And Jesus said, "It is I, do not be afraid" (John 6:20)
Where Jesus is, there is peace. We begin a series of readings from John's gospel this week. Lots of bread images, and this one story of Jesus walking on the sea of Galilee. The story of the feeding of the 5,000 is unique in that it is in all 4 Gospels. No other story, except the passion narrative has quite the impact as this one. What follows for John, is the separation of Jesus from the disciples.
Last week, Jesus called the disciples to be with him at a place apart, but this week Jesus needs his space. What happens next defies logic and physics. Not a bad way of describing who Jesus is! The one who defies all notions of what God can do and be. Jesus always comes to meet the need! We do not come to him, He comes to us! And when he does, he brings the peace of God!
This Sunday we gather at a place apart for a change of perspective (10AM) at the Burke family home. We also meet at our church home for a time of Holden Evening Prayer 6:30 PM. Both experiences are filled with promise. I invite you to come and see!
Pastor Bill Diehm
July 16, 2021
"Jesus had compassion on them..." (Mark 6:34)
We return to the pastoral image of sheep. You may recall a bulletin cover that was used in worship in April to elicit dialog in a sermon about sheep and faith. This Sunday in Mark's gospel we hear of "shepherdless" sheep and Jesus' intervention.
Our children's sermon this Sunday will introduce us to a word that sounds like what it means (in Greek). What I can tell you in preparation for Sunday is that it will be a "moving" experience.
A while back I preached a sermon "Jesus Does Who Jesus Is." Similarly, the mission "to the crowds" is clearly an extension of Jesus' identity. I look forward to gathering with you around the word and sacrament as we will be greeted and healed by Jesus Christ, the great shepherd of the sheep! This is good news indeed!
July 9, 2021
Look what God has done!
This Sunday's sermon is based on the second lesson from Ephesians. We will experience God's gifts by hearing from Paul, all the things that God does by way of Jesus Christ. This is also a good preview for those participating in the Richard Rohr book study, The Universal Christ. I invite you to read Ephesians 1:3-14 in preparation for Sunday's liturgy and make note of all the predicates (verbs) connecting God's action in Jesus Christ. It will astound you! This is good news indeed! "We have obtained an inheritance!" (Ephesians 1:11)
July 2, 2021
God's grace is sufficient!
There is power in weakness! (2nd Corinthians 12:9)
In a results-oriented world, it may seem confusing to extol the virtue of weakness. On the 4th of July in particular, greatness is associated with national pride. There is no shame in having national pride, if the identity of that nation's pride is based on being in service to others rather than lording greatness over others.
This year, I believe it is timely to repent of any national pride that fails to humble itself before God. (See also the first lesson for this Sunday - Ezekiel 2:1-5.) A good way to begin Independence Day is by confessing our total dependence on God! Something to think about.
See you in church or online!
Pastor Bill Diehm
June 25, 2021
New every morning!
This is a refrain you will hear from me during this Sunday's liturgy. It comes from the 1st reading:
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22)
Reading through the Lamentations, whose setting is the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BCE, one realizes that lament sounds like despair, the opposite of faith. We believe and teach that it is in the places least likely we expect to experience God, (disaster, pandemic, destruction. etc.) that we discover God's acts of mercy.
During the sermon, I will teach you this lyric as an act of praise! We have the privilege of being called to experience the mercies of God every morning! I look forward to sharing this joy with you!
May 28, 2021
The Holy Trinity Sunday/Memorial Day Weekend/Prayers for healing
O Lord, give strength to your people; give them, O Lord, the blessings of peace. (Psalm 29:11)
As we gather to worship this Sunday we are reminded that the reign of God invites us into a relationship with the one we call Almighty! In the mystery of that relationship we bring our own need for God's strength in times of change.
In this case, we need strengthened to re-enter our lives, knowing that things around us are feeling somewhat like they used to, but still emerging. My words to you, faithful ones, are that we look to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as our first thought in the morning, our gratitude at meal time, our petition when we feel most vulnerable, and our thanksgiving for those we remember this Memorial Day.
All that we are, do, have, and remember is in the providential care of the God of peace!
May 21, 2021
The Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26)
What does it mean that the Holy Spirit is a "helper," especially in our weakness?
I would suggest that at the times of our greatest vulnerability there the Holy Spirit is creating faith!
Have you ever had someone say to you, "have faith"? The implication is that it is up to you to muster whatever it is that allows you to believe or act in any given situation. ( Like a global pandemic.)
Here's the good news. The Holy Spirit is active creating the faith to believe in Christ and do the good works needed. (Living God's Love!) So the next time you hear someone say, "Have some faith!", you may respond, "By the power of the Holy Spirit it will be so!"
This Sunday we will celebrate the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit you received in your baptism.
Come and see!
May 14, 2021
Whoever has the Son has life! (I John 5:12)
This Sunday we worship between two church festivals. Forty days after Easter the church celebrates The Ascension of our Lord (yesterday), and fifty days after Easter the church celebrates the festival of Pentecost (next Sunday).
The Sunday in between is unique. Like life itself, we are usually in between things. Like being in between the hoped for "all clear" of the pandemic and the reality that society, governments, health protocols, and church practices are not all uniform. We are truly "in between."
There is one constant that will be lifted up this Sunday: Jesus Christ who is raised up gives us life, now and forever! Yes! (sermon tease) God has gone up with a shout! Yes!
May 7, 2021
"That your joy may be complete!" (John 15:11b)
Christian people are practitioners of joy. It is a quality that we receive by being in Christ. There is a difference between joy and happiness. It's not always easy to know the difference. I will offer this distinction. For many, happiness is the maximization of pleasure. Who doesn't like to be happy? But joy, is the discovery that there is something beyond yourself that creates a desire to love God and love others. Jesus embodies the model of this love. Make friends with those who others would leave behind. May your joy be complete in this discovery!
April 30, 2021
Perfect love casts out fear! (I John 4: 18)
It has been said that the opposite of love is not hate, but fear. I believe this to be true. When I think about divisions that exist in society, I believe they are largely motivated by fear. Fear of change, fear of the other, fear of the unknown.
This week we will be invited to consider what it means to be motivated by the love of God in Christ Jesus. Our lessons range from Phillip witnessing to the Ethiopian Eunuch from Acts, to the "I am" saying of Jesus: "I am the true vine," with the very helpful instruction from I John. That is, we love because God first loved us. This love is what inspires "Living God's Love." We will dig deep into our mission statement this week and invite the spirit to help a well-known phrase come alive with Easter power. Come and See!
April 23, 2021
Paths of Righteousness--Good Shepherd Sunday
"And guide me along right pathways for your name's sake" (Psalm 23:3b) is how the translation we use Sunday expresses this beloved psalm's third verse.
I find it interesting to learn from Hebrew scholars the connection between English translation and original meaning. Here is such a case. The other places in the scripture the Hebrew word is used for "right pathways" or "paths of righteousness" is translated "tracks" or a word closer to "ruts!" Literally grooves in the road for your ox-cart to follow. It reminds me of the bike path used by Amish horse and buggies along the Holmes County trail. The horses hooves have carved a well worn groove for all to follow or in the case of bikers, to avoid! Walking with God is finding God's groove for daily living. When you do this you build right relationships and ultimately honor God. "For God's namesake!"
Friends in Christ at St. Matthew, may we be guided these days along God's right path for us as we discern what is next in this journey of faith. For Christ the Good Shepherd is with us!
Pastor Bill Diehm
April 9, 2021
Behind the Locked doors.
We move from last week's empty tomb Easter account in Mark to John's story of the shut doors in the disciples' hiding place. Jesus meets the disciples where they are. And where are they? They are trying to figure out what their life will be like now that Jesus is with them in this way! Imagine! I think we can. The analogy of life changing in ways we couldn't have imagined is our empty tomb and locked door. The future beckons us, yet there are still things that necessarily make us wary and cautious about living, breathing community!
It is now that we need the peace and breath of Christ's Holy Spirit. We gather to receive here at St. Matthew and as we continue to gather at home. May the spirit of the risen Christ meet you where you are!
Alleluia, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia
Pastor Bill Diehm
PS. Want to dig deeper into Mark's empty tomb? We will have the finale of the Gospel of Mark as the topic of adult Sunday School in the brown room....We will have a big circle with lots of space, and will be masked as we meet. You are welcome.
PPS. Our worship team will continue to confer weekly regarding our in-person worship schedule. You are invited to register online or with the office beginning Monday for worship on the 18th. This will assist us with plans as we consider a two service-format in the future. For now we continue with a 9AM liturgy. We learn from each week's attendance and your patience is appreciated as we move forward. For those who are attending this week in person. Please arrive early and be open to the ushers directions as we try to accommodate those in attendance.
April 2, 2021
Good (News) Friday, Christ lifted up!
It seems like we have gone through a year long Lent! I also recognize we have a way to go relative to the health and well being of a world ravaged by disease. Yet, there is another force moving in our midst beside pandemic. Today we celebrate Christ lifted up! Good Friday is John's gospel story of Christ the King! Not abandoned, not humankind's greatest mistake, but the way God saves, through death. I invite you to enter into The Gospel of John's Passion reading tonight with a renewed sense of awe. All the while the world thought its loud "no" was the last word, God had (has) different plans. There is only one way to truly live and that is to give! And it starts with God!
Behold, the life-giving cross on which was hung the salvation of the whole world.
Oh, come, let us worship him.
Pastor Bill Diehm
March 26, 2021
The Blessing of the Palms
By now most of you will have received a delivery that includes palm branches for our virtual Palm Sunday gathering as we begin Holy Week. The opening of our liturgy this Sunday includes the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and moves to the events of Holy Week. There will be, live streamed this Sunday, a dramatic reading of the Passion According to St. Mark.
Kudos to our folks whose journey to your home for this delivery places the Passion Week of Christ at your door in an effort to be the church as we are able. We move through the week of the greatest story ever told to our virtual Maundy Thursday liturgy and Good Friday both at 7PM.
It seems fitting that this Holy Week leads to an Easter "in-person" re-gathering. Our Lenten fast is about to lift. I invite you to enter into the Holy Week's contemplation with a devotion like no other year.
NOTE: We have fully subscribed all of our 9 AM and 11 AM Easter liturgies and are creating a 7 AM service, which will follow closely the format of the other two.
You can register on the web site or call the church office next week. Also, the 9 and 11 AM liturgies will be live streamed. After the 11AM liturgy the Holy Communion table will be extended for those who would like to drive-in after worship to receive the sacrament. Each service will have a sending rite on the front lawn where we will sing "Jesus Christ is Risen Today!" Children's messages and for all worshipers will complement our celebration.
As a reminder: All the protocols that we followed in our previous months of in-person worship will continue to be in place. (See list of protocols below.)
May the presence of Christ, crucified and risen be with you all!
March 19, 2021
And God says, " I will" (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
This preview of Sunday's sermon describes one of the most important parts of God's identity. God acts; and, God will act. As we worship on the 5th Sunday of Lent, see how God's activity drives our hopes and calms our fears. The best news of all: "I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more." Jeremiah 31:34) How does God do that? Tune in Sunday!
The Executive Council, by way of a recommendation from the Covid re-entry team, has approved a plan for in-person as well as live-stream worship beginning Easter Sunday . The Worship Team has created a format for Easter Sunday that includes
Two identical liturgies of Holy Communion at 9 AM and 11 AM using the ELW.
The same protocols used from July to November will be used (See enclosed)
There will be a registration process to balance attendance between the two services to allow us to follow best, safe, practice. This will be available next week. Stand by!
For those worshiping live stream at home, there will be opportunity to attend an extended table distribution of Holy Communion at 12:30 PM in the parking lot
This announcement will be updated as further details unfold.
March 12, 2021
Give thanks to the Lord, for the Lord is good, for God's mercy endures forever. (Psalm 107:1)
As I have shared previously, Lent 4 is a day to take a break. In former days, "Refreshment Sunday" gave people a breather from the Lenten fast. We use the word refresh in our culture in a new way. To "refresh" one's computer means to prepare new data for consideration.
Let's refresh! We anticipate a new day while still looking at our lives that are stuck with old news! Let me share some good news as we prepare to refresh our church lives.
On Tuesday, the Covid re-entry team will consider plans for an Easter morning in person celebration. That group will make a recommendation to our Executive Council that meets the same evening. Pending their action, our worship team will create Easter liturgies at their Thursday evening meeting. What will our refreshed Easter Sunday look like? Next Friday's shout out will tell the story!
Let's continue to pray that the environment surrounding the pandemic will allow us to meet and worship faithfully and safely.
"Let the redeemed of the Lord proclaim that God redeemed them from the hand of the foe, gathering them in from the lands...." (Psalm 107:2-3)
Pastor Bill Diehm
February 26, 2021
A Sunday to Remember (and Praise)
"You who fear the Lord, give Praise!" (Psalm 22:23)
This Sunday is the culmination of our Black History emphasis month. As you know, we have invited members of 2nd Baptist Church, our neighbors, to give "Good News Moments" at the beginning of worship each Sunday in February. This Sunday, at our "Praise liturgy", we will have the Rev. Arthur A. Ruffin, Sr. bring greetings to us.
This liturgy will have a full complement of Praise Team members. They are:
John Burke, Keyboard
Heather Rohde, Vocalist
Shaun Faust, Guitar
Karl Herman, Bass
Tom Kotick, Percussion
Thanks to this outstanding group of musicians who lead us this Sunday.
Also, there will be a special Gospel Acclamation from the Zion Pentecostal Church of Christ from Cleveland who virtually join us with song! What a day to be the church as we are and where we are. Blessings abound. Be a part of the heavenly throng on earth this Sunday!
Pr. Bill Diehm
February 19, 2021
"He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him." (Mark 1:13)
Have you ever been waited on by an angel? I believe Jesus' experience is our experience. After all, we are "In Christ."
At the conclusion of last Sunday's liturgy and then Zoom course on the post pandemic church, I felt drained, not empty... just exhausted. Then, there was a knock on my office door. When I answered, there, through a mask, I could imagine the biggest smile. I know it was a big smile because the eyes of the angel were glowing bright! In the magic of the world moved from virtual to actual, the messenger of good news from the children's sermon was staring at me eye to eye, flesh to flesh, and it was glorious! "He wants you to have this," said his mother who accompanied him. Happy Valentine's Day! And lo and behold the words on the valentine plaque were the same words another neighbor angel from 2nd Baptist shared with us during the good news moment that same morning. "For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, so whoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
Thank God for angels, messengers of good news. They are among us! Waiting on us!
February 12, 2021
The "Transfiguration Blues"
No, its not the title of a Screamin' Jay Hawkins original, (Think "I Put a Spell on You" meets Jesus on the mountain.) It is St. Matthew's version of the Gospel in Rhythm and Blues idiom on this the last Sunday of Epiphany! We celebrate Black History month each Sunday in February by inviting our brothers and sisters from 2nd Baptist to share their stories. This Sunday we will honor our unity in Christ by proclaiming the Gospel with the sound of the "African American Spiritual". Be ready for a mountain top experience!
February 5, 2021
Those who wait for the Lord, shall renew their strength. (Isaiah 40:31)
"Everlasting God, you give strength to the weak and power to the faint. Make us agents of your healing and wholeness, that your good news may be made known to the ends of your creation, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord." Amen.
With this prayer we begin our liturgy this Sunday. It speaks a petition of need in our days. We pray that God would renew the spirits of all who are weary from this current journey. Notice that the prayer also implies that we who pray are part of the solution to the weary world's needs. We are not just needy, we are agents of God's healing presence "to the ends of creation." This is the mission of the church. Bringing healing to all with the message of Christ. May it be so.
Pastor Bill Diehm
January 29, 2021
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10)
To have "holy awe" (fear) is rare these days. So much of our lives are spent trying to get in charge of the things that we would like to manage. As I write this, like many of you, I am waiting for my turn to get the vaccine! Parallel to that great hope for protection from the evil (virus) that surrounds me is a greater value of which I must constantly be reminded. My help comes from the Lord! Holy Awe is a call to practice a worshipful attitude for daily living. As I have shared in other places, the Epiphany season is a call to renew ones call to ministry. We grow by our experiences. Even those that we do not desire.
As you worship this Sunday and live the 111th psalm, "I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation, " (111:1) you will be doing so in a unique setting. You will be separated from the congregation. The congregation is like our very lives, "by faith." I invite you to speak the words with Judy McLaughlin this week as she reads them, trusting that we fear God together even though it feels like we are on our own.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Pastor Bill Diehm
PS Sunday sermon tease: "It will blow your mind"
January 15, 2021
Come and See! (John 1:46)
The words of welcome and invitation that come from Phillip to Nathanael about Jesus continue to drive evangelism in the church. These days it's hard to welcome people to a place (church), but it is still a message about who we are and whose we are.
It is a continued delight to pastor a faithful congregation of people who are driven by a mission to Live God's Love. As I reflect on our ministries as we move forward with a call process, I am thankful for the wisdom, care, and dedication to this place we call our church. At Christmas Eve there was a question during worship "Where do you see Jesus?" During this season of Epiphany I have a response to that question. I see Jesus in you! You are the body of Christ. With every interaction of a friend, stranger or neighbor you are Christ for the world. I know where people may meet Christ! Come and See!
Pastor Bill Diehm