By Cindy Koch

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Her eyes sparkled and grew a little bigger. Focusing into the future, somewhere beyond our present conversation, she released her hopeful dreams from within. I could see the inspiration of tomorrow lifting every little bit of her countenance. There in her mind she could imagine herself, in the best way, part of a world and an identity that she longed to see. Every so often you might be so privileged to see this glimmer of excitement in a child’s life. Every so often you might be so blessed to witness a moment of inspiration.

By Paul Koch

At its core, the Christian faith is offensive. That’s not to say it’s crass or rude, though I suppose it could be. Rather, it is decidedly at odds with the ebb and flow of the ways of the world. Though we may like to play nice, to try and act just like everyone else, the truth is, to repent and believe the good news of Jesus Christ is to offend much that is held sacred by our world. We can’t just get along with everyone else, to confess that we believe one particular thing is to say the we reject those things that are in opposition to such a confession. And the things that you confess have plenty of opposition. To confess that there is no other name under heaven by which men are saved is to say that those who look to other gods for comfort and security and salvation are on a fool’s errand, it also means that those who would have you find security in your own wisdom or strength or good works are to be rejected. To confess salvation in Christ alone is a narrow and offensive thing.

By Paul Koch

Every year when the season of Advent rolls around, the church throws us a bit of a curveball. I mean, we have the tree up in the sanctuary and I’m sure you all have either begun or even finished decorating your homes. There is Christmas music on the radio and everyone is beginning to plan for the big holiday. But as we gather here today, as we listened to the readings, we get a mixed message. Instead of baby Jesus and warm feelings of family and friends, we are greeted with the famous triumphal entry of our Lord into Jerusalem, humble and riding on a donkey. Instead of Advent it seems like we are in Lent. Instead of getting ready for Christmas, this is the text we always read on Palm Sunday in preparation for Holy week and the death and resurrection of our Lord.

By Tim Winterstein

The Haunting of Hill House is probably the most philosophical ghost story you’ll ever watch—except for maybe A Ghost Story, but that one is not scary. Hill House (10 episodes, streaming on Netflix) definitely has its share of cover-your-eyes moments and horror commonplaces. But, as with the best of them, those elements are just a device to deliver something far more important than jump scares. The layers of the show (and of the House) are multiple and heavy.

By Cindy Koch

If I saw you sitting in the middle of the street, playing with your toys, my heart would leap into my throat. Unaware of the danger that could overtake you from either side, you giggle contentedly without even looking up. You have your own thoughts to keep you safe, your own desires to make you happy. Focused on the little bits of entertainment that dance in front of your eyes, you don’t even know that you should be very afraid.

By Paul Koch

We have all known those people who seem to take joy in tearing down what we’ve built up. Perhaps it is the kid at the beach that just can’t help kicking over the sandcastle that you just finished building. Or it is the big sister who knocks over your stack of blocks. When we grow older, these people are still around. They call themselves realists or even pessimists. You speak of something you have accomplished or some great adventure you want to do and all they want to do is tear it down. They attack your planning or your foresight or the practicality of it all. We don’t like to be around those people. We don’t like to spend our days with those who won’t let us dream a little, those who seem intent to kill what we love. Perhaps, this is why prayer and worship are so difficult. Maybe this is why it is uncomfortable to faithfully proclaim the Word of God. Because if we are honest, no one seems more persistent to tear down the things you love than your Lord Jesus Christ.