“Generosity inspires generosity” a sermon on Matt 201:1-16

9/24/2017

Sermon on Matt 20:1-16
“Generosity inspires generosity”

St. Paul Lutheran Church
Old Saybrook, CT

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A FULL DAY’S WAGE (min msg)

Matt 20:1-16

2baldpastors.com

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“Forgiveness…it’s tough” a sermon on Matt 18:21-35

09/17/2017

Sermon on Matt 18:21-35
“Forgiveness…it’s tough”

St. Paul Lutheran Church
Old Saybrook, CT

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“Peace among the waves” a funeral sermon for Ken Klein

Hello Geoff” Ken would say when I’d knock and walk into Ken’s room to see him.

His eyes would light up and he’d invite me in.

Many people will probably disagree with me on this, but I can tell you openly and honestly that I have always found it endearing when people start calling me by my name and not my job title, like when people say, “Hello doctor,” or “Hello officer,” or something like that. I know its respectful to call people by title. I have always thought it also feels clinical and sterile; professional, but distant. Ken stopped saying, “Hello pastor” and started saying “Hello Geoff” a while ago. I wasn’t just his pastor and he wasn’t just my parishioner. We were friends.  I loved him like a friend.

Ken had a warm and loving spirit. He had a way about him where he could complain about the temperature of the room or the length of time he had to wait for someone to help him use the facilities, or the annoying quirks his latest roommate and then when it came time to pray together he would thank God for the people that worked at Apple, and pray for that same roommate that pushed his patience.  He’d be tired from visits – he loved visits – but always made me feel at home and urged me to stay even when it seemed clear that it would be better if I came back later.  Sometimes when he was feeling up for it, he’d take me “out” for coffee down the hall, and wanted to introduce me to all his neighbors. But then he would crave a conversation one on one.

He had the same impression on many others. People from St. Paul also loved to see him and spend time with Ken. Our daughter Mia often liked coming along with me to see him. When Tammie brought some of the kids from church to bring Ken cupcakes (he did love his sweets) he knew them by name and shared stories with them from when they were younger. And they loved him for it, just as he loved them.

When I would see him, I’d ask how he was doing and how he was feeling – which was often tired and not great, but he would quickly change the nature of the visit by asking about Tammie and the kids, having lunch with Ketty, sharing what was going on with grand-kids, or reminiscing about his brother or growing up in Louisiana, or the years he and Ketty spent in Illinois.  He had a great picture of he and Ketty cross-country skiing and he had such a different stature back then – strong, confident, and full of life.


I only knew him the last three years as the Parkinsons made him weaker and more diminutive, but even in those former stronger days, he had the same gentleness in his eyes, that same eagerness to serve and help, the same faithfulness that knew how to weather storms and care for the people around him.

The first Memorial Day we lived here in town we went to the parade, but beforehand we went to the ceremony down at the riverfront at Saybrook Point led by the veterans. The first announcement made before any of the officials were introduced was, “We are sorry to inform you Ken Klein can’t be with us today because he is not feeling well,” and there was an audible gasp of both disappointment and concern. He had such an impact that they loved him too. It is hard for me to picture Ken as a warrior, serving in both the Pacific Theater of WWII and in the reserves for many years. Yet I can picture why he served and continued to serve. It was an opportunity help and invest in others.  I see Ken as one who brought a sense of calm in troubled waters.  Peace among the waves.

It strikes me as the same motivation as the reason he served on so many town committees and planning teams – he wanted to invest in his community and make the world a better place. When he was working as an engineer he felt too busy to be otherwise engaged; and now in his retirement he could make the life to which he felt called – doing what he could to make things better.

He would have loved to see this building transformed when we are done with it. He asked about how the project was progressing, then he’d tell me about Ketty bringing him to see the outside when out on one of their drives around the loop to see the water. More peace among the waves.

The thing you should know about Ken if you don’t already, is that his sense of calm and caring, love of family, church, town and country, of not-settling for complacency yet giving thanks, of receiving others and investing in them, were never about Ken Klein. It was about his faith – which was honest and true, deep and wide, keeping his course in the crashing waves of life, particularly in these last years of his life.

He would tell funny and interesting stories and then pause and say, “Well now, I see you brought communion” even if the ladies had just brought him communion an hour before. He would listen to the reading of scripture as if his life depended on it. And when we would talk about any reading from the Bible, Ken would usually comment on God’s continued faithfulness, even in a world that seemed so turbulent most of the time.

I don’t recall ever talking about this particular passage of the Gospel with Ken. Somehow, it reminded me of him right away. That in-the-midst of trouble, struggle or uncertainty, or even at a time when we all gather in grief and loss of someone we love like Ken, Jesus stands up in the boat and utters a word that calms those storms.

Or better yet, Jesus calms us to face them.

It is a word of peace that confronts the stormy gale around us; not an “inner peace” or tranquility we can seek within or a strong resolve we can muster, but true peace – brought into reality from Jesus’ presence and voice.

Ken both understood that word of peace and tried to live it. If Christ is in the boat with us when the waves crash around us (he is); we have no reason to worry. If we don’t need to worry about what storms rage around us (we don’t); we can be a voice of calm for others.

Our lives are not about us.

Our lives become about Jesus being with us in the boat all along. If Jesus remains with us in our boat in life (he does), then he remains with us in death and the life to come (and he most certainly will!). All from a little word. “Peace.”

Waves will continue to push against us. Whether it’s the loss of our beloved Ken, the next tragedy or conflict we see in the news or the real struggles we see rocking the boat in the lives of people we know and care about.

And the question that remains for us is not what are going to do about it, or how strong we will need to be to weather whatever comes next and ride it out.  It is not asking Jesus, “Don’t you care that we are perishing?”  or “Don’t you know my name?” but only if we can listen to how the Lord responds to our pleading.

“Peace.”  May you know that peace, and share it with others, calling them by name.

“Be still!” Christ’s peace goes with you now. Peace among the waves. AMEN

__

On that day, when evening had come, (Jesus) said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’ (Mark 4:35-41)

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WHEN YOUR FRIEND IS A JERK (min msg)

Matthew 18:21-22

https://youtu.be/nLHVa_f0IOU

Full disclosure: Joe and I are just acting. Joe is a really great guy, and a good friend. You’d like him. Also, no hats were harmed in the creation of this video.

But Jesus’ words about forgivness are shocking, right?

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FEAR & PEACE (min msg)

John 14:27

from Old Saybrook Town Beach

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“Don’t blame Peter, pick up your cross” a sermon on Matt 16:21-28

9/03/2017

Sermon on Matt 16:21-28
“Don’t blame Peter, pick up your cross”

St. Paul Lutheran Church
Old Saybrook, CT

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