For sinners, forgiveness is complicated.

For sinners, forgiveness is complicated. It can easily work to further victimize the one who was wronged & shield or even empower the wrongdoer to do more wrong. The Bible calls it healing the wound lightly (Jeremiah 6:14 & 8:11) In America we could call it “healing the wound whitely.” when you look at how quickly white America wants to get past the horror of slavery & its fallout. “Let’s not dwell on the past etc…” Across the board, regardless of race, when we are the wrongdoers ALL of us want to shift the focus to forgiveness, ASAP! That is why Peter asks Jesus the question…

Sinners get together and sin against each other. Then what?

Pentecost 14 sermon, Matthew 18:15-17, Ezekiel 33:7-11

Jesus welcomes sinners. Sinners get together and sin against each other. When this happens Jesus directs the concern of his followers NOT to the sin that was committed, what it was exactly, or how egregious it was. Jesus does not direct our concern to our pain and how to cope with it. Jesus directs our attention to taking the initiative in restoring the brother or sister. Jesus offers no process for rejection.

Sermon for Pentecost 13, September 3, 2017 Matthew 16:21-28

“My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27).

When we act like Jesus’ sheep there is no space between Jesus voice and following him. No deliberation. Just obedient following. But in today’s text Jesus speaks to those who do not act like Jesus’ sheep, because they must make a choice. They must deliberate. He tells those who want to follow him what following him entails: 1) giving up self-determination for obedience and 2) suffering the consequences when that obedience collides with the ways of the world. Then he discloses the logic of those who make such a choice: “what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?”

Who do you say that I am? Pentecost 12 sermon

Indeed it is your responsibility to answer the question Jesus poses: “Who do you say that I am?” But not yours ONLY. The whole church stands with you, as together WE answer this question — not for the sake of having the right answer — but for the sake of God’s love for the whole suffering world. Our answer is, “You are the Savior of the world & our Savior. How we thank you enough for the great gift you are to us?”

Pentecost 11 Sermon 2017

The Canaanite woman symbolizes the epitome of spiritual poverty. Christ and the Gospel are entirely for the poor. This is what she sees in Christ and why he calls her faith great. I got the thoughts for this sermon from Luther’s sermon on the same text for Lent 2.

Pentecost 11 sermon Matthew 15:21-28

  • In today’s story, Jesus acts nothing like we expect him to act.
  • He seems nothing like a Savior.
  • He presents himself as unresponsive & cold,
    • perhaps even cruel.
  • It is not true that he is unresponsive or cold or cruel or rejecting or aloof.
  • But he acts like it in this story.
  • This is for our benefit,
    • because this is a common experience.
  • It might be your experience.

Continue reading Pentecost 11 Sermon 2017

Holy Week Worship Schedule

Beloved in Christ,

Here is our worship schedule for Holy Week, April 9-16. We might have an Easter breakfast before worship. That it still undecided. I will send an email when I know for sure what’s happening.

Holy Week Schedule
We start worship in the narthex with a blessing of the palms, followed by a procession of palms around the outside of the church. When we enter the worship space we read Christ’s passion in a readers’ theater.

Our celebration calls to mind Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples. We will move through the main parts of that “night in which He was betrayed,” including; Holy Communion, foot washing and the stripping of the altar, which leads us into the austerity of Good Friday.

GOOD FRIDAY 7 PM, April 14
A sparse and somber worship, called the Triumph of the Cross, including the reading of the Passion of Jesus,
the great Bidding Prayer of the Church and the Adoration of the Cross.

EASTER SUNDAY 10:30, April 16
Our celebration of Christ’s Resurrection blends ancient rites of the Church with current cultural expressions of who we are & who we shall be by God‚s grace. Following worship, about 11:40 is GraceFeast Sunday dinner.

Peace and power to you from Christ,
Pastor Jami Fecher

Day after election anxiety

Beloved Friends in Christ,

At least half our nation was going to be anxious no matter what the outcome of this presidential election. So today there are many anxious people. Gift of Grace is located in a “blue” state and we are located in the the bluest part of this blue state, so there is no doubt many of you who are anxious. I am myself. It is understandable.

Keep this firmly in mind: the church of Jesus Christ is not a red church or a blue church or a green church or democrat church or a republican church or an American church. Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). This is not a stupid Christian platitude. This is not the Christian way of saying “its all good’ or “it doesn’t really matter”. This does NOT mean we disengage from worldly politics. We are absolutely called by God to engage with this world, in every messy, ambiguous facet of it. But, we engage for the sake of others not for our own sake.

Our mission as individual Christians and as a church is to bear witness to Christ regardless of the political climate (2 Timothy 4:2). We do not do this to be right. We do not do it to stay our of harm’s way or keep our heads down. We do it in obedience to the God of love and justice Who sides with the vulnerable. The landscape changes but our concern for justice, in power and race relationships, remains equally urgent.

We cannot manage the world but, we can learn to manage ourselves. Self management is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). Each of us can and must engage our neighbors (especially our Christian sisters and brothers) thoughtfully, truthfully and lovingly rather than from a place of anxious reaction (even if one feels anxious). It is our job to keep the main thing the main thing for the sake of the world. We are not confused about the main thing; it is Jesus Christ, our Savior, who died for the justification of the ungodly and who reconciles all creation to God. Our allegiance is to him alone. That’s what we mean when we say our citizenship is in heaven.

Peace and power to you from Christ,
Pastor Jami Fecher

Baptism and movie!

Beloved in Christ,
I have two pieces of information for you for this Sunday.
1) Luke Arthur Israel Linnemann will be baptized into Christ. He is the son of Tim Linnemann and Jocelyn Skillman. Come rejoice with all the saints!

2) at 12:15ish, following GraceFeast, you can join with others who are watching the movie, Jesus of Nazareth (Zeffirelli’s 1977 version). It is a 6 hour movie, that is being divided up into three 2 hour segments and shown for the next 3 Sundays.  Popcorn provided!

Peace and power to you from Christ,
Pastor Jami Fecher

Luther’s view on mortal sin

Beloved Friends,
I had to laugh out loud at Luther’s masterful and confident view on mortal sin. I was studying 1 John 5:13-18, in which it speaks of mortal sins and not mortal sins. Luther criticizes the devil for making more out of sin than should be made. It is nearly Luther’s definition of the devil, that the devil is that vicious voice that attacks tender consciences (toxic shame voice). I found it powerful that in addressing the concern many of you have expressed to me over the years, which I also have, the toxic shame voice that accuses me that I do not believe enough! Here is what Luther says, “At times the Spirit overcomes unbelief and the emotions, and thus [one] does not sin.” In other words, my shame filled (therefore arrogant) expectations need to be adjusted, so that I praise God for the times I DO BELIEVE rather than criticizing myself (with the voice of the devil) for the times (I think) I do not!

Peace and power to you from Christ,
Pastor Jami Fecher

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 30: The Catholic Epistles. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 30, p. 326). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.