Thursday, December 1, 2022

Favorite Christmas Hymns collected by Forward In Christ magazine

Here is a neat article for you to check out.  

Forward in Christ magazine, the official magazine of the WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod).  They asked for people to submit their favorite Christmas hymns and to share memories of them.  While there are four pages in the magazine dedicated to this, there were many more submissions than they had room for.  So, they put together this digital presentation.  Enjoy.

Favorite Christmas Hymns – FORWARD IN CHRIST

Update from Good Shepherd (December 1, 2022)

Greetings!

REGULAR SCHEDULE

Divine Service is Sundays at 10:00 AM.
Sunday School and Adult Bible Class are on Sundays at 9:00 AM.
Bible Matters will resume in January 2023.

For a calendar of events and meetingsclick here.

ADVENT VESPERS
          You can check out the scheduled topics here.
          The services are Wednesdays -- December 7; and December 14.
          A supper will be served at 6:00 PM.  Vespers begins at 7:00 PM.

PRIVATE CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION
          This will be offered on Thursday, December 1.  UPDATE: It will be from 7:00 - 9:00 PM.  There will be no need to make an appointment.  Since this rite is unfamiliar to many American Lutherans, the pastor will walk you through the rite before it is observed.  For an explanation of Private Confession & Absolution, see this post.

JEREMIAH, THE WEEPING PROPHET
          Our current series for Adult Bible Class is the book of Jeremiah.  Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet because, although he was faithful in his service as God’s prophet, he was grieved at the rebellion of God’s people and, eventually, at the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the place where God had put his name.
          God’s people of all time do well to heed calls to repentance so that we do not lose the gifts God is eager to give. Therefore, we will hear Jeremiah preach to us and humbly take to heart his words of repentance and his words of promise.
          The schedule for this class can be found here.  

VOTERS’ MEETING HIGHLIGHTS
          On Sunday, November 20, Good Shepherd voted to purchase the newest hymnal from our synod, along with all the books that support its usage.
          We adopted a budget for 2023.  A copy can be given to you upon your request.

EVERY MEMBER VISITS – 2022
          Every 3-4 years, the pastor desires to meet with all members in their homes.  It is an opportunity to speak with each other in a less-than-formal setting. The pastor gets to know the people he serves better. It also allows for members to ask about matters that might be personal, to offer suggestions and ideas, to inquire about matters of the Bible that have them confused, or just general chit-chat. Visits would be about 45-60 minutes but can last longer if you want them to. You can also sign up through the links below.  Time slots are first come, first served.  We are down to only two months in 2022.
          A December calendar will be sent out shortly.

CHRISTMAS FOR KIDS will be cancelled this year.


STOCKINGS FOR VETERANS
          The Ladies group decided to once again stuff stockings for veterans and active duty military members this year. A list of suggested items for the stockings, as well as what cannot be included, is posted at church.  If you need to know what is on the list, email welsnovi@aol.com . We are planning to stuff the stockings on December 4th immediately after church.

BAKE SALE
          The Ladies of Good Shepherd will hosting a bake sale on Sunday, December 4.  After stuffing the stockings for veterans, look for a plate of sweets to take home for your holiday munching.

CHURCH DECORATION
     In conjunction with the bake sale on Sunday, December 4, we will be decorating the church for Christmas.  The tree will have been put up, but we will be hanging ornaments and putting other decorations around the church.  All are welcome to join us.
 
GOOD SHEPHERD ON YOUTUBE
Services are uploaded to YouTube each week, usually the Monday after the service. Feel free to share the videos. Here is the service from Sunday, November 27: (38) Good Shepherd Novi, Divine Service, November 27, 2022 - YouTube

New Mission Opportunity in Taylor
          The Board for Home Missions has identified Taylor as a possible start for a new congregation. We have done a significant amount of research and the results are positive to further the search. We are asking for people who are willing to form a core group in the Taylor area. If you have any interest or questions, please contact Tom Metzger at 734-406-4506 or email at tfmetzger@gmail.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.

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 are on Sundays at 10:00 AM.
Sunday School and Adult Bible Class are on Sundays at 9:00 AM.
Bible Matters 
will resume in January 2023

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE
www.GoodShepherdNovi.org

PASTOR SCHROEDER’S BLOG
www.LutheranSubject.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Sermon -- Advent Vespers: Week 1 (November 30, 2022)

LUKE 1:5-25

THAT YOU MAY BE CERTAIN ABOUT THE THINGS YOU HAVE BEEN TAUGHT --Certain That God Means What He Says.

In the name + of Jesus.

     There was a priest named Zechariah.  Although his main job was to serve as an intercessor for the people of Israel, he would also have been a pastor.  Part of the duties of the priests was to teach the people according to the Law of Moses.  Zechariah would instruct people regarding the holy and the common, the clean and the unclean.  According to St. Luke, both Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth took God’s word seriously.  St. Luke recorded, “They were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (Luke 1:6). 

     If Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous before God, that means they trusted the promises of God.  By faith, they stood justified before God.  If Zechariah and Elizabeth walked blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord, that means they were careful to avoid sin and to pursue godliness in their words and actions.  They not only took God’s promises seriously, they also took his commandments seriously.  God had preserved this couple in faithfulness their whole lives long.  Still, there was one blessing he had withheld from them.  Despite fervent and frequent prayers, “they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years” (Luke 1:7).

     The Lord’s priests worked on a rotation basis. Each priest was to come to Jerusalem and serve in the temple for a month. During that month, the priests who were eligible were to present themselves for burning incense in the temple in the holy place. The lot was cast, and one priest was selected for what would almost certainly be a once in a lifetime privilege. The lot fell to Zechariah. He entered the holy place, most likely at the evening sacrifice, to serve before the Lord.

     What was an opportunity turned into an astounding encounter.  If burning incense was a once in a lifetime event, this encounter with an angel was unheard of perhaps since the days of Daniel, some 500 years.  There appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.  … The angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John’” (Luke 1:11,13).  What must have been Zechariah’s reaction to this announcement?  “My prayer?!?  We accepted God’s answer to that years ago!  Now we shall have a son???  Why now?”

     The angel continued and answered such curiosity.  “Many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord.   … He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared” (Luke 1:14-17).  In other words, John would be the fulfillment of God’s promise through Malachi.  It had been four hundred years since God made that promise, and then God went silent.  There were no more promises, no more prophets.  But now, because the time had fully come, God would keep his word.  St. Luke recorded this so that you can be certain that God takes his word seriously.

      Zechariah was skeptical.  He did not doubt that the angelic vision was real.  He did not wonder if he was in his right mind.  Rather, he engaged the angel in honest conversation.  “Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How shall I know this?  For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years’” (Luke 1:18). 

     I suppose we could give Zechariah a pass for his skepticism. After all, this vision and this message defied the natural order of things. Zechariah questioned God’s ability to carry out what he had promised. The angel assured Zechariah that God can do whatever pleases him. “The angel answered him, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time’” (Luke 1:19-20).  Zechariah had asked for a sign: “How shall I know this” (Luke 1:18)? And Zechariah got a sign. Since he did not believe the word of the Lord, he would have no words to speak until God’s promises were fulfilled. Zechariah may have been uncertain about Gabriel’s message, but Gabriel made him certain that God takes his word seriously.

     If you have ever needed motivation to take God and his word seriously, then know that God sure does.  Every commandment is divine direction to love and to do good.  Now, no one will dispute that we are to love others and to do good to them.  But people do not take God seriously when he tells us what is good and what is not.  And people do not take God seriously when he tells us that love for his word is to guide the way we love other people.  Love does not give approval to whatever makes people happy.  Some people are happy to steal from you.  Some people are happy to gossip about you.  Some people are happy to cheat on their wives.  Love does not condone or celebrate them for finding what makes them happy. 

     Many would reply, “Yeah, well those things hurt other people.  That’s why they are bad.  What about things that don’t hurt anyone else?  Why are they bad?”  But this line of thinking already shows that people do not take God’s word seriously.  For example, Jesus taught, Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28)!  Jesus did not say, “Blessed are you as long as you don’t hurt other people.”  His blessing rests on those who hear his word, take it seriously, and follow it—whether other people are watching or not.  If you are nice to your fellow man but despise God and his word, how can God’s blessing rest upon you?  God takes his word seriously, which first and foremost means: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only you shall serve” (Luke 4:8).

     God directs us to what is good, and love holds fast to that.  Love will also move us to call people to repent who defy God’s word because we do not want people to fall under God’s wrath for their sins.  We do nobody favors by letting them think that their happiness is the highest good when they defy God’s word.  Now, some people will refuse to take God’s word seriously no matter how much we implore them to do so.  You can’t stop everyone from sinning.  You can’t make everyone take God’s word seriously.  But you: Be certain that God does take his word seriously so that you do not suffer the judgment that proves it.

      Zechariah sinned against God by questioning if God could do what he promised. Sometimes, we sin by insisting that God will do something he did not promise.  This is a confusion about what God can do versus what God will do.  The Psalms remind us, Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3).  So, God can do whatever he wants.  God can put an end to all gun violence.  God can put an end to cancer.  God can make you a millionaire.  God could make it rain M&M’s if he wanted to.  But that does not mean he will do it.  So, when we fault God because he does not do something he can do, we are not taking his word seriously. 

     When Zechariah questioned that Elizabeth would conceive and bear a son, Zechariah challenged a clear word of God.  God not only could cause Elizabeth to get pregnant, he said he would do it.  We recognize that God can bring about amazing events and bring an end to terrible events.  But unless God tells us that he will do it, we dare not fault God for failing to do it.  We do not understand why God does what he does.  He often does not tell us why he does what he does, and he does not owe us an answer.  What God does promise us is this: “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28).  That does not mean we will know how it is good or that it will feel good.  We simply trust that whatever God is doing, he is doing it for our eternal welfare, even when it is painful or costly.  Faith is being certain that God takes his word seriously even when evidence suggests otherwise.

     “The people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple.  And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple.  And he kept making signs to them and remained mute” (Luke 1:21-22).  You can imagine the confusion of the worshipers who were waiting a little long for Zechariah to complete his duties.  When he finally exited the temple, he was unable to proclaim the Lord’s blessing upon the people because he was mute.  Yes, God had taken his word seriously.  He wanted Zechariah and all the people certain that he does.  Zechariah was a sign to them that God is serious when he says something.

     The son to be born to Zechariah and Elizabeth was to be named John.  It means, “The Lord is gracious.”  John would come to prepare people for God’s gracious salvation.  The Lord himself would come in human flesh to deliver people out of their sins.  Jesus would make himself the sacrifice which atones for the times we have challenged God’s love, questioned God’s wisdom, or did not take his word seriously enough to follow it.  Jesus would come to pay for all sins—everything from us finding fault with God to all the faults God finds in us. 

     While it is true that God is serious about everything he says and God is serious about the judgment against all who defy him, God is equally serious about your salvation.  God is serious enough about your salvation that he comes in person to achieve it.  After all, that is what was promised.  And God is serious about what he says.  So that you may be certain of the things you have been taught, St. Luke and the other Gospel writers record what Jesus said and did to fulfill everything.  In this way, you are not merely certain about the historical events as they unfolded, you are also certain about the forgiveness of your sins, the resurrection of your body, and the everlasting glory that Jesus is preparing for you.

     The day will come when God will put an end to all pain, all toil, all sorrow, all loss and all death.  He will make everything new and keep everything perfect.  This will not happen because we think it is a good idea; it will happen because God has promised it.  God is serious about what he says, and he says it so that you can be certain of it, confident in it, and comforted by it.

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

YouTube -- 1st Sunday of Advent (November 27, 2022)

Here is the service from Sunday, November 27, 2022.  It was led by Good Shepherd's elders.  Thank you for covering for me while I was away at my father's funeral.



Thursday, November 24, 2022

Private Confession & Absolution -- Thursday, December 1 (6:30 - 8:30 PM)

          Private confession and absolution will be available at church from 6:30 - 8:30 PM on Thursday, December 1. 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. 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 day around Epiphany (Epiphany is always January 6)
               The Monday of Holy Week
               A day around Labor Day weekend
               A day after Thanksgiving weekend 

          The next scheduled date and time for Private Confession and Absolution will be Thursday, December 1, 6:30-8:30 PM. 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.

Update from Good Shepherd (November 24, 2022)

Greetings!

REGULAR SCHEDULE

Divine Service is Sundays at 10:00 AM.
Sunday School and Adult Bible Class are on Sundays at 9:00 AM.
Bible Matters will resume in January 2023.

For a calendar of events and meetingsclick here.

ADVENT VESPERS BEGINS
          You can check out the scheduled topics here.
          The services are Wednesdays -- November 30; December 7; and December 14.
          A supper will be served at 6:00 PM.  Vespers begins at 7:00 PM.

PRIVATE CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION
          This will be offered on Thursday, December 1 from 6:30 - 8:00 PM.  There will be no need to make an appointment.  Since this rite is unfamiliar to many American Lutherans, the pastor will walk you through the rite before it is observed.  For an explanation of Private Confession & Absolution, see this post.

JEREMIAH, THE WEEPING PROPHET
          Our current series for Adult Bible Class is the book of Jeremiah.  Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet because, although he was faithful in his service as God’s prophet, he was grieved at the rebellion of God’s people and, eventually, at the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the place where God had put his name.
          God’s people of all time do well to heed calls to repentance so that we do not lose the gifts God is eager to give. Therefore, we will hear Jeremiah preach to us and humbly take to heart his words of repentance and his words of promise.
          The schedule for this class can be found here.  

VOTERS’ MEETING HIGHLIGHTS
          On Sunday, November 20, Good Shepherd voted to purchase the newest hymnal from our synod, along with all the books that support its usage.
          We adopted a budget for 2023.  A copy can be given to you upon your request.

EVERY MEMBER VISITS – 2022
          Every 3-4 years, the pastor desires to meet with all members in their homes.  It is an opportunity to speak with each other in a less-than-formal setting. The pastor gets to know the people he serves better. It also allows for members to ask about matters that might be personal, to offer suggestions and ideas, to inquire about matters of the Bible that have them confused, or just general chit-chat. Visits would be about 45-60 minutes but can last longer if you want them to. You can also sign up through the links below.  Time slots are first come, first served.  We are down to only two months in 2022.

CHRISTMAS FOR KIDS will be cancelled this year.


STOCKINGS FOR VETERANS
          The Ladies group decided to once again stuff stockings for veterans and active duty military members this year. A list of suggested items for the stockings, as well as what cannot be included, is posted at church.  If you need to know what is on the list, email welsnovi@aol.com . We are planning to stuff the stockings on December 4th immediately after church.

BAKE SALE
          The Ladies of Good Shepherd will hosting a bake sale on Sunday, December 4.  After stuffing the stockings for veterans, look for a plate of sweets to take home for your holiday munching.
 
GOOD SHEPHERD ON YOUTUBE
Services are uploaded to YouTube each week, usually the Monday after the service. Feel free to share the videos. Here is the service from Sunday, November 20: (30) Good Shepherd Novi, Divine Service, November 20, 2022 - YouTube

New Mission Opportunity in Taylor
          The Board for Home Missions has identified Taylor as a possible start for a new congregation. We have done a significant amount of research and the results are positive to further the search. We are asking for people who are willing to form a core group in the Taylor area. If you have any interest or questions, please contact Tom Metzger at 734-406-4506 or email at tfmetzger@gmail.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.

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

==============================

REGUARL SCHEDULE
DIVINE SERVICES are on Sundays at 10:00 AM.
Sunday School and Adult Bible Class are on Sundays at 9:00 AM.
Bible Matters 
will resume in January 2023

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE
www.GoodShepherdNovi.org

PASTOR SCHROEDER’S BLOG
www.LutheranSubject.blogspot.com