Stewardship Corner December 2017

Christmas is coming.  It is a joyous time of feasting.  The Church feasts upon the Word of God in sermon, song, and Sacrament.

We hear the proclamation of the message of the angels: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you Good News of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11).

We mingle our voices with theirs as we sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14)!

We receive the proclaimed Savior, Christ the Lord, not wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in manger, but wrapped in bread and wine placed into our mouths for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.

We feast in great joy indeed because of this great blessing from our Lord and God.

God’s people in ancient Israel also feasted with great joy.  The Lord showered His abundant blessing on His people.  And He commanded them to feast upon it (Deut. 16).  The people were to go to the place appointed, where the Lord would make His name dwell, and give offerings, each man as he was able, according to the blessing of the Lord that He had given them (Deut. 16:10, 15, 17).

And there the Lord would bless them with joy as they feasted upon what the Lord had provided.  They ate of the choice parts of their offerings.  They enjoyed the company of all the people of God as they together heard His promises of blessing, sang of His bountiful goodness, and partook of what He gave.

We feast on the Word who became flesh to dwell among us, not just during Christmas, but throughout all the year.

We feast not just on the salvation He has wrought for us in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, but we feast also on all the temporal blessings that God gives out of His fatherly divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in us.

We enjoy the rich bounty that God provides, not only in Word and Sacrament, but also in house and home, property and income, family and friends.

Let us then, as did our brothers in the faith from ancient Israel, give as we are able, according to the blessing of the Lord our God that He has given us.

Let us, like them, give generously of the first fruits of our income, which He gives, so that all may know and enjoy the salvation He gives and the joy we have in the Savior born in the city of David, who is Christ the Lord.

Celebrating December 2017

Birthdays

Matthew Culp                  Dec  3

Jacob Piper                     Dec  3

Eli McNeely                     Dec  6

Kaitlin Culp                      Dec  7

Brian Hitch                       Dec  7

Kimberly King                  Dec 10

Jason Williamson            Dec 11

Bill Nelson                       Dec 13

Johana Kirchner              Dec 14

Katie Kleiboeker              Dec 15

Karson Lueck                  Dec 17

Mo Dale                           Dec 19

Matthew Holland             Dec 19

Heidi Doddek                   Dec 20

Devin Kemp-Golden        Dec 24

Tanner Hitch                    Dec 28

Audrie King                      Dec 30

Baptismal Birthdays

Karen Dale                      Dec  1

Theron Noth                    Dec  1

Caleb Evans                    Dec  4

Curt Kessler                    Dec  5

Abby Biddle                     Dec 16

Gordon Schroeder           Dec 18

Jeanette McNeely           Dec 20

Payton Biddle                  Dec 23

Katie Kleiboeker              Dec 23

Jacob Piper                     Dec 23

John Campbell               Dec 25

Maria Kirchner                 Dec 28

Heidi Doddek                   Dec 29

Karson Lueck                  Dec 29

Pastor’s Notes December 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am always telling all of us not to miss the signs that God sends into our lives.  Recently God sent a sign about what you might ask – the sign project at church.

Through the years we have noticed the cars in the lower lot, the walkers on the Constitution Trail and the many others who traverse the grounds of our church.  Thinking a sign with messages would be a good outreach to Jesus and His grace, we went about accomplishing it.  Through everyone’s help we collected enough money to proceed with the sign.  Part of it will be permanent and the other part will have rotating messages.  This is where the sign of the Lord comes in.

In order to give an example to the board and the sign company the Holy Spirit led me to a message over a year ago.  It was presented to both entities and the sign company when designing the sign used that message.  The providence of the Lord was leading the way because when the sign company set the parameters for the sign they said each line should be 40 characters – this includes the letters, spaces and punctuation.  The original message when it came from the company and was shown in the mock-up of the sign came back with 41 characters on one line and exactly 40 on the other!  Take away the comma from line one and they each had 40 characters, the exact number needed for the sign.

As happened when we built this church, the Lord gave us many signs that we were doing his will and this is what the church should do and the building we should proceed with.  (Ask any long-time member and they can share one or two).  The same thing is happening with our new church sign.  The Lord is letting us know that He will bless this outreach idea.  It is His grace and love and mercy that will be shared with our neighbors in a creative way through our signage.

As the long-time song says, “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.”  Don’t miss the Lord’s – He will bless as you do.

And as we head into Advent/Christmas here’s another reminder.  “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)  See you in worship sign-seekers!

In Christ,

Pastor

Elder, Usher, and Acolyte Schedules for December 2017

Elder and Usher schedule

Date
8:30
Elder
10:30
Dec 3Gerald Semelka, Paul Gerike, Mike Field, Joshua ParryNathan KluenderGreg McNeely, Mike Huth
Dec 10Daryle Schempp, Steve ParryMike FieldBrian Dirks, Bud Kessler, Curt Kessler
Dec 17Craig Culp, Nathan Kluender, Jeff Piper, Lucas PiperPaul GerikeKarson Lueck, Theron Noth
Dec 249AM CommunionBarry HamlinDaryle Schempp, Jeff Piper, Lucas Piper
Dec 246PM CommunionCurt KesslerGene Fuller, Richard Ross, Mike Huth
Dec 259AM CommunionCraig CulpJeff Piper, Lucas Piper, Nathan Kluender
Dec 31Gerald Semelka, Joshua Parry, Mike Field, Paul GerikeRandy ReinhardtBud Kessler, Curt Kessler, Greg McNeely
Dec 317PM CommunionMike FieldAs available

Acolyte Schedule

Date
8:30 AM
10:30 AM
Dec 3Chloe HitchPastor/Elder
Dec 10Pastor/ElderMatt Williamson
Dec 17Clayton PiperPastor/Elder
Dec 24Tanner Hitch
Dec 24 (6pm)Justin McNeely
Dec 25 (9am)Pastor & Sons
Dec 31JT PiperWill McNeely
Dec 31 (7pm)Jessica Isaac

Sermon of November 26, 2017

November 26, 2017                                                              Text:  Matthew 25:31-46

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

 

Back in 2006, scientist gazed into the heavens.  A spacecraft had returned from a mission with particles of comet dust.  The scientists gazed through their microscopes hoping to discover the mystery of life.

Before science became the final court of meaning, artists were busy gazing into the heavens, creating paintings of the day of judgment when Christ would return and reveal for all people the meaning of life.

Looking at these paintings there is a common theme.  The heavens are torn apart as Christ descends on a throne and the earth is breaking apart as the dead rise from their graves.

These paintings are usually stacked with multiple faces and facades.  If you concentrate on just one face of a human being you can find on that face the look of discovery.  They are waking from sleep and beginning to discover the deeper meaning of the world, of their Lord, and of the life that once surrounded them.

Today in Matthew’s Gospel we will experience for ourselves some of that Last Day’s sense of discovery, for . . .

“JESUS REVEALS THE MYSTERIES OF ETERNAL LIFE”

In our text we have a dichotomy.  Jesus speaks to his disciples about an end, and yet his words speak about the beginning.  “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (v. 34)  Contrast that with Jesus words to the wicked, he does not say, “Inherit the punishment prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”  He does say, “Depart…into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (v. 41)

God never prepared hell for human beings.  The original intent was that humanity would live in eternal fellowship with Him forever.  No one was predestined to hell.  Those who go to hell go there by their own choosing when they reject Jesus.

This is not a parable of the end of the world.  Jesus instead offers us a discovery of the world, as God intended it.  God’s original desire was for humanity to live in relationship with Him, and the day when Christ returns will be the day when God’s dreams for creation finally and fully come true.

Yes, we have rejected God’s design and fallen into sin.  This leads us to do what Michelangelo did with his Last Judgment painted on the wall of the Sistine Chapel.  He places a powerful papal critic of his work as far away from Christ as possible.  His own face is gazed upon by Christ.

Might we place our own enemies in the same place?  Not loved by Christ, how could they be?  We paint people into a corner of our own making and neither of us can escape the destruction.

Christ can wipe the canvas clean.  He can clean up our paint by numbers mess and make it a beautiful al fresco ready for the local art museum.  Christ followed God’s design and in a heart wrenching but beautiful landscape he hung on a cross for all to see.  But this painting had many layers.  Jesus made his way to the eternal fire to let Satan know that the victory over sin and death ours remaineth.  Jesus then rose and in a gorgeous garden setting and then a house and a road he made appearances to his grieving people.  He reminded them the picture in their mind was not complete.  He would rise triumphant to the heavens and the mysteries of eternal life would continue to be revealed.

In 1304 Giotto di Bondone began working on a series of frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy.  At the very back of the chapel is the largest scene, the last judgment.  The painting was done quickly, but the image they produced is eternal.  Christ returns in judgment.  The scene covers the whole wall, with those raised to eternal life on Christ’s right and those raised to eternal punishment on Christ’s left.  At the bottom of the image, underneath the cross, is the doorway by which worshippers would return to the world.  The last image worshippers see as they enter the world is Christ returning in glory.  Imagine what that would be like.

Although we have no such image over our doors as we walk out of this church, we do have the Gospel.  Our Lord offers us an image of the last judgment to shape your life in this world today.  As you walk through the door, opened by the cross, you enter God’s world with deeper understanding.  You see things differently:  the creation of this world, your Lord, even your life of service.  Assured of your salvation, you now rejoice in these hidden blessings of God, this vision of life, present and eternal.

Amen.

Bulletin Announcements

November 26, 2017

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Matthew 25:44 – “Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’”  With this parable Jesus once again emphasizes that our good works come from who we are, not the other way around.  Sheep do sheep works, and goats do goat works.  So first things first: if we want to live more faithfully, let us come to Jesus, receive His gifts, and ask him to increase our faith!

NEED A RIDE? If you are unable to drive to church, we have an option that is available.  Please speak with Pastor who has the details.  Thank you.

OUR SUNDAY SCHOOL meets at 9:15 a.m. in the Choir Room which is located on the 2nd level (the west side).

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS meets in the basement at 9:15 a.m. As we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we continue studies on that time period.  We are studying “A Man Named Martin”, a video-based study on the reformer Martin Luther.

TODAY following the 10:30 worship the Board of Evangelism/Stewardship will be hosting a Christmas Decorating Gathering.  Come and help decorate the church and enjoy pizza, snacks, drink, and dessert.

OUR ADVENT SERVICES this year will be on Wednesdays, December 6th, December 13th and December 20th beginning at 7:00 p.m.  There are meals served at 5:30 p.m.  The food sign-up and where the Freewill Offering is going each night is on the table in the narthex.

CHRISTMAS EVE MORNING:  The Elders at their November meeting made a worship change for Christmas Eve morning.  We will have one Worship Service at 9:00 a.m. with Sunday School and Adult Bible Class from 10:15 – 11:00 a.m.  The Christmas Eve Candlelight Evening Worship will be at 6:00 p.m.

FROM THE OFFICE:  It’s time again to order your copy of The Lutheran Annual”.  The cost is $25.00.  If you are interested in obtaining a copy, please contact Janet or Sandy by phone (309) 662-8905 or by email: goodshepherdblm@frontier.com, or even by person.

FELLOWSHIP HOSTS:  The sign-up for help with coffee/doughnuts is posted on the wall by the north stairwell.  We need an individual/family to sign-up each week to pick up the donuts and make the coffee.  If no one is signed up by Friday of each week, the order will be cancelled.  We thank everybody who continues to help with this part of our church fellowship.

CAN YOU HELP: John and Paula Hardy are planning their annual trip to Ft Wayne, IN.  It will be sometime after the holidays, hopefully mid-January. The Seminary needs clean usable clothes for men, women, and children. They also accept shoes, coats, and kitchen supplies.  Please bring them to church.  There is a closet located in the hall upstairs where items are collected, and packed for our trip.  If you need help finding it just contact John (309) 310-7917.  Thank you!

SHARING TREE:  We know that it is early in the process, but wanted to let you know we will have a Sharing Tree this year.  We are getting a name from the Baby Fold and will have tags on the tree with specific requests.  We also will be collecting money to purchase items not received, any additional money collected will be used to purchase gift cards.  These gift cards will be given to the Baby Fold to supplement other needs in the system.  Last year we were able to give a handful of cards because of the generosity of our church family.  The look on the faces of the staff said it all….  It was priceless.  Thank you very much for helping to share the love this coming holiday season.  Please contact Toni Lueck (309) 530-8666 or Paula Hardy (309) 829-8432 with questions.  Thank you!

MARK YOUR CALENDAR:  Please mark your calendar for 2018 – Saturday, February 10th.  Wittenberg Lutheran is hosting a Speaker’s Forum with the theme, “Cultural and Governmental Influence On God’s Design For the Family”.  The speakers are Tim Goeglein an LCMS Laymen who worked in the Bush White House and now is employed by “Focus On The Family”; and John Rosemond a family psychologist whose syndicated newspaper column appears in The Pantagraph on Saturdays.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “Advent Adventure” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Mark 13:24-37.  Sometimes our faith gets weaker, sometimes it grows stronger.  Let’s tae this Advent to heart, and live by faith, and not by sight Dr. Dale Meyer is the speaker.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720) at 6:00 a.m.; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.  Tune in!  You can also listen to The Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org.

PRAYER CHAIN:  If you have a prayer request please submit them by email to Mary Anne Kirchner at makirchner@yahoo.com or you may phone a Prayer Request to Mary Anne; her cell phone# is (309) 532-2582.  The Prayer Request box is on the table in the narthex for any written requests.

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