a congregation of the evangelical lutheran church in america in midland, texas come worship with us @ 10:30 every Sunday morning
Mission: proclaiming the gospel, administering the sacraments, carrying out god's mission
a little something for the kiddos ...
blogs.elca.org Worship in the Home Third Sunday of Easter April 26, 2020 In this time of world-wide crisis, congregations throughout this church are not able to gather for worship as the body of Christ. While you cannot be together in person, we can hear the word of God and hold each other in prayer. We offer this...
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Tonight at sundown, our Muslim neighbors enter into Ramadan, the holiest month of the year for Muslims. This month commemorating the revelation of the Qur’an is a month of intense spiritual rejuvenation, devotion, and reflection. We wish all of our Muslim neighbors a generous and blessed Ramadan.
Saw this, this morning ... says a lot about Tuesdays' and Thursdays' Blessing!
~ John Lennon
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION, reading 2 ...
Be sure, moreover, that you do not make Christ into a Moses, as if Christ did nothing more than teach and provide examples as the other saints do, as if the gospel were simply a textbook of teachings or laws. Therefore you should grasp Christ, his words, works, and sufferings, in a twofold manner. First as an example that is presented to you, which you should follow and imitate. As St. Peter says in 1st Peter 4, “Christ suffered for us, thereby leaving us an example.” Thus when you see how he prays, fasts, helps people, and shows them love, so also you should do, both for yourself and for your neighbor. However, this is the smallest part of the gospel, on the basis of which it cannot yet even be called gospel. For on this level Christ is of no more help to you than some other saint. His life remains his own and does not as yet contribute anything to you. In short this mode [of understanding Christ as simply an example] does not make Christians but only hypocrites. You must grasp Christ at a much higher level. Even though this higher level has for a long time been the very best, the preaching of it has been something rare. The chief article and foundation of the gospel is that before you take Christ as an example, you accept and recognize him as a gift, as a present that God has given you and that is your own.15 This means that when you see or hear of Christ doing or suffering something, you do not doubt that Christ himself, with his deeds and suffering, belongs to you. On this you may depend as surely as if you had done it yourself; indeed as if you were Christ himself. See, this is what it means to have a proper grasp of the gospel, that is, of the overwhelming goodness of God, which neither prophet, nor apostle, nor angel was ever able fully to express, and which no heart could adequately fathom or marvel at. This is the great fire of the love of God for us, whereby the heart and conscience become happy, secure, and content. This is what preaching the Christian faith means. This is why such preaching is called gospel, which in German means a joyful, good, and comforting “message”; and this is why the apostles are called the “twelve messengers.”
Concerning this, Isaiah 9[:6] says, “To us a child is born, to us a son is given.” If he is given to us, then he must be ours; and so we must also receive him as belonging to us. And Romans 8[:32], “How should [God] not give us all things with God’s own Son?” See, when you lay hold of Christ as a gift which is given you for your very own and have no doubt about it, you are a Christian. Faith redeems you from sin, death, and hell and enables you to overcome all things. No one can speak enough about this. It is a pity that this kind of preaching has been silenced in the world, and yet boast is made daily of the gospel.
for the THIRD SUNDAY of EASTER, april 26th …
the PRAYER of the DAY –
O God, your Son makes himself known to all his disciples in the breaking of bread. Open the eyes of our faith, that we may see him in his redeeming work, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
the FIRST READING (Acts 2:14a, 36-41) –
Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed [the crowd], “Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.
the PSALM (Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19) –
1I love the LORD, who has heard my voice,
and listened to my supplication,
for the LORD has given ear to me
whenever I called.
The cords of death entangled me; the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I came to grief and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I pray you, save my life.”
How shall I repay the LORD
for all the good things God has done for me?
I will lift the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all God’s people.
Precious in your sight, O LORD,
is the death of your servants.
O LORD, truly I am your servant;
I am your servant, the child of your handmaid; you have freed me from my bonds.
I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call upon the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all God’s people,
in the courts of the LORD‘s house,
in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Hallelujah!
the SECOND READING (1st Peter 1:17-23) –
If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.
Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.
the GOSPEL (Luke 24:13-35) –
Now on that same day [when Jesus had appeared to Mary Magdalene,] two [disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
the PRAYER. . .
Almighty and eternal God, the strength of those who believe and the hope of those who doubt, may we, who have not seen, have faith in you and receive the fullness of Christ’s blessing, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
the READING. . .
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them .... John 20:19-31
the DEVOTION. . .
I know better! And if you'd ask me, I'd tell you! That first night? And the one a week later? When Jesus came to the disciples and stood among them? I know it happened in a house. Plain. Ordinary. Everyday. It wasn't a synagogue. Or a temple. A congregation. Or a cathedral. It was just a house. Of course, every time I've heard the story? Well, that's something else. I've, ALWAYS, been in a synagogue or a temple or a congregation or a cathedral. And that makes all the difference. I hear the story and, more often than not, I'm besieged by the exceptions and not the rule!
This past Sunday, though, I was on the road, again. Actually, I was on a pile of rocks on the leeward side of Blakemore Planetarium. And I was struck by the routine-ness of it all. Kids riding bikes. Joggers. Moms and dads pushing strollers. And it surprised me. Here I was - there we were - saying prayers and reading verses. And it wasn't all about us! It wasn’t, even, all about god! We had to share the world with everyone else! The commonplace. The run-of-the-mill. Just like that house ... and that room ... and the doors ... And the only thing extraordinary about the whole thing? Jesus! Jesus coming! Jesus standing among! Jesus saying - Jesus saying, again - "Peace!"
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"A Brief Instruction!"
See you there ... er, here!
Allegheny Synod 8C
In Hebrew, Holocaust Remembrance Day is called Yom Hashoah. We pray to never forget.
Union for Reform Judaism
Tomorrow night at 7:30pm ET, come together with NFTY and the Reform Movement as we commemorate Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Holocaust survivor and vice president of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, Ralph Rehbock, joins NFTY Leaders Maya Levy, Brandon Morantz, and Sarah Warner for a conversation about finding hope in times of darkness, and a moment of togetherness as we remember the victims and honor the survivors of the Holocaust. Join us as we watch together at facebook.com/officialNFTY
the SECOND SUNDAY of EASTER ...
1st Peter 1. 3-9
The Word continues becoming flesh and dwelling among us!
"Although you have not seen him …"
"Although you have not seen him, you love him …"
Those are the words that caught my attention, this week. The words that captured my interest. And they stayed with me, even after I realized that this was the third Sunday of the month. It was almost a year ago that I decided the sermon on this particular day would focus not on the scripture we’d be reading, but the book we’ve been writing since selling the building and starting over. But so much has been happening, the past month, that … well … I almost forgot! Al most, but not quite! But this is one of those times that the two books overlap. And it’s here in these half dozen words … “Although you have not seen him …”
I grew up believing that. In fact, the moment I, first, read that phrase, one of the old hymns popped into my mind … “Immortal, invisible, God only wise,/ in light inaccessible hid from our eyes …” Seeing is believing. That’s what I’ve been taught. Seeing is believing everywhere, that is, except here in the church. Here we’re supposed to believe in the hidden, in the invisible. That’s what todays gospel reading is about. We didn’t read it, this morning, but it’s the story about Thomas – about “doubting” Thomas – in the days after the Resurrection.
According to John, Thomas misses Jesus, the first time. His friends tell him that they’d seen him. But Thomas says, “I don’t believe it! And I won’t believe it, unless I see him with my own eyes! Unless I touch him with my own hands!” The moral of the story, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” In other words, “Although you have not seen him …” “Immortal, invisible, God only wise,/ in light inaccessible hid from our eyes …”
Those words swirled around in my thoughts, all week. And as I started writing the sermon, another voice joined the litany. Genesis. One. Twenty-six. Of course it’s not the book or the chapter or the verse that matter. It’s what is written … “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness …” In our image! According to our likeness! It all fell into place! That! That’s been our “problem!” For us, god has been unseen, invisible! And since we are created in the image of god, according to god’s likeness, we – as a church – are just as invisible and just as unseen! For us, from the very beginning, god’s been shrouded in silence. And we – as god’s own – have echoes that silence! God – at least the god with whom I grew up – has always been up high and far away! And the church I’ve known has been just as distant and just as aloof!
Somewhere along the way, we became what we believe about god! Somehow, we became the songs we sang … the songs we’ve been singing! We believe that god’s too high and too holy to be in this world! God’s too big to fit! And so, god ends up in heaven. Supernatural. Otherworldly. Locked away on the far side of the pearly gates. Looking down. Watching. Waiting. For us to make our way past St. Peter! And crazy thing? We – as the church – treat the people around us the exact, same way! We sit back. We watch. We wait. For them to make their way into our building! That’s the image! The likeness! We’ve become just like god! At least, just like what we believe about god! And it’s all there in those six words! “Although you have not seen him …”
Truth is, faith is more than the assurance of things hoped for. And believing is more than the conviction of things not seen. In fact, it’s just the opposite! It’s anchored in the visible! It’s rooted in the seen! Even here, seeing is believing! Seeing and hearing and feeling and smelling and tasting! We believe – we’re able to believe – only because our god became flesh and dwelt among us! Only because our god becomes flesh and dwells among us! For us, for the church, god is more than a thought or an idea. God is more than a commandment or a principle. That’s what makes us different! What sets us apart! We believe god became a human being! Just like us! So that we can become just like god!
We’re people! People, not angels! We’re creatures! So, if god wants us to change, god has to become just like us, has to become one of us, for it to happen! God, too, must become a human being! God, too, must become a creature! And that’s what Christmas is all about! God coming to us! God becoming one of us! And the word became flesh-and-blood! The word became skin-and-bones! And that’s what worship is all about! God becoming words and songs and bread and wine! Sunday after Sunday after Sunday! Again and again and again! Over and over and over! So that we all can see! And hear! And touch! And smell! And taste! And because of that, we come to trust! We come to have faith! We come to believe!
It’s Jesus – that “invisible” Jesus – coming to us! Just like he did that Sunday night to Thomas and the rest! Every time we’re gathered, Jesus appears and says, “Peace!” Every time we’re gathered, Jesus appears and shows us his wounds and says, “Touch my hands! My side!” That’s what happens when the gospel is proclaimed! That’s what happens when the sacraments are administered! And at the end of it all, Jesus says, “Believe!” Jesus says, “Trust me!” It’s seeing! And it’s believing! Without the senses, it’s impossible!
That’s why there’s a church, to begins with! We’re called and we’re sent! To be Jesus for this time and this place! Called and sent to do the things Jesus does! We’re the ones who appear behind locked doors! We’re the ones who stand among those imprisoned by fear! We, too, proclaim peace! Not peace if or peace when! Not peace unless or until! We simply speak what Christ speaks! Peace is yours! We show them the wounds and the scars of love! We forgive them! We breath on them the spirit! And if anyone’s missing, we come back and do it all over again! We don’t just present them with the opportunity to believe. We give them a reason to believe. Just as, too many times before, we gave them the reason not to.
“Although you have not seen him …” As the church, that’s just not something we can say. It’s not something we believe! Because we HAVE seen him! Sunday on Sunday! Time after time! Even here in the separation! Even now in the distancing! God encircles us! God surrounds us! In the people and in the things that matter! In the people and in the things that love! God is, even, there in the mirror, looking back at us!
“We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life …” Doubt doesn’t seek out faith. Death doesn’t seek out life. Humanity doesn’t search for god. All that, god alone does. Seeking. Searching. For us, heaven and earth are not mutually exclusive. It’s here that god comes and god appears and god loves us! Where god comes and appears and loves us all!
|Monday||09:00 - 12:00|
|Tuesday||09:00 - 12:00|
|Wednesday||09:00 - 12:00|
|Thursday||09:00 - 12:00|
LCMS Lutheran Church in Midland, TX
Grace is a gathering of missional people living out their Baptismal Journey on a daily basis through all eternity.