Elder, Usher, and Acolyte Schedules for December 2016

Elder and Usher Schedule

Date
8:00
Elder
10:30
Dec 4Gerald Semelka, John Hardy, Nathan Kluender, Steve ParryPaul GerikeMike Huth, Ryan Kleiboeker
Dec 7Midweek Advent 7PMPaul Gerike
Dec 11Ben Holland, Craig CulpBarry HamlinBrian Dirks, Greg McNeely, Theron Noth
Dec 14Midweek Advent
7PM
Barry Hamlin
Dec 18Gene Fuller, Joshua Parry, Mike Field, Richard RossCurt KesslerBryan Reichert, Holden Lueck
Dec 24Christmas Eve 6PMCraig CulpDaryle Schempp, Jeff Piper, Marvin Huth
Dec 25Christmas Day 9AMJohn HardyBud Kessler, Gerald Semelka, Paul Gerike, Will Dowell
Dec 31New Year's Eve 7PMRandy ReinhardtJohn Hardy, Nathan Kluender, Steve Parry

Acolyte Schedule

Date
8:00 AM
10:30 AM
Dec 4Lucas PiperPastor/Elder
Dec 11Pastor/ElderWilliam McNeely
Dec 18Chloe HitchPastor/Elder
Dec 24
Christmas Eve 6PMJessica Isaac
Dec 25Christmas Day 9AMGarett Sheley
Dec 31New Year's Eve 7PMPastor/Elder

Celebrating December 2016

Birthdays

12/3 Matthew Culp
12/3 Jacob Piper
12/6 Eli McNeely
12/7 Kaitlin Culp
12/7 Brian Hitch
12/10 Kimberly King
12/14 Johanna Kirchner
12/17 Karson Lueck
12/19 Matthew Holland
12/20 Heidi Doddek
12/24 Devin Kemp-Golden
12/28 Tanner Hitch
12/30 Audrie King

Baptismal Birthdays

12/1 Theron Noth
12/4 Caleb Evans
12/5 Curtis Kessler, Jr
12/18 Gordon Schroeder
12/20 Jeanette McNeely
12/23 Jacob Piper
12/25 John Campbell
12/28 Maria Kirchner
12/29 Heidi Doddek
12/29 Karson Lueck

Stewardship Corner December 2016

Every Christmas present that sits wrapped under your Christmas tree will wear out.  It will break or go out of style.  This fact was there, somewhere, in the back of your mind even as you bought them, but you bought them anyway.  For you love the person you bought them for, you wanted to see that look of joy it brings to their face.

So also God gives to you.  But greater.  What He gives will never wear out, break down, or go out of style.  For what He gives is His eternal and only-begotten Son, wrapped in your flesh, and placed upon the tree of the Cross.  He gives His Son for you.  He gives that you may have everlasting joy.  He gives because He loves you.  This is why the Word became flesh to dwell among you.

And that is who is given to you.  The Word who is God yet was with God from all eternity.  The Word through whom all things were made.  The Word who is the only-begotten Son of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, being of one substance with His Father.  The One who called all things into existence, the One who spoke to Moses from the bush that burned yet was not consumed, the One whose glory filled the tabernacle to dwell among His people, God Himself, has taken on your flesh.

Even though the Word is made flesh, even though God became Man, His Divinity is not lessened.  His Divinity is not changed.  His Divinity remains, pure and unchanging, but your flesh, your human nature, is exalted.  Your flesh and humanity is assumed into God.  God became man so that you would become like unto God—holy and righteous, without sin, without death.

And so it is that the Son given to you wrapped in your flesh is placed upon the tree of the Cross. And no tree was ever adorned more beautifully.  Its ornaments were nothing less than the Blood of God, poured out as an atoning sacrifice for your sins.  Its garland the Body of God, hanged in death that you may have life.  Its light the incarnate Light of the world, strung up to call you and all men unto Himself, to enlighten you, to make you His own.  He gives you His life;  He gives you joy and peace—peace with God in heaven and peace with one another on earth.

And from the tree of the Cross the Lord Jesus places another gift for you upon the Altar.  It is the Fruit of the Cross, His crucified and risen, living Body and Blood, the Fruit of the Tree of Life, wrapped in bread and wine and given to you.  He fills you with His Glory.  He makes your mouths and your hearts His manger.  He abides in you and you in Him.

The Word became flesh to be placed under the Cross for you.  You are forgiven.  This is why we give.  We give because He has first given to us.  And just as it was a joy for Him to give all He had to us.  It is a joy for us to give to one another and His church so that this message of forgiveness, life, and salvation may be proclaimed.

Pastor’s Notes December 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

After the birth of Jesus, how did everyone leave?  The magi departed another way because of what they had been told.  The shepherds left singing the praises of God.  Joseph went on his way knowing that he needed to protect his Child.  Mary was pondering all of these things in her heart.

How will we leave another encounter with the Christ Child?  If no change takes place then we have missed another opportunity like the innkeeper who could not find room.

The guiding star was not meant to flicker for a moment into the Baby’s cradle.  Its light was to lead men to Bethlehem and Christ eternally into our hearts and lives.  The song in the air was meant to continue as we add our voices to the melody.  Christmas joy is meant to be ours.  We become a new creation in Christ each time we gaze upon the infant Savior born to save the world from sin, Satan, and death.

Christmas is forever because Christ is an eternal gift.  A presence to adore, a Savior to worship, the King of kings to bow down to in honor and respect, Son of Man and Son of God that leads us into victorious living.

Will you be traveling the higher way this Christmas season?  May the Holy Spirit grow your faith as you go to Bethlehem once again.  Returning home reminds you of the eternal home that awaits you and all Christians who believe in the “Word of the Father now in flesh appearing.”

In Christ,

Pastor

Sermon 11-27-2016

(Video Coming Soon)

November 27, 2016                                                                   Text:  Romans 13:11-14

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

 

As you know I am a person that doesn’t care much for the morning.  In fact, I believe my heaviest sleep is in the morning, something to do with circadian rhythms or some pseudo science.  Last week was one such morning.  Toni came into the bedroom and I was startled awake.  What did she have for my morning ears?  There was water coming from the floorboard of the sink in the hall bathroom.  Good morning, Mr. Lueck!

I have found in my years on earth that being woken up usually means bad news.  Someone has died, a parishioner is in the hospital, and a few years ago my in-laws came with this little bulletin.  “There’s water on the basement floor, we think your water heater is leaking.”  Another good morning, Mr. Lueck!

How about you?  Do you find the same thing in your life?  Are your pleasant dreams interrupted by news you would rather not hear?  Sleep is a gift of God, a great restorer of energy.  But there comes a time when we have to wake up.  Today, this First Sunday of Advent we are roused from our spiritual sleep.

“WAKE UP!…HE’S ALMOST HERE”

Paul begins, “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep.  For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” (v. 11)

Joseph Bayly’s words have a real echo, don’t they?  “God’s people should plan for a voyage of a thousand years, but be prepared to abandon ship tonight.”  Not only do we live in anticipation of the Lord’s sudden return, but who among us can predict when the doctor’s report has “months to live” attached to it or the sudden chest pain won’t allow enough time to say goodbye?

We are to live in the anticipation.  We are to wake from sleep and prepare for the Lord’s entrance – be that the celebration of his birth, or His second Coming, or our entrance into eternity in the blink of an eye.

The preparation is to be constant because, “The night is far gone; the day is at hand.  So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.” (v. 12-13)

The night of this world with its black pall of sin had certainly lasted a long time when Paul lived, thousands of years.  As his next event Christ had promised His return.  Now over 2,000 additional years have passed.  The night has now certainly cut forward still closer to the sudden break of the final day.

“The works of darkness” go on continually, and we Christians live in this world age and are constantly beset to join in these works.  Those who have visited the excavated ruins of Pompeii will know what is to be seen there in the way of brothels.  The pagan world stank with vice, and does the modern world stink less?

The modern world wants us to accommodate their vice.  And if you won’t then you get labeled as unloving or out of touch or dare I say even dangerous.  We have lived to see that what is Godly and Biblical can be besmirched in this way.  And all of this is a monster within the church as well.  I recently read of a brother Pastor forced out of his congregation by the laity because of his Biblical position regarding people living together out of wedlock.  Wake up!  The battle is before us.

We are to fight the good fight of faith here, during the night; our weapons of the light are to drive us from the darkness.  We are not merely to stand in shining armor but to do battle, to stand victorious until the Lord arrives or until He calls us away before He arrives.

How can we do this?  The beginning of verse 14, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Do you see the baptismal imagery?  Christ put his mark on us through water and the Word.  You and I have been watermarked.  Made His child.  What are the Christian’s clothing?  Colossians says, “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience…forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  All of these terms are what Jesus brought to sinful, rebellious us through His birth.  All of these terms were sealed for us at Calvary.  All of these terms are assured us through His resurrection.  “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.” (Gal. 3:27)

When I was a kid, I did not have an alarm clock.  My mom would yell up the stairs, “Chad, time to get up.”  I usually got up, had a nice shower, if my sister left me some hot water, then enjoyed my pop-tart and morning paper.  If I didn’t get up with the first command, the 2nd was a little more shrill, “Chad, you have to wake up!”  I knew instantly by the tone that my morning better be getting started.

It’s that 2nd command that we need.  We can’t go around sleepy-eyed in this world that is coming to an end.  But as we crawl out of bed, the Lord is there.  He lifts our head from the pillow.  He provides the strength for the day.  His Word and Sacrament are the breakfast of champions.  The day is at hand – wake up!

Amen.

Sermon 11-23-2016

(Video Unavailable)

November 23, 2016 – Thanksgiving Eve                Text:  Philippians 4:10-13

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

 

A few years ago there was a woman from a Communist country who visited New York City.  She wasn’t all that impressed.  Her country had a subway system, a large airport, and good roads.  Then she was taken into one of our country’s large grocery stores, she looked around and cried.

This woman had never seen so much food and it was overwhelming.  Did you find everything you needed when shopping for your Thanksgiving meal?  A month ago I needed a can of pumpkin and the store was out.  They didn’t even have any on the end cap.  What’s going on?  Isn’t it interesting what our perspective is in this land of plenty?

Another Thanksgiving is upon us.  What joy waits?  Or is it apprehension?  Will the family get along and can I keep the lumps out of the gravy?  The phone rings..is it an accident; or are they just late?  I wonder if someone here today won’t be here next Thanksgiving?  I would be truly happy if only…Are we so dependent on circumstances that we cannot be content for longer than a short while?

In our text Paul is writing a thank-you letter to the church in Philippi.  He was in prison when he wrote, “I have learned in whatever situation to be content.”  To do that we must be prepared to accept both good and bad, often in quick succession.  How we do that?

“CONTENT THROUGH HIM WHO STRENGTHENS ME”

A woman came to her Pastor with a problem not commonly expressed.  Her husband and her had bought a small business and things were booming.  She expressed to her Pastor that she didn’t think they deserved it or had earned it.

He thought for a moment and counseled her, “If business is up, thank God.  You could sing ‘Now Thank We All Our God.’  And when business is down, you could sing the Kyrie, ‘Lord, have mercy on us.’  God walks with you in both situations.”

Sometimes we feel we will be content if we can just escape all our activities and responsibilities.  “Stop the world; I want to get off.”  Life is too confusing and confounding.  Perhaps you are exhausted and just want to sit on the sidelines.  But doing so reduces the possibility of sharing God-given gifts and talents with others who need them, and finding the joy that comes from helping others.  There is no real contentment in passivity, is there?

Where did the Apostle Paul find contentment?  In the fact that he was forgiven, justified by God because of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to forgive all his sins.  For this reason, Paul had peace with God, a peace that did not depend in the least upon his circumstances in life.

If we find it hard to be content, it may mean that we have become disconnected from God, that we are not at peace with Him.  This peace is not a mood or something we talk ourselves into.  It is the forgiveness and reconciliation with God that Christ has provided at great cost.  This peace guards and protects us.  We all need a guardian of peace to accompany us through the twists and turns of life.

This contentment, this inner peace, led Paul to say, “I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me.”  Certain of Christ’s gracious presence, His strength enables us to resist temptation, to overcome anger, to forgive, to reach out, to make peace, to outlast evil, to be renewed, to survive, and to love.

There once was a farmer who had grown tired of living on the same farm his whole life.  So he listed the farm with a realtor who wrote up an ad.  Before he turned it in for printing he showed it to the farmer.  It was a glowing description of the farm.  It spoke of its excellent location, its fine equipment, fertile acres and well-bred stock.

“Wait a minute,” said the farmer, reading the ad.  “Just wait a minute!  “I’ve changed my mind, I’m not gonna sell.  All my life I’ve been looking for a place like that!”

That is Christ Jesus for the Christian.  We often miss what is right in front of us, like all the groceries in a supermarket.  Our Lord Jesus is in every situation.  When we understand this then our soul finds rest, we have peace and contentment, and He grants us strength to deal with anything life may bring.  Peace be with you this Thanksgiving and may your gravy not be lumpy!

Amen.

Sermon 11-20-2016

Nov. 20, 2016 – Stewardship Sunday                      Text:  Proverbs 17 (various verses)

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

Human beings are ridiculous.  “Wow, you really went out on a limb with that one Pastor.”  I say this after observing the words used after the election.  Some people should be frozen out of Twitter.  Others should have their mouths washed out with soap.  Remember that from days gone by?  The rest of us should ignore all the inane drivel and whining and apocalyptic meanderings.

An old Jewish saying speaks of slander as the “third tongue” that slays three:  the speaker, the person spoken to, and the person spoken of.  Rather than opening our mouths or listening to evil speech, we need to learn to control our tongue and shut our ears.  Words do hurt people yet we throw them around like nothing.

Today is Stewardship Sunday and how we speak is important in God’s eyes.  Using Proverbs 17 as our base text we will look at . . .

“THE POWER OF WORDS”

Solomon writes in verse 4, “An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.”  If we don’t welcome gossip and slander then they lose their force.  We need to put up the stop sign when someone goes down that path.

“Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.” (v. 5)  How often do we laugh at the misfortune of others?  When others fall we become taller.  To laugh at those going through trials is making fun of God who is there to help.

In verse 14 Solomon likens starting strife to letting water leak through.  Before you know it it’s a gusher and you are drowning in your own words.  One word builds upon another until everything is out-of-control.

“He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.” (v. 15)  Government and the courtroom are good examples of this.  At work or school, the person who sticks up for his or her Christian faith and does what is right is condemned for being narrow-minded or out of touch.  Meanwhile we hail cheaters who are smart and get ahead.  God hates such perversions of justice.

If we are honest with ourselves we break many of these commands in a single day.  We can’t make excuses that “everyone does it” or “I’m addicted to social media.”  Think of the harm done.  Relationships ruined.  Tears caused.  Hatred caused by inappropriate words.  We all need God’s forgiveness.

How about the right use of words, verse 9, “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.”  Words can be used to defend one another.  We want to protect each other’s reputation.  We don’t condone sin but we need to be careful we have all the facts.

We have these encouraging words in our text, “A friend loves at all times…Whoever restrains his words has knowledge.” (vs. 17a, 27a)  As in all our actions for the Lord when we use words rightly they are done in love.  As friends and family we are there to build each other up.  Who hasn’t heard from someone a sentence like this, “Years ago I was sick and depressed and you spoke some blessed words and I have always been appreciative of that.”  All of us can comfort and strengthen and encourage others with the things we let come out of our mouth.  The Lord through prayer can give you those words.

On the last day of the Civil War, officer Joshua Chamberlain was in command of the Union army.  His soldiers lined up on both sides of the road that the Confederate army had to march down to surrender.  One wrong word and the peace could be a bloodbath.  In an act as brilliant as it was moving, Chamberlain ordered his troops to salute their foe!  No vicious words – only guns in salute and swords raised to honor.

The Lord has made us people of grace.  Jesus said, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)  Those who know his forgiveness are to be strikingly unlike everyone else.  What if we saluted our enemies and kept our mouths quiet?  Think of the impact in our workplaces and in our families.  Christ’s grace reflected through us.

That grace was declared to us sinners, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (Isa. 1:18)  Because Jesus Christ died for us, we can receive heaven itself.  In the Bible, He has given thousands of words of peace to the troubled, comfort to the lonely, courage to the faint-hearted, and joy to the sad.

Here’s the key:  the more our speech conforms to God’s Words, the more we will speak the right thing at the right time.  Words can be evil but they can also lead to good.  The Gospel is the best word of all because it takes away sin, removes all guilt, and restores us as the people of God.  Lord, help us to speak what is right for the good of your Kingdom.                   Amen.