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


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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

Loosening Knots (Isaiah 40:1-11; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8)

Last week, on the First Sunday of Advent, when we lit the candle of hope I suggested to you that the hope of which the Gospel of Jesus speaks is not wishfulness, but is a strong trust, that God would both send Jesus the Messiah to our hearts and minds in a new way, and that God would, ultimately, come to dwell with us to bring justice, fairness, peace, joy, and love, not just as fluffy, “spiritual things,” but things involving right actions of neighbourly concern for the least, the last, and the left behind.

Our task this morning is… Continue reading

We Need a Little Hope Right Now (Isaiah 64:1-9; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37)

Today we start a year full of readings that are centred on the oldest of the Gospels, the Gospel of Mark. On the first Sunday of that cycle of readings — the First Sunday of Advent — our theme, year by year, is hope. It is easy enough to use the word “hope” in the midst of our happiness of the Thanksgiving season, and our general affluence, and say things like: “I hope that we get a white Christmas,” or “I hope that this sermon isn’t too long,” so I get to the restaurant before the Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherans… Continue reading

Risky Business (Jeremiah 7:1-15; 1 Peter 4:7-11; Matthew 25:14-20)

A long, long time ago, a prophet named Jeremiah preached a sermon, a summary of which is found in Jeremiah 7:1-15 that most scholars call the Temple Sermon. There is also a shorter summary of this same sermon in Jeremiah 26 that tells us that Jeremiah preached this sermon in the Temple at or near the coronation of King Jehoiakim in Judah in the year 609 BCE. A mere dozen years before this there had begun a great religious revival in Judah that eventuated in the removal of local places of worship in the land, leaving the Jerusalem Temple as… Continue reading

God, The Centre (Psalm 90; John 15:1-15) Reverend Maxine F. Ashley

“Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.” Those are words penned by poet W.B. Yeats following WWI when he saw society, as he knew it, falling apart. Change was just coming too fast. Nothing could hold together. It is a common sentiment today, too, I think. I hear people say they are afraid to turn on the news in the morning because they never know what may have happened overnight. It has been a particularly bad season with devastating hurricanes and tornadoes, wildfires and other so-called natural disasters. And in addition there is the anger and conflict all around. There… Continue reading

Waiting in Another Place (Haggai 1:15b-2:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17; Matthew 22:23-33)

The musical “Fiddler on the Roof” is set in the little Jewish village (the Yiddish word would be shtetl) of Anatevka in Russia.. The Russian powers (that were Christian by name at least) had co-existed with the Jewish folk for a long time, but now, a cold wind blew from the Czar that dictated that Jews were no longer welcome as they had been, and Anatevka was to be purged of its inhabitants. They all had be leave or face violence. One of my favourite lines is spoken, at almost the end of the play, by the old rabbi (or… Continue reading

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