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


Faith & Tradition (Psalm 19; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31)

The Church through the ages has devised several names for this Sunday. Mostly in the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is called Thomas Sunday. From this tradition, the Western Church adopted reading the story about Thomas and Jesus from John 20 as the yearly Gospel reading for the second Sunday of Easter. In the Eastern Church Thomas is not known for his doubting, but for his confession of faith that comes near the end of the story (“My Lord and My God.”) Thomas is also honoured by a tradition that names him as the missionary that took the Gospel to India… Continue reading

Yes There Is! (Jeremiah 31:1-6; Colossians 3:1-4; Matthew 28:1-10) EASTER SUNDAY

My favourite poet is the 19th century New Englander Emily Dickinson, who was a recluse, and published almost nothing in her lifetime. After her death boxes of poems were found – short, pithy, cryptic, not a few a little iconoclastic. One of my very favourites, as it happens, is the one that goes this way:

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant –
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or everyone be blind –

It has always… Continue reading

The Power That Jesus Brings (Isaiah 50: 4-9a; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 21:1-11)

Each Palm Sunday we look at one of the four accounts of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Each of the four contributes specific materials to the way in which we may try to understand what Jesus was up to when he rode into Jerusalem because it seem clear that he had a purpose in mind. The way we’ve been taught to think of this story probably has made it into a more spectacular event that it was. We were, I think, mostly taught to think of it as done with a “cast of thousands,” in a kind of Mardi Gras event… Continue reading

Resurrection Life (Ezekiel 37:1-14; Romans 8:6-11; John 11:1-45)

It seems that we’ve been getting our April showers a little early this year, but at least it isn’t snow (for now)! As I was walking into the mall the other day, I was delighted to see some daffodils coming up. The landscapers aerated our lawn the other day. We took a drive up the Mississippi river yesterday and saw hints of buds on some trees. Even this “winter-lover’s” heart was warmed by these signs and they put a bit of “spring in my step,” so to speak. Does it do good things to you to think about Spring and… Continue reading

Illumination (Exodus 33:12-23; John 9:1-41)

One of the most difficult parts of discipleship is knowing how we can see our way clear to do the things we ought. Our spiritual vision is not always 20/20, any more than our physical vision is. Our scripture lessons today speak to the clarity and completeness of our vision, and both need to be taken into account when we think of living fruitful Christian lives.
The Old Testament Lesson reminds us that even Moses, the spiritual giant, who was permitted a direct vision of God’s glory and goodness (an almost unheard of thing in the Bible), discovered that he… Continue reading

Relinquishment (Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 95; John 4:7-15,27-30,39-42)

I remember being raised in Wisconsin towns full of church folks for whom Lent was a time of sombre self-denial to commemorate the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness. I remember a few talks with my friends in school who would tell, with obvious forethought, what they were “giving up” for Lent. I almost always ended up feeling rather left out in all that because, being a Baptist, we didn’t observe Lent in that way, or really very much at all. I felt as if I didn’t even know what a “good thing” to give up at Lent might… Continue reading

Transitions (Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 121; 2 Corinthians 5:15-19 ; John 3:1-10)

Thursday, we took part of the day off and drove to Eau Claire to celebrate my brother-in-law’s 90th birthday. Davis has been in our family as long as I can remember. He married my sister in 1952 and I have memories of his visits to our house for Sunday services followed by dinners at the parsonage of First Baptist Church of Eau Claire before that. Although we haven’t lived in close proximity for but a few of the 65 years of their marriage, I have watched the movement of his life from a young energetic lawyer and Wisconsin state senator… Continue reading

Transparency (Psalm 32; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11)

Today is the first Sunday of Lent in which we prepare for the remembrance of Jesus’ Passion, Death, and, beyond that, Resurrection at Easter. In Lent, we have an opportunity to consider where we are as pilgrims through our particular barren lands. I have had colleagues who have said that Lent is their favourite time of the church year. That’s not true for me, which is probably a function of my past where Lent has often been a time when we were encouraged to do little but feel bad about what sinners we are. This was, sometimes, unfortunately, linked to… Continue reading

Transfiguration (Exodus 24:12-18; Matthew 17:1-9)

The last Sunday of Epiphany is called Transfiguration Sunday. Epiphany is the season of Light in which we have thought about how Jesus, the baby of Bethlehem, is also the Light and Life of the world. It’s easy to see why this Gospel story is a good one to climax Epiphany. Here we have Jesus as the Light, clearly and plainly (even if only revealed to the three chief disciples). It may be hard to see the Light of the World in the baby or toddler worshiped by the Magi, but witnesses of the Transfiguration, couldn’t miss God’s glory revealed.… Continue reading

Evil-Doers and Enemies (Leviticus 19:1-2,9-18; Matthew. 5:38-48)

The first words of the Gospel Lesson are: “You have heard that it was it said of old…but I say to you.” The last words are: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Jesus, in this section of the Sermon on the Mount has been teaching about how to read, understand, and live based on the scriptures. He has contrasted those who would simply carve the Bible’s words, and certain interpretations of them, in stone forever, with those who follow what he is teaching and “fill these words full” of contemporary meaning with God’s guidance. He’s said he had no… Continue reading