Sermons

His Talents; Our Triumph

Pastor Eric Schroeder - Saints Triumphant Sunday - Sunday, November 18, 2019

Text: Matthew 25:14-30

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Do you have any hidden talents? That always makes for an interesting conversation, and it is part of the fun of getting to know other people. I can remember going to visit a member of my former church in his apartment, and as soon as I walked in the door, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful paintings that hung on the walls. When I asked if he was an art collector, his wife chuckled as she pointed out that he was the artist who had painted them all! Maybe you’ve had similar experiences, when you’ve known someone for a long time before you found out about a hidden talent they had, and you come away appreciating them just a little bit more than before because you found out what else they can do. 



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Now is the Time!

Pastor Kyle Bitter - Last Judgement - Sunday, November 10, 2019

Text: Haggai 1:1-11

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Live like no one else now, so later you can live like no one else! Maybe some of you recognize that line from the popular financial advisor Dave Ramsey. His advice is pretty simple at the root level. Live like no one else now – dedicate yourself to paying off debt and saving more than those around you – and later on you’ll be able to live like no one else because that hard work and saving will have paid off and you’ll have far more to live with! If you’ve ever watched any of Ramsey’s seminars or listened to his radio show, you’ve seen the applications. Drive cheap cars now, and you’ll be able to drive nicer ones later when you’ve gotten to a better financial place. Put off major purchases now and later you’ll be able to more easily afford them. It’s common-sense financial advice that is backed by a proven track record of success.



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A Summary of Sainthood

Pastor Eric Schroeder - All Saints' Day - Sunday, November 3, 2019

Text: Isaiah 26: 1-4, 8, 9, 12, 13, 19-21

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As we gather for All Saints’ Day, I suppose it is important that we spend some time talking about what we mean by the word saint. Depending on who is using the word and how they are using it, saint can mean very different things, and there is great potential for confusion. I don’t know how closely you pay attention to this type of news, but just a few weeks ago, this headline popped up in my news feed: “Divine Intervention? Pope Francis May Have Accidentally Blessed the New Orleans Saints with a Victory Thanks to This Accidental Tweet.”  The news story was about how the Pope was using his Twitter account to report a recent act by the catholic church, but when he attached a hashtag to the word “saints,” the information went out to all the fans who follow the football team that goes by that name. (Kids, if you don’t know what a Twitter hashtag is, ask your parents…Parents, if you don’t know what a Twitter hashtag is, ask your kids.)  At any rate, the New Orleans Saints won the game 13-6 with a fourth-quarter touchdown. Same word, very different meanings. Confusion results.



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Jeremiah's Reformation Reminder

Pastor Joel Leyrer - Reformation - Sunday, October 27, 2019

Text: Jeremiah 31:31-34

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Dear Friends in Christ, In our often-overscheduled personal world, it’s become increasingly common to receive reminders of important upcoming events. So, we get “save the date” postcards for weddings or graduations or family reunions which we dutifully enter into our personal calendars or tack onto our refrigerator with a magnet. We receive text messages or phone calls reminding us that someone in our household has a doctor or dentist appointment in a day or two after which we often find ourselves saying: “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.”   



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It's Not Too Late

Pastor Eric Schroeder - Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost - Sunday, October 20, 2019

Text: Luke 16:19-31

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How do you feel about family reunions? For some of us, hearing the words “family reunion” reminds us of warmer weather, catching up with our cousins, having a big meal. I think back to seeing adults playing cards, kids playing with water balloons, and everyone generally having a good time. We might also be aware that for some people, the words “family reunion” send a shiver down their spine. Perhaps in their experience, years-old arguments flare up again, gossip rules the day, and everyone is more than happy to part until the next time…if there is one. So maybe there is some risk involved with designating a particular weekend of worship as a St. John’s family reunion. Some people might get warm and fuzzy feelings and look forward to it; while others find the terminology to be one more reason to avoid showing up.



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What Are You Worth?

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost - Sunday, October 6, 2019

Text: Luke 15:1-10

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What are you worth? I’m guessing most people would probably initially answer that question by using some kind of “net worth” calculation where you add up your assets, subtract your debts, and see what’s left. But there are some more interesting options out there than that. If you were to divide up your body into the elements that it’s made up of and sell them at their current market rates, you’d find that you’re worth about $160 (http://datagenetics.com/blog/april12011/index.html).If you want to take a more gruesome approach and sell your organs on the black market, you might find that if you’re in good health you’d be worth something in the tens of millions of dollars. If you wanted to approach the question in terms of earning potential, you might start with the fact that the average annual income in Wisconsin is about $50,000, so over a 45 year career you’d earn about $2.25 million, but that’s not perfect either because it doesn’t account for inflation. So, what are you worth?



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"All In" Discipleship

Pastor Joel Leyrer - The Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost - Sunday, September 29, 2019

Text: Luke 14:25-33

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Dear Friends in Christ. Two seemingly random thoughts which we will connect momentarily...Number one. If you watch television you’ve probably seen these advertisements by a major network provider. A real-life situation is portrayed that calls for excellence or commitment or a high level of skill – like surgery, or a potentially dangerous carnival ride, or swinging a big business deal. Given its importance and long-term ramifications for the people on the receiving end, they understandably look for assurance in the abilities of their providers. A brief conversation ensues, and what they discover is that their providers are, at best, mediocre at what they do – and their mediocrity seems to be just fine with them. Troubled looks follow.



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The Way Up is Down

Pastor Eric Schroeder - The Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost - Sunday, September 22, 2019

Text: Luke 14:1, 7-14

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The more we listen to Jesus and his words, the more familiar we become with the idea of paradox. Or, to put it in simpler words, Jesus says a lot of things that seem backwards, or upside down, the kind of statements that don’t seem to make sense to us at first. If you were here last weekend, you heard a good example, when Jesus says, “there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” And that isn’t the only one. What else did Jesus say?



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Fear of Missing Out

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost - Sunday, September 15, 2019

Text: Luke 13:22-30

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Fear of missing out – commonly abbreviated FOMO in text messages and on social media – has become a common phrase among younger generations in our country. Fear of missing out. If your friends are doing something and you’re not there, you might miss out on something and regret it forever, and so the phrase is used to tease people who make great sacrifices to be there anyway. Even though the phrase is probably used most in social settings among friends, the sense behind it certainly isn’t limited to that. Fear of missing out can be a big motivator in other parts of life too that have nothing to do with social life. If you are offered a new job or a different position and you waffle back and forth for too long…the job might be offered to someone else instead and you might miss out. If you wait too long to start a project, you might not be able to finish it in time, and you miss out. The social aspect of the phrase might be somewhat new, but the general idea behind it isn’t new at all. Phrases like “Strike while the iron’s hot,” “Early bird gets the worm,” “Snooze you lose” have been around for a long time. The ancient Roman poet Horace coined the phrase “carpe diem” – seize the day – to communicate the very same idea! When opportunity comes, take it, because that opportunity might not come along again! Don’t miss out!



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Eucatastrophe

Pastor Joel Leyrer - Unity Sunday - Sunday, September 8, 2019

Text: John 3:14-17

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Dear Friends in Christ,  In a private letter written to a friend in 1944 the English writer J.R.R. Tolkien, best known as the author of the Lord of the Rings book series, created a new word for the literary world.  It’s printed in the service folder as the theme of this sermon. The word is “eucatastrophe.”



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