Friday, December 29, 2017

Anticipating Worship (December 31)

First Sunday after Christmas/New Year's Eve

Worship Focus:  We live for Christ who gives us salvation, peace, and joy.

Scripture Readings:
Isaiah 45:20-25
Psalm 111
Colossians 3:12-17
Luke 2:25-40

Sermon Meditation:  Luke 2:25-35

Enter the New Year with Open Eyes
1.  To see the Child in the present
2.  To see the Child in the future

Prayer of the Day:  Almighty God, in mercy you sent your one and only Son to take upon himself our human nature.  By his gracious coming, deliver us from the corruption of our sin and transform us into the likeness of his glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

We will have a special service as we end one year and enter another year.  But the focus remains on the Christ born on Christmas Day.  Simeon and Ana saw him.  So do we.

See you in church at 9:30 AM.

Blessings in the New Year.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Worship

Christmas is a busy time.  Perhaps you have a lot to accomplish in a short time before gathering with family or opening of presents.

But take time to be in God's house and with God's people to celebrate the whole point of the holiday--the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

In the words of the angel, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord"  (Luke 2:11).

Our Christmas schedule is:

Christmas Eve:  9:30 AM
Christmas Day:  9:30 AM

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Anticipating Worship (December 24)

Fourth Sunday in Advent/Christmas Eve

Worship Focus:  Jesus, the promised Son of David, rules an eternal kingdom.

Scripture Readings:
2 Samuel 7:8-16
Psalm 89
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

Sermon Meditation:  Luke 1:26-38

What a Child Is This!
1.  Because of the messenger's announcement
2.  Because of the mother's acceptance

Prayer of the Day:  Stir up your power, O Lord, and come.  Take away the burden of our sins and make us ready for the celebration of your birth, that we may receive you in joy and serve you always; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Christmas is a time for worshiping the Christ-child.  See you in church at 9:30 AM on Sunday.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Anticipating Worship (December 10)

Second Sunday in Advent

Worship Focus:  Prepare for Christ’s coming with serious and sincere repentance.

Scripture Readings:
Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 85
2 Peter 3:8-14
Mark 1:1-8

Sermon Meditation:  Mark 1:1

Look into the Manger Early with Mark

Prayer of the Day:  Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the way for your only Son.  By his coming give us strength in our conflicts and shed light on our path through the darkness of this world; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

This Sunday the Choir has prepared a number of extra songs for our worship.  It is Advent.  We continue to prepare for Christmas.  See you in worship on Sunday at 9:30 AM.

Anticipating Worship (December 17)

Third Sunday in Advent

Worship Focus:  Proclaim the good news of Jesus’ coming.

Scripture Readings:
Isaiah 61:1-3,10,11
Psalm 71
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8,19-28

Sermon Meditation:  Isaiah 61:1-3

Christ Is All You Need for Christmas
1.  Because of what he expresses
2.  Because of what he exchanges

Prayer of the Day:  Hear our prayers, Lord Jesus Christ, and come with the good news of your mighty deliverance.  Drive the darkness from our hearts and fill us with your light; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Christmas gets closer and our focus gets clearer.  See you in worship on Sunday at 9:30 AM.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

St. John Christmas Services

Please join us at St. John to help celebrate the birth of our Savior:
Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24th, 9:30 am
Christmas Day, Monday, December 25th, 9:30 am

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Midweek Advent Worship (Psalm 19:14)

Dear Advent Christians who await and anticipate the coming King,

I will give you a moment.  Think about your activities from day-to-day.  How would you describe your life?  I will give you some options.  Is it more about resting or more about rushing?  I can guess.  It can be pretty hectic, right?  For everybody.  Young and old.  Ask anyone.  It is just relative as to what is or who is “busy.”  But it is real.  We all feel it.

As we close out another year on the calendar, we can look back over 11 months now.  How would you depict your events from month-to-month?  It is the same, isn’t it?  Some are just more full than others—like April is for the accountant with taxes or June for the baker with weddings.  It can be harried.  And yet we continue to kid ourselves that things will slow down.  Maybe in January.  But in reality, there is always one more thing to do.  And then one right after that.

Now what about every day this month?  As Christmas creeps closer  (or better, races rapidly—19 more days, still double digits), there is more than enough to do—cooking or baking, decorating or wrapping—all in between school or work.  It can get frantic and chaotic.  All of that can ruin or even wreck December 25th.

So how do we stop it even though we can’t slow it down?  That is what Advent is for.  And this time together on a Wednesday evening.  We pause this night as we look at a prayer of David.

I would imagine as a shepherd boy, David had some quiet time every once in a while at night to look up at the heavens and the skies  (Ps 19:1).  He could reflect on the “the glory of God” and the “work of his hands”  (Ps 19:1).  God is great, making himself known in his creation.  But God is also good, making himself clear in his Word—giving us gifts like joy, light, and wisdom  (Ps 19:7-10).

As David reviews those things, he makes a request:  “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight”  (Ps 19:14).  He wants two specific factors to be acceptable like any of the Old Testament sacrifices  (Lv 1:3; 19:5).  You don’t give someone you love a present that is broken or busted.  (Not even if you are “re-gifting.”)  The same is true of any animal brought to the temple.  It would not be suitable if it was diseased or damaged.

And so we echo:
“May the words of my mouth … be pleasing in your sight”  (Ps 19:14).  That is, what is on our lips.  As we travel to the stable again this year, that may not be too tough.  We join in singing the familiar Christmas carols on playlists or favorite Christmas hymns in church.  Those are a blessing so that we are speaking the right things as they center our words on the message and meaning of this holiday—Jesus became flesh to live with us  (Jn 1:14; Is 7:14).  We can repeat as Mary magnified God when she learned that she would be the mother of Jesus.  “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”  (Lk 1:46).  Jesus has rescued us from sin and Satan.  He has removed their threat.  For that reason we can confidently declare:  “Jesus is my Savior  (Mt 1:21)—born in the town of David for me”  (Lk 2:11).  He has come to bring peace to the world, to me—by living perfectly and dying innocently and rising triumphantly  (Lk 2:14).  All for us.
“May … the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight”  (Ps 19:14).  That is, what is in our heads—our thoughts and our contemplations.  As we trek to the manger, that might be trickier.  We sprint here and speed there.  Who has time to reflect—except on a long shopping list?  It seems almost that as soon as we sit down, we shut down.  But it is good to fill our heads, not with foolishness, but with fulfillment.  Mull over in your mind all of the many promises God made—the Serpent-Crusher, Immanuel, who would be born in Bethlehem to be pierced for our transgressions, the LORD our Righteousness  (Ge 3:15; Is 7:14; Micah 5:5; Is 53:5; Je 33:16).  All of them God kept.  We can imitate Mary also as she turned over all the events of that first Christmas evening after the shepherds paid a visit to the cattle shed  (Lk 2:19).

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight”  (Ps 19:14).  That is a fitting prayer because of all of the distractions this time of year.  We feel obligated to attend this party or attempt this purchase.  Not that those things are wrong.  But we may have to make an intentional effort like the people making their way out to John the Baptist  (Mk 1:5).  It wasn’t easy to hike from Jerusalem to the Jordan—downhill there and uphill back, logging many miles in the round-trip process.  But away from the disturbances and disruptions, they could concentrate on the Lord’s messenger, confess their sins, and crave baptism for the sending away of all of their guilt  (Mk 1:4).  That was not a waste of time for them—or for us.  The same is true as we head with those men keeping watch over their flocks by night to see the baby wrapped in cloths and then to herald to all what they had seen and heard  (Lk 2:12,18).  We proclaim from our mouths what we have processed in our hearts.

We notice to whom this prayer is addressed:  “O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer”  (Ps 19:14).  He is …
The “LORD”  (Ps 19:14).  He is the changeless, ageless One whose mercy is continual and whose might is constant.
“My Rock”  (Ps 19:14).  Hannah called him the same thing  (1 Sa 2:2).  He is like a large boulder.  He is One we can go to who is a source of safety and security.  There is no one else that we can turn to who is bigger or no other to trust in who is better.  And each one of us can say, “He is my Rock.”
“My Redeemer”  (Ps 19:14).  Jesus has paid the ransom to set us free—not with gold or silver, but with his holy, precious blood shed on the cross  (Luther’s Explanation to the Second Article).  We belong to him as he claims us as his own, providing for us and protecting us.  Each of us can state, “He is my Redeemer.”

It is Advent.  But Christmas is coming.  We want to be ready.  Pray for appropriate Advent preparation with David’s plea.

We read from Psalm 19:14:
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

December 6, 2017

Joint Meeting

The St John and Immanuel Hmong council members met on December 4 to discuss the ways that our congregations can work together as partners in the work of our Lord.  We currently have a joint VBS program with them, but there are many other ways that we can work together.

The first change that we would like your feedback on is combining our Adult Bible classes and Sunday school programs.  Pastor Voigt would continue teaching in English at 11:00 AM and Pastor Moua would conduct a Bible class in Hmong at the same time.  Our Sunday school programs would be combined and taught at the same time.

An agenda item will be added to our Annual Voters' meeting to discuss these changes and where the congregation would like us to go with any more changes.

We are planning another joint council meeting with Immanuel Hmong in February to discuss the member feedback and future events and activities (joint worship, mission festival, fun festival, evangelism outreach, facility maintenance).  Please speak to any of the council members to give us your feedback.

We ask the Lord for his guidance as we work to glorify his name and do the work he has commanded, "To make disciples of all nations."

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Midweek Advent Service (December 6)

On Wednesday evening, we will have our one midweek Advent service.  Before all of the busyness of the coming season hits, we will spend a few quiet moments considering God's Word.

We will look at Psalm 19:14:  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Our focus will be:  Pray for Proper Advent Preparation.

Our worship is at 6:30 PM.  Come and take advantage of this special time.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Decoration Reminder

Tomorrow we will be decorating our church in anticipation of Jesus' birth.  These ornaments add to the importance and significance of the Advent and Christmas seasons.

If you can help, we will begin around 5:30 PM.

Thank you.

Anticipating Worship (December 3)

First Sunday in Advent

Worship Focus:  Be prepared because Jesus is coming.

Scripture Readings:
Isaiah 63:16b,17; 64:1-8
Psalm 24
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:32-37

Sermon Meditation:  Mark 13:32-37

Advent Means ...
1.  Waiting
2.  Working
3.  Watching

Prayer of the Day:  Stir up your power, O Lord, and come.  Protect us by your strength and save us from the threatening dangers of our sins; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

We begin a new year on the church calendar in preparation for Jesus' birth.  Come and worship him.  See you on Sunday at 9:30 AM.