Thursday, December 5, 2019

Update from Good Shepherd (December 5, 2019)

Greetings!


REGULAR SCHEDULE
        Divine Services are Sundays at 10:00 AM.
        Sunday School is on Sundays at 8:45 AM.
        Adult Bible Class is on Sundays at 8:45 AM
        Adult Bible Class will be working our way through the books of 1 & 2 Samuel.  We will consider how God worked in the life of David who foreshadows the Son of David.  NOTE: Wednesday classes are suspended until January 8.

CHRISTMAS FOR KIDS -- SATURDAY
       This Saturday, December 7 from 9:00-11:00 AM, all children from ages 3 through 6th grade are invited to our Christmas for Kids celebration.  For more details and for registration, see this link: http://goodshepherdnovi.org/christmas_for_kids_registration

CHRISTMAS DECORATION
        While Christmas for Kids is going on, adults will be decorating the church for Christmas, Saturday, December 7 from 9:00-11:00 AM.  We will have snacks available and enjoy fellowship with each other.

CHRISTMAS OUTREACH
Postcards are available for you to give or to mail to people to invite them to our Christmas services.  You are also encouraged to share Facebook posts or send people to Good Shepherd's web page for information about our Christmas schedule.  Outreach is the job of all of us, and this good news of great joy which is meant for all people should be made known to all people.

Christmas cookie exchange 
On Sunday, December 15, members who are interested should bring 2 - 4 dozen Christmas cookies or baked goods. We will have plates available to choose a few dozen cookies so That you have a nice cookie assortment to take home and enjoy.

CHRISTMAS POINSETTIAS
Christmas poinsettias will be available to purchase and take home after the children’s Christmas service 12/22. Cost will be $10.  Donations can be given to Susan Shipe, Cathy Mowers, or place the money in an envelope in the offering plate marked “Poinsettia.”  There is a sign-up sheet in the Fellowship Room.

ADVENT VESPERS
We prepare for the coming of the Savior with repentance as we prayerfully, quietly, and eagerly await our Savior.  Our Advent Vespers services focus on the promises made by God which have been fulfilled in the coming of our Savior.  This year's Advent theme is: Advent Messages from Isaiah.
     December 11 – Advent brings a call to repentance.  (Isaiah 40:3-8)
     December 18 – Advent points to a person.  (Isaiah 40:9-11)
A supper will be served at 6:00 PM (free will offering).  Vespers begins at 7:00 PM.


DECEMBER SCHEDULE
        There will be a lot going on in December, so here is a glance at what the schedule is.  If any times or dates should change, you will be notified.  If you have any questions, call the church office.
December 7         Church Decoration for Christmas – 9:00 AM
December 7         Christmas for Kids – 9:00-11:00 AM
December 7         Sunday School Christmas rehearsal  (11:30 AM – 1:00 PM; lunch provided)
December 11         Mid-Week Advent (Supper – 6:00 PM; Vespers – 7:00 PM)
December 15 Sunday School Christmas rehearsal  (11:30 AM – 1:00 PM; lunch provided)
December 18 Mid-Week Advent (Supper – 6:00 PM; Vespers – 7:00 PM)
December 21 Sunday School Christmas dress rehearsal  (9:00 - 10:30  AM)
December 22 Children's Christmas pageant – 10:00 AM
December 24 Christmas Eve Candlelight Service – 7:00 PM
December 25 Christmas Day Festival Service – 10:00 AM



NOTES from Huron Valley Lutheran High School (HVL)

Join HVL’s Mailing List - Go to www.HVLHS.org and click on “Sign up for Newsletter” or call or email the school office at mail@hvlhs.org to be added.

Christmas Concert - Dec 15 

You are invited to join us for our annual Christmas concert on Sunday, December 15, at 3:00 PM in the HVL gymnasium.

OFFICE HOURS
        Regular office hours at Good Shepherd will be Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM. While there may be some flexibility to this schedule, we will try to keep it as regular as possible. 

BAD WEATHER POLICY FOR SERVICES AT GOOD SHEPHERD
We will always have services as scheduled at Good Shepherd.  Since I live across the parking lot, I can get to the church no matter how bad the weather gets.  Even if the service is just me and my family, we will be here.  For everyone else, please use your God-given common sense to determine whether or not you will get on the road to attend any service when the weather is bad.  We don't want anyone to risk his or her life to be here.  But if you do venture out, the scheduled service will take place.  It may be only a handful with a cappella singing and/or spoken liturgy, but we will be here.

Bible Classes and meetings may be canceled due to weather.  Check your email regarding announcements to see if any of those scheduled events is canceled.  If there is no email about it, it is not canceled.  But again, use common sense to determine if you can make it, and call the pastor to let him know if you will not be coming.

DO YOU LIKE US?
Look for Good Shepherd on Facebook.  Then “LIKE” us for updates and other postings.

God bless you.

In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder
==============================
SUNDAY SCHOOL -- Sundays at 8:45 AM.
ADULT BIBLE CLASS -- Sundays at 8:45 AM

DIVINE SERVICES -- Sundays at 10:00 AM

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE

Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church
41415 W. Nine Mile Road
Novi, Michigan  48375-4306
+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +
Divine Services -- Sundays at 10:00 AM

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Sermon -- Advent Vespers; Week 1 (December 4, 2019)

ISAIAH 40:1-2

ADVENT REMINDS US OF A PROMISED BLESSING.

In the name + of Jesus.

     Isaiah began his message with a double imperative: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:2)  The double imperative highlights that the message is urgent and important.  The first 39 chapters of Isaiah are an impassioned call for repentance, and also a stern warning of judgment.  The Lord has never desired the death of anyone.  When he issues a stern warning, he wants people to take note and take his word seriously.  He does not want anyone to perish in their sin.  He makes us acutely aware of our sinful condition so that we will be driven to the Lord in fear, seeking his mercy.  Those who are comfortable in their sins never will neither seek mercy nor want a Savior.
     In chapter 40, there is a noticeable shift in the message.  Again, it begins with a double imperative: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” (Isaiah 40:1)  The message is urgent and important.  The Lord does not bring guilt and fear just to watch us squirm.  The goal of God's word is always to bring comfort, to proclaim salvation, to declare pardon for sinners.  Isaiah's message rings out again this Advent season in order to remind us of a promised blessing.
     Part of the comfort Isaiah brings is expressed in these words: “Cry to (Jerusalem) that her warfare is ended.” (Isaiah 40:2)  They would know peace at the end of their captivity in Babylon.  God would restore his covenant.  The people would return and rebuild the city.  But later Greek forces and Roman forces, would traipse through their land and devastate it.  So, while immediate relief from captivity would come, tragedy would find them again.
     The war that goes on for all mankind, regardless of era or area, is the war against God.  Adam and Eve fired the first shot in that war, and it continues with all people to this very day.  Yes, there is evidence of it in crimes, violence, and perversion which brazenly defies God's commandments and harm other people.  But it is also deep seated in the hearts of people who are upright and polite and decent.
     Adam and Eve demonstrated it first.  When God confronted them about their sin, they found others to blame.  They had reasons that their sin should not be counted against them.  And it still goes on.  We war against God when he exposes our sin and we do all we can to cover it up.  We insist that our sins are not that bad.  We tell God to compare us to others who are worse.  We claim that times have changed and, therefore, God's commands need to be adjusted.  We believe that people will love God more if he expects less of them.  We downplay our sins so that we don't have to feel that bad about them.  In doing so, we reject mercy.  For, God does not forgive those who insist they don't need it.
     The war takes place on another front, too.  We fight against God when we present ourselves to him as better than we are.  We all inflate how much good we do.  Just ask any husband and wife about who does most of the work for their house, and they will both raise their hands.  Ask your co-workers, “Who do you think is the hardest worker here?”  Then watch all the heads snap around when one dares to answer, “Well, I am!”  That's because all the others think that they are.  Even if we don't say it out loud, we certainly believe it.  We do the same before God.  We truly believe that our lives are praiseworthy and that heaven should be our just reward.  This wars against God because it declares, “I really don't need your grace.  I've scored enough points, thank you!”  Once again, God does not have grace for those who believe they are good enough.
     So, you see, the war against God is not only by thugs, thieves, and cheats.  All war against God, for we all have wicked hearts.  “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:2)  The message is urgent and important.  The Lord exposes your sin, and he inflicts you with guilt.  He does this so that you will see your need for his comfort.  It's like a soldier who finds blood soaking his uniform.  His bleeding alerts him to the fact that he is wounded and in danger of dying.  If his wound is severe, his only concern is to find a medic so that he will not die.  The Lord afflicts us with guilt so that we will feel the terror of our sin and death.  Since we cannot fix our condition, we long for one who will.  We will yearn deeply for relief until we find it.  This relief, this comfort, only our Lord can supply; and he does.  Isaiah declares that Advent promise.  Advent reminds us a promised blessing.
     Isaiah declares: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended.” (Isaiah 40:1,2)  The message is urgent and important: The war is over.  You don't need to find ways to ignore your sins, to downplay them, or to excuse them.  God gives us the freedom to admit them.  So let us come before God with a true heart and acknowledge our guilt.  We don't need to invent virtues we don't have or claim credit for works that never moved past our intentions.  God says, “Enough of that.  If I have given you over to death and despair, it is so that you will stop fighting the truth.  The war is over.  I declare to you comfort, comfort.  Hear my prophet.  For I have told him: Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:2)   
     Advent reminds us of a promised blessing.  In fact, it is a double blessing.  First, it is mercy.  Mercy is that God does not give you what you deserve.  Think of a spy who has been captured.  He deserves to be executed by the people whose trust he betrayed.  He knows that he is owed nothing.  He doesn't deserve a favor.  His only recourse is to beg for mercy.  And so it is with us.  God does not owe us anything.  We've earned his punishment.  But God is merciful.  He does not pretend that we are not sinners.  But neither does he treat us as our sins deserve.
     Advent reminds us of a promised blessing.  That blessing is the mercy we have received in Jesus Christ.  Jesus was treated for us as our sins deserve.  Jesus suffered damnation under the wrath of his Father.  Jesus has received our blame; you and I are pardoned of all iniquity.
     But it is more than that; for we receive from the Lord's hand double for all our sins.  We not only receive mercy—that God does not give us what we deserve; we also receive grace—that God gives us what we do not deserve.  We do not deserve credit for holy obedience, but Jesus gives it to us through Holy Baptism.  We do not deserve divine compassion, but Jesus supplies it to us.  We do not deserve a judgment of innocence, but Jesus has rendered this judgment to us.  We don't need a science lab to figure out how to escape death; Jesus has conquered death and will raise us up to life everlasting.  Just as Jesus has taken from us all that is wicked, so he credits us with all of his good.  We don't have to argue with God to try to convince him of these things.  The war is over; God gives them freely.
     “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 40:1,2)  The message is always urgent and important, because it is always needed.  Our Lord soothes us again and again with his promises.  We still fall short of what is good, and we still fall into what is evil.  But God does not despise us.  When we demonstrate our sinfulness, we don't need to invent excuses.  We simply acknowledge what we are—sinners.  But then God tenderly reminds us of this: Jesus Christ came for sinners.  So, if you are a sinner, good; Jesus came for you to put an end to hostilities.  God is not your enemy; he is your Savior.  He pardons your iniquity, and doubles down on redeeming love.
     Advent reminds us of a promise blessing.  The promises are repeated by a merciful and gracious Father.  The promises are fulfilled by a merciful and gracious Savior.  The promises take root in you by a merciful and gracious Spirit.  The divine decree goes out: Comfort, comfort!  It is important and urgent.  It is double blessing.  It is mercy and grace.  It is indestructible peace.  And it is for you.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Sermon -- 1st Sunday in Advent (December 1, 2019)

MATTHEW 21:1-11

THE SAVIOR COMES: REMEMBER WHY.

In the name + of Jesus.

     One of the blessings of our liturgical tradition is that we listen to readings which keep us focused on Jesus Christ. This year, the Gospels will mainly be from St. Matthew.  St. Matthew's Gospel proclaims to us that Jesus is the Messiah who was promised repeatedly by Moses and the Prophets.  We have an example of St. Matthew's focus in today's Gospel lesson when he notes: “This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet...” (Matthew 21:4)
    Our liturgical tradition also observes a Church Year.  The benefit of this is that we review the life of Jesus year after year.  The Bible reminds us: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)  If salvation is found in no one else, then we do well to keep our focus on Jesus.  So, year after year, we review Jesus' coming, his birth, his being revealed as the Christ, his sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension.  And of course, we remember that he will come again to judge the living and the dead.  So now we have begun a new church year.  We have begun the season of Advent.  The word Advent means “coming,” and we remember that the Savior is coming. 
     If today's Gospel seems out of place, it is because it takes place during Holy Week.  It is not about a maiden in Nazareth, shepherds in the fields, or a hay-filled manger in Bethlehem.  This is Jesus' Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem.  We begin the Church Year remembering why the Savior comes.  He does not come merely to be born or to be swaddled.  He comes as a man to suffer and die.  He comes to make a sacrifice—to BE the sacrifice—for sinners.  If he does not come for that reason, we have no reason to be here.  But the Savior comes.  As he enters Jerusalem, we remember why.
     The crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)  The praise of the crowds was right, but their expectations were wrong.  The crowds were waiting for the Messiah, which was right; but the crowds were wrong about what the Messiah had come to do.  The crowds had hoped for a Messianic kingdom where everything was marked by success, peace, glory, and prosperity.  The coming of the Messiah was to mean the end of wars, the end of poverty, the end of disease, and the end of struggles.  Strangers would always be kind, the elderly would be vibrant and strong, and the children would all have straight teeth.  Jesus was expected to brush away all sin and evil with the wave of his hand and to keep it away by a rule of glorious power.  It is a wonderful thought, but anyone who was expecting it to take place was going to have their hopes dashed.
     The Savior comes: Remember why.  We also are susceptible to false expectations.  With Christmas coming, everything is supposed to be cheery.  Everyone is supposed to be kind and generous and happy.  The problems are supposed to go away because—well, “the meaning of Christmas” and all that.  That works well on the Hallmark Channel, but if you expect things to be that wonderful, you will be sorely disappointed.  The holiday season usually intensifies our pains, sorrows, and losses.  We have been led to believe that tragedies are not supposed to happen around the holidays, but they do.  The world is corrupt, and bad things happen.  All of it heightens our awareness that the world is evil, and that we are marked with sin and death.  Life is not properly pictured by Hallmark Christmas specials or Thomas Kinkade paintings.  Life is pock-marked with sorrow, toil, and trouble.  Add to that the sorrow and regret from our own sins and the consequences we have to live with—relationships still strained, grudges still held, reputations still tarnished.  This is what we long to be saved from, and not just for the holiday season.  Good news: You have a Savior.  Your Savior comes: Remember why.
     The crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)  The Son of David comes in the name of the Lord.  He comes to do the Lord's work, which is to save and to comfort sinners.  He comes in answer to the prayer of the Palm Sunday pilgrims, “Hosanna!”  Just as “Alleluia” is more than a word we say (it means “Praise the Lord”), so it is with “Hosanna!”  It means “Save us, now!” or “Save us, we pray!”  And that is exactly what Jesus comes to do.  The Savior comes: Remember why.
     The crowds called Jesus the “Son of David.”  While that refers to his lineage, it is more.  It is a specific title that refers to the Lord's Anointed.  And it fulfills what David was anointed to do.  Immediately after David was anointed by Samuel, Israel was lined up for war against the Philistine nation.  Their champion, Goliath, mocked God's people and God himself.  He challenged Israel to put forth their best soldier to face him, one-on-one.  Although he was the unlikeliest of warriors, David went forth.  Filled with the Holy Spirit, David single-handedly faced Israel's enemy and slew him.  He cut off Goliath's head as a show of absolute victory.
     The Savior comes: Remember why!  Your enemy, the devil, continues to mock you and your God.  He accuses you of sin, and you have no defense.  You and I are guilty.  The devil mocks your desire to put off your sins and to live godly lives.  He tells you that it is not worth the fight.  Billy Joel was not the first one to say it is better to laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.  Our sinful flesh agrees, thinking that reveling in sin would be more fun.  Fighting against temptation is hard; giving in is easier.  Our enemy, the devil, seeks to devour us, and he mocks us as we strive for godliness.
     But the Savior comes!  Remember why!  He is anointed to go forth and face our enemy on our behalf.  He takes up the fight for us, and single-handedly faces the devil.  It seemed the unlikeliest of victories.   In order to defeat the devil, Jesus had to fall to Satan's greatest weapons—sin and death.  Jesus went forth, carrying our sins to the cross and gave his life into death for us.  He entered Jerusalem like a Lamb being led to the slaughter—and, indeed—he was!  The Savior comes: Remember why!  He comes to make the sacrifice—to BE the sacrifice—which atones for our sins. 
     It was the unlikeliest of victories.  For us to be found innocent, Jesus had to be guilty. To win forgiveness, Jesus had to be condemned.  To achieve glory, Jesus had to suffer great shame.  To bring healing, Jesus had to be stricken, smitten, and afflicted.  To gain life, Jesus had to die.  He took everything the devil had to dish out; for, he bore the sins of the whole world.
     God the Son died on behalf of all the sons of men.  Having died on behalf of sinners, Jesus proved that the payment has been made in full for you.  He rose from the dead.  He crushed the serpent's head to demonstrate full victory.  He descended into hell, the home territory of the devil, to preach to him: “I am the living one.  I have conquered death and now I hold the keys to death and Hades.  And those whom you had held captive by their sins, I have freed.  Those whom you have mocked now get to mock you; for your accusations are empty and your temptations are now exposed as lies.  I have redeemed these people.  My victory is their victory.  Their sins are taken away.  Their graves are mere resting places.  In the end, they will be empty.  Their eternal salvation is secure; for it is held by me, and I live and reign forever for them.”
     The Savior comes: Remember why!  The Son of David been anointed to slay the enemy of God's people, and he has.  The cries of “Hosanna!” have been heard and answered.  God's people are saved.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; for Jesus has done the Lord's work.  And he continues to come to you.  He continues to come in answer to your Hosanna's as he enters our midst in bread and wine to grant us the body and blood which have overcome death.  He comes to us so that we, too, will overcome death.
     The Savior comes: Remember why!  The crowds expected glory the moment Jesus entered Jerusalem.  Their hopes were not off, but the timing was.  The day will come when all things will be right, and it is when our Savior comes again.  Soon, he will come to deliver us from all sin and problems.  He will bring us out of death and sin to live in glory with him forevermore.  The cries of Hosanna will be answered for all eternity.  For now, we continue to sing “Hosanna” waiting for that day.  And we gather around his altar to prepare for it.  For the Savior comes, and we gather in the name of the Lord to remember why.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Update from Good Shepherd (November 28, 2019)

Greetings!


REGULAR SCHEDULE
        Divine Services are Sundays at 10:00 AM.
        Sunday School is on Sundays at 8:45 AM.
        Adult Bible Class is on Sundays at 8:45 AM
        Adult Bible Class will be working our way through the books of 1 & 2 Samuel.  We will consider how God worked in the life of David who foreshadows the Son of David.  NOTE: Wednesday classes are suspended until January 8.

PRIVATE CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION
On Monday, December 2, 7:00-9:00 PM, Pastor Schroeder will be in his office and available for Private Confession & Absolution.  No appointment will be necessary.  If you are grieved or haunted by particular sins and desire to hear your Savior's word of forgiveness, this is for you.  Pastor Schroeder will walk through the rite since it is unfamiliar to most.  As the name suggests, the confession remains private.  It is made to Christ.  Likewise, the forgiveness is Christ's through the mouth of his minister.

Private Confession & Absolution is always available by appointment.

ADVENT VESPERS
We prepare for the coming of the Savior with repentance as we prayerfully, quietly, and eagerly await our Savior.  Our Advent Vespers services focus on the promises made by God which have been fulfilled in the coming of our Savior.  This year's Advent theme is: Advent Messages from Isaiah.
     December 4 – Advent reminds us of a promised blessing.  (Isaiah 40:1-2)
     December 11 – Advent brings a call to repentance.  (Isaiah 40:3-8)
     December 18 – Advent points to a person.  (Isaiah 40:9-11)
A supper will be served at 6:00 PM (free will offering).  Vespers begins at 7:00 PM.

MICHIGAN RIGHT TO LIFE PETITION
Through Sunday, December 1, you will have an opportunity to sign a petition, if you choose, to support a ballot measure which would outlaw the dismemberment of unborn children.  This is different than the heartbeat bill which several states have already passed.  (Michigan, in fact, has a stricter law on the books which is sadly not really enforced.)  This bill, if it should become law, would outlaw the dismembering of unborn children in the process of aborting them.  If you don't know what that really entails, I am sure you can find a description online—viewer beware.  There are several petitions which will be available to sign; be sure you find one which is designated for the county in which you live.
While Good Shepherd, the WELS, and your pastor make no official endorsement of a particular political party or candidate, we will take a stand on moral issues since God's word deals directly with those.  We believe, teach, and confess that murder is wrong (5th Commandment), even if that is the murder of a person yet unborn.  This petition encourages a law which upholds that belief.  Nevertheless, each individual is free to act (that is, to sign the petition or not) as you choose.

Christmas cookie exchange 

On Sunday, December 15, members who are interested should bring 2 - 4 dozen Christmas cookies or baked goods. We will have plates available to choose a few dozen cookies so That you have a nice cookie assortment to take home and enjoy.

NOTES from Huron Valley Lutheran High School (HVL)
Join HVL’s Mailing List - Go to www.HVLHS.org and click on “Sign up for Newsletter” or call or email the school office at mail@hvlhs.org to be added.

HVL Giving Tuesday, December 3
          All friends and supporters of HVL are invited to participate in a special day of giving!  Last year over $100,000 was raised in this campaign to support the ongoing ministry at HVL of “Preparing Students for Life”.  A few generous donors have already stepped forward and offered to match a portion of the gifts given for “Giving Tuesday”. Our prayer is that through the generosity of HVL supporters we will be able to meet our goal of raising $100,000, which would keep us on track with our budgeted needs. To participate in this special event, go to our website between November 11 and December 3, at www.HVLHS.org and click on “Giving Tuesday”. If you are interested in being a matching donor for this event, please call 734-525-0160.  Thank you for all your support!

DECEMBER SCHEDULE
        There will be a lot going on in December, so here is a glance at what the schedule is.  If any times or dates should change, you will be notified.  If you have any questions, call the church office.
December 2         Private Confession & Absolution – 7:00-9:00 PM
December 4         Mid-Week Advent (Supper – 6:00 PM; Vespers – 7:00 PM)
December 7         Church Decoration for Christmas – 9:00 AM
December 7         Christmas for Kids – 9:00-11:00 AM
December 7         Sunday School Christmas rehearsal  (11:30 AM – 1:00 PM; lunch provided)
December 11        Mid-Week Advent (Supper – 6:00 PM; Vespers – 7:00 PM)
December 15 Sunday School Christmas rehearsal  (11:30 AM – 1:00 PM; lunch provided)
December 18 Mid-Week Advent (Supper – 6:00 PM; Vespers – 7:00 PM)
December 21 Sunday School Christmas dress rehearsal  (9:00 - 10:30  AM)
December 22 Children's Christmas pageant – 10:00 AM
December 24 Christmas Eve Candlelight Service – 7:00 PM
December 25 Christmas Day Festival Service – 10:00 AM

OFFICE HOURS
        Regular office hours at Good Shepherd will be Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM. While there may be some flexibility to this schedule, we will try to keep it as regular as possible. 

BAD WEATHER POLICY FOR SERVICES AT GOOD SHEPHERD
We will always have services as scheduled at Good Shepherd.  Since I live across the parking lot, I can get to the church no matter how bad the weather gets.  Even if the service is just me and my family, we will be here.  For everyone else, please use your God-given common sense to determine whether or not you will get on the road to attend any service when the weather is bad.  We don't want anyone to risk his or her life to be here.  But if you do venture out, the scheduled service will take place.  It may be only a handful with a cappella singing and/or spoken liturgy, but we will be here.
Bible Classes and meetings may be canceled due to weather.  Check your email regarding announcements to see if any of those scheduled events is canceled.  If there is no email about it, it is not canceled.  But again, use common sense to determine if you can make it, and call the pastor to let him know if you will not be coming.

DO YOU LIKE US?
Look for Good Shepherd on Facebook.  Then “LIKE” us for updates and other postings.

God bless you.

In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder
==============================
SUNDAY SCHOOL -- Sundays at 8:45 AM.
ADULT BIBLE CLASS -- Sundays at 8:45 AM

DIVINE SERVICES -- Sundays at 10:00 AM

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE

Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church
41415 W. Nine Mile Road
Novi, Michigan  48375-4306
+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +
Divine Services -- Sundays at 10:00 AM

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Sermon -- Thanksgiving Eve (November 27, 2019)

PSALM 145:15-21

O LORD, YOU SATISFY OUR DESIRES.

In the name + of Jesus.

     O Lord, you satisfy our desires.  You have created us and given us life.  You made us to be creatures of emotion and reason.  You enable us to think and to desire, to be happy and to laugh, to have sympathy and compassion.  You have given us eyes to enjoy the beauty of the world you have put us in—to see the colors of sunsets, the grandeur of mountains and valleys, the cinematography of movies, and the smiles of loved ones.  You have given us ears to enjoy the skill of composers and musicians, to be encouraged by conversations with friends, and to be soothed by lullabies.  You have given us hands to reach out and help others, legs to run and to kick and to dance, and abilities that fill our lives with purpose and interest.
     O Lord, you satisfy our desires.  You not only have given us life, but you continue to sustain us day after day, year after year.  We have never known famine.  Our grocery stores do not even know seasons.  Even in the dead of winter, we enjoy all sorts of fruits and vegetables.  “You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:16)  You have blessed us with variety and abundance, with pantries, refrigerators, and freezers that enable us to stockpile food for daily bread and for weekly planning.
     O Lord, you satisfy our desires, and it is not even limited to mankind.  “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.” (Psalm 145:15)  The birds and fish, the wild animals and house pets do not plan menus or say meal prayers, yet they know that you will care for them.  You do not play favorites among mankind either.  Our Lord Jesus Christ affirmed it: “Your Father who is in heaven...makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44-45)  Whether a man acknowledges you as the true God or perverts his worship by serving a man-made god or refuses to acknowledge any god at all, you do not refrain from giving what we need to live.  “The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.” (Psalm 145:17)  Your goodness does not depend on our goodness.  Your faithfulness is not determined by our obedience.  “You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:16)  Your kindness and faithfulness are shown to every living thing every year.  Your faithfulness is so consistent that we do not even think about our next meal or next year's crop.  And sadly, even we who confess your name do not thank you as we ought.
     O Lord, you satisfy our desires.  Our taste buds enjoy your delicacies and our bellies are well nourished, but our spirits are not at rest.  We all have fears that haunt us—fear that people will learn our inner thoughts, fear that they will recognize that we are as nice as we show them, fear that we have to answer to you, O Lord, for deeds that we regret and want buried forever, fear of knowing that death can come to us or our loved ones without warning and without apology.  And so, our spirits are not at rest.  We desire comfort and peace.  We crave the assurance that all is well and will be well.  We desire to have our guilt removed from our record and our memory.  We desire to have death done away with so that the grave cannot threaten us any longer.  We desire to know that you, O Lord, are not angry with us, and that your interest in us is not because you are spying on us to catch us in a bad moment, but rather that your interest in us is for our good and that your intentions for us are motivated by mercy.
     O Lord, you satisfy our desires.  “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)  And so, Lord, we come before you in humble honesty.  We acknowledge that we have been greedy for blessings, selfish with our goods, and ungrateful for your faithful kindness.  We admit that we are turned in on ourselves.  We are more concerned about what our friends think of us than what you think of us.  And while we can often hide our sin from our friends, our hearts are completely exposed before you.  We have no excuse.  We can only plead for your mercy.
     And Lord, you satisfy our desires.  King David reminds us, “He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.” (Psalm 145:19)  O Lord, you have heard our cry for mercy, and you have revealed your mercy to us in your Son, Jesus.  It is he who satisfies all our desires.  For we desire that our sins be put away from our record.  And you have assured us, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)  Jesus has removed every charge from our record.  His his holy, innocent blood was shed for us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  We desire that death and the grave no longer threaten us.  Lord, you have sanctified the grave by the burial of your Son Jesus, and you have rendered it powerless by his resurrection.  As surely as you did not abandon Jesus to the grave, neither will you abandon us.  For a while, our bodies will lie at rest.  Then we will be raised up to live forevermore.
     O Lord, you satisfy our desires.  And we desire to know that you, O Lord, are not angry with us or hoping to get even with us.  We long to know that you do not regret suffering for our sins or dying the death that deserve.  We may know your word that we are forgiven, but neither the devil nor our conscience lets us forget our past.  Therefore, when we suffer evil, we feel that you are trying to settle some score.  When we face hardships, we wonder why you are withholding your love from us.
     O Lord, you satisfy our desires.  For, you reveal that your love is not measured by our feelings or by our funds or even by what our friends tell us.  You have given us promises that do not change.  The seasons change, and our circumstances go back and forth between good and bad.  But you are faithful.  Your word stands.  Therefore, King David declares this word: “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.  He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.  The LORD preserves all who love him...” (Psalm 145:18-20)  
     O Lord, you satisfy our desires; for, you declare that your mercy endures forever and that you are faithful to your promises.  Your love does not grow cold, and you do not grow bored or frustrated with us.  Rather, you preserve us in your kingdom with words of forgiveness, with the loving discipline of a father, and with sacred nourishment that consoles fearful hearts and strengthens weak faith.
     O Lord, you satisfy our desires.  While it is true that you will destroy the wicked, it is also true that you have taken away our wickedness.  Even as you cleanse our record of every sin, you will also cleanse our memory of every regret and all shame when we enter your heavenly glory.  Until then, you will remain faithful to us all our days.  You will sustain us for all that we need for body and life, and you will also sustain us for all that we need for faith and salvation.  Our desire is to dwell in peace and joy and comfort, and you open your hand and satisfy our desires with every good thing.  Therefore, we join with King David in praise: “My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.” (Psalm 145:21)

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Monday, November 25, 2019

Thanksgiving Service


Good Shepherd Novi will have its Thanksgiving service on Wednesday, November 27 at 7:00 PM. 

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever." (Psalm 118:1) 

Join us!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sermon -- 4th Sunday of End Time: Christ the King (November 24, 2019)

COLOSSIANS 1:13-20

JESUS REIGNS OVER AN EVERLASTING KINGDOM.

In the name + of Jesus.

     Late in the reign of King Hezekiah, envoys from Babylon came to visit.  Babylon was not yet a super power nation, but they were on the rise.  “Hezekiah welcomed them, and he showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, all that was found in his storehouses.  There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them.” (2 Kings 20:13)  Hezekiah wanted to impress them with his wealth and power.  Those are the kinds of things that impress other kingdoms.  But Hezekiah may have failed to make a good confession to these foreign diplomats. 
     Did Hezekiah bring these Babylonian officials to the temple to show them the sacrifices which made atonement for sins?  Did Hezekiah introduce them to the high priest and have him explain how he delivered God's blessing and salvation to the people?  Did Hezekiah confess that God chose Israel to be the people through whom God would bring the Messiah into the world, and that the Messiah was for all the world?  Based on the Lord's response to this visit, it seems that Hezekiah failed to confess Israel's true glory.  Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord said, “Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the LORD.” (2 Kings 20:17)  If Hezekiah was convinced that his glory was to be found in wealth, power, and influence, the Lord assured that it would all be swept away.  It was not to be trusted.
     But we fall into the same trap that ensnared King Hezekiah.  We live in a super power nation, and we reap the benefits of its wealth, power, and influence.  We also get wrapped up in the politics of the day, convinced that the right candidate will make us even better, richer, stronger, and more impressive.  The world is impressed with such things, and politicians play dirty trying to wield as much of that power and wealth as they can.  But those who trust in these things have their faith sorely misplaced.  The kingdoms of this world do not endure.  Hezekiah's kingdom did not last much longer.  All its power proved useless.  All its wealth was carried to Babylon.  But the Babylonian Empire did not last either.  Nor the Greeks.  Nor the Romans.  And if history has taught us anything, the power and prestige of the United States will fade too.  Kingdoms rise and fall.  Therefore, heed the word of the Lord: “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.” (Psalm 146:3)
     You have been given a kingdom which is far greater than the good ol' USA.  And you have a King who is far more righteous, loving, and glorious than anyone who has ever been elected to office here.  Jesus reigns over an everlasting kingdom, which is far superior to any nation or kingdom this world has ever known. 
     Jesus is sovereign over all creation.  St. Paul tells us why: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)  “The firstborn of creation” does not mean that Jesus is the first one created or the most important creature.  It means that he is the source of creation.  God created all things by his Word: “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:3)  Jesus is the Word, the Logos, God the Son.  He is the Word by whom all things were made, and he is the Word by which all things are held together.  Jesus is king of all creation.
     In the days of King Xerxes of Persia, a couple of Xerxes' guards plotted to assassinate him.  Their plot was revealed to King Xerxes by Mordecai, the uncle of Esther.  They had not publicly acted to murder the king.  They had not proclaimed their plans to the world.  Nevertheless, the intentions of their hearts were exposed.  That was enough to have them executed.  King Xerxes allowed for no rebellion or even rebellious thoughts.  They did not have the freedom to agree to disagree.  If earthly kings have the authority to act this way, what about he who is “the image of the invisible God,” (Colossians 1:15)?  Does not the author of life have authority to decree what is good and evil?  Does not the Word have something to say about the way his creatures live?  And is not the King of creation due the obedience of all he created and which he holds together?
     The wind and the waves may obey him, but the people he has created do not.  He is not loved for the life he gives and sustains.  We all chafe under his commandments.  God tells us what is good and right, but we are drawn to what is wicked.  What dark hearts we have!  We think through scenarios that bring shame to other people.  We envision them suffering embarrassment, poverty, harm, or even death—and it makes us smile.  We want to see others brought to ruin and we call it justice because we actually believe we know all the facts and that our sense of judgment is pure.  This puts us on par with God, which is blasphemy.  Repent.
     When King Hezekiah was visited by Babylonian officials, he wanted to show off how important he was.  He showed them the splendor of his riches and power.  When King Xerxes learned of rebels in his kingdom, he wanted to show the severity of his power and wrath.  He killed his foes.  When the King of heaven and earth wants to show you what he is like, he acts with neither tyranny nor terror.  This is what he has done: (God) has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)  
     Jesus reigns over an everlasting kingdom.  But he does not reign like other kings.  Though he is the image of the invisible God, Jesus did not flaunt his divine power.  He did not destroy the rebels, but was put to death for them.  Jesus suffered all things to deliver his creation from its corruption.  Just as all things were created through him, so also all things are redeemed through him. 
     If he redeemed you, that means there was a price to pay to rescue you from the domain of darkness.  That price is Jesus' holy, innocent blood.  He became a man in order to shed his blood for all mankind.  He entered our world in order to recover our world for his purposes.  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)  He created all things so that he could pour out his love and blessing upon them.  Then he poured out his blood to redeem and to reconcile all things to himself.  He graciously gave himself into death to deliver you from death.  He graciously bore the curse of your sin so that you are forgiven.  He did all this to bring all things back into his gracious reign. 
     As you know, Jesus did more than just die for you.  St. Paul reminds you, “He is the head of the body, the church.  He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” (Colossians 1:18)  Just as being “the firstborn of creation” means he is the source of creation, so also being “the firstborn from the dead” means that he is the source of the resurrection.  Jesus has risen from the dead—the firstborn from the dead.  Therefore, he lives and reigns forever victorious over sin, death, and the devil.  Jesus reigns over an everlasting kingdom.
     And now Jesus has made you a part of this kingdom.  By the blood of Jesus, you are redeemed and reconciled.  By the blood of Jesus, you are marked as a child of the resurrection and an heir of the heavenly kingdom.  By that blood, you already live under his reign of grace and blessing and innocence.  By that blood, you remain connected to Jesus.  And Jesus does not merely give you this blood to think about.  He gives you his body and blood which have conquered sin, death, and the devil in the holy supper.  By his body and blood, he strengthens and keeps you in the true faith unto life everlasting.
     Jesus reigns over an everlasting kingdom.  Do not be impressed with money or military might.  Do not fear oppressive or tyrannical powers.  They will all turn to dust, and they must all stand before the throne of the King of kings to answer for their lives.  But your gracious King is head of the body, the Church.  He has answered for your life by his own.  And nothing will overrule his verdict or overthrow his salvation.  For, Jesus reigns over an everlasting kingdom.  He lives and reigns for you; and so, you will live and reign with him.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.