Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Prayer -- For Life & the Unborn

This prayer was spoken this past Sunday in recognition of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade (January 22, 1973).

A Litany for the Gift of Life and for the Protection of the Unborn

P: Almighty and eternal God, you have created this world and all of us in it.  We praise you, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Lead all people everywhere to see that you are our Maker and that we are the work of your hands so that all would consider human life to be sacred.  Protect and defend all to whom you give life, whether born or unborn, until that day when you take our life from us again.  Lord, in your mercy,
C: Hear our prayer.

P: Heavenly Father, you do not delight in the death of the wicked, but that all would turn from their evil ways and live.  Keep us from evil, and forgive us our sins.  Strengthen us to proclaim your Law and to warn those who would continue in their sins.  At this time, we especially pray that you would help us to warn those who continue in the sin of abortion.  Work mightily through your word to bring to repentance all who seek, provide, or support these willful acts of murder.  Change the hearts of people who see this wrong and dare to call it a right, and who are so blind to call good what is evil.  We ask not only that our nation may be cleansed of this heinous sin, but also that you turn all people from their evil ways so that they would live.  Lord, in your mercy,
C: Hear our prayer.

P: Lord of the nations, you have given authority to the governments of this world to bring order and protection and to punish the wrongdoer.  We pray for our rulers that they would act responsibly in their positions over us.  Cause the leaders of our nation to restore justice for the unborn, who are being oppressed and killed.  Grant our President wisdom and courage to speak out against abortion.  Guide our legislators to propose, support, and pass laws that would protect the life of all people, whether unborn, elderly, frail, defenseless, or handicapped.  Move our judges to do your will in all cases which decide life and death.  Teach all rulers to despise what is evil and to cling to what is good.  Lord, in your mercy, 
C: Hear our prayer.

P: Heavenly Father, you have commanded us to live chaste and decent lives.  Bring all people to recognize the virtue of chastity, to exercise self-control over their sexual impulses, to honor marriage, and to keep the marriage bed pure so that every pregnancy is a cause for joy rather than regret.  Teach husbands and wives to regard children as a reward to be cherished and not a burden to be avoided.  Grant to all pregnant women, according to your mercy, a happy result in their childbearing.  Lord, in your mercy,
C: Hear our prayer.

P:  Merciful Father, we thank you for the mercies you have bestowed upon us through your Son, Jesus Christ.  Many still bear the guilt, the shame, and the scars from sins they have committed against you.  Reveal to fearful sinners your mercies through the sufferings and death of your Son, Jesus Christ – whose body was cut, abused, and pierced to pay for sin, whose life was given up for the benefit of all, and whose blood was shed to cover over our guilt and shame.  Lord, in your mercy,
C: Hear our prayer.

P: Gracious Redeemer, you have called us to be the salt of the earth that this world might be preserved from greater wickedness.  Grant that more people will take your word to heart so that they will not sin by killing their children.  Bless those who work in our Pregnancy Care Centers so that they may faithfully speak your word to those who come to them.  Let the fear of your wrath crush those who plot wickedness, and let your forgiveness deliver the penitent from damnation and despair.  Lord, in your mercy,
C: Hear our prayer.

P: Gracious Redeemer, you have called us to be lights to the world.  Embolden us to bring your word to those around us.  Strengthen each of us so that, by our words, deeds, and prayers, we may truly be little christs to this world – doing your will, defending the helpless, aiding the needy, standing by the lonely, comforting the fearful, holding on to your truth, upholding your glory, and demonstrating your love.  Lord, in your mercy,
C: Hear our prayer.

Other intercessions may be offered.

P: Heavenly Father, we bring all of our petitions and intercessions to you, trusting that you will hear and act for our good, according to the promises of your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose name we join to pray….

LORD’S PRAYER

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sermon -- 2nd Sunday after Epiphany (January 20, 2019)

JOHN 2:1-11

THE LORD JESUS SUPPLIES 
WHAT IS LACKING.

In the name + of Jesus.

     When God created heaven and earth, he also put man and woman into that world.  He brought them to one another and blessed them as husband and wife, establishing marriage for the good of each other, for the benefit of children, and for the stability of society.  Just as God blessed Adam and Eve with a perfect creation, so he also blessed them with the gift of marriage.
     However, God's creation did not remain perfect for very long.  Sin entered the world and corrupted everything.  Most personally, it corrupted mankind.  Now we are familiar with selfishness, ingratitude, and bitterness.  Nevertheless, God remains good.  He still blesses mankind with his creation.  And he still calls marriage good.  By it, he intends to bless husbands and wives who are given as gifts to one another.
     But marriage is hard.  Two sinners bind themselves to one another, and each has to put in the work if they want to have a good marriage.  If God blesses them with children, the parents discover that raising children is hard.  Children are a blessing and a joy, but they take work.  And if God has chosen not to bless you with a spouse or with children, you still discover that life is hard.  No matter what stage of life you are in, life is hard.  We are sinners, living among other sinners, in a sinful world.  God still continues to bless us in this world, but we struggle to be grateful or content.  We face problems, stress, and disappointment.  We are lacking the perfection that God had first created people with.  And because we are lacking righteousness, we are also short on patience, gratitude, and a love that only seeks the good of others.  The problem is neither with God nor with marriage, but with us.  For, we are sinners.
     Our Lord Jesus Christ attended a wedding at Cana because marriage is good.  Unfortunately, the wedding had hit a snag.  They ran out of wine.  Wedding feasts back in Jesus' day could run for up to a week, and during that week the groom was supposed to provide for his guests.  If the wine ran out, the joyous occasion was over and the feast came to an embarrassing, disappointing halt.  When Jesus' mother recognized the problem, she gave Jesus a less than subtle nudge.  She said to him, “They have no wine.”  And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me?  My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:3,4)  Jesus' response was polite, but stern.  His kingdom would come and his glory would be revealed at the right hour.  This was not it.
     Nevertheless, Jesus did demonstrate compassion for the wedding couple.  He revealed his divine power by supplying what was lacking.  He told the servants to fill the stone water jars with water.  Then, by his command (although St. John does not quote Jesus' words here), the water became wine.  This was hardly a sleight of hand trick.  Each of the six stone jars held 20-30 gallons.  The miracle was undeniable.  God was at work, and our Lord supplied what was lacking so that the feast and the joy of the day could continue.
     St. John noted, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.” (John 2:11)  It was not only the first miracle Jesus performed, showing himself to be God; it was also the primary sign to show us what kind of Lord Jesus is.  He takes the ceremonies for outward purification and changes them into something better.  Jesus brings a new and better kingdom than the old one.  It is not based on the waters which scrub dirt or germs from the body, but it is based on the new wine which makes glad the hearts of men.  The Lord Jesus supplies what is lacking. 
     Jesus is the bridegroom, and the Church is his bride.  He has come to betroth himself to us—not because we are worthy, or pure, or even pretty.  He does not pretend that we are perfect.  He does not flatter us with lies or ignore what we have been.  Instead, the Lord Jesus supplies what is lacking in us.  As our loving bridegroom, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)  Through baptism, Jesus has removed from you every blotch of shame and wiped away every spot of sin.  He has covered you in his own righteousness so that you now stand before him pure and blameless.  Now, you are robed in beauty; for the Groom has dressed his Bride with his own innocence.  The Lord Jesus supplies what is lacking.
     When Jesus betrothed himself to you, he not only gave to you all that is his, he also took from you all is yours.  He assumed your debt, all that is lacking before God, and took the responsibility for it.  He made your guilt his own.  And then, when his hour had come for establishing his kingdom and revealing his glory, Jesus did not perform a miraculous sign.  Rather, he died in humble weakness.  Jesus subjected himself to God's curse on behalf of sinners when he hung from the cross.  And there, Jesus made the full payment for your sins.  A debt that you and I could not even begin to repay, Jesus paid in full.  The Lord Jesus supplies all that is lacking.
     On a joyous wedding day at Cana, Jesus provided all that was lacking at the wedding feast.  He was not stingy with his blessing.  It did not matter that the groom had been careless or negligent in his planning.  It did not even matter that the guests had abused the wine that had already been supplied.  Jesus acted to make sure that the joyous feast would continue.  He supplied what was lacking in quality and in quantity.  Jesus did not do a guest count and crunch numbers so that no a drop would go to waste.  He supplied the best wine in great abundance for the benefit of the wedding couple and for the joy of their celebration.
     In the same way, Jesus is not stingy with you, either.  You and I have been baptized into Jesus' name, which means that we have been cleansed of all sin, made pure before the Lord, and now bear the name of our Triune God.  We even remind ourselves of our precious status when we make the sign of the cross upon ourselves.  And yet, we do not live up to the honor of the name we bear.  Whether it is because we are careless or lazy, or because we are worn down by difficulties, disappointments, or the deception of our sins, we do not keep ourselves as pure as we ought. 
     But the Bridegroom still loves his Bride.  He continues to supply what is lacking.  He does not put a quota on his forgiveness or warn you that you are about to exceed your limit.  He pours out his mercies by the gallon.  He continues to present you with his sacred feast.  He serves you the better wine under which he gives you his holy blood for the forgiveness of your sins.  And the feast does not run out.  It is offered every week so that your joy will continue, and it will even endure through all eternity.  Jesus supplies what is lacking because your salvation is not based on how pure you have been or on how pure you can keep yourself.  It is based on Jesus' holy innocence with which he covers you.  And it is based on the righteous blood which he shed as the payment to pay off your debts.  He is not cheap with his grace or stingy with his mercy.  Rather, his mercy endures forever.  His grace supplies everything.
     The Lord Jesus continues to pour out his blessings upon you.  You will find peace and joy and contentment only in him.  And he will never fail you.  Even in a world of sin among a world of sinners, Jesus continues to bless you.  The Bridegroom loves his Bride and speaks tenderly to her.  The Church, who desires her Groom, is eager to listen to him and receive his good things. 
     The Lord Jesus supplies all that is lacking.  He and his blessings are yours.  Having been redeemed, you are his.  And he will finally bring you into the eternal wedding banquet where the peace will never be interrupted, where the joy will never run out, and where the feast will never end. 

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

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Update from Good Shepherd (January 17, 2019)

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.

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 Daniel Tulkki, brother of David Tulkki, who has cancer and has been given 3-6 months to live
– For Jim Tulkki, brother of David Tulkki, who is receiving treatment for cancer


ADULT BIBLE CLASS  —  JESUS – Legend or Lord?
      Jesus is one of the most written about and debated figures in the world.  In this eight-part series, Dr. Maier explores a three-lane highway to the past through the disciplines of Archaeology, History, and Geography.  Along the journey, we look back to the world that Jesus himself saw as he moved toward the cross.  The remaining schedule is:
                  January 20 –  The Works of Josephus
                  January 27 –  The Infancy Narratives
                  February 3 –  Jesus' Public Ministry
                  February 10 –  The Week That Changed the World
                  February 17 –  The Resurrection Revisited
                  February 24 –  The Explosion of Christianity 
In order to give ourselves enough time to discuss the materials presented, the DVD will begin promptly at 8:55 AM.  

SCHOOL OF STRATEGIC PLANNING
The WELS offers a School of Strategic Planning to aid congregations in assessing, prioritizing, and implementing plans to make the most of opportunities to preach the Gospel to as many as possible.  The dates for the School of Strategic Planning, to be held at Good Shepherd, will be Saturday, February 16 – Sunday, February 17.  The tentative schedule will include sessions on Saturday (9:00 AM – 5:00 PM) and Sunday (1:00 – 4:00 PM).
Other congregations who will join us are St. John's, Battle Creek and Palabra de Vida, Detroit.  If you are interested in attending these sessions as an interested member of Good Shepherd, please speak with Dan Rauchholz or Pastor Schroeder.
In order to be good hosts to all participants, we will need to organize meals, snacks, and beverages, as well as any other extras which will make our guests welcome and comfortable.  Details regarding contributions will be posted soon (likely, a SignUp Genius page).  We will also need people who will be willing to serve to prep the snacks, meals, and possibly other needed items.


SUNDAY NIGHT BIBLE SERIES
A next session of our Sunday Night Bible Series will be Sunday, February 10 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.


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, February 12 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 .

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
     Thursdays at 3:30 PM (call or text 248-719-5218 to confirm)

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

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sermon -- 1st Sunday after Epiphany (Baptism of our Lord)

LUKE 3:15-17,21-22

JESUS IS THE LORD'S ANOINTED 
WHO SERVES YOU.

In the name + of Jesus.

     We have entered the Epiphany season.  Epiphany means “appearing, or revealing.”  If you have ever said, “I had an epiphany,” you meant that something had been revealed to you or that you finally got it.  During the Sundays of Epiphany season, the Gospel reveal that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God, and the Savior of the world.
     On the night Jesus was born, the angel revealed to the shepherds, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ....” (Luke 2:11)  Jesus was called the Christ, but for the next thirty years Jesus did not act as the Christ.  He did not do miracles.  He did not preach sermons.  Even though Jesus is Lord and was sent to be the Christ, he did not usurp an office which would be bestowed upon him by the Father.  He did not act as the Messiah in his teen years because he felt called or because God had laid it upon his heart.  Jesus began his ministry only after he had been anointed to serve as the Lord's Anointed. 
     After Jesus' birth, the word “Christ” does not show up in Scripture until Jesus was about 30 years old.  When it did get brought up again, it was in connection with John.  The people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ... (Luke 3:15)  John is not the Christ.  John was appointed to be the Lord's prophet, but he was not the Anointed of the Lord.  John was the Baptizer; the Christ was to come soon. 
     When Jesus came to the Jordan, he was baptized by John and anointed to take up his office as the Christ.  St. Luke records it in two brief verses: Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22)  Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit to take up the work which he was sent to do.  Jesus is the Lord's anointed who serves you. 
     Throughout the Old Testament, men were anointed into a particular office.  Aaron was anointed by Moses to serve as the high priest.  David was anointed by Samuel to serve as king of Israel.  Elisha was anointed by Elijah to be the prophet of the Lord.  At each anointing, God designated that particular man and gave him a measure of his Holy Spirit to carry out the duties of his appointed office.  When Jesus was baptized, he was anointed by the Holy Spirit to be the Christ.  And as the Lord's anointed, Jesus serves you as the fulfillment of all three offices—prophet, high priest, and king.
     John the Baptist had described what Jesus would do as the Christ.  He said, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Luke 3:16-17)  In other words, Jesus came to gather in a harvest.  The good will be brought in; but the bad will be delivered into unquenchable fire—that is, a fire that never goes out; eternal hellfire.  Of course, you and I want to consider ourselves among the good because the alternative is terrifying.
     Jesus has come as the Prophet to proclaim the word of the Lord to us.  He defines what is good and what is wicked.  Among the many things he teaches is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)  Now, we all tend to credit ourselves as being obedient to that.  But Jesus also teaches God's demand is greater than what we credit ourselves with.  He declared, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you...  If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you?  For even sinners do the same. (Luke 6:27,32-33)  Jesus shows us that we are not as good as we like to think.  We are good at loving our friends, but our enemies?!  We don't like people who annoy us; why would we love people who hate us?  They are our enemies for a reason, right?  This shows that our love is limited, selective, and selfish.  We are not as good as we think.  Repent.
     Although Jesus shows us that we are not good, he proclaims a heavenly Father who is.  For God sent his Son to serve and to save sinners.  By being baptized, Jesus has taken up the cause of sinners.  That means he takes up your sin and guilt.  He suffered what sinners deserve.  He was consumed in God's fiery wrath when he hung from the cross so that you will be delivered from unquenchable fire.  Your holy prophet reveals the divine mercy which forgives sins, and he proclaims the grace that opens heaven.
     Jesus is the Lord's Anointed who serves you.  He fulfills the office of high priest.  As high priest, Aaron represented God before the people, and he represented the people before God.  Israel's high priest made sacrifices to atone for the sins of the people, and then he declared God's peace upon the people.  Jesus is your great high priest.  He comes in the name of the Lord to declare salvation to you.  But he also comes before the Lord for you to secure that salvation.  He serves not only as your high priest, he is also the sacrifice which was given up for you.  Jesus shed his innocent blood for the guilty.  And through your baptism, he has covered you with his innocence.  Through your baptism, you have been clothed with Christ.  This is how Jesus declares God's peace upon you; for God will not despise that which is holy.  His favor rests upon you.  And Jesus lives to intercede for you to assure you of God's favor and God's peace.
     Jesus is the Lord's Anointed who serves you.  Jesus was anointed as king, just as David was.  When Samuel anointed David as king, Saul was still on the throne.  David did not stage a coup.  He waited for the Lord to give him the throne as God's timing.  But what David did do immediately after he was made the Lord's Anointed was to go out and battle the giant, Goliath.  David single-handedly faced the enemy of God's people and slew him.  In the same way, Jesus single-handedly went forth and slew your enemies.  Your sins no longer condemn you;  you are forgiven.  Death and the grave do not own you.  Just as Jesus rose from the grave, so also you and I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.  And Satan lies crushed under Jesus' feet.  The devil may try to dredge up the past and remind you of your sins.  But he is a liar.  He has no claim on you, no matter how convincing his arguments are.  Jesus has taken your sins from you.  Jesus has rescued you from the devil's grasp and has brought you into a kingdom of grace.  Jesus lives and continually reigns over you for your eternal good.
     Jesus is the Lord's Anointed who serves you.  Just as Jesus was baptized to unite himself to you, so you were baptized into Jesus to be united to him.  All that Jesus has won is now yours.  When Jesus was baptized, the Father was pleased to identify Jesus as his very own.  And so also, the Father is pleased to identify you as his beloved children.  When Jesus was baptized, the heavens were ripped open.  And when you were baptized into Jesus, heaven was opened up to you, too.  You are heirs of God's heavenly kingdom, just as you live under God's gracious rule now. 
     Jesus is the Lord's Anointed who serves you.  He was baptized to take up your cause, and so also you were baptized into Jesus to take up his cause.  The Holy Spirit was poured out upon Jesus at his baptism to anoint him for his office as the Christ.  The Holy Spirit was also given to you at your baptism.  He has made you a new creation—creating in you a clean heart and renewing in you a right spirit.  That is why you desire to continue in a pure and decent life.  The Lord Jesus has used his winnowing fork to deliver you out of the fiery judgment and to bring you into his kingdom. 
     How we long to remain under his grace and to enter his glory!  For, we have had an epiphany.  We see that all that God declares is good, and that God does all good for us.  Therefore, we strive to honor our Lord with our lives—loving our neighbor, and even our enemy.  For, we are the Lord's.  He continues to work in us and to work for us.  Jesus is the Christ; and we are his—baptized into his name, and beneficiaries of his grace.

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

Friday, January 11, 2019

A Pastoral Concern -- When doubting the Christian faith

It was not long ago that the majority of Americans were expected to be in church on a Sunday morning.  Children went to Sunday School and learned their Bible stories.  God's word was accepted as true, no questions asked.  Those days are over--for the most part.

There are still children who are brought to church by their parents.  They still go to Sunday School and learn their Bible stories.  They accept God's word as true, and they don't question it.  They believe their parents would not enforce lies upon them, and they believe their church is not out to deceive them. 

This is not a flawed system.  The church is not lying to people about the Bible, and children's parents are not out to deceive them.  We are doing exactly what our Lord has instructed his people to do: to pass along the faith to the next generation (cf. Psalm 78, among many other Scripture references).  We proclaim, "This is what the Lord says," and therefore declare it to be true.  We do not spend time talking about other religions or other world views when children are at young age.  For one, we want to use our time to teach what is true, not what is false.  For another reason, young children are not ready to grapple with the difficulties of such differences.  Just as we don't start discussing varying political ideologies with 1st graders, so we don't do studies on comparative religions in Sunday School.

Things change, however, as people get older.  They get exposed to different ideas.  These ideas include challenges to the Bible, to the claims of Jesus, to the Christian faith, and so on.  It is entirely likely that the children who were brought to church and Sunday School by their parents hear these challenges for the first time when they are teenagers or college students.  But the questions can really nag at a person, especially when it seems like a valid question.  (You know what? If often is a valid question!)  Challenges are often simply assertions made against the Christian faith--insisting that the Bible makes claims it doesn't make (that a loving God would never allow evil), or doesn't make claims it does (e.g., that Jesus is God).  And since the young Christian does not have an immediate answer for these challenges, they may assume that there are no answers for these challenges.  As a result, they drift from the faith, refusing to be duped any longer by these alleged lies.

Such challenges and questions can be shocking.  At first, the young Christians probably simply dismiss these questions and challenges because they refuse to believe that their parents and their church were lying to them all those years.  Or, they do not want to believe that they were so easily duped.  But, chances are, the questions will haunt them.  What about those challenges?  How do I know that I have believed the truth?  Can anyone really know the truth?

Once those questions begin, they will demand answers.  At this point, there are not really any problems.  The questions should be answered.  The problem begins not when the Christian begins to seek answers, but when that Christian goes to all kinds of sources but the Bible and/or their pastor to get some solid answers.  Once again, the Church is not out to lie or deceive.  That is the devil's work, and he is really good at it.

To the young Christian who is confused, whose faith is challenged, who has questions, and so on, take heed!  You are not the first person to have struggled with this.  You are not the only one whose faith has been challenged, who has had doubts, or who is yearning for better answers than you learned in Sunday School.  And just because these questions and challenges are new to you, they have certainly been grappled with before, and they even have been answered.  Let it be said again: The Church is not out to lie or deceive.  That is the devil's work, and he is really good at it.  The devil delights in seducing you away from the faith, and he will use your own quest for truth (and often your air of superior knowledge when you have "seen through the lies" in undermining the Bible) to entice you away from Jesus. 

So, what can you do?  The answer is not to ignore the Bible, Jesus, the Church, or your pastor.  These are always here to serve you, to encourage you, to strengthen you, to comfort you, and if you are drift away--to warn you.  The Bible is proven itself reliable against all attacks.  Centuries of Christians have learned this (although many have been deceived away from it, too).  God does not lie.  His word will not fail you.  It still stands to this day, and it will endure forever.  Those who take their stand on it will live forever too.  These are the words of eternal life, and you will not find that anywhere else.

If you have questions or want to know how to respond to challenges, speak to your parents and/or your pastor.  They have been given to you for your benefit.  Neither your parents nor your Church are out to lie or to deceive you.  They pray for you.  They love you.  They seek your eternal well-being.  And that is why they encourage you to be at church and point you to Jesus. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Update from Good Shepherd (January 10,2019)

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.

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.

ADULT BIBLE CLASS  — A new series comes in January:  JESUS – Lord or Legend?
      Jesus is one of the most written about and debated figures in the world.  In this eight-part series, Dr. Maier explores a three-lane highway to the past through the disciplines of Archaeology, History, and Geography.  Along the journey, we look back to the world that Jesus himself saw as he moved toward the cross.  The schedule is:
                  January 13 –  Archaeology and History 
                  January 20 –  The Works of Josephus
                  January 27 –  The Infancy Narratives
                  February 3 –  Jesus' Public Ministry  
                  February 10 –  The Week That Changed the World
                  February 17 –  The Resurrection Revisited
                  February 24 –  The Explosion of Christianity 
In order to give ourselves enough time to discuss the materials presented, the DVD will begin promptly at 8:55 AM.  

BIBLE INFORMATION CLASS will begin THIS MONDAY, January 14.  Classes will be 7:00 – 8:30 PM.
The schedule for this class is:
          1/14         God's Plan of Salvation
          1/21         God Created a Beautiful Universe.
          1/28         Why is the World So Crazy?
          2/ 4         How did Jesus Save the World?
          2/11         The End is Coming!
          2/25         Why do We Need the Bible?
          3/ 4         God Works through Holy Baptism.
          3/11         God Works through Holy Communion.
          3/18         God Gathers His Church.
          3/25         A Conversation with God.
          4/ 1          Our Spiritual Heartbeat
          4/ 8          Love the Lord your God 
          4/15         Love your Neighbor – Part 1
          4/29         Love your Neighbor – Part 2
          5/ 6          Take Good Care
NOTE: Depending upon how many questions or discussions we have with the material, we may be able to complete more than one lesson in a session.
While this class is geared toward people who are interested in church membership at Good Shepherd, taking the class does not obligate you to join the church.  If you simply want to grow in your knowledge of the Bible, this class is for you.  There is no cost.  All materials are provided.  You will not be put on the spot to answer questions (though we will ask your name).  You are not even expected to know anything.  Come with questions.  Come with friends.  Come and learn what God wants you to know.
Call (248-349-0565) or e-mail (welsnovi@aol.com) to register for this class.  

PRIVATE CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION -- Saturday, January 12 (9:00-11:00 AM)
        In accordance with the Lutheran Confessions, Private Confession & Absolution will be available without appointment this Saturday.  
        For the rationale behind Private Confession & Absolution, see this link: http://lutheransubject.blogspot.com/2019/01/private-confession-absolution-saturday.html

SUNDAY NIGHT BIBLE SERIES
A next session of our Sunday Night Bible Series will be THIS 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.

WELS LUTHERANS FOR LIFE
        The annual meeting for WELS Lutherans for Life will be on Sunday, January 13 at 3:00 PM.  It will be held at St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church (17810 Farmington Road) in Livonia.  The keynote speaker will be Pastor Bill Natsis from Trinity Lutheran in Saline, MI.  His topic will be "Luther's treatment of the Sixth Commandment in the Large Catechism."  Please plan to join us that day!

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, February 12 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 .

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

PRIVATE CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION
     Saturday, January 12, 9:00 - 11:00 AM

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

Private Confession & Absolution -- Saturday, January 12, 9:00-11:00 AM

Private confession and absolution will be available at church from 9:00 - 11:00 AM on Saturday, January 12.  No appointment is necessary.  Just stop in.  If this rite is new to you (and it is for many who attend here), the pastor will walk you through the rite so that you understand and appreciate it more.  Private confession and absolution is always available by appointment throughout the year.

Why Private Confession & Absolution?  The answer follows:

When Lutherans hear someone speak of Private Confession and Absolution, the response is usually a knee-jerk, "That's Roman Catholic!"  Though that may be a common perception, the perception is because either it was taught wrongly or understood wrongly.  Consider what the Lutheran Confessions teach about Private Confession and Absolution.

Our churches teach that private Absolution should be retained in the churches, although listing all sins is not necessary for Confession.  For, according to the Psalm, it is impossible.  "Who can discern his errors?" (Psalm 19:12) -- Augsburg Confession, Article XI

What is Confession?
     Answer: Confession has two parts: the one is that we confess our sins; the other is that we receive Absolution, or forgiveness, from the confessor, as from God Himself, and in no way doubt, but firmly believe that our sins are forgiven before God in heaven by this.
What sins should we confess?
     Answer: Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even of those that we do not know, as we do in the Lord's Prayer.  But before the confessor we should confess only those sins that we know and feel in our hearts. -- Luther's Small Catechism, Part V

These are basic confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  They are catholic, insofar as they are Christian.  But they are not Roman, insofar as the penitent is not obligated to orally confess every sin in order to be forgiven of it and insofar as one's forgiveness is not dependent upon some action on the part of the penitent.  The forgiveness is based on Jesus' sufferings and death for the penitent who has been baptized into his name.

Since the practice of Private Confession and Absolution is a Lutheran practice, it would be good for Lutherans to practice it.  It is good for the penitent who is grieved by a particular sin to confess it so that he can hear Christ say through the mouth of his minister: "I forgive you."  It would be good for the one who is burdened to be relieved of his burden by Holy Absolution.  It would be good for this practice, though foreign to many in my corner of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, to be restored.  And so it will be.

Private Confession and Absolution has always been available to all members by appointment.  (I am guessing that has been a pretty good secret.)  In order for this practice to be restored and perhaps put to better use, there will be dates on the calendar set aside for anyone who would like to drop in and make use of this means of grace.  These will be set up about 4 times per year.  Private Confession and Absolution will still be available by appointment in addition to these scheduled times.

It is anticipated that Private Confession and Absolution will roughly follow this regular schedule.
     A Saturday around Epiphany (Epiphany is always January 6)
     The Saturday before Palm Sunday
     The Saturday after Labor Day weekend
     A Saturday after Thanksgiving weekend (should coincide with the 1st Saturday in Advent)

The next scheduled date and time for Private Confession and Absolution will be Saturday, January 12, 9:00-11:00 AM.  Appointments are not necessary.  You need only drop in.  All participation is voluntary, as Absolution cannot be forced upon anyone.

Of course, this will be new to pretty much any member who decides to make use of it.  If you happen to come in, the pastor will walk through the rite with you and explain the various parts of it, especially including the "private" part, namely, that this confession is to Christ and, therefore, remains his business alone.  The pastor will not report any confession or even the names of those who come for confession.  Finally, the point of this is not for a pastor to learn everyone's dirty, little secrets.  (His life is easier if he remains ignorant.  But God's people do not call a pastor to be ignorant; they call him to absolve in the name of Jesus.)  The point is for the guilty and the grieved to find relief and receive forgiveness, or absolution.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Bible Information Class begins January 14


BIBLE INFORMATION CLASS will begin Monday, January 14; classes are 7:00 – 8:30 PM.

The schedule for this class is:
          1/14           God's Plan of Salvation
          1/21           God Created a Beautiful Universe.
          1/28           Why is the World So Crazy?
          2/ 4           How did Jesus Save the World?
          2/11           The End is Coming!
          2/25           Why do We Need the Bible?
          3/ 4           God Works through Holy Baptism.
          3/11                 God Works through Holy Communion.
          3/18           God Gathers His Church.
          3/25           A Conversation with God.
          4/ 1   Our Spiritual Heartbeat
          4/ 8           Love the Lord your God
          4/15                 Love your Neighbor – Part 1
          4/29   Love your Neighbor – Part 2
          5/ 6           Take Good Care

NOTE: Depending upon how many questions or discussions we have with the material, we may be able to complete more than one lesson in a session.

While this class is geared toward people who are interested in church membership at Good Shepherd, taking the class does not obligate you to join the church.  If you simply want to grow in your knowledge of the Bible, this class is for you.

There is no cost.  All materials are provided.  You will not be put on the spot to answer questions (though we will ask your name).  You are not even expected to know anything.  Come with questions.  Come with friends.  Come and learn what God wants you to know.

Call (248-349-0565) or e-mail (welsnovi@aol.com) to register for this class. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sermon -- Epiphany (January 6, 2019)

MATTHEW 2:1-12

WE MAKE OUR CONFESSION
WITH OUR ACTIONS.

In the name + of Jesus.

     Wise men from the east came to worship Jesus.  Many people come to church at Christmas to worship Jesus, too.  The reasons vary.  For some, it is nostalgia.  They went to church as children, so going to church at Christmas is the traditional thing to do.  Others like Christmas because the baby Jesus is cute.  But the Magi did not come to see Jesus because he was cute.  The Magi came to worship Jesus because he is the Lord.
     The Magi had put forth a great deal of effort to see Jesus.  They saw the sign which had indicated his birth.  So, to some extent, they were watching for it and expecting it.  They may not have expected to see this sign in their lifetime, but when it appeared, they knew what it meant and they acted on it.  They made preparations for a journey of hundreds of miles.  Whether that journey was mainly on camel or on foot, it was no easy trip.  They had to be sure they had enough provisions to eat and to drink until they got to Judea.  They also had taken pains to pack gifts—extravagant gifts!  So, this cost them not only time and energy, it also cost them a good deal of wealth to do it.  The wealth was not to make themselves comfortable on this journey.  The wealth was devoted to the one who had been born king. 
     Their time, their efforts, and their gifts were not given out of obligation, but out of pure joy.  The king of the Jews had been born.  In an earthly sense, he had no power or jurisdiction over the Magi.  They had their own king back home.  But according to the word of God, the one born in Bethlehem was king not only of the Jews, but king of the universe.  The Magi made this confession by their actions.  They did not put forth this much effort because Jesus was cute.  They put forth this much effort because Jesus is God, because Jesus is King, and because Jesus is the Savior of the Nations.  He came to the Jews, but he also came for the Magi.  They made their confession by their actions.
     The Magi came to worship Jesus.  We do not make trips to Bethlehem or to Israel to worship.  We make our confession by our actions, too.  We come to church.  Sadly, fewer people in America bother to come to church anymore.  That makes a confession, too.  People, by their actions, confess that they don't need Jesus and his salvation.  They care about other things.  By their actions, they show what that is.
     I suspect that if you ask people why they go to church, they may not be able to give a clear answer.  And perhaps that is why church attendance is dropping in America.  One person had posted on Facebook a sentiment that went something like this: “I believe that church is about praising God.  But I also believe that God can be praised on a car ride, in my living room, at the campsite, and at the ball game.”  If church were only a matter of praising God—that is, what I do for God—then the previous sentiment is true.  Granted, we do praise God here.  We sing hymns, say prayers, and confess the Creed.  But if that is all it is, you can do that at home, in your car, or at the campsite.  So, why do you come?
     The Magi made their confession with their actions.  They took great pains to see the baby Jesus.  They knew the promises even before they left home.  They left anyway.  They came to Jerusalem where the priests and scribes read the prophecies.  They pinpointed the town where Jesus would be born.  The Magi continued their journey.  The priests and scribes did not leave Jerusalem.  They knew the promises, but they were not moved by them at all.  Knowing the facts was enough for them.  The Magi, on the other hand, went to the place where God had come for them.  They made their confession with their actions.  The Christ child mattered to them.
     Likewise, we make our confession with our actions.  We come to church not because God needs us to be here to do things for him.  God is glorious, holy, merciful, and almighty no matter what.  If you rejected every syllable of the Bible, God would not be less glorious, less holy, less merciful, or less mighty.  Neither your songs nor my prayers make God better, and our failure to give them does not make God worse.  Our primary purpose for coming to church, therefore, is not for us to do something for God; it is where God does things for us.  Here, God serves us.  Here, God comes to us with blessing, forgiveness, mercy, and salvation. 
     We make our confession with our actions.  The simple act of coming to church declares to people that you take God's word seriously and that you seriously need God's mercy.  God's word shows us that we do not live up to the standard he demands of us.  We do not honor his word with our actions throughout the week.  Our actions prove that we are sinners, whether we confess it or not.  We withhold our time, efforts, and treasures from others and we hoard it for our own pleasure, comfort, and glory.  We are devoted to ourselves, even being annoyed that God would infringe upon our lives.  We find it burdensome to take the time and effort to pray, to meditate on God's word, or to order our lives according to his Commands.  When we take God's word seriously, we are alarmed by our sins and fear his judgment.
     But God has infringed upon our time.  He entered our world to save us from our sins.  The eternal God entered our time and put forth great effort to deliver us from our sin and from the death it deserves.  The Christ child grew up, faced temptations, and overcame.  He patiently endured the ignorant comments and the intentional scorn of sinful mankind, and he did not fail to love them despite their sins.  Rather, he took up their sins, and he took up your sins.  He paid for your redemption at great cost.  Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)  In fact, he has enriched you with his grace and made you heirs of eternal glory. 
     The Magi came to find the King of the Jews, and yet they knew he had come for the Gentiles, too.  Jesus' kingdom is for all people—regardless of race or skin color, language or accent, or even regardless of one's past.  Here, in Jesus, you find full forgiveness and free salvation.  God does not merely love you in his head, he showed with his actions.  The Christ has come for you—to live for you, to suffer for you, to die for you, and to conquer death for you.  And by his actions, he has secured your salvation.
     We make our confession with our actions.  Yes, we know the facts.  That informs what we confess.  But merely knowing facts about the Bible does not save you.  Even the devil knows the facts.  The priests and the scribes did not receive mercy or forgiveness merely by knowing the facts.  Their confession was clear from their inaction: They heard the word and remain unmoved.  Therefore, we make our confession with our actions.  The Magi did this when they saw the star, when they heard the prophets, and especially when they saw the Christ child.  They fell down and worshiped him.  Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)  The Magi demonstrated their faith by falling to their knees, and then put their foreheads to the ground before the Lord.  They declared themselves to be his subjects; for he alone was the source of their salvation. 
     We make our confession with our actions.  Therefore, we come to church; for this is where our Lord now comes to us with his gifts of mercy, forgiveness, blessing, and salvation.  We rightly fall in our knees as the body and blood of Jesus are given to us for the forgiveness of our sins.  We put forth time, effort, and expense not only to come to receive God's blessings, but also to make sure others know that the Savior has come for them.  For, the way we speak and act toward others makes a confession, too. 
     The Magi fled to the place where the Lord said he would be found.  They were directed by the star and also by the prophets.  That is where they found the one who takes away the sins of the world.  Likewise, we flee to the place where our Lord tells us we will find him for our salvation—to the word and the sacraments.  We gather in Jesus' name to receive Jesus' gifts.  It is the most basic confession we can make with our actions, and it is where God's mercy is delivered to his people.

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