Worship and Picnic on Labor Day Weekend

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Special Worship and Sunday School Times for Sunday, August 31, on Labor Day Weekend

Also, remember our Fellowship Pot-Luck after worship this Sunday.

See reflections on Labor Day after these notes about the time changes.

 

These are times for Sunday, August 31, 2014 only. We will resume our regular schedule on September 7.

*Sunday School at 9:00 a.m.
All regular classes will be in session for the new Sunday School Year

*Worship at 10:15 a.m.
We will gather in the Fellowship Hall. Worship will be “in the round”. This is a change from the original plan which was noted in the newsletter. After looking at the forecast for the weekend (very hot and/or very wet) the Worship Committee chose to move worship into the Fellowship Hall.

*Fellowship Meal – Pot Luck at ~11:30 a.m.
We will reconfigure some of the Fellowship Hall space for our meal together.

*The Plan for Food: The church committees are providing BBQ meat and buns, along with basic drinks. You are invited to bring a side, salad or dessert to share with others.

*What to Wear: You are invited to wear to worship the typical garb or uniform of your daily work. This could be your current work, your work before retirement, or the vocation you have chosen for the future following school.

 

Reflections on Labor Day and our Faith in Christ

Thoughts about Labor Day and the blessings of Work and Vocation

The beginning of September brings a Holy Day of sorts for all of us. Labor Day is a civic holiday to celebrate the opportunity for work. As Lutheran Christians we go deeper with this and view all work as part of God’s calling and his provision of our daily bread. All Christians are doing the work of God, regardless of where or what they do in their honorable vocation in life. Labor Day 2014 is on September 1. We will observe this special day at worship on Sunday, August 31.

I share with you a concise statement written by a fellow Lutheran pastor regarding the Lutheran Christian understanding of vocation. Here is an excerpt of what Pastor Samuel Schuldheisz, Redeemer Lutheran Church (LC-MS) of Huntington Beach, CA, writes:

“… our earthly vocations or “stations in life” as Luther called them are fruits of our heavenly calling as God’s children in baptism. The purpose of vocation is to love and serve the neighbor in the particular stations in life that God has called us to whether we are a husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, teacher, student, etc. We don’t live life hidden in a corner. This was the danger of many priests and monks in the Reformation era. Many taught that the highest form of Christian living was to become a monk and live in a monastery. Luther wrote extensively against this false teaching as he re-discovered the doctrine of vocation and began to teach and preach about its necessity in the Christian life. Luther taught that on one level, there is no difference between monk and magistrate or priest and plumber. Each Christian is called according to God’s Word and Spirit, regardless of what their status in society is. This means that God’s calling of a road kill collector is just as holy as God’s calling to be a pastor.

“The difference is the office and duties that are unique to each vocation. For example, the pastoral office is not the office of school teacher, just as the office of father is not the same as the office of mother. Each vocation, or calling from God, has particular and unique duties attached to it. This is how God works in, with, and under the ordinary means of this life to accomplish His good and gracious will, physically and spiritually.”

 

To celebrate this blessing of vocation we will be taking the Sunday of Labor Day weekend to give thanks for the blessings of daily bread, of work, of school, of family, etc. You are invited to wear the clothes or uniform of your current or per-retirement vocation or the vocation/job you would like to do in the future. I know not everybody is able to do this. No matter what, know that we will be giving thanks for and honoring all that God has called each of us to do as part of his greater work in the world. Know that who each of us is and what God has called and equipped each of us to do is important. On Sunday, August 31, we will take time to give thanks for all which God calls and equips us to do. At the end of worship we will have a brief “Affirmation of Christian Vocation” liturgy.

We look forward to seeing you August 31 and on other Sundays in the weeks to come.

Tabgha Loaves & Fish Communion Set

Tabgha Communion Set

On Sunday, August 3, 2014, we dedicated a new set of communion ware and a baptismal bowl for use at MLLC.  These depict the miracle of the Feeding of the 5000 as noted in all 4 Gospel books.  Our Gospel reading for the day was Matthew 14:13-21.

Here is a closer look at the pattern:

Tabgha Baptismal Bowl

 

The pattern on these new chalices, paten (bread plate) and baptismal bowl is taken from the design of a Byzantine mosaic which adorned a church building built around AD 480.   This was just in front of the altar at that church building. The church was buried over for many centuries, but was rediscovered by German archaeologists in 1932.  In 1982 a church building was dedicated which now preserves this beautiful and meaningful mosaic.  The mosaic depicts 4 loaves and 2 fish, but the account in the Gospels refers to 5 loaves and 2 fish.  It is commonly understood that the “missing” 5th loaf of bread is the one which is used for the Holy Communion at the altar above the mosaic.  The modern church building is called, “The Church of the Multiplication”.

The original church building was placed in this location to commemorate the great miracle of the Feeding of the 5000.  Some early Christians considered this to be the location.  There is some debate about this being the actual location.

Here is a photo of the original mosaic from the church building in Tabgha in the Holy Land.  Tabgha is located on the Northwestern coast of the Sea of Galilee.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto from Avishai Teicher via the PikiWiki – Israel free image collection project

Here is a link to an article about the church.

Here is a link to an article from 1984 about the restoration of this ancient Christian church building.

Firemen’s Feast Worship

 

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It is a busy day in Carmine, Texas.  Today, July 20, is the annual “Firemen’s Feast”.  This is the annual fundraising meal for the Carmine Volunteer Fire Department.  At MLLC we give thanks to God for the caring work of these community servants.

The work of cooking the fried chicken for the meal begins early on Sunday morning.  Dozens of cooks gather at the Carmine Fire Station for this work.   Since this event is on Sunday morning we offer the opportunity for the cooks to gather for God’s Word and Holy Communion.  We bring the Church to the Fire Station each year at an early morning time.  The cooks are already busy as the worship space is set up between the fire equipment and the food preparation area.  For about 10 minutes the cooks take a break for prayer, to give thanks, to hear the Word of God, and to be assured of God’s love and forgiveness in Holy Communion.  This year 50 men and boys paused their work to be a part of this special worship service.

We are thankful for the service of the Carmine Volunteer Fire Department.  We are thankful for the opportunity to support their work and to encourage them in their faith in Christ.

 

Here are some additional photos from this special event:

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Happy Anniversary

History Photo May1914

We are celebrating our congregational  anniversary today.  On May 19, 1902, Martin Luther Lutheran Church was founded.  That was 112 years ago.  While it is not a commonly celebrated milestone, we still celebrate.  Each and every day, week, month and year is a blessing from our Heavenly Father.

The photo above is from our MLLC History Display.

Today we give thanks to God for the continued ministry which we offer together.  We are a congregation of people from age 0 to well into our 90’s.  We learn, serve, worship and reach out together.  We seek to be a blessing to others both through congregational ministries and through ministry in daily life.  We strive to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ through Word and deed.  We enjoy spending time together.  We love one another in the midst of both joys and sorrows.  We love our neighbors as ourselves.  We live our faith as we have for 112 years.  We look forward to the years to come as we serve together to the glory of God and for the benefit of others.

We invite you to be part of the great things God is doing among us and through us.

The Luther Rose Symbol

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We recently added a new page on this church web page about the Luther Rose.

This is an important symbol used in the Lutheran Church to express and teach our faith.

If you have been to the Martin Luther Lutheran Church building you will recognize the window depicted above.  It is the most visible our our wonderful stained glass windows at MLLC.

Check out this link to the special page about the Luther Rose

 

Mixed Feelings on Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is a day which brings with it a variety of feelings.  Some celebrate motherhood, mothers, children and so much more on this day.  Others avoid any mention of it.  Others recognize it as important, but don’t always know what to do with it.

Here is a blog post by MLLC member Jennifer Clark Tinker regarding her mixed feelings about Mother’s Day. Click this link.

At MLLC we know that both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are difficult for some people.  There are many and various reasons for this.  Here are a few significant examples:

*Loss of a child, or children, through death of any circumstance, such as infant death, murder, accident, disease, abortion, stillbirth, miscarriage, etc.

*Death of a parent at any age.

*Desire for children, but circumstances prevent conceiving a child, such as singleness, divorce, widowhood, relationship difficulties, financial hardship, infertility struggles, etc.

*Struggles with one’s relationship with God and/or others.

*Broken relationship with a parent or a child.

*Abandonment by a parent.

 

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are special for many, yet difficult for many others.  This Mother’s Day we will recognize Mother’s Day in a few ways.  One is with a reception for all after worship this Sunday, May 11.  Worship is at 9:00 a.m. this Sunday, the reception will be at 10:00 a.m. Come for the fellowship and food.  We will also remember in prayer mothers and women of all ages.  Part of our prayers at worship will also remember those who have struggles and mixed feelings about this day.  Here are examples of the prayers being prepared for this day:

“On this Mother’s Day we pray for those who struggle with grief related to motherhood. Comfort those who mourn for deceased loved ones or who are estranged from either mother or child. Give strength to women who have lost a child or whose circumstances have prevented motherhood. Help us as a community of faith to care for one another in our grief.   Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
We give thanks for all mothers, grandmothers, along with all faithful girls and women in this congregation. Help them to love, serve and lead in ways which are honoring to you. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

 

Some congregations around the country have a banquet around the time of Mother’s Day.  One congregation I served as pastor years ago got it right.  They understood the various feelings people have around that time of year.  What they had was a banquet called, “Daughters of All Ages”.  This event was for all women and girls, no matter what their relationship or parenthood circumstances were.  All the women and girls present at that event are the daughters of somebody.  Most importantly, by the Grace of God, they are daughters of God.  While this event didn’t solve all the struggles of each woman, the event opened the door for healing and support.

Mother’s Day is not a bad thing, but it is not always easy for each person.  We have good reason to be thankful for Mothers on Mother’s Day.  We also have good reason to love one another and to love God at this time of year.  Part of our love for God, one another, and our neighbors, is in how we show sensitivity to those who don’t always have good feelings regarding Mother’s Day.

No matter what your feelings are about Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day, know that what matters most is what Jesus Christ has first done for us.  Because of his abundant mercy, forgiveness, and gift of life-giving hope, we have our most important identity in Christ.  The photo at the top of this article is of men and women, boys and girls, all gathered around the cross.  People are loved by God, and called to follow the way of Jesus, no matter what they have struggled with in this life.  By the stirring of the Holy Spirit and the power of God’s Word, Jesus draws all people to himself.  Through Christ Jesus we have healing, hope and restoration for this life and in eternity with our Lord.

 

 

Triple Baptism – April 19

Vigil 14 Baptism 1

At the Great Vigil of Easter – Saturday, April 19, 2014, we welcomed three new Christians into God’s family:  Tonia, Ally and Judd.  Each of these received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism at the Vigil.  We are very thankful for God’s gift of faith and the work he is already doing in the lives of these three.  As newly baptized Christians they are also new members of MLLC.  Ally and Tonia also received the Sacrament of Holy Communion for the first time as Christians at this service.  It was a joyful evening for all involved.

Check out this page to learn more about our Great Vigil of Easter.

 

The Great Vigil of Easter is the ancient time when New Christians have been baptized.  Every year, including 2014, thousands of people are baptized all over the world at  Great Vigil of Easter services such as we had at MLLC.  Many congregations also use this special service to receive new members into the congregation.  My own son was baptized at the Great Vigil of Easter in 2004 at the congregation I served in North Liberty, Indiana, at that time.

 

Here are some more photos from the baptisms of Tonia, Ally and Judd on April 19.

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The Biggest Night of the Year – the Vigil of Easter

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This is the Night when we gather for the Vigil of Easter. It is an ancient special service of the Church.  It is very different than anything else we do throughout the year. We gather at 7 p.m. on Saturday Night, April 19.  We look forward to seeing you at the Great Vigil of Easter.

Here is the rest of our Holy Week Schedule:  Click link.

Here is a perspective on this day from Deaconess Jennifer Clark Tinker, who is a member at Martin Luther Lutheran Church:  click this link for Jen’s Reflection.

Here is the introduction to this day as we will have it in our service bulletin:

An Introduction to the Vigil of Easter
Like the children of Israel who watched and waited through the night for the Lord of the Exodus, we too come together this night to watch and wait for the Lord of the Resurrection. We come, as Christians have come since the first century, to keep vigil and to prepare ourselves for the arrival of the Bridegroom who is chief host and guest at the Resurrection feast to come.
First, we must break the darkness of the night. Like the virgins in the parable, we must light our vigil lights. Our light will be a very special light, for it is the light of Christ which burns atop the Paschal candle and which dispels the darkness — of night, of sin, of death. Our light will be a constant reminder of the Resurrection victory during the coming season, at every baptism and at every funeral. But for now, it will burn in vigil as we await the Bridegroom.
When we have settled into our pews for the watch, we hear the storytellers among us sharing the stories of our faith — the stories of God’s salvation history and the covenants which he made with our people. These are our “family” stories. We listen. We sing. We watch. And we wait for the feast to come.
After hearing our stories, we make our last minute preparations to meet our Lord. All must be right for the feast. On some years those among us who have not yet joined us are brought into membership with us this night, making all who are here part of the family, which is the Church and the Bride of Christ. Each year, so that the whole family is prepared, each of us renews our baptismal vows. As we interact with the water and the Lord, we hear and we feel that grace which was given to us through our baptism.
We are nearly ready. The time is close. We prepare the room and set the table for the Feast of Victory, the First Holy Communion of this greatest festival day of all. And then at last He comes! The Resurrection victory is won! The Bridegroom has come through the darkness to claim his Bride, the Church, to be his own. This is the feast of victory! In the end flowers and banners must adorn the space, for our time this evening and tomorrow will be a feast to remember.

 

Thanks to Pr. Thomas L. Weitzel, ELCA.  This introduction was adapted from his original work.

Introduction to Good Friday

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As part of our Good Friday service bulletin we include this introduction to the service.

We gather to worship the Crucified Savior tonight at 7 p.m., Friday, April 18, 2014.

 

An Introduction to Good Friday – Tenebrae

We begin our liturgy as we ended the Maundy Thursday Liturgy: in silence. What was begun then continues this day as we journey with our Savior from the Last Supper, the stripping and humiliation, to the cross and tomb. Good Friday is the second day of the Triduum, the “Three Sacred Days” of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday with its Vigil of Easter.

 

The Good Friday Liturgy is marked with austerity, silence and reflection. The chancel itself is bare from the Maundy Thursday stripping. There is no organ music except to accompany the hymns and sung musical pieces. Everything focuses on our adoration of the crucified Christ, reigning from the throne of the cross.

 

The service of Tenebrae is an ancient Holy Week devotion which began in the 7th or 8th century, or possibly earlier. The name “Tenebrae” means shadows. The service takes its name from the ceremony of extinguishing in succession all the lights in the sanctuary, casting it into total darkness which is symbolic of the disciples’ desertion of our Lord, and of his death and burial.

 

The purpose of the Tenebrae Service is to aid us in realizing the total impact of the darkest day in the history of the world, the day Jesus died on the cross.

 

The opening portion of the liturgy includes no praise. It proceeds directly to the Prayer of the Day. It is a simplified version of our Sunday Liturgy of the Word. The chief acts are the reading of the Passion of St. John and the Bidding Prayer for the needs of our world. After each section of the Passion of St. John is read, there will be a time of silent meditation. Lights will begin to be extinguished or dimmed more after each reading and meditation until the sanctuary is in darkness.

 

A large cross, which vividly and dramatically portrays the events of this day, is then brought into the church in solemn procession to become the focus of our adoration of the crucified Christ. Placed upon at the front of the chancel, the crucifix is central to our meditations in word and in silence. The words of meditation are the ancient Reproaches. The words of reproach are those of God directed to us, his people, who have crucified the Savior of the world by our sin. The Reproaches expand upon the words of the prophet Micah (6:3-5) and burn in our hearts. The liturgy does not end on this note of reproach, however. The closing versicles and prayer emphasize the triumph and redemption that comes through the cross.

 

After the lights are all extinguished, the congregation will stand as the Paschal Candle is carried from the sanctuary reminding us of the burial of Jesus. A loud noise, made by the closing of a Bible, will remind us of the closing of the tomb as well as the fulfilling of the Scriptures and the completion of our Lord’s work on the cross for us.

 

The Paschal Candle (called the Christ Candle during Advent/Christmas) will not return until the beginning of the Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday evening at 7 p.m. On Good Friday we recognize that Jesus was fully dead and was placed in the borrowed tomb.

 

Note: The return of the Paschal Candle moments after the loud noise is a form of the Good Friday service designed to be used in those congregations which do not have the Great Vigil of Easter.

 

All will leave in silence to return tomorrow as we wait in vigil and then celebrate our Lord’s resurrection at the Great Vigil of Easter. At the Vigil tomorrow evening we will have the first Holy Communion in celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

After the Triduum we will continue our celebration on Sunday morning with the Sunrise service at 7:30 at the Carmine Cemetery, breakfast in the fellowship hall at 8 a.m. and the Festival Service at 9:00 a.m. Around 10:15-10:30 a.m. we will have the Resurrection Egg hunt and party for the children.

Click here to see the first post in this series about Maundy Thursday.

 

Thanks to Pr. Thomas L. Weitzel, ELCA.  This introduction was adapted from his original work.