Virtual Bulletin – 7/10

July 10th, 2022 – 5th Sunday after Pentecost

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  July 11th – July 17th

Mon – Wed……………. .           Apparently Summer                             

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

Saturday……………….           Ruth

Sunday: ………………….          10:00 AM        Worship

                                                 11:15 AM        Leadership Meeting     

COMMEMORATIONS

The Old Testament person of Ruth is the commemoration this week. We just so happened to have covered Ruth in Thursday Bible Study this week.  What you might remember her for is her profession commonly heard at weddings, “were you go, I will go…”. What that profession really represents is Ruth’s confession of faith.  She is a Moabite, about as far from the God of Israel as you can imagine (look up Deuteronomy 23:3-4), yet she commits to “your God shall be my God.” And the LORD accepts this and she is redeemed, expressed in her story through what is known as Levirite Marriage or the Kinsman-Redeemer of Boaz. How shall the gentiles be saved?  By inclusion in Jesus Christ, our Kinsman-Redeemer.

LEADERSHIP MESSAGE – John Bayer

The prophet Isaiah, in a message of hope wrote, “The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” 

Last week Pastor Brown made a difficult decision to answer a call to Mt. Zion Lutheran Church in Peoria, Arizona.  God works His kingdom, placing and removing His ministers as He sees fit and many factors come into play as a pastor contemplates such a huge change.   But if the Spirit is truly in a call, a pastor has little choice but to follow His lead.  There is a profound mystery surrounding the Holy Office that we lay folks don’t readily see.

As your president, I want you to know that it is a privilege to serve you.  Sure, the next twelve months or so may be a challenge, but God will provide.  There are good people looking out for us right now; this includes our elders and council members, area pastors I’ve already had and will continue to have conversations with, as well as the Eastern District itself which is beginning to provide the support and counsel needed as we move further into the call process.  God will bless this challenging but exciting time at St. Mark.

The commitment needed from the congregation right now is prayer and your continued support of God’s work here at St. Mark.  Pray for us and pray that everyone involved in the call process will seek out and be sensitive to God’s will.  Please be in prayer for the Brown family; the time constraint for them right now is tremendous.  Stress levels are rising rapidly.  Don’t be surprised if, at some point, I put a call out for moving-help.

Sylvia and I wish we were with you in Divine Service today but we are with Pastor Bayer and his family.  Linley is being confirmed this Lord’s Day.  Andrew was confirmed last year at this time.  Their daddy is their pastor—sweet!  These are events grandparents don’t soon forget  …and in case you don’t know, they are expecting their 5th!

God bless us and bless His church!

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

I have to admit that the second someone starts talking about “social teaching” I typically break out in hives.  I hear that phrase usually as code for “you should do what I say and give me all your money for whatever hairbrained scheme I think is right.”  But our Old Testament Lesson for this week (Leviticus 19:9-18) would be the core of any church social teaching.  It ends with the famous summary of the 2nd table of the law – “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” We do have a responsibility to our neighbor.  Jesus does what Jesus does with the law, turns it up to 11 in our gospel lesson (the good Samaritan).  Nowhere is Jesus more Lutheran than in how he treats the law.  You can’t keep Jesus’ interpretation of the law.  It condemns all of us.

In the middle there are some common-sense social things.  Property is real (sorry communists), don’t steal. Pay fair wages (sorry Randian libertarians).  Do Justice in courts (sorry politicians everywhere). But the opening command for me is the most useful bit of wisdom.  “When you reap the harvest, don’t take it right to the edge, leave some for the poor and the sojourner.” We can’t keep the law in its fullness.  Jesus did that for us.  But the law as a guide, as wisdom, is good and true.  And the kernel of “social teaching” is simply be aware of even those on the far margins.  The rich man was judged harshly for walking past Lazarus every day.  The field is your property, and you are the steward of its return, but remember that you live in the midst of others less fortunate.  Some no doubt due to laziness.  Give them ways to live even if it is from the closest edge of your field.

Most of us don’t literally have fields these days. We have to translate it. And the command is not against diligent work.  Get your plot to raise as much as possible.  The social teaching is remember some of the return for those you live amongst. Live a life of personal grace.  Grace is not something you can force out of others, it spoils like manna, but you can choose to live it.  And God has chosen to live so towards you.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story” – Samuel, Saul and David
  • Confirmation: Completed Year 1, return in the Fall
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Summer Break
  • Sunday Morning: For the month of July there are going to be short leadership meetings
  • Catechism Moment: Short Break

Virtual Bulletin – 7/3

July 3rd, 2022 – 4th Sunday after Pentecost

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  July 4th – July 10th

Monday……………….            Independence Day

Tuesday……………….            7:00 PM           Elders Meeting                        

Wednessday…………              Isaiah

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

Sunday: ………………….          10:00 AM        Worship

                                                 11:15 AM        Bible Study     

COMMEMORATIONS

Sometimes the Sacred calendar and the secular calendar throw off fruitful juxtapositions.  July 4th is American Independence Day: fireworks, John Phillips Sousa and the Spirit of ’76.  It is everything that we hope America can be.  In the same week we have Isaiah, the prophet who wrote what is often called the 5th gospel. If the Spirit of ’76 is the desire for liberty, you could say the same thing about Isaiah.  But the definitions of liberty are quite different. Modern American liberty is self-determination.  It is military savvy.  It is the first and second amendment freedoms to worship what I want or don’t, to say what I want, and to defend myself.  Isaiah’s liberty is the Freedom of the Christian.  God has chosen you and claimed you and set you free from sin, death and the power of Satan. You are free to serve your Righteous King, the branch of Jesse, the suffering servant. The Founding Fathers of the United States were closer in their understanding of liberty to Isaiah than our often jingoistic reception of them. The fruits of liberty are to serve the right, not to wallow in libertinism.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

The endings of Paul’s letters are always a bit strange to me.  Having completed his main argument, in Galatians the law free gospel or salvation by grace alone through faith alone, Paul turns to practical things.  Some scholars assume that in the background are letters or reports received by Paul with questions or things troubling the church.  And Paul closes his letters with responses to such questions.

You can imagine a question like: Paul, what do we do when someone who claims to be part of our fellowship is publicly flouting the teaching in sinful ways?  “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness (Gal 6:1).” You who are spiritual?  Probably the elders of the congregation. Spirit of Gentleness? Don’t rush to kick them out or relish it, but it must be addressed.

Paul, what do we do about those who are chronically in some kind of trouble?  “Bear one another’s burdens…for each will have to bear his own load.” Thanks Paul.  But it might make more sense than it seems.  We are part of the same family, but even families know that you can only help those who want the help.  We have a personal responsibility to examine ourselves, just as we have a duty of love to our neighbor.

Paul, how much do we Pay the minister? “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.” Paul, what about that person who leans into your law free gospel making grace seem very cheap? “Don’t be deceived, God is not mocked…if you sow to the flesh, from the flesh you reap corruption, but sow to the Spirit and reap eternal life.” That person may feel they are “getting away with it”, but know that they are not.  But Paul, that makes the Christian life pretty tough, because the first charge is always hypocrisy? “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap.” We can’t control what others do, but we can control ourselves.  Continue in the way, and trust the Lord to provide the harvest.

But then sometimes you just enter the mystery. “From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” What is that about? Some say it is the mystical stigmata, but why that would be the basis for such a command I’m not sure.  More likely: Paul, there are people here still questioning your apostleship, what do we say to them?  Point them at the wounds like in 2 Corinthians 11:23ff, “Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one– I am talking like a madman– with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death…”. Does someone without a call suffer these things?  That is what Luther in his Great Galatians commentary points at.

The problems of life together are more common across the ages that we might think.  Paul is still questioned as being an authentic Christian.  Many wish to pit Jesus vs. Paul. We keep falling into the same sins, age after age.  But the gospel remains for sinners.  “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your Spirit brothers. Amen.”

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story” – Ruth
  • Confirmation: Completed Year 1, return in the Fall
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Summer Break
  • Sunday Morning: Going to continue with the Psalms for a Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: Short Break

Virtual Bulletin – 6/19

June 19th, 2022 – 2nd Sunday after Pentecost

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  June 20th – June 26th

Monday……………….            Juneteenth

                                                 6:00 PM           Women’s Group

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

Friday…………………            Nativity of St. John the Baptist          

Saturday………………..          Presentation of the Augsburg Confession

Sunday: ………………….          10:00 AM        Worship

                                                 11:15 AM        Bible Study     

COMMEMORATIONS

We are only a few years past the “500th Anniversary” of the Reformation.  People usually tie that to the 1517 95 Theses.  It got buried in all things COVID.  The church just didn’t have the capacity to think about anything else. But 1521 is the other big date that people might remember – the Diet of Worms.  That has been a very popular framing of the “Luther Story”, 1517 to 1521.  The old standard Luther Biography, Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand, covers those years. That is “young Luther” or sometimes jokingly called “thin Luther.” If you think of Luther as a revolutionary who maybe didn’t go far enough, that’s where you stop.  Of course the story is actually bigger than Luther himself and it doesn’t stop.  There is an Old Luther or Fat Luther narrative that is often told contrary to the revolutionary. This Luther isn’t as charismatic or as daring.  He does some things, like tell the princes to crush the peasant’s revolt and defame the Jews, that we judge him harshly for. But he’s putting back together things that he broke.  But both of those narratives – thin and fat, young and old Luther – have a tendency to skip over our Commemoration – The Presentation of the Augsburg Confession in 1530. The Augustana is the real document of Lutheranism.  No less than Pope Benedict mused, when he was the Cardinal at the head of the Old Inquisition Office, that he thought it could be recognized as a Catholic Confession.  That never happened of course. But the Augustana isn’t Luther’s. It was written by Melanchthon, who continued to think he could modify it, which proved it wasn’t his when he couldn’t.  It was presented to Charles V by seven “Lords of the Realm” and two Independent Cities, all laymen.  June 25th is the day the Reformation became not Luther’s or the Reformers’, but was given to the church at large. A truly catholic, meaning universal, confession.  The phrase that starts most of its articles is “Our churches teach…”.  It is a true expression of the faith which is believed.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

Advent to Trinity Sunday was 29 weeks this year, the festival portion of the church calendar.  That gives us 23 Sundays in the church portion – the long green season of the Sundays after Pentecost.  Year to year the numbers can fluctuate depending upon the date of Easter.  The Season of Epiphany gets shortened and a few more get added to After Pentecost if Easter is early.  It strikes me more each year just how abrupt the change is. I sometimes imagine Trinity Sunday being added after Pentecost as one more act of nostalgia.  “No, let us stay in the festivals a bit longer.”  I see that hard break reflected in Paul’s thinking in Galatians this week (Galatians 3:23-4:7).

In the festival season we are “under a guardian”.  The meaning of Christmas, Epiphany, Good Friday, Easter and Pentecost is clear.  But the days come when we are no longer children, or at least they should.  The facts of the life of Christ must now be applied to our lives, our individual lives and our communal lives. “You are no longer slaves, but children and heirs.” The inheritance is yours.  Use it wisely.

It is not that we have been abandoned by Jesus.  He promised his presence and He is there when we gather.  He is there in the indwelling Spirit. But entering the green season, we are no longer toddlers.  We are not even teenagers.  We can sell everything and squander it in a far country.  We can become misers tripping over Lazarus at the gate. We can even reject the Christian liberty and attempt to run back under various guardians who will give us laws.  That is what the Galatians Paul is writing to were trying to do.  They were going back to Judaism and its laws.  But living by faith is living without a guardian.  Living by faith is taking the mina given (Luke 19:11ff) and working with it. The only failure is hiding it away.  I used to question that part of the parable, or Matthew’s parallel of the talents. Why isn’t there an example of someone who failed?  Who invested the mina and came up empty? But they are parables of adult faith, of the faith of the green season.  Christ is with us.  We will make errors.  But our errors do not hinder the kingdom.  Not from an eternal perspective because the Kingdom is in His hands.  The adult faith he desires us to grow into does not fear the punishment of the guardian, but lives with the confidence of the Sons and Daughters of God.  A God who loves us and has plans to prosper us.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story” – Reception of the 10 Commandments
  • Confirmation: Completed Year 1, return in the Fall
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Summer Break
  • Sunday Morning: Going to continue with the Psalms for a Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: Baptism, in your inbox

Virtual Bulletin – 6/12

June 12th, 2022 – Trinity Sunday

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  June 13th – June 19th

Monday……………….             6:00 PM           Men’s Group

Tuesday……………….            Elisha

Wednessday……………          7:00 PM           Council Meeting          

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

Friday…………………            Eastern District Convention (Day 1)     

Saturday………………..          Eastern District Convention (Day 2)

Sunday: ………………….          10:00 AM        Worship

                                                 11:15 AM        Bible Study     

COMMEMORATIONS

What is Elisha famous for?  The “what the heck is this about” episode is when he curses some boys for making fun of his bald head and two bears immediately come and maul them. (2 Kings 2:23-25). What is it about? I can make a guess, but the best answer is probably “the Lord works in mysterious ways, best not to trifle with them.” But there are more scenes with Elisha that makes the “Sunday School Summary” than you might think. They start with his “call” by Elijah where he sacrifices the oxen he was plowing with on their yokes (1 Kings 19:19ff) through the healing of Naaman from leprosy (2 Kings 5:8ff) ending with the strange episode after his death of the resurrection of a man thrown on Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:21). That skips the fiery chariot of Elijah, the raising of the Shunamite’s son, the floating of an axe head, the chariots and horsemen of Israel, and the King’s wimping out on “one free wish”. John the Baptist was the Elijah that was to come, which following the type makes Jesus the Elisha, the prophet of resurrections, healings, signs and wonders.  Including those pronouncement of woes like “Jerusalem, Jerusalem” which ended with “not one stone atop another.” Elisha should remind us of both the mighty works of God and how little we understand His ways.  

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

The Old Testament occasionally takes an attribute of God and personifies it.  First off, what is an attribute of God?  An attribute of God is something that God possesses or an aspect of his character.  The most common ones might be his justice, love or wisdom, but it would also include His righteousness and wrath.  If you remember catechism class you might remember memorizing “the omni’s” – omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence. There is an entire literature dedicated to talking about the attributes of God.  The Old Testament has an interesting habit of taking one of those attributes and making it sound like its own person, it personifies an attribute of God.  That is what our Old Testament Lesson this morning (Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31) does with the wisdom of God. “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work (Proverbs 8:22).”

There is a long history of taking these personification of attributes as either a type of Christ or the pre-incarnation eternal son.  And this is not without biblical warrant.  The opening of the Gospel according to John which says “In the beginning was the Word” is the textual bridge.  The Word in Greek philosophy is a complex idea.  It is the report of how everything works.  It is the pattern of creation. So when John writes, “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made,” it sounds a awful lot like parts of Proverbs 8.  For example, “When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep…I was beside him, like a master workman.”  As a reader of Scripture, I’m not completely against such “Wisdom Christology”.  God describes himself as love and the entirety of the Gospels might be described as a personification of the love of God.  We just call that personification Jesus. Jesus himself would seem to invite the Wisdom comparison in Matthew 11:19, “Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

But I do think we can only hold such identifications lightly if at all, because if we are confessors of the Trinity the so-called attributes of God are shared by all the persons.  The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God.  In their divine nature they all have wisdom.  Such a close identification of an attribute with one person of the trinity risks splitting their unity.  Strangely, when the pop phenomenon book “The Shack”, not a species known for its deep theology, introduced a character of “Justice” or “The Judge”, it shied away from a close identification with any of the persons.  In that book she was a divine attribute personified.  She was there for a single purpose, not either a full person of the Trinity nor the fullness of God.  I’m pretty sure the author just stole it directly from Proverbs 8 changing the attribute from Wisdom to Justice.  Both of which are typically represented as female.

Ok, so what does any of this mean?  The hard answer is simply the delight in pondering God.  Even God apparently takes delight in pondering God.  “And I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.”  Wisdom has its practical pursuits, but from Socrates until to today, if the truly wise speak they usually end up dead.  “The wise remain silent in such a time (Amos 5:13).” Any of the practical benefits of wisdom are purely secondary.  Jesus says the seek first the Kingdom and all these things will be added.  C.S.Lewis echoing that wrote “aim for heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”  And that might be the trouble with the church today. We want to be relevant. We are taught to be as winsome as possible.  But in these things we are aiming for the earth, or the residents of earth.  And we might even be doing it for the best of intentions.  But are we missing God?  The first 600 years of the church are simply arguments over the attributes and works of God.  They didn’t get everything right.  That is the record of all the heresies, but they wanted God.  And they got the empire thrown in along the way. But even pointing that out I think betrays the point.  God is not a utilitarian. In another attribute he describes himself as Jealous. God, if He is God, is a subject worth pondering in himself, something to delight in. If he is not, you have not found God. Or if somehow you are not delighted, well, see that part about jealousy.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story” – The Passover & Jewish Festivals
  • Confirmation: Completed Year 1, return in the Fall
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Summer Break
  • Sunday Morning: Going to continue with the Psalms for a Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: Baptism, in your inbox

Virtual Bulletin – 6/5

June 5th, 2022 – Pentecost

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  June 6th – June 12th

Tuesday……………….            7:00 PM           Elders

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

Saturday………………..          Barnabas, Apostle

Sunday: ………………….          10:00 AM        Worship

                                                 11:15 AM        Bible Study     

COMMEMORATIONS

Barnabas is one of those guys that pops up in the bible for a sizeable role and then disappears into tradition.  His given name was Joseph.  He was a Levite, so from the Jewish priestly tribe.  He was also a native of the island of Cyprus.  He’s recorded as one of the earliest believers.  His description as an apostle would probably place him as one of those 120 gathered after the Ascension as apostle is typically reserved for those who witnessed the risen Christ. His first act recorded is selling a field and giving the proceeds to the 12 Apostles.  That act, immediately followed by the strange story of Ananias and Sapphira who try and do the same thing, but both end up dead, is one of the strangest stories in the bible. It is Barnabas that eases the former persecutor Saul’s acceptance as Paul (Acts 9:27).  It is Barnabas who digs Paul back up in Tarsus and sets him on his course in Antioch (Acts 11:22ff).  And it is Barnabas who is Paul’s traveling companion on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:2) upon which he gets hailed as Zeus in Lystra (Acts 14:13). Mark was Barnabas’ cousin, and it would be Mark that would cause Paul and Barnabas to split (Acts 15:39). From that point Barnabas is handed over to tradition which has him stoned to death in his native Cyprus for preaching the gospel.  The name means “Son of Encouragement” which seemed to be his role.  He was always looking for ways to include in the mission.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

An article in The Atlantic by Jonathan Haidt recently used the Tower of Babel, our Old Testament lesson (Genesis 11:1-9), as its introductory image. For what he is trying to do in that article, it is an interesting choice. He is trying to describe a feeling about the present time in the United States.  In his words, “Something went terribly wrong, very suddenly. We are disoriented, unable to speak the same language or recognize the same truth. We are cut off from one another and from the past.”  In that article, this state of being is portrayed as the negative outcome of social media.  We can’t go back before the new technology introduction, but we can learn to use it better, regulate its dangers, and resume the march of progress to a “more cooperative future.”

Why I say that it is an interesting choice is not because of the description of living immediately post Babel. I think he nails that.  Haidt even mentions that Google translate became widely available on smart phones in 2011. “We were closer than we had ever been to being ‘one people,’ and we had effectively overcome the curse of division by language. For techno-democratic optimists, it seemed to be only the beginning of what humanity could do.”  There is no doubt in my mind that to many folks who read the Atlantic 2011 probably felt like a unitary world of endless human possibility. The problem being in 2011 the ability for anybody who disagreed with that techno-future to express it was much more limited.  I have no doubt that for many of the good and great the 10+ years post 2011 have felt like living post-babel as they were forced to realize they shared a country with people who didn’t agree with them on very basic things.  And the inability to talk has only ramped up as “blocking” and yelling “shut up” seem to be the preferred strategies. But the Biblical story of Babel assigns curse and blessing to different states than Haidt.  The curse was the whole earth having one language and the same words.  The blessing of God was the confusion.

That may sound wrong or at least counter-intuitive.  The reasoning is that mankind has a God mandated purpose.  In Genesis that is to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over every living thing.” The deepest meaning and happiness that mankind can find is living the purpose for which God created them.  But the people of Babel had become fixated on a purpose contrary to the will of God.  The tower was fighting the last war.  If God sent a flood again, which he promised not to do, the tower was the defense and maybe even an offensive weapon to “storm the heavens”.  It was also directly contrary to God’s will in that the tower’s purpose was to prevent filling the earth and instead to stay together. Continuing to pursue this sinful purpose, a war with God, would only lead to misery.  It was God’s blessing to confuse the languages and spread them out.    

Now in a fallen world blessings can feel like curses or at least punishments.  The correction or even the limitation of sin (the first use of the law, a curb) can hurt.  As Jesus says in John 15:2, “every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” The Holy Spirit is the promise of the Kingdom Come.  In the Kingdom we will not have to ask because we will know as we are known (1 Cor 13:12). In the Kingdom, the confusion of languages isn’t necessary, because we are united in Christ.  Pentecost rolls back the confusion not because it was a curse, but because in the Spirit such a law is not necessary.  The many languages do not go away in Pentecost as they are all part of God’s good creation.  But all understand as if in their native tongue.  We so often strive after unity in external things which leads to sinful tyranny like Babel.  It is the unity in the Spirit the produces many types of fruit.   

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story” – The Passover & Jewish Festivals
  • Confirmation: Completed Year 1, return in the Fall
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Summer Break
  • Sunday Morning: Going to continue with the Psalms for a Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: Baptism, in your inbox

Virtual Bulletin – 5/29

May 29th, 2022 – 7th Sunday of Easter

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  May 30th – June 5th

Monday……………….. .           Memorial Day

Tuesday……………….            The Visitation

Wednesday…………….           Justin, Martyr

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

Sunday: ………………….          10:00 AM        Worship

                                                 11:15 AM        Bible Study     

COMMEMORATIONS

The Visitation is Mary’s visit to her relative Elizabeth.  Elizabeth is assumed to be 6-7 months pregnant with John the Baptists because Luke 1:56 states that Mary stayed “about three months.” It’s assumed that she stayed for the birth and a short time after.  If we think about the calendar, the annunciation to Mary was March 25th, so she is two months pregnant with Jesus.  She’d be returning to Nazareth 5 months.  The great addition to the Christian life that we have from this story in the Magnificat, Mary’s Psalm that mirror’s Hannah’s song from the Old Testament in praise of God’s fulfillment of His promises.  My favorite version of it is LSB 933, My Soul Rejoices, but there are 5 version in LSB alone (933-935 plus Vespers and Evening Prayer chants). Singing one on Tuesday might be a fitting piety.

Justin Martyr (c. 100-165 AD) is so often called that, that you might think Martyr was his last name. Justin was from a rather well off pagan family though he was born in Judea.  As a young man he found Christ after studying the Greek philosophers and became an apologist for the church.  It is from Justin that we have our earliest descriptions of Christian worship.  He wrote of a “gathering of all in one place on the Lord’s Day, where the writings of the prophets and apostles were read, the Presider delivered a homily inviting all into the pattern of these good things, prayer was offered and bread and wine were taken, blessed and distributed as the body and blood of the eternal Word.”  The Roman account of Justin’s martyrdom survives. One day Justin was commanded to sacrifice to the gods or face torture.  His reply to the Roman prefect was “That is our desire, to be tortured for our Lord and so to be saved.”

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

I’m not sure why the lectionary spends so long in the last two chapters of Revelation.  Theoretically the Epistle Lessons were chosen to allow a lectio continua – a continuous reading – through various New Testament books. But it jumps from chapter 7 to spend three weeks in chapters 21 and 22.  I guess you can say there is a small difference between those chapters.  21 is the MTV Cribs picture of the New Jerusalem.  Satan has been defeated and put away.  This old world has been rolled up and the new heavens and the new earth are created.  And the New Jerusalem has come down adorned as a Bride. Maybe you can say chapter 21 is the wedding day.  Chapter 22 is the only picture we have of life in the New Jerusalem, life in the age to come.

The first picture is the reappearance of something very old alongside a promise fulfilled.  The tree of life grows alongside a river of the water of life.  The River fulfills the image of Ezekiel 47:1 with the promise of John 4:10ff to the Samaritan woman at the well.  Jesus promised living water and here is a full river of it.  The tree of life was barred to us by the flaming sword of the cherubim, lest we live forever in our sins (Gen 3). But in the fulfillment there are three notable things.  The singular tree now grows along the entire river.  Its singular fruit is now 12 kinds each in their season.  And most importantly, its leaves are the for the healing of the nations.  The tree of life in the New Jerusalem is not barred.  No flaming sword denies us.  ‘No longer is there anything accursed.” It is worth reflecting that the trees are very fruitful.  Food is still taken in the age to come. Also there might be a slight comment on the length of time we spent in the garden.  Maybe it only had one fruit, because we only saw one month.  Likewise the mention of the leaves being for healing. There is a paradox in not having “mourning or crying or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” and needing “leaves for the healing of the nations.” I have trouble in chapter 22 thinking of this as healing of anything from before because “the former things have passed away.” But life in the New Jerusalem occasionally needs healing.  I guess the biggest thing is that it is always abundantly available, unlike here, where some things are just broken and cannot be fixed.

The rest of the picture strikes me as a bit an argument.  What is seen is too good to be true, “the big rock candy mountain.” This is probably where Freud grabs the popular idea of religion as wish fulfilment.  But the angel – the messenger – pleads with the Apostle John “these words are trustworthy and true…don’t seal up the book, let everyone read.” Unlike the prophet Daniel who was told to seal it up.  What he saw was too great for that time.  “Now the time is near…Behold I am coming soon.”  And you have the repeated plea, “Come”.  The Alpha and the Omega, “blessed are those who come wash their robes.”  The Spirit and the Bride, “Come.”  The one who hears, “Come.”  The one who is thirsty, “Come.”   The one who desires the water of life, “Come.”  It is not wish fulfillment, but divine promise. Christ and the angels and the Holy Spirit and the Church and the great cloud of thirsty drinkers all plead, “Come.”  You don’t want to miss this.  Come now, because He is coming soon. Amen, come quickly, both you and the Lord Jesus.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story” – The Exodus – the Plagues
  • Confirmation: Completed Year 1, return in the Fall
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Summer Break
  • Sunday Morning: Going to continue with the Psalms for a Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: Continuing with the Lord’s Prayer

BOILER NOTICE – Congregational Meeting, Today (May 29th ), after service

We are calling a congregational meeting next week, May 29th after service.  The purpose, prayerfully, is to approve the council plan to fix the boiler breakdown.

Virtual Bulletin – 5/22

May 22nd, 2022 – 6th Sunday of Easter

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  May 23rd – May 29th

Monday……………….. .           6:00PM            LAF

Tuesday……………….            Esther

Wednesday…………….           Bede the Venerable

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

Sunday: ………………….          10:00 AM        Worship

                                                 11:15 AM        Bible Study     

COMMEMORATIONS

I’m not sure what they were looking at, but on the pastor’s wives retreat Ellen texted me and asked “What would you write or teach about if Esther was the subject?” I replied two things: 1) the virtue of courage and 2) God working through means.  Esther is on the commemorations calendar this week.  It’s a short fun book in the Old Testament.  You might sit and read it in 20 mins on Tuesday.  If you do, tell me what you take away. I’d love to hear.

The other commemoration this week is one of those long middle-ages “names.”  Bede is early enough (672-735 AD) he is often the “End of the Church Fathers” but late enough he’s not part of the Mediterranean world.  Bede was born in Northumberland England and never went further than 100 miles from his place of birth. He was sent to a monastery by his parents at age 7. At age 14 plague swept through killing the entire monastery except the Abbot and Bede. His commentaries on scripture are still consulted today. He was also a prolific poet and Hymnwriter.  LSB 493, the Ascension Hymn “A Hymn of Glory Let us Sing” is Bede’s.  But what might be his most enduring work is an early History of the English Church which gives us much of early English history.  He died on Ascension Day working on a translation of John’s Gospel into Saxon, apocryphally completing it, singing a Glory Patri, and expiring.   

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

The world always seems to be on fire.  What is causing the flames seems to always be new, as one internet personality calls it “the current thing”, but the flames persist.  And like the old Billy Joel song recounting a list of past current things insists, “We didn’t start the fire.” Billy says he tried to fight it.  The Joker just likes to watch the world burn. But all of these things keep the focus on the fire. The purpose of Apocalyptic, like the book of Revelation, or you could say the Bible itself, is to learn to walk through the fire without being burned.  To learn to ignore the fire because that is the death pangs of a world already judged, a world that you have been rescued from.

Hear Jesus’ from our gospel lesson this week (John 16:22-33).  “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart, I have overcome the world.”  Is the world on fire? Yep. It is a place of tribulation. Is it our job to put out the fire? No. Christ overcame the world.  Is it our job to feed the fire? Even less so. “God judges those outside (1 Corinthians 5:13).” So what is the Bible about if it isn’t about how we can save the world or defeat it? It is about peace.  “I say these things that you might have peace.”

And how might we have peace in the midst of flames, maybe even flames that we have caused?  First, know that you have caused the flames.  Denying it like Billy does no good.  Instead, confession is good for the soul.  “We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).”  And that is the fire on this old earth, sin.  It has been burning from the day Eve took the apple, probably prior, for where did that old snake come from? But if we broke it, doesn’t that mean we have to pay for it? Normally, but God loves his creation, enough to rescue it. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son (John 3:16).” But what if God changes his mind?  All those old pagan gods and even our new gods do that constantly.  Capricious is the world applied to them most often. Have peace in your hearts, “the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children (Ps. 103:17).” The word that most describes The LORD is steadfast love.  It is the Hebrew “Chesed” which can also mean faithfulness or covenant obligation or even grace.  When God makes a promise, he’s good for it.  Always has been.  Far from being capricious, The LORD is steadfast, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Read the entire story and tell me that isn’t true.

But why doesn’t he stop the fire?  Well, he has for those who will look up to the cross.  “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the son of man must be lifted up (John 3:14).”  That story is in Numbers 21.  “Fiery serpents” plagued Israel who were healed by looking up.  And we are likewise saved by looking to the cross. This is the peace that Jesus desires us to have.  He’s defeated the world and saved you.  Not that he’s taken you out of it.  You are his ambassadors of peace.  But you no longer need to fear the fire.  This world might destroy this body or this home, but you have the resurrection body and a better home.

Revelation shows us the fire in all its fury. The dragons and the beasts, the powers that be.  The four horsemen and the bowls and the trumpets.  These things continue.  They are the great tribulation.  But in the midst of all this, it shows us the sealed.  It shows us those who have come out of the great tribulation. And especially it says, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the lamb (21:9).”  And we are shown this great cube city (1380 miles wide, long and high) having the glory of God and made of only the best stuff. This is our home, the Holy City Jerusalem that comes down from heaven to earth.  This is the place that has been prepared for you.  Have peace, take heart, the bridegroom comes.  

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story” – The Exodus – the Plagues
  • Confirmation: Completed Year 1, return in the Fall
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  May 23rd, 6PM, Zoom
  • Sunday Morning: Going to continue with the Psalms for a Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: Continuing with the Lord’s Prayer

Virtual Bulletin – 5/15

May 15th, 2022 – 5th Sunday of Easter

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  May 16th – May 22nd

Monday……………….. .           6:00PM             LAF

Wednesday…………….           7:00 PM           Church Council

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

Friday: ………………….           5:00 PM           Confirmation

Saturday……………….           Constantine & Helena

Sunday: ………………….          10:00 AM        Worship

                                                 11:15 AM        Bible Study     

COMMEMORATIONS

In a supposedly post-Constantinian age it might seem strange seeing Constantine and his mother Helena show up on the list of commemorations.  There are plenty of educated despisers of various words like Ceasaro-Papism or Dan Brown conspiracy theorists around the Council of Nicea.  There are even many sincere advocates of a church purified of secular power.  But I think they miss the general good of a Christian ruler.  It is part of the Small Catechism in fact.  What is meant by daily bread includes “…devout and faithful rulers, good government…”.  The Edict of Milan in 314 ended the on and off persecution of the church.  After Constantine won the battle of the Milvian Bridge under the sign of the “Chi-Rho” which He had seen in a vision, it was no longer a crime to be a Christian.

Helena, Constantine’s mother, had become a Christian much earlier, and after his victories they were responsible for many fine things.  She built the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.  The same one you might catch on Easter broadcasts.  They also erected what is known as Old Saint Peters which stood over the tombs of Peter and Paul until the building of the present Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome.  Those are the big works, but Imperial favor helped in many ways throughout the empire. It was also Constantine who called the bishops to Nicea to make a clear statement about the Arian Controversy – what we know as the Nicene Creed.

We live in a “Two Kingdom’s World”.  Christ rules the gospel directly, but the kingdom of the law is ruled by the crooked timber of humanity. It is worth remembering those rulers who attempted to honor Christ as Lord and the good that they can accomplish.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

The largest chunk of the book of Revelation, roughly chapters 6 through 20, are the three cycles of seven: seals, trumpets and bowls.  Each cycle has at least one “close-up”.  The seal close-up is of the eternal election in Chapter 7.  The trumpets has two.  There is a close-up of the two witnesses in chapter 10 who represent simply the testimony of the prophets and the apostles which continue for the entire time.  If you are Lutheran you are tempted to say Law and Gospel, but that might be a little too far.  The trumpets also has an overview of church history from the incarnation to the end in chapters 12-14.  So you’ve had a close-up on pre-history, the eternal election.  You’ve had a close-up on the great span of history and the work of the church in that great span.  In the bowls section you get a close-up of the end, the fall of the beasts, the prostitute, Babylon everything meant to symbolize the devil, the world and our sinful nature. Christ has triumphed and reigns during the entire time which ends in the final defeat of Satan.  The purpose of the apocalyptic is to reveal to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. And what is revealed in all the cycles is that God is in control.  He knows who are his, and he saves them.  Whatever the enemies are doing, they can’t harm God’s elect.

But all of that is tough to preach on.  It is written for study and meditation. I think that is why the lectionary just skips to the end, to Revelation 21. Our epistle reading has 4 things to remind us of said clearly.  1) Our hope is a new heaven and a new earth.  This heaven – taken as space and the sky – and this earth are warn out, and God brings to completion his work of re-creation which was started on Easter morning with the resurrection of Jesus.  2) In this new heaven and new earth no longer will the highest heaven – the abode of God – be separate from the heavens and the earth.  “The dwelling place of God is with man.”  3) The dwelling of God with man is not to inspire fear or judgment.  Those things have been put behind when Satan and all of his were cast to the lake of ire.   The dwelling place of God is with man that he may wipe away every tear and death shall be no more.  The former things have passed away.  Behold, God does a new thing, he makes all things new. 4) And this salvation is placed in familial terms. “The one who conquers…he will be my son.” Not a slave or servant or a serf, but a son of the Household of God.

Each one of those things restores something that was originally lost: the goodness of creation not just its existence, the communion with God in the flesh, seeing God without fear, and a true fellowship with all.  There are lots of ways we try and create those things here, but they always end up rushing the not yet or slipping out of our grasp.  We have them instead by faith, because God has promised them, and He keeps his promises.  He is faithful to his covenant which He calls His steadfast love.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story” – The Exodus – the Plagues
  • Confirmation: Lord’s Prayer – Conclusion
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  May 16th, 6PM, Zoom
  • Sunday Morning: Going to continue with the Psalms for a Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: Continuing with the Lord’s Prayer

Virtual Bulletin – 5/8

May 8th, 2022 – 4th Sunday of Easter

Happy Mother’s Day 

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  May 9th – May 15th

Monday……………….. .           Job

                                                 6:00 PM           Men’s Group

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

Wednesday…………….           Cyril & Methodius, Missionaries

                                                 6:00 PM           Women’s Group

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

Friday: ………………….           5:00 PM           Confirmation

Sunday: ………………….          10:00 AM        Worship

                                                 11:15 AM        Bible Study     

COMMEMORATIONS

The Lutheran Service Book added a bunch of Old Testament personages to the commemorations calendar. I kinda get it.  My assumption is that with the declines in Sunday Schools and general Biblical Literacy they desired to inject something that would give a handle for a pastor to write a paragraph and encourage your personal study.  So on Monday, maybe read a chapter or two of Job.  The middle sections are slog without a group, but the beginning and ending (Chapters 1-2, 38-end) are graspable.  And the are relevant to concerns many have today about the faith in this world.

Cyril and Methodius were brothers in the 800’s. The lived in Thessalonica – the city of the Letter to the Thessalonians – which was part of the Byzantine Empire.  At that time a group of people known as “The Slavs” were often coming into the Empire and the brothers labored to teach the migrants the Christian Faith.  At the invite of a minor prince they would eventually be dispatched to the area of the Slavs itself to nurture and build the church.  They ended up creating the first alphabet and written language for this group of peoples.  We know it today as the Cyrillic Script of Russian, Ukrainian, Kazakh, Turkmen and over 50 other languages or dialects. They translated the bible into this written language.  They also created the liturgy of the Slavic church. It is this bit of history that would create tension.  It was authorized by Pope Adrian II and they continued in the vernacular while the Western Church used Latin everywhere.  Eventually areas that bordered some of the Slavic places, like Jan Hus’ Czechia and Luther’s Germany, also wanted to use more of vernacular in the liturgy and have the scripture in their tongue. The acts of two brothers to preach the gospel continue to have implications to this day.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

The core of the book of Revelation has three great cycles of seven: seals, trumpets and bowls. There are various interpretations, but the one that I’d hang my hat on is that each cycle is a repeat of history from the Ascension to the Final Judgement.  Each cycle with a slightly different focus. In the first two cycles, between the sixth and the seventh happening, there is a pause.  And in that pause there are these passages of hope.  As the chaos of the end hurtles closer and the powers that be know their time grows shorter, the message pauses to remind Christians that they are good.  Our Epistle Lesson (Rev 7:9-17) is from the first of those pauses. It is the vision of the divine election.  No matter what else is happening there are 144,000 sealed. That 144,000 has caused a lot of mischief.  Think of it like 12, the complete number from the old testament, times 12 the complete number from the NT, times 1000 a large complete number.  As Paul would say in Romans, “all Israel will be saved.” They have been chosen by God.  And just to make this clear, that the number is not literal, the vision of the great multitude is given.  “A great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes, and peoples and languages.”

John, the visionary, gets asked “who are these?” John doesn’t claim to know so the Elder tells him.  ‘These are the ones coming out of the tribulation.  They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.” These are the full number that were sealed before eternity.  The chaos as maelstrom of history were paused so that God could seal his own.  Regardless of what the powers would do, these would be enabled to stand.

And how does this happen in history?  “The Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water.” Your Baptism in history is the sacramental reality of that election.  You have been lead to the spring of living water.  Likewise Christ has become your shepherd.  You have heard his voice and followed.  And the Father who has given you to the Son from before all time has made it sure that no one is able to snatch you away (John 10). Whatever judgments hit the earth from the seal and trumpets and bowls of wrath, you have been sealed.  The Good Shephed leads you beside still waters and restores your soul.   

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story” – The Exodus pt 1
  • Confirmation: Lord’s Prayer
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  May 16th, 6PM, Zoom
  • Sunday Morning: Going to continue with the Psalms for a Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: Continuing with the Lord’s Prayer

Virtual Bulletin – 5/1

May 1st, 2022 – 3rd Sunday of Easter

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  May 2nd – May 8th

Monday……………….. .           Athanasius, Confessor

                                                 6:00 PM           LAF

Tuesday……………….            7:00 PM           Elder’s Meeting

Wednesday…………….           Friedrich Wyneken, Missionary

Thursday……………….          Frederick the Wise

                                                 10:00 AM        Bible Study

Friday: ………………….           5:00 PM           Confirmation

Saturday……………….           C.F.W. Walther

Sunday: ………………….          10:00AM         Worship

                                                 11:15AM         Bible Study     

COMMEMORATIONS

The commemorations this week fall into two groups: Those important to Lutheranism and Those to the entire church.  C.F.W. Walther is often called the founder of the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod.  If you don’t know that story, it really is a fascinating one, and his life is wrapped around it.  If you’ve ever seen his picture you know immediately that the 19th century is a different place. It has always struck me that Walther’s life is almost biblical in its ups and downs. This space isn’t big enough to capture it. Ask me and I’ll tell some of it. If Walther was the organizing force, Wyneken was the outward directed energy.  Arriving in Baltimore from Germany, the already existing Ministerium sent him “West”. He was a missionary to both scattered Germans and to the Native American tribes in Michigan, and he convinced key support in Germany to send more “emergency pastors”.  Again, the full story is beyond this space.  These two were the fist and second Presidents of the LCMS, which this year celebrates its 175 anniversary.  Frederick the Wise is the Prince who protected and probably saved Luther. When Charles V with the Pope had decided to kidnap Luther after Worms, Frederick learned of it and spirited Luther away to Wartburg Castle. His time there was miserable, but the German Translation of the Bible came from that time.

If Walther, Wyneken and Frederick are Lutheran figures, Athanasius is owned by all. The Athanasian Creed, recited on Trinity Sunday, isn’t by him but captures his confession.  When most of the Christian world had turned Arian, the first great heresy of the church contra the Nicene Creed, Athanasius refused to budge. It was Athanasius Contra Mundam – Against the World.  And the world would eventually crumble in the face of Athanasius’ implacable resistance.

What unites all four is a willingness to confess Jesus Christ in the face of worldly pressure and to do the hard things for the sake of the gospel.  Other than Elector Frederick we’d probably think of all of them as prickly. But it was their perseverance that produced character, and character hope.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

Reading through the letters to the churches, the book of Revelation moves the scene to heaven and specifically the Heavenly throne.  John gets a vision of the throne that looks like Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1) and Isaiah’s (Isaiah 6) visions.  And we are introduced to the “Holy, Holy, Holy” again.  The angels and the living creatures and everything around the throne is singing in glory to the Father, the one who sits on the throne.  “For you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created (Rev 4:11).”  But Revelation introduces a new movement.  There is a problem in heaven.  There is a scroll that is sealed and nobody is worthy to open it.  This is probably picking up on the scroll from Daniel 12:4 which is the knowledge of the end that Daniel is told to seal up.  The same book appears in Isaiah (29:11) and Ezekiel. You’ll notice the repetition of prophets.  The picture presented here is usually taken to be the end of Ascension Day.  If the first part of Ascension Day we hear in Matthew 28 and Acts 1, this is the picture of what happens in Heaven.  There is now one worthy to open the Scroll, the “Lamb who had been slain with seven horns and seven eyes.” What are those sevens?  That is the Holy Spirit.  This is the anointed with the Spirit Lamb.  And this Lamb in all boldness walks up to the throne of God the Father and takes the scroll from the right hand.  “He was seated at the right hand of the Father.”

And this is the new movement.  When the lamb takes the scroll at the right hand, all those in heaven who had been praising the Father now add a new verse praising the Lamb.  “Worthy in the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might…”. And it is not just the Heavenly realms, but “every creature in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth and in the sea.”  Why is this such a big deal?  Because only God is worshipped, especially in Heaven.  And Heaven is worshipping the Lamb. Our Epistle reading captures this new song of praise.

But the new movement, the new theme, isn’t just that Jesus is God.  That’s important, but it’s the praise of every creature. In Christ God has acted to reclaim and judge his entire creation. And even those under the earth, those whose praise would be grudging, must join in the praise.  Christ has triumphed.  The Lamb sits at the Right Hand of the Father from whence He will come to judge.  And what does that judgement look like?  That’s what’s on the scroll with seven seals that the Lamb is about to open.  The whole purpose of Revelation is so that you know who has won.  It is your brother Jesus. There is no question in this.  All the Kingdoms of this World have become the Kingdom of Our Lord. All the Kingdoms of men and of the powers and principalities that be. You have a champion in a very high place whose “blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe, language people and nation.”

All theology ends in doxology. Everyone joins the praise.  “Amen! And they all fell down and worshipped.”

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story” – Finishing Joseph – End of Genesis
  • Confirmation: Lord’s Prayer
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  May 2nd, 6PM, Zoom
  • Sunday Morning: Going to continue with the Psalms for a Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: Continuing with the Lord’s Prayer