the view from the pew 3-8-20

Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 10:45 service, Pastor McClean presiding.

The bell choir played “Sanctuary” and “There is a Redeemer”. Paul led us with the hymns “Jesus, Refuge of the Weary”, “Come Unto Me Ye Weary”, “There is a Redeemer” and “Let Us Ever Walk With Jesus”.

After Invocation we and a great cloud of witnesses were honored to be present at Garrett’s baptism.

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself

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Then came Confession and Absolution:

Pastor: Let us then confess our sins to God our Father.

Congregation: Most merciful God, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against You in thought, word,
and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We justly deserve Your present and eternal punishment. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your holy name. Amen.

Pastor: Almighty God in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Congregation: Amen.

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Our Responsive Psalm was #121.

Our scripture readings were

Daniel 6:6-10

So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” So King Darius put the decree in writing.

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverancethe race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

John 8:31-36

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Brandon led The Children’s Message using his juggling skills. Did he use a ‘cascade’ or ‘reverse cascade’ style to enhance his message? The answer is up in the air.

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Sermon: Red Letter Challenge: Being

During the season of lent, our church is involved in a study called The Red Letter Challenge. In many versions of the Bible, Jesus’ words are printed in the color red to highlight what He says in contrast to the rest of the narrative. The study focuses on how we can read what Jesus says, to whom He was saying it and why it is important in our lives. If we can understand the ‘whats’ and ‘whys’ then we can become more like Him in our responses to a sinful world and how to act accordingly in His manner.

We are called human beings not human doings.

Pastor began his sermon with this statement. Among other things, I suppose, it suggests that we are saved by grace and can do nothing on our own regarding our salvation. We had a baptism this morning and Pastor specifically said that it is only by God’s ‘doing’ by which we are saved. We are incapable of of our own saving because we begin our existence already ‘dead in our sin’. How could Garrett possibly be baptized on his own? Only through God can this ever occur.

Anyhoo, back to the sermon. While we certainly fall short of God’s expectations for us (living a perfect life) it is through His son, Jesus by which we are made without sin when we die and stand before Him. While on Earth, however, those who are saved by His grace live as both saints and sinners. While we rest easy in His grace we still fall into temptation and, inevitably, sin. What can be done to make this sin ‘slope’ less slippery? Here some things Jesus did:

Prayer . Jesus prayed. A lot. He began each morning in communion with God usually by Himself. Most of us us aren’t used to praying a lot because we get distracted by emails, kids, posts on social media, coffee, the dog barking, the phone ringing, the news, the weather, showering, cleaning, the cat needs food, the husband needs a clean shirt, the wife wants to use your car, a daily walk, the gym, making the bed, folding the laundry, putting dishes in or taking dishes out of the dishwasher, preparing breakfast, lunch, dinner or brunch, sports shows on the radio, podcasts and and and. Many of the things mentioned here such as exercise, cooking, etc. are the result of practicing, becoming good at what you do. The same includes with learning to pray the first thing in the morning. You gotta start before you can finish. Begin the day with a five second prayer of thanks for God having gotten you through the night. Take it from there.

Worship. When you go to church, arrive ten minutes early and sit in the sanctuary by yourself. Look at the surroundings and ponder why there’s a cross behind the altar. Or why is there an altar. What does it represent? Why candles? Why vestments? In Holy Cross we have hymnals which upon opening have a list of prayers which are meant to be used to enhance your worship to God. Here is that first page.

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God wants you to worship Him with all your heart. As your pastor leads you through the order of service ask yourself,

Why is this important for me? Why did the fathers of the church decide on certain creeds and prayers? Why are we singing this particular hymn?

If you have questions, ask the pastor. He’d be glad to help you understand what is what.

But if all you can do during church is concern yourself with the Colts game, tee time or washing the car then that’s a pretty good sign you’re in no spiritual state to help others. It’s probably best not to try to ‘defend’ God the next time you have a conversation about Him with someone of a different faith or none at all. If you’re not willing to listen to Him why should anyone listen to you regarding Him?

Rest. Find time to get away from your routine and just chill. Nap. Read. Exhale.

Fast. Give up something you like to be aware of how much you miss it. Food is a good example. Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert. It helped Him to focus on His needs which can only come from The Father. It’s only when you give something up that you’ll find how much you miss it.

Celebrate: What happens after Jesus comes back and takes His believers to Heaven? A yuge hullabaloo. Food, wine, singing, praising, praying, all souls in communion with a Triune God. You can do the same in your own life with family, friends and even strangers. You can break bread and share wine with others simply for the sake of bringing humans together. Bring persons together but not for agendas political, athletic, business or anything else but for the joy of sharing what you have.

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Baby steps. Babies wibble and wobble, fall down a lot before they can balance, skip, jump, dance and run long distances. You know it’s true for your own spiritual growth. Wibble, wobble, balance, skip, jump, dance and run to Jesus.

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Following the sermon, Pastor led us in Prayers of the Church. We then had the Offering, Responsive Scripture, Benediction and ended with a final hymn. Thank you, Glen.

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