First Baptist Church of La Crosse, Wisconsin
First Baptist Church of
La Crosse, Wisconsin
1209 Main Street
La Crosse, WI
(608) 782-6553


Following Faithfully (Genesis 17:1-8,15-16; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38)

There’s a wonderful sentence that begins Hebrews chapter 11: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” It is the witness of both the Hebrew and Christian faiths that the unseen world – God and all that God implies in the life of this seen world – is completely and wholly a reality, though unseen. Our faith is the inner and outer assurance and conviction that this is so, even though others may doubt it (and so may we from time to time). In order to think or talk about our faith we… Continue reading

Being Read By the Story (Genesis 9:8-17; Mark 1:9-15)

This past Wednesday, in addition to being Valentine’s Day, was Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. I remind you, almost annually, that Lent is the time we prepare for Easter by reflecting on how we’re doing spiritually. It is more than that, however, since it centres on the Gospel stories of the journey Jesus took to Easter. It’s important to remember that one of the greatest practical and, if you will, marketing difficulties for the earliest Christians had to do with the fact that the founder of their movement had been rejected by the powerful among his people,… Continue reading

…Healed, Restored, Forgiven (Isaiah 43:18-25; 2 Corinthians 1:18-22; Mark 2:1-12)

The bulletin cover reminds us that the last Sunday of Epiphany points us toward Lent. It is traditionally called Transfiguration Sunday, and the Lectionary Gospel deals with that story that reveals, briefly, Jesus’ glory. This Last Sunday of Epiphany also affords us another opportunity to look at how the baby of Bethlehem we so recently welcomed is a revelation (an epiphany) of God’s nature to us in his teachings. It is important to understand that these teachings are not only so we know information about Jesus and his life, but also how discipleship to Jesus is shaped, not only in… Continue reading

Waiting is Not Doing Nothing (Isaiah 40:21-31;1 Corinthians 9:19-23;Mark 1:29-39)

All week long I have been thinking about our annual meeting and the conversations we had. I appreciated the spirit and tone of it all. Since, we’ve been together a long time now as pastor and people, it’s good to reflect on things that have been accomplished over the past decade and a half. It has been a work of love on the part of both Maxine and myself to offer leadership to what is very much a church of leaders with good ideas and stamina. Over the years we’ve been as creative as any ABC church in Wisconsin (and,… Continue reading

Here’s a Story (Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28)

Tomorrow would be my father’s 107th birthday. As most of you know, he was an American Baptist minister. He preached every Sunday (sometimes twice) for about 45 years. He then had about a dozen interim pastorates where he preached less often, but most weeks of the year. When I became a minister and teacher, my father and I developed a wonderfully supportive colleagial and pastoral relationship. We differed on many things, but both of us were OK to leave those things alone. I can remember asking him what to do, and I don’t think he ever gave me advice directly.… Continue reading

Abundance at Heart (Psalm 36:1-12; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; John 2:1-11)

We have arrived at the Third Sunday after Epiphany. To remind us, once again, Epiphany is the season when we remember and celebrate the “manifestation” or “showing forth,” of that baby born in the corner of a stable to our diverse, religiously plural world. It is the period after the expectation of Advent and celebration of Christmas are over. Epiphany is when we have the time to begin to appreciate the gifts that we unwrapped at Christmas, so to speak. To be more exact, it’s as if we waited to unwrap some of the gifts, and did so over time,… Continue reading

Epiphanies (1 Samuel 3:1-10; Psalm 139; John 1:43-51)

This is the Second Sunday after Epiphany. Epiphany is the time in which we start with the coming of Jesus to earth at Christmas and say, “So what”? Jesus was cute and cuddly in the manger. “What’s next”? How do we see Jesus, not only as cute and cuddly, but as the one who liberates us from narrowness, hatred, bigotry, greed, and all the rest. And when I say Jesus liberates “us,” I mean “the big us,” all of us, the world. How in this multicultural, multi-faith world, does Jesus liberate “us”? What insight does he bring to “us” in… Continue reading

A Living Laboratory (Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-11)

As each new year rolls around we, very soon, come to this time called Epiphany. Epiphany falls on January 6th each year. The early Church, at least in the Christian West, from the 4th century (the 300’s) on, has celebrated Epiphany by remembering Matthew’s story of the Magi who arrived, perhaps, as long as two years after Jesus’ birth, and recognized, in him, the one truly worthy of worship. Taking off from that story, Epiphany has become the day when the Church remembers that Jesus is not simply the saviour of the Jewish people and their descendants, but also of… Continue reading

Be Born in Us Today (Jeremiah 31:1-6; Luke 1:26-38)

Our Advent candle-lighting is almost complete. We have now lit the four candles in the ring of the Advent wreath; three purple, one pink. As we lit the first candle, we thought about how badly God’s people have always needed to have the assurance of hope in a world that denied justice and goodness – and how we still need hope in our sad and misshapen world. We need to live in hope in the direction of peace, to loosen the tight grip of the knots in which we’re tied – that was actually the second purple candle. Last week,… Continue reading

Living Forwards Understanding Backwards (Isaiah 61:1-4,10-11; John 1:6-8,19-28)

In 1843 the Danish philosopher/theologian Soren Kirkegaard, wrote in his journal in 1843 that “…Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” There is no question that we start at the beginning of life and go to the end through it (we live forwards), but that we, often, do not understand or appreciate the meaning of things as they first happen to us, but only in later reflection. I take this to be true.

Advent is the time of waiting for God to fulfill our hope, bring us peace, lead us to joy, and infuse us… Continue reading