Sermons

Category: Advent

Rags to Riches

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Fourth Sunday in Advent - Sunday, December 19, 2021

Text: Hebrews 10:5-10

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In the mid-1960s, a girl was born in England. Her parents named her Joanne. By many measures, Joanne was born in ordinary circumstances. Her father was an engineer at a factory and her mother worked for a school science department. Her childhood was relatively unremarkable, but things were challenging in her teen aged years. Her mother was diagnosed with a serious illness, and she became estranged from her father. Adulthood didn’t get any easier. A troubled marriage ended in divorce, and Joanne was left to raise her daughter alone. She struggled with mental health issues of her own, bounced around from job to job, even trying to write a novel but being rejected by a dozen different publishers. She stayed afloat due to various government programs, and was in her own words, “poor as it is possible to be…without being homeless.” Finally, one publisher agreed to publish a limited print run of 1000 copies, and the tide started to turn. Fifteen years later, J.K. Rowling was a multi-millionaire as the author of the wildly popular Harry Potter book series. Her story is a true rags to riches story – from the humblest of beginnings to tremendous wealth and fame.



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The Savior Comes: To the Waiting

Pastor Eric Schroeder - Midweek Advent 3 - Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Text: Luke 1:26-45

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Among all the participants in the Christmas story, other than Jesus himself, no one is more involved than Mary. Everyone else in the Gospel accounts comes in later or leaves the scene earlier than Mary; many come and go along the way. Mary, however, would be close by the whole time. Today’s Gospel reading from Luke chapter 1 introduces us to this young woman, who will forever be known as the mother of our Lord.



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What to Give Up for Advent

Pastor Joel Leyrer - The Third Sunday in Advent - Sunday, December 12, 2021

Text: Philippians 4:4-7

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Dear Friends in Christ, Embedded within this text is a short four-word sentence that summarizes the entire message of Advent. This is it: “the Lord is near.” That statement is kind of like the sun in Paul’s inspired thinking, with everything else he says revolving around it.



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Advent Reminders

Pastor Joel Leyrer - The Second Sunday in Advent - Sunday, December 5, 2021

Text: Philippians 1:3-11

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Dear Friends in Christ, Today clearly belongs to John the Baptist. Two of our three readings reference him (Old Testament and Gospel). Next week’s Gospel reading will also revolve around his work. The announcement of his birth was the subject of our first midweek Advent service this past Wednesday. And he’s mentioned a number of times in our hymns for today.



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The Savior Comes: To the Doubting

Pastor Joel Leyrer - Midweek Advent 1 - Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Text: Luke 1:5-25

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Dear Friends in Christ, In each of our three midweek Advent services this year we will consider a person whose life was intertwined with the birth of Jesus Christ. By taking a closer look at who they are and the part they played in the overall Christmas story as they waited for it to unfold, it will be our goal to learn from them and through them.



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Against All Expectations

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The First Sunday in Advent - Sunday, November 28, 2021

Text: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

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Sometimes events happen that make it hard to be thankful for the present and very difficult to be optimistic about the future. Even though it was Thanksgiving, this might have been a week like that. We saw reports of increased concerns about COVID, continuing supply chain issues, rising fuel prices, and all topped off by senseless violence in a community just down the road. Sometimes what you see going on around you not only makes it hard to be thankful right now, it also makes it hard to look toward the future with an expectation for anything but more of the same – and worse! Now, as Christians, none of this should be surprising, even though we wish it were different. The Bible reminds us that we live in a world that has been cursed with sin and the consequences it brings. That means we really can’t be surprised when we are disappointed in society. Sin means we shouldn’t be shocked when people disappoint us, even family members or friends we care about very much. And then there’s our own personal struggles and sins that we desperately try to prevent other people from finding out about! With so much brokenness and sinfulness surrounding us, it’s hard to be optimistic for the future! The temptation comes to fall into a state of despair, or to direct anger and frustration at God for the way he allows the world to run!



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Letters to the Seven Churches: Laodicea

Pastor Eric Schroeder - The Fourth Sunday in Advent - Sunday December 20, 2020

Text: Revelation 3:14-22

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We all know someone who likes to drink coffee. It is the third-most consumed drink in America, after water and carbonated soft drinks. So whether you drink coffee yourself or not, I’m sure you are all well aware that there are two main ways that coffee is served. The vast majority is brewed steaming hot, quite often hotter than you’d want to drink right away, but you can also order iced coffee. Same ingredients, just ground up coffee beans and water—along with whatever flavors or sweeteners you’d like added in. But you either get it hot or cold. What you don’t typically see is the option to order lukewarm coffee, and there’s a scientific reason for that: it has to do with how your taste buds work. You see, at either end of the temperature spectrum, the taste buds on your tongue that detect bitter (and often unpleasant) flavors don’t work as well. But when you eat or drink something right around room temperature, those same taste buds kick in, and coffee doesn’t end up tasting as good, whether it’s hot coffee that has cooled down or iced coffee that has warmed up. It’s not just coffee, either. It’s the same reason that cold drinks are served over ice—so they stay cold and taste better longer. You get the picture.



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Letters to the Seven Churches: Philadelphia

Pastor Joel Leyrer - Midweek Advent 3 - Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Text: Revelation 3:7-13

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Dear Friends in Christ, If you did a little detective work, you would discover that somewhere you can find a Christian church today of one denomination or another named after every one of the seven churches listed in the Book of Revelation. That’s actually a bit surprising because, as we’ve learned through our examination of each of them in this sermon series, in some of his letters Jesus is pretty critical of what’s going on in a particular congregation and issues very strong warnings. We might think a church today may not want to be identified with a church that is mostly exposed for its flaws.



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Seven Letters to the Seven Churches: Sardis

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Third Sunday in Advent - Sunday, December 13, 2020

Text: Revelation 3:1-6

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What you wear on the outside sometimes covers up what’s on the inside. I saw that truth illustrated in a humorous way a couple of years ago when I was coming back from a wilderness camping trip with my brother and some friends. What you wear on the outside sometimes covers up what’s on the inside. We were really close to being back to our vehicles, and we crossed paths with a young couple who were on their way in. It was their honeymoon, they said, and they seemed really excited. And had they ever dressed for the part! The latest in brand new, light weight, camping friendly clothing. Shiny new equipment. Not a speck of dirt or mud, and a big fluffy white dog following closely behind. It looked like a photo-op for an outdoors magazine…but one didn’t have to watch them tiptoe around the puddles for long to start wondering if they were as ready on the inside as they appeared to be on the outside! As you can probably imagine, wilderness areas of our country are some of the most beautiful places to visit, but they can be harsh. Sometimes it’s cold. Often it’s wet. Usually it’s dirty. Rain was in the forecast on that day, and our group wondered how that young couple’s trip ended up turning out!



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Seven Letters to the Seven Churches: Thyatira

Pastor Eric Schroeder - Midweek Advent 2 - Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Text: Revelation 2:18-29

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Today’s sermon marks the midpoint of our Advent series. The fourth letter of the seven is addressed to the church in the city of Thyatira. We don’t know a whole lot about this city or its inhabitants, but it may sound familiar to a few of us. For bible readers who have traveled with St. Paul on his missionary journeys in the book of Acts, you may remember that when Paul arrived at the Macedonian city of Philippi, he met a woman named Lydia; she was the dealer of purple cloth who happened to be from the city of Thyatira. Other than that, as I said, we don’t hear about this city again until St. John writes to them in Revelation.



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