From the Pastor’s Pen: 20 Questions and a Grief Group

One of the weird things here at St. Stephen is how dead it gets in the summer. Once we switch to the worship setting “Now the Feast and Celebration” bible studies stop, council and committee meetings become sparse, etc. That’s not an entirely bad thing. It is the one time of the year when there is some fallow time, time for new things to spring up and old things to gain a new energy. This summer we’re going to be doing two new things.
Firstly, for 10 weeks this summer the sermons will be topical, specifically, they will be based on questions you all gave to me. Below is the schedule of subjects, and some of the scriptures, which will be preached on in the coming weeks:

Preaching June 15th to August 31st
June 22nd—Worship Matthew 26:26-30
• Do we as Lutherans believe the bread and wine literally change into Jesus’ body and blood? I assume different Protestant sects believe different things in this regard. I believe Roman Catholics do believe it changes.
• What is the significance and meaning of the procession of the cross at the beginning and end of the service?

June 29th—Angels & Demons Daniel 10:10-14, Mark 5:1-20
• What’s the Deal with Angels? Do humans become angels when they die?
• Is there a particular significance to Jesus casting the “Legion” of Evil Spirits from the Gerasene Demoniac into a herd of swine?

July 6th—Calendar Genesis 2:1-3, Deut 5:12-15, and Exodus 31:15
• (Put in by our Seventh Day Adventist Renters) What Season was Jesus born? Fall, Winter, Spring, or Summer?
• (Also from the SDA-folk) Why do people go to church on the Sabbath?

July 13th—Gay Marriage Romans 1:24-2:5
• Should we be sponsoring same sex marriage? If, and does, the Bible Profess marriage as between a man and a woman?

July 20th— Messiah Romans 9:1-5 (With Special Guest Rabbi David from Temple Emmanu-El)
• If Jesus was the Messiah, why isn’t he recognized by the Jews today as such?

July 27th—Pulpit Swap with Our Saviors

August 3rd— The Law Galatians 2:7-10 and Acts 15:19-21
• Which Old Testament Laws do Christians have to follow?

August 10th—Pastor Away

August 17th—Reward and Equality Galatians 3:27-28 and Matthew 5:17-20
• “Reward” in heaven is mentioned many times in scripture. Yet, it is not what we do, but what Christ does that saves us. What does “greatest” and “least” in the Kingdom of Heaven mean? How does that square with “neither Greek nor Jew” etc,? Aren’t we all equal?

August 24th—Afflictions and Death 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 and Colossians 1:24-2:5
• Colossians 1:24 “Completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions”?
• Explain, “Death has died.”

August 31st— Sin and Forgiveness Matthew 16:13-19, 18:15-18 & Romans 6:15-23
• Are mistakes “sins”? Are there degrees of sins? Is the sin in the intent or in the action or in the consequences? Ie. If you intend to do something good for someone and it turns out to hurt them?
• Explain, “Keys to the Kingdom.” “Which you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” etc. What about things once judged to be sins that are later judged not to be? Like trail blazers, reformers, and the like? Or vise-versa like slavery?

Secondly, having noticed quite a few folk who recently lost a close loved one, we will be starting up a Good Grief Group. This group will be a place for individuals to share about current experiences of grief in a structured manner, study the cycles of grief, and give one another mutual support. The tentative start date for this group is July 23.

In Christ’s Peace,
Pastor Chris