Fifth Week After Pentecost

Sermon by Rev. Sarah Goettsch on June 23, 2018

My kids LOVE the song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot. I’m fairly certain that even just mentioning it in this sermon will send you home either
humming it or else you’ll find it on YouTube before the evening’s over. Although all seven verses are chillingly haunting, it is the first line of the fifth verse that gives me goosebumps every single time I hear it, and that line is this:
“Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the
waves turn the minutes to hours?”

I’m sure the disciples were feeling this when they were trapped on a boat, caught in a storm and fearing for their lives, as the Gospel story for today goes. Continue reading “Fifth Week After Pentecost”

Fourth Week after Pentecost

Sermon by Rev. Sarah Goettsch on June 16-17, 2018

This was a big week in our house. We weathered yet another milestone in the boys’ transition from childhood to adolescence. It’s a controversial topic, I might add, one that might make you uncomfortable. The subject is whether or not it’s acceptable for an 11-year-old boy to still sleep with stuffed animals.

We have one stuffed dog, in particular, named Woof Woof, given to Christian even while he was still in the womb. When Jacob was a toddler, Woof Woof was then passed on to him and finally, to Philip. Of all the stuffed animals we received over the years, Woof Woof has been the undisputed favorite. And this has driven me crazy, especially in my early years of motherhood when I still had standards and when my OCD spirit was still optimistic…. Continue reading “Fourth Week after Pentecost”

Third Week after Pentecost

Sermon by Rev. Sarah Goettsch on June 9, 2018

It seems to me, when I think about the entire Bible and all its stories, which include tales of murder and
intrigue, warfare and deception, violence and revenge, the most terrifying verse is found in our first reading today from the book of Genesis…”they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden.”
You may at first find this funny…I mean, what about Egyptian King’s command to kill all Hebrew baby boys, which gave rise to the leader Moses, or what about the ten plagues on the people of Egypt, or what about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, or what about the death of the innocent baby boys after the birth of Jesus? Continue reading “Third Week after Pentecost”

Second Week after Pentecost

June 2, 2018

Sermon by Rev. Jan Schnell Rippentrop on June 2, 2018

Sermon Texts: Deut. 5, 2 Cor. 4, Mark 2:23-3:6

Sermon Focus: God brings enslaved and distressed people into the freedom of rest

Sermon Function: Relief in God’s care


It was slavery:

Up before dawn

Whips on their backs

Forming clay into forms

Baking bricks

Baking skin

Hauling mid-day loads

Across an Egyptian landscape

Afternoons of hard labor under a high sun shouldering the burden of construction materials

from quarry to work site, heaving baskets of reeds from the river into town

Pressed down Continue reading “Second Week after Pentecost”


Sermon by Rev. Sarah Goettsch on May 26, 2018

So we have this ridiculous gold finch outside our dining room window that seems to want to do anything to come inside. This tiny bird flings itself repeatedly into the window. Also it flutters by the window for minutes at a time, hovering like a hummingbird, seeming to stare
inside. It inspects the other windows–looking to see if they’re open?–and then circles back to the dining room window and resumes the self-flinging and the hovering. I wonder–is it afraid, in danger of being carried off by a hawk? Is it protesting the feed we put out? Is it unwell, out of its mind, bird-brained? We will never know. But for now,
I am convinced, if that finch could grow hands it would open up our screen door and if it could grow feet it would march into our house and give voice to its complaints. I get the feeling from this desperate and frantic bird that it would do anything to be able to fit in to the world of humans and come inside our house. Continue reading “Trinity”


May 19, 2018

Sermon by Rev. Sarah Goettsch on May 20, 2018

From 1994-96, I found myself living 30 miles to the north of the Yugoslav Wars. After graduating from college in 1994, I taught German, English and Religion in southern Hungary, in a secondary school in a village called Bonyhad, which boasted of more residential sheep than people. In those days, and certainly in that part of the world, there were no cell phones. The closest computer was an hour away by bus, at the University of Pecs; our school had one telephone and one TV, in the teachers’ lounge. Continue reading “Pentecost”

7th Week of Easter

May 12, 2018

Sermon by Rev. Sarah Goettsch on May 12, 2018

I offered to preach today on Mother’s Day; otherwise, I probably would not have come to church. Mother’s Day has always been extremely difficult for me; so, rather than avoid this topic altogether, I choose instead to lean into it, hoping that my words might offer hope to those for whom this day is also challenging. Today I offer you some difficult remembrances, some verse that may test you and, finally, some visions of hope. We will end on a lovely Gospel note, I assure you. Continue reading “7th Week of Easter”

6th Week of Easter


Sermon by Rev. Jan Schnell Rippentrop on May 5, 2018

Text: Acts 10:44-48; (1 John 5)

Focus: The new reality of Gentile believers disoriented Peter; God reoriented Peter toward solidarity

Function: Wonder how disorientation may be beneficial and open toward God’s reorientation


156 years ago today—the year was 1862.

It was Cinco de Mayo, and the French forces anticipated a win

They attacked Puebla City, as the next step in a plan for colonial domination.

But on Cinco de Mayo, the tables turned and the Mexican contingent,

even though they had less people and equipment

Held Puebla City and inspired confidence in their ongoing resistance toward independence.


Thousands of years ago—the year was 80.

The gentiles (note to self—that’s me—one not born Jewish) were not expected to have access to the Holy Spirit.

Peter was spending the week on the Mediteranean coast Continue reading “6th Week of Easter”

5th Week of Easter

Sermon by Rev. Sarah Goettsch on April 28, 2018

When I visited my husband Doug while he was living in California, we went to see the Redwood trees in northern California. These ancient giants are between 1200-1800 years old and can grow up to 350 feet. One would think that such giant trees would need deep roots to keep them upright; however, that’s not the case. The root system for the redwoods is surprisingly shallow, growing only about 5-6 feet deep. But their roots are surprisingly wide, expanding around 100 feet from the trunk. Thus, their roots intertwine and even fuse together, giving these trees tremendous strength to withstand high winds and raging floods. In fact, groves of redwoods are sometimes called villages, because the trees are so tightly bound together by their roots. Continue reading “5th Week of Easter”