Monthly Archives: September 2020

Proper Authority?

Biblical Text: Matthew 21:23-32

Figuring out who and what is proper authority is a difficult thing these days. People hold offices but then do not fulfill the duties of said office. Sometimes they even work contrary to those duties. This text starts out with the Priests confronting Jesus on the basis of authority. By the end of it, Jesus paints a clear picture of proper authority, what Jesus can work with, and what is owed to those who have the trappings of authority but whose hearts are hardened against its proper use.

This is not an easy thing. It calls for wisdom. And that wisdom is available by walking “in the way of righteousness”. Which should challenge us: whether we are a son who shames dad but tries to make it up, or one who saves face but isn’t that reliable. Christ can work with those. Both admit to the authority of the Father. What he can’t work with, are those who deny the proper authority of the Word.

Virtual Bulletin – 9/27

September 27, 2020 – 17th Sunday after Pentecost

WORSHIP & Bible Study

Addition to the schedule. Worship is at 10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present Bulletin/Worship Link Here – Sept 27, 2020 Zoom (same as before): https://zoom.us/j/6458485288

Bible Study will start this weekend after service or 11:15ish.  I’ll keep the zoom line on.  We are going to walk through the biblical stories on pestilence in Israel.  Numbers 11, 16 (Korah’s Rebellion) and 2 Samuel 24 (David’s Census). Everyone is encouraged to stay or to jump in online.  (I think I have even figured out a way to get online voices through the main church speakers.)

Devotion & Prayer Thought

It is simplistic to say but bad things are always a sign for repentance. The first thesis of Luther’s famous 95 was “The Lord called for the entire life of believers to be one of penitence.”  That is not usually our response.  In asking why this is happening to us, it is not to discern our faults and turn and live.  We ask that as ancient Israel was asking it, to find worthy candidates for blame.  “The Fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”  God promised us milk and honey, but we got sour grapes, and now our kids are unruly and misbehaved.  It is all God’s fault.

I’d challenge you to go read the missing verses from our Old Testament reading today.  It has one of the Old Testament’s clearest pronouncements of the Gospel. “None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him, for the righteousness that he has done shall live.  Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?”

This life is a choice of two ways: our way or the Lord’s way. Our way leads nowhere but enslavement to our own appetites and ultimately death.  The Lord’s way begins in the freedom of his grace and leads to life eternal.  That grace has been extended to us in Christ which gives us the freedom to count up our sins and repent.  They will not be held against us for the LORD does not desire the death of his children.  And it gives us the freedom to walk in new ways. It is wrong to say that bad things come as punishments for specific sins, but they are tests.  They are signposts for us to ask: which way am I walking?  Is this current trouble something minor compared to the enteral damnation I am walking towards?  Or is this current trouble a minor inconvenience compared to the eternal glory that awaits (2 Cor 4:17).  The way of the LORD is just.  Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the Kingdom is theirs.  May we consider our ways and turn and life.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Sept 28th – Oct 4th

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

Thursday: ………………  9:00am   Beef on Weck Prep day … brownie baking

10:00am   Bible Study

Friday: ……………..……  9:00am   Beef on Weck Prep day … potato salad day

Saturday: ……………….  4:30pm   Beef on Weck Drive Thru

Sunday: ………………….  10:00am   Worship

                                            11:15am   Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: New Study Starting this week.  Everyone welcome, including on zoom
  • Confirmation: Confirmation 2 got restarted. Reviewing the Lord’s Prayer.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  is next meeting on Wednesdays, October 7th at 7 PM.  We will be on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, in the sanctuary.  I’ll also have this on the zoom line.  And I will have coffee.
  • Catechism Moment:We are continuing to our walk through the catechism in your inbox

GROUNDKEEPING

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

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

We still have volunteer openings and there is still time to sign up.  Volunteers will leave here with dinners without having to go thru the Drive Thru line!  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.

Better than Fairness

Biblical Text: Matthew 20:1-16 (Fuller text: Matthew 19-20)

The entire life of Jesus is a revelation of the heart of God, so the Matthew 19 text is a glimpse into how Jesus treats all of his children which is as individual souls and mindful of their eternal fate. Which is nothing like our modern obsessions with care and fairness. And I don’t really want to be too hard on care and fairness. Because it is not that God doesn’t care, or that he isn’t fair. It is that his care and fairness so exceed ours as to make us look like barbarians.

God’s care is not about indulging our temporal and usually spiritual desires. God’s care is his eternal faithfulness. When God promises something, you can take it to the bank. Hell is perfectly fair. The punishment always fits the crime. God is graceful, granting to us what we don’t deserve.

So in this time of work, this time under the cross, God’s care and fairness and seem contrary to ours. But that is because we don’t understand what we have been given. We don’t understand the joy of working in THE vineyard. That is what this sermon attempts to think about. How God has given us so much more and better than what our hard hearts would demand.

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.