Due to the weather, the persistent blowing snow and drifting, and the dangerous road conditions, our evening Lenten Service and soup supper at 5:30 p.m. are canceled tonight for March 12, 2014. Many of the roads have proven to be almost impassable. We want everyone to remain safely at home.
Come and Bid on Hundreds of Items
at the Live and Silent Auctions
enjoy the luncheon
Menu: Hot Dogs, Sloppy joes, chips,
(all for a freewill donation!)
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Lunch & Silent Auction begin at 12:00 noon*
Live auction begins at 1:00pm sharp!*
* A preliminary list of items is available by calling the church office at 989-754-0929 or emailing your request at email@example.com
Immanuel Lutheran -Frankentrost School Gym
8220 Holland Rd ~ SaginawMI48601
Proceeds to benefit Immanuel’s MOST (Mission Opportunities Short Term) Fund
Supplemental funding by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans- NE Saginaw County
For more information call 989.754.0929
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The year 2013 was the 165th year that the Lord Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit gathered together a family of Lutheran Christians at Immanuel, Frankentrost. A community that delighted to sing praises to our heavenly Father and receive all the good gifts that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have to give to us (and through us!) as we share in their unending life.
On the 1st day of January of 2013, the newly elected officers, board and committee members stood before the Lord’s Altar as the assembled congregation heard them give their promises to willingly serve in their elected positions and assist me in the Ministry of the Gospel. We thank God for all who faithfully carried out their offices and positions over the past year(s).
Pastor, Elders, and the Altar Guild ladies met on Thursday evening, the 10th, and reviewed and discussed the care of the Chancel and the various sacred appointments, linens, and vessels. All agreed it was informative and helpful.
The elders and I met for the annual “Elder Orientation” most of Saturday the 12th. We began a year’s training using the new Concordia Publishing House resource “Pastors and Elders”.
The Evangelism Committee met to assemble two Resource Centers, one located by each entrance at church. These Centers focus on 23 different topics of spiritual interest. The hope is our members and visitors will make use of these materials personally or share them with others. In order to keep the resource centers stocked, donation envelopes are available on the very top tier. Also, keep in mind that your pastor is always available for counseling.
The pastor cell phone was out of commission for a while, but was soon replaced. This is the best way to reach me: feel free to text or call.
2013 also began the year with a new Sunday morning Bible study on our Synod’s new emphasis: Mercy, Witness, Life Together.
Despite a real dip below normal temperatures outside, God’s warming presence was made known as the blessed waters of Baptism were applied in accordance with Christ’s command and in connection with His Word as Kasondra Leigh Huber, infant daughter of Kevin and Val Huber, was baptized on Sunday, the 20th.
National Lutheran Schools week came early from January 27th–February 3. The theme was the same as that used later in the year for the Synod’s National Convention, “Baptized for this Moment.” The children sang in the Sunday services and prayers were offered on behalf of all our Church schools.
The first Sunday in February was designated as “Lutheran Hour Ministries Sunday”. Many of our members enjoy listening to the Luther Hour and getting daily devotions by the internet. Each year we give thanks to God for both auxiliaries of our Synod at the Synod-wide designated times: LHM in February, and the ILWML in October.
During the winter months Catechism classes were held in the Church Fellowship Hall for 7 & 8 grades students attending public school on Sundays from 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. While we are usually a small group, we work hard and have fun preparing for Confirmation.
Ash Wednesday was February 13 and Lent began. A 7:00 p.m. Vespers Service that evening included Corporate Confession and Individual Absolution at the altar rail. The junior confirmands and parents met with me after the service to begin the final preparations for Confirmation.
Midweek Evening Lenten Services were held each Wednesday during Lent (February 13–March 24) at 7:00 p.m. Our theme was “Fellowship with the Father: The Lord in Prayer.” Each night a portion of our Lord’s Passion from the Four Gospels was read and we sung the familiar Lenten hymns which called us to be mindful of God’s great cost in His Son for our redemption.
On the 24th, Lexi Jane Hetzner was plunged beneath the bracing stream of Baptism Waters and came up from it with her sins forever gone and sealed with the Holy Spirit.
The word Lent means “spring.” And the hope of spring’s arrival in March added to the anticipation of the Confirmands preparing for Questioning Sunday (March 17) and then their Confirmation Day (March 24). Questioning practice was held on the Friday before Questioning, and Confirmation practice was held the day before Palm Sunday.
The hard work paid off, and the Lord heard our prayers on behalf of our Catechumens, granting them strength of body and clarity of mind, and a willing Spirit, and they professed their faith, confessed their Lord, and made their promises. The 10:30 a.m. Confirmation Service was an hour of joy as a full church witnessed Shania Aguilar, Taylor Brechtelsbauer, Dillon Bullock, Meagan Clark, Jeremy Hecht, Alexander Horonzy, Emily Janson, Nicole Kowalski, Kayla Kueffner, Simon Reinbold, Kylee Reinert, and Johnathon Wendland acknowledge the gifts given to them years before in Baptism and confess their Lord at His Altar and promise to be faithful unto death.
New birth was given to Anna Luise Weiss on March 10 as she was baptized into Christ, and into His death, and into His resurrection.
The 24th was also Palm Sunday, at 8:00 a.m. we sang “Hosanna!” to Jesus. Holy week saw us ponder more intently the holy Passion of Jesus. Holy Wednesday offered another Confessional Service similar to Ash Wednesday. This gave the newly confirmed young people an opportunity to prepare for their First Communion of the Lord’s Body and Blood on Maundy Thursday. The Good Friday Service of Darkness considered Jesus’ final prayer from the cross and completed our Lenten theme.
Alleluia! Easter was the feast of joy that it always is to us – from the Saturday egg hunt for the young children, to the Sunday morning Easter breakfast (thank you, youth group!). The breakfast was almost cancelled because of gym floor repairs, but the needed repairs were put off and the breakfast went on as usual. Easter Services held on Sunday the 31st, with the Feast of the Resurrection celebrated at the 6:30 a.m. Sunrise Service and the 10:30 Divine Service.
Over Easter Pastor Loest was in Chicago. It was 22 years that his mother had passed away on March 31, 1991–also Easter Sunday that year–and he wanted to be with his family. He would hurry back upon news of a death in the congregation.
April began with Good News that “Christ is Risen!” “He is Risen Indeed” as the greeting each Sunday of Easter. The importance of those words were impressed on us three soldiers, brave and true, were summoned home to the Lord that month.
Just two days after we had rejoiced in the news of the Lord Jesus’ resurrection on Easter, we learned on the 2nd that Edgar Scharrer was with the Lamb whose Kingdom has no end. At the conclusion of the funeral service, Edgar was honored for his service in the Korean War.
Then on April 8, the Lord called Donald Twietmeyer home to heaven. Don would never miss a church service, even under great difficulty, and his answer to “how are you?” was always, “I’m still here!” He was also laid to rest with military honors for service to his country during the Korean War.
Lastly, our oldest member at the time was called from this vale of tears when Louis Schuler died on the 26th. He was always thankful that the Lord gave him life for 98 years and that he had enjoyed a long retirement of 41 years. He served in the U.S. Army during WW II in Europe and fought in the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, earning five battle stars for his service. He received military honors at his burial.
The Saturday following Easter our shut-in/ homebound members gathered in the church still decorated for Easter to celebrate the Lord’s Supper and sing alleluias to the Risen Savior. This was a change from previous years and proved to be a good move. Attendance was greatly improved, as the Saturday before Easter was just too difficult for everyone in a number of ways and for a number of reasons.
On Sunday the 7th of April, the Voters met at 2:00 p.m. in the church and voted to call Jonathan Kamin as Principal/ 5th & 6th grades Teacher for our school. Up until this time, he had been contracted by the School Board, but had since completed the requirements for colloquy and was now eligible to be called and commissioned as a rostered teacher of Synod. Our prayers were answered with his accepting the call shortly after.
May traditionally brings a mission emphasis and speaker, however various circumstances put off our annual Mission Sunday until August.
Ascension Day Service was held the Thursday, May 9, at 7:00 p.m. The Order of Service was Vespers with familiar Ascension Day hymns. “God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.” (Psalm 47:5)
I was away from Frankentrost the weekend of May 19 to bring Audrey home from her second year at college at Concordia University Wisconsin where she is pursuing a church work career.
The Service of Commissioning and Installation of Jonathan Kamin as called principal and teacher of Immanuel Lutheran School took place on Sunday, May 26, at 10:30 a.m. A reception followed the Service.
The first Sunday in June is always Picnic Sunday. The outdoor service was attempted but everyone quickly moved to the gym when rain began shortly before 9:30 a.m. It was cold, and did it pour! Of course, by the time service was over the rain seemed to disappear and the rest of the day continued as planned. The day also served as graduation for our 8th graders and recognition of all our graduates from high school and colleges, etc.
On June 9 we started something new: Green Sheets inserted into the day’s worship folder which have the Propers and Readings for the day. Why Green Sheets? The Green Sheets are intended to be saved and used during the week as part of our daily devotions. They also have the Daily Lectionary and Book of Concord readings for the coming week. Many people agree that the Green Sheets are handy. (A reminder: take yours home with you each week!)
An Information and Membership Class was started, meeting Wednesday evenings in June–September. Our first class was June 12. We continued through the summer months taking breaks for holidays and vacation. A couple of times we had to find air conditioning, but then the summer turned real cool in late July and we took advantage of the evening breezes. We had a nice class size and even added members as we went along!
New life flowed to little Cecelia Joan Little on June 9, and Ashton Roderick Wanless on June 23, as the Savior claimed them as His very own for time and for eternity in Holy Baptism.
The one wedding of the year was the service uniting Emily Horonzy and Nathaniel Simpson, who were married in the church on June 12th.
On the 30th our MOST Team to Guatemala was commissioned in church. They left on the 4th of July and returned safely to us on Saturday, July 13th. We were thankful for God’s protection and blessing upon their travels, and upon their witness of faith in Jesus and their acts of mercy including two eyeglass clinics.
July was a year-off from VBS. Plans are for a return in 2014.
Nationally, the election for the Synod’s President was held electronically ahead of the Convention of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Synod met in St. Louis July 20–25. We were able to follow the convention and find much of interest including the workbook and daily proceedings on the web.
August meant taking Audrey back to Concordia University and some vacation in Wisconsin and Illinois. It was hard to find a substitute pastor, so I had to return from vacation, do services and then continue.
Immanuel has two members preparing for professional church work. Audrey Loest is in her third year attending Concordia University – Wisconsin (Mequon) in the teacher education program. Daniel Wojtowicz is a junior completing an undergraduate degree at Concordia University – Ann Arbor. He is in the pre-seminary program. Daniel continued to teach Adult Bible Study this fall in the school library on Sundays.
Membership Classes continued to meet–with just a vacation break. A cooler August was a relief.
Some people may not realize the rigors of membership. All are well catechized and are made welcome through the love of Christ in Word and Sacrament.
The Evangelism Committee arranged for and hosted the Rev. Prof. John Nordling from Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana to be our guest preacher and lead our Bible Study on the 11th. A generous door offering provided for his future travels to South Africa to teach pastors and seminarians who otherwise would not have the opportunity to receive the pastoral training we take for granted here in North America.
August also saw a new school year begin with opening chapel on Wed. the 26th, and the children gathering to learn about Jesus, as well as the other important lessons of Lutheran elementary school education. I always enjoy in having the opening chapel and asking, “who is new?”
In September music returned to the glory and praise of our Triune God. Sunday School teachers were installed and Sunday Classes and Bible Studies began on Sunday the 8th.
The fall session of my Sunday Morning Bible Study in church was also an adult instruction class. This provides an opportunity for those with children to attend while their children are at Sunday School and there are those who want to attend both church and class on the same morning. Regular class members attended for a refresher-course, (always a good thing!). The hard work of the two classes paid off, and our church membership grew this year (see final paragraph below).
The Summer class Adult Confirmations on the 29th included: Andrew Lucio, John Figone, Jenifer Figone, Julie Mossner, Alicia Beythan. Also added to our membership rolls were the two Figone children, Erin and Allie.
Also on the 29th, a Baptism “double header” brought forgiveness of sins, rescued from death and the devil, and gave eternal life to Ezekiel Ryan Drake and Madison Marie Smith. All total our church grew by 9 members that day!
October brought our usual joys with LWML the first weekend. The ladies’ singing added to the services. On the 14th we observed Kirchweih and our congregation’s 165th anniversary.
On the 7th, the Lord called home to Himself Hildred Schaeff after an extended illness. At the funeral in church on the 11th, we gave thanks to God for Hildred’s life and faith and were comforted by the assurance of the resurrection and eternal life that is for all who die in faith in Jesus.
On Sunday the 13th Abigail Sarah Hahn received the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit when she was baptized.
October also brought a three-week financial education program titled “Financial Counsel from God’s Word” Members were encouraged to pick up and read the daily readings from the booklet “Financial Counsel from God’s Word: Five Steps to a Transformed Financial Life” provided by Immanuel’s Stewardship Committee and made available in the narthex.
The 1st of November is All Saints and the remembrance of the faithful departed over the past year took place at both services on the 3rd.
Two more Baptisms would give us a total of 10 this year with Noah Robert Kamin on the 10th, and Averie McKenzie Suppes on the 24th. Jesus wants all to be saved, including the little children. Truly, through baptizing disciples are made as He has commanded and promised.
In November we also received a transfer of membership for Jennifer M. Weiss: welcome home!
On Thursday, November 28, a late Thanksgiving Day Matins Service included a generous ingathering of gifts of mercy for those in need. God had blessed our congregation bountifully in the past year and His people respond in kind to others!
The 1st of December was also the first day of Advent. Midweek services were Wednesdays the 4th, 11th, and 18. Living Nativity, was held the 7th, 8th, and 9th. I enjoy visiting with our guests at the Evangelism Committee’s table and going among the cast, encouraging and lending a helping hand where needed.
Once more we were to grow in numbers as Paula Butzin joined Immanuel by profession of faith the 15th.
A Communion Service for our homebound/ shut-in members included the 3rd and 4th grades children singing favorite Christmas songs. Refreshments followed. The weather was cold, but there was no wind. A good group was able to attend.
Choral Matins was on the 22nd; Christmas Eve saw a traditional children’s service (to a packed House) and the Lessons and Carols by candlelight ended with the ringing of the church bells and the singing of “Silent Night” both in German and English.
Christmas Day, we sang our joy with the angels and archangels over the Word becoming Flesh and dwelling among us.
Again a busy year–a year filled with difficulties and challenges placed upon us by a Lord who will see us through to a good end. This year was evidence of this truth.
We welcomed many new members. We are blessed to remain Immanuel, Frankentrost, a community of evangelical Lutheran Christians meeting in Blumfield Township in Michigan’s Saginaw County.
At the end of 2013, the baptized membership of Immanuel stood at 672. We had grown from the previous year! The communicant membership, 557. The average attendance, 251 per week. Approximately 37% of our members were in attendance in a Divine Service in any given week. We would like better numbers. But in our world and culture today those are real blessings (when many churches hardly see 25%).
Respectfully submitted by Mark A. Loest, Pastor of Immanuel Ev. Lutheran Church of Frankentrost, Michigan, in the 10th year of this pastorate.
We have entered into a new Church Year and the Time of Christmas. Advent begins our preparation for celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus. It is beneficial to prepare for Christmas through reflection on the Word of God and prayer.
Our custom is to offer services on Wednesday evenings in Advent beginning at 7:00 p.m.
This year our series is titled “Songs of the Savior” and is based on the Canticles sung by Mary, Zachariah and Simeon. A Canticle is a hymn that is found in the Bible.
For three Wednesdays we will hear, speak and sing about waiting for the Savior –preparing us to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas.
I know you will want to hear each sermon, sing the hymns, and pray, as we look more deeply into these matters.
Our prayer is that our dear Father in heaven, for the sake of His beloved Son, and in the power of His Holy Spirit, might richly bless this Advent season for us, that we come to Christmas with glad hearts and joyfully receive Him, Who is God’s Love at Christmas and always.
Sincerely in Christ,
Advent Schedule 2013
Midweek Advent Services, Messages are based on a Canticle. Each service begins at 7:00 p.m.
Wed. Dec. 4: “Mary’s Song: The Magnificat (Luke 1:39–56)”
Wed. Dec. 11: “Zechariah’s Song: The Benedictus (Luke 1:57–80)”
Wed. Dec. 18: “Simeon’s Song: The Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2:21–35)”
Other services this Advent include:
Shut-in/Homebound Communion Service on Mon., Dec. 16 at 2:00 p.m.
Choral Matins Service, Sun. Dec. 22 at 9:30 a.m.: “The Angels’ Song: Gloria in Excelsis (Luke 2:8–20)”
Tues, December 24, Christmas Eve Children’s Service at 7:00 p.m. and Service of Lessons and Carols by Candlelight at 11:00 p.m.,
Wed., December 25, Christmas Day Service at 10:30 a.m. – with Lord’s Supper.
I bring you grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus. Amen.
God’s holy Word for our glad hearing and learning on this day of All Saints observed, is from the Epistle Lesson that was read: from 1 John, chapter 3
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:1–3)
Dear brothers and sisters of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Last Sunday, we observed Reformation, even though the actual date is on October 31.
And now this morning we likewise observe All Saints Day, which is commemorated on November 1.
The two are close together not without reason.
It was Luther’s prince’s custom of exhibiting his magnificent relic collection on All Saints Day inside the Castle Church in Wittenberg that sent Luther pounding on the doors.
The people of Wittenberg and surrounding Saxony paid good money to venerate these holy objects which supposedly included a feather from the Angel Gabriel, a piece of straw from Christ’s manger, a nail that had pierced Christ’s hand and 19,000 other such fragments of saints and the like, that reputedly offered 2,000,000 years of indulgence from purgatory.
Luther’s Bible reading enlightened him to the truth of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
Luther’s posting of his 95 points, or theses, for discussion declared his discovery for the first time to the world.
Luther’s Reformation causes us to rethink the discussion about who and what a saint is.
Martin Luther, the Augustinian friar, could not come to love a God who he saw only as a righteous judge. He could not satisfy God. No man could. He was damned for sure.
Only when Luther realized that by the righteousness of God the Bible meant what God gives to people by justifying them for Christ’s sake–that is, giving them Christ’s righteousness–could he understand and explain it in these terms: Simul justus et peccator: At the same time we are saint and sinner.
Before God we are declared righteous and are justified and God sees us as His holy child. And all the while we are keenly aware of our sins and short comings and how we struggle to live holy lives.
The Apostle put it this way:
For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (Romans 7:19)
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25)
This constant wondering, this feeling of inferiority and inadequacy had for Luther become a disease. And he was not the first, nor was alone in it, nor was he the last. Luther reported that there were days when he was so depressed he could hardly get out of the bed. That’s a clinical sign of depression.
Most people do not even go through anything even remotely like Luther did, yet we can find at times, ourselves easily cut down, not by God or even others, but by ourselves. How is that?
And further, the odd thing is that if we take an honest look, we find that the root of this disease is humility. Like all human emotions, this sense of our own littleness, our own nothingness in the sight of God can become an obsession. We are so accustomed to acknowledging our unworthiness in God’s sight –in our prayers, our hymns, our service– that we obsess with it until it takes over in all aspects of our lives.
So no matter what the challenge, we’re convinced that we’re inadequate to meet it. We’re too small, too weak, our talents too limited.
When we think and act this way we hardly appear to the world and to each other as Saints– confident that we are children of God equipped by Him to do every good work. Instead we become more like doormats. Letting ourselves to be walked upon.
Listen to our text again, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1) If there is anyone in the world who should not be despondent or depressed by feelings of inadequacy, it is the believer in Christ.
And why not? The reason the Christian should be the last person in the world to succumb to feelings of inadequacy is His awareness of who he is. Do you ever think of the high-ranking dignity in which the Lord has invested you as a believer?
St. John, the writer of our Epistle Lesson this morning, writes in the first chapter of his Gospel this remarkable statement: (He’s talking about Christ ‘s coming into the world, and then he adds this)
As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
“The sons of God–born not of the flesh–but of God!” That is who you and I are! If our religion means anything to us at all, it must mean exactly what those words imply. God has reached down into the stream of humanity and has picked you and me out of the mass of humankind and has placed on us royal robes of sonship.
We are the sons of God, not merely in the generally accepted meaning that we are His creatures, but in the infinitely more sublime sense that He has redeemed us by His blood, has made us sit with Him in heavenly places.
Nor are we merely “sons of God.” We are “The sons of God,” the ones whom He has chosen to wear the ring of sonship secured by the death of His beloved. This is the theme of the entire New Testament.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us,” St. John writes toward the close of his life, “that we should be called children of God!” And in the next verse he continues: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
Sons of God today, who, when he comes again, shall be “like him.” Such is the high dignity with which God invests in all who are His through faith. Think, my friends, about all the titles the Bible gives to the believer in Christ–salt, light, saint, chosen, elect, redeemed, beloved, child of God, king, priest–and then contrast these titles with the timid, craven, apologetic, and defeated attitudes some of us have fallen into.
We heard last week that God has not called us His slaves–He has called us by the truth of His Son. St. Peter tells the believers, and that includes you and me,
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)
But reciting Bible passages won’t do us any good if we simply look for them and pull them out only in times of feeling inferior or inadequate.
If we are to face life assured and unafraid, adequate to the challenge of each new day, we need to be reminded daily of who we are. Sons of God! Ransomed and redeemed. Sent into God’s workaday world to serve.
You must remember this: morning, noon and night that we wear royal robes of sonship and that our Father is the omnipotent and omnipresent God of heaven.
To every son who puts his trust in Him, the Father says: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Therefore in the lowliest moments of our existence, we are not alone, because we are part and parcel of this great multitude the Saints. And dear friends, as many of you experience, and as I also have had to learn; we need to accustom ourselves to that.
Because we will find ourselves pressed and surrounded by needs and emergencies – financial, personal, and otherwise which often will make us feel quite isolated, and it seems that our family and friends don’t care and don’t want to help. But usually the truth is that there is often not much anybody else really can do. But whatever may be the trouble, we – though we may feel isolated – are never alone, when we are in this great host arrayed in white.
This is the great meaning of All Saints. That we are included in this number already, even when we are experiencing terrible things, yet our faith is from above where Christ is. And that He is present in whatever circumstance we may face. And that for us too, these things are being prepared.
Therefore we can already sing in preparation of our future joining with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12) Amen.
(helpful material was obtained from the book Answer to Anxiety by Herman W. Gockel, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1961. pp. 95–104, and is highly recommended)
Sunday, November 3, is All Saints (Observed). The Order of Divine Service is Setting One in Lutheran Service Book. Scriptures for next Sunday are Revelation 7: 9–17, 1 John 3:1–3, Matthew 5:1–12. Hymns are LSB 670 “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones”, 676 “Behold a Host, Arrayed in White”, +677 “For All the Saints”, +748 “I’m But a Stranger Here”, +680 Thine the Amen, Thine the Praise”, 672 “Jerusalem the Golden”.
Holy Communion will be offered at both services. Communicants are reminded to prepare themselves for worthy reception using “Christian Questions and Their Answers” in the Small Catechism, Lutheran Service Book, 329.
Saints Are Blessed in the Eternal Presence of Christ “A great multitude … from all tribes and peoples and languages” cry out, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne” (Rev. 7:9–10). Faith-filled saints from every place and time with unified voices eternally magnify the Lamb of God. As His beloved children, we, too, “shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Joined with the throng of angels and a myriad of saints, we shall “serve him day and night in his temple” (Rev. 7:15). In our earthly tension vacillating between saint and sinner, faith and doubt, sacred and profane, we earnestly seek Jesus to calm our fears, comfort our spirits and forgive our sins. The Holy Spirit, through faith in Christ propels us forward, fortifying us in Word and Sacrament, to our eternal home. In the midst of our constant struggle as believers, we need to be blessed. And so we are. The poor in spirit, the meek, the hungry, the thirsty, the merciful, the pure and the persecuted are all blessed, and we will most certainly inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:1–12).
Blest Halloween! From the October 2001 Lutheran Witness Magazine http://witness.lcms.org/pages/wPagex.asp?ContentID=649&IssueID=37
It was no coincidence that Martin Luther chose Oct. 31 as the day to nail his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.
For most people, October means cooler weather, raking leaves, and, at the end of the month, celebrating Halloween. For Lutherans, October includes the commemoration of Reformation Day–the day Martin Luther is said to have nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
It may seem strange that a day so preoccupied with the devil and death is also Reformation Day. But Luther chose this date with a purpose. His theses (academic statements for discussion and debate) were on the topic of indulgences, and Luther chose the eve of All Saints Day–when the church commemorates the faithful departed–as the date to make them public.
Penance and Indulgences
By the time they are confirmed, Lutherans know that the public outcry that fueled the Reformation of the church started with Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses. They also know that Luther’s theses had to do with the selling of indulgences. However, today’s Lutherans do not always understand exactly what indulgences are and why Luther protested their sale.
Indulgences have to do with the Roman Catholic Church’s practice surrounding the Sacrament of Penance that developed during the Middle Ages. Penance is the fourth of the seven Roman Catholic sacraments.
Basically, sinners, fallen from the grace they originally received in Baptism, may, by God’s moving and by certain acts (contrition, confession, and satisfaction), recover the lost grace. Sinners are absolved only after displaying sorrow through prescribed acts of penance, such as praying, taking a pilgrimage, or giving alms. In other words, doing works, as well as having faith in the mercy of God, are necessary for full forgiveness.
But what especially alarmed Luther were the outright payments in connection with indulgences.
For money (and sometimes even goods like fowl and dairy products), a person could buy an indulgence that claimed to offer the merits of the saints–and even of Christ–on behalf of the owner, and, in that way, sins were forgiven and a place was secured in heaven.
Defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, an indulgence is “the remissions before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven.”
According to the Catholic teaching, indulgences offer forgiveness for the penalties that come with sin, even though Christ paid for those sins. A Christian can acquire an indulgence in a number of ways through the Church, which has authority over the “treasury” of Christ and the saints. In other words, indulgences either transfer or reduce penitential acts and punishment for sin. An indulgence is considered partial if it removes part of the temporal punishment due to sin and plenary if it removes all punishment.
Indulgences have been around for about one thousand years. In 1096, Pope Urban II offered plenary (meaning complete) indulgences in connection with the first crusade.
The great medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas (c. 1224-74) fully developed indulgence theory, allowing for the possibility of indulgences to be applied to souls in purgatory. For the sinner who does not make complete satisfaction in this life, there is purgatory–an intermediate state between heaven and hell. The soul that departs this life and is not immediately judged to heaven or hell is purified for a time in purgatory until released to heaven.
The result was that by the time of Luther, Christians cared more about avoiding purgatory than living and dying a Christian life and death. And indulgence claims were inflated beyond the original idea of release simply from temporal punishment imposed by a priest.
In 1530, the Augsburg Confession rejected the medieval errors concerning penance by declaring: “Rejected … are those who teach that forgiveness of sin is not obtained through faith but through the satisfaction made by man” (Augsburg Confession, Article XII, page 35–Tappert).
Martin Luther (born Nov. 10, 1483), was the son of Hans Luder, a mine and foundry owner in Mansfeld, Germany. He originally began his studies to become a lawyer, but in July 1505, everything changed when during a terrible thunderstorm–and fearing for his life–he promised St. Anna that if she would spare his life he would become a monk.
Luther survived the storm and kept his promise, promptly quitting his university studies and joining the Augustinians in Erfurt. Taking his vows seriously, he soon experienced great spiritual conflicts over the forgiveness-of-sins-through-good-works system of monastery, which he came to realize was a completely inadequate way to be forgiven. In order to save the young monk from spiritual ruin, his superior, Johann Staupitz, directed Brother Martin to Scripture.
Luther began his studies again–only this time in biblical theology. By 1508, he was lecturing. In 1512, he earned his doctorate. Upon completing a trip to Rome (from the fall of 1510 until the spring of 1511), Luther may well have begun to question the medieval penitential system, especially in light of what he saw in the “holy” city, but he said nothing publicly at the moment. More would happen to shape his insights.
At the same time, Luther was transferred permanently to Wittenberg, to eventually take the place of Father Staupitz as professor of biblical theology. It was in Scripture that he was to find the answers that troubled his soul.
Luther describes what happened at Wittenberg:“At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, ‘In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.”’
“There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is revealed by the Gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’ Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 34, page 337–Concordia Publishing House).
It was as a preacher, rather than professor, that Luther encountered the abuses of indulgences. Against the wishes of Luther’s prince, Frederick the Wise of electoral Saxony, indulgences were hawked to the people of his land, albeit in neighboring ducal Saxony. They needed only to cross the border to purchase them. To make matters worse, the indulgence-salesman and friar John Tetzel told Luther’s parishioners they could even purchase indulgences from him for sins they had not yet committed.
It was no coincidence that Martin Luther chose what we know as Halloween as the day to put forth is 95 Theses, mailing them to the archbishop in charge so something might be done, and, as the story goes, nailing them to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. In Wittenberg, Luther’s own prince offered the pious the opportunity of indulgence through his enormous collection of relics in the Castle Church on the Day of All Saints, Nov. 1.
Luther took advantage of the occasion. Luther himself never told the story, but after his death, co-worker Philipp Melanchthon described the scene.
On the Eve of All Saints, Oct. 31, 1517, Luther posted on the door of the Castle Church (in a manner customary at the university) the 95 Theses, which called into question and for discussion the abuses associated with indulgences.
The posting of the theses became the spark that ignited the Reformation.
A poem written long ago to commemorate the Reformation praises Halloween with the words:
Blest Halloween that struck the hour When Luther’s hammer rose and fell At Wittenberg in heaven-born power And rang dark popery’s funeral-knell, When long and cruel night was gone And smiling rose the promised dawn!
Rev. Mark A. Loest is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church of Frankentrost, Saginaw, Mich. This story appeared originally in the October 2001 Lutheran Witness. LCMS congregations may reprint this article for parish use. All other rights reserved. Text copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Loest.