December 2019

Saved from the Monsters

Pastor Eric Schroeder - First Sunday after Christmas - Sunday, December 29, 2019

Text: Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

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How many of us can remember a time when we were afraid of monsters? Maybe it started after watching a scary movie or hearing a scary story. For a while, even though we never actually saw the monsters, somehow we were so convinced that they were there—hiding in the closet or under the bed, right around the corner or behind the boxes in a dark basement.  Sometimes these monsters kept us from falling asleep, and sometimes they startled us awake when they gave us bad dreams. It’s a good thing we grow out of those stages, and eventually we discover that we were safe from the monsters all along, because they don’t really exist…apart from our imaginations.

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For God So Loved the World

Pastor Kyle Bitter - Christmas Day - Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Text: John 3:16-18

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Happy Holidays! Season’s Greetings! How many times have you said that, or something similar, already today? How about over the last couple of weeks? I’ve already long-lost count of how many times I’ve said Merry Christmas this morning, and it’s barely mid-morning! Out of all the times you’ve said words like those, or really the words of any greeting, for that matter, even if it’s not a seasonal one, how many of those times were those words spoken earnestly and thoughtfully, fully meaning exactly what you’re saying?  I’m going to guess it might be a much smaller number. And that’s not necessarily a horrible thing – to a degree we are just fulfilling social expectations and what it means to be polite, but I think it does demonstrate a point. Talk is cheap. Words are easy to say. Sometimes they’re sincere, other times they can be kind of mindless.

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A Quiet Faith

Pastor Eric Schroeder - Advent 4 - Sunday, December 22, 2019

Text: Matthew 1:18-26

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Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the songs…Silent Night…Away in a Manger…Joy to the Word… For many of us, these traditional hymns are what we expect at Christmastime, and if we don’t get the chance to sing them, we might feel like something is missing from Christmas. Songs surrounded the first Christmas, too. The song of Mary might be fresh on our minds, since we sung it during our midweek services this Advent. When John the Baptist was born, his father Zechariah broke out in a song, too. On Christmas night the angels lit up the sky in the fields outside Bethlehem, where they announced the birth of Christ and then broke out in the song that taught us a little bit of Latin: “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”—Glory to God in the highest.  When baby Jesus is brought to the Temple, we are introduced to a man named Simeon, who gave us a song of his own, now often sung after the Lord's Supper in our services.

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Unexpected Confidence!

Pastor Joel Leyrer - Midweek Advent 3 - Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Text: Job 1:6-22

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Dear Friends in Christ, You’ve heard them before. In some form or fashion you’ve probably asked them yourself. And they are routinely used as the trump card by those who skeptically demand empirical evidence for the existence of a gracious God. We’re talking about what we might collectively call “the questions.” Such as…

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Realistic Expectations

Pastor Kyle Bitter - Advent 3 - Sunday, December 15, 2019

Text: Matthew 11:2-11

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A pastor I know sometimes uses an odd sounding phrase to encourage students who were struggling in various ways. He’d say something along the lines of this: “cheer up, it’s only going to get worse.” Clearly not what a struggling person would usually expect to hear, but his personality and tone was such that you could tell he wasn’t being cynical in any way – he was trying to make you think a little. “Cheer up, it’s only going to get worse.” You can find some practical wisdom there. Each phase of life comes with its own unique challenges and blessings. The life of a middle school or high school student is quite a bit more complicated than that of a kindergartener. The responsibilities and challenges of being a working adult or a parent or an elderly person are even greater. So, don’t be shocked when hard things happen – every stage of life has its own challenges when you’re living in a sinful world! Don’t be surprised when you find that to be true! Having struggles in life doesn’t mean you’re weird. It doesn’t mean God is against you. It just means the world isn’t going to be perfect. “Cheer up, it’s only going to get worse.” Perhaps more than anything else, this phrase was wise council to enjoy the blessings God gives you in life right now, even amidst the challenges, and have Realistic  Expectations about what is to come.

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Unexpected Challenges

Pastor Eric Schroeder - Midweek Advent 2 - Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Text: James 5:7-11

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Deep down, we all know what it takes to get stronger. It’s not that complicated. Physical strength is a product of resistance and repetition. In other words, you get stronger by making your body work just a little bit harder than last time; either you add some weight, or you add some reps. It doesn’t happen all at once, but slow progress over time leads to big gains in strength.

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The Advent Story

Pastor Joel Leyrer - Advent 2 - Sunday, December 8, 2019

Text: Matthew 3:1-12

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Dear Friends in Christ, It’s a pretty safe bet that everyone present here today knows the Christmas story. And while the world tries to empty it of any religious significance and repackage it as a purely secular event, it’s also a pretty safe bet that even those outside the Christian faith are familiar with the basics of the real Christmas. They know it involves a couple named Mary and Joseph and that it revolves around a baby born in Bethlehem named Jesus.

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Stay Ready

Pastor Eric Schroeder - Advent 1 - Sunday, December 1, 2019

Text: Matthew 24:36-44

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Which is easier: to get ready, or to stay ready? I suppose it depends on the circumstances, doesn’t it? Now that December is upon us, we hear and see reminders all around us to get ready for Christmas. We pull the decorations out of storage, we shop for the gifts that we will be giving this year, and we take care of whatever other preparations we need to make. We make a plan to check the tasks off of our lists one by one, and we tell ourselves we won’t wait until the last minute this year.

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The Secret to Thanksgiving

Pastor Kyle Bitter - Thanksgiving - November 28, 2019

Text: Philippians 4:10-20

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On Tuesday I saw a post on Facebook that started with a quotation from Martin Luther. “How strange to be so sorrowful, and yet to know that all is at peace, that all is well.” Then it said: 15 years have passed on earth while it is eternal day in heaven. The post was accompanied by a picture of a guy who was a couple years ahead of me in college who had died in a car accident on icy roads right around Thanksgiving time. I didn’t know him all that well on a personal level, but as you might imagine the event was a bit of a shock to the whole student body at a small college like Martin Luther College. For a lot of family members and friends, I am sure Thanksgiving that year and for years to come was far different than they had expected.

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