Virtual Bulletin – 3/13

March 13th, 2022 – 2nd Sunday in Lent

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  March 14th – March 20th

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

Tuesday .………………..         7:00PM            Joint Council & Elders

Wednesday…………….           2:30 PM           Confirmation

Thursday……………….          St. Patrick, Missionary

                                                 10:00 AM        Bible Study

Saturday………………..          St. Joseph, Guardian of Jesus

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

                                                  11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMORATIONS

The St. Patrick that most of us know is the one of Green Beer and an excuse to drink it. And I’m not knocking an excuse to drink a good beer. But, Patrick deserves more than that, because his actual story is as deeply Christian as you can get. Patrick was the son of a British Christian family in the late Roman Empire. Like the Arthurian legends Roman Christian Britain was opposed by the Celtic Irish Pagan.  Patrick was enslaved by a raiding party and for 6 years sent to herd pigs in Ireland. He eventually escaped, returned home and found his way into the priesthood. Patrick then set about returning the island of his captivity to set its residents free from their slavery to idolatry. One of the strongest prayers of the church that we occasionally pray together I’ve always thought was, “bring all transgressors and those blinded and bound in the devil’s kingdom to know Jesus Christ…that the number of Christian might be increased.”  It is a literal praying for our enemies.  Bring these people who are probably against us to faith where I must accept them as my brother.  Patrick didn’t just pray that, he lived it.  The people who enslaved him, he determined to set free, and did.  The saints are staggering.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

The Introit (Entrance) Psalm this week comes mostly from Psalm 74.  In our worship service it cuts off at an interesting and troubling place.  In the midst of the start of our worship the last line is “the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary.”  The second week of Lent moves a little deeper into the season’s themes.  If the first week was about temptation and testing, the second week is about confronting the crisis of the Gospel.  The sanctuary has been destroyed.  The specific example that the psalm is contemplating would be the destruction of Solomon’s Temple and David’s City Jerusalem.  But the larger sanctuary would be all of creation.  God made it all “very good.” And the enemy destroyed that goodness in sin.  The greatest thing he destroyed was us.  All of us were born blinded and bound in the Devil’s Kingdom.  I’d encourage taking the bible out and reading the entirety of Psalm 74.  It is a lament both for what we – the natural foes of God – do to this sanctuary.  It is also a cry for remembrance.  God, remember who you are.  Remember the people you have claimed and made promises to, and remember your might from of old that fixed the boundaries of the earth. 

The Gospel is God’s response. God gave us the incarnate Sanctuary of his Son Jesus.  Yes, we tried to destroy that one too, but the Father would not let it. In his might he recalled Jesus from the grave.  Likewise He will recall everyone.  There will be a new Heavens and a New Earth.  A New Jerusalem with Christ as its Temple, a temple made with living stones built on Christ. And already today God has erected a new sanctuary.  One enters this sanctuary through baptism which frees us from Satan’s bondage.  In this sanctuary we hear of God’s gifts for us and how he does remember us. “The downtrodden do not turn back in shame, the poor and needy praise his name (Psalm 74:21)” because in this sanctuary they are given victory over that old enemy who will not prevail against it. 

And yet that Gospel is a crisis. Because you do not earn it.  It is given by grace; it is received by faith.  We sinners who have destroyed every other sanctuary are completely dependent upon the steadfast love of God remembering not our sins but his promises. Promises like what even the prophet of doom Jeremiah says, “Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the LORD your God, and the LORD will relent of the disaster that he has promised. (Jeremiah 26:13).”  God surely does this, but have we received it.  Do we find ourselves in our baptism?  Do we like St. Patrick’s great hymn, “bind ourselves today to the strong name of the Trinity (LSB 604).”  Or are we destroying our own sanctuary that God has swept clean?  It is a crisis because we must walk a road.  We walk “according to the example we have in the apostles and saints (Philippians 3:17)”.  Or we walk as “enemies of the cross of Christ (3:18).” Choose your path wisely, only one has a sanctuary built by God.

POTLUCK/ELDER’s MISSION PRESENTATION

Join us for the Potluck immediately after service

BEEF on WECK

Spring Beef on Weck is going to be on Saturday, April 2nd.  There will be a couple of workdays prior.  Please put it on your calendar, consider helping, and picking up a meal.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story” – The Birth and Sacrifice of Isaac
  • Confirmation: Creed, Article 3, Part 3
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  March 21st, 6PM, Zoom
  • Sunday Morning: Going to continue with the Psalms for a Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: The Lord’s Prayer starts this week.  Look in your inbox

RHAFT CHALLENGE FOR LENT

During the season of Lent, which starts Wednesday, we have taken upon ourselves that 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 six weeks of Lent.  (Of course, any donations are welcomed at any time, but this method helps us give a variety of items to RHAFT.)  There are many who are “in need” in our community, and this is an opportunity for us to help them.  We THANK YOU for your past generosity in giving, and we pray that you will accept our challenge to help once again!

Virtual Bulletin – 3/6

March 6th, 2022 – 1st Sunday in Lent

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  March 7th – March 13th

Monday…………………          Perpetua & Felicitas, Martyrs

                                                 6:00PM             LAF (Zoom)

Tuesday .………………..         Pastor’s Circuit Meeting (@ St. Mark’s 9AM -1 PM)

Wednesday…………….           2:30 PM           Confirmation

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

Saturday………………..          10:00 AM        Women’s Group

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

                                                  11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMORATIONS

Perpetua & Felicitas come to the church from the early (203 AD) persecutions. Those persecutions were an on and off thing, but when they were on, they didn’t care who they captured. Perpetua was a patrician and Felicitas was her slave/servant. Both of them were recent converts and both recent mothers. It is one of the rare stories that comes to us not just from books of the martyrs, but a first person account written by Perpetua while in prison leading up to their execution. Tertullian, a 3rd century church father, edited it slightly and published widely. A 19th century translation (i.e. wordy) is here: https://ccel.org/ccel/tertullian/perpetua_felicitas/anf03.vi.vi.i.html . Plough Quarterly has a more modern rendering: https://www.plough.com/en/topics/faith/witness/perpetua . It didn’t take long before a church was erected over their grave site. And they have remained on the list of martyrs for 1800 years. We might ask why these stories were collected and remembered. The simple answer is their witness. Here were two women with everything the world of the time might offer, but neither noble father nor nursing child was worth denying Christ. Likewise in life they were Lady and Slave, but in Christ they shared peace and martyrdom. The scorn of the world for the eternal crown.  

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

It strikes me how closely Perpetua & Felicitas embody the Epistle lesson for today (Romans 10:8-13). Paul connects the word in our mouth to that which is in our heart.  According to the story, when Perpetua’s Father attempted to get her to deny her faith to escape death – something he could arrange – her answer to him was a lesson in calling things rightly which ended with, “Neither can I call myself anything else than what I am – a Christian.” What was in her heart was also in her mouth.  And in that confession the Apostle Paul tells us is our salvation.  “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

The Apostle continues to say that “everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” One might consider being stripped, trampled by a bull and then executed to be shame.  And there would certainly be some amount of temporal shame.  The real point of the Apostle is the resurrection to eternal shame or eternal life.  But even here the story of Perpetua has a note of that lack of shame. After witnessing the barbarity and the nobility with which the two faced it, the new legionnaire assigned to kill Perpetua could not do it. He stabbed her with shaking hand and missed the important parts. The story as told includes that Perpetua steadied the soldier’s hand and guided him to finish the job.  Whose is the shame?

And finally Paul writes “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.” The other “ending” to the Perpetua and Felicitas story is how Lady and Slave were the comfort and equal of each other. This took place in the prison leading up to the martyrdom, but also in the arena. After their trampling it is recorded that they picked each other up and shared “the kiss of peace” as the soldiers came to deliver the final blow. That kiss of peace was a standard part of early Christianity. In this, those who were master and slave in life, recognized each other as equals in Christ.  Equally at peace in calling on the name of the Lord.  “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

What we confess with our mouth is what resides in our heart.  May we have a small portion of the faith of Perpetua and Felicitas.

NOTE ON UKRAINE

If you are looking for ways to support Ukraine, the LCMS has extensive missionary contacts in the country and is helping with displaced people.  If so moved, here is a link to the story and how we might help.

The LCMS Reporter story with links for support: ‘The list changes daily’: Help for Ukraine (lcms.org)

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story”
  • Confirmation: Creed, Article 3, Part 2
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  March 7th, 6PM, Zoom
  • Sunday Morning: Going to continue with the Psalms for a Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: The Lord’s Prayer starts this week.  Look in your inbox

RHAFT CHALLENGE FOR LENT

During the season of Lent, which starts Wednesday, we have taken upon ourselves that 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 six weeks of Lent.  (Of course, any donations are welcomed at any time, but this method helps us give a variety of items to RHAFT.)  There are many who are “in need” in our community, and this is an opportunity for us to help them.  We THANK YOU for your past generosity in giving, and we pray that you will accept our challenge to help once again!

Virtual Bulletin – 2/27

February 27th, 2022 – Transfiguration Sunday

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Feb 28th – March 6th

Tuesday .………………..         Mardi Gras

Wednesday…………….           2:30 PM           Confirmation

                                                 7:00 PM          Ash Wednesday Service

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

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

                                                  11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMORATIONS – Mardi Gras & Ash Wednesday

There aren’t any formal commemorations on the church calendar this week. But there is an informal day (Mardi Gras) and a moveable Seasonal Day (Ash Wednesday). Different languages and cultures have called it different things: Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, but almost all Christian cultures have something like it. It’s the Spring equivalent to All Hollows Eve in the Fall.  A day of “cleaning the decks” before a more stringent demand. Forty (40) is one of those biblical numbers of completeness.  It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years. Moses and Elijah, the two we see on the Mount, fasted for 40 days on the Holy Mountain. Jesus was tempted for 40 days.  Goliath taunted Israel for 40 days. There are others, look them up.  It is always a time of testing and purification. The council of Nicea (325 AD), along with the Nicene Creed, established the 40 day period of Lent prior to Easter.  Sundays are always a little easter, feast days, so they are not technically part of Lent.  They are the Sundays “in Lent”. So Ash Wednesday marked the start of that 40 days, a complete time to prepare for the Great Easter. Liturgically we say good-bye to the Gloria and Alleluia today that they might erupt again on Easter.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

As I live my 50th year with fading eyesight if not quite losing vigor, I know that many reading this might chuckle at the “young guy” reflecting on Moses’ 120 years “with his eyes undimmed and his vigor unabated.” Just you wait. But the next line from our Old Testament text (Deuteronomy 34:1-12) is also one that catches me, “the people of Israel wept for Moses 30 days.” Thirty is a biblical number of starting something.  Joseph was 30 when he entered Pharaoh’s service. Thirty was the start of the Levites service in the tabernacle (Numbers 4:3). Thirty was the age that David ascended to the throne (2 Samuel 5:4). Luke has Jesus about 30 (Luke 3:23) when his active ministry starts. I would have expected a time of mourning of 40 days, a number of completion, a full time. But the number is thirty as if the end of Moses’ service is but a beginning. The days of mourning for Aaron were likewise thirty (Numbers 20:29).

It is hard in the midst of carrying the cross in this life to think in that way.  It is part of the veil that Satan has pulled over all of creation.  Our eyes of flesh see that everything tends toward nothing. We expend our strength lifelong and at the end what have we accomplished? The blessed might be surrounded by family. Fortune’s favorites might lie in state or have a grand funeral. But we are more like Moses than we think.  None of us cross into the promised land in this life.  We only see it from afar. But that Ecclesiastes type reflection isn’t quite right. Sometimes the veil gets pierced and Moses and Elijah stand on the mountain. Sometimes with fading physical eyesight we see more clearly. Or like Sampson sapped of his strength for the first time in weakness become strong. We see and feel the true vision that this life demands only 30 days because it is but a start. Our faithfulness in God’s house (Hebrews 3:2) continues because we have been given eternal life in Christ.

May we not just see the 40’s, things come to full completion, but also the 30’s, things that start anew.  May we carry within us the seed of faith which grows to eternal life.

ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICE: Wednesday, March 2nd @ 7 PM

POTLUCK/ELDER’s MISSION PRESENTATION (March 13th)

SAVE THE DATE!!!   Sign up today for our “Guinea Pig Pot-Luck” lunch immediately following service on March 13th.    Bring a dish or dessert you’ve never tried before to see everyone’s reaction! . Look for the guinea pigs on the bulletin board

BEEF on WECK

Spring Beef on Weck is going to be on Saturday, April 2nd.  There will be a couple of workdays prior.  Please put it on your calendar, consider helping, and picking up a meal.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story”
  • Confirmation: Creed, Article 3, Part 2
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  March 7th, 6PM, Zoom
  • Sunday Morning: Psalm of the Day for the Epiphany Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: I woke it up this past Tuesday, with God’s blessings will continue

RHAFT CHALLENGE FOR LENT

During the season of Lent, which starts Wednesday, we have taken upon ourselves that 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 six weeks of Lent.  (Of course, any donations are welcomed at any time, but this method helps us give a variety of items to RHAFT.)  There are many who are “in need” in our community, and this is an opportunity for us to help them.  We THANK YOU for your past generosity in giving, and we pray that you will accept our challenge to help once again!

Virtual Bulletin – 2/20

February 20th, 2022 – 7th Sunday after Epiphany

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Feb 21th – Feb 27th

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

Wednesday…………….           Polycarp, Martyr

                                                 2:30 PM           Confirmation

Thursday……………….          Matthias, Apostle

                                                 10:00 AM        Bible Study

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

                                                  11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMORATIONS

Matthias is the man on whom the lot fell to replace Judas among the twelve. That is about all we know for sure. The strongest tradition has Matthias eventually heading northeast into what we think of as former Soviet Republics: Armenia and Georgia, two of the oldest churches. He is recorded as being martyred in Colchis which is in Georgia, yet Trier Cathedral claims his bones. Since his name is presumably on a foundation stone of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:14) maybe we will know the full story one day.  Polycarp’s story is more fully known. He was a student of the Apostle John and one of the bishops and writers of the generation immediately after the Apostles. Polycarp happened to live into his late 80’s and the Roman proconsul who had scooped him up in persecutions begged him in light of his advanced age to just give his pinch of salt to Caesar. Polycarp responded, “Eighty-six years I have served Him, and He never did me any injury. How then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?” His remains were denied to the church for burial.  They kept his witness anyway.  

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

The Old Testament lesson this week (Genesis 45:3-15) depends upon understanding what came before. The story of Joseph used to be standard Sunday School material. Being Sunday School it was usually told as a moral lesson.  Don’t be a snot to your bothers and parents (Joseph’s Dreams) especially if you were dad’s favorite with a habit of snitching on them (the coat of many colors). Even if your brother is a snot, he’s still your brother (Joseph sold into slavery). Remain pure (Potiphar’s wife). Good deeds are eventually rewarded (Interpreter of Dream).  Mercy is the best path (Joseph and his brothers reunited.) You can read all of that starting in chapter 37 of Genesis. And while none of those morals are necessarily bad, if all you came away with from the story was the law, you’ve missed it.  And if all we attempted to do was scare a bunch of kids into being good, we’ve wronged them.

The fact is that Joseph is something of a jerk.  And the fact that he seems smarter or better or more blessed by God just makes that a bit worse. If you do read the last 14 chapters of Genesis – Joseph’s complete arc – even though he goes through many struggles Joseph never seems to be an attractive character. I think part of the reason has to do with 45:7, Joseph’s reconciliation of his life.  “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant…so it was not you who sent me here, but God.” We really can’t control a single thing about how others treat us or perceive us.  Joseph didn’t deserve to be sold into slavery or sent to prison.  Neither is being “the savior of the world” something he deserves because his interpretation of dreams comes from God alone. Joseph is merely the vessel of divine purpose. We can’t control what others think and do, much less can we change what God has planned.  The Will of God is done regardless of our actions.

What is up to us is how we interpret the acts of God, and how we behave to those who have wronged us.  Do we return measure for measure?  It seems like Joseph desperately wants to when he hides gold in his brother’s bags and “catches” them as thieves. Do we refuse God’s calling or deny Him His due taking all the credit for ourselves?  There is still some of that in Joseph.  “You must tell my Father of all my honor in Egypt.” Or do we acknowledge the good and gracious will of God when he “breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world and our sinful nature.”  Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery because they hated him.  Joseph’s pride is always lurking. Joseph’s “saving of the world” leads to the enslavement of his people when there comes a Pharaoh “who knew not Joseph”. It also creates most likely the first instance of “Egypt/Babylon/Rome” – the all-consuming state. The devil, the world and our sinful natures are certainly present. But through this impossibly warped reality God eventually works the Exodus which is the pattern of the greater Exodus of Christ.  God’s good and gracious will is done. Do we, like Joseph, recognize it, and treat others with the grace given us?    

POTLUCK/ELDER’s MISSION PRESENTATION (March 13th)

SAVE THE DATE!!!   Sign up today for our “Guinea Pig Pot-Luck” lunch immediately following service on March 13th.    Bring a dish or dessert you’ve never tried before to see everyone’s reaction! . Look for the guinea pigs on the bulletin board

BEEF on WECK

Spring Beef on Weck is going to be on Saturday, April 2nd.  There will be a couple of workdays prior.  Please put it on your calendar, consider helping, and picking up a meal.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story”
  • Confirmation: Creed, Article 3, Part 1
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Feb 21st, 6PM, Zoom
  • Sunday Morning: Psalm of the Day for the Epiphany Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: In hibernation

COFFEE HOUR & ALTAR FLOWERS

These are both weekly ongoing opportunities for hospitality and chances to be of service. The sign-up sheets are on the first bulletin board to be sure we aren’t over-subscribed.  Please consider.  Thanks!

RHAFT CHALLENGE FOR LENT

The season of Lent is quickly approaching, and so is another RHAFT challenge for giving to our local food pantry.  Starting next week, you will find an insert in your bulletin which lists some suggestions for items to give during each of the six weeks of Lent.  (Of course, any donations are welcomed at any time, but this method helps us give a variety of items to RHAFT.)  There are many who are “in need” in our community, and this is an opportunity for us to help them.  We THANK YOU for your past generosity in giving, and we pray that you will accept our challenge to help once again!

Virtual Bulletin – 2/13

February 13th, 2022 – 6th Sunday after Epiphany

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Feb 14th – Feb 20th

Monday.………………..           Valentine, Martyr

Tuesday.………………..          Philemon & Onesimus

Wednesday…………….           Philip Melanchthon

                                                 10:00 AM        Council Meeting

                                                 2:30 PM           Confirmation

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

Friday.…………………          Martin Luther

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

                                                  11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMORATIONS

Most commemorations are set on the day of the saint’s death.  That is the case with Luther.  That is also the case, historically from the Eastern Orthodox for Philemon, the receiver of the biblical letter from Paul with his name. Onesimus was Philemon’s run-away slave who Paul urged Philemon to receive back “as a brother.” Something similar must have happened with Melanchthon who is placed on his birthday in the same week with Luther.  We remember Luther, but the Reformation and the Lutheran Church doesn’t happen without Philip, Luther’s right hand man.  The Augsburg Confession, the prime definition of Lutheranism, is Melanchthon’s work.  And all of these in the week of St. Valentine. It is interesting how sticky some of the saint days are. Groundhog’s day (Feb 2) is the same day as the Presentation of Jesus. The original weather superstition was from Germany around a badger. The Pennsylvania Dutch didn’t have badgers, but they had groundhogs. So instead of presenting the Son, Feb 2nd , they presented the groundhog to the Sun. The original Valentine has lots of stories, but the most probable is about the martyr and a daughter of the jailor. The girl had become fond of the saint and was distressed at his martyrdom.  So, he wrote her a note of encouragement and consolation. Death is a defeated enemy. Hence the Valentine’s exchange of love notes.  

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

The laying on of hands at an ordination is an extremely old rite, and you immediately perceive its purpose. The call and task of the office, often symbolized by the stoles of those gathered, is being shared with the person being ordained.  The first part of that task is to testify to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 traces the early parts of that laying on of hands. ‘For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received…that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of who are still alive…then to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all to me.”  Want to be an apostle? Be a firsthand witness to the resurrection. Most of us have received the charge by faith through the means of those who told us.

And it is the logic of the church’s message – the resurrection – that Paul is arguing in 1 Corinthians 15:12-20. There is a natural argument. I have never see a dead person come back to life. It doesn’t happen. So, it didn’t happen to Jesus. Resurrection talk us just metaphor for some spiritual reality. Paul calls that out as truly bad thinking. “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain.” This one fact, that Jesus Christ rose from the dead according to the scriptures, is the cornerstone of the entire faith.  “If Christ is not raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” If we have believed in: Christ the great teacher, Christ the moral exemplar, Christ the symbol of our best life now, or any of those other Christ’s that are only about this life, we are fools. It is not that Christ is not most of those things.  But this life dies.  And if everything that dies stays dead, don’t fool yourself, get what you can, because tomorrow you die.

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” The dead are raised. All those apostles saw it.  And after seeing Him, their entire lives were changed. “By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me (Paul) was not in vain…Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.”  That faith was not in vain for Paul, and that faith is not in vain for you.  Your sins are forgiven.  Death is a defeated enemy.

POTLUCK/ELDER’s MISSION PRESENTATION (March 13th)

SAVE THE DATE!!!   Sign up today for our “Guinea Pig Pot-Luck” lunch immediately following service on March 13th.    Bring a dish or dessert you’ve never tried before to see everyone’s reaction! . Look for the guinea pigs on the bulletin board

BEEF on WECK

Spring Beef on Weck is going to be on Saturday, April 2nd.  There will be a couple of workdays prior.  Please put it on your calendar, consider helping, and picking up a meal.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story”
  • Confirmation: Creed, Article 2, part 3
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  I think I was told Mondays on Zoom for a bit. Feb 21st Next
  • Sunday Morning: Psalm of the Day for the Epiphany Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: In hibernation

Virtual Bulletin – 2/6

February 6th, 2022 – 5th Sunday after Epiphany

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Feb 7th – Feb 13th

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

Tuesday.………………..          Pastor’s Circuit (‘til 1:00PM)

                                                 7:00 PM           Elders

Wednesday…………….           2:30 PM           Confirmation

Thursday……………….          Silas

                                                 10:00 AM        Bible Study

Saturday………………..          Aquila, Priscilla & Apollos

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

                                                  11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMORATIONS

The commemorations this week might be called “The Fellowship of Paul”. The first place they are all mentioned is in Acts 18 in the City of Corinth.  Aquilla and Priscilla are never mentioned separately and assumed to be husband and wife. They also have the same trade as Paul, traditionally that of tentmaker. They meet up in Corinth because they apparently have been exiled from Rome in the 49-50AD expulsion of Jews by the Emperor Claudius. Silas and Timothy catch up with Paul who had gone ahead after leaving Athens. Paul’s pattern appeared to be to preach until he got invited to leave or felt that he had done all he could.  He’d leave Silas or Timothy or Titus or Aquila and Priscilla behind to organize and establish local leadership.  It is Aquila and Priscilla who run across Apollos preaching Jesus in Ephesus.  Apollos’ preaching was correct but missing something.  Luke says that “he knew only the baptism of John.”  They correct him and send him on his way.  At the same time Paul is doubling back to them finding people along the way who “had not received the Holy Spirit but knew only the baptism of John.”  The fellowship of Paul and divine coincidence that ensures the full gospel is heard. Acts 18 and the Fellowship of Paul is an incredible picture of the care of the Spirit by the entire body of Christ.  

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

I probably should just steal this for the sermon.  Given how good he delivered it, I imagine it is Pastor Barry Keurulainen’s “sugar shack”. Every preacher has that specific text and the serendipity of the Spirit that produces what feels a bit like magic, and Isaiah 6:1-8 I think is Barry’s. Ask yourself what is the heart of worship?  Take a minute to think.  What would you say?

To Pastor Keurulainen it starts with Majesty.  ‘The train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him stood the seraphim, each with six wings…calling to one another Holy, Holy, Holy.” The only attribute of God repeated three times is Holy.  Not peace, peace, peace.  Not love, love, love – that’s the Beatles. God is Holy.  The train, the seraphim and announcement, they all speak of the wholly unique and original majesty of God.  There is none like Him.  All worship begins in awe of the Majesty of the creator.

Being confronted with such majesty, the immediate response is mortality.  “Woe is me! For I am lost.  I am a man of unclean lips…and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” The second you realize where you are the reality of fear comes. Peter has the same experience in our gospel text this week after he sees the fish.  “Depart from me Lord (Luke 5:8)” Job understands after the Lord’s questioning.  The eternal majesty overwhelms the flesh and reminds us of our mortality.  Worship is always a recognition that we are not enough in ourselves but need something greater.

There are lots of things that audition for that something greater.  But be careful how you choose your Lord.  Most of them will eat you up.  It is only Yahweh who desires mercy not sacrifice.  It is only Yahweh who gave himself for us.  The Worship of Jesus is about Mercy.  “Behold, this has touched your lips, your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”  Isaiah has seen the majesty.  He has felt the mortality.  And God offers himself to Isaiah in mercy.  True worship, the worship of Spirit and truth as Jesus would say to the Samaritan woman, is the pronouncement of mercy. God has bared his Holy Arm and has redeemed you.  He has removed your sins as far as the east is from the west.

What is the last word in the heart of worship?  Mission.  After seeing the LORD’s majesty, feeling our mortality, and receiving His mercy, the same Lord asks “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah’s answer, “Here I am, send me.” The first three are completely vertical, between God and ourselves.  The heart of worship is about attending to God rightly in His majesty, our mortality and His mercy. The last word takes the love of God we have received outward to our neighbor. The heart of Worship ends by inviting others to the Majesty, Mortality, and Mercy.

POTLUCK/ELDER’s MISSION PRESENTATION (March 13th)

This is scheduled for Sunday, March 13th after service.  This is an opportunity to fellowship over some food and to learn something about a few missions and how you might be able to get involved. There is a sign-up sheet on the bulletin boards.  The potluck has theme: Guinea Pigs.  Bring a dish to pass that is a recipe you have not tried before.  We are all going to try something new.  And if it doesn’t work, that’s fine. We won’t report it to your social credit score.

BEEF on WECK

Spring Beef on Weck is going to be on Saturday, April 2nd.  There will be a couple of workdays prior.  Please put it on your calendar, consider helping, and picking up a meal.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story”
  • Confirmation: Creed, Article 2, part 2
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  I think I was told Mondays on Zoom for a bit. Feb 21st Next
  • Sunday Morning: Psalm of the Day for the Epiphany Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: In hibernation

Virtual Bulletin – 1/30

January 30th, 2022 – 4th Sunday after Epiphany

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Jan 31st – Feb 6th

Monday.………………..            6:00 PM           LAF (Zoom)

Tuesday.………………..           Circuit Visitor/VP Conference (Canandaigua)

                                                 7:00 PM           Elders (Moved to 2/8)

Wednesday…………….            Purification of Mary and Presentation of Our Lord

                                                 Circuit Visitor/VP Conference (end 11:30)

                                                 2:30 PM           Confirmation

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

Saturday………………..           Jacob (Israel)

                                                 10:00 AM         Women’s Group

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

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMORATIONS

The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of the Our Lord is often the first Sunday after Christmas reading.  It is the fulfillment of the Levitical law from Leviticus 12 – 40 days after the birth of a male child anyone associated with the birth presents themselves for ceremonial cleansing. The commemoration is on the day 40 days after Dec 25th. We might think that such a day is a dusty relic that we can hardly even intellectually understand. But think along with me.

It is common to divide the law into moral, ceremonial and civil.  The civil law is that which the state enforces. The moral law are those things that are common across cultures and that you feel guilty about breaking, largely the 10 commandments. The ceremonial law in the Old Testament is about cleanliness.  I think today we’d say it is your social credit score. And that might give you a hint. Every culture has a ceremonial law. Breaking the moral law may or may not get you punished depending upon how stringent or lax your civil law it. Right now, you can steal up to $950 in CA, and you won’t get prosecuted.  Is stealing morally wrong, yes. Civilly? Apparently not.  Disregarding the ceremonial law gets you canceled.  If the moral law is about guilt, the ceremonial law is about shame, or at least trying to make you feel it.

Jesus came to pay the penalty for our guilt. We have the forgiveness of sins, even though not a jot or title vanishes from the moral law. But more completely Jesus is our offering for any ceremonial law. All such laws are fulfilled, completed, drained of their authority, in Christ. Jesus came for sinners. Jesus also came for the tax collectors. Jesus doesn’t cancel. Nobody was beyond his fellowship. Christ has made us clean. We do not call unclean that which God has cleaned. He was presented for us.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

The Epistle Lesson this week (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13) is every wedding’s favorite choice and completely appropriate. Much of the letter is given to the discussing of the divisions in the Corinthian church.  Divisions that have repeatedly shown up in Christian life.  Yet Paul’s metaphor for the church from last week is “the body of Christ.” For the church to actively pursue divisions is akin to cutting off your own hand. But we all know how tough this actually is.  The foot really does some time want to say to the hand, “we don’t need you.”  What keeps this body connected?  What feeds this body that seems to want to cut itself up?

“I will show you a still more excellent way.” The answer is love, but even just saying that sounds treacly because what follows is not the common definition of love we hear. The first paragraph compares love to all the flashy things in the Christian life. None of these things are bad and the church rightly holds up the great saints who exhibit wisdom, knowledge, faith, and the courage of martyrdom. But it is love that binds together.  How does it do this?  “It is patient and kind, does not envy or boast….” What love looks like according to Paul is tough stuff. I’ve often thought that if you ran this definition by a modern psychologist they’d reject it as being a doormat. But that misses its basis.  “It rejoices in the truth” which is Christ himself.  “It bears all things” because we have been given the example of love in Christ who did bear all things. The world does not know this definition of love because it literally came from outside of this world.

And it remains because “love never ends”. Everything that we do to manage our way here, even faith and hope, passes away or is fulfilled.  Love continues. The love that keeps the Trinity in unity is the love that we have been invited to experience and live within. The body of Christ is literally connected to Christ by this love.  Those marriages are an icon, an image of Christ and the church.  The one flesh union is one of those dim mirrors through which we can see how God has knit us together and keeps it all alive through love.

We might right now be getting it wrong, probably are. It is love that asks us try again.  And again. We’ve got eternity.

ELDERS

Moved back a week.  Now on Feb 8th.

WOMEN’s GROUP

Meeting Saturday at 10 AM.

POTLUCK/ELDER’s MISSION PRESENTATION (March 13th)

This is scheduled for Sunday, March 13th after service.  This is an opportunity to fellowship over some food and to learn something about a few missions and how you might be able to get involved. There is a sign-up sheet on the bulletin boards.  The potluck has theme: Guinea Pigs.  Bring a dish to pass that is a recipe you have not tried before.  We are all going to try something new.  And if it doesn’t work, that’s fine. We won’t report it to your social credit score.

BEEF on WECK

Spring Beef on Weck is going to be on Saturday, April 2nd.  There will be a couple of workdays prior.  Please put it on your calendar, consider helping, and picking up a meal.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story”
  • Confirmation: Creed, Article 2, part 1
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  I think I was told Mondays on Zoom for a bit. Jan 31st next
  • Sunday Morning: Psalm of the Day for the Epiphany Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: In hibernation

Virtual Bulletin – 1/23

January 23rd, 2022 – 3rd Sunday after Epiphany

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Jan 24th – Jan 30th

Monday.………………..            Timothy

Tuesday.………………..           Conversion of Paul

Wednesday…………….            Titus

                                                 2:30 PM           Confirmation

Thursday……………….           John Chrysostom

                                                 10:00 AM         Bible Study

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

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMERATIONS

The lives of the saints from the get-go have been interesting. Paul’s conversion, the Damascus Road experience, remains the example of the dramatic reversal that the gospel can work.  Saul, the zealous persecutor of the church, turned into Paul, the Apostle who walked the Roman world with the message of Jesus, whom I persecuted.  John Chrysostom was a pastor and eventually Bishop of Constantinople c. 397 AD. He is primarily known for his preaching which can still be read profitably and clearly today.  Chrysostom means “golden tongued.” To this day on Easter Sunday in Eastern Orthodox churches the sermon read is one he preached in 400 AD.  Give it a read (http://anglicansonline.org/special/Easter/chrysostom_easter.html). The one with a golden tongue eventually picked a fight with Eudoxia the Empress over a silver statue of herself she wanted erected. She had him exiled not long after that Easter sermon.  He died in exile, but about 30 years later they brought his bones back. The body of Christ recognizes its own and tends not to forget its saints.

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

“Divide and conquer” has been a proverb going back to at least Julius Caesar who used it to describe how he conquered “all of Gaul” by dividing it into three parts. But it is less a description of a military strategy or political program than simply a statement of human nature.  The second we recognize a difference between people we can turn it into a status game or a reason for division. The common reasons for division that Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians 12 (1 Corinthians 12:12-31) are “Jews or Greeks, slaves or free.” Jews and Greeks is important specifically because salvation comes from the Jews, but everybody thinks they are special.  The Jews in biblical times used “the people” and “the nations” as the division.  The Greeks divided between “Greeks” and “Barbarians”.  Romans between “citizens” and “subjects”. China is the “middle kingdom” which puts the rest of us on the periphery.  Turning to the other division, the ancient world ran on slavery.  There was no more important division than slave or free.  If Paul were to write to us, I imagine the Jew and American line would remain, but he’d probably call out some other divisions as well.

Because what Paul is preaching is that all of our human divisions are nothing in Christ. Anything we might consider as significant or identity defining from this world has to die.  The church, Christians, share one baptism in which we receive one Spirit.  We eat one meal where we receive one Lord. We are all incorporated into One Mystical Body. If your pride stands in the way of acknowledging unity of faith with those this world might look down upon, the one with the problem is you.  In the world divide and conquer is wisdom; in the church it is heresy and not to be tolerated.

Now, looking at the current divided state of the church we might say there are significant problems.  But return to the illegitimate reasons for division.  They are personal characteristics or worldly status.  The Kingdom of God does not care about these things because it is united in the Spirit. But are there legitimate reasons for division? Back in chapters 3 through 5 Paul address these things.  Did they have theological divisions? Sure, “some followed Paul and others Apollos”.  Paul’s conclusion is that “the Day” will disclose the quality of work. Just “let each one take care how he builds upon [the one foundation of Jesus Christ].” “The Day” will surely expose the quality of Lutheran or Dominican or Wesleyan work. But in chapter 5 Paul is more emphatic, not willing to wait for the day.  “Purge the evil person from among you,” he writes.  What brings on this more explicit division? “Anyone who bears the name brother who remains unrepentant.”  It is not the sin that excludes, because repentance is immediately available and we have all fallen short.  It is the hard heart that justifies itself separate from Christ and persists in evil.

The body of Christ is something distinct in this world. It is all of those who share the one Spirit.  There are those who have rejected that one Spirit for their own way and the body is not wrong to recognize this.  It has eyes that can see.  But also, within the body the one Spirit gives a variety of gifts.  That one Spirit appoints a variety of offices.  None of these gifts or offices are for division the way the world divides. They are how God blesses his church. Instead of divide and conquer the proverb of the church might be unite and love, but that is getting to next week’s reading.

CHURCH CALENDAR/WEBSITE

I was forced into doing some long-delayed church website maintenance which included changing the method of keeping the church calendar.  It is now all on google calendar.  You can add the church calendar to your calendar list from the church webstite (www.saintmarkslutheran.org) by clicking on the +GoogleCalendar in the lower right corner.  And while I’m at it, do you know, besides the calendar, everything else that is on the church website? A recording of the lessons and the sermon is posted every Sunday.  Sometimes a hymn or two is included.  There are links to add the feed to your favorite podcast player. (I joke that the feed reaches 3-5x our in person attendence.  Now if I could only get them here.) This newsletter (in shortened form) is posted weekly, along with notes about other events.  Most of the people reading this are connected enough to never look at the website, but that site is the first thing anyone else sees about St. Mark’s. Take a look.

A COUPLE OF LONGER RANGE EVENTS

  1. Spring Beef on Weck is going to be on Saturday, April 2nd.  There will be a couple of workdays prior.  Please put it on your calendar, consider helping, and picking up a meal.
  2. The Elders would like to have a Potluck & Mission presentation following service on Sunday, March 13th.  There are several things that happen in the church. This is an opportunity to fellowship over some food and to learn something about a few missions and how you might be able to get involved.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story”
  • Confirmation: Creed, Article 1, part 3
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  I think I was told Mondays on Zoom for a bit. Jan 31st Next?
  • Sunday Morning: Psalm of the Day for the Epiphany Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: In hibernation

Virtual Bulletin – 1/16

January 16th, 2022 – 2nd Sunday after Epiphany

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Jan 18th – Jan 23rd

Monday.………………..            6:00PM             Women’s Group – Canceled

Tuesday.………………..           Confession of St. Peter

Wednesday…………….            2:30 PM           Confirmation

                                                 7:00 PM           Church Council

Thursday……………….           Sarah

                                                 10:00 AM         Bible Study

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

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMERATIONS

The confession of Peter can be found in Matthew 16:13-20/Mark 8:27-29/Luke 9:18-20. Each one of them captures it a bit differently, but Matthew is probably the fullest. What is the confession? “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” What are the effects of that confession? There are two connected things: 1) that confession is the message of the church and 2) through that confession and that church the sins of mankind are forgiven.  They are the means of the gospel.  And that is still true today.  The church confesses Jesus as the Christ, the son of God, and the forgiveness of sins is had only in His name.  

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

The Epistle Lesson this week starts a continuous reading from 1 Corinthians for the season of Epiphany. And where we pick it up in chapter twelve (1 Corinthians 12:1-11) nicely dovetails with the commemoration this week of Peter’s Confession.  Paul’s discussion of Spiritual Gifts starts with that foundation.  “No one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit, the giver of every gift, starts with the gift of confession.  And the gift of confession is also the most basic gift of discernment. If someone is minimizing Jesus, don’t bother listening.  They are not from God. The church is founded on the confession of Jesus.

But the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives are not limited to confession.  Faith expressed in confession is the first and greatest, but there are many and various gifts given to the members of the church.  And the Holy Spirit is neither democratic nor egalitarian.  “The Spirit apportions to each one individually as He wills.”  But “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Individualistic Americans may not like it, but in the church we are bound together because we need each other. If we withhold our gifts from the church, the common good is made that much poorer. If we despise the gifts of others we ourselves will be made poorer.

If you read Paul’s list of the “manifestations of the One Spirit” you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Pentecostal church is probably where we should all be at. The Corinthian context can help think about that.  They were fighting with each other over everything, but especially over worship.  Paul’s list here has the effect of saying, “hey, why don’t you let that guy who is good at preaching do that, and that gal who is quite wise offer advice, instead of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes.” Romans 12:6-8 offers a slightly different list that might be more recognizable amongst us. And there are other lists.  LAF has been studying the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 which read more like virtues.  The One Spirit gives many gifts, but they are all for the common good of His people.

Usually associated with each listing is an apostolic exhortation to “examine yourselves” or to “think with sober judgement.” On the Corinthian side that encouragement might have been taken as cool your jets a bit.  In Galatians you have the encouragement to “keep in step with the Spirit.” May we in faith soberly examine ourselves and make the common good richer.

CHURCH CALENDAR/WEBSITE

I was forced into doing some long-delayed church website maintenance which included changing the method of keeping the church calendar.  It is now all on google calendar.  You can add the church calendar to you calendar list from the church webstite (www.saintmarkslutheran.org) by clicking on the +GoogleCalendar in the lower right corner.  And while I’m at it, do you know, besides the calendar, everything else that is on the church website? A recording of the lessons and the sermon is posted every Sunday.  Sometimes a hymn or two is included.  There are links to add the feed to your favorite podcast player. (I joke that the feed reaches 3-5x our in person attendence.  Now if I could only get them here.) This newsletter (in shortened form) is posted weekly, along with notes about other events.  Most of the people reading this are connected enough to never look at the website, but that site is the first thing anyone else sees about St. Mark’s. Take a look.

A COUPLE OF LONGER RANGE EVENTS

  1. Spring Beef on Weck is going to be on Saturday, April 2nd.  There will be a couple of workdays prior.  Please put it on your calendar, consider helping, and picking up a meal.
  2. The Elders would like to have a Potluck & Mission presentation following service on Sunday, March 13th.  There are several things that happen in the church. This is an opportunity to fellowship over some food and to learn something about a few missions and how you might be able to get involved.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story”
  • Confirmation: Creed, Article 1, part 3
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  I think I was told Mondays on Zoom for a bit. Jan 31st Next?
  • Sunday Morning: Psalm of the Day for the Epiphany Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
  • Catechism Moment: In hibernation

Virtual Bulletin

January 9th, 2022 – Baptism of Our Lord

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Jan 10th – Jan 17th

Monday.………………..            The Cappadocians (Basil, Gregory & Gregory of Nyssa)

                                                 5:30PM             Church Undecorating

Monday.………………..            Pastor’s Circuit Meeting

Wednesday…………….            2:30 PM           Confirmation

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

                                                 7:00PM            LAF

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

                                                 11:00am           Bible Study

COMMEMERATIONS

The three men grouped under “The Cappadocians” (central to eastern Turkey today) were two brothers (Basil and Gregory of Nyssa) and their cousin Gregory (sometimes specified as of Nazianzus). They were born around 330 AD and worked roughly through 390 AD.  The fruits of their work are roughly what we say in the Nicene Creed.  That creed was put together in 325 at the council of Nicea but took its final form in 381 at the council of Constantinople. Gregory ended up as the Patriarch of Constantinople and through the preaching and teaching of these three the church affirmed the Nicene understanding of the Trinity contrary to the Arian heresy which subordinated Christ to a creation and not “being of one substance with the Father.”  This was no sure thing, as “the smart set” at the time including an Emperor were all Arian. It is worth mentioning that Saints such as The Cappadocians don’t just come from nowhere.  Their maternal grandfather was a martyr and their understanding as a Christian family stretches back into the churches Paul founded. God typically works through means, like a faithful family to form souls.    

PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

When the kids were younger there was a music group called Butterflyfish.  They had a couple of albums and lots of catchy songs that communicated the gospel in a childlike way.  I say childlike, not childish or simplistic or some other term, because it is not about dumbing things down.  In fact that is exactly what you can’t do. Children aren’t dumb.  They can tell better than most adults when they are being condescended to or rolled.  (The TV series “The Chosen,” something of an evangelical world sensation, interestingly has Jesus “working out” things like The Lord’s Prayer, The Beatitudes and his announcement of himself which is the gospel in a couple of weeks with a group of children before he has even started his public ministry.) Childlike is much tougher and Butterflyfish was good at it. 

One of my favorite songs from those albums was “Great and Small.” Call it childlike law and gospel.  “Deep down here inside my pocket is a little piece of paper/I take it out and read it when I’m feeling out of shaper/to keep my fears at bay/it says you are great/deep down in my other pocket there’s another piece of paper/take it out and read it when I’m getting into shaper/when I’m walking tall/it says you are small…” When you ponder creation, if you think of yourself as anything but a speck, you’ve missed something.  But when you ponder God himself, who made himself manifest in a manger, who did not refrain from sharing our humanity, that speck becomes part of the Godhead because you are part of the body of Christ sanctified in Him. Great and small.  Small in the face of the law whether that is the natural law of the universe or the revealed law of Moses. Great in the face of your creator worthy of adoption into the royal household.

Ephesians 3:1-12 was the epistle reading for Epiphany and it has for my money the best “great and small” line of the entire bible. Ephesians 3:8-12 is one long sentence.  The diagram of it takes a full page.  But it is verse 10 that staggers me. “So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (Eph. 3:10 ESV)”  The basic sentence is up in verse 8, “Grace has been given”.  But why has grace been given?  So that everyone can see (v9), everyone can have the Epiphany. What is the means of everyone seeing? The church (v10). Who is the ultimate audience of the church? When looking at the full sweep of history of the church in this world, who is God trying to show forth to?  “The rulers and authorities in the heavenly places (v10).” The powers that be. The ones God set in place at the start (v9).  The ones that we feel so small against are to look at us and receive the manifold wisdom of God. And that wisdom is that God’s plan has always been grace given.

That grace can make us feel small because what if it is withdrawn? The tower of Babel always read to me like that post flood story of “there is no way we are depending upon His grace.” Even if their project was doomed they were going to try without Him. Likewise Satan himself, at least according to Milton, was not willing to humbly accept grace. It hurt his pride. But that grace is never withdrawn and never will be. Even in the flood God preserved the family of Noah, 8 souls in all. And He has taken out deserved baptism standing in the place of sinners, while we receive His, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. “He, though heavenly high and holy, deigns to dwell with you most lowly (LSB 636).” Great and small.

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story”
  • Confirmation: Creed, Article 1, part 2
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  This Thursday (1/13), maybe?
  • Sunday Morning: We are back.
  • Catechism Moment: In hibernation