Translating God's Word for a new generation
Say “November” and our expectations turn to darker days, colder temperatures, and fallen leaves. November is also a time of “Expectation” in our faith life together. All Saints’ Sunday begins a four-week journey that draws our attention to what we can expect regarding “these last days.” This week, Pastor Meggers grounds our end-of-life expectations in our identification as Children of God. As we commemorate saints faithfully departed, we celebrate our identity as God’s children and faithfully live with purposeful expectation and thanksgiving.
The Bible is filled with men of great faith, but typically the women seem to stand out loudest. This weekend at Concordia, we relish the story of a courageous leader who stood up and said, “Here I stand!” in a time and place where women just didn’t do that. As we conclude our RE: formation worship series, Pastors Meggers and Seidler relives the story of fearless Esther--an Old Testament saint who left a book of enCOURAGEment behind for us to read in every new day. She knew the promised grace of God and would not trade that promise for the whole world, not to mention for the saving of her very life! She put it all on the line and left everything on the field. The message for today is “A Story of Resolute Courage.”
Courage catches our attention this weekend in worship--courage that comes specifically from knowing that God has your back and has clearly called you to a certain kind of faithfulness. In Concordia’s worship services, we’ll have the opportunity to hear our high school confirmands state their faith in their own words. We pray for them as they speak truth to us. We emulate them, take them as our examples, so that our faith and convictions become sharper. Pastor Seidler will also share a short message, “A Story of Crystal-Clear Conviction,” to provide context for the life and words our youth speak to us.
500 years ago this October, Martin Luther stepped up to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany, and nailed 95 theses or assertions regarding the Bible’s teaching. Many of these 95 statements stood in direct contradiction to the teaching of the medieval Church of his time and the pope who ruled over the bulk of it. Today at Concordia we remember our God, who like a mighty fortress preserves and protects His people, His Church in every age. We throw ourselves on His help and care as with Luther we cry out, “Help me, Lord! Amen.” This weekend, Pastor Meggers and Pastor Seidler share a prayer-filled message that teaches us about the tremendous trust the Christian faith requires of those who practice it.
As Pastor Seidler wraps up the first section of our RE: formation Fall worship series, we focus on the historic phrase “Faith Alone.” Every religion may require faith. The Christian faith requires a very peculiar kind of commitment--a sustaining, enduring one. This weekend, we’ll hear “A Story of Tenacious Trust,” along with the challenge this story and others like it press upon us.
There is only one thing that comes to us completely free of charge and that is God’s favor. This free gift is known by the name “grace” and it captures our attention and effort at Concordia this weekend. As Pastor Meggers continues our RE: formation worship series, we come to the third rallying cry of the historic Lutheran faith, “Grace Alone.” It is only by God’s grace, free and pure, that we find forgiveness of our sins and restoration as human beings to spiritual wholeness. This weekend, we hear “A Story of Glorious Grace” through the dramatic encounter of Jesus with a very dirty man--a man who would walk away restored and healthy once more!
Trying to convince a 3-year-old they need help is a monumental task. So strong is the human tendency to make it on our own, even the youngest among us give evidence of this. At the heart of faith is the conviction we need help. Christianity cuts against the grain of our natural inclination to go it alone, make do and survive. This weekend, Pastor Seidler challenges us to put our openness to help under a microscope. In the second installment of the RE: formation worship series, we will hear “A Story about God’s Help” found in Christ alone with the hope that the story Pastor shares may become our story, too. Because when it is all said and done, everyone needs a little help sometimes!
A psychologist by the name of Eric Berne viewed life as basically the transaction of authority. Either we are being influenced by or trying to influence others. Every day we live with people telling us what to do or telling others what we want them to do for us. The suffocating stress these conversations create can drive us crazy! This weekend, Pastors Seidler and Meggers add a bit of Christ-centered clarification to the conversation as we launch our Fall worship series, RE: formation, with the message “A Story about Trustworthy Authority,” based on 2 Timothy 3:14-17.
In modern politics, it is not uncommon for aspiring individuals to latch onto promising candidates and then to jockey with one another for power and influence. Some candidates even encourage such behavior, hoping to learn who will survive as the “greatest.” In our Gospel lesson this week, Jesus’ disciples ask, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” While the boldness of such a question may seem surprising, what is even more shocking is Jesus’ response. Jesus warns that those who do not become like little children will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and that the greatest in Heaven are those who become as humble as little children. Rather than giving an answer that encourages jockeying for power and influence by exalting ourselves, Jesus shifts the focus to our understanding of who we are, who God is, what He has done and what He will do for those He calls His Own. It is a shift that not only highlights our dependence and neediness, but also God’s great grace and love!
Labor Day weekend provides one more extended opportunity to rest from our labors. This weekend, our enjoyment of family and friends is enhanced by the opportunity to worship Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and be encouraged by His labor of love for the whole world. Seeing that labor of love, we in turn love others--family and friends with whom we gather this weekend, and every other one, besides!