In order to expedite posting the worship services here on our website, we are reducing the transcript to just the scriptures used and the message. Holy Communion is offered every Sunday. If you are worshipping with us online whether during the live-cast or through on-demand viewing, you are encouraged to have bread and juice or wine available as you watch the service and to participate in communion just as if you are present with us.



God, open us to hear and receive your scriptures today as you would have us hear them, understand them as you would have us understand them, and to act upon them as you would have us act upon them.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*Scriptures this morning are from the NRSV.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us … to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you?

But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

Luke 20:27-38 

Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”

Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”

L:  The scriptures of God for the people of God.

A: Thanks be to God.       

Message – Puzzled – Face to Face with Jesus*

Rev. Val

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer, and may you see fit to use me as a vessel from which you pour out your Divine Word.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

So, the Sadducees asked Jesus this really odd question that doesn’t seem to make much sense in today’s context. To understand the riddle they posed to Jesus, you have to know something of their culture and something of them.

First of all, the Sadducees didn’t believe in life after death. Luke tells us that about them, but what he doesn’t tell you is that the Sadducees were the well-to-do folks in the community. The elite of elite. It makes sense if you think about it. When you have all that this world has to offer, why bother with something beyond it? When you can claim that being rich is a sign of God’s favor and blessing on your life, then why not go all-in on that. Oh, they had a sense of eternity, but it was in their legacy and in their children. Your name survives you—that’s what you were working for.

Sound familiar? It’s not hard to find this sort of thinking around us today. There are those who consider their wealth to be a sign of God’s blessing and who live to ensure their legacy in this world. Still others who believe their wealth makes them better than others, more worthy than others, more important than others.

But perhaps what is most recognizable to us is the approach used to challenge different ways of thinking. They don’t show up to discuss Jesus’ stance on the Resurrection from the dead or what shape the kingdom of heaven will take – in this world and the next. No, they come to make fun, ridicule, or satirize the very idea that anyone would hold an opposing view to theirs.

That attitude probably sounds familiar, too. It seems to be pervasive in our own culture on a wide variety of topics, most relevant to us being who is in and who is out of the church. It’s a money-based “might is right” attitude.

Back to the story in today’s passage … Jesus had just gone a round or two with the lawyers and priests who wanted to talk to him about tax policy in the empire. Now he is faced with a contingent of Sadducees, who just parked their fancy cars and strolled up in their tailored suits and proceeded to concoct a wild scenario designed to make belief in eternity look ridiculous. They weren’t looking for an answer: they were convinced there was no answer. Their only goal was to humiliate their opponent.

“So, Jesus, one bride, seven brothers, who owns her in eternity?”

Before you get upset about that “who owns her” part, remember that in the time of Jesus women had no legal rights, didn’t normally own property, were not viewed as being equal to men, and were treated like property. We have evolved beyond that, although some folks seem to be trying to take us back there – that’s your last go vote reminder before Tuesday’s election –

They asked Jesus that question and, as he always did, He takes them seriously. He listens to their question and he doesn’t dismiss it as the sarcastic ridicule it was meant to be. He approaches the conversation as if it were a real question looking for a real solution to a complicated, if not impossible problem. He addressed them as if they were open to learning something.

The first thing he wants them to learn is that people aren’t property in eternity. He’d like them to learn that people aren’t property anywhere, but a step at a time, it seems. It was the property part that was behind the question in the first place, property and legacy. Who gets to live on? Who has a name in this imaginary heaven, they are wondering? But Jesus says there is no giving away, there is no marriage, because they are children of God, children of the Resurrection, and therefore they don’t exist to produce children. Something changes in the Resurrection, says Jesus, something you just barely understand.

After he’d responded to their sarcasm, Jesus then does something else that he often does in these conversations – he answered the question they should have asked. If they had asked what basis was there for believing in the Resurrection from the dead, it would have been a very different moment. If they had set aside their snark and their disdain long enough to ask and to listen, we might have had a very different model for how differences of theological opinion could be handled.

Jesus had a goal. He wanted to meet them on their own ground. The other thing Luke doesn’t tell us about the Sadducees is that they saw only the books of Moses, the Torah, the first five books of our old testament, as scripture. Only Moses is authoritative for the Sadducees. So, Jesus turns to Moses. “And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed” (v.37).

Uh oh. Now what? Where do you go from there? When he takes your hero and shows him to be on the opposite side of the argument you’re trying to make, it’s hard to come up with a witty and withering reply.

Someone replies to Jesus, but not the Sadducees. The scribes, teachers of the law, who wet their fingers and drew a line in the air. “Score one for Jesus,” they say. The enemy of my enemy, you know. But the Sadducees don’t respond. At least Luke doesn’t give them space to respond but then, as we learned last week, Luke didn’t have much regard for wealthy people. So there probably was a response. A loud and negative one. Sure, they had read that verse before, but it doesn’t mean what Jesus says it means. No way. Could it? Surely not. But what if . . . ?

We hear that one a lot, too, don’t we? That’s not what that passage means. If it’s written in the Bible, it’s by God’s own hand. You’re getting it wrong.

Jesus saw his mission as planting seeds. That’s why he used those images so often to describe the kingdom. A seed takes a while to grow. An idea takes a while to set up residence in the consciousness of a believer. Did he change their minds with that little altercation? It’s hard to know for sure, but maybe a seed was planted. Maybe a mind was opened to a new way of seeing the world and the creator of all that is.

Or maybe it was puzzles within puzzles. This group came to Jesus with a riddle, a test to check his orthodoxy as they defined it anyway. And Jesus riddled them right back. Maybe there is a lesson there for us. Meet folks where they are, speak in their language, and then let the Spirit work. After all, we’ve got an eternity to work with.

Meeting folks where they are, speaking in their language or seeing it through their eyes, from their perspective … it’s something we should be doing but it’s getting harder and harder to do. Because we struggle with it, implicit bias, institutional racism, gender bias, bias against LGBTQ and others … these things all continue to impact our inability to get along and love our neighbors. There are even those that bank on our inability and say things – usually very untrue things – intended to cause us to fear or hate or resent anyone not like us.  

Sometimes we’ll be able to talk with whoever’s doing it, possibly get them to see another side, but not always, In those “not always” times, we need to lift the person up in prayer … give it to God and let God fix them. God is the great fixer, not us. We need to remember that.

I want to share a couple recent pieces I found out there in the cybersphere. The first is written by Rev. Stephen Kliewer. I think it fits with some of what we may be going through. Rev. Kliewer wrote:

waking up this morning I am struggling to smile

like Martha, struggling to make things right

I am troubled by many things

I struggle with all the lies

I struggle with the pervasive fear, floating among us

and the way that this fear

drives people to embrace the way of oppression

and makes them cruel

I struggle with the not-so-slow destruction of the planet

I too want to rail

I want to protest loudly

I want to make things different, better

I want somehow to wake people up

to the way they are pursuing their own destruction

but all is vanity

my lament is scattered by the winds of hate and fear

and my words disappear


and so I go through the day


I am no longer in the moment

feeling the earth beneath my feet

noticing the beauty of creation

I am distracted and anxious

and I no longer see

I do not see the “other”

I do not connect with them, and grasp their joy, or their pain

I am numbed

and compassion is lost

Jesus understood this

as the masses, anxious, trampled one another

and were changed (for the worst) by the hypocrisy of tainted leaders

and lived in fear (Luke 12)

he told them to stop

and breathe

and look around them

and to trust in the love of the Power that created the universe

and to set their hearts on the Kingdom of Love

rather than on power and wealth

Waking up this morning

facing an election that may have dire consequences

for the way of Love

I breathe

I look at the fresh snow

I breathe

I remember that God is love

I breathe

And vow to live fully in each moment

and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion

This second is by Chris Kratzer and it’s something we all really need to think about and wrap our brains around if we’re ever going to find a way to meet people where they are and solve whatever the puzzle of that moment is:

Here’s a message you probably won’t hear at church this morning–some of the best followers of Jesus aren’t Christian.

That’s right.

Catch your breath.

God doesn’t need you to believe in Jesus. Jesus doesn’t need you to believe in Jesus.

He lives far beyond belief statements, doctrine, biblical scholarship, orthodoxy, and theology. He doesn’t align Himself to “right” believing, can’t be beamed into your presence through properly prayed prayers, nor suctioned into your heart through correct words of genuinely “genuine” contrition.

God doesn’t give a rip about what you think about Jesus. Whether He is the son of God or a pre-incarnation of Elvis, born of a virgin or an alien from another planet, or died on the cross for your sins or pulled a David Blaine and never died at all.

As one Scripture writer discovered, beliefs only upgrade you to the level of demons. That’s the company mere beliefs keep. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

Instead, Jesus is a way of life, not a way of belief.

“Whatever you “do” for them, you do it unto ‘Me.'”

For Jesus, belief is always connected, not to what you line up in your head, but ultimately to if and how you love. And when you love the way He loves, He counts it as faith, whether you believe or not.

And make no mistake, Christianity doesn’t have the corner market on love, not even close. In fact, many Christians want to regulate it, control it, prequalify people for it, and flat out stand against it. And Jesus just wants to spit it all out of His mouth and deny He even knows us.

So, maybe it’s best we check our Christianity at the door, because some of the best followers of Jesus aren’t Christians.

They don’t see Jesus as a Savior from a Hell wielding God, a religious mascot cheering the privileged into battle to colonize and conquer the world, nor a path of escape and eternal life for an elite group of people who cracked the code of God’s selective acceptance and approval.

Some are Atheist humans, Jewish humans, Muslim humans, Agnostic Humans–any and every other kind of non-Christian humans.

In fact, some of the best followers of Jesus don’t realize they are following Jesus at all. They love because it’s love, and love is the best way to live.

Church, Bible, rules, creeds, fear, conformity, to-do steps, and inviting Jesus into your heart… not required.

Only love.

Love only.

That’s it.

That’s everything

The only thing, to Jesus.


Grace is brave. Be brave.


Listen, folks. Life is always going to be full of puzzles, some of which we’ll solve with God’s help, and other that may still leave us scratching our head long after we’ve given up on solving it. But there is something we need to remember.  God is faithful. So faithful, he gave up his son so that we might be saved. God loves us as we are. And all God, Christ, and the Spirit are asking us to do is love one another. And maybe, just maybe, it’s love that’s the perpetually missing puzzle piece. All praise and glory to God.


  • Unless listed below, all works cited within the text above.
  • *Adapted in or part from Preaching Notes, Discipleship Ministries, November 6, 2022.

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