Monday, June 1, 2020

Local Tourist -- Port Huron

Port Huron kind of breaks the bounds of "local", but the Local Tourist needed to get out of town for mental health purposes.  So, Laura, Peter, and I went to Port Huron on Saturday.  First we walked around the vacant campground at Lakeport State Park and walked along the shore of Port Huron.

After Peter skipped some rocks, we moved on to the city of Port Huron and walked around the Blue Water Bridge area.  We saw the monument to young Thomas Edison who lived in the area for a while and sold newspapers and candy on the railroad from Port Huron to Detroit.  As a bonus, we also got to see a Great Lakes Freighter pass from the St. Clair River northbound into Lake Huron.

A shout-out goes to Meijer and Wal-Mart for giving people a place to use the bathroom; and a plea goes out to the state of Michigan to open up the state parks.

Here are some photos from the day.







Sunday, May 31, 2020

YouTube -- Pentecost (May 31, 2020)

Here is the service from Pentecost.


Sermon -- Pentecost (May 31, 2020)

JOHN 16:5-11

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS SENT FOR YOUR ADVANTAGE.

In the name + of Jesus.

      When the day of Pentecost arrived, (the disciples) were all together in one place. (Acts 2:1)  But it was not just Jesus' disciples who were gathered together in Jerusalem.  Jerusalem had been flooded by Jewish pilgrims who had come together for the Feast of Weeks.  This was a harvest festival at which the Lord had commanded his people to gather in his presence.  And that presence, God had declared, would be at the temple.  That is where the sacrifices were made to atone for the sins of the people, and it was there that God was with them to bless them.  
     But the day of Pentecost brought on an amazing change.  On that day, Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit on his disciples.  By their preaching, the Holy Spirit gathered in a much greater harvest—a harvest of souls into the kingdom of God.  By holy baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to about 3,000 people.  Now the Lord no longer dwelt in one place—at the temple.  Rather, all of these individual Christians were made temples of the Holy Spirit.  God came to them through the word and sacrament.  That is where God still tells us to find him.  God's presence is not limited to one place, but to wherever two or three gather together in Jesus' name, to every place where God's word is rightly preached and his sacraments are rightly administered.  
     Prior to this, Jesus' disciples had come to recognize that God's presence was found personally in Jesus.  He is God who came to dwell with his people in the flesh.  Jesus' disciples learned about the kingdom of God through Jesus' preaching and through his acts of mercy in miraculous healing.  There was great advantage in witnessing all of those things.  But Jesus was not to remain on earth forever.  Once he had completed his work for our salvation, he ascended into heaven to live and reign over all things.  But that does not mean he abandoned his people.  On the contrary, Jesus told his disciples: “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)   
     The Holy Spirit is sent for your advantage.  Jesus ascended into heaven to fill all things, and so he is truly with you always.  Likewise, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to you so that God dwells within you always.  It is that Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who has created faith in an unbelieving heart, bestowed life into a heart dead in sin, and testifies that you are blameless in God's sight despite your sins.  Unlike the temple which was set in one location only, the Holy Spirit dwells in individual Christians throughout the world and binds us all to Christ.  The Holy Spirit is sent for your advantage.  He fills your heart with a longing for God's word and sacrament where he continues to feed you, strengthen you, and preserve you in the one true faith unto life everlasting.  See how great an advantage is given by the Holy Spirit!
     When we hear about the account of Pentecost, we usually give attention to the wrong part of the story.  On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit caused the sound of a mighty wind.  The Holy Spirit made his presence evident by tongues of fire which rests on the apostles' heads.  Then the apostles all spoke languages unknown to them but known to the pilgrims from around the world.  Throughout the book of Acts, we hear how the apostles and other believers did miraculous signs.  And we envy them.  Oh, how we wish the Spirit could bless us so!
     But be honest: Why do you want to see such miracles?  So that you can be healed or enriched or entertained.  The sinful heart always wants everything to be about itself—my interests, my glory, my freedoms, my agenda.  Repent.  Jesus does not send his Holy Spirit so that you can better your life now or so that you can impress your friends.  Jesus sends his Holy Spirit to rescue sinners from the devil and damnation.  Miracles don't do that.  Of the signs recorded on Pentecost, how many of those signs saved anyone?  None.  
     So, what was the glory of Pentecost?  Through God's word and Holy Baptism, “there were added that day about three thousand.” (Acts 2:41)  The Holy Spirit gave new life to three thousand on one day!  Even if their ailments had been healed, they would still die.  But if the Holy Spirit was sent to them, they would be given eternal life.  And this is what is accomplished through word and sacrament.  This is how the Holy Spirit is sent for your advantage.
     Jesus told the apostles why he was sending the Holy Spirit, and it was not for miracles.  He said, “When he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” (John 16:9-11)  
     As God's word is proclaimed, it reveals that all people are sinners.  No one has kept himself pure.  No heart has rendered willing obedience to all of God's Commandments at all times.  In fact, God's Commandments often stir up anger in us.  Just listen to these instructions: “Be subject to the governing authorities.” (Romans 13:1)  “Love your enemies.” (Matthew 6:44)  “Deny yourself.” (Matthew 16:24)  This is what Christian living is supposed to be—putting others before yourself for their good.  But we are driven by pride and despise yielding to anyone.  
     But the surprise is this: You are not condemned for these things.  The Holy Spirit is sent for your advantage to teach you that these sins are paid for by the precious blood of Jesus.  Even though we prove ourselves sinners, Jesus proves himself more gracious than our sins.  He denied his good for yours.  He loves those who sin against him.  He submitted himself to crooked rulers.  All this Jesus did to pay for your sins.  He is the only source of forgiveness there is.  If people reject Jesus, it does not erase his atoning sacrifice or resurrection.  It means that they are convicted in their unbelief and remain in their sin.  The only rescue from this judgment is by faith in Jesus, which the Holy Spirit has worked in you.
     The Holy Spirit comes for your advantage.  He convicts the world concerning righteousness, because the only righteousness that anyone can truly have is by faith in Jesus.  We can all find people who are decent and generous.  They aid their fellow man with hard work, honest promises, and compassion.  But then people assume that is sufficient to make God happy.  This is actually more dangerous than your sins.  After all, you are not proud of your sins.  On the other hand, you are proud of your good works and hope that God sees them so he will reward you accordingly.  But being nice and honest and compassionate is not being righteous.  We are not nice to everyone.  We are not honest; we warp the truth to present ourselves better than we are.  And our concerns are more self-centered than we care to admit.  Our compassion runs out when it starts to cost us something.  There is no one righteous on earth.  So, where do we get the righteousness we need to have eternal life?  Through Jesus who has gone to the Father.  Righteousness is not found on earth, but in heaven.  Therefore Jesus sends Holy Spirit through the word and sacraments to supply righteousness to us.  We are not judged for works which are flawed or works which were refused.  We are credited with work we did not do.  Jesus' righteousness is given to us so that we can be confident of our standing before God.
     The Holy Spirit is sent for your advantage.  He testifies that the ruler of the world is judged.  If Satan torments you about your sins, do not fret.  His word is meaningless.  He has been judged.  If the world demands that you abandon God's word when it exposes their sins, do not shrink back.  The worst they can do to you is destroy your body.  But they have to answer to Jesus for their hatred and opposition to his word.  You, on the other hand, know that your verdict is life everlasting and a resurrection to glory.  Even if someone destroys your body, Jesus will raise it up anew.  No authority can strip you of that.  For Jesus lives and reigns, and the Holy Spirit makes you his.
     The Holy Spirit is sent for your advantage.  No matter where you go, the Holy Spirit dwells in you to mark you as a child of God.  He created faith in you by the Gospel.  He sustains you by the Gospel.  Wherever the word and the sacraments are, there the Holy Spirit is at work to save and to strengthen you.  Even if the Spirit were to grant you the ability to do miracles, they may dazzle people, but they would not save.  The Holy Spirit gives you a greater advantage that that.  He enlightens you to know Jesus, bestows his forgiveness, and grants you peace.  These save you, and there is nothing better our Lord could do for you than that.

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

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Update from Good Shepherd (May 28, 2020)

Greetings!


WORSHIP DURING COVID-19
Services have resumed.  We meet on Sundays at 10:00 AM.  Based on the responses from the most recent congregational survey, we will not be offering the 8:30 AM service unless the attendance demands it after the June 12 stay-at-home order ends.  (And it may get extended again; I don't know.)  For information on what you can expect when you come to church and what will be expected of you, see this link.
        Services will still be broadcast on Facebook Live, Sundays at 10:00 AM, and uploaded to YouTube.   Share our services and invite friends to tune in.

GOOD SHEPHERD ON YOUTUBE
         Services are posted on YouTube, usually in a few hours after the service.  When you go to YouTube, do a search for "Good Shepherd Novi" and they should pop up.  (The service from May 24 is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13Uvm2vQ4aw )   Feel free to share the videos.
         Bulletins for services can be downloaded from here (scroll down): 

COVID-19 AND MASKS AT CHURCH
As was noted in previous communications, we expect that people will wear masks in attendance at church.  Are they annoying?  Yes.  Are they inconvenient?  Yes.  Are they an infringement on our freedoms or a method of preserving health?  Well, opinions differ there, and that is part of our challenge as we come together to worship.  Some feel masks are useless; others are truly bothered when they see people who do not wear masks.  Now, put both of these people together in a church and you can sense the problem.
In consultation with the Church Council, here is what I am asking of all our worshipers: Please wear masks throughout your time at church.  Even if you think a mask is a wasted effort, your fellow member in the row in front of you may not share your opinion.  So, please endure the inconvenience out of love for all worshipers so that nothing would hinder people coming to hear God's word and partake in the sacrament together as the body of Christ.

CONCERNING THE CORONAVIRUS
        General thoughts regrading the Church, its services, and pastoral care during a health scare such as the coronoavirus, I refer you to some thoughts I had written earlier.  You can find them at my blog here, under the title, "A Pastoral Concern: The Church Militant, Pastoral Care, and the Coronavirus."
        Regarding worship, particularly home devotions and prayer during this time of quarantine, you can refer to this letter which offers encouragement, advice, and resources for worship at home.  
        Home Devotions: A link to provide materials for home devotions and prayers is here.

CONCERNING PASTORAL CARE
        Online Worship:  Besides Facebook Live and YouTube, you can find the pastor's sermons archived on this blog.  You can use the search bar to find a particular date, day of the Church Year, or Scripture reference.
        Person-to-person care: As much as possible, Pastor Schroeder will be available for private devotions, Holy Absolution, and Holy Communion to members in small groups or to individuals.  You may call to set up an appointment at any time.  Visits by appointment can be done either at church or at your home.
        In case you contract COVID-19:  Please contact Pastor Schroeder.  He will alert the congregation so that your fellow members may pray for you, and he will keep everyone informed of your condition.  If possible, Pastor Schroeder will visit you during your quarantine.  At the very least, he will keep in contact with you and provide devotional materials.  If you want to ask for intercessions for loved ones, we will certainly remember them in our prayers, too.  If your loved one has no pastor, ask if they would like Pastor Schroeder to visit them.  

PRIVATE COMMUNION DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Private Communion is available by appointment at any time.
To limit the risk of contracting COVID-19 as much as possible, please review the protocol we will follow when you come in.  You can see it here.

OFFERINGS
While we may not be meeting for worship, we do have financial obligations to meet.  You may either mail your offering into Good Shepherd, or you can set up your offering to be transferred electronically from your bank.  If you are interested in the automatic transfer of funds for your offering, please contact the church at welsnovi@aol.com .

INTERCESSIONS 
Intercessions that are requested prior to the bulletin’s printing will be included in the bulletin.  Requests may be made prior to the service as well.
>  
In our prayers....
While we offer up prayers for specific requests in our services, petitions and intercessions can be offered up throughout the week for continued concerns.  Please continue to remember these in your prayers:
>  For the family of Jan Papson, called to eternal rest on May 15.
     >  For families in mid-Michigan effected by extreme flooding and evacuations

OFFICE HOURS
The office hours at Good Shepherd are going to be fairly fluid as we enter the summer months.  If you want to contact Pastor Schroeder for any kind of meeting, call or text (248) 719-5218.

DO YOU LIKE US?
Look for Good Shepherd on Facebook.  Then “LIKE” us for updates and other postings.  Be sure to share posts with friends.

SHARE THIS POST!
We desire as many as possible to rejoice in the Gospel which we proclaim and confess.  Share the information from our weekly email blast, links to our web page, and even to the pastor's blog to let others know that we have a space in our congregation for them!

God bless you.


In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder
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SUMMER SCHEDULE
DIVINE SERVICES -- Sundays at 10:00 AM  (We will also stream on Facebook Live )

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE

Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church
41415 W. Nine Mile Road
Novi, Michigan  48375-4306
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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

COVID-19 Survey -- for clarification of our worship schedule

Greetings in the name of our Savior!

About two weeks ago or so, I had sent out a survey about people and their readiness to return to church for in-person worship, understanding that we would be practicing social distancing.  Initial responses had 44 who said they were ready to return to worship.  Another 15 said they would be ready to return either after Memorial Day weekend or after the official stay-at-home order had lapsed.  The stay-at-home order has been pushed out to June 12, but we are past Memorial Day weekend.  So, the number of additional worshipers we could expect is anywhere from 0-15.

Originally, it was looking like the potential for about 60 worshipers to be attending on Sundays.  While I think we could accommodate 40 worshipers and still observe social distancing, with 60 we would need to have two services.  Survey results determined that service times of 8:30 & 10:00 AM would serve our congregation best.

Over the past two Sundays, attendance was 24 (May 17) and 20 (May 24).  This, of course, is well below the 44 who said they were ready to return immediately.  And if those who said they will wait to return after the stay-at-home order is lifted choose to wait, we really have no need for an additional service.  Or do we?  I don't know.

I am seeking input so that I can know best how to serve Good Shepherd.  In order to determine what our schedule is and what service times will meet our needs, please respond to this survey.  I will also be making phone calls tonight (Tuesday, May 26) to gather all the information I can so that I can set the schedule.  

In responding to this survey, please copy and paste it and send it to welsnovi@aol.com.  

Whatever your answer is for question #1 is fine.  Everyone has their reasons for their decisions, and I will not judge you for where your comfort level is with the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are all to be seeking the good of each other in love, not assuming the worst of others whose decisions differ from our own.  So, please answer what you honestly plan to do.  It is not helpful to have people answer what they think I want to hear.

SURVEY

     1.  Are you ready to return to church for Divine Services?
a)  Yes.  Count on me from here on out.
b)  Probably after the stay-at-home order is done (June 12, as of this writing).  
c)  Not quite yet; please be patient with me.  

     2.  How many people will be coming from your home?

     3.  My name is ___________________________________.

Once we add the 8:30 AM service, it will be fixed for the summer months.  We can't go back and forth with a schedule that makes it impossible for people to know what service times will be.  So, we are either in or out.  Your responses help to determine that.  Finally, we will continue with Facebook Live streaming and YouTube posts for the foreseeable future.  If you are not ready to come for in-person worship, please find us there.  (And share it with friends!  This is the easiest way for people to check out our church.)  Private Communion is always available by request; call or text (248-719-5218).

God bless and keep you.

In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder

Monday, May 25, 2020

MLS Graduation for Philip

This weekend, Philip graduated from Michigan Lutheran Seminary, Saginaw.  Philip is the fifth graduate among the Schroeders from MLS in the past seven years.  And for the first time since 2009, we will not be making trips to MLS to watch our children play sports, sing in the choirs, etc....

Philip, like all other seniors in 2020, ended his senior year in disappointing quarantine status with online classes since March 13.  The worst of it, at least for Philip, was being robbed of these final months with his classmates.  He did not even really get to say goodbye to them.  When you live with these people in dormitories for four years, this abrupt end is particularly hard.  All in all, Philip has handled it exceptionally well.  And if there is good news to be had, many of his classmates are expecting to be in New Ulm, Minnesota next fall at Martin Luther College.  God willing, he will move into the dorms and attend classes live and in person next fall.

Philip was awarded a few scholarships.  Most noteworthy is that Philip is the first recipient of the Hannah M. Kieta Memorial Scholarship.  Hannah was a classmate of Faith and was killed in a car accident last August.  Hannah excelled in German, and the scholarship was awarded to Philip who intends to continue studying German at MLC next year.

Because of the COVID-19 lockdown, we had to watch Philip's graduation in virtual fashion.  We met in our church and watched it projected on the big screen.  You can watch the virtual graduation here:



We are quite proud of Philip and his accomplishments, even though his senior year was certainly a strange year with unexpected challenges--beginning with a football season that lasted 15 minutes because of an injury on the first day of practice to ending with a stay-at-home quarantine because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In any case, here are some photos related to Philip's graduation.  (Hat tip to Vanessa Hose for taking the family photo.  Thanks!)

Philip with the MLS Class of 2020.

The classic "A boy loves his mother" photo, a graduation tradition of each Schroeder boy.

MLS alumni -- Classes of 2020, 2018, 2016, 2014, 2013, and 1988.


YouTube -- Ascension of our Lord, transferred (May 24, 2020)

Here is the service from May 24, 2020.