown and now I’ll praise your name eternally. Oh Lord our Lord, how excellent your name is, how excellent your name in all the earth. Alleluia, amen.

Rev. Dawn Richie