Hope Floats | January 12, 2020 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson 1st Sunday after Epiphany
We are to be a light upon a hill. A bright, shining light of hope. Even a simple candle flame can give us hope. God offered Jesus in a simple fashion; a baby to bring us hope.
Hope Rises Also | January 5, 2020 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson Epiphany
Epiphany means to show up. A revealing. When the Magi bowed before Jesus, they were showing their hope of the promised one. How can we show hope in today's world?
December 29, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson
Our service was held in the Fellowship Hall in conjunction with Pajamas and Pancakes for Sunday School. Because of this, there is no recording for this week.
Christmas Pageant | December 15, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson Third Sunday in Advent
The children presented their annual Christmas pageant.
The Duvet of Darkness | December 8, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson Second Sunday in Advent
When darkness happens, do you reach for something comforting, mentally or physically? Embracing that darkness helps us to not be blinded by the artificially illuminated world around us and allows us to be closer to ourselves, another person or perhaps a situation. We need both darkness and light. God uses both and is present within both, to calm us and bring us peace. Our duvet, our comforter in the darkness.
Treasures of Darkness | December 1, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson First Sunday in Advent
"I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name."
Do not be afraid of darkness. It is only in the darkness we can see the splendors of the universe.
Getting the Full Picture | November 24, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson... Inspired Series: Thanks
Photos allow us to capture a moment in time to remember. We want the full picture, but often miss the details. Individually we are made in the full image of God, but together we are the body of Christ. Give thanks.
Installation Service Of Rev. Jeffrey Dodson | November 17, 2019 | Rev. Jonathan Dodson & NE Association Clergy
Our leader, our teacher, our friend!
Listen to the full service.
Star Love: A New Hope | November 17, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson... Inspired Series: Hope
The original Star Wars movie was titled "A New Hope". What is hope? Jesus says the day will come when all shall be undone...a sort of mini apocalypse. He is really pointing out that there are better things to come. It won't be easy, but hope will save you. Hope in a world that we can help by resisting evil.
The Gift of the Arrow | November 10, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson... Inspired Series: Gift
A famous bible verse goes like this: Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, the life." He is pointing the way like an arrow. Think of an arrow this way: The Way = the shaft, which sets the direction; The Truth = the fletching, which helps the arrow go straight; The Life = the point, which directs us towards our target of a right life. Point your arrow in the direction of life.
Spiritual Genealogy | November 3, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson... Inspired Series: Soul
What is your faith history? Who has influenced your faith and what you believe? Whose stories do you carry with you? Thanks to the many before us that have provided our spiritual landscape.
Humble Limbo or Mambo? | October 27, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson... Inspired Series: Humility
Many of us have done the Limbo; not as many the Mambo. The Limbo has people going under a bar. The Mambo requires a partner and learning steps. Dancing is all about paying attention to your partner; being humble. Humility isn't about how low to the ground you can go, it can mean setting aside our individualism for the benefit of the community. It's about right relationships.
A Good Bother | October 20, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson... Inspired Series: Word
One of the great problems today is our sense of isolation; no one we feel we can turn to.
In the Kingdom of God, you matter. You're not as alone as you think. There is hope.
Pics, Or It Didn't Happen | October 13, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson... Inspired Series: Ability
In the scripture, 10 lepers were healed, but only one thanked Jesus. Christ basically says, "Wait a minute..."
In our culture, we want evidence that something really happened; pics on Instagram, a post on Facebook, or Twitter.
Faith is different. It is based on something much deeper. Gratitude is the greatest evidence of faith.
For the Love of Mustard | October 6, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson... Inspired Series: World
Mustard seeds...a love story of faith. They represent a potential to expand and grow. A small amount can become much and fill the holes in your soul.
Benches not Fences | September 29, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson... Inspired Series: Life
What does it mean to have a good life? Having things and riches? Elevating yourself above others?
Does it take a wall to make this happen?
Maybe we should be building benches instead. Places that soften our hearts and broaden our relationships with others as we sit and talk. A truly good life is when we share with others.
Inspired Prayer | September 22, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson... Inspired Series: Prayer
Christians are asked to pray on a regular basis. But, prayer can be a tricky thing...way too simple or way too difficult. Timothy exhorts us to pray for everyone, which calls us out of our provincialism and isolation. Prayer can be a way of disrupting the world, within and without.
Will and Grace Live Here | September 15, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson... Inspired Series: Grace
Do you remember the TV show "Will and Grace"? The characters needed each other, supported each other, inspired each other. Inspired means God's breath blowing in. Grace means being courteous, having decency and respect.
Using your will, can you live out grace?
What's In Your Backpack? | September 8, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson... Inspired Series: Child
Life's moments move from Hmmm, to Hem (hemming in), to Aha. Seeing and opening a backpack can represent this. Hmm, what's in it, open it and see, aha...now I know.
God's backpack can be similar. Inside can be courage, knowledge and love. When we put on the backpack, we are taking with us God's great courage and love.
Table Time | September 1, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson... Inspired Series: Table
Picture a table that you have been seated at for some occasion. Did you eat? Did you play games? Tables bring people together and can be a symbol of God's mercy and extravagance. There is something for everyone at the table. Where do you sit? At the head? At the far end?
Is there a table you need to go to in the future?
Sabbath Work | August 25, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson
We have the opportunity everyday to make our world better, and that starts with taking a pause and finding the Sabbath-keeping time within our daily lives.
A Future of Fiery Hope | August 18, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson
Campfires? What's not to like?! Amazing things happen around campfires, like getting to know our neighbors or picking up a spark of wisdom. God's light draws us in. It can keep us warm and can spark us for the future. A fire of hope.
Eyes Wide Open | August 11, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson
We use lights to illuminate certain things. God uses his light to help us focus on the things we should pay attention to. Around God is chaos and action. Paying attention pleases God.
So...how does God keep us safe and guard us against struggle and turmoil?
Love and Compost | August 4, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson
Compost...what does it have to do with love? Great question. Love is like compost. Take what we need and return the rest. We are at our best when we help others to grow. Nourish all with love.
Is It Too Much To Ask? | July 28, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson
Rev. Jeff tells the story of his father always needing a flashlight and batteries, with him asking, "Is it too much to ask for a flashlight?!" A great way to remind us not to forget to ask God for help when we need it, because Jesus says the Holy Spirit is enough.
The BIG Picture | July 21, 2019 | Rev. Jeffrey Dodson's 1st Sunday
We go about our lives, doing the day-to-day things we all do. But every once in awhile do we stop to see the big picture...to be filled with wonder...to sit at the feet of little children and listen to them?
Find the things that fill you with awe and remind yourself why we do life's small things; of why we exist in this place and for what purpose.
It Isn't JUST About Winning... | July 14, 2019 | Rick Coles, Worship Leader
We all want to win, but being a Christian is more than just winning. It means helping others, doing your best, being there for someone, keeping your promises, etc.
Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ | July 7, 2019 | Rev. Nathan Athorp, Director of Pilgrim Camp
Attempt to meet people where they are, even when the wolves are breathing down your neck.
Why Outdoor Ministry Matters | June 30, 2019 | Glenn Svetnicka, Executive Director of UCCI
Glenn talks about Pilgrim and Moon Beach camps, people's experiences there, and why those matter.
An Accurate Accounting | June 23, 2019 | Jeanne Williams
Jeanne states and summarizes The Doctrine of Discovery, our journey of learning, and where we are today in our understanding.
Father, Grandpa, Daddio, Pop | June 16, 2019 | Jack Christ
A fractured fairytale of acceptance.
Transitions | June 9, 2019 | Justus Paul, Worship Leader
Which way will each of us look? Will we resist transition or will we work as partners in Christ's service? Look to the future and Christ's word to meet the needs of transition.
Can We Try It One More Time?! | June 2, 2019 | Pastor Stephen Welch (Farewell Sunday)
Using his notes from his very first Sunday with us, Pastor Welch challenges us to do greater works. Do we believe we can? Just jump in. You are important to God.
Don't Forget to Remember | May 26, 2019 | Pastor Stephen Welch
Many of us have a tendency to forget things. Memories are essential to a meaningful human life. Don't forget our fragile ideals. Be Christ's influence in our community.
Confirmation Sunday | May 19, 2019 | Stephen Welch & Confirmands
Listen to our confirmands in the joyful celebration of being confirmed.
Faith Outside the Box | May 12, 2019 | Reverend Jeffery Dodson, minister candidate
Working with God to build a world of beauty and love, this is the design of creation.
Using our faith outside of the old thinking box, to pursue justice and love kindness. Let's build something amazing!
Doctrine of Discovery Reparations | May 5, 2019 | Larry Littlegeorge, HoChunk Nation
After spending time learning about the Doctrine of Discovery and its devastating effects on native nations, Larry Littlegeorge of the HoChunk nation talks about how we can move forward.
Easter Humor | Apr 28, 2019 | Pastor Stephen Welch
The Sunday following Easter is sometimes known as Holy Humor Sunday. The Easter message is one of joy and celebration. The practice of celebrating life with joy is one every Christian should follow.
Easter | Apr 21, 2019 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Easter begins with a sad ritual in a cemetery but ends with an opportunity for faith. It is a wake up call to life for you. Easter is an awesome, transforming, life changing power. It is God shaking each of us awake that we may live a new life!
Apr 14, 2019 | Children's Palm Sunday Pageant
Listen as our children present the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey.
Forgiveness Is Risky Business | Apr 7, 2019 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Isaiah declares that God grants forgiveness before repentance. Is that even possible—receiving forgiveness even before you repent of what you’ve done? We’ve always assumed it works the other way around, and it’s certainly not the way we prefer to practice forgiveness.
Even Though It All Went Wrong | Mar 31, 2019 | Rev. Stephen Welch
As Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son, it is you and I who are the prodigal. What God will ask us at the end of our lives is not “Were you like Mother Theresa?” Instead God is going to ask us, “Were you the YOU I created YOU to be?”
Come, You Disconsolate | Mar 24, 2019 | Rev. Stephen Welch
In this Lenten season we have the opportunity to acknowledge that there are times in each of our lives when we fall into the category of those who are disconsolate. At those times we call out to God for assistance, and our faith teaches us that God does not turn away but responds.
There Are Things for Us to DO | Mar 17, 2019 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Jesus promised, “I tell you the truth. Anyone who has faith in me will do what I’ve been doing. He will do even greater things than these.” That’s a breathtaking promise. If this is even remotely possible, then must we not admit we have never taken Jesus seriously?
Why Do We Have So Much Fun? | Mar 10, 2019 | Rev. Nathan Athorp
Rev. Athorp is Managing Directer at Pilgrim Center. He says that our world today faces some really big challenges and that the way we’re going to overcome those challenges is to be in healthy relationships and strong community with one another. That’s the work that our Wisconsin Conference camps are trying to do.
What Do You Expect This Morning? | Mar 3, 2019 | Rev. Stephen Welch
When it comes to seeing the flaws in each other, we’ve all got 20-20 vision. But can we open our eyes and the expectation of our hearts to see the glory of God that is present here? Can we keep our eyes open to what God is doing right now in others and in us?
The Creed that Jesus Lived | Feb 24, 2019 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Why are we here in this sanctuary each week? We’re discovering again the creed of Jesus, the faith statement by which he lived his life. How do we live a good life as a child of God? The answer sounds simple, but it’s profound: Believe in God and serve your neighbor.
Warnings that Are Hard to Swallow | Feb 17, 2019 | Rev. Stephen Welch
There are some passages in the Bible that are tough to swallow. In the Beatitudes Jesus describes the world in ways quite different from the way we are used to seeing it. Those whom the world ignores are the ones that receive God’s blessing. The ones whom the world honors are the ones who are being cursed.
P Is for Participatory | Feb 10, 2019 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Though we as the church are often called the body of Christ on Earth, all too often we are substituting institution for discipleship. We’ve turned Christ’s organic body into the structure of organization. We yearn for a new sense of purpose that’s based on a relationship with Jesus rather than membership in an organization.
A Better Way | Feb 3, 2019 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Because the core of the universe is love, and God is love, then God wants us to be like God, to be more loving. God wants us to experience love, to grow in love, to receive love, and to share it.
Joy Is the Business of Heaven | Jan 27, 2019 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Many of us learned the song at camp, “I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” Unfortunately, too many Christians have that joy so far down in their hearts that no one can see it. That surely was not God’s intention.
The Strength of the Web | Jan 20, 2019 | Rev. Stephen Welch
As members of the church we can rightly claim membership in the first and most powerful website of all. While the technological world boasts of the connective powers and possibilities available on the internet, the capabilities are paltry, and its visions are puny when compared with this web, which is our church. It’s brought together by the master web weaver, the Holy Spirit.
Listen Quietly, Listen Closely | Jan 13, 2019 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Pastor Stephen gets emotional about the hymn “You Are Mine”: “If there is one song that summarizes my ministry—and in my opinion, summarizes the ministry of Jesus Christ—this is it. God is calling you and me to be God’s special child.”
Some Luggage You Want to Lose | Dec 30, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Forgiveness is turning to our forgiving God in worship and praise and offering ourselves and all of our accumulated luggage to God. It’s God who forgives. We must depend on God to take our baggage and send it to the destination where we’ll never see it again.
The Most Perfect Gift | Dec 23, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
At this time of year we are searching for the perfect gift. The truth, though, is that the most perfect gift has already been given to us, the gift of the Christ child, the gift of salvation, of redemption. When we allow the perfect gift of the Christ child to live in our hearts, it changes everything.
Christmas Pageant: “‘Twas the Night Before…” | Dec 16, 2018 | Children & Confirmands
Our children and confirmands delighted us with an alternate version of “‘Twas the Night Before…”
Let’s Put This Love Into Action | Dec 9, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
It is our challenge today to put our prayers into action. God wants to use us to change the world.
What Does This Mean? | Dec 2, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
On this first Sunday of Advent, the theme is Hope. But where is hope in this apocalyptical time?
What Is the Truth? | Nov 25, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Do we follow Jesus or do we play it safe? Are we willing to speak truth, even when it means speaking truth to power?
Squirrels and N.U.T.S. | Nov 18, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Squirrel Theology is in contrast to Dog Theology and Cat Theology. Squirrels use all of their attributes to get to the prize—nuts. They find joy in every moment, as if that is the only moment that matters.
Our Giving Demonstrates Our Values | Nov 11, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Our giving to God does demonstrate our values. It’s an important spiritual truth that giving does not reflect our income or the state of the balance sheet from our financial advisor. It reflects, however, what is the most important to us in the living of our lives.
We Remember | Nov 4, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
In worship on All Saints Sunday we consciously join together with the saints in heaven and acknowledge and celebrate with those who have gone before. This is a time to be a reminder to us that we are called to be the saints.
Do Justice | Oct 28, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
It was another tough week in America. There were threats of bombs for many public servants. And then Saturday, in worship, our sisters and brothers were murdered, for no other reason than hatred, racism. That influence and impact needs to come to Ripon to be aware that this is significant to us as well.
Hearts AND Hands | Oct 21, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Jesus wants us to be last.
It's Who We Are | Oct 14, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Jesus lobbed a spiritual hand grenade at the rich young ruler, telling him to go and sell everything he owned and give it all away.
World Communion Is All About Neighbors | Oct 7, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Today is World Communion Sunday. This is Christ’s table. No one is turned away for any reason. Ever.
What Makes You Cry, Church? | Sept 30, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Jesus did not try to curb his tongue when denouncing all those who take unfair advantage or practice outright abuse against the little ones, the poor, the weak, the young, the old, the sick, the outcast.
Sept 23, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
With chutzpah and humility Jesus is challenging you and me today.
Come and Dare to Risk | Sept 16, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
The challenge being offered to us today is to live the faith, to dare to actually be a disciple of Jesus with integrity, with all that we do.
Joy Is a Decision | Sept 9, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
When we live out our faith as if it is a funeral service, we have forgotten what the Gospel is really about. The joy of the Lord is the best part of our faith. The Bible is a book of joy.
Alter? Altar? How About Table? | Sept 2, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
The communion table teaches us that we’re a community, and there’s a place at this table for every person.
We Become Christians by Acting Like Christians | Aug 26, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Sometimes it is in making believe that we come to believe. Faith is something we have to act as if we have in order to have it.
Creation Is Precious | Aug 19, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
At an outdoor service Pastor Stephen shared Chief Seattle’s Speech of 1854, a powerful statement on the environment, culture, and the future of humanity. It is our responsibility to take care of God’s creation.
Why Are YOU Here? | Aug 12, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
When we are motivated by our fears and are afraid that we are the only ones left and that no one understands and everyone is out to get us, God’s message to us is that fear is a liar, and you are not alone.
The Work of God | Aug 5, 2018 | Rev. Kevin Mundell
God wants us to know that we are loved, and loved in a way where we don’t have to impress God with anything, but then can freely love ourselves and our neighbors. We do things for them for their sake, not for ours.
You Raise Me Up | July 29, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
The world needs more encouragers, and that’s the role our faith community needs to play.
Tearing Down the Walls | July 22, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Walls. Everywhere we have walls. We are the Church that is called to tear down those walls, to tear down the walls of hate and hostility and build bridges of love and reconciliation.
Abundantly Free | July 15, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Every minute of our lives God declares we are worthy. That’s how God created us. Period.
Get Out of Your Head | July 8, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
Faith in Christ is more than an intellectual assent or an agreement. It’s believing with the heart, with our will, with adoration, with our actions.
The Heart Calibrates the Hands | July 1, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
If you’re not giving your whole self, then you’re missing the message of life that Jesus brings to each one of us.
Open Up Your Lives | June 24, 2018 | Rev. Stephen Welch
In today’s scriptures from James and 2 Corinthians there is a profound implication that rests upon each one of us, to not just talk the talk of faith, but to live it.
Gospel Music | June 10, 2018 | Wisconsin UCC Gospellers
The Wisconsin UCC Gospellers brought the message in song: “Jehovah Jireh,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Jacob’s Ladder,” and “He Never Failed Me.”