Monday, February 08, 2016

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Baptism of our Lord, Jesus


Historic Lectionaries vary on the choice of when to observe this Feast. Some of the dates include Epiphany (January 6), LSB the Sunday before Transfiguration, ELH the Sunday before Ash Wednesday.

Matt 3:13-17
(NKJV)

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Luther's Explanatory Notes

13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 
Then cometh Jesus to be baptized of him. This is a wonderful humiliation. He does not permit himself to be proclaimed; he does not glorify himself until the Father glorifies him. He waited for the voice to come from heaven:

This is my beloved Son. Christ does not act under these circumstances as we vain fellows do; when we read only a little word, then we take our mouths full, we can not restrain ourselves, we must proclaim it abroad, so that all the world may hear it.

After the glorification he goes to work; he enters on his office, and now he proceeds grandly; for now Christ has become a different man, not different as regards his person, but as regards his office.
14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and contest thou to me? 
John forbad him. John the Evangelist writes, (John 1:30-33) that John the Baptist had not known Jesus. Answer: He did not know him before his baptism, but he must have had an impression that there was something more in him who was standing before him, than an ordinary man— he had an intimation from the Spirit.

John humbles himself and is willing to subject himself to Christ as a pious man; and again, Christ subjects him self to John; as also pious Christians do.
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 
To fulfill all righteousness. That is, Thus it becometh us to fulfill all the requirements of the law, in order that poor sinners maybe justified and saved, and thus you must baptize me. Upon this baptism depends the righteousness of the whole world. For, because I bear the sin of the whole world, I must do what God has commanded sinners to do; namely, that they must permit themselves to be baptized by me.
16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 
The heavens were opened. Heaven, which before was closed, now opens, and becomes a gate and window over the baptism of Christ, that all can look in; and henceforth there shall be no more alienation between God and us. For God the Father himself is present and declares, "This is my beloved Son."

Spirit descending like a dove. The dove descending was the sign, that the Holy Ghost will not be angry with us, but through Christ will help us to be pious and blessed.
17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 
My beloved Son. This is a short sermon, but so rich and broad, that no man on earth can comprehend or entirely understand it to all eternity. For therein the divine Majesty embraces and dispenses all its divine wisdom and understanding, and pours out God's will and heart, that all that he himself is and can accomplish may be come manifest. But this is infinite and incomprehensible, and yet all embraced in this one person, who is called Christ. It points us only to him, and knows nothing else to preach about but this Christ, who has just been baptized.

Such manner of speech as he employs here, "This is my Son," we find nowhere else in the Holy Scriptures, where he speaks of only one, or calls a single person his Son (see Hebrews 1:5; Psalm 89:28; Psalm 2:7) But where he calls other persons his sons, there he speaks either of many, or of a whole multitude. With the word, "My Son," he means, as in Hosea 11:1, the whole people of Israel.

For himself he is not in need of such praise, but herein he is revealed to us, that we also may know, what is to be thought of him; namely, that in this person, (which is revealed to us in human form) are concerned heaven and earth, angels and men, righteousness, life, sin, death, hell, and everything that can be named, which is not God himself.

In whom I am well pleased. Here with he consecrates him also as a priest. By this every thing is excluded, which we can do and under take.

Here we see that in these words God draws Christ into himself, and himself into Christ, inasmuch as he takes pleasure in everything that Christ does; and again in these same words he pours out both himself and Christ, his beloved Son, upon us, and draws us into himself, so that he be comes entirely humanized (vermenscht) and we become entirely deified (vergottet) See John 14:23; 12:26; 17:21; 1:16-17; 3:13, 16, l8, 35-36; Titus 3:4-8.

This is a different voice from that on Mount Sinai. The Father says, Here ye have not an angel, prophet, or apostle, but my son and myself, my own heart, and the right, eternal spring and fountain of all grace and goodness.

All this has been done to the honor and praise of the sacrament of Holy Baptism. For it is not a human work, but a great and holy thing. There are great persons connected with it; the Father, who gives and speaks here; the Son, who receives and is baptized; the Holy Ghost, who descends upon the Son, and lets himself be seen in the form of a dove; and no doubt the heavenly choir of the holy angels are there also, who rejoice greatly over this work; for where the Father, Son and Holy Ghost permit themselves to be seen, there the whole host of heaven must also be present. The whole heaven also stands wide open.

Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 18-20.


Monday, February 01, 2016

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Quinquagesima -- Faith Alone: Up to Jerusalem

Quinquagesima SundayLuke 18:31-43
(NKJV)
31 Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. 32 For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. 33 They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”
34 But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.
35 Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. 36 And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. 37 So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38 And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
39 Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
40 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, 41 saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.”
42 Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

Luther's Explanatory Notes

31 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. 
All things written by the prophets shall be accomplished: The Scripture speaks only of Christ, and everything in it concerns Christ; he must fulfill the Scriptures by his death. But if it must be done by his death, then our death contributes nothing to it. Therefore, learn to say: My death avails nothing and I will not regard it as my consolation, I do not depend upon it for the forgiveness of my sins, but I will suffer death for the praise and honor of God, freely and without reward, and for the benefit and service of my neighbor, and in no way will I rely upon this.

But he speaks these words before he has endured his sufferings, in order that afterwards they might be the stronger in faith, when they re membered that he had said these things before, and that he had willingly taken upon himself these sufferings, and was not crucified by the power and craft of his enemies, the Jews. Isaiah 53:7; Luke 24:6.

And this is the right way of under standing the sufferings of Christ, when we recognize not only his suf ferings, but also his heart and willingness to suffer. This gives real con solation, trust and joy in Christ. (Psalm 40:8-9; Hebrews 10:10) As he has willingly given himself for us, so we also should emulate the same example of love.
34 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken. 
And they understood none of these things. For their heart stood thus: This man performs so many miracles, that we must see and realize that God is with him. Therefore he must become a great lord in due time; for the Scripture says of him, that he shall have a glorious kingdom, above all the kings and lords of the earth, and we, his servants, shall also become princes and great lords. All of God's works are of this nature; when we speak of them before they are performed, they can not be comprehended; but after they are performed, then we understand and see them. Thus St. John mentions several times, that the disciples of Christ afterward understood what he had told them. Hence the word of God and faith belong together.
35 If And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the wayside begging:
 The blind beggar. The blind man signifies the spiritually blind; such is every man born of Adam, who neither sees nor perceives the kingdom of God; but this is a grace, that he feels and realizes his blindness and desires to be relieved of it.

36 And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.
37 And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.
38 And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
39 And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: and he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 
Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. In the first place, he hears it said that Christ was passing by; he had also previously heard, that Jesus of Nazareth was a kind man, who helps every one that calls upon him. His faith had grown from such hearing. In the second place, he firmly believes, and doubts not, that what he heard of him is true.

Jesus, have mercy on me. In the third place, according to his faith, he cries also and prays, as St. Paul also describes this order. Romans 10:13-14.

In the fourth place, he also openly confesses Christ, without the fear of man.

That he should hold his peace. In the fifth place, he struggles not only with his conscience, which no doubt, hath told him that he was not worthy of this mercy, but also with those who threatened him and told him to be still, who thereby wished to alarm his conscience and discourage him; where faith begins, there struggle and contest also begin.

In the sixth place, he remains firm, perseveres and wins. Hereby the Evangelist teaches us a good beggar's art, that we should learn to beg of God, and not be afraid or ashamed, but persevere. Vs. 1-8.
40 And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, 41 Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. 42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. 43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people when they saw it, gave praise unto God. 
What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? As if he would say, Ask what you please, it shall be granted. The blind man does not hesitate long, but says, "Lord, that I may receive my sight." The Lord replied, "Yes, thou shalt see." This means, ask shamelessly, but receive graciously. Thus it will be to all who hold fast to the word of God, close their eyes and ears against the devil, the world and themselves, act as though they and God were alone in heaven and on earth.

Thy faith hath saved thee. Christ relinquishes the honor of the miracles, and bestows it on the faith of the blind man.

He followed Christ. In the seventh place, he followed Christ; that is, he walked in the path of love and the cross.

Glorified God. In the eighth place, he brings the right sacrifice of praise, which is well pleasing to God. Psalm 50:23.

The people praise God. In the ninth place, he causes many others also to praise God in him.

Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 249-250.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord (February 2)

February 2 (Forty Days after the Nativity of Christ)

Luke 2:22-40
(NKJV)

22 Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation
31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
33 And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. 40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

Luther's Explanatory Notes

22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

And when the days of her purification, etc. A woman is not impure because she brought forth a child; but God has so ordered it, that she should stay at home and away from the people, until the poor mother should regain her strength.

The law of the first-born. Besides, there was also a law that the first born son should be presented after six weeks and devoted to the Lord. (Exodus 13:2; 22:29) Therefore the first born son also had his special honor. But as this would have been too much in such a great people, that the first born should always remain in the temple and belong to the Lord, God gave the parents liberty to redeem the child by an offering.

St. Luke mentions three things: The purification, the presentation and the offering, and attaches to each part the statement, that it was done "according to the law of the Lord." What did he wish to show thereby, that he uses so many words and refers to the law so often?

In the first place, he wished to show that God governed and restrained the Jewish people with such and so many laws, as a people for whom such restraints were necessary. Psalm 32:9.

In the second place, he wished to show how our dear Lord Christ for our sake subjected himself under the law, that he might redeem us from the curse of the law. He endures not only the law of impurity, but also the law of the presentation and offering for the first-born; he not only takes our sins upon himself, but also permits himself for our sake to be condemned to death.

Further, there is here nothing special that we should learn, except that the obedience of the child and his mother is praised, and held up to us to our shame, since God can not induce us to do half as much as we are in duty bound to do, on pain of the loss of our salvation.

The other doctrine is of the first born son. That was a great glory and liberty, which the Jews also rated very high, and regarded their other brothers as if God cared nothing for them, and that they alone were his dear children. But the first-born usually abused this honor, half of them were cast down on account of their haughtiness and pride (as Cain, Ishmael, Esau, etc.) until at last all Judaism had fallen, and the Gentiles, whom the Jews regarded as an abomination, took their place.
25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

Simeon. "There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon." The Holy Ghost had touched Simeon's heart, doubtless through the word of God, (Genesis 49:10) that "the sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet until Shiloh come," and from the computation of Daniel's seventy-two weeks, according to which he could think that it must now be about the time when Christ should be born. But besides this the Holy Ghost also led him still farther, and he felt sure that he should live to see the Lord Christ.
27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 
Came by the Spirit into the temple. He thinks, This is the hour for which God has led me to hope; now I shall find in the temple what I have never found there, but for which I have so long and anxiously waited.
29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 
Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace. This is a capital heart and mighty spirit; he regards death better than life, and calls his death and departure from this world a "departure in peace " and of good days; for he knows that his blessedness will begin as soon as he is dead. This is not the work of a man, but of the Holy Ghost. For with the world it is usually so, that when death comes, there is no joy, but unrest, anxiety, distress, fear, terror and weeping.
30 For mine eyes have seen thy salva tion, 
Mine eyes have seen thy salvation. Whether he previously inquired of the mother the name of the child, (which is very probable,) or not, yet he hits the name correctly and bap tizes the child as the angel had done, that it was a "Savior" and such a Savior, who is called God's Savior (Thy Salvation) that is, such a Savior whom God himself had appointed and ordained to be a Savior from sin, death and hell. But as he calls only this child a Savior, it follows that there is nothing else but this child which can redeem from sin and death.

We must not imagine, however, that Simeon had an advantage over us, because he had seen the child Jesus with bodily eyes and taken it into his arms; for such bodily seeing did not help him. The other Jews also saw the child, and went to the devil. But this helped Simeon, that he believed this child was the Savior.
31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 
Which thou hast prepared for all people. If this Savior was prepared for all people, it follows that all people are without help and a Savior, if they do not have this Savior. Again, mark well what comforting consolation they afford. God has "prepared the Savior" this is an indication that he will not be ungracious and let us perish without help. Yea, what is more, he hath prepared the Savior for "all people," so that every one may enjoy him.
32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. 
He shall take the darkness away and instead bring light among the Gentiles; that is, he shall destroy the kingdom of Satan, who rules in the world with darkness, error, sin and every misfortune; he shall destroy sin and death. (2 Timothy 1:10-11) Christ shall do this for the Gentiles, the great, deplorable sinners. But that all men are not enlightened, nor believe the gospel, is not the fault of the power. The dear sun shines all over the world, and yet meanwhile many people are asleep, and many are blind, who do not see the light of the sun.

The Jews, however, did not walk in such dreadful darkness as the Gentiles; what then shall Christ do among the Jews? "He shall be their glory." The people of Israel (he will say) shall have great honor of this child. For Israel was that people to whom the promises were given. (John 4:22; compare Romans 9:4) Here we see again how diligently Simeon studied the prophets. See Isaiah 49:6.
33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 
The Evangelist calls Joseph the father of the Lord Christ, because the people called him so, on account of Mary being his espoused wife.

They marvelled at these things. To Joseph and Mary these words were a great marvel ; for the prediction that he should be a light to the Gentiles had not been so clearly expressed by the angel as by this Simeon. Therefore we must not imagine that they marvelled because they did not believe this, but it is an indication of a great faith and eminent judgment. For this is the peculiar manner of faith, that the more firmly one believes anything to be God's word the more he marvels and rejoices over it.

Mary marvelled not that she was the mother of this child, but at "those things that were spoken of him," as all Christians do, who regard not what they are, but what is spoken of them. With the marvelling is also indicated, that when God's word is preached it is never without fruit. Isaiah 55:11.
34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
 Simeon blessed them. Our God comforts the lowly, who are to pass through a wonderful experience.

Set for the fall and rising of many. Why does he say this and what follows to the mother, and not also to the father? He touches here upon nature, and mentions the natural mother. Perhaps it was also because Joseph would not live to see the suf ferings of Christ.

Three kinds of people. He speaks especially of three kinds of people who are always on earth.

The first are those who are offended at the truth and forsake it.

The second are those who, with Daniel and his companions, say in their hearts, All that thou hast done unto us was right. They improve by the truth.

The third are the great multitude, who forcibly resist it with intrigue and craft, are not satisfied to be offended at it, but wish rather to crush and suppress the truth. These commit two kinds of sin: First, that they oppose it, and then do not want to be regarded as sinners and doing wrong..

Christ is the object at which every one aims; all opposition aims only at him, and though the opponents contradict one another most vehemently, yet they are unanimous in opposing Christ. Psalm 2:1-2.

A sign spoken against. When men do this openly, devils must do it secretly, and these are very heavy temptations to unbelief, despair and blasphemy. But the word also adds a consolation; he says, He shall be a sign that shall be spoken against, but shall not be overthrown or destroyed.

The stone of offense. But the greater part is so mad and foolish, and will not rely on this stone, but rush upon it with their head and stumble at it. That is not the fault of the stone, but it is the fault of those foolish, blind people, who fall upon it and are dashed to pieces, whereas God has placed it there that they should believe on him, rise and be saved by him. Isaiah 28:16.

As the falling belongs only to them who already stand, so the rising comes only to those who regard themselves as poor, miserable sinners, that have deeply fallen. 1 Peter 6.
35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

A sword shall pass through thine own soul also. When the Virgin saw that her innocent Son had been condemned, it cut through her heart, especially his crucifixion. And not she alone had to see and experience the malice of the world, but the whole Christian Church at all times, when the light of the gospel shines. 2 Peter 2:6-8.

Thoughts of many hearts revealed, but not the thoughts of all. The thoughts of Christ and of his little flock and their hearts are revealed to every one; for he states plainly that every one can see very well the state and condition of his heart. But the great apparent saints we do not know; they are regarded as the holiest people, and yet they are not. Certainly the gospel has no worse enemies than those who are regarded as high, discreet, wise, virtuous and holy before the world.
36 And there was one Anna, a prophet ess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 
St. Anna, a prophetess. Will you fast and pray with this Saint Anna? very well; but see to it, that first you follow the person and then her works; first become an Anna.

In the first place, St. Luke says she was a "prophetess;" no doubt, a holy, pious prophetess; then certainly the Holy Ghost was in her, therefore the succeeding works were also good and righteous.
37 And she was a widow of about four score and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fast ings and prayers night and day. 
A widow. Secondly, He praises her as a widow who remained in her calling. Thus do you likewise look to your position, and you will find enough good works to do, if you will be pious.

Departed not from the temple, In the third place, He says, "She de parted not from the temple." Oh, what a salutary admonition, not to depart from the temple; that is, not to let ourselves be driven from the Holy Scriptures, but build ourselves up on the word of God.

Fasting means all kinds of discipline and mortification of the body, which is not entirely pure from sin and evil inclinations, though the soul may have become righteous and holy by faith (1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Peter 2:5.) The other part of divine service in which the soul is offered to God is "prayer," by which is understood, not merely the oral prayer, but every thing that the soul does by hearing, speaking, meditating and undertaking in God's word.

Day and night. This is to be understood that with such work she was occupied day and night.
38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. 
She coming in that instant. By this a great personal honor is shown to this holy woman, that she enjoyed this grace in preference to so many great people, because she recognized the poor child as the true Savior.

The word of God concerning Christ is discerned only by the hungry souls who look for redemption.

If thou wilt have Christ and his gospel, thou must have him not other wise than he is presented to thee in this gospel. Therefore consider that thou must hold to Christ for the resurrection, that he be no prodigy to thee; thou wilt not be able to make the devil and the ungodly pious. But do thou remain near to him who is our holiness and our resurrection, and do not be alarmed when others turn back and fall away. The devil leads the world into error; but those are thirsty and soon run into the errors. Therefore it is not our fault, nor the fault of the Lord Christ, that the devil causes the fall of the ungodly, but it is the fault of the ungodly. And because you hear that Christ will be a terrible sign to the ungodly, do you uphold yourself by him against fanatical spirits and be not alarmed in your conscience.
39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. 40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

Fulfilled according to the law. They returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth, either from Egypt, or as it seems to me, immediately after the six weeks (v. 22,) and the appearance of the angel (Matthew 2:13) took place at Nazareth. By this the holy cross is painted the better. Thus the Lord Christ begins his pilgrimage from the time of his birth, and constantly pilgrims in this earth, having no abiding place.

And the child grew. What more could Luke have written? The time had not yet come that he should perform miracles. (John 2:11; Acts 10:37-38) He appeared and was brought up like other children, only that he waxed stronger than other children, for his appearance was nobler, and the gifts of God were richer in him than in others. We must understand the words of Luke in regard to the humanity of Christ in the simplest sense. The Spirit was in him from the beginning of his conception; yet just as his body grew, and his reason increased in a natural way, so also the Spirit descended upon him more and more.

Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 196-201.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Sexagesima -- Word of God: Sower and the Seed

Sun January 31, 2016
Sexagesima Sunday
Luke 8:4-15
(NKJV)

4 And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. 8 But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?”
10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that
‘Seeing they may not see,
And hearing they may not understand.’
11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

Luther's Explanatory Notes

Vs. 4-15, see Matthew 13:3-13,18-23.
10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. 
Mysteries of the kingdom. But what does he mean, when he says, "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God?" What is this mystery? If we are not to know it, why then do we preach it? A mystery is a hidden, secret thing, that we do not understand; and mysteries of the kingdom of God are things hidden in the kingdom of God, such as Christ with all his grace, which he has bestowed upon us, as Paul calls him; for he who knows Christ aright, knows also what the kingdom of God is, and what it contains. And it is called a mystery, because it is spiritual and hidden, and remains so wherever the Spirit does not reveal it.

For though there are many who see and hear it, yet they do not understand it. As there are many now who preach and hear Christ, how he was given for us; but this is all yet upon the tongue and not in the heart; for they themselves do not believe it, nor feel it, as Paul says, (1 Corinthians 2:14) "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." Therefore it is and remains a mystery to them; and all that they hear is to them as when one hears an enigma or dark saying.

Notes to Matthew 13:2-13, 18-24

4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 
Seed by the way side. (See verse 19.) These are they who hear the word and neither understand nor regard it; and these are not the mean people in the world, but the greatest, wisest and holiest, and in short, it is the great majority. For he speaks not here of those who persecute the word, or do not hear it, but of those who hear it and are disciples.

This power of the devil indicates not only this, that the hearts, hard ened by a worldly disposition and life, lose and forsake the word; but also, that instead of God's word, the devil sends false teachers, who tread it down with the doctrines of men; for by "the birds" Christ himself designates the devils, who take away and devour the word, (See 2 Timothy 4:4.) By the "treading down of men" he understands the teachings of men, which rule in our hearts (2 Thessalonians 2:11f.) and to this category belong all heretics, plotters and fanatics, who understand the Gospel in a fleshly sense, and interpret it accordingto their own meaning.

We may think there is no danger in hearing God's word, and yet not receiving it, and that those who do this are careless people, and that it is quite natural that they hear the sermon and forget it; — but Christ judges differently here, and says, The devil taketh the word out of their heart.

The other two classes are not quite so bad; but they are weak, make a little effort, perceive something, are also satisfied with it; therefore the Lord does not give them over to the devil so entirely as the first ones.
5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth 
Stony places. (See verse 20. ) This is also a great multitude, who rightly understand the word, and comprehend it correctly; they rejoice also, that they can perceive the real truth, and know how we can be saved by faith without works, etc. But when it comes to the point, that they shall endure shame, danger, loss in body or goods, on account of it, they fall away and deny it, or conceal the word and the deed.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 
Among thorns. (See verse 22.) Their misfortune is, that they enjoy peace and good times; therefore they do not take earnest heed to the word, become indolent, and involve themselves in the cares, riches and luxuries of this life, and are thus be come useless. Their heart clings to earthly goods.
8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixty fold, some thirtyfold. 
Good ground. (See verse 23.) Although the works are also called fruits, yet here he speaks especially of the fruits which the word brings into the hearts, that by this means many people are converted, believing, illuminated, comforted and wise in Christ. (Romans 1:13; Colossians 1:6.) After this fruit follow the fruits of the spirit, such as faith, works, charity, etc.

As the external offices are dissimilar, so also the fruits are unlike. A preacher serves the church more than a mechanic, and yet both are Christians.

But it requires a fine and good heart for this (one that is free from thorns, has good ground and is fruitful,) that is, a heart which, in the first place, is not careless, but very earnest in the word of God. In the second place, the heart must be sure and steadfast, not soft and cowardly. Thirdly, it must also be cleansed and swept; that is, we must not permit ourselves to love goods, money, honor and pleasure more than the word of God and the life to come.

In patience. Because there will always be a cross, temptations, adversity and offenses.
9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. 
Who hath ears. He does not wish you to postpone it to a future time. Now, says he, while thou hearest it, receive it, otherwise it will not be well with thee.
11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 
It is given to you. That is, the Spirit imparts it to you, that you may not only see and hear, but also un derstand and believe in your heart; therefore it is now no longer a mystery to you. But, Christ means to say, this people is so deplorably proud and evil that even where I speak and work freely they not only will not hear and learn, but also revile and blaspheme the known truth (see Matthew 12:24.) Therefore I do to them as they will have it; that, as they will not receive the clear and plain word, they must hear parables, which, though they desired to, they cannot understand. (See 2 Corinthians 4:3; 3:14.) Therefore Christ is not to blame, as though he were jealous or unwilling, but the wickedness of the people is to blame.
12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 
Whosoever hath. This "hath," namely, to love the word, is much already and a great blessing, even when one does not yet understand everything perfectly. For this is already a beginning, when we know what the words mean. To the word the thing is also added (Luke i1:53) for where the word is understood, there it grows and reforms men; but where it is not understood, there it declines and offends men.
13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 
Seeing, see not. That is, they will not and care not to understand it, but they imagine that they under stand much higher and greater things. Therefore the higher they boast of their understanding, the deeper and lower do I descend with my words, in order that the high-minded may snap at vain things, but the humble may find me. And I do this for this reason, that they may be humiliated and come down from the height of their understanding to the lowliness of learners; that is, that they may abandon the presumption that they understand all things, and humble themselves and learn of me. But they will not do this; therefore they remain as they are; namely, with hearing ears they hear not, etc.
15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 
Heart is waxed gross. This proceeds from an obdurate and clogged heart; namely, that the heart for a long time has directed its desires towards something else, and has by a long habit become accustomed to think of other things and have other inclinatipns.

The words "that I should heal them" seem to be spoken out of jealousy, as if he did not wish that they should see. But according to the connection it means, Therefore, because they will not see, they can not be helped.

24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 
Sowed good seed. This parable shows how the kingdom of God fares in this world. There must be false Christians and heretics, in order that the true Christians may be proved. But in the future life the pious shall be distinguished and separated.

True Christians are weak, and have much yet within them that is impure; yet they must on that account not despair, but strive till at last such change is effected in their sinful bodies, that sin may cease within them entirely.

At the same time we find among the Christians, who are the good seed, though weak, the pernicious tares, the false Christians, who still assume the Christian name, and boast of their good ground. Compare Matt24:24.

Paul also complains, (Romans 16:18) that the hearts of the simple are deceived, and it grieves him that the Galatians, who ran well for a time, did not obey the truth (Galatians 5:7.) For the heretics capture not Epicurean worldlings, not the thorns, not the avaricious, but the most select people, and those who have the best conscience, who seek the truth with all earnestness; this is certainly very painful. Therefore he lays this parable before the pious for their consolation in order that they may not fear that all hope for the faith and the church is lost, but that they may think it must be so, because it had been foretold.

They must be men of spiritual discernment, who can detect those tares; for the parable speaks of those who, professing the Christian doctrine and faith, live unchristian lives, glistening finely whilst they are pernicious.

At the same time this parable gives us to understand, that the free will is nothing, because the good seed is sown only by Christ, and the devil can sow only bad seed, as we see also that the ground of itself bears nothing but tares.

Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 212. pp. 76-79.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Faith Ev. Luth. Ch. Pastor's Annual Report for 2015


January 2016 Annual Meeting of Faith Ev. Lutheran Church

Move

April 13, special thanks to every member of the congregation for all the help in preparing the Parsonage, the food, helping move tons of furniture, appliances, household goods, books, and all else.

Installation

April 19, Pastor Mark DeGarmeaux, Liturgist; Pres. John Moldstad, Jr., Preaching; 11 Pastors in attendance. Special thanks to the musicians, the choir, and all the members for a wonderful day, getting to know more members with an excellent meal, and the loving attention to all the details of preparation and clean-up.

Worship Services

Sunday, Divine Service
35 Sunday Services (8 with the Lord’s Supper, Rite I), 25 with Rite II, 2 with Matins
Mission/Reformation Festival Last Sunday of Oct. with guest Pr. L. Wentzlaff.
Advent, Vespers
3 Wednesday Advent Vespers with Individual Absolution, Dec. 2, 9, 23.
December 16 was cancelled due to bad weather.


Festival/Holiday
Thanksgiving Vespers, Wed. Nov. 25th
Christmas Program
Christmas Eve, Lord’s Supper
Christmas Day, Lord’s Supper


CCCC
    Pastor began rotation in the worship schedule at the Clara City Care Center. Services in 2015 were held:
April 23
June 18
July 2
August 6
September 3

Pastoral Teaching Activities

Sunday School

Establishing curriculum and schedule. Monthly meetings with teachers preparing for the upcoming lessons. We are using the Small Catechism and the curriculum made freely available by the Churches of the Lutheran Confessions. The congregation is blessed to have several volunteers to teach and assist in teaching. Please give them your personal thanks.

Vacation Bible School

Pastor was involved in writing, teaching, and performing music for the Summer VBS and the Christmas VBS.

Confirmation Class

There are 11 students in the confirmation classes from grades 6-8. After a few weeks it was determined that 4 of the students would benefit more from basic catechetical instruction. Confirmation classes begin with a short devotion using the Office of Suffrages in the Hymnary. Classes divide. The Pastor’s class is taught from the Scripture and also uses the ELS Explanation book for Luther’s Small Catechism, Luther’s Large Catechism, Walther’s God’s No and God’s Yes, and the Hymnary.
Confirmand Examination was done during the Children’s Christmas Service.
There are two other confirmation students being instructed apart from the Wednesday classes.

Youth Group

Monthly Bible Study and meetings have been held from May through December. Pastor hosted several campfire meetings June 28. Activities for the youth have included:
Shootout at Lopez’, July 19
Lutheran Youth Convention at Bethany Lutheran College, July 23-26
Hiking at Upper Sioux, October
Trip to Apple Orchard, October
Camp Indianhead, July 5-10
Stingers Baseball Game, August 5
And probably some other events that have slipped the Pastor’s mind.

Women's’ Christian Fellowship

Pastor held opening devotion for the Women's’ Christian Fellowship. The lessons focused on what worship is, how it came to us from God in the Old Testament, How Jesus fulfilled this and gave us the Means of Grace, How the Apostles Worshipped, How this was carried out in the early Church, how our church year relates to the Old Testament and Christ’s fulfillment, how our worship service today is arranged, where it comes from in Scripture, and how we gather around the Means of Grace where God has promised to come to us to serve us with forgiveness.
In December we went through the Christmas narrative with Christmas hymns.

Bible Studies

Sunday Bible Study
Sunday Bible studies in 2015 focused mainly on reading through the Gospel of Matthew from Chapter 1 through 23. At the beginning of Lent in 2016 we will resume with the Passion Narrative through the resurrection in chapters 24 to 28.
There were 4 topical Bible Studies on Sundays through 2015.



 Wednesday Bible Study

Wednesday Bible Studies have been mainly topical. Topics have included, the History of the Bible, How to Better Read and Understand the Bible, Note Taking for Bible Study, Archaeology and Ancient Inscriptions and How These Relate to Understanding the Bible and History, Distinguishing Between God’s Law and God’s Gospel, How to Evaluate a Sermon or Preacher on the Basis of Scripture, The Origins of Some Denominations of Christianity. How the Old Testament Teaches Christ (Pictures of Christ in the Old Testament).
We did study some particular books of the Bible to apply skills from these studies, these included: Jonah, Ruth, several chapters of the Gospel of Mark.


CCCC Bible Study
Pastor was asked to teach Bible Study at the Clara City Care Center for the Month of October. The dates were October 5, 19, 26. Pastor was ill on the 12th. The Bible Study was the first four chapters of Genesis: Creation, Man, The Fall into Sin, the Promise, and Cain and Abel.
Adult Instruction
Pastor has been meeting regularly with four different families in adult instruction. There are two other families scheduled to start instruction soon. This instruction typically takes place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings and/or afternoons.

Pastoral Report on Members

Elders
Meetings averaged monthly, though no regular date was planned. Meetings take place so that the Elders can bring concerns about the congregation, the pastor, or the situation of members to the pastor’s attention. They also take place so the Pastor can speak in confidence to the Elders about situations where he needs guidance.


New Members
3 New members this fall.


Baptisms
2 Baptized December 24, 2015


Deaths/Funerals
1 member passed away in 2015 and funeral services were held by Pastor Muelenhardt.
Pastor served for the funeral of 2 members of Clearwater Lutheran Parish, June 12-13, Grygla, MN.


Transfers
1 Transfer out of membership.


Inactive Members
Pastor has met with a few formerly active members and will keep in contact with them. Some of them he has visited quite frequently. Getting moved in an established in the Congregation and community consumed much time this past year. Focusing on inactive members


Shut-in Care
Technically a shut-in is a member who due to health or age is unable to attend worship services. Thankfully, we don’t have any genuine or regular shut-ins. But we do have members in the nursing home. The members in the nursing home are able to attend regularly through the kind work of family and members. Nursing home visits for these members count more as home visits.


But on occasion we have had members who for health reasons have been unable to attend church for several weeks: such as, for surgery. Pastor has tried to maintain shut-in visits at least once per month while they are shut-in. Pastor has also been visiting a Rock Dell congregation member in the Granite Manor during their vacancy.


Two members of Clearwater Lutheran Parish needed pastoral care for hospital visits during the vacancy of pastors previous call. Pastor traveled to Fargo and to Thief River Falls for these. The one at Thief River Falls coincided with a funeral Pastor served at Clearwater Parish.


Hospital Calls
(1) Alexandria
(3x) Montevideo
(3x) Willmar
(1) St. Cloud


Home Visits
Pastor has been to 19 different member families' homes.


Counselling
Pastor has been involved with personal spiritual counsel with several members. On occasion this has taken place in the Church building. Most often, pastor will drive to meet the member at his or her home or some other place.

Supplementary Activities

Church Institutional Governance
Church Council Meetings
Voters’ Meetings
Building Committee Meetings


Winkel
    A Winkel is a monthly meeting of the E.L.S. pastors in our region. The purpose is mutual study of Scripture and the theology of God’s Word, building, honing, and evaluating preaching and teaching, examination of issues facing the congregations and Christians in our societal context, and discussion of pressing issues faced by member pastors or congregations.
September 14
October 12
November 9
December 14


Synod Convention
June 21-24


General Pastoral Conference
    The GPC is for all the pastors in the E.L.S. and is held annually.
    October 1-3


Circuit #9 Pastoral Conference
    This conference is for the E.L.S. pastors in Southern Minnesota, held annually.
    May 20th



Choir/Musicians/Vocalists
    Faith Lutheran Church is richly blessed in being a singing congregation, and it is especially blessed to have several musicians and vocalists who are willing to serve for the benefit of our services.
    Pastor usually lets the Organists choose the pre-service hymns from the Hymnary or other approved sources. Similarly, the Choir Director and vocalists bring suggestions for the pastor’s approval. He would like to offer his thanks and encourage the congregation members to give these members their thanks also for the extra work they go to.


Caroling
    Congregational Caroling at the CCCC December 20th.


Parades
    Maynard
    Clara City
    Raymond


Community Events
    Participated in a CCCC Thanksgiving Program
    Coordinated and Planned CCCC Birthday Program (January 2016)


Personal and Family Involvement
Family Campfires
    Pastor’s family has held a few campfires to get to know people, inviting members their families and some families associated or interested in Faith Lutheran Church.


Family Outings: Hiking, Sledding
    In order to get to know people better while having fun, Pastor’s family has also made it a point to invite other families associated with Faith Lutheran Church along on sledding trips.


Community Recreation
    Pastor’s family took advantage of the Clara City Swimming Pool. There, Mary made contacts with community members, building relationships with other families.



Articles Written/Radio Interviews While at Faith Lutheran Church
    Pastor has been writing up his sermon preparation notes and Martin Luther’s notes on the Gospel texts as articles. Articles directly related to sermon writing are marked with an x. All these articles are published at my theological blog: http://diatheke.blogspot.com They are also published at Steadfast Lutherans http://steadfastlutherans.org A list of the most recently published articles is available at the bottom of the church website
    The articles and interviews are used by people all over the world, including by people in our own community. Access to these resources has been an influence of interest in our congregation.


May (5)
       x Prayers for the Festival of the Holy Trinity
       A Domestic Benediction for Christian Householders....
       x Litany to the Holy Ghost, for Pentecost.
       The Three Outposts, part 8 – The State (Notice of Radio Interview Podcast)
       Let No Man Put Asunder
June (13)
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 5-Dis...
       Resources for the Liturgical and Doctrinal History...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Visitation
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospels: Sts. Peter and Paul...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 4- Ch...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Nativity of J...
       The Three Outposts, part 10 – Conflicts between Ch...(Notice of Radio Interview Podcast)
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 3-The...
       The Three Outposts, part 9 – Conflicts between Chu...(Notice of Radio Interview Podcast)
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 2-Inv...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity I-Div...
       Intimidation: A Needed Reminder from 1884
       Worship Wars New and Old, well, really just Old.
July (6)
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 9-Ste...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 8- Be...
       Brumalia--Ancient Latin Sources: post 46 BC Julian...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospels: St. Mary Magdalene
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 7-Pro...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 6-Sin...
August (6)
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 14-Th...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 13-Ch...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: St. Bartholomew's Da...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 12
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 11-Hu...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 10-Re...
September (8)
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 18 - ...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Michaelmas 1 ...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: St. Michael and All ...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 17 - ...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: St. Matthew
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 16 - ...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Trinity 15 - ...
       The War Room: A Movie Review
October (10)
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: All Saints' D...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Michaelmas 5 ...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Michaelmas 6 ...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Sts. Simon and Jude ...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Reformation
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Michaelmas 4 ...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: St. James the Elder ...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: St. Luke the Evangel...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Michaelmas 3 ...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Michaelmas 2 ...
November (7)
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Second Sunday in Adv...
       Redeeming Christian Holy Days: The Christians Stol...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: St. Andrew the Apost...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: First Sunday in Adve...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Last Sunday (...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Second Last S...
       x Luther's Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Third Last Su...
December (16)
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Epiphany (January 6)...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Second Sunday After ...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Circumcision (Januar...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Holy Innocents (Dece...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: First Sunday After C...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: St John the Apostle ...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: St. Stephen the Mart...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Christmas Day 2 - Na...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Chrismtas Day 1 - Na...
       The Christmas Gospel In Prophecy and Persecution
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Christmas Eve' - Nat...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: St. Thomas the Apost...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Fourth Sunday in Adv...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Third Sunday in Adve...
       Redeeming Christian Holy Days: Brumalia in the Rom...
       x Luther's Notes on the Gospel: St. Nicholas of Myra...



Radio Interviews
For Steadfast Throwdown
  • Recorded April 30: Round 46, The Three Outposts, Part 8: The State, broadcast May 11, 2015
  • Recorded May 7:  Round 47, The Three Outposts, Part 9: Conflicts between the Church and the Home, broadcast June 8, 2015
  • Recorded June 4:  Round 48, The Three Outposts, Part 10: Conflicts between the Church and the Home (Cont.), broadcast June 15, 2015
    For Issues, Etc.
  • September 10, 2015 Interview Review of the Movie, “War Room”


    Pastor purchased a domain name for the congregation and contracted for web service through a company called Hostgator. He also designed and put into production a website using the Wordpress platform coordinated with a MySQL database. In addition to this he has made extensive use of the congregational Facebook Page, a Faith Youthgroup Facebook Page. He also established a congregational Google account, set up an online calendar and blog presence. The blog presence was used as a congregational website until the official website was set up.
    Facebook has been fairly useful for disseminating information. He has not used the blog presence much since the website has been working.
    Pastor also established an email address for the treasurer of the congregation for electronic billing.
    The Google calendar has been widely used.
    The MySQL database works in the website to provide lesson information for each Sunday.
    Pastor has also experimented with publishing digital audio recordings of the Sunday sermons at the website. This works well for the website user. It tends to take a couple of hours to prepare the file for the web. Pastor is looking into ways to streamline or outsource the editing process for the web. The audio files are not currently available on the web due to the time it takes for preparation. He would like to make them available again soon for the sake of the snowbirds and shut-ins. As an additional note. When the recordings were available people from all over the world were listening to them, places like: India, England, Australia, Jakarta, Russia, Germany, South American countries, Israel, and many others.



Personal Retreat - A short break with a couple of my children at a cabin in a State Park
August 23-26


Conclusion
Pastor would like to extend his sincerest thanks to all the members and other supporters of Faith Ev. Lutheran Church. Our first few months here have had their hiccups as we grow to know each other’s personalities and quirks. There are probably several other things which members would like to know and about which they would expect to be informed. Please do speak with the Pastor about these.
Clara City is an exciting opportunity for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have seen what just a little stirring of the kettle can do here. Let us keep our congregation, our city, and our wider community in our prayers. And let us ever hold fast to the Word of God and His service to us in Jesus Christ through Word and Sacrament. Faith really does have the gold of God’s grace to offer our community. Let us serve them with our hearts and hands through the Love of Christ. And let us speak to them about His grace and forgiveness, inviting them to receive this blessed salvation.