Ready and Waiting

Ready and Waiting Matthew 25:1-13 The parable of ten virgins that wait for the arrival of the bridegroom helps us understand the life of a follower of Jesus. The parable starts with ten virgins going out to meet the bridegroom. Jesus explains that five were foolish and five were wise. They wait for the bridegroom, and they find his arrival takes longer than expected. The foolish ones were not ready for this delay. The wise ones were ready for the delay. What does it mean for us to be ready for the return of Jesus? How do we wait? The expectation of our community that Jesus Christ will return is central to our hope. Our expectation is filled with faith, even while we reckon with the possibility of a long delay. Preacher: Rev. Dr. Evan Gaertner Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009

Praising God on Scary Days

The book of Revelation was written during a time of severe persecution. John was given a vision by God that included a look into the last days. John shared his vision to encourage the saints in Christ, the holy ones that had believed in the work of Jesus, to remain faithful. When the times are scary, confusing, or filled with grief, it is possible to praise God. This All Saints' Day at Our Shepherd will be a time of praise and thanksgiving because we rejoice in the grace and peace we receive from Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Revelation 7:2-17 Preacher: Rev. Dr. Evan Gaertner Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009

Freedom From ... Freedom To ...

"Freedom from… Freedom to…" John 8:31-38 Jesus Christ said the truth will set you free (John 8:32). The rallying cry of the Reformation started with the promise that we are freely given God’s grace, freely receiving all that is needed for salvation, and freely sent out to the world to love our neighbor. By faith we hold onto this freedom from sin. By faith we move forward with this freedom to love our neighbor. The good news of Jesus gives us freedom from sin, and freedom to serve. How will you use the freedom that God gives to you? How will you keep hold of this freedom and not slide back into the bondage of sin? Preacher: Rev. Dr. Evan Gaertner Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009

Pray to the Lord of the Harvest

Luke 10:1-9 Preacher: Rev. Mike Vieregge As the leaves turn and the Fall harvest is at hand, we focus this week on the Feast of St. Luke, and on those who will carry the Good News throughout God's creation. Luke reminds us; "The harvest is plentiful but, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." When we pray for laborers, we so often look to people like Seminarian Chris Durham, who preached last week. But are we ever bold enough to pray that God would use us too? Our readings this week remind us that this is a difficult task to go out into God's harvest, but it is also one which He asks us to do. We never go alone! Our Heavenly Father promises to be with us. We gather, nurture and serve, because He loves! So let us also go out and gather others, nurture them and serve them so that they too may know that Jesus loves them. Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009

Mount Calvary

Confidence in the safety that the Lord provides to us on Mount Calvary. Text: Isaiah 25:6-9 Preacher: Seminarian Christopher Durham Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009

This weekend we conclude our three-week he “Heart Issues are Hard Issues” sermon series with the theme “Bringing the Fruit of His Steadfast Love,” based on Philippians 3:4b–14. But really, it's based on all three readings assigned for this weekend. We’ll look at the fruit of faith – the very love of Christ lavishly poured out on a world broken by what, in the Old Testament lesson, Isaiah calls “wild grapes:” sin, selfishness, and vain desire for earthly glory. In the Gospel lesson, Jesus rebukes the religious leaders of God’s people for their “wild grapes” – the fact that they’ve pitted themselves against God and His ways by desiring honor and power above all other things. And in the epistle lesson from Philippians, Paul boasts about his “pedigree,” then says it’s all “wild grapes;” worthless compared to the righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. We will search the Scriptures to see how God calls us, His vineyard, to bring the good fruit of faith, into the divisive issues of the day — prejudice and injustice chief among them — by identifying the true enemy, seeing people as God sees them, and by being the light of Christ to break down barriers and become those who bring reconciliation and unity to a fractured world. Preacher: Rev. Steve Woodfin Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009

This weekend we continue the “Heart Issues are Hard Issues” sermon series with a look at why unity is so hard to maintain. God desires for people to be united. St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians that we are called to be of the same mind, same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Why is this unity so hard? In the church we aim to find our unity in the promises of God but fear and hatred keep pushing people toward divisions. Our society is growing increasingly divided and conditioned to respond to current events with anger and frustration. Is it possible still to look at this world with God’s love instead of political, economic, or sociological fears? Paul wrote with hope, “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” With God all things are possible.

All that Matters

We live in a society imprisoned by injustice and ripped apart by racial and political tensions. How do we go about living with joy, hope, and confidence during these times? Two foundational truths matter when trying to figure out how to navigate these difficult days. First, our identity is wrapped up in Jesus. Second, our life is wrapped up in Jesus. When St. Paul was in prison, he trusted that God was at work advancing the gospel. The outward circumstances of a sinful world appear overpowering but we will trust that God continues to be at work advancing the gospel.

Forgiveness = Life

Matthew 18:21-35 In the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, the king first forgives the servant of an astronomical debt. Yet the servant cannot forgive a relatively small debt owed him by another, and so the king rescinds his forgiveness. Wait a sec. Forgiveness is very, very hard sometimes. What if I just can’t forgive someone? Does that mean God will remove His forgiveness from me? The answer God gives us in His Word is His new way of understanding forgiveness. It is not something we do, but something God gives. Freely. Lovingly. Lavishly. And that gift of forgiveness is not a one-time act; it’s a continual flow of grace, pouring into our lives. But it doesn’t – it cannot – stop there. It continues on, this flow of extravagant, unending mercy and love, to fill the lives of those around us. God delights in forgiving us, and seeing us act as channels of His grace as we deliver that grace to others. Preacher: Rev. Steve Woodfin

Labor of Love

On this Labor Day weekend as we try to rest and relax, God's message to us is hard. Take a moment to read the three passages assigned to this week: Ezekiel 33:7-9, Romans 13:1-10 and Matthew 18:1-20. These are law-filled sections of God's Word. And not only God's law, but also a clear description of the punishment we face for not fulfilling the law. Why is loving so hard and laborious, yet getting angry seems to come so easily? Why is it so challenging to be a slave to God's Law, yet so easy to serve our own sinful flesh? And why did our Heavenly Father choose to send Jesus to suffer in our place, when it is we deserve all that He took on Himself? We gather together this weekend, both in-person and online, and rejoice to hear God's answer...because He loves.

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