Devotion

Biblical Text: Luke 1:26-38

In the Lutheran tradition the saints are example for us of living the Christian life. This sermon asks the question: what is Mary’s witness for us? And the answer this sermon meditates on is Mary’s example for us of Devotion. Mary was devoted to her son. Mary wish us to be devoted to her son. That is clearly the biblical Mary. That also appears to me to be the Mary of the various apparitions and religious experience. Mary wishes us, whatever our station, to be devoted from our heart to her son. As the body of Christ in this world, if not as fully as Mary did, we carry Christ to the world. And that requires understanding devotion. And Mary is the saint that teaches us clearly.

Virtual Bulletin – 12/20

December 20th, 2020 – Advent 4

WORSHIP & Bible Study

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

This week’s service Bulletin/Worship Link Here

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

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

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

Devotion & Prayer Thought

It is a fancy word – covenant – that isn’t used much anymore.  We tend to use contract. Contracts are more easily broken. They are just contained within the four corners of the page.  A covenant, at least the old ones, were signed in blood. An English covenant may not have been signed with blood, but it came with a seal. The honor of the house signet stood behind it.

In the Old Testament there are technically four covenants. There is the covenant with Abraham where God promises him a land and descendants as numerous as the stars. There is the covenant of Sinai where God tells Israel keep these commandments and you will live.  Which of course Israel broke almost immediately making a Golden Calf. There is a covenant with Noah. That one reflects a bit of both. God promises he won’t flood mankind again. The seasons will continue in their course until the end.  But God also grants mankind meat in exchange for ethical slaughter of the animals. And the fourth covenant is the one with David.  “Your throne shall be established forever.”  The distinction that runs through all of them is if the covenant is one sided, God promises to do something, or if it is reciprocal, God will do something if Israel does something.  Abraham, David and the first part of Noah are pure promise of God.  Moses and the second part of Noah are conditional.

And why this is important is because when God creates a covenant, he keeps it.  The world has never again been flooded wiping out everything.  The seasons have continued beyond our human historical record.  God brought Israel, the descendants of Abraham, out of Egypt and gave them a land.  This was a miraculous fulfillment, although we would not hold it to be the final fulfillment.  As Hebrews says, “they saw the fulfilment from a distance. They desired a city whose builder was God. They desired a better country, a heavenly one.  So God prepared for them a city.” And long after the Davidic dynasty was a historical curiosity, God put an heir of David on the eternal throne – the one at the right hand of the Father.  “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me.”  And He sealed these covenants with His blood.

We are heirs of these covenants.  We have the advantage of having seen more of them fulfilled in Jesus.  The “mysteries that were kept secret for long ages have been revealed to all nations.”  But we are also like Abraham, longing for their final great fulfillment.  The mysteries have been revealed “to bring about the obedience of faith.”  God has given us his promise.  Unlike in the past where the questions might have been what kind of God is this and who his covenants are for, today those are answered in Christ.  He is love; they are for you and for your children.  The only question is do we receive them?  Do we say “Let it be to me, according to your word?”

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Dec 21st – Dec 27th

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…   NO Preschool

Wed……………………..   NO Confirmation (2 Week School Vacation)

Thursday: ……………….  NO Bible Study

                                            6:50pm    Special Christmas Eve Prelude

                                            7:00pm    Christmas Eve Service

Friday: …………………  9:00am    Christmas Morning Service

Sunday: …………………. 10:00am    Worship

                                           11:00am    Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Off for two weeks.
  • Confirmation:  Off for two weeks for school vacation.  Pick up with confession after.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Resuming January 13th (studying patience). See you on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, in the sanctuary and on the zoom line.
  • Catechism Moment: Watch your inbox.  The Sacrament of the Altar – part 3.

RHAFT delivery update:  We delivered 67 bags to RHAFT over the past six weeks! Thank you, members of St. Mark, for your generosity and willingness to help those less fortunate.

Binding the Broken Hearted

Biblical Text: Isaiah 61:1-11

The text from Isaiah is one of promise, the anointed one (i.e. the messiah, the royal child) is also the sent one (the suffering servant). The anointed one is sent with one purpose, “to proclaim good news to the poor”. What that means is then accomplished through the purposes of his sending. This sermon walks through that promise. That is the good news which deserves the longest time which answers how Christ binds the broken hearted.

But promises always rest on something. You get the promise from Whimpy and you know you will never see that dime tomorrow. The promises of the messiah rest upon the Character of God who “loves justice…and has made an everlasting covenant.” And attached to this promise and the reassertion of the character of God are a couple of proof points. Israel shall be known by the nations and Israel shall be known as blessed of God. We spend a bit thinking about the promises to physical Israel, and also spiritual Israel, and how these are proofs for us today.

The final bit of the text is the reply of Israel – praise and exaltation.

A Voice Says “Cry!” What Shall I Cry?

Biblical Text: Isaiah 40:1-11

This is the call of 2nd Isaiah – a much better call than the first one. It is completely absorbed into the New Testament story in John the Baptist, but treating it as good news in its own right brings out a different emphasis. That is what this sermon does. Instead of a people already experiencing the inbreaking of the Kingdom, in its own context it is addressed to those who might rightly be despairing. The LORD has always claimed two things: 1) His love for his people is steadfast and 2) He is the only God of all the nations. Sitting in exile, neither of those seem right. But God tells his prophet to “Cry”. And the message is Good News.

It might be pride, it might just be the poorness of my file in general, but after delivering this one, it immediately feels like one for the portfolio.

Please Look, We Are Your People

Biblical Text: Isaiah 64:1-9

It is the first Sunday in Advent, and when I was planning my preaching for the season I looked and saw three texts from Isaiah in a row, and I felt the need to preach a little on the Old Testament. The sermon elaborates a little bit, but this text is from “third Isaiah”. For someone like me who sees no reason to reject the received tradition – that Isaiah the prophet saw foresaw – third Isaiah is simply the portion of Isaiah addressed to those who have returned from exile, what we would call the intertestamental period. And this particular text is one that resonates deeply.

Oh that the Lord would come down. It is Isaiah working out his desire for signs and wonders that would rescue his people. And debating with God, and with himself, if that is possible. Which of course it is, but first the Lord must come down in grace. The power teaches us to fear, but if we are wise we know to fear. It is the grace which moves to abiding love.

Virtual Bulletin – 11/29

November 29nd, 2020 – Advent 1

WORSHIP & Bible Study

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

This week’s service Bulletin/Worship Link Here

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

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

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

Devotion & Prayer Thought

Advent this year is going to be a little different.  We won’t be having the children’s program.  Instead, since Advent has all the best hymns, and we can’t typically get them all in, Advent 4 is going to be a special Advent Carols service.  The Old Testament lessons are all from Isaiah this year which I’m going to take as the sermon texts.  Which leaves the Gospel texts for this space.

Advent 1’s gospel text is always Palm Sunday.  Sorry for the physics analogy, but the themes of advent are like a quantum superposition waiting to be resolved.  The King has both come and not yet come.  The people of God have both seen the fulfillment of his coming and still wait with eager expectation.  We have seen the King come humbly riding on a donkey surround by people shouting hosanna.  We have not yet seen the King come in power riding the clouds with saints and angels crying out.  As Zechariah says he will have righteousness and salvation.  We have received his righteousness through faith.  We await his salvation when death will be no more.

The people of God – Israel – has always been a people of Hope.  He told them to go find the colt, and they went, and found it just as he said. They hailed the coming Kingdom of our father David, not knowing exactly what that meant, but hoping.  We are still a people of Hope.  He desired us to go and find His lost sheep, and the church has gone, and found them just as he said.  We hope for the coming Kingdom, not knowing exactly that means, but knowing that it is centered on Jesus – the one who comes in the name of the Lord, hosanna.  So much happens in this life that we don’t control or even understand.  We ride into this life humbly, and we are taken out as Luther said as beggars. Yet what Advent places before us in our weakness, is the strength of the promises of God.  Our Hope was never in the might of an earthly king, nor in an earthly temple with earthly priests to make sacrifice.  Our Hope was always in this one, rejected by the earthly Jerusalem but enthroned in the middle of the heavenly Jerusalem; convicted by priests of the old temple, yet made the cornerstone of the new, the great high priest.  Our Hope rests in his coming righteousness and salvation.  On the day when the true city comes down with mighty stride.  On that day when we can observe and see, and the superposition of hope is resolved in the fulfillment of all the ages.  May we see that day with Hosanna’s on our lips.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Nov 30th – Dec 6th

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…   9:00am   Preschool

Tuesday: ………………..  7:00pm   Board of Elder’s Meeting

Wednesday: ……………  9:00am Confirmation

                                          7:00pm    LAF

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

Sunday: ………………….  10:00am   Worship

                                            11:00am  Congregational Meeting

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Will return this coming week in Ezekiel
  • Confirmation:  Return on Wed starting with the section on Baptism
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  is next meeting on Wednesday, Dec 2nd at 7 PM.  We will be on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, in the sanctuary on the zoom line.
  • Catechism Moment: Will return this week on the Sacrament of the Altar. Watch your inbox.

OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD Thank you to all who helped with St. Mark’s leg of the shoebox journey.  And Thank you to the congregation for putting up with the clutter for a week. We collected 1252 shoeboxes.  Slightly down from last year, but still more than two years ago.  Not bad for everything going on.  The entire region (basically Monroe County plus some) collected just under 16,000 boxes.

CHRISTMAS DECORATING:  Like most things during this year of Covid we need to rethink how to accomplish Christmas decorating at St. Mark.  After some discussion this is how we are going to attempt to safely proceed with this task …

Jerry (Gardner) and an Elf or two will bring the decorations down from the steeple room on Sunday (11/29) after service.

This year we will only be putting up the following decorations:

    1. Christmas tree in the Sanctuary, decorated of course

    2. candles on the window ledges

    3. Manger on the round table in the Narthex

We will NOT be having a decorating party or serving food.  We would like 3 teams (preferably two or three people on a team that live together or socialize together on a regular basis).  You may come in to decorate at any time during the week as long as the work is done by Saturday afternoon (12/5) so Jerry and his Elves can put the boxes etc. back in the Steeple room.  This is a first come first serve project, so if you would like to do a specific task please let Mindy know as soon as possible.  We are not using our traditional sign-up so it is necessary to contact Mindy by phone or e-mail.

CHRISTMAS POINSETTIA ORDERS:  Please contact the office if you would like a poinsettia this year.  We will have a sign-up sheet, but…taking the positive step of contacting us will be helpful.  The cost will be: $8.00

CONGREGATIONAL MTG:  December 6th/Final Vote

Pandemic Challenge for RHAFT :  Food collections for RHAFT are ongoing and in urgent need as we all struggle to weather this Pandemic.  We would like to implement a weekly collection of items like we have done during Lent in previous years.  A list has been posted on the bulletin board as well as attached to this bulletin.  If you would like to contribute to the Rush-Henrietta Food Pantry, a box is located under the round table in the narthex for non-perishable items.  Please remember that the items donated cannot be past their expiration date.

Thanksgiving 2020

This was the thanksgiving service. The 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower, I thought it worth reflecting on what the Pilgrims might be able to tell us about both good order and what we should be thankful for.

Even the Least of the Brothers

Biblical Text: Matthew 25:31-46 (Matthew 10:40-42)

This was the last Sunday in the church year, so we say good bye to reading Matthew. (Hence the fading to blue in the colors above, the color of advent.) Most of my sermons tend to be serials. They are one offs on the text of the day. And there are reasons for that, but the gospel is a story, a narrative. And sometimes you need to understand the full narrative. And that is the case with the Last Judgement. This sermon attempts to understand the picture of the last judgement with: Jesus in all his glory, All Nations and The brothers in the context of the full story.

Usually this text is used in a very law based way. Do these “works of mercy” and you’ll be with the sheep. And it isn’t a terrible message, but it isn’t the gospel. And the last judgment really does have a gospel message. And that is what this sermon attempts to proclaim.

Virtual Bulletin – 11/22

November 22nd, 2020 – Last Sunday of the Church Year

WORSHIP & Bible Study

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

This week’s service Bulletin/Worship Link Here

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

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

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

Devotion & Prayer Thought

In our Thursday bible study we haven’t read to Ezekiel 34 yet, but our Old Testament text echoes many parts of what we have read.  The larger people of Israel don’t escape the prophet’s call for repentance, but throughout the Lord’s great problem is with the leaders of his people.  Their priests practice idolatry in the Temple.  Their prophets proclaim peace, when the destruction of Jerusalem is around the corner.  The King’s counselors are out to make a buck, along with every hustler hawking magic amulets and scarves.  And the King? Absent, a non-entity.  The result is that the people themselves are lost.  But the Lord promises a remnant.

And on that day, “Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out…I will rescue them from all the places they have been scattered.”  And the greatest promise?  “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep.”  The King will no longer be absent, but will be the good shepherd.  And the actions of the good shepherd?  “Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep.”

There is definitely good in such a judgement.  It is something to look forward to. Honest scales and true justice, there is a reason the next to the last words of Revelation are “Amen, Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”  And I think the lack of that true King, the good judge, is what often drives our discontents. There is a reason why the word “justice” is popular.  But maybe it is the Lutheran in me that pauses at outright rejoicing.  Looking for the judge is looking for the law. And the law always finds some way to condemn us.  We probably focus too much on the division of the fat and the lean, and miss what comes after.  The story doesn’t end there.  That is just beginning of the Kingdom which does not end.  “I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them.”  The wounds are bound and healed.  Justice is proclaimed.  And the work of the Kingdom continues into eternal life.  The Prince is among them, no longer absent or a non-entity.  The final words of Revelation aren’t that clear and good desire for justice; they are “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all.”  May we all suffer here with Christ, that we might share in that Kingdom.  May we not tire of running the race as prey now, that then “we shall no longer be prey”.    

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

Mon. – Fri. ……….….…    NO Preschool

Monday ………………..  11:00am   O.C.C. Shoebox Collection closes

Wednesday: …………….  7:00pm   Thanksgiving Eve Service

Thursday: ………………  Thanksgiving

                                             NO Bible Study

Sunday: ………………….  10:00am   Worship

                                            11:00am   Bible Study

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: No bible study on Thanksgiving
  • Confirmation:  Thanksgiving break.  We will pick up with baptism next week
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  is next meeting on Wednesdays, Dec 2nd at 7 PM.  We will be on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, in the sanctuary on the zoom line.
  • Catechism Moment: Finished Confession and the Keys this week.  Sacrament of the Altar next

OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD as of Friday afternoon St. Mark has filled 57 shoeboxes and collected more than 700 boxes from the community to pack in cartons.  The cartons will be loaded onto a rented U-haul truck and taken to a location in Webster where they will be joined by other cartons and transferred to a semi-truck for the next leg of the journey.  Pastor Brown would appreciate assistance today (Sunday) in loading the U-haul. Thank you to all who helped with St. Mark’s leg of the journey.

CONGREGATIONAL MTG:  December 6th/Final Vote

Pandemic Challenge for RHAFT :  Food collections for RHAFT are ongoing and in urgent need as we all struggle to weather this Pandemic.  We would like to implement a weekly collection of items like we have done during Lent in previous years.  A list has been posted on the bulletin board as well as attached to this bulletin.  If you would like to contribute to the Rush-Henrietta Food Pantry, a box is located under the round table in the narthex for non-perishable items.  Please remember that the items donated cannot be past their expiration date.

Week 4 – Nov. 22:  BOXES

(cereals, granola bars, oats, boxed potatoes, macaroni and cheese mixes, pasta, crackers,  “Hamburger Helper”, stuffing mix, rice…)