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Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jul 5, 2022 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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Social Media can be a wonderful tool for connecting with family, friends, and the world around us. It can also be a home to misinformation, hatred, and otherwise nasty comments. Sometimes engaging others online feels like being a lamb amongst wolves. At other times we get trapped in the algorithm that surrounds us with posts that match our beliefs. We are mistaken when we think we can change someone else’s viewpoint by posting our own that we believe to be the only viewpoint thanks to the...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jun 27, 2022 Rev. Chad Peterson
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What do you do? What do you make? How do you use your gifts & passions? Is it a ‘Higher Calling’? We might be too quick to dismiss our career, vocation, or work as unworthy of being a Higher Calling, thinking it is a title reserved for religious professionals. In the Gospel reading for today, Jesus’ disciples learn that following Jesus has a high cost. Jesus’ harsh, hyperbolic words might seem to reinforce the idea that being a disciple is only for those willing to accept a Higher...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN, Discipleship
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jun 20, 2022 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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What are you afraid of? In today’s message Pastor Stephanie shares a scary story from the Gospel of Luke about a man who was possessed by demons and cast out of his community to wander the cemetery. His community used the God’s Law as a weapon to exclude him from their community. God’s Law isn’t intended to be policed by the faithful but is rather a guide to being a community living the abundant life God intends for us all! When Jesus extends God’s grace to the man casting out the...
Topics: sermon, grace, fear, Lutheran. Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jun 13, 2022 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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This week we celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday. The Trinity, Father—Son—Holy Spirit, being one God is difficult to describe without diminishing the power of each ‘Person’ within the Trinity or dividing the power of the One True God. Perhaps it is best left as a mystery of our faith. While we can’t comprehend God’s complete being, we do have God’s gift of Wisdom. Walking through the mysteries, uncertainties and darkness of this life is easier knowing the light of God shines in the...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Trinity. Wisdom, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jun 6, 2022 Rev. Chad Peterson
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Pentecost is the church holiday that remembers the Spirit of God descending on the followers of Jesus after he had ascended to Heaven. The Spirit empowered the disciples to share the good news of God’s Kingdom in the native languages of the diverse crowd gathered in Jerusalem. It’s worth celebrating, certainly, but is the Spirit of God still active in our world today? If God is still active why wasn’t the shooter stopped before he entered the school or why were those in places of...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN, Pentecost
Sermons & Religious Lectures
May 31, 2022 Charles Miller
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Throughout the year we have been hearing from members of the Bethlehem Community as an opportunity to hear how God's Story has resonated with our neighbor and hopefully finding some resonance between our story and theirs. In our final Story of Resonance we hear, appropriately, from a Physics Teacher who knows a thing or two about resonance. Charles Miller can explain and demonstrate resonance in the world of physics but what does it have to do with faith? A lot! Charles uses the example of...
Topics: Lutheran, Faith Story, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
May 31, 2022 Charles Miller
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Throughout the year we have been hearing from members of the Bethlehem Community as an opportunity to hear how God's Story has resonated with our neighbor and hopefully finding some resonance between our story and theirs. In our final Story of Resonance we hear, appropriately, from a Physics Teacher who knows a thing or two about resonance. Charles Miller can explain and demonstrate resonance in the world of physics but what does it have to do with faith? A lot! Charles uses the example of...
Topics: Resonance, Lutheran, Faith Story, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
May 23, 2022 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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Sometimes in life the words we intend to bring comfort to our loved ones fall flat, or worse, cause more harm than good. This week’s Gospel is filled with what have become Christian buzzwords and depending on where you are at in life may seem to be hollow. So how can we find hope in these words almost seem like God is silent? The Good News is that God is at work even in the silence! In the silence of Holy Saturday, when the Hope of the World was seemingly dead & buried and as the...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Silence, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
May 16, 2022 Rev. Chad Peterson
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WARNING: The reading from Acts in worship today is DANGEROUS! It is dangerous to those who insist on keeping their faith practices and understanding the same at all costs. God challenges Peter's understanding of being a disciple by showing him that God's love and salvation is meant for everyone even those that Peter saw as unclean. We too are challenged by God's Call to share the Kingdom with not only those like us but also those on the "other side of the fence" that we too often...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
May 9, 2022 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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Voices are distinct. When we recognize a voice we can recall the speaker with great detail. Some voices instill a sense of calm and comfort. This week Jesus says the “sheep” of his flock recognize his voice and are comforted. He also reminds us that there is nothing that can snatch his sheep away from his care. As we continue in this Easter Season we find Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knowing our voice and promising to guide us through even the darkest valleys of our life together, with those...
Topics: sermon, Good Shepherd, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
May 2, 2022 Rev. Chad Peterson
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In all the Gospels, the Disciples’ encounters with the resurrected Jesus have a common theme: skepticism. In today’s Gospel lesson Jesus doesn’t try to reason with the Disciples, instead he allows them to experience their resurrected teacher. Encountering Jesus in the everyday experience of their life helps them move from skepticism to trust. In today’s world we may be even more skeptical than the Disciples, having learned to be distrustful through countless interaction with scammers...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, skepticism, faith, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Apr 25, 2022 Bill Vossler
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Throughout the year we are hearing from members of the Bethlehem Community as an opportunity to hear how God's Story has resonated with our neighbor and hopefully finding some resonance between our story and theirs. This month, Bill Vossler shares his story of finding resonance with God’s Story again after 18 years away from religion. Bill’s childhood church experience was filled with shame and guilt for sins he didn’t even understand. When his mother remarried, his step-grandmother added...
Topics: story of resonance, faith story, Lutheran, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Apr 19, 2022 Rev. Chad Peterson
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It’s Easter you know the story. At least you think you do?!? Pastor Chad, has a reminder that even though we think we know the story the details escape us. But are the details important or do they just get in the way? The Gospels all share the same lesson for us told in different ways. The Good News of Easter is that God has not given up on the world. The death sentence Jesus received for opposing the power structure of this world could have been the end of the story. But the Resurrection is...
Topics: sermon, hope, Easter, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Apr 11, 2022 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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Our journey through Lent continues to explore the theme: “Hope-Full in a Weary World.” Living in a Weary World is not a ‘new thing’ the people of Jesus’ time were also weary. They were weary of Roman occupation and hoped Jesus would be the King to overthrow Caesar’s Empire. But time and again Jesus showed he was a different kind of King with a different kind of Kingdom. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. We know the story of Holy Week, we know that Jesus wouldn’t defeat...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Hope, Weary, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Apr 4, 2022 Rev. Chad Peterson
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We wrap up our exploration of our theme for Lent “Hope-Full in a Weary World” by looking at Authenticity. In this week’s Gospel Jesus says we are salt and we are light. What?!? It’s not an easy metaphor to understand. Maybe a first-hand experience of the metaphor will help. Matt Metz joins Pastor Chad “In the Kitchen” for an encounter with one part of this metaphor. NOTE: This segment may have been filmed on April 1st! 😉 Today we often see our identity tied to things that can...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Hope, Authenticity
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Mar 28, 2022 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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We continue our exploration of our theme for Lent “Hope-Full in a Weary World” by looking at Wholeness. In this week’s Gospel we hear the story of a woman who had been hunched over for 18 years before Jesus healed her. Pastor Stephanie speaks about Wholeness as being in balance Physically, Emotionally, Mentally and Spiritually. Too often we think of that our lives are missing a piece that is preventing our Wholeness. Pastor Stephanie has had people tell her depression is just a...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Wholeness, Hope, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Mar 21, 2022 Rev. Chad Peterson
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We continue our exploration of our theme for Lent “Hope-Full in a Weary World” by looking at Rest. Everyone’s life experience is different but we all know the weight of our unique burdens in life. Pastor Chad uses an egg to illustrate the impact of stress on our fragile lives.  When we are weary from the weight of the world bearing down on us it is important to find rest. Not necessarily the “do nothing but sit by the pool” of Spring Break but true rest that we find with God....
Topics: sermon, Hope, Rest, Lutheran, Sermon, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Mar 14, 2022 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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We continue our exploration of our theme for Lent “Hope-Full in a Weary World” by looking at Civility. In life we often have a difference of opinion with our neighbors, like during football season when, somehow, our loved ones are donning a cheesehead! In her role as a military chaplain Pastor Stephanie works with a whole Battalion of soldiers with differing faith and world views. As a Chaplain her duty is not to convert soldiers to her faith but rather support each individual in their own...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Civility, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Mar 7, 2022 Rev. Chad Peterson
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We start our exploration of our theme for Lent “Hope-Full in a Weary World” by looking at Certainty. Pastor Chad reminds us that no matter how much we crave certainty in our lives, there is really no such thing! All too often we think faith is about certainty, that what we believe must be reduced to right or wrong, good or evil, black or white. The problem is that to maintain that level of certainty, we need to shut out others who think differently, we need to fight against anything and...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, faith, certainty, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Feb 28, 2022 Eric Kuehl
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Throughout the year we are hearing from members of the Bethlehem Community as an opportunity to hear how God's Story has resonated with our neighbor and hopefully finding some resonance between our story and theirs. This month, Eric Kuehl shares his story of finding resonance with God’s Story and with Your Story in community. Growing up in a conservative church in a small town in Minnesota Eric had a specific picture of God and of community that was shaped by his community. As Eric’s career...
Topics: my story, Lutheran, Community, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Feb 22, 2022 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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Jesus said: "Love your enemy." For a superhero in comic book, identifying the enemy is easy. We may not have an archnemesis, but all too often our enemy is staring back at us from the mirror. When we doubt our worth, we are our own worst enemy! God knows our true worth, after all we are created in God's own image! We are called: "good!" Realizing our worth in God's eyes helps us to love ourselves just the way we are and when we can do that, we can better love our enemies...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN, Self-Worth, Love Your Enemy
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Feb 14, 2022 Rev. Chad Peterson
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Do you remember seeking out a space at a lunchroom table in Middle School? It is a microcosm of the human community throughout history. Groups form quickly based on commonalities: gender, race, interests, social caste, and more. Too often it becomes an either/or situation: EITHER you’re a member of the group OR you’re viewed as a threat to the group. Either you’re in or you’re out. Either you are in sync with the routine or you’re dancing to your own tune. The beatitudes reveal...
Topics: sermon, Community, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Feb 7, 2022 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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Do you ever feel like you’re not measuring up? Like you’re not enough? Are you a Mirabel in the Family Madrigal? Pastor Stephanie brings us the Good News that God has done great things with people who didn’t feel like they measured up. Peter felt like a failure because he didn’t trust Jesus’ direction to catch fish. Jesus turned to Peter and gave him a new purpose to catch people. When all we notice is when we are falling short, God reminds us that we are enough! God sees beyond our...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Enough, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Feb 1, 2022 Rev. Chad Peterson
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Have you noticed a lot of anger in the world, in your community, in your family, in yourself? Anger is a natural human emotion, even Jesus got angry. Pastor Chad challenges us to think about what makes us angry and perhaps more importantly what it motivates us to do! Jesus used his anger to empower action that brought those on the outside into God's love through healing and freedom even when it made those in power angry. When you see something in the community that makes you angry use it to...
Topics: sermon, anger, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jan 24, 2022 Josh Bauer
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Throughout the year we are hearing from members of the Bethlehem Community as an opportunity to hear how God's Story has resonated with our neighbor and hopefully finding some resonance between our story and theirs. This month, Josh Bauer shares how God's Story resonates in his vocation as a teacher, especially in all the challenges of the pandemic. God's Story resonates with Josh in the small nudges of his friends, family, and mentors to consider a change of careers from business to teaching....
Topics: Lutheran, Message, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jan 20, 2022 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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God likes to take the ordinary and do the extraordinary. This week Pastor Stephanie shares one example of this: the Wedding at Cana. When the wedding celebration ran out of wine for their guests it was a social faux pas, but not the end of the world. Mary asks Jesus to help his friend avoid the embarrassment of ending the party early. Jesus at first says it’s no concern of his. When the servants listen for instruction, Jesus tells them to do something mundane and ordinary: fill jars with...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Saint Cloud MN, extraordinary
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jan 10, 2022 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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What do donuts have to do with Baptism? Pastor Stephanie offers a message on Baptism as we remember the Baptism of Our Lord. As a Chaplain, Pastor Stephanie has met with soldiers from many different Christian denominations with many different understandings of Baptism. As Lutherans we have a specific understanding of the Sacrament of Baptism that centers on God. Baptism is God's gift to ALL of creation without restriction or requirement. In Baptism it is God choosing us, not us choosing God....
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Baptism, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jan 3, 2022 Rev. Chad Peterson
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On this Second Week of Christmas Pastor Chad shares a message appropriate as we enter the New Year and think about our identity going into 2022. The Gospel of John poetically describes Jesus’ birth as the Word made Flesh. Pastor Chad shares a paraphrase of the Gospel that describes Jesus as God’s pattern for everything set in place at Creation. Jesus as the pattern shows us how God intends to live with the rest of Creation. Shaped by the life of Jesus we are called to live in community...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Identity, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jan 3, 2022 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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In this message for Christmas 2021, Pastor Stephanie reminds us that even among the chaos of pandemic life and the busyness of the Christmas season All the Earth is in fact Hopeful because God has come to us in birth of Jesus. Along with the shepherds we find true peace and real hope in the manger.
Topics: sermon, Christmas, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jan 3, 2022 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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in this message for Christmas 2021, Pastor Stephanie reminds us that even among the chaos of pandemic life and the busyness of the Christmas season All the Earth is in fact Hopeful because God has come to us in birth of Jesus. Along with the shepherds we find true peace and real hope in the manger.
Topics: sermon, Christmas, Lutheran, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Dec 20, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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This week we hear in the Gospel message that Elizabeth calls Mary "Blessed". We often count our blessings by the number of people, or more often, things we have in our life. This young pregnant girl didn't have many to count! But in God's Kingdom things are often turned upside down and that is the Good News for Mary and for us! Even, and especially, when we lose what we can count God is with us. When a loved one dies, when a tornado destroys your home, when you are robbed of your...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Blessed, St Cloud MN, Christmas
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Dec 13, 2021 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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On this third week of Advent Pastor Stephanie recounts her time at the Jordan River as we hear about John the Baptist again this week. Her time there was peaceful, unlike the crowds that had flocked to John. The theme for the third week of Advent is Joy but John has some harsh words for the crowds that come off as anything but joy-filled. The crowds ask what they can do to prepare for the coming of the Messiah and avoid the fate John is suggesting awaits this “brood of vipers.” His answer...
Topics: sermon, Advent, Lutheran, Joy, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Dec 6, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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On this second week of Advent Pastor Chad asks us to consider our image of God. It’s a question he always uses with Confirmation Students as they start the year. “What does God look like to you?” Often the results are the cartoon God on a cloud image that is distant and removed from their real life. The Gospel text includes Luke’s vision of God by explaining that God didn’t choose the powerful rulers of the region or temple leaders but rather the insignificant man in the wilderness...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN, Hope
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Nov 29, 2021 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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On this first week of Advent Pastor Stephanie shares a message of hope found in the seemingly apocalyptic reading. The disciples were expecting Jesus to bring about the end of the Roman occupation of Israel, but Jesus reminds them that the Kingdom of God is not yet here and their human understanding of time cannot predict the timing of God. It’s also a reminder that our time on earth is fleeting and fragile. We are called to make the most of the time we do have here on earth with faith in God...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Timing, Hope, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Nov 29, 2021 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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On this first week of Advent Pastor Stephanie shares a message of hope found in the seemingly apocalyptic reading. The disciples were expecting Jesus to bring about the end of the Roman occupation of Israel, but Jesus reminds them that the Kingdom of God is not yet here and their human understanding of time cannot predict the timing of God. It’s also a reminder that our time on earth is fleeting and fragile. We are called to make the most of the time we do have here on earth with faith in God...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Timing, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Nov 22, 2021 Heather Kraft
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This week we hear our next Story of Resonance from a member of the Bethlehem community. Heather Kraft shares how she finds resonance with God’s Story through encountering the stories of others in her volunteer work. Heather is a Befriender at Bethlehem visiting hospitalized & home-bound members of the congregation where she gets to sit and listen finding God’s Story interwoven with those she visits. She also uses her skills in recreational therapy at a therapeutic horseback riding...
Topics: My Story God's Story, Sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Nov 15, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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This week we hear Jesus talking to his disciples about the temple where they find comfort and a purpose for their life. Then Jesus tells them that the stones of the temple they are admiring will tumble to the ground. We have our own temples today, places where we find comfort, meaning, and purpose. But like the temple in Jerusalem, our temples get demolished and that leaves us feeling alone and afraid. Jesus words to the disciples hold promise for us, God is with us even when the temple has...
Topics: Sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN, Comfort
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Nov 15, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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The 2:30am phone call that startles you awake starts you on a journey into grief and loss we know too well. We are created to be in relationship with our loved ones & neighbors and when they die, the lost relationship is isolating & painful. In worship this week we are celebrating All Saints, a time when we take time to remember and give thanks for all those who have touched our lives. We want to remember especially the loved ones of those who have died in the past year as their journey...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Hope, Grief, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Nov 1, 2021 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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This week we celebrate the Reformation that Martin Luther launched on October 31, 1517 by posting a list of 95 ideas he wanted to debate regarding the practices of the Catholic Church. At the core of Luther’s arguments was his understanding of Romans 3:19-28: “. . . since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift. . .” Before he studied Romans, Luther never felt like he was doing enough to earn his salvation. This new understanding...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Reformation, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Oct 25, 2021 Jan Nelson
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This week we hear another Story of Resonance. Jan Nelson shares how God's Story has resonated in her life story. Finding a church home in every new city her career took her to was vital to making friends and finding a purpose outside of work. Jan retired from a busy, stressful career to move closer to her family. She moved into a home just blocks from her parents (Duane & Ele Nelson) and spent lots of time with them listening and learning. As her parents aged, she took on more of a...
Topics: Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Oct 18, 2021 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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Pastor Stephanie reminds us that seeking glory, wealth, and power has been part of the human condition long before powerful corporations started influencing our social connections. This week’s Gospel has two of the most beloved disciples asking Jesus to provide them each with a seat of glory beside Jesus. Jesus needs to them to understand the great cost of his own glory and that the glory they seek is not what they are expecting it to be. While the other disciples were angered by the audacity...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Oct 11, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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"I don't have enough: __________" Too often we view the world from a scarcity mindset which leads us to be overly possessive of what we are most afraid of losing: time, money, attention, family time, ________ . A  faithful and very successful man asks Jesus what he must do to inherit Eternal Life. Jesus recognizes the man's faithfulness but challenges him to use his success to help bring about God's vision for the whole world. When the things he treasures are with those "on the...
Topics: sermon, Saint Cloud MN, Lutheran, Scarcity
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Oct 4, 2021 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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This week’s Gospel texts feature two hot button topics: Divorce and Children. Being a child of divorce, Pastor Stephanie knows that discussions of marriage & divorce can be messy! Today she is encouraging us to view Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees not as a condemnation of any & all divorce but rather as a condemnation of those times when people misuse power to exclude someone else. In the Kingdom of God there is room for ALL at the table! Jesus further demonstrates this vision when...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Sep 27, 2021 Jerry Sparby
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This week we welcome Jerry Sparby to share his Story of Resonance. Being an educator, God's Story resonates with Jerry in the stories of families and especially in children experiencing isolation & depression. Jerry knows the value that God sees in every child and that reminds him to treasure each person he encounters no matter the circumstances they are in. Through his nonprofit, the Yes Network, Jerry strives to connect students with a purpose in their community to show them their worth...
Topics: faith story, Lutheran, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Sep 20, 2021 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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Working with kids is sometimes compared to herding cats. So why does Jesus want his followers to be more like a child? The disciples were busy fighting amongst themselves about who was the greatest because they didn’t really understand what Jesus was talking about when he told them to take up their cross and follow. Being among the lowest rank in society Jesus uses a child as an example of who his followers are called to welcome and serve. Even when children are more precocious than precious...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Sep 13, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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Sometimes in life we come up against deep questions that cause us to stop and think. Pastor Chad relates a question asked by a son of his father "Why did you choose to have me knowing that I was going to die someday?" How do you answer a question like that! How do you answer Jesus' question of his Disciples "Who do you say that I am?" For Pastor Chad it comes back to our theme for the coming year: Resonance. The best answer is the one that finds resonance with your story....
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Sep 10, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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As humans we like to contain things, to set boundaries on things (and people), to create barriers between us & things that are different. In the Gospel today, Jesus comes up against a barrier meant to protect the Jewish people from outsiders. At first, he is hesitant to cross the boundary that separates him from a Gentile woman asking for healing of her daughter. The woman's persistence and willingness to risk crossing the barrier to help her daughter, causes Jesus to rethink this boundary....
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Barriers, Grace, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Aug 30, 2021 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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Society has plenty of rules & expectations. Today's preaching texts address what makes us unclean. The religious leaders think that because the disciples eat without washing their hands in the proper ritual manner they are defiled. Jesus corrects them noting that it is not what goes into our body but what comes out of a person that makes them unclean. It is our words and actions that come from our heart that are important to God. And the really Good News is even when our words and actions...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran. Baptism
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Aug 24, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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Have you found yourself walking away lately? Walking away from friends? From family? From activities? From church? From God? In the Gospel text for this week the followers of Jesus walk away. They can't understand what Jesus is talking about when he says "I am the Bread of Life" and that for eternal life we must drink his blood and eat his flesh! It's hard for us to understand too. They also leave becuase Jesus is not meeting their expectations for a powerful leader that will free...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Aug 16, 2021 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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Pastor Stephanie Christoffels preaches on the next section of "The Bread of Life" texts from the Gospel of John. What makes Communion a Sacrament? How do the earthly elements of Bread & Wine combine with the divine promise of God's presence bring about eternal life? The simplicity of this sacrament serves as a reminder that we are all welcome to experience the love of God first hand, we all have a place at The Lord's Table! Questions to consider this week: How do you experience...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Saint Cloud MN, Communion
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Aug 9, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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Pastor Chad Peterson preaches on the next section of "The Bread of Life" texts from the Gospel of John. Pastor Chad works from a quote by Elisabeth Kubler Ross claiming there are only two emotions Love and Fear. They can not coexist and when we ingest the Bread of Life that is Jesus way of forgiveness, grace, mercy, and compassion we are living in Love. Too often we find ourselves trying to live our lives from a base of Fear that is the opposite of what God intends for us and for all...
Topic: sermon
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Aug 9, 2021 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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Pastor Stephanie Christoffels preaches on the next story from John's Gospel (John 6:24-35) in which Jesus reveals that he is the true Bread of Life. Having just fed the multitude with 5 loaves and 2 fish Jesus is tracked down by the crowd expecting further miracles. Their expectations are that he can continue to provide for their physical needs but he shows them that God's plan is much bigger than providing something to eat. Today we sometimes wonder if God is real because our expectations for...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jul 26, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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Pastor Chad preaches on the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Often we approach our life from a scarcity perspective like the disciples did as they faced with feeding a crowd of more than 5,000. Jesus shows them, and us, that with God there’s always a surplus. When we don’t think we are “enough” God sees it differently, whatever seemingly limited resources you bring to love & serve your neighbor is going to make a big difference when God multiplies the efforts of the whole community.
Topics: sermon, Saint Cloud MN, Lutheran, Scarcity, Abundance
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jul 20, 2021 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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Pastor Stephanie preaches on busyness, rest, and the way Jesus addresses both. In the Gospel for this week Jesus encourages the disciples to get some rest after teaching and healing across the countryside. While the disciples rest, people hear that Jesus is in the area and crowds gather around him. No matter how busy Jesus is there is always time to bring healing to people. This is Good News for us, even when we let life get too busy we can find Jesus there waiting to offer us rest and the...
Topics: sermon, rest, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jul 12, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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Pastor Chad preaches on the Gospel Text for the week which is hard to read as Good News. While it isn’t good news it is an honest look at the way humanities pursuit of power is counter to the vision of God for community. John the Baptist was beheaded as a demonstration of power to avoid looking weak. The honesty of the story does point to Good News: in Jesus there is hope for those without power or prestige. In one of the only stories in Mark’s Gospel where Jesus does not appear, (only...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jul 6, 2021 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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Pastor Stephanie preaches on the Gospel text for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost. In Nazareth, the townspeople question Jesus’ authority because they can’t see him as anything but a carpenter. The Good News is that we aren’t trapped by the circumstances of our birth when it comes to doing God’s work in the world. We too can move beyond society’s place for us to do great things when we love God and love our neighbor!
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jun 28, 2021 Rev. Dee Pederson
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Rev. Dee Pederson, Director for Evangelical Mission in the Southwestern MN Synod, is our guest preacher this week. The Gospel shares two stories of healing that come about because of Engagement. The women took a risk to engage with Jesus even though she was ‘ritually unclean’ and was made well by a faith daring to just touch the hem of Jesus’ coat. Then Jesus crosses another ritual barrier to interact with the girl that was thought to be dead. Our faith calls us to engage with people...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jun 28, 2021 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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Pastor Stephanie Christoffels preaches on the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost which recounts Jesus Calming the Storm. We all react to storms a little differently and each storm is unique. We are reminded that Jesus was in the same storm as the disciples and yet remained calm because he knew that even the wind would obey the direction of God. Remember there are others around us in the midst of their own storm in their own small boats and maybe they could use a reminder of the calm...
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jun 14, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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Pastor Chad Peterson preaches on the Parable of the Mustard Seed. What does a tiny seed have to tell us about the Kingdom of God, especially when we feel like our faith is too tiny to make a difference. When we plant tiny seeds of love, justice, and community we are helping bring about God's Kingdom here on earth.
Topics: sermon, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jun 7, 2021 Rev. Stephanie Christoffels
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It’s Pastor Stephanie Christoffels’ first Sunday at Bethlehem. She preaches on the gospel text for the Second Sunday after Pentecost in which Jesus talks about how the divisions we form stand in the way of God’s vision for us. When we share in the work of God’s Kingdom we are united with other Children of God into a new family in Christ.
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Saint CloudMN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jun 1, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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It’s Trinity Sunday and Pastor Chad preaches on the Gospel text for the day which helps us address the fear and trauma of living in a pandemic with the reassurance that "God so loved the world!"
Topics: sermon, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
May 24, 2021 Rev. Peter Strommen
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It’s Pentecost Sunday and Pastor Peter preaches on the texts for the day which all include “a time in between” as there is a transition. He reflects on his time with Bethlehem during our leadership transition and the transition to ministry in a pandemic.
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
May 17, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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On the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Pastor Chad preaches on the Gospel text in which Jesus prays for his followers that they may be united as one in  their identity as beloved children of God.
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
May 10, 2021 Rev. Peter Strommen
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On the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Pastor Peter preaches on the Gospel text in which Jesus shares again the commandment to love one another as he loves us. There are many words for different types of love in the ancient Greek language that the Gospel of John is recorded in. This love isn’t about attraction but action. It is giving of yourself so that the other might benefit. Jesus is calling us to Agape.
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
May 4, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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On the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Pastor Chad preaches on the text from Acts of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. God moves the disciples out past their comfort zones by bringing Philip into contact with a Gentile who would never be allowed into the Temple. The Eunuch understands God’s vision of the Kingdom and asks “What is to prevent me from being baptized?” Again God crosses boundaries to show there is nothing that can prevent our access to God’s love, grace, mercy, and compassion.
Topics: sermon, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Apr 26, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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On the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Pastor Chad preaches on the Gospel text for what is sometimes called Good Shepherd Sunday. What does it mean to hear the Shepherd’s voice? In today's world there’s a lot of noise that can get in the way of our listening. How can we better train our ears to hear the Shepherd? A good shepherd knows their sheep, and Jesus knows us and hears us even amidst all the noise.
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Apr 19, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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On the Third Sunday of Easter, Pastor Chad preaches on the Gospel text as once again Jesus shows up unexpectedly much to the disbelief of the disciples. The disciples' disbelief helps us realize that faith isn’t about belief, or intellectually knowing, as it is about trust. And sometimes trust is harder to come by than belief!
Topics: sermon, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Apr 12, 2021 Rev. Peter Strommen
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On the Second Sunday of Easter, Pastor Peter preaches on the Gospel text when Jesus appears to the disciples after the resurrection. It’s no wonder Thomas doubts the story, no one has a round trip ticket across the river between life and death. Jesus breaks another barrier in order to bring peace to his followers.
Topics: sermon, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Apr 12, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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On Easter Sunday we hear the Good News again that Jesus is not in the tomb, the power of death has not won! Pastor Chad invites us to more than hear, but actually connect with the story this year. Connect with God’s love that brings new life out of death. Just don’t expect that life to be the same as it was!
Topics: sermon, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Mar 29, 2021
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On Palm Sunday we will retell the story of two very different processions that entered Jerusalem in two very different ways. The way of Jesus sets out a vision of God’s Kingdom that we are called to follow as we enter the story of Holy Week and celebrate Easter. A special thank you to the storytellers Solveig Anderson Krafnick, Steve Walk, Luther Rotto, & Sadie Zellmann; and musicians Kaye Schimnich & Dennis Raymond, who helped connect us to that story.
Topics: Holy Week, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Mar 22, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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On the Fifth Sunday in Lent, Pastor Chad preaches on the Gospel text when Jesus foreshadows his death and the bountiful fruit it will bear. Often we mourn something that is “dead & buried”: a relationship, a job, a lifestyle. Jesus reminds us that like seeds sometimes things that are buried surprise us with new fruits.
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Mar 15, 2021 Rev. Peter Strommen
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On the Fourth Sunday in Lent Pastor Peter preaches on the Gospel text when Jesus says that he will be lifted up like Moses life the bronze serpent to heal the Israelites.
Topics: sermon, Saint Cloud MN, Lutheran
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Mar 8, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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On the Second Sunday in Lent we remember that Jesus does get mad. His confrontation in the Temple shows that his anger is with those who prevent the Kingdom of God from reaching everyone. He is mad at those who use their power to oppress those without access to worldly power.
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Mar 1, 2021 Rev. Peter Strommen
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On the Second Sunday in Lent we remember God’s promises aren’t always easy to believe or trust. Abram & Sarai were very old when God promises them (a second time) that they would be the ancestors of a multitude of nations. And in the Gospel Jesus promises that the Messiah must suffer and die which Peter simply can’t believe. Faith is much more about God who keeps promises than it is about our ability to believe them!
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Feb 22, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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On the First Sunday in Lent we remember God’s Covenant with all Creation after the Great Flood. Pastor Chad’s sermon takes a deeper look at this story, beyond “Noah was a good man” and the cute pairs of animals boarding a giant boat. If we look deeper we smack up against the reality that God destroyed nearly all of Creation, save one family and an ark full of animals. Where is the Good News in this story? Perhaps if we view it from God’s perspective we can see God’s grief over the...
Topics: sermon, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Feb 15, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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On the Final Sunday in Epiphany we remember the Transfiguration of Jesus. Pastor Chad preaches on our desire to remain in “our happy place” much like the disciples want to remain on the mountain top with Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. But Jesus calls them to follow him back down the mountain to bring God’s Kingdom, their “happy place,” to those who need that vision of hope & justice.
Topics: sermon, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Feb 8, 2021 Rev. Peter Strommen
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On the Fifth Sunday in Epiphany Jesus is healing a whole town. Pastor Peter reminds us that Jesus being True God in casting out demons is at the same time True Man in need of rest from the push of the crowds seeking healing.
Topics: sermon, Lutheran, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Feb 1, 2021 Rev. Peter Strommen
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On the Third Sunday in Epiphany Jesus is calling the fishermen to become his disciples and fish for people. Pastor Peter preaches on his own story of being called to serve as Bishop of Northeast Minnesota. In Chad’s Chat, the Early Childhood Center kids talk with Pastor Chad about how we can be a reflection of Christ for our neighbors.
Topic: sermon
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Feb 1, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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On the Fourth Sunday in Epiphany Jesus is teaching in the synagogue. People take notice because he teaches with authority unlike the Scribes who simply recite scripture. An encounter with a man possessed by a demon shows where his authority comes from. Not only is the man freed but all those around Jesus are transformed by this encounter with Jesus.
Topic: sermon
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jan 20, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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On the Second Sunday in Epiphany we remember Jesus calling the disciples and the disciples inviting their friends to “Come and See!”. Pastor Chad preaches on this idea that following in the way of Jesus means we too must “Come and See”
Topic: sermon
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jan 11, 2021 Rev. Peter Strommen
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On the First Sunday in Epiphany we remember the Baptism of Jesus by John. Pastor Peter preaches on this Baptism that doesn’t make sense on the surface, why would Jesus need a Baptism for the forgiveness of sin? It is another example of God’s love shining forth, as an Epiphany, connecting Jesus to the sinners he came to save. The story also includes the heavens being “ripped open” so that separation between the Creator and the Creation is removed. NOTE:  We pre-record our services to...
Topic: sermon
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Jan 4, 2021 Rev. Chad Peterson
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Pastor Chad preaches on the Gospel text for Epiphany. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is named "The Incarnate Word". Jesus is the Word of God become flesh, become human. God joining creation in human form provides a shape & pattern for living that brings about the Kingdom of God here on Earth. 
Topics: Sermon, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Dec 22, 2020 Rev. Chad Peterson
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On this Fourth Sunday in Advent Pastor Chad preaches on the Gospel Text. Sometimes called the Magnificat it tells of Mary’s encounter with the angel announcing she would give birth to the Messiah. Mary is called blessed, but what does that really mean? Have we given “blessed” a simpler definition than intended by Luke?
Topics: sermon, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Dec 15, 2020 Rev. Peter Strommen
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On this Third Sunday in Advent Pastor Peter preaches on the Gospel text. In it John the Baptist testifies to being a voice in the wilderness that announces the arrival of the Messiah. John stands at the intersection of the horizontal relationship of creation and the vertical relationship with the Creator.
Topics: sermon, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Dec 7, 2020 Rev. Chad Peterson
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On this Second Sunday in Advent Pastor Chad preaches on the text from Isaiah. What constitutes a wilderness in our modern life? Pastor Chad suggests we all know our own wilderness, often it is what wakes you in the middle of the night. How is God working in your life to make the wilderness of your life a place that reveals the glory of the Lord?
Topics: sermon, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Nov 30, 2020 Rev. Chad Peterson
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This week Pastor Chad preaches on the Gospel lesson for Christ the King Sunday. How are we treating our neighbors in need? Are we treating them as if they were Jesus? How can we change our perspective and see Christ the King in our neighbor even when they mistreated us in the past?
Topic: sermon
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Nov 30, 2020 Rev. Peter Strommen
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On this First Sunday in Advent Pastor Peter preaches on the reading from Isaiah which contain three words that sum up the season of Advent as we await the birth of Jesus. Advent is about Hope.
Topics: sermon, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Nov 16, 2020 Rev. Steve Cook
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Southwestern Minnesota Synod Minister Steve Cook preaches and presides at the Installation today. Pastor Steve preaches on the Gospel text for this 24th Sunday after Pentecost, the Parable of the Talents. During the time of COVID we seem to be a lot like kids in the back seat during a road trip. “Are we there yet?” Are we back to “normal” yet? Will we recognize normal when we see it? As we enter into a new era of pastoral leadership, Pastor Steve reminds us that we have a great calling...
Topics: sermon, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Nov 9, 2020 Rev. Chad Peterson
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This week Bethlehem is celebrating Commitment Sunday for our 2021 Ministry & Mortgage Appeal: “A Great Beginning.” Pastor Chad preaches on the Gospel story of Zacchaeus. As we look forward to a new era in pastoral leadership it is important to understand the “Why?” of our ministry together. Jesus sets Zacchaeus apart as someone who gets the “Why?” of God’s Kingdom. And in it Jesus reveals his “Why?” “to seek out and to save the lost.”
Topics: sermon, Saint Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Nov 2, 2020 Rev. Peter Strommen
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Pastor Peter preaches on the text from Revelation and the Gospel Text for the day. Those who are grieving can choose anger & retribution or they can choose to keep an eye on eternity. When Jesus speaks the beatitudes it is those with an eye on eternity who find blessing.
Topic: sermon
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Oct 26, 2020 Rev. Chad Peterson
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On this Reformation Sunday Pastor Chad preaches on the Gospel reading with some help from a few of the students who are being Confirmed at the 10:30am On-Site Service this Sunday.
Topics: sermon, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Oct 19, 2020 Rev. Peter Strommen
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Pastor Peter introduces the Stewardship Appeal by talking about how our eyes are good indication of where we hold our treasure. We keep a close eye on our "treasures." So are we giving our attention to the things that truly matter or have we focused on the things that distract our eye.
Topics: sermon, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Oct 12, 2020 Rev. Chad Peterson
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Pastor Chad preaches on the Gospel text for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost which includes the Parable of the Great Banquet. Most of us know how it feels to not be invited or included. In this Parable God is inviting absolutely everyone into the Banquet. When we try to exclude people we don't like or are different from we will find Jesus inviting them into the party as we watch from outside.
Topic: sermon
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Oct 5, 2020 Rev. Peter Strommen
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Pastor Peter Strommen preaches on the Gospel reading and a reading from Isaiah that plays heavily into the Parable Jesus uses in the Gospel. What are the fruits of faith that a growing in our lives?
Topics: sermon, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Sep 28, 2020 Rev. Chad Peterson
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Pastor Chad preaches on the Gospel text for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost. The leaders of the temple are angry at Jesus for disrupting the political & economic power they held. They demand Jesus provide his credentials that give him authority to do what he has been doing. We can be like those leaders, demanding Jesus provide reasons to offer our trust, our time, and our power to follow him.
Topics: sermon, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Sep 21, 2020 Rev. Peter Strommen
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Pastor Peter preaches on the Old Testament reading for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost. The story of Jonah and Nineveh continues the theme of reconciliation and forgiveness as we again see God's mercy and compassion reaches out to our enemies (and to us). God's reaction to Nineveh's repentance is good news for us, we are always within reach of God's love. It also models how we are to treat our neighbors, even the ones we see as enemies.
Topic: sermon
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Sep 14, 2020 Rev. Chad Peterson
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 Pastor Chad preaches on the Gospel text about forgiveness. Forgiveness is not easy and it is even tougher when we put conditions on it. Jesus calls us to model our forgiveness on God's mercy which doesn't place conditions on us but freely offers us grace.
Topics: sermon, St Cloud MN
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Sep 8, 2020 Rev. Chad Peterson
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Pastor Chad preaches on the Gospel reading for the Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost. Jesus is telling his disciples how conflicts should be resolved by people seeking to follow the ways of God's Kingdom. This model of reconciliation holds hope for us today even when facing a seemingly insurmountable divide.
Topic: sermon
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Sep 4, 2020 Rev. Peter Strommen
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Pastor Peter preaches on the Gospel text for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost. Last week Peter was a model disciple, this week Jesus says to him "Get behind me Satan!" What? How did Peter go from one extreme to the other? This week Peter gets in the way of Jesus' redeeming work. He expected Jesus to be a Savior through power not through sacrifice. Jesus tells the disciples that his way is the way of the cross.
Topic: sermon
Sermons & Religious Lectures
Aug 24, 2020 Rev. Peter Strommen
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Pastor Peter preaches on the Gospel text for the 12th Sunday after Pentecost. What did Jesus mean when he said to the Disciples "On this rock I will build my church" Did he literally mean the Disciple Peter whose name means rock? Or was it more about how he answered the question "Who do you say that I am?" Pastor Peter argues the latter is the firm foundation of which Jesus was speaking. It is the declaration of the truth that "Jesus is Lord" that is unshakable...
Topics: sermon, Saint Cloud MN