February 2020

Lenten Lessons from the Desert

Pastor Joel Leyrer - Ash Wednesday - Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Text: Numbers 21:4-9

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Dear Friends in Christ, I’m guessing most of us have heard of the practice of “giving something up for Lent.”  Some here today may have grown up in a church where this practice was expected or enforced and experienced it firsthand. However, if you’re not familiar with this practice, or if you are but don’t know where it came from, let me give you a brief tutorial…

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A Mountain Top Experience

Pastor Kyle Bitter - Transfiguration - Sunday, February 23, 2020

Text: 2 Peter 1:16-21

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This past week, residents of Wauwatosa had the chance to vote in a primary election for a new mayor for our city. Since local elections like this one are supposed to be non-partisan, candidates don’t run attached to broader platform of a specific political party like we see in state and national elections. They usually run on more specific local issues. It makes sense, but it also means that it can take a little more work to figure out just what a candidate stands for and whether they’d pursue the kinds of policies you prefer or not. In the days leading up to the election, I saw an online thread in one of the neighborhood forums where people were talking about the candidates and trying to determine where they fit on the spectrum of political ideology. It was interesting to see how the conversation unfolded. People shared information from various media sources, and then the accusations started flying. That information comes from Breitbart! It’s biased! The response? Well, you need to watch something besides CNN. It went downhill from there. Probably the only useful information shared was the stands candidates had taken on various policies when they had served in previous positions – information that could easily be verified online. Discussions like this aren’t unique to politics, but politics does seem to illustrate the point clearly: people are skeptical of information they receive second hand and can’t verify for themselves. With all the agendas and biases that exist in our world, that’s not necessarily a bad thing even, but it does cause doubt and skepticism to occur in a lot of places in life.

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The Life That Pleases God

Pastor Eric Schroeder - The Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany - Sunday, February 16, 2020

Text: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

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It can be a little dangerous to base a whole sermon on a section like this, because there would be potential for misunderstanding. Of course, we would never say that any portion of God’s Word is inappropriate for us to consider—that’s not the issue. The danger arises whenever we pull a sermon text out of its biblical context and treat it as if it contains all we need to know to understand it well. These words from St. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians are a prime example. Just look at the first word, and I think you’ll see.

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See Yourself Clearly!

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Fifth Sunday After Epiphany - Sunday, February 9, 2020

Text: 1 Peter 2:9-12

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Take a minute and choose a word that you’d use to describe yourself. Then, ask this question: would other people who know you well choose the same word? Or something different? Back in 2013, the cosmetics company Dove put an aspect of this question to the test and created a short film both to make a point and use in advertising. Maybe you’ve seen it – it was pretty popular. The premise is this: Dove hired a sketch artist from the FBI and a number of people who had never met each other. While the cameras rolled, the FBI sketch artist drew pictures of the people, one at a time, but with one big wrinkle: he never saw any of the people. He sat behind a curtain and drew pictures based on how the people described themselves. Once he had finished, the whole process was repeated, only this time the participants described not themselves, but one of the others. The short film concludes when people see the pictures side by side and realize that the sketches based on their self-description were far less flattering than when someone else had described them. When it came to flaws and faults, people were able to See Themselves Clearly – more so than others around!

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The Ways of God

Pastor Joel Leyrer - The Fourth Sunday After Epiphany - Sunday, February 2, 2020

Text: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

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Dear Friends in Christ, In Isaiah chapter 55 we read this proclamation from God:“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." Many of us know that passage. Many of us have no doubt contemplated and found strength in these words. Especially at times when things happen in our life that leave us mystified, or that according to our way of thinking, make no sense, we hold tightly to the promise that our loving God is still in control even during times of personal darkness. And that is an appropriate and comforting application of this passage.

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A Voice in the Dark

Pastor Eric Schroeder - The Third Sunday After Epiphany - Sunday, January 26, 2020

Text: Isaiah 8:19-9:2

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You and I don’t remember those days, but we all started life in the dark. It was all we knew at the time, and we had everything we needed in that cozy little space. But as our tiny bodies developed, something changed early on, because we could hear voices even before we were born. One was the most common, you heard just about everything she said, but there were others, too. And sometimes they were talking to us, even though they couldn’t see us yet.

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