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    Wednesday Night Activities Begin

    Come join us on Wednesday nights for fellowship, worship, and Bible Study.

    • Children will meet in the gym at 6 pm for games and fun
    • Confirmands in 4th, 5th, 6th grade meet in their classrooms
    • Teens meet in Luther Hall at 3:30 pm
    • Adults gather in the Narthex for fellowship then teaching and worship
    • All Activities end at 7:30 p.m.

    Worship starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary.

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    Sacred Head, Now Wounded

    The following sermon, which was delivered today (April 9, 2014) in chapel at the LCMS International Center, is adapted from a sermon written by Chaplain William Weedon. The sermon is one of many included in a Lenten series published by Concordia Publishing House (CPH) in 2009 titled Sacred Head, Now Wounded

    How many the wounds we inflicted upon our Savior in His Passion, suffering and death! And yet of all the wounds that our Lord received, none so struck, so terrorized and so weighed on Him as the one we ponder this morning. We did not inflict this one. It came from His Father — the wound of abandonment.

    From out of the unspeakable depth of His agony on the cross, our Lord cries the words of Psalm 22:

    “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

    The great Lutheran preacher, O.P. Kretzmann, ponders this cry of agony:

    “Suddenly on a Friday afternoon a man was forsaken of God, cut off from the land of the living and the dead, utterly and ultimately alone. … The sudden emptiness in those shadowed eyes … . It was then, much more than afterward, that he died. … You see, this is sin. … It is not merely a matter of murder and adultery and gossip. … Something to do or not to do! … It is always loneliness. … It is cutting yourself off from God. … It is deliberate turning away from truth, from goodness, from heaven. … You see, this is redemption. … All this He took into Himself alone there in the dark. … He became sin for us” (The Pilgrim, CPH 1944, p. 47).

    People loved by God, as all the sin of the world is laid upon the Lamb of God, as He owns it as His very own, He experiences in Himself what every one of those sins demands: “Leave me alone, God! Go away! Leave me be!” This is the bitterest dregs of the cup that He will drain down for us in its entirety. He will taste hell. He will taste it for us all. He will know the loneliness so profound that its pain is unutterable for us. How can we begin to understand what it was like for Him in that moment — the eternal Word who had delighted in the Father’s presence before the ages came to be; the eternal Word who took on flesh from the Virgin without ever leaving the presence of His Father; the Word made flesh who lived among us constantly as all men were meant to live: conscious of His Father’s never-failing love and the presence of His guiding hand. And all of this is now withdrawn, and He is alone. All alone.

    People joke about hell, saying, “Well, at least I’ll have a lot of company there.” Wrong. Utterly wrong. Think of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. In that story, the rich man is all alone. Lazarus has angels for company and Abraham to whom he is so close that he lays his head in his bosom. The rich man hungers and thirsts for a human touch.

    “Send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.”

    But no visit relieves the terror of his solitude. He is alone. All alone. And will be alone forever. You ponder that and you will begin to understand the reality of hell. You ponder that and you will see its true terror. You ponder that and you will bow in love before the Savior whose love for you was so great that He chose to enter that Himself and to endure it in your place that you might be set free from it forever. Never alone. Never again.

    Because He endured the wound of abandonment that our every sin demands of God, because He drained the cup down to this, its last and bitterest dregs, you can look to your Savior and pray with the confidence of being heard.

    Do you see it now? You will never have to know what He went through in those darkest hours. Not that you won’t suffer. No, He flat out tells you that you will. But you will never have to face life or suffering or death alone. He has made sure of it. He will be with you. He will walk with you every step of the way, and so hell itself is undone, death destroyed, sin forgiven. Your Savior, your Shepherd, He attends you through the valley of the shadow of death so that you fear no evil, for you are not alone, but He is with you. His rod and His staff, they comfort you. He brings you out from that darkest of valleys into the sunshine and the bright light of the day that never ends in the Kingdom of your Father.

    Let’s let O.P. Kretzmann have the final words on this meditation on the wound of abandonment:

    “Above His ‘Eli, Eli’ was the sound of tearing veils, of falling walls, of the glad crying of those who now had a home again after the long loneliness of sin. … They would continue to wander, groping, stumbling, falling, in all the black ways which man will walk when they turn away from God. … But there was a way back now, beyond Jerusalem and beyond thought and hope to the place where the open arms of the cross had become the gates of heaven” (The Pilgrim, p. 47).


    William Weedon
    LCMS International Center chaplain


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    Sinners Welcome?

    Are sinners really welcome in our churches? Well, of course! Lutherans know this instinctively. Our Divine Service almost always begins with a clear confession of sin followed by absolution. If we ask if some are better off than others, we know the Scriptures:

    “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).

    In other words, we know that when we say the creed, we can believe the “holy Christian Church” is “the communion of saints” only because of the next phrase in the creed: we believe in “the forgiveness of sins.” So… there’s only one kind of people: those who every day need the forgiveness of sins.

    Is there any class of sinner excluded? Well, no. We take the Gospel everywhere we can. We go with Jesus into prisons, into hospitals, wherever there are broken people (since we are all at some point broken). We take the Gospel to the streets, wherever the Lord leads. Are we always good at doing so? If we’re honest, no we’re not. But theoretically, at least, we know that if any class of sinner were to be excluded, then we might someday also be excluded.

    All sinners are welcome. That’s why with our mercy work we care for people, all people in need. We cannot ask first – do you have faith? – before we extend care. We seek to help PEOPLE with the church’s work of mercy. That’s how some are drawn to Christ, because someone cared when they were hurt or broken.

    What about becoming part of the church? A full professing member of the body of Christ? Are sinners welcome? Of course! Every member of the church is a member of the body of Christ for one reason. The Spirit of God is leading them to repentance and faith in Jesus. When Peter finished his sermon on Pentecost, his hearers were cut to the heart and were asking, “Men, brothers, what shall we do?” To that Peter responded,

    “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall 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” (Acts 2:37-39).

    That’s the way it’s always been. That’s the one way in. Repentance and faith in Jesus!

    So we welcome sinners. But we do not welcome or condone sin. We cannot excuse sin, for if we do, we miss out on forgiveness. We can never minimize sin, for living in unrepented sin can separate us from God forever. The Scriptures say,

    “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you! But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of The Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”  (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

    Our hope is only in Christ. So there are two sides to our answer. The church welcomes sinners – always! The church cannot welcome sin – not ever.

    For if we minimize sin, or if we say that something God has called sin really is not sin, we are saying that Jesus is not really needed for that part of life. I don’t need Jesus to be Lord there, but I can be in control of that aspect of life myself. Minimizing sin, we minimize Jesus, the Savior from sin.

    Whoever we are, whatever we have done or not done, there is only one way to stand before God, and that is by faith in the shed blood of Jesus. Anything we put forward ourselves will be swept away as tainted by sin. Only in Jesus, God in our flesh, crucified and raised from the dead for us can we stand. Again, here’s the Scripture in Romans 3:

    “There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith” (3:22-25).

    Propitiation means Jesus stood in our place, took our punishment, suffered our death. That’s why it’s all gift, all grace, and it’s all for you. It covers every sin.

    “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

    So yes, sinners are welcome! All of them! Even you. Even me. Every day through repentance and forgiveness in Jesus. It is just as Jesus said to a woman caught in sin,

    “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11).

    Every day, we live by God’s grace alone in Jesus. Every day, the Word of God leads us to repent of sin. But even more, every day His grace abounds.

    “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

    Now go revel in that grace – it’s for you!

    + Herbert Mueller
    First Vice President – LCMS


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