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April 2019

It’s close!  Even though we are in the middle of Lent Easter, the greatest victory celebration in the Christian Church, is very close!  As we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I would like to take a moment and explain the worship service on Saturday night before Easter Sunday. 

A picture containing objectDescription automatically generatedThis service is called the Easter Vigil.   By its very name you begin to understand the purpose of worshiping the night before the Resurrection of Jesus.   Vigil is a very intentional word.  It recalls things like keeping watch, sacrificing the usual routine and spending intentional time in prayer or fasting or in the case of Easter waiting for the celebration of Easter and the eternal answer to sin and death.   Vigil is at the heart of the Christmas Eve Candlelight service.   The night before our promised Savior was born into our world the church waits vigilantly, hearing God’s promises of a Savior, anticipating the coming of God in the flesh.  Vigil is at the heart of the evening Lenten services, as well.  We gather in vigil, to recognize our sin and the great promise and price paid to take away our sin.

A person standing in a parking lotDescription automatically generatedThe Easter Vigil is much the same.  We wait, we vigil, in the darkness and wait for the light of Christ to burst the tomb.  Traditionally the Easter vigil was very late in the night, or early in the morning so the last part of the service was at daybreak.  Easter day had broken, Christ is Risen.  

Tradition has given way to having the service on Sat. evening, much the same way midnight mass on Christmas eve is at 10:00 o’clock.  The service starts outside the church.   We gather around a fire and from that fire the Pascal, (Christ Candle) is lit.   Jesus Christ the light of the Word is risen from the dead!  This light, Christ our living again Lord has burst from the tomb.  From the ChristA group of people posing for the cameraDescription automatically generated Candle the light is passed to the people who are all holding candles in vigil.   When all the candles are lit the Christ candle leads the faithful back into the dark church.  The Light of Easter now illuminates the darkness of Good Friday. 

As the Congregation gathers in the Sanctuary they are reminded of God’s promise to His people with readings that remind us of God’s faithfulness.  We hear of Gods promises in Creation, God’s promises in the Flood, God’s promises to Abraham, God’s promises as they crossed the Red sea, and other readings as time permits.  The Easter Vigil is not about emotion, it is about promise, God’s promise to us risen from the dead on the third day just as He and God promised. 

The historic tradition of the church is to not baptize during Lent.  Easter Vigil has been the time people are baptized and new member confess the faith they have.  

A picture containing ceiling, wall, indoorDescription automatically generatedEaster Vigil is just that, a vigil, an anticipation of the greatest good news man has ever received.   Christ is Risen from the dead!  Sin and death have been defeated.  Our enemy is bound and we are free.   

We gather for the Easter Vigil Saturday April 20th at 7:15.  I hope you can join us as we anticipate the Celebration of our Salvation!    




February 2019

A person wearing a red shirt

How long have you been going to church?  For some of you, it has been all your life.  For others, it might be a new experience. 

The difficulty with doing something regularly is we might be distracted away from the very reason we do something.  We need to eat every day to nourish our bodies.  We have been taught the healthy eating habits. We know the good foods. And yet we don’t eat like we are supposed to, we eat things that are not good for us.  We eat too much of what is not. Instead of eating for nutrition and health we eat for comfort, we eat for pleasure we eat too much of the wrong things.  Even something as foundational as eating to sustain us can be unhealthy. 

Our life in worship can be the same. People go to church for all kinds of reasons. Some go because mom or dad make them, some go out of habit, some go for social interaction, or because of the programs or out of guilt.  Some because they need the strength and nourishment that only Jesus’ life death and resurrection can give. 

Have you ever thought about why you go or don’t go?  The season of Lent is quickly upon us. Lent helps us see why worship, more importantly, what happens in worship is fundamental to our Christian life.  

In the Ash Wednesday service, we are placed face to face with our sin. You stand before the pastor as he takes his thumb and traces a black cross on your forehead and says, “from dust you came and to dust you shall return”.  How’s that for a reality check!  On Ash Wednesday we are reminded without any doubt we are sinners, sinners who have no excuses and will die because of the sin of Adam and Even handed down to us, and our very own unwillingness to keep God’s law.  Your sin of thought, word, and deed will kill you.  It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. That is the primary reason we gather in worship. 


Lent refocuses us to see what is of most importance in worship. Our sin will kill us! In every Divine Service, we bring with us the evidence we are sinners.  Thoughts that have gone into the dark hidden places where a child of God should not dwell.  Words that have no good intent, they only serve to make the rumor juicier or tear down my neighbor.  Deeds that are completely selfish and self-serving.  The evidence is overwhelming that I am a sinner.

Worship is the place where God meets us with the cure for our curse.  The reason we go to worship is because I am a sinner that will die for my sin if someone does not forgive me.  Worship is where Jesus meets me with the cure for my curse, the hope for my hopelessness and the salvation for my soul.  Every week in Worship Jesus meets me with His holy absolution.  Every week He preaches His words of pardon and peace into our ears through the pastor.  Every week He sets a wedding feast for us at His house and at His altar to be with us. Take and eat, take and drink, for you, for your forgiveness. That is the central reason we gather in worship, to receive Jesus and His promises to us. 

On Ash Wednesday our sins are traced on our forehead with the ash of last year’s palm branches. We are sinners that is clear. That simple act reminds us why worship is important. Apart from Christ we have no hope, no forgiveness, and no salvation. In each Divine Service we hear good Gospel news. Jesus died your death. Jesus paid your price. Jesus blood cured your curse and has made you holy. 

A picture containing indoor, wall, table, smallDescription automatically generatedGathering in Worship every week is repetitive, no doubt.  If you can find a week that you don’t sin in thought word and deed, feel free to opt out of worship.  Until then, come and receive the greatest Good news ever.  Jesus died for you. Jesus loves you.  Jesus on the cross, in the grave, out of the tomb and giving His words of hope and promise to you. 

You are a sinner, but you have a mighty Savior who has redeemed you and wants to forgive you and remind you of who you are because of Him. 

This is why we go.

Pastor Randy

Epiphany and stealing the wise men

This is a true story. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. You already know the guilty party. It was the end of November and my first year as a pastor. I was rummaging through the top of the bell tower, trying to find the nativity scene. Back in the corner, surrounded by old church artifacts that were almost worthless, but good Germans would never throw out, I found a wonderful, hand painted nativity. By the dust and other things stored around it, it was easy to see this nativity had not seen the light of day in quite a while. I convinced the leadership that we should put this up. Before long we had a new stable made to house the holy family and shepherds. We hauled the whole gang outside, dusted them off and set the scene for Christmas.

Early the next morning I got a frantic call from one of the church members that had set up the nativity with us the night before. “Pastor someone stole the wise men!” She was frantic. She was going to call the sheriff’s office right after she got off the phone with me. It was there on the phone I had to admit I was the thief. I stole the wise men.

In my zeal as a new pastor I wanted to make sure this beautiful nativity was telling the correct story. The wise men don’t arrive until Jan 6th when we celebrate Epiphany. But as you know almost every nativity scene has all the players all at once. Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus in the manger, the shepherds and flock as well as other animals, wisemen and camels all around the Baby Jesus. That was my bad. I apologized and restored the wise man to their appropriate place so the story was complete.

I learned a valuable lesson from that. First don’t steal the wisemen without telling the congregation what you are doing. That was the first of many lessons on communication. The second was even more important. There is a difference between the cultural Christmas and the real story of Christmas.

Cultural Christmas is not concerned with the story being right. Cultural Christmas starts somewhere around Halloween and ends Dec. 26th or if you are lucky Jan 1st, then it is packed away, and the next cultural holiday extravaganza is on deck.

The real story of Christmas starts about 6000 years ago when Adam and Eve were in the perfect place with a perfect God. When they disobeyed God and sin and death became a reality Christmas began. God made a promise to send a Savior. The Prophets of the Old Testament kept telling and retelling the promise. And when the time was right the virgin gave birth to a Son that was promised, without the help of a man. The promise of salvation took on our flesh and blood and became man and dwelt among us.

The second part of the story, the part that gives you and me the promise of this Savior starts in January. St. Matthew tells us about it. “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

The story of the wise men includes us in the Christmas story. These Magi or magicians were not Jewish. The story of Christmas, the promise of a Savior was given to the Hebrews, the Jews, God’s chosen people. The story of the Wisemen is our Christmas. The star that led them to Jesus was the light that promised all people, Jew or Gentile, man or woman, Israeli, or German the sure and certain hope of Salvation. God’s promise of a Savior was not just for the Jews it was for us.

All Saints Day November 1st 2018

If there is every a time when I get nostalgic its all saints day. I start to think about all the funerals...all the friends I have preached for and to. I remember the sadness and loss that is very prominent at the funeral. But then I remember this hymn verse from "For all the Saints". "And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long, Steals on the ear the distant triumph song, And hearts are brave again and hearts are strong, Alleluia, Alleluia!" vs 5. I remember the hope that I preached at every funeral. Christ is risen! Death has been defeated! The dear saint of God that we miss,now rests from their labors, rests in Jesus.

We are reminded of this victory every time we receive Holy Communion. When we hear the Proper Preface we are reminded of the Christian victory over death through Christ's resurrection. The Proper Preface ends with this All Saints day reminder, "with angles and arc angles and all the company of heaven"! The saints of God that now rest are with Jesus gathered around the throne at the marriage feast of the lamb! Angles and Arc Angles are with them. Our family and friends that have died in faith find their peace with Jesus. Our children that we have not met because of miscarriage, or abortion are resting in the perfect peace that only Jesus can give. All the saints of generation ago, Abraham, Noah, Isaiah, Matthew, John, and the Baptizer John, and the unending list of faithful men and woman of the Bible will be there also. They are victorious over death, not victorious on their own, but victorious because Jesus has walked that valley first. Jesus is the firstborn from the dead, and He gives that victory to us through the cross, the tomb the resurrection. He continues to give us His victory in Baptism, in forgiveness, in His Supper with His very Body and Blood.

A very blessed All Saints day to you dear baptized Saint! Soon, very soon, our battle will be over and we will be with those who now rest!!