Back in the old days, there was a TV show called Mission Impossible. Each episode would introduce a new assignment given to the main character on a recording. It was top secret. The recording would self-destruct after revealing the assignment. If anything went sideways, the shadowy figures who had given the assignment would disavow any knowledge of it.
The night before his death, Jesus gave his disciples a new assignment. Unlike those on Mission Impossible, this assignment isn’t a secret. It is his assignment for all of his people of all time— “Love one another!”
“But,” you might be thinking: “That’s not new. God has always wanted his people to love others.” True. When Jesus said this command was new, he meant it was being renewed. It needed to be renewed because it had been so obscured by the religious establishment of his day. They had turned their relationship with God into a system of works—doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, in order to make themselves right with God.
But we can never be right with God by trying to do the right thing or keep the commands of God. As sinners, we fall short. We stumble and fail.
Jesus came to renew, refresh, recreate, and restore our relationship with God. Jesus lived a human life, but new and improved—not sinful, but sinless; not imperfect, but perfect; not stumbling, failing, or falling, but succeeding perfectly in his life before God. Through faith in Jesus and what he has so perfectly done, we are restored to a right relationship with God. A new and improved relationship with God.
In this newly refurbished and restored relationship with God, we trust in him, not our own goodness. We look to serve him, not ourselves. Our goal is to love others, even at our own expense.
It is the same old command: love one another. But we take on this assignment as if it’s brand new. Because in Jesus, we are brand new.
Dear Jesus, thank you for restoring my relationship with God by doing perfectly what I could not do. Continue to renew me, refresh me, restore me, that I may follow your new command in new life, with new strength. Amen.
Every house needs house rules: a set of agreed upon rules for how people living in the house behave. For example, many families adopt the rule: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Jesus gives us the main house rule for living in his family of faith: “Love one another.” A simple rule. A good rule. It isn’t a complex set of instructions or a complicated flowchart to follow. It simply commands believers: love one another.
If only it were that simple. If only we could just hear Jesus say it, and then do it. If only our hearts and lives would simply be governed by love. If only we would lay ourselves down for each other. Unfortunately, we often love ourselves more than we love one another.
But thankfully, Jesus has broken the power of selfishness and self-centeredness. Jesus lovingly put thoughts of self aside and laid down his life for our benefit. Jesus took all our sin and guilt on himself and removed it forever when he went to the cross.
Imagine that! There is someone whose entire reason for living was to benefit you! To help you! To save you! There is someone that loves you and cares about you even more than you love or care about yourself!
With your sin and guilt taken care of, you are free to focus on loving others. You are free to love others as Jesus loves you. You are free to follow Jesus’ house rule: Love one another.
Dear Jesus, set me free from my sinful self-love and self-centered attitudes. By your selfless love in your life and death, forgive me and help me to trust you for all my needs. Move me to focus on lovingly filling the needs of others. Amen.
When I was younger, I remember visiting McDonald’s and seeing a little plastic coin bin on the counter. It said, “The house that love built.” The coins would go to support the Ronald McDonald house. Love for those people, in the form of coins given, built a house for those young cancer patients and their families to stay in during treatments.
It’s not hard to love cancer patients and their families. Those are clearly people who need love, help, and support. But what about people who aren’t so lovable? What about us? We like to think of ourselves as pretty lovable. But truth be told, we do not love God as he commands. And, we do not love others as ourselves. Because of our sinful attitudes and actions, we are neither loving nor lovable.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We are the recipients of something better than coins. We get to live in the house that love built—not a physical building, but a spiritual home where we live by faith. When we were lost in sin, Jesus found us and brought us home. When we were in trouble with God, Jesus took our sins away and forgave us. When we were dead in sin, Jesus loved us, welcomed us into his family, and gave us a loving home.
Now, Jesus tells us, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Remembering Jesus’ sacrifice for you, sacrifice your own wishes and desires in order to love and serve those around you today. It will show the world that, thanks to Jesus, you live in the spiritual house that love built.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your rich, selfless love. You loved me when I was unlovable. You gave me a loving home, where I have forgiveness from you. Teach me to love as you have loved me. Amen.
I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:3-5
Individuals with dark hearts set off explosions that kill, maim, and injure dozens of people. Flooding destroys farmland and cripples a local economy. A distracted driver loses control and runs down a young student. Sometimes it seems that everywhere we turn we find destruction and heartache in our world.
What a beautiful comfort it is to know that one day that will all change. One day our all-powerful and living Savior will make everything new.
Right now, sin, death, and the devil have a firm hold on this world. We see the effects of their devastating attacks all around us. The war is fierce, and at times it certainly seems as though evil is winning. In the end, however, Jesus is victorious.
In fact, the victory has already been won. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, Satan’s power to accuse and condemn us was destroyed. His accusations are empty because our sin has been removed by the blood of Jesus. When he rose from the grave, he destroyed the power of death.
In the end, the victory Jesus won will be fully experienced by all who believe in him. In heaven, all of the evils of this world will not even be a distant memory—they will be gone forever.
We can persevere through all the hardships of this world with our eyes focused on Jesus. He has won the victory for us, and one day, he will make everything new.
Lord Jesus, lift my eyes from the pain of this world to see the victory you have won for me. Help me to look forward with eager anticipation to the glory of my heavenly home where everything will be made new. Amen.
We prepare ourselves to worship the one Savior God by expressing our humble repentance, offering our fervent prayers and singing our thankful hymns of praise.
OPENING HYMN154:1-3 Alleluia, Alleluia, Give Thanks(in place of “Morning Hymn”)
MORNING PRAISE LITURGY hymnal page 45
“Morning Praise” is based on the historic service called “Matins.” Joined to Christ, our risen Lord, we glorify God as we rise to the activities of this new day.
Please be seated for today’s scripture readings
✠T H E W O R D ✠
The Lord Jesus speaks to us in Scripture reading, preaching and song.
FIRST LESSONActs 13:44-52
Summary: When Jews reject God’s gift of life and love, Paul and Barnabas turn to the Gentiles
On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.
46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
“‘I have made youa light for the Gentiles, that youmay bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
PSALM 145 hymnal page 119
Men sing first line, women sing second line, all sing refrains and Gloria
SECOND LESSON Revelation 21:1-6
Summary: In a glimpse of heaven, John sees the reign of Christ and the ruin of Satan
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.
VERSE OF THE DAYJohn 14:6
Alleluia. Alleluia. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia. I am the way, the truth, and the life, says the Lord. Alleluia.
GOSPEL LESSONJohn 13: 31-35 (today’s sermon text)
Summary: In the upper room, Christ gives his friends the new command: Love one another”
When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him,God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Please be seated
HYMN OF THE DAY 497 This Is My Will
“Is Love All You Really Need?”
When properly motivated
When genuinely demonstrated
HYMN 505:1-3 Love Is the Gracious Gift
Please be seated
✠ O F F E R I N G S O F G I F T S & P R A Y E R S ✠
The ushers now gather the “Thank-Offering.” Members of this congregation show their thanks to God for all he has done for them by returning a portion of their income to the Lord. Through these free will offerings, this congregation and its ministries are maintained. Guests need not feel obligated to contribute. Please also sign our Friendship Registers and greet one another.
LORD, HAVE MERCY hymnal page 50a
The Church brings her concerns and prayers to a loving Father in heaven, who has shown great mercy to us and promised to hear our ardent cries for help.
The Offering Prayer, Prayer for Love and Faith and Intercessory Prayers are spoken by pastor. Please see announcements for those on our Intercessory Prayers list.
LORD’S PRAYERhymnal page 50b
PRAYER FOR GRACE & BLESSING hymnal page 50, 51
Please be seated
CLOSING HYMN505:4-5Love Is the Gracious Gift
As you leave today’s service, please give your completed Friendship Register sheet to an usher or pastor.
Activities for the week of May 19-May 25
*LCTS=last class ‘til September
Emmanuel/St. John’s Adult Bible Study
St. John’s Worship
Bible Information Class at St. John’s
Miss Sara Borck’s Bridal Shower at St. John’s lower level
Pastor Installation – Wautoma
Adult Bible Study at St. John’s (LCTS)
Men’s Bible Study at St. John’s
St. John’s School Chapel
Adult Bible Study at St. John’s (LCTS)
Public School Teen Confirmation Class at St. John’s (LCTS)
St. John’s Worship
St. John’s School Teen Confirmation (LCTS)
Montello Care Center Devotion with communion
Joint Council meeting at St. John’s
St. John’s Council meeting
Theme for Next Sunday May 26, 2019 Easter 6: “The Risen Lord Comes to Live with his People”
Emmanuel/St. John’s Adult Bible Study
St. John’s Worship with communion
Bible Information Class at St. John’s
INTERCESSORY PRAYERS – For those hospitalized, ill, shut-in and facing trials: George Alexander, Ron Blada, Pat Bornick, Gene & Sharon Crook, Harley & Liola Crown & son Terry, Agnes Dassow, Jerre Duerr, Reinold Eckelberg, Elaine Emond (Mark’s mother), Earl Ewert, Marjorie Fabian, Harold Fandrey, Mike Farrell, Kellen Grucza (Judy Fandrey’s daughter), Dawn Hirn (Linda Krause’s niece), Xzander Jahr, Bob Klapper (Sandy’s husband), Arden “Bill” Klimke, Linda Krause, Jim Kunde (our former SJ member), Pete Laun, Delvin Mittlestead, Jean Muhlenbeck (WELS member at Zion–Bristol, St. John’s visitor), Debbie Parrish, Arlene Prill, LuAnn Reber, Mark & Peggy Russell (Elsa’s son & daughter in-law), Carol Schumann, Dennis Schwanke (Mary Isberner’s friend), Amanda Stalker, Jennifer Strauss, Dennis & Ramona Wacholtz, Donny Weber (Betty’s son), Heidi Weishaar (Dennis & Sharon Kekow’s daughter), Karl Whitrock, Millie Wildt (John’s wife) – (added this week: Delvin Mittlestead)
– For the graduates of Martin Luther College and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (call assignment lists are available in the church entries)
– For the wedding anniversary on 4/30 for Delvin and LuAnn Mittlestead
– For Steven Tews who will be installed at today’s service as pastor of Peace-Wautoma
MEN’S BIBLE CLASS Is held in St. John’s church basement. “One-Liners from God.” is the topic. We will look for and read some of the powerful and personal truths God shares with us through the Apostle Paul. Men, this would be a well spent hour or so of your busy week.
NEW MEDITATIONS are available in St. John’s Information Room and at Emmanuel. Grab yours today!
SCHOOLFACULTYHOUSING Plans are already being made to prepare the teacherage to welcome our new principal and pre-school teacher, Larry and Lynn Sellnow this summer. Our new lower grade teacher, Michelle Myers has housing arranged. However, our current teacher, Rachel Naumann, will need to re-locate from the teacherage and is looking for housing options. If any members have any leads, please let the church office know.
PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL of your fellow worshipers preparing their hearts for worship. If you are visiting with others, please keep your voices down. Thank you!
USHER AND GREETER SCHEDULE If you are signed up to be a St. John’s usher and/or greeter, please pick up your hard copy of April-May and June-July in St. John’s Information Room. Schedules will be available for pick up every 2 months.
PARKING DURING SCHOOL HOURS Please remember that if you plan to be at school or church during school hours, specifically around 7:30-8:00a.m. and 3:00-3:30p.m., to park in the back parking lot. We need to leave room in front of school for the buses to drop off/pick up our children properly. Thanks for understanding.
LITTLE LAMBS PRE REGISTRATION NOW OPEN Pick up your 3K/4K registration form in the office today! Please help spread the word!
CHECK OUT OUR UPDATED INFORMATION ROOM This room is located at the top of St. John’s link way stairs and the church entry way. Here you will find bulletin boards labeled “Home Missions” and “LWMS”. Home Missions will provide information on what’s going on at St. John’s church and school, events, educational and youth group updates. You will also find informational brochures and magazines, usher and greeter schedules, the church newsletter, children’s coloring sheets and crayons and other miscellaneous information related to our church and school. Please help yourself!
NEW MEMBERSHIP CLASS began on 4/28 11:15am at St. John’s.. Join us in the link-way conference room for an hour or so after the 10am SJ worship service.
CHRISTIAN ONE-LINERS (from a WELS pastor): “It is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live one.”
ST. JOHN’S LADIES, TODAY IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO VOTE for officers on the Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society Board of Directors and for mission projects for the international level. Your vote will be tabulated with those of LWMS members from across the country and in some foreign countries and announced at the LWMS Convention in Des Moines, Iowa, June 27-30.. Your vote is very much appreciated!
ACH What is ACH?Automated Clearing House is an electronic payments network use by individuals, businesses, financial institutions and government organizations. The network functions as an efficient, electronic alternative to paper checks. It allows funds to be electronically debited or credited to a checking account, savings account, financial institution general ledger account or credited to a loan account.In our particular case, we would like to make this an available service as an offering option starting in May. See this week’s bulletin for an ACH form. Please turn your completed form in to the office.
KUNDE FUNDRAISER “Tragedy struck our family last month. As a result of blood clots and infection, Jim’s lower right leg had to be amputated at the end of April. Not only is this emotionally devastating for the family, but there is substantial financial stress involved too. Jim has mounting medical bills relating to the med-flight from Calumet to Wausau, hospital stays, surgery, etc. but also loss of income since Jim can no longer work. Jim has worked all his life at jobs that were very physical, such as firefighter, EMT, Sheriff’s Deputy, Hazmat, and most recently, as a baker, and manual labor. Even with a prosthesis sometime in the future, it is questionable if Jim will be able to find work to help support the family. Additionally, they have four children under the age of 18 still living at home, with the youngest being 7 years old.” Diana’s income (Jim’s wife) is the only income they have left and it is not enough to cover household expenses. This is quite a burden on her and the family doesn’t know where to turn to. Also, their house is not set up to facilitate someone with this type of disability and will need substantial modifications made to accommodate Jim and allow him to be as independent as possible. Any help you can give this family would be so helpful. Thank you.
If you have ever had to be picked up from an airport or train station, you know that weird feeling as you walk out of the terminal into the crowd of people who are all there waiting for someone. You quickly scan the room as you search for the person who knows you. You are counting on them being there and so, for a moment, you hope that they didn’t forget, got stuck in traffic, or just didn’t show up. And there is a feeling of relief and joy when you finally make eye contact with the one person in the crowd who knows you, who is there to pick you up, and take you where you need to go.
It is easy to look at the crowds of people who make up our life and wonder, does anyone know us? Sometimes it seems that even our own close friends don’t know us, and our own family doesn’t understand us.
The good news is that as we look through the crowds of this life, we see one person who does know us—Jesus Christ. He knows who we are, and he knows our fears. He knows our strengths, and he knows our sins. He knows our past, and he knows our future.
The really good news is that, even though he knows us, he still loves us. Jesus laid down his life for us that we may have eternal life. He died and lives again to show us the full extent of his love for us. He invites us to hear his voice and to follow him.
The best part is that he has a plan to pick you up and take you where you need to go. He promises that no one will snatch you out of his hand and you will have an eternal life that will never perish.
Jesus knows you and he will take you home.
Father, thank you for your Son Jesus who knows me, who saved me, and who gives me eternal life. Give me faith and confidence in Jesus and help me to hear his voice and to follow him. Amen.
The headlines on Easter Sunday were a harsh reminder of life in this sinful world.
Half a world away, in Sri Lanka, over 300 people died or were injured by bombs detonated by an extremist Islamic group. Moments before the blasts, the Sunday school children of Zion Church in Batticaloa all professed their undying faith in Jesus Christ.
On the same day, newspapers ran an article about the death of the Christian faith. According to a recent poll, church membership in the United States has hit an all-time low.
Do such stories surprise us? As the psalmist says, even the best of our days is struggle and sorrow. We have all our hearts broken or our dreams shattered. It’s a good reminder for us not to build our hopes on them.
Don’t dream about what your life on earth could be; and don’t despair of what it isn’t. Put your hope in the Lamb and focus on where he is leading you. Look at the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He went uncomplaining forth to death to open the way to eternal life. In view of the joy set before him, he endured the cross, disregarded its shame, and sat down on God’s throne.
From there, the Lamb shepherds us through death to life. He leads us to the living water of Word and sacrament and invites us to drink deeply. He connects us to his death and resurrection in baptism’s water so we too may live. He gives us forgiveness in the Lord’s Supper to assure us that we shall not perish but have eternal life.
This life will inevitably bring broken hearts and shattered dreams. But because the Lamb is your Shepherd, you can leave your water bottles and tissue boxes here on earth. He is leading you to a paradise were sin and all its problems are a thing of the past.
Christ be my Savior in calm as in strife; death cannot hold me, for he is the life. Nor darkness nor doubting nor sin and its stain can touch my salvation: with Jesus I reign. Amen.
Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat.” Revelation 7:15,16
In 2010, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven by Alex Malarkey became a best-selling book. Malarkey later disavowed his work, admitting that his heavenly experience was a lie.
Despite the story’s fiction, such books remain popular. People want assurance that there is something more, something better after they die. In the last 20 years, a handful of books have been written on people’s personal afterlife experiences. However, you need only trust one account of heaven—the Bible’s.
In the New Testament, two witnesses of heaven testify to its reality. The apostles, Paul and John, were blessed to see it for themselves. Interestingly, Paul who wrote so much of the New Testament, could only say that heaven was beyond words. And John mostly tells us what heaven is not, rather than what heaven is.
If all we know is an earthly existence affected by sin in every way, how else do you describe an eternity without it?
On earth, sin causes us to separate ourselves from each other. We are suspicious of those who live beyond our borders, who speak other languages, and have a different skin color. In heaven, those dividing walls don’t exist. God brings together a multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language.
The world is filled with sinful rebels. We do what we want and say what we want to get what we want. In heaven, selfishness doesn’t exist. God changes hearts so that every desire is to do his will, day and night.
On earth, we cannot stop the devastation of nature. Fire, water, wind, and earth continue to destroy lives. In heaven, God has put an end to hunger, thirst, and natural disaster.
Look past your differences, your selfishness, and those who scheme against you. Look past the problems of this world that you cannot control.
Look up and see the Lamb, who is seated on his throne.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world. Have mercy on me and bring me at last to my heavenly home. Amen.
Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 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 in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:13-15a
At first, we thought it was pink-eye. But the medication that the vet provided didn’t help. Our pet’s condition worsened. We took her back to the clinic. She had an ulcer on her eye. More medication. More time. There was no improvement.
We returned to the clinic. The only option was surgery. If we did nothing, she could die. We scheduled the procedure for a week’s time. Meanwhile, the vet gave us a new medication. A serum that she had made from our pet’s blood. We were to put it on the ulcer three times a day.
Seven days later, I took her in for the surgery. Three hours had passed when we received a phone call. It was the surgeon. “I’m not sure how this is possible,” he said, “but your dog’s eye is fine. I have no need to perform the procedure.” The ulcer was gone. Cleansed by the blood.
By nature, we are all born with a spiritual ulcer—sin. It makes us blind to the God of salvation. It makes us hostile to the God of love. It makes us dead before the God of the living. Nothing in this world can provide an adequate remedy. There is nothing we can do. All our scrubbing, all our striving cannot get rid of the stain of sin. We may try, but the result is always the same—death.
But we are not without hope. John’s vision of heaven shows us that there is another way. The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. His blood has the power to purify us. His blood alone undoes the damage and heals the disease of sin.
Whatever your troubles, whatever your trials, whatever your temptations here on earth, trust in Jesus. Heaven is filled with those who have overcome because they have been washed in his blood.
Heavenly Father, I have sinned against you. Forgive me, cleanse me from all guilt, and deliver through all tribulation by the blood of your beloved Son, my Savior. Amen.
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
“For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” English poet, Alexander Pope, penned that phrase in his poem, An Essay on Criticism. Since 1711, it has been reused by the likes of President Abraham Lincoln, Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan, Indian social reformer B. R. Ambedkar, and Diane from Cheers.
The phrase refers to naïve people who attempt what experienced people avoid. By nature, that’s us. We rush into sin, ignoring the wisdom of others who have been there, seen the results, and don’t dare to try it themselves.
The angels were there with God when he lit the darkness with stars. They saw what happened when Lucifer revolted against God. And now they joyfully serve God. No one knows God better than they. But their closeness to God does not breed casualness. They fall on their faces and give all the praise, glory, and honor that God is owed.
What about us? Are we too casual with God? Do we seek glory for ourselves rather than give all glory to God? Do we demand from God that my will be done rather than humbly submit to “Thy will be done?” Do we view God’s grace as an excuse to keep behaving badly? Do we equate God’s patience with acceptance of our immoral behavior?
God, forgive us for our foolishness! And he does. The voice of our Good Shepherd calls to us each day in his Word: I give you eternal life, and you shall never perish.
Praise him—the Light of the World—who calls us out of darkness. Glorify him—the Lamb of God—who takes away the sin of the world. Trust him—the Wisdom of God—who chose you to belong to him before the creation of the world. Give thanks to him—the Mighty God—who vanquished sin, death, and the power of the devil. Honor him—the Living Water—who revives our thirsty souls.
Lord, keep me from rushing in where angels fear to tread. Grant that my life may echo their praise instead. Amen.