Pastor David Nehrenz
Dear Saints in Christ,
Since it is the summer season now, many of us are taking time for rest, relaxation and recreation. We all need to take time to “smell the roses” and enjoy our family and friends and the beauty of God’s creation. Suffice it to say, very few people during the month June are pondering on the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession, which took place on June 25, 1530 – some 488 years ago! Yet, we are part of the Reformation of the church that began in 1517 (which we celebrated in 2017) and continued for many years after.
Articles 4 and 5 of the Augsburg Confession read as follows:
“Article IV: [Of Justification]  It is taught further, that we cannot obtain righteousness and the forgiveness of sin before God by our own merits, works, and atonement; but that we obtain the remission of sins, and are justified before God, by grace, for Christ’s sake, through faith,  if we believe that Christ suffered for us, and that for his sake our sins are remitted unto us, and righteousness and eternal life are bestowed on us.  For, God regards this faith and imputes it as righteousness in his sight, as Paul says, Rom. chap. 3 and 4.
Article V: [Of the Ministry]  For the purpose of obtaining this faith, God has instituted the ministry, and given the Gospel and the Sacraments, through which, as a means, he imparts the Holy Spirit,  who in his own time and place, works faith in those that hear the Gospel,  which teaches that through the merits of Christ, and not through our own merits, we have a merciful God, if we believe these things.  By this are condemned the Anabaptists and others, who teach that we receive the Holy Spirit in consequence of our own preparation, our thoughts and works, without the external Word of the Gospel.”
As you read that, I am sure that you realized very quickly that this is not some dry, dusty and arcane writing here. This is describing the very life-blood of the church in its daily and weekly divine service and worship! This is the “meat and potatoes” of the Christian life. Praise God that we believe the Gospel of our salvation in the completed work of our Lord Jesus Christ, which comes to us in very real ways through the means of grace!
So while you are on vacation, for your fun and edification, read the whole Augsburg Confession by going to this link on your computer or smartphone: http://www.1580boc.org/ac
Happy and blessed reading during yourvacation!
Pastor David Nehrenz
Vicar Keith Kettner
As the Church Year moves into the Time of the Church after Pentecost, the colors change to green. They stay green for five months as we dive into the Gospel of Mark reading consecutively each week. The Time of the Church is the time of growth. The Church is never stagnant, but always growing. Our growth is not necessarily one of numbers, but one of faith and knowledge. We study the Scriptures so that in them we might have eternal life. We learn the eyewitness testimony of God become man Jesus Christ.
As a congregation, we grow together. Making it through the Time of Christ in the Church Year, we now actively seek to live like Jesus. We serve one another, laying down our lives as Jesus first laid down His. We love one another, so that the world can see and know God. Over and over, we continue to gather around the worship that shapes us through the Word and Sacraments. Jesus is present among us to teach us, so that our community becomes like the saints in heaven gathered around the throne.
Individually we model the blessed man of Psalm 1 (who is Jesus). The man who delights in the Scriptures of the Lord, meditating on them day and night is like a tree planted by streams of water (Ps 1:1-3). Our growth is often slow, but it is solid. We are not like plants that spring up and then die, but trees that last. The study of the Bible doesn’t always give instant reward that we see. But the Psalmist goes on, “that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” We don’t read the Bible only for this immediate moment. We read the Bible for the times ahead. Our season of fruit will come, whether it be in times of joy or times of sorrow.
So when the colors are green, we remind ourselves of our constant growth. The congregation lives out the mission of Jesus and the apostles of Acts. We as individuals dive deeper and learn more and more about the Bible to be ready for the challenges and joys ahead of us. The Resurrected and Ascended Jesus now works through us for the salvation of the world. May we always be ready!
Vicar Keith Kettner