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


We Are Sufficient! (1 Kings 17:1-16; Hebrews 13:1-9; Matthew 6:25-33)

As I have said, I abandoned the lectionary texts of the morning, which were good ones by the way, after I was well along in the preparation process. I did it because today is our annual meeting, and it is an annual meeting in which we are facing some pretty big changes brought about by my retirement from the seminary. Our proposed budget, for example, is less than 72% of what it has been for over a decade. We have known, down deep of course, since we first started the seminary project that this day would come. And it is… Continue reading

…In the World Today… (Isaiah 9:1-4; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-24)

I would guess that most of you know that the sermon title is just part of a line from a Gospel Song called “He Lives,” written by the evangelist Alfred H. Ackley in 1933. It’s in our hymnal, in the Easter section. As I say, I have borrowed this half- or quarter-line of poetry as a title, not only to refer to the risen Jesus as alive, but as alive in the lives of disciples who are “…in the world today.” You probably will have noticed over the years that, however much I speak of God or Jesus, I want… Continue reading

Eavesdropping on Eternity (Isaiah 49:1-6; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-34)

Last week I introduced the season of Epiphany by saying that this season of the year celebrates the revelation of God in the human being Jesus. It celebrates the universal – God’s love and plan and mission for the whole world – in one specific human person – Jesus of Nazareth. Christians, at our best, have faith in Jesus, who, as he is portrayed in the Gospels especially, is the one who brings concrete humanity to who God is and what God values. The season of Epiphany seeks to help us with that as well. It’s saying to us that… Continue reading

Singing the Next Stanza (Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12)

Maxine and I missed being with you last week, on the first Sunday of the New Year. As we think of this New Year that we will walk together, many of us would like to know what kind of a year will it be? How will we succeed in our mission to reach out to our community as the hands and feet of Jesus? Might a few more people want to come and join us? There’s the ever practical question, will we keep up our finances? Do we have any grounds to be optimistic? This morning’s scripture lessons are the… Continue reading

The Christmas Miracle (Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 2:1-20)

It’s Christmas Day, the culmination of all the hope, all the peace, all the joy, and all the love of Advent. Of course, we don’t actually know when Jesus was born, but Christians have been celebrating it about now for many centuries. It really doesn’t matter much at what time of year it was. What is important is that, in this event, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” One of my friends often says that at Christmas God stepped onto our planet with eternal consequence. As a convinced Christian, I, of course, think… Continue reading

The Candle of Joy (Isaiah 35:1-10; Matthew 11:2-11)

On the Third Sunday of Advent, we light the only candle on the circumference of the wreath that isn’t purple–it’s pink–and it represents that which stands out on the wreath and in life. It’s for joy. That’s because joy, though not the same as silliness and giggles, often shows up “on our outsides.” That’s also one reason we celebrate Gaudy Sunday by wearing bright clothes; to emphasize that we do intend our inner joy to be outwardly obvious. That joy and joyful energy are important is shown by the fact that, in the Old Testament alone, there are more than… Continue reading

The Candle of Peace (Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to… Continue reading

The Candle of Hope (Isaiah 2-1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44)

Another season of Advent has begun, and so, we lit the first purple candle on our Advent Wreath today. We do it every year. And when we light this first one, we remind ourselves that this new season – this new church year – begins in and with this thing called hope. The last time I addressed you, I talked about the fact that there is no question that God is creating a new everything, but that the path to appreciating and appropriating that wonderful new everything is often an upward one, progress along which is only made, in the… Continue reading

New Everything (Isaiah 65:17-25; Luke 21:5-19)

The Gospel reading contains a story of Jesus and some folks who were looking at the Jerusalem Temple. It reminded me of a group of tourists visiting Washington DC, and commenting about one of the many monuments and memorials, “My isn’t this impressive and lovely.” Jesus responded to them, not that the temple wasn’t these things, but that, as lovely and impressive as it was, that “the days would come when not one stone will be left upon another, all will be thrown down.” That must have sounded almost irreligious and unpatriotic. It led Jesus to talk about two separate,… Continue reading