A Modern Classic
I am bursting at the seams to tell you, fellow believers, about a book that everyone is invited to read this Lent. It is a modern classic: The Spirituality of the Cross by retired English professor Gene Edward Veith (pronounced "veeth").
I have pre-ordered the books, they are in the office, and yours for a suggested offering of $10. My friends, they are worth every penny. The real attraction and benefits of reading this book are found in these quotations:
1. “You don't need to die before you know where you stand with God.” The beauty of Lutheran theology is the biblical teaching that you can know, right now, where you stand with God.
2. We will talk about a “Calling into a kingdom that does not pass away.”
3. You will draw strength and inspiration for your faith expressly for “the messy realities of marriage, parenthood, the workplace, and society.”
4. Finally, after reading this book, the reader will “understand their citizenship in two kingdoms” in a deeper way that is applicable to daily life.
It is written by a layman, for the laity. The author experimented with Pentecostalism, Reformed theology, and others before landing on/with the Lutherans. He provides numerous stories and examples of what he means.
Finally, on this Valentine’s weekend I think it’s good to point out that he speaks of an “order of common love” among all Christians. This is not about Lutherans being better than other Christians. This is about what distinctives in the Lutheran teaching make it easier to be Christian, remain faithful, and receive a great amount of strength for the road ahead. You know, “love and stuff.” ☺
He leaves it to the reader to decide if Lutheran teaching is biblical and good. Or not. I feel assured the Spirit will speak to you through this second expanded edition of a modern classic.
We’ll begin on Ash Wednesday, when the books will be made available to all who attend worship that evening. If not, you can grab yours the First Sunday/weekend in Lent, February 29th or March 1st.
What Are You Celebrating Today?
Welcome to worship on this Superbowl Groundhog weekend! I know I am mixing secular holidays there, but to make a fun point I hope. An old-English saying goes:
If Candlemas be fair and bright
Come, winter, have another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go winter, come not again!
February 2nd, being 40 days after Christmas and the day for presenting Jewish boys in the temple (and it was no different for Jesus), was traditionally "Candlemas." Christians would light candles and sing songs and celebrate Christ as the light of the world. What an excellent tradition!
How the Germans would later associate this with hedgehogs or groundhogs, and the small mammal who predicts the length of winter, no one is sure, but it shows that people love traditions. What traditions do you have at your house?
What are you celebrating today? This weekend we mark several fun, worldly holidays but most importantly we celebrate the work of Christ in our lives. Here's to anything you do at home and church that celebrates his deep love for us and amazing grace... "let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly," St. Paul reminds us, and let it give you the hope it transmits so faithfully and so amazingly. In Him,
Seven Mission Priorities
Synod" means "walking together"
In its national Convention last year, our church body, The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod (usually just "LCMS"), named seven mission priorities. This Sunday we welcome new members and these are foremost on my mind as we prepare to receive them. What is our mission? How can we pull together to support not only Calvary but also our District and the Synod? Why is that important?
For the last 20 years especially it's been the trendy thing to say, "I am spiritual, but I don't support organized religion." One wonders if the same people who say that also go to hospitals. Because hospitals take organization. And without a board running what needs to be run; without oversight and accountability, a hospital would not even exist. And so the governing board benefits the hospital as an organization by enabling it to actually provide health care. Likewise, all of our congregations need mission support and the training of workers in order to continue.
I'll let you read the priorities yourself and let you evaluate if they are important or not. Our District will meet in Convention this April. I'm in need of volunteers to be "Lay delegates." One primary and one standby delegate. Will you answer the call?
1. Plant, sustain, and revitalize Lutheran churches
2. Support and expand theological education
3. Perform human care in close proximity to Word and Sacrament ministries
4. Collaborate with the Synod's partners for greater effectiveness
5. Promote and nurture the well being of all church workers
6. Enhance education and youth ministry
7. Strengthen and support the Lutheran family in living out God's design.
The Synod is more than a repository for health coverage or legal aid. "Synod" literally means "walking together." For the sake of God's mission to the world in his Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus,
Not Only One Option
I once knew a Lutheran man who was happily married to a Lutheran woman. They had two beautiful children, a wonderful home, and steady employment. But then... Ah yes, the famous "But then..." -- But then he decided to quit his steady job and become a controlling partner in a new bar & grill. To say that "Things went downhill from there" would be the understatement of the year. It wasn't that owning a bar & grill itself is the bad thing; it's the element that you place yourself in, if you allow it to progress to a bad place, and the time away from home that one must consider if one is to "keep the home together."
He spent way too many hours away from his beautiful wife and children trying to start that dumb bar (which is no longer there!). He gave the best of his life to a more trashy kind of establishment than he would've needed to give it . When there were rumors of an emotional affair, it was the last straw for his marriage. They were divorced within 2 years of his choice to open that place with his "friends."
The moral of this story is plain to see: choose your vocation wisely. Consider others before your own happiness and desire to be well liked. Above all, don't let the world tell you that you've only got one option!
Things the man could've tried first: 1. He could have been a financial partner only for a while until his kids got older and it was a better time for his wife. 2. He could have said, "not now" and saved up for when the children were raised and gone from the house.
Don't let the world or your flesh steer you in one direction, and claim there's only one option! Consider them all. Pray deeply about any new direction in life that will effect your ability to be faithful to your loved ones and to yourself and to your church. The Father always gives his children what they need, and most usually he loves to add feelings of great fulfillment and joy. When you follow His Word, not the world's!
Yours in the Lord Jesus,
When God Whispers Your Name
by Max Lucado
The sheep listen to the voice of the shepherd. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
WHEN I SEE a flock of sheep I see exactly that, a flock. A rabble of wool. A herd of hooves. I don't see a sheep. I see sheep. All alike. None different. That's what I see.
But not so with the shepherd. To him every sheep is different. Every face is special. Every face has a story. And every sheep has a name.The one with the sad eyes, that's Droopy. And the fellow with one ear up and the other down, I call him Oscar. And the small one with the black patch on his leg, he's an orphan with no brothers. I call him Joseph.
The shepherd knows his sheep. He calls them by name.
When we see a crowd, we see exactly that, a crowd. Filling a stadium or flooding a mall. When we see a crowd, we see people, not persons, but people. A herd of humans. A flock of faces. That's what we see.
But not so with the Shepherd. To him every face is different. Every face is a story. Every face is a child. Every child has a name. The one with the sad eyes, that's Sally. The old fellow with one eyebrow up and the other down, Harry's his name. And the young one with the limp? He's an orphan with no brothers. I call him Joey.
The Shepherd knows his sheep. He knows each one by name. The Shepherd knows you. He knows your name. And he will never forget it. I have written your name on my hand (Isa. 49:16).
Quite a thought, isn't it? Your name on God's hand. Your name on God's lips. Maybe you've seen your name in some special places. On an award or diploma or walnut door. Or maybe you've heard your name from some important people—a coach, a celebrity, a teacher. But to think that your name is on God's hand and on God's lips . . . my, could it be?
Or perhaps you've never seen your name honored. And you can't remember when you heard it spoken with kindness. If so, it may be more difficult for you to believe that God knows your name.
But he does. Written on his hand. Spoken by his mouth. Whispered by his lips. Your name. And not only the name you now have, but the name he has in store for you. A new name he will give you . .
Occasionally we need a reminder.
Not a sermon.
A reminder that God knows your name.
From When God Whispers Your Name
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1999) Max Lucado
Posted on January 10, 2020 1:24 PM
Posted on December 27, 2019 8:34 AM
Last week, I mentioned the story of a third-grade girl at a Christmas pageant who was pretty small and couldn't see the manger. She had helped work on it and wanted to see Jesus in the manger. Frustrated, she yelled out, "Let Jesus show!" That this comment was really LOUD and heard by everyone during the program was just fine with the director and the pastors. And this story is making quite the rounds this Christmas in America.
I'm not sure where it was, but only that it was at an Episcopal church somewhere in our great land. What a rich and poetic comment! The point of today's program by the children is to Let Jesus Show. Even if they forget words, fidget and look down more than sing or speak, they are trying to do what that little girl did at the church. To say without doubt or question that Jesus our Savior, is born in Bethlehem! May the grace AND truth of our Lord Jesus Christ make its way into your heart and mind and soul "from the mouths of babes." Joy in him, and see you Tuesday or Wednesday!
Posted on December 21, 2019 10:47 PM
I used to be "shy." I was a quiet kid and a careful observer of people. Those are good qualities but I remember how I'd watch with amazement at other kids who would bring friends to class, unsure of how they did that. And then truth be told, I was a l ittle miffed at the new kids for either not listening to the teacher or using too much glue, or smooshing the tips of markers in till they were useless. But what a different perspective I have now, as a pastor! What an opportunity it all was to SHOW the new kids life in Christ. I wasn't against the concept as a kid, just unsure how to do it. Upon meeting Yanti, who went with many friends to their churches and invited many friends to hers, I found the zenith of joy in the Savior and inviting others to see Him. So, maybe you are shy. Maybe you are more like Yanti. But we in leadership ask you, beg you to invite just one person to come with you to church this Advent and Christmas if you are shy. If you are like Yanti, try to keep it around a manageable 100 new friends! You may have better luck remembering their names that way. (haha!) At any rate, invite them to see Jesus. The story goes that a 9-year old girl was forced to the back of a Christmas program at her church. She couldn't see Jesus and so she yelled out, "Let Jesus show!" And that is an excellent statement for us in church leadership and as "regulars" in this congregation. This Christmas, Let. Jesus. Show. Let your joy in Him spill over onto others. Jesus is for all people everywhere.
Posted on December 21, 2019 9:18 AM