The Resurrection: SO WHAT? 2. Complete Transformation!
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Here we are in the 40 days after the Resurrection and in the second Sunday of Easter. We will hear about the experience of the Disciples seeing and experiencing the resurrected Lord and then Thomas' wonderful and powerful confession MY LORD AND MY GOD! This is in John 20.
We will be marvelling at the importance of the truth of the Resurrection going from our heads to our hearts this Easter Season. We will ask the question SO WHAT? We will see how the Holy Spirit and the truth of the empty tomb changed the ignorant simple fishermen of Galilee in bold knowledgeable Apostles of Jesus Christ who stand up to the ruling council and who are bold to speak the truth and summarize their passion in the words "we must obey God rather than men!" We will be looking at the Apostles before the Jewish council and their response as they have healed the crippled man, gave testimony to the truth, been imprisoned and now are before the council again...
Acts 5: 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
As we look through the Acts of the Apostles this Easter Season we will ask how we LIVE as God's Chosen Covenant people as we hear in 1 Peter 2:9 "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light!" We are Easter people. We are called to hear the truth of the Resurrection and not only look at it in an intellectual way but it is by the Holy Spirit in Word and Sacrament that the truth of Christ has risen fills our hearts and changes our lives.
As kingdom people we recognize the words of Jesus as he speaks in John 20 and saying we are "blessed because we have not seen and yet believe!" I would go further and say we are also blessed because we do see the Body and Blood of Christ each week and we do see the Body of Christ not only in the Sacrament but as we gather together. It is not just an intellectual argument but an experience. Through the Holy Spirit, which is really what ACTS is referring to it should be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit. We have been given all authority and power to do what Jesus said to his disciples on the evening of Resurrection day when he breathed on them the Holy Spirit and gave them the power of the keys. John 20: 19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,[c] Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
What a tremendous gift and great responsibility. This is the So What of the Resurrection it is life changing and truly a perspective changer.
May we look in these 40 days of Easter for the ways that we see the truth of the Resurrection impact our lives.
Tomorrow we will have Chris and Barb Exel share with us on their journey as the family of the month in March. We will hear what they experienced during this month that we kept them in our prayers and before the Lord.
Congratulations to the Knickelbeins on the safe arrival of Sarah Marie on Monday April 1. There are so many wonderful blessings to be thankful for this Easter!
Love in the name of our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Christ has Risen! HE has Risen INDEED! Alleluia! Happy Resurrection Day! Happy Easter!
Today we gather after celebrating the Seder Meal on Maundy Thursday with the Stripping of the Altar and ending in silence. Then the Good Friday Tenebrae Service ending with only the Christ candle and our individual candles reminding us that Christ is in us and we are not alone. It is Friday but Sunday is coming! Now we are here! Celebrating a SONrise service starting outside and going inside at 7:45am with a Easter Breakfast at 9am and then the Resurrection CELEBRATION at 10:07am.
I can not wait to share the truth of Christ's Resurrection both with the lessons of the SONrise Service, hearing of Mary's faithful response to our Lord in John 20 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic,[b] “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. We will ask how even though we are confused by all the things the Lord has said and does we can still share the truth as Mary: "We have seen the LORD!"
During the Resurrection Celebration Service we will ponder as Peter the "IDLE TALE" that many people today experience when they observe Christianity from the outside. We will ask how we can experience and impress upon others that the truth is not an "Idle Tale" as we hear in Luke 24 nor "NONSENSE" as the NIV translates it. Luke 24: But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
But that we have over 2000 years of proof that the Resurrection has the POWER to change lives! So let us not just marvel at what happened but move forward sharing this wonderful truth.
May tomorrow be a day that we celebrate the truth that "CHRIST HAS RISEN! HE HAS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA! These are more than words. They are our battle cry! We know the power of the LOVE, HOPE, JOY and PEACE these words bring to us! We can not help but share HIM!
Love in Christ our RISEN LORD AND SAVIOR,
Today we celebrate Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday! This is the beginning of our journey through the last week of Lent or Passion/Holy Week. We are coming to the end of this Lenten journey and looking back over these 35 days, not including Sundays, we can see the Lord at work in many ways. For me the study, fasting and prayer has been a great challenge. I know some who have been doing the partial, Daniel and other fasts. My question for us all is: "What has the Lord been saying to His people?" The words that have been touching my heart are the references to confessing our sins and receiving the gift of HIS forgiveness won with the all availing sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and HIS precious Blood shed for us all!
Today we begin the service outside with palms, balloons and singing. We process into the sanctuary reminding us of the joy of Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. "Hosanna!" "Save us now!" is the cry. Then we will hear how in John 12:
12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,“Hosanna![d]”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[e]“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:
15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”[f]
16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up[g] from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.
This is a long passage of Scripture but as we end the Series on Spiritual Disciplines we are ending with two Disciplines that Richard Foster called "Corporate Disciplines." We are going to look at "Confession and Guidance." These go with "Worship and Celebration" as things we do together as a BODY or FAMILY. I think it is appropriate as we look at the New Testament lesson from Philippians 2:5-11 that we hear about Christ's attitude of service in the time we will experience in this coming week when we remember HIS state of humiliation. As St. Paul says:
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
We are called to confession as an obedient child of the Father as we humble ourselves. We recognize as Jesus did that the Will of God is the best way for us. That is why when we humble ourselves, God the Father will reveal HIS plan through the Holy Spirit and we will have his guidance on what HE is saying to us this day.
I hope that we expect to hear the Lord as Jesus and His Disciples did in John 12, when our Lord admits his heart is troubled but as He always does HE gives all things over to the Father and says: "Father, glorify your name!" Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again."
My prayer for us is that we humble ourselves, confess our sins and through God's Word, HIS Sacraments and the Body of Christ, we would accept the guidance and live lives that glorify the NAME of Jesus!
Then we will celebrate the end of our New Testament lesson:
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
May we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!
Remember the Palm Saturday family event will be at 9am today (Palm Sunday). Also join us for the UPward Basketball Closing Ceremony at the EMU Convocation Center at 4pm.
We will also have dancers during the Children's Message. It is going to be a great day!
Maundy Thursday the Seder will start at 6, there is still room if you want to join us!
Good Friday Tenebrae Service at 7 and Easter Sunday Sonrise at 7:45, Breakfast at 9 and Service of the Resurrection at 10:07! This is an amazing week of Hosanna! to Crucify HIM to HE IS RISEN!!
Love in Christ,
First let me apologize for the lack of blogging that has happened during this Lenten Season. We have been really busy and excited about studying the spiritual disciplines and christian personal relationships during this Lenten Season.
I began the Season by celebrating this "spring" which is what "Lent" means by urging fasting, prayer and study, the first three disciplines we studied. I have heard from some that during this Lenten Season they have found that doing a full fast (3 day), partial fast and Daniel fasts (21 days) have been helpful. Many have given up something in order to spend more time in prayer for the Lord's will to be done in our lives as individuals and together as our Cross and Res family. I have been enjoying the study of God's Word and Service during this time of Prayer and Fasting. We are very thankful for the successful trip to Petal Mississippi for the Tornado Relief that we did with Samaritan's Purse. I know the group had a good time of serving. We met some enthusiastic people of God and were able to grow. I am thankful to Norma for coming along and leading. Next year we are going to go to Waveland MS for spring break.
The spiritual disciplines we studied thus far: Prayer, Fasting, Study, Worship, Service, Solitude and Silence, Discernment are all leading us to grow as disciples. These are not laws which have to be obeyed because we are saved by Grace alone! But these are ways that we change our habits and patterns to grow as Children of God. We hear St. Paul's desire for us in Phil 1:6 "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus!" May we grow as we BELONG, BELIEVE AND BECOME!
This week we continue the spiritual disciplines study with "Evangelism and Celebration." Why do we put evangelism with celebration? I put these together because I believe the best evangelism is not a program approach but a personal relationship approach. "Come and See Jesus" might be the refrain which best describes the hope I have for us in reaching out. I think of John 1:43-51
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
50 Jesus said, “You believe[h] because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you,[i] you[j] will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’[k] the Son of Man.”
Can we be Philip to our family, friends and neighbors? I think we strive at Cross and Res to be submissive to our Lord in Worship and let the Holy Spirit lead. We want the PRESENCE, POWER AND PROMISE of Christ to be felt by all. We trust in Matthew 18 that Christ is present when two or more are gathered. We believe in uniting in prayer and in celebrating the true presence of Christ in the Means of Grace through HIS LIVING WORD AND HOLY SUPPER! It is our opportunity then to seek our our Nathanaels and find ways to invite and bring people. I chose the Matthew 10 passage of Jesus sending His Disciples out to underscore how we move into Evangelism by the POWER of the Holy Spirit as Covenant people who the father has chosen to name as his own, our identity, and therefore in obedience we fast, pray and study so that we may in solitude and silence meditate and discern when, how and to whom we share the celebration we experience in worship. We have referred to the people who are our Nathanaels as "People of Peace" which we hear of in Matthew 10:
10 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
We also recognize from this scripture that we operate as Kingdom people whom the King of Kings has given Authority and Power to live as evangelists, even if this is not our Ephesians 4 "office" gift.
Notice how Jesus instructs his disciples in verse 7 to proclaim "the kingdom of heaven is near" and how they are to share the gospel with words and signs: "heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons." We should, as Kingdom people live lives as evangelists.
I know that setting up evangelism committees and outreach programs causes a lot of anxiety and frustration for some. I have to confess that I have experienced this myself. We are living in a different time when packaged programs do not work and just quoting the Great Commission is received by many as LAW and Guilt. I did not chose Matthew 28:18-20 "18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” as the Gospel lesson this week for this reason. Although there is a huge amount of Gospel there, such as "ALL AUTHORITY HAS BEEN GIVEN TO CHRIST AND THROUGH HIM TO US!" HE IS WITH US ALWAYS! Yes!
Evangelism is a part of who we are and we start as witnesses to what we have heard and seen. Our experience of Celebrating the forgiveness of sins, new life in Christ, healing, joy, hope, power and PEACE are what we share in our lives in "Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth." This is our sermon lesson from Acts 1:4-8
4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
This is awesome news again because of the fact that we are expected to start at home discerning those "people of peace" in our lives and by the POWER of the Holy Spirit share with them as St. Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15 "15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." My prayer for us this Sunday is that we not fear or despise evangelism but see it as a discipline which simply means keeping a sensitive spirit to the people whom the Lord our God is calling to himself by the Holy Spirit which we believe, teach and confess as Lutheran Christians in the Third Article of the Creed: "By the Holy Spirit He calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies."
May we grow in Celebrating who we are as Covenant and Kingdom People and be as the quote in our Spiritual Discipline pamphlet shares from Donald S. Whitney's Spiritual Discipline for the Christian Life: "Evangelism is a natural outflow of the Christian life." Are we willing to discern who the Lord wants us to invite and bring to the celebration? May the Lord impress upon our hearts HIS WILL and PLEASURE.
Please check out the BIBLE on History Channel. It is too much for the children because it is so realistic, but I think adults may grow from the experience. Please join us on Wednesdays and Sundays for the Christian Personal Relationships class, it has been great. Also please pray for the UPWARDS Basketball program that we sponsor as it winds down and NEXT Sunday at 4 will have the Closing Celebration at the EMU Convocation Center. Please join Vicar Paul and all the volunteers who make this program possible! Also Next Sunday we will have our Palm Saturday Family celebration on Palm Sunday at 9 this year. Please bring your family and friends to this wonderful family event!
Holy Week and Easter Services are coming up in two weeks. Please plan to be at the Seder Meal and Stripping of the Altar on Maundy Thursday starting at 6, Tenabrae Service on Good Friday at 7 and Easter Sunday at 7:45 for Sonrise and 9 for Breakfast and 10:07 for Resurrection Celebration. (We are taking orders for Easter flowers until tomorrow.)
Love in Christ our gracious and loving Savior,
Today we conclude our journey through this short season of Epiphany. We experience the Transfiguration of our LORD on this Sunday as we hear from St. Luke's Gospel chapter 9:
28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, 31 appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)
34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.
We will conclude our 3 weeks on preparing for Lent with a call to prayer and fasting.
The Lesson we will close on is the teaching from Joel chapter 2:
12 “Even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
13 Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and have pity
and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
for the Lord your God.
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
declare a holy fast,
call a sacred assembly.
16 Gather the people,
consecrate the assembly;
bring together the elders,
gather the children,
those nursing at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room
and the bride her chamber.
17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord,
weep between the temple porch and the altar.
Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord.
Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”
18 Then the Lord will be jealous for his land
and take pity on his people.
The promise is if we repent the Lord will forgive. We are ending this season with the Transfiguration so that we celebrate the truth of our Lord turning himself inside out, preparing to go to the Cross in Jerusalem and provide the way of salvation for all people. We know that THROUGH HIM salvation is for all. Not all will receive this gift but HE DIED FOR ALL!
We talk about this being the OUT part of our three dimensional life UP, IN and OUT. We recognize that we are called to receive from our God IN CHRIST our UP relationship as sons and daughters of the KING and children of the Father. We celebrate WITH HIM in our IN relationship as we identify as children of God in the Body or Family of faith. Then we grow in Authority as we learn to reflect the author of all truth.
Today we are reflecting on the reality of our Covenant obedience to the father because of our identity and walking in Kingdom Power because of the authority we have been given as chosen heirs THROUGH CHRIST by the KING. We are called to pray for our NATION and the World. To intercede for our Leaders. We hear in Romans:13 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
We hear how important praying for these leaders are in 1 Timothy 2:1-3
2 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.
We hear about the power of repentant prayer in 2 Chronicles 7:
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
We recognize that we are to pray for our nation and for the world because the Lord desires to relent and forgive. He wants us Through Christ to be ambassador's of reconciliation. He asks us to be HIS mission strategy.
May we see the Transfiguration as a reminder of the LOVE the Father has for us. As we heard at the Baptism of our Lord we are IN Christ and can hear the words: "You are my child, whom I love, with whom I am well pleased!" We hear in Luke 9 and Mark 9 and Matthew 17 how the Father reiterates that Jesus is HIS SON chosen and loved and NOW TO BE LISTENED TO! St. Peter says that the Transfiguration event cemented his faith and gave him courage to proclaim what the Lord said and did...2 Peter 1:
16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”[a] 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
Our question, as we prepare to begin Lent this Ash Wednesday is whether we will take the time to spend in Prayer, fasting and in the Word to listen and hear what the Lord is saying. We spent Friday evening and Saturday morning in the Servant Leader Huddle asking the Lord to help us hear what HIS WILL is so that THROUGH HIM WE CAN MOVE IN HIS POWER AND BECOME WHO HE WANTS US TO BE AS INDIVIDUALS AND AS A FAMILY OF FAITH...
It was a great time and it is my hope that we will move forward TROUGH HIM AND IN HIS POWER TO DO WHAT WE ARE CALLED TO DO AT THIS TIME IN HISTORY! WITH THE LORD NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!
This Sunday we are having the LOVE Ypsi Valentine Day service at 6pm. Please plan to join us! We will also hear at the EMU site from Sarah Polk who is planning to do a mission trip to Toronto during Winter Break at the same time as we from Cross and Res will be going to build houses for Sandy Victims on the east coast (March 2-10). We have a Mission Fund so if you wish to donate to Sarah or the Church Mission Trip please prayerfully consider it. We also have one of our Elders Chad Burtless-Creps from the ALIVE! Lenawee County Site who is going to do a mission to Uganda. He is a great Dentist and will be helping in this medical mission. Again if you feel led to support these missions and would like more information please let me know.
Can't wait to begin this reflective season of LENT (Spring) to see and hear what the Lord has for us!
Love in Christ,Pastor Bryan
Today we continue in our look at the Triangle of UP, IN and OUT as we prepare for Lent starting with Ash Wednesday in 1 1/2 weeks. We are looking at the importance of the IN HIM = UP from last week: how we grow in our relationship with God in Christ through Word and Sacrament, Prayer, Fasting...etc. This is why we are preparing now as we will look more indepth at the Spiritual Disciplines during the Season of Lent.
Today we look at the relationship IN by talking about our journey WITH HIM, meaning our lives together in Christ's body. We know from Romans 12:
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[b] faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.
and 1 Corinthians 12 that we are all members of one body:
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 But eagerly desire[e] the greater gifts.
We hear in Colossians 3 that we are to live IN CHRIST:
3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity
These are the reasons we take the Spring or LENT to ponder for 40 days how much our LORD loves us and how we are now hidden WITH Christ IN God. Today we want to look, not only how St. Paul viewed unity in the body but how this desire for us to be WITH HIM=IN is prevalent throughout Scripture.
For example: Samuel assembling the people of Israel at Mizpah in 1 Samuel 7:
5 Then Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah and I will intercede with the Lord for you.” 6 When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.
In Ezra 8:
21 There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. 22 I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” 23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.
In Nehemiah 9:1-3 from last week: they had the Day of Atonement
9 On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and having dust on their heads. 2 Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the wickedness of their fathers. 3 They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the Lord their God.
In Joel 2:
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
declare a holy fast,
call a sacred assembly.
16 Gather the people,
consecrate the assembly;
bring together the elders,
gather the children,
those nursing at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room
and the bride her chamber.
In Jonah 3: 5 The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
We see that Prayer and Fasting are a time for us as the BODY of Christ HIS FAMILY, HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE to take time to ask for good, pleasing and perfect will to done among us!
Today we will look at the way Jesus amazed the worshipers in Capernaum as HE spoke with Authority and Power and the Bible says in Luke 4: 32 "They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority." and again in verse 36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!”
We are reminded by our Lord that WHEN we fast and pray in Matthew 6 we are to do it right. The sermon text today is from Isaiah 58:
58 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
We hear from the prophet Isaiah what Jesus expects from us as we prepare to spend LENT in Prayer, Fasting, in the Word etc... He want us to understand that as important as our personal relationship UP is to God we are on a journey WITH Christ IN HIS Body our family here at Cross and Resurrection and in the Church Universal. MAY we always rejoice that we are called to join together in proper times of celebration in Word and Sacrament, prayer and fasting and many other activities together.We are to celebrate as the Acts 2 church did and the Antioch Church etc... We want to celebrate the perfect unity we are called to IN Christ and WITH HIM=IN the family of God.
Please join us for the LIFE with GOD class after Lunch at the EMU site. We will also have Pizza and fun during the Super Bowl party in the afternoon.
Love in Christ,
It is the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany and even though it seems really early we are three weeks and a few days from Ash Wednesday and the start of the 40 days of LENT. Last year we asked people to spend Lent in the Scriptures. I reminded everyone it is OK to do the traditional giving up of something we really enjoy to spend that time with the Lord. Someone shared with me they gave up watching the O'Reilly Factor in order to do this. It was a good way to spend an hour that they normally spent watching Fox News. This is just one example.
We here at Cross and Resurrection, especially the leadership have been feeling the Lord wanting us to spend time in Prayer. We as good Lutheran Christians understand that it is through Word and Sacrament that we are assured of Grace, as well as forgiveness and everlasting life. We know there is value in Prayer as the Lord taught his disciples in the Word ie: "Lord's Prayer," "High Priestly Prayer," and other examples. He taught them by deed as he spent time in prayer early in the morning and late at night. We understand that it is not a means of Grace but definitely it is a means of POWER! We recognize that our God answers prayer in three ways "Yes, NO and Wait." We also note he expects us to have a personal prayer life as well as praying HIS prayer: (Matthew 6:
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.)
We also know that the Lord desires us to pray with expectation: Luke 11:
11 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
7 “Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness[e] he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
We know our Lord wants us to pray in HIS name and in unity: John 14
11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. And in JOHN 15:
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
The point of all these verses is that the Lord wants us to pray. It is not "if" but "when." Along with this HE says we will also fast.
This Lent, literally means "spring," we are asking people to look at ways they may fast, either food or something else that is important to them and they do on a daily basis, so as to use the time they will save to spend with the Lord in reading Scripture and Prayer. I must confess I have stayed away from talking about fasting since it has negative connotations for some. John Wesley is quoted as saying: "some have exalted religious fasting beyond all Scripture and reason; and others have utterly disregarded it!" We don't want to do either of these. We want to recognize that the in our relationship IN CHRIST to the Father we grow if we fast and pray, study the Word and serve! We are going to be studying the Spiritual disciplines this Lenten Season.
We recognize that the Lord expected His disciples to Fast: Matthew 6:
16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Also in Matthew 9:
14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
Martin Luther said: "It was not Christ's intention to reject or despise fasting... it was HIS intention to restore proper fasting." This is what we seek "proper fasting!" Not something legalistic or forced just a chance to give up things that take time, money and energy to make time to grow our relationship IN HIM getting to know the Father and HIS desire for us! We want to grow in our relationship UP with the Father to know who we are as HIS children and out of that identity we are obedient. We want to know the KING of KINGS better to bring our will into line with HIS WILL and walk in HIS Authority and ultimately in HIS POWER as Kingdom people.
In the next three weeks we will talk about the types of fasts in Scripture: Normal Fast: from Jesus' example in Matthew 4:2 "After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry." This means he did fast from food. He was hungry not thirsty so HE had water. One might think about food and sleep and marital relations as being given up (1 Corinthians 7:3-5, 2 Cor. 6:5) Next we see an Absolute Fast: no eating or drinking. This happened in Ezra 10:6, Ezra 9:3. We see it in Esther 4:16 for 3 days. We hear this in Paul, Saul's, conversion experience in Damascus in Acts 9:9. We hear of Absolute fasts for forty days when Moses met with God on Mt Sinai. These are super natural and I don't think anyone should do this.
Next we have Partial Fast: in Daniel 10:3 we hear of Daniel fasted for 21 days, not eating certain foods: "2 At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. 3 I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over."
This is the most desirable of the fasts for novices or those who have not fasted before. We want this to be a grace thing and to draw us closer to our LORD. We will look at the value of fasting as a group in the Scriptures. But this first week it is all about the fast that we see in our Old Testament Lesson from Nehemiah 9 which was a realization that after the people read the Scriptures and repented and worshiped and celebrated with the Feast of Booths in Nehemiah 8. They waited 2 days and celebrated the Day of Atonement and this led them to repent and fast in order to be grow closer to God. This is the reason for our desire to get right with the Lord and walk in the forgiveness and grace our Lord by the power HE bestows on us through HIS HOLY SPIRIT!
May we grow UP IN HIM as we start our journey towards the 40 days of LENT!
Tomorrow Annaliese will share about her Mission Trip to Costa Rica at 9:15 at the EMU site and we will have LIFE with GOD starting after lunch. Please join us if you want to know more about our church family. Tomorrow we will also be doing the homeless shelter at St. Luke. It will be a great day!
Love in Christ,
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today is the first miracle of Jesus and the way John summarizes the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine by saying in John 2: "11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him." It is interesting that even though we should have faith in Christ because of the truth of HIS life and ministry, death and Resurrection etc... We are drawn by the Holy Spirit to faith but "signs and wonders" or "miracles" do have a place in drawing us to the Lord. What if the disciples say Jesus clear the temple, which comes next in John's gospel before they experienced this miracle at the wedding. Would it have changed the way the disciples viewed Jesus? Would it have changed the focus of HIS ministry and the way HIS disciples perceived HIS purpose?
It sounds from the text that Jesus does this to appease HIS mother? Does this mean it was not intended? I will explain in the sermon how the Jewish wedding happens and why what Jesus said was not disrespectful or unintentional but he was saying "I will take care of it" this is why Mary tells the servants "do as he says!"
This story occurred on a Wednesday in a village that could be seen from Nazareth. It was a joy filled event and thus the wine was essential as the Rabbi says "without wine there is no joy!" It is not that they got drunk but it was a sign of celebration and joyful hospitality and Jesus rescued this bride and groom in one of the most important and supreme highlight times of their lives!
I believe the Lord did this in the unassuming place at this family event with his followers to indicate the kind of ministry we should have: one where the Lord shows up and signs & wonders are evident. Where healing and power are common. Where we trust in the Lord expectant of HIS glory and majesty to be evident in HIS TRUE and REAL PRESENCE in Word and Sacrament among HIS family!
If Jesus' followers saw him start his ministry clearing the temple they may have missed the joy that he had in this celebration. They would have thought only of Law and judgement rather than grace and family. Praise the Lord that on this LIFE Sunday we can think of the Lord as a God who begins with LOVE, MERCY, JOY AND POWER rather than judgement.
I know most people think of LIFE Sunday as a time to judge those who take life in any way but mostly in the womb. I like to focus on the Miraculous aspects of the gift of LIFE. I like to thank our Lord for the gift of ultra sounds like they now have at the Family Life Services which allows people to see the miracle of Life in the womb. It is with the advancements in science and DNA mapping that we see the truth of how our very lives are miracles!
May we join in celebrating our Lord who rescues us as he did this couple in Cana! Let us celebrate the fact that all around us the Lord is manifesting and revealing his glory so we can respond like his disciples and put our faith in him!
This Wednesday we will have the Concert of Prayer here at the Cross and Res EMU site. It includes a number of pastors and is a great time. Next week we will begin a series "IN HIM, WITH HIM, THROUGH HIM!" as we prepare for Lent! We will be concentrating on our relationships UP, IN and OUT as the family of God.
Love in Christ our Risen Lord and great Savior,
Today we celebrate the first Sunday after the Epiphany of our Lord. This means it is the Baptism of our Lord Sunday. This is the Sunday when we see Jesus beginning his ministry with his baptism in the Jordan by John. It is especially exciting to see the way God the Father and the Holy Spirit are present at the beginning of his earthly ministry. We hear God the Father rip the heavens open and declare: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased!" We see the Spirit descend like a dove and realize that the Lord Jesus is who he was proclaimed to be by the Angels outside of Bethlehem and by the Magi and be Anna and Simeon etc... We see proof of the words he said to his parents at age 12 when they found him in the temple "I would be in my Father's house."
Today we will be looking at the words of Isaiah the prophet whose name means the "Lord Saves" tells us in chapter 43 who we are as ones that have baptized with Christ (Romans 6).
43 But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give men in exchange for you,
and people in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
When we hear these powerful words of Isaiah 43:7 "everyone who is called by my name whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made!" This ties us to the events of Jesus' Baptism in the Jordan! Can you hear the words of the Father speaking to you "YOU ARE MY CHILD, WHOM I LOVE, WITH WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED!" Because of our Lord's ministry, his death, his resurrection from the tomb and his ascension to the right hand of God we can hear these words said to us! WHAT A HUGE BLESSING! Satan hates it when we know who we are and how we belong to God in Christ! Our sinful nature wants us to think we are either too bad for this to be true, or we can earn these words. These words are pure, true, love-filled, absolute GRACE! May we hear this "manifestation" or "epiphany" of the Father's LOVE this Sunday. Let us always know and trust that we are those called by HIS name, whom HE created for HIS Glory and whom HE formed and made! This is WHO WE ARE. PRAISE THE LORD!
Blessings in Christ our Savior and Lord,
Interesting in being a "member" of the Cross and Res Family?
You BELONG to God by simply trusting in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, therefore you are already part of the family. But as we move forward in our relationship as disciples of Jesus we formalize this relationship with "membership."
We BELONG, then we BELIEVE: This is a class I used to call "Life with God." It is what Lutherans Believe and what we specifically believe here. This moves us to BECOME: at the end of this class you will be a "member" and invited to lead in the area of your strongest gifts.
We are planning to have this class from 12:15-2:15 every Sunday starting on January 27th until we finish, usually 6 weeks. This is a casual environment and we will have child care.
Let me know if you can make it.
I can't wait to be able to spend time with you all!
Happy Epiphany! On Epiphany Eve we had a great time skating as a Church family and taking down the Christmas decorations. Today we celebrate a very special HOLY day! It is, with the exception of Easter, the oldest season of the church year. In Asia Minor and Egypt this season of Epiphany has been celebrated as early as the second century! According to John R. Brokhoff: "The Festival of Epiphany fell and still falls on January 6th. It was observed as a unitive festival--both the birth and baptism of Jesus were celebrated at this time. Jan 6th was chosen as Epiphany Day because it was the winter solstice, a pagan festival celebrating the birthday of the sun god. In AD 331 the solstice was moved to Dec. 25th and January 6 was then celebrated as Epiphany!" The reason I find this fascinating is because in the historic churches of the west, to which we belong, Epiphany is the visit of the Magi and then the first Sunday following this is always the Baptism of our Lord Sunday. To the western church the importance of the early church understanding that we did not need to be Jews in order to be Christians was extremely important and that is why our Old Testament lesson begins with a reminder that Jesus Christ is the LIGHT of the World as Savior of ALL Jews and Gentiles!
Isaiah 60 reminds us to do as the Magi and be overjoyed!
60 “Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
4 “Lift up your eyes and look about you:
All assemble and come to you;
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters are carried on the arm.
5 Then you will look and be radiant,
your heart will throb and swell with joy;
the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,
to you the riches of the nations will come.
6 Herds of camels will cover your land,
young camels of Midian and Ephah.
And all from Sheba will come,
bearing gold and incense
and proclaiming the praise of the Lord
It is amazing that the Isaiah saw the coming of the Magi and the gifts brought to the KING in Bethlehem:
Matthew 2: The Visit of the Magi
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east[b] and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ[c] was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’[d]”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east[e] went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
This is an amazing story. In the eastern part of the Church they immediately move to the Baptism of our Lord. They do not emphasize the Magi. I think that the western Church did a good thing by focusing on the Magi. It makes the UNITY of Christmas and Epiphany. It makes it almost the 13th Day of Christmas. It very rarely happens on a Sunday, since it is always on the 6th of January, for this reason many miss the importance of the message of the these Magi and their acceptance by the Holy Family, their seeking, overjoyed emotions and the worship of the KING. The history of Christmas Nativity Scenes have pretty much always attached the Magi to Christmas. Even though the word in Greek "paidon" for "Child" in verse 11 is not necessarily a "baby" (Brephos) as we hear in Luke 2. He may have been as old as two years since that was when they first saw the star. We understand this from Matthew 2:
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”[g]
The murder of the Innocence we remembered on December 28th. This is why the Magi journey to Bethlehem is very different in the modern Christmas story than it really was. These were seekers who studied the heavens, saw the King's planet coming out of Palestine and came to the capital Jerusalem to find the King. We don't know how many there were and since they brought three gifts we think three. So we can go through all the problems yet the point of their acceptance and their experience is a great encouragement for us.
May we continue to be overjoyed because we know the Lord and belong to HIM. May we bow down and worship him and MAY WE RESPOND TO HIS GRACE AND LOVE BY IMITATING THESE GENTILES IN THE KINGS PRESENCE "OPENING OUR TREASURES AND PRESENTING TO HIM ALL THAT WE HAVE AND ALL THAT WE ARE FOR HIS PURPOSE!
May this Epiphany truly make us OVERJOYED!
Love in Christ Jesus the LIGHT of the World,
Merry CHRISTmas! We are still in the Christmas Season. Next Sunday we will celebrate Epiphany on January 6th. Even though the world has moved on we have 12 days to remember a number of important events in Jesus' life as Emmanuel born in Bethlehem. We hear about His Circumcision and His naming on the 8th Day which is on January 1st. We just celebrated the remembrance of the Holy Innocent's on Friday and we remember the Purification sacrifice this Sunday in our Gospel Lesson as well as the Holy Families journey to Egypt etc... A lot to do in 12 days!
This Sunday we hear about 2 wonderful saints who were faithful and had been faithfully waiting for God to keep HIS promise of a MESSIAH! We meet Simeon and Anna when Joseph and Mary go to the temple to sacrifice for the birth of their firstborn son who they will, by old testament law, dedicate to the Lord...We hear the joy and peace of Christmas in the words of both Simeon and Anna:
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.
22 When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”[b]), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”[c]
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”
36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.
We will celebrate the truth of these confessions of faith as we look to the end of Colossians 3 as St. Paul is concluding his teaching on the Supremacy of Christ and the truth of the Godhead dwelling bodily in Christ and Christ dwelling in us! He is dealing with a heresy of Judaisers who are trying to tell the Gentiles (non-Jews) that they have to become Jews in order to fully and completely be Christians. St. Paul has fought St. Peter, the church in Jerusalem etc.. to keep this from becoming the truth of Christ's Church. The Gentiles are to be grafted into the Vine by being who they are and not become Jews in order to be accepted by Christ. Just as the Lord welcomed the Samaritans and others in His earthly ministry HIS Church should be a reflection of HIS Grace and MERCY! So we hear a great theological exhortation in chapter 1 and 2 of this letter to the Church in Colosse. In chapter 3, St. Paul is concluding his exhortation by telling us that since we have Christ in us we therefore cast off the earthly things and know who we are. We have been teaching this in the Covenant lessons the Father gives us our identity and therefore we are obedient because of who we are in God not in order to gain our identity! Listen to his conclusion:
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
What a wonderful conclusion! He then goes on to show some practical application for the word of Christ dwelling in us in regards to how we act as husbands and wives, in all our words and deeds. It is an amazing understanding that we are saved by grace and therefore because of we are chosen and the word of Christ dwells in us we live thankful and faithful lives.
May we let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts and the word of Christ dwell in us richly! Merry Christmas!
Love in Christ, our Emmanuel (God with US)
From our FAMILY to YOURS: “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” Tonight we celebrate the truth of the Coming of the KING in Bethlehem! We recognize the gift of our Savior born this night! We hear the words from Isaiah 9:6-7 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
This is also a time to celebrate what the Lord has done, is doing and will do! This year has brought a great amount of wonderful gifts to our Cross and Resurrection Family. As we strive to be A FAMILY FOR YOU! BELONG, BELIEVE, BECOME! We recognize that the Lord is building us to be who HE wants us to BE…
Our Church Family has many things to be thankful for on this Christmas Eve. First, the new Fellowship Hall has added a tremendous blessing to our programs! Second, the New Kitchen is a huge improvement. The sign is wonderful! New things are happening and the Lord is blessing us! We have the work by all of our GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANTS: our Elders, Church Council, Trustees, Sunday School/Confirmation teachers, Nursery Workers, 12:15 Sunday Bible Study Leaders, Prayer Teams, Healing Ministry leaders /volunteers, Soaking Prayer Team, Youth/College Ministry leaders, cleaners/kitchen volunteers, Altar Guild workers, Lectors, Acolytes, Ushers, Children Sermon presenters, Worship Team members, Greeters, AVL Volunteers, Ann Street Music Room Team, Lunch providers, ESL Teachers, Ladies Retreat Leaders, Homeless Shelter week helpers, Care givers for our sick and homebound, UPWARD Camp coaches & volunteers, Bible Study Leaders (Laura for the Women’s Study and Steve for the Men’s Breakfast), ALIVE! Lenawee County Site small group Leaders and volunteers etc… (I did not try to name everyone, lest I miss someone, although I believe I could as I pray for you all and am SO very thankful for your faithful service!) For our Staff: Vicar Paul has started the Specific Ministry Pastor program and has now, with Jet taking the admin work, thrown himself into the Family and College Ministry area. This is a huge task when you consider that the responsibilities of the job are full time (50-60 hours) plus his SMP (15-20 hrs), plus family with a new baby girl arriving in March, plus Upward etc… Johannes has gone part time working here as well as at Superior Text. He serves faithfully with our Worship Teams, AVL, Ann Street, IT, etc… We had a transition happen when Johannes went part time and Paul started SMP we brought on Jet Whiting as our Administrator. This meant we restructured and replaced my assistant Deaconess Joanne with Jet. We are so thankful for Joanne’s faithful service and are VERY thankful that she continues to serve as a faithful volunteer mentioned in the list above. We are thankful for Norma Polk as our intern with the EIIT Deaconess program. She is taking a few months off, but I hope we will see her finish the program. We are so thankful for Beth and Dave Marshall, our Family Life Ministers for their wonderful service. Thanks to Joe Kosel who is setting up the Prayer Team. We are thankful to Jim Ross and Marsha, Rosemary Fry and others who help us with healing ministry. This means so much to me as I am a thankful receiver of miraculous healing. With the Family of Christ nights on Wednesdays, we are thankful for the work that is done with the studies and the ESL class led by Carol Hart and the volunteers. Thanks so much!
The Lord has been guiding us to change things this year. We have had a good year including: 1 Confirmation, 2 weddings from C&R, (others who were students) 5 new members, 0 transfers out, and 7 baptisms. We had a full year with many additions to the family, not included in these stats. We were blessed with many new additions to our worship services and other activities! We have a new confirmation class that is large for us. The Christmas Pageant has the largest cast yet and we continue to see growth in our Sunday School Classes! We are seeing growth as a church family and we are so thankful for all the servant leaders! We will have our first Huddle for our Servant Leaders group on Feb 8th and 9th. May God richly bless us as we move forward aligning our will with HIS WILL! We have really exciting opportunities before us in the next few years!
We continue to pray for our Lord’s will in the work HE is doing at ALIVE! Our site in Lenawee County. We meet at least once a month. This changed in the summer when we went away from every Sunday services to emphasizing the desire to be a missional community: putting our time and energy into small group studies and service. We go out monthly to have a time together called MASS: Motivation, Accountability, Sacrament & Sharing. Please pray for the Lord to show us what HE wants us to do with these faithful servants who want to impact their county.
On our personal family side of things we are very thankful for the support, prayers and love we receive from our church family! We are so thankful to be serving at Cross and Resurrection. I was telling someone at Rotary that I think I was born to serve here! I have loved serving the Lord in the harvest fields as a youth pastor around Camrose, then a Vicar in Dryden, ON and my first Call in Saskatchewan and then in British Columbia! There has always been amazing faithful servants and loving people of God in these parishes. I just always wanted to be able to share my Spiritual gifts in an environment where all of us ACKNOWLEDGE THAT WE ARE COVENANT PEOPLE: (our Father has given us our identity and we are obedient because of who we are) and WE EXPECT THE KINGDOM: (we know our King has come and HE gives us HIS authority to EXPECT signs and wonders as we walk by HIS POWER!) At Cross and Res I feel completely free to exercise the “Charismata” or “manifestation gifts” of 1 Cor. 12! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING A SAFE AND FAITH FILLED FAMILY FOR US!
We also have gone through exciting and challenging experiences this year. We rejoiced as our NEW grandson JOSIAH JOSHUA BRUDI was born on my birthday, Sept 3! We had a great time at Lake Charlevoix with Bruce and then in St. Ignace after Josiah was born. We just celebrated our first grandson LEVI’s first birthday in November! What an amazing boy, I got to babysit him in Sept when I went to Alberta and BC. This was a joy filled time but also sad since I left the Bible School Board of Directors on which I had served for over 15 years! But I am helping with SEND North America in Indiana, so I am just changing to a closer opportunity to serve. I taught there this year and will in 2013. Patrick Tincher and Peter Comella are the students from Cross & Res, so we hope to have a SEND Unit here at EMU in the future.
We have had other losses this year as we lost a member of our family, Peter Campbell, in October. Laura, BEN and I were at the Pastor’s Conference on Mackinaw Island so this was a traumatic experience for everyone as Josh found him and we were away! Thank you to all who served us in this time of loss! We expect it to take this next year, as we go through all of the family events without him for us to get back to a sort of normal.
Timothy, Meagan and Levi are doing well in Golden, BC. Josh, Sarah and Josiah are going to be around for at least the next 4 years as we rejoice, that even though Josh was accepted at 3 Dental Schools as of now, he is going to go to Detroit Mercy. Sarah will still teach Music for Young Children in our house. Annaliese continues to be busy with music, home school coop and she had a great mission trip to Costa Rica. Annaliese has finished her driver’s education and in the spring she will be able to drive herself and Bethany to music lessons, Bright lights and IFire, as well as run errands. Bethany and Hannah are busy with school, community band, as well as many other activities. Hannah just started to take gymnastic classes. Charity, Trinity and Mercy are doing well, with them all having birthdays around Christmas, we are going to be doing a lot of skating and celebrating! Charity, Trinity and Jeremiah are in Music for Young Children. Charity is in Art Class and the older girls help with MOPS at St. Luke. The boys: Jeremiah and BEN are growing fast. Jeremiah and the younger girls got to go hunting with Josh, this made them very happy. BEN is crazy about any type of ball that he can throw. The girls are busy sewing and Jeremiah is enjoying lego and play mobil. It is a very busy time at Christmas. We were so proud to have all of the children from Sarah to BEN and Josiah in the Christmas Pageant yesterday. Josiah was Baby Jesus! Laura and I are so BLESSED! Thanks again for your prayers, help, support and encouragement! We truly love serving our Lord at Cross and Resurrection!
From both our Church Family and the Schindel Family to all of you: “A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A BLESSED HAPPY NEW YEAR!!”
As the Angels declared outside of Bethlehem so long ago: “Let us Celebrate the Savior of ALL and be reconciled to God!!” Luke 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
Please join us to Celebrate the 12th Day of Christmas and Epiphany Eve for a skating party at Burr Park on Packard Road in Ann Arbor, 12 noon on Saturday Jan. 5!
Love in Christ, the true reason for CHRISTmas,
Pastor Bryan, Laura and Family
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today we begin the week in our Anticipate Devotion looking at Zephaniah, whose name means "the Lord hides" or "the Lord protects" who prophesied during the 640-600 BC times. He is a contemporary of the Prophet Jeremiah and is called upon to proclaim judgement on the unfaithful people in leadership of Judah and those reigning in Jerusalem. It is important to note even though his first two chapters of prophecy are spent in condemnation he does not hear from the Lord only hopelessness. He ends his prophecy with a declaration for all of us to hear as people who belong to God in Christ Jesus and know the redemption and promise of the King who came in Bethlehem and will come again to take us home.
We hear in the lesson from Zephaniah chapter 3:
12 But I will leave within you
the meek and humble,
who trust in the name of the Lord.
13 The remnant of Israel will do no wrong;
they will speak no lies,
nor will deceit be found in their mouths.
They will eat and lie down
and no one will make them afraid.”
14 Sing, O Daughter of Zion;
shout aloud, O Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
O Daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away your punishment,
he has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm.
16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.
17 The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.”
18 “The sorrows for the appointed feasts
I will remove from you;
they are a burden and a reproach to you.[c]
19 At that time I will deal
with all who oppressed you;
I will rescue the lame
and gather those who have been scattered.
I will give them praise and honor
in every land where they were put to shame.
20 At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise
among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes[d]
before your very eyes,”
says the Lord.
May this season of Advent remind us that the way to change the society, the culture, our world and the nation is to have a change of heart. This comes because the KING came in Bethlehem and HE alone can forgive, bind up the brokenhearted and heal! HE alone can give us the vision of HIS KINGDOM! May we see not only the prophecies fulfilled in HIS Birth, Death and Resurrection but HIS promise to be REAL HOPE and bring REAL CHANGE now and in the future. Today we light the Shepherds candle, the pink one, the Candle of JOY. This HOPE in the promise knowing the incarnation of LOVE in Bethlehem leads us to be filled with JOY even in this Dark world. We like John's disciples who were sent to Jesus to ask him if he was the one, need to see and experience what our Lord is doing in order that we may know HE is still in control.
Listen to the response He gives to these seekers in Luke 7
20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’”
21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[b] are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 23 Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”
This is a list of what the MESSIAH was prophesied to do in Isaiah 29, 35 and 61. He is fulfilling scripture and prophecy. HE just wanted John to know HE does what the prophecy says. This is why we ANTICIPATE the PROPHECY!
Let us pray fervently for all the families of those who lost loved ones in CT and that the KINGDOM of God will come quickly as we pray in HIS prayer "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!"
Let us anticipate the prophecy so that no matter what we will know that the Lord is with us and the HE IS MIGHTY TO SAVE!
Love in Christ our victorious Risen Lord and Savior,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ our KING,
Today we continue our journey of Advent where we take time to contemplate the meaning of "Christ's Coming," Advent meaning "coming" and his promise to come again to judge the world.
It is very difficult as Christians to really keep the season of Advent. The world wants to move to Christmas on Black Friday, if not before. We seem to rush for Christmas and then start to take down the tree on December 26th, or the latest on the 1st of January, even though Christmas doesn't end until the 5th of January. Unfortunately, when we want to take time to prepare the way for the Lord as we are instructed in Malachi 3 and for which John the Baptist was called in Luke 3 we find that it is a dichotomy of advent to be both preparing for the final coming of Jesus and judgement while also preparing for the great joy of remembering the baby in Bethlehem.
We can spend all of Advent in great JOY of Anticipating the King in Bethlehem! Emmanuel: "God with US" and forget about the tremendous responsibility we have to remember and let others know that the Lord will return at anytime for judgement. Not wanting to be a scrooge I tend toward the JOY part. But there are some, especially this year with the Mayan calendar ending on December 21 who tend toward the fear of the return of Christ, judgement and the end of the world. Both extremes lead us to miss the beauty of both the manger in Bethlehem and the return of our Lord. Both events are a call to refining, washing and preparing!
In Malachi 3:
3 “See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.
5 “So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.
6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
Malachi is calling us to prepare for the Day of the Lord. He is telling us to prepare and that the Holy Spirit will refine us with fire as gold and silver are refined and wash us clean with alkali, a strong bleaching agent or launderer's soap. This sounds painful and yet we know the Lord disciplines those he loves. We recognize that we are preparing since our Baptism to live as a covenant people knowing the Father has given us eternal life though Christ and named us as his own therefore we are obedient to him because of who we are. Now as we look from the perspective of this side of the Cross we see the empty tomb and our Lord at the right hand of God so we know that the Kingdom of God is near and here. We are already living as kingdom people, for our King has sent His Holy Spirit to refine and purify us, giving us the authority to speak the gospel into this world and the power to live as HIS chosen people. We walk as KINGDOM people. This is what it means when the Lord says "He does not change and he will return to us." He will go on to tell us that we can test him with money and he will show us that if we believe in him for our salvation then our lives, money, possessions etc.. are nothing to worry about.
May we, during this Advent Season, both ANTICIPATE THE JOY OF LOVE THAT GOD SHOWED WITH CHRIST'S BIRTH AS "EMMANUEL" BORN IN BETHLEHEM AND CELEBRATE THE PROMISE OF HIS (THE LION OF JUDAH) RETURN TO JUDGE US.
Yours in Christ Jesus our Risen Lord and KING,
Today is the beginning of the Year of our Lord, 2013 in the Church Year Calendar. It may be the only time we get ahead of the world. So HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you think as I do "how privileged we are to be chosen to serve the Lord in His church for this time in history!" We may think it would have been easier in years passed when the culture was more open to Christianity. But if you share my personal vision: "to be a 1st Century Christian in the 21st Century" then you would also be excited to serve the Lord during this pluralistic and relativistic time in history. When we look at the culture into which St. Paul and the other Apostles were called to serve we see a lot of similarities to our time. This should allow us to have an appreciation for how to do ministry today. We have the book of Acts and the Epistles that give us a guide. We recognize that the early church helped people to understand first, that they belong to God in Christ and,as part of HIS Body, belong to the Family of God. The fact that the Lord feels we should represent his body and be his family here in the year 2012-2013 is quite a vote of confidence by our Heavenly Father. So for this reason I can honestly say I ANTICIPATE what the Lord has planned for us!
We at Cross and Resurrection are the family of God both at our EMU site and at Alive! in Lenawee County. We have the privilege of helping all those whom our Lord has called, ALL for whom our Lord died on the Cross (EVERYONE) know that because of Christ's death and resurrection we now belong to the FAMILY! We are "A FAMILY FOR YOU!" So what does this mean as we start the devotion and the Advent Season?
We starting at dinner yesterday (Saturday Dec. 1) with our ANTICIPATE! devotion. The questions in our devotion were "How do you feel about our family? How did Jesus feel about his family? Who did Jesus say was part of HIS family?" These questions led us to appreciate our family. Understand Jesus' respect for his earthly parents, his brothers and sisters and yet loving his Heavenly Father, so much that he gets left in Jerusalem when he is 12 as he is in HIS FATHER'S HOUSE. He will later say about His mother, brothers and sisters: "who is my mother, brothers and sisters" in Matthew, Mark and Luke 8:
19 Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
By actually comparing those who were following him to his real family, he acknowledges that this is HIS REAL FAMILY and that we who hear God's word and put it into practice ARE HIS FAMILY!
This helps us to understand, as we start this new year, that we have a covenant relationship with God through Christ. The Covenant means we BELONG to God our FATHER and therefore we have our IDENTITY and we trust and BELIEVE in Christ and then because of our identity and what we believe we are OBEDIENT and BECOME more like HIM.
This is why we ANTICIPATE THE PROMISES. We will use our Jesse Tree to study Jesus' family tree and understand Isaiah
11 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
We will look at God's original plan in the Garden of Genesis 1-2 then Adam and Eve with his promise to care for them. We will look at Noah and God's promise to protect (Gen 9). We will look at Abraham and Sarah with the promise of blessing in Gen 12 and 15. We will see Isaac as the promise provided in Gen 22. We will hear about Jacob (Israel) in Gen 28 as the promise affirmed and Joseph as the promise of providence in Gen 37.
We ANTICIPATE THE PROMISES FULFILLED so that we can understand the Kingdom to which we BELONG where the KING of KINGS gives us, HIS Chosen, the AUTHORITY AND THEN HIS POWER by his HOLY SPIRIT to live as HIS family.
Our text today is from Jeremiah 33
4 “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.
15 “‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
16 In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it[or he] will be called:
The Lord Our Righteousness.’
This is the WHY we anticipate not only the past and present fulfillment of the gracious promises but also the future as we live as the Family of God in 2013.
My prayer for us is that we would celebrate that the Lord is at work and has great plans for us. Today we will hear a testimonial from a young couple who is preparing to go to Egypt to work and share.
We look forward to seeing what Lord will do!
Love in Christ Jesus the fulfillment of the Promises and the promise keeper who wants us to move forward knowing that we BELONG, trust and BELIEVE in him and BECOME more like him each day,
Today we celebrate Christ the KING Sunday! The last Sunday of this church year and the time to celebrate the sovereignty of our amazing God through Christ our KING! As we come to the end of this year we think about how privileged we are to be left here as we continue to serve our KING today. We may have lost loved ones this year who are celebrating with the Lord in Heaven today. As we receive two new members into the family today through HOLY BAPTISM we are reminded how Jesus stated in Luke 15 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. I know Jesus is referring to lost sheep and lost coins but I believe when parents understand that we are all born sinful and are in need of redemption, then bring their children to be marked with the cross of Christ on their forehead and heart to make them as one REDEEMED by CHRIST THE CRUCIFIED! This is the amazing and awesome truth of who we are in the covenant God makes with us in simple water and HIS mighty Word!
I believe the sermon reading for today is very appropriate as we hear St. John, the last living apostle on the island of Patmos share a Revelation or Vision of who redeems us here in Revelation 1:4b:
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits[a] before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
7 Look, he is coming with the clouds,8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him.
So shall it be! Amen.
What an amazing sight! He is trying to put into words what he experiences with all his senses. He uses titles that are extremely loaded with meaning: "who is, and who was and who is to come, faithful witness, firstborn from the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth" I can hear the enthusiasm with which St. John is trying to relay to us his experience. Have you ever had a moment with the Lord that is just hard to put into words? I love how he continues to explain: "to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and father." St. John explains how he is in the presence of Jesus Christ our savior and LORD before the throne. St. John can only cry out "To him be glory and power for ever and ever! AMEN!" He is truly En Theos "in God!" He explains how Jesus is preparing to judge the world and all peoples.
Then we hear how JESUS describes himself:
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
For us to hear that there is nothing outside of HIS Authority, Power and KINGDOM and time when HE calls himself the Alpha and OMEGA which is the beginning and the end of the Greek Alphabet. It is all inclusive! Then he uses the words that start this introduction "Who is, Who was and Who is to Come." This is all inclusive! In the Old Testament we hear God referring to himself with language that explains him as almighty and Holy, thinking about the calling of Isaiah and the way the we hear HOLY HOLY HOLY IS the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY in similar enthusiasm to what we hear now. When God introduces himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob etc.. he helps us to understand he is eternal and faithful.
May we as God's people understand who we are in the covenant relationship with God through Christ and our identity as well as understanding that we are in the KINGDOM established by God through Christ and HIS blood which gives us HIS authority and the privilege of living in HIS POWER!
May we celebrate this CHRIST THE KING Sunday with enthusiasm and great joy as we join with all of heaven rejoicing that our LORD God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, the one who is, who was and who is to come!!
AMEN! COME LORD JESUS!
Love in Christ,
Today all of heaven rejoices as Charlotte is brought into the KINGDOM as a child who belongs to God. Through simple water and HIS mighty WORD our God puts HIS name upon her forehead and upon her heart to mark her as one redeemed by Christ the crucified and risen Lord and Savior.
Today we also have a "SALAD" sermon. We are talking today about "LET US." We are coming to the end of our study of Hebrews as the author of this letter writes the conclusion of what it means that we have Christ as our great HIGH PRIEST, great Mediator, and our once and for all sacrifice for all the sins of the whole creation: past, present and future! In this section of chapter 10 we hear what it means to have Christ's name written on our hearts, the forgiveness of our sins by the sprinkling of his blood on us for our total cleansing.
We hear this in the Lesson from Hebrews 10:
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
I always believe when we hear the word "THEREFORE" we know it is time to pay attention. Then when a hebrew writer uses a word three times in a row it tells us that this is very important. He tells us to "LET US" draw near, hold unswervingly and consider how. These are extremely important as we live out the justification won for us on the cross of calvary! We are then told in another "LET US" but this time a warning NOT to give up, but to encourage. He concludes with a reminder not to waste time since the Day of our Lord is closer each day.
May we in appreciation of our salvation by Grace through faith in the work of our Lamb of God, Christ Jesus, spur us toward love and good deeds. LET US draw, hold and consider so that we will have no time to grow apart but to work together, encourage one another and be a family of believers moving together in unity and following the will of our great God.
We are KINGDOM people and I think we need a good diet of roughage or SALAD. May we be a people who are full of LET US:)
I love the fact that we are a family who really does desire the Lord's will to be done among us.
May the Lord bless us each day as we draw near, hold unswervingly and consider how to encourage each other!
Love in Christ,
Today is Laura and my 23rd Anniversary. In Canada it is "Remembrance Day" which helped me never forget my anniversary. Here we celebrate Veterans Day. Today we are looking at the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who voluntary, freely, morally and intentionally gave himself and HIS Blood for our sins to redeem us, save us and sanctify us! We are thankful for the sacrifice of our Veterans and their willingness to put their lives on the line.
The passage we are looking at is the continuation of our journey through Hebrews. The writer of Hebrews is taking us through the long history of the Old Covenant with its rules and law.
The change from the Old Covenant to the NEW shifts in Chapter 9 as the author reminds us that the purpose of worship is to bring us into the presence of the King of Kings. We are not only ushered into the Holy of Holies but we are invited to fellowship with the God of the universe as we had in Genesis. We hear in this lesson the most important truth about the New Covenant:
11 When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here,[b] he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,[c] so that we may serve the living God!
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
16 In the case of a will,[d] it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.”[e] 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
We see that as Jesus said to the man in our Gospel lesson "you are not far from the Kingdom of God" we now know that we are being ushered into the REAL TRUE Presence of God through the blood of the NEW Covenant in Holy Communion and in the worship and fellowship we share as the Body of Christ.
It is amazing that the Lord not only cleanses us but HIS blood also gives us the power to live as HIS Children.
May we join together in celebrating the truth of Jesus' last will and testament the truth of the NEW Covenant and the invitation to rejoice in the presence of God, forgiven and free from our sins under the law and filled with the Holy Spirit to live each day as NEW Creatures and people of the KINGDOM.
Praise the Lord that He is the Great Mediator between God and US!
Today we celebrate the 495th anniversary of the posting of the 95 Theses on Church door in Wittenberg Germany by Dr. Martin Luther. (check them out at: http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/web/ninetyfive.html ) Even though we will have a Reformation celebration on this Wednesday, October 31 at 6:00pm we are celebrating this important date this Sunday. It was a strange change that happened over a simple academic exercise that was designed to inform the debate that would happen on All Hallows Day or as we call it today "All Saints Day" on November 1st when many would gather around the relics on this high feast day. The theologians would debate doctrinal issues. This was not supposed to change the world of the Holy Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church. It was because of the Gutenberg Press (1450) that allowed these statements for debate to be copied and sent out to so many.
Martin Luther was not trying to start a new church but reform the Holy catholic (universal Christian) Church. His points have to do with his understanding of Grace and undeserved mercy that he had been discovering more and more in Holy Scripture and how this was inconsistent with the selling of indulgences etc...
Here is how the History Channel summarized the event:
On this day (October 31st) in 1517, the priest and scholar Martin Luther approaches the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nails a piece of paper to it containing the 95 revolutionary opinions that would begin the Protestant Reformation.
In his theses, Luther condemned the excesses and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church, especially the papal practice of asking payment—called "indulgences"—for the forgiveness of sins. At the time, a Dominican priest named Johann Tetzel, commissioned by the Archbishop of Mainz and Pope Leo X, was in the midst of a major fundraising campaign in Germany to finance the renovation of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Though Prince Frederick III the Wise had banned the sale of indulgences in Wittenberg, many church members traveled to purchase them. When they returned, they showed the pardons they had bought to Luther, claiming they no longer had to repent for their sins.
Luther's frustration with this practice led him to write the 95 Theses, which were quickly snapped up, translated from Latin into German and distributed widely. A copy made its way to Rome, and efforts began to convince Luther to change his tune. He refused to keep silent, however, and in 1521 Pope Leo X formally excommunicated Luther from the Catholic Church. That same year, Luther again refused to recant his writings before the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of Germany, who issued the famous Edict of Worms declaring Luther an outlaw and a heretic and giving permission for anyone to kill him without consequence. Protected by Prince Frederick, Luther began working on a German translation of the Bible, a task that took 10 years to complete.
The term "Protestant" first appeared in 1529, when Charles V revoked a provision that allowed the ruler of each German state to choose whether they would enforce the Edict of Worms. A number of princes and other supporters of Luther issued a protest, declaring that their allegiance to God trumped their allegiance to the emperor. They became known to their opponents as Protestants; gradually this name came to apply to all who believed the Church should be reformed, even those outside Germany. By the time Luther died, of natural causes, in 1546, his revolutionary beliefs had formed the basis for the Protestant Reformation, which would over the next three centuries revolutionize Western civilization.
Today we will look at Jesus' words in John 8:31-36:
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?" Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
These words really summarize what Dr. Martin Luther was discovering. We know that his study of Romans 3:9-28
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.
As well as Ephesians 2:1-10
2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
It became evident through Dr. Luther's study of these passages and more that we should not need to go through "purgatory or purification" and that we do not have "infused grace" rather as he discovered complete true grace is "total." He used the 95 Theses to jump start the discussion of the love and grace of God "who is rich in mercy" as we see our justification, or "salvation" as a gift not something we pay for or receive from re-sacrificing Christ in the Mass, or buying indulgences to release us or our relatives from Purgatory.
Why is it that we have so much trouble with getting this gift, rather than working for it? Well I have experienced this my whole life. We want to work our way to God. We want to do things our way! This is why the selling of indulgences, the treasury of Merits (bank that the indulgences were drawn on) and the need to do things to please an Angry God made sense to the human nature of mankind in the 16th century as it does in the 21st century. It is that faith or "trust" we have been talking about that is counter to our human sinful understanding. We are called to be known by God and to intimately know (Yada) HIM! Dr. Luther would later say that there are only 2 religions in the world 1) Where we worship a God who we must do things to reach and is only transcendent and we need to appease which summarizes almost the entire human understanding of religion. 2) the true religion that understand God came to us and died for us this is true faith and trust in the GRACE of our Lord.
Martin Luther came to conclusions at the end of his 95 Theses summarizing them in this way:
82. To wit: -- "Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial."
83. Again: -- "Why are mortuary and anniversary masses for the dead continued, and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded on their behalf, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?"
84. Again: -- "What is this new piety of God and the pope, that for money they allow a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God, and do not rather, because of that pious and beloved soul's own need, free it for pure love's sake?"
85. Again: -- "Why are the penitential canons long since in actual fact and through disuse abrogated and dead, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences, as though they were still alive and in force?"
86. Again: -- "Why does not the pope, whose wealth is to-day greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?"
87. Again: -- "What is it that the pope remits, and what participation does he grant to those who, by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and participation?"
88. Again: -- "What greater blessing could come to the Church than if the pope were to do a hundred times a day what he now does once, and bestow on every believer these remissions and participations?"
89. "Since the pope, by his pardons, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons granted heretofore, since these have equal efficacy?"
90. To repress these arguments and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christians unhappy.
91. If, therefore, pardons were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.
92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Peace, peace," and there is no peace!
93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Cross, cross," and there is no cross!
94. Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;
95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace.
May we understand the truth of GRACE by SCRIPTURE through FAITH the words that define the Reformation and lead us to understand the FREEDOM we have a Kingdom people who KNOW and TRUST our God to give us the gift of salvation (100% Justification) so that we are empowered by this GRACE to live a life worthy of our calling. We will then pursue "the works prepared beforehand for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10)
May you celebrate the anniversary of the Reformation/Transformation of the Christian Church on Wednesday as the rest of the World celebrates Halloween. (All Hallows EVE)
Please remember to bring candy to hand out on Wednesday. We will start our Reformation Celebration at 6:00pm, as usual for our Family of Christ night every Wed, with food. We will worship from 6:45-7:15 and then have the LUTHER movie at 7:20. Please join us for this celebration!
Your brother in Christ,
Today we continue our journey through the letter to the Hebrews. We specifically pick up at chapter 4 where we here of the REST we have in Christ expressed. We hear of the power of God's mighty word and then how Jesus is our GREAT HIGH PRIEST who expresses to us these truths.
First we see the words of Hebrews 4:1-10:
4 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.[a] 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
“So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”[b]
And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.”[c] 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. 7 Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before:
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”[d]
In these verses we hear the writer of Hebrews define the word rest (katapausis) in three different ways: 1) as the sabbath rest of the peace of God 2) as the promised rest of Israel in the Promised Land 3) of the Rest that God had on the seventh day of Creation in Genesis 1 & 2.
We know that the promise of the Peace of God still stands in verse 1, but we are warned not to miss it or fall short of it. Here is where we are encourage to add that pistouw of "faith" as "trust" and we will, as it says in Philippians 4, "have the peace that passes all human understanding."
The second rest of the promised land the author deals with in acknowledging that it did not happen in the time of Joshua otherwise King David would not be saying this in Psalm 95 about "Today". The third rest is the one that is really important understanding the context of the Hebrew Rabbinical teaching on the seventh day. They understood that in each day of creation there was morning and evening with the exception of the sabbath. The rabbis maintained that this rest was forever. So the invitation to the Christian is to enter into this "REST" which is forever and available through faith in Christ Jesus and HIS Promises.
In verses 11-13: 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
we hear the author of Hebrews share how we are to strive to enter this rest by hearing the Word and by faith receiving this rest. This understanding of the power of God's Word should cause us terror in the sense of the LAW because it is effective as living and active. It is sharp penetrating the soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. This is the whole being! The word of God does what the Hebrew people understood in Isaiah 55:11 "so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." They understood that we will be naked or laid bare before the God of the universe and we will have to bend the knee and give an account.
It is SO AMAZINGLY appropriate that the author now brings the GOOD NEWS into this terror or fear of missing the sabbath rest of God, and the fear of having all of our sins, body, spirit, heart laid bare before our God. He immediately, as we do with absolution to sincere repentance introduce the redeemer as the GREAT HIGH PRIEST:
In verses 14-16:
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens,[e] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
the writer reminds us of the relationship we have with the High Priest! Again remembering that this is to the Hebrews. They understood the role of the High Priest in the act of atonement. They understood the role of him entering the HOLY OF HOLIES again sprinkling the blood of the pure lamb on the mercy seat. We see this in an article which you can check out at: http://www.moriel.org/articles/sermons/jesus_our_high_priest.htm It is extremely important to understand that as we face the challenge of finding this rest and having our sins laid bare by the powerful living and active Word of God we can have tremendous peace and rest in knowing that all that is necessary for us to be forgiven, set free and given everlasting life has been done by the great HIGH PRIEST Messiah Jesus! We can therefore approach the throne of grace with confidence and receive mercy and find grace!!! What an amazing Gospel proclamation.
We can also take great solace in the fact that our HIGH PRIEST is able to sympathize with our weakness and has been tempted in every way-yet without sin. There is nothing we can ask of HIM that HE will not understand because our HIGH PRIEST has gone through everything we have gone through. Father Ed at Christ the King gave a great homily for our great friend and sort of adopted son Peter's funeral on Monday by reminding us that in John 11:
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
Jesus knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the tomb, he said so in
John 11:11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” So why did he weep? He wept out of compassion for Mary and Martha! He is the Great HIGH PRIEST who sympathizes with our situations!! We can trust HIM in every circumstance no matter what!
May we rejoice each day in this wonderful truth! Today we celebrate the Great HIGH PRIEST who is the once and for all sacrifice for our sin and our loving Savior who invites us to partake of the forgiveness we have in HIS Blood which we hear but also to partake of HIS Body and HIS Blood in the Lord's Supper to know we are forgiven, set free and given the power to live as HIS KINGDOM CHILDREN AS WE PREPARE FOR ETERNAL LIFE!!
Love in Christ our Great HIGH PRIEST,
First, I want to apologize for not being on top of keeping my blog up to date. I have struggled with going to St. Louis Seminary for the week before Labor Day, then coming back to EMU starting, the birth of our second grandson Josiah Joshua Brudi on my birthday, Sept. 3. Our vacation at Charlevoix and St. Ignace for a week and then our restructuring of staff and governance at Cross and Res. I got back last Saturday from 11 days in BC with my grandson Levi and with Meagan and Timothy. I visited my family, attended my last Canadian Lutheran Bible Institute Board of Trustees meeting in Camrose, Alberta and visited friends. I have served for 15 years on the Board so this was a hard meeting. I returned home via London, Ontario on the red eye at 6am on Saturday and then preached last week. Laura and I left for the Pastor's Conference on Mackinac Island at 2:15 on Sunday and were there until Wednesday at 1:00pm. On Wednesday we found out that our "adopted" (not legally but personally) son, Peter Campbell was found dead in his bed at our place. We do not know the cause of death, but we know his heart and tremendous faith, so we celebrate eternal life today.
Today is also very difficult because on the day we will celebrate Peter's life and the gift of Eternal Life on Sunday and the Funeral on Monday. But on this Sunday we will celebrate the gift of NEW LIFE in HOLY Baptism for our grandson JOSIAH JOSHUA BRUDI at C & R: EMU! We are so excited to celebrate this gift of salvation and sonship offered in HOLY BAPTISM, it will be sad in that Peter was to be Josiah's godfather as he was for his uncle BEN last year. We will have mixed emotions but it will be a CELEBRATION non the less!
Today we will concentrate on the words of the writer of Hebrews when he says "We have come to share in Christ if ....we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first! We hear his explanation of this in the problem of unbelief in verse 12 and 19. It gives us great confidence when we understand that true belief is "TRUST" in Greek: "pisteu/w" we have come to share in Christ....if we TRUST IN HIS SALVATION!! So many people make the argument that "to believe" is to have knowledge as in greek thought. But in actual fact I prefer the "Yadah" of Hebrew which is the word to "know" yet with the understanding that it is more than head knowledge it is relationship, intimate knowledge and trust...
This is what the Lord wants when he refers to us having a believing heart rather than an unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. It is our privilege to encourage one another daily. I must confess when I heard about Peter, 23 years old passing away, I questioned the Lord! Yet I understand that because of the intimate relationship the Lord had with him and me that I must trust in the Lord's plan and wisdom no matter what that is why the Hebrew writer shares these words:
12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from
the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that
none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ if
we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. 15 As has just been said:
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”
16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of
Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who
sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would
never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed[b]? 19 So we see that they were not able
to enter, because of their unbelief.
It is what Jesus means in the Gospel reading when he explains what it means to "believe" when HE taught His disciples about faith and trust with the child as an example in St. Mark 10:13-16:
13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples
rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little
children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as
these. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little
child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them
and blessed them.
Today we will be reminding all of us where our faith starts and how we belong to the Lord and are part of HIS KINGDOM because we TRUST like the children.
May we all TRUST and celebrate the truth that when we trust in Christ as it says in John 14:1 "Trust in God, Trust also in ME!" We have been given the gift of faith by the Holy Spirit and may we have a believing, trusting heart each day!
Looking forward to CELEBRATING with all of Heaven as Jesus stated in Luke 15 as we celebrate the gift of NEW LIFE with JOSIAH.
Just a note that there will be a lunch and cake after service for Josiah. We will celebrate but will have to leave to go to the wake and family time for Peter.
Love in Christ Jesus our Risen Lord and Personal Savior,
PS: For your information: This is the notice on Peter's Funeral and Wake:
Peter Francis Patrick Campbell, the 23-year-old son of Joe and Helen Campbell passed to his eternal reward on Tuesday, October 9, 2012. Funeral arrangements by Janowiak Funeral Home in Ypsilanti are as follows:
The visitation will be held at Christ the King Catholic Church, on Sunday, October 14, 2012, from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm in the Worship Space. A rosary will be said at 3:30 PM with a time of worship and personal sharing from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM.
The Funeral Mass will be held at Christ the King Catholic Church on Monday, October 15, 2012, at 11:00 AM. There will be a viewing at the church from 9:00 AM to 10:45 AM prior to Mass and burial will immediately follow Mass at Arborcrest Memorial Park in Ann Arbor.
If you wish to make a donation in support of the Campbell family, please make a check payable to Christ the King and write Campbell Funeral in the memo line, this donation is not tax deductible.
Desserts are needed for the funeral luncheon and any parishioner who would like to bring desserts should drop them off at the Parish Center Gym on Monday morning before the funeral Mass.
Please join us in prayer for the entire Campbell family as they and we mourn the loss of this wonderful young man.