“Here I Am” — Mark 9:2-9 (2-15-15, 1030am service)


February 15, 2015 – Transfiguration Text: Mark 9:2-9

Dear Friends in Christ,

Toni and I were vacationing with my parents and 3 year-old Karson in Monterrey, California. We were at appropriately…and my mom always thought this was funny…Dennis the Menace Park. This is a great park for children. Slides and swings and sand and you’re on the coast of California. Anyway, Karson had a wonderful time sliding and swinging and just enjoying being a kid. At some point it had to end. We had other places we wanted to go to and we didn’t want to wear out the grandparents. Karson, of course, didn’t want to go. It wasn’t quite Dennis the Menace like but you can understand his reasons for wanting to stay. He was in his glory – take a look at this park on the Internet and you will know what I mean.
We were all kids once. We can relate. There are places we just did not want to leave. As adults our understanding is a little different. We know we have to come down the mountain. Life is like that. And when it is, aren’t we glad we have a Savior? It’s Transfiguration Sunday and the Lord says . . .
“HERE I AM”
On the mountain of glory, a sustained heavenly visit has appeal. It did for Peter, James, and John. Who could blame them. Jesus had talked about being killed, denying self, taking up a cross, losing one’s life. Now they are in heaven’s company with Moses and Elijah and it seemed better.
It would be for us too especially if the last word we heard from the surgeon was cancer, or from the boss, “We’re going to let you go.” Just as we are prone to rely on worldly diversions – in the workshop, playing video games, snapchatting, facebooking, on Netflix, shopping, investing in our sports teams, knitting – to avoid the painful realities of life, surely we’d welcome a heavenly interruption by the likes of Moses and Elijah for the same reason.
How powerless life’s problems seem when we allow our imaginations to converse with the one who crossed the Red Sea and stood before I AM on holy ground. Or sit beside the prophet and ask him about the chariot of fire. A sustained heavenly visit has great appeal.
For Jesus, securing our eternal glory for us had greater appeal. He must go back down the mountain. There is but one plan of salvation and He is it. The blood of thousands and thousands of lambs sacrificed for hundreds of years means nothing, and the Spirit of death cannot “pass over” our sins if the blood of the Lamb of God is not poured out for us. Jesus would descend from the mount of glory not to provide people with problems, one more temporary diversion, but to reach the crest of Calvary, curing people of life’s problems, even sin, death, and hell, for all eternity.
Jesus leads his disciples back down the mountain. They were to be strengthened by this heavenly meeting for what was now to come – Jesus’ suffering and theirs. Following Jesus is not a passive life. It’s highly interactive. Now works righteousness here. No merits for salvation earned or given. It’s just that Jesus’ followers follow.
The pains suffered by first-century Christians is well-documented. Scripture itself tells us of Paul, Peter, James, and Stephen. We know about the millions of Christians today who are persecuted around the world. If we are not directly persecuted for our faith, then life’s situations – illness, divorce, trouble with children, loss of job, old age, finances – cause suffering or hardship. It becomes suffering for Christ’s sake when we endure and respond in faith.
Followers of Jesus will not allow the quality of life, money matters, or worldly comforts to dictate our outlook or decisions. Rather, we picture ourselves coming down the mountain, not alone, but with Jesus saying, “Here I AM with you,” and we know His glory will prevail.
Jesus’s followers know that he says, “I AM here to strengthen you through suffering.” And, “I AM here with you in suffering to use you to witness to others.”
Pastor Richard Wurmbrand knows about Christ’s strength for him in suffering and about witnessing. Before his release in 1964, he was tortured for 14 years in communist Romanian prisons for his involvement with the Christian underground.
At one time, Rev. Wurmbrand survived on an hour of sleep a night with a guard opening and shutting the spyhole in the door each minute or so. His interrogator constantly threated him, “Don’t you know I can order your execution tonight?” Wurmbrand spoke of Christ and told his torturer to put his hand over Wurmbrand’s heart. If it beat rapidly from fright, the man would know there is no God and no eternal life. If it beat calmly, indicating Wurmbrand was at peace, then the interrogator would know there is a God and eternal life. Instead of putting his hand on Wurmbrand’s chest, he struck his face saying, “Can’t you see that…your savior, or whatever you call him, isn’t going to open any prison doors?” Wurmbrand replied, “His name is Jesus Christ, and if He wishes, He can release me.”
Paul writes, “Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Rom. 8:18) That is the way it is for Jesus’ followers. We work and witness and even suffer for Christ. We are not earning a trip to heaven. We just know that He has work for us to do. By His own work and witness, death and resurrection, He earned our trip to heaven. We follow Him because He says, “I AM here with you on earth, and I AM taking you to be with me in heaven.”
Amen.

Bulletin Announcements – February 15, 2015

† Bulletin Announcements †

February 15, 2015

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS each week is led by Pastor Lueck and is studying “Luther’s Small Catechism”.  The class meets in the basement at 9:15 a.m.

TODAY IN SUNDAY SCHOOL:  On this Transfiguration Sunday, the Sunday School students will study the story of “The Transfiguration.”  In the Transfiguration, we see Jesus as the pure and holy Son of God, whose perfect righteousness is given to us through God’s Word and Sacraments.  Parents could ask, “What did Jesus reveal to His disciples about Himself in the Transfiguration?  What does God’s Word reveal to us about Jesus?”

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Mark 9:6:  “For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified.”  Soon enough, the disciples’ terror turned into joy for when Jesus is with us, there is no need to fear.  He loves us and cares for us and will never abandon us.  That assurance is the basis of all generosity – for only those who are set free from worry can learn the joy of giving.

TODAY is the deadline for items to be submitted for the MARCH NEWSLETTER.  Mandy Kluender is our Editor for the church newsletter and any announcements you want to be published in the Newsletter should be submitted to her at mgkluender@hotmail.com or you may call her at (309) 838-9868.

LENT BEGINS:  The beginning of Lent is upon us.  Ash Wednesday Worship with Holy Communion is February 18th at 7:00 p.m.  There is no meal this week.  The meals begin on February 25th and continue each Wednesday through March.  Boards of the congregation will serve the first three meals.  The last two (March 18th and March 25th) are for congregation members not on these Boards to sign-up and serve.  Check the display in the narthex for further information.

NEXT SUNDAY: There will be a Special Voter’s Meeting next Sunday, February 22nd, following the 10:30 a.m. Worship Service.  The purpose of the meeting is to select a candidate for the District Presidency and any candidates for Synodical Office?  The meeting should not last very long, and if anyone has any names for either the District President or a Synodical Office, they should send them to Steve Parry prior to the meeting at: separry51@mac.com or you can give the names to Pastor.

THANK YOU to those members who have contributed to the Energy Needs of the congregation these last few months.  We have been very blessed and it helped with last year’s Budget and the beginning of this year as well.

20th CHURCH ANNIVERSARY CONTAINERS:  If you have not yet picked up your 20th Church Anniversary Container, please do so following the worship services today.  They are located in the narthex.  As you know, the money is going for updates and repairs of the church organ.  The new estimate is $13,325.00.  We are collecting these funds until July, 2015.  Any questions please feel free to see or call Marvin Huth (309) 829-6897.

COLLECTION SCHEDULE FOR ORGAN REPAIR AND UPDATE:  The committee for the 20th Church Anniversary has set up a schedule for the collection of contributions.  We will be placing the container in the narthex in both services starting Sunday, March 15th and March 22nd.  But if you would like to contribute earlier, please feel free to give it to Herb Renken or Steve Davis.  If you have any questions, please contact Herb Renken at (309) 454-2986.

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.

YOU ARE INVITED to the Concordia University Chicago Kapelle Spring Tour Concert on Friday, February 27th, at 7:30 p.m. at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 2645 Old Jacksonville Road, Springfield, IL.  Dr. Charles P. Brown directs the 32-voice choir in a concert including works by Persichetti, Thompson, Hogan, and Manz.  Free will Offering; cookie reception following the concert.  Any questions please call the church at (217) 465-4531.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “Reality, and Grace-filled Restoration” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Luke 15.  Through Christ’s forgiveness, regrets give way to restoration. The speaker will be Reverend Gregory Seltz.  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 home # is (309) 661-6522; her cell phone# is (309) 532-2582.  The Prayer Request box is on the table in the narthex for any written requests.

The Office Hours for Janet and Sandy are as follows:  Janet:  Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and others times by request/appointment.  Sandy’s hours are Mondays, 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.; Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; and Fridays, 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  Also, if you stop by the church please let the office know that you are in the building.

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Report to Congregation & Pics from Ft. Wayne Seminary Co-Op — 1-30-15 (Courtesy of John & Paula Hardy)

Concordia Seminary Fort Wayne, Indiana

Our Trip to bring your gifts to the clothing co-op at the Seminary at Fort Wayne allows us the opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful campuses that I have ever seen. You enter the campus from Clinton Street without actually seeing the campus. The first thing you see is the statue of Martin Luther. Then you see some of the buildings and the chapel.

This year we were there while school was in session and there was quite a bit of activity on campus. Since the co-op is closed on the weekends we had to go to the gymnasium in order to find someone who could contact security. There was a soccer activity of some sort going on in the gym with dozens of children and parents in attendance.

We met the security guard (a seminarian) who unlocked the co-op for us. As we began to unload our cargo he received a call to open the food co-op for someone else. He later returned after we finished unloading. He was very concerned about the upcoming snow as he was an “Alabama boy.” He (as were every other person we have come into contact with at the seminary) was very grateful for the donations. He said that without the support of congregations that he and the other seminarians would not be able to complete their journey. After a short discussion of each of us being a different member of the body of Christ with different talents he was again called away and we left the seminary.

As you can see by the pictures there is a storeroom which the donations are collected (or in our case left). In an adjoining room volunteers separate the donations and stock the various rooms like this one pictured. This room happens to be women’c clothing. There are rooms for men’s clothing and children’s clothing as well as toys and household goods. To “shop” at the co-op the student or his/her spouse must show a Concordia student ID. Concordia Fort Wayne has a Deacon/Deaconess program as well as a program for pastors.

We would like to thank you all for your donations which allow us to visit the seminary each year. We have had the pleasure of visiting some of the students that we have sponsored during some of our trips.

We plan on returning there again some time next year and appeal to you again for donations to fill up our truck for the next trip.

Sincerely and Respectfully in Christ’s service,

John & Paula Hardy
***Pictures Follow***

1-6-15 Ft Wayne Pic 6

1-6-15 Ft Wayne Pic 5

1-6-15 Ft Wayne Pic 4

1-6-15 Ft Wayne Pic 3

1-6-15 Ft Wayne Pic 2

1-6-15 Ft Wayne Pic 1

“What Is Christ’s Function?” Mark 1: 29-39 (2-08-2015)

February 8, 2015 Text: Mark 1:29-39

Dear Friends in Christ,

Professions and vocations serve a function. Every father, mother, student, teacher, police officer, attorney, and politician has a purpose. Basketball players and musicians, plumbers and farmers, motivational speakers and financial advisors have a function. Their vocation may be to raise their children, teach, motivate, or fix a leaky faucet. Every person has a vocation or function. Most have several vocations in addition to their job activities.
What about God and his only beloved Son, Jesus Christ? Why did Jesus go from one town to another and place-to place?
“WHAT IS CHRIST’S FUNCTION?”
Where did Jesus’ preaching fit into his total ministry? Jesus has been at the synagogue in Capernaum and now He enters the house of Peter and Andrew with James and John. Peter’s mother-in-law has a fever and is ill. Jesus lifts her up, the fever leaves her; and she begins to serve all of them.
Jesus now at sundown – after the Sabbath ends. He receives the crowds who continually bring those afflicted by sickness or demons. He heals many and He casts out the demons.
Jesus – early in the morning. He leaves the disciples to pray in solitude. He needs a break like we all do – but the disciples hunt him down because the disciples say that everyone is looking for him. He then proclaims His function. They are going to go to the neighboring towns where Jesus can proclaim the Kingdom of God. That is why He came! He continues this ministry as He goes throughout the region of Galilee preaching and expelling demons by His Word.
What does Christ’s preaching of the Word mean for us? Many times, we see or hear things while something else is going on, and we miss it. It’s like trying to watch a three-ring circus. The trapeze artists get our whole attention that we may miss the clowns or the tigers. There is so much going on. When I announce football games, which I have for a number of years, I watch the game through my binoculars so I can get the number of the ball carrier and tackler correct. Parents want that kids name said right! Anyway, when I do that my field of vision is limited. I might miss something down field. To fully appreciate a circus or football game we must see the event in its entirety.
The same is true for understanding the ministry of Jesus. During those early Galilean years, he taught, he preached, he worked miracles. Everyone wanted a piece of him, but they didn’t really know why he’d come. He’d come to preach, but just what he was preaching – himself – wasn’t understood by many until the climax of that preaching was fulfilled: His death and resurrection.
Jesus’ healing in today’s text validates His preaching. He heals our minds, bodies, and souls. He heals our greatest illnesses – rejection of His will, unbelief, sin, and death. It has the same impact on our world as it did when Jesus himself spoke.
Like Peter’s mother-in-law we have been healed to serve out of faith and love. We are here right now, in this place, to fulfill our vocation for Christ and His Church. Like the disciples, we are invited by the Holy Spirit to find Jesus at Bible Studies, in Sunday School, devotions, in Holy Communion, in Confession and Absolution. Like the crowds, we may always bring others to be spiritually healed by His touch and preaching – at worship, Bible Studies, Baptism, Holy Communion.
How does that preaching continue today? What is our function? When I hear the word “function” it always takes me back to my childhood and Saturday mornings when they had these little vignettes on television. I remember this little ditty, “Conjunction, junction, what’s your function?” We might think of it this way, “Christian, Christian, what’s your function?” The Holy Spirit empowers us to be about the mission of the church. We can’t heal, but we can invite to the healing waters. We can’t preach like Jesus, but we can reach out to others to come and hear the Lord’s preaching. And we do have the ability to forgive the sins of repentant sinners because Christ first forgave us. As the Word is preached and the Sacraments are administered, Jesus continues to heal the sick of soul.
The Lord has His function and through Him we have ours. Let’s get to it!
Amen.

Bulletin Announcements – February 8, 2015

 Bulletin Announcements

February 8, 2015

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  1 Corinthians 9:25:  “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”  Self control is a fruit of the Spirit – for the desires of the flesh are at war with the desires of the Spirit.  Having received the new life in Christ by His grace, He now calls us to follow Him deliberately, with self-control, with intention.

TODAY, February 8th, is our monthly door offering for Reverend Michael Kearney and Seminarian Chris Suggitt.

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS, led by Pastor Lueck, is studying “Luther’s Small Catechism”.  The class meets in the basement at 9:15 a.m.

TODAY IN SUNDAY SCHOOL:  “Jesus Heals a Man Who Is Paralyzed” is the lesson for Sunday School today.  The miracle of healing the paralytic confirms that Jesus, the Son of Man, has authority on earth to forgive sins and it confirms what the Son of Man chiefly came to do: deliver us and all believers from sin, death, and the power of the devil.  Consider discussing, “In addition to healing the paralyzed man, what else does Jesus tell him?  How has Jesus healed us from our sickness of sin?”

NEXT SUNDAY is the deadline for items to be submitted for the MARCH NEWSLETTER.  Mandy Kluender is our Editor for the church newsletter and any announcements you want to be published in the Newsletter should be submitted to her at mgkluender@hotmail.com or you may call her at (309) 838-9868.

“WHOM SHALL I SEND?”  Please take this opportunity and stop by the LHM display in the narthex today!  LHM is active in many areas both domestically and internationally through radio (The Lutheran Hour), Bible Correspondence Courses, Evangelism Training, Daily Devotions, Men’s Network, and printed material.  Pick up any and all the material displayed.  Check the Project Connect Brochure list on the display table and choose topics that you or someone may be able to use.  “HERE AM I, SEND ME!”

20th CHURCH ANNIVERSARY CONTAINERS:  If you have not yet picked up your 20th Church Anniversary Container, please do so following the worship services today.  They are located in the narthex.  As you know, the money is going for updates and repairs of the church organ.  The new estimate is $13,325.00.  We are collecting these funds until July, 2015.  Any questions please feel free to see or call Marvin Huth (309) 829-6897.

COLLECTION SCHEDULE FOR ORGAN REPAIR AND UPDATE:  The committee for the 20th Church Anniversary has set up a schedule for the collection of contributions.  We will be placing the container in the narthex in both services starting Sunday, March 15th and March 22nd.  But if you would like to contribute earlier, please feel free to give it to Herb Renken or Steve Davis.  If you have any questions, please contact Herb Renken at (309) 454-2986.

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.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “Searching For Love – Listen To Jesus” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Mark 9.  Jesus is God’s love in action for you.  Listen to Him!  The speaker will be Reverend Gregory Seltz.  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 home # is (309) 661-6522; 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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“Lessons About Life” — Mark 1: 21-28

Feb. 1, 2015 Text: Mark 1:21-28

Dear Friends in Christ,

About 25 years ago Dr. Dennis Waitley was a sought-after speaker and productivity consultant. Listen to this quote from one of his talks.
“We want love without commitment. We want benefit packages without production requirement. Pain, sacrifice, and effort are unacceptable. ‘If it feels good right away, I’ll try it. If I can’t be certain I’ll win, then I won’t enter. I want the American dream I saw on TV, in the movies, and the one my parents said I’d get because I’m so special. And I want it now! Tomorrow is too late.’ I call this irresponsible obsession with immediate sensual gratification.”
Boy couldn’t we go on a real tirade echoing and screaming about that quote? How else can you explain that Apple sold almost 75 million I-phones during the Christmas shopping season? Or every child gets a trophy just for participating?
If only people knew the Scripture. If only. This morning is another moment with Jesus.
“LESSONS ABOUT LIFE”
The beginning of our text. “They went to Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath (Jesus) entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” (vs. 21-22)
Who has the authority? Jesus does. He has the final authority and final word. These words are of utmost importance because everybody is once again wondering where everything in the world is headed. The underlying thinking of our day is that man is the final authority; that man will direct his course of action and destiny.
Here in this unknown synagogue in this mostly unknown place called Capernaum. God steps into the scene of human history and vetoes all human authority now matter how powerful or significant, and trumps all human plans and thinking. Listen to these words from Proverbs: “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way.” (Prov. 20:24)
And look at this…”And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God.’” (v. 23-24
I pray we catch this. This man possessed by an evil spirit didn’t run into the church. He was in the church. Part of the church. And with that the lesson that most of the church’s greatest struggles are not on the outside, but within.
And most pretend that the church is the place where everyone can agree to disagree and get along. Isn’t that the goal? Whatever it takes to make the pew warm and cozy? We get twisted in our thinking.
The greatest twisting there is, is that about our sin and the trouble it causes; especially with God. And that sin is right here, in this Sanctuary. Yours and mine. And Christ is right here, in this Sanctuary – right here where He promised to be in Word and Sacrament to assure us of forgiveness of all our twisted thinking, our vile and destructive sin. This moment with Jesus is simply another wonderful and comforting reminder that He comes to where we are with forgiveness and eternal life.
Well, consider the rest of what happens in our text…”But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’ And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.” (vs. 25-28)
Isn’t it interesting that they ask, “What is this?” and not “Who is this?” The world is looking for answers. This world is looking for someone who will love and comfort it. But the world can’t see Jesus. It can’t recognize the Who, but it does cry out for the What – as in What the world wants and What the world thinks. How thankful we are that we know the Who.
This moment with Jesus, once again focuses on the great love of God for us. In the history of our troubled world, there have been frequent clashes between powerful forces. During World War II, there was a monumental struggle between the Axis and the Allies. Yet wondering who would win was not really doubted in the objective mind. The Axis simply had too many men and too much material for the underpowered Axis.
Despite the strategic victory the Allies were sure to win, a long war of attrition caused many casualties along the way. If victory couldn’t be achieved, then the Axis warlords wanted to take as many Allied lives as possible.
Our ultimate victory is certain through the person and work of Jesus Christ. And yet, Satan works to take as many with him as possible. He boldly attacks God’s highest creation. But through the wonderful weapon of God’s word, we’re guaranteed not only a strategic victory in heaven, but also tactical victories along the way. Armed with the ultimate weapon of God’s Holy Word and His Sacraments, we are truly “delivered from evil.”
Good lessons from this moment with Jesus.
Amen.