This weekend's theme is twofold. From the text in Mark 1:14-20: "The Kingdom is at Hand." But we'll also talk about the great blessing God has given us in Lutheran Schools as we kick off National Lutheran Schools Week and its theme "Sent to Serve". Jesus announces in our text “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand.” He then called Peter and Andrew, James and John, to follow Him. So did the first disciples see a radical change as they left their nets and went with Jesus? The answer is a resounding “NO!” They still had to make a living as fishermen. They still experienced the stress and turmoil of life under Roman occupation. As Jesus "sent them to serve" they had to leave work and family for long stretches as they walked with Jesus throughout Galilee. We can imagine more than once, one disciple turning to another and asking, “is this really the Kingdom?” Today we have a similar shared experience. A pandemic. Record unemployment. A time where racial injustice and inequality seem worse than ever. A time of upheaval. Yet Jesus speaks into our present time with His Word - and sends us to serve in the same way. The fullness of God has come in the love of Jesus Christ, who gave all so we may live eternally, and also in His Kingdom right now. In each kind gesture, encouraging word, expression of love. We can be comforted in the truth of Christ’s victory over sin, and strengthened by His promise, which He speaks to us today: the Kingdom of God is here. One place where God unfolds His Kingdom is within the walls of Our Shepherd School, so we take time out this weekend to acknowledge God's great gift of our school, and all Lutheran Schools, as we implore Him to continue to “send us to serve” by sharing His love, boldly proclaiming His Gospel message, and equip followers of Jesus to go confidently into the world.

A Church of Galileans

Nathanael said to Philip, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” The region of Galilee and the small village of Nazareth were not held in high regard by many, including the people from that region. Nathanael, a Galilean, did not expect Jesus to be the messiah. Philip said to him, “Come and see.” It can be hard to see what good God can do through the forgotten and neglected places and people in this world. Nathanael had no expectations for God to work through the weaknesses of his home region. Philip invited Nathanael to open his eyes and see God at work. Today we are called by the Spirit of God to work with humility and trust that God can be at work among the weak and vulnerable among us.

Navigating the Waters with Jesus

Water can be simple like a glass of water that soothes a thirst, frightening like a flood, or cleansing like a bath. When Jesus gets into the waters of the Jordan River and is baptized by John, it was not simple water. Baptism is a judgment against sin and the promise of life. Jesus was without sin, but still got into those waters to be with us in our judgment. We can trust that we navigate the waters of life with God. With gracious love Jesus drew near to us in our sin. Now trust the promised presence of God calms the turbulent waters of life.

In My Father's House Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009 Preacher: Rev. Mike Vieregge Text: Luke 2:40-52 As we begin a new year and say a cheerful goodbye to 2020, we move on from Jesus as a baby in a manger to a twelve year old boy at the Temple. It is the only account the Bible gives us of Jesus between birth and the beginning of His ministry, yet there is much for us to learn from this Gospel lesson. How did Jesus' earthly parents react to this event? Similarly, how do WE react to the events that are going on in our lives today?. Do we look to the inconvenience or pain that they may bring in our lives, or do we look and see, as our Epistle in Ephesians reminds us, that we are beloved children of God.... no matter what our circumstance? May we begin 2021 with this wisdom from God's Word: we are baptized children of God who are given an inheritance of grace, love and peace through His Son Jesus Christ. Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009 Preacher: The Rev. Dr. Evan Gaertner Text: Isaiah 30:15-17 In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you are unwilling, and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses.”

Simeon's Song Fortitude of Faith

Simeon's Song: The Fortitude of Faith Luke 2:22-40 Preacher: Rev. Steve Woodfin In the Gospel reading from Luke 2, Simeon sees the promised Savior of the world, then sings a very strange song. He gives thanks… and then expresses his readiness to die. But in its strangeness, the song contains peace, understanding, and even fortitude, the kind that can only come through faith in God’s promised Messiah. Simeon sings, in effect: there is nothing left to fear. No matter what happens, I am God’s. Forever. In Simeon’s song, we are reminded of God’s promise to always be with us. And just to cement the validity of that promise, we have in front of us the infant Jesus, who is destined to walk among us, show us what it looks like to love unconditionally, to show great mercy, and to always, always pray; and to see the impossible lengths to which God will go to show us we are loved and cherished and valued beyond our comprehension. In a world that requires daily courage, that shuttles us frequently between joy and anguish, beauty and sadness, certainty and doubt, God reminds us in this passage that nothing, not even death, is a match for the love He has for us, and the life He gives in Christ. As Paul writes in Romans chapter 8, because of this tiny baby, we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us!

In the Beginning

In the beginning we find Christ in all of our beginnings with God.

Joy in the Christmas Story

There are many traditions in a successful Christmas celebration, but the only tradition that ultimately is necessary is the true story of God's Word that becomes flesh and dwells among us.

The Greatest of These is Love

As we enter the last week in Advent, we have heard messages of Hope, we have heard messages of Peace, we have heard of messages of Joy, and now we hear from the angel directly a message of Love. No greater news was ever delivered, a message to Mary by the angel Gabriel when he told her that "nothing will be impossible for God". That message of God's love still echoes today. We will hear it from the mouths of the children from Our Shepherd as they recall the story of God's unending love. We will also hear it from the pulpit as we respond as Mary did: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to our word.” As Advent comes to a close we say with hope, and with peace, and with joy, and especially with love.... "Come Lord Jesus, please come quickly!"

Advent Midweek catechism series: Unwrapping the Gifts Parts 3 and 4 of Baptism

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