Saturday, February 28, 2009

Basketball and Opera

Tammy and I are off this weekend to visit Henry and take in the Sycamore's last home basketball game. 30 years ago "the trees" ended the season 32-0 and would play Michigan State for the NCAA championship game. Bird vs Majic round 1. This year they are at 9-19. Tip off is 2 pm

Next up is to take in Handel's Opera Julius Ceasar at the Jacobs School of Music. This is Lydia's first role on the big stage! She'll be playing Nirena, confident and advisor to Cleopatra. She has also been the cover for the role of Cornelia.

To check out Lydia's bio go here:

The event can be seen over the net at 8 pm ETS at the following link:

Lydia will also be performing next Friday, March 6, on the Musical Arts stage in Bloomington. I am so blessed to have an understanding parish who is allowing us time off to visit the children and a willing able Pr. Michael Barns who will be preaching the next two Sundays.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 – Lent is a Time of Sacrifice – Jeremiah 31:31-34

God our Father through the prophet Jeremiah promises a new covenant to His people. Jeremiah addresses these words to the Jews living in Babylon. Through him God promises to make a new covenant with them. Out of their suffering, sorrow and isolation in exile as slaves, a new covenant will be made. No time was given when the new covenant would be made. Christians see the new covenant made through the blood of Christ. The difference between the old and new covenants is the fact that the law would be in the hearts and God would be known in an intimate and personal relationship. To made this new covenant possible, God promises to forgive and forget the people’s sins.

To effect this new covenant God must forgive the people’s past sins that they may begin anew in their relationship with God as though nothing happened. God not only promises to forgive but to forget. He says he will remember their sins “no more.” This wonderfully good news is that when we confess our sins and are forgiven those sins are blotted out and will no longer be brought up at judgment day. God keeps no tapes for playing back all of our sins.

When God is loved with the heart, there is no need to teach someone who God is. The person will know God instinctively. To know God is not a mere intellectual exercise or understanding but an intimate relationship based on trust.

What is new about a covenant between God and Man? Covenants were made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. The making of a covenant is not new, but this promised covenant would be new. The covenants of the past were only renewals. Here is a whole new deal. God is going to give Israel another chance to be His people. The new covenant was made through the blood of God’s Son.

Lord, by Your Passion You have entered into a new covenant with Your people. Live and dwell within me and never leave.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Friday, February 27, 2009

In Memoriam

Gerhard Werling
Born: 12-3-1925
Baptized: 12-10-1925
Confirmed: 3-17-1949
With Christ in Peace: 2-26-2009
Committal: 3-2-2009
"I am God Almighty - walk before Me and be blameless" - Genesis 17:1

Friday, February 27, 2009 – Lent is a Time of Believing - Numbers 21:4-9

Our lesson for today reminds us that whenever you get lost – trust in God and He’ll save you. The Israelites were led through the desert and they became hungry and started questioning God asking, “Why have You brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?” They did not believe God would lead them to a safe place and provide food, water and shelter. Thus God sent serpents because they did not believe.

After many people died the people repented to Moses who prayed to God for them. God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole and whoever was bitten and look at the pole would live. This lesson shows that when you are in trouble trust in God and He’ll bring you to safety. A hard lesson was learned by these people – never second guess God’s decisions.

Lord, help me to trust in You no matter what the circumstance may be.

-Katie Linnemeier

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009 - Lent is a time of Cleansing – Exodus 20:1-17

Have you ever tried to do well all by yourself? Is it hard? God knows that we as sinners would struggle with daily activities. Remember god will always be there to help us. When we are tempted to do wrong, we must remind ourselves to do good instead. The ten Commandments are the basic law for us as Christians. They remind us of our daily wrong doings and show us that we are always in need of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Heaven is the glory land we all hope to someday witness. Following the Ten Commandments without a single mistake is impossible but that doesn’t mean that Heaven is impossible. With the Ten Commandments reminding us of our Savior, we shall love each other and let the Law and Gospel guide our lives. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection the free gift of eternal life is possible.

Dear Lord, I want to thank You for Your only begotten Son whom You sent to live the Ten Commandments perfectly for me. Let us follow in His footsteps in Your name we pray.

-Ryan Gross
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday - Psalm 6

Ash Wednesday
February 25, 2009
From St. Matthew’s Passion - Matthew 26:36-46
Psalm 6
Deliver Me from My Sins and My Enemies
A Dark Night

Psalm 6 is known as the first of seven penitential psalms - songs of confession and humility before God. It was a custom in the early church to sing these psalms on Ash Wednesday, and on the Wednesday of Holy Week. The title of this Psalm is, “To the Chief Musician…With stringed instruments…On an eight-stringed harp…A Psalm of David.”

David wrote Psalms 6 during a time when he was in a great deal of physical and emotional pain. David was sick to the point of his bones aching; his eyes are red and swollen from lack of sleep. He has enemies all around him. If that wasn't bad enough, he felt like the Lord had left him because He was angry with him.

We've all felt like that at some point in our lives, and probably will again. We feel like at the lowest, most painful point in our life, when everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, everyone is against us, we're physically sick, we feel like the Lord is far from us and not hearing our prayers for mercy.

David was a physically strong man of war. He was a spiritually strong man, a man after God's own heart. David was a man of great power and wealth, the King of Israel. None of these things kept sickness and emotional distress from touching his life, but David's ability to pray, to know how to talk to the Lord his God, delivered him from physical and emotional distress he was in.

Most likely, David wrote Psalm 6 after a sleepless night. It seems that David was going through a trying time in his life and felt that there was a connection between his suffering and a sin he had committed. He had been brought low by what he considered to be God’s chastisement.


A. He Speaks about His Excuse: “I am weak” (6:1-5)

1. His Plight (6:1-3) O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long? David describes himself as "Drooping as a blighted plant” and "languishing” Jesus places Himself in the hands of the Father, knowing that of Himself he can do nothing.

B. “My soul is in anguish”
a. David's exhaustion from a sin-related illness,

b. Christ's exhaustion from the conflict with "sin" -- caused by the unclean, defiling "disease" of human nature. The stress and agony in a constant denial of his flesh, especially at the end, as is seen in the Scriptures concerning Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 52:14; Just as there were many who were appalled at him his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness

Isaiah 53:2-4; He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

Luke 22:43, 44 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground

C. “How long?”
a. David cries. That is, David asks the Lord, how long before deliverance comes? With God, what (humanly speaking) seems to be "delay" is actually the orderly maturing of His purposes. Our problem is the inability to discern, in a frenzied age like ours, the slow but inevitable out workings of God's timetable.
b. Note that David does not deny that he deserves God’s rebuke; he asks that it not be in anger (David knew that the wrath of God was not to be taken lightly; nor could it be resisted).
c. There is not a one of us here who will be able to resist God’s wrath when Christ comes again. None of us will demand justice be done when Christ comes again. We will all plead for God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

2. His Plea (6:4-5)
A. Along the Line of Mercy. SAVE ME BECAUSE OF YOUR UNFAILING LOVE: "Now my heart 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" (John 12:27).
a. David had a sense of God’s displeasure and felt a distance between him and God (“Return, O Lord…..”). He was weary in his groaning and was “swimming in a bed of tears.” "That eye of his that had looked and lusted after his neighbor's wife is now dimmed and darkened with grief and indignation. He had wept himself almost blind". ALL NIGHT LONG I FLOOD MY BED WITH WEEPING AND DRENCH MY COUCH WITH TEARS:
b. Christ's 'bed' was the ground, in Gethsemane, where "with strong crying and tears". He sought relief from the burden He bore. Hebrews 5:7 tells us “During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”

c. Along the Line of Memory. His sin is always before Him. He can’t get it out of his head. Words, spoken in anger, actions filled with hate, thoughts filled with rage. They are always before Him. He can’t forget.

B. He Speaks about His Exercise:
“I am weary” (6:6-7)

a. He Was Warn Out (6:6) I am weary from my groaning…I drench my couch with tears.”

C. He was Waxing Old (6:7) ”My eye wastes away because of grief. It grows old because of all my enemies.”

3. DAVID’S SUDDEN CONFIDENCE (6:8-10) In verse 8 is where David changes his prayer, he quits complaining and begins to speak faith...'for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.... (Verse 9) The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer'. 'Hath' is a present tense word, the Lord HAS heard. Nothing has changed for David yet. He is still sick, his eyes still swollen from crying, enemies are still around him, but he speaks faith. He prayed, now he believes.

A. His Fears Are Stilled (6:8-9) Our Lord does not ask His people to suffer without purpose. Rather He uses our suffering for good; for our good and for our neighbor's good, and He joins us also to the suffering of Christ, who did not love His life to the end but laid it down for ours. Thus David will say, “Depart from me all you workers of iniquity; for the Lord has heart the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication.” The Lord has promised to hear. The Lord has promised to act. This is why He sent His Son into our world to bear our sin, to carry our load, to be the sacrifice for sin.

B. His Foes Are Stopped (6:10) “Let all my enemies be ashamed…let them turn back and be ashamed suddenly.” We do not suffer alone. In our suffering, in our misery, in our unhappiness we need not despair. For Christ has come not only to redeem but also to restore us back to the Father. When we receive mercy from our Lord our enemies are defeated and we are tormented no more.

Throughout this journey of Lent, as we focus on the cries and prayers of David through the psalms they will touch us emotionally, spiritually. They will speak of our human and broken condition. They will point us to Christ who bore our sin patiently.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Wednesday February 25, 2009 - Ash Wednesday - Genesis 28:10-17

Lent is a time of suffering. Consider Jacob. He had stolen his father’s blessing from his brother Esau. When their mother heard of Esau’s plan to kill Jacob as soon as Isaac dies, she advised Jacob to flee to her brother, Laban. Jacob flees and on his way to Laban, when night comes he lies down to sleep, using a stone as a pillow. He experiences forsakenness – alone, estranged from his family, in a strange land, his future uncertain. In this extremity, God comes and promises to protect and prosper him. Jacob awakens with amazement that God is with and for him.

Jacob used a stone for a pillow, and still he slept! But it was not a sound sleep, for he had dreams that night he ran away from home. He made his bed by cheating his brother of his birthright and his father’s blessing, and now he must lie in it: the hard, cold ground with a stone for a pillow! It was a stone of loneliness, rejection, and hostility. Even here in this condition God came to him with words of comfort and assurance. In the depth of our existence God comes to us.

Today we begin the journey of Lent for this is Ash Wednesday. We consider our sin with the ashes of repentance. No matter how lonely your plight, be assured that the Savior has come to bear your sin and carry your load.

Almighty and everlasting God, You despise nothing You have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create in us new and contrite hearts that lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness we may receive from You full pardon and forgiveness.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 - Faith tested by Suffering - Romans 8:21-29

Fyodor Dostoevsky, the great 19th century Russian author of The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, and Notes from the Underground, suffered greatly. He grew up with an abusive father, lived with epilepsy, was nearly executed in a political mess (and consequently spent years in a Siberian prison) was poor his whole life, had a gambling addiction, and lost his three – year – old son Alexei to illness.

But Dostoevsky is also recognized as one of the world’s greatest Christian writers, his works containing themes of redemption and the cleansing power of suffering. This is very much reflected in his works, and the characters who sink the lowest are often those who find peace and the self proclaimed righteous are put down.

In The Brothers Karamazov Alexei Karamazov is preparing for a life as a monk. He hides from a broken family life in the monastery in an attempt to rid himself of the sensuality that pervaded and wrecked his family. But Alexei’s mentor at the monastery, the Elder Zosima, urges him to go out in the world, saying that faith can only be sincere unless it is tested. Alexei’s faith could not be tested within the monastery, and Christianity and being a believer would not save him from his suffering.

In the same way, being a Christian does not make life easy. A life in Christ did not stop the suffering of the original twelve apostles, or many early Christians, or of Dostoevsky, or of countless others.

Yet suffering, as Dostoevsky believed has an incredible cleansing and grounding power. It is in spite of pain and suffering that we believe. If God can redeem Mary Magdalene, the thief on the cross, and those that killed His son, then we can also be redeemed and saved.

Lord by Thy passion may we learn to endure suffering and by it ever seek Thy mercy and peace.

-Lydia Dahling
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Time in the Word Lent 1

The theme for the First Sunday in Lent is The Way of the Cross Leads to the Testing of Faith. The devil hates God, but is unable to defeat Him. In fact, the devil knows that it is he who has already been defeated by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This does not mean, however, that the devil is not still a dangerous enemy. Terrorists and mobsters know that, when you are unable to defeat a man head-on, you go after his family, the ones he loves. So it is, that the devil attacks the family of God, the ones He loves, that is, us. He will bring temptation and adversity into our lives to try and separate us from our Creator and Redeemer. When such tribulation comes to us, we must cling all the more tightly to the Words and promises of God, who tells us ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ (Joshua 1:5)
Monday, 23 February 2009—Psalm 91:9–13; antiphon, Psalm 91:15–16—The Introit sets the theme for the day: that, in times of trouble, the Lord is our only sure dwelling place and refuge. The Lord loves everyone who puts his trust in Him, and so He promises, ‘When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.’

Tuesday, 24 February 2009—Psalm 25:1–10—In this psalm, David prays for God’s mercy when he is under attack by his enemies. He asks the Lord to remember His mercy and steadfast love, and not to look upon David’s sins. We do the same when we pray the Lord’s prayer. We ask God to deliver us from evil, and, in praying ‘Forgive us our trespasses,’ we pray that ‘our Father in heaven would not look upon our sins, nor on their account deny our prayer.’ (Small Catechism)

Wednesday, 25 February 2009—Genesis 22:1–18—Our Old Testament reading is a familiar one: the testing of Abraham. When we New Testament believers hear this account, it reminds us of our Savior Jesus. Jehovahjireh—The Lord Will Provide—supplies a substitute for Isaac. The ram is caught by its horns, and thus remains unblemished, the perfect sacrifice. Likewise, the Lord offered up His Son Jesus on the cross to be our substitute. He was the perfect sacrifice, unblemished by the taint of sin.
Thursday, 26 February 2009—James 1:12–18—When we are baptized, it is as if a bull’s-eye is painted on us. The devil will attack us, for he knows that, in Baptism, we are washed clean of our sins, and are made the children of God. When temptation comes, therefore, as it surely will, we must remain steadfast in the faith we received at Baptism. We do this by reading and hearing God’s Word, by daily remembering our Baptism, and by being regular in our church attendance, where we confess our sins and receive absolution and where we receive the Lord’s Supper for the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening and nurturing of our faith.
Friday, 27 February 2009—Mark 1:9–15—After our Lord’s Baptism, the Spirit led Him into the desert to suffer temptation at the hands of the devil. He endured the same temptations as were presented to Adam and Eve in the Garden—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, as the holy Evangelist John names them (1 John 2:16). Unlike our first parents (and us), however, He does not give into temptation, but resists the devil with the words of Holy Scripture.
Saturday, 28 February 2009—The great hymn of the Reformation, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (LSB 656), is our hymn of the day. It reminds us that, though the devil is a formidable foe, one whom we are unable to overcome on our own, he has been defeated by the Word made flesh, our Savior Jesus. ‘Our victory has been won; The Kingdom ours remaineth.’
Collect for the First Sunday in Lent—O Lord God, You led Your ancient people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide the people of Your Church that following our Savior we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der B├╝cher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures).

Pr. Jeff Keuning Dexter, IA contributed to this week's Time in the Word

Monday, February 23, 2009 Abraham’s faith is tested Genesis 22:1-18

No “but” about it. Could our fathers at Zion Friedheim offer up their sons to God? Abraham had so much faith in God that he went to offer his son Isaac. Abraham did not ask any questions. There is no “but” about it. Abraham’s faith is what God wants ours to be. Not to offer our sins, but to listen to God’s word and to trust that word. He doesn’t want us to ask any questions whenever He tells us to do something. God wants us to have no “but” about it.

If you do everything God wants you to do, whether you think it is right or not, He knows what is best for us. God pretty much tested Abraham’s faith. Yet God knew that Abraham’s faith was strong enough because Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son. Abraham somehow knew that God would provide.

God provided a ram too be sacrificed instead of Abraham’s son Isaac. The point of this devotion is just do what God says and has no “but” about it. God will see to it that things will work out for the best.

Dear heavenly Father, I wish to thank You for the wonderful day You have given us this day. With You will let us obey Your commands as we will one day be with You in Your heavenly home. In You name we pray.

-Jacob Bergman
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009 - The Transfiguration of our Lord - Mark 9:2-9

Today begins the preparation for the season of Lent. On the Mount Jesus is transfigured before three of His disciples as the Father declares Him to the His only Son in whom He is well pleased. Coming down from the mountain the Savior tells them not to repeat this story until He is risen from the dead.

During this special season we come down from the mountain of glory to the valley of suffering where we will witness the various aspects of the Saviour’s passion, suffering conflict and pain. At the end of this season we will rise with Him on another mountain, the mountain of victory at the empty tomb. As we journey together we will come to the same conclusion as these disciples that this Jesus is none other then the Savior of the world; the Father’s only Son, our Lord and our redeemer.

Let us walk with the Savior during this season as we enter this journey of Lent…

O God, in the glorious Transfiguration of Your beloved Son You confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the testimony of Moses and Elijah, and in the voice that came from the bright cloud You wonderfully foreshowed our adoption by grace. Mercifully make us co-heirs with the King of His glory and bring us to the fullness of our inheritance in heaven; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Transfiguration Sunday

O Wondrous Type! O Vision Fair of Glory that the Church may Share,
Which Christ upon the mountain shows, Where Brighter than the sun He glows!

The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ was and is an historic occasion. The challenge for me, the preacher and you, the listener, is to answer the question “so what?” What does the fact that the Lord Jesus was transfigured mean to you living in the 21st Century? How is it relevant to your daily life? What is the Lord saying to us in this experience? Let us take a look.

1. The Lord’s glorious Transfiguration is an example to follow – go to a mountain of prayer. “Jesus went to a mountain where they were all alone.” Vs. 2 It was Jesus’ pattern to pray. It was Jesus’ pattern to get away from the crowd, away from the hustle of life, away from His plans and priorities. We too are busy people. There are commitments and deadlines, appointments and schedules that have to be kept. Yet, Jesus first priority was to His heavenly Father. He said to Mary and Joseph, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49) He said to his disciples, ‘But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) In the midst of our busy lives we need to turn off the computer, disengage the cell phone, walk away from our television series and spend both quality and quantity time with the Lord in prayer.

2. The Lord’s glorious Transfiguration gives us a sin to avoid. “Let us put up three shelters— one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (Vs.5) Peter may have desired to erect a new tent of meeting where God could again communicate with His people. (Exodus 29:42). Possibly he was thinking of the booths used at the Feast of Tabernacles. (Leviticus 23:42) In any case, he seemed eager to find fulfillment of the promised glory then. Yet, the promised glory will only come in the suffering that is necessary for salvation. When liturgy becomes cold formalism, when ritual shadows true piety, when ceremony crowds out true worship we are making idols of our traditions. We need to keep the main thing the main thing in our worship practice as St. Paul encouraged, “I determine to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)

3. The Lord’s glorious Transfiguration gives us a prayer to echo. “Peter said to Jesus, Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.” (Vs 5) Peter’s response to the Transfiguration was half right and half wrong. He was wrong in suggesting the building of booths, but he was altogether right when he said it was good for the disciples to be there. It is truly good for us to be in the assembly of God’s people like Moses and Elijah. It is good for us to hear God’s holy Word. There is nothing better than to see the glory of Jesus Christ. Worship at its best is found when we place our focus on Jesus Christ and His words and promises for us found in the Scriptures.

4. The Lord’s glorious Transfiguration gives us a purpose in our lives –the command to obey. “Listen to Him” (Vs.7) We come not just to a worship service but in service we worship Him. Worship, at its best calls for us to follow and obey the Savior. We listen and we obey. Christ has called us to discipleship. He calls us to obedience. Worship at its very best calls us to be new people, new people in Jesus Christ. He calls us to follow Him as He guides and as He leads.

We began this season of Epiphany this year with John reminding us, “He must increase, I must decrease.” (John 3:30) We conclude this season with the same instruction. We follow Him as He guides and directs us. Worship at its best is a challenge for each of us to heed the voice of the Savior.

When we return to this holy house in three days we will begin the pilgrimage of following Jesus to the cross and open tomb. As we follow Him down from the mountain of Transfiguration to the Mount of Olives, to a hill called Golgotha, to the open tomb may we experience Jesus in His glory hidden at that time but now fully revealed to us. As we do this, not only will we find worship at its best we will truly worship Him in spirit and in truth. In Jesus’ name.

O Father, with the eternal Son and Holy Spirit ever one,
We pray Thee; bring us by Thy grace to see thy glory face to face.

Let Us enter the journey of Lent...

Tomorrow is Transfiguration Sunday. Our congregation will be reading through a devotional book written for and by the members of our Friedheim family. There will be devotions based on hymns, characters of Christ's ordeal, objects of His passion, the Psalms and the stations of the cross. Each day a new devotion will appear. Blessings as we enter the journey of Lent
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Time in the Word - Transfiguration Sunday

The theme for the Transfiguration of Our Lord is The Vision Glorious. Peter, James, and John were privileged to go with our Lord onto a mountain and see Him transfigured. That is, they were given a brief glimpse of His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). St Luke tells us that Jesus talked with Moses and Elijah about His departure (Luke 9:31), that is, His impending death, resurrection, and ascension. It is a strange concept for the natural man, his understanding clouded by sin, to see the death of Jesus as something glorious, but it is precisely at the cross that the glory of Christ is made known to us. For it is on account of this work of Christ that Moses, Elijah, and all the saints in heaven have been received into glory. This is also the eternal destiny of all who put their trust in Him and His atoning sacrifice.

Time in the Word16–21 February 2009Preparation for next week, The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Monday, 16 February 2009—Psalm 112:1, 3, 7–9; antiphon, Psalm 112:4—Psalm 112 speaks of the blessedness of the man who fears the Lord. This psalm is a complement to the preceding psalm, which tells of the blessings, physical and spiritual, which God bestows upon us. Those who trust in Him—who fear the Lord—show their gratefulness to Him by their lives, which are conformed to His will. The one who trust in the Lord greatly delights in His commandments.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009—Psalm 50:1–6—The opening line of Sunday’s psalm heaps up divine titles: Mighty One, God, the Lord. This psalm was used in the temple liturgy, where the singers of it acknowledge that they will worship only the one, true God. Even the earth and the heavens declare His righteousness.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009—2 Kings 2:1–12—Elijah was one of the greatest of the prophets of God, remaining faithful and proclaiming God’s Word even when nearly all of Israel had apostatized. He is one of only two people in Scripture who didn’t die; rather, God took him—in a fiery chariot. The last verses of the Old Testament, Malachi 4:5-6, prophesy that Elijah would appear before the coming of the Messiah. Jesus said that John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy (Matt. 11:14); later, Elijah appeared with Jesus at His transfiguration.

Thursday, 19 February 2009—2 Corinthians 3:12–13; 4:1–6—When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, from speaking with the Lord, the children of Israel were afraid to look upon him, because his face shone from being in the presence of God. They made Moses wear a veil over his face. (Exodus 34:29-35) As this veil concealed from the Israelites the transient character of the old covenant and its orders, so now when the Law (Moses) is read they cannot see the real significance of the Law as witness, together with the prophets, to the newly revealed righteousness of God in the Gospel. But, when we are brought to faith in Christ, the veil is removed, and we recognize that Christ is the fulfillment of the Law.

Friday, 20 February 2009—Mark 9:2–9—Three of the disciples—Peter, James, and John—were privileged to go up on a mountain with Christ, as He was transfigured before them. That is, His glory as the Son of God, normally masked by His humanity, was clearly shown. Elijah and Moses appear with Him, and they discuss His impending death (Luke 9:31). Peter, James, and John are witnesses of the glory which awaits Christ beyond the cross.

Saturday, 21 February 2009—The words of Peter on the mount of transfiguration we make our own in the Hymn of the Day: ‘Tis Good, Lord, to Be Here (LSB 414). We, too, are privileged to be in the presence of Christ; when we gather for worship, when we receive absolution, and when we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are in the presence of Christ, the Son of God come down from heaven, born of a virgin, transfigured, crucified, died, and rose again.

Collect for TransfigurationO God, in the glorious transfiguration of Your beloved Son You confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the testimony of Moses and Elijah. In the voice that came from the bright cloud You wonderfully foreshowed our adoption by grace. Mercifully make us co-heirs with the King in His glory and bring us to the fullness of our inheritance in heaven; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Thanks to Pr. Jeff Keuning from Dexter IA who contributed this month's Time in the Word.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Special Service on Marriage

Introduction: In this service our aim and objective is to affirm and give thanks to God for the enrichment of our lives through marriage. We have come here today to give thanks to God for the many blessings given to us in times of joy and in times of sorrow. Included in your service folders are the names of the couples within our Friedheim family from the couple who has been married the longest Marvin and Lorena Conrad (67 years) to our most recent married couple Aaron and Amber Conrad. (3 months)
There are 181 couples within our Friedheim family. The medium couple is Kent and Monica Stoppenhagen married September 22, 1990. 90 couples have been married longer, 90 couple have been married shorter.
In the past five years 40 couples have been married. 7 are scheduled to be married in 2009.

Is it only mere coincidence that Jesus’ first miracle happened within the context of a wedding? I would think not. As the Savior began His ministry performing a miracle no doubt, He is saying something significant to us. Where does the Savior choose to act? He chooses to act in the lives of His people. He chooses to act in your life. The signs which He displayed were not simply to show Himself off but to demonstrate what His power accomplishes for the people whom He loves.

Miracle texts are divided into three parts; they are easy for us to remember – someone’s in trouble, Jesus helps, and everyone’s happy. As the Savior intervenes in the lives of this nameless, faceless couple so He has promised to perform a miracle in your life as well.

1. Someone’s in trouble.
A. In this case they have no more wine.
1. This couple had planned for the best yet despite their best laid plans trouble came their way.

2. In any relationship, despite our best laid plans troubles come.
a. Financial

b. Health issues

c. Communication issues due to unresolved conflicts which may fester for years.

d. The “stuff of living”

B. Mary responds.

1. Apparently she knew the couple.

a. She had been invited along with Jesus and His disciples.

b. Have you invited Jesus to be at the center of your family living?

2. She knew Jesus could help

a. As yet Jesus hadn’t performed any miracles. He was “unknown” to most people.

b. Yet, she knew of the promises attributed to Him.

c. The advice to the servants is the best advice to anyone “whatever He tells us –Do it!”

1. His Word is clear

2. May we act on His Word!

2. A Miracle Happens! Jesus helps!

A. It is the Best the master of the feast had ever tasted

1. Jesus only gives the best.

2. There are no leftovers concerning Jesus

B. Would you think anything less of Jesus?

1. He will only act favorably toward His children.

2. This is how He chooses to act in your life.

3. The people rejoice as everyone is happy.

A. This miracle of Jesus had a powerful influence on the disciples.

1. John tells us that it was the first of Jesus miraculous sings.

2. It revealed His glory – His deity, His ability, His love – so powerfully that at once”His disciples put their faith in Him.

a. If they hadn’t believed in Him as Messiah before –they did now.

b. If they hadn’t believed firmly before, they did now.

c. Jesus made a radical change in the lives of His disciples. He brought them from unbelief to faith.

B. The miracles of Jesus are to make radical changes in your life.

1. The first radical change that He makes is to bring us, as He did the disciples, from unbelief to faith in Him as the One sent by God to save us from sin and every evil.

2. Through His gift of faith He restores us to God as His own forever through the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

a. In connection with this new faith relationship with God, Jesus begins radically to change the way we act.

b. We begin to become new creatures and to live for Him who died for us and rose again as St. Paul writes so clearly in 2 Corinthians 5.

c. Jesus also changes the ordinary circumstances of our lives for us as we turn to Him for guidance from day to day. He may order and radically alter our affairs and the affairs of people around us for our benefit. He bids us to love to Him for His intervention in every time of need. (Luke 11:9-10)

Conclusion: Jesus does not stop making radical changes in our lives. Because we are His, He is continually turning the water of our lives into excellent wine. He stays close to us in Word and Sacrament so that we move continually from unbelief to faith, from selfishness to love, from despair to hope. He enables us to learn from our sin and mistakes. He works in the evil that touches our lives to produce good as St. Paul explains in Romans 8:28-39. In this we experience the inspired water of our lives being radically changed into the best wine.

Today we rejoice with a bride and a groom of long ago that Jesus turned water into wine. It reminds us that He has made and does make radical changes that affect our lives. This is a time not only to recognize what he has done and to thank Him but also to look to Him today and every day for the radical changes that we so desperately need, especially for His gifts of faith and hoe and live. We are bold to do this not simply because He turned water into wine but because “he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who dies for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15) We have beheld His glory, and we have put our faith in Him.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Time in the Word - Epiphany 6

The theme for the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany is God’s Glory Manifested in Cleansing. In the Old Testament reading, Naaman’s (eventual) obedience brings cleansing of his leprosy; in the Gospel reading, Jesus heals a leper.

Sickness and disease are consequences of sin in the world. Jesus came into the world to relieve us of all the consequences of sin. First and foremost, His atoning death on the cross paid for our sins, and removed the consequences of our estrangement from God and punishment of everlasting torment in hell. At the Last Day, he will raise us up bodily, and we shall dwell with Him eternally in body and soul, but with bodies that are glorified, and no longer subject to the ravages of time and disease.

While He was here on earth, Jesus began this work of restoring His creation to its pristine state by healing the diseases of many, such as the leper in Mark 1:40–45.

Monday, 9 February 2009Psalm 112:1, 3, 7–9; antiphon, Psalm 112:4—Psalm 112 speaks of the blessedness of the man who fears the Lord. This psalm is a complement to the preceding psalm, which tells of the blessings, physical and spiritual, which God bestows upon us. Those who trust in Him—who fear the Lord—show their gratefulness to Him by their lives, which are conformed to His will. The one who trust in the Lord greatly delights in His commandments.
Tuesday, 10 February 2009Psalm 30—This psalm of David is written and sung in gratitude for the Lord’s deliverance. He thanks the Lord for physical blessings in vv. 1–5, and thanks Him for adversity in vv. 6–10. Thanking the Lord for adversity? Yes, because it was just that which caused David to turn from his pride and trust in himself, and to plead to the Lord for mercy. Thus, the Lord has turned his mourning into dancing, resulting in David’s pledge to give thanks to You forever!
Wednesday, 11 February 20092 Kings 5:1–14—What would you do to be healed of a horrible disease? Naaman was willing to do almost anything—except place his trust in the Lord and in His prophet. When his unbelief was pointed out by his servants, he relented, and was healed, as God had said through the prophet Elisha. Verse 15, not included in our reading, shows that Naaman then trusted in the one, true God.
Thursday, 12 February 20091 Corinthians 10:31—11;1—St Paul boasts, not of himself, but of the Gospel. What a privilege it is for him, and all of us, to proclaim the Good News of salvation in Christ Jesus! He cannot but go out to all—Jew, Gentile, weak, strong—and proclaim the forgiveness that belongs to all men through the merits of Christ.
Friday, 13 February 2009Mark 1:40–45—We live in a fallen world. One of the effects sin has on our world is disease. When Jesus walked here on earth, He healed diseases, beginning the work of restoring the fallen creation. When He died on the cross, he won the victory over sin and the devil. On the Last Day, that victory will be brought to fulfillment, as the present heaven and earth pass away, to be replaced by a new heaven and earth—one in which there is no sickness or disease.
Saturday, 14 February 2009—The hymn of the day, Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (LSB 700), tells us that God is the source of all love, and Jesus is the manifestation of that love. In the Gospel reading for to-morrow, Jesus heals a leper from a horrible disease, because of His compassion and love. We, then, in the hymn, ask God to heal us of the disease of our sinfulness, that we might love as He loves us.
Collect for Epiphany 6O Lord, graciously hear the prayers of Your people that we who justly suffer the consequence of our sin may be mercifully delivered by Your goodness to the glory of Your name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Epiphany 5

When we seek relief From a long-felt grief, When temptations come alluring, Make us patient and enduring, Show us that bright shore Where we weep no more.

Introduction: Sometimes life just stinks! Often life is not a bowl of cherries. There is a seamy side of life. It is a life that is “one damn thing after another.” Life can be hard, tough, disappointing, and often painful.

Living under the constant fear of God’s judgment caused Martin Luther to confess with regularity even the slightest offense to his spiritual guide Johann Staupitz. Staupitz, who served as the chaplain of the University of Wittenburg where Luther taught Theology, eventually grew tired of Luther’s perpetual appeals for forgiveness and said to him, “God is not mad at you. You are mad at God.”

Luther had a word for this kind of terror. He called it Anfectung. Although there is no English word that corresponds exactly to this German phrase, we know that Luther was expressing the deepest kind of darkness that one can ever experience when his worst moments of terror, depression, doubt and despair are all combine in the darkest of days. C. S. Lewis in his work “The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe” described it as being always winter and never Christmas!

All three of our lessons call our attention not only to the reality of suffering but they point to the Great Physician who is able to cure and heal. They point to healing from that suffering as the Savior comes to us in our great need. You are not alone in your suffering. Your Savior walks with you.

As you consider the pains you as a believer in Christ must endure we will find three significant forms of suffering.

1. Personal suffering – the depths of human suffering – Job 7:1-7 - Why is life so hard? Why do we suffer? Job suffered more in a short episode of his life than most of us do in a life-time. His question is reasonable: Why is his life so hard? Is God unhappy with him? Is it some kind of curse? Is it karma- judgment for deeds in a previous life?Job certainly didn't understand why his life was so chaotic, but he did hold on to God. Sin in the form of sickness and weakness can often beset us. This was Job’s lot in life. He was not being punished for any particular sin. To the contrary Satan argued that Job would fall like a house of cards if trouble entered his life. This is Satan’s tactic - to bring misery into our lives so that we would give up hope.

Even at the end of the story there is no answer given to his question “Why is life so hard?” The answer to the “Why?” question can only be really worked through when we cling to God in grim determination, knowing that His love sustains us.

Transition: There is one’s personal suffering. Then there is the suffering we share mutually.

2. Vicarious sufferings – sharing others’ misery – 1 Corinthians 9:16-23 - We have all known people who have become hardened and embittered by the challenges faced in life. They tend to be chronic complainers who feel entitled to the sympathy of others, yet their constant cries repel their friends and family.

On the other hand are the quietly thankful folk who see life as a series of challenges to be faced. Suffering is something to be dealt with, lived through, learned from, and redeemed. This is a very different perspective than the victims who meet every trial with resistance, resentment, and anger.

Transition: As difficult as our suffering might be whether it be our, or others, or both it shall not last.

3. Temporary suffering – the solution of our suffering – Mark 1:29-39

Jesus makes known who He is by demonstrating His authority. Last week, He showed that He has authority over the unclean spirits; this week, He demonstrates His authority also over sickness and disease.

He does His proper work, delivering people from the effects of sin. By healing diseases and casting out demons, He foreshadows His eventual defeat of the power of sin and the devil by His death at Calvary.

Jesus overpowered evil. Everyone searches for Jesus because He heals all kinds of diseases. Jesus begins His public ministry with healing both mental and physical illnesses. Only God can heal! By restoring people to health Jesus shakes Satan’s kingdom and arrives to offer the people new life.

The Good News is that His kingdom is at hand. Jesus broke into time and space at Christmas. He began His work at His Baptism and fulfilled it on Easter morning when He broke from the tomb. In repentance and faith we experience His power in our lives. The same power He demonstrated to the people in all the areas of Galilee is what we experience every time He comes to us in His Word and Sacraments – to give us His strength, His peace, His purpose, His power!

We put our hope in His mercy and unfailing love and receive power to endure sin and the trials in our lives. David put it this way in (Psalm 147:10-11) “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”

As we live in a world of sin and sickness we do not always understand WHY the righteous suffer. But we trust that Christ is in control and His will is best. He remains in control. He promises us the final victory in Christ.

Jesus lifts us up by His almighty power. Here we have not only compassion but also the power of Jesus to heal. The love and compassion of Christ always gives us a lift; a lift from sickness to health, from despair to hope, from sin to holiness, from death to life.

His death and resurrection win the victory “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the first-fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:20-26

Jesus lead Thou on Till our rest is won, Heav’nly leader, still direct us, Still support, consol, protect us, Till we safely stand In our fatherland.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Time in the Word - Epiphany 5

Collect for Epiphany 5—O Lord, keep Your family the Church continually in the true faith that, relying on the hope of Your heavenly grace, we may ever be defended by Your mighty power; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Monday, 26 January 2009Psalm 13:3–5; antiphon, Psalm 13:6—This psalm of David reflects the believer’s trust in the Lord to deliver him from the tribulations of this world. When we are in misery, the psalm encourages us with the good news that the Lord has accomplished the salvation of those who trust in Him (v. 5). Our response, then, is reflected in the antiphon: I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009Psalm 147:1–11—This is a song of praise to the greatness of the Lord, who manifests His greatness not just in mighty works, such as determining the number of stars, and giving them all their names, but especially because of His steadfast love which causes Him to heal the brokenhearted and lift up the humble. For this reason, it is no chore to sing praises to Him, but it is good to sing praises to our God, for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009Isaiah 40:21–31—This is part of a larger section in which the Lord directs Isaiah to Comfort, comfort My people (Isa 40:1) with the good news of forgiveness of sins. This portion tells us that nothing can stand in the way of the Lord and His plan of salvation. He brings those who would oppose Him to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. There can be no doubt that He will accomplish that which He promises, for the LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary. When our human frailness would cause us to despair, we take comfort that He gives power to the faint and that they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength.

Thursday, 29 January 20091 Corinthians 9:16–27—St Paul boasts, not of himself, but of the Gospel. What a privilege it is for him, and all of us, to proclaim the Good News of salvation in Christ Jesus! He cannot but go out to all—Jew, Gentile, weak, strong—and proclaim the forgiveness that belongs to all men through the merits of Christ.

Friday, 30 January 2009Mark 1:29–39—The Epiphany—manifestation— of our Lord continues as Jesus makes known who He is by demonstrating His authority. Last week, He showed that He has authority over the unclean spirits; this week, He demonstrates His authority also over sickness and disease. He does His proper work, delivering people from the effects of sin. By healing diseases and casting out demons, He foreshadows His eventual defeat of the power of sin and the devil by His death at Calvary.

Saturday, 31 January 2009—The hymn of the day, Hail to the Lord’s Anointed (LSB 398), is a fitting hymn of praise to the Son of God made flesh and anointed at His Baptism. Especially in stanza 2, it recounts His coming to heal those beset by the consequence of sin in the world. But more than providing just physical relief, He comes that their darkness turn to light, to relieve us from the eternal consequences of sin.

This month’s daily devotionals were written by Pastor Jeffrey Keuning who serves the congregations at St. John, Dexter Iowa and Zion, Casey, Iowa.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Epiphany 4

Introduction: In our day we have almost a revulsion against people in authority – preachers, teachers, state officials, parents. The list seems endless. We seem to resent an authority figure because it seems to say we are dominated, directed and denied our independence. We desire to be free to make our own decisions and to do our own thing. In our Gospel Jesus appears as an authority figure and yet the people seem to like it. They are favorably impressed and marvel at His authority. Can we feel the same about Jesus today? Let’s look at Him and the authority He demonstrates.

Consider Jesus as an authority figure today.

1. The source of His authority – who he is – Vs. 24 What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are— the Holy One of God!

A. When confronted by the One who has the words of life the demons must be placed into submission. They know who He is – Most people knew Him as Jesus the carpenter; the man from Nazareth, the son of Mary and her husband Joseph. Now He will go by a different name. He is the Holy One of God – the Savior of the world.

B. As Savior, Jesus will do the will of His Father which is to destroy the works of the devil. Already the demon must place himself into submission. Already he knows he is finished. Already he knows the Son of man has come to destroy the works of the devil. “Have you come to destroy us?” The demon asks.

The demon is no match for the Savior. Every time he confronts the Savior - the devil and his host - the demons find themselves defeated!

1. He was defeated in heaven. And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Revelation 12:7-9

2. He was defeated at the cruel cross of Calvary when the Son of God cried “It is finished!”

3. He will also be defeated in your life – personally - when he tempts and attempts to torment you. Already the victory is yours if you would look to Him who was lifted up on the bloody cross and who broke free from the sealed tomb. As you avail yourselves with those means which He supplies you - His cross; His Supper; His absolution; the demon must leave and flee!

2. The authority of His knowledge is found in His teaching – Vs. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law

A. The authority of Jesus was expressed in both word and deed. He impressed the congregation with His authority and astonished them with His ability (and authority) to cast out a demon. It was an authority without being an authoritarian;which people do not admire.

B. Jesus’ authority was different from other religious leaders. Their authority was second-hand as derived from past “authorities.” Jesus had the authority of His identity as “the holy One of God.” His authority was based on who He is.

3. His authority over evil – Vv. 25-26 Be quiet! said Jesus sternly. Come out of him! The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

A. The One with authority has spoken - the demons are no match - they are defeated by Him who cares for your soul. In this Epiphany season we see Him who commands our respect for He speaks and acts as one who has authority – even the demons submit, shake and shudder!

B.This man was in “church” worshipping and listening to a sermon proclaimed by the best preacher ever to come on earth. An “unclean” person is one possessed by an evil spirit.

Is it strange to you that he would be in the synagogue? This should remind us that evil is present in people who are faithful, religious persons.

We are at the same time both sinners and saints. We possess both an Old Adam as well as a New Man. Christians are not perfect people. Thus we must remember that the church is not a museum of saints but a hospital of diseased people in need of a cure.

C.Having come to the Great Physician this man receives his treatment. When we come to Him needing treatment - where do we find the therapy and medicine that we need? We find it in what He alone can prescribe – He gives us His Word and Sacrament – He gives us Himself –for in the care of Jesus our Great Physician – the cure for our souls is found.

Conclusion: It is one thing to have authority and it is another to have that authority accepted. True lack of respect for authority is a problem of our day. But we can not simply demand respect and think it will come our way. It needs to be earned. 30 years ago in 1979 millions in Iran demonstrated against the Shah to the point that he had to leave the country. Though he had authority as a king, his authority was no longer accepted, respected, and obeyed by the majority of the people. The same can happen to any person of authority. Jesus has earned the authority due Him. May we serve honor and obey Him in word and in deed.