Friday, November 27, 2020

Lutheran Public Radio -- Sacred Music for the Advent Season


SACRED MUSIC FOR THE ADVENT SEASON… ”Savior of the Nations, Come,” “On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry,” “Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending,” “Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding,” “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”  You can listen to sacred music for the Advent season 24/7 at lutheranpublicradio.org, TuneIn, Amazon Echo, Google Home and the Lutheran Public Radio mobile app.

Note: Advent begins on Sunday, November 29.

In addition to Lutheran Public Radio, you may also want to check out the podcasts of Issues, Etc., a radio program hosted by LC-MS pastor Todd Wilken.  The shows have a confessional Lutheran emphasis.  While advertisements are often for LC-MS products, the program itself is highly recommended for your consideration.  Issues, Etc. archives can be found here.



YouTube -- Thanksgiving Eve (November 25, 2020)

 Here is our Thanksgiving service.



Advent Vespers 2020

We prepare for the coming of the Savior 

with repentance as we prayerfully, quietly, and eagerly await our Savior.

Advent Hymns

December 2

     The Benedictus – Song of Zechariah.  

      (Luke 1:67-79)


December 9

     The Magnificat – Song of Mary.  

      (Luke 1:46-55)


December 16

     The Gloria in Excelsis – Song of angels.  

     (Luke 2:14)


Advent Vespers will be at 7:00 PM.


Thursday, November 26, 2020

Update from Good Shepherd (November 26, 2020)

Greetings!

REGULAR SCHEDULE

Divine Services are at 10:00 AM on Sundays, in person and on Facebook Live.  Share our services and invite friends to tune in.

Sunday School is on Sundays at 8:45 AM.
Adult Bible Class is on Sundays at 8:45 AM.  We are starting a series on Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The schedule can be found at this link.

ADVENT VESPERS
We prepare our hearts for the coming of our Lord with prayer, meditation, and penitence.  Advent allows for additional services to ponder our Lord's promises and their fulfillment.  We worship on Wednesday at 7:00 PM.  The theme of our Advent Vespers will be the Hymns of Advent.
December 2         The Benedictus – The Song of Zechariah
December 9         The Magnificat – The Song of Mary
December 16 The Gloria in Excelsis – The Song of Angels 

OFFICE HOURS
          Office hours are Monday-Thursday, 9:00 AM – Noon.  
          The pastor will be in his office unless a meeting has been scheduled elsewhere (consult the weekly schedule).  The pastor is also available by appointment.  Call or text (248-719-5218).  You may also email (welsnovi@aol.com), but the response may be slower.

CONCERNING PASTORAL CARE
        Besides Facebook Live and YouTube, you can find the pastor's sermons archived on this blog.  You can use the search bar to find a particular date, day of the Church Year, or Scripture reference.
        Pastor Schroeder will be available for private devotions, Holy Absolution, and Holy Communion to members in small groups or to individuals.  You may call to set up an appointment at any time.  Visits by appointment can be done either at church or at your home.
        If you want to ask for intercessions for loved ones, we will certainly remember them in our prayers, too.  If your loved one has no pastor, ask if they would like Pastor Schroeder to visit them.  

GOOD SHEPHERD ON YOUTUBE
         The service from November 22 is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19g-BUcbMaY Feel free to share the videos.  For other services, do a search for "Good Shepherd Novi."  
         Bulletins for services can be downloaded from here (scroll down): 

OFFERINGS
While we may not be meeting for worship, we do have financial obligations to meet.  You may either mail your offering into Good Shepherd, or you can set up your offering to be transferred electronically from your bank.  If you are interested in the automatic transfer of funds for your offering, please contact the church at (248) 349-0565 or welsnovi@aol.com.

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

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

In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder
==============================
REGULAR SCHEDULE
DIVINE SERVICES -- Sundays at 10:00 AM  (We also stream on Facebook Live )
SUNDAY SCHOOL & ADULT BIBLE CLASS on Sundays at 8:45 AM.

ADVENT VESPERS -- Wednesday, December 2, 9, and 16 at 7:00 PM

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE
www.GoodShepherdNovi.org

PASTOR SCHROEDER’S BLOG

www.LutheranSubject.blogspot.com 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Sermon -- Thanksgiving Eve (November 25, 2020)

1 THESSALONIANS 5:18

GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.

In the name + of Jesus.

      “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)  The reading does not say, “Give thanks, because it is Thanksgiving.”  It does not implore you, “Give thanks, because you have such-and-such blessings.”  It is not even the pessimistic plea: “Give thanks, because things could be worse.”  It says, “Give thanks in all circumstances.”  Then it gives the reason why: “This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)  So, let's consider what circumstances we face, and then remember that it is God's will that we be thankful in all of them.

     Give thanks for creation.  Perhaps on Thanksgiving more than any other point in the year we remember God's First Article gifts, that is, gifts given by God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  We are grateful for all that God gives us to sustain us in body and life.  Thanksgiving has traditionally been a harvest festival.  Once the crops have been gathered in, we give thanks to God for supplying us for another year.  While we do not participate in the agricultural harvest, we certainly do benefit from it.

     Of course, thanks for God's creation goes beyond food, drink, clothing, and shoes.  God is pleased to enhance our lives with emotional, mental, and psychological blessings.  We enjoy bright sunny days, music, literature, camaraderie, card games, and laughter.  We benefit from people with a panorama of interests and abilities. Through them, God provides everything from a clean water supply to museum curators to comic book illustrators.  While we do nothing to deserve these and almost nothing to get them, we benefit from them all the same.

     While God's generosity and grace are constant, our circumstances are constantly changing.  In all circumstances, we give thanks.  Give thanks in days of laughter and joy. It is easy to be grateful when you are happy.  We not only confess with St. James, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” (James 1:17), we also respond accordingly.  Who cannot help but praise God for bountiful harvests, the birth of children, or meaningful employment?

     But we don't always have happy days.  If we give thanks in all circumstances, then we also give thanks in sadness and pain.  Sometimes the blessings are rather lean.  Sometimes they are taken from us in shocking ways.  A virus is not visible to the naked eye, but it can wreak havoc with your life.  A moment of inattentive driving can result in a tragic accident.  An unforeseen turn in the economy might mean unemployment.  A routine trip to the doctor might result in a routine of treatments that puts your whole life on hold or in jeopardy.  Yes, circumstances change, bringing sadness instead of laughter, and pain instead of pleasure.  And still, St. Paul would urge you, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)  

     Physical or emotional trials often turn into spiritual trials.  And they can become intense.  When tragedy strikes you, you yearn to know why.  Was it avoidable?  Was it your fault?  You can come up with all kinds of ways that it could have been. Then you compound tragedy with guilt.  Did God do this to you?  If so, does that mean God is angry with you?  To think this is to compound tragedy with fear.  Is it God's fault?  If you believe God owes you better, or at least owe you answers, this compounds tragedy with anger and doubt.  It could even lead to abandoning the faith for a more agreeable god.

     And still St. Paul tells you, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)  Give thanks in sadness and pain.  You don't have to pretend you are not suffering.  Your pain and your loss are real.  To have someone or something ripped from your life, it cannot help but leave a wound and a scar.  There is nothing wrong with saying so.  This is the reality of living in a sinful world.  Your thanks may be muffled by tears, but it need not be muted.  Even in the midst of such terrible circumstances, you have not lost your God.  He never withholds his love or withdraws his promises.

     Give thanks in weakness and struggles.  All of us struggle against sin and temptations—either because Satan continually entices you to do what you know you should not, or because Satan mocks you over what you did.  He preys on your weaknesses to crush you with guilt and shame.  We struggle much more than we are strong.  How can we be thankful when our circumstances are framed by the devil's constant tempting, by past regrets, or by present despair?  Sure, we can fake a sunny mood on Thanksgiving.  But darkness may already be back by Black Friday.  Give thanks in weakness and struggles?  How can we give thanks when we would rather sigh or cry or die?  

     Nevertheless, St. Paul would dare to urge you: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)  The only thing constant about our circumstances is that they are always changing.  So, if our thanks is to be constant in changing circumstances, then there must be something constant which would inspire constant thanks.  God be praised, there is!  We heard it in the Verse of the Day: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.  His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)

     In all circumstances, you have a good and merciful Father in heaven who always loves you and is always invested in your eternal good.  In all circumstances, you have a Savior whose blood purifies you from all unrighteousness.  You are not defined by your past sins or your present struggles.  God's favor is not proved by prosperity or popularity.  In all circumstances, you are saints of God, cloaked in the righteousness of Jesus.  In all circumstances, you have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you who intercedes for you with groans too deep for words.  You are not abandoned in sadness or weakness; you are sustained by divine aid and strength.  Circumstances change, but the mercy of the Lord endures forever.  His love is steadfast.  His word is firm.  His salvation is constant.

     Therefore, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)  Give thanks with confidence.  In a world of uncertainty, you have the confidence that you are beloved children of God.  That does not change, because God's covenant does not change.  You who have been baptized into Christ, always bear his name, always have his favor, and are always heirs of his kingdom.  Your own personal kingdom may suffer loss.  Is that a hardship?  Sure.  But watching your 401k dwindle down to nothing will not render God powerless.  If God has deemed it best for you to live on meager rations, he will still supply for your needs.  And if God has deemed that to be best for you, then God be praised!  He will help you live with less.  If God deems it best that you won't be as agile in your old age as you were in your youth, then God be praised.  Give thanks with confidence that God's mercy does not depend on your mobility.  If God deems is good that you bid farewell to loved ones, then give thanks with confidence that God has joined you to a family of Christians who will console, encourage, support, and pray for you.  Earthly losses do not affect the riches of God's kingdom.  That is why you can give thanks with confidence.

     Give thanks with comfort and assurance.  Even if your circumstances in this world take a downward spiral, you know that both the spiral and the world will come to an end.  For many, the worst fear that they have is that their life will end and their goods will be gone.  But you have this comfort—your life will not end, and your goods are not necessary.  Your greatest good and most precious treasure await you in the heavenly kingdom.  Your life, which will end in this world of sorrow, will continue with our Lord in a Paradise of joy and will never end.  That is why St. Paul reminds you, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)  

     Who knows what your circumstances will be as 2020 turns into 2021.  Better?  Worse?  Gain?  Loss?  Tears?  Laughter?  Probably all of it.  But you will have one constant in all of it.  His mercy endures forever.  His love is steadfast.  His salvation is certain.  His covenant is firm.  For the Lord your God does not change.  He continually delights in you, and he faithfully works for your eternal good.  This is why you can give thanks in all circumstances.  It is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  Since you are baptized into Christ Jesus, you can give thanks in tears and laughter, in weakness and struggles, with confidence and comfort.  And since you are in Christ, you will give thanks without end.

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

YouTube -- 4th Sunday of End Times: Christ the King (November 22, 2020)

 Here is the service from Sunday, November 22, 2020.



Monday, November 23, 2020

Something from ... Luther re: God's unchanging word

It often happens that we doubt God's love upon us.  It is easy to believe that God loves us when he is granting us blessing and success.  That love, however, comes into question when we endure hardships, pain, and loss.  When it seems like God has forgotten us or is acting against us, the devil would have us wonder how steadfast God's love actually is.  Did we do something to turn him against us?  Are we no longer in his favor?

For such times, Martin Luther urges Christians to cling to what does not change--God's promises.  Those promises are declared in God's word, and they are firm.  God's favor was sealed on you through holy baptism, and he is always faithful to his promises.  Even though our circumstances change, God is not wishy-washy.  We have that to rely on in good days and especially in bad days.

From Luther:  "Therefore one should hold fast to this comfort, that what God has once declared, this He does not change.  You were baptized, and in Baptism the kingdom of God was promised you.  You should know that this is His unchangeable Word, and you should not permit yourself to be drawn away from it.  For although it can happen--as with those who were on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:28)--that He pretends to want to go farther and seems to be dealing with us as though He had forgotten His promises, faith in the Word must nevertheless be retained, and the promise must be stressed--namely, that it is true and dependable--even if the matter, time, occasion, place, and other particulars are unknown.  For the fact that God cannot lie is sure and dependable." (pp 96-97, Luther's Works: American Edition.  Vol. 4 (Lectures on Genesis, chapters 21-25.)

Thanksgiving service -- Wednesday, November 25, 7:00 PM

Our Thanksgiving Vespers will be on Wednesday, November 25 at 7:00 PM.  God has so freely and generously given us all of our needs – both physical and spiritual.  We recognize his goodness to us in this annual Thanksgiving service.


Give thanks to the LORD for he is good; 

his mercy endures forever. (Psalm 118:1)

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Sermon -- 4th Sunday of End Times: Christ the King (November 22, 2020)

1 CORINTHIANS 15:20-28

ALL THINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CHRIST THE KING.

In the name + of Jesus.

      There is a segment of Christendom that professes a doctrine called Millennialism.  While there are a number of variations on this doctrine, the short of it is this: Jesus will come again to establish an earthly kingdom where he will reign for 1,000 years, that is, for a millennium.  It is taught that in this earthly kingdom, wars will cease and everyone will live in peace.  Unbelievers will either be converted or destroyed.  Basically, it is the idea of heaven on earth.

     There are numerous problems with this teaching.  First, it dismisses Jesus' own testimony before Pilate when he states, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)  An earthly kingdom of 1,000 years cannot be an exception to that claim; it is a contradiction.  Millennialism is a misunderstanding of a passage in Revelation (20:4) which refers to a 1,000 year reign of Christ.  Since all other numbers in Revelation are symbolic, we recognize that the number 1,000 is symbolic in that verse, too.  Perhaps the most egregious error in teaching that Jesus will come again and begin to rule is that this doctrine denies that Jesus is ruling right now.  

     All things are subject to Christ the King.  We confess that in our weekly prayer which concludes, “through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”  We also confess in the Creed, “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” (Apostles' Creed)  If he is seated at God's right hand, he is ruling over all things.  All things are subject to Christ the King.

     If the doctrine of Millennialism sounds appealing, it is because we would like to have heaven on earth and all things peaceful.  If the doctrine of Millennialism sounds accurate, it is because it does not look like Jesus is reigning over all things yet.  We see a world that is vile and violent.  We are at the mercy of disease, natural disasters, and death; but they have no mercy.  As long as we are in this world, we need to keep on praying, “Lord, have mercy” and “Deliver us from evil.” 

     The Scriptures, however, are clear on the topic.  “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:26)  In other words, Jesus lives and reigns over all things.  Jesus gave a glimpse of his heavenly kingdom during his ministry.  By healing many, Jesus demonstrated that sickness and disease would not have a place in his kingdom.  When Jesus commanded the wind and the waves which had threatened to capsize the disciples' boat to cease, Jesus showed that natural disasters would not cause harm to people or damage to God's creation in his kingdom.  In our sinful world, these things afflict us and produce grief.  But they will come to an end because Jesus lives and reigns. 

     The most grievous consequence of sin that haunts and taunts us is death.  No one escapes it.  Medicine, diet, and exercise may extend your days on the earth, but death finally comes for all.  St. Paul tells us why.  “By a man came death...  In Adam all die...” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)  We are all children of Adam.  We have all descended from that one man, which binds us together with all people in the human race.  But it also means we are bound together as sinful people who are going to die.  Adam's rebellion corrupted his heart and mind and his very being.  That sinful nature infects us all.  Our very nature is corrupt, which leads to wicked motives and selfish moods.  You cannot improve your sinful condition anymore than you can eradicate the world of lightning strikes or the common cold.  Because of sin, we are marked for death and judgment.  We cannot fix our condition.  We cannot control our hearts and mouths.  And we cannot escape the consequences.  “By a man came death...  In Adam all die...” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)  

     All things are subject to Christ the King.  Jesus demonstrated this when he cured the blind, the deaf, and the lame of their disabilities.  Jesus corrected the ailments that are common in a sinful world.  He demonstrated the perfect healing which would be the norm in the kingdom of God.  But greater than bringing a cure for disease or disasters, Jesus produced the cure for death.  

     “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)  Jesus became a man to undo the curse that effects all mankind because of Adam's sin.  Unlike the first man and every person since, Jesus maintained his holiness and innocence throughout his life.  But Jesus exchanged his innocence for your guilt.  Jesus was convicted and condemned for your sins.  You, since your sins have been taken from you, are pardoned and set free.  Though he died, death could not hold Jesus.  Jesus rose from the dead.  A man has conquered death and will never die again.  And since he has united himself to all mankind, all mankind shall be made alive on the Last Day.  Jesus lives and reigns, and even the grave must submit to him.  So he not only has authority over disasters and disease, he even reigns over death.  All things are subject to Christ the King.

     Still, it appears that death has the upper hand.  Yes, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.  He was seen by his disciples who touched his body, inspected his wounds, and even ate with him.  His resurrection is undeniable.  The apostles willingly gave their lives up in confessing it to be so.  They died bloody and violent deaths for preaching about Jesus' resurrection.  Since then, many who were baptized and believed in Jesus have gone to their graves—some through disease, some through disasters, some peacefully, some martyred for the faith.  And even before death comes, we endure suffering, sorrow, stress, frustration, temptation, and so on.  Where is Jesus' reign in all this?

     Make no mistake: All things are subject to Christ the King.  The realities of living in a vile and violent world still vex us, but Jesus Christ lives and reigns.  And he will reign over all things until the last enemy is destroyed.  Death has, indeed, been conquered, but we will not partake in this victory until the Last Day.  This is what St. Paul wrote: “In Christ shall all be made alive.  But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.  Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:22-26)  

     All things are subject to Christ the King.  Therefore the grave must give up what it has claimed because Jesus has authority over the grave.  Jesus proved his victory at his resurrection on Easter Sunday.  And we will be participants in that victory at the resurrection of the dead on the Last Day.  Just as all die because of Adam, so all shall be raised up from death because of Christ.  All who believe and are baptized will rise to live in glory just as Jesus did.  He lives and reigns, and we will live and reign with him.

     All things are subject to Christ the King.  It is true even now, though we don't see it.  We know what will be—no more death or mourning or crying or pain.  In heavenly glory, all things will look and feel and act right.  But now we do see and feel death, mourning, crying, and pain.  Nevertheless, it is still true: All things are subject to Christ the King.  Nothing happens apart from Jesus' reign.  He knows about COVID and car accidents.  He knows about broken hearts and skinned knees.  He even knows about the number of hairs on your head.  That is because all things are subject to Christ the King.  They have to be, or Jesus is not at God's right hand, not all-powerful, and not sovereign.  But he most certainly is, even when it does not appear to be so.

     All things are subject to Christ the King—whether we regard them as good days or bad days.  All things are subject to Christ the King—whether it results laughter, anguish, or tears.  How do we know this is true?  Because we have a promise: “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)  Did you catch that?  “All things work together for good.  All things.”  The only way all things work for your eternal good is if the Lord Jesus Christ is living and reigning for you.  And he is.  Even the evils that you suffer Jesus works for your eternal good.  The promise is not that Jesus will work all things out so that life will be fun or easy or prosperous.  The devil issues promises like that.  And even if he grants a moment of pleasure, it always disappoints.  Eventually it damns.

     But Jesus lives and reigns for you.  If he deems it best that you endure hardship so that you long all the more for the heavenly kingdom, then God be praised.  Those hardships will not last, but God's mercies will.  And when Jesus comes again, all enemies will finally be crushed underfoot.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  And then, Jesus will bring you into the glorious kingdom.  And then, all things will remain perfect and peaceful, not for a paltry millennium, but for a timeless eternity.  And then, the man Jesus will submit all things to the Triune God.  And then, the Son will live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  The Lord God Almighty reigns, and he reigns for your good to give you life and peace and glory forever and ever.

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

Friday, November 20, 2020

A Pastoral Concern -- Proclaiming undeniable truth

I am grateful that I get to be a pastor.  The job description is simple: "Preach the word." (2 Timothy 4:2)  The word translated "preach" is to do the job of a herald (as in, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing").  The herald had one job: He announced to people what the king had decreed.  The herald was not to edit the king's message to make it more agreeable to people.  The herald had no right to add to the king's message or to ignore parts of it.  The herald was not responsible for making his listeners take the message seriously.  He was not at fault if the people refused to listen or obey.  The herald spoke the message he was given to speak.  That was it.  If the authority of the king and the power behind him was not enough to convince people to take the message seriously, the consequences were completely on them.

The vocation of a pastor is to be a herald--to proclaim what the King of Heaven and Earth has said.  I am accountable to God for how faithful of a herald I am.  For, if I should corrupt the message I have been given to speak, then I lead people away from salvation rather than toward it.  I know that God holds me accountable, so I pray that God will keep me faithful and that he will always grant me the courage to say what needs to be said, to whom it needs to be said, and when it needs to be said.

The opinions, personal insights, and anecdotes from the herald don't matter.  They might be helpful or amusing, but they are not the word of the Lord.  You don't have to agree with or even care about my opinions.  They won't save you, and you do not have to answer to me come Judgment Day.  That is why a pastor is not a commentator.  He is a herald.  He proclaims God's truth, not pious opinions.

Opinions are easy to have.  They may be backed by facts.  They may be guided by emotions.  They can be colored by one's upbringing, one's experiences, or one's allegiance to person or group of people.  And they are usually held on to fervently, even if one's reasonings are irrational or unsubstantiated.

Social media has proven to be fertile ground to prove this.  People have shared their opinions openly about COVID-19 and masks.  COVID will kill you.  No, COVID is no worse than a cold.  Masks will save lives.  No, masks are useless, perhaps harmful.  These differing views are not held as opinions.  They are believed to be undeniable truths, and each can back them up with someone's study.  

Can numbers be manipulated to "prove" your point?  Sure.  Can experts be presented to debunk the position of someone else?  Absolutely.  Who has the truth?  Each side is certain that it does.  But if they are opposed, they can't both be true.

I am willing to admit that I do not know what the truth is in regard to COVID or masks.  I would like to believe that governing officials are doing what is in the best interests of the people they serve.  I may question their conclusions, but I can't say definitively that I know better, or that I know they are wrong.  What is the truth?  I don't know.

This is why I am grateful that I get to be a pastor.  And I am grateful that I have the Scriptures as the source for what I believe, preach, and teach.  I do not have to guess what God's truth is; he has revealed it.  I simply proclaim what God has revealed, and I know it is the truth.  

God's word is true because God does not lie.  He is pure and without sin, so he cannot lie.  God's word is true because God does not deceive.  God has no reason to twist the truth for his own agenda.  God's word is true because God is unchanging.  He is not running for any office, and he is not accountable to us.  Therefore, he does not update his message to make it more appealing to a new generation of people.  God's word is true because God is eternal.  It stands firm through fads, cultural shifts, and open hostility and rebellion against him.

No matter what my opinions are, I can be mistaken.  If I believe certain reports or theories, I can be duped.  If I choose to be a skeptic about everything, I will be suspicious even of things that will help me.  If I believe everyone who claims to have the truth, I will be both gullible and confused.

In a world where science continues to tweak theories, where opinions can be misinformed, and where men lie, we can be confident that God's truth stands firm.  This is why I am grateful to be a pastor; I get to proclaim a message I know is true.  And this is why you can be grateful that you are a Christian; your faith is not pious opinion.  It stands firm on divine truth.  God's word is, in fact, the only truth that matters, and it is the only truth that will save.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Bible Matters -- Leftovers

In our Bible Matters discussion last evening, we were considering the Canon of Scripture: How can we be sure these books are the right books?

In our discussion, we brought up the point that there are two main ways to destroy the Christian faith and to leave it all in ruins.  One is to prove that the resurrection of Jesus is a fraud.  If that can be proven, then Christians are to be pitied more than all mankind since our entire faith and hope rest on Jesus Christ being risen from the dead.  St. Paul treats this in 1 Corinthians 15.

Speaking of St. Paul, the second method of destroying Christianity is to prove that the conversion of St. Paul to Christianity is a fraud.  If Paul's conversion is a sham, that means he infiltrated Christian leadership and, by his many epistles and founding of many Christian churches, commandeered and perverted the Gospel of Jesus to whatever Paul wanted it to be.

Is the resurrection of Jesus a sham?  Is the conversion of St. Paul a fake?  Do these theories make sense?

Lutheran Satire to the rescue!  In a short, humorous video, Rev. Hans Fiene does a nice job of explaining that St. Paul, St. Peter, and all the apostles stood nothing to gain by preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead.  Either Jesus is truly risen and St. Paul was truly converted, or the apostles concocted the "Best Conspiracy Ever."  


Certainly there are more thoughts to ponder regarding these matters, but this is a good place to start. 

Bible Matters will be suspended throughout Advent and will return in January.  Scheduled topics will be announced later.


Update from Good Shepherd (November 19, 2020)

Greetings!

       Just yesterday (November 18), new restrictions regarding COVID were enacted for the state of Michigan.  While we certainly will exercise caution, remain sensible, and pray for the health and safety of all people, the restrictions will not effect our schedule at Good Shepherd.  

       If you are feeling ill, please stay at home.  If it becomes serious, please contact the pastor for prayers and, if possible, a visit.  

REGULAR SCHEDULE
Divine Services are at 10:00 AM on Sundays. 
      For information on what you can expect when you come to church and what will be expected of you, see this link.  Services will still be broadcast on Facebook Live, Sundays at 10:00 AM, and uploaded to YouTube.   Share our services and invite friends to tune in.
Sunday School is on Sundays at 8:45 AM.
Adult Bible Class is on Sundays at 8:45 AM.  We are starting a series on Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The schedule can be found at this link.

Mid-week services, Wednesdays at 7:00 PM
November 25 -- Thanksgiving service
        December 2, 9, and 16 -- Advent Vespers

OPEN FORUM & VOTERS' MEETING
THIS SUNDAY (November 22) after church, we will have an Open Forum to discuss congregational matters, both in prioritizing plans and in implementing them.  In order to make these plans and to actually carry them out, we need our members involved and engaged.  Included in our discussions will be: serving God's people amidst COVID challenges, a financial update for 2020, presentation of a proposed budget for 2021, a need for new windows and siding for the church, installation of a “little library” at the newly installed bench along Meadowbrook Road, highlighting the importance of our members to grow in the word and to go with the word, and election of Church Council officers.  If there are any other matters of importance, you may address them to Pastor Schroeder or to Dan Rauchholz.
While we hope to meet in person, we will also set up a Zoom link for people to be engaged from home.  If you are interested in receiving that link, please email the church at welsnovi@aol.com.

OFFICE HOURS
          Office hours are Monday-Thursday, 9:00 AM – Noon.  
          The pastor will be in his office unless a meeting has been scheduled elsewhere (consult the weekly schedule).  The pastor is also available by appointment.  Call or text (248-719-5218).  You may also email (welsnovi@aol.com), but the response may be slower.

CONCERNING PASTORAL CARE
        Besides Facebook Live and YouTube, you can find the pastor's sermons archived on this blog.  You can use the search bar to find a particular date, day of the Church Year, or Scripture reference.
        Pastor Schroeder will be available for private devotions, Holy Absolution, and Holy Communion to members in small groups or to individuals.  You may call to set up an appointment at any time.  Visits by appointment can be done either at church or at your home.
        If you want to ask for intercessions for loved ones, we will certainly remember them in our prayers, too.  If your loved one has no pastor, ask if they would like Pastor Schroeder to visit them.  

GOOD SHEPHERD ON YOUTUBE
         The service from November 15 is here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8-FOzQdpbY Feel free to share the videos.  For other services, do a search for "Good Shepherd Novi."  
         Bulletins for services can be downloaded from here (scroll down): 

OFFERINGS
While we may not be meeting for worship, we do have financial obligations to meet.  You may either mail your offering into Good Shepherd, or you can set up your offering to be transferred electronically from your bank.  If you are interested in the automatic transfer of funds for your offering, please contact the church at (248) 349-0565 or welsnovi@aol.com.

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

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

In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder
==============================
REGULAR SCHEDULE
DIVINE SERVICES -- Sundays at 10:00 AM  (We also stream on Facebook Live )
SUNDAY SCHOOL & ADULT BIBLE CLASS on Sundays at 8:45 AM.

THANKSGIVING SERVICE -- Wednesday, November 25, 7:00 PM

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE
www.GoodShepherdNovi.org

PASTOR SCHROEDER’S BLOG

www.LutheranSubject.blogspot.com 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Bible Matters -- The Canon of Scripture: How do we know these books are the right books?


Bible Matters, a Bible discussion group, meets on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM.  Our topic for Wednesday, November 18 will be –  The canon of Scripture: How do we know these books are the right books? 

If we are going to be confident saying, "This is what the Lord says," then we ought to be confident that the books we have in our Bible truly belong there.  A "canon" is a word that means cane or rod.  It is a standard of measurement.  If something is not straight, it does not line up with the cane and is rejected.  So, what is the standard for the books of the Bible?

>>> Some Bibles have 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.  Other Bibles add other books, known as the Apocrypha.  Are they Scripture or not?  

>>> Then there are other books which the early Christians knew.  Some Christians even considered them Scripture, others did not.  Do they belong or don't they?  

>>> Then there are books known as Gnostic Gospels.  They supply stories about Jesus' childhood.  They are rejected by the Christian Church.  Is that fair?

>>> Some charge the early Church with hiding some writings.  Others say that the Council of Nicea (325 AD) voted on what is in the New Testament and suppressed other writings that they did not like.  Is that true?

These are the questions we will discuss so that we establish a greater confidence in the words we teach, believe, and confess.  All are welcome.

If anyone wants to follow along on Zoom, contact the pastor (welsnovi@aol.com) and I will send you a link.  Your contribution to the discussion may have to be limited to the Chat feature.  

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Prayer for Saints Triumphant

Every year, we remember the names of loved ones who have died in the Christian faith, praising God for the mercy he has had upon them and thanking God for preserving them in that saving faith throughout their life.  Normally, the names of these departed souls are recalled in a prayer on All Saints' Day, which is November 1.  Good Shepherd will transfer this prayer and these remembrances to the 3rd Sunday of End Times which focuses on Saints Triumphant.  This year that falls on November 15.

  In addition to members of Good Shepherd who have been called to eternal rest, names have been submitted of loved ones who have died in the Christian faith between November 19, 2019 and November 15, 2020. 


PRAYER FOR SAINTS TRIUMPHANT

M: Almighty God, today we recall with thanksgiving those saints who were taken from us in the Church Militant and carried by the angels to you and the Church Triumphant.  Especially, we give you praise for our departed family and friends who have gone before us in faith and all those who are in our hearts and minds this day: 

(The names of those who are to be remembered are read.)

Samir Zayed, uncle of Norma Kirvan (October 17, 1937 – February 1, 2020)

Barbara Ann Sullivan (November 7, 1934 – February 29, 2020)

Paul Eugene Sullivan (January 22, 1938 – April 8, 2020)

Jerome Eugene Spaude, father of Cathy Mowers (September 1, 1928 – April 19, 2020)

Janet Lee Papson (September 13, 1952 – May 15, 2020)

Crystal Reisig, mother of Ken Reisig, (August 30, 1943 – August 8 2020)

Adolfine Janecke (November 11, 1924 – September 10, 2020)

Victor V. Voigt, father of Colleen Fadool (April 20, 1927 – October 3, 2020)

Ken Reisig, father of Ken Reisig, (September 15, 1940 – October 9, 2020)

Irvin Haase, grandfather of Paul Haase (March 2, 1922 – October 26, 2020) 

To these, you have granted eternal rest this past year.  We thank you for giving them new life in Christ while on this earth and for sustaining them in true and saving faith throughout their life.  We praise you for finally giving them the fulfillment of your promises of salvation and eternal life.  Strengthen and sustain us in this saving faith so that we may also join with the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven in joyful praise, peace, and rest forever; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Cong: Amen.

Sermon -- 3rd Sunday after End Times: Saints Triumphant (November 15, 2020)

1 THESSALONIANS 4:13-18

AN IMMORTAL SAVIOR MEANS AN IMPERISHABLE HOPE.

In the name + of Jesus.

      In today's Gospel, Jesus tells a parable about ten virgins.  They were the bridal party who were to attend the bride to her wedding banquet.  Their role was to wait for the groom who would come from his home in a procession to get his bride and then to bring her and all her party back to his home for the wedding banquet.  The middle of the night is an unusual time for the groom to come.  But even if his timing was unexpected, his arrival was worthy of celebration.  The bride and her attendants all rejoiced to see this blessed union.  All who entered the banquet hall enjoyed the sumptuous feast.  

     However, Jesus noted of the virgins, “Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.” (Matthew 25:2)  Now, we know the result of the five virgins being foolish.  Despite knowing about the feast, they were shut out.  And there was no admission, no matter how much they pleaded.  

     While there is much more we could glean from the Gospel lesson, the point I am making here is this: While they were waiting for the bridegroom, no one would have known the five foolish virgins were foolish.  There was no apparent difference between them and the five wise virgins.  They had been summoned by the bride.  They knew about the coming of the bridegroom.  They were chaste, after all they were virgins.  But it was not until the groom came that they were found to be foolish.  And then, it was too late.  The five virgins were proved foolish because they did not have any oil, which symbolizes the Holy Spirit, or faith.

     It is really not much different in our world today.  It does not seem like there is a remarkable difference between those who are wise for salvation and those who are foolish.  Chances are, no one is amazed at you because you are a Christian.  A Christian who goes to work and does his job well does not look any better than an unbeliever who does the same.  A Christian accountant, surgeon, mechanic, or hockey player usually does not appear different than anyone else.  It does not make you smarter, taller, or better looking.  Often times even our morals don't seem different—whether good or bad.  By outward appearances, the wise and the foolish, believers and unbelievers, often look the same. 

     It even appears the same when does comes.  No matter who you are, death brings a painful separation.  We know that all people die.  But what we know in our heads is much more cruel when we face it in reality.  Having a loved one ripped from you hurts.  The finality of death and burial cannot help but produce mourning and grief.  Being a Christian does not make you immune to pain or tears.  

     But you who are wise for salvation have a special comfort, peace, and joy when it comes to your fellow Christians who die in the faith.  An immortal Savior means an imperishable hope.  St. Paul wrote, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)  

     The Thessalonian Christians were going through a bit of a crisis about their loved ones who had died in the Christian faith.  Since they died and were buried, it was thought that they had lost out somehow on the glories of the life to come.  Their bodies were put into the graves for decay, not glory.  But those who die in the Lord lose nothing.  They may be taken from us, but they are never lost.  

     When we must bury our loved ones, we cannot help but grieve.  But, St. Paul reminds us, we do not grieve like people who have no hope.  An immortal Savior means an imperishable hope.  This hope provides comfort in times of grief, and peace when death unsettles us.  What is our hope?  St. Paul says: “We believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14)  Jesus rescued us from damnation by enduring damnation in our place.  Our sins were placed on Jesus, and he gave himself up as the holy sacrifice which atones for sins.  Jesus' body was not put into the grave for decay, but for glory.  On the third day, Jesus rose from the grave.  His resurrection not only proves that his sacrifice is sufficient to pay for all of your sins, it also proves that Jesus is Lord over death and the grave.  Jesus is risen, and can never die again.  The grave must answer to Jesus.  This is why those who die believing in Jesus are not lost.  An immortal Savior means an imperishable hope.

     Those who die in Christ lose nothing.  They live; for their souls have gone to be with Jesus.  But our Lord never created us to be just souls.  We were given bodies to live in—not just on earth but also in heavenly glory.  God the Son took on a human body to save us.  He died and his body was buried to sanctify the grave.  At his resurrection, Jesus did not shed his body.  To this day and for all eternity, Jesus is fully God and fully man.  Your body and blood Savior has redeemed you, soul and body.   The point of death and resurrection is not to shed your humanity.  Rather, it is to have your humanity exalted.  Jesus will raise you and all the saints up to be the people God had originally created you to be, so that you will live without sickness and sorrow, frustration and devastation, disease or death.  The Church confesses, “We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come” (Nicene Creed).  These are the things we hope for because these are the things Jesus won for us.  An immortal Savior means an imperishable hope.

     Now listen to what is in store for those who have died in Christ.  “For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-16)    

     When Jesus comes again, he will give the signal and all who are in their graves will come out, believer and unbeliever alike.  No one will be omitted—not the atheist, not those buried at sea, not those cremated, not even the likes of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, whose ashes were launched into space.  Jesus is Lord of death and the grave, and at his command, all will be gathered before him.  St. Paul, however, does not concern himself here with the unbelievers.  He focuses on the Christian hope, which is the resurrection to life everlasting.  And an immortal Savior means an imperishable hope.

     On the Last Day, at the trumpet call, those who died in the Christian faith will be raised from the dead.  Those who died by disease will be raised incorruptible.  Those who died in an accident will be raised imperishable.  Those who were weak and frail will be raised with power.  Those who were put to shame for the sake of Jesus will be raised in glory.  And nothing can take away from them the glorious and eternal life Jesus has promised them.  Though the world may have regarded them as fools, the Holy Spirit made them wise for salvation and united them to Jesus who is the resurrection and the life.  Even though they died in this faith, they live with the Lord.  And they will be raised with their glorified bodies never to die again, just as it was with Jesus.  No matter what anyone says about you or does to you, no matter what frustrations and hardships you have to face in this world, even in the face of death itself, nothing takes away your hope.  For Jesus lives and reigns.  An immortal Savior means an imperishable hope.

     As he promised, Jesus is coming again.  Perhaps you will taste death before he comes.  Maybe you will still be alive at his coming.  Either way, those who are Christ's redeemed will not miss out on anything.  If you die, you will be raised up in glory with all the saints who have passed before us.  If you are still alive at Jesus' coming, your body will be transformed from flawed and weak to glorious holiness.  This is not spiritual babble said to make you feel better about dying.  No, as St. Paul said: “This we declare to you by a word from the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15)  Your hope is based on the promises of God—guaranteed by the death and resurrection of Jesus, sealed upon you through God's word and sacraments.  Therefore, this hope cannot be stolen or even cheapened by death, hell, or the devil.  For we have an imperishable hope, thanks to an immortal Savior.

     So, what makes the saints triumphant and joyful?  This: “We will always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17)  We will be with him who is the source of life and love.  We will be with him who is mercy and peace.  We will be free from every form of evil, sorrow, pain, and frustration.  For, we will be with Jesus.  If he loved us enough to die for us when we were sinners, how much more will he delight in his saints!  How great is the victory, the peace, and the life of the saints who have gone before us.  And how great is our joy that we will be reunited with them and will join with Jesus at the wedding feast of the Lamb!  “Therefore, encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18)  For, an immortal Savior means an imperishable hope.  

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

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Update from Good Shepherd (November 12, 2020)

 Greetings!

DIVINE SERVICES
      For information on what you can expect when you come to church and what will be expected of you, see this link.
        Services will still be broadcast on Facebook Live, Sundays at 10:00 AM, and uploaded to YouTube.   Share our services and invite friends to tune in.

FALL SCHEDULE
Divine Services are at 10:00 AM on Sundays. 
Sunday School is on Sundays at 8:45 AM.
Adult Bible Class is on Sundays at 8:45 AM.  We are starting a series on Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The schedule can be found at this link.
Catechism Class is on Wednesdays at 3:30 PM. 
Bible Matters, a discussion group, is on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM.  Topics coming up:
Nov 18 –  The canon of Scripture: Can we be sure we have the right books in the Bible? 
Nov 25 –  Thanksgiving service 
If anyone wants to follow along on Zoom, contact the pastor (welsnovi@aol.com) and I will send you a link.  Your contribution to the discussion may have to be limited to the Chat feature. 

LAST CALL -- NAMES FOR REMEMBERANCE ON SAINTS' TRIUMPHANT
Names should be submitted by Noon today!!!
Every year, we remember the names of loved ones who have died in the Christian faith, praising God for the mercy he has had upon them and thanking God for preserving them in that saving faith throughout their life.  Normally, the names of these departed souls are recalled in a prayer on All Saints' Day, which is November 1.  Good Shepherd will transfer this prayer and these remembrances to the 3rd Sunday of End Times which focuses on Saints Triumphant.
  In addition to members of Good Shepherd who have been called to eternal rest, you may submit the names of your own loved ones who have died in the Christian faith between November 17, 2019 and November 15, 2020.  

OPEN FORUM & VOTERS' MEETING
On Sunday, November 22 after church, we will have an Open Forum to discuss congregational matters, both in prioritizing plans and in implementing them.  In order to make these plans and to actually carry them out, we need our members involved and engaged.  Included in our discussions will be: serving God's people amidst COVID challenges, a financial update for 2020, presentation of a proposed budget for 2021, a need for new windows and siding for the church, installation of a “little library” at the newly installed bench along Meadowbrook Road, highlighting the importance of our members to grow in the word and to go with the word, and election of Church Council officers.  If there are any other matters of importance, you may address them to Pastor Schroeder or to Dan Rauchholz.
While we hope to meet in person, we will also set up a Zoom link for people to be engaged from home.  If you are interested in receiving that link, please email the church at welsnovi@aol.com.

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Married Student Assistance
Annually, Good Shepherd has been participating with the WELS congregations throughout Michigan for a food drive for the married students at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, alleviating their expenses while they study for the ministry and take care of their families.  COVID-19 has made the collection of food prohibitive; the Seminary is not accepting such donations.  Instead, they have asked us to take a monetary collection which will be exchanged for gift cards to be handed out to the students.  Checks can be made out to “Good Shepherd” (designate it: Seminary), and we will send in one check from our congregation to Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.  Your contributions are appreciated by these students and their families.

HURON VALLEY LUTHERAN HIGH SCHOOL
Support HVL with our annual Wreath and Poinsettia Sale!  Orders are due TOMORROW, November 13th!  Click Here to Order – https://hvlbc.ejoinme.org/wreathsale
          All of our poinsettias are wrapped with a gold cover and wreaths are handmade at Schwartz's Nursery and Greenhouse with premium evergreen boughs. Wreaths and Poinsettias will be delivered to HVL on Monday, November 23rd. Orders can be picked up at HVL on Monday anytime after 12pm. If special pick up arrangements are needed, please contact the school office. Questions, please contact the school office at 734-525-0160 or mail@hvlhs.org.

OFFICE HOURS
Office hours are Monday-Thursday, 9:00 AM – Noon.  
The pastor will be in his office unless a meeting has been scheduled elsewhere (consult the weekly schedule).  The pastor is also available by appointment.  Call or text (248-719-5218).  You may also email (welsnovi@aol.com), but the response may be slower.

CONCERNING PASTORAL CARE
        Besides Facebook Live and YouTube, you can find the pastor's sermons archived on this blog.  You can use the search bar to find a particular date, day of the Church Year, or Scripture reference.
        Pastor Schroeder will be available for private devotions, Holy Absolution, and Holy Communion to members in small groups or to individuals.  You may call to set up an appointment at any time.  Visits by appointment can be done either at church or at your home.
        If you want to ask for intercessions for loved ones, we will certainly remember them in our prayers, too.  If your loved one has no pastor, ask if they would like Pastor Schroeder to visit them.  

GOOD SHEPHERD ON YOUTUBE
         The service from October 11 did not record, but there are a number of services posted on YouTube to peruse.  Feel free to share the videos.  For other services, do a search for "Good Shepherd Novi."  
         Bulletins for services can be downloaded from here (scroll down): 

OFFERINGS
While we may not be meeting for worship, we do have financial obligations to meet.  You may either mail your offering into Good Shepherd, or you can set up your offering to be transferred electronically from your bank.  If you are interested in the automatic transfer of funds for your offering, please contact the church at (248) 349-0565 or welsnovi@aol.com.

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

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

In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder
==============================
REGULAR SCHEDULE
DIVINE SERVICES -- Sundays at 10:00 AM  (We also stream on Facebook Live )
SUNDAY SCHOOL & ADULT BIBLE CLASS on Sundays at 8:45 AM.
BIBLE MATTERS, a discussion group, on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM.

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE