Devotion of the Day

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Genesis 1.3-5

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

–Devotion–

God speaks, it happens.  Whatever IT is.  IT in this case is the light.  God creates by his Word.  This brings out two huge features to the story we Christians tell about things.  1) God is the creator, and 2) that creation comes by speaking. 

Regarding point 1:  God creates, not us.  That is a hard point for us human creatures to swallow.  We have come to think of ourselves as creators in many ways.  When that happens, the world gets turned upside-down.  Think of Babel.  We humans are not creators, we are manipulators.  All we can do is take the things of this creation and manipulate them.  Trees to 2×4’s, gold and silicon to computer chips, but nothing is created by us humans.  That is, as I said, hard for us to swallow.  If we can deceive ourselves into thinking we are creators, then a creating God has no place in our stories and we alone stand as kings and gods and creators of our own stories and beginnings. 

Regarding point 2: our God is a verbal, and nothing has changed to this day.  He speaks to create light.  He is still speaking.  How is it that faith is created?  Hearing, and hearing the Word of God.  Where is that word?  It is the Scriptures, and the preaching of the Church (so long as that preaching is truly Scriptural and does not look past Jesus), it is the Sacraments when God speaks again, and again, and again.  Our prayer is that God will never be silenced upon this earth, but especially in the Church. 

Pastor Beltz

Devotion of the Day

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The Day of the Lord

28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. 30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 32 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.

–Devotion–

“And afterward…”  That is, after the Lord returns his people to their land to them.  What we see is that the Lord fulfills his promises in time.  And, after that promise of restoration in the land is fulfilled the Lord will pour out his Spirit on all people.  This too happened in time as the Apostle says in Acts 2:

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

The Apostles understood Pentecost as the fulfillment of the promise of God in Joel, and so should we.  God has poured out his Spirit upon the earth.  In the Old Testament the Spirit was given to a person here and there.  The Spirit rested on King Saul, but was then taken away, and the it rested on David.  The Spirit would rest upon Prophets.  But in Pentecost the Spirit is poured out on all people.  For Joel the pouring out of the Spirit is yet another marker of the near day of God–that is the final day. 

The completion of the pouring out of the Spirit also means that God is still present on the earth.  The Spirit is here.  That means, God is alive, active, and reigning here and now.  That means the Kingdom of God is present on earth.  Where is that Kingdom present?  It is present where the Spirit is working.  And what is it that the Spirit is working to do?  One of those doings is leading the people of God into all truth, which comes by being reminded and educated in all Jesus said and did and having those things be our only hope and desire.  How do I know this is the case?  Because immediately after the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost all the disciples sold their earthly possessions and devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles.  That is to say, all they did was listen to preaching and go to “bible class,” while taking care of those in need among them. 

Pastor Beltz

Do not Abandon your Tradition and Heritage

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When I think about what it looks like to abandon families there are many images that come to mind. I think about many of our children’s desire to get out of Staunton.  Perhaps they want to go to school in St. Louis or wherever.  The desire to go to school is not what disturbs me but ulterior motives.   They do not want to have anything to do with farming, a trade, being a housewife, or anything their family has done for centuries perhaps.  They are discontent with the family because it is not an image of the glamour, progression, freedom, fun, and happiness the world displays life to be; that we as individuals in a “free” country are entitled to enjoy, so they desire to leave all behind.

I think this sort of thinking may be applied to several issues we face.  This disturbs me.  Our children, and many of our lives, are ones of discontent.  We are always looking to the future, but not for judgment and restoration as is the Christian hope.  The devil so easily bewitches us, all of us-both young and old, with the glory of the world and all

it has to offer, and how that glory comes through shedding the past that holds you back.  However, do not abandon your tradition and heritage.

You have been placed into a family, your family.  You received this blessing from God without your knowledge, you were chosen, elected.  You have been given to your family and them to you to form your faith, thinking, spiritual and physical health, and how you enter into relationship with one another, there is nothing you can do to separate them from you.  Why try through distance or lifestyle to abandon what you have received from God because you desire a future the world images?

Your family has walked a faithful path through history.  It seems nowadays we are more prone to imagining some path to the future that can be completely independent of the one our family has blazed.  My future starts with me.  Am I saying we ought not to have goals or visions for our futures?  No.  But I am challenging the basis for our vision and goals of the future.  Is it Christ and the future He has accomplished and prepared which is given us by our families through baptism?  Or is it the future of the world, which is selfishness and death?

The same vein of thinkingmay be applied to church.  Do not abandon your church.  You have been born into this community also.  No doubt many of your families and the way they speak, think, and act are based on the faith they have learned in this Church.  Therefore, for many of you this Church is an inseparable part of your familial identity too.  However, just like in a family orphans may become children so too many orphans are brought together in the church and made kin.  Whether your family has been Lutheran since the Reformation or you have just been baptized today you are here in the same family, the congregation, the Church.  This is the election of the Father too.

Now, we speak a great deal about our heavenly Father’s work, but who is our Mother.  The Church is our Mother.  It is her we come to for care, protection, and love.  She is the one who God is given to us to care for us while we are here on this earth.  Shall we as the children of God in the care of our mother the Church abandon this family?  The church seems to hold onto the old, traditional ways, the ways that were given to her by God when they were first married.  The ways all of her children have been brought up in are now being called old, outdated, dusty.  Shall the children become emancipated minors?

We perhaps know what it is like to have stubborn parents.   They will not change for anyone.  They will not get cell phones, big televisions, cable.  They still want to walk instead of sit in a scooter.  They want to live in their homes rather than a nursing home or retirement community.  They will not let anyone come in to clean their home that is not family, sometimes they will not even let family.  They are stubborn, non-understanding.  At least this is the verdict of us children looking in from a perspective of our lives and needs.  The strains we have and places we need to be.  We have our futures in view.  Our stubborn parents must fit into our schema of life based on that future.  However, we children are born into families, not the other way around.

You are born into your parent’s past.  By that, you are also born into their future.  If we are truthful with ourselves, there is nothing we can do about that.  Is our real desire to abandon all our family for the sake of the future we hope to have?  Or are we content with the future that is made for us through the history of our family?   Here I am speaking of both families and sets of Mothers and Fathers.  Shall we as Children attempt to wrangle the past and future our parents have borne us into?  Or shall we be content within them?

We as Christians have a Savior, our Lord Christ, who leads us by example.  Who, even though tempted by the devil to take hold of the riches of the world and all its power and glory, was faithful to His Father and the path laid before Him based on the history of promises His Father made.  Jesus knew what lay before Him.  However, He held firmly to the past promises of His Father.  He knew His future not simply because it was His ability as God, but because He knew His Father’s promises and history.  He knew where He came from.  Because He knew His Father He knew His Future.  This is Faith.  We live this faith in the care of our Mother.

Now we are bound to fail when held up to this example.  We are sinners after-all.  We are bound to stray from families.  I am not giving license because of sin, because our Father and Mother do not.  We are bound to desire the deadly future and its present glory, rather than a deadly Baptism and its future promised glory in Christ.  However, remember your Heavenly Father and how He received His Son.  Do not forget your Father is one of forgiveness and your Mother one of love, care, and tender mercies.  No matter how stubborn they seem to you no doubt it is for your own good.  Do not abandon them.  You are theirs and they are yours, what riches more do you desire?  Do not abandon your tradition and heritage.  In Peace and Contentment Amen.