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Memorial Day

Pastor-Schroeder

Another Memorial Day is upon us – a day set aside to remember and give thanks for those who have served our country in our Armed Forces, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  As we enjoy this holiday, be sure to take time to offer a prayer of thanks to God for the men and women who have given their lives so that we can continue to live in freedom.

There is another “Band of soldiers” that I urge you to remember as well this Memorial Day:  The Pastors and Teachers who spent their lives teaching you and others about the ultimate freedom that is ours in Jesus Christ.  Through them we have learned that Jesus died so that we could be free . . . free from the slavery of sin and the certainty of eternal death.   You came to know that story of Jesus through men and women who dedicated themselves to teaching the Word of God to young and old.  Through their preaching and teaching of the Bible, the Holy Spirit has been at work, bringing people to faith in Jesus and assuring them that they have been set free from sin, death and the devil.  On this Memorial Day, take a moment to thank God for them as well.

Maybe a little story that I heard a long time ago can bring both these themes together:

During the 1st World War, a father and his 5-year-old son were out walking one evening.  As they went down the street, the boy noticed a flag hanging in the window of one of the houses.  The flag showed a gold star in a field of white.

“What does that flag stand for?” the boy asked his father.

“That flag with a gold star means that the people living in that house lost a son in the War,” the father replied.

The answer satisfied the boy and they walked on in silence as the sun set and the first star began twinkling in the darkening sky.

Looking at that star, the boy turned to his father and asked, ‘Daddy, did God lose a son in the war, too?”

The father thought for a moment, and then said, “Yes, God did lose a son.  He died for our sins so that we could be forgiven.”

Have a wonderful Memorial Day.  And remember to give thanks to God for giving us freedom, now and for eternity.

Pastor Wayne Schroeder

 

Pastor-SchroederHoly Week and Easter

The worship celebrations of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday form the pinnacle of the worship life of the congregation.  There are numerous festivals during the Church Year – Christmas, Ascension, Pentecost, Reformation – but the chief festival is the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord, and the worship of Holy Week that leads up to that special day.

Known as the “Triduum” or “Three Days”, the worship services of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are seen liturgically as one continuous service, each part leading into the next.

  • Maundy Thursday is the observance of the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion, when Jesus shared His body and blood with his disciples in the forms of bread and wine.   The name “Maundy” comes from the Latin maundatum which means “commandment.”  In the Upper room, Jesus said to His disciples, “A new command I give you, that you love one another.”  (John 13:34)  This service ends with the stripping of the altar in preparation for Good Friday.
  • The worship on Good Friday is the most solemn service of the whole year.  Music is subdued, if used at all.  At this service, we recall Jesus’ suffering on the cross as He gives His life in payment for our sins.  The service ends with the burial of Jesus and the Strepitus—a loud sound—symbolizing the closing and sealing of the tomb.  The people leave the sanctuary in silence awaiting the victory celebration on Easter Sunday morning.
  • The Festival of the Resurrection of our Lord, or Easter, is “The Great Lord’s Day.”  On this day we celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  “He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!” is the greeting that is exchanged as we gather in the Lord’s house.  The Easter season – known as Eastertide — lasts for fifty days, or seven Sundays, culminating in the festival of Pentecost.

 

My high school band teacher once told us that if you want to make a note sound really loud, it is important that the notes that precede it are very soft.  That’s the rhythm of Holy Week.  One really cannot be celebrated without the other.  The Sacramental meal of Maundy Thursday is not possible without Good Friday and Easter.  The quiet, somber observance of Good Friday would be “Black Friday” without the Festival of the Resurrection.  And Easter Sunday is nothing more than an observance of spring if we do not remember that Jesus, the very Son of God, was, indeed, put to death and buried in a tomb on Good Friday.

The “Triduum” – the Three Days.  Come, let us, as God’s family, gather in His house on these three days to celebrate in great solemnity and in great joy the victory over sin and death that Jesus has won for us.

Pastor Wayne Schroeder

 

Pastor-SchroederWhat is Lent all about?

The 40 day period of Lent (from the old English Word lencten meaning “spring”) has been set aside as a time of penitence and preparation for the coming celebration of the death of our Lord Jesus on Good Friday and His subsequent resurrection on Easter Sunday.  The purpose of Lent is fairly simple:  Jesus died and rose again for sinners, but if we refuse to acknowledge our sinfulness, then His death is just a fact of history and nothing more.  Just as a swimmer doesn’t need a life-guard unless he or she is drowning, so we do not need a savior from sin if we refuse to recognize our sinfulness.

Lent was set as a 40 day period to mirror the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness being tempted by Satan (Matt. 4).  Lent is often observed by three disciplines:  meditation, fasting and almsgiving.

  • Churches seek to help people meditate on the reality of our sinfulness and our need of a savior by having special Lenten services on the 6 Wednesdays of Lent.
  • While fasting is not mandatory, it is practiced by many Christians to remind them of what our Lord endured for us through His suffering and death.  Some people will observe Lent by giving up certain foods, or by skipping a meal.
  • And as a way of expressing their gratitude to God for all He has done for us, they will make contributions to God in the form of special offerings to the Church or to a particular charity.  All of these disciplines should not be seen as burdens put on people by the church, but as responses of love and gratitude to a God who has loved us so much that He died for us.

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday.   Throughout Scripture, ashes are a sign of repentance and sorrow.  Many Christians receive ashes on their forehead on this day as a mark of their penitence over their sin.  Here at Our Redeemer, we observe Lent with special services of meditation each Wednesday of Lent at 11:00 am and 6:30 pm.  Join us as, this year, we focus on “CrossWords” – a sermon series on Jesus’ Words from the Cross.

Pastor Wayne Schroeder

 

Pastor-SchroederWhy should a Christian read the Bible?

Let’s ask the question another way – – – Why should a person eat?  What does eating have to do with reading the Bible?  The answer is simple.  As eating is necessary for physical health, so reading God’s Word is necessary for spiritual health.

As Lutheran Christians, we believe that God’s Holy Spirit creates and strengthens faith by working through means – He comes to us through the Word and through the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.   As one reads the Word of God the Holy Spirit is active in strengthening faith and equipping us for our battle with the devil, the world, and our own sinful self.  To cut oneself off from the Word of God is to spiritually starve yourself.

Let me use a different analogy.  As anyone who has ever tried to sit on a stool knows, it takes at least three legs for a solid base.  Sitting on a stool with only one or two legs may be exciting, but it’s certainly not safe.  So it is with the Christian.  We need three legs as the basis for our faith:  1) We need to gather with fellow Christians in regular worship where we hear the word of God proclaimed and where we receive the faith-strengthening Sacraments.  2) We need to gather with others in some sort of group Bible Study, where the Word of God is discussed, interpreted and applied to life.  And 3) we need to regularly spend some personal time in the reading of God’s Word and in prayer.

Here at Our Redeemer, we seek to do all we can to help one another to be faithful to those three activities.   Gathering in worship is not just for yourself.  Your presence also serves as a witness and support to the others who join to hear God’s Word and sing his praises.   In the same way, our participation in a Bible Class not only helps us individually, but we can also help one another as we share our insights, understanding and life-experiences with one another as we discuss a particular section of the Word of God.   We also provide devotional material, such as “Portals of Prayer” to help in personal or family devotions.

Why should a Christian read the Bible?  How else are we going to discover all the promises that God has made to us to love us, comfort us, support us and save us.   There are lots of opportunities to be involved in a Bible Class at Our Redeemer.  Join one, and let the Lord feed your faith.

Pastor Wayne Schroeder