Saturday, January 31, 2015

MLS Basketball vs. Alma

Michigan Lutheran Seminary played Alma on Friday night.  The Freshmen team missed WAY too many layups to overcome Alma.  The final was 48-28, and I don't think I am exaggerating when I say that if MLS had made all their layups, they could have won.

Sidenote: From a distance away, Laura watched Philip and the St. Peter Eagles in Plymouth as they split their games for the evening.  It is hard to pick and choose who to see or not.

The varsity game was HUGE for both teams.  Each team entered the game leading their respective conferences (Tri-Valley Central--MLS vs West--Alma).   MLS was also hoping to keep its undefeated record perfect.

It was a hard fought game, with the refs letting a LOT of contact go.  Almost no reach in calls, and no loose ball fouls when bodies were crashing all over the floor trying to scoop up loose balls.  Both teams' fans hoped for better, and neither got it.  In other words, both sides were screwed consistently.  But I guess you can be thankful for at least the consistent part.

You can see a really nice recap of the game from channel 12 news here. or here:

This is who Andrew had to guard for a chunk of the night, 6'10" Junior, Dylan Carl.
He's Lutheran, too!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Why come to church?

          Our church attendance could be much better than it is.  Perhaps one reason it is not that regularly attended is because people do not realize what we are doing.
         Church attendance is NOT about simply receiving information about Jesus.  We are not a trivia show.            Nor is church about learning to behave better.  You do not need to come to church to know how to behave.  Atheists, Mormons, and Muslims all know how to behave.  Some claim that they are better at behaving than you are.  Lack of information about right and wrong are not your problem.
          Church is about coming to God's presence as beggars.  We have nothing that God needs.  For that matter, we have nothing that God can be pleased with--we are sinners!  Yet, God delights to have us come so that he can fill us with good things.  At church, God serves us!  God pours out mercy, forgiveness, blessing, comfort, consolation, and encouragement.  Yes, he will admonish and call to repent, but that serves to compel us to flee from our sins and leads us to crave his mercy all the more.  At the Divine Service, heaven touches earth as the Lord presents his heavenly meal for his people to feast upon even before we enter the gates of heaven.  Here, God's promises are both proclaimed and presented in tangible forms.  Here, you have confidence that you are children of God because here, you hear God tell you so.  
          In a world that is wicked and perishing, in a world where people sin against you, where family and friends die, and where you fall short of God's glory day after day, you need peace and comfort.  In church, God gives it--Sunday after Sunday.  You need this, and God is pleased to serve you with it.

          We meet on Sundays at 10:00 AM for the Divine Service, 8:45 AM for Adult Bible Class and Sunday School.  Join us, and bring your friends--they need this too.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sermon -- Conversion of St. Paul (January 25, 2015)

ACTS 9:1-19a

In the name + of Jesus.

     The hymn, “Chief of sinners though I be” is tied to the words of the Apostle Paul: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Timothy 1:15)  Though we call him “saint,” Paul referred to himself as the chief of sinners.  Today’s minor festival reminds us why.  Mentioned in Acts by his Jewish name, Saul, he was a persecutor of the Church and of Jesus himself.
     You cannot deny Paul’s zeal or his sincerity.  Paul truly believed that Jesus and Christians were an offense to the true God.  So Paul still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. (Acts 9:1-2)  Paul made it his mission to defend God’s honor, believing that the Christian faith had to be stopped and forever snuffed out.  No doubt, Paul was zealous and sincere, but he was also sincerely wrong.
     He who was eager to be the most faithful servant of the chief priest, however, was converted to be the chief of sinners.  As Paul was making his way to Damascus to arrest, imprison, and perhaps kill Christians, suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. (Acts 9:3)  Paul recognized that it was the Lord, and yet the Lord was not commending him.  He heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  And he said, “Who are you, Lord?”  And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:4-5)  Imagine the surprise that Paul felt—not just that the Lord would appear to him, but that the Lord was Jesus.  Imagine the horror for Paul to learn that the one he was so eager to defend is the one he was striving so hard to destroy.  When Paul called himself the chief of sinners, this was no false humility.  He felt it.  He knew it.  And he never stopped thanking God for loving him enough to convert him from sinner to saint.
     You might have expected God to regard Paul as a lost cause, marked for damnation because of all his murderous threats and acts.  I think it is a safe bet that no one here would have the same list of sins to confess as Paul did.  Perhaps if we had some Muslim converts from Nigeria or Syria, someone could repeat Paul’s confession.  But do not think that Paul has a solitary hold on the title “Chief of sinners.”  The hymn you sang earlier was not an ode to St. Paul; it is your confession, too. 
     The greatest difference between Paul and you is that the sins of Paul were put into print and can be read by anyone in the world.  Your sins?  Well, they have been kept a pretty good secret, right?  And you would prefer to keep it that way.  You don’t want anyone to know whom you have murdered in your heart.  Nevertheless, you still sin against God by despising those who cross you.  You slander and manipulate and scheme; for this is how you hope to build up your honor.  What’s more, you hate doing what God says is good—forgiving those who sin against you, being patient, and speaking kind words, especially to those and about those who attack you.  Though Paul was acting as a murderous thug, at least his goal was to defend God’s honor.  Your hatred for your neighbor stems from wanting defending your own honor.  Repent.  Each of us must confess and insist, “I am the chief of sinners.  I deserve God’s wrath and punishment.” 
     And yet, God loves you enough to convert you from sinner to saint.  Your conversion was not as spectacular as that of Paul.  Paul once commented that he became an apostle as one abnormally born.  It is not normal for the risen and ascended Jesus to appear to people and personally convert them.  Nevertheless, your conversion is no less miraculous. 
     Because God loves you, he has converted you from sinner to saint.  The miracle of your conversion is that the Lord has you convinced that what he declares to be wicked is truly wicked and destructive.  You repent of your sins and flee from them, even though others should sin against you.  Likewise, you also are now convinced that what God says is good is truly good and beneficial.  Your neighbor is best served when you are patient, kind, merciful, and forgiving.  Some will think you are a fool for believing what you do and living as you do.  Instead, you are evidence of God’s mercy.  You are evidence that God loves sinners; for that God has converted you.  This truly honors God.
     God loved Paul enough to convert him from sinner to saint.  Jesus did not merely tell Paul that his rebellion and hatred were suddenly erased.  Jesus sent a pastor to him.  Ananias had likely been a man on Paul’s hit list.  Nevertheless, Jesus sent him to Paul to put Paul’s sinful nature to death through Holy Baptism.  In this way, Jesus completed Paul’s conversion from sinner to saint.  Through baptism, Paul was cleansed of all his sin.  Through baptism, Paul finally received the righteousness he was trying so hard to attain through his obedience to Jewish laws. 
     God loved Paul enough to convert him from sinner to saint.  No longer would Paul strive to prove his zeal and devotion by putting Christians in prison or the grave.  God’s glory did not need to be defended by threats and murder.  God’s glory is revealed by his love, mercy, and forgiveness upon sinners—even the chief of sinners.  Now, even Paul’s zeal was converted so that he would preach the love and mercy of Jesus to Jews and Gentiles, to scoundrels and sinners and seemingly decent folk.  No longer would Paul make those who bear the name of Jesus suffer; now Paul would suffer for the name of Jesus.  All this because Jesus loved Paul enough to convert him from sinner to saint.
     The same is true for you.  Your baptism has united you to Jesus.  Jesus has paid for all your sins—whether they are on record for all to see or whether they are secret, shameful things that you pray no one ever knows.  Jesus has suffered and died for every sin.  So, do not consider which of your sins are really bad—they all are.  But also, do not wonder if Jesus really has paid for your sins.  His blood has covered them all.  And by your baptism, Jesus has covered you in his blood so that God grants you the very righteousness you need.  What’s more, God’s conversion of you from sinner to saint is more than mere status.  God has truly worked in your heart and mind so that you love what is good and hate what is evil.  Your behavior is not for show.  You are not trying to impress anyone.  You love your neighbor and serve him because he needs to be loved and served.  You confess the truth because you love it.  You live a chaste and decent life in words and actions because this is right and honors your Lord.
     God loved Paul enough to convert him from sinner to saint.  After this glorious conversion, Paul did not become a renegade Christian who acted on his own and did what he pleased.  He was baptized by a pastor to belong to the church.  He became a part of the body of Christ to serve others in that body.  And again, so it is with you.  You have been brought into the body of Christ through a pastor who baptized you.  You are not a renegade who goes solo to do what you want.  You belong to the body of Christ, and you get to serve those who are among you here. 
     Now, God gets to work through you and your personality to serve him and to serve your fellow Christians and your fellow man.  God has loved you enough to convert you from sinner to saint, and he is pleased to continue to work through the church to keep you in his kingdom.  For God not only loves you enough, he loves you perfectly and permanently.

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

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Highs and Lows for Basketball

It was an interesting weekend for basketball.  Philip's game got cancelled, so we drove up to Saginaw for a series of games.  At Michigan Lutheran Seminary, Caleb's freshmen team lost a tight game on Friday night against Valley Lutheran.  Andrew's varsity team played St. Charles, who really hustled hard and gave MLS a lot to handle.  MLS came out on top, but it was much closer than they had thought it would be.  Credit St. Charles for a hard-fought game--although the "hard-fought" part meant that Andrew and one other player had to leave the game with bloody mouths (no fouls on those, either).

Faith's Martin Luther College team played against Northwestern College in St, Paul and came up short.  But then we got the news that MLC came out on top against North Central College in Minneapolis, 53-51.  Faith grabbed an offensive rebound late in the game and put it back up for the go ahead points.  MLC hung on to win.  There is a nice article and a photo that you can find here.

Meanwhile, Caleb's freshmen team had a couple of games in Carrollton.  The won the first 33-31 and lost the second by 21.  The worst part of that loss can be seen in the final photo below.  Happy Birthday to you.

Sprained Ankle.  Happy Birthday, son!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Chapel at Michigan Lutheran Seminary (January 14, 2015)

This comes a week late, but this was the chapel devotion at Michigan Lutheran Seminary on Wednesday, January 14, 2015.


            The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.
            O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?  Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?  Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?  Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.  So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.  For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.

In the name + of Jesus.

     Habakkuk was a prophet in Israel for the people of Israel.
     When Habakkuk looked around at those who were supposed to be the people of God, he saw wickedness, violence, and oppression.  This was in Jerusalem, in the shadow of the temple, among God’s people.  These were people who had been set apart for better and should have known better.  Habakkuk issued his complaint before God, and then further complained, “And you will not hear.”
     The wicked surrounded the righteous.  They got away with everything.  God’s Commandments were overthrown.  The people flaunted their sins.  They reveled in their evil.  And Habakkuk complained, “You will not save.  You idly look at wrong.  You do nothing.”
     Our sense of injustice is offended.  The guilty should pay for his crimes!
     Our desire for righteousness is frustrated.  When are the good rewarded?
     Our motives to persevere are shot.  Why do good when the wicked can do all they want and there is no judgment against them?  No price to pay.  No consequences to their actions.  “And you will not hear.  You idly look at wrong.  You do nothing.”
     Beware!  Your sense of justice is perverted.  You want lightning bolts from heaven to crush the wicked?  Do you think you have not contributed to the world’s evil?  What about petty squabbles?  Bitter rivalries?  Sarcastic put-downs?  Betraying confidences?  Building yourself up by tearing someone else down?
     Forget the world “out there.”  It’s right here in your own dorm, isn’t it?  It is right there in your own heart, isn’t it?  While you may be disgusted by the world, you also ought to be equally disgusted by yourself.  Repent.
     The world is broken and you cannot fix it.  Your heart is corrupt, and you cannot fix that, either.  You may be disgusted by it, but you cannot escape it.  You must be saved from it.
     The fact is that God has not stood by idly.  He has sent a Savior to deliver you from a world which is cursed and from your heart which is corrupt.
     And in that Savior, the guilty has been punished.  Jesus has become sin for you.  He has made himself the sin offering to die in your place and for your sake.
     Jesus hung on a cross, and he asked his own grieving question: “Why have you forsaken me?”  There was no answer.  No one saved him.  God did nothing.  Jesus died for all the world’s sin; for your sin.  By his death, Jesus has delivered you so that you will not perish.
     So, Jesus does not fix the world.  Rather, he delivers you from it.  He sets you apart so that you will not perish, but will live.  He sets you apart to live no longer under the curse of sin, no longer ruled by sin.  He sets you apart to live for him, to live in righteousness, and to live without fear.
     But God does not stand by idly.  To you, it may seem like God is doing nothing.  That, however, is God’s patience.  He wants all to repent, for he died for all.  He acts not with lightning bolts, but with mercy.  He does not strike down, but grants time for more and more to repent and be saved.
     While the Lord’s patience is held out and the world goes on, you continue to pray with Habakkuk and with the Church, “Deliver us from evil.”  And recognize that he will.  Just has he has delivered you from your sin and its curse, so he will deliver you from evil and everything that disgusts you.  He will deliver you completely at the resurrection of the dead.
     Then, you will enjoy a life without problems, a life without temptations, a life without squabbles and rivalries, violence and frustration, a life without death or mourning or crying or pain.
     If you are disgusted by the world, that’s okay.  This is not your home.  Jesus has set you apart so that you will not perish with this world.  You have been set apart for what is to come.
     Your comfort until then comes from the lips of Jesus.  He reminds you who you are by reminding you of who he is.  He is your blessed Savior, and you are his beloved redeemed.

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Andrew Schroeder- Athlete of the Week, January 14

Of course, we are proud of all of our children, but this doesn't happen very often

Andrew, playing for Michigan Lutheran Seminary, was named Saginaw's Athlete of the Week by ABC 12.

You can watch their

Andrew Schroeder- Athlete of the Week, January 14

Friday, January 16, 2015

Winter Getaway ... to Minnesota

The Local Tourist hit the road this weekend.

I have seen Faith play a number of games online, but not live, since she has been in college.  This weekend, I got to make the trip to see her live.  As a bonus, my parents decided to join me on the trip.

First, I had stopped in St. Joseph, Michigan to take some photos of the ice-encrusted lighthouse there.  In the past when I was traveling with other family members, I did not try the patience of other travelers.  This time, driving solo, I decided to stop.  As it turns out, I also ended up stopping in Michigan City, Indiana and grabbed some photos there.  The stop in Michigan City was a matter of taking one exit too early, but once I got that close to the lake, I had to check out their lighthouse too.  Photos below.

Although it looks like the one in St. Joseph, MI,
this lighthouse is actually in Michigan City, IN.
We got to New Ulm and got to see Faith play against Crown College.
Grandma and Grandpa Schroeder got to see Faith and Nathanael at MLC.
Martin Luther College won, 69-48.  (At least I'm pretty sure that was the final; they took the score off REALLY fast.)  Tomorrow, MLC plays U of Minn--Morris.  I was told that should be a tougher game.  Finally, the world of texting allowed me to find out Philip's St. Peter's team won and that MLS beat rival Ithaca.  Photos of some of Faith's game below.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sermon -- 1st Sunday after the Epiphany (January 11, 2015)

LUKE 3:15-17,21-22

In the name + of Jesus.

     We have entered the Epiphany season.  The word “Epiphany” means appearing, or revealing.  The only way you can ever get to know about someone is if that person reveals information about himself to you.  A boy will ask a girl out on a date so that he can get to know what she is like, what she likes, and what she hates.  By what the girl reveals about herself, the boy finds out if he is compatible with her.  Likewise, the girl will only learn if she really likes the boy by what he reveals about himself.  Of course, people are usually on their best behavior on their first dates, so the couple will end up dating for quite a while before they really get to know one another.  If the boy tries to project on his girlfriend qualities or interests that she does not have, she will become agitated and he will become disappointed.  And if the girl tries to make her boyfriend what he is not, they will break up.  Through good times and bad times, each will reveal their interests, their personalities, and their quirks.  That is how a boy and girl will learn if they can commit to being husband and wife.
     In the same way, we do not get to project onto God what he is like.  When we tell people, “I think what God wants is….”, we are treading into idolatrous territory, presuming to speak for God and presuming to know what God thinks.  If we want to know who God is, what he wants, and what he hates, then God has to be the one to reveal that to us.
     John the Baptist came preaching fiery sermons and baptizing.  For that reason, the people were wondering if John might be the Lord’s Christ.  John confessed, “I am not the Lord’s Christ.  He who is mightier than I is coming.” (Luke 3:16)  No man can create his own Christ.  The Lord would reveal and identify his Anointed.
     When Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22)  Here, Jesus was identified as the Lord’s Christ.  God the Father declared three significant things about Jesus.  “You are my Son.  You are my beloved.  And with you I am well-pleased.”  Here we have word from the Father himself.  This man is God’s Son.  The Father loves him because he is his Son.  And the Father is well-pleased with Jesus because he is an obedient Son.
     Jesus was identified as the Lord’s Christ.  He was anointed by the Holy Spirit.  Whenever someone or something was anointed in the Old Testament, it was set apart for God’s holy purpose.  David, for example, was anointed by Samuel to be the king of Israel.  David did not take this position upon himself.  He did not even campaign for it.  God chose David and had him anointed to serve God and to serve God’s people as their king.  
     Jesus was identified as the Lord’s Christ at his baptism.  Not even Jesus demanded to be known as the Christ.  He was content to let his Father identify him as such.  Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit and, thus, entered his office as the Lord’s Christ.  This is where Jesus began his public work to serve as our Savior.  Jesus was anointed to deliver us from our sins.
     Jesus was identified as the Lord’s Anointed, and Jesus has given you a new identity, too.  Through Jesus, you have become children of God.  Through your baptism, you were anointed, set apart for God and for service to him.  St. Paul wrote, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope…” (Titus 2:11-13)  You are children of the Lord by faith in God and his promises.  You have been set apart for living chaste, honest, and holy lives in a world that is still ruled by sin.  But here is where you come into an identity crisis.
     Listen again to what St. Paul says you have been set apart for: “…to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope…” (Titus 2:12-13)  But what have you revealed about yourself in the way you live?  You can be just as petty, bitter, sarcastic, and corrupt as anyone else on earth.  You have felt the hatred for others bubble up in your heart.  You have uttered perverted and provocative words to friend and foe alike.  Even if your friends excuses you for your sins, others take great pride in noting that you, a Christian, look and sound like anything but a Christian. 
     Denying that this is true does not change it or fix it.  Confessing your sins and repenting of them is how you are honest in dealing with your sins.  When you confess your sins, you are acknowledging that God’s assessment of you and of all the world is right: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)  All are sinners.  All are guilty.  Whether you deny it or confess it, it is true.
     But God was pleased to grant us a new identity.  Jesus was identified as the Lord’s Anointed at his baptism.  Jesus was baptized in order to unite himself with us.  He has taken up our cause.  He has taken up our sins.  He has taken on our curse, and he has paid the price for us.  If you want to see the judgment for your sins, then look to Jesus Christ who has suffered and died for you.  There is where the curse has been put.
     You, then, have been baptized into Jesus Christ.  Through baptism, you were united to Jesus.  All that is his has become yours.  In your baptism, Jesus has washed away all of your sins.  In turn, Jesus has clothed you with his righteous obedience.  The words which were spoken over Jesus now the Father speaks over you.  You are his beloved children.  God reveals his love for you in the Christ who was sent for you.  The Father loves you, and therefore has made you his children. 
     Jesus was identified as the Lord’s Anointed.  And through Jesus, you have received a new identity: You are children of God.  This is not something you chose.  You did not even campaign for it.  God chose you.  Jesus saved you.  Through your baptism, God gave you a new birth into his family.  Therefore, you are his beloved children.  With you he is well pleased. 
     Jesus was identified as the Lord’s Anointed.  Jesus was anointed to give you comfort, consolation, and confidence regarding your place in his kingdom.  Jesus’ promises remain strong even when you are weak, or even when you are disgusted or disappointed in yourself.  Jesus identifies you as a baptized child of God.  Jesus’ words and washing give you an unshakable confidence; for they rest upon Jesus’ words and works, not on yours.  Your baptism, therefore, wipes away all doubt and staves off even despair.  Through your baptism, Jesus has cleansed you of all sin, and therefore God is well pleased with you.  Through your baptism, Jesus has marked you as a child of God, and therefore, you are an heir of his everlasting kingdom.  Through your baptism, Jesus has made you a new creation, which is eager to turn from evil and to devote yourself to what is good. 
     Jesus was identified as the Lord’s Anointed.  Jesus was revealed to you as your Savior, and he reveals to you your true identity:  Jesus has made you children of the heavenly Father.  Since you are God’s children, the Father in heaven loves you.  Since you are God’s children, He is well-pleased with you.  Since you are God’s children, you are heirs of his heavenly kingdom.

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

Saturday, January 10, 2015

M-Live article, MLS Basketball

We are proud of all of our children, and we do our best to let them know that.  It is especially flattering when we find an article written about them, noticing that someone else is paying attention to them as well.

Well, apparently M-Live has noticed Andrew--although M-Live has altered his height a number of times between football and basketball season.  At one time, he was 6'6".  Then he lost an inch.  Apparently, he is getting even shorter for basketball season, being listed now at 6'4".

M-Live has a nice article about Andrew from this basketball season.  He also gives a nice shout-out to his big brother, Nathanael.  You can find it here.

One side note, if you scroll through the photos at the lead of the article, all of the MLS players' names are wrong.  Even the coach's name is wrong.  The M-Live reporter grabbed every name from the JV program.  Oops.

Friday, January 9, 2015

2014 Family Christmas Letter (belated)


The last hours of 2014 are past
And we are writing to you at last
Our annual letter, our year in review
For us to reflect and inform all of you.

The year began with a medical concern,
The diagnosis taking quite some time to learn—
Laura’s legs and arms were getting badly bruised.
We need to know why she’d blacked and she’d blued.

Some medical questions were less than inspired—
Ask a mother of six, “Do you often feel tired?”
After many-a test and ruling things out,
The doc said, “It’s ITP; there is no doubt.”

Laura’s blood platelet count dropped excessively low.
“How do we fix this?” we wanted to know.
Injection, infusions, and hospital stays
Brought no lasting cure – not much, anyways.

So in early November, surgery was set
Removing Laura’s spleen was our last and best bet.
We are grateful to say that all went well.
Laura’s ITP is better from what we can tell.

She went back to teaching before December ended,
Which suggests that she has pretty well mended.
Despite ITP, she has managed our abode,
Getting rest as needed but was not often slowed.

Tom continues to serve all the while
Where Meadowbrook Road crosses Nine Mile—
The only Lutheran church in the city,
Good Shepherd, which is small but it is pretty.

He has tried to take on additional studies
With online classes and meetings with buddies.
He reads for his Octoberfest Luther Lecture
So it’s based on facts and not on conjecture.

Faith is a sophomore for the MLC Knights.
She has class in her days and basketball nights.
She likes the education track she has chosen
But notes that Minnesota is usually frozen.

In the summer, Faith doesn’t sit on her fanny—
She watches two boys when she works as a nanny.
In off hours she works out with all kinds of drills
So she can improve on her basketball skills.

Nathanael had a big year in 2014,
His birthday was his last one as a teen.
We marked his high school graduation day
From Michigan Lutheran Seminary in May.

Basketball, track, and a concert choir tenor
Are how Nathanael finished his year as a senior.
Summer days meant weed-whacking and lawn mowing.
For years he and Charli Sayles are steadily going.

For college those two have tried to stay calm
With she in Milwaukee and he in New Ulm.
Nathanael tried football for the MLC Knights
Who rarely pass the ball.  Said Nathanael, “That bites!”

Andrew enjoyed quite a great football season,
Going deep into the playoffs was one special reason.
The semi-finals were in Marquette’s Superior Dome
But a few points short meant a long, long trip home.

Andrew plays basketball for the Cardinal squad.
So far his games have been far from flawed.
He played JV baseball in the last, chilly Spring.
It kept him busy, but he said, “It’s not my thing.”

He’s in concert choir this year as a junior.
He goofs around with friends and seems to be loonier.
He loves to drive and always asks for the keys.
He also works lawn care in summer heat or breeze.

Caleb also had a big year in the past twelve months.
He graduated, proving that he’s no dunce.
His years at St. Peter, from K to Grade 8
Are now all complete and he thinks that’s great.

In May, Caleb took his confirmation vow.
He comes to the altar for Holy Communion now.
At home, he’ll put on head phones to listen to a tune.
He likes to spend quiet time in his room.

Caleb is at MLS.  Like his sis and each brother,
From Eagle to Cardinal, one bird to another.
He played JV football, as a defensive safety,
And now Freshmen hoops, and wins don’t come easy.

Philip entered the teen years in November.
He had hoped to get to a Packer game in December.
Laura’s surgery meant the trip would be postponed.
“I will patiently wait for next season,” he groaned.

Meanwhile, Philip is in seventh grade.
The basketball court is where he’s usually played.
Last year, he played with Caleb; nothing was greater.
This year’s Eagles team has only one Schroeder.
Philip plays trumpet and has picked up trombone.
He has an I-pod, but also longs for a phone.
If you want to play Madden, then Philip’s your man.
He’s also become a Detroit Tigers’ fan.

This past December, Peter turned six.
He loves to play with his Lego bricks.
He’s in Kindergarten where he’s taught by his Mom.
He plays with many friends and rarely sits calm.

When his siblings are home, that is Peter’s delight.
He grabs them to play from the day into night—
Light saber battles, PlayStation, Nerf guns,
With boundless energy his little body runs.

Besides school, sports, and work, our family spent
Time mainly in Detroit.  At least, that’s where we went
To see the Motown Museum and a Ford Field tour.
For us, Greenfield Village always has its allure.
In June we went took a trip to Wisconsin
To celebrate an anniversary that was golden.
The Schroeder grandparents rejoiced all that day
For the marriage God wrought and blessed all the way.

Time to wrap up.  We’re near the end of the page.
It’s hard to write verses when you’re not a sage.
God’s grace be upon you though the love of his Son.
We’ll write you again when this new year is done.

Tom, Laura, Faith, Nathanael, Andrew,
Caleb, Philip, and Peter Schroeder

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sermon -- 2nd Sunday after Christmas (January 4, 2015)

The Greek letters X (chi) and P (rho)
are the first two letters
in the Greek word for Christ.
LUKE 1:68-75; GENESIS 17:1-7

In the name + of Jesus.

     Nobody likes liars.  It is insulting to be lied to.  Sometimes it is embarrassing that you were foolish enough to buy the lie.  You may think that it is easier to believe no one, and to assume that everyone is a liar.  But that is no way to live.  You would learn to do nothing and to hate everyone.  But you cannot always tell who has your best interests at heart, and so sometimes you fall victim to liars. 
     Sometimes it is not a matter of lying.  We make promises with the best of intentions, but then circumstances change and we cannot come through on our promises.  I am sure that this happens with politicians all the time.  They can see the problems you face, and they are convinced that they have the solutions.  They promise: “Send me to Washington and I will get the job done and the problem solved.”  Once he goes to Washington, he finds himself in a room with 434 other politicians who don’t care about your problems.  Suddenly, his promises crumble and there is nothing he can do to fix it.  He may have had every intention of following through on his promises, but circumstances are not what he thought they were.  Meanwhile, the voters only know that they have no solution to their problems, and they call their congressman a liar. 
     When a man makes a promise, you don’t always know if his going to keep it.  You may have your suspicions about his reliability, but you cannot call such the man a liar until he actually fails to keep it.  In some cases, you may have to wait quite a while before you can call the man a liar.  But until then, you have to wait, and watch.
     It was about 4,000 years ago that the Lord had made a promise to Abraham.  When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” (Genesis 17:1,2)  Abraham may have thought to himself, “I have been hearing this promise since I was 75.  It is a quarter of a century later, and I still have no son to be the heir of these promises.”  But Abraham did not call God a liar.  Nor had God backed down, saying that circumstances had changed.  God was in charge of the circumstances, too.  “I am God Almighty” (Genesis 17:1), he said.  God did not just talk big.  He could back it up.  The Lord keeps his oaths.
     The Lord continued his promise: I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.” (Genesis 17:7)  In a year, the Lord proved himself faithful to part of his oath.  Abraham had a son, Isaac.  But Abraham died before he saw the rest of the oath fulfilled.  He had not begotten kings or nations.  He had not taken possession of the land.  Nevertheless, Abraham believed God to be faithful to his word.  Abraham would not call God a liar.  Abraham lived and died in faith.  And by this faith, Abraham was justified and saved.
     It was some 2,000 years later that the Lord proved faithful to his word.  It was another aged, childless man who heard the word of the Lord.  He was a priest named Zechariah.  He had gone into the temple to make the evening sacrifice and to pray for Israel.  Zechariah’s prayer was not that he and his wife would have a baby.  That dream went away when old age came.  Circumstances had changed.  Zechariah’s priestly prayer was, rather, that God would keep his oath and send a Savior.  God’s angel had told Zechariah,    The Lord keeps his oath.
     At first, Zechariah called God a liar.  But God’s faithfulness does not depend on our opinion of him.  Nor does God’s faithfulness hinge on our faithfulness to him.  God would send the forerunner, and then God would send the Savior.  Elizabeth would bear a son to Zechariah in their old age, just as Sarah bore one to Abraham.  God is not a man, that he should lie... (Numbers 23:19)  Zechariah’s and Elizabeth’s circumstances did not matter.  He is God Almighty.  He is in charge of circumstances.  The Lord would keep his oath. 
     This is your great blessing, for you have also called God a liar.  You have not believed that obeying his commands is a blessing for you or even good.  You have heed given into temptations because they are fun.  You have given way to your lust because you like it.  You have gratified your greed because you were pleased with whatever you could gain through it.  You have manipulated your spouse because you are happier in taking advantage than you are in serving.  You have exalted yourself because you think there is nothing to be gained by humility.  In all of this, you have called God a liar.  You have deemed his word idiocy and would not follow it.  Why would sinners defy God?  Perhaps it is because we believe that God is also lying when he speaks about judgment and damnation.
     Repent!  For, it is not God who lies to you.  [The devil] is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)  The devil has convinced you that his ways are fun and fruitful and lead to good times.  Do not be deceived.  Sin brings death and damnation.  Though it has not come yet, it will.  God will be proved true in this.  His threats are not empty.  He keeps his word.
     Though the world had to wait 2,000 years for it, the Lord kept his oath to Abraham.  Zechariah had to wait mere months for it, but the Lord kept his oath to him and Elizabeth.  And when Zechariah held his infant in his arms, he rejoiced that the Lord had heard his prayer.  He celebrated that the Savior was coming.  “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people…[and has remembered] his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we … might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.” (Luke 1:68,72-75) 
     The Lord has kept his oath.  He has sent a Savior who has delivered us from the lies of the devil, from the sins that condemn us, and from all fear and dread.  While it is true that sin brings death and damnation, Jesus Christ brings life and light, peace and hope, mercy and forgiveness, joy and salvation.  The Lord keeps his oath by sending his Son to take our sin from us.  God has been faithful in delivering you from the curse of your sins and the consequences of every lie Satan has ever deceived you with.  For, if your sin is taken away, then you are delivered from death and damnation. 
     The Lord keeps his word.  Jesus, who paid for your sins, declares you are forgiven, and he does not lie to you.  Jesus, who rose from the dead, assures you that you will rise from your grave, and he does not lie to you.  Jesus, who ascended into heaven, has promised that he will come back and take you to the place in Paradise that he is preparing for you, and he does not lie to you.  Though the Church has been waiting 2,000 years for it, your trust in God’s word is well-placed.  Just as the Lord kept his oath to Abraham, so he will keep his oath with you.  That is why we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.
     Until that day, we will serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Luke 1:74-75)  There is no fear, for you are forgiven.  There is no fear, for God regards you as one of his saints.  There is no fear, for you are delivered from death to life, and you will be delivered from perdition to Paradise.  There is no fear, for the Lord has sworn all of these things on oath.  God does not lie to you.  The Lord keeps his oath.

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