Thursday, July 29, 2021

VBS 2021 and A Hot Air Balloon

Our 2021 VBS wrapped up last night after our three nights.  The adults talked about knowing who the true God is, how we can know what God wants, and how to be sure we know God's word when we hear it.  The children had a different session entitled, "Soaring High."  It used a hot air balloon as its logo for the theme.  

Spring boarding off that theme, we made the most of our congregational connections.  A special thanks to Jeanette Schneider and the RE/MAX people for providing the hot air balloon.  They blew it up and let the kids get a real close look at it.  They weren't able to give rides, but they did explain the strategies used for flying in a hot air balloon.  It also enabled us to meet some of our neighbors who were, understandably, drawn over to see what was going on.  Ice cream treats were also available.

Here are some photos.





Update from Good Shepherd (July 29, 2021)

Greetings!

SUMMER 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, Adult Bible Class, and Bible Matters will resume in September.


GOOD SHEPHERD 40TH ANNIVERSARY BOOK
         A pictorial retrospective of Good Shepherd has been produced and is at church. You are welcome to look through it. While there are many photos, there is also a lot of information about the history of the congregation. So, if you look at it, you will probably not be able to read through all the articles. The copy at church will be placed in Good Shepherd’s library, but you may want your own copy. We will contact Shutterfly to see what kind of discounted rate we can get for a bulk order. (Without discounts, the books runs well over $100.) We will see how many are interested in a copy, understanding that you may change your mind if the cost ends up being too high.

WINDOWS AND SIDING
         Our congregation signed a contract with Kerns Brothers to replace the windows and siding on the church. The total cost of the project is about $62,500, and through June our generous offerings have raised $33,250 for the project. In the May Council meeting the final $7,192 in the Alice Laho Trust memorial was added to the Windows & Siding Fund to increase total available funds to $40,442. That leaves us with $22,058 needed to completely fund the project. Should it be necessary, we have applied for a loan through Lutheran Association for Church Extension (LACE). Council members are currently weighing the merits of possibly using some of our existing savings in lieu of paying the costs associated with borrowing. Your thoughtful consideration for a gift toward this project is appreciated.


SUMMER OFFICE HOURS
          Between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, Pastor Schroeder’s office hours will be a bit more sporadic than usual. To ensure his availability, it is best to make an appointment. He will remain available by phone or text (248-719-5218). You may also email (welsnovi@aol.com), but the response may be slower.

GOOD SHEPHERD ON YOUTUBE
         Feel free to share the videos.  For other services, do a search for "Good Shepherd Novi."  The service from Sunday, July 25 is here: (3) Good Shepherd Novi, Divine Service - July 25, 2021 - YouTube
         Bulletins for services can be downloaded from here (scroll down): 

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
==============================
SUMMER SCHEDULE
DIVINE SERVICES -- Sundays at 10:00 AM (also on Facebook Live )

Sunday School, Adult Bible Class, and Bible Matters will resume in September.

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE
www.GoodShepherdNovi.org


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

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Sermon -- Festival of St. James the Greater (July 25, 2021)

MARK 10:35-45

GLORY COMES ONLY BY GOD’S GRACE.

In the name + of Jesus.

     Our Lord does many things that we do not understand.  Why does a tornado destroy one house and leave the house next door without a scratch?  Why does one part of the country suffer a drought when another part assesses flood damage?  Why does God allow evil and wickedness to go on without a crushing response to it?  Occasionally, we can guess why God does what he does.  But Satan often uses our guesses against us.  It often results in charging God with wrong-doing.  The Bible reminds us, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3), but he doesn’t always tell us why.

     I have often wondered why Jesus chose Peter, James, and John to be the three who were privileged to witness some of the most intimate and majestic moments of Jesus’ ministry.  Peter, James, and John were privy to the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead.  They were the limited audience of Jesus’ transfiguration.  They were the only three apostles who were summoned by Jesus farther into the Garden of Gethsemane to keep watch and pray with him before his betrayal.  Now, I can guess why Jesus chose Peter and John.  Peter was the leader among the apostles.  John ended up being the longest surviving apostle.  Peter and John both wrote books we have in the New Testament.  But James the Elder?  We have no book written by him.  (The epistle of James was written by a different James.)  We have no sermon preached by him.  He was the first of the Twelve to be martyred, so his time as an apostle was relatively short.  So, why was James in the inner circle of the apostles?  At best, I can guess; but I don’t know.

     Perhaps James’ privileged position is what motivated his request for glory.  James and John were nicknamed ‘Sons of Thunder’ because of their boldness.  They certainly were bold with their request for prominence.  All the apostles had debated amongst themselves which one of them was the greatest.  Instead of continuing to argue for greatness, James and John went to Jesus to ask for it.  They “said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’  And he said to them, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’  And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory’” (Mark 10:35-37).  It took a great deal of nerve to exalt themselves over the other apostles.  Was this out of line, or was this brilliant?  Was their request arrogant or savvy?  I guess it depends whom you ask.  The other apostles were incensed.  Each one was convinced that he was deserving of such glory.  And there is the danger.  Whenever we convince ourselves we deserve something, we are outraged when we don’t get it, and we are seldom grateful when we do.  

     There is a great difference between what we need, what we want, and what we deserve.  What we need is really very simple.  We need food and water, clothing, and shelter.  These don’t have to be lavish, either.  As long as we have food and water and clothing and shelter, that is enough.  Nevertheless, we long for more.  Our God is generous.  He provides us with what we need in abundance and variety.  And God does not even play favorites.  Jesus reminds us that God the Father makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).  God always provides what we need.  But we are discontent.  Even when we have abundance and variety, we get bored with it and crave newer and better.  Our wants are never satisfied.  What makes it even worse is that we are convinced we deserve it.

     When tragedy strikes, we recognize that this is not the way life is supposed to be.  Planes are not supposed to crash.  Viruses are not supposed to invade our bodies.  Rain is supposed to water the earth, not destroy property or take lives.  We pray for protection of such things when we pray, “Deliver us from evil.”  But we often become bitter when tragedies occur because we believe we deserve better.  We believe we should be rewarded because we are good.  To conclude that, we have to disregard our sins—the fact that we are stingy to the needy despite our abundance, or that we are jealous of others for their blessings while we are thoughtless of our own.  It is right for us to confess our sins so that we do not forget ourselves.  It is necessary to remind ourselves each week that that we deserve God’s punishment both now and in eternity.  We need to acknowledge that we do not deserve glory or even good.  We are sinners; we deserve wrath and punishment.  For the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

     James the Elder, along with his brother, felt he was worthy of higher honor than his fellow apostles.  I am sure he could cite reasons.  But he was wrong.  His place as Jesus’ apostle was neither earned nor deserved.  His place in the kingdom of God was neither earned nor deserved.  If God gives all his gifts by grace, no one has a right to expect better.  Glory comes only by grace.

     The other apostles were outraged.  “When the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John” (Mark 10:41).  Jesus used this selfish jockeying as an opportunity to talk about what the kingdom of God is.  He alerted James that suffering and death were in Jesus’ future.  The cup he would drink was suffering.  The baptism was being engulfed in God’s fiery judgment.  When James boasted that, for the sake of glory, he could take it, Jesus forewarned that this would, indeed, be his future.  James would suffer at the hands of wicked men.  He would be refined in God’s fire.  But whatever glory there would be would still be God’s gracious act.  Jesus declared, “To sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared” (Mark 10:40).  Glory comes only by grace. 

     As it turned out, those who were on Jesus’ right and left when he entered his glory were criminals.  For, the glory of Jesus is that “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  Jesus’ glory was displayed at the cross where he suffered and died for sinners.  Jesus’ innocence atones for our guilt.  For us who jockey and scheme for glory and demand it of others, Jesus was put to shame.  We want to wrap ourselves in glory.  Jesus was stripped naked and beaten to a bloody mess.  We want to hear our praises sung by others and get insulted when it is not heard enough.  Jesus suffered in silence as he was insulted and slandered by wicked men.  Jesus did not deserve death and damnation, but he endured it for us who do.  This is the ransom price to redeem you.  This is the cost to pay for your sins.  The Son of God gave himself into death for you so that death could receive its full wages.  The Lord of glory lowered himself to a cursed death to save us who have earned that curse.  So now, you, dear Christian, are set free from all charges and condemnation.  Even more than this, thanks to Jesus, you shall receive grace on top of grace.  You are declared a child of God already, and you will receive a glorious inheritance that will never perish, spoil, or fade.  Your glory comes only by God’s grace.

     St. James the Elder was told by Jesus, “To sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared” (Mark 10:40).  When those criminals were crucified on Jesus’ right and his left, each had a different idea about himself.  One criminal went to his grave believing that he deserved better.  He died in prideful sin and is eternally lost.  The other criminal acknowledged that death and condemnation are what he deserved.  By grace, he was saved by Jesus.  It is no different for you and me, for John and for James.  If we will not be saved by grace, there is no salvation.  The ransom Jesus paid is not because we deserve it, but because we could not be saved without it.  Glory comes only by God’s grace.  

     James the Elder learned that glory in the kingdom of God is not like the glory which is sought in the world.  Jesus explained, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  But it shall not be so among you.  But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10:42-44).  In the world, glory is not only taken, it is also flaunted.  Worldly glory, once it is gained, must be forced upon others so that people don’t forget where power lies.  Those who don’t have it seek overthrow those who have it, and those who have it will crush the ones who seek it.

     “But it shall not be so among you” (Mark 10:43).  In the kingdom of God, glory is not about who is on top.  Glory is about who stoops low to serve.  God created us to love others.  So, the glory of man is not that he shows others who’s boss, but that he serves them.  The glory of a man is that he acts as a leader who protects and provides first for his wife and family and then for society at large.  The glory of a mother is that she cares for her children and usually with little thanks for it.  The glory of a firefighter is that he risks his safety to rescue people from burning buildings before he puts the fire out.  The glory of a judge is ensuring a fair application of the law for every person who stands before him.  Whatever your vocation is, its glory is not the praise you get for doing it; it is first of all that you do it out of love for God and in accordance with his word, and then that you do it for the good of others.  In this way, if your labors are unappreciated, unnoticed, or even mocked, they are still good and God-pleasing.  Glory comes by the grace you show to others.

     All the apostles learned the lesson Jesus taught.  They drank the cup which was given to Jesus—suffering for the sake of the kingdom.  They were baptized with the baptism Jesus underwent.  They were refined by God’s discipline, purged of desires for personal glory.  Although you are not an apostle, God calls you to bear the same cross for the same reasons.  Glory comes only by grace.

     The apostles, once they were no longer full of themselves, could be filled with God’s grace.  In this way, they devoted themselves to proclaiming the glories Jesus has won for sinners.  They did not do it because it made them rich, famous, or popular.  In fact, preaching the Gospel made their lives much harder.  Almost all of them died violent deaths at the hands of wicked men, and James the Elder was the first to suffer martyrdom for Jesus.  For their courageous and faithful preaching, these men gained nothing.  Their glory still came by grace—won by Jesus and granted freely by him.  This is the same grace which saves you.  It is the grace which allows you to serve for the glory of God, for the good of your fellow man, and not for the sake of your ego.  And it is this grace which assures you of glory that will never fade or end.

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

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Update from Good Shepherd (July 22, 2021))

Greetings!

SUMMER 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, Adult Bible Class, and Bible Matters will resume in September.


FAMILY VBS IS NEXT WEEK! – July 26-28; 6:30-8:00 PM
          We will be offering a Vacation Bible School for the whole family to partake in. It will be Monday – Wednesday evenings. The children will have their own materials that they will enjoy. The theme will is “Soaring High.”  Register here and let others know where to find us!
          Adults will have a different topic. We will work under the theme, “Finding God.” It is designed for all levels of interest in the Bible and religion in general. We will consider how various religious speak about God, how the true God reveals himself, and how to be sure what we know about God is true and helpful. We will consider what is trustworthy and untrustworthy when it comes to knowing God’s will for us. 
          While our Family VBS will meet in person, we also recognized that many people seemed to prefer a drive-through arrangement of picking up materials for their children and working through them at home. Since it was so well-received, we will try to offer the same thing with our Family VBS. Look for the drive through date and time soon.
          Wednesday will conclude with an ice cream social.  We are also hoping for a fly-by by the RE/MAX hot air balloon (weather permitting) on Wednesday.  Lawn games and refreshments will be available each night after our classes.  Invite friends to join us!

WAYS YOU CAN SERVE
1)  VBS Drive-Through (Saturday, July 19, 8:30-11:00 AM)
     The drive-through option to pick up materials to do the lessons and crafts at home was very popular with Easter for Kids, so we are offering this option again.  We will need a crew of 4-6 people to help set up the parking lot (details given if interested), greet people driving in, getting information from them, and distributing VBS kits.
2)  Pick up ice cream novelties for VBS
     We will conclude our in-person VBS with an ice cream social.  We will hand out ice cream treats to our in-person guests on Wednesday, July 28.  We will need someone to purchase them (you will be reimbursed) and deliver them to church.
3)  Mailings to new movers
     We have subscribed to a service that provides the addresses of people who have moved into our area.  Every other month, there will be 140 labels and stamps that will need to be affixed to postcards and mailed.  Labels and stamps will be provided by church.
          If you are interested in any of these service projects, please contact the church.  We will supply more details if you need them.

MEETINGS TO NOTE:
Sunday, July 25 -- Evangelism Committee Meeting.
     We want to make the most of opportunities to proclaim the Gospel to as many as possible.  We will consider the best way we can do this for the Fall schedule through Christmas.
Sunday, July 25 -- Stewardship Committee Meeting.
     God brings us together as a body of believers.  Just as every part of your body matters (just ask your little toe when you smash it), so also every member matters.  We want to tighten our bonds with one another.  The Stewardship Committee will work toward that end and consider also how we might serve our community at large.
          All members are welcome to attend these meetings.  They will all take place after church.

GOOD SHEPHERD 40TH ANNIVERSARY BOOK
         A pictorial retrospective of Good Shepherd has been produced and is at church. You are welcome to look through it. While there are many photos, there is also a lot of information about the history of the congregation. So, if you look at it, you will probably not be able to read through all the articles. The copy at church will be placed in Good Shepherd’s library, but you may want your own copy. We will contact Shutterfly to see what kind of discounted rate we can get for a bulk order. (Without discounts, the books runs well over $100.) We will see how many are interested in a copy, understanding that you may change your mind if the cost ends up being too high.

WINDOWS AND SIDING
         Our congregation signed a contract with Kerns Brothers to replace the windows and siding on the church. The total cost of the project is about $62,500, and through June our generous offerings have raised $33,250 for the project. In the May Council meeting the final $7,192 in the Alice Laho Trust memorial was added to the Windows & Siding Fund to increase total available funds to $40,442. That leaves us with $22,058 needed to completely fund the project. Should it be necessary, we have applied for a loan through Lutheran Association for Church Extension (LACE). Council members are currently weighing the merits of possibly using some of our existing savings in lieu of paying the costs associated with borrowing. Your thoughtful consideration for a gift toward this project is appreciated.


SUMMER OFFICE HOURS
          Between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, Pastor Schroeder’s office hours will be a bit more sporadic than usual. To ensure his availability, it is best to make an appointment. He will remain available by phone or text (248-719-5218). You may also email (welsnovi@aol.com), but the response may be slower.

GOOD SHEPHERD ON YOUTUBE
         Feel free to share the videos.  For other services, do a search for "Good Shepherd Novi."  The service from Sunday, July 18 is here: Good Shepherd Novi, Divine Service - July 18, 2021 - YouTube
         Bulletins for services can be downloaded from here (scroll down): 

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
==============================
SUMMER SCHEDULE
DIVINE SERVICES -- Sundays at 10:00 AM (also on Facebook Live )

Sunday School, Adult Bible Class, and Bible Matters will resume in September.

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE

PASTOR SCHROEDER’S BLOG

www.LutheranSubject.blogspot.com    

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Minor Festival -- Festival of St. James the Greater, Apostle (July 25, 2021)

                Lutheran worship is liturgical.  While that often refers to an order of worship, it can also refer to the calendar of the Church Year.  The Church Year includes major festivals, such as Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, etc...  On Sunday, July 25, we recognize a minor festival--the Festival of St. James the Greater, Apostle.

               James was the son of Zebedee and the brother of St. John.  James and John were known as the “Sons of Thunder,” which reveals their passionate nature (sometimes misguided).  James was one of the three apostles who was privileged to witness Jesus’ most intimate moments in his ministry (e.g., the raising of Jairus’ daughter, Jesus’ transfiguration, Jesus’ sufferings in Gethsemane).  After Jesus’ resurrection, James remained in Jerusalem to proclaim the gospel.  He was also the first of the apostles to be martyred for his faith, being “put to death by the sword” (Acts 12:1,2).  We pray that our passion and zeal for our Lord is as evident as it was in James and that we would suffer all, even death, rather than forsake him who will never forsake us.