Sunday, October 30, 2011

Time in the Word -Proper 27, 3rd to Last Sunday of the Church year



Time in the Word 
Proper 27 – 3rd to the Last Sunday of the Church year 
31 October - 05 November 2011 
The Day of our Lord
The Lessons for this coming week help us prepare for the coming of our Lord. In the Old Testament lesson, the prophet Amos encourages us to prepare for the day of the Lord by exceeding justice. In the Epistle lesson Paul assures us that at the Judgment Day Jesus will bring with him all who died and the Christian people still living on earth will go with them to heaven. The Christians of Paul’s day believed that Christ’s return was at hand. This caused concern for those who already died. Would they miss the glorious event and the opportunity to go with Jesus to heaven? Paul assures them that the dead in Christ will come with him and then he will gather the living. Together the dead and living will go to heaven to be forever with Christ. In the Gospel lesson, we find the parable of the wise and foolish maidens. Only Matthew gives the parable. It concerns the return of Christ. His coming is delayed. During the delay, foolish people go to sleep and run out of oil for their lamps. At midnight when least expected, the Bridegroom (Christ) comes. The unprepared have the door shut in front of them. The parable teaches us to be constantly alert and prepared for the sure and sudden return of Jesus Christ.

Collect for Reformation (31 Oct): Almighty and gracious Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace.

Collect for All Saints’ Day (01 Nov): Almighty and everlasting God, You knit together Your faithful people of all times and places into one holy communion, the mystical body of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that, together with them, we may come to the unspeakable joys You have prepared for those who love You.

Collect for Commemoration of the faithful Departed (02 Nov) Heavenly Father, in your Son Jesus Christ You have given us a true faith and a sure hope. Strengthen this faith and hope in us all our days, that we may live as those who believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection to eternal life; through Your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Eternal God, our maker and redeemer, grant us, with all the faithful departed, the sure benefits of Your Son's saving passion
and glorious resurrection that, in the last day, when You gather up all things in Christ, we may with them enjoy the fullness of Your promises.

Collect for Proper 27 Lord God, heavenly Father, send forth Your Son to lead home Hi bride, the Church, that with all the company of the redeemed we may finally enter into His eternal wedding feast; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.

A simple yet heartfelt prayer: Lord, when the day of wrath comes, we have no hope except in your grace. Make us so to watch for the last days that the consummation of our hope may be the joy of marriage feast of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Monday, 31 October 2011 - Psalm 84:1, 9-12 - The Antiphon for this coming Sunday is from Psalm 84:3 “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011 Amos 5:18-24- Through Amos God is speaking, “I hate, I despise....” Can God hate? Is he not love? Since God is a personality, he has, like us, the capacity to hate as well as to love. In fact, if one cannot hate, one cannot love. But what or whom does God hate? It is not “whom” but “what.” Always he loves the sinner but not the sin. God hates our wickedness, our insincere worship, and our religiosity: “feasts,” “solemn assemblies,” “noises of your songs.” God hates your hypocrisy. If God hates sin, should Christians not also do the same?

Wednesday, 2 November 2011 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul uses “sleep” to describe the dead in Christ. They are asleep in Jesus. “Sleep” is a comforting concept of the Christian dead. When we sleep, we are at rest. Our labors are over and we rest at peace. When we sleep, we are not dead but alive. We shall awaken out of sleep. We fall asleep on earth to awaken in heaven for a fuller, better life with Christ.

We grieve over the loss of loved ones, but not as those who have no hope of heaven. In Paul’s day, people were grieving because they were worried lest the departed miss the return of Christ. They wanted the dead to share in his victory, to see the destruction of satanic powers, and to rejoice in the spectacular glory of Christ. For Christians, the end time will be a glorious time and we want our loved ones to share it.

When Christ returns at the end of time, the living and the dead in Christ will be together. When Christ leaves heaven for earth, he will bring with him those who died in faith. There is going to be one great, colossal reunion of heaven and earth! Since this is the case according to Paul, we know where our departed loved ones are now. They are with Christ in heaven. To be with Christ is to have life, love, joy, and peace. What more could we want for our dearest or ourselves?
  
Thursday, 3 November 2011Matthew 25:1-13 – Five girls are wise and five are foolish. Could there be that many foolish people? According to this, five go to heaven and five to hell; five have life and five have death; five have joy and five are miserable. We fall into one of these two categories. There is no in-between state. When it comes to being prepared for Christ’s return, we are either wise, in being prepared or foolish in not being ready to receive him.

Christ’s return is delayed, because the first Christians expected his return in their lifetimes. Since this time, there were Christians in each century who expected the last great day to happen within a short time. Here it is the beginning of the twenty-first century and he still has not come. We humans tend to get weary in waiting to the point that we conclude he is not coming in our time. This results in carelessness expressed in “sleep” (v. 5) and not having an adequate supply of “oil” (v. 3). The delay is fraught with danger for us.

Friday, 4 November 2011 - Psalm 50 - This Psalm is the appointed for this Sunday.  Verse 1 is the key verse, “O Lord, make haste to help me.This is the prayer of faith. When we reach out to the Savior with our burdens, joy, sorrow and cares He answers every petition. Our only request, “Thy will be done Lord, Thy will be done.

Saturday, 5 November 2011 - Matthew 25:1-13 –- Our reading is the inspiration for the hymn; “Wake Awake, for Night is flying”. The bridegroom comes at midnight. Surprise! Who would imagine a bridegroom coming for his bride at the ungodly hour when the world is asleep? It is the least expected time. Those who stay up late are surely in bed by midnight, and even the early risers would not get up at midnight.

Jesus said His return would be like this. No one knows the day and hour — so be ready! Moreover, the signs of His coming are associated with the midnight of day, which becomes the noonday of hell: wars, earthquakes, catastrophes, fear, and so on. When times are at their worst and when people are at their lowest and darkest moments, Christ will come.
 Sources
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO

LECTIONALRY PREACHING WORKBOOK SERIES A © 1980 John Brokhoff CSS Publishing Lima, OH

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts Zachariah names John, Jesus feeds the 5,000 © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.



Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reformation



John 8:31-38 – And you shall be free

Reformation Day. What does this conjure up for you in your mind? What are we celebrating today as we sing “A mighty Fortress”, and hang red paraments on our altar and pulpit? Do you think of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church? Or do you think of the four “alones” of the Lutheran Church: “Faith alone, Grace alone, Christ alone, Scripture alone”?

There is certainly a right and a wrong way of celebrating Reformation day. If, on this day, we celebrate the way in which the Spirit has led his Church into all truth over the last 2000 years; if, on this day, we give thanks for the constant guidance of God’s word in the scriptures; or if, on this day, we rejoice in the good news of the Gospel of free forgiveness in Christ, then, I think, we are celebrating Reformation Day appropriately.

But on the other hand, if we celebrate this day as a triumph of Protestantism over the Catholic Church, if we celebrate this day as if the Word of God began with Martin Luther on October 31st 1517, when he posted his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg church, or if we celebrate this day in a way that suggests that Lutherans alone of all Christians teach and believe that we are justified by faith whereas other Christians, think they are justified by their good deeds, then, I think, we are celebrating Reformation Day in a way that is thoroughly inappropriate.

If we are truly a “Reformation” church, then we need to come to terms with what “Reformation” means. For a start, “reformation” does not mean “innovation”--it does not mean “change for the sake of change”. The Lutheran reformers did not go to all the trouble they did 500 years ago, because they felt the Church of their day was “old-fashioned” and needed to “catch up” with the rest of the world. They did not want to “form” a new church, but to “re-form” the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church of which they were a part.

“Reform” means returning to the original form--not making a new form. It meant removing abuses. But even at the time of Martin Luther, there were reformers who wanted to throw the baby out with the bath water. That was not the way of the Lutheran reformers.

The Lutheran reformation was a “conservative” Reformation. The aim of the Lutheran reformation was to remove the rubbish but to keep all that was good, and pure, and beautiful. The Lutheran Reformation was concerned with God’s Word and with faithfulness to the Truth. It was not concerned with “updating” the Church. An issue we must face is the absurdity of a church that is continually embracing change for the sake of change. Change is so prevalent in our world today that we sometimes lose sight of that which does not change. Jesus Christ He is “the same, yesterday, today and forever”--why then, is there the cry for the church to always be changing?[1]

Introduction: Truth for man is so elusive that many, like Pilate, wonder what truth is. There is widespread skepticism. What is proclaimed as truth today is not what it was yesterday. Who knows what it will be tomorrow?

In addition, there are various kinds of truth: scientific, political, and spiritual. In this passage, Jesus is dealing with spiritual truth concerning God and life.

1. What truth is — “If you continue in my word” (v. 31). Truth is the word of Christ; He is the truth. Though it has only two letters, it is a big word. Jesus says we will know the truth and be free “if” we continue in His word. It is possible to lose the word of Jesus through negligence or unconcern. We can fall from the truth and lose our religious freedom if we ever sever ourselves from the Word.

2. What truth does — “The truth will make you free” (v. 32). When Pilate asked Jesus what truth was, he gave no answer. In this passage Jesus defines the truth. It is in His word, for He spoke God’s Word. As long as we hold to the word of Jesus, we will be His disciples and will know the truth. It is not a truth of science, politics, or economics. It is religious truth personified and spoken by Christ. It is the truth of God and life.

The truth of Christ frees. It does not mean necessarily liberation or political independence. These may follow. It is freedom in and of religion. Truth frees us from false religious beliefs, superstitions, and practices. Christ’s truth frees us from the Law. Christ frees us from the bondage of sin by His death on the cross. Out of His spiritual freedom come other freedoms. If we are free before and in God, we will not be content until we are free among men.

Conclusion: To be Lutheran is to be both "Humble" and "Lazy".
Lutherans are humble. Not just in a kind, social sense - but in a spiritual sense. God's Law says, "Hey, you, you stink on ice!" A Lutheran makes no declaration against this, a Lutheran doesn't point to so called works . . . a Lutheran simply agrees, "Yeah, I stink. Big time." Lutherans are lazy. When asked what he is going to do to get himself to heaven, a Lutheran says, "Um . . . nothing. It's what Christ does for me and gives to me. It's about what He does." No thoughts on all the burdensome spiritual chores I must do - not even thoughts on how well I must decide on Christ - just Jesus does what needs to be done and the Holy Spirit brings this to me by Word and Baptism and Supper - just as He does for everyone else.

So what do you say, O Lutheran? Have you been humble lately - freely recognizing your own vile stench? Have you been lazy lately - letting Christ be the one who cleans up your messes after you? Or have you been becoming increasingly busy deciding on all the things you must do for Jesus to make yourself worthy of Him? Or have you become fearful determined to clean up for yourself lest Jesus yell at you?

It's not "about" you - o Christian - you are not the hero of the story. It's about Christ. Now, thankfully, it is "for" you - what He does is all for you. Be humble - see your need. Be lazy - and let Christ do the work. Rejoice and be glad in this - and you will be a Lutheran. As regards my salvation - I am to be perfectly lazy.

With regards to my neighbor - I am to be busy and serving at all times. Simple as that. But my works are always a response to what God has done for me, never a cause to make God act. Justification by faith leads to an obligation - to serve others - out of obedient discipleship to Jesus Christ. [2]

Note: For more reading consider these two sources:
[1] http://yearofgrace.blogspot.com/2007/02/sunday-29th-october-2000-sermon-for.html
[2] http://confessionalgadfly.blogspot.com/2007/12/constantly-on-move.html

Friday, October 28, 2011

Church Expansion - Week 20


Mound system for the  new septic 
render unto Caesar... 

Pumping system for the septic 
Brick, limestone, slate shingles, spouting all going up

Storm windows have been installed

New doors and glass arch in the North entry 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gone!

 Welcome Fall & Winter...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sadona, AZ


We visited Sadona, AZ on Sunday 23 October 2011





Yes, the DAHLING boutique

Chapel of the Holy Cross



an architectural masterpiece built into the red rocks of Sedona


Grand Canyon

We visited Henry whose living in Flagstaff, AZ

Ravens were everywhere 

South Rim




Arizona Trip

The view from the air

San Francisco Peaks From the Flagstaff Mall

Monday, October 24, 2011

Time in the Word - Reformation



The Son of God Has Set Us Free from Sin and Death by His Grace
Wisdom is justified by her deeds” (Matt. 11:19), and the true Wisdom of God, Christ Jesus the incarnate Son, justifies us by His deeds. He prepares His way by the preaching of repentance, but He has suffered the violence of the Law and voluntarily handed Himself over to violent men, that we might eat and drink with Him in His Kingdom and “remain in the house forever” (John 8:35). For He is “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 11:19), and He has rescued us by His grace from the slavery of sin and death. By the proclamation of His eternal Gospel “to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev. 14:6), “the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law” (Rom. 3:21), “that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). And by hearing the Gospel of Christ Jesus, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:25), “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).


Collect for the Festival of the Reformation: Almighty and gracious Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Collect for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost: Merciful and gracious Lord, You cause Your Word to be proclaimed in every generation. Stir up our hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit that we may receive this proclamation with humility and finally be exalted at the coming of Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ,

Collect for the Feast of St Simon and St Jude (28 October): Almighty God, You chose Your servants Simon and Jude to be numbered among the glorious company of the apostles. As they were faithful and zealous in their mission, so may we with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, 

Prayers for defending the Church from error: O Christ, our defender, protect us from all those whose plans would subvert Your truth through heresy and schism that, as You are acknowledged in heaven and on earth as one and the same Lord, so Your people, gathered from all nations, may serve You in unity of faith; 

Almighty and everlasting God, You would have all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. By Your almighty power and unsearchable wisdom break and hinder all the counsels of those who hate Your Word and who, by corrupt teaching, would destroy it. Enlighten them with the knowledge of Your glory that they may know the riches of Your heavenly grace and, in peace and righteousness, serve You, the only true God; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, 

Prayer for unity of faith: O God, Your infinite love restores to the right way those who err, seeks the scattered, and preserves those whom You have gathered. Of Your tender mercy pour out on Your faithful people the grace of unity that, all schisms being ended, Your flock may be gathered to the true Shepherd of Your Church and may serve You in all faithfulness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, 

Monday, 24 October 2011Psalm 34:1–2, 11, 22; Antiphon, Psalm 119:46The Antiphon for next Sunday’s Introit proclaims, I will speak of Your statutes before Kings O Lord, and shall not be put to shame. This verse also serves as the inscription for the Augsburg Confession, one of the documents in the Lutheran Book of Concord. We need fear no earthly kings or powers when we make confession of our faith, for we have been set free from fear by the Gospel. Let us make bold our proclamation of confidence in the Lord, who redeems the life of His servants. For this, we bless the Lord at all times.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011Psalm 46This psalm of David expresses complete confidence in God, no matter the circumstance. It depicts scenes of turmoil: natural disasters (vv. 2, 3), political persecution (v. 6a), and even the end of days (v. 6b). The one who trusts in God can withstand such troubles, and be still and quiet, for God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011Revelation 14:6–7—This first angel of John’s vision has often been interpreted by Lutheran commentators as Martin Luther, because of his clear proclamation of the eternal gospel to . . . those who dwell on earth. Certainly God worked through this man, as He works through others, to bring His message of freedom in Christ to every nation and tribe and language and people.

Thursday, 27 October 2011Romans 3:19–28—Theologians use a Latin phrase that describes our relationship with God’s Holy Law: Lex semper accusat, that is, ‘the Law always accuses’. This is because none of us sinful humans can obey God’s Law perfectly. Both our original sin and our actual sin condemn us. But there is a righteousness before God apart from the Law and apart from ourselves and anything we do. This righteousness is the righteousness of Christ, which is imputed to us through faith in the propitiating death of Christ on our behalf. Because of Christ’s fulfillment of the Law, and His blood which He shed for us, God declares us ‘not guilty’.

Friday, 28 October 2011John 8:31–36Sunday’s Gospel speaks of the freedom we find in the Truth of Jesus Christ. All of us were born into slavery—the slavery of sin. But Christ has set us free from our bondage by His atoning sacrifice. The One who declares, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life tells us here that the Truth shall set us free. The Truth has set us free: the Truth which embodied in Christ Jesus and the Truth which He declares to us in His Word. We are free, indeed!

Saturday, 29 October 2011—Sunday’s hymn of the day, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (LSB #656) is Luther’s great battle hymn of the Reformation. Based on the Psalm of the day, Psalm 46, it reflects complete confidence in God, even when faced by a host of devils and the earthly adversities they bring. They can harm us none, for they have been felled—defeated—by one little Word, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Savior.


Lectionary summary on front page from LCMS Commission on Worship
Artwork by Ed Riojas, ©Higher Things
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
This week's Time in the Word written by Pr. Jeff Keuning

Friday, October 21, 2011

Church Expansion - Week 19

It's been a cold, wet week but work continues...
Brick and limestone continues to be added

View of the new addition from the Cemetery 

Close up view of the limestone cross

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Flagstaff

Off to visit Hank...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pentecost 19 - Proper 25 Time in the Word



The people of God are to be holy as He is holy. Therefore, we should fear, love and trust in Him above all things, and in such faith “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). Such faith toward God and love for the neighbor are the two great commandments upon which “depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:40). The Lord our God Himself has fulfilled His Law on our behalf—in His great love for us, with all His heart and soul and mind, and in a body of flesh and blood like ours. David’s Lord has become David’s Son, so that all our enemies might be put under His feet and that we might be exalted to the right hand of God in Him (Matt. 22:43–45). So His servants bear His Cross in faith and love. For the sake of the Gospel they suffer persecution for their work, bearing their burdens in gentleness, “like a nursing mother taking care of her own children” (1 Thess. 2:7). In like manner and with tender affection, they exhort and encourage “like a father with his children” (1 Thess. 2:11–12).



Collect for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost: O God, You have commanded us to love You above all things and our neighbors as ourselves. Grant us the Spirit to think and do what is pleasing in Your sight, that our faith in You may never waver and our love for one another may not falter; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Collect for the Feast of St Luke (18 October): Almighty God, our Father, Your blessed Son called Luke the physician to be an evangelist and physician of the soul. Grant that the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments may put to flight the diseases of our souls that with willing hearts we may ever love and serve You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord,
Collect for the Feast of St James of Jerusalem (23 October): Heavenly Father, shepherd of Your people, You raised up James the Just, brother of our Lord, to lead and guide Your Church. Grant that we may follow his example of prayer and reconciliation and be strengthened by the witness of his death; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord,
Prayer for holiness and purity: Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden, cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit that we may perfectly love You and worthily magnify Your holy name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, 
Prayer for deliverance from sin: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, You desire not the death of a sinner, but rather that we turn from our evil ways and live. Graciously spare us those punishments which we by our sins have deserved, and grant us always to serve You in holiness and pureness of living; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord,

Monday, 17 October 2011Psalm 9:1–2, 9–10; Antiphon, Psalm 9:18—The readings for next Sunday all point to holiness of living. As the Old Testament reading will show, God relates justice with holiness. The Introit helps establish that theme by proclaiming that, in the eyes of the Lord, the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever. How does the Lord look after the poor and the needy? Through His Church. Along with the proclamation of the Gospel, the Church must always be the Lord’s arm of mercy toward the less fortunate.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011Psalm 1The psalm for the day draws a picture of the one who is holy: He walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Who is that one? Certainly no unregenerate man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth (Gen 8:21). So the psalm points first to Christ, who fulfills it perfectly, and then to those who are in Christ, though we fulfill it imperfectly so long as we are this side of heaven.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011Leviticus 19:1–2, 15–18—What does God expect? What is His standard for living? You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. Included in the Lord’s concept of holiness is concern for justice, concern for the poor and needy, and showing love toward those whom the Lord God has given as our neighbors. That we can never live up to His standard perfectly, and need a Savior from our sin, does not excuse us from the obligation to care for others, using wisely the resources with which the Lord has richly blessed us.

Thursday, 20 October 20111 Thessalonians 2:1–13—The epistle reading continues St Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. Here, Paul recounts the faithful ministry he carried on in Thessalonica, by the grace of God. Paul is not boasting in himself, but giving encouragement to those Christians who were feeling the heavy hand of persecution: We had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. Further, he was countering claims by some that his ministry was self-serving: We never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people. Rather, Paul was eager to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ, and to show mercy to them: We were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

Friday, 21 October 2011Matthew 22:34–46—What is the Lord’s measure of holiness? Love. Love toward God and love toward the neighbor. Jesus summarizes the two tables of the Law: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Commandments 1—3); You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Commandments 4—10). These commandments are perfectly fulfilled by Christ, and are God’s standards for holiness in our lives. Thus, after we have received the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation in the Sacrament of the Altar, it is our prayer that God would strengthen us through the same in faith toward You and in fervent love toward one another: the two tables of the Law (which are depicted on the cover using Hebrew numbering).


Saturday, 8 October 2011The hymn of the day is The Law of God Is Good and Wise (LSB #579). Though the Law of God always condemns us, because we are unable to keep it perfectly, it does not follow that the Law is defective. On the contrary, it reveals God’s standard for living, and, when we see that we are unable to meet that standard, the Law drives us to the cross of Christ, where our salvation was accomplished, and to the Means of Grace—Word and Sacrament—where His salvation is apportioned to us. The hymn on the facing page, The Gospel Shows the Father’s Grace, is the perfect complement.


Lectionary summary on front page from LCMS Commission on Worship
Artwork by Ed Riojas, ©Higher Things.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House



This week's Time in the Word is written by Pr. Jeffrey M. Keuning  St John's Evangelical Lutheran Church Casey, IA and Zion Lutheran Church, Dexter, IA

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Plenteous grace with Thee is found


Plenteous grace with Thee is found, Grace to cover all my sin.
Let thy healing streams abound; Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the Foundation art, Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart, Rise to all eternity.


Artwork by Ed Riojas, ©Higher Things
Jesus Lover of My Soul – The Lutheran Hymnal #345 stanza 5 © Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis


Saturday, October 15, 2011

NYC


Tammy's off to New York this weekend for some girl time with Lydia

Thou, O Christ, art all I want



Thou, O Christ, art all I want; More than all in Thee I find.
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, Heal the sick, and lead the blind. 
Just and holy is Thy name; I am all unrighteousness,
False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.

Artwork by Ed Riojas, ©Higher Things
Jesus Lover of My Soul – The Lutheran Hymnal #345 stanza 4 © Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis


Pentecost 18 - Proper 24


Proper 24 (16–22 October)
O God, the protector of all who trust in You, have mercy on us that, with You as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Honor bestowed – Paying taxes to Caesar - Matthew 22:15-22

Religious leaders attempt to trap Jesus by asking him whether taxes should be paid to Rome. The religious leaders came to Jesus with a trick question that no matter how He answers, He is in trouble. Pharisees and Herodians come to Him with the question whether taxes should be paid to the Roman government. The Pharisees would say, “No”; the Herodians would answer, “Yes.” If Jesus said one should not pay taxes, He could be arrested as a subversive and revolutionary. If Jesus said one should, He would be in trouble with the patriotic Jews who hated Roman dominance. Jesus recognized that the inquirers were hypocrites and that they came to find occasion to have Him arrested. His answer caused His enemies to marvel at His answer: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

There may be a separation of church and state, but not separation of God and state. This is implied in Jesus’ statement that we are to render to Caesar and to God, not to one or the other. Trouble begins for a nation when it separates itself from God. The sermon can show how God and state are interdependent interrelated. How God and state are related.

A. God is the Lord of the nation — “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”
B. The laws of the state reflect the laws of God. The state is the left hand of God’s justice.
C. The ministers of state are also ministers of God.

So how ought we approach this sometimes difficult subject? Do religion and politics mix? We have the obligation to be witnesses in the world. As Christians we certainly have a message the world needs to hear and what is more relevant to a lost world than the objective truth of the gospel? By these words of our Savior we must say that all obligations are to God as they are expressed in two kingdoms.

The Pharisees as a group were fiercely loyal to the Jews, who hated the Romans. The Herodians on the other hand - were fiercely loyal to Rome which ruled the Jews with great difficulty. They come to Jesus with a question.

The Pharisees had hoped to trap Jesus in his teaching. If Jesus said it was unlawful to give tribute to Caesar, the Herodians would have him brought to court on a charge of sedition, a crime punishable by death. If Jesus said it was lawful to pay tribute to Caesar, the Herodians would have advertised this and used it as an opportunity to diminish Jesus’ popularity before those persons who labored under the yoke of the Roman government (and wished to be freed). But Jesus refused to be trapped. And His answer gives mankind direction in living for all ages of the world.

I. THE KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD IS OF GOD AND DEMANDS MY OBLIGATIONS

A. The kingdom of this world is of God. Jesus uses the word "Caesar" to symbolize the power of the government. In the history of the world there have been many different forms of government but all are of God. Jesus said to Pilate a Roman Governor

[1] "You would have no authority over Me if it had not been given to you from above." (John. 19:11.) The God-man, Jesus, was subject to the earthly authority which He had given to Pilate. St. Paul says in Romans 13:1: "Let every person be subject to higher authorities because there is no authority which is not of God and the authorities which exist have been ordained of God."

[2] God Himself has given us an earthly government. Daniel acknowledged the Babylonians as his government. Jesus and Paul recognized Rome as their God-given government.

B. The kingdom of this world demands my obligations. Jesus told the Pharisees and the Herodians: "Pay to Caesar what you owe to Caesar." What did they owe to Caesar? We owe taxes, obedience to all laws, and loyalty to the government. That is what Jesus himself, Paul and Peter did. In Matthew 17:24-27 Jesus gives us the correct attitude toward earthly power. He directed Peter to catch a fish which would yield a coin with which Peter would pay their tax. And Jesus obeyed all laws whether of the Jews or Romans. He submitted both to Pilate and Herod at His trial even though it was an unjust trial. And the apostles direct us to willing obedience toward our government.

Says St. Paul – “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. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 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. 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. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing.” Romans 13:1-6

Peter reminds us -– "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
" I Peter 2:13-16

TRANSITION: The Kingdom of this world is of God so also is the Kingdom of God to which I am obligated.

II. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS OF GOD AND DEMANDS MY OBLIGATIONS

A. The kingdom of God is of God. Jesus said to the Pharisees and Herodians: "Pay to God the things of God." Jesus said in Matthew16:18: "You are Peter and on this rock I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." In this passage the word "rock" means Peter's confession of Christ. Christ builds His church on the confession of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And even Satan and his hosts cannot destroy this church. To this church Christ gives the power to forgive sins to penitent sinners and to withhold forgiveness from sinners who refuse to repent.

B. The kingdom of God demands my obligations. Christ is our Shepherd. His pastors are also called shepherds. They are to take good care of the flock.[3] And when the Pharisees and Herodians came to Jesus, Jesus asked for a denarius, a common coin in that day. We use our money to support the government and the church. We pay our taxes and we pay our church dues. Both are commanded by God. Says St. Paul in Romans 13 – “This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Vv.6-7) And again in 1 Corinthians 16 “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” (V.2) Paul told the people to pay their taxes and also their church dues. All of this belongs to God. We are only stewards of His gifts.

CONCLUSION I am a citizen in two kingdoms, the kingdom of earthly power, my government, and the kingdom of God, my church. I owe each everything I have. It all is a gift of God and belongs to Him anyway. Christians are sojourners and pilgrims in this world (I Peter 2:11). While our true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), we are to be ever mindful of our responsibilities to the nation in which we live. As we love God and serve our neighbor we are witnesses of Him in this world. That, my friends is the definition of missions – Love God, serve your neighbor – become a sermon in shoes.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Church Expansion - Week 18

Curbs next to the parsonage

New sidewalks

Brick and limestone cross 

Brick & limestone South door

Brick & limestone North door
The new entrance follows the same pattern as the old...

Trucks hauling in dirt for the septic mound are freaking out the parish cats!

make it stop! 

New doors to the drop off area have been installed 

In Memoriam


Dorothy Erxleben - Droege
Born into this world: February 16, 1920
Baptized into Christ: February 22, 1920
Confirmed in the Faith: March 25, 1934
With Christ in Peace: October 14, 2011
Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:10   

Wilt Thou not regard my call


Wilt Thou not regard my call. Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
Lo, I sink, I faint, I fall; Lo, on Thee I cast my care;
Reach me out The gracious hand! While I of Thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope, I stand, Dying, and, behold, I live!


Artwork by Ed Riojas, ©Higher Things
Jesus Lover of My Soul – The Lutheran Hymnal #345 stanza 3 © Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Some telling numbers


Some telling numbers were reported in the local newspaper this evening.  In the 2004-2005 school year (son Henry’s senior year) there were 2,276 students enrolled in North Adams Schools. This year, the number has dropped down to 1,854. (A reduction of 19%) North Adams superintendent Wylie Sirk stated the obvious.  The struggling economy and the overall shortage of jobs locally have contributed to the decline as families in many instances have left the district.  

The issue is even more compounded, when one considers what particular jobs and employment possibilities are available in our area. Too many families in our community are living at just above the poverty rate.  Principle Scott Miller said 59% of students at Bellmont Middle School qualify this year for the free or reduced lunch program. At Northwest Elementary that figure is 57%. At Southeast Primary School approximately 63% quality for some lunch assistance.

This year we have close to 40 students from our parish away attending college. How many of those young persons will return back home once they have graduated? Our youth are gravitating to urban areas and in many instances, out of the state of Indiana where new and existing jobs are accessible.

Regarding births in Adams Country, the Adams Health Network CEO speaking to the Decatur Chamber of Commerce noted there were approximately 600 births in Adams County in 2010. Only 187 were born in Adams Memorial hospital. 413 were born in Amish birthing centers with midwives performing these deliveries.

While there are, many compelling benefits for raising a family in a small rural community like Adams County there are challenges that often go unnoticed.  When over half of the students in a local school system cannot afford to be fed at the going rate of $1.70/meal, when families are leaving this community to find gainful employment elsewhere, when only 31% of the births occur in the local hospital we have some serious challenges before us. 

Pray for the citizens and leadership of our local rural communities.    

Other refuge have I none



Other refuge have I none; Hangs my helpless soul on Thee.
Leave, ah, leave me not alone, Still support and comfort me!
All my trust on thee is stayed, All my help from thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head, With the shadow of Thy wing.

Artwork by Ed Riojas, ©Higher Things
Jesus Lover of My Soul – The Lutheran Hymnal #345 stanza 2 © Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jesus, Lover of My Soul


Jesus, lover of my soul, Let me to Thy bosom fly
While the nearer waters roll, While the tempest still is high
Hide me, O my Savior hide, Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide, Oh, receive my soul at last!

Artwork by Ed Riojas, ©Higher Things
Jesus Lover of My Soul - The Lutheran Hymnal #345 stanza 1 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pentecost 18 - Proper 24 - Time in the Word



We Are Recreated in the Image of God by the Cross of Christ

Plotting against Jesus, the Pharisees attempted “to entangle Him in His talk” by asking about the payment of taxes to Caesar (Matt. 22:15). The Lord pointed to coins required for the tax, and He answered that we should “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21). But if coins bearing the image of Caesar should be rendered to him, then man—who is made in the image of God—must be rendered to the Lord. That tax is paid for us by the Lord Jesus, the Image of God in the flesh, by His self-offering on the Cross. And from His Cross, as the Lord’s Anointed, He reigns as the true Caesar over all nations “from the rising of the sun and from the west” (Is. 45:6). The Lord once called and anointed Cyrus “to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings” (Is. 45:1). Now by the preaching of the Gospel, “in power and in the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:4), foreigners from all over the world are “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thess. 1:9–10).



Collect for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost: O God, the protector of all who trust in You, have mercy on us that with You as our ruler and guide we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Prayer for good government: Eternal Lord, ruler of all, graciously regard those who have been set in positions of authority among us that, guided by Your Spirit, they may be high in purpose, wise in counsel, firm in good resolution, and unwavering in duty, that under them we may be governed quietly and peaceably; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Prayer for the nation: Almighty God, You have given us this good land as our heritage. Grant that we remember Your generosity and constantly do Your will. Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, and an honorable way of life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil course of action. Grant that we, who came from many nations with many different languages, may become a united people. Support us in defending our liberties, and give those to whom we have entrusted the authority of government the spirit of wisdom, that there may be justice and peace in our land. When times are prosperous, may our hearts be thankful, and in troubled times do not let our trust in You fail; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Prayer for responsible leaders: O merciful Father in heaven, from You comes all rule and authority over the nations of the world for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do well. Grciously regard Your servants, those who make, administer, and judge the laws of this nation, and look in mercy upon all the rulers of the earth. Grant that all who receive the sword as Your servants may bear it according to Your command. Enlighten and defend them, and grant them wisdom and understanding that under their peaceable governance Your people may be guarded and directed in righteousness, quietness, and unity. Protect and prolong their lives that we with them may show forth the praise of Your name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Monday, 10 October 2011Psalm 121:1–4, 7–8; Antiphon, Psalm 121:5Psalm 121 is a Song of Ascents; it was sung by pilgrims making their way up to the holy city of Jerusalem for the celebrations of the great feasts and festivals. It speaks of the help and assistance rendered by the Lord to His people. The first verse is a bit surprising: for people who had to travel great distances from home on foot, hills were often dangerous places, where thieves or wild animals could hide, lying in wait for unwary travelers. But here, the hills refer to the hills surrounding Jerusalem, the place where God dwelt with His people in the temple. It is from Him that our help comes, it is the Lord who watches over us.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011Psalm 96:1–9All the peoples of the earth are called to sing to the Lord, because he has provided salvation for the whole world. Christ won peace and forgiveness not only for Israel but for all people. Since Christ died for all the world, God’s people are to proclaim the message of salvation to the whole world. (People’s Bible)

Wednesday, 12 October 2011Isaiah 45:1–7Isaiah was sent by God in the eighth century b.c. to prophesy to the nation of Judah (the southern kingdom), warning them to repent of their wicked ways, lest they suffer the same fate as their northern brethren, who had been carried off into captivity by the Assyrians. In 586 b.c., the Babylonians fulfilled God’s decree. But Isaiah also prophesied that God would send someone to deliver them from the Babylonians and allow them to return to their homeland. This one was Cyrus, the Persian king. This portion of Isaiah speaks of him. Astoundingly, though Cyrus was a pagan, God calls him His ‘anointed’. Though this term was usually reserved for Israelites who were consecrated as priests, prophets, and kings, this foreign heathen would become the instrument of God to deliver His people. Likewise, in our day, God works, even through godless regimes and governments to take care of Hos people, even when we cannot understand His methods and reasons.

Thursday, 13 October 20111 Thessalonians 1:1–10In this last portion of the Church Year, the epistle readings are drawn from St Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica in Greece. The congregation had been established by Paul whilst on his second missionary journey. All of Paul’s work in the region of Macedonia was marked by severe persecution; the congregation at Thessalonica faced fierce opposition from Jews. When he got to Athens, Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to strengthen the fledgling congregation and to bring a report. The report cheered Paul’s heart, as it told him that, more than just withstanding persecution, the congregation was actively spreading the Gospel throughout Macedonia. The first half of the letter (through 3:9), therefore, expresses his love, thankfulness, and concern for the Christians at Thessalonica.

Friday, 14 October 2011Matthew 22:15–22We Americans often have an adversarial relationship with the civil authorities. We worry about what the government is going to do to us, rather than for us. We may be tempted to withhold what we rightly owe, thinking that they won’t spend it correctly, or that they don’t deserve so much. But Jesus councils us to pay the taxes we owe, but also drawing a line of demarcation between the government and God. There is rightly a separation of Church and State. We do not want the civil government interfering in the affairs of the Church; neither should the Church interfere in matters of state.

Saturday, 15 October 2011As the psalm for the day calls upon all peoples of the earth to praise the Lord, so, too, the hymn of the day, Holy God, We Praise Thy Name (LSB #940), calls upon every creature, on earth and in heaven, to join in the chorus.



Lectionary summary on front page from LCMS Commission on Worship
Artwork by Ed Riojas, ©Higher Things
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House

This week's Time in the Word written by Pr. Jeffrey Keuning