Worship Times and Styles

Saturday, 5:00 PM in the chapel

Traditional worship in a relaxed, intimate setting

Holy Communion every week, open to all believers

Sunday, 10:00 AM in the sanctuary

Traditional, liturgical worship in our beautifully designed main sanctuary

Nursery available for children under age 4

Holy Communion every week, open to all believers

Children are a part of the body of Christ, and we encourage families to worship together. Activity bags are available in both worship spaces, and Pastor Jerry shares a fun, meaningful message for children every week.

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Sermon: Mark 5:21-43

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

In our Gospel lesson today, are two more illustrations of the power of the Word to bring abundance of life where no life seemed possible: the healing of a continually bleeding woman (and as such she is unclean to be in community) and the raising of the daughter of Jairus who had apparently died. In our lessons I am struck most by the words fear and faith.  After the woman with the flow of blood touched Jesus and he asked who touched him, it says she "came in fear and trembling, fell down before him and told him the whole truth. Jesus said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well."

In the wrap-around story of Jairus' daughter, the text says, "some people came from the leader's house to say, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?" But Jesus says to Jairus, "Do not fear, only believe (or have faith)."

When I was a child I had a lot of faith; but I also had a lot of fear. My faith was in the reality of God, not any sort of trust in the goodness or compassion of God. And my fear was in the power of that real but vengeful God I imagined from Sunday School, the fire & brimstone preaching, even comic books, horror movies and God only knows what else.

As I grow older, faith and fear remain in dynamic tension all my life. Just as my faith has matured and is hopefully more sophisticated; my fears have grown less generalized and more specific. But fears are still there as they are for all of us. We all fear things: terrorism, cancer, economic collapse, tragedy to oneself—family or friends, automobile accidents, hurricanes, tornados and wild fires—just to name a few.  And the last few years have shown us that our fears are realistic and founded in reality, not conjuring. And the question is, as we face these realistic fears, where do we place our faith, our hope for the future? In money and stuff and clout? Or in armies and governments and secret deals?  Where do we put our hope and in whom? We trust in God, but we live in a broken, sinful world. Our hope and our faith are quite often larger than the real world around us.

Every week people come to our church looking for some kind of hope. Often, they are reasonable requests for assistance that we can accommodate. The usual hope is that we may provide for them some of life’s essentials: food, clothing, or shelter. Make no mistake, we have a few ‘frequent flyers’ as I call them--more interested in ‘using’ our generosity than benefiting from it. But we are good stewards of your gifts, and we know how to assess genuine needs, from excessive wants. Still, God’s grace is much at work.

The scriptures call us to trust in God, a thing sometimes much easier said than done. Lamentations reminds us "that the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, (God's) mercies never come to an end." and then goes on to talk about those times when one feels abandoned by God. This is a realistic look at faith in the face of fear. 

The Psalm repeats this theme, as in "then you hid your face, and I was filled with fear" but also cries out, "O Lord, My God, I will give you thanks forever." And our lesson from 2 Corinthians reminds us not to hoard our money in time of other's need, but to share our resources with the needy, trusting in God to provide for us in our time of need. Generosity is a work of grace and that is a work of the Holy Spirit. Generosity is shown to be an act of faith overcoming fear.  This is a look into one of the core competencies of Christian discipleship. We give in response to the joy given to us by the forgiveness of Christ Jesus and as part of the community of Christ in which we gather. In this way we may all give even beyond our means-it is a grace, a working of the Holy Spirit. We give because Christ gave; we share out of what we have, not out of what we don't have.

In God's miraculous plan of economy, nobody has too much and nobody has too little. Our God is a God of Abundance; it is we who create scarcity. The theologian David Anders puts it this way, “People want to be consumers of faith, but they don’t want to pay the price of relationship.” Columnist Chuck Colson further explains, “Christians today are too much like consumers.  It’s what some have called the ‘McChurch’ mentality.  Today it might be McDonald’s for a Big Mac; tomorrow it is Wendy’s for “my way”; or perhaps the renowned chicken sandwiches at Chick-Fil-A. Thus, the church becomes just another retail outlet, faith just another commodity.” Another writer notes, “Today, it seems everybody listens to the radio station WII-FM—which are the call letters for ‘What’s In It For Me?”

In the last several years the Christian church has been in very uncertain times. Church growth specialist Bill Easum predicts based on empirical data, that 75% of today’s churches will not be in existence in the year 2025. Yet T.S. Elliot explains: “There is no life except in community and no community except lived in praise to God.” The question is: are we as a worshipping community going to face our future with fear or faith

Are we going to reach out to one another as the woman in the story reached out to Jesus for comfort and healing? Because as sincere as her desire for anonymity was, her idea was wrong. There is no such thing as coming privately into the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is of right relationships, and we learn those relationships in this workshop we call the church.  Jesus knew that healing was only part of what she needed.

The root of the word healing in the Greek is “zozo”—which is also the root for the words “salvation” and “wholeness” Health is much more than the absence of illness—it is the fullness of life. The woman also needed a relationship with God and a relationship with the community of faith.  Jesus would not let her walk away with only part of the gospel.

Neither should we.  We are, the body of Christ, and we have God's spirit and healing power flowing through us. The question becomes “Are we facing the future with fear or faith—which the Lutheran interpretation of is “Christ’s faith given to us?” We too need to reach out to our church, each other, and to the community—to just touch Jesus’ cloak, and then know our faith has made us well! Thanks be to God! AMEN!