On Sunday, I got to lead worship and preach at this little church in Elbe, WA; Historic Elbe Evangelical Lutheran Church. What a neat place and what an incredible privilege and honor to be invited.
~ This is not a mega-church
~ There are no projection screens inside
~ There was no fancy multi-colored bulletin
~ There was no loud worship band
Just people, from different congregations, worshiping our awesome God; people who traveled a distance to get to this beautiful part of our beautiful state.
This worship service brought me back to my roots; back to SW MN. I grew up in a small town but in a large church. I eventually moved to a larger town but served in two small churches; one being a small county congregation. Even though I love serving where I do; at Living Word Lutheran Church, is was nice to reminisce with myself and be reminded of an important aspect of the local church.
You see, the size of a church does not equate ministry success. Too many people think that if you have a small church then there’s something wrong. Hogwash. It’s not quantity but rather quality, and I humbly believe quality is what we had on Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t because of me but rather the Spirit working through me and the many volunteers that are responsible for this little church in the mountains. There is a reason that this church in Elbe is still operating. There is a reason that people come here on Sunday afternoons to worship. The Spirit is alive here.
So thank you to those volunteers and for the opportunity to worship with you. I hope to be able to come back again sometime. May God continue to bless the ministry of the Historic Elbe Evangelical Lutheran Church.
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” [John 4:13-14]
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” [John 7:37-38]
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” [Matthew 5:6]
As the body desires relief and satisfaction on a hot summer day, so the soul of a person is longing for refreshment. It’s looking for something that will satisfy its deepest need; its deepest desire. As the body needs that cool glass of water so the soul needs Living Water, and more so; whether a person will admit it or not. They need something and Jesus has the very thing for which they are looking and needing. We live in thirsty times but many will not drink. We live in thirsty times but many would rather live with parched months than die to themselves. We live in thirsty times but united to the Holy Spirit through faith we are satisfied.
May we, as the church turn on the sprinkler of Living Water and forever quench the thirst of the world to the glory of God…
Here is the opening paragraph for this Sunday’s sermon. May God be glorified…
The holy bookends of Palm Sunday and Easter, encapsulate a holy drama that ends in a sure and certain hope through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus rides into Jerusalem as the king of peace, is later mocked as the King of the Jews and then bursts through as the victorious King; one who obliterates sin, death and the power of Satan. We enter this morning in jubilation but leave somber and reflective as we contemplate the events of Holy Week. We enter worship this morning shouting, “Hosanna” which means “save us now” and leave hearing how Jesus does just that. The scope of this day is a microcosm of the holiest week of the year but may we not be satisfied with only this, rather, may we encounter the Passion of Jesus Christ anew as we listen to our salvation unfold and the power of death crumble into oblivion.
May God bless you as you journey through Holy Week; coming through the darkness and emerging into the Light of Easter morning.
what a relief it is that my
and the like
are not what you are looking for
to advance the kingdom of heaven.
As Luther said in his sacristy prayer,
“if it were left up to me I would surely bring it all to ruin”.
That is so true.
you call the unqualified to proclaim Your Good News;
qualifying us through the Holy Spirit.
May we keep our eyes on You
and not turn inward; thinking either
“I am not qualified” and thus turn away from the mission,
“I am pretty good” and thus focus on our abilities; derailing the mission.
through Jesus Christ You redeemed us and empowered us.
May we not abandon the mission
but rather proclaim from the mountain top,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.
All praise, honor, glory and worship be unto You,
through Christ Jesus our Lord.
through Jesus Christ,
You call us to follow and to make disciples
despite the fact that we are sinners;
But You qualify the unqualified;
sending us out to do important work;
announcing that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
may we remember
that it’s not about our abilities or knowledge
but rather about Your Spirit giving us what we need.
May we never disqualify ourselves
but rather trust in You,
who qualifies the unqualified,
and that all quality is of Your doing.
And through the quality of Your work in and through us,
may the quantity grow to Your glory.
In Jesus name we pray,
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Think about it for a second (or two), Jesus called a group of unqualified men to follow him and be the beginning of the Church. No small task, so one would think Jesus would look for only the best. But Jesus doesn’t ask for a resume or a list of references. He doesn’t quiz them to check their knowledge of scripture. He doesn’t inquire about any advanced degrees. Jesus simply approaches these men and says, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men“. Their only qualification was their un-qualification. JESUS made them qualified to be fishers of men. It wasn’t about oratory skills or knowledge or street smarts or financial savvy. It was only about Jesus. He called, they followed and once Jesus died and rose, the Holy Spirit guided them into all Truth.
And so think about it again. If Jesus can use a group of unqualified men to continue a movement of sorts, don’t you think that Jesus can do something amazing through you. Never think that you are unqualified to follow Jesus or be a leader in the church. If you are called, then you are qualified. Just trust in him and follow.
Awesome God, You called a group of unqualified fishermen to walk with Jesus and to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. As Your Spirit led those first disciples may Your Spirit lead us now in serving You in this world. May we not bow to the temptation that we are not good enough but rather trust in You that we may give glory to Your holy name. May we leap out in faith when Jesus calls, and may we go with the strength and courage of the Holy Spirit. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we pray, Amen.
Holy Father, loving God, please send Your Holy Spirit.
Send Your Holy Spirit to reorient my heart. Send Your Holy Spirit to inflame my passion for You. Send Your Holy Spirit to renew my soul. Oh God, send Your Holy Spirit.
Send Your Holy Spirit to embolden your Church. Send Your Holy Spirit to give courage to Your children. Send Your Holy Spirit to help us stand firm. Oh God, send Your Holy Spirit.
Send Your Holy Spirit to still the fears running wild in this world. Send Your Holy Spirit to open hearts to listen. Send Your Holy Spirit to douse the hatred taking to the streets. Oh God, send Your Holy Spirit.
Holy Father, loving God, We can’t do this life alone. We can’t seek Your will with our own ears. We can’t stand strong without Your strength. Oh God, please, oh please, send Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus name I pray,