Media Archives

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Date Title Series Speaker
  9/3/2017 The Path of the Cross

Jesus tells the disciples that he is going down a path which will lead to his humiliating death, but will also bring eternal life to all people. Peter says, “God forbid” because he is focused on the loss rather than the sacrificial gift. St. Paul lays out the path of the cross in ways which are applicable to our lives. We will find that they are not only impossible for us, but as Christians we often ignore some of the direction, just like Peter. Today we will consider how we are blessed to follow Jesus on this path.

Pentecost 2017 Pastor Jon Coyne
  8/27/2017 Body, Mind, and Spirit

Faith as Jesus describes it is impossible for us to create on our own. On our own, we can’t put our needs of body, mind, and spirit aside in order to devote ourselves fully to the one who is Life and Truth. And yet we humans long for just that. In today’s lesson, St Paul speaks to those in whom the Spirit of Life has created faith in Jesus to give us direction, confidence, hope to devote ourself to Jesus in body, mind, and spirit.

Pentecost 2017 Pastor Tom Norris
  8/20/2017 God Loves Foreigners

If nothing else, the Bible points out this fact about foreigners…all of us can be considered foreigners and God loves all of us. Similarly all of us have been disobedient to God and yet God is merciful to all of us. There is a tendency for people of all generations to proclaim, “God is on our side” for whatever political, personal, or social need they see as being right and/or important. Today we will consider how God is “on all sides” loving and forgiving all people.

Pentecost 2017 Pastor Jon Coyne
  8/13/2017 Why Do We Doubt?

Sometimes we read this story and we see the amazing faith of Peter, who is willing to follow the call of Jesus and walk on the water. At those moments we yearn for a faith like this and we recognize that God gives us incredible faith in times of great need. However, other times we read the story and notice that Peter doubts and starts to struggle. We then think about the fact that there are times when we doubt God’s direction in our lives. Today we will consider how our lives on earth are filled with both moments, but we look forward to heaven where we will never doubt.

Pentecost 2017 Pastor Jon Coyne
  6/18/2017 Jesus Dies for Powerless Sinners

We do not like to think of ourselves as powerless. At the same time, we recognize that our all-powerful God sent Jesus to rescue us from our time where we were both caught up in our sinfulness and powerless to help ourselves. Today we will consider both the hopeless feelings and the joy we share in Christ.

Pentecost 2017 Pastor Jon Coyne
  6/11/2017 But Some Doubted

Sometimes Jesus’ followers struggle with doubt. What do our doubts mean about our faith? Do our doubts mean that we really aren’t very good followers? Do they mean that our salvation is in doubt? Today’s Gospel lesson contains a three words that get overshadowed by the “Great Commission” to “Go and make disciples of all nations…” But those three words might provide a key to greater confidence in Jesus even in the face of our doubts.

Pentecost 2017 Pastor Tom Norris
  6/4/2017 The Holy Spirit Still Speaks

The interesting thing about human beings is that we like surprises, but we really want things to work the same way all the time. In other words, we want the Holy Spirit to provide “the Pentecost moment” to all of us. We want to see the tongues of fire and we want people to hear in their own languages. More than this, we want to be able to explain what is happening and see large numbers of people converted. Today we will consider that the Holy Spirit still speaks, in the same way as always, but not in the same way that we expect or desire.

Pentecost 2017 Pastor Jon Coyne
  5/28/2017 The Value of Glory

Jesus clearly states that he will be glorified by God, the Father. His disciples cannot imagine at this point his glory will come through his death on the cross. The cross was a place of humiliation and disgrace, not glory. Yet, Jesus understands the glory of God is the salvation God chooses to bestow upon the fallen creation. Jesus also understands that after he has brought salvation to the world, we will all need the protection of God from the evil one. We are thankful for Jesus’ prayer on our behalf.

Easter 2017 Pastor Jon Coyne
  5/21/2017 In Your Hearts Revere Christ as Lord

You may have heard someone say that faith is a “private matter.” It’s about you own internal life and is a matter of your opinion alone. The Apostle Peter disagrees. For him (and because of his life with Jesus), faith is personal, but never private. And since it is personal, it is to be lived with all of one’s heart.

Easter 2017 Pastor Tom Norris
  5/7/2017 Suffering Justly and Unjustly

We seem to be living in a world where the concept of just suffering is considered antiquated at best and offensive at worst. Most people seem to feel that any suffering at all should be banished from our lives, even when we have created the issue or problem that precipitated the suffering. The thought of unjust suffering is a reality, but is something we want to protest, fight against, and stop. Peter shares a different answer for Christians.

Easter 2017 Pastor Jon Coyne
  4/30/2017 The Word of the Lord Endures Forever

What makes for a good life? It’s a question that philosophers, politicians, economists… and pretty much everyone else has thought about. In today’s lesson the Apostle Peter points us in the direction of the eternal, and universal, answer.

Easter 2017 Pastor Tom Norris
  4/2/2017 So That You May Believe

In order for Jesus to show he has the power over death, Jesus has to have a person who is dead. While that seems like a logical statement, Jesus came to the world so that all of creation would have life. Additionally, Lazarus is a dear friend and Jesus would have wanted to be with Lazarus in order to save him from death. Yet, if we look more deeply, we can see that Jesus is really living out the truth in front of his dearest friends. Death has no power over us. Death is not something to fear. We live forever in Christ in this world and the next.

Lent 2017 Pastor Jon Coyne
  3/26/2017 Children of Light

Children of Light - Jesus said, “If a blind man leads a blind man, they will fall into a pit,” (Matthew 15:14). This is an apt description of what happens as humans stumble around in the darkness without faith in Christ, and it leads to much suffering. Our God loves us, and has made us children of the Light in baptism so that no only can we walk in the light of Christ, but our very lives can be light in the darkness.

Lent 2017 Pastor Tom Norris
  3/19/2017 Against All Hope, Yet in Hope

Year after year Abraham waited. God had promised him a son, but year after year the promise went unfulfilled. Tested, tempted to doubt, his faith regularly tired. Yet Abraham hoped in the One who had made the promise. Not only is Abraham the “father of all who believe,” he’s also the one whose patient faith models our hope when no fulfillment of God’s promise seems in sight.

Lent 2017 Pastor Tom Norris
  3/12/2017 Would You Go to See Jesus?

When Nicodemus goes to see Jesus, “by night,” he puts many aspects of his life at risk. Jesus is not part of the established religious leaders. Rather he is an outsider, one who creates suspicion, one who could change the balance of power. What would it take for you to risk your comfort, your status, your church affiliation, and perhaps even your life, in order to check out a religious leader? Would you go see Jesus? In the end it does not matter because, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” Jesus comes for us!

Lent 2017 Pastor Jon Coyne
  3/5/2017 Lead Us Not Into Temptation

The story of Jesus in the Wilderness begins with this troubling phrase, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Why would the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into temptation? Why did this have to happen in the wilderness? Today we will consider these and other questions, Why? as we look at this incredible moment when Jesus fulfills the law and resists all temptation.

Lent 2017 Pastor Jon Coyne
  2/26/2017 Because He's True

“Why do you believe all this?” is a question that has been asked of Christians since the beginning. Along with this is its cousin, “Why do you live this way?” Peter’s answer in today’s lesson is the only answer we have: “Because He’s True.” For more info, visit www.bethany-mp.org

Epiphany 2017 Pastor Tom Norris
  2/19/2017 Laws to Live By, Laws of Love

We have a tendency to avoid the Old Testament because it is filled with lineages we do not know, stories of places we can no longer find on a map, and filled with rituals we no longer have in our church year or vocabulary. Similarly, when the laws are read, we tend to feel that they no longer apply since none of us are reaping a harvest from our land, or leaving food for the poor. Today we will consider why God sent the laws to the people of Israel and how to apply them in our lives. For more info, visit www.bethany-mp.org

Epiphany 2017 Pastor Jon Coyne
  1/22/2017 Who Do You Think You Are?

Paul was frustrated with his fractious little church in Corinth. Not long he left this little group of newly baptized Christians they were already at each other’s throats and threatening to tear apart what the Spirit had so patiently put together. So Paul had to step in (by letter) and remind them of who they are because of Whose they are.

Epiphany 2017 Pastor Tom Norris
  1/15/2017 The Lamb of God

Last week we looked at the baptism of Jesus and saw how God uses people, sinful people, as the vessels and participants in God’s plan of salvation. Immediately following this moment, John returns to his position of prophet. He is the one who proclaims to the entire world that Jesus is the Messiah. The Lamb of God is the one promised to Abraham when Isaac was spared. The Lamb of God is the one sacrificed so that blood will allow the angel of death to Passover the Israelites. The Lamb of God is Jesus, who fulfills all prophecy.

Epiphany 2017 Pastor Jon Coyne
  1/8/2017 Understanding Our Place in the Kingdom

John the Baptist understood his place in Kingdom of God. He understood that Jesus is the Son of God and that only Jesus could deliver the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. However, at this moment in time, John the Baptist is the vessel of God who participates in God’s plan of redemption. John brings Jesus into the waters of baptism. While Jesus does all of the work, John is the instrument of God. Today we will consider how this is all still true in our lives.

Pastor Jon Coyne
  12/18/2016 Nine Months to a Year

When the angel Gabriel appears to Mary and later when an unnamed angel appears to Joseph, Mary and Joseph have already been engaged for a period of time. While we do not know the period of time, we can make the projection that Mary and Joseph will have almost 9 months to consider the information of the angels after some time (up to about 9 months) of engagement. During the last 6 months prior to Christmas, Mary and Joseph worked through the highs and lows of life, wondered about the proclamation of and hoped for the miracle which was coming. Today we will consider how this still happens in our lives.

Advent 2016 Pastor Jon Coyne
  12/11/2016 “Are You the One or Should We Look for Another?”

John’s question from prison puts the question in stark terms. Either/or. Yes/no. It’s an overarching question that needs answering, but it’s also a very personal question for John. It’s the same in every age. Is Jesus “the One” or should we look for another? But what, then, does Jesus answer mean?

Advent 2016 Pastor Tom Norris
  11/27/2016 Then and Now, A Big Christmas Difference

When Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem, only a few people had heard Jesus would be the long awaited Messiah. Who would have believed the few people who had been told? The shepherds needed an announcement from angels and the Wise Men needed a star. Today we spend weeks preparing for Christmas, but little thought goes toward the fact that one day Jesus will return. Today we will consider how this joyous reality should be part of our celebration and everyday life.

Advent 2016 Pastor Jon Coyne
  11/20/2016 Trust God’s Judgment

It’s hard to “let go and let God.” It’s even harder when it comes to our gifts. We want to know that when we provide service or funding (which is just service in a storable and exchangeable form), that it will accomplish what we want. “But what if ‘they’ don’t use it like ‘we’ want,” we ask. Or, “What if ‘they’ misuse it?” Maybe what we should really be asking is, “Do I trust God’s judgment?”

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  11/13/2016 Lay Up Your Treasures in Heaven

Jesus tells us to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” On the surface this seems like a good idea, but one which is difficult to judge since I do not get a bank statement from heaven. As a short-sighted human being, it is easy for me to lose track of this vision and fall back into an all too familiar pattern of short term investments of treasure. Today we will consider how we enter and leave this world and what happens with the gifts God provides during our time on earth and our time in heaven.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  11/6/2016 God Doesn’t Just Add, He Multiplies

Do you ever think that you may be selling God short—already deciding what he can’t do before there’s been a chance for him to do anything? We learn in today’s lesson that disciples have been doing that since the very beginning. We may only have small gifts to offer, but, God doesn’t just add our efforts together, he multiplies them to fill his larger purposes.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  10/30/2016 Into the 500th Year

As we enter the 500th year since the Reformation and hurtle toward the anniversary itself and the celebrations being planned, there are many times when I wonder if Luther would be happy with the church bodies bearing his name. In fact, the mere naming of the church as Lutheran is one of the things I wonder about. Luther wanted to reform the church – not change the name of the church. We are Christians, called to be one in Christ. Today we will consider what that looks like from God’s point of view.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  10/23/2016 Never Give Up

To live is struggle. From our first breath to our last breath, life is a struggle. There are many philosophical and religious responses to this fundamental truth. It’s a very human thing to think that faith makes life less of a struggle, but that’s not true. In fact it sometimes intensifies the struggles we face. In today’s message, we look at some words of St. Paul’s which reflect his struggle, but also find strength and help and hope.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  10/16/2016 What it Is, What it Was, What it Shall Be

We tend to think about how “God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow,” but we probably think of ourselves in a different light. We tend to think of ourselves as changing, for better or worse, but changing. We hope our generation is more advanced than previous ones. We hope that all of our technology brings a certain intellectual, moral and societal sophistication. The truth is far different and we consistently need the message of the Gospel to save us from the messages of our broken hearts.

Pastor Jon Coyne
  10/9/2016 Faithful to the Faithless

Last week we discussed the struggles associated with forgiveness. Today we will consider the concept that God is faithful even when we are faithless. God is constantly working, through the Holy Spirit, to proclaim Jesus into our hearts and minds. Faith in Jesus is not just an intellectual pursuit, but is an all-encompassing inclusion into God’s presence. Paul uses the analogy of the human body to give us a picture of this connection we have through God’s faithfulness.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  9/25/2016 Do You See?

Right now, social and economic questions are tearing at the fabric of our country. What should be done for the poor and the oppressed? And just who exactly are the poor and the oppressed? In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus tells a parable that addresses the issues we face… and makes them personal. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus teaches the way for his people to think about and think through these issues so that we can act as his disciples.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  9/18/2016 Dishonest or Shrewd

Right after one of the most beloved of Jesus’ parables, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, comes the most befuddling one, the Parable of the Dishonest/Shrewd Manager. Which is he? Dishonest? Shrewd? The word used depends on the translation you’re reading. What in the world is this parable about? Perhaps it depends on how you think about the Kingdom of God that Jesus came preaching.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  9/11/2016 Those Who Get the One

The most interesting part of the parable Jesus tells is found in the question that begins the parable. Because we are not shepherds in first century Jerusalem, the nuance of the question is easily lost on us. Today, we will consider the fact that in the context of the parable, Jesus is the ONLY one who would go after the lost sheep. We will also reflect on how the message of Christ has and continues to permeate society in ways we often do not notice without the lenses of crisis and sacrifice which we remember on the anniversary of 9/11.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  9/4/2016 A Heart for Souls

In order to understand St. Paul’s letter to Philemon, it is necessary to review a few points about society at the time this is written. Onesimus was a slave, who left his master and was subject to severe punishment. Paul was writing from prison and did not have control over the most basic freedoms in his own life. However, in the midst of these things we see an incredible, Gospel centered, letter which is illustrative of how we can and should care for the souls of other people.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  8/28/2016 Live Your Life Differently

Today we will hear two passages where we are encouraged to live our lives in a way that is different than other people. Unfortunately we tend to focus on one part of each passage and miss many of the other parts. In doing so, we dissect the passage and we may miss the true message of living in God’s mercy which allows us to serve others in humility.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  8/21/2016 Live by Faith

Easy to say. Hard to do. That’s what we hear when listening to the author of the letter to the Hebrews discuss what it means to live by faith. He chose some examples of people who were seriously challenged to live by faith in God rather than the “religions” of those around them. In this part of his letter, the author gives courage and hope that no matter how trying our circumstances, we can live by faith.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  8/14/2016 A Cloud of Witnesses, Like Us

When we think about a “cloud of witnesses” it is easy to think that these people are looking at us and condemning us for our sins. This is the problem of guilt. However, this “cloud of witnesses” has experienced the Grace of God and knows the joy of forgiveness. These people witness to Jesus and want us to persevere in life, knowing that we have been forgiven and live in the Grace of God – just like they do.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  8/7/2016 What is Not Seen

God works through things we cannot see more frequently than we can imagine. We are created with senses which allow us to see, hear, feel and smell the creation. However, when it comes to God, we are given faith, which cannot see, hear, touch, or smell until Jesus arrives and puts God in our flesh. Today we will consider how God still uses things we cannot see to bring us peace and joy. We will think about how faith is that which we cannot comprehend without our senses, even as our senses are overjoyed to be in the presence of God through faith.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  7/24/2016 Why Do We Still Do All This?

St. Paul was a lawyer. He had studied the Old Testament law and had used that law to persecute Christians before God called him to know the living Christ. Today Paul shares with us a number of ways to think about the amazing grace of God. We will consider just one of these ideas as we look at the cancellation of our legal debt through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  7/10/2016 Who is “the man?”

When we read this passage and hear the question and the parable which answers the question, our focus is usually on the man we have come to call, “The Good Samaritan.” We prefer to think of ourselves as people who are confronted with opportunities to help, rather than seeing ourselves as people who need help. No one like to feel helpless, which is the condition of “the man.” Today we consider who this person is who, “fell into the hands of robbers.”

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  7/3/2016 A Spirit of Gentleness

There was a time in history when Jerusalem was the cultural, intellectual and spiritual hub of the entire world. Isaiah tells of a time which is close and again speaks of a time which is much further into the future. St. Paul talks about a spirit of gentleness which often seems to be missing from our world. Today we will consider how God gives us freedom and how God empowers us to use this gift in a spirit of gentleness.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  6/26/2016 Freedom, Part Two: We’ve Been Set Free

Christ has broken the chains that held us under sin, death, and the devil. So now what? It’s the question Christians have faced since the beginning. In today’s message, we learn the contours of the path we walk when we follow Jesus.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  6/12/2016 Sinners are Obvious – What do we do?

It seems everyone in the room knows that the woman who is anointing Jesus is “a sinner.” At the same time, they all assume that Jesus is the ONLY person in the room who does not know she is a sinner. In some ways this is true. While all of the people are focusing on the fact that she is a sinner, Jesus is focusing on the fact that her sins have been forgiven and she is responding to this forgiveness. What do you see when you look at other people? Do you see sinners or people for whom Christ died and rose again to take away their sins?

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  6/5/2016 God’s Purpose: To Judge or to Save? (Yes)

Elijah is sent into the home of a widow in the midst of a terrible drought. The widow is sure that she and her son will both die when Elijah comes and God miraculously provides food for all of them. Still, when her son dies, the widow believes God is punishing her for sin. She cannot understand that God, who saved her and her son, is always seeking to save all of us from our sin. Today we will consider the faith of Elijah and the gifts God provides for all of us as the righteous judge who gives the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  5/29/2016 The Faith of the Centurion

The faith of the centurion, who is not a Jew, allows him to understand that Jesus can do whatever he asks, without ever coming into the home of the centurion and without ever meeting the slave he values so highly. This is a rare and amazing faith which does not need constant affirmation or visual proof. Are we more like the centurion or more like others in our lives? What can we do to be more like the centurion in our faith life?

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Jon Coyne
  5/22/2016 We Glory in Our Sufferings

By nature, humans try to avoid suffering; yet suffering comes to all. But faith in the Triune God changes the meaning of our suffering. We aren’t suffering because we’re being punished. We aren’t suffering because God doesn’t care. We aren’t suffering because we’re being toyed with. In today’s lesson, St. Paul reminds us that faith changes how we understand our suffering… and gives us hope as we suffer.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  5/16/2016 In Our Own Tongues

So many different angry voices. That’s what we hear in our country and in our world today. People are angry… because they are afraid; because they are self-righteous; because they think those with whom they disagree are either evil or stupid. Today’s lesson points us to a hope that there is One whose Word cuts through the chaos so that even those who speak different languages and hold wildly divergent points of view can hear clearly the Word of God and find a way that leads to peace and hope and eternal life.

Pentecost (May 15) Pastor Tom Norris
  5/8/2016 A Mother’s Prayer, Jesus’ Prayer

Jesus comes so that all people might know the love and forgiveness of God which will lead to heaven. However, Jesus also prays for the unity of all people and for the faith of all people. In many ways this has been the prayer of women who are biologically, socially, and emotionally mothers for the whole world. It is more likely that women pray and when the pray is seems more likely that the prayer is for faith and unity. Jesus provides us with the prayer of and points us to a love which is for all people. Today we will recognize that we honor Jesus when we pray his prayer.

Easter (March 27 - May 8) Pastor Jon Coyne
  5/3/2016 How Does the World Give?

Jesus says, “I do not give to you as the world gives.” This creates the question in our mind, how does the world give? In order to understand this, we should first look at a story of how God gives, the surprising, fulfilling, and amazing ways God gives to us. Then we will be able to understand that this is completely different from the way the world gives.

Pastor Mike Lange
  4/24/2016 What Was The Old Commandment?

Jesus is about to leave his disciples and tells them that he is giving them a new commandment. The commandment seems simple – “love one another”. However, the commandment is not so simple as it seems. What was the old commandment? Was it easier to follow? Today we will consider the old and new commandments to see how Jesus changes everything in our lives.

Easter (March 27 - May 8) Pastor Jon Coyne
  4/17/2016 Christ Would Make Us Believe; We Make Ourselves Doubt

The title for this morning’s message comes from a commentary on John’s Gospel written over 100 years ago. It was true then as today because it is always the case with us weak and doubtful human beings. The reason is this: if Jesus IS the Messiah, if he IS the Good Shepherd, then there is no other, and all others who claim to be so, and all ideas and philosophies that claim otherwise are lies. It’s this exclusive claim of Jesus’ that is the reason we “make ourselves doubt.” We wish there were some other way that fit us better that we could walk, but the Good Shepherd will lead us only in His way because His way alone is the way of life.

Easter (March 27 - May 8) Pastor Jon Coyne
  4/10/2016 Jumping in the Water? Or Dragging in the Fish?

Peter realizes that Jesus is near and gets very excited. He jumps into the water fully clothed and swims away from the boat and the fish in order to see Jesus again. However, the other disciples continued to bring the boat ashore and pulled the fish with them. The fish were ultimately part of breakfast which Jesus has been preparing by making a fire into coals. Today we will consider how God still calls people to different activities and purposes, but how each are important in the Kingdom.

Easter (March 27 - May 8) Pastor Tom Norris
  4/3/2016 Believing in What We See, Along With What We Do Not

Often we feel that we need to be the blessed people who “have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Yet, God provides us with numerous things we CAN see which help us to believe in God. Today we will consider some of the things we can see which not only point us to God, but lead us to the ability to believe in the things we cannot see.

Easter (March 27 - May 8) Pastor Jon Coyne
  3/27/2016 What’s Missing from the Resurrection Stories?

Today we hear again the story of Jesus’ resurrection – the foundation of Christian faith. But there’s something conspicuously missing from all of the resurrection accounts that we unconsciously add to them; and in doing so we may mute the message of the day. Today we’ll consider what is a part of the resurrection accounts – and what isn’t – and find again the central meaning of Jesus’ resurrection.

Easter (March 27 - May 8) Pastor Tom Norris
  3/20/2016 The Holy City, The City of Peace

Today we listen to most of the Passion Week story on the Sunday when we celebrate that Jesus rode into Jerusalem. The story stands in stark contrast with the joy of Palm Sunday. The story also stands in stark contrast with the name Jerusalem. Salem means peace, and while Jerusalem also has a meaning that it was God’s before given to Israel, it still means City of Peace, along with being the Holy City or City of God. Today we will consider how this contrast helps us focus on Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace even has he faces everything opposite of peace.

Easter (March 27 - May 8) Pastor Jon Coyne
  3/13/2016 Generous of Jealous

The generosity of Mary is clear when she uses an expensive gift of perfume to anoint Jesus in response to the raising of her brother Lazarus. In hindsight, we can also see that this anointing is appropriate as the King of kings gives his life as a ransom for all people. However, Judas is jealous of the gift. It is not so much that he wants the perfume poured upon himself. It is either that he wants the money or maybe that he just wants control of the money which is just as good. Today we will look at what it meant to be generous with God rather than jealous of God’s gifts.

Lent ( Feb. 14 - Mar. 13) Pastor Jon Coyne
  3/6/2016 The Prodigal God

It has been a number of years since we read the book, The Prodigal God, together and heard a sermon series on each chapter. However, there are a number of lessons which have been imprinted on my mind since that new reading of this story. Today we will consider the role of each person in the story, but most importantly, the role of God who loves us with an extravagance so great we can never overestimate the love and forgiveness which is available to us in our lives.

Lent ( Feb. 14 - Mar. 13) Pastor Jon Coyne
  2/21/2016 Our Citizenship Is In Heaven

Citizenship matters. Not only does the country to which you belong shape the way you view the world and the way you live, it also distinguishes you from citizens of other countries. In today’s message, we’ll examine what it means that God has made us citizens of heaven.

Lent ( Feb. 14 - Mar. 13) Pastor Tom Norris
  2/14/2016 Confident in Our Speaking

“What is truth?” Pilate asked Jesus. It’s easy to hear the pathos behind Pilate’s words even two millennia later. The powers of this world have always worked to distort the truth, which is simply a euphemism for “lie.” In today’s message we hear St. John’s admonition not to be confused by the many challenges to God’s truth, but to know Him who is light, and to live and proclaim the truth of His word which is the light for our path.

Lent ( Feb. 14 - Mar. 13) Pastor Jon Coyne
  2/7/2016 Are You Ready for Some...Jesus?

Today, Super Bowl 50 will be played just down the road in Santa Clara. Thousands will attend the game, millions will watch on television, and billions of dollars will be made and lost through this singular event. Men will become heroes, hailed for years as champions and most will believe the accolades they receive just as Moses wanted to believe that the glory of God continued to glow in his face. Today we will consider how Jesus is the only hero who lives forever and the only hope we have in this world.

Epiphany (Jan 17. - Feb. 7) Pastor Jon Coyne
  1/31/2016 What Love Is Not

The first three verses of the chapter on love talk about all of the things which seem to be valuable in life, but which really have no value without love. In these brief sentences, Paul is showing how our works, our good deeds, and our accomplishments have no value in comparison to God. Paul is helping us understand that love, or being in Christ – God is love – is the most important aspect of our life. Today we will consider how to focus our lives on God, who is love.

Epiphany (Jan 17. - Feb. 7) Pastor Jon Coyne
  1/24/2016 Synagogues in Galilee

The Gospel of Luke is clear about the concept that Jesus preached in the synagogues which were in the “surrounding country” of Galilee. For many years, archaeologists challenged this statement because they could not find any traces of synagogues in that area. However, God reveals information where and when God chooses. This time, God chose to reveal a synagogue in the area of Galilee just as a catholic priest was trying to finish building a retreat center. Today, we will consider what all of this means to us.

Epiphany (Jan 17. - Feb. 7) Pastor Jon Coyne
  1/17/2016 Will

In the passage from Isaiah, the word “will” is used twelve times in just five verses. There is no question about God’s desires or his intentions. He will change the world’s direction. He will deliver hope and joy. And he will vindicate his people.

Epiphany (Jan 17. - Feb. 7) Pastor Tom Norris
  12/27/2015 A Chosen People Has Been Born

When we celebrate Christ’s birth, we also celebrate the birth of the Church, which is the body of Christ. We’re a new and “being renewed” people who are called and empowered to be Christ’s continuing presence in the world.

Christmas (Dec. 25 - Jan. 3) Pastor Tom Norris
  12/20/2015 Mary’s Song in Uncertain Times

The news of late has alternated between absurd, surreal, and horrific. It’s in the context of a greater awareness of political polarization, economic uncertainty, and global violence that we’ll celebrate Christmas this year. It’s good, then, that Mary’s song is a part of our Advent lectionary. She reminds us that what God is up to is always different from what anyone expects.

Advent (Nov. 29 - Dec. 20) Pastor Tom Norris
  12/13/2015 The Peace of God

The Peace of God that passes all understanding is a simple, but also, complex concept. Over the years, especially my years of ministry, I thought I understood this concept. However, this past year has provided new insights to the idea. The message of Jesus to the people of Israel is part of this complex concept. When we are concerned about what we need to do in order to earn eternal life, receive or keep our faith, we are on the wrong track. When we understand that God has done everything for us, we have that peace which God provides.

Advent (Nov. 29 - Dec. 20) Pastor Jon Coyne
  12/6/2015 The Voice

One of the many television shows tasked with finding new vocal talent is called, “The Voice.” That title implies there will be one voice which is better than all others, or which speaks to us better than all others. Today we will hear John the Baptist called “The Voice” by the prophet Isaiah. The interesting thing about a voice, is that it ALWAYS conveys something more important, The Word. Jesus is The Word who was made flesh and who dwelt among us. Today we will consider how The Word sent The Voice to proclaim His coming.

Advent (Nov. 29 - Dec. 20) Pastor Jon Coyne
  11/29/2015 What Are You Waiting For?

Often when we think about what it means to wait, we think of sitting around doing nothing until the moment arrives when we can do something. The faithful waiting we are called to be isn’t about doing nothing, but living and acting based on our believing that there is another kingdom coming — one of grace and truth. Today’s lesson asks us, "What are you waiting for?” and calls us to live the new life promised in Jesus the Messiah.

Advent (Nov. 29 - Dec. 20) Pastor Tom Norris
  11/22/2015 Confident in God’s Love

It all begins with God. It’s true when we consider creation, our salvation, and our life as God’s people. God’s love, writes St. John, had to be revealed to us, and was in Jesus. It was revealed in God’s initiative, not because of any human insight. And God keeps demonstrating His love for us and moving us to share that love with one another.

Pentecost (Nov. 8 - 22) Pastor Jon Coyne
  11/15/2015 Confident through Discernment

In Everlasting Man, G.K. Chesterton wrote: "It was said truly enough that human Christianity in its recurrent weakness was sometimes too much wedded to the powers of the world; but if it was wedded it has very often been widowed." Chasing the spirit of the age in order to find a more culturally acceptable way of following Jesus is a losing game. First, because the spirit of the age soon changes. Second, because it leads away from the Spirit of God. In today’s lesson, St. John reminds us that proper discernment helps lead to confident faith.

Pentecost (Nov. 8 - 22) Pastor Tom Norris
  11/1/2015 Confident through Hope

Loving children, or for that matter, loving anyone is easiest when we are in complete agreement. However, it gets harder when someone goes against our wishes, worse when a person flagrantly disobeys us and rebels, but still it is worse when a person rejects and hates us. God has witnessed the rejection of creation; Jesus would endure death at the hands of the people God loved. Still, that love would rise again to make us children of God and more than we can know. We have confidence in this hope.

All Saint's Day Pastor Jon Coyne
  10/25/2015 Confident through Faithful Living

St. John’s words in today’s lesson remind us that it’s a more difficult thing to live one’s faith than to simply say one believes. As the saying goes, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” So to, the proof of our faith is in the living. What makes for a confident faith that endures through the difficulties? The living of it, especially when it calls us to do things we’d rather not.

Reformation Pastor Tom Norris
  10/18/2015 Confident in Our Speaking

“What is truth?” Pilate asked Jesus. It’s easy to hear the pathos behind Pilate’s words even two millennia later. The powers of this world have always worked to distort the truth, which is simply a euphemism for “lie.” In today’s message we hear St. John’s admonition not to be confused by the many challenges to God’s truth, but to know Him who is light, and to live and proclaim the truth of His word which is the light for our path.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Tom Norris
  10/11/2015 Confident in Fellowship

Most of the time we think of our fellowship as just the people who attend church at Bethany Lutheran. Sometimes we think about the other Lutheran churches and occasionally we might think about other Christians. However, we are connected into a fellowship with Jesus Christ, which also connects us to all believers for all time. This means we are in fellowship with the Israelites, those who believed in God prior to Abraham, and all who have come to faith in Christ for all time. What does this mean for our lives? Today we will consider the benefit of our confidence through fellowship.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
  10/4/2015 Confident in Christ

This passage from the Gospel of John is often read at funerals and memorial services because it provides hope in the midst of great sorrow. Today we will consider how this passage also creates confidence for us in our life, not just in the time of death. When we know Jesus, we know the Father. When we know the Father, we know the way to heaven. When we have the gift of heaven, we can be confident in this life and the next.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
  9/27/2015 Standing Firm in Jesus the Messiah

The word Satan means the deceiver. The greatest deception, the one Satan wants for all of us, is to take our focus away from Jesus, the Messiah, in order to follow anything or anyone else. There are constantly people in the world who are attempting to create a following for themselves. A few people have even created very large followings. The attraction of “recent Messiahs” is a real temptation, but we will see how Jesus is the only true Messiah, providing us with “words that will never pass away.”

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
  9/27/2015 Standing Firm in Jesus the Messiah

The word Satan means the deceiver. The greatest deception, the one Satan wants for all of us, is to take our focus away from Jesus, the Messiah, in order to follow anything or anyone else. There are constantly people in the world who are attempting to create a following for themselves. A few people have even created very large followings. The attraction of “recent Messiahs” is a real temptation, but we will see how Jesus is the only true Messiah, providing us with “words that will never pass away.”

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
  9/20/2015 Standing Firm in Love

The words from St. Paul that are in today’s lesson are very popular. They’re frequently used in weddings. We like what they have to say about love. But there’s one phrase in there that bears special examination; love, St. Paul admonishes, is not selfish.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Tom Norris
  9/13/2015 Stand Firm in the Peace of Contentment

“Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Being God’s “present people” takes on new meaning when we realize that Jesus was the one who spoke these words of truth about “each day.” We tend to worry about the future and live in regret about missed opportunities and mistakes of the past. Similarly, we are constantly confronted with temptation to chase after the things we think will make our lives better. Today, we will look at the contentment which is provided through faith in Jesus.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Tom Norris
  9/6/2015 Standing Firm in Thoughtful Faith

It’s all in the title today. Standing firm has little meaning unless there is a reason to stand firm. A thoughtful faith is one ready to explore the realities of this world while applying the truths of scripture to those realities. We stand firm against the concept of little understanding. St. Paul was caught in a situation where some of his people had little understanding and challenged him because of their limited understanding. Today we will consider how God has provided us with the One resource necessary to combat this problem.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
  8/23/2015 Standing Firm in Peace

Patience is usually defined as “an ability to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.” In this context, most of us find that we have moments of impatience, but it is not a time of great concern. However, the first meaning of the word is, “the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation or the like.” In the parable of the sower, Jesus helps us understand that there are “annoyances” and “provocations” of life which will try to negatively impact our faith. Today we will consider how to be patient in the Lord.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
  8/16/2015 Christian

What does it mean to be a “Christian?” Is it someone who belongs to a church? Someone who tries to live a good life? From Jesus’ own teaching, and from the earliest days of the church, it meant one thing: one who follows Jesus.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Tom Norris
  8/9/2015 Judgement

The world is a very judgmental place. People judge others based on everything imaginable; from skin color to subculture, from language to accent, from temperament to politics. And it’s difficult for Christians not to fall into this trap, especially since we believe we know the One who is “the way, and the truth, and the life.” How can we live faithfully and faithfully speak the truth without being judgmental?

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Tom Norris
  8/2/2015 Church

In our culture, the word “church” is first understood either as a building or an institution. But if you asked one of the earliest Christians to tell you about their church, they would have started talking to you about the other people who gathered with them to worship the risen Christ.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
  7/26/2015 Submit

“Submission” is one of those words we Westerners have a difficult time with. The idea of submitting to someone else’s will goes against the grain of our individualist ideal. But the truth is that we all submit to both other people and to ideas that we did not necessarily choose. Christian faith calls us to submit first to the gracious Christ in order to properly enter into other relationships and to evaluate the world’s ideas and philosophies.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
7/19/2015 Confess

Christian worship services regularly include a “Confession.” Well, actually, they include two. They include a confession of sins and a confession of faith… weird? Only unless you understand what the word means: “I agree.”

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Tom Norris
7/12/2015 Saved

“Are you saved?” The question might be meant innocently enough, but there’s something about it that seems… judgmental. It seems to wonder if we’re really good enough for God. But “saved” in the Bible is the opposite of a judgmental word. It identifies Christ’s selfless rescue of humanity by his life, death, resurrection, and ascension.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
7/5/2015 Satan

“Liar, liar, pants on fire!” Those words once were used to show that one child knew that what another was saying was a lie. Fascinating, isn’t it, how many lies we hear in one day? Buy this and you’ll be a better person. Vote for this agenda and the world/country will be a better place. “Trust me,” they all say, “I wouldn’t lie to you.” But the world is full of lies because the prince of this world is full of lies… and lies to us to accuse us and say that we’ll never be right with God unless we follow his plan.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
6/28/2015 "Hell"

Medieval art notwithstanding, the biblical understanding of “hell” doesn’t imagine demons with pitchforks and other implements of torture causing people to be forever in physical pain. While hell is real, it’s not so much a place to which we might be consigned for eternal pain because of our failure. Rather, it’s existence without hope and without God’s mercy… and it can be found here and now.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
6/14/2015 Sin

There may not be a word worse understood than “sin.” Today it’s often viewed as an ancient concept that we’ve outgrown, or a simply personal matter between an individual and his/her conscience, or even a word used by the powerful to keep others in line. But the word “sin” recognized an important aspect of being human. It points to a rupture in our relationship with God that warps not just what we do, but who we are.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Tom Norris
6/7/2015 Word

Our ears are filled with words every day. Some of those words are important or helpful. Many are unimportant or irrelevant. Others are downright wrong or a lie. IF we’re going to use words to communicate our faith in God, those words need to be used in the way they’re intended… and they need to be rooted in the One who is the Word of God: Jesus.

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
5/31/2015 To Believe

More than any other scripture passage, John 3:16 is flashed, memorized, posterized (not a word except to basketball fans), and repeated in the media, in church, and in our minds. The brief passage hinges on two concepts: God’s love and our belief or faith. Today we will consider what it means to believe. We will think about what it means to have faith that only God can give to us. We will consider also the words of a parent in Mark 9, who is confronted with his sick son meeting God’s Son, and proclaims, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
5/24/2015 The Spirit of Truth

Jesus tells his disciples and all of us “it is to your advantage that I go away…” I have never been able to automatically and naturally assent to that statement. Having Jesus around, every day, seems like a pretty good deal and a great way to live my life. Clearly, the disciples were not happy about the prospect of Jesus leaving. How many times do we think we know what is best in our lives, think we know the right path, think we are unhappy, disappointed, or angry when really God has a plan for us and “it is to our advantage” that God is in charge of the plan?

Pentecost (May 24 - October 18, 2015) Pastor Jon Coyne
5/17/2015 Not of this World

It is never easy to feel isolated or distanced from other people. There is a deep human need to be accepted and feel integrated into the culture of friends and neighbors. At the same time, there is a spiritual battle which rages in our world. Satan wants all people to be separated from God and will use any means possible to accomplish this goal. In contrast, God will only use love, the sacrificial gift of Jesus Christ, to accomplish the goal of bringing all people in the Kingdom of Heaven. Today we will consider the importance of this goal and how Jesus enlightens us through prayer.

Easter Pastor Jon Coyne
5/10/2015 A Radically Inclusive God

When God created the world, all people were included in the Kingdom. After the flood, all people were included in the Kingdom. It was not until the time of Abraham that God chose a people so that Jesus could come into the world through that people group. It was a covenant God made and God would keep even when God’s people did not keep the covenant. It should not surprise us that when Jesus came, salvation was for all people. The basics need to be preached and comprehended over and over. Today we will consider a basic teaching of inclusivity as shared by St. Peter.

Easter Pastor Jon Coyne
5/3/2015 Strange Love

As much as people talk about love these days, there seems to be little of it. From all the things said and done in the name of love, one might get the impression that many don’t really have a helpful understanding of what love is. In today’s lesson, our understanding of love gets (re)grounded in God and reshaped by the tough, sacrificial, and life-giving love we witness in Jesus.

Easter Pastor Jon Coyne
4/26/2015 Love in Truth and Action

John makes a clear distinction between two types of love. He states, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech but in truth and action.” There are so many ways we can talk about love, make speeches about love, and even tell stories about love. However, the kind of love we bring as Christians is the kind of love that comes from following Jesus. Christ loved people who were hurting, distressed, and isolated from others because they were not loved by most people. Today we will consider how we are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Easter Pastor Jon Coyne
4/19/2015 Revealed in the Breaking of the Bread

Anything we do frequently can be done unconsciously. It can happen, too, with Holy Communion. The story of two disciples on the road to Emmaus who are joined by Jesus helps us to keep our eyes open when the bread is broken and given for us so that we can see Jesus and gain greater insight into the life he shares with us.

Easter Pastor Tom Norris
4/12/2015 Resurrection Response

The response of the disciples and others who followed Jesus was significant in the days, weeks, months, and years following the death and resurrection of our Savior. We could spend years debating whether or not the financial decisions and social structure of these early Christians was the best. We could argue about what it means that there was “great grace” or what their testimony was like. However, today we will consider the resurrection response in light of Easter. For our response as the redeemed in Christ had been, and always will be, needed in the world.

Easter Pastor Jon Coyne
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