Our summer season is underway! Come worship with us!

Services are at 8:15 a.m. and 10 a.m. each Sunday

Baptism by Fire

Baptism by Fire

“I came to bring fire to the earth. . . .” Luke 12:49

The Reverend Luther Zeigler

14 August 2016 – 13C Pentecost

The great composer Ludwig van Beethoven sometimes would play a cruel trick on his salon audiences, especially when he thought they were ignoring the serious side of his music. According to one account I read,[1] Beethoven would perform a piece on the piano, a slow movement from one of his sonatas perhaps, which would be so gentle and beautiful that everyone would be lulled into thinking the world was a soft, cozy place, where they could think beautiful thoughts and relax into a comfortable slumber. Then, just as the final notes were dying away, Beethoven would bring his whole forearm down with a crash across the keyboard, and laugh with maniacal glee at the shock he gave to the assembled company.

Impolite and a bit petulant, perhaps, but one of the characteristics of genius is an uncompromising insistence on artistic truth. One of the truths that I suspect Beethoven was getting at with this little stunt, and that he expressed more profoundly and maturely in the rest of his music, is that the world is full of pain as well as beauty, and that the human condition embodies a struggle between darkness and light, between truth and deceit, between evil and goodness. Indeed, I would go so far to say that one of the lessons of Beethoven’s music, as well as his life, is that real and enduring joy can only be experienced through such struggle, through the crucible of human suffering.

You can think of our gospel text today as Jesus slamming his forearm down on the keyboard, desperately trying to get our attention. This is no meek and mild Jesus. The Jesus we meet in our gospel reading today is, in a word, angry. “I came to bring fire to the earth and how I wish it were already kindled! . . . . Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!”

How on earth do we square these words, this picture of an enraged and divisive Jesus, with the more familiar ‘Prince of Peace’ we know and love?

Read More

Answering the Call

Answering the Call

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8

 The Rev. Luther Zeigler

12C Pentecost – August 7, 2016

Heavy rains inundate a small town.   A man who lives in town climbs onto the roof of his house to escape the torrents of water.  As the waters rise, a neighbor in a rowboat pulls alongside the house, and tells the man to get in. “No,” replies the man on the roof, “the Lord will save me.”  As the waters continue to rise, a firefighter shows up in a speedboat. “Climb in!” shouts the firefighter. “No,” replies the man on the roof, “The Lord will save me.” Finally, a helicopter appears and the pilot shouts that he will lower a rope to rescue the man on the roof. “No, thank you,” replies the man on the roof, “the Lord will save me.”

Eventually the man drowns. When he goes to heaven, he asks God why He hadn’t helped him.  God pauses, and says: “I sent a neighbor, a firefighter, and helicopter. What more do you want from me?”

As corny as the joke is, it nevertheless teaches one profoundly important lesson: God is hard at work trying to save us in ways that we often fail to recognize. We laugh at the man on the roof for failing to use his common sense; we laugh at him because he has a naïve and simplistic image of God as a superhero who appears magically out of the sky; and we laugh at him because his self-righteousness blinds him to the very mundane ways in which God is trying to help him. The comedy is not that the man’s faith is misplaced; the comedy is that he has neither the eyes to see nor the ears to hear the ways in which God is already at work in his life, calling him to safety.

Read More

More, more, more

More, more, more

“Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15 

The Reverend Luther Zeigler

11C Pentecost – July 31, 2016

Leo Tolstoy, one of the world’s great Christian writers, once wrote a story about a peasant farmer who was not satisfied with the amount of land he had. One day the farmer received a novel offer. For 1000 rubles, he could buy all the land he could walk around in a single day. The only catch to the deal was that he had to be back at his starting point by sundown, or else he would lose everything.

Early the next morning, the farmer started out walking at a furious pace. By midday he was very tired, but he kept going, covering more and more ground. Well into the afternoon he realized that his zeal for more land had taken him far from the starting point. He turned around, quickened his pace, and as the sun began to sink low in the sky, he began to run, knowing that if he did not make it back by sundown, everything would be lost. As the sun began to sink below the horizon he came within sight of the finish line. Gasping for breath, his heart pounding, he called upon every bit of strength left in his body and staggered across the line just before the sun disappeared.

As he did, the farmer collapsed, clenching his chest, and in a few minutes he was dead. Afterwards, his servants dug a grave. It was six feet long and three feet wide. The title of Tolstoy’s story was: “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” It turns out the farmer didn’t need as big a plot of land as he thought.

Read More