Posts from 2020

Posts from 2020

Christmas Season 2020

Please listen to this message from Pastor Steven Olson on the upcoming Christmas season. Join us in person (socially distant) or via Live stream this Christmas season! Follow us on Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube and on our website for updates and events. Dear Friends, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests! (Lk 2:16)” It happens sometimes with words and songs that we know so well. We forget what the words mean!…

SERVANTS OF CHRIST

“Did you hear the one about the minister, the priest and the rabbi…?”   Chances are, so have most pastors.  Preacher jokes are as plentiful as lawyer jokes.  That’s OK.  Some of them are truly funny. Pastors need to take the word of God seriously, but not so much themselves. What preachers see from their side of the pulpit can be comical too.  Ask people to picture the perfect pastor and they might tell you he’s 30 years old and…

ETERNAL LONGINGS

One writer asked, “Where do words like ‘immortal’ come from?”   There are similar questions.  Why is it murder to kill a man and not a cow or a cat?  Why would we not throw out the lifeless body of a loved one with the Monday morning trash?   Instinctively, even the ancient heathen civilizations based their beliefs on something better and beyond the broken existence we now have.  The pyramids still stand as evidence of man’s quest for some sort of…

“WHODUNIT?”

It’s terrible English grammar, of course, but a good crime novel or movie is often called a “Whodunit.”  We even spoof those corny old movie scenes where the detective assembles everyone in the parlor or the library of the mansion after a murder and announces:  “The murderer is someone in this room!”    And as the background music plays a few tense notes – all of them –  from the maid to the butler, from the millionaire playboy to the…

PLEASANT PLACES

You may recall that at the end of The Small Catechism, Martin Luther tacked on what he called “The Table of Duties.”    For husbands and wives, parents and children, pastors and parishioners, labor and management he set down the Bible passages that apply to each, concluding:    “Let each his lesson learn with care and all the household well shall fare.” Escaping from a church that exalted holy orders and man-made works, Luther emphasized the sacredness of each Christian’s…

LIFE IN THE LIGHT OF MORNING

“It was the best of times and it was the worst of times,” is the way Charles Dickens began his novel, Tale Of Two Cities.   Paul would have said the same about his times.  In our epistle lesson from Romans 13, he says:  “The night is almost over, and the day is drawing near.” The times are dark with judgment…like the night. The times are bright with promise…like the day. We would have to say the same about our own…

CASTING BREAD UPON THE WATERS

“Cast your bread on the surface of the waters,” wrote King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 11. It has a beautiful ring to it.  But what does it mean?  Tossing a loaf of bread into the Mississippi would seem an odd and pointless thing to do! Solomon is actually talking about an act of commerce or trade, of shipping “bread,” that is, grain, over the waters to distant lands. The Bible tells us that Solomon had a fleet of trading ships.  Once…

OUR SUBSTITUTE

Our old teachers spoke often about “the vicarious atonement.”  We got it, because they explained it.    Churchy words such as, “justification” (to declare not guilty), or “redemption” (to be ransomed by the blood of Christ when we were held hostage by sin, death and hell), or “reconciliation” (that God made friends of us when we were His declared enemies) – these and countless other rich Bible words do not need to be dummied down to a vanilla vocabulary.  They…

GOD’S ACRE

You may recall that this past April 12th, we observed Easter in a way we had never observed it before…virtually…live streaming the service with as much joyful noise as a few voices and instruments could make amid the shut-down. Today’s hymns are Easter hymns!  This is on purpose. With as many as are able to come to our sanctuary, we will celebrate “a little Easter in August.”   We shall stand in a little graveyard in the village of Bethany and…

WAITING FOR GOD

So the rain finally ceased.  The waters slowly receded.  Noah waited. The total time on the ark for Noah and his family came to 1 year and 10 days.  The configuration of the ark was such that Noah had no clear view of things – what was out there or where he was going.  There was only the steady rocking and bobbing of the ark upon the surface of the deep beneath a gray sky.     Would the sun…

SWEET SORROW

Shakespeare’s Juliet says to Romeo:  “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”    English teachers might call that an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms.   But life is full of seeming contradictions which are not so contradictory.  We talk about “bitter sweet moments,” or a “deafening silence,” or “an open secret,” or a “tragic comedy.” There is a sweet sorrow laced in the lines of today’s epistle lesson from 2 Corinthians.  Paul says:  “Godly sorrow produces repentance, which leads to salvation, leaving no…

“PREACH THE GOSPEL!”

Over the chancel of our seminary chapel the words were inscribed in the Greek language of the New Testament – “Preach The Gospel”  (κηρύξατε τὸ εὐαγγέλιον).  These words from the 16th chapter of St. Mark were a reminder in every daily chapel service of what we were training to do. It is all too easy for those called to the work of preaching and teaching God’s Word to take an airborne flight into the everlasting “busyness” of “running” the church…