Devotion for the Week
Read: Matthew 25:31-46.
The God of the Bible is the God of justice but not just any kind of justice. God’s justice recognizes the unfairness of power that abuses the weak. In Ezekiel 34 God has had enough of Judah’s unjust shepherds, specifically, the kings who have not taken care of God’s sheep. Therefore, God declares the sheep that are lost, strayed, injured, and weak will be cared for by God’s power and the fat and the strong sheep—supposedly those well off at the expense of the weak—will be destroyed (v. 16). That is the divine judgment Jesus presents in the parable of the sheep and the goats. God’s will—Jesus’ will, as seen in the Son of Man in the parable—is to provide for the needs of the hungry, thirsty, lonely, naked, or sick. The message is so strong that when anyone has cared for these, they have cared for the Son of Man. The Gospel of Matthew does not shy away from judgment that distinguishes the authentic from the inauthentic life of those who follow Jesus. Matthew speaks against those who abuse their powers, whether religious, social, political, or economic. This final Sunday in the church year recognizes that all evil abuses will end one day and only God’s compassion will survive through Christ, the true ruler of all things. How do you live as though Jesus, the Son of Man is with you as you show care and help others in need?
Pray: Almighty God, help us to see you in our neighbors, especially those in need of care through Jesus Christ, the one who is above all rule and authority. Amen.
PRAYERS AND BLESSING
A Prayer for the Week: God of glory and might, we give thanks that you are our God and that we are the sheep in your hand through Christ our Lord. (Psalm 95:7a)
Mealtime Prayer: Dear God, to you we make a joyful noise for all that you do, including your gift of this food for us today. Amen. (Psalm 95:1)
A Blessing to Give: May the God of power and might bless you with joy and peace
Unfold The Rose
A new minister was walking with an older, more seasoned minister in the garden one day. Feeling a bit insecure about what God had for him to do, he was asking the older preacher for some advice.
The older preacher walked up to a rosebush and handed the young preacher a rosebud and told him to open it without tearing off any petals..
The young preacher looked in disbelief at the older preacher and was trying to figure out what a rosebud could possibly have to do with his wanting to know the will of God for his life and ministry. But because of his great respect for the older preacher, he proceeded to try to unfold the rose, while keeping every petal intact.
It wasn’t long before he realized how impossible this was to do.
Noticing the younger preacher’s inability to unfold the rosebud without tearing it, the older preacher began to recite the following poem…
It is only a tiny rosebud,
A flower of God’s design;
But I cannot unfold the petals
With these clumsy hands of mine.
The secret of unfolding flowers
Is not known to such as I.
GOD opens this flower so easily,
But in my hands they die.
If I cannot unfold a rosebud,
This flower of God’s design,
Then how can I have the wisdom
To unfold this life of mine?
So I’ll trust in God for leading
Each moment of my day.
I will look to God for guidance
In each step of the way.
The path that lies before me,
Only my Lord knows.
I’ll trust God to unfold the moments,
Just as He unfolds the rose.
Fulfilling God’s Purpose!
Our program Fulfilling God’s Purpose! starts this week.
Our theme for this week is “Building Relationships.”
Only through Christ can we live abundantly. Jesus said,
“Apart from me you can do nothing. I have come that
[you] might have life, and have it to the full” (John 15:5; 10:10). You see, God created us for a relationship with him, to be loved by him and to love him and others, to be served by him, and to serve him by serving those around us. That relationship was destroyed by our sin.Sin brings darkness to our souls; it brings regret; it brings guilt; it brings shame. It hurts us and gets in the way of our relationships with God and with one another. Our thinking becomes distorted; it’s self-centered rather than God-centered. Our actions are contrary to serving God and serving one another. We’re so filled with ourselves there is no room for God in our lives.
Into this world of darkness and regret, guilt and shame, God sent his son. He bridged the gap between sinful people and our holy God. He makes it possible for us to have a relationship with him … intimacy with him once and for all. Now we have it all. We have been created with a purpose: to have a relationship, to love him, and to serve him and enjoy fellowship with him.
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, we pray that you will strengthen and nurture our relationship with you. Help us always to depend on your wisdom and strength rather than on our own. Use us as your instruments to share your love, grace, and mercy with others. In your precious name we pray. Amen.
Blessings on your journey as a steward!
If Pastor Brian or I can be of any help to you, please call upon us directly by email or telephone
Blessings to you all,
Next Week’s Readings:
Isaiah 40: 1-11
Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13
2 Peter 3: 8-15a
Mark 1: 1-8
You Are Needed
Even when we resume our in person worship service our podcast will continue and you are needed! Yes, you! The voices of First Lutheran! We want members to read some of the lessons and/or lead the Lord’s Prayer in our podcast services, so that we are reminded of our oneness in Christ by hearing voices. Here’s how it works: Kristen Hansen will send you the reading. You can record it at home on a phone, on your computer, in a Zoom session we can schedule together. Or you can come in on a Thursday morning to the church and we’ll do a recording that way. It can be a video, or just audio. Kristen will tell you how to get the file to her and will incorporate it into our recorded service. ALL ARE WELCOME! For details and questions, email Kristen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Back to School Prayer
Please pray for students, teachers, families, administrators and support staff.
The Coming Home Team has made the decision to continue our Sunday in-person worship at 9:30 a.m. This will continue until further notice. However, out of an abundance of caution, love and concern for the health of our members, visitors and community we will not be offering in person Christmas Eve services. This determination was made after much discussion and consideration of the number of people that would have to be managed safely in these days of Covid. Our Minister in Music Kristen Hansen and I will be providing a recorded service for the holiday featuring music of the season and preaching. It will be posted on Facebook and Youtube for your spiritual edification and enjoyment whenever you and those of your household or family wish to join in.
The Finance Committee and Congregation Council has worked many hours to provide the congregation an overview of the 2021 budget for First Evangelical Lutheran Church. This message serves as notice of our Annual Congregational Meeting to discuss, review, and to answer any questions regarding the 2021 budget. The meeting will be held on Sunday, December 6 beginning at 10:30 a.m. following the morning worship service. Members will also be able to attend the meeting virtually over the internet by Zoom or by phone. The link is available by contacting the church office. Also on the agenda is the election to fill two expiring terms on the Congregation Council.
The Christmas party for Inspiritus is on but it will look a lot different. We will be providing a carry out lunch for the families. The kids will get gift bags that will contain various items including some Christmas craft kits that they can take home and work on them. The moms will receive a gift bag like last year. It will include personal care, cleaning items and some special items. We will prepare 30 kids bags and 20 bags for the moms.
If you would like to help you can provide 30 craft kits or 30 of any other item the kids could use or enjoy. You can also provide 20 items for the moms to use or enjoy to put in their gift bags. You can drop off the items any time up until December 15, 2020. Call me or email me and let me know if you are going to provide anything so I do not duplicate your efforts.
We are looking forward to a blowout party in December, 2021.
Thank you from Buena Visa/ Jones Paideia.
Thank You First Lutheran. Thanks to the money you sent and the food bags you provided we were able to provide Jones Paideia with 30 food bags. That is a record for First Lutheran. As always, they really appreciative the bags and will be putting them to good use.
Salvation Army Angel Tree
The Angel Tree will be digital this year. I have contacted them numerous times and I have not received the required information to have our own digital page. I have 2 options for anyone who wants to participate.
- You can go onto the Salvation Army website and you can adopt an angel. You can bring the gifts to church and they will be taken to the Salvation Army.
- You can provide any type of gift (including gift cards) for any age. These gifts will be given to the Salvation Army’s Joy Shop for the forgotten angels.
Place your donations in the shopping cart in the Narthex. Any donations need to be at church by 12/4/20 and please have them labeled correctly.
Stay Safe and contact the church office if you have any questions.
Room in the Inn
Like everything in 2020, Room in the Inn will look different this year. First Lutheran will not be opening the church for guests, but we are looking for volunteers to help at the RITI Central Shelter. First Lutheran plans to volunteer to feed 20 guests at RITI campus on the below Mondays:
December 14 – need overnight volunteer only
January 11 – need overnight volunteer only
February 15 – need food and overnight volunteer
March 15 – need food and overnight volunteer
If you are willing to provide food or have any questions or if you are willing to stay on campus for a night with a RITI employee, please contact the church office.