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


Advent Imagination (Isaiah 11:1-9; Philippians 4:4-9; Luke 1:67-79)

I was delighted this past week to discover research from an association of Pediatricians that held tha tfancy, battery-filled toys and computer games do not teach children as well as the old fashioned toys like Lego’s or blocks, puzzles, dolls, dump trucks,etc.  I was delighted not only because these are the toys I remember and I like to be affirmed (although both things are true), but because one reason the pediatricians gave for their findings was that the newer toys and games did not lead to the development of imagination and imaginative play in children as well as the… Continue reading

Hope in the Midst of Havoc (Jeremiah 33:14-16; 1 Peter 1:3-9; Luke 21:29-33)

Advent begins the new Church Year by preparing for the Messiah to come to us as,long ago, people prepared for the Messiah to come to them.  It seems that by the time we reach the end of each Church Year, we are ready to prepare afresh. And, today, we begin  our preparation with “hope.” This hope of which I speak is not wish-fulfillment,but is a hard-fought optimism that God can be trusted to come through in the crunch, so to speak.  Christian hope is the life-betting assurance that God in Christ is good, and so is the future.  None of us… Continue reading

Blessings on the Last Sunday of the Church Year (Deuteronomy 33:1-5,26-29., 2 Timothy 4:6-8; Matthew 28:16-20)

Unlike the calendar year, the Church Year does not begin in January, but with Advent, which begins on the Sunday closest to St. Andrew’s Day (November 30th). That’s next Sunday, December 2nd. So, today is the last Sunday of the Church Year. We begin each new Church Year looking for One who comes to deliver us in God’s name, the one who Christians see as Jesus. Each year the Lectionary focuses the Gospel readings on Matthew, Mark, or Luke, with readings from the Gospel of John interwoven through each year. This past year has been Mark’s Year, and, next week… Continue reading

Taking Care (Ruth 4:13-17; Ephesians 4:11-16; Mark 12:38-44)

Well, they are playing Christmas music (or really, “holiday-ish music”) at the mall where we walk most every day. I block this out as much as I can. They did wait until the day after Halloween this year to start us on the annual binge to Bethlehem. It’s quite telling that our culture – at least the commercial part of it has eliminated Thanksgiving altogether from the calendar, it seems. Each year I like to stop and savour the whole flavour of being thankful before going forward into Advent and Christmas. There’s an old German hymn, not in our current… Continue reading

Foundational Commandments (Deuteronomy 6:1-9; Romans 12:14-21; Mark 12:28-34)

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and your neighbor as yourself.

According to our Gospel Lesson, one day, in the midst of Jesus’ last week before his death, a Jewish scribe had been so impressed with Jesus’ relevant responses to questions that he came with a sincere question of his own. He was, it seems looking for some common ground between himself and Jesus. Matthew and Luke are more suspicious than Mark here, who gives this guy from… Continue reading

Take Heart (Job 42:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:16-19; Mark 10:46-52)

Seeing and not seeing, blindness and vision, are fairly common metaphors in the Bible, not only for physical changes (as in the Gospel story of Bartimaeus who is made to see), but for spiritual changes that happen, as when Saul of Tarsus, who persecuted the early church, became Paul the Apostle, its greatest early missionary. The whole story of his temporary blindness and recovery of sight is a metaphor for a complete transformation.

Often, on the day of our quarterly congregational meeting I turn to thoughts of planning, mission, and vision. These are times for “seeing” both where we’ve been… Continue reading

God’s Nature & God’s People (Isaiah 53:4-12; 2 Corinthians 13:13; Mark 10:35-45)

Almost every Sunday, no matter what other words I use to pronounce the benediction, I always repeat the words from the very end of 2 Corinthians: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Some of you may have wondered why I can’t find a new tune to play or some new words to utter after all these 15+ years. One of my colleagues used to distribute a hand out of approximately five typewritten sheets on the front and back, in 10 point font, with different… Continue reading

Impossible? (Amos 5:6-15; Mark 10:17-31)

Today’s Lectionary passages make it pretty tough on “rich people.” They seem to say that God takes the side of the poor and is even against those who are rich. This makes many of us uncomfortable, since we live in a culture that measures success in economic ways, and we always like to think that God is like we are. It isn’t possible that God would disqualify us just for being successful capitalists, is it?

I have said to you before that, in the times of both Amos and Jesus the overwhelming majority of people were poor, so that when… Continue reading

New Life From the Bone Yard (Ezekiel 37:1-6; Acts 10:1-17,34-36; John 15:12-17)

One of the reasons I love the Bible, especially the Old Testament, is because it makes so much room for, understands and underwrites being in places of sorrow, desolation, exile, and dislocation in life. There’s no phoney, “There, there, life’s not really so hard” here. The Bible is too honest and true to life. Many of the Psalms come from “out of the depths,” as Psalm 130 actually begins. The exile to Babylon in the 6th century BCE was a time when every institution God’s people valued was trampled in the dust. Their families, their worship and faith, their politics… Continue reading

Lightening Up & Taking Care (Numbers 11:4-6,10-16,24-29; James 5:13-20; Mark 9:38-40,49)

Communities are funny places. Many people today misunderstand, I think, what communities are. They are not places where everyone is in the same place as regards looks, thinking, believing, and acting. Indeed, today, as we live in a digital world, people in communities may even be in different physical places, some being face-to-face as we say, and other community members being hundreds, thousands of miles distant and connected electronically. As I retired from teaching, we were just approaching this way of teaching classes. It’s common enough now. I suspect we’ll see more of these hybrid kinds of communities. I must… Continue reading