Saturday, October 31, 2015

MLS Football vs. Bay City All Saints -- playoff edition

On Friday night, October 30, the Michigan Lutheran Seminary Cardinals got to host round one of the state playoffs.  We welcomed the Cougars of Bay City All Saints, who came to the MLS field with a 6-3 record.

Other than the weather which was terrible last year, this round started to shape up like our game last year vs. Manton.  We were so convinced that we would run away with the game that we were a little unnerved to be scoreless at the end of the 1st quarter and then down 8-6 after a bobbled ball turned into a 78 yard TD for the Cougars.  As it turned out, I think that is what finally got us to wake up.

And then the route was on.  At one point in the 2nd quarter, MLS put up 22 points in about a minute.  MLS' defense stepped up, refusing to let the Cougars run anywhere.  One M-Live said that the Cougars gained -1 yard rushing all game.  (Another said 9 yards total.  Go figure.)  The Cardinals on the other hand, threw the ball deep several times.  Hunter Miller scored on two nice passes.  I was giddy to see this, because it sends a message that we do not rely on two or three players to carry us.  Andrew scored one TD in the 2nd quarter and another in the 3rd.  Cade Kestner ran for three.  And even back-up QB, Adam Arrowsmith, who played QB for the JV, ran one in in the 4th quarter.

Besides receiving, Andrew also returned punts, including one long return down deep into Cougar territory.  He also posted an interception which ended the Cougars' first drive.

Caleb was pulled up to varsity and was told that he could expect a lot of playing time.  I also think that we were expecting the big lead to come much earlier than it finally did.  Caleb almost missed playing time, but a coach threw him in for the final :30, in which Caleb played defensive end for three plays.  Final score, MLS wins 54-14 and advances to round two.

We will be playing Friday, November 6 at MLS, hosting Fowler.  Fowler will come into the game at 7-3 after beating Merrill 29-7.

Some photos below are from after the game.  MHSAA rules prohibit posting any game photos, so if you want to see them, you have to drop by my house.

You can read an M-Live article here.  You can find another M-Live article here.
You can also watch the Friday Night Highlights here.  MLS' highlights begin at the 3:26 mark.
MLS also made the highlights on Part 2 of the Highlight Zone and begins at the 3:26 mark.  Apparently, the camera guy did not show up until the 4th quarter.
Football players with a St. Peter's Lutheran School (Plymouth) connection-- Nathanael, Damon, Tyler, Andrew, and Caleb.

2014 Class reunion -- Charli, Nathanael, Chad, and Travis
Grandpa Schmidt, Grandma Schmidt, Laura, and Andrew
Class of 2020 "pre-union" -- Cole, Philip, and Kai

MLS Football -- Playoff preview

If you are interested in following the Michigan Lutheran Seminary Cardinal playoffs through M-Live, you can find a preview article here.  The article seems to favor Bay City-All Saints.

Unfortunately, MHSAA rules prohibit MLS from live-streaming the game.  Apparently, you will still be able to find it at the MLS website and it will be posted about one hour after the game.

The following is from an MLS e-mail:

The MLS football team has made the MHSAA playoffs again this year with a record of 8-1. They will play Bay City All Saints High School on Friday, October 30, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. at MLS. Because this is a playoff game, MHSAA regulations do not allow us to livestream the game. It will be broadcast via our Cardinal Casts site one hour after the conclusion of the game. In order to access this broadcast you will need to enter the password MLS on the Cube log-in page. 

Let's all cheer our Cardinals football team on to victory!

Go Cardinals!

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Prayer for All Saints' Day

          In our liturgical tradition, we offer up a prayer of remembrance for those who have died in the Christian faith in the past year.  Normally, we do this on the second last Sunday of the Church Year, a Sunday known as "Saints Triumphant."  This year, since All Saints' Day lands on a Sunday, we will observe this rite this Sunday, November 1.
          Below is the prayer that we will use, as well as the names of members, members' family, and members' friends which have been submitted for remembrance.  (Names may still be submitted for remembrance, but will not be included in the bulletin.)
          "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." (Psalm 116:15)


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.)

Irmgard Black, aunt of David Kirvan, (died January 2015)
Yesmeen Zayed, aunt of Norma Kirvan, (died February 2015)
Walter G. Trapp, friend of David & Diane Rumics, (died February 16, 2015)
Catherine Reising, daughter of Richard & Janet Reising, (died March 16, 2015)
Steven Paul Voigt, cousin of Colleen Fadool, (died April 2015)
Alice Rauchholz, mother of Jean Rauchholz Nabozny and Dan Rauchholz, (died June 1, 2015)
Melvin Usimaki, uncle of Mary LeFevre, (died September 17, 2015)
Genevieve Usimaki, aunt of Mary LeFevre, (died October 25, 2015)

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.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Floor hockey tournament

On Saturday, St. Peter's Lutheran School made the journey to St. John's Lutheran School in Westland for the annual floor hockey tournament.  With a small squad coming from St. Peter's, I don't know if anyone had many expectations for St. Peter's.  Nonetheless, St. Peter's did have mainly 8th graders playing, so we thought that might produce some results.

The first game was tight -- a 2-1 loss to the 7th grade team from St. Paul's, Livonia.  We won the next contest 10-1 against Peace, Livonia.  The results were tallied from all the morning contests and teams were slotted for the playoff rounds.

St. Peter's won their first playoff match against St. Paul's, Livonia 8th graders in tight 2-0 match.  As the playoff brackets lined up, that put St. Peter's in the championship game vs. the home town St. John's Leopards.

Philip took the opening face-off and broke into the St. John's zone for a quick score.  St. Peter's was up 1-0 within the first 15 seconds of the game.  As it turned out, that goal was incredibly important, as it was the only one St. Peter's scored all game.  St. John's hit the tying goal with about 3 minutes left in the game.  We went to a shoot out.

St. Peter's hit three goals, and John Lovell came up BIG in St. Peter's net blocking the St. John's attempts.  The last St. John's attempt was dangerously close to a goal (photo below).  St. Peter's came home as floor hockey champs for 2015.  Way to go, Eagles!

Photos below.

This was just before Philip scored a goal less than 15 seconds into the championship goal.
It was St. Peter's only goal until the shoot out.
St Peter's first goal of the shoot out.
2015 Floor Hockey Champs!

MLS Football at Birch Run (Varsity)

On Friday, October 23, the Michigan Lutheran Seminary Cardinals traveled south to Birch Run to face the Panthers.  Birch Run entered the game playing for their playoff lives, as well as Parents' Night, an awareness for cancer game, and in recognition for the wife of their athletic director who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Despite all of the emotional incentives for Birch Run, they could not contain MLS from grabbing a quick 20-0 lead in the first quarter.  Casey Williams managed to bust free for a number of long touchdowns and give MLS a comfortable lead.  Eventually that lead expanded to 34-7.

Birch Run managed to move the ball with pretty good consistency, mainly with a running game that saw anywhere from 3 yard gains to 7 yard gains.  That methodical kind of offense takes a lot of time off the clock, which did not work in Birch Run's favor because they were down early.

In all, MLS managed to score seven TD's to Birch Run's 3.  Final score was 49-21, ensuring that MLS will host a playoff game next Friday.  (We will be stunned if we don't.)

Andrew had four catches for 89 yards, but none of them ended with him in the end zone.  He jumped high for one in the first quarter, but he needed about six more inches to grab it (photo below).

You can also read an article from M-Live here, and see a spot featuring MLS on Friday Night Lights here.  (The MLS-Birch Run contest begins at the 1;20 mark.)

Some photos below.

This throw to the end zone was just a little bit too tall.
Andrew on a long run after a catch.
3rd quarter action.  The throw was a bit high.  #11 from Birch Run came in on the hit and ended up taking the worst of it.
Andrew comes in for the assist on the tackle.
This was a nice run-after-catch by Andrew in the 4th quarter.

Sermon -- Reformation (October 25, 2015)

JOHN 2:13-22

In the name + of Jesus. 

     We do not see Jesus get angry very often.  That is why his actions in this gospel reading are so shocking.  Jesus was not only angry, he displayed his anger by overturning tables, scattering coins, and driving animals out of the temple courtyard.  It's not that Jesus punched anyone out.  But he did treat animals like animals, and he showed no respect for the coins.  What we see on display at the temple during that Passover festival is what the Psalms said we would see: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (John 2:17; Psalm 69:9)  Jesus demonstrated zeal, love, and respect for the place where God had said that he will come to his people to bless and to save them.  And Jesus took it upon himself to rid from the temple whatever would intrude and desecrate that.
     We do not see Jesus get angry very often.  Though the Lord is slow to anger, that does not mean he never gets angry.  But we ought to understand exactly what Jesus got angry about.  Jesus was not angry that there were animals in the temple.  Sacrifices went on daily in the temple.  Naturally, animals would have been there.  Jesus was not angry that the Jews were exchanging money or buying animals.  Many Jews came to the Passover from distant lands.  They would not have brought animals with them for the feast; they would have bought them in Palestine.  They also would have been carrying Roman coins with them.  At the Passover, each Jewish man was obligated to pay the temple tax.  That was not paid with a coin which bore the Roman Emperor's image.  So, each Passover pilgrim would have exchanged his Roman denarius for a shekel or a didrachma.  Such transactions were not evil.  However, the priests had decided that the best place to do this business was in the temple courtyard where people were praying and worshiping.  Jesus had assessed it correctly: “Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade.” (John 2:16)  
     What's worse is that people were being taught that forgiveness was a commodity to be purchased:  “Come to the temple.  Buy your animal.  Pay your tax.  Make your sacrifice, and God's forgiveness has been secured.”  God's people were not being taught not to trust in the Lord and his word for salvation, but that salvation could be purchased for the right amount of money.  Zeal for God's house and for God's salvation moved Jesus to drive the animals and the money-changers out of the temple courtyards.  Jesus acted to reform their worship to what is God-pleasing.  Jesus is the Great Reformer.
     You'd think that people would have learned the lesson.  You do not look for salvation where God does not give it.  Nevertheless, God's people were deceived again.  While you cannot fault people for their desire to be saved, you can fault people for seeking it wrongly.  Many have sought God's favor by fasting, by monastic vows, by paying money for a mass offered in honor of a loved one or for themselves, by reverencing relics, or by purchasing indulgences.  Much money was handed over by people who were eager to believe that God forgives sins and saves sinners.  But it was all a lie.  Salvation is not something that man works out.  Forgiveness is not a commodity to be purchased.  As a result of his own conscience being vexed by such inventions, Martin Luther challenged the church leaders of his day and demanded that they forsake their inventions.  Luther clung fervently to God's word as the only source of hope, certainty, and salvation.  If God said it, we can be sure of it.  If God did not say it, at best we are in doubt that salvation is real.  When you are facing death, you do not want to be vexed by doubt or fear.  You want certainty.  Our works may have the appearance of piety, but they have no certainty.  Only faith in Jesus' words and works are certain for salvation; for it is only Jesus Christ who saves.  He was pleased through faithful ministers like Luther, to turn people away from pious-sounding inventions to the sure word of God.  Jesus Christ is the Great Reformer of his Church.
     You'd think that people would have learned the lesson.  You do not look for salvation where God does not give it.  Nevertheless, God's people are still often deceived.  To this day, we are told and tempted to look into our hearts for assurance that we are doing or believing the right thing.  But this is what the Lord says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)  Our hearts are so corrupt that God has to reveal to us how bad our condition is—and even then many do not believe it.  Everyone believes that he is basically a good person.  The Lord declares that none are good, that all fall short of his glory.  Our sinful hearts believe that God owes us answers and that God should act like we would act.  Then we assume he does, and we reject God when he does not.  This is blasphemy and idolatry.  It is evidence of utterly corrupt hearts and minds, and it will result in damnation to be sure.  Repent!
     Jesus is the Great Reformer.  He does not submit his word to us for our approval.  He does not take suggestions for how to improve it.  By his word, Jesus overturns in our hearts everything that desecrates his kingdom or distracts from his word.  Jesus pours on us fear, terror, judgment, and despair in order to destroy every religious impulse that derives out of our hearts, no matter how pious it sounds.  For, our salvation does not flow out of our hearts and minds; it comes only from God's word to us.  God reforms our hearts and transforms our minds.  He causes our hearts and minds to submit to his word.  That is where we find divine truth and a sure salvation.  Jesus is the Great Reformer.
     When Jesus did lash out at the false worship in the temple, the Jewish leaders said, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” (John 2:18)  They demanded to know by what authority Jesus did what he did.  Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19)  Jesus pointed them to the resurrection.  The temple is the place where God dwells among his people to bless and save them.  Who is Jesus?  He is God who dwells with his people to bless and save them.  The people would put him to death, but he would raise up the temple of his body to show that he has all authority.  Jesus has authority not only to drive out men-centered worship, but also authority to forgive sins, to raise the dead, and to give eternal life to all who believe in him.
     Jesus is the Great Reformer, and he turns us away from ourselves and put our trust completely on him.  It seems like a violent act because it destroys all that we consider to be reliable and trustworthy.  It destroys every other foundation so that we are left with nothing but Jesus.  And that trust is not misplaced.  For Jesus Christ has paid for all our sins by his death.  Jesus has delivered us from death by his resurrection.  Jesus opens the kingdom of heaven to us and has every right to do so.
     Jesus summons us to hear his word and receive his sacraments.  That is where he delivers salvation to us.  That is where Jesus is at work to wash away sins, to strengthen faith, to proclaim salvation, and to feed his people.  Jesus continues to reform us, to work in us, to preserve us, to strengthen us, and to save us.   And since Jesus is the one doing the work for us and in us, we do not have to doubt if it is sure or fear that it will fail.
     At the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus cleansed the Temple and reformed its worship.  Jesus repeated this cleansing at the end of his ministry, just three Passovers later.  The people did not learn their lesson.  Jesus is the Great Reformer, for he continues to cleanse and re-form each one of us who are still learning the lesson.  Salvation never comes from us—from our works, our worship, our piety, our sincerity, and our hearts.  It all comes from Jesus.  He delivers it through his word and sacraments.  And since it is Jesus who has worked at the cross and tomb to win salvation, it is sure.  Since it is Jesus who delivers it in the sacraments, it is sure.  Since it is God's Word to you, it is sure.
     Jesus is the Great Reformer.  Since you and I are humble sinners in need of God's reformation continually, we will surely continue to flee to God's word and to feed at God's altar where God re-forms our sinful hearts into godly ones and where God delivers his forgiveness.  And where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

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

Friday, October 23, 2015

MLS Football vs. Birch Run (JV)

The Michigan Lutheran Seminary JV Cardinals played host to the Panthers of Birch Run on Thursday night.  While Birch Run proved themselves to be the better team,  Birch Run busted open way too many long runs for TD's.  MLS did not do themselves any favors with too many turnovers.  We also flirted with aTD and came up empty-handed inside the five yard line.

The final score wsa 48-13, bringing a painful end to the JV careers of many MLS sophomores.  These sophomores have grown in their football knowledge and skills, and we look forward to seeing what they will do when they step of to varisty (some of them for the varsity playoffs already!).

Some photos.
Caleb pulls in a catch in the 1st quarter, helping to set up one of MLS' touchdowns.
2nd quarter, Caleb went low for this one, but it was called incomplete.
Caleb tried to pull this in deep, but it was tipped right in front of him,, popped up into the air, and then intercepted.
4th quarter, Caleb hauled in this long catch and ran it near the end zone, but not in.
I think Adam Arrowsmith punched it in shortly after this. 
Final salute of the 2015 JV season.
Postgame compeitition between Peter and Andrew.  Charli is the QB.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sermon -- Festival of St. Luke, Evangelist and Doctor (October 18, 2015)

LUKE 4:38-41


In the name + of Jesus. 

     When we consider the writings of the Evangelist Luke in both his Gospel and in the book of Acts, we notice that Luke was a detailed historian.  Luke did not invent myths or write fairy tales.  He documented names and dates.  He used specific terminology and identified items with striking accuracy.  But if Luke is to be recognized as a scholar, it stands to reason: he was also a physician.
     The physician, Luke, recorded many of Jesus' miraculous healings.  Luke, the physician, testifies to the Great Physician.  Luke would have worked with herbs and other medicines.  Jesus worked with a touch of his hand and an authoritative word.  In our reading from Luke's gospel, we hear Jesus issue his authoritative word with a strange expression.  Jesus had gone to the house of Simon Peter in Capernaum.  There, he healed Simon's mother-in-law.  Luke recorded it this way: “He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her...” (Luke 4:39)  Jesus rebuked the fever.
     If we survey the gospels, we notice that Jesus made several rebukes.  Jesus rebuked the demons when he drove them out of those who were possessed.  Luke records one of those instances in his gospel.  “Demons also came out of many, crying, 'You are the Son of God!'  But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.” (Luke 4:41)  Jesus rebuked the demons because he did not want the testimony of demons.  Demons are not interested in preaching people toward Jesus, but rather away from him.  Therefore, Jesus rebuked them.  Jesus also rebuked Simon Peter.  After the disciples confessed that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus told them that this meant that he must go to Jerusalem to suffer, die, and rise again.  Peter rebuked Jesus and said, “Far be it from you, Lord!  This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22)  Jesus, in turn, rebuked Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23)  If Jesus did not go to the cross, there would be no salvation for sinners.  Jesus also rebuked the wind and the waves on the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus was not to die by drowning, but by crucifixion.  Whenever Jesus rebuked someone or something, the common theme seems to be that Jesus rebukes whatever would prevent him from winning our salvation.
     But then Luke records this: “He rebuked the fever, and it left her...” (Luke 4:39)  To see how this is consistent with preserving our salvation, we must understand that the woman's fever was the result of sin in this world.  Every fever, every ailment, every disease, every allergy, and finally every death is the result of sin.  It is not the result of one specific sin for which God is smiting you.  It is that we are sinners living in a sin-encrusted world.  This corruption means that our bodies break down.  We become frail, sick, and weak.  Genes mutate.  Immunity systems fail.  Eyesight fades.  Hearing goes.  Organs shut down.  And finally death comes to us all.
     It is no surprise that healthcare is such a popular topic.  Employees come to expect a generous healthcare package at their jobs.  Politicians make all kinds of promises to improve it, fix it, or guarantee it.  Healthcare is considered as much of a right as free speech and as necessary as food and water.  It is reported that 1/6 of the US economy is tied to health care.  For many, health has become a false god.  Even people who claim that they can never get out of their homes will not miss a doctor's appointment.  We all pray for longer, happier, and pain-free lives.  We trust doctors, hospitals, and medical prescriptions to be the answer to our prayers.  And yet, none of these will save anyone from the grave or improve the sinful condition.
     Although St. Luke was a doctor, I can assure you that the most important thing Luke ever wrote was not a prescription.  Luke, the physician, testifies to the Great Physician.  Jesus Christ is God who became man.  He was a flesh and blood man who dwelt among flesh and blood people in the midst of their various diseases, their disabilities, and death.  Jesus ministered to those who were hurting and ailing, bringing his healing touch to those who were brought to him.
     The gospel writer Matthew declared that Jesus fulfilled the words of Isaiah, “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:17)  And indeed, Jesus did everything to deliver us from sin and its consequences.  He took into his body every one of our infractions against the Law and the curse that comes with them.  He became sin for us, taking our guilt and all the consequences that comes with our broken condition.  Jesus gave his body into death to deliver our bodies from every consequence of sin—damnation, death, disease, and decay.
     Luke, the physician, testifies to the Great Physician.  For, the one who suffered and died for us in our sinful condition also rose from the grave in his body.  Jesus' body lives and reigns forever in glory and immortality.  He demonstrates that the bodies which God gave us will not be forever discarded, but rather that we will be raised up from the dead in glory, in immortality, without frailties and without failing.
     It is amazing to me how many people—even Christians—like the idea of reincarnation.  People want to come back with new bodies and live in this corrupt, disease-ridden, and death-filled world again and again in an on-going cycle.  If you have suffered at all from sickness, weakness, or disease, why would you want to come back to it?  In any case, that is not what Jesus promises you.  Jesus' resurrection is not some spiritual aspirin which is supposed to mask aches and pains for a little while.  The Great Physician gives you perfect and everlasting healing for all your sicknesses and diseases.  He gives you the resurrection of the body not to return to a broken world, but to dwell in a perfect Paradise.  Heaven knows no hospitals, prescriptions, healthcare plans, or even Kleenex.  Sin has been removed.  All things have been redeemed, restored, and made whole.
     Granted, we are not there yet.  We still live in a world where we are afflicted with disease or knocked out by sickness.  Hospitals continue to be built, and their beds continue to be filled.  The world still needs doctors and nurses to minister to the sick and dying.  It is right to show mercy to the sick, for they need it.  And we thank God for the gifts he has given us in tending to the needs of the ailing—doctors, nurses, paramedics, and technicians, medicine and therapy, and research for new treatments which can bring healing and comfort to us.  We are right to be grateful for these, just as we are grateful for the many gifts God gives us to sustain us in this world.
     But if you desire a long, healthy, happy, and pain free life, then listen to your doctor, St. Luke.  Luke, the physician, testifies to the Great Physician.  All your longings for health, healing, and wholeness find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.  Your solution is not to run to the medicine cabinet, but to the altar.  Here, the body and blood which were given into death to win your salvation are given you to apply Jesus' salvation to you.  It results not merely in a few extra years of life, but life everlasting.  It produces not temporary relief from pain, but eternal rest and peace.  Here is your remedy for death.  This is the medicine of immortality which, if you eat and drink of it, you will live forever with your risen Savior.  And like your flesh and blood Jesus, you too will be saved from the grave with a body that is immortal, imperishable, incorruptible, glorious, and perfect.  For, Jesus will rebuke death and sin and raise you up to eternal life.  It is not something that you merely wish for; it is something you merely wait for.  The physician, Luke, testifies to the Great Physician who is your remedy for sin and death, and who will restore everything to glorious perfection.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

MLS Football at Breckenridge (Varsity)

On Friday, October 16, the Michigan Lutheran Seminary Cardinals travelled to Breckenridge to take on the Huskies.  From what I understand, Breckenridge has had a rather miserable season.  They also had a pretty small bench.  I played on a team like that in high school, so I appreciate their persistence to continue to work at the game.  Season grow especially long and games are a test of mental endurance when you are having a bad year.

MLS did not make life any easier for the Huskies, coasting to a 49-0 win.  Andrew had one TD catch.  We heard he was only about a yard away from having a TD on a punt return.  We had gotten to the game just in time, then got detained in the parking lot, and then at the bathroom.  By the time we actually saw any of the game, MLS was already up 7-0 and threatening to score again.  Andrew's punt return set up the first TD.

Anyway, there was a running clock for most of the second half, and cold fans (on both sides of the field, I think) were cheering for the clock to move quickly.  After the game, the stands cleared out rather quickly, and people streamed to their warm cars.

This catch was good for a first down.
One second away from a touchdown.
One second away from the Breckenridge player wishing he was not the intended receiver.  Andrew with the big hit.

Friday, October 16, 2015

MLS Football vs. Breckenridge (JV)

The Michigan Lutheran Seminary JV Cardinals played host to the Huskies of Breckenridge on Thursday night.  It began as a dark, overcast game, then cleared up for a while.  Then there was a lightning delay for at least an hour, though the lightning stayed well north of us.  When play resumed at 8:09 PM, the winds picked up in the 3rd quarter with MLS staring right into it.  The winds calmed down for the 4th quarter, but the temperature was noticably chillier than at kickoff.  And if that weren't enough, the game ended up being way more exciting than the weather.

Breckenridge took the opening kickoff and drove the ball right down the field for the quick 8-0 lead.  MLS responded with a long TD pass, catch, and run by Adam Arrowsmith to Caleb, but we missed the PAT, leaving the score 8-6.  The MLS defense stiffed up, forcing Breckenridge to punt and/or turn the ball over on downs for the remainder of the half, except for one score.  MLS, meanwhile, had great success moving the ball.  Going into halftime, MLS had a comfortable 34-16 lead.  One of those TD's was another Caleb catch in the end zone.  In addition, Flin Breland (sp?) hauled in a catch and ran it almost into the end zone.  Unfortunately, he fumbled.  Fortunately, MLS had another receiver in the area.  Unfortunately, Breckenridge had two defenders there as well.  Fortunately, the MLS receiver moved in quickly.  Unfortunately, the Breckenridge defenders were closer and appeared to get on the ball.  Fortunately, the MLS receiver slid into the pile and scooped up the ball for the MLS TD.  That receiver was Caleb.  Woot!  Woot!

With the game looking like a blow out, we were hoping that everyone would just decided the extended lightning delay would be reason enough to call the game at halftime.  The Breckenridge coaches were eager to get back to the field, however, so we waited it out.  The lightning in the distance subsided, and play resumed in the 3rd quarter.

Breckenridge came out of the locker room fired up and played very hard in the 3rd quarter.  MLS looked like the game had been called at halftime, lacking the intensity that Breckenridge had.  Perhaps their minds were already on their study halls.  It was not until a controversial call early in the 4th quarter on a fair catch, resulting in Breckenridge getting the ball after they hit the receiver (fair catch, remember?), that the fires began to get stoked again for the MLS team.  After giving up three TD's in the 3rd quarter, the MLS defense began to play with intensity again.

By the end of the 4th quarter, MLS was holding on to a 41-40 lead with Breckenridge driving the ball.  Since Breckenridge had broken a number of plays for long TDs, this game was by no means over.  With the clock running out, Breckenridge thew a deep ball on a roll out right.  Caleb made a sliding interception on the sideline to seal the victory for the JV Cardinals.  Final score, 41-40.

At the beginning of the game -- rain clouds in the east; sunset in the west.
TD saving tackle to begin the game.
Caleb had two interceptions in the game.  This one was in the 2nd quarter.
Return for yardage after the interception.
Caleb's second TD catch, 2nd quarter action.
3rd quarter, Caleb makes a hit/tackle on a Huskie reception that resulted in a fumble.
(You can see the ball by the Breckenridge receiver's helmet.)  MLS recovers.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Something from Luther -- God works even through evil men

            Here is something from the Luther Lecture at our Octoberfest (October 4).  While Detuch scholar, Erasmus, claimed that man has free will and can move himself toward God's grace (still taught by Protestants today), Luther demonstrated that man is bound to his sin and is bound to sin until he is freed from his condition by God's Spirit.
            Luther even shows how God works in evil people and even in Satan himself.  It is not that God sponsors the evil or favors the evil.  It is that God works all in all, even in the wicked, since they cannot exist or act unless God is active in them.  If God is no longer active in you, then you are dead.  But if you are alive and doing something, then God is the one who moves you and sustains you, even if what you are doing is evil.
            Luther explains:

            “Since, then, God moves and actuates all in all, he necessarily moves and acts also in Satan and ungodly man.  But he acts in them as they are and as he finds them; that is to say, since they are averse and evil, and caught up on the movement of this divine omnipotence, they do nothing but averse and evil things.  It is like a horseman riding a horse that is lame in one or two of its feet; his riding corresponds to the condition of the horse, that is to say, the horse goes badly.  But what is the horseman to do?  If he rides such a horse alongside horses that are not lame, this will go baldly while they go well, and it cannot be otherwise unless the horse is cured.  Here you see that when God works in and through evil men, evil things are done, and yet God cannot act evilly although he does evil through evil men, because one who is himself good cannot act evilly; yet he uses evil instruments that cannot escape the sway and motion of his omnipotence.

            “It is the fault, therefore, of the instruments, which God does not allow to be idle, that evil things are done, with God himself setting them in motion.  It is just as if a carpenter were cutting badly with a chipped and jagged ax.  Hence it comes about that the ungodly man cannot but continually err and sin, because he is caught up in the movement of divine power and not allowed to be idle, but wills, desires, and acts according to the kind of person he is.” (On the Bondage of the Will;  Luther's Works: American Edition, Vol. 33, p 176)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Things that make me go HMMMMMMM -- The Apostle Paul

Forensics can be cool.

Some scientists have worked on the bones of famous deceased people to determine what they would have looked like based on forensics.  In the link below, there are ten people whose faces were configured to show what they would have looked like.  Quite often, they show that artists renditions were pretty accurate.  Of special interest are Johann Sebastian Bach and the Apostle Paul (assuming that the remains they found were, indeed, of the apostle).  Paul's face is copied below.  You can find other historical figures in the link below.  In any case, it is pretty cool.


You can find it all here.  Note: The site is in Spanish, but you can pretty much figure out who everyone is.

Hat tip: Cranach, the Blog of Veith

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hymnfest Devotions (October 11, 2015)

NOTE:  This Sunday, we opted to have a Hymnfest for which members got to submit their favorite hymns.  In all, members submitted 79 different hymns, with only 18 receiving more than one suggestion.  Some of these we used for the sermon, including brief summaries, devotions, and background information to introduce each hymn.  The devotions are listed here.


In the name + of Jesus. 

     A brief survey of the Bible shows you that God's people have always rejoiced with songs of praise.  Even the angels sang for joy at God's creation.
     Unfortunately, from the moment sin entered the world, man has wanted his worship to be about him.  To this day, even songs in Christian churches sing about my worship, my hope, and my praise, about how I love Jesus, how I exalt Jesus, how I devote myself to Jesus, and so on.  In other words, the songs are about me, my opinions, and my feelings.  Hymns that highlight what I do or how I feel will likely not speak for every Christian, and therefore, they are flawed.
     When St. Paul wrote to encourage the Colossians their worship, he urged, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)  In other words, let the word of Christ be your praise.
       If you read through the Psalms, you will notice that the way Israel praised God was by singing to God what he had done for them.  They sang of how God saved them, how God protected them, how God guided them, and how God had mercy upon them.  This rightly praises God, as it confesses what God has done to be worthy of praise.  It also confesses to all who hear what we believe and why we are devoted to the Lord.  And when our hymns proclaim God's salvation and God's promises, then those hymns will always be true for every Christian in every age.  Let the word of Christ be your praise.
     When the focus of our hymns is on Jesus' sufferings, death, and resurrection, then we are proclaiming God's salvation for mankind.  When we sing of God's work through word and sacrament, we are proclaiming how God delivers his forgiveness and mercy to us.  When we faithfully sing and learn these hymns, we strengthen our faith; for we remember our theology from these hymns, we draw comfort from them, we warn against sin and false doctrine though them, and we declare the wonders of God to unbelievers through them.  Let the word of Christ be your praise—for this is what saves, and it is therefore the only thing that is worthy of our praise.

Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel (CW 23)
Of the hymns that were submitted and chosen as one of our favorites, the Christian Church has been singing this one for the longest time.  Its roots go back to the 6th or 7th century.  In Christian worship back then, verses from Scripture were either read or chanted at certain points of the service.  They were known as antiphons.  During the season of Advent, a series of antiphons developed known, as “O Antiphons,” based on the first word of each line being “O.”
Later, in about the 12th century, these O Antiphons were arranged into a hymn setting with the opening line being, “Veni, veni, Emmanuel,” which is “Come, Come, Emmanuel.”  In the 13th century, the refrain, “Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel,” was added.
Each verse—there were originally seven—introduces a Messianic title to the Church which awaits her Christ.
O Wisdom from on high
O Adonai (that is, Lord) and leader of the house of Israel
O Root of Jesse who stood as a standard of the people
O Key of David and scepter of our home
O Dayspring, splendor of eternal glory
O longed-for King of the nations
O Emmanuel, our king and law-giver

SING: O, Come, O, Come, Emmanuel (CW 23)

Away in a Manger (CW 68)
Although this hymn has been called, “Luther's Cradle Song,” it was not Martin Luther's.  Historical research finds older versions of this hymn in English than in German.  The oldest versions found only go back to the late 1800's.
We often speak about the traditional melody of the tune.  Traditions are often personal things.  In this case, our tradition might only be linked to a melody we recall from Christmas Eve services from our youth.  One scholar has uncovered 41 settings of this hymn, though clearly some melodies are more popular than others.
This hymn is likely most endearing because it recalls not only Jesus' birth, but also our own earliest memories of celebrating Jesus' birth.  Poetic license credits Jesus as a baby which did not cry.  But being true man, Jesus would have been hungry and soiled himself, indicating both of these needs to his parents by crying.
The hymn also calls on Jesus to stay with us, to watch over us as we sleep, to bless all who are children of God, and finally to take us to heaven where he has ascended.  It is for these reasons that it is rightly called a cradle song.

SING: Away in a Manger (CW 68)
The Lord's My Shepherd, I'll Not Want (CW 360)
In the Church for many ages, melodies and songs were very simple.  Melodies were often only unison chant lines.  As time went by, tunes became more elaborate.  Lyrics also changed.  Instead of limiting themselves to direct quotations from Scripture, hymn-writers began to paraphrase the Scriptures, particularly the Psalms, into metered hymns which rhymed.  Not surprisingly, Psalm 23 was paraphrased often.  Between Christian Worship and the Supplement, we have four distinct paraphrased hymns based on Psalm 23.
The first draft of this particular version of Psalm 23 was written by William Whittingham about 1556.  This version was first published in 1650, and has been enjoyed by English speaking Christians for over 3 ½ centuries.

SING: The Lord's My Shepherd (CW 360)

I'm But a Stranger Here (CW 417)
This hymn was written by Thomas R. Taylor in about 1835.  Taylor was dying of tuberculosis at the age of 27 when he was focused no longer on this world but on our citizenship which is in heaven.
In a few short lines, Taylor confesses both the corruption of this world, to which he would soon bid farewell, and the glories which we shall enjoy at our Father's side in heaven.  For that reason, even though he would die at a young age, he would murmur not.  Whatever his earthly lot, Taylor would accept it because he knew that his eternal lot would be glorious, comforting, joyful, and heavenly.  He would be reunited with the faithful who had gone before him and rejoice in eternal rest.
Incidentally, the melody which we has been wed to this hymn was written in 1872 by Sir Arthur Sullivan of Gilbert and Sullivan fame.

SING: I'm But a Stranger Here (CW 417)

Abide With Me (CW 588)
This hymn was written by Rev. Henry Francis Lyte in 1847 in what would be the final year of his life.  Tradition says that Lyte walked out to the cliffs behind his home one evening, watched the sunset, and was reminded of Luke 24:49 where the Emmaus disciples summoned Jesus, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening.”
Though the hymn is in the section of the hymnal entitled “Evening,” you probably have heard it at funerals more than anywhere.  The lyrics make us mindful that all earthly helpers will fail us, especially in our final hours.  This hymn prays for God to come to us, not in terror, but in mercy.  It remembers God's promises of the resurrection so that our woes and griefs are not so weighty.  The hymn even taunts, “Where is death's sting?  Where, grave, thy victory?”  It longs for heaven's glory to greet us, where the Lord will have us abide with him forever.

SING: Abide With Me (CW 588:1,2,6,7)

For Me to Live Is Jesus (CW 606)
This hymn was written by Melchior Vulpius who had served several German congregations as a cantor.  Its first publication is found in 1609.
Perhaps the most noteworthy phrase in Vulpius' hymn is that he prays that he will be spared from any doubts in his final hour.  Though Satan will attack and vex us, and he will not even need to make things up to do that, we have a refuge even in the most vile attack.  Jesus Christ remains our refuge.  It is his merits that cover all our sins.  Jesus' death has paid for all our guilt, and his resurrection guarantees our own resurrection to life everlasting.  While we gladly serve our Lord while we remain on earth, we gain much more when our Lord is pleased to call us heavenward.

SING: For Me to Live Is Jesus (CW 660)

We began these hymns with the longing for our Savior in heaven to come to us, and we have concluded with our longing to go to be with our Savior in heaven.  The hymns that proclaim Jesus' sufferings, death, and resurrection and which repeat God's promises will always serve the Church best.  They honor God the most.  Such hymns declare God's mercy and salvation, and they build up the faith of the faithful.  They repeat our hope, and they highlight the certainty of the promises in which we hope.

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

Saturday, October 10, 2015

MLS Football vs. Valley Lutheran (Varsity)

We did not get to see the Michigan Lutheran Seminary JV squad on Thursday night.  Because we were in southwest Michigan, we did not stand a chance to make the game at Valley Lutheran in Saginaw.  We also heard that the weather was wretched, so we felt a little better about missing that.  The good news is that the MLS JV won the game.  Suggested scores from our children were 51-12 or 51-14 or something like that.  Our family prides itself on precision!

The MLS varsity hosted the Chargers of Valley Lutheran (Saginaw), hoping to cement a spot in the playoffs with their 6th win of the year.  The win was convincing, and confidence boosting after a rough loss to Ithaca the week before.  MLS left their Homecoming fans happy with a 61-20 win.

Andrew was moved out to wide receiver for the whole game.  Sophomore Cade Kestner started at QB and had quite a game for his first start on varisty.  Kestner threw for 3 TD's and ran for 3 more.  Casey Williams also finally returned to action and he posted 3 TD's (two rushing, one receiving).

Two of Kestner's TD passes were to Andrew.  There is a photo of one below.  The other photo was a big blur.  Crud.  In addition to three catches at wide receiver, Andrew pulled in one interception and had a long return on that one, setting up another TD a few plays later.

You can check out an M-Live article here.

You can also see some TV coverage from Friday Night Lights here.  Start at the 8:00 mark for MLS coverage.  Cade Kestner and Andrew Schroeder also get shout-outs at the 9:20 mark!

The first score of the game.
This catch came up just a few yards short of a TD.
Here is Andrew's interception.
Most punts were kicked out of bounds to prevent returns.
Andrew got to return this one quite a few yards (30?) to give MLS nice field position to start their next drive.

Traveling with the Schroeders -- Warren Dunes State Park

While Laura was attending sessions at a Teachers' Conference at Michigan Lutheran High School near St. Joseph, Michigan, Philip, Peter, and I made our way to Warren Dunes State Park, just off mile marker 16 on I-94 in southwest Michigan.

I was all ready to watch Philip and Peter climb the dune, but pride got the better of me and I trekked up the hill with them.  While it was a nice view, it was also unnecessary proof that I am woefully out of shape.

Some photos.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sermon -- 19th Sunday after Pentecost (October 4, 2015)

LUKE 16:19-31

In the name + of Jesus. 

     Be honest.  Who would you rather be—the rich man or the beggar?  There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.  And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores...  Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. (Luke 16:19-21)  When Jesus mentions the dogs which came to lick Lazarus' sores, that is not a Disney moment like the mice and the birds who stitched together Cinderella's dress.  These dogs were not expressing their pity on Lazarus.  These dogs were scavengers.  If they came to lick Lazarus' sores, they were checking to see if he was still alive.  If not, they would pick at him and consume his carcass.  This is not, “Awwwww.”  It is “Ewwww!”  While Lazarus languished, festered and famished, at the front door of the rich man, the rich man lived the high life—enjoying fine clothes, fine food, and a fine time.  Be honest.  Who would you rather be?
     In time, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. (Luke 16:22)  We don't even hear of a burial.  The rich man also died and was buried (Luke 16:22)—probably with a funeral and a grave site as lavish as his lifestyle had been.  But the rich man was banished to hell where he suffered the torments of the damned.  He longed for even a drop of relief, but he was refused any.  Abraham explained it to him: “Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.” (Luke 16:25)  
     But this is not some sort of spiritual Robin Hood where the evil rich person has to pay the price for being rich.  The rich man did not go to hell as a punishment for being rich and Lazarus did not go to heaven as a reward for being poor.  God chose to bless the rich man with much; God chose to bless Lazarus with little.  But for the rich man, his riches were his good things.  That's what mattered to him.  He savored his wealth and did not deny himself anything.  And even though the Law commanded him to give alms to the poor, the rich man did not even bother to walk out his front door and give him scraps.  He was rich, and he loved his riches.  He had enjoyed the good life, but his goods did him no good at his death, just as his goods had done no good for Lazarus throughout his life.  The rich man lived as he had believed—he had no love for his fellow man, only himself.  He believed his goods things were devoted only to his own good.  Only when he died did he learn that those things had done him no good.  And then he was damned.
     The only good thing is to believe God's word.  And if you believe God's word, then you will live like you believe God's word.  You will love your neighbor as yourself, not just in theory, but in practice.   Boasting that you would have given Lazarus a sandwich does not mean much because you weren't there.  There are many today, however, who are enduring hardship, poverty, and disaster whom you can help.  You and I live in the most prosperous country on earth.  And despite our prosperity, charities like the Red Cross practically have to beg for people to contribute to them.  And while it is true that some scam artists pose as the needy, we dare not let our skepticism be our excuse for refusing to be charitable and generous.  To say “I believe in helping the needy” but never actually helping the needy ought to make you wonder if you really believe it.
     The only good thing is to believe God's word—even when it exposes your sins and condemns you.  For, if you believe that you are a sinner, then you will also believe that you need to repent.  And if you believe that you cannot save yourself, you will flee continually to the Savior whom God sent for you.
     The only good thing is to believe God's word.  The rich man did not believe God's word.  Even when he was in hell, he did not believe God's word.  He did not believe he should have to suffer the agony he was enduring.  He believed that he was still worthy of mercy, even if it was only scraps or drops.  Jesus often referred to hell as a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.  People will gnash their teeth in anger because they are still unbelievers.  They do not believe that God has judged them fairly.
     It is still a sign of unbelief that God will not send people to hell.  Even some Christian churches have jettisoned the teaching of eternal damnation because it sounds so cruel and unloving.  But to reject hell is to disbelieve the Scriptures.  In an effort to make God seem more loving, people lie and suggest that God will never condemn anyone.  This not only corrupts the Scriptures, but it also confirms the corrupt to continue in their sins.  If you won't be damned for your sins, why would you ever repent of them?  That is why the only good thing is to believe God's word.
     Once he was in torment, the rich man yearned for his brothers who were also unbelievers.  He did not want them to receive the same judgment he had received.  So, he begged Abraham, “If Lazarus will not grant me relief in hell, then send him back to earth so that he would grant relief to my brothers and warn them of this place.”  But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ (Luke 16:29)  They have God's word, and there are preachers who proclaim it.
     That is what all sinners need.  That is where God reveals the Savior who delivers us from death and hell.  That is where Jesus is proclaimed as the one who has loved his neighbor perfectly, particularly by taking up all our sins—being charged for sins he did not commit and dying a cursed death he did not deserve.  But Jesus did it for us.  Though we may have been stingy with mercy, Jesus' mercy has been abundant and has forgiven us of all our sins.  Though we have been slow to sacrifice our goods for the benefit of the needy, Jesus sacrificed himself completely because we needed him to deliver us from hell and the grave.  Jesus' rose from the grave to assure us that our sins are pardoned and that our graves are powerless.  God has revealed this good news in his word; and that is why the only good is to believe God's word.
     The rich man persisted in his unbelief.  He said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:30-31)  If people will not believe God's word, there is no gimmick on earth which will make them believe it—not even if someone rises from the dead.  After all, if you will not believe God, no gimmick will help.  But in fact, we know that one did rise from the dead.  Jesus Christ died and rose again—his death to pay for our sins, his resurrection to assure us that the payment is sufficient and satisfies our Father in heaven.  The risen Savior has given us his word so that we will believe it and be saved by it.
     And now, by faith, Jesus Christ who has worked for us also works in us and through us.  He who sacrificed himself and gave everything fills us so that we are willing to give something to others who have little or nothing.  It is good for us to dedicate our goods for the good of others.  For, the greatest good thing we have is the gospel which God has implanted in us.  The only good thing is to believe God's word.  It is that word which has done for us the greatest good.  It guarantees our eternal good.

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

MLS Football vs. Ithaca (Varsity)

I'm a little slow getting updated on this blog (a few days, anyway), so here is the recap of the contest between the Michigan Lutheran Seminary Cardinals and the Yellowjackets of Ithaca.

In short, Ithaca is a strong, fast, disciplined, and talented team.  It showed up on the field and in the final score, 38-0.

One giant factor was field position in the entire first half.  While there were some expections, MLS played on a field that was 90 yards or so long.  Ithaca's field was about 35 yards long.  We made it hard for ourselves to get down the field and to keep Ithaca out of the end zone.

There is coverage from WMEN, TV 5 found here.  The MLS-Ithaca contest is the first one broadcast.  You can also find an M-Live article here.  You can also watch Coach Schmugge's pre-game talk here.

Some photos.

It was parents' night at MLS.

Andrew defensed this pass in the 1st quarter.

This was the closest we got to a TD, but the pass was tipped and fell to the ground, 4th quarter.