From, To, and In the Love of God

Text: Athanasian Creed, Texts of the Day (all in the worship folder)

The Sunday after Pentecost is always set aside as Trinity Sunday. And the key piece of Trinity Sunday worship is the Athanasian Creed. Creeds can unfortunately be turned into dead letters. Something read or looked at, but not pondered within one’s heart. Not a symbol of a living faith. When they are dead letters they turn into checklists of mental assent or legalisms or even worse esotericism. What this sermon attempts to do is show them as invitations. “This is the catholic faith”. When you hear/say them as that, they become deadly practical. They help us remember what this sermon attempts to bring back.

Note: Here is the “funny” that the sermon starts off describing.

Virtual Bulletin – 6/7/20

June 7, 2020 – Trinity

WORSHIP

Everything remains the same.  10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present.

Bulletin/Worship Link Here – June 7, 2020

Zoom (same as before): https://zoom.us/j/6458485288

Devotion & Prayer Thought

MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN.  That is the original “Writing on the Wall”.  Belshazzar, Neo-Babylonian King has had a dream.  A giant hand had written those words out.  And nobody can interpret them.  Nobody except Daniel.  Daniel tells the King who is engaged in one of his “great feasts” what they mean.  This is no longer the young Daniel who pushed Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar’s father, to grant him his special diet and interpreted his dreams. This is an older Daniel. And he tells this King the writing on the wall means, “The days of your kingdom have been numbered. You have been weighed and measured and found wanting.  Your kingdom is being taken from you.”  And that very night it was, and it was handed over to Darius the Persian who installed Daniel as one of his three high officials.

As in all times when things seem to be going to hell in a handbasket, when all the leadership is busy feasting and drinking, when they claim all knowledge but can’t read the handwriting, things might be scary.  But I’ve always been strangely comforted by those words and this scene.  The days of a corrupt establishment are numbered by God Almighty.  And when they are done, they are brought to a swift end.  Like the day the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union collapsed.  Those who are responsible are weighed and measured and found wanting by a higher authority.  And the order of Heaven is eventually reestablished.  Yes, sometimes it is “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”  We are a fallen people.  But throughout it, even in exile as Daniel was, the LORD has his eyes on his people.

We look for a better Kingdom, one whose throne is not here.  Today we live in the midst of various authorities, some of whom the handwriting is on the wall.  But even this world that can seem out of control, is under the Lord’s authority.  It all comes from His hand, and he intends good for us.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  June 8st – June 15th

Mon., Wed., Fri.: ……… 8:00am     Preschool

Monday: ……………….  6:00pm    Women’s Group Mtg on Zoom

Tuesday: ……………..… 9:00am    Rochester West Circuit Mtg on Zoom

3:00pm     Conf. Cls – 1st yr – Cancelled see below

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

Sunday: ………………….   9:00am    Bible Study and Sunday School

                                                      10:00am    Worship

BIRTHDAYS & ANNIVERSARIES

Happy Birthday to:  Frank Miller (Sr) 6/6, Rachel Follaco (DeWitt) 6/11, Alexz Ademovic 6/11, Anna Brown 6/12, Ethan Burtsell 6/12, Ryan Connorton 6/13, Nancy Bauchle 6/14, Sylvia Bayer 6/14,Roger DeWitt 6/14

Anniversary Congrats: none reported this week

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: We are reading the book of Zechariah, the OT Revelation and the most quoted from book in the passion accounts in the NT.  We are both live in person and on zoom.  Same link as the service.  The start time is 10, but we probably talk 15 mins or so first.  Everyone is invited!
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Thanks to Nick for all he did this past year! Keep a look out here and in your email for future plans for LAF.
  • Confirmation: 

Year 1: Ok, it’s June, you guys are really out of school, even though you aren’t.  I’m going to call it.  We will pick back up in year 2 in the fall.

Year 2: Congrats to our confirmands!

RUMMAGE SALE … June 27th

We are now accepting donations for the Rummage Sale; they can be dropped off in the Multipurpose Room.  This event will be held outside.  If you would like to help with this please contact Miss Kelly at 334-4130

Out of the Heart…

Biblical Text: Pentecost – John 7:37-39, Confirmation Verses: Ephesians 3:17-19 and Job 28:28

I love the conjunction of Pentecost with Confirmation Day. I just think so many things converge theologically and it gives you a real live image to point at in the public confession of faith. It is also just one of my favorite days to preach. We are not a large church, so I don’t have massive confirmation classes. And that allows me to craft something for each confirmand. It is something out of my heart. And that phrase in a couple of different ways is the theme of this address – “out of the heart”, what comes out of your heart?

Three Words of Encouragement

Biblical Text: 1 Peter 5:6-11

Peter’s letter is really written to those who are or might be experiencing hard times. And as he is summarizing and wrapping that letter up he ends with three imperatives. As you are going through the fiery trial , do this. And each of those do this rest on a know this. Know who and what God has done and is doing for you, so that you can act in this way.

At least to me it in our current situation is was meaningful as I prepared and practiced it. It was a necessary message for me. I hope it is so to you. Blessings.

Virtual Bulletin – 5/24/20

May 24, 2020 – Seventh Sunday of Easter

WORSHIP

Sorry about the Zoom link last week.  It was zoom’s problem as many many churches experienced the same thing. Prayerfully they do not have the same problem this week.  Everything else remains the same.  10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present.

Bulletin/Worship Link Here – May 24, 2020

Zoom (same as before): https://zoom.us/j/6458485288

Devotion & Prayer Thought

In our Thursday bible study a very true thought was expressed.  Paraphrasing: “I’ve gone to church all my life, we’ve been “off” long enough that going back will be tough.”  We are creatures of habit.  Some habits, like going to church, are good ones.  We call good habits virtues.  Some habits, like cursing, are bad ones.  We call them vices.  St. Peter tells us “make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Pet. 1:5-8 NLT)” And it is not that we ever fully possess a virtue in this life.  Satan is always prowling like a lion looking for whom he might devour.  But what I would say is that a well-honed virtue is a steady walk with the Holy Spirit.  The act of the will to do the right is the spiritual athletic equivalent of the athlete’s muscle memory.  A practiced pitcher doesn’t think where to throw, they just do and it goes to the right place.  But when we fall out of practice, that muscle memory isn’t as sure.  Strikes become balls.  We need to cognitively think about it.  And that is the work.  That is why it is hard.  Because thinking is hard.  We must align our mind and our wills again.  And Satan will work against that.  Even our own flesh will.  We have to think, get up and go to church, when our trained muscles are heading to the coffee pot and enjoying an extra bit of sleep.

I obviously think regular worship is a good virtue to develop.  We will ask the confirmands next week if they intend to make diligent use of the means of grace.  And the hoped for answer is yes.  But at this moment of tipping.  When new habits might have been formed that we might need to break.  When old virtues are going to need to be resurrected.  It might also be a good time, as we are already engaging the mind to change the will, to ask what other efforts should we be making to supplement faith with a generous provision of moral excellence?  How shall we collectively (or individually) add virtues and break vices?

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  May 25th – June 1st

Wed., Fri.: ……………… 8:00am    Preschool

Tuesday: ……………..… 3:00pm     Conf. Cls – 1st yr

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

Sunday: ………………….   9:00am    Bible Study and Sunday School

                                          10:00am    Worship

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: We will be reading the book of Zechariah for the next couple of weeks at least – the short OT Revelation.  If you want to zoom in please contact me and I’ll be sure to make it live.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Thanks to Nick for all he did this past year! Keep a look out here and in your email for future plans for LAF.
  • Confirmation: 

Year 1: We are meeting on zoom for the time being.  3PM Tuesdays.  Lord’s Prayer.  We will be working through the worksheet as I share my screen.  Please bring your catechism and a bible.

Year 2: Confirmation proper is Pentecost, which is May 31st since we are open.Congrats to our confirmands.

RUMMAGE SALE … June 27th

We are now accepting donations for the Rummage Sale; they can be dropped off in the Multipurpose Room.  If you would like to help with this event please contact Miss Kelly at 334-4130

Beef on Weck

What: Beef on Weck, The World’s Best Potato Salad, Coleslaw, Brownie & Pickle

When: Saturday, May 23rd, 4:30 PM – 7:00 PM (Or whenever we are out, even making more we still sold out a little early last time.)

Where: Here @ St. Mark’s

How Much: $10

Carry Out only this time! Drive Thru!

Yeah, I’m biased, but this is good eats!

The Hope and The Choice

Biblical Texts: Acts 17:16-31, 1 Peter 3:13-22, John 14:15-21

I gave myself a bit more freedom today. It is hard to describe exactly what I mean. The best I can do is compare proclamation and application. Proclamation is the announcement of what God has to say to sinners. Application is then the “what shall be do” question. I tend to be much more on the proclamation side. That proclamation includes the law – the 10 commandments. My application tends to be big broad strokes or examples. I hope that the Spirit is working in my listeners to bring the seeds planted to fruitfulness. Today though, I felt compelled to talk a bit more about an application. The proclamation is the resurrection life in Christ. The application is how we as Christians approach suffering and risk of suffering in this world. I think we are taking too many of our cues from the world. And we should change that.

Virtual Bulletin – May 17th

May 17, 2020 – Sixth Sunday of Easter

WORSHIP

The finger lakes region of the Governor’s report has been cleared to start opening.  May 15th (Friday) is the last day of the stay at home orders.  Which means what I’ve been speculating on the last couple of weeks is reality.

This Sunday worship is at 10 AM.  Our stated capacity is 132 people, so 25% is 33 exactly. So, based on recent attendance patterns, we should have no problem with that. Unless everyone surprises me and comes back in person immediately.  We will continue to stream the service on the Zoom link.

We will be holding the Lord’s Supper for those present. Receiving, like attending in person, will be at your freedom and prudence. Three notes. The first is that we will be having the sacrament weekly for the foreseeable future. So there is no pressure that “I missed it.” The second is that, as the hymnal shows, there will be a separation between the services of the Word and the Sacrament. After the prayers of the church, any online or local who do not wish to commune will be dismissed with blessing. One does not need to leave, but one may. This is still the practice of the Eastern Orthodox, and it was LCMS practice in many places well into the 1970’s. (I experienced it growing up in my home church.) After, the service of the sacrament will continue for all remaining. The last is that we will be using a continuous line and individual cups only.  This should allow us to maintain distancing and minimize the number of people involved in distribution.

Bulletin/Worship Link Here – May 17, 2020

Zoom (same as before): https://zoom.us/j/6458485288

Devotion & Prayer Thought

I have been thinking about two things, really one but in two directions.  The one great thing is simply Luther’s great Catechism question: What does this mean?  And the simple part is backward looking.  What does what we have experienced mean?  Maybe it is all just sound and fury meaning nothing.  But I am not a nihilist.  And proclaiming a meaning is the roll of a prophet if he has the Word of the Lord.  And I think the Word of the Lord in these cases is as it always is during a Day of the Lord when things are revealed.  It is a time to reflect and repent.  That is what Jesus says in Luke 13 when asked about a couple of tragedies.  “Do you think this suffering means that they were worse than you? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:1-5)”  The Christian answer to suffering is a call to personal examination and repentance.  Collective suffering isn’t some unjust punishment from a capricious God, but a merciful reminder of his coming justice on all mankind.  Today is a day of grace.  Revelation depicts this as four angels at the four corners holding back the winds (Rev 7:1) until all the people of God are sealed.  Today we can baptize.  Today we can remember our baptism.  Today we can remember who are lives rest in. Today we can rejoice is Christ our savior.

But then I turn forward looking, because this is going to be with us for a while.  What does it mean?  Immediately after those passages in Luke 13 Jesus tells the parable of the barren fig tree.  You know it.  A man has planted and for three years it has done nothing.  He wants to take it out, but is convinced to give it another year.  His vinedresser pleads with him, “I’ll dig around, put on manure, give it extra care, and if it is still fruitless, then cut it down.”  The Christian Life is always about repentance.  That was Luther’s first of the 95 theses.  It is also the first beatitude, “blessed are the poor in Spirit.”  That Christian Life is also about fruitfulness.  When the Day of the Lord has come and revealed itself to us, what must happen?  We live it.  It has been a long lent.  This year Pentecost is just around the corner.  We will be asking confirmands on that day some hard questions.  The correct answers of course are known and given, but they are still asked not just to them but to us who have been planted for many a year.  Do you intend to live according to the Word of God, in faith, word and deed, to remain true to God, Father Son and Holy Spirit, even to death?  Is your salvation out there, outside of the vineyard, or is it in the Lord?  We’ve been given another year.  Live it fruitfully.

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

Mon., Wed., Fri.: ……… 8:00am     Preschool

Monday: ……………….  6:00pm    Women’s Group meeting on Zoom

Tuesday: ……………..… 3:00pm     Conf. Cls – 1st yr

Thursday: ……………… Brownie baking & Beef cooking day

                                          10:00am     Bible Study

Friday: …………………  Potato Salad & Beef on Weck Prep day

Saturday: ………………  Beef on Weck Fundraising Dinner

Sunday: ………………….   9:00am    Bible Study and Sunday School

                                           10:00am    Worship

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: We will be reading the book of Haggai this week.  If you want to zoom in please contact me and I’ll be sure to make it live.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Thanks to Nick for all he did this past year! Keep a look out here and in your email for future plans for LAF.
  • Confirmation: 

Year 1: We are meeting on zoom for the time being.  3PM Tuesdays.  Lord’s Prayer.  We will be working through the worksheet as I share my screen.  Please bring your catechism and a bible.

Year 2: Confirmation proper is Pentecost, which is May 31st since we are open.Congrats to our confirmands.

WOMEN’S GROUP … Monday, May 18th at 6pm on Zoom https://zoom.us/j/6458485288

BEEF ON WECK … May 23rd … save the date! 

In order to accommodate our new normal, we are setting up the Spring Beef on Weck as a DRIVE THRU.  This means that people will arrive in their cars, place their order and pay all while remaining in their cars.  Their order will be packed up and brought out to them.  Our workers will wear masks and social distancing will be applied in all possible situations.  If you would like to help please contact Mindy (489-4972) or Ellen (201-0756).

RUMMAGE SALE … June 27th

We are now accepting donations for the Rummage Sale; they can be dropped off in the Multipurpose Room.  If you would like to help with this event please contact Miss Kelly at 334-4130

The Eternal House or the False House

Biblical Text: 1 Peter 2:1-12

There is a contrarian stance at the core of Christianity. The world is not meaningless, but it is not something to be chased. If fact the majority of what happens in this world is to be rejected. Instead Christians are to be built as living stones into a Spiritual house. Satan and the world of course offer a false house. One you can find yourself incorporated into, but that house does not stand long. This sermon is about that contrarian stance and what it means to live as God’s chosen material rejected of the world.

Virtual Bulletin – May 10 – 5th Sunday of Easter

WORSHIP

TL/DR:

  • Unless the governor extends the “pause”, this week (5/10) is the last 9AM and 11AM
  • Next week (5/17) we return to 10 AM and the 50 person limit (although I honestly expect less present)
  • We will continue to stream on Zoom
  • The Lord’s Supper schedule and distribution will be altered: every Sunday, dismissal for those not taking, continuous line to observe distancing
  • Bulletin/Worship Link Here – May 10, 2020
  • Zoom (same as before): https://zoom.us/j/6458485288

As I type Friday, May 15th continues to be the last day of the governor’s current guidance. For this week (May 10th) we will continue to meet under the 10 person guidance at 9 AM and 11 AM with the Zoom streaming being live at each.

Looking forward past May 15th, the first Sunday would be May 17th. Rochester is already clear of most hurdles for “Phase 1”. NYS has not published any hard-recommended limits (at least that I can find). The limit prior to the current 10 order, was 50 people. Other states are implementing a fortnight (2 weeks) by fortnight increase from 25% to 50% to 75% to full stated capacity. Our stated capacity is 132 people, so 25% is 33 exactly. So, based on recent attendance patterns, starting May 17th, we will be returning to regular service time 10 AM. We will continue to stream that service on the Zoom link. There are different levels of comfort and risk involved, and people are at different places. I’m assuming that we will be under that 33 number.  I honestly expect that first week (May 17th) to most likely be the sum of the week before which would be a little under 20 present locally with about 30 “blocks” online.  And it is in Christian freedom and prudential wisdom whether you attend online or in person.

Starting on the 17th we will be holding the Lord’s Supper for those present. Receiving, like attending in person, will be at your freedom and prudence. There will be two modifications to schedule for this. The first is that we will be having the sacrament weekly for the foreseeable future. The second is that, as the hymnal shows, there will be a separation between the services of the Word and the Sacrament. After the prayers of the church, all online and those local who do not wish to commune, will be dismissed with blessing. One does not need to leave, but one may. This is still the practice of the Eastern Orthodox, and it was LCMS practice in many places well into the 1970’s. (I experienced it growing up in my home church.) After, the service of the sacrament will continue for all remaining.  One last modification that truly pains me but I think appropriate. We will not be using the altar rail but be receiving in continuous line.  For those that have received ashes on Ash Wednesday, like that.  This will allow families or individuals to maintain 6 ft of separation while receiving.

Bulletin/Worship Link Here – May 10, 2020

Zoom (same as before): https://zoom.us/j/6458485288

Devotion & Prayer Thought

I don’t know about you, but I’m done. And what I mean by done is I just don’t trust my feelings, responses, intuitions or anything right now. I lost my temper over something really and truly insignificant. And 10 minutes after the fact I was asking myself what was that about? And I had no answer beyond I’m done. At family dinner I asked Ethan how he liked Casey at the Bat, an assigned reading that the baseball mad kid should love. Without anything else in between, he immediate broke into tears. What was an honest question, he took as Dad once again getting on his case about doing the work assigned. Which with three kids acting like sloths all day around the house has been a thing. They are done. Likewise I have seen others express some similar things in various places.  We are done.

The “New Commandment” of Maundy Thursday is “Love one another (John 13:34).” That continues to define love as the way Jesus has loved us which is putting us above even his own life. But even in a pandemic, most of us are not called to die for another. So I turn to 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul tells us what love means. Right now, I think many of us are defaulting to being noisy gongs or clanging symbols. We may be right, we may have every right. But acting on it lacks love. And if I don’t have love, I’m am nothing.

Yes, I am done. And when I am done I ask, Lord let me have a little of your love. I need it. Because I need to be a little more patient and kind, even with myself. I need to be a little less concerned about being right and a little more about being rude. We are all done and all just trying to chart a course through. Let me bear a little bit more. And in that see a small reflection of your cross, which is my hope.

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

Mon., Wed., & Fri.:   8:00am    Preschool

Tuesday: …………..  3:00pm    Conf. Cls – 1st yr

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

3:30pm    Conf. Cls – 2nd yr

                                     7:00pm    LAF

Sunday: ……………   10:00am  Worship

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Roughly the same as worship, if you wish to be here, up to our normal 3-4, fine.  If our bible study gets crowded all of a sudden, I will throw you out! If you want to join on the Zoom line (same as the worship one) I’ll be logging that in. We will be finishing Zephaniah. If you would like to join and want the “prep sheet” just email me.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Please join us! Meeting Thurs. May 14th, on Zoom
  • Confirmation: 

Year 1: We are meeting on zoom for the time being.  3PM Tuesdays.  Lord’s Prayer.  We will be working through the worksheet as I share my screen.  Please bring your catechism and a bible.

Year 2: Right now, confirmation proper is still scheduled for Pentecost, which is May 31st. I’m thinking that we will be open by then.

LORD’S SUPPER

Until we are back to regular worship schedule (more above), we are foregoing the Lord’s Supper.  If you desire the sacrament in the meantime, private confession and the sacrament are available by talking with pastor.

BEEF ON WECK … May 23rd … save the date! 

In order to accommodate our new normal, we are setting up the Spring Beef on Weck as a DRIVE THRU.  This means that people will arrive in their cars, place their order and pay all while remaining in their cars.  Their order will be packed up and brought out to them.  Our workers will wear masks and social distancing will be applied in all possible situations. If you would like to help please contact Mindy (489-4972) or Ellen (201-0756).

RUMMAGE SALE … June 27th

We are now accepting donations for the Rummage Sale; they can be dropped off in the Multipurpose Room.  If you would like to help with this event please contact Miss Kelly at 334-4130