Thursday, December 13, 2018

Update from Good Shepherd (December 12, 2018)

Greetings!


REGULAR SCHEDULE
Our Divine Services are on Sundays at 10:00 AM.
Thursday services at 3:30 PM are also offered, but call or text to confirm you are coming (248-719-5218).  If no one calls to confirm their attendance, he may not be at the church.  After today (December 13), the Thursday afternoon worship option will be suspended until 2019.

SUNDAY SCHOOL & ADULT BIBLE CLASS
Our Sunday School & Adult Bible Class meet at 8:45 AM.

SUNDAY SCHOOL REHEARSAL
       In order to prepare for our Sunday School Children's Christmas service (December 16), our final dress rehearsal will be Saturday, December 15;  9:00 - 11:00 AM.  This includes our Christmas party.
        Children's Christmas service-- Sunday, December 16;  10:00 AM 

ADULT BIBLE CLASS  — St. Paul's Epistles to Timothy
What does God expect of his church?  What does God desire for worship?  What are the qualifications and responsibilities of a pastor? 
These are the questions St. Paul addresses in his letter to protegee, Timothy.  Having trained Timothy for years, St. Paul entrusted Timothy to serve as the pastor of the church at Ephesus.  Paul's instructions teach us what the ministry is supposed to look like.  These instructions still apply to Christ's Church today. December 16 2 Timothy 1-2 (Guard your faith and your teaching) December 23 2 Timothy 3-4 (Faithfulness in a faithless world)

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 Dale Peterson, father of Jeanette Schneider, who is still recovering from a second stroke
– For Jon Rumics, son of David & Diane Rumics, who is being treated for cancer.
– For the family of Oliver Barber, father of Terry Barber, who was called to eternal rest (11/23/2018)

ADVENT VESPERS
We prepare for the coming of the Savior with repentance as we prayerfully, quietly, and eagerly await our Savior.  Our Advent Theme is: God's Faithful People Await the Coming of the Lord.
December 19 They Are Saved.  (Matthew 1:18-25)
Dinner                    Church Council
Join us on Wednesdays for Advent.  Supper begins at 6:00 PM; Vespers begins at 7:00 PM.

POINSETTIAS
          The Ladies of Good Shepherd has set out a sign-up sheet for Christmas poinsettias.  A donation for the poinsettia, if you want to take one home after Christmas, is appreciated.  Checks can be made out to Good Shepherd Worship Committee.  Cash can be left in the collection plate but needs to be designated “poinsettias.”  You are welcome to take yours home after the Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service.

HVL CHRISTMAS CONCERT 
This year’s HVL Christmas Concert will be held on Sunday, December 16, beginning at 3:00 pm.  Come worship the Christ-child with the HVL Choir, and Hawk Singers as they perform music for the season.

CHRISTMAS AT GOOD SHEPHERD
Children's Christmas Service – Sunday, December 16, 10:00 AM
Christmas Candlelight Service – Monday, December 24, 7:00 PM
Christmas Day Festival Service – Tuesday, December 25, 10:00 AM
Invite your family and friends!


JESUS CARES MINISTRIES: Worship at the Cross
Our first effort for Worship at the Cross did not have any attendees. We are being optimistic, suggesting that the hectic schedule of December left people not wanting to add another event to their month.  We will try again on Tuesday, January 8 at 6:30 PM.
Worship at the Cross is a  service and a Sunday School class for people with special needs.  These people, precious to Jesus, are often neglected.
Please continue to  publicize this.  If you know of anyone with special needs (e.g., Down Syndrome, Autism, et al.), please inform them of our Worship at the Cross efforts.  Registration forms for Worship at the Cross can be found here: http://goodshepherdnovi.org/worship_at_the_cross/registration 
You can find out more about Jesus Cares Ministries and Worship at the Cross at: http://www.tlha.org/jesus-cares-ministries .

SUNDAY NIGHT BIBLE SERIES
A next session of our Sunday Night Bible Series will be Sunday, January 13 at 6:00 PM.  This series, entitled “Eating God's Sacrifice,” explores the Lord's Supper portrayal in the Old Testament sacrifices.  While the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper flows from the Passover, its roots and forgiveness come from all the Old Testament sacrifices.  After viewing each DVD segment, Pastor Purdue and Pastor Schroeder will lead a discussion about the material which is in the DVD.  All sessions will begin at 6:00 PM.  These are intended to be interactive discussions as well as informational.  Desserts and snacks will be served.  All are welcome.

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


BAD WEATHER POLICY FOR SERVICES AT GOOD SHEPHERD
For future reference (or a reminder) here is the bad weather policy for Good Shepherd services:
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 capella singing and/or spoken liturgy, but we will be here.
Bible Classes and meetings may be cancelled due to weather.  Check your email regarding announcements to see if any of those scheduled events is cancelled.  If there is no email about it, it is not cancelled.  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.

God bless you.

In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder
==============================

DIVINE SERVICES
     Sundays at 10:00 AM

ADVENT VESPERS
     Wednesdays, December 12, & 19, 7:00 PM

SUNDAY SCHOOL
     Sundays at 8:45 AM

ADULT BIBLE CLASS
     Sundays at 8:45 AM

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE

PASTOR SCHROEDER’S BLOG


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

Sermon -- Advent Vespers: Week 2 (December 12, 2018)

LUKE 1:26-38

GOD'S FAITHFUL PEOPLE AWAIT 
THE COMING OF THE LORD.
They Are Humble.

In the name + of Jesus.

     People commonly wonder why Mary was chosen by God to be the woman through whom the Savior would come into the world.  God does not reveal why he does many things.  The only way we can ever answer a “Why” question is if God plainly tells us in the Scriptures.  Anything outside of that is a guess.  It may be an educated guess, or it may be a very bad guess based on wrong assumptions.  But it is still a guess.
     Scripture assures us that God does not do anything for us because we have earned it.  We are all sinners, and Mary of Nazareth is no exception.  God did not choose Mary because she deserved to be chosen for this honor.  Still, there are a few things about Mary which offer some insight on why God chose to work through her.  First, Mary was a believer.  She knew the promises of the Messiah, and she humbly waited for the Lord's fulfillment of them.  God would not have chosen someone who denied these.  She was among God's faithful people who were awaiting the coming of the Lord.
     We also know that Mary was a nobody girl from a nothing town.  If God had not chosen Mary to bear the Savior, history would never have remembered her.  There was nothing remarkable about Mary which demanded recognition, and there was nothing special about the city of Nazareth.  But that is the way God works.  God takes things that are nothing and he makes something out of them.  It was true when God created the heavens and the earth—making everything out of nothing; and it was true when God made you a new creation.  His Law showed you that you have nothing to give to God that he should honor you.  We are sinners; we are nothing.  But God was favorable toward you.  He made you a new creation—putting to death the sinner in baptism, and raising you up to be something special to God—a saint.
     The angel Gabriel was sent to a nobody girl in a nothing town with an amazing announcement.  “The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:30-31)  Although Mary was humbly waiting for the coming of the Messiah, she certainly did not have plans that he would come into the world through her.
     We know the whole story, so we tend to marvel at the honor which the Lord bestowed upon Mary, that she would be the mother of our Lord.  I doubt Mary really saw it that way at first.  As she was trying to process Gabriel's announcement, she may have been thinking, “What did I do to deserve this?  People are going to accuse me of being the town tart.  My betrothed will accuse me of infidelity.  My reputation will be dirt—not just up to the birth of Jesus, but even for the rest of my life.  Why me?”  It was no small thing that the Lord was giving her to do.  It would come with incredible hardships. 
     Gabriel did not ask Mary if it was okay with her that the Lord chose her for this.  It was an announcement that this was God's plan, and that God was employing her to fulfill it.  God's faithful people were awaiting the coming of the Lord.  And Mary, in her humility, accepted what God had given her to do.  Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
     God has called people to serve him in various ways throughout history.  He has raised up prophets who were called to preach a particular message.  God did not give them the option to water down the message or to decline this service.  Moses tried.  Jonah tried.  God sent them anyway.  God did not tell them it would be easy, but he did tell them that he would be with them.  It was the same for Noah, for Abraham, for David, and for other faithful people of God.  While the faithful people of God awaited the coming of the Lord, they were humble and served the Lord in what he had given them to do.
     God has called you to be his own and to serve him as his people.  We each serve the Lord in our various vocations.  This is what God has given you to do—as parents, siblings, children, employees, neighbors, and so on.  We are all called to order our lives according to the Commandments.  God does not ask us if we want to obey, or if there are any works we would like to avoid.  He gives us his Commandments and sends us forth to live according to them.  It does not mean that it will always be easy or convenient to keep them.  It is hard to be kind and compassionate to people who are rude or arrogant.  It is hard to be chaste and decent when the world expects us to be immoral and cheers lustily when we are.  It is hard to be faithful to God's word when others tell us how hateful we are for saying that there is no salvation outside of Jesus, even for nice people, or when we say that people who do not keep the Commandments are sinning, even if it makes them happy.  When people sin against you and show no remorse, you want to strike back in revenge.  It is hard to turn the other cheek and to be merciful as God tells us to.  Humble obedience to God's word is hard, and we often fail at it.
     God calls you to be his faithful people.  He does not say that it will be easy; but he does promise that he will be with you.  Therefore, as you await the coming of the Lord, humbly submit yourself to the Commandments.  Order your life according to them, even when your sinful flesh so eagerly craves for carnal pleasures and an easy life.  Humbly submit yourself to the scorn of the world who despises God's word and those who believe it and follow it.  There will seldom feel like there is any reward for such humility.  But we follow him and trust that his word is good and that he does not lie to us.  God promises to be with you and to preserve you.  We faithfully wait for the coming of the Lord, knowing that the humble will be exalted on the Last Day.  For we also know that the only good we receive is from God's hand.
     The greatest good we receive came through the womb of the Virgin Mary.  She knew that it would be hard to be pregnant and give birth as a virgin, which no one would believe.  She did not even know Joseph would believe her when Gabriel told her what was about to happen to her.  Yet, she believed that everything God does is good, even when it is hard.  And she humbly submitted to his will and to his plans.  Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
     Therefore, Jesus Christ who is true God took on the flesh of his mother, Mary.  He became man for us to save mankind from all sins.  Where we have failed to live up to God's Law, Jesus satisfied God's demands by keeping it.  Where we have violated God's Commandments with our sins, Jesus satisfied God's wrath by suffering and dying under the curse of God's Law.  Jesus humbled himself perfectly to carry out all of God's plans and to fulfill God's will to save sinners.  It did not matter that it would be hard.  It did not even matter that it meant his death and damnation.  Jesus humbled himself for us in order to save us.  He is the Lord's servant.  He submitted to the will of his Father and let it all happen according to God's word.  He humbled himself so that, at the Last Day, we would be exalted to heavenly, eternal glory. 
     When Gabriel told Mary what her role would be in God's plans, it came with a promise.  The promise is not that it would be easy.  That promise was: “The Lord is with you. “ (Luke 1:28)  The Lord who was with her and who was conceived in her and was born of her—he went forth to save her … and you, too.  And this Savior has called you to be his own.  Whatever he says to you—whether it is a promise or instruction—is for your good.  Therefore, in humility, we respond with Mary, “I am the Lord's servant.  Let it be to me according to your word.”  And indeed, it is.  For you are the Lord's—humbly serving for his glory, and set apart for everlasting glory.

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Jesus Cares Ministries -- Worship at the Cross

IT BEGINS TONIGHT!

WORSHIP AT THE CROSS
A service for People with Special Needs

Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church in Novi (9 Mile & Meadowbrook) is eager to meet and to serve people with special needs.  In conjunction with Jesus Cares Ministries, we are offering a monthly worship called Worship at the Cross.   Worship at the Cross is a 25 minute service which is tailored to the needs of its participants.  Volunteers will assist to ensure everyone feels comfortable and can take part to the best of their ability.  Following the service, we will enjoy a snack and an interactive project. 
Worship at the Cross will meet on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 6:30 PM.
To register, go to this link: http://goodshepherdnovi.org/worship_at_the_cross/registration
        For questions and info, contact Pastor Thomas Schroeder at 248-349-0565 or at welsnovi@aol.com

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Sermon -- 2nd Sunday in Advent (December 9, 2018)

LUKE 3:1-6

JOHN PREPARES THE WAY 
FOR REAL SALVATION.

In the name + of Jesus.

     The Bible does not begin with “Once upon a time...”  The Bible does not know any land of make-believe.  The stories of Jesus are not Mother Goose or Brothers Grimm.  They happened in a real place among real people at a specific time.  St. Luke spells all of that out when he gives us the names of all these rulers.  Some of them you don't know.  You might have no idea where some of these places are.  When the Gospel was read this morning, you might have even wondered, “Who cares?”  They aren't your leaders, and they weren't from Michigan.  But St. Luke names world rulers and local rulers to pinpoint the time when God chose to raise up a prophet to prepare the way for the Lord.
     The events which are recorded in the Bible are not set in the land of make-believe because nothing about the Bible is make-believe.  It is especially true in regard to the Lord's mercy, which caused him to raise up John the Baptist to preach.  The Lord was sending his prophet for real sinners with real sins.  John the Baptist was “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord...'” (Luke 3:4)  For, the coming of the Lord is no small thing.  He who created the world comes to his creation.  He who gave Commandments for godly living comes to the people who were commanded to do these things.  He who is almighty comes to those who are weak and mortal.  He who is holy comes among sinners.  Sinners who take this seriously tremble.  Sinners who do not take this seriously are fools.  If you straighten up your house because your mother-in-law is coming over, you had better have a greater concern that your Lord comes to you.
     Therefore, in his mercy, the Lord raised up a prophet to prepare the way for the Lord.  He does not want anyone to be unaware or unprepared for his coming.  And so, John was the voice of one crying out.  We can consider the other descriptions of John as the Bible records them.  We can think that he is strange in the way he presents himself; his garments are weird.  We can think he is unusual in what he eats.  You might try locust and wild honey like you would try the atomic heat BBQ sauce, just to say you did it.  But you wouldn't live on it.  But Isaiah did not foretell a diet or a wardrobe.  Isaiah foretold this about John: He is a voice crying out, and his voice prepares people for the Lord.
     Now, if you know your mother-in-law is coming over and a messy house terrifies you, then your sins should terrify you at the coming if the Lord.  But we rarely take these things very seriously.  We do not live as if the Lord is coming.  It has been 20 centuries since he has promised his return.  Eventually, we don't feel any urgency about it.  Our sins do not really terrify us.  We don't feel much need to root our our sins or to flight against them, thinking that they are either not serious or not real.
     Repent.  Our wrong-doing is not make-believe.  We might try to pretend we haven't really done anything bad, as if staying out of jail is the standard our Lord set.  We might think that if we did not get caught, we really didn't do anything wrong.  We might feel jealous of other people and say nasty things about them; but we figure as long as they don't find out, we're okay.  We are careful about our audience, not our attitudes or actions.  Our sins are not okay, and they are not make-believe.  The guilt you bear is real, even if you don't feel really guilty about it.  It is something that God sees and God knows about.  You can hide it from your friends, maybe; but you cannot hide it from God.  He knows all our nasty thoughts.  He sees our hearts are sinful and corrupt.  That's why we do things that are sinful and corrupt.  Repent.
     Therefore, John the Baptist raised his voice in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.  Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:4-6)  
     Our sins block the way of God's favor coming to us.  Your good works cannot save you, but giving yourself over to sin can damn you.  If you let sin make itself at home with you, if you enjoy and embrace your sins, then the Holy Spirit has to depart from you because he who is holy cannot dwell together with sin.  Therefore, John the Baptist urges us to get rid of our sins.  We are to straighten out our crooked ways.  We are to knock down our attitude that we are better than other people.  We are to fill in all the holes where we don't do the good God desires us to do because we think the effort is not worth it or because the people are not worth it.  Repent, and cast aside whatever is sinful in you.
     Now, the effort we give to that is good.  We should despise our sins.  But you will probably also notice that, no matter how hard you try to overcome your sins, you still do them.  No matter how much you try to do good, you just get lazy with it.  Sometimes you don't want to do it, because there is no reward in it.  So, even when we want to do good, we still fail.  Even when we try to avoid evil, we still do it.  The frustration is real.
     John the Baptist declares good news to you.  After he urges you to flee from your sins, he gives you something to flee toward.  He declares: “All flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:6)  Salvation does not come because you have made yourself worthy, or even because you improved your behavior.  Once again, Jesus comes for real sinners.  We do not have to pretend we are better than we are.  We confess our sins, and God reveals the one who takes away all of our guilt, who removes God's punishment from us and puts it on himself, and who dies the death we had coming to us. 
     All flesh shall see the salvation of God. (Luke 3:6)  It is not only that all flesh shall see God's salvation, it is also that God's salvation comes in the flesh.  Just as your sins are not make-believe, neither is God's mercy and salvation.  God himself becomes flesh.  He becomes man for the sake of mankind.  He has come to assume, in his body, the blows that the guilty deserve.  He was on full display for all to see—crucified in shame, dying in agony, rejected by God in total darkness, until he finally gave himself over into death.  Jesus' public death displays God's wrath against sin and his public judgment upon sinners.  Jesus has taken the place of all sinners—enduring a truly horrible death under God's curse.  Jesus' death displays God's wrath, but more than that—it also publicly proclaims God's mercy.  For, Jesus suffered all of these things for you.  A real man, Jesus, suffered and died for real sinners.  Since he has taken your sins from you, he gives you instead God's forgiveness and salvation. 
     All flesh shall see the salvation of God. (Luke 3:6)  The salvation of God is still on display today.  While the sufferings and death of Jesus may be depicted in art, in jewelry, or in icons, the forgiveness won by Jesus is not delivered there.  Art and jewelry and icons may keep you mindful of Christ, but salvation does not come through your own mental exercises.  If they did, where would you find the certainty of your forgiveness?  How would you know your mental images are vivid enough, strong enough, or frequent enough to guarantee salvation? 
     The Lord does not leave you in doubt.  He tells you where to find true forgiveness and real salvation.  The Lord bestows these through real things—through a real flesh and blood minister who proclaims the true words of God.  Those words are also attached to water which washes away your sin and to bread and wine which feed you the body and blood of Christ.  We do not have to pretend the Lord comes to us.  The Lord actually delivers himself and his gifts to us for our salvation and forgiveness.  Just as Jesus did the work to win your forgiveness, so also he does the work in applying that forgiveness to you.  This is where you shall see the salvation of God; for this is where he gives it to you personally so that you do not have to doubt, or guess, or pretend, or make believe that you are forgiven.
     John the Baptist gave voice to these things, not in a land of make-believe but in the land of Israel.  It happened not “Once upon a time,” but in a specific time, about 2,000 years ago.  It is not pretend or fiction.  A real call to repentance goes out to real sinners.  The voice cried out: “Prepare the way for the Lord.” (Luke 3:4)  And the Lord comes for you—a real Savior who displays God's true love for you.  Your sins are forgiven.  You place in God's kingdom is secure.
     And thanks to Jesus, you will live happily forever-after.

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

Friday, December 7, 2018

Update from Good Shepherd (December 7, 2018)

Greetings!


REGULAR SCHEDULE
Our Divine Services are on Sundays at 10:00 AM.
Thursday services at 3:30 PM are also offered, but call or text to confirm you are coming (248-719-5218).  If no one calls to confirm their attendance, he may not be at the church.

SUNDAY SCHOOL & ADULT BIBLE CLASS
Our Sunday School & Adult Bible Class meet at 8:45 AM.

SUNDAY SCHOOL REHEARSAL
       In order to prepare for our Sunday School Children's Christmas service (December 16), we will be having several rehearsals.  Parts have been distributed.  Please note the schedule.
        Rehearsal -- Sunday, December 9;  11:30 AM - 1:00 PM (lunch provided)
        Dress Rehearsal & Christmas party -- Saturday, December 15;  9:00 - 11:00 AM
        Children's Christmas service-- Sunday, December 16;  10:00 AM 

JESUS CARES MINISTRIES -- Worship at the Cross
Good Shepherd will be offering worship services and a Sunday School class for people with special needs.  These people, precious to Jesus, are often neglected.   This service will be offered on the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 6:30 PM.  Our start date will be THIS TUESDAY (December) 11 at 6:30 PM.  The service is called "Worship at the Cross."
Finally, in order for this ministry to truly be of service to those who need it, we need to publicize this.  If you know of anyone with developmental disabilities (e.g., Down Syndrome, Autism, et al.), please inform them of our Worship at the Cross efforts.  Word of mouth is usually best received, but you can help us get the word out in other ways, too.  Once again—we begin on Tuesday, December 11 at 6:30 PM.
You can find out more about Jesus Cares Ministries and Worship at the Cross at: http://www.tlha.org/jesus-cares-ministries .

ADULT BIBLE CLASS  — St. Paul's Epistles to Timothy

What does God expect of his church?  What does God desire for worship?  What are the qualifications and responsibilities of a pastor?  These are the questions St. Paul addresses in his letter to protegee, Timothy.  Having trained Timothy for years, St. Paul entrusted Timothy to serve as the pastor of the church at Ephesus.  Paul's instructions teach us what the ministry is supposed to look like.  These instructions still apply to Christ's Church today. December 9 1 Timothy 5 (Instructions for the Church) – left over from Dec 2 December 9 1 Timothy 6 (Striving for godliness rather than gain) December 16 2 Timothy 1-2 (Guard your faith and your teaching) December 23 2 Timothy 3-4 (Faithfulness in a faithless world)

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 Dale Peterson, father of Jeanette Schneider, who is still recovering from a second stroke
– For Jon Rumics, son of David & Diane Rumics, who is being treated for cancer.
– For the family of Oliver Barber, father of Terry Barber, who was called to eternal rest (11/23/2018)

COOKIE EXCHANGE
The Ladies of Good Shepherd will be hosting a cookie exchange on THIS SUNDAY (December 9) after church.  Ladies, please bring two dozen Christmas cookies.  They will be packaged for members to take home.  Donations received for cookies will go to purchase new altar linens.  (Some of them are quite threadbare.)

CHURCH DECORATION MINI-PARTY
Want to get in the Christmas Spirit? We are going to try something different for the church decorating this year. We will do the church decorating THIS SATURDAY (December 8) starting at 4:00 PM. But we want to do more than decorate, we want to make a mini-Christmas party out of it. We will play Christmas music, watch Christmas shows (bring your favorite), order some pizza, and have some fun.
Other ideas on activities are welcome. Hope we can see a bunch of you there.

SUNDAY NIGHT BIBLE SERIES
A next session of our Sunday Night Bible Series will be THIS SUNDAY (December 9) at 6:00 PM.  This series, entitled “Eating God's Sacrifice,” explores the Lord's Supper portrayal in the Old Testament sacrifices.  While the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper flows from the Passover, its roots and forgiveness come from all the Old Testament sacrifices.  After viewing each DVD segment, Pastor Purdue and Pastor Schroeder will lead a discussion about the material which is in the DVD.  All sessions will begin at 6:00 PM.  These are intended to be interactive discussions as well as informational.  Desserts and snacks will be served.  All are welcome.

ADVENT VESPERS
We prepare for the coming of the Savior with repentance as we prayerfully, quietly, and eagerly await our Savior.  Our Advent Theme is: God's Faithful People Await the Coming of the Lord.
December 12 They Are Humble.  (Luke 1:26-38)
December 19 They Are Saved.  (Matthew 1:18-25)
Join us on Wednesdays for Advent.  Supper begins at 6:00 PM; Vespers begins at 7:00 PM.

ADVENT DINNER SCHEDULE
       We will have our Advent dinners before each mid-week Advent Vespers.  Dinners will be served at 6:00 PM.  The following groups will be heading up the meals for the Advent dinners:
December 12 Church Council
December 19 Church Council
If you are willing and able to help with the Advent dinners, please speak to the contact person listed above.

POINSETTIAS
          The Ladies of Good Shepherd will be setting out a sign-up sheet soon for Christmas poinsettias.  The cost will be determined soon.  Checks can be made out to Good Shepherd Worship Committee.  Cash can be left in the collection plate but needs to be designated “poinsettias.”  The poinsettias will be used to decorate the church for the Christmas services.  You are welcome to take yours home after the Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service.

HVL CHRISTMAS CONCERT 
This year’s HVL Christmas Concert will be held on Sunday, December 16, beginning at 3:00 pm.  Come worship the Christ-child with the HVL Choir, and Hawk Singers as they perform music for the season.

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


BAD WEATHER POLICY FOR SERVICES AT GOOD SHEPHERD
For future reference (or a reminder) here is the bad weather policy for Good Shepherd services:
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 capella singing and/or spoken liturgy, but we will be here.
Bible Classes and meetings may be cancelled due to weather.  Check your email regarding announcements to see if any of those scheduled events is cancelled.  If there is no email about it, it is not cancelled.  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.

God bless you.

In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder
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DIVINE SERVICES
     Sundays at 10:00 AM

ADVENT VESPERS
     Wednesdays, December 12, & 19, 7:00 PM

SUNDAY SCHOOL
     Sundays at 8:45 AM

ADULT BIBLE CLASS
     Sundays at 8:45 AM

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE

PASTOR SCHROEDER’S BLOG


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

Something from ... Pope Leo on the Two Natures of Jesus (2nd entry)


Here is something more from Pope Leo the Great ( c. 400 – 10 November 461) on the two natures of Jesus -- that Jesus is both God and man.  (For a longer introduction on the significance of this teaching and the attack against Christianity which prompted Leo's letter, see this blog entry.)

Pope Leo the Great






After the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD), Pope Leo wrote a letter to Flavian, bishop of Constantinople, regarding Eutyches who had been teaching that Jesus was not really a man, but bore only the form or appearance of a man.  What Pope Leo writes is the correct teaching of the Scripture and the faithful confession of the Church. 

It is a mystery worth pondering, especially as we are coming up on the celebration of the incarnation of our Lord, better known as Christmas.  

Here is another portion of Leo's letter:

"So without leaving his Father’s glory behind, the Son of God comes down from his heavenly throne and enters the depths of our world, born in an unprecedented order by an unprecedented kind of birth. In an unprecedented order, because one who is invisible at his own level was made visible at ours. The ungraspable willed to be grasped. Whilst remaining pre-existent, he begins to exist in time. The Lord of the universe veiled his measureless majesty and took on a servant’s form. The God who knew no suffering did not despise becoming a suffering man, and, deathless as he is, to be subject to the laws of death. By an unprecedented kind of birth, because it was inviolable virginity which supplied the material flesh without experiencing sexual desire. What was taken from the mother of the Lord was the nature without the guilt. And the fact that the birth was miraculous does not imply that in the lord Jesus Christ, born from the virgin’s womb, the nature is different from ours. The same one is true God and true man."

Sourece: http://www.papalencyclicals.net/councils/ecum04.htm

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Sermon -- Advent Vespers: Week 1 (December 5, 2018)

LUKE 1:5-22

GOD'S FAITHFUL PEOPLE AWAIT THE COMING OF THE LORD.
They Prepare.

In the name + of Jesus.

     Throughout the Bible, the Lord God demonstrated his grace by fulfilling promises that seemed impossible to fulfill.  For example, when God called Abraham to be the one through whom the Savior would come, Abraham was already 75 years old.  God told him that he and his wife would have son who would carry on the promise.  After 24 years, Abraham and Sarah were still waiting for that son.  God appeared again and promised that Sarah would give birth to this son a year from that visit.  Sarah laughed at the idea that she would give birth at age 90.  God had made this impossible promise so that, when he did fulfill it, there would be no doubt that God was at work to graciously, mightily, and faithfully fulfill every word he says.
     2,000 years after Abraham, there was another aged man named Zechariah.  Like Sarah, Zechariah's wife, Elizabeth, was also barren.  Like Abraham and Sarah, Zechariah and Elizabeth were also well past the age of hoping for children.  And like Abraham and Sarah, Zechariah and Elizabeth were waiting for God to fulfill his promise.  Abraham and Sarah had to wait 25 years for the birth of their son.  Zechariah, Elizabeth, and all Israel had been waiting 2,000 years for the Lord to fulfill the promise to Abraham that the Savior would come through him. 
     And yet, they believed.  Zechariah and Elizabeth were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. (Luke 1:6) They ordered their lives according to God's commandments. They trusted the Lord's promised salvation and prayed for its fulfillment.  God's faithful people awaited the coming of the Lord.  Through Zechariah and Elizabeth, the way was prepared.
     Zechariah was on duty at the temple and was chosen by lot to enter the holy place and offer the incense at the altar.  As Zechariah offered incense, the worshipers prayed.  The prayers of the people ascended with incense.  God's faithful people awaited the coming of the Lord.  They prepared themselves by hearing God's promises, by faithfully attending worship at the temple, and by their prayers.  Finally, the prayers of Israel were answered.
     The angel Gabriel informed Zechariah that he and his wife would have a son, named John.  John would prepare the way before the Lord by calling the people to repent.  John would emphasize the need for a Savior so that, when the Savior came, they would rejoice in his salvation.  It was all good news.  It was the answer to prayers.  It declared the grace and the faithfulness of God. 
     But Zechariah was skeptical.  This word from the Lord seemed impossible to keep.  Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this?  For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” (Luke 1:18)  Zechariah believed what his reason told him—he and his wife were old.  Even in her younger years, Elizabeth could not get pregnant.  So, Zechariah demanded a sign to prove that Lord would be faithful to his word..
     This word from the Lord, however, was not unprecedented.  This is exactly what the Lord had done for Abraham and Sarah.  That was the sign.  What God had done before, he was doing again.  It did not matter that Sarah laughed at God's promise; God would be faithful to it.  Isaac was born through God's promise as God said; and through him the Savior would come.  It did not matter if Zechariah was skeptical of God's word; God would fulfill his word.  John would be born through God's promise as God said; and he would prepare the way for the Lord.  The Lord had made a promised which seemed impossible to keep to show that this was all God's word, God's grace.
     Rejoice that God is gracious and faithful, but repent because you are skeptical of God's word and even laugh at his decrees.  Like Sarah and Zechariah, you do not always believe that God's word is believable.  God tells you in his Commandments what is good and God-pleasing.  You usually recognize that it is good and should be obeyed.  But sometimes, following God's will comes with a cost.  When our Lord calls us to forgive those who have sinned against us, we are skeptical.  We do not to forgive because we would rather see them squirm in their guilt.  When the Lord tells us to pray for our enemies, we might think of ISIS who doesn't really pose a threat to us in Novi.  They have not harmed us personally, so it is easy to pray for them.  But what about the one who always seems to be looking for a fight with you.  Or who cannot make comment to you without including some jab.  Are your prayers for them, or against them?  When the Lord tells us to welcome strangers, we are reluctant.  We think in terms of what material things they may take from us rather than what spiritual blessings we can give to them.  So, we are skeptical about doing the good God wants us to do, because we fear what may cost us.  Repent.
     Now, like Sarah and Zechariah, you have reasons for your skepticism.  Forgiving someone may mean they take advantage of you again.  Praying for your enemies is hard; and their animosity against you may not change.  Welcoming in a stranger is a risk—minimal, in my opinion, but it is still a risk.  Doing good may go unrewarded and unappreciated.  So, our sinful nature counters, “Why bother?  Why do good if there is no gain for me?”  Repent.  This is not the reason we do good to our neighbor.  God does not work by karma—that a good deed means a good reward.  God  calls us to do good because we are his people.  We do good because God has been good to us.  We take God at his word because it is true, even if our reason laughs at it and especially when it exposes our sinful skepticism.
      When Gabriel spoke to Zechariah, Gabriel did not ask Zechariah to affirm that God's plans were reasonable.  The Lord was going to act to fulfill his promises, even if Zechariah was skeptical.  And since Zechariah would not say “Amen” to this word, Zechariah had no words to say until God's words proved true.  In this way, the Lord prepared Zechariah for the fulfillment of God's word.
     Not everything God says to us in his word seems reasonable to us, either.  But the Lord is not looking for a consensus among us.  He does not put his will up for a vote.  Nor does he ask us to affirm his plans before he acts.  The Lord acts to save us.  His faithfulness is not affected by our skepticism.  Instead, Jesus delivers us from the guilt of our doubts, unbelief, and reluctance.  Jesus committed himself to suffering the curse for every time we laughed at God's word, responded to God's word with a “Whatever” instead of an “Amen,” or decided we would mull over God's instruction instead of acknowledge that God does not lie to us.  Salvation is delivered to you despite your skepticism and weak faith.  He saves you completely even if your faith is less than perfect, if you don't grasp parts of God's word, or struggle against sins.  For, it is not confusion that damns, but unbelief. 
     If you find parts of God's word confusing, or if you do not understand why God says what he says or works the way he does, pray that he may enlighten you.  Who else could you call on for that?  But even if you remain confused, you can be sure that everything God tells you is true and right and good.  And if you remain confused about somethings, there is no confusion about this: God's love is yours through Jesus who takes away your sin and delivers you out of darkness and into the kingdom of light.  If he can be trusted as you face death, he can also be trusted to guide you through life.  God's faithful people await the coming of the Lord.  Prepare by clinging to his word; for, his word is always for your good.

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Today's Earworm -- Nothing from Nothing

Today's earworm is "Nothing from Nothing" by Billy Preston.  At least my earworms are catchy.

Enjoy.


Advent Vespers

Advent Vespers
We prepare for the coming of the Savior 
with repentance as we prayerfully, quietly, and eagerly await our Savior.



God's Faithful People Await the Coming of the Lord.

December 5             They Prepare.  (Luke 1:5-22)

December 12          They Are Humble.  (Luke 1:26-38)

December 19          They Are Saved.  (Matthew 1:18-25)

Join us on Wednesdays for Advent.
Supper 6:00 PM
Vespers 7:00 PM

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Sermon -- 1st Sunday of Advent (December 2, 2018)

LUKE 21:25-36

KEEP WATCH; FOR YOUR 
REDEMPTION IS NEAR!

In the name + of Jesus.

     The Lord gives some specific instruction about the end of the world and what we can expect.  It is unnerving.  Basically, the creation will unravel and become unglued.  Jesus tells us that this will be more than a severe hurricane season or tsunami that follows an undersea earthquake.  This will be something that affects the entire world.  And all the people in the world will be in terror and panic because of it.  They won't know what is going on or why.  No doubt, there will be plans to fix it, but it will not work.  As the creation dies, the nations will be “fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world.” (Luke 21:26) 
     This could also produce fear and panic in us as well.  This world is the only home we've known, and to see it fall apart—literally—would be disturbing.  But there is a great difference between you and the rest of the world.  You know it is coming, you know why it is coming, and you know what will come with it. 
     Jesus tells you, “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth...” (Matthew 21:25)  For many people, it will look like utter chaos.  But Jesus has foretold you so that you will know better.  These are signs.  They proclaim that the Lord's return is imminent.  But while many will be doubled over in fear, Jesus urges you: “When these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28)  You know it is coming, you know why it is coming, and you know what will come with it.  Keep watch; for your redemption is near!
     Jesus tells you what is to come on the earth so that you will not be surprised when it comes, and so that you will prepare for the Last Day.  But it is more.  These signs show us that Jesus will come to deliver us from this sinful, broken world forever.  As these things are happening, all “will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:27)  He will come again to judge the living and the dead.  And just as you need not fear the world falling apart, so you need not fear Jesus coming to judge; for, he has already delivered your judgment.
     Jesus came to earth long ago to rescue you from the horrors of death and judgment.  To rescue you from the power of death, Jesus went into death for you.  To rescue you from the curse of judgment and the fear of damnation, Jesus was damned at the cross for you.  The fear of death is that we don't know what is coming.  But you do—you are delivered from this world of sin to the joyful presence of the Lord.  You are taken from sorrow and stress to the peace and rest of heaven.  The fear of Judgment Day is the terror of being banished to hell fire because you have not been good enough.  And you and I know we have not been.  But Jesus has taken all guilt from you.  Jesus has cleansed you of sin in your baptism, continues to declare you forgiven through holy absolution, and feeds you his body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins and the strengthening of your faith.  So, if you fear the judgment, then flee to holy absolution to hear your Savior's verdict again: “I forgive you.”  Flee to this altar to receive the body and blood which have paid for sin and conquered death.  Your redemption is very near—for it comes through these things.  And it puts an end to all fear, terror, and doubt. 
     This is why the Christian Church repeats the final prayer of the Bible over and over again: “Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)  While the thoughts of the end of the world may be unnerving with all of the chaos of creation falling apart, you need not fear it.  For, you know it is coming, you know why it is coming, and you know what will come with it.  Yes, the world will come to an end, but that also means all of your troubles come to an end with it.  So keep watch; for your redemption is near. 
     The prayer of the Church is always that Jesus comes again to bring us to the heavenly home he prepares for us.  And it is essential that we devote ourselves to prayer and watchfulness.  Jesus urges us twice in this reading to be alert: “Watch yourselves.  Stay awake.” (Luke 21:34,36)  Keep watch, “lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.” (Luke 21:34)  There is always a temptation to grow disinterested in Jesus and his return.  After all, it has been almost 2,000 years since Jesus ascended into heaven.  Though he has promised to return, and though he issues the warnings to us in our Gospel, it is easy to dismiss them.  We hear the world mock, as St. Peter writes, “Scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.  They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming?  For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:4,5)  And we acknowledge, “You know, that's true.”  Nevertheless, Jesus urges, “Keep watch; for your redemption is near.”
     If you need further warning, consider the story of Lot.  He was Abraham's nephew who moved from the tents of a nomadic shepherd into the big city.  As with most big cities, Sodom would have been home to a lot of action—shopping, trade, entertainment, and so on.  Lot and his family settled in at Sodom and made themselves active members of their community.  But since Sodom was a wicked city, the Lord was going to destroy it with fire.  He sent angels to tell Lot to leave the city with his family.  Instead, Lot went to bed.  In the early morning, the angels told him to go and flee.  Lot dragged his feet.  Finally, the angels took him and his family by the hand and thrust them out of the city and told them, “Run.  Feel to the hills.  Do not look back.  If you do, you will perish with the city.”  Lot's wife grieved over what she was going to lose.  She had made herself at home there, and she considered it too great to lose the comforts she had grown to love.  So, she turned to see her beloved home, against the Lord's specific word.  She was turned into a pillar of salt and perished with the place and the life she loved.
     Take heed of the warning of Lot's wife.  Like her, you, too, have been warned of the coming destruction on the earth.  Like her, you, too, are urged not to love the world or to dedicate yourself to its comforts, pleasures, wealth, and so on.  We all invest a lot of time and energy in making a home here.  We can make ourselves very comfortable and invest in all kinds of luxuries.  We do not need to give ourselves over to immoral behavior to find ourselves unprepared for the Last Day.  All that is needed is the neglect of God's word and sacraments.  Lot's wife did not have to become a prostitute to perish; she only needed to ignore God's word.  So beware.  Keep watch.  Stay alert.  Watch yourselves, lest you insist that you are too busy to pray or to come to church to hear God's word and to receive the Lord's Supper.  For, if you love this world, you can make yourself very comfortable here, but you will also perish with it. 
     Keep watch; for the end is coming.  If you love this world, there is no worse news you can hear.  If, however, you recognize that the world is broken and corrupt, you will look forward to a new heaven and a new earth.  If you understand that everything—everything—in this world is temporary and fleeting, you will long for something permanent.  If you know and feel the guilt, the shame, and the frustration of being a sinner, you will long to be delivered from your sin forever, to be confirmed in holiness, and to take up residence in the home of righteousness.  If you know and feel in your body the aches, pains, sorrows, and frailty of your mortal condition, you will yearn for the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.  And if you truly desire to have all of these blessings, then you will not only not fear the end of the world, you will pray for it.  And you will continue to flee to Jesus' word and sacraments where he will sustain you in the faith until he takes you to be with him.
     Keep watch.  For you know the end is coming.  You know why it is coming, and you know what will come with it.  Keep watch; for your redemption is near.  Jesus shall come back to take you to be with him where he is.  The world will end, and so will all of the problems in it.  But you shall live with Jesus forever.  Jesus assures you: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Luke 21:33)  And just as the word of the Lord endures forever, so will those who hear it, believe it, and take refuge in it.

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