Christ the King Sermon (November 20, 2016)

Christ the King C2016

Luke 23:33-43

November 20, 2016

In the summer of 2010, I took a small group of youth on a mission trip to the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in southeast Montana…

I thought that I would never feel as stuck as I did that night we were mired in muck on the top of the buffalo jump.  But today, I feel stuck, and while of course I don’t know if this is true for everyone, I am guessing that most of us feel stuck.  We feel stuck in unjust systems, stuck in racism, stuck in sexism, stuck in heterosexism.  We feel stuck in the way health insurance works and the way we buy and sell houses.  We feel stuck in family systems that don’t feel healthy or loving.  We feel stuck in the ways we live that speed up the progress of global climate change.  I know I felt stuck by the election; I honestly was not a fan of either of the two major party candidates.  We feel stuck in free market capitalism, the way money works in our culture.  I think sometimes we don’t even realize how stuck we feel, especially when it comes to money.  I don’t think most of us can even imagine a world where money is not used; I think most of us forget that God didn’t create money—people did.  And we can’t begin to imagine a different way of getting what we need and want in the world, whether that is food or health care or education or religion.  What we have right here, right now is the limit of our imagination.  We feel stuck.

The good news today is that we are not stuck.  We are not stuck in a world where things must stay the same, day after day, year after year, generation after generation.  We are not stuck in a world that necessarily creates and supports injustice for Jesus laid a path for us to a different world.

In today’s gospel, Jesus does three extraordinary things.  He is on the cross, and in this place of ultimate humiliation and suffering…

  1. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

  2. He does not rush to defend himself or save himself but instead stays the course, knowing that God has called him to walk through this death and eventually into new life.

  3. “Truly I tell you, today, you will be with me in paradise.”  Instead of walking the way of punishment, Jesus promises this man convicted of a crime that he will live with God eternally.

The way of Jesus, the dominion of Jesus on this Christ the King Sunday is a dominion not stuck in racism, sexism, heterosexism, a dominion not stuck in revenge, punishment, violence, injustice.  The way of Jesus is forgiveness, responding to God’s call despite its challenges, and love even in the midst of brokenness and sin.  We glimpse this dominion of Jesus wherever and whenever we extend forgiveness, wherever and whenever we respond to God’s call in our lives, wherever and whenever we reach out in love.  While we may feel stuck, Jesus is Lord, and Christ is king…really.  That means that forgiveness, our sense of God’s call, and love trump revenge, defensiveness, or punishment.  Jesus is Lord, and Christ is king.  I know we feel stuck, but we aren’t.  God has called us to live in this dominion of Jesus that is mixed up with the dominion of this world.  God has called us to embrace forgiveness and love and to walk the way of Jesus ever asking ourselves: what gifts do I have?  How might I serve?  How might I live so as to reveal Jesus’ dominion? 

I’ll leave you with an example.  I share this not to proclaim my goodness, not at all, because I have very much struggled with this, and to be clear, I am not telling you that this is something you should do.  Everybody has their own things they’re working on.  But this is a place where I felt stuck and now no longer do.  Several months ago, I borrowed my mother’s bike because I wondered if I might be able to bike more and drive my car less.  My experiment went pretty well, so I purchased my own bike.  And slowly, slowly, I have been changing my lifestyle so that I am biking as much as possible.  If I am going someplace within six miles of home, I will almost always bike there now.  It has meant changing how I schedule my time because biking takes longer.  It has meant changing how I dress because it’s sometimes difficult to bike in a skirt.  It has meant I am more thoughtful in general about how I use my car.  A year ago, I thought: I could never bike most places.  I want to.  I want to reduce my carbon emissions.  I want to be healthier.  I want to be more connected to my community.  I want to respond to God’s call to live more simply.  But I can’t do it, I thought.  Well, I am doing it.  This past week, I didn’t even get in my car four out of seven days.  Some weeks are better than others, for sure, but I am not stuck. 

Sisters and brothers in Christ, we are not stuck in a dominion of hate.  We are not stuck in a dominion of revenge.  We are not stuck in a dominion of punishment and violence towards anyone or the earth.  Jesus has laid a path for us, a path that is different than the world’s path.  It is different, but it has been laid for us.  And when we start to walk down that path, we will know the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, making it possible to forgive, to respond to God’s call, to love.  We are not stuck in the dominion of this world for Jesus is Lord, and Christ is king.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Sermon: Nov. 13, 2016

Sermon: Nov. 13, 2016

Oscar Romero was a Roman Catholic priest turned bishop and then archbishop of El Salvador from 1977 until 1980 when he was assassinated by para-military personnel inside a church in the middle of a worship service he was leading.  

During those three years, he used the pulpit and his regular weekly radio address to call out corruption among El Salvador’s leaders and the repression of the Salvadoran people.  There were many things to fear in El Salvador in the late 1970s: disappearances, torture, rape, murder, the low-level threat of military occupation of city streets.  In this context, on November 13, 1977, preaching on the very same biblical passage we read today, Archbishop Romero echoed Jesus’ words.  He said: I tell you, brothers and sisters, let us not be frightened.  

The trees are going in!

We are delighted that the trees along our property facing Hansen Park are going in :-) 

A huge thanks to Katherine for all she has done to make this happen. We'll have more details on the entire project later.

 Thanks Catherine! Cutting red tape is harder than digging caliche. 

Thanks Catherine! Cutting red tape is harder than digging caliche. 

 Marlene came out to let everybody working know that soup and sandwiches are waiting in Hope Hall.

Marlene came out to let everybody working know that soup and sandwiches are waiting in Hope Hall.


Sermon: Oct. 30, 2016

Sermon: Oct. 30, 2016

To be a reformer of the church is risky.  Today, we remember and celebrate the work of Martin Luther, a reformer of the church, who lived in early sixteenth century Germany, the reformer whose name our own Lutheran church bears.  Where Wycliffe and Huss and Tyndale were silenced, either through the successful banning of their books or their execution, Luther’s voice somehow managed to be heard.  

2016 Heat Respite @ Grace Lutheran Church: Mid-week Update

We just wanted to add a special update in recognition of the Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. They held a food drive this summer for Grace's Heat Respite program. This was inspired and coordinated by Michelle West, an employee there. Each day on her way to work, Michelle passes by the church and sees the folks lined up, waiting for the church doors to open for the day. She reached out to us and organized a food drive that would support our outreach.

Today they dropped off 784 lbs of non-perishable food items along with 45 lbs of hygiene items!

We are so grateful to those at the Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch where researchers in the Branch use several scientific approaches to determine the cause of the disease, including epidemiologic, clinical physiologic, and molecular genetic approaches.  




Thank you to all of the donors of water, time, money, and love.  We could not do this without you.  Here are the numbers from Week 11:

Volunteers contributed hours 213 this week.

As the 2016 Heat Respite @ Grace Lutheran Church comes to an end this week, we have a message from our pastor:

"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."  

-1 Corinthians 12:4-7

I am grateful to God for all the ways the Spirit has been made manifest among us these past twelve weeks of heat respite!  Whether the manifestation of the Spirit in you was volunteering, donating, or participating in the program, we are blessed to be in community with you. We are grateful for the generosity that has allowed this year's heat respite program to function, both generosity in financial gifts and generosity of spirit. In worship on Sunday, September 4, we will lift up with thanksgiving the names of individuals, congregations, and other partners who volunteered or donated to heat respite 2016. Know that we see the Spirit at work in you! 

With joy,

Pastor Sarah

First Fridays @ Grace with Trunk Space

First Fridays @ Grace with Trunk Space

We're delighted to welcome Trunk Space as a partner in our First Friday celebrations.

Every first Friday of the month, thousands of residents and visitors enjoy the spirit and culture of downtown Phoenix by touring art galleries, venues, and related spaces. Grace is proud to be an official member of First Fridays, and grateful for Interno Abel’s leadership in getting us on this path.

We’re continuing Abel’s work by opening our campus from 6-10 pm each First Friday, and welcoming the First Friday crowd into our sanctuary and Hope Hall. We’ll have three or four bands play in Hope Hall, and meditative music or silence in the Sanctuary.

Trevor's Eagle Project : Helping Hands for the Homeless

Trevor Hokanson

One of our own, 16-year-old Trevor Hokanson is a Junior at Buckeye High School and a Life Scout in Boy Scout Troop 263. In order to achieve the highest rank of Eagle Scout he is required to complete a service project.

Trevor is organizing an event on Friday, October 14 from 10:00am - 4:00pm to provide services to the disadvantaged in downtown Phoenix. He is looking for volunteers to help him serve up to 200 people. Volunteers will help guide the guests to make sure they make the most of the services provided. Some volunteers are needed for kitchen prep, serving, and clean up. There is still a need for volunteers who can provide haircuts.

Any volunteers under the age of 16 will need to shadow an adult. Volunteers 16 to 18 need to use the buddy system. Lunch will be provided for all!

Please click on this link to sign up as a volunteer!

Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The designation "Eagle Scout" has a long history since its founding over one hundred years ago. Only four percent of Boy Scouts are granted this rank after a lengthy review process. The requirements necessary to achieve this rank take years to fulfill. Since its founding, the Eagle Scout rank has been earned by more than two million young men.

Requirements include earning at least 21 merit badges. The Eagle Scout must demonstrate Scout Spirit, an ideal attitude based upon the Scout Oath and Law, service, and leadership. This includes an extensive service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads, and manages. Eagle Scouts are presented with a medal and a badge that visibly recognizes the accomplishments of the Scout. Additional recognition can be earned through Eagle Palms, awarded for completing additional tenure, leadership, and merit badge requirements.

Who are some famous Eagle Scouts?

Learn more about Boy Scout Troop 263 in Buckeye. 


Thank you to all of the donors of water, time, money, and love.  We could not do this without you.  Here are the numbers from Week 10:

Volunteers contributed hours 186 this week.

We received an extremely generous donation from Avella Specialty Pharmacy this week.  8 pallets of water!  The amount of water we have received from all out donors has been truly amazing, and we are very grateful for your generosity.  This allows us to share not only within our programs, but also to help a variety of other outreach programs around the valley with similar goals of helping folks escape this summer heat.

As when Paul wrote to those in Ephesus, “We do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in our prayers,” with deep and sincere gratitude we thank all who have given time, donations, and prayers and feel blessed to be able to share this space, and this love, over the past 10 week and the next 2 weeks.


Thank you to all of the donors of water, time, money, and love.  We could not do this without you.  Here are the numbers from Week 9:

Volunteers contributed hours 173 this week.

We have felt particularly blessed to be able to provide this ministry as, even with the brief respite of rain, we experience this consistently 100+ weather. Thank you very much for making this possible.
This is a service not just addressing the physical needs of those in this space, but we wish to serve in a way exemplified by the words of Mother Teresa: 

“Love is not patronizing and charity isn't about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same -- with charity you give love, so don't just give money but reach out your hand instead.”

We want to thank the Arizona Rock Products Association and Arizona Association of Realtors for coming out with a group on Friday to serve and prepare breakfast and lunch.

News from the ELCA Church-wide Assembly

It is a big day at the Churchwide Assembly. The ELCA meets in assembly every three years but the work of the church, at every level, continues. Which means that there really is a week of work to get done. We are committed to get the business of the church done this week, so today might be a long day.  

As I reflect on our time in New Orleans some of it is hard to explain. I have watched the last several Churchwide Assemblies online and have been engaged and aware of the processes of our work. But the experience of it in person is very different. There is real power in the work we do together. It might seem as if our statements and resolutions are simply busy work, but we have always been a public church. What we say as a church, and how we create those statements matters. The ELCA Churchwide Assembly is a public process of discernment that we engage together and it makes me proud to be a part of a church that functions with such transparency.  No other church works the way we do.  It is in our DNA to publicly live out the Gospel of Jesus in this way. You can learn more about our statements, the decisions we have made and how we are living out our mission go to and you can live stream the plenary sessions and worship.

Update from Pr. Jeff Kallevig, Our Saviour’s, Tucson

News from the ELCA Church-wide Assembly

The work of the Churchwide Assembly is grounded in prayer and centered in worship. The theme of the assembly is "Freed & Renewed in Christ" and each day of the assembly we worship together as this expression of the church.  Leaders have been invited from various parts of the country to lead in turn.  Worshipping at a gathering of the larger church, at synod assembly or other gathering, is always enriched by our diversity.  Each day of this assembly, and our worship together, has been a blessing of renewal for me personally as a pastor.  Ours is a diverse church with a huge variety of settings, and many traditions from these settings. The diverse expressions of our worship inform and inspire our gathering this week.  Thank you for your prayers, your support and your spirit.  You can learn more and see our agenda at and you can live stream the plenary sessions and worship. 

Update from Pr. Jeff Kallevig, Our Saviour’s, Tucson

News from the ELCA Church-wide Assembly

There are a variety of things that go into the work of the ELCA. Our business at the Churchwide Assembly includes budgeting and elections, but also includes receiving reports from church organizations that are accountable to the ELCA and greetings from partner organizations with whom we work in settings around the world. Highlights of our Churchwide Assembly today include personal greetings from the president of the Lutheran World Federation and the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Sometimes we might be tempted to think of our church as the building where we gather each week, but we are a part of the church around the world every time we gather.  It is so important to be reminded, and to nurture those relationships. Thank you for your prayers and support in our work together. You can learn more and see our agenda at and you can live stream the plenary sessions and worship.

Update from Pr. Jeff Kallevig, Our Saviour’s, Tucson

News from the ELCA Church-wide Assembly

The work of our gathering has begun, and my backside is tired of sitting already. But the things we are learning and accomplishing are exciting. For example, today we learned about "Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry and Eucharist" which is the latest summary of all the ways the Lutheran and Roman Catholic dialog has found agreement. In addition to the business of elections and budget we are also making significant connections with those from other parts of the country. 

Walk along with the assembly as we do OUR work. You can learn more and see our agenda at and you can live stream the plenary sessions and worship.

Update from Pr. Jeff Kallevig, Our Saviour’s, Tucson

News from the ELCA Church-wide Assembly

As we prepare to begin the work of the ELCA, today is a day of reunion.

I first came to New Orleans in 2006, leading a group of adults in relief work following Hurricane Katrina. Alex O'Connell was the local coordinator for our work. As a native of New Orleans he shared deeply of himself, his experience and the history of his home. I brought groups back repeatedly in the years that followed, and he visited me while he was traveling. Reconnecting with Alex has been the highlight of my return to this city, and for me shines a light on the evolution of my ministry and the work of the ELCA. Our work together has helped heal this city, and in every way the city shows its gratitude. There have been many other reunions, and many other places where we are working where God is leading us.  I am so blessed to be a part of this church.

Update from Pr. Jeff Kallevig, Our Saviour’s, Tucson

2016 HEAT RESPITE @ GRACE LUTHERAN CHURCH: Week 8 (August 1st - August 5th)

Thank you to all of the donors of water, time, money, and love.  We could not do this without you.  Here are the numbers from Week 8:

Volunteers contributed hours 227.5 this week.

Over the past week, as well as the week of July 18th – 22nd, the congregation at Lord of
Life Lutheran Church
prepared and delivered 200+ sack lunches a day. That is over
2000 lunches that were passed out to guests of our program and those in need in the
surrounding area. Thank you very much, and to all those who donate, for your time
and service.

An additional thanks to First Congressional United Church of Christ who have been providing lunch on Monday's throughout the summer.

2016 HEAT RESPITE @ GRACE LUTHERAN CHURCH: Week 7 (July 25th - July 29th)

Thank you to all of the donors of water, time, money, and love.  We could not do this without you.  Here are the numbers from Week 7:

Volunteers contributed 275 hours

Thank you to the Highlands Church Youth Group for coming out with a crew of about 40 last week. While the Heat Respite is going on, our maintenance demands are focused on Hope Hall, and we can get behind on other projects that need to be done. The youth group helped to clean the sanctuary, basement, and the grounds, a project that seemingly was not directly related to the Heat Respite, but a project that helped us out a ton, allowing us to focus on giving those participants of Heat Respite the best experience and care we can.

We also wanted to thank Be Coffee for their donations.  They are a small coffee shop down the street from the church at 214 E. Roosevelt Street.  You can find the menu here and text your order to 602.687.7544.

You might have noticed the big jump on Monday.  That is partly due the great work that Lord of Life does with the Grace Room.  Every Monday throughout the year the Grace Room opens Monday mornings as a clothes pantry, providing shirts, pants, socks, hygiene, and other necessities to folks who need them. As this program runs year-round, if you ever have new or used clothes, shoes, or backpacks/suitcases that you would have otherwise taken to Good Will or another location, we can take them as well. We do not sell any of the items we receive and we work with Native American Urban Ministry and ICM if we receive an overflow of items.