Brothers and Sisters in Christ of Calvary Lutheran Church,
Greetings in the Lord!
We wish to give our thanks to Sandy Tope, who has served as our organist on the fourth Sundays of each month. Her God-given talent has blessed our worship for the last two years. She is going to be playing organ at Bethany Lutheran in Wichita. We wish her well and know that Bethany will be blessed as we have been. I will play piano on the fourth Sunday until school is out. Sondra Short will be able to cover the fourth Sundays during the summer months, for which we are very grateful.
Sondra gave her farewell concert in South Haven last Thursday. She conducted bands and choirs and played a movement from Johannes Brahms’ first clarinet sonata. It is a joyful, exuberant piece by the German Romantic master, who incidentally was raised a Lutheran. I hadn’t played it since before I went to seminary and forget how beautiful and difficult it was. (We will be playing this as the Postlude after the service on May 3. You’ll want to hear it!)
As with all great works of music, the Brahms piece is a balance of repetition and variation, familiarity and novelty. If a piece has too much repetition in it, it is boring. The mind turns off as in hypnosis. But if it has too much variety, the mind struggles to find a pattern, and after a while gives up. But in the hands of a master composer, a musical composition delights us because there is enough repetition to help us see a pattern, and enough variety to surprise us.
We find this masterly creativity in the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. And why not? Wouldn’t we expect the creator of everything, to be the model for human creativity. In Scripture we find certain repeated themes, God’s goodness, His love, His promise to His people to redeem them by the seed of the woman and man who rebelled against Him. He repeated the promise to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, Moses, and David–the same promise repeated over and over again. Then, in the New Testament the promise is revealed and fulfilled in a surprising way. The Messiah has come to redeem not only Israel, but also the Gentiles. He has come not to restore not only David’s Kingdom, but the Kingdom of God. He has come to serve, not to be served. Surprise, surprise, surprise!
Jesus told His disciples that He would be crucified, killed, buried and resurrected. He told them again and again, because he wanted to show them and us a pattern of faithfulness and truthfulness, that we may confidently trust in His promise to return and raise us too from the dead as He was raised. His apostles continued to repeat Jesus’ promises over and over again in their worship and teaching after the Lord had ascended into Heaven.
But there is not just repetition in the Bible. There is variety on every page, because the story is about God’s love for people, in all their variety. We have saints who are sinners, believers who are doubters, heroes who are cowards, human beings in all their God-reflecting glory and their Devil-reflecting shame. We see kings and fishermen, farmers and soldiers, men, women, and children. And we see ourselves too, I hope. For Scripture was written so that we may see how God rescued sinful people like us by sending His Son to die for our sins, and so come to believe that we too are saved by the Son’s atoning sacrifice. As those flawed people of the Bible were saved by faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, our Lord, so are we.
God mentions us in the Bible, too! In Revelation it says that our names are written in the Book of Life (Revelation 21:27). We who believe in the promises of God in Jesus Christ are part of His great song, His great symphony. We are characters in the continuing story of His people which culminates in the triumphal return of Jesus on the Last Day to raise and restore us and the whole fallen world.
We hear this symphony in the worship of the Church, in the rich liturgy with its balance of repetition and variation: the repeated Kyrie and Gloria and Creeds; the changing readings, prayers, hymns, introits, and sermons. All this connects us to the story of God’s people. As the people of God in the Old Testament brought their first fruits, the tenth of their harvest to the Temple, we bring our tithes and offerings—a repetition and a variation of the offerings of thanks. The unchanging Words of Institution in Holy Communion, and its changing seasonal Proper Preface–these things reflect the hand of the master composer working through His servants over the centuries. I invite you to join us this Sunday to hear and participate in this masterwork inspired by the Word of God.
Blessings in Christ,
Vacation Bible School-June 13th 9:30a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
TeDeum-”Thanks Be to God!”
Registration is open for all ages.
Join us while we explore Bible stories, do fun activities, sing songs, make crafts, play games and eat snacks.
We pray in the Lord’s Prayer for daily bread. The Small Catechism teaches that “Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.” This is a pretty comprehensive list of what God provides for our daily bread. But all of this, eventually, and finally, will be taken away from us—not because God is punishing us, but because this is not the goal of life. There is more to life than these things. In fact, we will truly live when all these things are taken away, and we no longer need to pray for daily bread.
For God our Father in heaven is calling us home to Himself. We are just sojourners here. We are on a journey in the wilderness of this world toward our true home, the land of promise, in heaven. Everything that we have in this world and this life will be left behind.
But as much as we long for heaven, as much as we eagerly await that time when our Lord will take us from this vale of tears to Himself in heaven, we still struggle with letting go of what we have in this world. We still suffer the temptation to hold on to this life and this world and the things of this life and this world. But this is not our true home. And as good as this life is, and it is often by God’s grace very good, the life to come in His kingdom far exceeds it.
And giving, stewardship, is a practice that teaches us to look to, long for, and trust in the eternal realities rather than the earthly. It teaches us to loosen our hold and let go of those things that keep us earthly minded, so that we may look what our Father in heaven has in store for us for all eternity. It teaches us to concentrate on what God has done, is doing, and will do for us instead of the constant work-a-day world and noise that we have here. It teaches us to long for that better country, the heavenly one. For God is not ashamed to be called our God. And He has prepared for us a city, His city, not made with hands.
Thus we give generously to the church, to our family, to those in society. We release our grasp on what would keep our focus on the here and now, so that we would be free to receive and rejoice in what our future shall be in heaven. We invest where moth and rust will not destroy. We put our treasures so that our hearts will follow them (Matt 6:21; Luke 12:34). For we are only of any earthly good, when we are truly heavenly minded. Make this your practice for your own good eternally and your neighbors’ good temporally.
Graduation Ceremony at Wichita State University for Leslie Seematter. She will be graduating with a degree of Bachelor of Arts in Education in Middle Grades Education-Mathematics. Saturday, May 16th 11:00 a.m. Charles Koch Arena