Tuesday, June 20, 2006

ELS Convention update: Pastor John Moldstad has been re-elected!

Note: In the middle row of this photo the man with the white hair and beard is Pastor Kincaid Smith, author of "What's Going On Among the Lutherans", and his son-in-law(and our newest pastor), Pastor Rodney Flohrs, is sitting to his right.


Photos are from the Mankato Free Press website.
Click here to read a general article about the convention.


In honor of the re-election of Pastor John Moldstad, Jr. as President of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, I am re-posting the service and sermon highlights from his visit to the 25th Anniversary of King of Grace School in Golden Valley, Minnesota. It was also the the 17th Sunday after Pentecost. The opening hymn was My Soul, Now Praise Your Maker (paraphrase of Psalm 103).

It was a very special service to me; using a children's choir for the service gave testament to why the school exists. To hear their voices sing out the scritural truths they are taught each day was very moving. It was then that I realized why we teach things, even difficult concepts, to our children: they CAN learn them and they are able to repeat it back to us.

Pastor Moldstad's sermon was based on Timothy 2. It was upon hearing this sermon that I decided to create a blog to keep my religion posts and that very day I named it Be Strong in the Grace. I will write to Pastor Moldstad and see if he kept his sermon notes from that day. It would be great to post it here!

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.
If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness." In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Rest of the service...

Versicles:
Pastor: O Lord, open my lips.
Congregation: (sung) And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
Pastor: Make haste, O God, to deliver me.
Congregation: (sung) Make haste to help me, O Lord. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was is the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: forevermore. Amen. Alleluia!

Invitatory:
Pastor: O come, let us worship the Lord.

Hymn of Praise: Sing Joyful Praise! (based on Psalm 117)

The Epistle: 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Anthem: The First Song of Isaiah (Isaiah 12:2-6)

The Gospel: Luke 15:1-10

Hymn: I Pray Thee, Dear Lord Jesus

Sermon:
Theme: Be Strong in the Grace
Text: 2 Timothy 2:1
By: Reverend John Moldstad, Jr.
President of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod

Offering: On Eagle's Wings

Offeratory Prayer: On My Heart Imprint Thine Image (sung)
On my heart imprint thine image
Blessed Jesus, King of grace
That life's riches, care and pleasures,
Have no pow'r Thee to efface.
This the superscription be:
Jesus, crucified for me,
Is my life, my hope's foundation,
And my glory and salvation. Amen.


Canticle: Te Deum Laudamus

Pastor: You are God; we praise You. You are the Lord; we acclaim You. You are the eternal Father; all creation worships You.

Congregation: (sung)
From all that dwell below the skies
Let the Creator's praise arise;
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Let the Redeemer's name be sung
Through ev'ry land, by ev'ry tongue.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


Pastor: To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, cherubim and seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might; heaven and earth are full of Your glory.

Congregation: (sung)

I would like to thank all who keep the Evangelical Lutheran Synod in their prayers. She needs God's blessings, as do all synods and church bodies.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

"Mom, why aren't you yelling at me?" - the beauty of private confession and absolution


Luther writes in the Large Catechism:

"Christ himself has entrusted absolution to his Christian church and commanded us to absolve one another from sins. So if there is a heart that feels its sin and desires consolation, it has here a sure refuge when it hears in God's Word that through a fellow human being, God absolves a person from sin."


My teenager blew it the other day. In a very big way. One of those bad moves that come back to haunt now and then for years. Typical teenage stunt, maybe, but not acceptable. For better and for worse, the parent of the offended party called to yell at the both of us! Gotta love those phone calls, late at night, right in the middle of a sleepover.

Sleepover was over! I drove everyone home at 11pm. On the way back home, a simple question was asked by my teenager: "Mom, why aren't you yelling at me?" The simple truth was that this wasn't one of those "Mom is freaking out!" times. No, this time I knew my child would be answering to friends, classmates and others for weeks (or maybe a couple of years). What good would screaming do? I could see that my child was very sorry, very ashamed and very worried about the consequences.

Another reason I wasn't yelling was that I sensed a real opportunity to proclaim the gospel. The sin had been sudden and emotion-based. At the realization of the pain caused to another, hopelessness was setting in. We are all tempted by such things and how, if we do not cling to the cross daily, hourly, minute-by-minute, we will eventually fall to our sin nature from time to time. I cannot be the judge of anyone's heart, but it seemed to me that my child was seeing sin nature clearly and with great fear.

Do you know someone who is just so darn happy to go to church each Sunday? Chances are that person is so thankful because of the knowledge of their sin nature, the certainty of eternal punishment for sin and their thankfulness that God provided substitution for their death because of sin. It is not the "perfect" appearing people who are so thankful for their salvation, but the sinners.

I shared that God had provided for our family a pastor and that he could lead anyone in private confession and absolution. My child's face brightened! I had expected a resounding, "No!", but instead the opportunity born of scripture was welcomed. The next evening, we headed to church for a short reconcilliation with the involved parties, mediated by our pastor, and then I waited in the lobby while my child received something I've never received before: private confession and absolution. The peace in my child's heart afterward was self-evident. Here is the suggested script for this act of love through Jesus...


The following order from Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal may be used when someone seeks the ministry of a pastor or other fellow Christian to make personal confession.

Minister:

In the name of our God, to whom all hearts are open and from whom no secrets are hidden. Amen.

Minister and Penitent:

O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy, and in your faithfulness, come to my relief. Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you. Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I life up my soul Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.

Penitent:

Almightly God, merciful Father, I, a troubled and repentant sinner, confess that I have sinned against you in my thoughts, my words and my actions. I have not loved you with my whole heart. I have not loved others as I should. I am distressed by the sins that trouble me and am deeply sorry for them. (here the penitent may confess specific sins)

Minister:

Jesus says to his people, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven." His death paid for the guilt of your sins and the sins of the whole world. Do you believe this?

Penitent:

Yes, I believe.

Minister:

Because of the promise of our Savior Jesus, I forgive you all your sins. Be assured that you are a dear child of God and an heir of eternal life.

Minister and Penitent:

O Lord, my God, I called to you for help, and you answered me. I thank you for the love you have shown me in Jesus Christ, my Savior. Through him you have rescued me from the guilt of my sin and given me the peace of forgiveness. Help me fight against temptation, correct whatever wrongs I can, and serve you and those around me with love and good works. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Minister:

Go in peace. The Lord be with you.