Friday, December 31, 1999

New Year's Eve

December 31, 1999

As we close out the year of our Lord 1999 we recall that when the chips are down Christ has been our ready defense. He is always compliant regardless of the year or the season…for He came into this world to redeem sinners. As we say farewell to 1999 and anticipate the dawn of a new day approaching remember this…

Y eshuia {Jesus} is coming for the

Jesus Christ. He is the first, the last, the beginning, and the end. In Him, we live and move and have our being. He is the author of our salvation. He is the One who came into this world the first time. He will come again in glory to judge both the quick and the dead. Jesus. He is the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus, He is the eternal Son of God, and yet, for us and for our salvation He came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary. He became human. All of the prophets of old foretold of His coming. They were granted the privilege of looking into the future to see the dawn of a great day in which God Himself would step into time and space. He came to be our substitute. He came to this earth to bear the sins of man in His own body. This Jesus; our Lord and Savior is the One whose birth and coming we celebrated just one week ago. As we have celebrated His birth we also anticipate His Second Advent. For He will come again. He will come for a second time.

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This Jesus will return again. He will come in the clouds and at the trumpet sound will be seen visibly by the entire inhabited earth! The saints who find themselves buried in our church cemetery each are buried facing the east. There is a reason for this. East is the direction of the rising of the sun. Early in the day, at the rising of the sun, the women hurried to the tomb of Jesus and they found it to be empty.

As a result every Easter, and every Sunrise, and in fact every Sunday morning (the day of Easter) is a reminder of His resurrection and a promise that Jesus will return again.

The angels speaking to the disciples on the day of Ascension have simply told us "this Jesus will return in the same manner in which you have seen Him go." As the disciples saw Jesus ascend into heaven we anticipate seeing Jesus descend from heaven visibly. We will see it with our own eyes! We are reminded to watch the horizon.

What do you see lurking into the future? What will the year 2000 bring? How will we do economically? Will our economy continue to grow or will it begin to slide in the New Year? What about the world of politics? In the year 2000 we will elect a new president whose duty it will be to appoint at least three Supreme Court Justices; each of these appointees will have a significant impact on our lives for the twenty to thirty years! Who will be that man who will lead us into the next century and the new millennium?

This past growing season witnessed significant drought. We are still roughly five inches short of moisture. Will we make it up in the winter of 2000? Will the summer be another scorcher or will be wet? What will the market bear for our crops? And in the world of sports could the year 2000 be the year that the Hoosiers or the Boilers return to Pasadena? Only time will tell!

All these hopes and dreams for the future come with each passing New Year’s observance and yet, this year, as possibly never before, everyone seems to be talking about the fact that the future could bring about a sudden change with the appearing of Christ in the clouds physically. We are reminded to read the signs of the times as Christ could return at any time.

K ing of kings very soon!

As we sit here this evening Y2K the year 2000 is only a few hours away. The anticipation for this year’s celebration of a New Year has been the subject of much discussion. These past 364 days we have been reminded that people all over the planet are going to "party like it’s 1999!" Will the Y2K bug come to reek havoc on our lives as some have predicted? We’ll find out in just a few short hours.

There are many who will be working this evening my brother –in-law Steve is just one of many who will be watching the clock tonight making sure that the lights stay on.

Will there be panic in the streets and mayhem abounding? I hope that this night will be peaceful but what if there will be some small glitches in various and sundry places? For the next full year we will hear reports of what was done and what could have been done to alert us to this night’s transformation. AND YET, what will go unnoticed by many in this world is the fact that with each passing day we are coming closer and closer to that time when we will see Jesus face to face. Jesus will return visibly and physically as King of Kinds and Lord of Lords soon!

With the coming of Y2K some have asked the pointed question "can we predict the time in which Jesus will return?" No, we do not know the particular hour. This Jesus has said quite clearly when He said "No man knows that hour, neither the Son, nor the angels, but only My Father" Jesus has also told us that His return will come at a time "when men least expect it" So, when will Christ return? There is only one tiny hint and that is the prediction made by Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel when He said "And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preach around the world as a testimony to the nations and then the end will come!" Now, I ask you to find a place on the globe where the Gospel of Christ has not been preached! I don’t think that there is a place! The Gospel message has gone across the globe at such an amazing rate. No, Jesus did not say that everyone would believe…but He did say that it would be preached in every corner of the world. No we can not predict when Christ will return but we can say this quite clearly that His return could be sooner rather than later! It could be sooner then one might think! Ask yourself this simple question: "what does Christ need to do before the world can come to an end?" And the answer is "absolutely nothing!" We should look for Christ to return as King of Kings soon!

Tonight the Savior asks you to place your faith in Him and trust not in yourselves. In His arms He will uphold you. In His paths you shall go! In these last hours of 1999 and in just a few hours, when the clock strikes midnight, and throughout the rest of your days and the days appointed for this earth. In all things our Lord Jesus remains in control! "He’s got the whole world in His hands!"

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

Wednesday, November 24, 1999

Thanksgiving Through the Decades

Thanksgiving Eve
Wednesday, November 24, 1999
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

"Blessings Through The Decades"

For the last hundred years, American Thanksgivings have come and gone. We as citizens of this nation have much to be thankful; as a nation, as a parish, as a people of God. This present house of worship is nearing 100 years. Just think of all of the Thanksgiving services, which have been celebrated at this particular house of worship. {96 to be exact!}

This year will mark the last Thanksgiving service of a decade and of a century. Each decade has been important to us in its own unique sense. With each passing decade we recall significant milestones in our life as those important aspect of our life take shape. Through the passing of time we were born, went to school, were confirmed, married, had our children, focused on our career and entered into retirement, each in a particular decade. True, your events may differ from mine, but this century truly has been a very unique one in all of life’s aspects. Over the last hundred years, what have we celebrated in saying thank you?

1900-1909- America was on the move. This was the decade of the exploration of air travel; the birth of aviation happens in the same year that this church building was dedicated. This decade witnessed the birth of the airplane, the telephone, refrigeration, railroad expansion, as well as coast to coast modernization.

1910-1919- America witnessed the suffering of the First World War. Labeled as "the war to end all wars" it was only the first of other wars that were yet to come. Perhaps this decade’s best achievement was the advancement of medicine, which handled various ailments that we often felt incurable. Just wander through the infant row of our church cemetery and you will find many a child that died during this ten year span.

Twenty years into a new century many Americans were witnessing longer and healthier lives due to newfound advances in medicine.

1920-1929- Next came "The roaring 20’s". In this decade we witnessed Woman’s suffrage and the advance of radio. The Lutheran Hour "Bringing Christ to the Nations – and the Nations to the Church" became the first evangelistic radio program and is thus the longest running religious radio outreach to our nation and beyond. Our Synod became known as a voice on the cutting edge of media evangelism. This was the decade in which mainline churches began evangelism outreach. We also entered a stage in which America took greater strides to be a leader in a New World.

1930-1939- Prohibition. The 30’s saw an increase in many of the "isms"; Fascism, Nazism, Communism…the church became more English in worship language and less European. In this parish we held on to our cultural roots retaining German in worship services although English services were begun. In many areas of the Synod German-Lutheranism became "Americanized" during the ‘30’s.

1940-1949- Another war-World War II. America emerged as a world power to be recognized. As the world was on the verge of total annihilation the church responded with a vision of offering hope to a world gone mad. The church was on the dawn of witnessing its greatest growth any time in the history of America. This was the decade in which Lutherans in America began to develop their own identity. The German language took a second place to the English language and city churches soon began the flight to the suburbs.

1950-1959- Our Synod saw a need for more clergy. Synod schools, colleges, and seminaries were at an all time high; graduates from our Synodical institutions of the 50’s are now entering retirement and the clergy and teacher shortages for the next ten years will have to be dealt with seriously.

In the 50’s our parishes began to "reach out" and say thank you for this nation. It was a time in which the "cold war" was in full gear. Consequently the church family began to worship together as never before; programs were at an all-time high remember -the Walther league? Televisions began to appear in nearly every home. As a result of peace time dividends more and more students began to realize the dream of a college education. We became modernized as a nation.

1960-1969- In my opinion, the decade of the sixties was a watershed decade. When this century is studied in the history books of the future, the 60’s will be remembered as what dramatically shaped our culture just as the Civil War helped define the 19th. Century. Consider the impact of these ten years. We landed on the moon and witnessed the British Invasion. The 60's was the decade of Vietnam, the Cuban crisis, free love and Woodstock. The 50’s were long gone; Ozzie and Harriet, Donna Reed- they became a thing of the past. Laugh In became big and so were communes among Christians. A President, Senator, and an Advocate preacher all died by assassination. The summer night of ‘68 were filled with the shrill sounds of sirens, broken glass, and of riots as the cry "burn baby burn" was heard in nearly every corner of the nation, and "YOUTH" was voted man of the year. In the church the question was asked "do we have a direction in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod? A split was already developing in our church body yet no one was ready for it.

1970-1979- The decade of Watergate, the end of Vietnam, and the leisure suit. Speculation is made that family union may become a thing of the past. Loyalty to country is now being questioned.

The church, in the meantime becomes active in community projects. Steel Mills close, factories and mines are shut down. Gas prices go up. The free flow of oil into American interests becomes the fuel that runs the engine of the free world. The family farm is in trouble as government regulations increase while commodity prices decrease. There is disharmony in the heartland as a new paradigm in American agriculture is introduced with much resistance. Nixon resigns while The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod splits apart {1974-1976}. New service formats begin, while traditional churches become suspect.

1980-1989- Pride in the nation returns. Reaganomics, the fall of Communism and a split in Lutheran circles. Aids shows up in the gay community while churches claim that the devil is alive and well upon this earth and we are still twenty years away from the year 2000!

1990-1999- This decade has begun like the other previous nine decades. We have advanced in so many ways- in medicine, in computer technology; there has been an explosion of information in just the past five years…every sermon, every Bible class, every minuet of a church meeting conducted over the past 161 years of Friedheim’s history; all of the church records and so much more is currently housed in six file cabinets. That information now can be "burned" into two CD’s! The Lord has open a window to the world for us. Immigrants from China, Africa, and Eastern Europe are flooding into our area because America still remains the land of plenty. The heartland is no exception. We no longer need to do mission work traveling across the ocean there are peoples from every conceivable culture in our own back yard. When an Anglo-Saxon dies in America one takes his place due to birth or immigration. When a black man dies three take his place due to birth or immigration. When a Hispanic dies five take his place due to birth or immigration. When an Asian dies ten take his place due to birth or immigration! The face of America is changing yet the need for others to hear the Gospel has not changed!

In the 90’s we have witnessed prosperity, growth, and also national disgrace. The church is still split and people talk of near Armageddon.

What do we say to all these things? St. Paul reminds us that "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself not counting our sins against us and He has given us this message of reconciliation". As time marches on we must remember with the Psalmist "My times are in Thy hands" The little children sing "He’s got the whole world in His hands" and so He does!

We make it the habit of marking time. It helps us remain connected to what has happened in the past and it gives us some sort of mark by which to predict the future. Yet, we worship a Savior who is timeless, Who has prepared for us a place where there is no time. As we recall the changes and changes of this ever-churning world may we recall that in Him we live and move and have our being.

He will direct us. He will sustain us. For His mercy, which endures to this present day, may we thank, and praise, serve and obey Him. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. And yes, A Blessed Thanksgiving!

+ Soli Deo Gloria +