Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Advent 1 mid-week

Isaiah 64:1-9

Waiting is a central part of life. When you think about it, we spend a huge chunk of our lives waiting.

Waiting to hear if you got the job. Waiting for the doctor to call. Waiting for your teenager to come home with the car. Waiting for the "other shoe" to drop.

Isaiah is waiting and longing for God to intervene in his world where things seem all wrong. "Oh that you would tear open the heavens and come down…" (64:1) he cries to God.

As we begin our Advent journey this year, we come to the first dimension of the Christmas Season. Waiting!

Most of us will do a lot of waiting during this season. There may even be some times when you will have to "wait it out" – at the crowded stores, the grocery stores or the post office (you do have your Christmas cards ready to go – don’t you?)

Our children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews are going into their "I can’t wait" mode. The retailers and shopkeepers are waiting for the "bottom line." While the rest of us finally close our eyes and drift off to sleep on Christmas Eve, computers in corporate offices will be analyzing data to determine whether this was a "good" Christmas.

But this is not the kind of waiting the bible is talking about. Our scripture lessons today are talking about waiting for God! As Israel longed for Messiah to come and fulfill their hopes and dreams, so each one of us has a place within that longs for the coming of the Lord.

The real gifts of this season are not the gifts you find in the stores and place under the tree. The real joy of the season is not the "holiday spirit" found in all the parties and gatherings. The real fulfillment of the season is not when we open even the most special gift with our hands…

The real gift of this season is when we open our hearts and wait for the coming of the Lord in our spirits "If only God would intervene and make everything right!" Have you ever had such a thought? Might makes right... it's who you know and not what you know... justice is more readily available if you can afford a legal "dream team"... Things just don't seem right.

And yet, if God were to hold me to a divine standard of righteousness, I would very quickly want mercy instead of God's justice. In Isaiah's words, "All our {my} righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth..." I do not call upon the Lord or seek the Lord as I should and, "... you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity." If we persist in having it "our way" -- God will sing the "Burger King song to us." Namely, "Have it your way!" And yet it turns out that "our" way is the way of devastation while God's way is the way to life.

The Advent message in Isaiah's words are contained in verses 7-8. It might come out something like: "God, I am your child, the work of your hand. I belong to you and I pray that you would be merciful and not remember my failures for time and eternity. Please remember that I am your child."

As the season of Christ's birth draws nearer, there is opportunity to look closely at my inner bearings. As we sing, "O Holy child of Bethlehem" once again, we might look within to examine how His holiness has impacted our lives.

The prophet Isaiah writes, ”How long, O Lord, how long?” We all have good times. And we all have bad times. 2011 has it been your good time or your bad time?

Bad times like that give us a hint at the despair and desperation found in this reading. Several generations had passed from the return of the exiles in Babylon. Jerusalem and its Temple were being rebuild. A sense of normal living had returned. Yet, the people were forlorn. Life was hard. And God seemed to be far away.

Isaiah spoke the prayer of the people. How long before the people returned to glory? How long before God's presence shone before the nations? Note the prayer for divine intervention was mixed with self-examination. The loss of stature was not necessarily God's fault [64:5b-7]. Yet, also note the sense of hope. The petitioner called upon God as Father and asked for his return [63:16-17].

Like those who lamented in Jerusalem, we, too, may have times we feel cut off from God and his blessing. Yet, there is always hope. For the Lord is coming. Soon!

When did you experience "bad times?" How did God give you hope?

I. Isaiah 64:1-9

A. Isaiah was praying for God to deliver Israel from Babylonian captivity.

• Isaiah 63:18-19 refer to the destruction of the temple (63:18) which is a reference to the Babylonians conquering Judea and exiling the Israelite population to the various cities of the Babylonian empire.

• Isaiah 64:1-9 begins by asking God to rend the heavens to come down and deliver Israel from the Babylonians. Isaiah may have been thinking of the sky as being like the roof of a tent, separating the earth from the heavens. Isaiah was asking God to tear this tent open to come down and set things right.

• God answers this prayer with the destruction of the Babylonian empire and the return of the Israelites to their homeland under the Persian King Cyrus.

B. God, however, answers this prayer in another, much more profound way. God answers this prayer in a way Isaiah could not even imagine.

• God literally tore open the heavens and came down to the earth as a human being in the person of Jesus Christ. God did this to deliver us from our sins.

• Let’s take a closer look at Isaiah 64:1-9

C. An outline of Isaiah 64:1-9

I. Isaiah 64:1-2: Isaiah asks God to tear open the heaven and come down to the earth himself. When this happens, the mountains will quake and nations will tremble. In other words, wondrous events will happen and the statuesque will drastically change

II. Isaiah 64:3-4: Isaiah remembers God’s past actions. God’s actions in the past caused wondrous events to happen and the statuesque to drastically change.

III. Isaiah 64:5-7: Isaiah realizes, however, that we are sinners and do not deserve to have God tear open the heavens and come down to earth on our behalf.

IV. Isaiah 8-9: Despite our undeserving nature, Isaiah asks God to delivers us anyways. He asks God to deliver us based on his love for us rather than our righteous behavior.

D. This is what Christmas is all about

•We all are held captive by our sinful nature. No matter how hard we try, we can not love God and neighbor in a manner that is pleasing to God. At some point, our sinful desires, such as lust, greed, pride, jealousy, anger, prejudice etc…, will get in the way of our ability to love. So….

•God tore open the heavens to come to earth in the person of Jesus to set us free from our sinful desires. Jesus did this through his life, death and resurrection.

•God did this, simply because He loves us.

II. During Advent, we should contemplate the ramifications of God tearing open the heavens and bursting into human existence.

A. God, the creator of everything, knows what it’s like to be a human. God knows the pain and joy that comes with living as a human on this earth.

B. We now know what a perfect life looks like. The relationship between Jesus and his Father is the same type of relationship we should have with God. Jesus modeled a perfect love for his Father and neighbor. We now know the standard for holy living.

C. Our sins are paid for on the cross. Through the cross, we receive forgiveness for our sins. This frees us to live in an eternal love relationship with God.

D. Sin, death and evil have been defeated on our behalf. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrates that we have the victory.

E. The forgiveness of our sins paved the way for the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts

III. Conclusion

A. God loves us so much, that He himself tore open the heavens and came down to earth as a human being. He became one of us. If you never responded to this love by repenting of your sins and trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord, you can do so now.

B. Simply tell God that you want to change and become the loving person He created you to be. Then, acknowledge your trust that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is sufficient to take care of all your sins. Say this to God and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Time in the Word - Advent 2

Collect for Advent 2Stir up our Your power, O lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Stir up your power, O Lord, and come. Protect us by your strength and save us from the threatening dangers of our sins, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Almighty and everlasting God whose will it is to restore all things to your beloved Son, whom you anointed priest forever and king of all creation: Grant that all people of the earth, now divided by the power of sin, may be united under the glorious and gentle rule of your Son.

For blessing on the Word – Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it; through Jesus Christ, my Lord.

A prayer before we study the WordAlmighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate the study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith.

Lord Jesus, You come in all the terror of the last judgment and when men least expect You. In these days You come to clothe our misery with the garment of Your mercy —a garment of glory and immortality. But You will come again on a future day, and in such dread majesty that men will wither away with fear. O my Savior, condemn me not on that day of the world’s destruction. Visit me now in Your l love and mercy. I am resolved to prepare my soul. I desire that You come love and be born within me, so that when the convulsions of nature warn me of Your coming to judge me, I may lift up my head and, while the rest of men tremble at the thunder of Your judgment, , grant that I may have confidence in You because You are in my heart. Amen 

The dominant theme of this coming Sunday is preparation for Christ’s coming. John the Baptist is sent to prepare the people for Christ’s first coming by preaching a Baptism of repentance. In the Old Testament lesson the Lord calls for a way to be prepared for His coming. The Epistle lesson deals with the Second Coming and the end of the world. Christians are to prepare by living blameless lives. The suggested Psalm of the day indicates that righteousness shall precede God’s coming. As we focus on John the Baptist’s words he calls on us to prepare our hearts for Christ’s coming. On Advent 1 we were assured that Jesus is coming again. This Sunday we prepare for His coming. As the Gospel suggests He may be coming to some for the first time; for all He will be coming a second time at the end of time.

Monday, 28 November 2011Psalm 80:1, 8a, 9b, 7; Antiphon, Psalm 80:3 Restore us, O God; make Your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.” The whole purpose of Jesus coming into this world was to save us. In these weeks counting down to Christmas we remember that Jesus entered time and space to be our Savior. As He came at just the right time to redeem us He will appear at the right time to receive us into glory. His timing is impeccable, His ways are perfect. 

The psalmist prays for the restoration of God’s people, remembering the deliverance God wrought through Joseph. In Advent, we, too, pray for restoration—restoration from the bondage of sin. The vine out of Egypt of verse 8 recalls the flight of the Christ-child into Egypt to avoid Herod’s persecution. That Vine has taken deep root and filled the land, and it is through Christ, who is the Vine, that we have been restored.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011Psalm 85—Another psalm asking God for restoration, Psalm 85 recounts the forgiveness of the Lord in the past, and prays that He might once again make known His steadfast love, or mercy.
With confidence, the psalmist can say, ‘Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.’ For the steadfast love and faithfulness of the Lord do meet in the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; there, righteousness and peace kiss each other. (v. 10)

Wednesday, 30 November 2011Isaiah 40:1–11—‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ the Lord instructs Isaiah. Release from the bondage of sin is at hand. The voice crying in the wilderness shall prepare the way for the glory of the Lord to be revealed. The Word of God, which stands forever, shall assume flesh in order to bring comfort to the people by removing the blot of iniquity. Then He shall ‘tend his flock like a shepherd.’

Thursday, 1 December 20112 Peter 3:8–14—Isaiah wrote his prophecy of the coming of Christ seven hundred years before He came. It must have seemed an interminable amount of time for those who lived during those years, wondering when God would fulfill His promises. But the Apostle Peter reminds us that the Lord has His own timetable, and a good purpose for accomplishing things in His own time. He further admonishes us to be ready for the Lord’s Second Coming at any time, and to live lives of holiness and godliness waiting for that day.

Friday, 2 December 2011Mark 1:1–8—In fulfillment of the words of the prophets Isaiah and Malachi, John the Baptist comes to prepare the people for the coming of the promised One. The coming of Jesus Christ is Good News (Gospel), Mark proclaims boldly at the outset of his Gospel, but we must be prepared for His coming. John the Baptist prepared the world in his day, and continues to do so in our day, by calling people to repentance, urging them to confess their sins, be baptized.
Saturday, 3 December 2011—The hymn of the day, On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry (LSB 344), recounts the Old Testament and Gospel readings of the work of John the Baptist. It closes with a doxological stanza which proclaims the Good News that Jesus’ ‘advent sets Thy people free.’ This is Good News, indeed!

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Some thoughts concerning our worship life together 

The Lord’s Prayer is the chief prayer of the Christian Church and it is prayed here at the chief event of the Divine Service.  As children of God, we call upon “Our Father” as we prepare to encounter Jesus in His Supper, acknowledging that in the Sacrament He will answer our petitions. The congregation prays, “Thy kingdom come,” then receives the kingdom of God in the coming of Christ in His body and blood. We pray, “Thy will be done,” then witness salvation being distributed. We pray for forgiveness of sins and hear Christ’s own Word proclaiming that in His death He has accomplished everything needed to “forgive us our trespasses.”

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.
Worshiping with Angels and Archangels – An Introduction to the Divine Service by Scot Kinnaaman © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis p. 35

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Advent 1

Mark 13:33-37

Today we celebrate the first Sunday of a new Church year. As we prepare for the celebration of the Savior’s first Advent we prepare for His Second Advent – His sure and certain return on the Last Great Day. You and I as 21st Century Christians have no better way to live our lives now then from the perspective of eternity. As we prepare for the observance of our Lord’s first coming we must remember that the entire Christian life is oriented towards the last advent of Christ with its glorious eternal salvation.

God requires of us alertness.

I. The Lord wants us to be spiritually alert at all times.

A. Jesus’ inevitable return in power and glory will be sudden, and unexpected. Verse 35 refers to the four watches of the night - making the point that the Lord’s coming can come at any time. "So keep watch! You do not know when the owner of the house will come back. It may be in the evening or at midnight. It may be when the rooster crows or at dawn.

B. While we wait, there can be many things that cause us to neglect our responsibilities of watching and waiting for the Lord sure and certain return.

1. This can happen by overlooking the threatening dangers of our own sinfulness. This is what we pray for in the prayer of the day that we might be rescued from the threatening perils of our sin and then be saved by the Savior’s might deliverance. Isaiah makes mention of this in the Old Testament lesson for today when he says, All of us have become like someone who is "unclean." All of the good things we do are like polluted rags to you. All of us are like leaves that have dried up. Our sins sweep us away like the wind. [Isaiah 64:6]

2. Then there is the temptation to confirm to the world’s view of the supreme importance of material things. Thinking that have the latest thing will cause us true happiness. Says the Savior in the Sermon on the Mount Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. [Matthew 6:31-34;]

3. Then of course there is the very weakness of our own flesh. We are by nature sinful and unclean. We need, especially in this Advent season to pray to the Lord, “Kyrie Elysian.”

C. The result of yielding to temptation is misbelieve, despair, and prodigal living all of which call forth the wrath of the Lord. Although it is correct to conclude that our neglect of God-given responsibilities calls for God’s wrath and punishment it is not correct to give the impression that we can somehow earn God’s favor by changing our lives and carrying out our responsibilities. In other words, the answer to the Law is not more Law. We can’t get right with God by simply saying “We’ll work harder at it!”

The solution to our issues with sin is found in the sweet and comforting message of the Gospel. The returning Lord has already come to endure in our place the punishment for our sinful disobedience and failings: in Him we have the grace of God and so you do not lack any gift; God has called you into fellowship with His Son, who will confirm us to the end. This Paul announces to us in the Epistle lesson for this day!

Transition: God requires alertness and He works it in you.

II. God Himself effects spiritual alertness in us.

A. Mark’s Gospel proclaims the works of our Savior Jesus. In this new church year we will hear 37 selections from the Gospel of Mark. Mark's Gospel has also been called a story of the death of Jesus with a long introduction. Mark's Gospel is about the period leading up to and just after the death of Jesus.

B. The retuning Lord has already come once to accept the punishment for our failings. This is the story of the cross. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself not counting our sins against us and He has now given us this message of reconciliation. This is what causes us to say with joy “Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth!”

C. By bringing us to faith in Jesus, God now motivates and enables us to seek and do His will. The Holy Spirit instructs believers by answering the question that arises from faith-filled hearts “what is my Savior’s will for my Life?” The Holy Spirit helps us realize the importance of spiritual alertness. And in His Supper the Lord provides the nourishment that enables us to remain alert. In providing for us this “food for the soul” we are enabled to remain alert waiting for the Lord’s coming.

Only by God’s grace in Christ can we eagerly and alertly look forward to the Lord’s return. No better preparation can be found, either for Christmas or for Judgment Day, than the spiritual alertness that God wills and works.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Church Expansion - week 24

Men’s restroom and fixtures

Woman’s restroom and fixtures

In Milwaukee they call it a “bubbler”
Drop off entry with primer coat

Drop off entry with final coat

North door

Gathering area looking into the sanctuary 
New south entry way

Carpet and lights in the gathering area
new frames for the stained glass in the new gathering area

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

Luke 12:22-31 "Be Anxious For Nothing"

Introduction: Once again it’s Thanksgiving – yet some are not feeling too thankful. Not that they don’t want to be this way…it’s more complicated then that. What it all boils down to is that there are a number of people living these last days of 2011 in worry and fear. It seems as if there is so much stress to go around these days…mounting bills, a sense of fear of the unknown, of tomorrow, or just needing enough energy to make it through the day. It’s not that we don’t want to be thankful but rather there are some who feel so burdened and burned out by life that they can’t see the forest for the trees, and the bushes, and the brambles, and all other obstacles "in our road". The question that is therefore being asked is "Will God help us?" will He sustain us when life’s twists and turns seems to set us on a course of which there are unforeseen obstacles lurking at every turn? For our text for today we find god’s "Yes" and "Amen"! Of course He will see us through this is what He tells us in His word for today. Jesus reminds us that we need not worry for He is in control. We need not fear for He is able to quiet our panic and fright. Jesus tells us we have nothing to fear.

{1} Do Not Worry

A. About your life—what you will eat.

1. We need not worry because life is more then food. Life is more then merely existing and sustaining our way of living. There is more to life then just living.

2. Jesus reminds us that life is meant to experience God. That is why He has called us to His marvelous light of the Gospel. He called us to belong to Him, to have fellowship with Him. Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of John "I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly. In Him, St. Paul reminds us "we live, and move and have our being". When we seek after Him then we will be doing more then just living from day to day we will live life with a purpose-a divine purpose.
Life is more then food. It is more then fashion as Jesus goes on to explain to us that neither should we become anxious.

B. About your body-what you will wear. Our body is designed to be more then to be a model upon which we don our clothing.

1. The body is more then clothes. This statement is one that is needed to be contemplated today. Tomorrow morning literally thousands of people will flock to the malls to begin the busiest shopping days of the year. True, there is something to be said about dressing appropriately and fashionably but we can take any good thing to extremes. Do we need to buy into the temptation that we should desire the $100 shoes as opposed to the $30 pair which is made of the same material, and assembled at the same factory but the one is more expensive because the product has a certain label on it, or it is indorsed by a certain celebrity. Does the clothing really make the man or woman? Jesus would tell us otherwise.

2. The body is not merely meant for cloths, rather it is meant to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. As the Savior has redeemed us to be His own He now lives within us through His Spirit. Thus by these words we are called to remember that our bodies are meant to be lived with a noble and holy purpose. We are called to live as His people being His witnesses in this world; and in this generation. As we live for Him we are called to trust in Him.

{2} Trust God

A. Consider the Ravens

1. They do not sow, reap, or contribute anything to life.

2. They have no storehouse or barn.

3. Yet God feeds them. He sustains all of the created order.

4. You are of more value then birds! If God is able to sustain even the smallest and the most insignificant of creatures He will sustain you for you are of tremendous value to him. He suffered and died for you. He redeemed and rescued you. He has called you to be His own dear child. Consequently He will sustain and care for you.

B. Consider how the lilies grow.

1. They do not labor.

2. They do not spin.

3. Yet not even Solomon in his entire splendor was dressed as these. If there is inner beauty which comes to the creatures how much more will He maintain your life and sustain it?

C. Consider the grass

1. It’s here today gone tomorrow, like so many things in this "throw away society"

2. You and I, on the other hand. will spend eternity with Christ. Thus the Savior sets for us a pattern of life by which we will find contentment.

a. Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink. In other words, look beyond living only for today.

b. This is what the Pagans run after. They seek the thrill of the moment, which lasts but a moment. Live rather, with an eternal perspective.

c. God already knows you need these things to survive!

3. Seek first, a relationship with Christ in His kingdom.

a. Through word, sacraments, fellowship, prayer draw close to God.

b. As you do these things, all that you need will be added to you. That is the Savior’s promise to you and to me. By Him and through Him He will sustain us.

Conclusion: The Savior is not giving us a simplistic rule for life. It’s not simply going by the phrase "Don’t worry – be happy" Rather He calls us to fear not for He is in control. He’ll fight our fight; He’ll accomplish for us what we can not do. Yes, He is for us; He will overcome and give to us the victory! As we seek Him we will find contentment in life, and there find reasons to rejoice knowing that we can be a peace as God is at peace in what he has created and how He sustains His own creation. Let us then live contented lives on this Thanksgiving Day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve

Psalm 118:1

The prayer for Thanksgiving is more then our feeble attempt at communication with God. It is a wonderful opportunity for the Lord to teach us the lessons of Thanksgiving. As we speak to the Lord He speaks back to us. This evening as we pray to the Lord may He speak to us through this powerful prayer:

Almighty God, whose mercies are new every morning and whose goodness though undeserved still abundantly provides for all our wants of body and soul, grant us, we humbly pray, Your Holy Spirit that we may heartily acknowledge your merciful goodness toward us, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve you in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

I. Almighty God. In thanksgiving we address the Lord, the author of all life. What is it that we can say about the Lord? Our prayer suggests three important realities.

A. Whose mercies are new every morning. The Psalmist reminds us that “His mercy endures forever.”[1] Yet they come to us each day. Every day is a new day. Every day is an opportunity to serve the Lord in this generation. Every day is the Lord supplies us with everything we need to support our body and life. In the 4th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer the question is asked: What is meant by daily bread? Luther sums it up with these words. “Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rules, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.[2]

B. Whose goodness though undeserved. The Lord’s goodness has nothing to do with you. Notice that we must acknowledge the complete opposite. The Lord’s goodness is completely undeserved. We daily sin much and deserve nothing but punishment. Yet, in spite of our sinfulness, in spite of our pettiness, in spite of our haughtiness, in spite of our meanness and condescension the Lord chooses to bless us. And we don’t deserve it!

C. Still [He] abundantly provides for all our wants of body and soul, So also with you – without your Heavenly Father you could not survive. The Lord not only provides but He does it abundantly for every want of body and soul. We used this evening the explanation of the 1st Petition of the Apostles’ Creed as our confession of faith. During this Thanksgiving Holiday read through it again. It’s quite a list. It explains so well how our Lord chooses to provide for you - everything you need not just physically but spiritually as well.

II. Grant us, we humbly pray, Your Holy Spirit

A. That we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness toward us. We need the Holy Spirit for the things of God are spiritually appraised. We need the Holy Spirit so that we can come to understand the things of God. We need the Holy Spirit so that we can come to a greater understanding of everything the Lord has done for us.

B. Give thanks for all Your benefits. In thanksgiving we offer to Him our worship and praise. In thanksgiving we offer our praises in worship. In thanks living we praise God as we serve our neighbor.

C. And serve You in willing obedience. Reflecting on the blessings of God allows us to want to serve God faithfully. Reflecting on the blessings of God allows us to follow His statutes with a willing heart. Reflecting on the blessings of God allows us to follow His commandments obediently.

III. Through Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord,

A. Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit. All three persons of the Godhead are involved in the blessings I receive. Each person of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Ghost are active in my life. As we have just celebrated Christ the King Sunday we worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who lives and reigns through all eternity.

B. One God. He is one true God, the only true God. He is without beginning and without end. Yet, He has broken into time and space to be our Redeemer, Savior, Shepherd and friend.

C. Now and forever. This is not a simple phrase. It reminds us that the truths of God will never cease. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. The praises we offer Him tonight we last into eternity. The blessings He bestows on us today will continue once time ceases. We worship an eternal God whose mercies cannot be counted.

The only thing left to say after any good prayer is simply the word Amen. What is meant by the word “Amen”? This means that I should be certain that these petitions are pleasing to our Father in heaven and are heard by Him; for He Himself has commanded us to pray in this way and has promised to hear us. Amen, amen means “yes, yes, it shall be so.”[3] And it shall be so – in Jesus’ Name! A blessed Thanksgiving!


[1] Psalm 118

[2] Explanation to the 4th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer

[3] Luther’s Small Catechism Conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Time in the Word - Advent 1

Time in the Word
Advent 1
November 21-26, 2011
The Second Coming

The new church year begins with the Second Coming. It is the one Sunday of the year which features the return of Christ as the main subject. In light of the interest in the Second Coming, the church would do well to consider this doctrine of the church and teaching of the New Testament. The Gospel calls upon us to be on the alert for the sudden, unannounced coming of Christ. The world’s cry for God to come to His people is heard in the Old Testament lesson. Paul refers to the Second Coming in the Epistle by assuring His people that they have every spiritual gift as they wait for Christ’s return. The Psalmist calls upon the Lord’s return to help and save His people. “Tell this to the daughter of Zion,” the prophet says. “Open your mouth and shout so she is not offended by His lowly coming but listens to what is proclaimed.” Let your ears give insight to your eyes. Your King has no great stallion, no spurs, no saddle. He is poor and rides a donkey.

And yet there’s no king like Him. He removes your sin, rescues you from death and hell, and gives you everlasting holiness and righteousness, eternal life and blessedness. So don’t pay any heed to the wretched way in which He comes and then later also shamefully dies on the cross. For He does this all for your sake as Savior to help you, to sanctify you and rescue you from death. (Martin Luther)   

Collect for Advent 1 Stir up Your power O Lord and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance

Two simple yet heart felt Prayers

Stir up your power, O Lord, and come. Protect us by your strength and save us from the threatening dangers of our sins, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Almighty and everlasting God whose will it is to restore all things to your beloved Son, whom you anointed priest forever and king of all creation: Grant that all people of the earth, now divided by the power of sin, may be united under the glorious and gentle rule of your Son.

For blessing on the Word Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it; through Jesus Christ, my Lord.

A prayer before we study the Word -Almighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate the study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith.

Monday, November 21, 2011 - Psalm 25:1-3 - The Antiphon for this coming Sunday is from Zechariah 9:9b, “Behold Your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation.” This passage of Scripture will be quoted on Palm Sunday as Jesus rides triumphantly into the city of Jerusalem. Our king comes not in triumph as a military hero by rather in humility and meekness. David and his sons did not ride horses but rather mules (see 2 Samuel 18:9; 1 Kings 1:33).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 Isaiah 64:1-9 - An appeal for the Lord to return to save His people. This lesson comes from the third section of Isaiah (chapters 56-66). It was written in the period of 540-500 BC. The Jews returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile. The exiles find a pathetic situation: Jerusalem is desolate and the temple has been burned to the ground. The people are despondent and impatient for God to come and do something about their condition. They feel that God is angry and has hidden His face from them. He is accused of causing them to sin. The people confess their sins and feel confident that God will not reject them for He is the potter and they are the clay.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 - By grace Christians lack no spiritual gift as they wait for Christ’s return. This section of Scripture was chosen for this “Second Coming” Sunday because Paul refers to the return as the day of Christ. As the Christian waits for that final event, the promise is given that we are sustained by Christ’s grace and will be guiltless for Christ’s appearance. God is faithful in His gifts and promises.

Thursday, November 24, 2011 Mark 11:1-10 - Watch for Jesus’ unexpected coming. Because the time of Christ’s return is unknown, we must watch for Him. In this brief lesson the word “watch” is used four times. Twice Jesus says, “You do not know when the time will come.” This fact is the reason for being on the alert. The emphasis is laid on Jesus’ return as sudden and unexpected.

There is no place here for speculation when the time of the return will be. It is an exhortation to be ready whenever He comes. Since no one knows the time, it is necessary for the faithful to look for Him every day. The mood of Advent is not speculation but joyful anticipation of the Lord’s return.

Friday, November 25, 2011 - Psalm 80:1-7 - This Psalm is the appointed psalm for this coming Sunday. Verse 7 is the key verse, “Restore us and we shall be saved”.

Saturday, November 26, 2011 - Matthew 21:1-16 - Our reading is the inspiration for the hymn, “O Bride of Christ, Rejoice.” How does the Savior choose to make Himself known? Not in pomp and circumstance, not with a grand fanfare and a floury of light and sound. Instead He chooses to be placed in a manger, the feeding trough of the animals. He is born in a stable where beasts are kept. Not the place you would go looking for the savior of the world.

But this is the amazing thing about our Savior, He chooses to be found in those places the world would least expect. He chooses to reveal Himself in those places the world considers unimportant. He chooses to exert His power in what an unbelieving world considers weak and of little consequence.

The cruel cross of Calvary looks ahead of us even in Advent. Does the death of a condemned man seem compelling enough to offer atonement? Could His life and sacrifice really save you? The surroundings and the circumstances of His birth predict His death. They are the means by which we find peace with God and absolution for our sin.


LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO

Luther’s Works: American Edit Edition. 55 volumes. (Volumes 1 ion. 1-30, Concordia Publishing House; volumes 31 31-55, Fortress Press)
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Christ the King

Proper 29—The Triumphal Return of Christ the King (20–26 November)

Eternal God, merciful Father, You have appointed Your Son as Judge of the living and the dead. Enable us to wait for the day of His return with our eyes fixed on the kingdom prepared for Your own from the foundation of the world; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Christ the King will judge the nations. At the end of time Christ is to come as judge of the nations. As Shepherd-King, Jesus will separate the sheep and goats, the good and the bad. The basis of the separation is the nations’ ministering or lack of ministering to the hungry, thirsty, sick, and imprisoned.

This passage is not primarily an appeal for social justice or economic aid. The main point is the coming separation of the good and the bad that are destined either for heaven or hell. It should also be noted that what was done to Christ was done not to people in general, but to “the least of these my brethren.” The brethren are Jesus’ disciples, in other words, your brothers and sisters in Christ. We pray…

Almighty and everlasting God whose will it is to restore all things to your beloved Son, whom you anointed priest forever and king of all creation: Grant that all people of the earth, now divided by the power of sin, may be united under the glorious and gentle rule of your Son.

Introduction: Most of us have an interest and curiosity of what will happen to us at the end of the world. Is there or is there not a judgment? Is there really a heaven and a hell?

Our Gospel lesson makes certain affirmations concerning the end. People need to be assured of these facts, for they make a difference in our way of life.

Outline: What can we learn from this text about the end?

I. Jesus is the judge of all people — v. 32. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

Before Him will be gathered all the nations of the earth. All must be summoned before Christ's tribunal. Every person of every age of the entire world, - from the beginning to the end of time will be placed before Him. All those nations of men that have ever existed, every person who has ever walked on all the face of the earth will be summoned before Jesus the Shepherd King. It will be the day of the final account of the entire world.

II. As there is a judgment, there will be a time of accountability — v. 33 …and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

Jesus did not say that He will put the rich on His right hand and the poor on His left. He did not say He will put the learned and the noble on His right hand, and unlearned and despised on His left; but the godly on His right hand and the wicked on His left.

A distinction will then be made between the precious and the vile. He shall separate them one from another, as the tares and wheat are separated at the harvest, as the good fish and the bad are divided at the shore, as the corn and chaff is separated on the floor. You can not determine a righteous man from an unrighteous person just by observation. Both the wicked and the godly dwell together in the same kingdoms, in the same cities, in the same churches, and in the same families. They are not obvious. You can’t tell one from another. But on that day they will be separated, and parted for ever.

III. There is a heaven and hell — vv. 34, 41, 46. Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;…These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Jesus tells us that the eternal hope of the righteous is in Him; just as eternal punishment awaits the unrighteous who are apart from Him. Since we know none are righteous as St. Paul reminds us in Romans 3:10, As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one…’our only hope is in Christ - for our faith alone justifies us declaring us righteous in God's sight. As Paul continues Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. Romans 3:20-22.

IV. Compassion is the basis for judgment — v. 40. The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me. St. Francis of Assisi is to have said: "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary - use words." The faith is taught and it is caught. By word and deed we are to express the compassion of Jesus Christ especially to the least of these as such, we should include them in our circle of compassion and mercy.

Conclusion: The key word is the word - When (vv. 37-39). “And when did we see thee...?” Three times, the righteous asked the King the same question. They served Christ without knowing it. It was a natural, spontaneous, and automatic expression of compassion for those in need. This they did without any thought – it came naturally for them. As they did it they did it unto Christ.

The deeds of love and compassion for the needy resulted from their possession of the spirit of Christ. They had the heart and mind of Christ, and thus they had concern for the hungry, naked, and imprisoned.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Church Expansion - week 23

 Brick work is near completion 
 New South entrance
 North entrance
 slate tile near completion
 copper flashing will weather over time
 Geo thermal pumps 150 feet below ground
 yup, our church is green!
 paint in the gathering area
 lights will be hung next week
 Tile flooring North entrance

Handrail leading to the basement

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Time in the Word - Christ the KING

 Proper 29 
November 14-19, 2011 
Preparation for the Kingship of Christ

Christ the King 
The Lessons for this coming week deal with the Last Sunday of the Church year Christ the King Sunday. On Christ the King Sunday, it is obvious that the kingship of Christ is the theme. The church year closes with a climax in which Jesus is crowned Lord of all. His kingship is universal and eternal. The Gospel portrays Jesus as King-Judge of all nations. The Old Testament lesson is related to the Gospel by the fact that Jesus compares his sheep to himself. Paul depicts Jesus as the victor over the world with all things under Christ’s feet, including death. The Prayer of the Day refers to the Theme of the Day: “King of all creation” and “the glorious and gentle rule of your Son.” The Psalms pick up the idea of the sheep, but there is reference to “a King above all gods.” The Hymn of the Day uses the phrase “King of kings and Lord of lords,” and refers to the coming judgment.

 Monday, 14 November 2011 Psalm 39:4-5, 7-8, 12a - The Antiphon for this coming Sunday is from 2 Peter 3:13 “ In keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth the home of the righteous.”
Tuesday, 15 November 2011 – Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24The Shepherd King will gather His people. As the shepherd for his people, Yahweh will seek the lost, gather, and feed his sheep with David as the prince among them. A popular metaphor for a religious-political leader in Judah was “shepherd.” False shepherds, says Ezekiel, led Judah to ruin and captivity. So, the Lord will be her shepherd who will bring his sheep out of captivity in Babylon, feed them with justice, and restore them to their former homeland. The nation will be restored under a new leader, a Messiah, a son of David.

The Lord says he will be the shepherd of his people. A shepherd is considered a king in Hebrew writings. He acts like a king who cares for his people. He is a good shepherd, the perfect one. He does only good for his people; seeks, gathers, and feeds them. He has compassion on the lost, the crippled and the weak. Nor does he neglect the healthy ones whom he feeds with justice. “My God, how wonderful thou art!”

Wednesday, 16 November 2011 – 1 Corinthians 15:20-28-The King will conquer the world. God has put all things in subjection to Christ. On this Christ the King Sunday, we see Christ as the king over death. His resurrection was the first person to rise from death. Since he rose, the Christian dead will also rise. At the end of time he will deliver his kingdom to God. All enemies, including death, will be defeated by King Jesus. Then the Son will subject himself to God the Father that God may be everything to everyone.

Thursday, 17 November 2011Matthew 25:31-46 – Jesus will judge the nations. Christ the King will judge the nations. At the end of time Christ is to come as judge of the nations. As Shepherd-King, Jesus will separate the sheep and goats, the good and the bad. The basis of the separation is the nations’ ministering or lack of ministering to the hungry, thirsty, sick, and imprisoned. The passage is not primarily an appeal for social justice or economic aid.

The main point of the parable is the coming separation of the good and the bad who are destined either for heaven or hell. It should also be noted that what was done to Christ was done not to people in general, but to “the least of these my brethren.” The brethren are Jesus’ disciples.

The word “Me” is used fourteen times in this lesson. It refers to Christ. Is Christ the one who is hungry, naked, and in prison? The sick “brother” is not Christ himself; the hungry man is not Christ.
When we help the needy, we do it as to Christ. This is because Jesus identifies with the afflicted. When we love someone, we say to one who helps the beloved, “What you do for him, you do for me.” Anyone who befriends your child is automatically a friend of yours. Thus in everything we do we do it unto the Lord.

Friday, 18 November 2011 Psalm 95:1-7a - This Psalm is the appointed for this Sunday.  Verse 7a is the key verse, “We are the people of his pasture” Our Savior has promised to shepherd us we are never in want. Thus we cast our worries and cares into His hands as He orders our days and directs our path. He alone is our good shepherd and king.

Saturday, 19 November 2011 - Hebrews 2:19 - Our reading is the inspiration for the hymn; “The Head that Once was Crowned with Thorns”. As the Church year comes to a close we recall that He who Ascended will return in glory. If we are prepared to receive Him on the last great day we will be ready to celebrate at the time of His birth. The baby in the manger the death of the man on the cross and the king who comes in triumph are all one in the same – Jesus our Savior.  

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. LouisMO


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.

Friday, November 11, 2011

2nd to Last Sunday

Proper 28 (13–19 November)
Almighty and ever-living God, You have given exceedingly great and precious promises to those who trust in You. Dispel from us the works of darkness and grant us to live in the light of Your Son, Jesus Christ that our faith may never be found wanting; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

What the Day of the Lord will be like– Like a man going on a journey
Matthew 25:14-30

Our Gospel lesson is a continuation from the parable related to the Lord’s return from last Sunday. In the parable of the 10 virgins a basic and yet profound principle is made – each must believe for himself. In the parable concerning the talents the question for us to consider is this - so now that you have come to a saving relationship with Christ what have you done with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Did you use it or did you abuse it? Did you let your light shine or did that light go out?

According to the parable, the Lord’s return is long delayed (v. 19). The servants are asked to give an account of their investment. Two servants doubled the investment and the third preserved what he was given. The third servant was condemned for not making the most of his talent. It was taken from him and given to the other two.

Jesus has ascended and His return has been delayed. When He comes, He will ask for an accounting whether we have worked for Him while He was absent or whether we have cared only for our security. When Christ returns He will ask each of us “What have you done with the Gospel entrusted to you?” Let us pray…

“Lord God, so rule and govern our hearts and minds by your Holy Spirit that, always keeping in mind the end of all things and the day of judgment, we may be stirred up to holiness of life here and may live with you forever in the world to come.”

To one servant He gave five talents, meaning a sum of money, to a second two, and to a third one. Why is life like that? I don't know. We are all equal in the eyes of God. We are all guaranteed equal rights under the Constitution. In an election our votes are all equal. But when it comes to our abilities, we are as different as different can be. God simply did not make us all the same.

There are some people who can handle five talents; there are some who can handle only one. There are some persons who have great intellectual capabilities, and some who do not.

There are some who have the ability to project and articulate their thoughts, and there are some who cannot. There are some who have physical prowess and attractive looks, and there are some who do not. The important thing to remember is that each servant was given something. No one was left idle.

Some claim that they have no gift, that they have no talent. As a result, they fail to use and develop what little God may have given them in terms of possessions, natural gifts, and faith. People, we need to be challenged to use all the gifts to the fullest for the glory of God. This parable asks each of us to answer the question: “What have you done with the gospel of Jesus Christ?

1. Some hide it for fear of losing itI was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you. v. 25. Accomplishing a little is better than accomplishing nothing at all. The reason why the master was so angry at the servant who buried his talent was because he did nothing. The only real failure in life is in giving up. God's grace is endless therefore we never need to give up. When you give up, you close the door on God changing you.

Transition: Use it or lose it.

2. Invest itWell then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. v. 27. The servant who was given five talents was called good and faithful because he went at once to put his talents to work—do the same. Whatever it is that you need to accomplish in your life, there is something you can do TODAY to get started. It's not our job to worry about what we don't have; it's our job to make the most of what we do have.

Transition: Faithfulness always leads to a promotion.

3. Multiply itThe man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.' "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' vv. 22-23. You'll be given opportunities according to your ability. Not everyone gets the same opportunity, because not everyone is capable of handling the same amount of responsibility. Whether you're faithful with a little or a lot, God is equally pleased. Being responsible always leads to more responsibility.

Conclusion: God gives each a gift according to each one’s ability to use it. In the last analysis, however, we are all equal in being accountable for whatever gift we have. A person's Christian calling should not lie hidden and barren: it should be out- going, apostolic and self-sacrificial. "Don't lose your effectiveness; instead, trample on your selfishness. You think your life is for yourself?

Your life is for God, for the good of all men, though your love for our Lord. Your buried talent, dig it up again! Make it yield. Christ has entrusted you to the work of His kingdom. Why? Because He believes in you.

Church Expansion - Week 22

North door

Shingles and brick work near completion

Tile in men’s restroom 

Utility room