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Featured Events

Feb
14
Sun
10:45a Family Bible Study @ Fellowship Hall
Family Bible Study @ Fellowship Hall
Feb 14 @ 10:45 am – 11:30 am
Families with children of all ages are invited to a Lenten Bible study led by a St. Paul pastor. This family learning activity will take the place of regular Sunday school. Children grade 3 and younge...
Feb
14
Sun
5p Roller Skating Party @ Eldridge Community Center
Roller Skating Party @ Eldridge Community Center
Feb 14 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Lace up your skates! The annual skating party is a rolling good time. Anyone is welcome. Cost is $5. Please note: Skatepark does not accept debit or credit cards; cash only. Children must be accompani...
Feb
16
Tue
6p Prayer Around the Cross @ Sanctuary
Prayer Around the Cross @ Sanctuary
Feb 16 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Four times a year, this worship service is held in the quiet of the Sanctuary. Participants pray, sing quietly, listen to God's word, and light candles in prayer. Contact: Pastor Katy Warren, kat...
Feb
21
Sun
10:45a Walking the Grief Journey @ Church House Living Room
Walking the Grief Journey @ Church House Living Room
Feb 21 @ 10:45 am – 11:30 am
This supportive and compassionate series is for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Explore anger, depression, fears, acceptance, and new strength for a hopeful future. Contact: Lynn B...
Full Calendar →

Jeremiah 31:7-14

7Oh yes, God says so:

"Shout for joy at the top of your lungs for Jacob!

Announce the good news to the number-one nation!

Raise cheers! Sing praises. Say,

'God has saved his people,

saved the core of Israel.'

8"Watch what comes next: "I'll bring my people back

from the north country

And gather them up from the ends of the earth,

gather those who've gone blind

And those who are lame and limping,

gather pregnant women,

Even the mothers whose birth pangs have started,

bring them all back, a huge crowd!

9"Watch them come! They'll come weeping for joy

as I take their hands and lead them,

Lead them to fresh flowing brooks,

lead them along smooth, uncluttered paths.

Yes, it's because I'm Israel's Father

and Ephraim's my firstborn son!

10-14"Hear this, nations! God's Message!

Broadcast this all over the world!

Tell them, 'The One who scattered Israel

will gather them together again.

From now on he'll keep a careful eye on them,

like a shepherd with his flock.'

I, God, will pay a stiff ransom price for Jacob;

I'll free him from the grip of the Babylonian bully.

The people will climb up Zion's slopes shouting with joy,

their faces beaming because of God's bounty—

Grain and wine and oil,

flocks of sheep, herds of cattle.

Their lives will be like a well-watered garden,

never again left to dry up.

Young women will dance and be happy,

young men and old men will join in.

I'll convert their weeping into laughter,

lavishing comfort, invading their grief with joy.

I'll make sure that their priests get three square meals a day

and that my people have more than enough.'" God's Decree.

Psalm 147:12-20

12-18Jerusalem, worship God!

Zion, praise your God!

He made your city secure,

he blessed your children among you.

He keeps the peace at your borders,

he puts the best bread on your tables.

He launches his promises earthward—

how swift and sure they come!

He spreads snow like a white fleece,

he scatters frost like ashes,

He broadcasts hail like birdseed—

who can survive his winter?

Then he gives the command and it all melts;

he breathes on winter—suddenly it's spring!

19-20He speaks the same way to Jacob,

speaks words that work to Israel.

He never did this to the other nations;

they never heard such commands.

Hallelujah!

Ephesians 1:3-14

The God of Glory

3-6How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

7-10Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

11-12It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

13-14It's in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what's coming, a reminder that we'll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

John 1:[1-9] 10-18

The Life-Light

1-2The Word was first,

the Word present to God,

God present to the Word.

The Word was God,

in readiness for God from day one.

3-5Everything was created through him;

nothing—not one thing!—

came into being without him.

What came into existence was Life,

and the Life was Light to live by.

The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;

the darkness couldn't put it out.

6-8There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.

9-13The Life-Light was the real thing:

Every person entering Life

he brings into Light.

He was in the world,

the world was there through him,

and yet the world didn't even notice.

He came to his own people,

but they didn't want him.

But whoever did want him,

who believed he was who he claimed

and would do what he said,

He made to be their true selves,

their child-of-God selves.

These are the God-begotten,

not blood-begotten,

not flesh-begotten,

not sex-begotten.

Isaiah 43:1-7

When You're Between a Rock and a Hard Place

1-4But now, God's Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,

the One who got you started, Israel:

"Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you.

I've called your name. You're mine.

When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you.

When you're in rough waters, you will not go down.

When you're between a rock and a hard place,

it won't be a dead end—

Because I am God, your personal God,

The Holy of Israel, your Savior.

I paid a huge price for you:

all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!

That's how much you mean to me!

That's how much I love you!

I'd sell off the whole world to get you back,

trade the creation just for you.

5-7"So don't be afraid: I'm with you.

I'll round up all your scattered children,

pull them in from east and west.

I'll send orders north and south:

'Send them back.

Return my sons from distant lands,

my daughters from faraway places.

I want them back, every last one who bears my name,

every man, woman, and child

Whom I created for my glory,

yes, personally formed and made each one.'"

Psalm 29 (3)

A David Psalm

1-2Bravo, God, bravo! Gods and all angels shout, "Encore!"

In awe before the glory,

in awe before God's visible power.

Stand at attention!

Dress your best to honor him!

3God thunders across the waters,

Brilliant, his voice and his face, streaming brightness—

God, across the flood waters.

4God's thunder tympanic,

God's thunder symphonic.

5God's thunder smashes cedars,

God topples the northern cedars.

6The mountain ranges skip like spring colts,

The high ridges jump like wild kid goats.

7-8God's thunder spits fire.

God thunders, the wilderness quakes;

He makes the desert of Kadesh shake.

9God's thunder sets the oak trees dancing

A wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches.

We fall to our knees—we call out, "Glory!"

10Above the floodwaters is God's throne

from which his power flows,

from which he rules the world.

11God makes his people strong.

God gives his people peace.

Acts 8:14-17

14-17When the apostles in Jerusalem received the report that Samaria had accepted God's Message, they sent Peter and John down to pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit. Up to this point they had only been baptized in the name of the Master Jesus; the Holy Spirit hadn't yet fallen on them. Then the apostles laid their hands on them and they did receive the Holy Spirit.

Luke 3:15-17; 21-22

15The interest of the people by now was building. They were all beginning to wonder, "Could this John be the Messiah?"

16-17But John intervened: "I'm baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I'm a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He's going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He'll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he'll put out with the trash to be burned."

Isaiah 62:1-5

Look, Your Savior Comes!

1-5Regarding Zion, I can't keep my mouth shut, regarding Jerusalem, I can't hold my tongue,

Until her righteousness blazes down like the sun

and her salvation flames up like a torch.

Foreign countries will see your righteousness,

and world leaders your glory.

You'll get a brand-new name

straight from the mouth of God.

You'll be a stunning crown in the palm of God's hand,

a jeweled gold cup held high in the hand of your God.

No more will anyone call you Rejected,

and your country will no more be called Ruined.

You'll be called Hephzibah (My Delight),

and your land Beulah (Married),

Because God delights in you

and your land will be like a wedding celebration.

For as a young man marries his virgin bride,

so your builder marries you,

And as a bridegroom is happy in his bride,

so your God is happy with you.

Psalm 36:5-10

5-6God's love is meteoric,

his loyalty astronomic,

His purpose titanic,

his verdicts oceanic.

Yet in his largeness

nothing gets lost;

Not a man, not a mouse,

slips through the cracks.

7-9How exquisite your love, O God!

How eager we are to run under your wings,

To eat our fill at the banquet you spread

as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water.

You're a fountain of cascading light,

and you open our eyes to light.

10-12Keep on loving your friends;

do your work in welcoming hearts.

Don't let the bullies kick me around,

the moral midgets slap me down.

Send the upstarts sprawling

flat on their faces in the mud.

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Spiritual Gifts

1-3What I want to talk about now is the various ways God's Spirit gets worked into our lives. This is complex and often mis-understood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable. Remember how you were when you didn't know God, led from one phony god to another, never knowing what you were doing, just doing it because everybody else did it? It's different in this life. God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can. For instance, by using your heads, you know perfectly well that the Spirit of God would never prompt anyone to say "Jesus be damned!" Nor would anyone be inclined to say "Jesus is Master!" without the insight of the Holy Spirit.

4-11God's various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:

wise counsel

clear understanding

simple trust

healing the sick

miraculous acts

proclamation

distinguishing between spirits

tongues

interpretation of tongues.

All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.

John 2:1-11

From Water to Wine

1-3Three days later there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there. Jesus and his disciples were guests also. When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus' mother told him, "They're just about out of wine."

4Jesus said, "Is that any of our business, Mother—yours or mine? This isn't my time. Don't push me."

5She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, "Whatever he tells you, do it."

6-7Six stoneware water pots were there, used by the Jews for ritual washings. Each held twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus ordered the servants, "Fill the pots with water." And they filled them to the brim.

8"Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host," Jesus said, and they did.

9-10When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn't know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, "Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you've saved the best till now!"

11This act in Cana of Galilee was the first sign Jesus gave, the first glimpse of his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

Ezra and The Revelation

1By the time the seventh month arrived, the People of Israel were settled in their towns. Then all the people gathered as one person in the town square in front of the Water Gate and asked the scholar Ezra to bring the Book of The Revelation of Moses that God had commanded for Israel.

2-3So Ezra the priest brought The Revelation to the congregation, which was made up of both men and women—everyone capable of understanding. It was the first day of the seventh month. He read it facing the town square at the Water Gate from early dawn until noon in the hearing of the men and women, all who could understand it. And all the people listened—they were all ears—to the Book of The Revelation.

Psalm 19

A David Psalm

1-2God's glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.

Madame Day holds classes every morning,

Professor Night lectures each evening.

3-4Their words aren't heard,

their voices aren't recorded,

But their silence fills the earth:

unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.

4-5God makes a huge dome

for the sun—a superdome!

The morning sun's a new husband

leaping from his honeymoon bed,

The daybreaking sun an athlete

racing to the tape.

6That's how God's Word vaults across the skies

from sunrise to sunset,

Melting ice, scorching deserts,

warming hearts to faith.

7-9The revelation of God is whole

and pulls our lives together.

The signposts of God are clear

and point out the right road.

The life-maps of God are right,

showing the way to joy.

The directions of God are plain

and easy on the eyes.

God's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,

with a lifetime guarantee.

The decisions of God are accurate

down to the nth degree.

10God's Word is better than a diamond,

better than a diamond set between emeralds.

You'll like it better than strawberries in spring,

better than red, ripe strawberries.

11-14There's more: God's Word warns us of danger

and directs us to hidden treasure.

Otherwise how will we find our way?

Or know when we play the fool?

Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!

Keep me from stupid sins,

from thinking I can take over your work;

Then I can start this day sun-washed,

scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.

These are the words in my mouth;

these are what I chew on and pray.

Accept them when I place them

on the morning altar,

O God, my Altar-Rock,

God, Priest-of-My-Altar.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

12-13You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you're still one body. It's exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.

14-18I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn't just a single part blown up into something huge. It's all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, "I'm not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don't belong to this body," would that make it so? If Ear said, "I'm not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don't deserve a place on the head," would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

19-24But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn't be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, "Get lost; I don't need you"? Or, Head telling Foot, "You're fired; your job has been phased out"? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the "lower" the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it's a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn't you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?

25-26The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don't, the parts we see and the parts we don't. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

27-31You are Christ's body—that's who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your "part" mean anything. You're familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his "body":

apostles

prophets

teachers

miracle workers

healers

helpers

organizers

those who pray in tongues.

But it's obvious by now, isn't it, that Christ's church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It's not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called "important" parts.

But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.

Luke 4:14-21

To Set the Burdened Free

14-15Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit. News that he was back spread through the countryside. He taught in their meeting places to everyone's acclaim and pleasure.

16-21He came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

God's Spirit is on me;

he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to

the poor,

Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and

recovery of sight to the blind,

To set the burdened and battered free,

to announce, "This is God's year to act!"

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, "You've just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place."

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Demolish, and Then Start Over

1-4The Message of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah of the family of priests who lived in Anathoth in the country of Benjamin. God's Message began to come to him during the thirteenth year that Josiah son of Amos reigned over Judah. It continued to come to him during the time Jehoiakim son of Josiah reigned over Judah. And it continued to come to him clear down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah over Judah, the year that Jerusalem was taken into exile. This is what God said:

5"Before I shaped you in the womb,

I knew all about you.

Before you saw the light of day,

I had holy plans for you:

A prophet to the nations—

that's what I had in mind for you."

6But I said, "Hold it, Master God! Look at me.

I don't know anything. I'm only a boy!"

7-8God told me, "Don't say, 'I'm only a boy.'

I'll tell you where to go and you'll go there.

I'll tell you what to say and you'll say it.

Don't be afraid of a soul.

I'll be right there, looking after you."

God's Decree.

9-10God reached out, touched my mouth, and said,

"Look! I've just put my words in your mouth—hand-delivered!

See what I've done? I've given you a job to do

among nations and governments—a red-letter day!

Your job is to pull up and tear down,

take apart and demolish,

And then start over,

building and planting."

Psalm 71:1-6

1-3I run for dear life to God, I'll never live to regret it.

Do what you do so well:

get me out of this mess and up on my feet.

Put your ear to the ground and listen,

give me space for salvation.

Be a guest room where I can retreat;

you said your door was always open!

You're my salvation—my vast, granite fortress.

4-7My God, free me from the grip of Wicked,

from the clutch of Bad and Bully.

You keep me going when times are tough—

my bedrock, God, since my childhood.

I've hung on you from the day of my birth,

the day you took me from the cradle;

I'll never run out of praise.

Many gasp in alarm when they see me,

but you take me in stride.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

The Way of Love

1If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.2If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing.3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.

Love doesn't strut,

Doesn't have a swelled head,

Doesn't force itself on others,

Isn't always "me first,"

Doesn't fly off the handle,

Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn't revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

8-10Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

11When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

12We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Luke 4:21-30

16-21He came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

God's Spirit is on me;

he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to

the poor,

Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and

recovery of sight to the blind,

To set the burdened and battered free,

to announce, "This is God's year to act!"

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, "You've just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place."

22All who were there, watching and listening, were surprised at how well he spoke. But they also said, "Isn't this Joseph's son, the one we've known since he was a youngster?"

23-27He answered, "I suppose you're going to quote the proverb, 'Doctor, go heal yourself. Do here in your hometown what we heard you did in Capernaum.' Well, let me tell you something: No prophet is ever welcomed in his hometown. Isn't it a fact that there were many widows in Israel at the time of Elijah during that three and a half years of drought when famine devastated the land, but the only widow to whom Elijah was sent was in Sarepta in Sidon? And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of the prophet Elisha but the only one cleansed was Naaman the Syrian."

28-30That set everyone in the meeting place seething with anger. They threw him out, banishing him from the village, then took him to a mountain cliff at the edge of the village to throw him to his doom, but he gave them the slip and was on his way.

Exodus 34:29-35

29-30When Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the two Tablets of The Testimony, he didn't know that the skin of his face glowed because he had been speaking with God. Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, saw his radiant face, and held back, afraid to get close to him.

31-32Moses called out to them. Aaron and the leaders in the community came back and Moses talked with them. Later all the Israelites came up to him and he passed on the commands, everything that God had told him on Mount Sinai.

33-35When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face, but when he went into the presence of God to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. When he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they would see Moses' face, its skin glowing, and then he would again put the veil on his face until he went back in to speak with God.

Psalm 99 (9)

1-3God rules. On your toes, everybody! He rules from his angel throne—take notice!

God looms majestic in Zion,

He towers in splendor over all the big names.

Great and terrible your beauty: let everyone praise you!

Holy. Yes, holy.

4-5Strong King, lover of justice,

You laid things out fair and square;

You set down the foundations in Jacob,

Foundation stones of just and right ways.

Honor God, our God; worship his rule!

Holy. Yes, holy.

6-9Moses and Aaron were his priests,

Samuel among those who prayed to him.

They prayed to God and he answered them;

He spoke from the pillar of cloud.

And they did what he said; they kept the law he gave them.

And then God, our God, answered them

(But you were never soft on their sins).

Lift high God, our God; worship at his holy mountain.

Holy. Yes, holy is God our God.

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

12-15With that kind of hope to excite us, nothing holds us back. Unlike Moses, we have nothing to hide. Everything is out in the open with us. He wore a veil so the children of Israel wouldn't notice that the glory was fading away—and they didn't notice. They didn't notice it then and they don't notice it now, don't notice that there's nothing left behind that veil. Even today when the proclamations of that old, bankrupt government are read out, they can't see through it. Only Christ can get rid of the veil so they can see for themselves that there's nothing there.

16-18Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We're free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

Trial and Torture

1-2Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we're not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don't maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don't twist God's Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.

Luke 9:28-36

Jesus in His Glory

28-31About eight days after saying this, he climbed the mountain to pray, taking Peter, John, and James along. While he was in prayer, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became blinding white. At once two men were there talking with him. They turned out to be Moses and Elijah—and what a glorious appearance they made! They talked over his exodus, the one Jesus was about to complete in Jerusalem.

32-33Meanwhile, Peter and those with him were slumped over in sleep. When they came to, rubbing their eyes, they saw Jesus in his glory and the two men standing with him. When Moses and Elijah had left, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, this is a great moment! Let's build three memorials: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He blurted this out without thinking.

34-35While he was babbling on like this, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them. As they found themselves buried in the cloud, they became deeply aware of God. Then there was a voice out of the cloud: "This is my Son, the Chosen! Listen to him."

36When the sound of the voice died away, they saw Jesus there alone. They were speechless. And they continued speechless, said not one thing to anyone during those days of what they had seen.

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

1-5Once you enter the land that God, your God, is giving you as an inheritance and take it over and settle down, you are to take some of all the firstfruits of what you grow in the land that God, your God, is giving you, put them in a basket and go to the place God, your God, sets apart for you to worship him. At that time, go to the priest who is there and say, "I announce to God, your God, today that I have entered the land that God promised our ancestors that he'd give to us." The priest will take the basket from you and place it on the Altar of God, your God. And there in the Presence of God, your God, you will recite:

5-10A wandering Aramean was my father,

he went down to Egypt and sojourned there,

he and just a handful of his brothers at first, but soon

they became a great nation, mighty and many.

The Egyptians abused and battered us,

in a cruel and savage slavery.

We cried out to God, the God-of-Our-Fathers:

He listened to our voice, he saw

our destitution, our trouble, our cruel plight.

And God took us out of Egypt

with his strong hand and long arm, terrible and great,

with signs and miracle-wonders.

And he brought us to this place,

gave us this land flowing with milk and honey.

So here I am. I've brought the firstfruits

of what I've grown on this ground you gave me, O God.

10-11Then place it in the Presence of God, your God. Prostrate yourselves in the Presence of God, your God. And rejoice! Celebrate all the good things that God, your God, has given you and your family; you and the Levite and the foreigner who lives with you.

Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16 (11)

1-13You who sit down in the High God's presence, spend the night in Shaddai's shadow,

Say this: "God, you're my refuge.

I trust in you and I'm safe!"

That's right—he rescues you from hidden traps,

shields you from deadly hazards.

His huge outstretched arms protect you—

under them you're perfectly safe;

his arms fend off all harm.

Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,

not flying arrows in the day,

Not disease that prowls through the darkness,

not disaster that erupts at high noon.

Even though others succumb all around,

drop like flies right and left,

no harm will even graze you.

You'll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,

watch the wicked turn into corpses.

Yes, because God's your refuge,

the High God your very own home,

Evil can't get close to you,

harm can't get through the door.

He ordered his angels

to guard you wherever you go.

If you stumble, they'll catch you;

their job is to keep you from falling.

You'll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,

and kick young lions and serpents from the path.

Romans 10:8b-13

4-10The earlier revelation was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it's not so easy—every detail of life regulated by fine print! But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story— no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah, no dangerous descent into hell to rescue the Messiah. So what exactly was Moses saying?

The word that saves is right here,

as near as the tongue in your mouth,

as close as the heart in your chest.

It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—"Jesus is my Master"—embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That's salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!"

11-13Scripture reassures us, "No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it." It's exactly the same no matter what a person's religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. "Everyone who calls, 'Help, God!' gets help."

Luke 4:1-13

Tested by the Devil

1-2Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry.

3The Devil, playing on his hunger, gave the first test: "Since you're God's Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread."

4Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: "It takes more than bread to really live."

5-7For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, "They're yours in all their splendor to serve your pleasure. I'm in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they're yours, the whole works."

8Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Deuteronomy: "Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness."

9-11For the third test the Devil took him to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said, "If you are God's Son, jump. It's written, isn't it, that 'he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won't so much as stub your toe on a stone'?"

12"Yes," said Jesus, "and it's also written, 'Don't you dare tempt the Lord your God.'"

13That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

1After all these things, this word of God came to Abram in a vision: "Don't be afraid, Abram. I'm your shield. Your reward will be grand!"

2-3Abram said, "God, Master, what use are your gifts as long as I'm childless and Eliezer of Damascus is going to inherit everything?" Abram continued, "See, you've given me no children, and now a mere house servant is going to get it all."

4Then God's Message came: "Don't worry, he won't be your heir; a son from your body will be your heir."

5Then he took him outside and said, "Look at the sky. Count the stars. Can you do it? Count your descendants! You're going to have a big family, Abram!"

6And he believed! Believed God! God declared him "Set-Right-with-God."

7God continued, "I'm the same God who brought you from Ur of the Chaldees and gave you this land to own."

8Abram said, "Master God, how am I to know this, that it will all be mine?"

9God said, "Bring me a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, and a dove and a young pigeon."

10-12He brought all these animals to him, split them down the middle, and laid the halves opposite each other. But he didn't split the birds. Vultures swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram scared them off. As the sun went down a deep sleep overcame Abram and then a sense of dread, dark and heavy.

Psalm 27 (5)

A David Psalm

1Light, space, zest— that's God!

So, with him on my side I'm fearless,

afraid of no one and nothing.

2When vandal hordes ride down

ready to eat me alive,

Those bullies and toughs

fall flat on their faces.

3When besieged,

I'm calm as a baby.

When all hell breaks loose,

I'm collected and cool.

4I'm asking God for one thing,

only one thing:

To live with him in his house

my whole life long.

I'll contemplate his beauty;

I'll study at his feet.

5That's the only quiet, secure place

in a noisy world,

The perfect getaway,

far from the buzz of traffic.

6God holds me head and shoulders

above all who try to pull me down.

I'm headed for his place to offer anthems

that will raise the roof!

Already I'm singing God-songs;

I'm making music to God.

7-9Listen, God, I'm calling at the top of my lungs:

"Be good to me! Answer me!"

When my heart whispered, "Seek God,"

my whole being replied,

"I'm seeking him!"

Don't hide from me now!

9-10You've always been right there for me;

don't turn your back on me now.

Don't throw me out, don't abandon me;

you've always kept the door open.

My father and mother walked out and left me,

but God took me in.

11-12Point me down your highway, God;

direct me along a well-lighted street;

show my enemies whose side you're on.

Don't throw me to the dogs,

those liars who are out to get me,

filling the air with their threats.

13-14I'm sure now I'll see God's goodness

in the exuberant earth.

Stay with God!

Take heart. Don't quit.

I'll say it again:

Stay with God.

Philippians 3:17-4:1

17-19Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I've warned you of them many times; sadly, I'm having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ's Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.

20-21But there's far more to life for us. We're citizens of high heaven! We're waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He'll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.

1My dear, dear friends! I love you so much. I do want the very best for you. You make me feel such joy, fill me with such pride. Don't waver. Stay on track, steady in God.

Luke 13:31-35

31Just then some Pharisees came up and said, "Run for your life! Herod's on the hunt. He's out to kill you!"

32-35Jesus said, "Tell that fox that I've no time for him right now. Today and tomorrow I'm busy clearing out the demons and healing the sick; the third day I'm wrapping things up. Besides, it's not proper for a prophet to come to a bad end outside Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killer of prophets,

abuser of the messengers of God!

How often I've longed to gather your children,

gather your children like a hen,

Her brood safe under her wings—

but you refused and turned away!

And now it's too late: You won't see me again

until the day you say,

'Blessed is he

who comes in

the name of God.'"

Radical Hospitality


Everyone counts at St. Paul, from the oldest to the youngest person. Everyone matters. No exceptions. We take seriously the biblical understanding of the church as the Body of Christ. In our best moments, the people of St. Paul function as interdependently as the parts of a human body working together.

We rejoice in sharing each others’ joys and sorrows. We take an interest in the texture of other peoples’ lives. And we welcome each other warmly as though each and every one of us is a special guest in the house of the Lord.

Radical Hospitality

Passionate Worship


Nothing a congregation does compares with the importance and passion of its worship life. Worshiping together with other believers is our most prized moment for giving honest thanks to God. It’s that focused occasion in a given week for all of us to stop pretending to be God.

Lutheran worship, if it is new to you, is not a spectator sport. Everyone participates in the exuberant praise, stirring music, grace-filled words, holy communion, and prayers that call upon the power of God.

Passionate Worship

Intentional Faith Formation


Lutheran Christians consider their lives to be unfinished products. They are constantly seeking to grow in faith and deepen the meaning of their days. Lifelong learning is a big deal at St. Paul. We delight in every opportunity to strengthen our relationship with God over the entire course of our lives.

Ours is a congregation that does not act as if it has all the answers. In fact, we think clarity in asking the right questions is more important than presuming to have some corner on the truth, especially given the complex issues of our day.

Intentional Faith Formation

Adventurous Mission & Service


St. Paul is a servant church. We take our cues for serving others from Jesus Christ, who in a single sentence summed up the importance of being available to others: I came not to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28).

As easy as it is to take care of oneself in this world, anyone with a heart full of grace and a soul inspired by love can be a servant. The people of St. Paul take pride in strengthening the lives of less fortunate people in our community and across the world, even when it means congregational adventure or personal sacrifice.

Adventurous Mission & Service

Extravagant Generosity


Grateful people are generous people. Interestingly enough, they also happen to be happy people. St. Paul centers its life around gratitude to God for the abundant blessings of life. We believe strongly in the idea that “you make a living by what you earn; you make a life by what you give away.”

Our congregation makes an extraordinary commitment to give generously to others. This generosity is fueled by the individual joy and commitment of all our people seeking to lead grateful (and happy) lives.

Extravagant Generosity