Virtual Bulletin – 11.7

November 7, 2021 – All Saints (Observed)

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

Monday………………..             Johannes von Staupitz

                                                 6:00pm             Men’s Group

Tuesday……………….             Martin Chemnitz

Wednesday…………..               5:30pm            Confirmation

Thursday: ………………           Martin of Tours

                                                 10:00am           Bible Study

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

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMERATIONS

It might not be hyperbole to say that Johannes von Staupitz was the man who taught Luther the gospel.  If we talked of “patron saints” von Staupitz would be the patron saint of mentors.  He took in, encouraged, sponsored and built-up Luther’s early church life, made him his own replacement on the faculty of Wittenberg, and eventually gave him the grace of releasing Luther from his vows to the Augustinian Order. You don’t get The Reformation with Johannes.  Likewise, the Reformation, at least the Lutheran part of it, may have completely disintegrated without Martin Chemnitz.  Chemnitz was both a deft administrator and great theologian. He was what would have been the Bishop of Brunswick establishing what became a model “Church Order Book.” He also was the key contributor to The Formula of Concord which settled many internal issues of the Reformation, while his Response to the Council of Trent remains the fundamental critique of the emerging Counter-Reformation. You can trace the faith handed down through the saints.  So what about Martin of Tours?  November 11th is Veteran’s Day.  This Martin was a Pagan Roman Legionnaire who became a Soldier for Christ.  There are many stories that attached to Martin most displaying the virtue of courage.  He chopped down the sacred pine of Gaul standing in its way as it fell and missed him convincing the Gauls of the power of Christ, and he argued with the Emperor not to execute people for heresy.  Hans and Margaret Luther brought their 1 day old son to be baptized on the 11th, and so he became Martin.

LEADERSHIP ENCOURAGEMENT – by John Bayer

I hate to break the news to you but our baptism is only the beginning my friends! God, who loves us with his perfect redemptive love, desires that we grow and mature in our service to him.  The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the believers at the church at Colossae said, “…we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God”  (Colossians 1:9-10)  In his letter the Apostle Paul told the Colossae Christians he was praying that they would grow up.

So how do we Christians grow up?  Think disciple. That is,

●          Be faithful to the Divine Service and don’t allow the pressures of this present world to be a distraction.

●          Read and learn.  Review the Smaller Catechism. Find a partner to learn with.

●          Develop a healthy prayer life.

●          Get involved in church life.

●          Share what you know and do with others.

We at St. Mark should live up to that same exhortation Paul gave those early Christians.  This is especially true for those whose responsibility it is to be examples to the rest of the congregation.  If we truly desire to please him we should desire to learn, grow and bear fruit for God.  Don’t be content just being a pew warmer.

Blessings

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

I got eyeglasses in 3rd grade.  And my eyes were already bad enough at that time the doctor wondered how I had been functioning.  So when in Sunday School the death of Moses was the lesson (Deuteronomy 34) one verse stuck out at me. “Moses was 120 years old when he died.  His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. (Deut 34:7).” I’ve always envied Moses.  That memory came back this year because I had to give in to progressive lenses.  A couple years ago I was borderline, but that border was long crossed. And I hate them.  The doctor said “you’ll get used to them in two weeks to a month.”  I still feel months later that they just aren’t right.  The old ones did nothing for reading, but everything else was clear.  These? Nothing is ever “undimmed”.

But that might be a good metaphor for how we see final things in this world.  John writes there are some things that we see, and others that we don’t.  “We are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared.” There things we know, our adoption in Jesus.  There are things we don’t know, what we will be.  Instead, we see in the approaching distance.  “We know that when he appears we shall be like him.”  Do we know what that is?  We have outlines, moving figures, but not really.  Even the disciples who saw the risen Lord were never quite sure what they were seeing.  The Magdalene saw the gardener, until he spoke.  Those on the Emmaus road saw a stranger, until he broke bread.  The twelve didn’t know what until he showed his hands and his side.  “When he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” We see what Jesus is in the Word, what he spoke.  We see Jesus is the sacraments, the breaking of bread and the command to baptize all nations.  Through these we are being conformed to Christ.  “We shall be like him.” But is our eyesight undimmed; is our knowledge perfect?  Probably not.  We are probably more like 3rd grade me, or progressive lenses me, than we are like Moses. Which is why we live by faith and not by sight.  Which is why right now we live in hope.  We see enough, but the perfection that the Father is working for his children is both now and net yet.  Now it is seen in Christ and Word and Sacrament; net yet has it appeared in fullness as He is. May we lean on what is only seen clearly by faith.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: We are going to be reading the last letter of John starting this week.  Come Join!
  • Confirmation: Work on memorizing the commandments and read the 6th commandment questions.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  November 18th
  • Sunday Morning: The burial of Jesus and the conclusion of the Gospel of Mark .  Come Join!
  • Catechism Moment: I’m going to call this a bit of a hibernation.  It will comeback, but it was the last thing added, so the first thing to go when new tasks are given.

MENS GROUP

Monday @ 6 PM, here. I’m thinking some pulled pork sandwiches and coleslaw and some pumpkin pie.

OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD

Collection week is November 15th – 22nd. (A week from Monday through the following Monday.) If you might consider helping this year.  Jobs: Greeting, Counting, Packing, Carrying. A sign-up sheet is up.  Even an hour would help.

Monday – Friday (15th – 19th): 4pm – 7 pm; Saturday 20th: 9am – Noon; Sunday 21st: Noon – 3 PM; Monday 22nd: 7am – 10am

A Reformation of the Heart

Biblical Text: Romans 3:19-28, John 8:31-36

What exactly is Reformation Day? It has been a lot of things. This sermon mentions a couple of them. But almost of of the alternates are corruptions of what it really was. Which is a recovery of the Apostle Paul. Which is a new birth of freedom in hearing the law and the gospel. It is not just the gospel, although that is the happy best part. It is also the law. The Reformation recovered that 200 proof cask of grace that Paul preached. Christ died for sinners and God’s righteousness is given to you as a gift. You have been made a member of God’s house by God’s choice. And that free gift also frees us to see the law for what it is. It is not a method of saving ourselves. But it is also no longer our writ of condemnation. Yes, we are sinners. But the righteousness of God does not come by the law, but by grace through faith. So we can accept the law as God’s good gift to us for our good. Reformation Day is about the law and the gospel, and how they Reform our hard hearts into hearts of flesh.

An Address and Prayer for a Call Service

These were the opening remarks and prayer given as the Circuit Visitor at a congregational meeting to call a pastor. They struck me as both a good remembrance of Reformation Day which the meeting was held on and how Reformation Theology is God’s grace for all of us.

It is worthwhile reminding ourselves in more than a utilitarian way what we are doing here.  God typically works through means. Rarely he will work immediately like a Damascus Road experience, but normally through means.  He promises himself present for grace in the sacraments, through the means of water, bread and wine.  “This water is not simple water only, but the water combined with the Word.”  But he also has promised us “all that we need to support this body and life.”  And he works his providence for us through means – through the means of our various vocations.

One of those vocations is a pastor.  Our founding confession the Augsburg confession reminds us in article 4 – the central article – that our justification comes by grace through faith.  And then it moves onto article 5 and tells us “So that we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God …”. The primary means of the gospel and faith is the preaching office.

How is someone placed into that office?  Augsburg article 14 tells us that “no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be rightly or regularly called.”

That is what this assembled body of Christ is doing.  You and me, today, this hour, we are the means that God is using to place a right call.  (Or depending upon your deliberation and discernment to hold off, the spirit blows where and when he wills.)  This body is a means of the providence of the Father for our good.  There have been other means this is accomplished, but this is our polity.  The congregation issues the call.  The church – represented here by me – acknowledges that it is a right one.  That the man called is qualified.  That the congregation did not call flippantly, and the call extended is “right”.  So when we telephone and send him the paperwork, the man he can be confident not just that it is of human order, but that it is a divine call.  That God has used this body as His means of calling.

In a utilitarian sense we are checking boxes.  And people are maybe upset that they had to come back.  But you came back to be a means of grace.  To be the means that God is working through for the good of the church and this congregation.    

So in that sense it is right that we should open with a prayer.  Please join me.

Heavenly Father, you provide for us in both body and soul.  You have sent your son Jesus as our savior, and so that we may attain and remain in that faith, you have established the office of ministry.  Your body is now gathered seeking that continued blessing, that the Kingdom might come to us also and that your will be done among us.  Let your spirit preside over this call meeting.  And bless the deliberation and results.  In your son Jesus’ name we pray. [Amen]

Virtual Bulletin – 10/31

October 31st, 2021 – Reformation Day

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

Monday………………..             All Saints Day

Tuesday……………….             All Souls Day

                                                 7:00pm             Elders Meeting

Wednesday…………..               5:30pm            Confirmation

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

Saturday……………….            Beef on Weck

                                                 Change your Clocks – DST ends

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

                                                11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMERATIONS

We will observe All Saints in church next Sunday, but the actual day is November 1st.  Gregory III in the 730s took a day that had been “All Martyrs”, reformed the hodgepodge of churchwide saint day commemorations and created All Saints – A day set aside to remember the Church at Rest, be they from the often unnamed martyr throng or the local memory of holy people.  All Souls has always been a companion but with varying meaning.  At its core it was a remembrance of all faithfully departed.  And in many places it is a decoration day for the graves of departed family.  If you are Roman Catholic these souls are those still in purgatory, so still part of the Church Militant.  For a Lutheran, a memory of grace.  Maybe nobody called [insert your dear relative] a saint, but grace was still theirs by the work of Christ.  And we look forward to our reunion on that “yet more glorious day” in the Church Triumphant with all souls claimed by Christ on their forehead and their heart.  

LEADERSHIP ENCOURAGEMENT – by John Bayer – “Good Places to Start”

Personal Bible study, devotions, quiet time or whatever you call it is a thorny topic for Christians, especially if reading is not your thing.  Finding the time to actually read anything these days is understandably difficult.  Just look at the rise in the popularity of audible books! 

The struggle to regularly read is often compounded by the Bible’s size and scope. We know it’s good food for the soul but when we pick it up, it may as well be “War and Peace.”  It’s huge as anyone who has read it cover to cover knows.  So may I suggest a couple of good places to begin?

A New Testament suggestion is the Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Easy to understand in our ESV Bibles (I’ll give you one if needed), they somewhat synchronize the story of the New Testament’s beginning, including the life of Christ and his interaction with the disciples. Be forewarned however, if you start with Matthew, the first 17 verses are the tedious-to-read genealogy of Jesus, maybe not important to a more casual reader, but extremely important to theologians, pastors and maybe some hobby theologians.  You might want to go from 1:1 directly to 1:18 unless you’re really interested.

If you’re very familiar with the four gospel books and want something else in the New Testament,  then jump into Acts or the letters books that follow.  You might hold off on the book of Revelation for a while.  That one is a little tricky.

If you want to cut your teeth on some Old Testament reading, I really enjoy the “book of beginnings”, Genesis, where you learn details of creation and the generations which follow. You quickly get into the stories of Noah, Abram and Sara, Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and others.  In Genesis you see the nation of Israel in its infancy and the promise given to it.  There are plenty of begats to get through early on which you can scan quickly if you wish.  Once you begin, the book pulls you along with lots to learn.

So there you have a couple of ideas to get started.  Avoid eReaders if you are unfamiliar with the Bible’s layout.  Use a paper book before you start keying in a reference and have the text pop up on a screen.  It’s a lot like GPS.  It gets us there, but without a map it’s hard to know just where you are.  Read as much or a little as you feel comfortable. You’ll find natural stopping places as you read. Get a nice Bible that you would be proud to own.  As the English Standard Version is used throughout our church, I recommend it. 

In Sunday morning Bible study immediately following coffee (‘til noon) we are wrapping up a verse-by-verse of  the book of Mark.  Bibles are supplied or bring your own for our time around the table with plenty of coffee still in the pot. Class is low-key and casual with lots of good conversation.

Regular reading builds our faith and helps keep us sensitive to the things of God.  Please take a moment and look at two verses Paul wrote to Timothy, his assistant. They are 2nd Timothy 3:16-17.

So there you have it,  a couple of good places to start on a path to regular Bible reading.  I’d love to hear from anyone who found this to be helpful!   Email me.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

Revelation 14 is the history of the world in 13 verses.  The first 5 are a picture of the 144,000 with the lamb.  The 144K are the elect of God, chosen before time.  Chosen in the mystery of God. Picking up in verse 14 is a picture of the end of the world, “the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.”  This old earth has an end, also at the command of God.  But sandwiched between are the messages of three angels, and specifically the message we read every Reformation Day.  “An angel flying overhead with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation, tribe, language and people.”  The Word of the Lord endures forever.  And this word of Christ is for all peoples.  God continues, during the entire reign of this old earth, to proclaim his good news. To those with ears to hear, “Fear God and give him glory…worship him who made heaven and earth.”  May we by Reformation and renewal, by grace in faith, grab hold of this angel’s message.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: We are going to be reading the last letter of John starting this week.  Come Join!
  • Confirmation: Work on memorizing the commandments and read the 6th commandment questions.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Will pick up on November 4th.
  • Sunday Morning: From Mark, the death and burial of Jesus.  Come Join!
  • Catechism Moment: I’m going to call this a bit of a hibernation.  It will comeback, but it was the last thing added, so the first thing to go when new tasks are given.

Where Are the Disciples?

Biblical Text: Mark 10:46-52

The text is the capstone both to Mark 10, which is the toughest chapter in the gospels, and the ministry of Jesus. The rest of the gospel of Mark is passion week which really is something separate. What we’ve seen in the rest of Mark 10 is a bunch of ways that people misunderstand or outright reject discipleship. But here with the story of blind Bartimaeus we have a lesson of true discipleship. This sermon is a meditation on how Bartimaeus sees more clearly – even though blind – than most of the sighted. And it is an encouragement to “walk the way.”

Virtual Bulletin – 10/24

October 24th, 2021 – 22th Sunday after Pentecost

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Oct 25th – Oct 31th

Monday………………..             Lydia, Phoebe and Tabitha

Tuesday……………….             Philipp Nicolai, Johann Heerman and Paul Gerhardt, Hymnwriters

Wednesday…………..               5:30pm            Confirmation

Thursday: ………………           St. Simon & St. Jude, Apostles

                                                 10:00am           Bible Study

Sunday: ………………….          Reformation Day

                                                 10:00am           Worship

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

LAST WEEKEND    Attendance: 34             Contributions:  $6,620   YTD: $ 98,099

DEDICATED COLLECTIONS (for Year): Organ – $ 1,370  Missionary Support:  $ 1,600/collected

REGISTERING ATTENDENCE

We are back to recording weekly attendance.    Please help with this. Record your presence in the pew books!

COMMEMERATIONS

It is a busy week on the commemorations calendar. Some of them like Simon and Jude are in calendar spots that go back millennia.  The two apostles share a day most likely because their names are always listed together in the bible and nobody wanted a St. Judas day alone, even though this Jude, who became a saint of lost causes, was not that Judas.  The hymnwriters are added for deeply Lutheran reasons, as these three were the writers of the Chorales and Hymns that are deep staples of Lutheran piety: Wake Awake for Night is Flying, O Morning Star, O Dearest Jesus What Law Hast Thou Broken, and O Sacred Head Now Wounded along with many others.  They are deeply Lutheran but belong to the entire church.  Lydia, Phoebe and Tabitha correct something that earlier post-Reformation “list of Saints” marred. The Lutheran teaching on the saints is not intercession but example and that all believers are saints.  The second part of that tended to erase the first part including erasing commemorations, especially of women whose example – like Tabitha (Acts 9:36) – tended to be holiness – “she was full of good works and acts of charity.”  When she died, that congregation refused to accept it and called Peter, and the apostle restored her.  All of them having devoted themselves to the service of Christ are held up for our example.     

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

The entire argument of Hebrews is a catalog of from the lessor to the greater. You like angels? Let me tell you why Jesus is greater than all the angels.  Moses?  Yes, Moses was great in the household of God, but Jesus fulfills Moses.  Why you might ask.  Well, neither Moses, nor Joshua, led Israel into the promised rest of The Promised Land.  Jesus leads us into our Sabbath rest.

Jesus is clearly the greater prophet and the greater king as his throne is on high, but what about the Priesthood?  Doesn’t the temple still stand and the rounds of sacrifice have to continue?  Jesus is also the greater priest in the greater Priesthood.  Admittedly you have to be deep in the OT to understand the greater Priesthood argument.  It’s in the run up to our Epistle reading.  The priesthood as it stood was the descendants of Levi and Aaron, but Abraham, the father of all of them and therefore greater, paid his tithe to Melchizedek, priest of the most high god, who brough bread and wine (Genesis 14:18).  And with the change in priesthood there is a change in the law (Hebrews 7:12). The old covenant was but shadows of things to come.  The priest in the order of Melchizedek brings bread and wine “through which we draw near to God (Hebrews 7:19).”  Even if the Priesthood is greater, what about the priest?  The old order had many because they kept dying. Death ended their office. (Hebrews 7:23).  But Christ due to his resurrection, his conquest of death, assumes the office eternally.  All who draw near through his offerings – the bread and the wine – he saves eternally.  Not just for the year of the offering.  Those old priests yearly had to purify themselves to offer the sacrifice for the next year.  But Jesus enters the High Holy Place through his own blood to make eternal intercession for his saints (Hebrews 7:26-28).  Jesus is the greater Priest of the greater Priesthood.

Of course a solid question from a gentile like me might be what does any of this have to do with me?  Am I a Jew, as Pilate asks (John 18:35)? Well, Jesus is the Jewish messiah.  He says that salvation comes from the Jews (John 4:22). But we who were once far off have been invited near.  Not through the law or the temple or the old priesthood.  These were bars to gentiles.  But the new covenant is one of faith.  The new covenant is both the fulfillment of Abraham and David and the ingrafting of the nations. The new covenant is the fulfillment of the promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations (Genesis 17:4).  The Priest in the order of Melchizedek who brings bread and wine has made intercession for the entire world.  Argumenta from the lessor to the greater are not arguments of rupture, but of continuity and discontinuity.  Jesus was not a revolution, but a revelation. You thought that God forgot about the world.  He never did.  It was waiting for the greater fulfillment, the Great High Priest, who has taken away the sins of the world and sits at table with sinners and tax collectors, offering himself under bread and wine.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: We are going to be reading the last letter of John starting this week.  Come Join!
  • Confirmation: Work on memorizing the commandments and read the 5th commandment questions.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Will pick up on November 4th.
  • Sunday Morning: From Mark, the death and burial of Jesus.  Come Join!
  • Catechism Moment: I’m going to stop making promises.  I do intend to get back to this.

UPCOMING CONGREGATIONAL MEETINGS

Today & November 7th for budget and offices

BEEF ON WECK

We are going to attempt a Beef on Weck on November 6.  You might be asked to help, please do help.  Ellen and Lisa and Abel Acuña are the contact points.

Of Camels and Needles

Biblical Text: Mark 10:23-31

The text contains a couple of Jesus’ classic aphorisms, but this sermon really isn’t about those aphorisms. Those aphorisms are given to heighten the shock that the disciples are feeling. They can’t believe what has just happened between Jesus and the Rich Young Man. Even less can they believe what Jesus says about it. Their surprise is our entry to think about our attitude to wealth. How does wealth form the soul? What are the deep dangers that Jesus is warning about? The sermon ponders these. It then follows Peter’s blunt but natural question: who gets it right, the disciples or the rich young man? If you saw Elon Musk walking away, wouldn’t you have some questions about the deal? Jesus’ answer, just like all of Mark Chapter 10, is necessary for the modern church to hear. And it leaves us with stuff to ponder.

Virtual Bulletin – 10/17

October 17th, 2021 – 21th Sunday after Pentecost

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Oct 18th – Oct 24th

Monday………………..             St. Luke, Evangelist

                                                 6:00pm             Women’s Club

Wednesday…………..               5:30pm            Confirmation

                                                 7:30pm             Council

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

                                                 7:00pm             LAF

Saturday:……………….           St. James of Jerusalem, Brother of Jesus

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

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMERATIONS

The commemorations this week are recognizable.  Luke has a gospel and James a letter in the New Testament.  Yet the life of James is one that is hard to contemplate.  We presume he grew up in the same household as our Lord (Galatians 1:19), yet he does not claim that in his own letter, merely a servant but “brother” to those he writes.  He didn’t believe until after the resurrection (John 7:3-5), and it took a special appearance (1 Corinthians 15:7) – something Paul notes they shared.  Paul and James are often seen as in conflict, yet when they meet they recognize each other’s apostleship (Acts 15).  Maybe the hardest saying of James to contemplate is James 2:19 which has to do with his conception of faith – “Even the demons believe.”  Faith is not just historical knowledge or mental assent.  The demons have that. Faith is that living thing that brings forth the fruits of repentance, which the demons do not have.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

The one thing the makers of the lectionary did understand was church budget seasons.  They built in a couple of weeks of stewardship or monetary lessons in the middle of October.  I’m assuming anyone who will read this has seen Wayne’s note.  I’ve had several private and group conversations myself over the past month.  There are some simple facts: church finance over the past two generations has morphed into an 80/20 thing.  80% of the budget comes from 20% of the offerings. That might always have been true.  80/20 rules abound in real life.  The other fact is that the total number dividing into 80/20 has declined.  We aren’t alone in this.  Nationally the median congregational attendance in 2000 was 137 people, in 2020 it was 65.  (Median means 50% of the congregations were larger and 50% smaller.)  There are three comments I’d make here. 1) Pre-covid we had actually bucked the big part of that trend.  The 2008 national number was 115.  Our average attendance in 2008 was 57, in 2019 it was 64.  If we had been on trend it would have been 32.  2) While we were zooming services, I could fool myself into thinking that we were holding together when I mentally added people online to people present.  But I say fooled, because the heart of any church is corporate worship, and that goes double for a smaller congregation.  The mutual consolation of the brothers and sisters is in that gathering of the body of Christ.  This isn’t to get into an argument over if it is or was fear or prudence.  Everyone can and will make their own decisions there.  What can’t be denied is that missing corporate worship has made the body of Christ smaller.  If one was feeling apocalyptic you might say that “a third of the earth was burned up…and a third of the waters made bitter (Rev 8).”  3) We focus on numbers because that is who we are.  If it is not a number we don’t take it as real.  But we know in human terms without numbers, that isn’t sustainable.

This article is not meant to pre-explain the budget meeting.  This article is to encourage theological reflection and prayer. And the verse that caught my eye this week is from the OT lesson.  “There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun, riches were kept by their owner to his hurt (Ecclesiastes 5:13).”  Probably the straightforward way that could be taken is what I typically mean when I’ve commented about the broader church: “we barely give enough to keep ourselves evangelized.”  We have all been given gifts from the providence of the Father. And part of those gifts are for the keeping of His church.  The modern church just doesn’t preach the tithe.  Even though the law of God has a third use as a guide to our path, actually preaching the tithe is coded as greedy, when I’m convinced that it is a giving to love that God multiplies.  “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. (Mal. 3:10 ESV)”   There is a grievous evil, riches kept to the owner’s hurt.  We don’t have because we don’t give.

But as I meditated over those words I also came to a second understanding.  The riches might not just be read as money.  The riches of God are his people.  There are lots of congregations that are holding onto these riches, and for what?  To keep their building open?  To keep their expression of themselves around?  (There is a local church that has had their pulpit vacant for going on 4 years because “nobody meets our needs.”) For any number of other petty reasons? “And he is the father of a son, and has nothing to give him (Eccl 5:14).”  We withhold ourselves from the gathering (Heb 10:25) weakening the body.  We withhold the tithe missing the blessing promised.  And maybe we withhold God’s people because we are worshipping something else.  We shouldn’t be surprised when we have nothing to give our sons.

Yet the joy, the only place the teacher of Ecclesiastes comes close to that, is in the work.  “For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart (Eccl 5:20).” That joy down in the heart is the Word of Christ.  There is much worry in all the other possessions.  This alone grants rest.  Becoming a congregation occupied by the Gospel, that is the prayer.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: We are going to be reading the last letter of John starting this week.  Come Join!
  • Confirmation: Work on memorizing the commandments and read the 4th commandment questions.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  October 21st, Fruits of the Spirit
  • Sunday Morning: Back to Mark, intending to wrap up with the passion story.  Come Join!
  • Catechism Moment: I’m going to stop making promises.  I do intend to get back to this.

WOMEN’S GROUP

Women’s group is Monday.  Dinner and fellowship. 6PM.  Sign-up on the bulletin board so I have some idea of numbers

UPCOMING CONGREGATIONAL MEETINGS

October 24th will be the budget presentation and officer nominations.  November 7th will be voting.

BEEF ON WECK

We are going to attempt a Beef on Weck on November 6.  You might be asked to help, please do help.  Ellen and Lisa and Abel Acuña are the contact points.

Questions of the Soul

Biblical Text: Mark 10:17-22

You become what you love. We either love God, and with loving God love the truth and love our neighbor; or we have something else we love. And whatever else that something is, it isn’t enough, not to be the primary love that forms our souls. The biblical text is Jesus’ encounter with what is typically called the rich young ruler. The man – the individual soul – knows something is wrong. He is actually quite sharp, sharper than we tend to be these days. This sermon meditates upon this encounter of love, and what questions our souls should be asking? Into what are we forming our eternal life?

Virtual Bulletin – 10/10

October 10th, 2021 – 20th Sunday after Pentecost

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

Monday………………..             Philip the Deacon

                                                 6:00 pm                 Men’s Club

Wednesday…………..               5:30pm            Confirmation

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

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

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMERATIONS

Who is Philip the Deacon?  You’ll run across him first in Acts 6 as one of the seven chosen to serve.  Stephen, one of those seven is martyred immediately, so Philip gets his own chapter – Acts 8 – including the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch which ends with Philip’s seeming teleportation  “when they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the Eunuch saw him no more…But Philip found himself at Azotus.”  And the mission continues without missing a beat. The last picture of Philip is with the man who kicked off his wondering mission.  Having run from Saul after Stephen, in Acts 21:8-15, Paul stays with Philip and his four prophetess daughters, and tries to convince Paul to change his course from going to Jerusalem. Who was Paul most likely envisioning when he writes 1 Timothy 3:8-13 (The Qualifications for Deacon)? Philip.  There is always a call for faithful service to the needs of the local church at the time – be they teleportation enhanced evangelism, or raising a family in the faith.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

What happened to the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey?  Our Epistle Lesson (Hebrews 3:12-19) is taken from the middle of the author’s 2nd argument.  He’s put down his argument about Jesus being superior to angels and picked up one about Moses and the promised land.  The promised land was both the physical land of Canaan, but it was also the land flowing with Milk and Honey.  Put that another way the land of milk and honey is the land of the Sabbath rest.  He quotes from Psalm 95 that God’s judgement upon those who wandered in the desert for 40 years, which would be shared by those who harden their hearts in rebellion, would be “they shall not enter my rest.”  Moses led the people to Canaan, but the people proved to be a stiff-necked and rebellious people.  Moses did not lead Israel into the Sabbath rest of God.  It is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and why Jesus is superior to Moses, that leads us into that Sabbath rest.

The promised land is not and never was completely a patch of ground on this old earth.  The promised land has always been peace with God.  The promised land has been the revocation of the curse – “by the sweat of your brow you shall eat.”   The promised land is entering into the eternal Sabbath rest where “the One seated on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. Never again will they hunger, and never will they thirst; nor will the sun beat down upon them, nor any scorching heat. (Revelation 7:15-16)’  And we enter into this promised land by faith. 

There are many roads of rebellion, many ways to turn aside from the way of the cross.  Most of them promise an easier way.  Put down the cross, that is too hard.  Jesus himself was just lost.  And for that matter what about Moses, the guy wandered for 40 years in the desert.  It isn’t hard to beat either is the devil’s promise.  But “all those bodies fall in this wilderness.” The proclamation of the gospel is “today…today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” This old earth is still a wilderness.  And even the partial fulfillment of the promised land is something that is elusive.  Our greatest taste of it is the Sabbath meal which multiplies to fill the need.  But it is by faith in the one who marked out the path, Jesus, that we are welcomed into God’s rest. “Take care, brothers and sisters, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.”  Today is the day we enter His rest.  Today is the day we can see it approaching. May we be kept in this faith by the abiding Holy Spirit.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: We are going to be reading 2 & 3 John starting this week.  Come Join!
  • Confirmation: Finnish memorizing the books of the bible, read the 3rd commandment questions.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  October 21st, Fruits of the Spirit
  • Sunday Morning: We are going to pause our walk through Mark for a day for a question about 1 Tim 2:15.  All are welcome to join!
  • Catechism Moment: I’m going to stop making promises.  I do intend to get back to this.

MEN’S GROUP

Men’s group is Monday.  Dinner and fellowship. 6PM.  Sign-up on the bulletin board so I have some idea of numbers

UPCOMING CONGREGATIONAL MEETINGS

October 24th will be the budget presentation and officer nominations.  November 7th will be voting.

BEEF ON WECK

We are going to attempt a Beef on Weck on November 6.  You might be asked to help, please do help.  Ellen and Lisa and Abel Acuña are the contact points.