Virtual Bulletin – 5/16

May 16th, 2021 – 7th Sunday of Easter

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. 

SPECIAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING: May 23rd @ 3 PM. Go home, get lunch, take a nap, and come back.  This is an important meeting and we would like everyone present.

Devotion & Prayer Thought

Our reading of 1 John ends with the season of Easter, and it ends somewhat back were we started – John’s clear division.  “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”  And John’s final basis of this division is the testimony of God.  I believe that John would say this testimony of God came to us in a variety of ways.  It came through John the Baptist.  “There was a man sent from God whose name was John.  He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light (John 1:6).” And in John the Baptist you have the entire prophetic tradition.  The testimony of God came through the miracles as he wrote about Cana, “this, the first of the signs, Jesus did in Cana in Galilee, and manifested his Glory. And his disciples believed in him.”  And in that first miracle you have all the other signs that Jesus performed. The testimony of God came through the words and teachings of Jesus directly.  I am thinking specifically of John 6 which (pace Luther) is about the Lord’s Supper.  “Truly, Truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”  Many of his disciples “turned back that day.”  But Peter confessed Him as The Holy One of God who had the Words of Eternal life.  And to John the greatest witness is the action of Jesus on the Cross.  He laid down his life for his friends.  And truthfully, we were not his friends, not yet.  He endured the cross for sinners.  The resurrection to John is just one more proof of who Jesus is, the witness of God, but the cross is his great act of witness to the Love God has for us.

This is the ancient question put to Eve.  Does God really intend good for you?  The serpent told Eve, “God’s lying to you, He’s just trying to keep you down.  He knows if you eat this you will be like him.”  So this is the testimony given to us by the cross.  Does this Christ intend good for us?  He says he intends eternal life.  He says we are his friends.  He says we are the Children of God.  And the apostle is here to tell us it is all true. Which leaves us either accepting the testimony of God in the prophets and Apostles, in the Word and Sacrament, in the cross, or we call God a liar and Satan the truth teller.

The Apostle leaves us with his prayer which can also be our prayer.  John says “this is our confidence in God, that if we ask according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us, we know we have the requests we have asked.”  I don’t think John says that out of a Pollyannaish mood.  I think he is telling us that if we have believed in the name of the Son of God, what we have believed is that God is good.  We have believed that Christ is faithful to his people and promises.  And if we take all things to him in prayer, we can trust that same goodness that we believe in, to cover those we are praying for.  As Christ prayed for all believers that they would be one as He and the Father are one, so we pray.  And in this prayer is the mystery of how God builds his kingdom.  How he includes us in it, and delights to answer it, if in his own mysterious ways.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  May 17th – May 23th

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…  9:00amPreschool

Monday: ……………….  6:00pm    Women’s Group

Tuesday: ……………….  9:00am    Pastors’ Circuit Meeting

Wednesday: ……………. 7:00pm    LAF

                                            7:30pm    Church Council Meeting

Thursday: ……………… 10:00amBible Study

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                           11:00am    Bible Study

                                            3:00pm     Congregational Meeting

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Ezekiel & The Temple – Chapters 45 & 46; Next up: How to think about The Timeline
  • Confirmation:  The confirmands passed the Elder questions. Confirmation 5/23 in Service
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  May 27th? 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: We are on the Creed.  If you are not receiving these let me know and give me your email address.

WOMEN’S GROUP: We will be meeting in person on Monday, May 17th at 6pm for supper.  Our meeting will begin at 6:30pm and anyone who is not present may join us on Zoom.  A sign-up has been posted for those who will be joining us for supper.

Virtual Bulletin – 5/9

May 9th, 2021 – 6th Sunday of Easter (Happy Mother’s Day!)

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. 

SPECIAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING: May 23rd @ 3 PM. Go home, get lunch, take a nap, and come back.  This is an important meeting and we would like everyone present.

Devotion & Prayer Thought

First John continues on, and it bears important witness.  It holds that there are three who testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood, and these three agree.  And these three are the testimony of God, contrasted with the testimony of men.  I think that is John’s way of saying Word and Sacrament.  The Spirit testifies through the proclaimed Word.   The water is baptism, and the blood is the Lord’s Supper.  The Children of God receive these and so know that Christ is the Son of God.

First John continues on, but it speaks not to me today.  It is something that we discussed a few weeks back in Bible Study after worship – Mark’s record of Jesus walking on water – that speaks to me.  It is Matthew’s account that we have in our minds, because in that one Peter gets out of the boat.  Matthew’s account seems to focus around that rash decision born of faith.  When you are flying high, and your Rabbi is walking on water, sure, why not, I’m going to join him.  Mark’s account feels to me like it has a much different focus.  Jesus has hurried the disciples into the boat after feeding the 5000 and tells them to go ahead.  And then he goes up a mountain to pray.  And looking out, I can’t say if by divine sight or if Jesus’ natural eyes were just that sharp, he sees them  “making headway painfully, for the wind was against them.”  That has been my feeling for a while.  “Making headway painfully.”  Or maybe even more honest, rowing as hard as I can, and ending up a few yards back of where I started.

And Jesus sees them in this condition, but waits until the 4th watch of the night.  That is the last one, between 3 AM and sunrise.  And Mark says “He meant to pass them by”.  There is a question what “passing them by” means.  There is a strong case that we should take this positively.  God passes by Moses and Elijah when they “see” him on Sinai/Horeb. And the Spirit of God passes by the dry bones in Ezekiel valley vision.  Job laments that God passes by him, but he does not see.  Maybe Jesus meant to pass them by in such a theophany.  But that honestly doesn’t feel like what it means.  Because the plan changes when they do see him and become terrified.  That is what the Christian life today sometimes feels like.  I’ve rowed all night, and have little to show for it.  Prayers ascend, yet God means to pass by.  And if I catch a little sight, it is as if a ghost to terrify me – the bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang.

And yet, in the midst of exhaustion and fear and not even the little faith of Matthew’s Peter that jumps out of the boat, Jesus speaks, “Take heart, stop fearing, I am.  And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased.” Wherever you have the Spirit and the water and blood, there is the Lord with you.  Sometime the wind stops.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  But there God is with you.  And the point of the miracles is that we might have faith.  Faith not in this world alone, faith that the Lord has conquered this world.  That even the wind and the waves obey him.  And you will not be lost in the ocean forever.  Because he sees and remains with you.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  May 10th – May 16th

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…  9:00amPreschool

Thursday: ……………… 10:00amBible Study

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                    11:00am    Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Ezekiel & The Temple – Chapters 45 & 46
  • Confirmation:  The confirmands passed the Elder questions. Confirmation 5/23 in Service
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  May 27th? 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: We are on the Creed.  If you are not receiving these let me know and give me your email address.

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

  • 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 14th (Wednesday) … Saver’s Delivery

WOMEN’S GROUP: We will be meeting in person on Monday, May 17th at 6pm for supper.  Our meeting will begin at 6:30pm and anyone who is not present may join us on Zoom.  A sign-up has been posted for those who will be joining us for supper.

Virtual Bulletin – 5/2

May 2nd, 2021

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

So I want to pause for a second and recall where we have been in reading 1 John:

  • John likes his either-or images, the stark divides.
  • God has called us out of darkness into the light, so we walk in the light
  • God has made us His Children, so we live according to the house rules
  • And we know that we are in the light/living as Children by the abiding presence of the Spirit.

Ok, but what about the great deceiver, the darkness, the enemy of the household of God?  Doesn’t Satan disguise himself as the Spirit?  That is what John takes up in this week’s Epistle.  And the answer is yes, but you – Child of God – can discern the Spirits.  “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Umm, how do I do that?  “By this you know the Spirit of God, every Spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come into the flesh is from God. And every Spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.”  The doctrine of the church received from the Apostles is how one discerns the Spirits.  If we were left to our own devices, we would choose Satan’s lies every time.  Satan’s lies tend to be what we want to hear at that time.  “They are from the world, and the world listens to them.” But God has not left us on our own.  God has come to us in Jesus Christ.  God has taken our flesh.  He has put down that flesh for us, and taken it back in the resurrection that we shall share.  Any Spirit that denies this, or the catechism and creeds, those basic Apostolic teachings, is not the Holy Spirit, but Satan.  “We are from God.  Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us.  By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” Yes, it sounds triumphalist, unless it is true, unless John had seen the risen Christ and was told to preach it to us.  Then it is just fact.  One that our salvation depends upon hearing.

And from that point the argument isn’t really about doctrine.  Testing the Spirits is hard only because we want to believe Satan’s lies.  It isn’t really hard if we are willing to listen to John and Peter and Paul and Jesus.  And none of them lived by the sword.  The message proclaimed wasn’t believe or die.  The message was and is “beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God.”  Christ was manifest in the flesh, and loved us enough to suffer and die.  He put down his life for his enemies to be the propitiation for our sins.  And because He has loved us, “we also out to love one another.” If we are listening to the Holy Spirit we are guided ever deeper into the love of God and the love of our neighbor.  May we manifest the Spirit and love of God daily. 

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  May 3rd – May 9th

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…  9:00amPreschool

Tuesday: ……………….  7:00pm    Board of Elders Mtg – Confirmation Questioning

Wednesday: ……………   9:00amConfirmation Class is finished

                                            7:00pm    LAF (Possibly moved)

Thursday: ……………… 10:00amBible Study

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                                      11:00am    Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Ezekiel & The Temple
  • Confirmation:  We have finished our course of study. Elder questions 5/4, 5/23 in Service Ceremony
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Maybe May 13th? 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: Moving on to the Apostle’s Creed

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

  • 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 14th (Wednesday) … Saver’s Delivery

BEEF ON WECK Thank you to everyone who made this event possible!  We sold out (over 300 meals) in approximately an hour and a half.

RUMMAGE SALE … July 10th / SAVERS DELIVERY … July 14th

Is your spring cleaning already underway, but haven’t done anything yet with your un-wanted items?  Please set these items aside for St. Mark’s Summer Rummage Sale. (We cannot take items before the specified date.)  We have moved the date to the middle of summer in order to work around the Preschool schedule and lessen the pressure on time and space. 

We will be accepting:  kids clothing and toys, adult clothing and accessories (scarves, hats, purses, shoes etc.), housewares (dishes etc.) bedding, curtains, towels, tablecloths, books, CDs and DVDs, games, puzzles, small appliances and furniture. We can NOT take TVs, or computers. You can drop off items in the Multi-purpose Room anytime between June 27th and the afternoon of Thursday, July 8th

If you are interested in volunteering we will need help sorting and pricing throughout that week. We also need volunteers to work the sale on July 10th.  Please contact Ellen (585-201-0756) or Mindy (585-489-4972) if you want to help. Feel free to email with any questions or suggestions as well.

Anything remaining at 3pm will be boxed up, so extra hands at this time would be greatly appreciated.  The boxes will be taken to Savers in Webster on Wed., July 14th at 11am.  People willing to drive to Webster are also needed.  Savers will then send us a check based on the weight of what we deliver (fabric items gets the best rate).

Thank you for your support!

Virtual Bulletin – 4/25

April 25th, 2021

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

We are the children of God.  That was the animating phase of John’s letter last week.  And the first thing that should inspire in us is the willingness to personally live as the children of God which John defined as righteousness.  Our loving Father has given us the law for our good.  If we love God, if God is our Father, then we will not make a practice of sinning, of breaking his law.

And if we have absorbed the image of the Father in Jesus Christ, such love toward God might be easy.  “We know love in that He laid down his life for us.”  But our imitation of Christ in these regards is that we are to love our brother.  “He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” God is the source of all true love.  That love flows from Christ to us, and from us to our neighbors, and from our neighbors to the ends of the word accomplishing the task that God intends.  Our imitation of Christ is in loving those first who might not love us, just as while we were sinners, Christ died for us.

And according to John it is in attempting to live out the love of Christ in our lives that we find our comfort.  “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him.”  And I think that it is important to examine John’s use of “heart” here, because it means something much different than I think we take it for.  We take heart as the seat of the emotions, especially when we are talking about love.  It is the symbol of Valentine’s Day.  And we tend to be Romantics – the heart wants what it wants.  But in the biblical world the gut was the seat of the emotions.  The belly desired what it desired.  The head might supply the reason.  The heart was the seat of the soul which is the will.  The head and the gut made arguments to the heart to do.  We are reassured before Him in what we choose to do.  And this is not works righteousness, because you are already children of God.  Christ has already claimed you.  This is fighting off imposter syndrome.  “Whenever our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”  You are God’s Children.  But also according to John this can be our confidence.  “If our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God…because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” Your sanctified life should give you comfort before God.

Now we might ask what has made our heart so strong.  After all our heart used to will all kinds of wrong.  “Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him.  And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”  The fact that we find we can choose to do what God desires is proof of God’s abiding presence. Even the fact that we struggle against sin is proof of God’s presence. The hardened heart wouldn’t give it a second thought. But the new heart “loves not in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.” The new heart follows Christ by loving our brother.  Create in us this clean heart O God and renew in us a right spirit.  Cast us not away from thy presence, but restore to us the joy of your salvation and uphold us with your Free spirit.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  April 26th – May 2nd

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…  9:00amPreschool

Wednesday: ……………   9:00amConfirmation Class is finished

Thursday: ……………… 10:00amBible Study

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                           11:00am    Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Ezekiel & The Temple
  • Confirmation:  We have finished our course of study. Elder questions 5/4, 5/23 in Service Ceremony
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  May 5th. 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: Continuing on the 10 Commandments, 9th/10th commandments

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

  • 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 14th (Wednesday) … Saver’s Delivery

Virtual Bulletin – 4/18

April 18th, 2021

WORSHIP & Bible Study

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

This week’s service Bulletin/Worship Link Here

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

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

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

Devotion & Prayer Thought

The letter of 1 John is our Epistle reading during the season of Easter. It started last week, and I’m going to base these meditations during Easter on it.  I’d encourage you to take your Bible and read the entire letter in a sitting.  It is short, only 6 pages in my palm sized bible.  Probably 10 minutes quick, a little more if you read closely.

I mentioned last week that John is paradoxical.  On the surface, he is the one everybody likes.  He talks about “love” all the time.  In today’s epistle the likable phrase is “children of God.”  “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are.” A big warm fuzzy even to my cold analytical heart.  But I also said that John is the dualist meaning that the words he often uses are like light and dark.  In this case the children of God are opposed by “the World.”  In saying what John is saying, Paul would use a martial metaphor, something like “put on the full armor of God, so that you might be able to stand. (Eph 6).” The Christian life is clearly one of struggle.  The devil, the world and even our own sinful nature all hate the New Adam.  But to John?  “The world does not know us, because it did not know him.”  It is just a case of mistaken identity, but one that will be cleared up soon.  “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared, but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him.” Until then, “everyone who thus hopes in him purified himself as He is pure.”   Easy peasy, right?

Ok, enough of my cracking on the Apostle and his inspired words before I get hit with lightning, because John is not wrong.  It is as simple as you are now a child of God.  If we keep that truth before us many mundane decisions become easier.  And it is that deep galactic truth that allows John to repeatedly say hard-easy things.  Things like “little children, let no one deceive you…no one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”  Easy in that it is self-evidently true.  Hard in that it forces a choice on us.  If we want to keep sinning intentionally – make a practice of it, and practice makes perfect, which our flesh certainly wants to do – then we cannot be the Children of God.  We will still sin because we were born sinful, but we have also been reborn, born of God in water and the Spirit. And such children of God will crucify those sinful desires (Gal 5:24).  There is Paul again with his stark images.  To John, it is easy.  You have been made the children of God, so act like it.  “Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous.” May we lean to walk this hard-easy path of the Children of God growing up fully into His grace and glory.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  April 19th – April 26th

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…  9:00amPreschool

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

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

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

                                           7:00pm     LAF

                                           7:30pm     Church Council Meeting

Thursday: ……………… 9:00am     Browning baking and Beef cooking

10:00amBible Study

Friday: …………………  9:00am    Potato Salad Prep

Saturday: ………………  4:30pm    Beef on Weck Fundraising Dinner

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                           11:00am    Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Ezekiel & The Temple
  • Confirmation:  Elder questions 5/4, 5/23 in Service Ceremony
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  April 21st. 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: Continuing on the 10 Commandments, 8th commandment this week

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

Virtual Bulletin – 4/11

April 11th, 2021

WORSHIP & Bible Study

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

This week’s service Bulletin/Worship Link Here

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

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

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

Devotion & Prayer Thought

The Gospel is first a story.  I don’t mean a story as in a fairy tale.  Neither do I mean a story as in a modern novel.  I mean a story as in a narrative of things that actually happened.  The Gospel is the story of God’s interaction with men.  It is the story of God creating Adam and Eve.  It is the story of the depravity of sin growing until the Flood.  It is the story of God’s selection of Abraham, and Abraham believing this God.  It is the story of the creation of a nation, Israel, from that one man.  It is the story of the failure of that nation, of her prophets, priests and kings.  It is finally the story of Jesus, the prophet, priest and king. There are lots of tributaries and side creeks alongside that main channel.  All of our stories, to the extent that we are living the Christian story, flow into that stream.  And there are lots of things in life that make absolute narrative sense, we actually lived them, that make no logical sense. 

Many of Paul’s letters are based on his story.  That is how John’s first letter begins.  “we have heard, we have seen with our eyes, we looked upon and touched with our hands – the life was made manifest, and we have seen it.”  The meaning, the theology that John is going to preach, is based on this gospel story.  “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim to you.”  The Apostolic witness is first to God’s story.  These things happened.  That Apostolic witness is then to what does that mean.  Do you want your story to be part of this one that flows to eternal life?  Here is one Spirit inspired ways of thinking about it.  Paul and Peter and John are all proclaiming the gospel, and so ultimately agree, even if their ways of preaching are different.

John is the dualist, which is funny.  John has this reputation as the hippy apostle, he’s Godspell and the summer of love.  But if you listen carefully it is John that makes the harshest distinctions.  Paul understands personal failure.  “I was the chief of sinners.  The very thing I do not want to do, I keep doing.” John makes clear divisions. “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”  Please, find for me in there the simultaneously sinner and saint.  There is light and there is darkness, figure out which you stand in.

I’m not setting John against Paul. There are ways (beyond the confines of this meditation) to reconcile them.  But the way that John and Paul and all the apostles would agree that they reconcile is the story.  “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our only but also for the sins of the whole world.” The Gospel is first a story, the story of Jesus Christ for all of us.  And we will all as Paul would say “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.”  How do our stories conform to Christ?  Are we Johannine, coming out of darkness into the light?  Are we Peterine? Being built as living stones into a spiritual house, a holy people?  Are we like Paul, running the race set before us?  Or maybe like James, seeking to live by the wisdom from above.  The body of Christ is many stories, conforming themselves to the One Story.  May we be blest in this divine fellowship.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  April 12th – April 18th

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…  9:00amPreschool

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

Thursday: ……………… 10:00amBible Study

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                           11:00am    Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Ezekiel – Chap 37
  • Confirmation:  Back on this coming Wednesday 4/14. Elder questions 5/4
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  April 21st. 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: Sorry for a couple weeks off here.  You will see the Catechism Moment this week.

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

THANK YOU to Mike Bayer, Nick DiFonzo, and Wayne Warriner for cleaning up the tree limb that fell on our fence at the back of our parking lot.

Virtual Bulletin – 4/4 – Easter

April 4th, 2021 – Easter

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

Of the Easter readings I find the Apostle Paul’s touching.  We know Paul by his letters.  Or we think we know him because of His distinctive authorial voice. A voice that even seems to survive translation.  Paul even addresses this in scripture.  Apparently, the physical Paul didn’t jive with the authorial. From 2 Corinthians 2:10, “For they say, ‘His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.’”

Paul knows his gifts.  He also knows his deeds. “I worked harder than any of them.” And as they say it isn’t bragging if you can back it up, which Paul could.  Such things might easily lead to envy or splits.  Peter walks right up to that line in scripture.  From 2 Peter 3:15-16, “Just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand.” Ultimately Peter’s words are a defense of Paul.  It is one part of the body of Christ giving honor to another quite different one.  Likewise that is Paul’s purpose in the Easter Epistle.  We all believe and preach the same thing: Christ, crucified and risen, for you.

Not Peter nor Paul, nor any of the 500 the risen Jesus appeared to, nor his brother James or any of the apostles, preach something that elevates them.  By the grace of God “I am what I am.” And Paul is what he is so that” the gospel which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved” might be held fast by you.  He worked so hard so that his preaching might not be in vain, so that the grace of God might be displayed.  He is jealous for success, he runs the race, but he runs the race not for himself, but for Christ.  Which is why he can say “whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.”  And he says it roughly after reciting the creed that we all recite.

We all stand, not because of the one doing the preaching, but because of the Word that is being preached.  “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, he was buried, and he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.” This is the Word that I preach, it is the Word we all preach, it is the Word you believed.  Stand firm and rejoice, Christ is risen.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  April 5th – April 11th

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…  9:00amPreschool

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

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

                                            7:00pm    LAF

Thursday: ……………… 10:00amBible Study

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                           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

Holy Week Services

Maundy Thursday & Good Friday Services

Worship is at 7PM (Special Maundy Thursday Prelude 6:50).

For those online the links: 

Maundy Thursday Service

Good Friday Service

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

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

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.

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.

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