Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Sermon Notes for December 11

This Sunday continues the Christmas story from both Testaments with the birth and early life of David and our Christmas connection to a shepherd/king.  

At 8:45AM, join the adult Sunday School for the final chapter and discussion of "A Man Named Martin" - plus, some bonus material all about Luther's marriage.

I hope you will get a chance to come to Wednesday Evening Prayer at 7PM to unplug from holiday stress and hear about some of the decorations recently put up by our youth group.  Next Wednesday, there will be a special service led by Bethany Lutheran Preschool at 6:30PM.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

St. Nicholas Day 2016

If you slipped your foot in your shoe to find a tangerine or a chocolate gold coin, someone in your home may be celebrating St. Nicholas Day!
If you are a Doctor Who fan, like me, you may have wondered why Santa Claus was often seen with a tangerine in the 2014 Christmas special.  

Whenever my kids would ask about a certain jolly elf who delivers presents, I always saw that as an opportunity to teach a little about St. Nicholas and some of the blessings we receive this Christmas season.  I wrote out one of those talks a few years ago and posted it here.  

There are not many primary sources of information about Nicholas of Myra, who was a Christian bishop.  A lot of the legends and stories come to us from the Middle Ages.  But, we do know he was a Christian leader, and likely at the Council of Nicea (affirming with the faithful that Jesus is "begotten of the Father from all eternity"), and that he was well loved by the people for his kindness and generosity.   

From there it is not hard to believe that he was an orphan whose parents left a sizable estate, that he gave said estate away and became a parish priest and that he was hard working and loved children.  Well, at least, there is no reason to disbelieve such things.  And if you go on to presume that the origin of the Christmas stocking comes from such an incident as Nicholas somehow (maybe with a little angelic help) getting some gold coins into the shoes of several poor girls who did not have a dowry to get married, and whose stubborn father would not take assistance from the church, why not?

At the heart of such legends and tales is Christian truth.  It is the truth of our mission here on earth.  Our Lord emptied Himself and became as a servant and calls us to serve others with that same self-sacrificing love.  If there is a personification of that force - call it generosity, or giving - in order to tell a good story, then why not?  Just be sure to remember that the root of it is not some sort of promotion of consumerism or a twisted way to get your children to behave, but a simple man doing the Lord's work of giving away God's love to others.  

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Sermon Notes for December 4

"Who Was Born in Bethlehem?" the sermon series continues this Sunday at Bethany Lutheran Church for our 10AM worship.  This week, we remember the birth of Obed, a special baby born to Boaz and Ruth.  Last year, we learned about how Ruth and her family fit into "The Story" of God.  That was in chapter 9 of "The Story" and in the book of Ruth in the Bible.  Feel free to bring your Bible to church as we take a look at the Christmas story presented in both Testaments.

The Adult Sunday School class at 8:45AM will see part 4 of "A Man Called Martin" - a special video study offered through the Lutheran Hour.

This Saturday, Bethany's youth need all hands on deck for the morning and afternoon as they put up Christmas decorations and offer a "Parents Day Out" babysitting event for our parents who need to get some shopping done, or just need a break!

Next Wednesday, retreat from the holiday stress for a special Advent Evening Prayer at 7PM.  There will be a special meditation on the history and meaning behind Bethany's Christmas decorations.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sermon Notes for November 27

The sermon series, "Who Was Born in Bethlehem?" looks at the Christmas story in both Testaments!  This Sunday begins a new church year cycle with the season of Advent - a time when God's people prepare for the coming our Savior.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Who Was Born in Bethlehem?

First, I have to admit that this sermon series idea is not original to me.  I am indebted to "Creative Communications" who first put something like this out as a worship and sermon series.  I have not read the series, but the idea of examining the births that took place in Bethlehem before the one we celebrate at Christmas was something that stuck in my mind since I saw it.  I came up with the title for this series as a way to get the attention of my children, and maybe the other children of the church, as well.

So, yes - it turns out that the “Little Town of Bethlehem” was a significant place even before the birth of our savior.  There are not only significant births that happen in that area, but also significant events, as well.  For this series, I am only looking at two births that are mentioned in the Old Testament, and also the childhood of David.  The other events, like those mentioned at the end of the book of Judges are not necessarily appropriate for all ages!  Perhaps the ones I did not use for this series will bet the topic of an upcoming adult Bible Study.  We'll see!

Each Sunday sermon in Advent will look at one of those special births in Bethlehem and make connections to how we celebrate Christmas.  Each of the people who were born foreshadow some wonderful  aspect of our Savior and, I think, remind us of the reasons we celebrate Christmas each year.  

If you are in town, this week, please feel free to join our Bethany family for a special service on Thanksgiving Day.  Every year, I invite the congregation to share the things they are thankful for.  This year, with the help of a favorite hymn, we will share the blessings God gives us in creation, at home and in our spiritual lives.  

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sermon Notes for November 20

The annual tradition at Bethany Lutheran Church is to have a special hymn sing service at the end of the church year.  In 2016, we are beginning the year long anniversary celebration of the fifth Reformation centennial, so our hymn sing will have some Reformation flavor.  

There is a slight change in plan for the adult Bible Study in Sunday School. We will touch on a few of Martin Luther's hymns, but that will be in a special Jeopardy warm up just before we take on part two of "A Man Called Martin" - a special video Bible Study put out by the Men's network of Lutheran Hour Ministries.  

During the 10 AM Hymn Sing, there will be an opportunity for church members to bring forward their pledges for the next year 2017.   Each year, we ask for the congregation to prayerfully consider how the Lord has blessed you, discuss as a family how you would like to respond to that with an annual pledge to Bethany, and then dedicate that pledge to Christ our King in worship.  This serves a practical end by giving our leadership an understanding of the resources we will have for the next year.  More importantly, it is following the Biblical practice of dedicating the First Fruits before The Lord in response to all that our God has done for us.  

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Sermon Notes for November 13

FIRST THOUGHTS + This year, Bethany Lutheran Church is on the road to be "Renewed by Reformation."  That means we will have completed some important goals we set for ourselves in a process called "Renewal".  It also means that we will rediscover and celebrate our heritage as Lutheran Christians on the way to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. 

This Sunday, we will observe a special commemoration of Martin Luther's birth.  The text for the sermon is Hebrews 13:7-8 - Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, animitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  

What are we remembering and why is it important to remember it?  With the help of God's Word, we'll look at the past, present and future of our church and remember "It's Still All about Jesus".  

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