For Thanksgiving - 2017
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated in Canada and the United States. It began as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest of the preceding year. Similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, and generally the same part of the year in other places.
Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well. In Estonia, people used to celebrate thanksgiving as “lõikustänu püha”, as the time when all the harvest was in, days were shorter and nature was waiting for winter. In our Christian life we have thanksgiving day every day, but on this special day is nice to have the family come together. Thanksgiving is the day for that wonderful family tradition. In the United States it is remembered in connection with the first get together with the natives who taught many survival skills to the Pilgrims. In our Estonian congregation we make a special donation to our Church. At the October 22nd service, you could bring in your donation or send it by mail to our Treasurer Eha McDonnell. When you give your donation please stop to think on the blessings in your life. Thank God for your health, for your home, for your family and friends, for the quiet moments, for the your church and many, many other things. You know best what are the blessings in your life and thank God for them.
The Lord's Prayer
We all know how to say the Lord’s Prayer from memory or by “heart”. But how well do we really know it by heart, meaning in deep Christian faith. I found a good description of the deeper meaning of the Lord’s Prayer from a Missouri Synod Lutheran pastor, Rev. Daniel Paavola. He describes the Lord’s Prayer as a trip or commute between heaven and earth, between the home of our Heavenly Father and our home – between God and us. We can make this trip every day.
We are anchored in heaven right from the start when we pray: “Our Father who art in heaven!” We go to heaven to pray and praise God as our Father: “Hallowed be your name!” Hallowed means honored and worshipped as holy. When we pray to God in this way we join with all the angels and Christian believers and worship services honoring and worshipping God as a mighty but kind and merciful Father in heaven who hears us. Then we worship Him on earth: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!” Martin Luther teaches what we are praying for: “We ask that his governing and will be in us personally.”
We continue and say that when God’s rule and will is here, we are very well taken care of, as the prayer for daily bread and the things we need for living day to day says: “Give us this day our daily bread!” But in addition to “daily bread” God brings His will and authority near us to protect us. He draws us away from sin, the bad and the dangers in this life on the earth: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” We are asking that He makes our life on this earth like it is in heaven,. And He does. God feeds us, forgives us, rescues us, keeps us and our fellow human beings so we can forgive and be forgiven. He does all this in his Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer from sin and evil in this world.
Jesus gave the Lord’s Prayer to His disciples (Read the original text Matthew 6:9-13) and to all Christians to bring heaven to earth for us and take us from earth to heaven. You can draw a picture of the Lord’s Prayer like a half circle with both ends in heaven and the lower curve on earth. That is the path or commute we take when we pray the Lord’s Prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer works in and through Jesus Christ. He helps us overcome temptations and protects us from evil. He frees us from sin and helps us forgive others and work every day for our daily bread with trust and joy. The Lord’s Prayer is made of seven prayers. Each of them is like a step on the ladder between heaven and earth. We can go up and down on it to and from heaven every day. The Lord’s Prayer is our help and guide every day we say it with a faithful mind and trusting heart in Jesus Christ who gave us this prayer.
Thomas Vaga, Bishop electus
Impossible to Believe
No one has gone to heaven except the Son of Man, who came from heaven. John 1:13
Only Christ would be able to testify to a truth this remarkable. How can human reason make sense of this strange teaching or how can it understand how it all fits together? How can Jesus come down from heaven and in the same time live above. How can Jesus ascend back to heaven and yet continuously be in heaven? No one could have conceived of such a thought, whether in his heart or in his mind. Human reason says it's impossible for someone to descend from heaven and be in heaven at the same time. That is why Christians are considered foolish. We believe something directly contrary to reason.
Whoever has a difficult time believing that Christ can come from heaven and yet be in heaven shouldn't worry about it. It doesn't matter if we can't grasp this right away. If we are considered fools because of believing this, our foolishness won't hurt us. For Christians are certainly not foolish. We know perfectly well what we believe. We know where we can find counsel and help in all situations. We know we will live eternally after we have been delivered from this world.
But if some people refuse to believe this truth, then they should leave it alone. Instead, they want to figure it out. These people want to resolve the paradox in their own crazy head -- first this way, then that way. All of them think they will find God by figuring it out, but they won't.
However, you must hold tightly to the testimony that was brought down from heaven by Jesus, God's Son. You must believe it, for all Christians dare to believe what Jesus says. Then you can say as apostle Paul says: "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live I live by believing in God's son, who loved me and took the punishment for my sins." (Galatians 2:20) Look at Christ, who was captured and offered for us. He is infinitely greater and superior to anything else in creation. How will we respond when we hear that such a priceless ransom was offered for us? Do we still want to bring God our own good works? What is that compared to Christ's work? He shed his most precious blood for our sins. Let's believe and be saved. We come to God by faith alone.
From Martin Luther's "Through Faith Alone".
for the sick and by the sick
We know, dear Savior, that You care for people, body and soul. You healed the sick, made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and even raised the dead. We ask You this day to bless the sick and the hurting among us.
When we are sick, we are weak and vulnerable and know how much we need Your care. We also need the love and service and kindness of others, help us to be Your hands to minister to those in need, being ever mindful that You are the Great Physician.
Be near my bedside as my health fails. I am thankful that most of the days of my life have been free of illness and that good health enabled me to serve You more fully. But now as I lie on my sickbed, I am reminded of how fragile health and life are in this fallen world.
Bless those who care for me, my doctors and health-care workers. If it be Your will, restore my health.
In Zechariah 1:1-2, we see that Zechariah's message was primarily concerned with belief and unbelief. He pointed out that the greatest sin of the Israelites' ancestors was not trusting in the Lord when they were undergoing trials. Rather, they looked to other people for help. In this way, they were rebellious and idolatrous. Zechariah wanted the people of Israel to understand that the words "return to me" should penetrate their hearts deeply.
person "returns to God" when he trusts in and find comfort in
God at all times, especially in times of need. On the other hand,
a person has turned away from God when he doesn't trust in God.
When someone doesn't trust God, his good works and sacrifices won't be
able to help him. This is what happened to Israel's ancestors.
In Zechariah's time, when the Israelites were trying to rebuild the temple, they needed to turn to the Lord of Armies because of all the trials and troubles they were facing. They had to cling to God and depend on Him even if rebuilding the temple angered the emperor of Persia or the neighboring people. God spoke, He wanted to help, could help, and would help them so that Israel's enemies wouldn't overpwer them again.
too, need to hear these warnings in the book of Zechariah. Let
everyone return to Christ, cling to him, and not fall away. Let no
one become scared or be led astray. God speaks. And God will
do what he says.
Church Notice #67 2013-2014
Dear member of our congregation, dear friend,
"The heavens tell the glory of God, and the skies announce what his hands have made (Psalm 19:1)
September we remembered the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Many are
wondering how God could allow that to happen and is He really in
control. How does God allow so many natural disasters like earthquakes,
hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods to happen and take so many lives and
destroy so many homes?
has written us a letter. The good news of God’s revelation in Christ
declares to us precisely what we need to hope. In this hope let us enjoy
the beauty of God’s nature -- and Christmas!
This page was last edited on February 13, 2018 04:38 PM
This page last edited February 13, 2018 04:38:41 PM