Author Archives: Parson Brown

The Kingdom of Grace

Biblical Text: Matthew 18:21-35

The Christian in called to live in two kingdoms at the same time. There are the kingdoms of the law. What we call the state is the typical representative of the Kingdom of the law. And in the Kingdom of the law the primary responsibility is Justice. Because this Kingdom is ruled indirectly by sinful humans (and fallen powers) justice isn’t always perfect, but that its responsibility. Christians also life in the Kingdom of Grace. And how we are called to live is thinking of the Kingdom of Grace as a millennium’s worth of work compared to the law’s as three months. Three months is a lot. Most of us don’t have three months in the bank. Three months is real. And legally we can demand it. But the Christian who wishes to reside in the Kingdom recognizes that those three months are as nothing compared to the 10,000 talents.

This is the way of the cross. The way of grace. Trusting that God’s justice is better than the best we could ever provide.

Virtual Bulletin – 9/13

September 13, 2020 – 15th Sunday after Pentecost

WORSHIP

Everything remains on our current schedule.  10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present.

Bulletin/Worship Link Here – Sept 13, 2020

Zoom (same as before): https://zoom.us/j/6458485288

Devotion & Prayer Thought

I commented in past weeks that the second half of all of Paul’s letters often have a different tone.  The sweeping theologian is gone and the congregational pastor has arrived.  It is often assumed that Paul was responding to letters from the congregations and specific instances in the lives of those congregations.  Like Romans 13 discussing how to live in the now and not yet with Caesar, Romans 14 addresses “what if your problem is not with those outside the church, but those inside?”

The arguments with those inside are often the mirror image of those outside.  “You Christians have strange practices” might be the statement of those outside of Christ.  That is certainly what the Greeks and Romans thought.  But inside the church our arguments are usually over if our practices go far enough – “you are giving in to the world when you don’t do x.” Backing up into Romans 13, Paul starts off with a solid demarcation.  “Loving your neighbor is the fulfillment of the law.”  The law, while not having the power to make us keep it, is a picture of what love for the neighbor looks like.  “Let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Those preferring to continue openly in darkness, contrary to the moral law, are outside of Christ.

But what about those who think a strict fasting regime is necessary on certain days?  Or you can fill in your favorite piety practice.  Paul brings up eating only vegetables and Holy Days.  Special diets and holy days, like most piety practices have solid things to commend them, and they become deeply meaningful to people who practice them.  But Paul’s advice here is “don’t quarrel over opinions…why pass judgment upon your brother?…each of us will give an account of himself to God.”  These don’t have the force of the moral law.

But Paul isn’t a modern Libertarian either.  While counseling extending grace to the brother you might think is deficient in piety, he then asks us to examine our own practices in the light of our brothers and sisters.  Is something I am doing causing them to stumble?  Or maybe more for us, is something I am not doing causing my brother to stumble?  Notice that Paul is not talking about the basic moral law which is often how this passage is weaponized.  “If you were a real Christian you would let me continue to walk in darkness.”  Paul says to that “do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.” But, “pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”  If we find ourselves quarreling over practices, find what we can affirm, why it might be a meaningful practice, and acknowledge that, maybe even adopt part of it for the sake of the brother.

The way of the cross is hard enough.  May we learn to build each other up and live at peace without losing the saving way.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Sept 14th – September 20th

Mon. – Fri. ………….…  8:00am     Preschool

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

Wednesday: ……………  7:30pm    Church Council Meeting

Thursday: …………….. 10:00am     Bible Study

Sunday: ………………….  10:00am   Worship

                                           11:15am    Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Continuing on Pestilence in the Bible – Numbers 16 (Korah’s Rebellion).
  • Confirmation: Confirmation 2 will continue, hopefully starting this week, maybe next depending upon first week school experiences.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Start up on Wednesdays, starting September 23rd at 7 PM.  We will be on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: I’m going to hold a study at 11:15ish, after worship, in the sanctuary, starting next week.  I’ll also have this on the zoom line.
  • Catechism Moment: We are continuing to our walk through the catechism in your inbox. Currently on the Lord’s Prayer

GROUNDKEEPING

It is still mowing season.  Thank you and please remember to do your part. 

A BIG THANK YOU to the Women’s Group for purchasing the Mums planted in front of our sign and to Mindy for weeding the garden bed around the sign and planting the Mums.

MEN’S CLUB will NOT be meeting this month.

WOMEN’S GROUP is meeting via ZOOM on Monday, September 14th at 6:30pm.  Note, this is the 2nd Monday, not the 3rd Monday as is our tradition.

BEEF ON WECK DRIVE-THRU … Save the date … Saturday, October 3rd

The volunteer sign-up will soon be posted.  We have made some adjustments to the plan we used for the Spring Drive-Thru in hopes of making it even more streamline.  (Recap … we sold 300 meals in ONE hour!)  Realizing that we will probably sell out in an hour means that we need to have more help BEFORE the first meal is sold.  Of course, we will again be wearing gloves and masks and doing our best to social distance while working. However, there are several jobs that can be done separate from other people if you would like to volunteer some time but are hesitant to step outside your Covid Bubble.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Mindy if you have any questions.

This is a first-come, first serve meal.  We will NOT be selling tickets in advance.  However, posting a flyer around town and sharing our Facebook ad is appreciated.

Humbled Like a Child?

Biblical Text: Matthew 18:1-20

I thought hard about preaching on the Epistle Lesson this week – Romans 13. The core of that work ended up as the Meditation in the Bulletin (post below). But I decided two things: 1) Paul’s plain words were clear enough in this time. And give the response of the congregation just to the reading of it, I was right here. 2) Those who need to hear that one are largely not in my pews. So I went ahead with the gospel lesson.

The fundamental structure is between the values of the Kingdom and those of Satan, The World and our Sinful nature. And one of the places this constantly is made real is in the GOAT (Greatest of all time) discussions. We all want our recognition. We want others to recognize us. The call of the Kingdom, the way of the cross, is to humble ourselves to serve God and our neighbor. This sermon works on how that plays out both in time and in eternity for the Sons and Daughters of the Kingdom.

Virtual Bulletin – 9/6/20

September 6, 2020 – 14th Sunday after Pentecost

WORSHIP

Everything remains on our current schedule.  10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present.

Bulletin/Worship Link Here – Sept 6, 2020

Zoom (same as before): https://zoom.us/j/6458485288

Devotion & Prayer Thought

It is funny how certain passages of the bible are taken to be “hard sayings” in one age and then in the next are just common wisdom while others become hard.  Romans 13 is one of those that I think is becoming a hard saying.  By the way Peter says the same thing in 1 Peter 2.  And if you want the Jesus reference, look at John 19:11.  What they all say is be subject to the governing authorities because God placed them there.  As many of us drift further apart politically, it has become harder for many to be subject.  But we should remember the names that were in place while Paul and Peter and Jesus were around: Pilate, Caligula and Nero.  Those are not Washington and Jefferson.

In general Paul – a Roman citizen – seems to have a more sanguine approach to Roman rule.  It is Jesus before Pilate and Peter’s passage that recognize that a ruler with legitimate authority can also be committing great sin.  And it is those two who acknowledge that it might be the duty of the Christian to do the right thing and have the ruler punish them for it.  “If you do good and suffer for it, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.”  Paul might address it just before Romans 13 when he reminds us “live peaceably with all, but never avenge yourselves…vengeance is mine says the Lord.” The tricky thing in these circumstances is to determine just what is the good?  John Brown thought Harpers Ferry was the good.  And abolition of slavery was definitely a good, but was it his call to seize the arms to do so?  More modern, is killing an abortion doctor the good?  Abortion is an evil and ending it would be good.  But is that our call in that way?  If you are going to be doing “the good” instead of honoring the ruler, it probably looks a lot more like Jesus and Peter and Paul.  All who argued and preached and reproached, but who were killed by the state without violence on their part.  When you pick up the stone, you better be sure you are the clean one to throw it, if you do not have governmental authority vested.

This is one of the reasons we pray weekly for those in offices that they might use their office for the good of the people.  So that we might be able to lead quiet lives with integrity.  Being “the man” is not quite as easy as we think.  And “the man” will be held accountable by God for how he or she used their authority.  We pray that we aren’t put into that position of determining “the good”, because we see poorly.  We pray for the wisdom to see the good for those who are granted authority.  But we also pray for the courage to walk the way of the cross should that quiet life not be ours.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Sept 7th – September 13th

Mon. – Fri. ………….…  8:00am     Preschool

Wednesday: ……………  7:00pm     LAF

Thursday: …………….. 10:00am     Bible Study

Sunday: ………………… 10:00am    Worship

                                        11:15am     Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: We will be looking at “pestilence” in the bible (Numbers 11:31-35, 16:1-50, 2 Samuel 24:1-25)
  • Confirmation:  2nd year class will be starting up mid-September after we figure out school. I’ll be in touch.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Start up on Wednesdays, starting September 9th at 7 PM.  We will be on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: This may or may not fly, but I’m moving this Study to 11:15 (after service) and we will hold it in the Sanctuary for now.  It will also be on the zoom line.  I honestly don’t know how this will work, but we are going to try.
  • Catechism Moment: I hope these email delivered short catechism refreshers are encouraging and timely.

MOWING CALENDAR

It is still mowing season and with all of the rain we have been getting of late the grass is growing fast!  Please remember to do your part.  Friday or Saturday mowing is the preferred timeframe.  We ask that you make arrangements with someone else on the schedule if you have a previous commitment on the date you are assigned.  There is a white tin in the News Nest that contains a key for the church and the padlock combination as well as Jerry’s cell number for an emergency.  If you have any questions please contact Jerry Gardner.

BEEF ON WECK DRIVE-THRU … Save the date … Saturday, October 3rd

The volunteer sign-up will soon be posted.  We have made some adjustments to the plan we used for the Spring Drive-Thru in hopes of making it even more streamline.  (Recap … we sold 300 meals in ONE hour!)  Realizing that we will probably sell out in an hour means that we need to have more help BEFORE the first meal is sold.  Of course, we will again be wearing gloves and masks and doing our best to social distance while working. However, there are several jobs that can be done separate from other people if you would like to volunteer some time but are hesitant to step outside your Covid Bubble.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Mindy if you have any questions.

This is a first-come, first serve meal.  We will NOT be selling tickets in advance.  However, posting a flyer around town and sharing our Facebook ad is appreciated.

Definitions are Important (Christ and the Cross)

Biblical Text: Matthew 16:21-28

We live in a time that definitions of words can’t be taken for granted. People use the same word but often have radically different meanings. That is the case in this text for the idea of Christ. Jesus and the Father have a definition that centers on the cross. Peter’s Christ can’t include the cross. That must be sorted out. Likewise understanding was The Cross means for Jesus and what it means for his followers is important discipleship stuff. This sermon attempts to make clear what Christ and the Cross mean for the Christian.

Virtual Bulletin – 8/30

August 30, 2020 – 13th Sunday after Pentecost

WORSHIP

Everything remains on our current schedule.  10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present.

Bulletin/Worship Link Here – August 30, 2020

Zoom (same as before): https://zoom.us/j/6458485288

Devotion & Prayer Thought

I’d dare you to give Paul’s letters a close read.  There is a rough structure to all of them.  There are more complicated outlines that a classical schooled kid could point you at.  But the simplest division tends to be first “theological argument” and second “how we live based on that argument”. Which is why every commentator and most pastors love the first half of Paul’s letters, but by the time you get to the second half have lost interest.  That goes double for modern Lutherans because they tend to hear that as gospel and then law, and modern Lutherans tend to doubt the role of the law in the life of the believer.

We’ve been reading through the letter to the Roman on Sundays and chapter 12 – began last week and continued this week is the start of that second section.  Paul’s theological argument is that the Sovereign God has claimed you in Jesus Christ.  Everybody, including Israel, has died to sin, and through the proclamation of Christ everyone through faith is offered life and salvation.  That life and salvation make specific claims on us now, because they begin now.  The fullness of that life and salvation has not yet been revealed to everyone, but they are present in the life of faith.  Which is why Paul starts chapter 12 appealing to believers to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice.  This temporary life has a purpose, to witness to the one who gave us eternal life and salvation freely.

What does that look like?  Last week Paul introduced the corporate aspect of it.  “We are all one body in Christ, individually members of one another.”  And are various gifts that we have been given are for the corporate good of that body of Christ.  If you deny your gifts to the body you not only harm the body but you harm yourself bring into question you life and salvation.  Do you cut off your left hand because it itches or isn’t as useful as the right?  No!  Then why do you absent yourself from the body of Christ?  Why do you deny your brothers and sisters their hand?  We should be aware of how we treat fellow believers.

But the body of Christ also resides in the midst of the world.  What does being a living sacrifice in the midst of the world look like?  Paul starts out with a list of exhorations: “let love be genuine..abhor evil, hold onto good…show honor…do not be slothful in zeal”. But he then transitions to the big one: “Bless those who persecute you.” I take this as the Pauline echo of “blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.”  Blessing your enemies is not of this world.  The act itself gives witness to something outside this world.  And it is an act of faith that the God who made everything is sovereign and will repay.  Paul quotes Deuteronomy “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, say the Lord.”  But the goal is not that we would that revenge – as Jonah wished upon Nineveh.  The goal is to overcome evil.  “Overcome evil with good.”  “Rejoice, you have gained your brother.”

How do we the church, the body of Christ, bless those who persecute us?  I can think of several ways, but that is the homework for you, what ways do you recognize?  May we “as far as it depends upon us live peaceable lives with all.”

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Aug 31st – September 6th

Tuesday: ………………  7:30pm     Board of Elders Meeting

Thursday: …………….. 10:00am     Bible Study

                                            1:00pm    Stollery internment at Maplewood Cemetery

Sunday: ………………….  9:00am     Bible Study and Sunday School

                                           10:00am    Worship

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Not meeting 9/3, will meet 9/10 – the OT on intentional plague, all invited
  • Confirmation:  Will return in the fall – September, I’ll be in touch personally to sort out.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Start up on Wednesdays, starting September 9th at 7 PM.  We will be on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: I’m looking at something a little different.  I ask for your patience here.
  • Catechism Moment: I hope these email delivered short catechism refreshers are encouraging and timely.

MOWING CALENDAR

It is still mowing season and with all of the rain we have been getting of late the grass is growing fast!  Please remember to do your part.  Friday or Saturday mowing is the preferred timeframe.  We ask that you make arrangements with someone else on the schedule if you have a previous commitment on the date you are assigned.  There is a white tin in the News Nest that contains a key for the church and the padlock combination as well as Jerry’s cell number for an emergency.  If you have any questions please contact Jerry Gardner.

PRESCHOOL UPDATE …  Preschool begins on Thursday, September 3rd

BEEF ON WECK DRIVE-THRU … Save the date … Saturday, October 3rd

The volunteer sign-up will soon be posted.  We have made some adjustments to the plan we used for the Spring Drive-Thru in hopes of making it even more streamline.  (Recap … we sold 300 meals in ONE hour!)  Realizing that we will probably sell out in an hour means that we need to have more help BEFORE the first meal is sold.  Of course, we will again be wearing gloves and masks and doing our best to social distance while working. However, there are several jobs that can be done separate from other people if you would like to volunteer some time but are hesitant to step outside your Covid Bubble.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Mindy if you have any questions.

This is a first-come, first serve meal.  We will NOT be selling tickets in advance.  However, posting a flyer around town and sharing our Facebook ad is appreciated

Confessing the Christ

Biblical Text: Matthew 16:13-20

The Reign of God or the Kingdom is the overriding theme of the gospel and we’ve been thinking out way through it this summer. It starts out being proclaimed. (“Repent! The Reign of God is near!”) Then it is taught. (“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom.” “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…”.) Then it is exhibited or demonstrated as Jesus interacts with the crowds, the disciples and the Pharisees and Sadducees. All of which leads up to the final. “Do you understand? Who do you say I am?”

That is a question that we all must answer when the Reign draws near. And there are a variety of answers, but only one correct one. “You are the Christ.” And that correct answer – that confession does a couple of things. It binds us to Christ in the church. And it frees us from our sin. The Keys of the Kingdom, the reality of the Reign. If you confess Christ, you can only truly do so within his body. And within that body, Satan cannot touch the pardon of God.

That – our proper response to the Reign – is what this sermon encourages.

Virtual Bulletin – 8/23

August 23, 2020 – 12th Sunday after Pentecost

WORSHIP

Everything remains on our current schedule.  10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present.

Bulletin/Worship Link Here – August 23, 2020

Zoom (same as before): https://zoom.us/j/6458485288

Flowers next to the Altar were placed by Karen & Nathan Groff and family in honor of Dee Dee and Wayne Warriner’s 50th Wedding Anniversary

Devotion & Prayer Thought

Whether it is in sports or in life we are so used to everything having a measurement.  Scoreboard is the taunt.  Look at the bottom line.  And these things are typically put up in bright bold letters.  Every week our contributions (and usually attendance, when we were all together, sigh).  Permanently on the screen, the score stood four to two that day with but an inning left to play.  And even more than in Casey’s day as we have the strikes, balls and MPHs shown.  Coaching little league gives you a different view.  Yes, we keep score, but the score isn’t usually known.  The scorekeeper is the only person who knows.  And yes, the umpire can often forget the count himself.  I’ve had players strike out on two strikes and walk on 6 balls.  I’m sure I’ve had the 3 ball walk, I just don’t remember those.  The kids will occasionally ask “what’s the score”, but less than you might think.  And I don’t always tell them exactly.  Sometimes I just say “close, let’s get a 1-2-3 inning”, or “we need some runs.”  The score is important, but the score, even in a little league game is already determined by how you and your teammates are going to play.  Concentrating on the score won’t change it.  Hitting this next pitch might.  Go try.

The Christian life is more like that little league experience than the adult world of constant measurement.  The final outcome is known.  Christ has won.  Satan is defeated.  The Saints shout triumphantly.  “My salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.”  But how we play the game is still important. “Look to the Rock from which you were hewn.”  “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”  We are engaged in a struggle, a contest.  And we are engaged against an enemy that is desperate and seeking to score as much as he can.  And if all you look at as the game is this world, he might even win.  Our Lord himself was crucified.  But this world is only the first and second inning.  He is risen, and we too shall rise to victory.

So go try. “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.  If prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving…”.  The joy, the worship, is in the use, is in the playing.  May we find that joy.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Aug 24th – August 30th

Thursday: …………….. 10:00am     Bible Study

Sunday: ………………….  9:00am     Bible Study and Sunday School

                                           10:00am    Worship

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Recap and finish Malachi this week – we mean it this time.  The start time is 10, but we probably talk 15 mins or so first.  Everyone is invited!
  • Confirmation:  Will return in the fall – September, I’ll be in touch personally to sort out.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Start up on Wednesdays, starting September 9th at 7 PM.  We will be on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: I’m looking at something a little different.  I ask for your patience here.
  • Catechism Moment: Our reading of the Lord’s Prayer continues.  If you aren’t getting these in your email box, it is because I don’t have your email.  Or you have me going to spam.  Easy to take care of

MOWING CALENDAR

It is still mowing season and with all of the rain we have been getting of late the grass is growing fast!  Please remember to do your part.  Friday or Saturday mowing is the preferred timeframe.  We ask that you make arrangements with someone else on the schedule if you have a previous commitment on the date you are assigned.  There is a white tin in the News Nest that contains a key for the church and the padlock combination as well as Jerry’s cell number for an emergency.  If you have any questions please contact Jerry Gardner.

PRESCHOOL UPDATE …  Preschool begins on Thursday, September 3rd

BEEF ON WECK DRIVE-THRU … Save the date … Saturday, October 3rd

The volunteer sign-up will soon be posted.  We have made some adjustments to the plan we used for the Spring Drive-Thru in hopes of making it even more streamline.  (Recap … we sold 300 meals in ONE hour!)  Realizing that we will probably sell out in an hour means that we need to have more help BEFORE the first meal is sold.  Of course, we again be working wearing gloves and masks and doing our best to social distance. However, there are several jobs that can be done separate from other people if you would like to volunteer some time but are hesitant to step outside your Covid Bubble.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Mindy if you have any questions.

This is a first-come, first serve meal.  We will NOT be selling tickets in advance.  However, posting a flyer around town and sharing our Facebook ad is appreciated.

LEADERSHIP BOARDS SUMMER BREAK

Elders are taking off July & August from formal meeting.

BOOKS

Do you know of a Free Little Library?  If so, we have books available for you to take and donate to one or more of your favorites.  The books are in the coat closet on the table next to the full-length mirror.  Please help us get the books out to the community

What is Repentance?

Biblical Text: Matthew 15:21-28

I’m sure that in many pulpits today, in attempts to be edgy and with the zeitgeist of the world, preachers will use this text to promote blasphemy. Which is terrible, because when you allow yourself to hear it, it is the most beautiful witness. If you ask “What is repentance?”, or compare this woman to Peter – the “little faith” one – you see a great witness of faith. That is what this sermon attempts to do. Put this episode in its context and allow us to understand better both faith and how repentance is the ongoing act of faith.

Fresh Courage Take

Biblical Text: Matthew 14:22-33

The miracles of Jesus are not just random events. God is not capricious, handing out bennies to some while stiffing others. The miracles have a purpose. This sermon sorts through a couple of different ways of thinking about those purposes. And then it focuses on how we often receive miracles, especially epiphany type. The disciples seeing Jesus walking on the water in quick succession go through the key ones. And Jesus is quick reply answers them. This is for us that we might understand and take courage. The New Creation is already ours.