Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Thursday, December 5, 2019
ADVENT: HE-E-E’S COMING!
The promise was given to Satan in the Garden of Eden – a Deliverer would come. God told Abraham that from his descendant the world would be blessed. It was prophesied throughout the Old Testament, a Messiah would come from the line of David. When the angel appeared to Mary, it was to tell her that she would give birth to the “Promised One”. Now we too, look forward to celebrating the anniversary of that magnificent event – Christmas. This is what the season of Advent is all about – an exciting season in the Church Year.
Beginning Sunday, December 1st, as members or friends of Faith, each Sunday until Christmas, we have special Sunday services with this Advent theme, “Arise and Shine”. During these four weeks, we remember that Christ was incarnate (born as a man) to live, die and rise for you and me, assuring us of eternal life. We also remember that He comes into our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacrament and He has promised to come again to take us to be with Him in heaven.
Three Wednesday evenings during this time there is a Bible study, emphasizing the prophecies that Jesus is both the Lion and the Lamb promised throughout the Old Testament. The Bible studies are Wednesdays: Dec. 4th, Dec. 11th and Dec. 18th at 7 p.m. with a light meal beginning at 6 p.m. We hope every member makes a special effort to celebrate this season with fellow members regularly.
Following the Advent Season we celebrate the anniversary of our Lord’s birthday – Christmas – ON Christmas Day, December 25th, with a Communion service at 10:30 a.m.
Remember again, “Immanuel – God With Us”. Excitedly invite and perhaps bring your friends and relatives.
Pearl and I join in prayerfully asking God that each of you have a blessed Advent and Christmas with peace and joy into the New Year of 2020.
IN THE COMPANY OF SAINTS
Hello, Saint _________________ (Please insert your name if you are a baptized believer in Jesus
Christ as Lord and Savior.). In Holy Scriptures St. Paul often refers to the members of the various Christian Churches He wrote to as saints (Phil. 4:21; 2 Cor. 13:13). Martin Luther pointed out in his writings that all who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are both saint and sinner,There are certainly times when we realize that we are not acting out our sainthood's. We do things that because of our sinful nature are in direct conflict with what God would want. Yet, in His grace, we have the promise that His Son died for our sins. Because Jesus carried all our sins to the cross, we by the power of the Holy Spirit are made perfect before our Father in heaven – and that’s the true meaning of being a saint. We are assured of our participation in His death and resurrection in Baptism and also in Holy Communion.
Along with the Sacraments, the Holy Spirit also comes to us through the Word as we hear it and read it. As saints then, we want to make an effort to worship as He has commanded us to do receiving Christ’s body and blood in Holy Communion on a regular basis.
In the Lutheran church, we recognize November 1st as “All Saints Day.” This day we remember all those who have died in Christ and are with Him in heaven. They have achieved that status not on the basis of good works, but on the grace given us through God’s action in Christ. It is fitting, however, to follow their examples of service and dedication to our Lord. In this way we can be further strengthened by the Holy Spirit to be the followers God has called us to be.
Remember each day your sainthood as a redeemed Christian.
By Grace Alone, By Faith Alone, By Scripture Alone
As a Lutheran Pastor, I cannot but associate the month of October with the Reformation. Even as a child I can remember how in St. Louis the Reformation was every year celebrated in a big way with large services involving most of the Lutheran churches assembling together at places like Kiel Auditorium for a massive and exciting Reformation service. It was a city-wide event!
Too many of us today forget the importance of what Martin Luther did when he nailed 95 statements (theses) to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517.
The 95 Theses were simply a list of things Luther wanted theologians of his church to discuss concerning the sale of indulgences that, in essence, were payments to receive forgiveness of sins.
But, it opened the door to how we are reconciled to God, thus affecting our salvation. The final summary of what Luther and other theologians in our church taught, based completely on God’s Word, the Bible, can be summed up in the words of our doctrinal statements found in The Augsburg Confession: “Our churches, also teach that man cannot be justified before God by his/her own strength, merits or works, but are freely justified through faith in Jesus Christ ….. who by His death made satisfaction for our sins.”
We want to always remember to be grateful to God for what He did through the words of Luther, but it is the message he pointed out from God’s Holy Word - and not man’s - that assures us of eternal life.
God, in His wisdom chose the time in which the Reformation in the church would be most successful. The people, the politics of the day and the circumstances were all right for the message to be again proclaimed in its truth and purity.
It seems that as we look at the world today and the conditions in society that there is need to witness our faith as Christians to the world around us. Yet as we pray for the Holy Spirit to work through us in our world, we continue to put our trust in God through Christ to work all things in accordance with His will to our good and to His glory
New Beginnings or Continued Action?
I always remember September as I was growing up to be the month that school started again. During my grade school years I have to admit I was not too excited about that! As I progressed into high school, I enjoyed school more. Sometimes it’s what you look forward to that makes the difference. That might be the case with our outlook on worship also. For some, getting up on Sunday morning is a task. Excuses allow us to skip church as we rationalize that we need more rest after a week of work or social activities that have worn us out. Or we feel we “don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” This last statement is certainly true, but the fact is “We go to church because we are Christians.”
As we look at all of the above, perhaps we can say that we look forward to something depends on the attitude with which we approach our upcoming endeavors. Unfortunately, many have had the experience that going to church is something demanded by God (or perhaps parents as we grew up.) Maybe by looking at worship in a different way would be beneficial.
As Christians we have been redeemed by God’s grace through Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is purely by the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word and /sacraments, we are made members of His body-the Holy Christian Church. As His people we want to show our gratitude by worshiping Him as often as possible and being strengthened in our faith through hearing His Word and receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion. We do this with others to encourage one another in our work with our Lord.
Luther reminds us that each day we should begin the day with the sign of the cross to remind us of who we are. In His explanation to the Third Commandment, he reminds us: “”We should fear and love God that we should not despise preaching and His Word, but gladly hear and learn it.” We are not saved by keeping The Ten Commandments; we could never measure up! Rather, we grasp the “third use of the Law” as a guide to how we as His people respond to His love in Christ. Yet, even that response can only truly happen by the work of the Spirit – again through Word and Sacrament.
Just as we think of September as the start of a new school year for children, the getting back to routines for fall and winter or maybe being refreshed by cooler weather, let it be a time to begin or continue our efforts to make worship something to look forward to each week. Obviously, such things as work schedules or sickness can interfere at times. Guests and family simply offer us opportunity to witness our faith by inviting them to worship with us or by showing them how important worship is to our lives.
May the Lord, Who called you in Baptism and made you His own, strengthen you in your commitment to worship regularly. Please contact me or an elder if you have special needs that would warrant a personal call by the pastor.
Yours in Christ,
P.S. Remember to come to the Ice Cream Social and Country Music Show on Saturday, September 7, 6-9 p.m. Invite a friend, relative or neighbor. Benefits to go to "Backstoppers.”
The BackStoppers, Inc. is a 501 3 non-profit organization founded in 1959. The organization provides needed financial assistance to the spouses and dependent children of all police officers, firefighters and volunteer firefighters, and publi
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Our Father Knows Best
Many years ago on black and white TV there was a program called “Father Knows Best”.
Actor Robert Young portrayed a father of a family as they faced various family issues.
Unfortunately, in a humorous way the father usually was the confused one and the family solved their situations without him.
Fortunately, our Heavenly Father is not like those often portrayed on TV. He really does know best. He loves us each personally so much that He had a plan of salvation for us through His grace. He allowed His Son, Jesus, to pay for our sins so that we can be assured of an eternal, blessed relationship with Him.
In the meantime He laid down rules and directions that would allow us to live to glorify Him and promote peaceful relationship with fellow humans here on earth. He gave us the Ten Commandments. Martin Luther , as he studied Holy Scripture, helped us to see how those
Commandments apply to our lives as included in his Small Catechism.
Yet we in our sinfulness often neglect following the guidelines and wind up with complicated lives and situations that lead to despair. In addition Satan pushes the issue and causes us to fall away from our Loving Father. Lives are ruined, families suffer heartache, crime and even death as a result.
You and I as Christians know the solution and the promised outcome for those who choose by the Holy Spirit’s power to know God’s grace and strength. First, the Father offers forgiveness for our sins in His Son’s redemptive death and resurrection . He also promised the strength of His Holy Spirit to empower us to follow a life that grants us peace.
Through the Sacraments He assures us of His grace and by following His Word we have a “peace that passes understanding”. In all circumstances we have the promise that all will work together for our good…maybe not as our sinful finite minds perceive it but will make the difference eternally. Be assured our Heavenly Father does know what is best. Don’t make human understanding your god. The true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit loves you.
In the months of August-October, the Sunday sermons will feature God’s Commandments in a positive way as we are guided by them. As the Holy Spirit opens our hearts as we listen, we will see God’s eternal love for us in each commandment. Please feel free to invite others.
I pray you will want to review, weekly, His love for you. To His Glory,
Friday, July 19, 2019
FIREWORKS – LORD WORKS
Personally, I enjoy watching fireworks. Besides the magnificence of the color combinations and the excitement involved, I see them as a good symbol of the work of the Holy
Spirit in the hearts of God’s people.
Consider these facts: 1) Fireworks are made by someone; 2)They do not ignite themselves; 3) When they explode they give off light; 4) Often the sparks continue to ignite each other and finally; 5) When no longer in contact with their source, they burn out.
It is the Holy Spirit, who produces the faith in the life of a Christian – new life, as it were. As Ephesians 2:10 reminds us, “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works. He works through the Word and Sacraments to cause us Christians to be fired up in service and to show God’s glory that others may see and believe. Yet, when no longer connected to the source of power, Christians can “burn out” and no longer reflect God’s glory in their lives. This latter fact is a warning to us as God’s people.
When we neglect hearing God’s Word and receiving the sacrament of His body and blood, our spiritual life can “burn out” and we can easily be lead into despair. Satan uses every means possible, including the world and our own sinful flesh, to draw us away from owning the eternal life given us in Christ’s death and resurrection.
As we enjoy the many blessings God has given us in life, including also the privilege of living in the freedoms we celebrate again on the 4th of July, may we never forget the freedom from eternal hell, purchased by God’s grace through Jesus Christ. May our enjoyments of life never interfere with staying in contact with the Word and Sacrament offered each Sunday. God wants us to worship Him and not become “burned out” on knowing the importance of eternal life in Him and reflecting His message of salvation to others.
Have a blessed summer in the Lord.
Sunday, May 12, 2019
A Special Day in May
Most Christian churches, including Lutheran, follow a pattern in our worship schedule every year. This is commonly called the “Church Year”. You can find a copy of it in the Lutheran Service Book. In the “Church Year” there are various special celebrations which you are very familiar with such a Christmas, Easter, Trinity Sunday, Pentecost, etc., Each Sunday in fact has a designated title. Even as Lutherans we recognize “Saints Days”, not to venerate or in any way to worship them but to call attention to their example , which we as Christians want to follow.
Other special days remind us of events in Biblical history that are important to our faith.
One such event that is commemorated but often overlooked is Ascension Day which this year falls on May 30. It is a “movable feast” day since it falls forty days after the Resurrection (Easter) which is also a “movable feast”. We however will take the opportunity to celebrate it on Sunday, May 26th.
Scripture, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, denotes that following the Resurrection, Jesus remained on earth for forty days. During that time He showed Himself a number of times to His disciples, not only the original eleven, but to a least five hundred people. His visible contact assured them that He did indeed rise bodily from the grave and that those who believe He died for their sins have eternal life. This message gave them the faith to proclaim Him—the rest is history. We are now part of His holy Christian church.
Ascension Day was the culmination of that forty day period. It was on that day in the sight of His followers that He visibly ascended into heaven. As He did so He gave them (and us) the command to go, teach and baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He also promised to be with them and all believers (including you and me) until the end of time. This is a promise in which we have assurance and certain hope.
No matter where we are, whatever problems we have, whatever strength we need, He is there for us, to turn all things into good as we love, trust and follow Him. Please look forward to joining together to worship our Risen Lord on May 26th and each Sunday as we continue in the joy that is yours as a member of His Body, the Holy Christian Church.