All posts by Pastor Karl Hanf

Death Passing Away Into Life

The scripture for this sermon is Revelation 21:1-6.

Twice our scripture in Revelation mentions passing away.  This phrase has become a euphemism for dying.  I use it often with families because dying or dead sound so…ugly I guess, but also because I think it sums up well what is going on when someone we know, loved and shared a life with has died. They have passed away.  Our time with them is over. They have passed away and taken with them unique memories, gifts and insights. Continue reading Death Passing Away Into Life

Made in God’s Image

The text for this sermon is Genesis 1:1-2:4.  Generally, I strive to use inclusive language, that is not use male or female pronouns to describe God.  It was just too awkward linguistically to do this for this sermon.  I apologize.  As the sermon makes clear, male and female are made in God’s image.  God has no gender.

I don’t know about you, but when I read the creation story, it is all about me.  I guess I am like that in everything, really.  When I look at a group picture, I scan it to find myself, only to make a judgment of how fat I look or especially bald.  My mother’s most memorable and best stories are always those that involve me.  Even your comments after worship are filtered by my mind into two baskets, those things in worship that I was responsible for and those that someone else was responsible for. Continue reading Made in God’s Image

A Coronation

The text for this sermon is Acts 1:1-11.

Pastors are a hard bunch to please.  We complain that the secular world has claimed our most sacred holidays.  Christmas has been overtaken by commercialism. Christmas carols are sung in the malls in October.  Easter baskets, Easter eggs and colorful jelly beans are identified more with this holiday than the bloody cross or the empty tomb.  Santa and the Easter Bunny are more recognizable than Jesus by our children.  Even though we grumble and groan about this, we gleefully count the crowds that come to worship on Christmas Eve and Easter.  While reluctantly admitting that people remember these holidays because the culture has made them so important. Continue reading A Coronation

Thank You Notes from Pastor Karl

NBC late, late night host Jimmy Fallon, has a Friday night segment called, Thank You Notes. In it, he gives thanks, tongue in cheek, for things he really is not too happy about.  For example, he once gave thanks for a family of five walking down the sidewalk in front of him, s-l-o-w-l-y and side by side so that he had to step off the curb to pass them.  They are usually pretty funny and it got me to thinking what would my pastor, tongue in cheek, Thank You Notes, list look like.

Here is my best attempt. Continue reading Thank You Notes from Pastor Karl

Summer Life at Messiah

At Messiah, life changes in the summer, but we are still a vibrant community.  This summer our Joseph’s Coat Ministry will move to a new location that God is preparing for us now, nearly 100 volunteers will welcome over 200 children for our Vacation Bible School in June, our Preschool will be giving tours and preparing their new all day Kindergarten classroom, our servant work at the food pantry, First English, Rebecca’s House, Faith on Eighth and the Family Shelter will faithfully carry on, people people will gather Wednesday nights for bible study at 6:30 and worship at 7:30, our Volleyball, Golf Scrambles and Softball teams will play, hundreds will enjoy great home cooking at our food booth at the Tomato Festival, thousands will cheer our float at the Reynoldsburg Fourth of July parade, Continue reading Summer Life at Messiah

Paul in Athens

The text for this sermon is Acts 17:16-33.

I want to spend some time this morning in the story we read in the book of Acts.  Let’s start by looking at it carefully.  If you could pull out the scripture insert and follow along with me.

Paul happens to be in Athens because he had caused such a ruckus in Thessalonica that the Thessalonians chased him not just out of town, but even followed him to the next town and chased him out of there, too.  When Paul got to Athens he figured he had lost them and decided to rest and wait for his partners Timothy and Silas.  Paul didn’t come to Athens to start a church, but to hide from some really mad parishioners. Continue reading Paul in Athens

Coming to Faith

The text for this sermon is John 20:19-31.

In the 80’s when Lutherans realized they were shrinking nationally, they reacted with a big push on witnessing.  The thinking, I suppose, if we could just get our people to tell their neighbors and friends about how they came to Jesus, people would choose to come to Jesus with us.  From what I can tell from the numbers, it didn’t work out so great. Continue reading Coming to Faith

Good Friday: It is finished.

It is finished. These are the last words of Jesus in the book of John.  I’ve been thinking of how Jesus might have said these three words.

To state the obvious, Jesus has had a horrific week. Greeted as a Jewish savior when he entered Jerusalem, by Friday he is dying on the cross.  Just in the last twenty four hours he has been arrested, tried, and beaten, mocked and humiliated.  On an instrument of torture he has hung physically exposed, his body aching, his wounds bleeding, his throat gasping for water his life leaving him. Continue reading Good Friday: It is finished.

The Stories and Rituals of Holy Week

Stories make my small world larger and allow me to understand deeper truths about life.   Rituals bring me comfort and mark parts of my life as important.  I love them both, which is good because the churches best tools to communicate God’s love are story and ritual.  At her best, she uses both to draw people closer to God.

The rituals of Holy Week help us enter into the story. We are part of the parade on Palm Sunday and shout with the crowd when we read the Passion.  We share a meal of bread and wine on Maundy Thursday as Jesus did on the night he was betrayed.  We drag a wooden cross on Good Friday as Jesus dragged one down the road to Golgotha. Continue reading The Stories and Rituals of Holy Week