January 2021

Your Savior Calls

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Third Sunday After Epiphany - Sunday, January 24, 2021

Text: Mark 1:14-20

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How much change can a person expect in life when following God? I don’t know about you but that’s the kind of question that comes to my mind when I hear Scripture sections like we have before us today. How much change can a person expect in life when following God? Take Elisha, for example, in the first lesson. We find him plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, which probably means he had 11 hired workers helping him farm. Not too shabby for society at that time! But then one day a prophet named Elijah comes along and asks Elisha to put all that aside and become a traveling prophet, living off the generosity of others. A huge change when you think about it, but Elisha does it eagerly! You almost find yourself wondering if Elisha knew the whole story. Did he realize how this prophet thing had gone for Elijah? Did he not know that just a short time earlier Elijah had been on the run from the wicked queen, isolated in a cave on a mountainside, so depressed that he just prayed that God would take his life because his ministry had been such a failure? Why would Elisha put aside his life of wealth and comfort to follow someone in doing that?

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Jesus Has Called You

Pastor Eric Schroeder - The Second Sunday After the Epiphany - Sunday, January 17, 2021

Text: John 1:43-51

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It was two weeks ago already that our family was having a game night at home. My wife’s phone rang first, and so we took a break from our game for a bit. Not long after that, my phone rang, too. It was a number I didn’t recognize, but I picked up anyway. “Hello, is this Eric Schroeder?” “Yes, it is…” “This is President Gurgel from Martin Luther College; I’m calling to let you know that in a meeting of the governing board this evening, the Holy Spirit has called you to be professor of theology and history at Martin Luther College.” And we talked for a few more minutes, but honestly, it’s hard to give full attention after hearing that opening statement. And now, as I continue to deliberate between a call here and a call there, life feels different than before. And it should feel different, because life changes when you’re called by God. You should know that, too!

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The Father's Approval

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Baptism of Our Lord - Sunday, January 10, 2021

Text: Mark 1:4-11

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I know a person who put all his effort into trying to earn his father’s approval. He started life as a generally well-behaved child – obedient and respectful to his parents even if he didn’t agree with them in every way. He worked hard in school, he was relatively gifted and made good grades. He sought to expand his horizons by using his gifts in a whole range of extracurricular activities and became a well-rounded person. He took extra classes when he could, and he pursued a degree and then a career that he thought his father would approve of. It all seemed good, very good. But no matter what he did, it never seemed to be good enough. His grades had been good, but they weren’t all A's. He was an exceptionally well-rounded person with ability in a lot of areas, but here were still things he wasn’t all that good at. His career had started well, but after a while it seemed to get stale and didn’t measure up to what his father expected. It was good, it was very good, but it was never good enough.

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Epiphany Messengers

Pastor Joel Leyrer - Epiphany Sunday - Sunday, January 3, 2021

Text: Matthew 2:1-12

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Dear Friends in Christ. One could easily make the case that after the birth of Jesus, the best-known event in the wider Christmas story is the account recorded in our Gospel lesson and serving as our text today – the coming of the Magi, or Wise Men.

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Memento Mori

Pastor Eric Schroeder - New Year's Eve - Thursday, December 31, 2020

Text: 1 Peter 1:22-25

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As the story goes, a general returns from a long campaign to celebrate the victory with a parade through the capital city. As the sights of home replace the visions of war, and as the shouts of praise seek to erase the cries of the battlefield, there is a part of him that doesn’t want to forget. As horrifying as it might be to dwell on the staggering loss of life that so recently occurred, he doesn’t want to dishonor the memory of those who fought so bravely and weren’t so fortunate as he to make it home alive. But there is another reason, too. He knows that if there is a next time—and in war there is always a next time—victory is not guaranteed, nor is survival. And so, even as the throngs of people hail him as a conquering hero, assigning him an almost godlike status, he is listening closely to the words being whispered into his ear, by the slave he has ordered to stand right behind him, repeating these words over and over again: “Remember…you are only a man.” 

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