Showing posts from January, 2011

Committed to step into the fire

Daniel 3:13-27 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?" 16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the imag…

A New Start

There’s a special type of excitement about the beginning of a new year. There’s new hope, a clean slate, fresh possibilities …

Do you ever wish life could be fresh and new? That you could change and restore parts of your life that have fallen into disrepair?

Come to Epiphany Lutheran Church. We are starting fresh and new, too: wallpaper removed, wood refinished, walls repaired and repainted, new arches and artwork installed.

If God can do that in an 84 year-old church, He can do that in your life, too!

Anniversary Worship ….. 8:00 10:30 am Potluck Meal ….. Noon

Jesus was, yet is

Back in the 4th century A.D., a man named Gregory of Nazianzus wrote these words that capture the identity of Jesus as one who is fully human, yet fully God:

He began His ministry by being hungry, yet He is the Bread of Life.
Jesus ended His earthly ministry by being thirsty, yet He is the Living Water.
Jesus was weary, yet He is our rest.
Jesus paid tribute, yet He is the King.
Jesus was accused of having a demon, yet He cast out demons.
Jesus wept, yet He wipes away our tears.
Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver, yet He redeemed the world.
Jesus was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, yet He is the Good Shepherd.
Jesus died, yet by His death He destroyed the power of death.

(Gregory of Nazianzus, A.D. 381)

A Change in Posture

In a cathedral in Copenhagen, Denmark there is a magnificent statue of Jesus by the noted sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. When Thorvaldsen first completed the sculpture he gazed upon the finished product with great satisfaction. It was a sculpture of Christ with face looking upward and arms extended upward. It was a statue of a majestic, conquering Christ.

Later that night, however, after the sculptor had left his fine new work in clay to dry and harden, something unexpected occurred. Sea mist seeped into the studio in the night. The clay did not harden as quickly as anticipated. The upraised arms and head of the sculpture began to drop. The majestic Christ with arms lifted up and head thrown back was transformed into a Christ with head bent forward and arms stretched downward as if in a pose of gentle invitation.

At first Thorvaldsen was bitterly disappointed. As he studied the transformed sculpture, however, he came to see a dimension of Christ that had not been real to him before. I…

Prayer for Baptism of Our Lord

Prayer of the Church for the Baptism of Our Lord

Heavenly Father, at Jesus’ Baptism You honored Your eternal Son and poured out Your Holy Spirit on Him. By that same Spirit keep us, and all the baptized, faithful in the confession of Your holy name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, at Jesus’ Baptism He was declared to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Make Your pastors and missionaries, and all Your people, faithful and bold in proclaiming Jesus’ saving work to all. Encourage and sustain those persecuted for Christ’s sake.

Heavenly Father, Your Son instituted Holy Baptism as a blessed adoption into Your family. We thank you that you have adopted these people into your family through Baptism at Epiphany this year:

• Tiffany Tucker, Haley Tucker and Taylor Tucker on January 10, 2010
• Spencer Smith on May 1
• Elias Hefti on August 22
• Cameron Dederich on September 8
• Elijah Davis, Amara Davis and Amelia Davis on September 26
• Eric Wasuric on Oct…

Heaven is opened

Matthew 3:13-17 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" 15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

Having four daughters, we have plenty of stuffed animals, ponies, dolls and Barbies in our home. But we also have … Batman. My two younger girls especially love Batman. They watch all the shows. They know all the characters. They even have the pajamas. In fact, just before Christmas two years ago, I took our youngest daughter, Belle, with me to Target to show her the Fisher Price Batcave. It was big. It w…

Setting Goals

It is a common and helpful practice to use the start of a new year as motivation to set goals and make plans to attain those goals. As Christians, what is our ultimate goal? What did Jesus tell us in Matthew 6:33? “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Certainly this is a worthy and all-encompassing goal for us as Christians.

We’re also told that goals should be detailed, specific, and measurable. How do we satisfy that criteria in light of our main goal to seek God’s kingdom?

Let us remember that all we say and do and are should strain toward seeking God’s kingdom. That means we’ll be busy in the study of his Word and in regular attendance in church where we can hear his Word and receive his sacraments. It means that we’ll be busy about his work of seeking and saving the lost. How is that accomplished?

The Apostle Paul wrote, “You show that you are a letter from Christ . . . written not with ink but with the Spirit of…

Join the Wise Men

And going into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:11

Today, January 6, is the Christian feast day known as Epiphany. Epiphany, from the Greek ἐπιφάνεια, means “appearance” or “manifestation”. The purpose of the feast is to celebrate the revelation of the Incarnation – God taking on flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. The observance of Epiphany originated in the East, with the commemoration of the Lord’s birth, the Magi’s visit, the Lord’s childhood, His baptism in the Jordan River, and His first miracle at Cana. It was known in the earliest centuries as the feast of the Manifestation, the Theophany, and the Feast of Light. Second only to Easter in importance, Epiphany was observed in the East as early as the second or third century.

Before A.D. 354, the Western Church separated the celebration of the Nativity as the feast of Ch…

What’s so special about Epiphany?

What if it never happened? Epiphany, the Wise Men, and all of that? No star, no trip from the East, no gold, frankincense, and myrrh. No questioning of King Herod, no flight by the family into Egypt. No carols, no twelve days of Christmas. Our nativity scenes would be a lot less crowded. What if it never happened?

Would it matter?

If there was no Christmas, of course that would matter. That would mean no Savior!

But what if there was no Epiphany, no Gentiles’ Christmas?

What’s so important about Epiphany that we celebrate it with a special festival worship service? What’s so special about Epiphany that we would name our church after it?

St Paul gives us the answer: “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus (Eph 3:6).”

In other words, with the wonderful story of the Wise Men, Epiphany shows us that Jesus and His Gospel are for all people. He is here not only…

Getting ready to be dismissed

Funeral for Lorraine R. Breheim on January 4, 2011

Luke 2:25-32 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."

Think back to second grade. When the bell rang, what would the students do? They’d put their books in their desks, they’d make sure the floor around them was clean, and they’d sit quietly, …

“I wish you a mystery Christmas.”

John 1:14-18 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'" 16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.

Did you know that the most popular Christmas song of all time has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus? The song is “White Christmas.” It was written by Irving Berlin in 1942 during WWII. He wrote it for a musical called “Holiday Inn.” It was recorded by Bing Crosby and became an instant hit with the troops overseas. It pushed on all the nostalgia buttons that make us feel good a…

We Are Family Under God

1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Back in the late 1970’s, when disco wasn’t dead, the musical group Sister Sledge recorded one of the most popular music hits of all time. Do you remember the title? I could sing it for you, but I was advised not to. It was called “We Are Family.” The song was one of those “feel good” selections that skyrocketed to the top of the charts. It was so popular that the Pittsburgh Pirates adopted it as their theme song as they captured the1979 World Series championship. In theory, the song “We Are Family” seemed to bring their team, fans, and supporters closer together. And whoever joined in the “We Are Family” chorus, …