God, Forgive Me, a Sinner

Trinity 11
Luke 18:9-14
August 12, 2018
Trinity Lutheran Church—New Haven, MO

Jesus told this parable to some who were sure they were righteous and so looked down on everyone else:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed by himself: ‘God, I thank You I’m not like the other people: robbers, wrongdoers, adulterers, or even like that tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all my income.’

“But the tax collector, standing a distance away, wouldn’t even look up to heaven but was beating his chest and saying, ‘God, forgive me, a sinner!’

“I tell you, this man, and not the other, went home justified. Everyone who honors himself will be humbled; but if you humble yourself, you will be honored.”

In the name of + Jesus.

Two men. Two prayers. Two very different outcomes. It’s one of those ironic moments in Scripture, when the one who should be commended is condemned and the condemned is commended. What separates the two is not the outward act, but the content of the prayer. What separates the two are the words,

God, Forgive Me, A Sinner

I.

This parable is for an audience of “some who were sure they were righteous and so looked down on everyone else.” This is a human problem, whenever humans start to get religious. After learning a few technical terms or reading a couple of books, they begin to feel as though they are masters of religion, and that everyone else is somewhere beneath them. But what they fail to realize is that in the upside-down that is the kingdom of God, when you raise yourself up, you raise yourself up to the bottom. Here the greatest is a child, the first is last, and the Master puts a robe around His waist and washed His disciples’ feet. This parable is put our relationship to God in its proper perspective within the framework of the kingdom of God.

“Everyone who honors himself will be humbled,” says Jesus. This is the Pharisee. He goes to the temple to pray, stands apart from the riff raff, and extols all of his virtues. He avoids all of the Big Sins—robbing, wrongdoing, adultery, tax collecting. (Tax collecting, by the way, was not just collected taxes, which is irritating enough. But tax collectors were known to be overall scoundrels, who were experts in bending the law to their own benefits.) In addition to avoiding the Big Sins, he is also a practitioner of some religious virtues—fasting, tithing. Do any of you commit yourself to regular, ritual fasting? Do you tithe?

But where is the problem? It’s not that he avoids adultery. It’s also not that he fasts or tithes—Jesus speaks elsewhere of fasting and tithing as if they are actually expected! The problem is the attitude with which the Pharisee addresses God. The Pharisee stood and prayed by himself. Actually, if you’d take peak behind the English, you’d find that Jesus says something more like, “The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself.” In the Pharisee’s prayer, God is the recipient of all of the Pharisee’s good. But, as St. Paul writes, “Who has found out how the Lord thinks? Or who has become His adviser?” Or who has first given Him something for which he must be paid back? (Rom 11:34-35). It’s not God who is the subject of the man’s prayer, but himself. Thus, the prayer is really to himself. ‘God, I thank You I’m not like the other people: robbers, wrongdoers, adulterers, or even like that tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all my income.’

This man does not go home justified. He stands condemned, even though he commends himself. This parable stands as a warning for every Christian. If you ever find that there are people who seem to be below you, there’s probably a bit of this Pharisee’s blood flowing through your veins. And chances are pretty good—100%, in fact—that you’ve felt this way about someone else. “God, I thank you that I’m not like that guy, at least.” As I said, this is a human problem.

Sin doesn’t just cause us to do wicked things, but it’s a complete corruption of our nature. Sin also pushes us to justify ourselves before God. We whitewash our works, and offer them to God with the hope that He would reciprocate with some praise for us. But when we expect to be the subject of our own prayers, and the object of God’s praise, we have turned ourselves into gods. You will be like gods, the devil told Adam and Eve. And that empty promise has echoed down through every generation since.

This is a human problem, but it does not have a human solution. Everything in the world works like the Pharisee’s prayer. You want to get paid more? Do a better job. You want people to like you? Don’t treat them wrong. You want to have a happy marriage? Don’t commit adultery. But in God’s kingdom, things get turned upside down. And when you honor yourself, you get humbled.

II.

So what is the divine solution to the human problem? At first blush, it also looks like a human solution. Jesus concludes the application of the parable with the words, “but if you humble yourself, you will be honored.” Is this one activity that gets God’s approval? Is this one work among all the others that succeeds in securing God’s favor? By no means! The activity of consequence is not the person humbling himself, but the act of lifting him back up again. He will be honored. That’s what we call a divine passive. The action is God’s; He does the honoring. The one who humbles himself will be honored.

Still, it could be construed that humbling yourself is the trigger that brings on God’s favor. But the parable shows us what it means to humble yourself. “But the tax collector, standing a distance away, wouldn’t even look up to heaven but was beating his chest and saying, ‘God, forgive me, a sinner!’” There is nothing the tax collect has to offer to God, and what he does have, he knows is unacceptable to God. He stands apart, beats his chest, and lowers his eyes.

The posture of the tax collector is a picture of his attitude. His offering to God is void. It’s nothing. It’s empty. He is a vessel needing to be filled. This is humility. Truly, you can’t humble yourself. At least, not by doing something. Because as soon as you do something, you have something to boast about. The Pharisee had a lot to offer, but he too could have taken the stand of the tax collector. Like Solomon of old, he could have called all of his works, all of his accomplishments, vanity.

This is the tax collector. Everything is vanity, he says in effect. The only thing that matters is the work of God. God, forgive me, a sinner. And it is precisely the mercy of God by the forgiveness of sins that raises the tax collector out of his humility. “This man,” says Jesus, “went home justified.”

Justified literally means, “made right with.” Like when you click right-justify on your word processor and everything lines up on the right side of the page. To be justified is to be made right with God. This is not something that we can do. If we are honest with ourselves, we should always be hunched over, staring at the ground, not willing to lift our eyes. But God justifies the humble. He makes you right. And He does so by the right angle created by two beams of wood, on which hung the Son of God.

The prayer, “God, forgive me, a sinner,” was answered by Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross. There forgiveness was earned. But it wasn’t distributed there. For the distribution of the forgiveness of sins, you go to the Sacrament. Dr. Luther wrote, “We treat of the forgiveness of sins in two ways. First, how it is achieved and won. Second, how it is distributed and given to us. Christ has achieved it on the cross, it is true. But he has not distributed or given it on the cross. He has not won it in the supper or sacrament. There he has distributed and given it through the Word, as also in the gospel, where it is preached. He has won it once for all on the cross. But the distribution takes place continuously, before and after, from the beginning to the end of the world.”

So, pray with the tax collector, “God, forgive me, a sinner.” And trust the word of forgiveness proclaimed to you. And go to the Supper to receive the forgiveness won for you on the cross.

In the name of + Jesus.

Jacob W Ehrhard
VD+MA

No Other God

Third Sunday after Trinity
Micah 7:18-20
June 17, 2018
Trinity Lutheran Church—New Haven, MO

Who is a God like You? You forgive sin and pass by the wrong of the remnant of Your own people! You will not be angry forever, because You delight in mercy. You will again be kind to us, subdue our wrongs, and throw all our sins into the deep sea. You will be faithful to Jacob and kind to Abraham as You promised our fathers with an oath long ago.

In the name of + Jesus.

Of all the many different religions in the world, there are really only two essential religions that people have ever adopted. The first is the religion of the Law. No matter who or what your god might be—or even if you have no god at all—the religion of the Law is the quest to make yourself right with god, the universe, and everything by works of the Law. The laws may vary across the various manifestations of this religion, but the essence and aim is the same: justify yourself by what you do.

The second religion is not really a religion at all—not in the sense that’s it’s defined by what you religiously do. It’s the religion of the Gospel, a religion where God is the one who makes you right with Him; He is the One who justifies. Among all of the religions ever practiced by mankind, there is one and only one religion of the Gospel, because there is one and only One God who does what is necessary to justify His people. This is the God of whom Micah prophesies, the God who completely distinguishes Himself from every other God by His gracious and merciful activity for His people. This God is the One who is manifest in time in Jesus Christ.

There Is No Other God Who Completely Forgives Sin and Passes by the Wrongs of His People

I.

It is possible to get anyone to do just about anything you want them to do. With the right combination of motivations, every person will eventually turn into Pavlov’s dog, who salivates whenever the bell rings, whether or not there is food. Even the strongest of wills can eventually be broken. And this is the modus operandi of every other religion—other gods demand your obedience and loyalty either by treat of punishment, or by promise of reward.

This past week, I had the privilege of studying with a missionary to Vietnam and Cambodia. He was telling me about the importance of ancestor worship in far eastern cultures, and how difficult it is to present Christianity to them. The religious practice is to offer gifts on the family altar to deceased relatives, and to be baptized and accept Christianity is essentially to reject your family and to be rejected by them. It’s hard for us to comprehend what that must be like, but if you suspend the truth of Christianity for a moment, think of how hard it would be for you to publicly renounce your parents. The gods have a hold on you. If you do what is right, you get rewarded; if you do wrong, there’s punishment.

But gods don’t have to be personal in nature. You don’t have to have an altar and offer sacrifices of food and burn incense to their memory. The Large Catechism teaches us that the most common god is mammon, money, possessions. This is a god that knows reward and punishment.

I can make it rain on you
But Lord I sure do shine
I can bring you love
But I’m not the settle down kind
I can make your eyes light up
Put a dazzle in your smile, yeah
I can make you die for me
      without a single question why
My name is Money
-Sonia Leigh

The threats and punishments of the religion of the Law demand your obedience. Rewards are for those who obey, and punishments are for those who sin. That’s the way the Law works. It is unforgiving.

II.

But then there is a God who sets Himself apart from all the other gods. Not that He claims to be the true God—all gods claim to be true by virtue of their claim to lordship over you. This God is the One who reveals Himself uniquely and distinctly to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To be sure, He is a God of laws. He threatens and He offers rewards. But then, He also does something more. In spite of the threats of punishment and offers of reward, the ones He loves always seem to come out on the reward side, no matter whether they did the Law or not. The God of Abraham and Jacob, and your God, delights in mercy and assumes the punishment into Himself, giving you the reward. And so He creates a remnant of loyal and obedient people.

Who is a God like You? You forgive sin and pass by the wrong of the remnant of Your own people! You will not be angry forever, because You delight in mercy. You will again be kind to us, subdue our wrongs, and throw all our sins into the deep sea. You will be faithful to Jacob and kind to Abraham as You promised our fathers with an oath long ago.

There is no other God like this one. He doesn’t distinguish Himself by His claim to being true, but by become flesh. No other God fully embraces this imperfect creation by become one flesh with it, by marrying Himself to it. But that is Jesus. There is no other God like Him.

And He does this thing that no other god does for a specific reason. He knows full well that the religion of the Law—the religion practiced by everyone who is not part of the remnant—is a religion whose ultimate punishment is death. And by coming into the world to proclaim His kingdom—the religion of the Gospel—He is invalidating every other religious system that exists. And they must do the only thing they know how to do. They must put Him to death.

But it is precisely in this death that Jesus, God incarnate, takes the punishment of the Law into Himself. He suffers everything the Law threatens to do to us. And because He accepts the punishment, He forgives sin and passes by the wrong of the remnant of His people. The God who dies cannot stay angry forever. His delight is mercy.

Now the sins that we commit cannot harm us. That’s the entire message of the Gospel. Not that you cease sinning, but that your sins cannot harm you. It’s as if they are laying at the deepest bottom of the sea. Actually, even better, it’s as if they are buried deep in the tomb of Jesus. Because they actually are. The sins that Jesus bore to the cross, for which He suffered the punishment, He left in the tomb when He rose again to new life.

There is no greater faithfulness than a person who is willing to die for another. God commits Himself fully and recklessly to you. But this sort of dedication has a strange effect. It creates something that was not there before. The mercy of God and His reckless love create new affections in those whom He loves. That’s you. And now, because the love of God in Christ has found you, you are now beginning to do precisely what God’s Law requires, though not for fear of punishment or hope of reward. The reward is already yours in Jesus Christ, and there’s nothing you could do to earn it. But by His utterly unique way of being God—becoming flesh, suffering the punishment, leaving sins buried in the ground—He creates a remnant of loyal and obedient people.

This is why Christianity is the true religion. Not because it makes superior assertions, but because it is the only religion that is not a religion at all, but rather God’s religious devotion to His people. His forgiveness, mercy, and enduring love are what make all things right again.

In the name of + Jesus.

Jacob W Ehrhard
VD+MA

From Manger to Cross

Christmas Eve
Ephesians 2:13-16
December 24, 2016
Trinity Lutheran Church—New Haven, MO

But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have become near in the blood of Jesus. For He is our peace, who made both into one and destroyed the dividing wall, the enmity, in His flesh, nullifying the law of commandments in ordinances, in order that in Him He might create the two into one new man, making peace, and might reconcile both in one body to God through the cross, by killing the enmity in Him (Eph 2:13-16).

In the name of + Jesus.

Christmas is about a Boy who was born in order to be borne by wood. In the moments after He draws His first breath, Jesus is placed in a wooden manger. In the moments that He takes His last breath, He is hanging on a cross. Wood frames His earthly life from His humble beginning to His bitter end. The cross always looms behind the manger. Because this Son of a virgin was born to bear the sins of the world. But by doing so, He reverses the first curse.

From the Manger to the Cross, Jesus Puts Enmity to Death

I.

The manger is an icon of Christmas. No crèche is complete without one. It’s inspired verses for several carols—Away in a Manger is the best known, but less well known is Paul Gerhardt’s O Jesus Christ, Thy Manger Is. Without the manger, it just wouldn’t be Christmas. It’s a signal for what this celebration is all about. Jesus is borne by the wood of the manger.

“And this is the sign for you,” says the angel to the shepherds, “you will find a baby wrapped up in cloths and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12). Not all babies were placed in mangers, it seems. This One, though was different.

Of course there was a practical reason that the manger was called into service to hold the Baby that night—there was no room for them in the guest rooms. Joseph and Mary had travelled to his home town for a census, which meant that all of his other family would be there, too. You know how crazy things when family gets together at the holidays—not exactly the place for a young woman to go into labor. So Joseph and Mary retreated to the lower level of the house, where there was some peace and quiet. Except for that’s also where the animals were kept at night. So a manger it is for the little Lord’s first bed.

But more than a practical solution, it shows the nature of this boy’s birth. It’s not a golden crib with silks and satins. This birth was humble. Surrounded by beasts of burden, and animals that may have ended up as sacrifices.

After the shepherds are directed to the manger, the angels sing a hymn: Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men (Lk 2:14 KJV). In this manger is God’s gift of peace, because in this manger is the flesh aof Jesus Christ. For He is our peace, who made both into one and destroyed the dividing wall, the enmity, in His flesh (v 14). The marvel of this night is that the eternal, almighty, omnipotent God of all creation becomes flesh to end the hostility and to give peace.

II.

The hostility, or the enmity, is not primarily between God and man. As we heard at the beginning of the Christmas story, And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your descendants and her Descendant. He will crush your head and you will bruise His heel (Gen 3:15 AAT). What this means is that the Boy borne by the wood of the manger was born to die. The wood of the manger is a reminder that Jesus is borne also by the wood of the cross.

It was not a painless peace that Jesus brings. When Mary and Joseph bring the infant Jesus to the temple for dedication, Simeon prophesies that a sword will also pierce Mary’s soul (Lk 2:35). What is joy without sorrow?

The hostility that exists between the righteous Seed of Eve who is now enfleshed as the Son of Mary is because of sin. But that sin is amplified by the Law, St. Paul writes to the Romans (Rom 5:20). And so in an attempt to gain righteousness by the Law, the sons of Satan put Jesus to death. They hung Him up on a couple of pieces of wood to make an example of Him whom they accused of being a law-breaker.

But that’s the exact opposite intent of the Law. Hate and hostility and death does not fulfill the Law. Love is the fulfillment of the Law.

Yet what at first brings pain and sorrow is what brings peace in the end. Jesus was borne upon the wood of the cross nullifying the law of commandments in ordinances, in order that in Him He might create the two into one new man, making peace, and might reconcile both in one body to God through the cross, by killing the enmity in Him (vv 15-16). When Jesus was put to death, so was the enmity of Genesis 3:15. And there is peace.

Mary and Joseph and the shepherds were all very near to the flesh and blood of Jesus; they saw it laying in a manger. But you are far off. 2,000 years and half a world away. But tonight you are even nearer than they, because of the blood that Jesus shed. The flesh and blood that was borne by manger and cross is your peace tonight. The hostility is ended.

Merry Christmas.

In the name of + Jesus.
Rev. Jacob Ehrhard
VD+MA

Featured image courtesy of Flickr user MTSOFan

Sing!

 

Fourth Sunday after Easter
Colossians 3:16-17
April 24, 2016
Trinity Lutheran Church—New Haven, MO

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching and instructing each other in psalms, hymns, and songs of the Spirit, singing to God with grace in your hearts. And whatever you do in word or in work, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:16-17).

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

In the name of + Jesus.

1.

The only places where corporate singing still takes place these days is in church and at baseball games. Outside of church, people just don’t get together to sing anymore, unless it’s in the middle of the 7th at a major league ball park. We have an illusion of singing—we watch people sing all the time. We love to do that. Shows like American Idol, The Voice, and America’s Got Talent capitalize on the fact that we love to watch people sing. And we sing along under our breath, or we sing in the shower, or in the car. We sing to be silly or we sing to perform (if we have to, every so often). But we don’t sing together, we don’t sing to each other unless it’s, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

2.

Except in church. Here corporate singing is still preserved. Kind of. But even in the church, corporate singing is in a downward spiral. In most churches you walk into, you’re very likely to see a row of microphones and a piano or praise band that will lead the music. This is true of contemporary protestant churches as it is of contemporary Roman Catholic churches. The singing is left to the trained professional and the worshipper is bombarded with song from the speakers. She may sing along, but in reality, she’s singing to herself. Singing has become privatized, even in public. Music is alive and well, but singing is not.

And we’re poorer for it. Why is song so important that St. Paul would exhort Christians to sing? Not just once, but twice (he writes the same thing to the Ephesians). Well, we take for granted that we have easy access to the Bible. We have them in our homes, on our phones, they’re in the nightstand drawer at just about every hotel you go into. But it wasn’t always that way. In fact, the greater part of the history of the Church has been without a Bible in every home. But did that mean that Christians didn’t have the Word of God? Absolutely not. It was here (in their heads) and here (in their hearts) and here (in their mouths). And song is one of the ways to make things more memorable. I’m willing to bet that every one of you here learned the alphabet by singing A, B, C, D, E, F, G… And if you do a lot of filing, you may still sing it to yourself.

But then Johannes Gutenberg invented a machine that would change it all. The printing press made it quicker, easier, and cheaper to print many things, including the Bible. It revolutionized literacy, and also aided in extending the Lutheran Reformation beyond Wittenberg. But like every good thing in this fallen world, it has had some detrimental side effects. Now, instead of the Word of Christ dwelling in us, it dwells on a shelf. The Bible is something we reference, not something that occupies our minds and hearts. The problem is exacerbated by the invention of chapter and verse divisions and indices and concordances, which allow us to jump over the parts of the Bible we’d rather not read in order to get to the parts we do. We’ve turned the Bible into a set of disjointed texts we use to prove our spiritual thoughts, and in the process, we’ve removed the context, the flow, the rhythm of the Scriptures. In short, we’ve removed the song from the Bible.

This is not insignificant. I read two verses at the beginning of this sermon, but the context shows why singing is so important. Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful (Col 3:12-15 NKJV). Singing is sanctification. It’s how the Word of Christ worms its way into your head and heart. Take a look around you. How many of these qualities do you see in the world? How many of them are evident in the Church at large? In our own church? Perhaps the world is the way that it is today because we’ve lost our song.

3.

Oh sing unto the Lord a new song, for He hath done marvelous things (Ps 98:1). That’s why the name for this Sunday of the Church year is Cantate. Sing! The Lord has done marvelous things. His right hand and His holy arm hath gotten Him the victory (Ps 98:2). The new song is a song of victory—victory over sin, death, and the grave. It’s a new song of resurrection. And this Word, this song, has the power to give you new life. So

Sing, and Let the Word of Christ Dwell in You Richly

4.

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching and instructing each other in psalms, hymns, and songs of the Spirit, singing to God with grace in your hearts. The Word of Christ is put into song in three ways: psalms, hymns, and songs of the Spirit. And by singing these, you are teaching and instructing each other in heavenly wisdom.

First, the Psalms. The Psalms are the hymn book of the Bible. They were composed over number of years, some as early as Moses and the Exodus, many by David, and some are anonymous compositions by godly men. Some are long, some are short, but they all share one thing in common—they speak of Christ, His suffering and resurrection. That’s why Jesus used the Psalms to explain His passion and resurrection to the disciples (Lk 24:44). Perhaps He even sang with them!

We still use the Psalms in the Church for worship. The Introits and Graduals are all portions of the Psalms (sometimes with other Scripture or verses of praise). Many of the Psalms are printed also in our hymn book, some of them even set to music. Because Hebrew poetry is different than the Western poetry that we’re used to, the music for singing a Psalm is different than singing a hymn. Psalms and other Hebrew poetry don’t have uniform length from verse to verse, so we use something known as a recitation tone. Part of the verse is sung on one note, while the beginning or end of lines are set to moving notes. Example: Psalm 98, TLH 667.

Hymns are mentioned next. In the Greek language, a hymn was a song to a god or hero. An outside observer in the early Church noted that when Christians gathered to worship, they sang hymns to Jesus as if He were a God. Surprising, isn’t it? The hymn grows out of the basic confession, Jesus is Lord. In fact, that confession is found in a hymn in the New Testament in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Other hymns are in Colossians, 1 Timothy, Hebrews, and 1 Peter.

And of course, hymns are the larger part of our hymn book. The Reformation doctrine was preserved and extended by hymns. There are, however, good hymns and bad hymns. Many more contemporary songs and hymns are more about the believer than about Christ. The best hymns are those that speak of Christ and His Word and His work. They tell the story of salvation in verse.

Finally, songs of the Spirit. In most English translations you’ll read, “spiritual songs.” But in my mind, this phrase conjures up a particular genre of music. What Paul is talking about here are songs inspired by the Holy Spirit. Not in the sense that a songwriter gets some ethereal inspiration to write his lyrics, but that the Third Person of the Holy Trinity has moved certain people to sing, and their songs are preserved for us in Holy Scripture. The songs of Moses, Hannah, Isaiah, Habakkuk, Zecharaiah, Mary, Simeon, Anna and the songs of Revelation are a few examples. You can find some on pp. 120-122 of our hymnal (The Lutheran Hymnal). These songs need to be sung like the Psalms.

Some of these songs of the Spirit we sing every week. For example, complete this line: Glory be to God on high: And on earth peace, goodwill toward men. That’s the song of the angels at Jesus’ birth, and you will always remember it, even when you’re old and your memory begins to fade. I see it happen every week when I’m across the parking lot at the care center.

The Spirit’s job, Jesus says in today’s Gospel, is to take what belongs to Jesus and deliver it to you and bring it to your remembrance. One of His best tools is song. He causes the Word of Christ to dwell in you richly. Pay attention to how the words you sing fill your whole self the rest of this service.

5.

Singing is not an option for the Christian. St. Paul commands it. But many of you may not claim to have the greatest voice. There’s something amazing that happens, however, when people sing together. 35,000 mostly untrained singers come together at a ball game, and when they sing, their combined voices will always sing the song correctly. And even on key! Corporate singing is more than the sum of its parts.

Singing together, with each other and to each other, builds us together into the body of Christ. And the new song of His resurrection will give us new life, sanctified life. Life together.

In the name of + Jesus.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Jacob W Ehrhard
VD+MA

 

Featured image courtesy of flickr user laurentius87

Lent 2016 Worship Schedule

Join us this Lent for a time of repentance and reflection on the gifts and benefits of the Lord’s Supper.

Wednesday, February 10 @ 7p
Ash Wednesday Divine Service – Two Parts of Repentance

Wednesday, February 17, 24, March 2, 9, 16 @ 7p
Lent Midweek Vespers – The Sacrament of the Altar

Thursday, March 24 @ 7p
Holy Thursday Divine Service

Friday, March 25 @ 7p
Good Friday Vespers – The Seven Words from the Cross

Sunday, March 27 @ 6:30a
Easter Sunrise Service at Camp Trinity

Sunday, March 27 @ 10a
Easter Divine Service

2015 Christmas Seasonal Services

The end of the calendar year is the beginning of the Church’s year. To mark this special time of penitence and preparation, Trinity will have a number of special seasonal services.

Advent Midweek Vespers

Advent Midweek Feature

The kingdom of Christ is threefold, and comes in three distinct ways. This Advent we will meditate on the coming of our King, Jesus Christ, and His reign in the three kingdoms.

December 2, 9, 16 @ 7p

Christmas Services

ChildrenChristmasSlider

The children’s Christmas Service will be Thursday, December 24 @ 7p. Join us as our Sunday School children tell the story of Christmas through Scripture and song.

VirginJesusSlider

Christmas Day Divine Service will celebrate the birth of Jesus with Holy Communion. Friday, December 25 @ 10a.

NameofJesusSlider

The Feast of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus will be celebrated on Thursday, December 31 @ 7p. Join us New Year’s Eve and rejoice in the name that is above every name, the name of Jesus.

EpiphanySlider

The Epiphany of Our Lord Divine Service will be Wednesday, January 6 @ 7p. In the darkness there shines a great light. In Him was light, and that light was the life of men.

Faith Talks – 2015

This summer, Trinity Lutheran Church will offer  a series of three Faith Talks to take a fresh look at one of the distinctive parts of the Christian faith, as we believe, teach, and confess it in the Lutheran Church. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, June 17
7 p.m.

5 Things You Can Do To Understand the Bible Better

Are you a Bible pro? Get bogged down in the middle of Leviticus? Never even cracked open a Bible before? Find out 5 things that will give you a greater insight into God’s Word, the Holy Bible.

Wednesday, July 15
7 p.m.

Rediscover the Gospel All Over Again

Do your eyes glaze over in church? Are you bored with hearing the same story over and over and over again? Has the Gospel become tedious and demanding? Does it seem like you get more out of time in the woods than you do sitting down with your Bible? Chances are good that you’re hearing the Gospel, but not hearing the Gospel. Tonight you’ll discover along with Martin Luther, the simple change of focus that will allow you to rediscover the Gospel all over again.

Wednesday, August 19
7 p.m.

A Promise for You and Your Children

What must we do to be saved? This was the question that followed the first sermon ever preached in the Christian Church. And the answer is surprising. This promise is for you and your children, and it stands from that first sermon until today.

Why should you attend Faith Talks?

Why should you attend Faith Talks?

Faith. Your own personal opinions and views regarding things that cannot be proved or disproved, right? Faith is a personal thing, your very own, unique only to you, right? Faith is entirely subjective–created, formed, revised from within you–right?

The prevailing notion in contemporary society is to value faith only as the act of believing, but to keep the thing which is believed a secret lest you be accused of pushing your beliefs on someone else. Faith is great, so long as you keep your faith to yourself.

But a faith that’s kept to yourself will inevitably be a faith in yourself.

Faith always has an object. The act of believing is important, but what is believed is more important. Faith in yourself is a faith that dies with you.

The book of Hebrews says: Faith is being sure of the things we hope for, being convinced of the things we can’t see (Hebrews 11:1). There are two basic ways you can know something. The first is by what you experience, what you observe, things you touch, taste, smell, and see. The second is by what is revealed to you apart from what you observe. This is the way that God reveals Himself to you. God reveals Himself to you in Christ, through His Word. Faith is when you become sure of what God reveals in His Word, even when it’s contrary to what you see.

Faith always has an object, and the object of the Christian faith is outside of yourself. The object of the Christian faith is Christ and His Word. Faith Talks will present the Object of faith to you in a series of short, easily digestible doses. It is an opportunity for your faith be created, renewed, formed, and revised by the Word of Christ apart from your own opinions or internal spiritual preparations.

And this faith is a living faith, a faith that endures beyond the grave, because it’s a faith in the One who is living and risen from the grave.

Next: How does faith talk?

How Does Faith Talk?

 

Faith begins by not talking at all. Faith comes by hearing–a very specific kind of hearing. So then faith comes from hearing the message, and the message comes through the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Faith talks when Jesus talks. The message that He delivers is the cause and the content of our faith.

Jesus speaks in His Word, the Holy Scriptures. You search the Scriptures since you think you have everlasting life in them; and still they testify about Me! (John 5:39). But more than simply conveying information, the Word of Jesus creates it’s own reality. What Jesus says is true because His Word is a creative Word; it accomplishes the very thing it promises.

Faith first hears, then faith talks. The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. This is the Word of faith that we preach. If with your mouth you confess, “Jesus is the Lord,” and in your heart you believe “God raised Him from the dead,” you will be saved. With your heart you believe and become righteous; with your mouth you confess and are saved (Romans 10:8-10).

Faith Talks follows this pattern. First we hear the Word of Christ, then faith talks in lively conversations, speaking along with what God has first spoken by His Son Jesus.

Next: What are Faith Talks?