Are you a quick healer, someone who can’t be held down long? If so, count your blessings. It’s a wonderful attribute to have.
Chronic sufferers will tell you: it’s no fun imprisoned by pain. It’s often a Catch-22 situation since the physical activity you need to get better is sometimes the very thing your condition prevents you from getting.
But no matter how quickly you heal, you can’t avoid contracting one chronic condition common to everyone. This disease puts you down and keeps you down. Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said there are only two certain things in life, death and taxes. And this devotion isn’t about taxes.
Yes, death finally gets us, and for a simple reason, too. The Bible tells us that, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). We can’t fix that, no matter how well we take care of ourselves. The doctors of this world can’t either. Every patient they treat will eventually die.
But the Great Physician, Jesus, has. Jesus’ prescription for overcoming death has nothing to do with something we take or something we do. Instead, it involves what he took on himself and did for us. Our Great Physician conquered sin and death forever by carrying our sins and dying our death as our perfect substitute. Quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, Saint Peter writes, “‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross.” Yes, Jesus “is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
Whether you believe it or not, Jesus died for you. He is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He bore your sins. He is your Savior. And why? Because he loves you. “By his wounds you have been healed,” not just for the moment or for a lifetime. Forever.
Imagine. Eternal healing. Our suffering Savior’s gift of love to you!
Dear Jesus, help me revel in the truth that by your suffering and wounds, I am assured of eternal healing. Amen.
Have you had a favorite teacher in your life? I have.
Why was he my favorite? Not because he was tough, and certainly not because I dreaded entering his classroom. He was my favorite because he was fun, easygoing, and interesting. Best of all, he loved to hand out A’s.
I’ve had other teachers whom I didn’t like so well. Their classes were hard, sometimes confusing. Some were unfair; others boring. In those cases, I was thankful when the school year came to an end. I was finished with them—forever!
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could say that about suffering? “I’m finished with it forever!” But Professor Suffering has a way of dragging us back into his classroom and even keeping us past the bell.
Or didn’t you know that suffering is our divinely-sent teacher?
Martin Luther knew that. He knew it all too well, in fact. He was speaking from experience when he once wrote a grieving friend, “This is the school in which God disciplines us and teaches us to trust in him so that our faith may not always stay in our ears and hover on our lips but may have its true dwelling place in the depth of our hearts.” Luther may not have considered suffering his favorite teacher, but it was one of his best.
Why? Because suffering teaches patience. Indeed, patience means “longsuffering.” When we suffer, we’re learning how to be patient with God and with others. Peter says that when Jesus suffered, “he did not retaliate . . . he made no threats.” Suffering taught him patience, yes, perfect patience for sinners like you and me.
The other chief lesson that suffering teaches us is trust. When Jesus suffered unjustly, “he entrusted himself to him who judges justly”—his heavenly Father. Rather than taking matters into our own hands, suffering teaches us, as it taught Jesus, to entrust matters to our perfectly just God.
Patience and trust are not easy to learn. But when you’re in Professor Suffering’s classroom, you’re learning from the very best. And through faith in Jesus, we all get an A+.
Father, help me learn the lessons you desire to teach me through suffering. Amen.
“Oh, what’s the point? I give up!” Sometimes we just need to throw in the towel because we don’t have what it takes. That’s perfectly understandable if what you’re doing is voluntary, like trying to make 10 out of 10 three-pointers.
But it’s not quite so simple when you’re under an obligation, or you’ve made a promise. God doesn’t allow you to say, “My marriage is difficult; I quit.” Or to conclude, “Raising children involves too many sacrifices. I’ll just leave them on the roadside.” Often the most important things we do aren’t easy. They involve suffering.
We naturally don’t like to suffer, but suffering has an important point and purpose, a divine one. Peter says that suffering is a calling, an assignment that God regularly gives to you and me for a good reason.
What’s the reason? We can’t always know exactly. But we can be certain of this: God is disciplining, that is, he is training us.
True, it’s not fun. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful,” the Bible says. Yet the suffering to which God calls us is not pointless! And if we stick it out, the Bible promises that it, “produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
We might not like it, but God has his reasons. And those reasons result in overwhelming blessings for us and others.
Want proof? Consider Jesus’ suffering. Was it unjust? Absolutely. Peter reminds us that, “he committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” Unlike us, Jesus was a perfect 10 for 10 every time in everything he did. And yet he suffered.
Why? Was it pointless? Not for you and me, because Jesus’ suffering was for you and me. His perfect, painful suffering resulted in our perfect forgiveness. His death grants us eternal life as a gift.
You might not get the point of your suffering but hang in there. God gets it. And he will use it wisely for your good.
Jesus, help me to see and understand that my suffering has a point, and that through it you will bless me. Amen.
For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 1 Peter 2:19,20
We don’t like to hear, “I told you so,” yet we have no one to blame but ourselves. Someone warned us, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” They predicted it would turn out badly, and now we’re suffering.
I hate it when that happens.
How did they know? Probably because they had tried it themselves and discovered it hurt. It’s simple. The cause is a bad decision. The effect is suffering.
Can’t you hear Mom’s progression of logic? The stove is hot. I told you not to touch it. You touched it anyway. Now you’re suffering. “I told you so.”
You caused your own suffering.
But what if you didn’t? What if you were just minding your own business, following the rules, doing everything correctly, and suffering came anyway? The worst kind of suffering is suffering that makes no sense.
That’s the type of suffering Saint Peter is describing in our Bible reading for today. He says, “it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering.” In other words, if you didn’t cause your suffering but you’re enduring it anyway, you’ll be rewarded. Especially, Peter adds, if the reason for your patient endurance is because you “are conscious of God.”
We need to realize that sometimes the only cause for our suffering is God himself. No, he’s not punishing us for something we did wrong. He hasn’t stopped loving us. He hasn’t taken the day off. Instead, in his perfect wisdom and saving work, he has allowed some suffering to darken our days that we never saw coming, and it doesn’t make sense.
Until we realize, this is God’s will and say, “God’s will be done.”
But rather than complaining or shaking our fist at God, what do God’s people do? We endure suffering patiently. We trust that our loving Father has a good reason for it and that one day it will all make sense.
Dear Lord, help me endure all my suffering patiently by putting my trust in you. Amen.
So, what are you praying for these days? For God to keep you and your loved ones from getting the coronavirus? For God to end the threat of the virus, so people don’t get sick or die from it anymore, and so you can stop losing income and pay your bills?
Those prayers are appropriate because God invites us to pray, “Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you,” he says in Psalm 50.
But, in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus also taught us to pray, “Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42) Why would you pray, “Your will be done” in these days when you are stressed about your future or that of those you love? Because God has promised to bring good out of your suffering. The apostle Paul reminds us of this in Romans 8:28 when he says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
What good could God bring out of the uncertainty and anxiety caused by this virus? He could be reminding you that you need him so that you rely more on him and less on yourself or the things of this world. That would be good. He could be showing you that things you assume will always be there—your health, your job, your income, your lifestyle—can be gone in a flash so you don’t build your life on such unreliable things but instead on him. That would also be good. He could be helping you rethink your priorities, so you think more about what matters—your relationship with God, being there for your loved ones, helping the needy, and hurting. That would be good too.
Maybe it would be good to pray for God to open your eyes to all the good that he can work through these present hardships and the suffering they may bring you. Because that is his specialty. Through the worst suffering possible—his Son’s suffering at the cross for your sins, he achieved your greatest good—your eternal salvation. So, keep praying “Your will be done,” with confidence that he will keep working good for you in these difficult times.
Lord, even as I ask you to protect my loved ones and me during this difficult time, I also pray that your will be done. Help me to trust that your will is always best for me. Amen.
We prepare ourselves to worship the one Savior God by expressing our humble repentance, offering our fervent prayers and singing our thankfulness of praise.
P: Christ is risen!
C: He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!
HYMN 152: 1,5,7,8 I Know that My Redeemer Lives
INVOCATIONhymnal page 15
P: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
OPENING PRAYER hymnal page 10
P: O Lord — our Maker, Redeemer, and Comforter — we are assembled in your presence to hear your holy Word. We pray that you would open our hearts by your Holy Spirit, that through the preaching of your Word we may repent of our sins, believe in Jesus, and grow day by day in grace and holiness. Hear us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION hymnal page 38
P: We have come into the presence of God, who created us to love and serve him as his dear children. But we have disobeyed him and deserve only his wrath and punishment. Therefore, let us confess our sins to him and plead for his mercy.
C: Merciful Father in heaven, I am altogether sinful from birth. In countless ways I have sinned against you and do not deserve to be called your child. But trusting in Jesus, my Savior, I pray: Have mercy on me according to your unfailing love. Cleanse me from my sin, and take away my guilt.
P: God, our heavenly Father, has forgiven all your sins. By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord, Jesus Christ, he has removed your guilt forever. You are his own dear child. May God give you strength to live according to his will. Amen.
✠ T H E W O R D ✠
The Lord Jesus speaks to us in Scripture reading, preaching and song.
FIRST LESSONActs 2:14a, 36-47
Summary: Christians live in joy of the risen Savior
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
PSALM 67 hymnal page 91
*Read verses and sing refrains.
May God be gracious to us and bless us
And make his face shine upon us;
May your ways be know on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy
For you rule the peoples justly
And guide the nations of the earth.
Then the land will yield its harvest,
And God, our God, will bless us.
God will bless us,
And all the ends of the earth will fear him.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
And to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and will be forever. Amen.
EPISTLE LESSON 1 Peter 1:17-21
Summary: God raised the lamb who shed his blood for us
Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
VERSE OF THE DAY Luke 24:32
P: Alleluia. Alleluia. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia. Our hearts were burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us. Alleluia.
♫ Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! These words are written that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
GOSPEL LESSON Luke 24:13-35
Summary: The risen Lord revived the hopes of the Emmaus disciples
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
O God, by the humiliation of your Son you lifted up this fallen world from the despair of death. By his resurrection to life, grant your faithful people gladness of heart and the hope of eternal joys; through your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
SERMON HYMN 439 Lord, Take My Hand and Lead Me
“Thrown for a loop!”
*Sung to the tune of CW 486 “Lord of Glory, You Have Bought Us”. See lyrics below.
1. I believe in God the Father, Maker of the heav’n and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, our Savior, God’s own Son of human birth.
Virgin-born, the Lord incarnate, whom the Spirit did conceive;
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; he’s the God whom I believe.
2. Crucified, was dead and buried, down to hell in victory,
From the dead he rose the third day; up to heav’n triumphantly.
There at God’s right hand he’s ruling, by his will the world is led.
He will come to judge the nations, both the living and the dead.
3. I believe in God the Spirit, in his Church, his chosen band.
They are joined in sweet communion, holy in his sight they stand.
I believe in sins forgiven; I believe I’ll rise again;
I believe in life eternal. Amen, Amen, Amen.
EASTER SEASON PRAYER
P: O Lord God, our strength, our song, and our salvation, you fulfilled your promises by the
resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead.
C: Thanks be to God! You gave us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
P: In your compassion you sent Christ, the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life to rescue the lost.
C: Drive out all doubt and gloom that we may delight in your glorious triumph.
P: Lift our eyes heavenward to see him who lives to make intercession for the saints, and grant us confidence in the greatness of his power. Keep before us the vision of your redeemed people standing before your throne and singing the song of victory.
C: Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive wisdom and power and honor and glory and
P: Make us instruments of your peace as we bring the good news of hope and new life to those around us. Guide us in the use of all that you have entrusted to us: our time, our talents, and our treasures.
C: Risen Lord, live in us that we may live in you.
P: Merciful Lord Jesus, grant healing to the sick, and strengthen the faith of the suffering and the dying. Assure them of your abiding presence, and comfort them with the hope of eternal life.
Special prayers and intercessions may follow.
P: Hear us, Lord, as we bring you our private petitions.
P: Gracious Father, you have restored to us the joy of your salvation. With happy hearts, we come before you and say:
C: Alleluia! Thanks be to God! Amen.
LORD’S PRAYER hymnal page 43
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
CLOSING PRAYER hymnal page 43
P: O Lord God, our heavenly Father, pour out the Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep us strong in your grace and truth, protect and comfort us in all temptation, and bestow on us your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
BLESSINGhymnal page 44
M: Brothers and sisters, go in peace. Live in harmony with one another. Serve the Lord with gladness.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
Then Lord look on you with favor and + give you peace.
CLOSING SOLO “Christ Is Risen! He’s Risen Indeed!” by Keith & Krysten Getty
*Soloist James Wachholz.
Next week’s theme: May 3, 2020 The 4th Sunday after Easter:
“The Risen Lord Is Our Good Shepherd”
“Seek the Lord while he may be found! Call on him while he is near! Let the wicked man abandon his way. Let an evil man abandon his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will show him mercy. Let him turn to our God, because he will abundantly pardon. Certainly my plans are not your plans, and your ways are not my ways, declares the Lord. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my plans are higher than your plans.
Just as the rain and the snow come down from the sky and do not return there unless they first water the earth, make it give birth, and cause it to sprout, so that it gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater, in the same way my word that goes out from my mouth will not return to me empty. Rather, it will accomplish whatever I please, and it will succeed in the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:6-9 Evangelical Heritage Version)
For the past month now, our nation’s “Safe St Home” social distancing mandate has changed how we live and how God feeds and leads us with his Word. However, we need to remember that the power of God’s Word and the comfort of the gospel is not diminished by the way it is delivered. You will hear law and gospel. You will be assured of Christ’s forgiveness. Your faith will be nourished and our trust in God’s unchanging promises will be strengthened.
Perhaps God will use this experience to lead us to never take public worship for granted again. I pray that God is also using this crisis to draw many in our nation to see the value of forgiveness, faith and the Word of God. As He tells us, “My Word will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11). If you know of someone who doesn’t have access to these on-line worship opportunities, please let us know. Call (608-297-2866) or email firstname.lastname@example.org church/school secretary Ciara Neuhauser at the church office or leave a message.
At the encouragement of our church synod leaders, we will be reserving distribution of the Lord’s Supper for its regular and normal use within the gathering of the body of believers, except in special circumstances. We take comfort in knowing that we have two forms of the means of grace – Word and sacrament. Forgiveness received through God’s Word is no less powerful and effective than the sacrament.
Every Saturday at 11am (either at Emmanuel at St. John’s) we will record an abbreviated service that will be uploaded to our website <www.stjohnsmontello.org> & linked You Tube channel together with a bulletin file available for viewing at your convenience. These services will also be available via DVD, printed sermon & bulletin mailings. Many thanks to those helping with our recorded services including: Darrell Buchholz, Pastor John Dolan, Kerry Mann, Rachel Naumann, Ciara Neuhauser, Larry & Lynn Sellnow, Lucas Stelter, Sue Tutaj, James Wachholz and Lauren Zietlow. Thanks also to the Sellnows for recording weekly school chapel devotions.
While we might be tempted to face this situation with a great deal of disappointment and chagrin, we also recognize the opportunity God is placing before us to ponder and grasp ever more firmly his promise of spiritual health for our souls and to reflect the light of his love to others. We can:
– pray for God’s healing for those affected by the virus
– pray for those involved in essential services – medical personnel, first responders, and those who keep the peace
– share the links to our website and worship service with family, friends, and acquaintances
– renew our daily devotional life
– continue to support the message and ministry of our congregation by responding in thanks to God for his gift of eternal life through offerings mailed to the church office, by electronic-ACH-auto-pay-direct-deposit giving or via credit card at <www.stjohnsmontello.org> menu button “Church Recorded Service” DONATE NOW yellow button. Call Ciara at the church office for direct deposit giving details.
– offer care and compassion for those who need support and a listening ear
Church elders, shepherd, trustees, other concerned members and Pastor Zietlow have been contacting all E/SJ members (via email, text, and phone) to make all aware of the situation, to offer alternatives for those who do not have a computer or internet access, and to offer any special assistance during these challenging times. Following our governor’s announcement on 3/24, all WI residents are to stay “Safe At Home”. President Trump also advises that we continue this “social distancing” until May. These are trying times…times for personal reflection, Bible study, devotion and prayer. Pastor Zietlow (608-408-7830 talk/text) and our E/SJ Elders are available for emergency home visits. Please reach out to them directly.
We as your church family want to be able to help and serve you, but we can all rejoice as we look to the One who is our real and lasting helper. He is our strength and that’s especially comforting in a time like this, when our human weakness is made so clear!
In Jesus Christ our loving, protecting, crucified & risen Savior,
“The Lord knows the way that I take, and when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”
* * * * * * * *
We Rejoice In The Risen Christ
The Third Sunday of Easter – A
God’s Word for Today
Most of our celebrations are very brief. The festival of Easter, however, inspires a certain “afterglow” that by God’s grace burns ever brighter as we celebrate anew each Sunday during the Easter season. Led by the Spirit to believe in the resurrected Lord, we rejoice in holy awe in this glorious truth and are filled with a desire to speak of our hope with others.
First Lesson (Acts 2:14a,36-47)
For whom is baptism intended?
Why could and did the first congregation: in Jerusalem continue to use the temple courts as a place to meet and worship?
Second Lesson (1 Peter 1:17-21)
Why does Peter encourage us to live as “strangers” while here on this earth?
Gospel (Luke 24:13-35)
Why do you think Jesus didn’t reveal his identity to the Emmaus disciples?
They had just told Jesus not to go on because of the approaching night. But once Jesus revealed himself, why did they quickly go back to Jerusalem?
What lessons can we learn from the account of the Emmaus disciples?
Peter tells us that this means of grace is for all who hear his words. It is also for their children. It is also for those who were not there that day, including us. It is for all whom God has called or ever will call by the message which Peter proclaimed that day.
They met at the temple because it was the house of the Lord and they were the Lord’s people. It was the Father’s house and they were his children. They gathered there daily.
It will always be a temptation for Christians to set their hearts on what they can see⎯material things, institutions, approval from others, etc.. It is a lifelong struggle to learn that everything visible is perishable while what is not seen has lasting value. As Christians, we need to remember that we live in tents⎯temporary settings⎯because we are not yet home.
It gave the disciples the chance to openly confess their unbelieving doubts. Jesus was providing them the opportunity to learn from him again as he reviewed what the Scriptures had to say about the Messiah.
Their hearts were burning within them. They couldn’t keep the joy of this wonderful message to themselves, so they had to tell the others in Jerusalem.
We need exactly what they received from Jesus. Through the Word we too need a call to repentance because of our foolish and slow hearts. We need a renewed sense of joy that the message of Easter gives us so that with the wonder of our risen Savior before us, we are compelled to proclaim the Easter message to others.
* * * * * * * *
Dear School Children & Families:
Your goodness and generosity have been displayed by the offerings already made to the 2019-2020 Kids C.A.R.E. mission project: Early Childhood Education in Indonesia. Why do we support a mission project? God gives us, even as children, the opportunity to serve Him by sharing Jesus, the Best Gift God gave to us and the Best Gift we can give to others. While we live on earth, God gives us the task of sharing the Hope that we have in our Savior Jesus with others. Giving to missions is one way to do just that! Kids C.A.R.E.–Kids Care About Reaching Everyone with the Gospel.
While the children cannot meet at chapel, they can still share their final gifts for children in Indonesia, and we hope parents will encourage their children to do so. Most children brought weekly offerings through March. Since social distancing continues during the weeks of April and May, perhaps you would take that into consideration as final gifts are made. Place your gift in an envelope labeled “Kids C.A.R.E.” and drop in off with school work to your child’s teacher or mail it to “Kids C.A.R.E., St. John’s Lutheran School, 313 East Montello Street, Montello, WI 53949.All gifts must be received No Later than Friday, May 15.
Working together wonderful things can be achieved. The Kids C.A.R.E. Giving Thermometer currently stands at $966.96—wouldn’t it be great to stretch that figure to over $1,000 to share Jesus with children in Indonesia!
How the Virus Stole Easter
A Poem by Kristi Bothur, inspired by Dr. Seuss, edited by Pastor Zietlow
Twas late in ‘19 when the virus began
Bringing chaos and fear to all people, each land.
People were sick, hospitals full,
Doctors overwhelmed, no one in school.
As winter gave way to the promise of spring,
The virus raged on, touching peasant and king.
People hid in their homes from the enemy unseen.
They YouTubed and Zoomed, social-distanced, and cleaned.
April approached and churches were closed.
“There won’t be an Easter,” the world supposed.
“There won’t be church services, and egg hunts are out.
No reason for new dresses when we can’t go about.”
Holy Week started, as bleak as the rest.
The world was focused on masks and on tests.
“Easter can’t happen this year,” it proclaimed.
“Online and at home, it just won’t be the same.”
Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the days came and went.
The virus pressed on; it just would not relent.
The world woke Sunday and nothing had changed.
The virus still menaced, the people, estranged.
“Pooh pooh to the saints,” the world was grumbling.
“They’re finding out now that no Easter is coming.
“They’re just waking up! We know just what they’ll do!
Their mouths will hang open a minute or two,
And then all the saints will all cry boo-hoo.
“That noise,” said the world, “will be something to hear.”
So it paused and the world put a hand to its ear.
And it did hear a sound coming through all the skies.
It started down low, then it started to rise.
But the sound wasn’t depressed.
Why, this sound was triumphant!
It couldn’t be so!
But it grew with abundance!
The world stared around, popping its eyes.
Then it shook! What it saw was a shocking surprise!
Every saint in every nation, the tall and the small,
Was celebrating Jesus in spite of it all!
It hadn’t stopped Easter from coming! It came!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the world with its life quite stuck in quarantine
Stood puzzling and puzzling.
“Just how can it be?”
“It came without bonnets, it came without bunnies,
It came without egg hunts, cantatas, or money.”
Then the world thought of something it hadn’t before.
“Maybe Easter,” it thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Easter, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
The churches are empty – but so is the tomb,
And Jesus is victor over death, doom, and gloom.
So this year at Easter, let this be our prayer,
As the virus still rages all around, everywhere.
May the world see our hope when it looks at God’s people.
May the world see the church is no building or steeple.
May the world learn our faith that Jesus still lives,
I just took all my financial information to my accountant, who does my taxes. A few weeks ago, I took my car to my mechanic to get it fixed. A couple of months ago, when my furnace went out, I called a heating and cooling company that sent out a tech to get it working again.
We’re used to having professionals take care of things that we can’t. But this coronavirus is different. There is no medical researcher with a cure for this virus. There is no doctor we can go to get an immunization vaccine. The best the government can do is recommend we limit contact with each other. We’re feeling very vulnerable because we are feeling very helpless, and that is scary.
Jesus’ disciples felt like that one day on the sea of Galilee when a furious storm came up so quickly the disciples had no time to make it to shore. Before they knew it, the rain was blowing sideways, the waves were crashing into and over their boat, threatening to sink it. They were helpless.
But Jesus was also on that boat. And standing up, he addressed the storm as if it was an unruly child, and said, “Quiet! Be Still!” Suddenly, the wind stopped blowing, the rain stopped falling, the waves stopped churning, and the once wildly rocking boat now glided calmly along the glassy surface of the sea.
Jesus has power you and I do not have. He has the almighty power of God. And in this present health crisis, which makes us feel so small and weak and helpless, he is with us. He promised that when he said, “I am with you always to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
So Jesus—who is your almighty God and your loving Savior—will get you through this crisis. He will end this threat at the right time. And until then, he will make sure you have what you need each day. No matter how helpless you may feel, you are never helpless with him by your side.
Jesus, I know that I am helpless in the face of this virus. But I also know that you are more powerful than any virus. Protect me and my loved ones until this storm has passed. Amen
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30,31
The news seems so random lately. Things that were not significant last month seem very important this month. Things that were crucial last month seem unimportant now.
The news that Jesus rose from the dead is not random. When the gospel writer John finished describing that important event, he wanted to let you know why he wrote what he did. He could have chosen many other things to write about. He was with Jesus every day, and there were many other things he could have described.
But he had a good reason for writing the facts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. His reason? That you would believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the promised Savior. When John wrote about what Jesus did, he wanted you to see how God kept his promise to win forgiveness for you by sending a Savior.
John also wanted you to know that Jesus is the Son of God. He’s not just some random man who had some good ideas. He existed as God from all eternity, and he remained God when he took on a human body to live and die for you. Now that he has risen; he uses all of his power as God.
When you believe in Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, you have eternal life. You realize that your seemingly random life has a purpose, that you are on the way to heaven. Now that you are going that direction, you can say thank you to God by how you live.
The promise that you are going to heaven comes directly through the name of Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, your Savior. The Bible was written to assure you of that. There’s nothing random about it at all.
Lord God, thank you for the certainty that you provide in the words of the Bible and the person of my Savior, Jesus. Amen.
Some people don’t believe that Jesus is fully God. Those people don’t understand how God could take on a human body and still remain God. Those people try to downplay Bible passages that call Jesus God or describe Jesus doing things only God can do.
But they are stumped when Thomas calls Jesus “my God” after seeing him risen from the dead. The best they can do is suggest that Thomas swore, using the same kind of language as people who abbreviate their swearing as OMG on the internet.
Thomas did not swear. He confessed a wonderful truth. When you realize that Jesus rose from the dead, you realize that he is God, just as he said. And when you realize that the only true God has called on you to believe in him, you realize that he’s not just God—he’s my God in a very personal way.
There are a lot of false gods in the world, but the true God suffered and died for you, all to take the punishment for your sins. There are a lot of idols in the world, but the true God lived and rose from the dead for you, all to provide you the righteousness that is yours through faith in Christ Jesus. There are a lot of misleading philosophies in the world, but the true God spoke the truth so that you would know who is the Lord of your life.
We are going through challenging and confusing times, but this truth will help you find clarity: Jesus is your Lord and your God.
Jesus, my God and Lord, do not forsake me. I trust your Word. Amen.
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. … Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:24-26,29
I have a confession to make. I’ve noticed that I believe everything I read in the newspaper—that is, until it’s about me or something I have seen for myself. Then I note all of the inaccuracies in the story. But afterward, I go back to believing everything I read.
The disciple Thomas was not like me. He was a skeptic. Even when reliable people told him that Jesus rose from the dead, he thought it was fake news. I don’t know what made Thomas like that. Maybe he had been disappointed in life. For whatever reason, he said that he had to see the risen Lord Jesus for himself.
He saw Jesus. Jesus let him touch his wounds from the crucifixion. We have the eyewitness testimony of John that it happened. Thomas went out as a missionary to the world and told everyone what happened.
So, do you believe it? Jesus says that you are blessed if you believe it even though you have not had the same experience that Thomas had.
How are you blessed? Believing that Jesus rose from the dead means that your sins are forgiven. Because Jesus rose from the dead, you know that all of his promises are true, and he can keep all of them. When he promises to be with you wherever you are, you know he can and will do it. Even death can’t hold him back.
The internet has made me suspicious of believing every news item I read online. But because I believe the eyewitness accounts in the Bible wherever I read them, I am blessed.
Lord, help me to believe even though I have not seen. Amen.