The Pastor’s View2018-06-09T16:50:51+00:00

The Pastor’s View

December 2018

In the bustle and business of every day life, how easy it is to forget all the multitude of blessings we have and forget to have an attitude of gratitude, of Thanksgiving. Especially should we give thanks for those who serve or who served in our armed forces to protect and defend our country and our freedoms. As we end the Church Year, we remember that Jesus will return as triumphant judge and end all that opposes our wondrous Triune God.

As we move into the new Church Year with the season of Advent, which comes for the Latin for “arrival” or “to come.” Past, present and future… we remember to prepare ourselves to celebrate Christ first coming in the manger, look to His coming among us now in Word and Sacrament and look forward to His second coming as righteous, conquering judge. Did you know that Advent originated as a fast of forty days in preparation for Christmas that began the day after the feast of St. Martin (which is November 11 which was the day Martin Luther was baptized and the reason he was named Martin)? As early as the 5th century, it was called “St. Martin’s Lent.” In the ninth century, Advent was shortened to the 4 weeks before Christmas yet preserved the characteristics of a penitential season (that’s why we used to use purple paraments as a counterpart to Lent). However, it also has the expectation and preparation for the feast of Christmas as well as for Christ’s second coming.

Advent is reflective and penitential and yet expectant and joyful. Theologian Henri Nouwen described the difference between joy and happiness. While happiness is dependent on external conditions, joy is “the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing –  sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death – can take that love away.” Thus joy can be present even in the midst of sadness and a great way to think of Advent. Plan to join our Divine Services to be prepared.

[Laskey, Mike Jordan. “This Gaudete Sunday, rejoice despite the heartbreak all around us”, National Catholic Reporter, 11 December 2014]

 

November 30th, 2018|

November 2018

How does one find the will of God? The best source is directly from God’s Word and then principles based on His Word. Advice from those who are spiritually mature is often very helpful. But at times, prayerfully asking God to open doors that He wishes us to enter is a wise option. For example, with the recent part-time call that I had to Atonement Lutheran in Omaha, it was very clear that I would need an additional source of income to be able to accept their divine call. So I prayerfully asked the Lord to open up such a source of income if I was to accept their call.

Then as I continued to pray, I prepared a resume (something I had never done before because our church body uses specific forms for information on pastors), searched and applied for some jobs online including chaplain positions at a couple of retirement homes, took an afternoon and dropped off the resume several places, completed an application for a Christian bookstore, phoned all 3 Circuit Visitors in the Omaha area asking about congregations who might be looking for a visitation pastor or part-time staff and then contacted those congregations. After several prayerful weeks of waiting, nothing was opening up. So I took that as God’s answer that at this time I was to continue to serve the divine call you issued me in 2005.

November holds our Adair Circuit’s first (as far as we know) circuit-wide Reformation Celebration, our Stewardship process “Embracing Great Commission Stewardship”, Thanksgiving Eve Service on November 21st with a Men’s Choir, perhaps the completion of our Access for All Construction, and “Hanging of the Greens” on November 25. Advent officially begins on December 2nd.

See you in Divine Service,                               

 

November 1st, 2018|

October 2018

As of this writing, I have not made a decision between the call Zion issued to me over 13 years ago and the part-time call that Atonement Lutheran of Omaha issued the end of August. When I reach a decision, I will announce it at the beginning of our Divine Services. Because they were issued by congregations of our Lord’s people, both calls are divine and I must prayerfully decide — trusting the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Please keep me and my family in your prayers.

The month of September has brought some sad changes. We lost 3 members from this physical life in a week.  St. John Lutheran, Adair, had their last Divine Service on Sunday, September 23.  Also, Immanuel Lutheran, Adair, and Holy Trinity Lutheran, Atlantic, both decided to close on Sunday, September 16 (Immanuel hasn’t set a closing date at this time). While sad, those who leave this physical life while trusting in our Lord Jesus now live with our Lord Jesus. Also, congregations serve to share Christ’s Gospel and build up disciples for our Lord as long as they share the pure God’s Word and properly administer His Sacraments. We are all only here for a time, indeed such a short time. The seven churches of Asia Minor with whom John first shared his Revelation no longer exist; however, the message of Revelation that we have the victory in Christ even though it appears that Satan and his forces are winning is still true! What we believers, guided by the Holy Spirit, accomplish through Jesus is crystal clear in Revelation 7: “9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

Rejoicing in our victory in Christ, see you in Divine Service,

September 28th, 2018|

September 2018

With the approach of autumn, school starts again.  I encourage us all to keep our schools in prayer.  Our young people (and their teachers) have so many challenges and distractions today.  As someone recently told me, “Prayers are the greatest help.” Or as Proverbs 15:29 reminds us: “The Lord hears the prayer of the righteous.” And through faith in Christ, we have the righteousness of God.  Besides our local schools, please also be praying for our adult Bibles Studies, Weekday, Sunday School, Preschool and Daycare.  As James 5:16 informs us: “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  Or as Romans 12:12 encourages: “Be constant in prayer.” Please keep praying for our young people and all those in need.

We also rejoice in the answer to many prayers as work continues on our Access for All project.  Thank you to everyone who is helping to make this dream a reality.

August 29th, 2018|

August 2018

Every so often through the grapevine, I hear that someone is wondering if I’d had a divine call to another congregation or declined such a call. I have not received an actual divine call from another congregation since I came to Zion in 2005. If I receive a such call from another congregation or church institution, pleased be reassured that you will hear about it (in worship services, the Together, this Newsletter, etc.). Since it’s been several years since Zion has gone through a call process for a pastor, I’ll share some more information on page 7.

Our access for all project is moving along fairly quickly. We should be able to use the handicap bathroom and lift elevator sometime this fall. I’ve been sharing some pictures showing updates of the work on our Facebook account. If you search for Zion Lutheran Church LCMS on Facebook, you should find it. Or stop by church and check out the progress. Please keep this project and our congregation’s ministry in your prayers.

August 1st, 2018|

July 2018

Ah summertime, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy  Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high  Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’  So hush little baby, don’t you cry.” Or so the myth goes. For so many of us, summer is one of the busiest times of the year.

Perhaps it should remind us that the unofficial start of summertime is Memorial Day, “a day on which those who died in active military service are remembered.” And its unofficial end is Labor Day which “honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country.” So summertime is bookended by those who sacrificed their lives and those who worked and sweated hard. Therefore, we shouldn’t expect it to always be “easy.”

I don’t know of an English translation of the Bible that uses the term “vacation.” There is rest and quiet time but those mentions would be closer to a spiritual retreat than a modern vacation. God’s Word doesn’t take a vacation for it keeps confronting us with the Law and comforts us with the Gospel. Yes, please take some needed time for a rest, but make sure spiritual refreshment is included.

See you in Divine Service,

July 2nd, 2018|