Showing posts from April, 2010

Lutheran love of music

John saw in his vision of heaven: “All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: ‘Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!’” (Revelation 7:11-12)

Lutherans love to sing. It is because our music here on earth will be repeated, exemplified and glorified in heaven. Here are some quotes on the importance of music to our Lutheran worship.

Hymns are the faith we Christians sing. The lyrics are the fabric of our theology. Each hymn is a sermon in song. The melodies and texts are often retained after most other memory has faded. When the elderly cannot make it to church because of health, it is singing with the saints that they miss the most.

We love to sing because our theology is carried on the melody of the music. It touches our hearts and minds in a way no sermon or devotion can.

Why is…

Feed My Lambs

On Sunday we celebrated Mrs. Tina Paustian teaching 10 years for us at Wisconsin Lutheran School. Here is the devotion I wrote for the occasion.

John 21:15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." 16 Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." 17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.

We are gathered here today to spend time with our Savior and our fellow disciples. We are not eating a breakfast of flame-broiled fish by the Sea of Gal…

Our Pet Lamb

Revelation 7:9-17 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!" 13 Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes-- who are they, and where did they come from?" 14 I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white i…

The New Life in the Exodus

The fourth lesson for the Easter Vigil is Israel’s deliverance at the Red Sea recorded in Exodus 14:10-15:1.

Exodus 14:10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!" 13 Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." 15 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretc…

The New Life in the Testing of Abraham

The third lesson of the Easter Vigil is from Genesis 22:1-18.

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. 2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." 3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you." 6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and…

The New Life in the Flood

The second lesson for the Easter Vigil is selected verses from Genesis 7-9.

The LORD then said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made." 5 And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.

In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, on the seventeenth day of the second month-- on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights. 13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, toget…

The New Life in Creation

The first lesson of the Easter Vigil is the Creation account from Genesis 1:1-2:3.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning-- the first day. 6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning-- the second day. 9 And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appe…

We Stand on Holy Ground

We stand on holy ground. We stand between death and life, between the font and the altar, between the darkness of Christ’s death and the light of Christ’s resurrection. On this most holy night, we keep an Easter vigil. This is the night before Christ the life arose from the death. The seal of the grave was about to be broken, and the morning of the new creation was about to break forth.

This is the time to reflect upon the paschal life – the life of the living Lord Jesus Christ, a life so real you can eat it in His Holy Supper; a life so real you can bathe in it in His bath of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism.

In the washing of Baptism, we have real peace. It’s the peace purchased on Good Friday with the blood of Jesus for the sins of the world – backed up by His Easter resurrection.

In the eating and drinking of the Lord’s Supper, we have real peace. It’s the peace won by Jesus’ body broken on the cross and His blood shed for humanity – backed up by His …

Easter Vigil Service

This is the Easter Vigil Service we used at Epiphany on April 3, 2010. I will explain the selection of the particular readings in later posts.



The congregation may gather in a convenient place outside the nave of the church. All are given candles to be lit later from the paschal candle. In the semidarkness a fire is kindled.

M: In the name of the Father and of the Son † and of the Holy Spirit.
C: Amen.

M: On this most holy night, in which our Lord Jesus Christ passed over from death to life, we are gathered here in vigil and prayer. This is the Passover of the Lord in which, by hearing his Word and celebrating his sacraments, we share in his victory over death.

M: O God, you are like a refiner’s fire, and your Spirit kindles the hearts of your faithful people with the fire of your love. Bless, we ask you, this new flame and those who keep this joyful Easter festival. Burning with desire for life with you, may w…

Easter Vigil

The enormous significance of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection has always been the central focus of Christian worship. Prior to the 4th century, Easter Day itself included all three emphases, but thereafter they were distributed over three days of special observance which St. Augustine called “the most holy Triduum of the crucified, buried and risen Lord.” These days have long been understood as the climax of the church’s year.

Since the last half of the twentieth century, Lutherans have been rediscovering the richness of the ancient Triduum and adapting the traditional services associated with it for use in evangelical Lutheran worship. Interestingly, the Lutheran Church in Germany did the same thing generations ago in rediscovering this ancient rite for the Western Church.

We have been celebrating the Easter Vigil at Epiphany Lutheran Church, Racine, WI for the past few years. It is still an relatively unknown and under-appreciated service. However, those who attend ever…

Inconvenient Obedience

Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” - Matthew 22:21

On this day after tax day, we can ask, “Is it right to pay taxes?” The Pharisees meant it to be a trick question. Answer one way, and Jesus would be accused of disobeying God. Answer another way, and Jesus would be accused of treason against Rome. His enemies thought they had the perfect trap.

Jesus revealed their foolishness. At the same time, He provided a lasting lesson. In a few simple words Jesus acknowledged God’s complete authority, as well as the authority He gave the government. Jesus also stripped away the mask of their convenient obedience and revealed their complete denial of any part of God’s authority over them.

It is a good lesson for us. By nature we like the concept of convenient obedience.

We feel it is in our best interest to seek another opinion more in keeping with our own. Interestingly enough, this attitude starts as a child. My four-year-old has it figure…

Eternal peace from an eternal God!

Revelation 1:8 “’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’”

Are you enjoying the national uncertainty? What will nationalized health care do to our country? Will America ever recover from this financial recession? Will there be another terrorist attack on American soil?


Of course, all of us have to deal with uncertainties. Will our job remain stable? Will our health be okay? How will we be able to deal with that struggling relationship?


And of course there’s the big one – death, and all the questions it brings. Will it be quick or slow? Will there be pain involved? Will my loved ones be okay after I leave this world?

Uncertainty! Ugh! I would guess that most of us like uncertainty about as much as we like having a tooth pulled.

What does God say to us? He simply reminds us about Himself – who He is. The Risen Savior is “the First and the Last.” Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the …

Tanzanian Lutherans rightly disagree with Swedish & American Lutherans

If you have been paying attention to the religious world, you will have noticed that there has been a lot of discussion about same-sex marriages. Lutheran Church bodies across America and Europe have thrown out the truth of Scripture and substituted the lies of the world.

I find it poignant that decades and centuries ago, Europe and America sent misssionaries to Africa to call the people out of the darkness of unbelief. Now it is the African Lutheran Church who is pointing out sin and false doctrine, and calling people in Europe and America out of the darkness of unbelief.

The devil has been digging his claws into churches and fiddling with doctrines for millenia. Christ's truth will always defeat evil! "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free!" (John 8:32)

Every time we read a story like this one, thank God that we have been called into a Lutheran Church Body that still holds to the truth of every Word of Scripture.

Here is a portion of a story written …

Dead Sea Scrolls Tour Video

Dead Sea Scrolls Tour from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary on Vimeo.

Professor John Brug, from our Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, has prepared some materials to help us understand the Milwaukee Public Museum's Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit better. The Seminary made this video available on their webpage. I'm making it available for you here.

Tour Guide for the Dead Sea Scrolls

Our Racine WELS Churches are planning a trip to the Milwaukee Public Museum to see the Dead Sea Scrolls. If you are interested in going, here is the information.

Date: Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cost: Age 60 and over — $37

Age 59 and under—$39

Includes transportation & entry to the exhibit

Lunch: There is a cafeteria in the museum where sandwiches, soup, pizza, etc. will be available. Lunch will be on your own.

Time: Meet at First Evan Lutheran Church at 728 Villa St., Racine. The Dead Sea Scrolls Tour Guide Video from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary will begin in the church basement at 8:30 am. Bus will leave at 9:00 am. Plan to be back in Racine by 4:00 pm.

Sign up at your church. Make checks payable to Les Smith. He must have payment by Monday, April 26. You can turn your checks in to your church office. For questions you can speak to your pastor or call Les & Sherri Smith at 554-5072.

Miscellaneous Info:

Our entry time at the museum is 10:45 amTickets will be picked up when we arriveOnc…