Holy Trinity Lutheran Church is located in Leesburg, and is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Curch in America. All are welcome!
Mission: We care as friends, we love as family, and we serve as Christ.
No doubt, Eschatological is not a word in our common speaking vocabulary. It is a fancy word rooted in Greek for understanding the future. Literally, it is the Greek “Eschatos” which means “last or last things” and “logy” which means the “study of.” So, Eschatology is the study of the last things. When we say the study of last things, we think of the book of Revelations in the Bible, Armageddon, and all the prophecies for the end of the world. Religions look toward the end times as anywhere from massive tragedy with destruction to a heavenly and earthly reunification. Speaking of the end times can make all of us nervous, if for nothing else, it is change.
In Lutheran circles I have read that we live in the end times and that we are waiting for the finality of it all to happen with Jesus’ coming. In good old Lutheran theology, we are part of two kingdoms: the Kingdom of this world and God’s kingdom. The end times is when God takes control of it all. The actual description of this event is usually scary and usually traumatic, even from Jesus (Matt 24). But in the end, God has total dominion, and that is good.
But Eschatology also includes the study of God’s kingdom that we will emerge into. For some, we will come into it at death, or for others, they may come into in on the last day. But Lutherans will also say that we are asked to be faithful servants, and if we are, then there is nothing to fear in the second coming of Jesus. Why would Jesus, who came to save us, cause hardship to the ones he loves and those that love him? If you are a faithful follower, Jesus promises new life for you, so what else matters?
Since all the predictions and theories are speculation, and have no impact on a faithful person, I tend to take Jesus’ advice in not trying to know too much about it (Matt 24:36). Actually, I try not to worry about it because I think a change in behavior or being more faithful because we want to be spared from scary destruction is not loving God, it is saving our skin. God doesn’t want people who are smart enough to save their skin, he wants people to love him.
Eschatology to me means thinking about and understanding the importance of the promise of Jesus Christ. We do not know anything about heaven. Jesus did not tell us much. It is there and it is good. That is all we know. Being eschatological is yearning for that end time. It is not basing our life on the past and the events of the past. It is setting our life up for the future and moving toward a great future of the promise of Christ. As we get older, that promise becomes very important, because in reality, that is all we have. So, yeah, we are all Eschatological. We all yearn for Jesus’ promise of new life.
This Week at Holy Trinity 07-07-2019
This Week at Holy Trinity 06-30-2019
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Vacation Bible School
July 15—19, 2019, 9:AM—Noon
Lift off for an intergalactic adventure with Miraculous Mission: Jesus Saves the World. Explore God's miraculous mission and learn about His plan of salvation from creation to the cross! Based on the key verse John 3:16, students learn:
Day 1. God made the universe and He made me.
Day 2: God promised a Savior and He keeps His Word.
day 3: Jesus the Savior is Born and Jesus came for me.
Day 4: Jesus the Savior is Risen and Jesus saves me.
Day 5: Jesus the Savior Reigns and Jesus is coming for me.
Registration will be ending soon! You can pick up registration forms in the Commons, or download them from our website for both participants and volunteers:
PreK (must be 4 by September 30, 2019) through Rising 5th Grade Students
Special Junior Crew Program for rising 6th graders.
Volunteer opportunities for Rising 7th graders –adult
The scary monster hiding under the bed for Lutherans is named Evangelism. For years we had the Field of Dreams (It was a movie about baseball) attitude: If you build it, they will come. We believed that if you just preached the good news of Jesus Christ people will be attracted to the message that God is leading us to communicate and they will come.
We have learned that this approach does not work. We need to have an active role in inviting people to faith in Jesus Christ. The reason, I think, is that today people care little about what an institution believes or thinks (people did care about that fifty years ago). People today are attracted to the personal witness. They are attracted to what a person, a friend, neighbor, or co-worker genuinely says about their faith, and what they do because of their beliefs. So, it is how we live our lives in faith that may be what other people look at. Of course, a church will talk about their faith in Jesus Christ. But the people inside and outside the church will see Jesus in how we live together in faith.
I had a neighbor that was a good Christian that went to her church religiously every week. She was devoted to her faith in Jesus Christ. But she was angry when children hit a baseball into her yard, or some high school student solicited her for support of the High School marching band. She was mean to the kids at Halloween and she did little to socialize or strengthen life in the neighborhood. One of my neighbors said, “I know she goes to church, but I wouldn’t step foot in her church!” Certainly, one can sympathize with remark. If this neighbor acted this way and had a Christian faith, then it appears they really didn’t get the message of Jesus Christ.
The trick to being evangelical is to be transparent in living out your faith and to be genuine about it. It doesn’t mean that we need to always be talking about our faith. It means that when there are times that we draw on our faith in Jesus Christ for strength, we don’t hide it. We are proud to have Jesus Christ in our life. A quick example of that is that we say prayers before meals—even at a restaurant. We are not loud or anything, we just pray. Judging from the looks of people watching us, they take notice.
If someone asks why I am doing something, like feeding the poor or helping on a civic project, I will be quick to say that it is an extension of my faith. That way they can put two and two together. Faith in Jesus Christ is something that is lived out in our lives and not just lived out in church. Think about how you live out your faith transparently and genuinely. It will be your witness that is evangelism.
This Week at Holy Trinity 06-23-2019
This Week at Holy Trinity 06-16-2019
From time to time, we lose sight about who we are as a church and sometimes even the benefit of being a church community. It the next four weeks, we will talk about what it means to be Christian, and more specifically, Lutheran. We will focus on four key elements of living out our faith in Jesus Christ: Evangelical, Evangelism, Expectant, and Eschatological. While these aspects are not the only aspects, these characteristics are part of who we are and how we profess our faith in our lives.
Today, we are going to talk about what it means to be Evangelical. This word is misused by some of Christians. We as Lutherans are Evangelical, but not evangelical as described by the American Evangelical movement in the Baptist and non-denominational churches. Cutting to the quick, Evangelical is rooted in Greek meaning “Good News” or “Gospel.” It is people that believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and share that first and foremost. Tim Wengert, a Lutheran theologian, visited Germany and asked for the nearest Lutheran Church. People were confused about what he wanted. In Germany, Lutherans from Luther’s day have always been known as Evangelicals. When the Reformation started, they were the people who based their faith on the Gospel as witnessed in the Bible and not the solely on the church.
We believe that the “Gospel” of Jesus Christ is best taught through the Bible as its witness. But the Gospel is alive. It is not contained in a book, or a church building, or a dogma, or doctrine. It is the Good News of a living and gracious God who sent his Son to live and die for us. The Gospel is not about what we do, but what God has done for us.
We, as Lutherans, have our roots in this belief. We are not people who believe in a set of rules or doctrines that limits God’s grace or hampers the ability of God to claim anyone as his child or follower. We do not limit our understanding of the Gospel to specific literal interpretations but seek what Jesus or the authors meant in their words and stories. Baptism and Holy Communion are ways that God’s grace and presence is promised to the recipient. It is a promise of Jesus’ coming not just an achievement of faith based on our decision.
As part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, we are happy to experience a good and gracious and forgiving God who loves us and cares for us. We are happy to extend the Good News of Jesus Christ to others who need to hear about Jesus’ saving grace clear of judgement and condemnation. So today we re-claim what it means to be evangelical and live in the spirit of God’s holy grace.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Come, Holy Spirit! Today is Pentecost Sunday. We celebrate that God sent the Holy Spirit to be among us and work within us.
Have you ever been captive to keeping a secret, especially a good secret? You know something that other people would like to know, like a mutual friend is getting engaged or a girlfriend of yours is having a baby. AGH! It is hard to keep the news to yourself! Have you ever been so happy that you just walk around like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins? You just want to have everyone happy around you and you will provoke the happy feeling if you need to. Musically, Nellie Forbush excitedly sings in South Pacific, “I am as corny as Kansas in August…. I’m in love with a wonderful guy.” The late Doris Day sings, “Que Sera Sera.” Remember Bobby McFarland? “Don’t worry, be happy.” We are happy when we hear them. You probably know some songs that release the happiness in your soul.
I don’t think that Pentecost, that is the Holy Spirit coming to the Apostles, was a solemn event. I think it was a happy and exciting moment. They lost their fear of being arrested or being rejected by people, and they wanted to share the story of Jesus at the top of their lungs. They had something inside of them like a “happy secret” that thanks to the Holy Spirit, they just couldn’t contain anymore.
Have you had any moments like that? Have you ever been so happy about God that you just couldn’t contain it? Was it a marriage proposal? A birth of your first child? Arriving at a beautiful vacation spot? Was it getting a great job offer? Was it watching great achievements of your children? Or the birth of a grandchild? We get so full of happy emotion that the words of thank you God come out so naturally.
That is what Pentecost was like. The Apostles went into high gear. They needed to speak and tell people what Jesus Christ was about. They needed to share. And the fact that they were so excited and happy about it made it contagious. Everyone that heard it wanted the happiness that they had.
Today we celebrate that moment in the Apostles’ life. But it is also a continual moment in our life. We need to find the joy of believing in Jesus Christ that compels us to share it with all the innocent bystanders in our lives. It could be our co-worker, our neighbor, a parent on the soccer sidelines, someone we are going out with, or anyone.
We ask: “Hey, what do you do for faith? What do you believe in, if you don’t mind me asking? Does your faith make you happy? Does it make sense to you? Just asking… (he he—I am ready for this. Can’t wait for my turn to tell.)
This Week at Holy Trinity 06-09-2019
June 2019 Tidings
This Week at Holy Trinity 06-02-2019
This portrait of Martin Luther was drawn in his younger and less confident days. He was a monk and wanted to be right with God. He went to confession twice a day as he tried to rid himself of sin. He tried and tried to be as pure and holy as one could be, but he was smart enough to realize that he couldn’t work his way to being acceptable before God. That drove him crazy. That is why I like this portrait. It has Martin Luther looking a little crazy — or at least distressed.
Martin Luther’s distress did not keep him from studying the Bible. And it was the reading we have today that inspired a major breakthrough for Martin and for us in understanding God’s gift to us in his Son, Jesus. Martin read Romans 1:16-17 and found that the translation of ‘ek pistews eis pistin’ through faith for faith…as it is written, ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith.’
Martin Luther found cause to translate it another way and the results were very revealing. The righteousness of God is revealed through his faithfulness (talking about Jesus) for our faith (talking about us). The one who is righteous will live by his faith (Jesus’ faithfulness). In other words, it is by Jesus’ faithfulness that we live, not our own faithfulness. It is what Jesus did that saved us, not what we do. You can see that changed everything. It did for Martin Luther and it does for us.
I don’t usually get into the parsing of the language of scripture, but this is a very significant change in understanding. All of the book of Romans and the book of Galatians and other St. Paul writings support this thinking.
As we continue in the Easter season, we are reminded of the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection to our life with God. Because it is by Jesus’ righteousness and faithfulness in doing God’s will that we all are redeemed and live. It is important that we find that message in the Gospels as the events of that Holy Week are recorded, and also in other writings and letters such as the letters of Paul. If over time we lose the centrality and significance of this message, someone like Martin Luther will come along and bring us back. Thanks, Martin Luther, for showing us that Jesus’ faithfulness to God is the faith that carries us. Amen, Martin Luther. The one who is righteous lives by Jesus’ faithfulness.
This Week at Holy Trinity 05-26-2019
When we focus on all of the things that challenge us in daily life...the things that challenge us personally, and the things that challenge others, we know how easy it can be to become overwhelmed by those challenges, and even be tempted to give up at times.
We also know there is something that can keep us and others going in the midst of the most difficult of challenges. And that something is hope...hope that insists that no matter how difficult things are at the moment, those challenges are not the last word. That something is the hope that comes from the absolute assurance that the power of God's love comes to us in the midst of those challenges. That something is the assurance that God's powerful love is what has the last word.
We are blessed in our baptism to know the assurance that we belong to God - who names us as God's own and who claims us for all eternity - who promises to be with us in all circumstances - who promises to never let go of us, no matter what the cost, even being willing to give it all for us on the cross. We are blessed to know the love of God that is our strength and hope in all circumstance.
This week we will focus on how that hope comes to us. As you read Romans 5:5, think of the times when you have known hope in the midst of very difficult circumstances. Think of what it means to you to be claimed by God for all time in your baptism, with the assurance of the Holy Spirit that is there for you at all times.
—Pastor Gretchen Ritola
Holy Trinity welcomes Pastor Gretchen Ritola as our guest pastor this Sunday. Gretchen moved to Leesburg after retiring as a pastor in Nebraska, where she served for 32 years. Gretchen has been a member of Holy Trinity since March 2018. In addition to sharing her pastoral gifts, Gretchen teaches music at Little Blessings Preschool, and shares her musical gifts as an organist and a choir member. Gretchen truly appreciates being able to be part of the ministry of the people of Holy Trinity.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
livinglutheran.org Kathryn Ives’ life was forever touched by mental illness more than 25 years ago when two of her four daughters were diagnosed as young adults with bipolar disorder. Today, she’s thankful that one of those daughters, Jennifer—now 48 and a special education teacher—is complying with her medica...
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