Welcome to Grace Lutheran Church
Ella Bunting 6th Annual Cancer Retreat October 11, 2014
You are invited to join The Open Arms Community for a FREE day of Pampering & Fellowship for cancer survivors & caregivers.
There is something for everyone including:
- Healing Service
- “Look Good Feel Better” Workshop
- Hot wax hands and feet
- Self Defense
- Cake Walk
- Door prizes
- Breakfast & Lunch Served
The retreat will run 8 am – 2 pm
To attend please RSVP at 476-4114
Download a flyer 2014 Ella Bunting Retreat
The Weekly Word for August 24-30
O God, with all your faithful followers of every age, we praise you, the rock of our life. Be our strong foundation and form us into the body of your Son, that we may gladly minister to all the world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
12I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters,* by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual* worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world,* but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.*
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching;8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
Matthew 16: 13-20
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ 14And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ 15He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ 16Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ 17And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
The Sermon – “The Exam”
To this day, I still have nightmares about college.
And the nightmares are always the same.
It’s the last day of class, and it’s time for the Final Exam.
And I come to realize that I have not been to class the whole semester.
I start to wonder, “How in the world could I forget about a class the entire semester?!”
Then I panic because I know my graduation depends on this one last class.
Then I wake up…I look at my degree and reassure myself that I DID pass.
Today, Jesus gives his disciples a test.
I would call it a Mid-Term Exam.
And this would not be a strange or rare occurrence because we can remember that “disciples” is another name for “students.”
And Jesus is their Rabbi, which means he is their “Teacher.”
So this Mid-Term would not come as a surprise, but the LOCATION of this test would be unexpected.
Jesus gives this test in Caesarea Philippi.
Now what is that important?
CP- was an area well known for the many religions found within its borders.
Here are some of the religions one could find in CP:
There were temples where people worshipped the Syrian god, Baal.
There was a cavern on a great hill that many said was the birth place of Pan, the Greek god of nature.
And there was a giant temple built to honor the Emperor Caesar.
Keep in mind that Caesar not only called himself Emperor, he also called himself a god.
And he expected the people to worship him.
So in the middle all these different religions, here comes a man, a Rabbi, from Galilee along with his 12 disciples.
It is among all these religions, that Jesus gives his students a test.
It’s a two question test.
First, Jesus wants to know who the people, the witnesses, think he is.
He wants to know whom they see as having the real power.
And the disciples answer that some say Jesus:
- John the Baptizer- THAT would have been a story to itself since John was executed by Herod back in Chapter 13.
- One of the prophets
Jesus responds, “That’s nice. Now who do YOU say that I am?”
This is the big question.
After watching Jesus perform miracles, preach, teach, and confront the religious establishment, who do these “students” think their “teacher” is?
Out of the two questions on this exam, THIS would be the hardest to answer.
But then we get the answer.
And it is provided by Simon Peter.
“Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
That one sentence carries a lot of revelation:
Jesus is the Messiah (The promised avenger of the Jewish people)
Jesus is the Son (the actual son of the Father)
God is the LIVING God! (In the middle of CP, Peter says that God is the one that is LIVING, that is REAL, and that is present)
Now how did Peter know?
Jesus says God the Father provided the answer.
Which for us Lutherans is important to keep in the back of our minds because Martin Luther expands on this statement by saying that Holy Spirit LEADS us to God.
We don’t do it on our own.
In our world today, we would not say:
“I decided to come to church.”
“I decided to become a pastor.”
We would say:
“The Holy Spirit called me to church.”
“The Holy Spirit led me to the ministry.”
Now getting back to Peter and Jesus, Peter DOES answer correctly.
And I would bet that Jesus smiles at Peter.
It would be the same reaction when a teacher hears the correct answer in her class.
Like the information she or he is teaching is finally sinking in.
Now while our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters will say that Peter is the rock for which the church is built on,
We as Lutherans, as Protestants, would focus on Peter’s answer that becomes the spot, the rock.
But I do not want to discount Peter’s role,
It is because of Peter, the other disciples, the early followers and witnesses, that we have a worldwide church in the first place!
Today, we stand on the shoulders of the generations of disciples before us.
As Paul writes in our second lesson, “We, who are many, are one body in Christ, members OF one another.”
So Peter and the disciples survive the Mid-Term Exam.
But that does not mean the testing is done.
In fact, NEXT WEEK we will focus on what happens when Jesus reveals to Peter and the disciples just what The Messiah has been sent to do.
And Peter does not handle THAT lesson very well.
But that is next week. (We call that a tease)
But as for this week,
I want to ask you the same question that Jesus asked the disciples.
“Who do YOU say Jesus is?”
This is THE question that all Christians in one form or another will have to answer.
And the ones asking the questions are the people around us.
The people could be other believers, or non-believers.
People want to know who YOU say Jesus is.
And for many of us, we can react like we are in that Final Exam, and our degree hangs on our answer.
But the Good News is you do not have to struggle for that answer.
In the past, when I worked at Barnes and Noble, I knew there was always one section that was going to be popular.
The Cliffs Notes section.
I knew when mid-terms or finals were around the corner, because that was when the students would come RUNNING (not WALKING) into the store.
Desperately looking for help (usually at the last minute).
I know this from my OWN personal experiences.
Today I want to give you the Cliffs Notes that can help you answer the big test question:
“Who do YOU say Jesus is?”
Is in your hands.
In your bulletin.
On page 4.
The Apostles’ Creed.
“I believe in God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
In these three parts (articles), you have the story of God.
And in this Creed you have the answer to the question.
That is why we say a Creed every week, to confess and PROfess who we say God is…
So this morning, I invite you, I encourage you, to let the Creed be the starting point for you.
And then let your answer not come from a piece of paper, but from your heart.
Another source I will suggest is from the Small Catechism, and it is the morning blessing, where it is said:
“I ask that you (God) would also protect me today from sin and all evil, so that my life and actions may please you. Into your hands I commend myself: my body, my soul, and all that is mine.”
Did you hear that part?
“My body and soul.”
You are not learning the answer just for the sake of a test.
You are learning the answer for the sake of your soul.
You are learning to LIVE. And to LOVE. And to SERVE.
Again I point back to Paul who encourages the Romans (and us) to be “Living Sacrifices.”
Let how we live, and respond, be our true WORSHIP of God.
Let our actions be the final answer to the exam.
We thank you, Lord of heaven and earth,
That you have fed us in a way our hearts can understand, with the saving body and blood of Jesus Christ.
Enliven us by your presence in this meal, that we may be your presence in the world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Ella Bunting Open Arms July 2014 Newsletter
The Ella Bunting Open Arms Cancer Support Newsletter for JULY 2014 is available now.
Just click on this link: Ella Bunting Open Arms July 2014
Grace July/August 2014 Newsletter Now Available!
Check out our latest newsletter to read about all the things going on at Grace this summer! GraceNewsletterJulyAugust2014
NOW AVAILABLE “Recipes for Hope:Cooking with Miss Ellie and Friends”
The Ella Bunting Open Arms Cancer Support Group Cookbooks “Recipes for Hope: Cooking with Miss Ellie and Friends” are now available at the church! The cookbooks cost $15 each. We would love to hold a copy for you. Just contact the church office at email@example.com or 336-476-4114 and we will put one on hold WHILE SUPPLIES LAST.