Monthly Archives: August 2020

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.

Virtual Bulletin – 8/9

August 9, 2020 – 10th Sunday after Pentecost

WORSHIP

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

Bulletin/Worship Link Here – August 9, 2020

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

Devotion & Prayer Thought

The miracles, evidenced by Thomas Jefferson’s bible, are the first things people cut out of the bible. “I’ve never seen one, so they couldn’t have happened.” That is straight up denial which oddly I can respect if not agree with.  There is a second way of dealing with miracles that I can understand, categorizing them as coincidence or black swans or low probability events.  That doesn’t deny that something happened, it just denies the implied cause – the power of God.  The approach I can’t respect unfortunately was the most common in my youth. On one side of the aisle would be those that denied a miracle’s reality but attempted to affirm its meaning.  “It’s a spiritual story.”  The other side would contend that “no, they happened, it is just that there is a naturalistic way to explain it.” It is the opposite of the spiritualizer – “It is so real, that we can explain it away like any magicians trick.” The sad part is that these folks usually thought they were defending the scriptures while draining away the purpose the miracles were performed and written for.

That purpose was to reveal God.  If we look at the miracles of Jesus there are a variety of ways to categorize them. My rough categorization is:

  1. Healings – which usually pointed to Jesus’ compassion
  2. Exorcisms – Jesus’ spiritual reign
  3. Provision – The common grace invitation to see the Love of God
  4. Epiphanies – These are the raw works of power.  Jesus is Lord, over everything.

But here is the really hard thing, the miracles aren’t self-interpreting.  That is a running theme in the gospel of John.  Seeing is not believing.  John 6:26, 10:38, 12:37, 14:11 all have some form of Jesus urging those who have seen the miracles to accept his authoritative interpretation of them – “The Father is in Me”. The hardest part about the true “end times” for me centers around the ideas of Rev 13:13 or Matthew 24:24-25 that there will be those performing such signs and wonders but falsely.  Satan is always a copycat.  He never did anything original.  Just perverted the goodness of God’s creation.  The discernment is if they “preach another gospel”, for if even an angel were to appear preaching another, we should not believe them (Gal 1:8).

So while the “powers and principalities” might be able to perform healings, although their purpose would not be compassion; they could provide, although it would not be from grace; they might even perform an exorcism just to spite Jesus’ logic (Matthew 12:25-26), their epiphanies will always be wrong because the Father is not in them. The one who laid the foundations of the earth, who the gates of death have not only been revealed to but have been thrown open by, the alpha and the omega has already come to us and abides with us.  May we accept his testimony

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Aug 10th – August 16th

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

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

                                                      10:00am    Worship

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Reading Malachi and so finishing the book of the short prophets.  Live in person and on zoom.  Same link as the service.  The start time is 10, but we probably talk 15 mins or so first.  Everyone is invited!
  • Confirmation:  Will return in the fall – September
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Preliminary, it looks like we will meet on Wednesdays, starting September 9th at 7 PM.  We will be on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: I will have some further info in this next week.
  • Catechism Moment: We’re back baby! Hopefully you got the start of the Lord’s Prayer

Savers Delivery

Thank you to everyone who donated to our Preschool Rummage Sale/Savers collection.  The Rummage Sale and subsequent on-line sales netted approximately $500 for the Preschool.  Our Savers collection will bring in approximately $200 which will be used, in part, to replace the rotting landscape timbers surrounding the climbing equipment in the Preschool play-yard.  Unfortunately, this project will have to wait until spring when landscape timbers are again available.

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.

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.

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

WOMEN’S GROUP … is NOT meeting in August.

Leadership Boards Summer Break

Elders are taking off July & August from formal meeting. Council will be taking off July.

Provident Compassion

Biblical Text: Matthew 14:13-21

The feeding of the 5000 is an easy jump to the Lord’s Supper, but in pondering it this week I wanted to focus on something a bit different. I’m still greatly worried about all of those online and the supper, so I wished to downplay that a bit. The latch for me was the specific situation in Jesus’ life. This is what happens immediately after the death of John the Baptist. Matthew is very clear about what Jesus wanted to do, and then what happened which is about 100% the opposite. It tells us something about the God we have, the inconvenience of compassion, and how God provides. Yes, part of how God provides is the specifics of the Lord’s Supper, but he provides so much more than that.

I’m convinced that more than a very OS daemons operate in the technology. It figures on a day that I hoped to address the online group a bit more explicitly the tech betrays us in a stupid way. But if I’m listening to my own sermon, out of meager loaves, the Lord provides.