Sunday Night Thoughts

Tonight is going to solidly place us back in the deep freeze – but not as bad as it will be later in the week. This morning we woke up to about 4 inches of fresh powder and it was snowing until about 8:30 am. I’m really not looking forward to the sub-zero temps later in the week. I spent most of my time before church clearing the sidewalks and then trying to put sand on the slickest spots in the driveway. The sand helped by mid-day – it’s a little less dangerous now.

This past week flew by. Pam and I went to Reading for a family funeral. It’s one of the longer day trips we have taken recently and just about did me in – it was a 5 hour one-way trip. About 15 miles south of Eldred, we ran into a snow squall – I thought I was Hans Solo in the Millennium Falcon and we were traveling at light speed. Other than the long drive both ways, we had a great time seeing family we haven’t seen in a while.

We are keeping an eye on the weather. There is some dangerous cold in the forecast. I will be working on putting together a membership class. It will be good to teach this material again.

We had a good service this morning and a good attendance and we had a new couple in church – which is always exciting. That’s about all I can think of, so, have a great week and seize the moment!

Prayer for the Week

Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Proclaim the Good News

Third Sunday After Epiphany | January 27, 2019

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10  •  Psalm 19  •  1 Corinthians 12:12-31a  •  Luke 4:14-21

Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
    that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
    and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.[a

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

Luke 4:14-21 New Living Translation (NLT)

It is the 3rd Sunday following Epiphany. As I’ve mentioned before, the season between Epiphany and Lent emphasizes the mission of Jesus and the mission of the church. In today’s reading, we have Jesus reading from the scroll – the designated reading at the synagogue is from the prophet Isaiah. As I mention in my sermon tomorrow, it could be that Luke only records part of what Jesus read and then taught.

Jesus reads from the scroll and then teaches from what he has read. As is the custom in the synagogue, Jesus and the congregation stood during the reading and when they finished, the congregation would sit and the teacher would sit in a prominent seat and begin to teach.

During the course of his teaching, Jesus proclaims that he is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. We won’t get into the rest because we will look at what happens following next week.

What exactly does Jesus say is the fulfillment of prophecy?

He has sent me to proclaim that:

  • captives will be released,
  • that the blind will see,
  • that the oppressed will be set free.

We often think about these in a spiritual vein, but Jesus comes for both the spiritual and the physical. This is truly good news. The mission of Jesus was to preach the Good News to the poor. Just as we see the captive set free both physically and spiritually, Jesus came to preach good news to the physically poor, but more importantly to those who are spiritually poor and really that is all of us.

In Luke 7, we see that Jesus really was the fulfillment of this prophecy when John the Baptist’s disciples come and ask Jesus if he is the Messiah or should they look for someone else. Jesus replies, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” (Luke 7:21-23)

The mission of Jesus was to broadcast the Good News to everyone – that is our job as the church and as his followers, we need to broadcast the Good News to everyone – rich or poor. Jesus calls us to love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength and also to love our neighbor as ourselves. As Jesus said, this sums up the law and the prophets.

So let’s go out and broadcast the Good News!

Sunday Night Thoughts

Greeting from a very snowy and very cold Eldred, PA. Yes, winter storm Harper came to us in full force. When we went to bed last night, I almost thought that the forecasters had missed the forecast. But, this morning – as light broke – it was still snowing. Once it was light enough to snow, I bundled up to start shoveling. In most places, I shoveled 7 to 8 inches – now that was in addition to the 4 or so inches that I shoveled yesterday. As I first started shoveling, the wind started blowing things around. I got all the sidewalks at the parsonage and the church shoveled and waited for our snowplow. He arrived around 9:15. We decided to cancel Sunday School, but we added a worship service yesterday, just in case there were those who didn’t want to venture out this morning. By the time the worship service arrived, it really wasn’t too bad, except for the cold. Right now it’s not bad, but tonight we are forecast to have some dangerously low windchills. We had a good service this morning and yesterday morning. As I listened to the sermons, I think yesterday’s was better, so that’s the one I posted.

We also had a good mens breakfast yesterday morning. It had already started snowing, but the men showed up and the restaurant did a great job.

This past week, Pam and I did get to go to Hamburg, NY for a district meeting. We always enjoy our time there. It’s good to catch up with our friends.

Tomorrow, I think we are going to hunker down. No one has to be at work in the morning and it’s going to be cold. Other than that, it looks like a pretty normal week and I am looking forward to it. Have a great week!

2nd Sunday after Epiphany

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Jesus First Miracle

Second Sunday of Epiphany | January 20, 2019

Isaiah 62:1-5  •  Psalm 36:5-10  •  1 Corinthians 12:1-11  •  John 2:1-11

2The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”

 “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

 But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions.

When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!”

This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

John 2:1-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

While the other gospel writers begin Jesus’ public ministry with his baptism, John tells of the beginnings of Jesus’ ministry in a different way. We know little of the backstory to John’s account. How did the couple’s celebration end up with so little beverage? We don’t know. Why did Mary ask Jesus to get involved? We don’t know. What we do know is that Mary finds out that the celebration is out of wine and she asks Jesus for his help. Why would she do this? After all she did know that she had an extraordinary birth. She was told that her son would be the Son of the most high God. Perhaps she expected Jesus to be able to do something extraordinary, although it’s not recorded that he had done anything like that prior to this event.

Nonetheless, she asks Jesus to do something. Jesus replies “My time has not yet come.” Meaning that God’s agenda is not determined by human desires or will – hmm – that sounds familiar – (John 1:13). This will not be the only time that John records this reply. Jesus also gives the same reply to his brothers in John 7:8. 

I think we see Mary’s faith when she tells the servants, “Do what he tells you.” The servants await Jesus’ word. Jesus tells them to fill six jars with a capacity of over 100 gallons total with water and present them to the host of the celebration. We can see that God provided generously for his people – and he provided the best. Isn’t that like God?

Just last week, Pam and I received a blessing from God that I don’t think we will ever be able to repay – it was generous and it was the best. I couldn’t have even dreamed it in my wildest dreams. That’s the kind of God we serve. What’s even more amazing is that we didn’t even ask or expect it.

We may notice that there were just six clay jars set aside for purification – not seven – suggesting that they were incomplete in the purification that they provided – Jesus was the answer in that he came so that we could be cleansed completely. Jesus was full of unfailing love and faithfulness…From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses…God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:16-17)

I believe that the transformation of the water into wine could also signify the transformation that Jesus can do in our lives. This miracle caused some of the disciples to believe in Jesus (2:11b.) Belief is one of the themes of John. This is one of the first signs that points the way that reveals the glory of Jesus. This glory that was revealed in Jesus flowed from the Father. It proved that Jesus was God’s Son. That Jesus rightly stands as the fullness of God’s self-revelation for his people. At this time, his glory was revealed to a small group of people until his time had come.

Today we can be thankful that God indeed did reveal Jesus to the world and the fullness of his glory, grace, and mercy. He is the one that can change us. He can change us from ordinary people to people that can give glory to the Father. If you believe, let us live in that glory.