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Weekly Devotions
Weekly Devotion - 5.22.20
Acts 1:12-26; 1 Peter 4:12-19; 5:6-11; John 17:1-11
 
Alleluia. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. Alleluia. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Alleluia.
 
In March 1898, the British empire began constructing a railway bridge over the Tsavo river in Kenya. During the first nine months of the project, the British had a very difficult time keeping workers because they had a serious problem. Their men were being actively hunted by two lions.  Throughout that nine-month time span, somewhere between 35 and 135 men were killed by the two lions. They successfully avoided all traps and ambushes, and at the height of their killing they claimed a new victim almost every day. The construction project was brought to a screeching halt and didn't resume until the lions were finally killed by Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson after months of tracking their movements and hunting them.
 
In the reading from Peter listed above, Peter says that our adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But what does that mean? What is Peter warning us about?
According to our Lutheran confessions, the devil's specialties are in matters that concern the conscience and spirit. He wants to defile your conscience and trouble your spirit. For some, this means that he reminds you of your sins, and he tells you that you're not good enough. He tells you that he knows what you’ve done or what’s been done to you. He tells you that a good God would never want you. To others, he makes you wonder why more people aren’t like you. He tells you that you’re amazing and everything you’re supposed to be. He tells you that God owes you his loyalty because you’re great at keeping his laws.
Still, to others, he engulfs you in doubt, pouring unbelief on you like a waterfall. Making you question everything from God’s existence, to creation, to Jesus’ resurrection.
These things lead you to despise and disregard God's word and works, it makes you leave your Bibles sitting and gathering dust, it makes you find every excuse why you shouldn't be in church.
This is not an accident, all of these are well planned strategic attacks with one purpose in mind. They are meant to draw you away from the goodness of God, to lure you out into the unguarded places where the devil can feast on you, where he can devour you, either by death or a rebellious sinful life where you despise God and your neighbor. A life where you are only thinking about one person, and that is yourself. A life that is full of narcissism or its fraternal twin depression. A life that he can use for his purposes of killing, stealing, and destroying you and those around you.
So what are we to do? Peter provides a rather detailed answer to that question. First, he tells us to be sober. Be the opposite of intoxicated. Prepare your body for the temptations it is about to endure.
Then Peter tells us to Be vigilant. Pay attention to what is happening around you. Pay attention to the movies, tv shows, and books you are consuming. Listen to what they are trying to tell you. Look at where they are trying to lead you.
The final piece of advice from Peter tells us to resist the devil’s attacks, firm in our faith. But what does that mean?
Resisting the devil is humbling yourself before God.  It’s taking hold of God's word that was planted in your heart in Holy Baptism and clinging to it with faith. It's believing that all of your sins are actually forgiven, completely wiped clean, separated as far as the east is from the west. It's eating and drinking that forgiveness in the Lord's Holy Supper. It's singing the word, praying the word, eating the word, and hearing the word in the Church. It's using the weapon that Jesus gave you, the Lord’s Prayer, where you pray to not be led into temptation, where you pray to be delivered from the evil one. When you pray this from the heart, these very words of God, you will see that the temptations must stop. You will see that the original man-eater is being driven back and prevented. And when he leaves so does all your hatred, lust, anger, greed, and depression.
So put all of your trust in God, don't try to help yourself with your own thoughts and counsel. You’ll end up like the men in the Tsavo river construction project, you’ll end up being devoured. Instead, submit yourself under God's mighty hand, and cast your cares on him. For He cares deeply for you.
-Vicar Joshua Schiff
 
O King of glory, Lord of hosts, uplifted in triumph far above all heavens, leave us not without consolation but send us the Spirit of truth whom You promised from the Father; for You live and reign with Him and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
 
We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
Posted By: Vicar Joshua Schiff5/22/2020 7:36:36 PM

Weekly Devotion - 5.14.20
Acts 17:16–31, 1 Peter 3:13–22, John 14:15–21
 
In the reading from Acts, this week, Paul is called by the Athenians to explain the God about whom he is preaching.  While they had built temples to every god they could imagine, including the unknown god, they did not know the One, True, God revealed through Jesus Christ.  Taking the opportunity, Paul stood among them and proclaimed the God of creation to be the God of hope and the God of life.  He shared with them the depth of his faith and taught them about the resurrection.  After he finished preaching, some of those gathered mocked him, but others asked if they could hear more from him.  So Paul went into their midst and after hearing him, some came to believe and confess Jesus is Lord.
 
When we think about sharing our faith with those around us, we too face the two potential reactions placed before Paul.  Some will hear what we believe and mock but others will come to or be strengthened in their faith.  Because of this two possibilities, too often we don’t speak out of fear because of the potential for mocking.  But this is the wrong fear to face.  Instead, how different would our confession be if we couldn’t help but speak for fear of losing those who have not heard?  
Even the disciples struggle to learn to fear the right thing and it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that they have the courage to speak and that their words have the power to convert.  But fear not, for the same spirit that dwelt in them also dwells in you.  So speak boldly and do not fear the mocking; for the confession of our Lord is greater than any other.  Amen.
 
 
Alleluia. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. Alleluia. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. Alleluia.
 
 
O God, the giver of all that is good, by Your holy inspiration grant that we may think those things that are right and by Your merciful guiding accomplish them; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
 
 
Christ has risen from the dead.
[God the Father] has crowned him with glory and honor,
He has given him dominion over the works of his hands;
he has put all things under his feet.
Posted By: Pastor Joshua Errer5/22/2020 7:30:47 PM

May 4 Letter
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Lonely but not alone.  That is the way I would describe the last seven weeks here at church.  Especially as we prepare for service or Bible study each week your absence is felt in a very deep way.  As a result, I have developed a habit of stopping and reading the names on the Vine and Branches memorial several times a week.  Sometimes I only read one or two.  Sometimes I read several leaves.  There are names (twelve leaves worth) of people I had the privilege of knowing in person.  There are others I know because I have heard stories of their lives and I know those who have survived them.  Then there are others I can only guess as to their story and their time here at Faith.  Each time I stop to read their names, I am reminded that as Christians we might be lonely, but we are never alone.
This is the beauty of the Christian Church.  Even when you are physically separated from the church, lonely for those you call brothers and sisters in Christ, you are never alone.  You are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, angels and archangels, and all those who make up the company of heaven as they join you in prayer, praising and giving thanks to our God.  What a blessing this is to know that even you when you are lonely, you will never be alone.

Posted By: Pastor Errer5/5/2020 11:23:42 AM

4.15.20
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  Easter is our time of the year.  Without Easter, nothing else in the Christian faith makes sense.  Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Ascension, Pentecost, the whole rest of the year depends on Easter.  As Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain.” All of the testimony of the prophets, all of the laws of Moses, all the work of the Old Testament Kings and heroes of the faith pointed to this moment.  Everything we are now, all that we believe, looks back at the resurrection of Jesus to know that God is keeping his promises, he is saving his people, and he is doing it for you.
Isn’t it great that at a time when there is so much to worry about, God reminds us we don’t need to worry about this?  All while we are worrying about what our earthly future might hold, God comes to remind us that when it comes to our eternal future, he has that taken care of for us.  He has already made the arrangements necessary so that those he has called to be his children can live with him forever.
As Christians, we often forget that God has also promised to take care of our earthly concerns as well.  All that we have is a gift from God and we are given the task of being good stewards of what he has entrusted to our care.  
Over the next couple of weeks, most of us will be receiving our stimulus deposit from the Federal Government that is designed to help during financially uncertain times.  The goal is to provide an infusion of cash into family budgets so that it can give assurance that everything is going to be okay. Our Heavenly Father also gives us this kind of assurance but he does it in a way that is counter intuitive- he does it by telling us to give a portion of what we have away.
At a time when we are uncertain of what the future might hold, this seems like foolish advice, and to those without faith, it is.  Over and over again, throughout both the Old and New Testaments, God instructs his people to tithe, to help the poor and to care for widows and orphans.  Each time he gives this command, it is always reflective being a good steward of what you already have and command to give is proportional to the provision you have received.
But why does this matter?  It matters because giving is a reminder to us that God has promised to provide.  It is an act of faith to give from what you have during uncertainty. To give now is an act of trust that God will continue to provide for his creation.  Is it easy? Not always, but God never promises that the Christian life will be easy to live. Instead it is a discipline designed to help us to fear, love, and trust in him above all things.
As you celebrate Easter this year, rejoice in the resurrection gift God has given and rejoice in the earthly provision you have received.  I pray that in all that you do, your life would echo that of the hymn writer in saying, “What joy does this sweet sentence give, ‘I know that my Redeemer lives!’”
God bless,
Pastor Errer
Posted By: 4/16/2020 9:29:16 AM

Passion Reading V: Calvary
Posted By: 4/9/2020 11:59:49 PM

Passion Reading IV: The Praetorium
Posted By: 4/9/2020 11:58:56 PM

Passion Reading III: The Palace
Posted By: 4/9/2020 11:57:47 PM

Passion Reading II: Gethsemane
Posted By: 4/9/2020 11:56:16 PM

Passion Reading I: The Lord's Supper
Posted By: 4/9/2020 11:55:07 PM

4.7.20 - Holy Week
Blessed Holy Week to you!
As we begin this most holy of weeks, we are reminded all the more of the challenges we face and the fasting we have been asked to undertake.  Two years ago, when we had the blizzard in April and had to cancel church, I can remember thinking, “thank goodness we had an early Easter this year, I can’t imagine cancelling Easter services.”  Now, just two years later, that is exactly the situation in which we find ourselves- cancelling in person Easter services in order to protect the health and safety of the community we know and love.  
What was once unimaginable is now our reality.  But notice what is being cancelled, it is not Easter but in-person Easter services.  Easter can never be cancelled. The Good News of Jesus’ resurrection rings true no matter the circumstances that are happening around us.  He is as alive today as he was that first Easter morning. It is true that our celebration and observation of his resurrection will look different this year, but the Gospel will remain unchanged.  The joy of Easter will still ring out in the Easter proclamation that Christ is risen!
During our observation of Holy Week, check out the videos posted on Facebook that teach about the work of Jesus on each day of the week.  As always, there will be a Sunday School lesson available, schedule information, and other great resources for your family. Our website will include links to the live and recorded services, Bible study for at home and other items of interest as well.  Our live service schedule is as follows:
Maundy Thursday: 6:30 p.m. Sermon theme is “The Betrayal of Judas”
Good Friday: Noon (Tenebrea) Sermon theme is “The Promise of the Crocus Flower”
Easter Sunday: 8:00 a.m. Sermon theme is “Fear is Not Alone”
God’s blessings to you this Holy Week,
Pastor Errer
Posted By: 4/9/2020 10:56:49 AM

03.25.2020
Today is the Annunciation of our Lord, the feast that commemorates the day Mary was visited by Gabriel and learned that she would be the Mother of our Lord (and a reminder that there is only nine more months until Christmas). As we transition from life as we used to know it to our new "normal" of social distancing and staying at home, we are reminded on this day that even when it might feel as if we are alone, or even if we are frightened over what is to come, we can know this for certain- God desires to be with us. He sent his son to be born of a virgin and laid in a manger so that he could be in our midst and live a life that lead to his sacrifice on the cross so that we could be taken to live with him for eternity. He rejoices in being with his people. So as we mark this day of God's work in our midst, I pray that the words of Gabriel would provide you with comfort in an uncertain time, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"
Posted By: Pastor Joshua Errer3/30/2020 2:55:33 PM

03.03.2020
Genesis 12:1–9, Romans 4:1–8, 13–17, John 3:1–17
 
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 is probably the most well known verse in the Bible and for good reason; in this verse, Jesus was able to capture the Gospel in 24 words.  In these 24 words, we can find the answers to many of the questions we struggle with during our life of faith:
Why does God care about us? Because he loves his people.
What has God done for us? He gave his only Son (allowed him to die for his people).
Why did he do this? Because we needed a Savior and without one, we would perish.
Who has he done this for? The whole world- he desires all to be saved.
Who receives this benefit of a Savior?  Those who believe in him.
What do they receive? Eternal life.
This is the Gospel in a nutshell; God loves his people, his people need a Savior, so he gave his Son to be that Savior, and all who believe in him will have eternal life.  This is the message that Christ has for Nicodemus in the readings this week and it is the message he has for his church as she journeys through Lent and makes her way to Easter.  Focus on the cross, for there you see the love that God has for you, poured out before your very eyes.  Focus on Christ and you will see God at work for you.
 
 
Let us pray...
O God, You see that of ourselves we have no strength. By Your mighty power defend us from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
 
Gradual: 
[O come, let us fix our eyes on] Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Posted By: Pastor Errer3/17/2020 1:26:11 AM