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Stuck (Like a Dope) on a Thing Called Hope!


Luke 24.13-35  1 Peter 3.13-22

Warner M. Bailey


                The road to Easter travels from ugliness to beauty; from sadness to joy.  The road to Easter travels from loneliness to community; from separateness to family; from being scattered to being gathered together again.   The road to Easter travels from subsisting off of dead traditions to living by Scriptures that flame up in your hearts.  The road to Easter travels from hopes, dashed to the depths, to the heights of hopes unheard of; from the abyss of cynicism toward life in a reborn commitment to live fully because, after all is said and done, it is worth the living.

This is road down which the Easter message traveled when disciples made the trip from Jerusalem to Emmaeus and back again.  Their body language gave away how much they were crushed inside.  When Jesus asked them what was going on, to give an account of themselves, all they could do was to tell him of how their hopes had been ripped out of their hearts.  When Jesus began opening the Scriptures to them in a way they had never heard them explained before, their hearts began to flame up in a strange new way.  When they asked Jesus into their home and gave him hospitality, he helped them in the breaking of the bread to make the final connection that the message of resurrection was indeed true.  Immediately they got up from the dinner table and walked half the night back to Jerusalem to gather again with the disciples in the intensity of that first Easter’s joy.  “We have seen the Lord in the breaking of the bread!”

Our Epistle Lesson today challenges us: “Always be ready to give an account of the hope that is within you.”  Disciples on the road to Emmaeus were no-count in the category of hope, could give no account of hope.  Only by Jesus making a home with them through Word and Sacrament did their hearts flame with hope and they desire to return to be with God’s people. Read More »Stuck (Like a Dope) on a Thing Called Hope!

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

Chapter I: The Cowtown Christ Loses Her Job

By the Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch
St. Stephen Presbyterian Church
Fort Worth, TX

February 17, 2013
First Sunday in Lent
Luke 4: 1-11

The Cowtown Christ is a series of sermons that reimagines the ministry of Christ as if it was taking place in Fort Worth today. Please remember that this is a work of fiction, happening in a fictionalized Fort Worth. While many events, facts, places, institutions, and characters are real people, The Cowtown Christ, her followers, most of those she meets, and her adversaries are completely fictional, as are any of the events that take place in her life. 

The Beginning of the Gospel of Jesse, The Cowtown Christ.
“The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Mark 1:1

Jesse grew up a child of Mexican immigrants. They lived a few blocks off Berry Street in a tiny neighborhood along with other Mexican immigrants. Her parents both worked hard, and so did she from very young.Read More »Chapter I: The Cowtown Christ Loses Her Job

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


Isaiah 40.27-31   Psalm 130   Colossians 3.1-17   John 15.1-11

August 12, 2012

What do Christians have in common with frogs, snakes, turtles and seals?    Certain frogs, snakes, and turtles are amphibian as are seals, able to live both on land and water.  Christians, as Paul tells the Colossians, live on earth; however, we must set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  Christians must live in two worlds—the earthly world and the not earthly world, described metaphorically as the place where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, meaning the world where Christ reigns in the power of God.      Read More »YOUR LIFE IS HIDDEN IN CHRIST[i]


Romans 8: 18-25

Pentecost Sunday, May 27, 2012

St. Stephen Presbyterian Church,Fort Worth,Texas

By Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch


The other day, I heard a story on NPR’s “This American Life” that particularly resonated with me. It was a story about the violence perpetrated by the government of Guatemala on its own people during the Guatemalan civil war of the 1980s and ‘90s. Sixteen years ago, I joined a Presbyterian mission group that travelled to Guatemala as the war was winding down, and I so I have some familiarity and ongoing interest in their struggle.Read More »Hope

Easter Sunday: Go and Tell

Isaiah 25: 6-10

Mark 16: 1-8

By Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch, Pastor

April 8, 2012

St. Stephen Presbyterian Church

Fort Worth, TX

 “And the disciples all deserted him,” Mark tells us. First, Jesus told them to watch and pray with him, but they didn’t know how, so they fell asleep. Then the soldiers came and Jesus told them they couldn’t defend him with swords, and they didn’t know what to do, so they ran. The other gospels bear out that the disciples were so frightened that they were hidden away in a locked room. They left their Lord to die on a cross, alone.Read More »Easter Sunday: Go and Tell

Easter Massacres and Good Friday Accords

On Easter morning, March 30, 1997, newspapers reported that “a peaceful rally against government corruption in the plaza outside of the Parliament building in Phnom Penh, Cambodia was turned into a killing field by grenade hurling soldiers. The blasts, which killed 20 and wounded 117, were part of a calculated attack by troops loyal to Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge field commander.” Their target was democratic activist Sam Rainsy, who barely escaped with his life. (“U.S. Policy and the 1997 Easter Sunday Massacre in Cambodia,”By Al Santoli. Special To The U.S. Veteran Dispatch March/April/May/ 1997. )Read More »Easter Massacres and Good Friday Accords