Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rev. Franke's Theme Thoughts

The Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, Series C January 31, 2010

Lessons for Epiphany 4 (Lutheran Service Book)

Jeremiah 1:4–10 (17–19) ~ God expressed His love for His people by choosing Jeremiah to turn them back.
Psalm 71:1-6 (7-11) (Antiphon: v. 12)
1 Corinthians 12:31b—13:13 ~ When the gifts of the Spirit are used in love, they build up the body of Christ.
Luke 4:31–44 ~ Jesus healed many with His loving power and gathered people with the news of the Kingdom.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: Let God's Love Have Its Way.
God's love is all-encompassing. God's love is beyond comprehension. It grasped Jeremiah before his birth and claimed him for the difficult job of confronting God's people with their waywardness. Jesus confronted demons and healed the sick because God’s love compelled Him to share the good news of the Kingdom in words and actions. Although God's love is patient and kind, at times we will have to give up things we hold dear because God looks beyond the moment and forms us for His eternal purpose. Even though our lives are threatened, God's love will win out.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: God of mercy and of grace, do not let me stumble over words of correction or rebuke, but let me hear you speak in love through your law as you lead me to depend more and more on Christ my Savior. Guide me by your Holy Spirit as I live lovingly toward others. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: God has entrusted us with many material blessings and has called us to use them in ways that are guided by His love for even the least among us. If we use them without love, they become demonic tools that tear apart the fellowship of Christ’s body.

OFFERING PRAYER: O gracious God, it is Your way
To bless us from above.
Grant us to care for those each day
Who need to know Your love.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: By His Spirit God gives us many gifts, which can be used in many ways. Often we use them to call attention or bring influence to ourselves. Jesus has come to us in love as a servant, healing us not only of diseases and destructive spirits, but also of the selfish spirit that places us over and above others. Along with the gifts comes the responsibility to exercise them in loving ways that build up the body of Christ, as well as trust that sees God dealing in love with us through sisters and brothers in the faith even when they point out our unloving actions to call us back to God’s mercy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

This Week at Mt. Olive

Good evening, fellow redeemed!

Today's Gospel reading from Luke 4 included a prophecy from Isaiah 61 (verses 1 and 2a to be exact). Jesus identifies Himself as the fulfillment of that prophecy. But, why would the people of Nazareth rush the Lord and want to throw Him off the cliff? It's because they refuse to see themselves as Isaiah proclaims them: poor (nothing to bring before God), trapped in their own sin, blind to their Lord, and oppressed by the taskmasters of sin, death, and the devil. In fulfilling this prophecy, Jesus has forever located the true God - the fullness of the God dwelling bodily.

I'm amazed but not really that surprised when statements are made that all sin is forgivable without first dealing with the terrifying reality that all sin condemns. That's right - all sin condemns! Yet, in Christ who takes all sin upon Himself, there is forgiveness. The one anointed to bring good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, sight to the blind, and liberty to the oppressed brings these things by Himself being condemned in the place of sinners.

Our Lord Jesus proclaims the jubilee of the Lord, the year of the Lord's favor, redeeming all creation that it might return to its rightful owner. We rejoice in the jubilee as we receive our Lord's gifts by faith.

In Adult Bible Class, we've been watching a video series called "Christless Christianity." Unfortunately, today's early service ran a little long and we weren't able to finish today's video. We'll finish this video next week and the important consideration of what many today call "the gospel of love" before jumping into the third installment. This series has been particularly insightful and really does bring to the fore one of the host's important catch phrases: Know what you believe and why you believe it.

Last week Mt. Olive received a special door offering to benefit LCMS World Relief and Human Care. I praised God this morning when I saw that the total offering was over $1100!

Tomorrow evening, January 25, I'm hosting a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. in my conference room. The purpose of this meeting is to set up a calendar for the next several months. This proved very useful last year. If you can't make the meeting, please send dates and functions to me via email. Even if you don't have the function, being able to put the date on the calendar is a great help.

One of the most important duties of God's people is interceding for one another and for those in need. Currently, Mt. Olive employs what is called The Prayer Chain. The purpose is, as I said before, God's people interceding for one another, bringing the needs of people before the throne of grace. It's not an opportunity to train God, but the opportunity for God to train us to trust Him for all things. If you're interested in participating in intercessory prayer with the Prayer Chain, please give the Church Office a call.

Prayer Concerns:
Those who serve in our armed forces: Andrew Epley (Iraq), Michael Baker (returned from deployment), Richard Rhode, Edwin Rodriguez (North Carolina), Rob Vadney (Ft. Sill), Ryan Radtke, John Sorensen, Dru Blanc (NAS Corpus), William Worley (NAS Kingsville)
Those who serve in the relief efforts in Haiti, especially Pastor Matt Harrison and those who serve with LCMS WR-HC
Kathy's Dad, John, who begins hospice care on Monday
The poor, the indigent, the unemployed, and the under employed

God bless!
Pastor Kevin Jennings

This Week at Mt. Olive
Monday, January 25
Girl Scouts, 6:30 p.m.
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.
Calendar Building, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, January 27
Happy Birthday, Jonathan!
School Chapel, 8:30 a.m.
Bible Study, 9:30 a.m.
Choir Rehearsal, 6 p.m.
Zumba Aerobics, 7 p.m.
Guitar Worship practice, 7 p.m.

Thursday, January 28
STARC meeting, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, January 29
Pinewood Derby set up, TBA

Saturday, January 30
Pinewood Derby, 2 p.m.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rev. Franke's Theme Thoughts

The Third Sunday after Epiphany, Series C January 24, 2010

Lessons for Epiphany 3 (Lutheran Service Book)

Nehemiah 8:1–3, 5–6, 8–10 ~ The exiles returning from Babylon committed themselves to God’s Law.
Psalm 19 (Antiphon: v. 14)
1 Corinthians 12:12–31a ~ Each part of the body of Christ is committed to the whole for the good of all.
Luke 4:16–30 ~ Jesus endorsed the messianic agenda announced by Isaiah and claimed it as His own.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: The Mender of Broken Hearts
When Ezra read the Book of the Law and explained it to the people at the newly rebuilt wall of Jerusalem, they rejoiced because it ushered in a new day of God’s grace. Jesus identified Isaiah’s message of God’s good news and favor for the poor and brokenhearted as the description of His life's work. He is the One who secured release for those imprisoned by the power of sin and crushed by the despair of death. Joined to Christ by the power of the Spirit in baptism, we who have had our broken hearts healed have become priests of the Lord and servants of our God to help bear the burdens of those who suffer.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: O Spirit of the Living God, you have joined me to the body of Christ that I may feel the pain of my sisters and brothers in the faith and so ease their burdens. Help me share my joys so we may all rejoice together. Grant that all may know release from sin’s captivating power through Christ our Savior. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: God has called all those who are members of Christ’s body to be enlisted in the Messiah’s agenda of bringing good news to the oppressed. All of our energy and resources are tapped for this task by virtue of our place in the body of believers.

OFFERING PRAYER: So many tasks, Lord, to be done,
It takes the work of everyone.
So many gifts, Lord, You will use
Each one of them the way You choose.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: When Jesus claimed the messianic mission of Isaiah as His own, His Nazareth neighbors reacted as they might have in their childhood when someone wouldn’t play the game their way! When we don’t respond to the needs of all believers in the body of Christ – and the sufferings of those whom Christ wants to include in His body – we are essentially taking ourselves out of the game – and out of the body – and heading home! Except that home is where the body is and where the members work together for the common good. Only by God’s grace are we able to commit ourselves and all our resources to God’s will, as the returned exiles did in Jerusalem when they heard the Law of Moses read.

Good morning, brothers!

Thank you for the update information. I'll get hard copies to everyone next winkel.

For all those who did not attend the preaching conference at Waco, here is another opportunity for growth.

Where and When: Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.

What: Mike Moreno will be giving us info and updates on Project Barnabas, the LCMS project to help churches care for deployed service members and their families. Lunch will follow.

Also, don't forget to mark 26-28 FEB on your calendars as OAFC, Ongoing Ambassadors for Christ, will be at Mt. Olive.

The February Winkel Schedule:
Host Church: Peace, Rockport

Exegetical: Brynestad (Transfiguration)

Confessional: Schubert (Pieper III 439-449, The Public Ministry)

Practical: Wagstaff (Walther 214-230, The Poor and Needy)

Also, don't forget to check for your shadow that day.

God bless!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

This Week at Mt. Olive

Good evening, fellow redeemed!

In reading the text of John 2, the account of Jesus' turning water into wine, I'm amazed at the every day occurrence happening at the wedding at Cana. I'm amazed that Jesus' first miraculous sign happens in a dusty little town in Galilee. I'm amazed that we don't know the names of the wedding couple, only the wedding's most honored guest. I'm amazed that the first people to know it was water turned to wine were the servants. At each point of amazement, it's among the plain, the unimportant, the marginalized that Jesus reveals His glory as true God.

A few words about worship bulletins are in order.
- Two different kinds of worship folders are printed each week. One normally requires the use of a hymnal while the other is printed in linear fashion.
- One kind of bulletin is printed in 11 pitch type, while the other is printed in 22 pitch type (Large Print).
- Each worshiper is welcome to use the bulletin that best meets their need in worship. For those who do not have the worship service memorized, the large print, linear bulletin is the best choice. It's the best choice for guests who are not familiar with the liturgy. It may well be the best choice for a number of worshipers who require some help navigating the service.
- The two kinds of worship folders are not age specific. Both are available to all worshipers. If more of one kind are needed, we'll simply make more to make sure everyone has the worship folder needed.
- If anyone has any concerns about worship folders and their use, please feel free to talk to me.

Tonight was a great night of planning and games with the Jr. Youth. Playing "cut throat" hearts with novices is always fun.

January 25, I invite all those interested or with dates to include on a church calendar to gather with me in my conference room. My purpose is to set a calendar for the coming 6 months. Even if a particular function isn't planned, I still issue this invitation so that we might establish a comprehensive calendar for planning.

Prayer Concerns:
Dawn Johnson's sister undergoing surgery this week
Those who serve in our armed forces: Andrew Epley (Iraq), the niece of John Miller (Afghanistan), Rob Vadney (Ft. Sill), Edwin Rodriguez and Richard Rhode (North Carolina), Michael Baker (returned from deployment), Ryan Radtke, John Sorensen, Dru Blanc (NAS Corpus Christi), William Worley (NAS Kingsville)

In Christ,

This Week at Mt. Olive
Monday, January 18
School and Extended Care Closed
Girl Scouts, 6:30 p.m.
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.
STARC Testing, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, January 19
Board of Elders, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, January 20
School Chapel, 8:30 a.m.
Bible Study, 9:30 a.m.
Choir Rehearsal, 6 p.m.
Zumba Aerobics, 7 p.m.
Guitar Worship Practice, 7 p.m.

Thursday, January 21
Cub Scout Den Meetings, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, January 16, 2010



Reports from Haiti are bleak. 100,000 people are estimated dead, and the number of victims continues to rise. At least one million more are homeless and in need. Learn more at http://www.lwr.org/emergencies/10/HaitiEarthquake/index.asp

You may read how the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod has been responding to the earthquake needs in Haiti (http://www.lcms.org/default.asp).

Over $300,000 has been given to Lutheran agencies, much of it by online contributions (http://givenowlcms.org). Thrivent Financial will match 50% of gifts up to $250.00 per member, for a total of $1 million. See www.thrivent.com for details about the "Helping Haiti" campaign.

Consider how you can hold out a helping hand.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Text This Week by Rev. Gil Franke

The Second Sunday after Epiphany, Series C January 17, 2010

Lessons for Second Sunday after Epiphany (Lutheran Service Book)

Isaiah 62:1–5 ~ God promised to restore Israel as His bride with a new name to draw all nations to Himself.
Psalm 128 (antiphon: v. 5)
1 Corinthians 12:1-11 ~ Spirit-given faith in Jesus as the one Lord of our lives brings us together as one.
John 2:1-11 ~ Jesus’ gift of wine at a wedding was the instrument for the Spirit’s gift of faith to the disciples.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: The Glorious Gift of Faith
Nations and kings would see and believe in the God of Israel when Jerusalem was once more restored to the delight and covenant of God. When the disciples saw Jesus' miraculous sign at Cana they put their faith in Him. Each believer is gifted by the Holy Spirit to recognize Jesus as Lord and to trust in Him for eternal salvation. God creates His Church, the new Israel, by gathering believers into one faith around the one Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: Lord Jesus, You had ceremonial jars filled with water, and from them You gladdened the hearts of wedding guests with the finest wine. You have also replaced the symbol of sacrifice with Your grace in the sacrament. Fill me with the joy of Your salvation that I may continue to live out my faith in Your love. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: As Jesus blessed the wine at Cana, creating joy in the hearts of the guests and faith in the minds of the disciples, so He blesses the gifts we bring in service to His Word, making them instruments to create and sustain faith in Him, the one Lord of the Church.

OFFERING PRAYER: Lord, You have given us great gifts to use
As tools within the Church to spread Your Word.
Grant us true faith that we may not refuse
To say and show that Jesus is our Lord.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: Like the master at the wedding banquet, we sometimes taste God’s miraculous gifts in our lives without realizing where they come from, but the Spirit opens our minds, as he did the disciples’, to create faith in our hearts. When we confess “Jesus is Lord,” we are members of the one body by faith in Christ Jesus. If we refuse to use the Spirit’s gifts to build up the faith of the body, we are not confessing Jesus as Lord. If we confess the new name by which the Lord has called us, we will not keep silent until all nations have come to know the salvation of our Lord.

Monday, January 4, 2010

This Week at Mt. Olive

Greetings, fellow redeemed!

Happy New Year! I received that same greeting from many of you this morning and want to return it to you this evening!

The new year can be a daunting prospect. After the holiday partying has worn off, after all the visits have been made, after the all the bowl games have been played (that takes longer), the new year may not be so happy. I'll be burying one of my aunts in a couple of weeks. What really brought that home was visiting our families last week. Kathy and I and the kids are faced with the very real possibility that a couple of our close relatives may have seen their last Christmas with us. Watch the news and we're reminded that our nation's economy, as well as that of the world, is not out of the tank just yet. Other possibilities loom over the horizon.

In these trying times, I'm reminded of the Lord's word in Numbers 6:
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, [23] "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,

[24] The Lord bless you and keep you;
[25] the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
[26] the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

[27] "So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them."

The interesting thing about the verbs in the blessing the Lord gave to Moses to give to Aaron to pronounce over the people. Some translations of these words include the word "may." There is no subjunctive, no conditional promise. Instead, they're indicatives, statements. Literally, the blessing reads: Yahweh will bless you and keep you. Yahweh will make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. Yahweh will lift up His countenance on you (smile on you, kind of) and will give you peace."

This is the blessing given by God to His people over three thousand years ago. They were pronounced over God's people in the tabernacle, and then the temple. You heard the words this morning in worship, carrying the same gracious blessing as it has been pronounced by God's servants to God's people for centuries past, and as they will continue to be proclaimed in 2010. The blessings may not be evident, but the greatest of His blessings is His gracious presence in good times and in bad.

Happy New Year!

Getting back into the swing of things, Wednesday Morning Bible Study reconvenes this week at 9:30 a.m.

Here are a few important items to put on your calendar:
Church undecorating, Saturday morning at 9 a.m. Especially needed are some guys who can take apart the tree and get the garland down.

Sunday School Teachers meeting next Sunday immediately after Late Service.

In Bible Class this morning, I presented an article from George Barna of the Barna Group that is a summary of his findings concerning American spirituality over the last year. Frankly, not much was surprising. I encourage you to read through this article and give it some thought.

I will be out of the office Tuesday morning and early afternoon for Circuit Conference meeting.

Prayer Requests:
Those who serve in our armed forces:
Jonathan Duhart (Christine Huck's friend being deployed to Afghanistan), John Miller's niece (in Afghanistan), Andrew Epley (Deysi Epley's husband, in Iraq), Michael Baker (returned from deployment), Richard Rhode and Edwin Rodriguez (North Carolina), Rob Vadney (Ft. Sill, OK), Ryan Radtke, John Sorensen, Dru Blanc (NAS Corpus Christi), William Worley (NAS Kingsville)

Our community's schools and teachers who return to their studies this week

Mt. Olive and our sister congregations during the time of Epiphany, historically a time of mission emphasis

Those who mourn

The unemployed and the underemployed

The homeless and indigent

God bless!
Pastor Kevin Jennings

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, January 4
Girl Scouts, 6:30 p.m.
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, January 6
The Epiphany of Our Lord
School Chapel, 8:30 a.m.
Bible Study, 9:30 a.m.
Zumba Aerobics, 7 p.m.

Thursday, January 7
Cub Scouts, 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10

“Time changes everything.” “There’s nothing new under the sun.” Well, which is it? Both, it seems! The first statement is that of the individual looking back over his own recent past–experiencing the changes that come in life. The second statement is that of the historian, reminding us that these changes have been going on in human history for thousands of years. Both of these statements can be reconciled in this one: “The only thing constant is change”.

It sure seems that way, doesn’t it? Just think of the changes in our world over the last decade. The last century. The last millennium. Staggering changes. Almost unimaginable. We see a microcosm of this in our own congregation. Babies were born. Brothers and sisters in Christ that we have known for years are no longer with us for they have gone to be with Jesus. We’ve seen the children of the congregation grow up. Babies that crawled, now walk. Our confirmands join us at the Lord’s table. For some, high school ended and college began. For others, college ended and marriages began. We have several new members. Other members have moved on to different congregations. We are not the same now as we were at the beginning of 2009.

Is time really just a great river that brings constant changes and eventually sweeps everything away into insignificance? Are our lives essentially meaningless? Just specks in a great space/time continuum, and even less than that as the years flow by?

No! Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, the Divine Logos through whom and by whom all things were created (including time) and live and move and have their being, became incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man. Jesus Christ, through his perfect life, bloody death, and glorious resurrection reached back in time and redeemed our past and reached forward in time and secured our eternal life. It is only in Jesus Christ, that our “now” has any meaning at all.

Amid the uncertainties of the future, God’s love in Jesus Christ is our constant. It will never change or grow dim. God won’t change his mind about us. The peace that we have with God through the blood of Jesus Christ will sustain us despite the changes that come with life in this world. Come what may, God loves us. That is all that really, ultimately matters.

May you and yours know and experience in full measure the love of God in Christ Jesus in the year to come