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Unopened Gifts  Click here Click title to view sermon 1 Corinthians 1: 3–9
Summary:  As we begin the season that our culture thinks of as gift-giving time, let's not neglect the gifts God has brought us in Jesus the Christ. We don't want to leave these gifts unopened.
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Grace in Loss; Peace in Pain  Click here Click title to view sermon 1 Corinthians 1: 3–9
Summary:  The First Sunday of Advent is a day for taking stock of the pain of the world, for recognizing that the world is still far from the reign of God. On this day, we begin again our long vigil for the return of Christ. But in the midst of this wait, the apostle Paul offers words of grace and peace that place our suffering within the context of God.
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Faith for the Wee Hours  Click here Click title to view sermon Mark 13: 24–37
Mark 13: 33–37 for LFM
Summary: There are at least three understandings of “keeping awake,” as Jesus and his disciples would have understood it — waiting, watching and tending the fire. All three apply to Advent and have implications for us today.
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What Does the Church Wait For in Advent?  Click here Click title to view sermon Luke 21: 25–36
Summary: Even though the church celebrates Advent as a time of hope and anticipation, we realize that the world does not change much. Luke teaches us that God will act in all creation, and the ministry of the church is to bear witness to God’s coming redemption of the creation.
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You Just Never Know  Click here Click title to view sermon Mark 13: 24–37
Mark 13: 33–37 for LFM
Summary: For something as cosmic as the return of Jesus, you’d better be alert — but keep in mind that the biblical meaning of watchfulness is working for the kingdom. So remain watchful. Besides, if we’re not looking, we might even miss something as obvious as Christmas.
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What Are You Waiting For?  Click here Click title to view sermon Luke 21: 25–36
Summary: Advent is the season of waiting. We need to be ready for Jesus when he comes.
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Stay on the Job  Click here Click title to view sermon Matthew 20: 36–44
Summary: When the Bible speaks about the return of Christ and the end of history, people often ask the question “When?” But Jesus’ words about “the coming of the Son of Man” don’t try to answer that question. Instead, they urge us to stay alert. We are to be at our posts, whether the end be near or distant.
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Beyond the Pygmalion Effect  Click here Click title to view sermon Jeremiah 33: 14–16
Summary: Expectation is a major theme of Advent. Because of Jesus, Christians expect peace with God, healing of the soul, to never walk alone, for God to be closer to us than our breath itself. We expect Christ to return and bring the kingdom of God in all its fullness. We expect eternal life. None of that is expecting too much or too little, for these things are backed up by the promises of God.
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Ain’t No Mountain High Enough  Click here Click title to view sermon Isaiah 2: 1–5
Summary:  Like Judah and Jerusalem, we are aware that God has called us to be his people. Still, we lose our footing ― we choose to stay at the bottom of the mountain instead of climbing to the top. Jesus comes to us, showing us the way. He provides us with instruction and teaching on how to climb to the top of the mountain with God.
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The Sprouting of Justice  Click here Click title to view sermon Jeremiah 33: 14–16
Summary: Justice requires confession, forgiveness and a healing of the past. Jeremiah promised that God was working for justice. Today, we can see even small signs of justice as a shoot coming up from the ground, giving us hope for full justice in God’s time. We should commit ourselves to our own work of shining the light on injustice, of confessing, of forgiveness, of healing the past as we look toward God’s future.
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Advent and Christmas Cheer  Click here Click title to view sermon Matthew 24: 36–44
Summary: Culture has co-opted the meaning of Christmas. But with the four vignettes about “that day” in today’s reading, the church can begin to reclaim its mission to interpret what the birth of Jesus and the return of Jesus mean. These vignettes remind us that we anticipate not only grace but also judgment. This reminder of judgment dissipates our complacency and shatters our obliviousness to God’s presence.
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Advent Alert  Click here Click title to view sermon Luke 21: 25–36
Summary: “Be on the alert.” This is the word for the Advent season. It’s a word that will keep us ready for whatever God may have in mind.
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Impulse-Darters, Bridal–Walkers and Heed–Takers  Click here Click title to view sermon Matthew 24: 36–44
Summary: Crowds at the mall doing Christmas shopping include people who change direction without warning to look at merchandise as well as people who cruise slowly down the concourse five abreast. Both types force the rest of us shoppers to stay alert to avoid collisions. In a similar way, the words of Jesus about the Second Coming occurring without warning remind us to so live that we are always ready to “travel.” Living heedfully doesn’t necessarily mean doing different things than others, but it does mean tending the life of the Spirit within us.
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In Days to Come  Click here Click title to view sermon Isaiah 2: 1–5
Summary: Waiting is the task of Advent. But prophecy and imagination fuel our faith, hope and love until the glad day when all waiting is ended and we see our Lord Jesus Christ triumphantly reigning over all creation.
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What Waiting Feels Like  Click here Click title to view sermon Mark 13: 24–37
Summary: By focusing our attention on feelings evoked by the hope of the second coming of Jesus, we are able to understand the longings felt by those who waited for the first Advent. Discovering these feelings will help us celebrate the Advent season in a deeper, and more profound way.
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No Regular Routine  Click here Click title to view sermon Matthew 3: 1–12
Summary: John the Baptist instructs the Pharisees and Sadducees to do more than simply witness the baptisms taking place in the River Jordan. They are to change their lives and produce fruit. Like the Pharisees and Sadducees, we also need to let go of our regular routines and current lifestyles and respond to God’s presence in our lives. This is how we prepare for the Lord during this season of Advent.
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Feeling and Thinking Advent  Click here Click title to view sermon Matthew 3: 1–12
Summary: The proper mood for Advent is enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is not merely a feeling, but it is a commitment. It is allowing God to possess us. For many, that enthusiasm will demonstrate itself in some emotional expression, but it is also seen in persistence, in perseverance, in stepping up to the plate, in showing up, in the things we gladly spend our energy on and in the depth of our commitments.
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The Terror of History  Click here Click title to view sermon Luke 3: 1–6
Summary: The phrase “the terror of history” might make us think of how we feel before taking a history exam in school. Its deeper meaning, though, refers to the unease that comes just from being historical creatures in a world where things begin and pass away. Many cultures and religions try to escape from that terror. But today’s gospel sets us down squarely in history with some names, dates and places and prepares us for the coming of God’s Son as a historical figure to correct the course of history and turn it back to God’s intended goal.
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Patient Perseverance  Click here Click title to view sermon 2 Peter 3: 8–15
Summary:  Peter writes a word of encouragement to beleaguered followers of Christ. He exhorts them to persevere in faith by rooting themselves in the promises of God, by giving thanks for the patience of God and by living as the people whom God created them to be. In so doing, God’s people not only persevere but also advance the cause of Christ in their day.
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Piercing the Darkness  Click here Click title to view sermon Mark 1: 1–8
Summary: John the Baptist announces a new era of God’s salvation and invites his audience to realign in light of its coming. John’s preaching creates an expectation that the age of darkness is over.
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The Peaceable Kingdom  Click here Click title to view sermon Isaiah 11: 1–10
Summary:  When Isaiah spoke of predator and prey dwelling in peace together, it was a way to symbolize the kingdom of God. But animals also have some things to teach us about living in the world this side of the kingdom ― matters of interconnection, stewardship and the goal of a world at peace.
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Highway to Heaven  Click here Click title to view sermon Matthew 3: 1–12
Summary: Throughout history God has employed road builders to head us in the right direction. John the Baptist was one of those road builders, and he was constructing a highway to heaven. His message helps us find that road, but we have to go to the “desert” to hear him. And part of what we hear is about repentance.
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Season of Decision  Click here Click title to view sermon Luke 3: 1–6
Summary: In this season of Advent of 2009, we find ourselves faced with the same choice that faced those first hearers of John, son of Zechariah, in the wilderness.
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Christmas Without Distortion  Click here Click title to view sermon Mark 1: 1–8
Summary: The Christmas message without distortion is “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
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Becoming Ambassadors of God’s Abundance  Click here Click title to view sermon Isaiah 11: 1–10
Summary: Isaiah offers a profound and poignant vision of hope to ground God’s people to live as ambassadors of God’s future abundance to the world. Isaiah’s words inspire all, especially those who may presently be struggling, to find renewed hope and purpose in God.
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Second Banana  Click here Click title to view sermon Luke 3: 1–6
Summary: In every canonical gospel, John the Baptist, Jesus’ mysterious cousin and harbinger of God’s gift, steadily points away from himself and toward the one who is to come. As such, he willingly plays the role of “second banana” to the Messiah in God’s great salvation drama. He also serves as a model for the times when we are called to take a supporting role in someone else’s life.
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Road Construction, Christian Style  Click here Click title to view sermon Isaiah 40: 1–11
Summary: The highway image is useful for reminding us that we need to strengthen and improve our connection with God. For many of us, that connection already exists, but it’s like a winding old highway that goes through every town along the way and pokes along behind a lot of hindering traffic in no passing zones. Our task is to improve, straighten and widen the existing spiritual road
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Advent Preparation ... Yet Again  Click here Click title to view sermon Luke 3: 1–6
Summary: When we try to juggle too much, it all comes crashing down. Advent calls us to decide what is important in life and to give priority to the things that matter, the things of faith. It also gives us opportunity to keep growing into the people God calls us to be.
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Rivers in the Desert  Click here Click title to view sermon Mark 1: 1–8
Summary: When we feel ourselves in the wilderness, hungering and thirsting for God, God will be there for us. And when we are feeling strong and refreshed, God calls us to move out into the world to serve others in need, all in the name of Jesus Christ.
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No More Than 10 Percent  Click here Click title to view sermon Luke 3: 1–6
Summary: When the ways of the world are chosen over the ways of God, the road to God becomes crooked. John the Baptist is not the only one called to straighten the road, fill the valleys and level the hills that stand between God and those who claim to believe in God. The events in our nation and our world constantly challenge us to either accept that call or to separate our faith from the decisions we make. The choice we make in this matter will determine the legacy we leave our children.
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The Why of Our Lives  Click here Click title to view sermon John 1: 6–28
Summary:  As interesting as the answers to questions about where we were born or how we were raised might be, the reason we were born is of far more importance. One reason is for us to be an advertisement for the God in whose image we were created. We have a model for this in the person of John the Baptist.
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Witnesses to the Light  Click here Click title to view sermon John 1: 6–28
Summary: The ancients witnessed to a great light because it was important to them. John the Baptist was also, in the words of this gospel, “a witness to the light.” We stand in this great tradition, and witness to the light of Jesus.
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You Call This Victory?  Click here Click title to view sermon Zephaniah 3: 14–18
Summary: In this passage from the Jewish scriptures, we are offered an “already” and a “not-yet.” We are given the promise that God already stands among us, even in the midst of the uncertainties and tragedies of our life here and now. And we are offered a promise that God’s will shall be established perfectly in a yet-to-be realized future, when the uncertainties of today will be resolved in victory.
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We Don’t Need a Little Christmas  Click here Click title to view sermon Luke 3: 7–18
Luke 3: 10–18 for LFM
Summary: Seek the great Christmas, not the little Christmas.
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Patience, Not Panic  Click here Click title to view sermon James 5: 7–10
Summary: All of are in need of the Christian virtue known as patience. We are not likely to be able to engender it by positive thinking alone. Patience is a gift of the Holy Spirit. God’s calming Spirit can remove our anger, our short-temperedness, our inner stress. So, whatever afflicts us, whatever upsets us, whatever makes life miserable -- we can learn to handle by allowing the calming Spirit of God to invade us and permeate our being.
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Witness to the Light  Click here Click title to view sermon John 1: 6–28
Summary: John the Baptist came to “witness to the light.” We have a similar task. This is a world invaded by far too much darkness. As Christ’s followers, let us announce that the darkness of the world can be overcome through the heavenly light which comes from Christ.
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Radical Moderation  Click here Click title to view sermon Luke 3: 7–18
Luke 3: 10–18 for LFM
Summary: John the Baptist proclaims a radical demand for repentance, but his directions for people’s lives after their baptisms are quite moderate. They are to share what they have with those in need and to do their jobs honestly. The coming of the Messiah to whom John points will not abolish God’s world or our work in it. We are called to preserve and protect it as God brings his reign to fulfillment through the work of Christ.
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The Stranger Among Us  Click here Click title to view sermon John 1: 6–28
Summary: Jesus comes to us as “one unknown.” It is our joy to become acquainted with him.
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Are You Really Somebody?  Click here Click title to view sermon Matthew 11: 2–11
Summary: The disciples of John the Baptist come to Jesus wanting to know if he is the Messiah. “Are you the one, or should we look for another?” they ask. Jesus response is not what they expect to hear. Many of us ask the same question today. Is Jesus the Son of God? How can we know? Jesus answer to the followers of John the Baptist also applies to us today.
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What Difference Did Jesus Make?  Click here Click title to view sermon Matthew 11: 2–11
Summary: When we are disappointed by the tenacity of evil, we can trust that God continues to heal and renew.
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Shopping with God in Mind  Click here Click title to view sermon Luke 3: 7–18
Summary: Five questions help us when shopping to also glorify God.
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Four Questions for Advent  Click here Click title to view sermon Matthew 11: 2–11
Summary: John the Baptist’s questions of Jesus could very well be our questions: What did you come here to see? What do you want to hear? What are you looking for? Have you found it? We do well to consider Jesus’ answer to John.
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What Have You Come Out to See?  Click here Click title to view sermon Matthew 11: 2–11
Summary:  Jesus asked a crowd, “What have you come out to see?” He asks us the same question. Our reflective response can help satisfy our spiritual hunger.
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Life in a Changing World  Click here Click title to view sermon John 1: 6–28
Summary: John the Baptist, while carefully asserting his own identity — as well as stating who he was NOT — proclaimed the preparation needed for the world to receive the gift of God’s Son.
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The Great Expectation  Click here Click title to view sermon Luke 3: 7–18
Summary: The Jews have always awaited the coming of the Messiah. Christians believe that Jesus was the Christ. What do Christians await? We expect to see God at work in the world. We believe the kingdom of God will finally be a reality. We believe God’s ultimate victory over evil is certain.
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Making the Christmas Dream Real  Click here Click title to view sermon Matthew 1: 18–25
Summary: God has a dream for us. He offers us the Christmas dream if we will choose to accept it. Joseph had a dream. He was told by an angel not to be afraid of marrying Mary who was already heavy with child. When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did what the angel commanded. When Mary was told she was the chosen one to give birth to the Son of God, she burst forth in a song: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit in God my Savior.” Christmas becomes real for us when we also respond positively to the birth of Christ and live as his servants.
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A Life That Changes Everything  Click here Click title to view sermon Matthew 1: 18–25
Summary:  God is looking for heroes and heroines. Each of us was born into the world with the high hopes of our parents and God-given potential. God is seeking women and men through whom he can work to shape a future in line with the character and purposes of God.
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Our New Names  Click here Click title to view sermon Matthew 1: 18–25
Summary: From the beginning of Matthew’s story, Jesus’ names (Jesus and Emmanuel) point forward to the salvation that he achieves on the cross and to his ongoing presence as the risen Christ, leading his people into the world on mission.
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Our Best–Laid Plans  Click here Click title to view sermon Matthew 1: 18–25
Summary: Joseph was willing to adapt his plans to God’s surprising purpose when he found that the woman he was going to marry was pregnant. The birth of the child for whom Joseph was to care was the key to God’s grand plan, of which God’s purpose for each of us is a part.
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What Christmas Is All About  Click here Click title to view sermon Hebrews 10: 5–10
Summary: Christmas is about something far bigger than the things we so frequently hear. It is about the will of God being brought to pass in our world.
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