A Tomb Like Walk

Biblical Text: Genesis 22:1-18

The testing of Abraham is one of those texts that honestly a 21st century American preacher doesn’t feel qualified to preach. But there is so much in it that is for our good. The types of Christ are clear, but what I wanted to concentrate on in this sermon were two things: the trial or test and offering up a trial to God or drawing near to Him. The trial doesn’t tell God anything about us that he didn’t know. The trial tells us what God already knows about us. And it gives us the chance to draw near to God. This sermon, through Abraham’s experience, attempts to understand what that mean and how we can be prepared for the day of trial.

Virtual Bulletin – 2/21

February 21, 2021 – First Sunday in Lent

WORSHIP & Bible Study

Worship is at 10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present.

This week’s service Bulletin/Worship Link Here

Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6458485288?pwd=R2xGZkRNVi9TdzFPQzlaVnluNWo4QT09

Zoom Info: Meeting ID: 645 848 5288 Passcode: miracles

Bible Study after service or 11:15ish.  I’ll keep the zoom line on. 

Devotion & Prayer Thought

A Lutheran preaching on James always does so under the burden of Luther’s remark calling it “an epistle of straw.” He called it that in his original introduction to the letter in his New Testament.  He would change it by the time the entire German Bible was translated, but it would become part of the general polemic.  Which in some ways is fair, because Luther was always a polemicist.  Part of his dismissal was how well his theological opponents were using the letter. Even great men occasionally fail the trial and require grace anew. The best way to think about the letter of James is as the New Testament’s Proverbs.  It is a father teaching a son general truths. We live in an age that ridicules general truths because we all like to think we are special.  We can’t be self-fulfilled if we are not unique.  But for the vast majority of humanity’s time on this earth such thoughts would have been laughed at.  Understanding the way of the world, the way of God, and how they either flow together or diverge and one’s individual life in that confluence was much more important.

One of those great truths is found in the difference of trial and temptation.  In the Greek of James, they are the same word.  It is in coming into English that we make the distinction.  A temptation as James says is “when each person is lured and enticed by his own desire.” We were made to find our peace in God.  We desire to have our peace our way.  When we choose our way over God’s way, “the desire gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”  Satan is always trying to obscure things, but per James, again in general truth, it is not that hard.  God is “the eternal Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  The way that we are supposed to walk, “every good and perfect gift”, is not that hard.  If we listen to that still small voice, we know it.  And again this is not talking about what we so often want to discern like “God, which job should I take.” We largely have freedom in those choices.  And whatever we choose, God will bring about good.  What James is talking about are our moral lives.  Do we live for self-fulfillment, or do we live for God and our neighbor?

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial.”  The trial may contain a temptation.  We are at war with our own flesh and those desires (Galatians 5:24, Colossians 3:5-7) because we are a fallen creation.  But God brings even out of these things blessings.  When one mortifies the desires, crucifies, or puts them to death, one has chosen the path of every good and perfect gift.  And the end of that path is the crown of life.  The trial lets us know that God loves us.  He has given us deliverance as Paul would say “from this body of death”. In the day of our trial, Christ walks with us, “the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits.” The trial clearly shines God’s love and gives us the opportunity to reflect His love back.  “He who has stood the test will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” May we turn from temptation’s hour and remain steadfast in the trial.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Feb 22th – Feb 28th

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…  9:00amPreschool

Wednesday: ……………   9:00amConfirmation

                                            7:00pm    LAF

Thursday: ……………… 10:00amBible Study

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                           11:00am    Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Ezekiel Chapters 25-32 (“A Gentile Interlude”)
  • Confirmation:  Begin Review & World Religions Comparison
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Feb 24th. See you on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, in the sanctuary and on the zoom line.
  • Catechism Moment: Pick Back up after Ash Wednesday

SAVE THE DATE (please contact Ellen or Mindy if you would like to lend a hand with any of these projects)

  • April 22nd (Thursday) … Brownie baking and Beef cooking for Beef on Weck
  • April 23rd (Friday) … Potato salad Prep day for Beef on Weck
  • April 24th (Saturday) … Spring Drive-Thru Beef on Weck Fundraiser Dinner
  • June 24th (Thursday) … collecting begins for our Rummage Sale
  • June 28th (Monday) … sorting and pricing begins for our Rummage Sale
  • July 10th (Saturday) … Rummage Sale

A LENTEN CHALLENGE:  The season of Lent is upon us and is traditionally a penitential time of prayer, repentance of sins, and self-denial.  It was also traditionally a period of alms-giving – an act of charity in sharing with those less fortunate.  We have a special challenge of giving to our local food pantry, RHAFT, for the six weeks of Lent.  For each Sunday of Lent we have chosen a particular category of items needed by RHAFT as the focus of our donations.  We hope you will join us in this challenge to help RHAFT fill its pantry shelves

Ash Wed – Are You Weary?

Biblical Text: 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:13

Ash Wednesday is typically about repentance. Now there are a bunch of ways that our need for repentance can manifest. This is a sermon about what that feeling of weariness that I think we are all feeling it telling us.

Prophetic Rhyming

Biblical Text: 2 Kings 2:1-12

The fancy word is typeology or archetype. The meaning is a person or character or action that is a distilled example of human experience. What makes the scriptures so powerful, at least if you catch the vision of them, is that the experience of Israel with GOD is the distilled archetype. The New Testament is THE specific example. The life of Christ is the fulfillment of all the archetypes, because in this one life we have God meeting one in on Christ. And seeing as our lives are conformed to his, they are going to rhyme with Israel’s experience. This sermon first looks at a couple of the rhymes of Elijah and Elisha in broad strokes. Then it looks at the specific call of our text and how our lives might rhyme with “the chariots and horsemen of Israel” and asks if we want them to.

Virtual Bulletin – 2/14

February 14, 2021 – Transfiguration

WORSHIP & Bible Study

Worship is at 10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present.

This week’s service Bulletin/Worship Link Here

Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6458485288?pwd=R2xGZkRNVi9TdzFPQzlaVnluNWo4QT09

Zoom Info: Meeting ID: 645 848 5288 Passcode: miracles

Bible Study after service or 11:15ish.  I’ll keep the zoom line on. 

Devotion & Prayer Thought

The lectionary is based around the gospel readings.  The OT lessons are always chosen because of some connection to the gospel.  That connection is usually typeological in that the gospel is the fulfillment of what the OT was about in type, but it can also be a character, a word or a theological theme.  The Epistle readings are often chosen the same way, but the Epistles are occasionally read sequentially during “green” seasons and might have no connection.  Today is Transfiguration, and both lessons are chosen simply because the characters with the OT being given pride of place to fill in the life of Elijah. The Epistle is a drive-by appearance of Moses combined with the theological concept of veiled sight.

Moses, when he received the law from God on Mt. Sinai, also was in the presence of God.  And his skin is described as “shining” when he came down.  He was reflecting the glory of God.  This would happen anytime Moses would “speak with God.”  The sight even of the reflected glory was enough to frighten the people, so Moses took a veil to cover his face while talking with them.  Paul uses this veil to reflect on the difference of the covenant of Moses and the Gospel he is proclaiming.  The covenant of Moses was one that was carved in stone.  It pronounced “do this”, and while the law is good and wise and glorious, it is a ministry of death.  The glory would fade.  The stark letters would condemn.  We could not gaze on the law without some type of veil by which those truths could be hidden.  And this remains today.  We are a euphemism factory.  Death is passing away.  We remove from our sight those hurting.  We demand those who would read to us the stark words to soften them in some way or even to shut-up.  We put a veil over our hearts. But we only do this if we fail to see Christ.

“The glory of the ministry of righteousness, far exceeds that of the one of death.” And it does so because it has come with a permanent glory.  The incarnation is not a mere reflection of the glory of God that fades, but God became man.  In Christ the fullness of the glory of God dwells. And we, turning to the Lord through the indwelling of the Spirit, are invited into that glory. Paul asserts that in this ministry of the mercy of God, unlike the Israelites seeing the reflection, we do not lose heart.  Instead, we speak it with clear words, “the open statement of the truth”. You have become the glory of God.  Your light shines in the midst of the darkness.  And yes, there will be people who are afraid of the light.  The gospel will remain veiled to them.  But it is not our gospel, it is not even Paul’s gospel, it is Christ’s. And Christ has chosen to no longer veil his glory, but to hold it in flesh.  For a while in these broken jars of clay, so that we know it is not ours, because this flesh could not naturally hold that glory.  But eventually these bodies will be transfigured to be like his, a worthy container of the glory of God.  So do not be afraid of the presence of God.  Do not veil your hearts, but live in the truth of the Word.  “Let the light shine out of the darkness.”

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Feb 15th – Feb 21st

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…  9:00am    NO Preschool

Monday: ……………….  6:30pm    Women’s Group on Zoom

Tuesday: ……………….. 9:00am    Pastor’s Circuit Mtg

Wednesday: ……………   9:00amConfirmation

                                            7:00pm    Ash Wednesday Service

Thursday: ……………… 10:00amBible Study

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                           11:00am    Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

A couple of general thoughts.  LAF is all online right now. For the Thursday or the Sunday morning studies it is possible to zoom in, but it does take some setup. Everyone is invited, but if you would like to join through zoom, please drop me a note prior.  I’ve fallen into assuming we won’t have anyone that way, but I don’t want to exclude just because I’m making an assumption because the set up to allow true participation is not trivial.  The second thought is in regard to this weekly missive and the Catechism moment.  I do my best to keep everyone’s emails, but if you would like to receive these and aren’t, or if you have changed an email, please send it to me and I’ll make sure the system is updated.  Thanks.

  • Thurs 10am: Ezekiel Continues
  • Confirmation:  Begin Review & World Religions Comparison
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Feb 24th. See you on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, in the sanctuary and on the zoom line.
  • Catechism Moment: We cycled back to the 1st commandment.  What I am hoping to demonstrate the second time through is how the small catechism is worthy of lifelong meditation.

SPRING DRIVE-THRU BEEF on WECK … save the date … Saturday, April 24th.

ASH WEDNESDAY:  Service at 7pm on February 17th.

A LENTEN CHALLENGE:  The season of Lent is almost upon us and is traditionally a penitential time of prayer, repentance of sins, and self-denial.  It was also traditionally a period of alms-giving – an act of charity in sharing with those less fortunate.  We have a special challenge of giving to our local food pantry, RHAFT, for the six weeks of Lent.  For each Sunday of Lent we have chosen a particular category of items needed by RHAFT as the focus of our donations.  We hope you will join us in this challenge to help RHAFT fill its pantry shelves

Losing Questions

Biblical Text: Isaiah 40:21-31

Winning solves a lot of problems; losing brings on a lot of questions. And man was Israel on a losing streak. The good news is that each question drew Israel back towards God, to knowing the God who had entered into covenant with them more fully. This sermon examines a couple of those questions, Isaiah’s answers to them, and how they apply to us.

Virtual Bulletin – 2/7

February 7, 2021 – 5th Sunday after Epiphany

WORSHIP & Bible Study

Worship is at 10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present.

This week’s service Bulletin/Worship Link Here

Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6458485288?pwd=R2xGZkRNVi9TdzFPQzlaVnluNWo4QT09

Zoom Info: Meeting ID: 645 848 5288 Passcode: miracles

Bible Study after service or 11:15ish.  I’ll keep the zoom line on. 

Devotion & Prayer Thought

I have an extreme love-hate relationship with the lectionary, the assigned readings that we are supposed to be reading together with other congregations. My love is that idea of unity and the broad section of scripture that we read. My hate is often how the compilers have mutilated or encouraged an out of context reading of a passage.

Paul’s argument’s in this section of Corinthians builds up to 1 Corinthians 11:1 – “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Last week, Paul’s argument was to be self-controlled for the sake of our brothers and sisters. There are many things that Christian Freedom allows that might be stumbling blocks.  Chapter 9, moving out of meats sacrificed to idols, is a specifically Pauline example.  And it depends upon both Jewish and Greek cultural expressions.  The part that our lectionary cuts out is the trouble that Paul has run into with a section of the Corinthians.  Unlike most of Paul’s churches, the Corinthians have an upper-crusty element.  And that upper-crusty element was often ashamed of Paul.  They wanted the guru-philosopher they were following to be every inch the intellectual, dedicated to the life of the mind.  They would pay for his physical needs.  But Paul insisted on two things.  He absolutely had a right to receive a living from preaching the gospel.  Taking such a living from the Corinthians would get in the way of his preaching the gospel.

That is where our text picks up.  If Paul took the Corinthian’s money he would still be preaching the gospel because he had to – “I am still entrusted with a stewardship.” But doing so among them would limit Paul’s reach.  He would become respectable to the upper-crusty philosopher craving group, but respectability is not what they needed.  They needed to be confronted with Christ crucified, a foolishness to such pretensions. Likewise the much greater part of even Corinth needed to hear the free gospel.  And Paul, the apostle, for the sake of the gospel, would not assert his right in that gospel.  Paul was going to run this race, and he was going to run it to win.  He was not running aimlessly, but self-controlled, with a purpose.  He was not shadow boxing, but punching at specific targets – like the Corinthians’ need for worldly acclaim by having a respectable guru.  He was being self-controlled for the sake of his brothers and sisters in Corinth.

Paul’s specific example is not a law to us, thank goodness because I need the paycheck.  But Paul’s larger example is what he would have us imitate.  If we are to love our neighbor, love is costly.  Jesus paid the full price, dying for those who hated him.  Paul?  He would imitate Christ where it was possible for him to proclaim the gospel freely.  “He would become all things to all people in order to save some.”  It was costly to him in terms of prestige and time, but allowed for greater acceptance of the gospel.  How have we exercised our Christian freedom for the sake of our neighbors?  Not to squelch that gospel, but make it stand out?  May we clearly discern how we are called to live the gospel.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Feb 8th – Feb 14th

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…  9:00amPreschool

Wednesday: ……………   9:00amConfirmation

                                            7:00pm    LAF

Thursday: ……………… 10:00amBible Study

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                           11:00am    Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

A couple of general thoughts.  LAF is all online right now. For the Thursday or the Sunday morning studies it is possible to zoom in, but it does take some setup. Everyone is invited, but if you would like to join through zoom, please drop me a note prior.  I’ve fallen into assuming we won’t have anyone that way, but I don’t want to exclude just because I’m making an assumption because the set up to allow true participation is not trivial.  The second thought is in regard to this weekly missive and the Catechism moment.  I do my best to keep everyone’s emails, but if you would like to receive these and aren’t, or if you have changed an email, please send it to me and I’ll make sure the system is updated.  Thanks.

  • Thurs 10am: Ezekiel Chapter 21 – “Swords”
  • Confirmation:  Back on this week – Communion 4
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Feb 10th. See you on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, in the sanctuary and on the zoom line.
  • Catechism Moment: We have completed our first cycle through the catechism.  We will be starting anew with the 1st Commandment.  Good time to jump on.  If you aren’t getting them, please send me your email.  You can also forward them through the link at the very top of the email to others and then I get the email address and can send future ones!

RHAFT:  Collections for RHAFT are ongoing.  If you would like to contribute to the Rush-Henrietta Food Pantry, a box is located under the round table in the Narthex for non-perishable items.  These could include cereals, canned goods (protein items are always in need), flour, and sugar, cooking oil, hygiene products (i.e. soaps, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste & toothbrushes, feminine products) pet and cleaning products.  RHAFT can only accept food items that have not passed the expiration date.

SPRING DRIVE-THRU BEEF on WECK … save the date … Saturday, April 24th.

ASH WEDNESDAY:  Service at 7pm on February 17th.

A LENTEN CHALLENGE:  The season of Lent is almost upon us and is traditionally a penitential time of prayer, repentance of sins, and self-denial.  It was also traditionally a period of alms-giving – an act of charity in sharing with those less fortunate.  We have a special challenge of giving to our local food pantry, RHAFT, for the six weeks of Lent.  For each Sunday of Lent we have chosen a particular category of items needed by RHAFT as the focus of our donations.  We hope you will join us in this challenge to help RHAFT fill its pantry shelves

Prophet Check

Biblical Text: Deuteronomy 18:15-20

The text is Moses’ promise of “a prophet like me”. Prophet is one of those words that feels slightly archaic, but it just isn’t. It is used all the time. What this sermon does is hopefully three things:

  1. Define what a prophet is
  2. Understand what “a prophet like me” means, how that is different from many standard uses, and how Jesus is the only one who really qualifies
  3. And finally equip everyone how to not get suckered by people claiming Moses like prophetic authority.

Virtual Bulletin – 1/31

January 31, 2021 – 4th Sunday after Epiphany

WORSHIP & Bible Study

Worship is at 10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present.

This week’s service Bulletin/Worship Link Here

Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6458485288?pwd=R2xGZkRNVi9TdzFPQzlaVnluNWo4QT09

Zoom Info: Meeting ID: 645 848 5288 Passcode: miracles

Bible Study after service or 11:15ish.  I’ll keep the zoom line on. 

Devotion & Prayer Thought

The Epistle reading for today (1 Corinthans 8:1-13) is one of the most powerful but misunderstood teachings in all the bible, and it is picked up in the Augsburg Confession Article 26.  Part of the misunderstanding is not getting the situation.  The local pagan temple was likely also the local butcher shop.  When offerings were brought to the temple the animal would be ritually killed.  Depending upon which pagan god or area what happened next could change, but largely the entrails might be studied for “signs” – the Romans called this augury – and the fat burned as the offering.  The meat would be kept by the priests.  The laws for Jewish sacrifice are also close (read Leviticus 1, Lev 17 & 22 also spell out what happens to portions).  In a busy temple there would be more meat than could be eaten by the priests.  Israel was forbidden from selling it to non-priests (Lev 22), but in the pagan world the priests had a business that brought in money and other goods, selling meat.

Now the problem that Paul is addressing is that this meat was “offered to idols”.  The larger question becomes: is what I am eating blasphemous or profaning God or just irreligious? And if you think we are beyond such thoughts, just start asking questions about why someone is a vegetarian or a paleo.  Ask how getting the stamp “organic” or “non-GMO” is important.  If you think all the pseudo-medical lines of Leviticus about different rashes are superstition, ask about how we medicalize everything we eat and drink.  And about how the bleeding edge of the “life extension movement” has more rules about supplements and what you can ingest than any Kosher Jewish house.  Our religious quests – life, health, wellness, superior knowledge – almost always fixate upon food.  In the Reformation time that the Augsburg addresses fasting in the correct way or avoiding certain types of meats (the forerunner to fish on Friday) was the religious quest.  And we are almost always on a religious quest.

The first thing Paul says is that there is nothing to any of these religious quests – “an idol has no real existence.”  If somebody’s religious quest – their attempt to justify themselves and their existence – spins off some good cheap eats, dig in.  The Christian is not being blasphemous or irreligious in any way.  Our existence and our justification come not from anything we do, but from Christ alone.  “For us there is one God…and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” But Paul adds a second thing to this general license.  “Not all possess this knowledge.”  We live in this world not for ourselves, but for our brothers.  I may have the freedom to scoff at the mystical medicalization of much of life these days, but I don’t have to exercise that freedom.  If exercising that freedom would cause someone who believes to doubt the gospel, then Paul would say use that freedom to abstain.

Stealing a bit from the Pagans, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” There may be a time when the Christian is called to “here I stand, I can do no other.”  When the religious quest of the world demands we say something untrue about the gospel.  Then we must teach those who “do not possess this knowledge” and bear the consequence of such teaching. But if a tradition does not interfere with the gospel, our care is with our brother or sister.  What we pray for is good eyes to discern when is the time for confession and teaching, and when is the time to walk alongside in humility.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Feb 1st – Feb 7th

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…  9:00amPreschool

Tuesday: ……………….  7:00pm    Board of Elders Meeting

Wednesday: ……………   9:00amConfirmation (Cancelled, 1 Week break)

Thursday: ……………… 10:00amBible Study

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                           11:00am    Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Ezekiel Chapter 20-21
  • Confirmation:  We are off this week, next week Communion 4.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Feb 10th. See you on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, in the sanctuary and on the zoom line.
  • Catechism Moment: We have completed our first cycle through the catechism.  We will be starting anew with the 1st Commandment.  Good time to jump on.  If you aren’t getting them, please send me your email.  You can also forward them through the link at the very top of the email to others and then I get the email address and can send future ones!

RHAFT:  Collections for RHAFT are ongoing.  If you would like to contribute to the Rush-Henrietta Food Pantry, a box is located under the round table in the Narthex for non-perishable items.  These could include cereals, canned goods (protein items are always in need), flour, and sugar, cooking oil, hygiene products (i.e. soaps, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste & toothbrushes, feminine products) pet and cleaning products.  RHAFT can only accept food items that have not passed the expiration date.

SPRING DRIVE-THRU BEEF on WECK … save the date … Saturday, April 24th.