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Baptism: We Are All God’s Children

“We Will See”
Sermon Celebrating the Baptism of Jack Field Munson
by Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch
April 19, 2015
I John 3:1-7

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

Today we are making an extraordinary assertion. We are asserting that Jack Field Munson is not only the child of Tyler and Sydney—he is a child of God.

We take it so granted today, so I want to emphasize it again: We are saying that Jack is a child of God. What are we thinking?

In the liturgies of the early Christian church, when the congregation came to the Lord’s prayer, they were reminded what an amazing thing it is that we can dare to call God our Father. This was Jesus’ point as well when He taught us the prayer and told us to call God “Father.” His point is, this is an extraordinary statement. We have the right to claim it. But we must never ever take it for granted.Read More »Baptism: We Are All God’s Children

Butterfly window

Thomas is Us

Peace Be With You
John 20: 19-31

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)

Thomas’ doubts are really ours. That’s why the Gospel of John tells this story. The gospel writer tells us himself that there are so many stories that could be told about Jesus, that he couldn’t begin to tell them all; so he clearly has chosen the story of Thomas’ doubts to make a point. And the point is that Thomas doubts the same thing that we do. How does a pie-in-the-sky religion address our concrete reality here on earth? People are wounded, people are bleeding. A spiritualized, other-worldly faith really doesn’t offer much hope for a wounded, bleeding world, does it?Read More »Thomas is Us

Stop Trying to Understand, and Believe!

Appearances Deceiving
By Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch
Easter Day, 2015
John 20: 1-18
Isaiah 25: 6-9

How do we believe what we don’t understand?

That’s what happens to the disciple who loved Jesus when he entered the tomb and saw Jesus’ shroud lying there where Jesus’ body had once lain. The Bible says, “He saw and believed,” but then adds, “They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” So the disciple who entered the tomb—John, the gospel writer—believes, even though he doesn’t understand. Apparently his theology is not sufficient to cope with what he is experiencing. Apparently he doesn’t fully grasp the intricacies of the Chalcedonian Definition of the Dual Nature of Jesus, or the Five Points of Calvinism. Worse, he doesn’t understand the most basic, basic, core principle of Christianity: the actual resurrection of Jesus our Lord. John, the apostle, the Gospel writer, the Disciple who Jesus loved, John himself doesn’t understand that Jesus is raised from the dead!

And yet, he believes.Read More »Stop Trying to Understand, and Believe!

The Last Words of Jesus: “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”

On the cross, Jesus stands in for us all. At some level, most of us have been taught this.  For instance, you may have been taught that when Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” it is because He has been quite literally abandoned by God, because Jesus has taken on the sin of all humanity, and scripture assures us “God cannot look upon sin.”Read More »The Last Words of Jesus: “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”

Raising our Children in the Faith


Christmas Eve photos BH 2013 - 5

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Children’s Sunday

Matthew 4:18-25


Jesus calls his first disciples from their narrowly defined but typically Galilean lives. They are fishermen, the sons of fishermen, the grandsons of fishermen. Their world is narrowly defined to their families and their work and the towns in which they live and the sea in which they fish. And then Jesus comes along and calls them away from all that. When James and John follow him, they not only leave their nets behind, they leave their father behind. Jesus invites them to a world larger than Galilee and a family larger than blood and kinship. And in a whirlwind, they go from their small lives as fishermen to the disciples of a man who heals the sick and casts out demons, who turns the world upside down wherever he goes. They find themselves across the sea in Syria and Decapolis, among Gentiles and sophisticated Romanized Jews. The change is dizzying. Read More »Raising our Children in the Faith

The Virtues: Hope

The Lord answers Job out of the whirlwind, a powerful image of suffering prayer.
The Lord answers Job out of the whirlwind, a powerful image of suffering prayer.

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Romans 8: 18-25

The difference between hope and faith is not always clear. It comes down to this: Hope is in the future, faith is in the here and now. Hope is what we long for, what we pursue, what we dream of, but don’t have yet. As Paul says in Romans, “Hope that is seen is not hope.” Faith, on the other hand, is how we make hope visible in the here and now; it is how we put that hope into action. As Hebrews says, “Faith is the substance of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things unseen.” Faith makes our hope concrete in our lives. But our hope is the thing we’re really after. The Olympic athlete longs for the gold medal; when that hope pushes her to train harder and better, it has turned into faith.Read More »The Virtues: Hope

Don’t Be Afraid: God Loves You

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We Are Risen Indeed!

Matthew 28: 1-10

By Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch

Easter Day, 2013


Holy Jesus, I hear God’s mighty “Yes!” in your Resurrection. You invite me to live also, and I want to say “Yes!” to you. Take me out of the tomb that imprisons me: lead me into the morning of new life, and walk with me wherever your love may lead.

Peter Storey, Listening at Golgotha

 Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary,” probably Mary the mother of James, go to the tomb on Easter day, and what they aren’t expecting– is Easter.

They are expecting to find a tomb guarded by soldiers. They expect to find a great stone rolled in front of the grave. They expect to find Jesus in there, even more dead as He was a couple of days before.

Read More »Don’t Be Afraid: God Loves You

Hope, Realism, and Faith

Here’s an intriguing observation, learned from a book by a prominent expert on the biology of the brain and how it relates to mental disease. The book is A First-Rate Madness, and the author is Nassir Ghaemi, MD, director of the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts University.

He says that studies have shown that the average, non-neurotic person is more optimistic than he or she has a right to be. Read More »Hope, Realism, and Faith