Virtual Bulletin – 12/5

December 5th, 2021 – 2nd Sunday in Advent

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

Monday………………..            Nicholas of Myra, Pastor (i.e. St. Nick)

Tuesday………………..           Ambrose of Milan

                                                 7:00pm             Elder’s Meeting

Wednesday…………….            2:30pm            Confirmation

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

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

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

LEADERSHIP ENCOURAGEMENT

As a church we are all accountable to each other before God. When we know of someone who is finding it difficult to attend services because of age or illness, or maybe even someone who has distanced himself or herself from our fellowship here at St. Mark, we congregants, as brothers and sisters in Christ, should be willing to step up and help a fellow Christian who needs encouragement. An encouraging, hand-written note or an email or a quick phone call can go a long way to give someone a spiritual boost. Maybe, as the holiday season is upon us, we might consider adding some church folks to our card list. In particular, remember to pray for folks who we have not seen in a very long time. “Praying…begging and pleading for all the saints” Ephesians 6:18

We are in the process of updating our church directory which is a rather tedious process. Be patient, it will be published in due course. However, in the meantime, if you wish to reach out to someone and are not sure of his or her current information, contact me so I can get it for you. The information that I have is reasonably accurate. 

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

John Donne in our time is best remembered as a poet, maybe for the Holy Sonnets. In his time, Donne was a preacher. His most common pulpit was St. Paul’s cross, the open air pulpit outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Although he was also often a preacher to the Royal household of Charles I. I’ve been dipping into and out of his sermons for a while now, they are great works of meditation. But I read one recently that I wanted to share some from. It was preached to King Charles in April of 1625 on Psalm 11:3, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” England was still in the middle of Reformation which would eventually lead to Charles losing his head in the English Civil War. But already the foundations seemed to be quaking.

Donne’s first words reflected on the verse and those before it, such that “until the foundations are being destroyed, the righteous should be quiet…now this should not prepare, this should not incline any man, to such indifference, as that it is all one to him,” but that “we remain awake, active and diligent, in assisting truth and resisting all approaches of error.” It was a call to faith in God and clear charitable eyes toward our neighbors. “In a word, we charge them with uncharitableness that they will so peremptorily exclude us from Heaven, for matters that do not pertain to Foundations.” Luther would call it “putting the best construction on everything.”  Not everything is truly foundational.

But his second part addressed the Christian calling when foundations are being destroyed. Donne identified four houses, and four foundations, in which God dwells: Church, State, Family, Individual Soul. If the walls of one collapse, there remain the walls of the those inside. Of course THE foundation of all is Christ, who cannot fail, but David in the Psalm was speaking of the foundations we build on that rock. And Donne identifies each: the Scriptures, the law, peace, and conscience. When these foundations are falling, what does the Christian do?

There is lots of wonderful wisdom in his treatment of each, especially in the individual soul portion where Donne sounds like Luther in reminding us that God has pardoned many greater sinners then ourselves “don’t think that he made you because he lacked someone to damn”, but this brought tears as it is the heart of the gospel. “All this then the righteous can do, though the foundations be destroyed. He can withdraw himself if the duties of the place make not his residence necessary. If he must remain, he can pray, and then he can suffer, and then he can rejoice in his sufferings, and he can witness that God is able to deliver us, and he will, but if not, we will serve no other gods. For the righteous hath forevermore this refuge, though the foundations be destroyed, all cannot be. He is safe in God, and then he is safe in his own conscience.”

The church might betray the scriptures, the state might adulterate the law, the family peace might be ripped apart, but by grace through faith in the work of Christ, we have a clean conscience before God Almighty. Rock of Ages, Cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee. And while there, pray. It is not beyond the Father’s care.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Starting a New Series – “The Bible Stories Everyone Should Know”. Come Join!
  • Confirmation: Work on memorizing the commandments and read the 9th/10thth commandment questions.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Next Year!
  • Sunday Morning: During Advent we will be looking at the OT/Gospel reading that is not the sermon text. Come Join!
  • Catechism Moment: In hibernation

RHAFT CHALLENGE ADVENT

The season of Advent is quickly approaching, and so is a RHAFT challenge for giving to our local food pantry.  You will find an insert in your bulletin which lists some suggestions for items to give during each of the four weeks of Advent.  (Of course, any donations are welcomed any week, but this method helps us give a variety of items to RHAFT.)  There are many who are “in need” in our community, especially during this time of job losses and rising prices. We thank you for your past generosity in giving, and we pray that you will accept our challenge to help once again!

Virtual Bulletin – 11/21

November 21, 2021 – Last Sunday of the Church Year

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Nov 22nd – Nov 28th

Tuesday………………..            Clement, Pastor

                                                 2:30pm            Confirmation

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

Thursday……………….           Thanksgiving

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

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMERATIONS

Clement is from what is called the first generation of Church Fathers. The Apostolic Age formally ends with the death of the Apostle John circa 100 AD, but John was the exception.  Most of the Apostles had died martyrs’ deaths by the 60s AD. They had established churches and “appointed elders (Titus 1:5) in every town.”  The three large figures immediately after were: Polycarp (who followed John), Ignatius of Antioch and Clement of Rome who followed Peter. There is one surviving accepted letter from Clement to the Church of Corinth that for a spell was read as scripture. The main subject of that letter dealt with divisions within the church over leadership. (Some things never change. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians partly about that as well (1 Cor 3).) And Like Paul, Clement urged the Corinthians to “fix their eyes on the cross of Christ.” Clement, like most of the apostles, died a martyr around 100 AD. He was first exiled from Rome and then executed by being attached to an anchor and tossed into the sea. The anchor cross is often called a St. Clement Cross.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

Jude is a short letter that probably should get more attention. It appears once in the lectionary, today, and we read a spare 5 verses. Those 5 verses capture the encouragement but neglect why the encouragement is needed. Jude 3 is the point of the letter: “I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Why is such contention necessary?  That is verse 4: “certain people have crept in unnoticed…who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny Christ.” Verses 5-16 give the examples and why this contention for the faith is important. Although saving Israel out of Egypt, that generation lacked faith to enter the promised land and so died in the wilderness.  Angels having once been given positions of immense authority were locked in chains waiting for judgment. Sodom and Gomorrah indulged unnatural desires. Yet given these examples of God’s justice to those who fell away from the truth, their actions are repeated today. “People, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme holy ones…these people blaspheme all that they don’t understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.”  Unreasoning animals instinctively know things that we by the supposed use of our reason deny. Why do we deny basic truths of creation? Because we have our own dreams. Does any of that sound familiar?

What are we to do? Contend for the faith. We have been told that this is always the case. “In the last time – the age of the church – there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions. It is these who cause divisions…but you, beloved…keep yourself in the love of God…have mercy on those who doubt, save others.” That summary of the vocation of all Christians resonates with me. First, watch yourself. James would say not many should be teachers. Paul would say “watchout for yourselves lest you fall (Gal 6:1).” Then, remaining in the love of God, extend that love to others by showing mercy.  Peter’s comment “love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8)” comes to mind. Because it was the love of Christ shown to us when we were scoffers that saved us. Likewise, we don’t know who might be snatched out of the fire by the love and mercy we show them.  What is contending the for the faith?  It surely includes arguments, that is what Jude is doing, but the greatest contention is living it. Live it yourself, and then extend mercy and love toward others. This is the example of Christ.

Lord, you are able to keep our feet from stumbling and to present us blameless before your glory.  Keep us in the faith once delivered to the saints.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Off Thanksgiving; Starting a New Series – “The Bible Stories Everyone Should Know”. Come Join!
  • Confirmation: Work on memorizing the commandments and read the 8th commandment questions.
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  December 2nd?
  • Sunday Morning: Off this weekend, last day of box collection!
  • Catechism Moment: In hibernation

THANKSGIVING EVE SERVICE: 7 PM on Wednesday

OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD

Thank you to everyone who helped this year. We still have two collection days, today after service and Monday morning.  That Sunday afternoon is usually a blitz, so if anyone is willing to help.

RHAFT CHALLENGE ADVENT

The season of Advent is quickly approaching, and so is a RHAFT challenge for giving to our local food pantry.  You will find an insert in your bulletin which lists some suggestions for items to give during each of the four weeks of Advent.  (Of course, any donations are welcomed any week, but this method helps us give a variety of items to RHAFT.)  There are many who are “in need” in our community, especially during this time of job losses and rising prices. We thank you for your past generosity in giving, and we pray that you will accept our challenge to help once again!

Virtual Bulletin – 11/14

November 14, 2021 – 25th Sunday after Pentecost

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Nov 15th – Nov 21th

Monday- Monday……              OCC Collection Week (M-F 4-7PM, S 9am – noon, S noon – 3PM)

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

Wednesday…………..               2:30pm            Confirmation

                                                 7:30pm             Church Council

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

Friday:………………….           Elizabeth of Hungary

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

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMERATIONS

Why does the Lutheran Church set aside a day to remember an 11th Century noblewoman? There are three reasons. The first is her example of Christian Charity. Before they were all merged, there were many hospitals named “St. Elizabeth’s” because of this Elizabeth, who spent the latter part of her life and her dowry building and running a hospital in Marburg and personally caring for the sick. The second is that her home in married life was the Wartburg Castle. The same Wartburg that sheltered Luther in hiding and translating the scriptures. The third is the toughest one. Elizabeth, after the tragic death of her husband, had pledged obedience to her confessor, a priest named Konrad. Konrad demanded an ascetic life and works to the point that Elizabeth died at age 24. During those 24 years she had three children, founded two hospitals and cared for untold sick often while managing the affairs of Thuringia. Elizabeth to the Lutheran is a proto-reminder of what can be lost when the freedom of the gospel is usurped. Repentance is not earned by obedience to ascetic acts handed out by priests but is itself the grace of God. Her hospital work came before Konrad. It was his usurping that brought it short.

LEADERSHIP ENCOURAGEMENT – by John Bayer

Once again we are nearing the close of another year when all kinds of pressures from the world around us begin to close in on us.  Thanksgiving dinner planning, Christmas shopping and all the holiday stress that goes along with it and, lest we forget, tax season are all just around the corner.  In our rear-view mirror though, is the final congregational meeting of 2021 signaling a general sigh of relief that that’s over, things are fine and no one nominated me for anything. Some have even learned to “peace out” rather than take that chance. 

Congregational meetings aren’t just business meetings or the ill-run staff meetings we may experience at work.  They are the people of God who have gathered, having selected biblically-qualified candidates to fill leadership roles, to think hard about the relationship between what ministry costs in time and money, and where we can use our talents and first fruits for Christ and the advancement of his ministry here at St. Mark.  We need to look long and deep at ourselves and ask, “am I giving my all to the cause of Christ here at St. Mark?”

Please be in prayer for our new leaders that they will lead in their respective positions in a manner worthy of the banner we carry.  Pray that they will execute their tasks in a manner that is above reproach and that their primary motivation is to bring honor and glory to Jesus Christ the founder and sustainer of this congregation.  Do not neglect praying for Pastor Brown as he ministers to us.

[Elder John Butterazzi; Elder Katie Stanton; Elder Abel Acuña; Elder John Bayer Recording Sec. Ellen Brown; Financial Sec. Lisa Acuña; Treasurer, Wayne Warriner]

A big thank you goes out to my son, Michael, for his service to this congregation during the past two years.  I thank God we have a pastor and a president who were faithful to our Lord and Savior by keeping our doors open during a very difficult and challenging time in our lives. 

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

To recall, Hebrews is a collection of arguments for how Christ is greater than fixtures of the Israelite religion. Christ is higher than the angels. Christ is greater than Moses. Jesus is our great High Priest. When you have a change in priesthood, you have a change in covenant. It is this change in covenant that is being emphasized. “The law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities. (Heb 10:1).”  The law demanded sacrifices. The rounds of sacrifices continued year after year, season after season. But with the coming of Christ, those sacrifices were stopped. Until the coming of Jesus, “every priest stood daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sin (Heb 10:11).” The sacrifices were but a shadow of the reality. The priest, the lamb slain, the blood on the altar, none of them removed the sin, although they were mandated. But like the law everywhere, they pointed to fulfillment. There would be a priest, a lamb, and blood more precious than that of bulls.

“When Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…for by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified (Heb 10:12,14).” The single sacrifice of Christ has done for us what the continuing sacrifices never did, made us holy. And the holy have no need of further offering for sin (Heb 10:18), we can enter into the holy places (Heb 10:19).  Those holy places are no longer a Holy of Holies with the glory of God residing, but the presence of God himself. Jesus bid us to pray “Our Father”. He gives us himself from the altar. The Holy Spirit deigns to dwell with us most lowly by the pure water. And this communion with God – Father, Son and Spirit – has always been by faith. It was promised to Abram long ago, and he believed. “And he who promised is faithful (Heb 10:23).” So, as the Day draws nears for full communion, let us hold fast to the confession of our hope, stirring each other up in love and good works. And may our faith stand in that day.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: Starting a New Series – “The Bible Stories Everyone Should Know”. Come Join!
  • Confirmation: Work on memorizing the commandments and read the 7th 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: In hibernation

WOMENS GROUP

Monday @ 6 PM, here. Packing some shoe boxes

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

RHAFT CHALLENGE ADVENT

The season of Advent is quickly approaching, and so is a RHAFT challenge for giving to our local food pantry.  You will find an insert in your bulletin which lists some suggestions for items to give during each of the four weeks of Advent.  (Of course, any donations are welcomed any week, but this method helps us give a variety of items to RHAFT.)  There are many who are “in need” in our community, especially during this time of job losses and rising prices. We thank you for your past generosity in giving, and we pray that you will accept our challenge to help once again!

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Virtual Bulletin – 10/3

October 3rd, 2021 – 19th Sunday after Pentecost

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

Monday………………..             St. Francis of Assisi

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

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

Thursday: ………………           Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, Pastor

                                                 10:00am           Bible Study

                                                 7:00pm             LAF

Saturday…………………          Abraham

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

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMERATIONS

It is worth noting Pastor Muhlenberg for a second.  Born in Germany in 1711, he was ordained in Leipzig in 1739, but took a call from a group of German speaking Pennsylvania residents in 1741.  I say Pennsylvania because the USA didn’t exist yet. I often joke that Lutheranism is invisible in America because it isn’t really part of the Anglophone world.  It is the near other to Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and High Anglicans. But Muhlenberg is contrary to that.  Lutherans were here early.  Why Henry Melchior makes the list is his 47 years of extraordinary service.  In 1748 he formed the first proto-Synod, the Pennsylvania Ministerium.  Part of the work of that Ministerium was the first American Lutheran liturgy in English.  If you compared our DS3 and that liturgy you’d see the continuity.  The vision behind this work was two-fold: the English was missionary; the liturgy was unifying. And Henry worked his entire life on both visions.  One son, John Peter, followed into the ministry and was also a General in the Revolutionary War, served as a Representative in the 1st Congress and eventually a Senator from Pennsylvania.  A statue of John Peter stands guard in the US Capitol crypt. The other son, Frederick, was the first Speaker of the House of Representatives.  The Saints are always more interesting than the Devil leads us to believe.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

What do you think about Angels?  The reputation of Angels seems to ebb and flow rather dramatically.  In some ages and circles they are awesome beings of tremendous power and dread – St. Michael casting down Satan.  In other ages and circles they are fat babies that you hope are not your guardian angel, because they don’t look like they could do much. And there have always been those who dismiss the unseen creation: angels and demons. The Epistle Reading this week (Hebrews 2:1-13) picks up in the middle of an argument about angels. Around the time of Jesus, in Jewish circles, angles were at high tide: awesome, mysterious, powerful, behind everything that God did.  The only two angels named in the bible are Gabriel and Michael.  The other names we might have heard, like Rafael, all come from extra-biblical works from this timeframe. It was the Marvel Universe of the day – stories of incredible works of angels. But the purpose of the unknown writer of Hebrews is to rightly place Jesus Christ.  Whether it is a rhetorical evangelization strategy with angel valuing Jews (likely), or a salutary reminder to Christians overvaluing angels against Jesus (less likely), the first chapter of Hebrews is a string of Biblical quotes asking the question: “To which of the angels did God say x?” with x being “you are my son” and “let all God’s angels worship him.” If you so value the angels, you should more highly value Jesus.

The argument continues that “we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard.”  Everything the angels told us, think of the angels to the shepherds, and the angels at the tomb to the Mary’s, has proven true.  This Jesus is both the Christ and the Risen One.  “And it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come.” We don’t see everything yet, but all the angels, and the demons, have been made subject to Christ.  Christ who for a time was made lower, but now “is crowned with glory and honor.”  If you trust the angels to watch over you.  If you trust the angels to pilot this world. So much more should you trust the one they give praise and honor to, Jesus.  Because it is Jesus who sanctifies, makes holy, all of us.  The awesome holiness of the angels is a reflection of the holiness of Jesus whom they serve.  And our holiness is given to us by grace through faith in his work.  “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source.”  And that source of all holiness is Jesus.

This Jesus “is not ashamed to call us brothers.” The one who is the highest is also our brother.  When he speaks, the angels move.  If the angels hang on his words, how much more should we?

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: 1 John, Darkness and Light, The Antichrist, Children of God, Love one another, good time to join!
  • Confirmation: Last week: 1st commandment.  This week: 2nd.  (And remember to memorize the NT books.)
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  October 7th, Fruits of the Spirit
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, Walking through the Gospel of Mark
  • Catechism Moment: I’m going to stop making promises.  I do intend to get back to this.

UPCOMING CONGREGATIONAL MEETINGS

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

Virtual Bulletin – 9/26

September 26th, 2021 – 18th Sunday after Pentecost

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Sept 27th – Oct 3rd

Wednesday…………..               St. Michael and All Angels

                                                 5:30pm             Confirmation

Thursday: ………………           Jerome, Translator

                                                 10:00am           Bible Study

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

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES NOTE

Our Service Book in the front under “The Church Year” has a three-fold division: Sunday’s and Seasons, Feast and Festivals and Commemorations.  The Sundays and Seasons are big things like Lent or Epiphany, things we change the altar colors for.  The Feast and Festivals are the major events of the life of Christ and the “saint days” of the apostles or other major early figures plus Reformation Day.  The commemorations are people and events of later years that the Synod at large thought deserve notice.  The Augsburg Confession (AC 22) states “Our Churches teach that the history of saints may be set before us so that we may follow the example of their faith and good works.”  Individual parishes might add their own commemorations of a local “saint” who is set before us.  You might have noticed a week or two ago I added “Holy Cross Day” in the list.  Above you see St. Michael and All Angels and Jerome.  St. Michael is a Feast Day, although not one we observe on the nearest Sunday.  Jerome was the translator of Scripture into Latin – the bible of Western Church from his work until the Reformation.  As these days roll through, I’m going to start noting them in Upcoming Activities and occasionally comment on them.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

What is the most common religious practice or instinct? Come up with an answer before reading on….Ok, you probably came up with prayer.  At least that would be my answer.  I can’t think of a religious tradition that doesn’t have some form of prayer.  Now there are wildly different types of prayer, from simple petitions (I need this God) to what we call mediation, a vacating of our mind in search of the divine will.  Paul’s four-fold request in 1 Timothy 2 still covers the general Christian use: supplications (requests for ourselves), prayers (talking things out with God), intercessions (requests for others), and thanksgiving (returning praise to God for his providence).  But all of this prayer can often run into a mental or even doctrinal roadblock. Doesn’t God know all this stuff already?  Can my prayers really influence the Almighty God?  Are the prayers of someone “more worthy” more likely to be heard?  That seems to be what James implies this week. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16).”  All of those questions can silence our prayers. Let me offer a quick answer to those in case your prayers have been blocked.

“Doesn’t God know all this already?” Yes.  But get out your bibles and turn to Matthew 6:8-13.  Jesus tells us The Father knows, and then immediately says “pray this way” giving us the Lord’s Prayer.  The Father knows and he wants us to know.  He wants us to know both that He does provide and that He listens.  Jesus’ “pray this way” is about how we talk.  Prayer is not a magical incantation that seeks to move God.  It is not about exactly the right sequence of words.  The Kingdom of God certain comes without our prayer.  But in our prayers we pray that the Kingdom will come to us also.  Our prayers are about moving our hearts within the kingdom.

What about the effectiveness of prayer?  Does God actually change?  Whole books have been written on this arguing both sides.  But this is the difference between the God of the Philosophers and The Revealed God.  The Revealed God does respond.  James says to the sick, “call the elders and let them pray over him…and the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick (James 5:15).”  The God revealed in Jesus desires prayer to be effective.  And whatever logical problems that causes with the philosophers, you can take those up with God in prayer also. God listens to his own.

But what about the tough question?  Are some prayers heard more than others?  Who is the righteous person of James 5:16? Read the full verse.  “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person has great power.” The righteous person is the forgiven person.  The righteous person in the one who believes that Jesus has taken away our sin and the sin of our brothers and sisters.  The righteous person is the one who forgives.  The Lutheran teaching on saints is not that they are closer to God and so can get us the good stuff.  The Lutheran teaching on saints is that they are our examples.  They believed and it was credited to them as righteousness. Their prayers were heard in Christ.  Likewise in faith our prayers are heard in Christ.  We are all the communion of saints, those made righteous by the blood of Jesus.  So ask boldly, ask in faith, knowing that the Lord provides everything his people need.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: 1 John, Darkness and Light, The Antichrist, Children of God, Love one another, good time to join!
  • Confirmation:  Back to Work!
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  October 7th, Fruits of the Spirit
  • Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, Walking through the Gospel of Mark
  • Catechism Moment: I apologize for this.  When I run out of time this is the last thing added and the first skipped. I will get back to it this week.

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.