Greetings one and all, Well, it's Monday once again and the weeks are flying by and I can hardly keep up the pace. November is right around the corner. The leaves have all but fallen off the trees and the night darkness comes earlier and earlier each day. Remember, this week, to change your clocks on Saturday, November 3rd to FALL BACK one hour or you are going to have a lot of extra praying time in church., which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. This Sunday, November 4th is ALL SAINTS Sunday. We will remember all those who have passed away. The color of the altar cloths will be white! The members at Bethany are busy making princess pines wreaths. The fellowship hall has been transformed into a winter wonderland with ribbons and bows and glitter and sparkle, Christmas ornaments and glue guns. Thank you to everyone who participates in this ministry for our "Because We Care" fund that helps those in need in the community. We will be putting together spectacularly beautiful wreaths for the next couple of weeks. Thank you to the Selander family for allowing us to pick the princess pine from their property and thank you to all who give of their time and talent to create these beauties and thank you to everyone who purchases a wreath. Trinity Ladies' Aid will meet at the home of Kathy Nachtwey on Tuesday, November 13th at 2:00 p.m. All women are welcome to join in the fellowship. Friday, November 16th is Trinity's Annual Spaghetti Feed at the Stonington Community Hall. Ginny Dahlin will soon be contacting people to work and donate desserts. There will be 2 beautiful quilts and 1 beautiful princess pine wreath prizes available for a raffle donation of $1 per ticket. The winners will be picked that evening. This all you can eat spaghetti dinner is sure to be delicious and lots of fun so mark your calendars. The Monday morning quilting ladies continue to meet from 9 until noon at Trinity. Together we create beautiful quilts which are donated to a chosen ministry each year after they are blessed during worship in May. Come and see us on Monday morning to see how much fun we have while creating beautiful quilts of comfort and warmth. If you have any new100% cotton material that you no longer need, your donation to this ministry would be greatly appreciated. Bethany has their annual raffle tickets for sale through December 9th. There are over 50 great prizes. You do not need to be present to win. The price is $1 each or 6 for $5.00. The winners will be picked at our Christmas Family Fun Night at Bethany on the 9th of December. Let me know if you would like to purchase some. Here's this week's "Daily Discipleship" for your bible study for Reformation Sunday gospel.
Reformation Sunday (B) –John 8:31-36
Living in Christ: Be Freed
Focus Question: What does it mean to be freed in Christ?
word of life
“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 (NRSV)
Read John 8:31-36
On Reformation Sunday, Lutheran congregations gather in worship and sing Martin Luther’s hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” The first verse describes God breaking the power of the oppressor’s rod and winning salvation. Because God sent the champion of Jesus to fight, we are set free.
The assigned lectionary on Reformation Sunday is from the Gospel of John. The theme is one of freedom. Jesus knows he brings freedom for those who live in him and stay connected to God’s word. He tells the Jews, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32 NRSV)
1. What kind of freedom is Jesus describing?
2. What does it feel like to be freed by Jesus?
3. What does it mean to be “truly his disciple”?
The Jews who are listening to Jesus are insulted. They are proud of their family heritage to Abraham and his relationship to God. Abraham traveled freely as he followed God to the promised land. Those Jews who are listening to Jesus seem to forget about the years their ancestors spent enslaved in Egypt. This is a critical memory lapse. Every year at Passover, they gather to tell the story of their ancestors crying out to God and God’s response of freedom. Of all people, the Jews should relate to the hardships of slavery and the joy of freedom.
4. How do you explain the memory lapse on the part of the Jews?
5. What kind of freedom are the Jews considering?
Jesus is talking about the freedom from sin. Not that anyone stops sinning. By nature, humans are sinful and live enslaved to the power of sin. Left to ourselves, we mess things up badly. Even on our best days, we fall short of God’s expectations of us. Falling short includes both things we have actively done and that whole category of things we never get around to doing. Guilt is not a stranger to the Christian. Yet, Jesus sets us free from that guilt.
6. What healthy role can guilt play in our lives?
7. How do we deny the power of sin in our lives?
In order to claim freedom, one has to be freed from something or someone. The Jews struggle with admitting their own dependency. Their pride blocks them from hearing the words of Jesus and receiving his gift of grace.
8. What does it feel like to be freed by Christ?
9. Imagine this same conversation taking place with freedom-loving USA citizens. Can the message of Jesus be heard by any group who has political freedom? How so?
word among us
I believe that Jesus Christ – true God, son of the Father from eternity, and true man, born of the Virgin Mary—is my Lord. At great cost he has saved and redeemed me, a lost and condemned person. He has freed me from sin, death and the power of the devil—not with silver or gold, but with his holy and precious blood and his innocent suffering and death.
Martin Luther, Small Catechism
Read aloud this section of the Small Catechism.
1. What words or phrases catch your eye?
2. What does Luther say we are freed from?
3. How does Jesus free us from those things?
In his younger years, Martin Luther struggled with the power of sin in his personal life. He did not feel worthy to come before God. As a human, he knew he fell short again and again.
4. What else do you know of Luther’s struggles to claim God’s grace in his life?
5. What does it feel like to be burdened by the power of sin?
6. Can you relate to Luther? How so?
Finally as Luther studied the book of Romans, the message of Jesus reached his troubled heart and spirit. He discovered God’s grace. (See Romans 3:19-28.) Ultimately, Luther discovered his salvation was not based on his futile attempts to be right and perfect with God. Instead, salvation is about God and God’s gracious love towards humanity as recipients of such a gift. In the case of Luther, God’s Word found in Romans set him free.
7. What are other ways to explain God’s grace?
8. What makes God’s grace so difficult to grasp?
9. Why is it so difficult to trust God to be God?
Like Luther, we are invited to place our trust in God’s grace made known in Jesus Christ. That’s where true freedom comes. Jesus urges us to stay in God’s word, to know the truth, and to be set free. That invitation includes a certain degree of discipline not always associated with freedom. This gift of freedom does not mean doing whatever we want, whenever we want. After Luther discovered the freedom of God’s grace, he invested the rest of his life, time and energy sharing that good news with others.
10. What are we freed to do?
11. How is life different now that we have been set free by Jesus?
God of power and might, free us once more from all which enslaves. Amen
Each day this week,
take a few moments
to breathe deeply and
ponder your freedom in Christ.
Blessings on your week. Hope to see you in church. Bethany at 9:15 a.m. and Trinity at 11:15 a.m. (EST) ALL are WELCOME