|Sep 7||Will Dowell||Pastor/Elder|
|Sep 14||Pastor/Elder||Jessica Isaac|
|Sep 21||J.T. Piper||Pastor/Elder|
|Sep 28||Pastor/Elder||Justin McNeely|
|Sep 7||Daryle Schempp, Gerald Semelka, Lucas Schempp, Paul Gerike||Mike Field||Mike Huth, Theron Noth|
|Sep 14||Mike Field, Steve Davis||Nathan Kluender||Bud Kessler, Curt Kessler, Marvin Huth, Ryan Kleiboeker|
|Sep 21||Charles Nottingham, Craig Culp, Gene Fuller, Richard Ross||John Hardy||Bryan Reichert, Karson Lueck|
|Sep 28||Joshua Parry, Nathan Kluender||Steve Parry||Brian Dirks, Greg McNeely, Holden Lueck, Travis Henson|
In response to Mary Magdelene’s lavish gift, when she poured out almost a year’s wages to anoint Jesus’ feet, Judas replied, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor” (John 12:5)? And then John tells us, “He said this, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:6).
So, why is Judas put in charge of the money? Jesus could have put any of his disciples in charge of it. He could have put Nathaniel in charge, of whom Jesus said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit” (John 1:47), or John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20), or Levi, the tax collector, who was financially savvy (Luke 5:27). But he didn’t. He chose Judas, whom He called “a devil” (John 6:70). Why?
Jesus put His money where his mouth was. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19–20). Our Lord put not His trust in earthly treasures, but in the word and will of His Father. The Lord will provide.
In Judas, we see the heart and gut-wrenching end of one who treasured the wrong thing. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34). “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13). It’s an alarming example, a visceral image, of what loving money and hating God can look like.
But no one, save Jesus, was the wiser. During Jesus’ three-year ministry, Judas looked, talked, and acted like the other eleven. He seemed to be about the right things. But “love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:10). And this craving led Judas to sell Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, which the chief priests used to buy his own grave — an ironic transaction indeed.
All of this is to say that money is a good thing but it is not God. Use it for the purpose which God gives it. Spend it on providing for your family. Spend it on support of your community. Give it to support and provide for the work of God among you in church, the ministry of Word and Sacrament, through which you receive forgiveness, life, and salvation. Invest in all these things. Put your treasure where God calls you to put it, and your heart will follow. Your hearts will be set on things above, for these things — family, society, and church — are of God. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all this will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
So, do not be anxious, but trust in the mercies of God. All you need will be given by your Father in heaven. “For it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). The Father can easily out-give what any thief can steal. And the beauty is: He not only can, but does. There is nothing ironic about that.
First, of all, the Church Council is busy reviewing the expenses of the church. We will be asking the various Boards to keep expenses in mind as we prepare for the 2015 Budget. We are still running behind in our General Fund, and we want to make sure this doesn’t continue into next year.
Let me remind again that we are a very blessed congregation. We have had some attendance decline in worship, but our Offerings have not decreased. We have spent more this year on some items than we anticipated – heating in winter, snow removal, etc. We will be praying that next winter is not as harsh as this one. In the meantime, we will be asking for a Special Offering in the Fall to help offset utility costs. Please be watching for this Special Offering and pray about helping the church pay for the utilities.
Last time I wrote a message, I wasn’t able to provide the balances for the various Church Funds because I was sitting in Washington, DC. I have the fund balances available this time, so here they are (please note: I am only including the ones with balances):
- Kitchen Fund – $120
- LLL Fund – $50
- LWML Fund – $1082
- Operating Fund – ($2715)
- Parking Lot Resurfacing – $8248
- Portico Fund – $16,553
- Stained Glass Fund – $542
- Sunday School Fund – $78
- Youth Fund/Higher Things – $75
Finally, we will soon be looking to elect some new Officers and members of Boards at our Annual Voter’s Meeting in November. Curt Kessler, the Vice President of the Congregation and his committee will be reaching out to ask for volunteers to become members of Boards. I would urge you to prayerfully consider serving on a Board if you are not already doing so. We are always in need of people to serve the Church.
If you have any questions about what is happening in the Council or the church, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Blessings, Steve Parry
The first thing a mining company will do after a collapse is to try to locate the miners. Mining companies have learned that trapped miners can survive up to 5 times longer when they realize someone knows where they are. It took 17 days but the miners were finally located and a message was sent to the miners.
Nothing much had changed. They were still trapped and there was no certainty of rescue, but they knew that they had not been abandoned to their fate. Someone was working on their behalf.
We can find ourselves trapped in our sin and guilt. We get buried in a collapse of bad decisions and choices. Are we relegated to our fate? Does anyone hear our faint cry for help? Can we be found?
Yes, someone hears us. Yes, we can be found. The Lord knows where we are at all of the time. When we are entombed because of our sinful nature we are not left alone. The Lord Jesus is working and has worked on our behalf. His death and resurrection from an empty tomb has freed us. Someday we will breath in the clean air of heaven.
Remember the weary smiles of those miners as they were brought to the surface one by one? We have that unending joy each and every day because we have a Savior who knows us and rescued us.
Eighth Sunday After Pentecost
August 3, 2014
Dear Friends in Christ,
In 1538, the Dance of Death made its way into the Bible. In their printing of the Old Testament, the Treschel Brothers included Life after the Fall, a woodcut by Hans Holbein. In his woodcut, Adam is tilling the ground and Eve is nursing a child. Near Adam, however, one sees death, a skeleton tilling the field. Near Eve, death again is visible, an hourglass measuring the limits of our lives. Death is everywhere, hounding our efforts and measuring our days, so that we “labor for that which does not satisfy” (Is. 55:2).
In his woodcut, Holbein was actually creatively appropriating a much larger painting and a much larger tradition. In St. Mary’s church in Lubeck, there was a painting nearly 100 feet long, weaving itself along the walls of a small chapel. The painting filled the walls with life-sized figures…in a chain dance with death. Death was weaving itself in and out of the figures, calling to them to “Come here to the dance.” People old and young, rich and poor, from the pope and the emperor to the hermit and the peasant were invited by Death. “I call everybody to this dance.” Even an infant who cannot walk heard Death’s invitation and was invited to the dance. Gathering for worship, one was surrounded by the figures dancing with death. You never knew when Death might extend his invitation and take your hand.
Although it took so long for the Dance of Death to make its way into the Bible, God’s people have long heard death’s call. Isaiah gives voice to the question that has troubled all people ever since the fall: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” Today we answer that question as we examine our Christian faith.
“THE LORD OF LIFE OVERCOMES THE DANCE OF DEATH”
Why do we spend money and labor on those things that we know do not satisfy? Because that is all we are able to do. From the glossy magazines that litter our life to the pop-up ads on our computers and phones to the billboards that hover in the sky, our world is filled with merchants crying out to us: “Come and buy.” Like I was telling my boys the other day they are successful. Those who have kids involved in sports know this. Go into any sporting goods chain and the prices for athletic gear will literally knock your socks off. These companies have successfully marketed to kids that it is more important how you look than how you play. Why? To make the little bit of life that we have satisfying, because, in the end, nothing will last. The computer, the phone, the flat-screen TV, the video game, the dry-fit t-shirt. All will decay. Death will whisper its invitation to “Come” and all our labor will be in vain.
In contrast to the Dance of death, Isaiah gives voice to the Lord of Life. Like Death, the Lord’s call is to everyone (v. 1). No one is excluded. But unlike Death, the Lord’s call brings people life. The life the Lord offers is rich – “wine and milk” in verse 1 and “rich food” in verse 2. It is free – “without money and without price” in verse 1. It will answer the deepest needs of human experience, bringing eternal life to the soul (v. 3). Most surprisingly this call is not new. It reaches into the past of Israel based on God’s covenant love to David. It is one that reaches out to embrace the world’s future as all nations come to this one that the Lord glorifies. Even “a nation that you do not know” and “a nation that did not know you” (v. 5) will join in the feast. In this text, Isaiah issues a call from the Lord of Life and his voice triumphs over the Dance of Death.
This call and promise of prophecy has taken on flesh in Jesus Christ. He came to dance our dance with death, died on a cross, and rose victorious never to die again. Suddenly, the church is surrounded with a chorus of witnesses, who invite the world to life. The Apostle Paul heard this call and made it known to the Jews in Antioch. There he proclaimed the certainty of all of God’s promises made known in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
From the voice of Wisdom calling out to all people to come to the house of the Lord (Prov. 9:1-6) to the voice Jesus raised above the banter of the temple to invite all who are thirsty to come to him (Jn. 7:37) to the voice of John, aged and exiled, closing out his vision of the end of all things with the simple cry of the church to “Come” (Rev. 22:17), this cry of the Lord of Life is sounded. It is an eternal cry of salvation for all. It comes from the one who danced with death, overcame death and the grave, and claimed victory on Easter morning. This is the cry that Jesus will raise on the last day. By the power of his life, He will raise all people from the dead and, by the power of His love; He will call all who believe in Him to enter into the new creation.
Because of the fall, the Dance of Death made its way into the Scriptures. Because of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, the Lord of Life is making his way into our world. In 1538, we have a moment when the Dance of Death visually marked the pages of the Bible. Today, the question is, how is the Lord of Life reaching out from the Scriptures to make his mark upon our world? Where is His call? What does it sound like? How is God, through you, calling out to the peoples who are working and buying that which does not satisfy, those that do not know Him as Savior? Can we share with them what we already know that through the work of Christ this life is rich and free and brings eternal life to the soul? Sure we can. May the Holy Spirit bless as we do.