God Loves Your Body, Sermon for Epiphany 2, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

God loves your body, the same body that poops, farts, gets sick, has headaches, orgasms, gets old, wears out and dies. Your body is not merely the biological fact of you. It is the concrete means by which you relate to God & others. In Christ your body is free from anything that could bind you. Your freedom in Christ is so complete that there is no norm or criterion, [no] ethic or rule of law, [that] is applicable to your behavior; you are free, and everything is allowed.” [Harrisville, R. A. (1987). I Corinthians] As Paul says in Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free, stand firm therefore and do not submit again to the yoke of bondage…” Paul forbids fornication not because it is sexual gratification, but because it is a form of slavery. I am an obedient slave to my desires, obeying them without regard to whether it is beneficial or if it dominates me.

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I planted seedlings for the farm today

eggs cartons in the watering tray. The bottom is my old truck bed liner.

I planted seedlings for the farm today. I used egg cartons for seed pots, planting 2 seeds in each egg cup.  I planted 360 seeds or so: cauliflower, onions, kale, leeks, tomatoes, peppers, kohlrabi, and collard and mustard greens. I built a frame from scrap lumber and attached a piece from my old rubber truck bed liner to it to make a water tight tray for the plants to sit in, so they can be watered from the bottom.


planted and labeled
















They are sitting under grow lights and will for the next month or so. Most of the seeds were old, so it is possible they will not come up, but I am hopeful. Once the baby plants get bigger I will either transplant them into cups or directly into the ground.

God-Sized hope. Sermon for Epiphany Sunday, Ephesians 3:5-6

The cynicism of our culture allows us only to hope facile, circumstantial  hopes. The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings us in on the God-sized hope that requires our whole selves to hope. This hope plays out in the concrete, daily circumstances of our lives, in history, but it carries us beyond our circumstances, beyond our selves, allowing us to participate in the very life of God.

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Sharing our space with a mission start: Refuge Church

Beginning now, Refuge Church, a Seventh Day Adventist mission congregation, will be using our building for worship on Saturdays. For the first 4 months (January – April) they will be worshipping only once per month as they ramp up to every Saturday worship.
This congregation is being started by Kenneth Geraldo Martinez and his wife Addi. Here is how Kenneth describes their mission:
“…to plant a contemporary church that preaches the gospel of Jesus in a way that is relevant to people that has Hispanic roots but also is immersed in American culture. This group is rarely reached by the indigenous communities in the area (e. g. Adventist churches that speak Spanish and are a bit old-fashioned and liturgical)…”
“Our church has a heart for immigrants. Although less defined, we want to look for options in which we can help immigrants and refugees: fundraisings, food banks, meals, etc. We are doing research on the best opportunities but having a building in which we can store things and host events will be really helpful.”
To learn more about Seventh Day Adventists as a denomination follow this link: https://www.adventist.org/en/beliefs/
Gift of Grace is blessed by God and by the faithful stewards who came before us, because they have provided us a wonderful property to help us lift up Christ to the neighborhood and world. We are delighted to welcome Refuge church into this space and excited about how we can encourage and promote their service in Christ’s name.
When we consider sharing Gift of Grace space finances are a consideration, but second to our obligation and desire to be of service. We are not in the landlord business. Nevertheless, we are grateful when “rent” from others helps defray the costs of the mission to which we are already dedicated. We had this joyful experience with Grace Gospel Chapel and now we anticipate it again with Refuge Church. They are making a good offering that will help.
So rejoice and pray:
Gracious God, scripture tells us to “…welcome one another… just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Ro 15:7). Grant us grace to welcome Refuge Church in the fullest sense, in order to glorify you through Christ of Lord. Amen.
Follow this link to see General Principles for Stewarding the Building and Property


Inner thoughts exposed. Sermon Christmas 1, 2017. Luke 2:22-40

While the world goes on with business as usual, utterly undisturbed in its normalcy, while Mary & Joseph go through their simple obedience to God and community, the whole realm of God, all the angels, spiritual powers, & all creation is beside itself with praise & thanksgiving at what God has done & is doing in this little baby. Only Simeon and Anna, see it. In God’s freedom, God works below the radar and reveals wonders only to the those whom God chooses, the least: not the most, the strong, the well-disciplined or well-intentioned. Only the least. How offensive this is. It empties us. It exposes the inner thoughts of our hearts. If there is faith in the heart it will cling to God’s Promise regardless of what is exposed. If not, well… teeth gnashing futility.

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Where the battle of indifference is fought…or not.

A quote from The Martin Luther Christmas Book, trans. Roland Bainton, “…and we who hear this message, ‘Behold I bring you good tidings,’ never feel one spark of joy. I hate myself because when I see him laid in the manger, in the lap of his mother, and hear the angels sing, my heart does not leap into flame. “With what good reason should we all despise ourselves that we remain so cold when this word is spoken to us over which all [persons] should dance and leap and burn for joy! We act as though, it were a frigid, historical fact that does not smite our hearts…” 

Almost everything I see Lutherans writing about and the things my colleague pastors want to speak about is how the Bible message lands in our thoughts, as if the important thing is to be intellectually convincing. The thinking seems to be, if we are intellectually convincing it will lead to just action and good behavior.

Martin Luther lamented his cold heart, the way he remained untouched by what should have moved him to his core. This place — the heart — the core — is where the battle of indifference is fought. Not on the field of the intellect. Intellectual curiosity and the battles fought on the field of intellect deal in “frigid historical facts”.  They have a place, but need to be kept there. Otherwise they are a fatal distraction. They do little more than mistake indignation for an answer to indifference. But they do not make the heart warm to God’s Word or to our neighbor. How horrible if, instead, they functioned like fingers in our ears, singing, “Lalalalala, I cannot hear you”  while God tries to penetrate our hearts and form Christ in us with the Good News? 

Down with Supremacy! Up with Nativity! Christmas Eve Sermon 2017, Luke 2

God does not want you to know God as the Supreme Being. God wants you to know God as the human baby who grew up to be the human adult, Jesus Christ, whose entire mission in life was to honor his heavenly Father by loving & serving needy people like you & me, even to the point of his forsaken death on the cross. God wants to be known in this way & in no other way. This, & none other is your Savior God, & the Savior of the world. This God is not content to remain distant from you but comes to you as the Savior of the last, the lost, the least, the little and the dead.(Robert Capon) Christ meets you there as your neighbor who is in these circumstances. Serve! Christ meets you there as your Savior when you are in these circumstances. Receive! 

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Mary’s faith led to unconditional willingness. Sermon for Advent 4, Luke 1:26-55

The Bible tells us very directly & clearly what is blessed about the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Luke 1:45) She believed the Word of the Lord spoken to her. Mary’s blessedness, virginity, purity have very little to with her sexuality or her biology. Her virginity is a symbol of an intimate space which God protected undefiled & pure. Anyone who believes the word of the Lord does so from a space of undefiled purity. Faith is such a space. God has also protected such a space in you. But you will not feel it or know it as if it is at your command. If it was at your command you would defile it. That is also true of Mary. But God gives it & sustains it as a free gift.

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Christ is the Savior where we need him not where we want him. Advent 3 sermon 2017, John 1;6-8, 19-28

John the Baptist says of Jesus Christ, “Among you stands one whom you do not know…I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” Not only do we not know this One as he stands among us, we don’t want to know, because Christ Jesus has embedded  himself in our miserable condition. He resides with us in this world, in our weakness, poverty & humiliation, not in our strength, health, beauty, and power. That is where the devil meets us. But Christ is the Savior where we need him not where we want him. He is the shining light that illuminates the dark corners of our hopelessness.

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How we pray the “Prayers of the Church” and why they might be boring.


art by Jocelyn Skillman

We pray Prayers of the Church or intercessory prayers, each Sunday following the offering and before Holy Communion.   

Without God to teach us, we would simply pray our own banal and circumstantial desires: prayers which God will graciously ignore! (James 4:3) Christ changes our desires and directs us to what we ought to desire (Matthew 6:5-14).

So the prayers in our public worship serve the twofold purpose of praying for the thing we desire and for teaching our hearts what we ought to desire most deeply.

The “Prayers of the Church” are a liturgical act. That is, we are representing the deepest concerns of the communion of saints, not only our personal, local, or circumstantial concerns that seem most urgent and interesting.

Follow this link to see the petitions we are currently praying in our worship along with some explanations. The petitions appear in italics, with explanations in smaller regular print, to the right. I invite you to join in praying with us for these concerns.