Virtual Bulletin – 3/28 – Palm Sunday

March 28, 2021 – Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday

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. 

HOLY WEEK           March 28th – Palm Sunday Service at 10am

      April 1st – Maundy Thurs. Service w/Communion at 6:50pm

      April 2nd – Good Friday Service at 7:00pm

      April 4th – Easter Service at 10am

Special Prelude: The Maundy Thursday service will begin with Mendelssohn’s Organ Sonata No. VI in D minor based on the chorale, “Our Father Who in Heaven Art”.  Music will begin at 6:50. Please use this time for quiet meditation as we prepare for Christ’s passion.

Devotion & Prayer Thought

One of the things that we do in confirmation instruction is attempt to demonstrate an intentional prayer life.  We demonstrate four different methods and ask the confirmands to attempt using two of them for a couple weeks each.  After each week we spend some time simply asking what worked and what didn’t?  What was hard?  What stood in the way?  The four systems we walk through are: The Treasury of Daily Prayer which is an industrial strength daily prayer book, Luther’s Simple Way to Pray (ITCP, instruction, thanksgiving, confession and prayer) which might be something like our midweek catechism moment, the litany or the Prayers of the Church ordering which we do on Sundays, and a from the heart method loosely called ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication).  Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, I have yet to have an 8th grader return from the assignment to say “this really worked, I now get it, and I am started on my prayer life.”

The easiest answer would be a poor teacher and I’m sure that is in there.  I’m teaching a process and method without full buy-in on the purpose.  But if you demanded buy-in from 8th graders on spiritual things, you’d just stop.  I don’t think the entire burden falls on the poor teacher, even though I will have to answer for it.  Part of it is our default skepticism.  We have stripped every last bit of mystery and wonder out of almost everything.  This is a problem for religion but honestly it is also a problem for science.  There is a reason people like Tyler Cowen talk about “the great stagnation” even if they just recognize the effects of the problem.  Science and religion are both creatures of wonder. Prayer springs from “the fear and love” of standing before the Almighty God.  Science springs from the fear and love of observing His creation.  Wonder in our 24/7/365 acid bath of skepticism, irony and dunking is punished brutally.

As expert as I can be at swimming in the acid bath, I’ve been attempting especially in my prayer life to instill a bit more wonder or enchantment.  One of the things that comes up studying the gospel of Mark as we have been on Sundays in bible study is “The Perpetual Virginity of Mary”.  All of Jesus’ “brothers and sisters” are named in the gospel. The vast majority of protestants reject this, although Lutherans always have to be careful as Luther himself and our confessions if not outright teach it, they make room for it. (If you want to know where Smalcald Articles 1.4 and Formula of Concord 8.24.)  And it came up this week on a note of wonder around March 25th in the week prior to Holy Week.  Something ultimately as unprovable as the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, but worth pondering.  March 25th is the date of the Annunciation, when Gabriel came to Mary, 9 months prior to Dec 25th.  But March 25th claims a lot more. The ancient tradition is that the 25th is the day of creation. It was the first day of the year under the Julian Calendar and the vernal equinox. And March 25th is asserted also to have been on a certain Friday around the year 33 AD.  Good Friday changes dates because Easter does, but the first was March 25th.  Creation, Annunciation of a New Creation and the end of the old one all on the same date.

Prove it? No.  Does it feel like the God of Creation who embedded fractals into so many things?  Sure does.  There is so much more going on in every bit of creation than the eyes can see.  As we enter another Holy Week, may we see revealed before us just a bit of the love of God for his creation. Enough to inspire some wonder. Amen.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  March 29th – April 4th

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

Wednesday: ……………   9:00am     NO Confirmation Class

Thursday: ……………… 10:00am    NO Bible Study

                                            7:00pm    Maundy Thursday Service

Friday: …………………  7:00pm    Good Friday Service

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship/Easter Sunday

                                           11:00am    Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Ezekiel – Chap 35
  • Confirmation:  Two weeks off (3/31, 4/7), back 4/14. Elder questions 5/4
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  March 24th. See you on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, Walking through the gospel of Mark – the one read in this year’s lectionary.
  • Catechism Moment: 7th Commandment.  If you are not receiving and want to, drop me your email.

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

  • April 22nd (Thurs.) … Brownie baking and Beef cooking for Beef on Weck
  • April 23rd (Fri.) … Potato salad & Cole Slaw Prep day for Beef on Weck
  • April 24th (Sat.) … 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
  • July … week after the 10th … delivery to SAVERS

EASTER LILY:  LAST DAY to order your Easter Lily to be placed next to the altar on Easter Sunday.  Please see sign-up for details.

Covenants Kept

Biblical Text: Jeremiah 31:31-34

The text is Jeremiah’s invoking of a new covenant. The sermon attempts to think about what we are talking about when we say the word covenant. What a covenant is is the Hebrew answer to the question: “How does God interact with man?” There are a bunch of other answer to that question. The sermon starts out cataloging some of them and how they came about. But the Hebrew answer is unique. And the Christian answer is the Hebrew answer.

The trouble that Jeremiah is experiencing is similar I think to what we might be experiencing today. Just how good does the answer of the covenant fit with how we experience God? A big part of the word covenant is simply a way that God binds himself. If the covenants appear to be failing, as they could appear to Jeremiah, in what way is the God who bound himself actually God? Jeremiah’s prophecy is “the new covenant”, not a breaking of the old ones, but their fulfillment. And that fulfillment is in Jesus Christ. Christ has always been the fulfillment, but in the new covenant we have the greater revelation written on our hearts. It is no longer blood on the external posts and lintels, but blood taken in. The fulfillment is no longer an external obedience, but the obedience of the heart through faith.

By Means

Biblical Text: Numbers 21:4-9, John 3:14-21

We talk about the sacraments as “the means of grace”, in the everyday world we might refer to someone as a person of means, but I don’t think we really know what that word – means – means. Nor do we really plumb its depths. We don’t for two reasons. The first is that most of us are secular. We have buffered ourselves from what what Nicene Creeds calls the invisible creation. Not that it isn’t there and doesn’t effect us, simply that we deny it, usually with some fantastical pseudo-science. Although for me the best denials are the straight up “didn’t happen, who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes.” The second though is a spiritual reason. We think we want God to act immediately. We think we want the lightning bolt. This sermon is an exploration of God working through means and or reactions to that fact.

Virtual Bulletin – 3/14

March 14, 2021 – 4th 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

Irenaeus, the 2nd century Bishop of Lyon, is one of the very early church Fathers that sorted out how we read the bible.  The fancy term is hermeneutics, but to use that is to scare you away from reading the Bible.  Irenaeus’ method was extremely simple.  First, read it.  The Scriptures were meant to be read and lived.  Second, compare what it is saying to you to what he called “the rule of faith” by which he meant what we know as the creeds.  If you are reading the Bible and it is telling you that Jesus is not “true God and true man” read it again because you have erred.   Third, what have your bishops said about what you are reading?  As one lives the faith, there is the entirety of Scripture which is useful for instruction – a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  But all of Scripture contains things like the Gospels which we know by heart and things like Ezekiel, which the old Rabbis said no one under 30 can read.  Make that 40 for today.  So, we all carry around a summary or a symbol of the faith – like the creeds or the small catechism.  But the faith is not an academic exercise, it is lived in community.  And there are people who have been called to preach and teach and shepherd.  All of these work together to keep us on the narrow way.

Ephesians 2 is my canon within the canon, my personal symbol of the faith outside of the small catechism.  It starts off telling us our natural state.  “We were dead in trespasses and sins…following the prince of the power of the air.”  Sin and Satan bound us. The result of such binding was “we all once lived in the passions of our flesh.”  Into this slavery God came.  He came “rich in mercy and because of the great love with which he loved us.”  And in Christ God took that pathetic slave and raised us up to the highest point.  And what does God get out of this?  “in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace and kindness.” God says that he is love and that he is good.  Christ demonstrates both, and that is just the beginning.  That is the broad sweep of bible’s story all of which reflects the story of Jesus.

Paul then turns toward how this Kingdom comes to us and what it requires of us.  “By grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing.” The Kingdom comes by itself.  I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus or come to him, but the Holy Spirit has called me.  God’s grace frees me and grants me the faith to grasp what Christ has done.  The fact that I am no longer a slave is not due to my ability, but God’s manumission. What then is required of this freed slave?  “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We can sell ourselves back to sin and Satan.  They are always acquiring slaves.  We can grumble as Israel did after they were freed and chase after the World.  It was so much better when we were back in Egypt.  Really?  That is the just the slow motion way to return to slavery.  Or we can accept our calling, the purpose for which we were created.  We can walk in holiness. We can do the good works prepared beforehand.  We can be free men and women.

The Scriptures teach slaves how to be free.  And it isn’t the pastel freedom of American’s today.  It is a freedom the color of blood. That’s my canon within the canon.

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

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…  9:00amPreschool

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

Tuesday: ………………  9:00am     Pastors’ Circuit Mtg

Wednesday: ……………   9:00amConfirmation Class

                                           7:30pm     Church Council Mtg

Thursday: ……………… 10:00amBible Study

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                           11:00am    Bible Study

HOLY WEEK          

March 28th – Palm Sunday Service at 10am

April 1st – Maundy Thurs. Service w/Communion at 7pm

April 2nd – Good Friday Service at 7:00pm

April 4th – Easter Service at 10am

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Ezekiel – Chap 33, Two False Starts of Cheap Grace
  • Confirmation:  Review for Elders Questions & World Religions (“The East”)
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  March 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: 5th Commandment.  If you are not receiving and want to, drop me your email.

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

  • Month of March … RHAFT Lenten Challenge continues
  • April 22nd (Thursday) … Brownie baking and Beef cooking for Beef on Weck
  • April 23rd (Friday) … Potato salad & Cole Slaw 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
  • July … week after the 10th … delivery to SAVERS

WOMEN’S GROUP: is meeting on ZOOM at 6:30pm on Monday, March 15th

EASTER LILY:  It’s time to order your Easter Lily to be placed next to the altar on Easter Sunday.  Please see sign-up for details.

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

A New Want-er

Biblical Text: Exodus 20:1-17, John 2:13-22 (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

This sermon might be a bit intellectual, but it is lent which is a season for some challenging fare. The challenge here is to think about what does the cleansing of the temple of our body. Our first answer is always the law. We think that we can control the passions. We think that our heads control our hearts. After that falsehood breaks, I think we often pursue some “middle ground”. We want to build a temple or sacred booth in this world. We clear out a bit of the world. We put our hope in something like “beauty” or “the arts”. And it is not that the law, or “the arts”, or any of these things are wrong. It is just that tomorrow, all the money changers are back anyway.

Our hope isn’t in anything in this world. Not in the law which is written on our stone hearts, although that dead thing can’t follow it. Not in the prettiest work of human hands, even though those might move the heart occasionally. Our hope is in faith in the cross and resurrection – the work of Christ – alone. We need a new heart, a new want-er. And that only comes about by the foolish work of the Spirit.

Virtual Bulletin – 3/7

March 7, 2021 – 3rd 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

One of the things that is often toughest about the pastoral job right now is communicating to folks who just live in different eras.  When you are talking to what I think of as my parent’s generation, the experience of church in the United States was something completely different.  It was larger and prosperous.  It was a respected necessary institution.  And it shared a great many things in common.  These were the days of ecumenical fervor, the protestant establishment, the Judeo-Christian tradition. Of course if you scratched even an inch deep you would hit the Reformation differences, but those were things for the egg-heads and hard-guys to worry about.  And it is not like that era formation is gone.  That era still exists.  When I go to district functions, at which I at almost 50 years old am still in the younger portion, the general tone of many is “stop emphasizing divisive things, let’s just all get along.  If we do that, everything will be ok.”

When you talk to anyone in my generation or younger, the experience is almost the opposite. We never knew a time when the church that was built for Christmas Eve 1964 was full on a regular basis.  The council questions have never been what do we spend the money on, but given the level of funding we have or can imagine, what can we continue.  Our catechism classes were very likely always a watered down moralistic therapeutic endeavor. And assuming that “everyone has a church” or even that there are shared Judeo-Christian values is a mistake.  The default is at best an unknowing stare when you talk spiritual things.  The “nones” in Gen-Z, my kids generation, are 40%, the largest block of people.  Teaching your kids the catechism is a radical act.

Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians are something that I think that older era knew mentally, but experientially?  Not so much.  “The Word of the Cross is folly.”  Yes, the cross, in its deep meaning has always been folly, but there was a long time when everyone confessed it in some form.  Today, it isn’t even thrown in urine by pseudo-artists to shock the bourgeoisie.  It is just foolishness.  Yet the cross remains “the power of God to us who are being saved.”  For one group the wise men of the age were literally Christians.  Reinhold Niebuhr, in the year of peak church 1964, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom as a Public Theologian.  The greatest moral cause of the age was fronted by a preacher, Martin Luther King.  The most admired man was often another, Billy Graham.  Today, unless one is deep in a Christian sub-culture, a gen Z person might not be able to name a Christian that the world even grudgingly thinks of as wise.  “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Yet Paul’s message remains this is what we preach.  “It pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe…for we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.”  And we do this because this is the calling.  We were not called to be thought of as wise, or powerful, or noble, although all those things might be nice things.  We were called to be lights.  “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.”  Our boasting is not in what we can do, but in what God has done.  That cross has saved me.  That cross is the source of my life.  And that life in not just here and now but is the resurrection life.  The wisdom of the world passes like fashion, but the Cross stands across the wrecks of time.  Do we pass the cross unheeding, breathing no repentant vow?  May our eyes be ever turning to behold your cross anew.

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

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…  9:00amPreschool

Wednesday: ……………   9:00amConfirmation Class

                                           7:00pm     LAF

Thursday: ……………… 10:00amBible Study

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                           11:00am    Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Ezekiel – The Second Half, A New Vision for Israel
  • Confirmation:  Review for Elders Questions & World Religions (“The East”)
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  March 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: 4th Commandment.  If you are not receiving and want to, drop me your emaill

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

  • Month of March … RHAFT Lenten Challenge continues
  • April 22nd (Thursday) … Brownie baking and Beef cooking for Beef on Weck
  • April 23rd (Friday) … Potato salad & Cole Slaw 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
  • July … week after the 10th … delivery to SAVERS

WOMEN’S GROUP: is meeting on ZOOM at 6:30pm on Monday, March 15th

DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME CHANGE – Next week (3/14) do not forget to set your clocks forward 1 hour before you go to bed.

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

Signs of the Kingdom

Biblical Text: Genesis 17:1-21

The text focuses on two things, first the reiteration and extension of the covenant promise to Abraham and not explicitly through Sarah, and second circumcision as the mark of the old covenant. That first point focus is about the sovereignty of the God. The Kingdom of God comes how and when it wills. That second point invites the comparison of the old covenant and the new. What are the signs that the Kingdom has come to us? Namely baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Along the way we talk about ways we try to hurry the kingdom and where our hope comes from.

Virtual Bulletin – 2/28

February 28, 2021 – 2nd 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

It is not perfect, no illustration or analogy is, but the image of a massive flywheel is a good one for the Christian life.  The flywheel can’t start itself.  “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  And in the early stages of spinning, the flywheel needs constant effort.  Even if the static friction has been broken by such a massive push, the kinetic friction might still overpower us and slow the wheel.  “Since we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”  This is what we mean by being saved by grace through faith.  “Through Him we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand.”  Without Christ’s intervention, both on the cross and through the indwelling of His Spirit, that flywheel is going to stop.  And if we have our flywheel spinning, and we start thinking we can stop and take it easy, or that we did it ourselves, that is when the flywheel starts draining and stops.

Instead, “we rejoice in our sufferings.” Pushing that flywheel, especially at first is a humbling thing.  The first time you go to the gym and all you can pick up is the 5 lbs dumbbell is humbling, but it is the suffering that builds.  “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance character, and character hope.” If one has been living the Christian life for a while, turning the flywheel, muscles and lungs start to form.  The 5 lb weight becomes 50 and then 100.  The 20 min mile, becomes 10 and then 8.  And then you start finding joy in doing the right thing.  Virtue is its own reward no longer sounds like a bad joke, but a deep truth.  And you become someone who can be trusted to keep the wheel moving.  And maybe, on the best of those days, when you’ve set a personal best, you catch a glimpse of the world to come, you feel a bit of the resurrection body which does not tire.  Eventually wise, and probably no longer able to set personal bests, the wheel does not stop or slow down, because it isn’t powered from this world.  “Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.”  The God who started the wheel, who made room for us to join him, keeps it going.  “We have now received reconciliation.”   We have been united with God through Jesus Christ.

The Spiritual life is both active and passive.  It is passive in that we are creatures that have no power of our own.  We can walk in the wrong way until our time and strength is spent, or we can walk with the one who renews our strength.  Either way all our movement is passive.  It was caused by the one who loved us enough to create us and dwell with us.  The Spiritual life is active in that Christ does not tell us to go sit over there why I spin the wheel.  No, he bids us follow him.  He asks us to pick up our crosses, to rejoice in our sufferings, because it is in these that we move body, mind and spirit toward unity with Christ which is our purpose. And just as Christ fulfilled his purpose by saving sinners, saving the world, he desires that we fulfill ours.  Not by saving ourselves, but living in and returning the glory of God. By hope may we see this glory day by day.

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

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…  9:00amPreschool

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

Wednesday: ……………   9:00amConfirmation Class

Thursday: ……………… 10:00amBible Study

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                                      11:00am    Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Ezekiel Chapters 25-32 (“A Gentile Interlude”)
  • Confirmation:  Review for Elders Questions & World Religions (“Islam”)
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  March 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: 3rd Commandment.  If you are not receiving and want to, drop me your email.

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

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