Life for the disciples was about to drastically change. For three years, they enjoyed the physical company of God himself. He protected them and he made sure they did not lack anything. Even after dying and rising from the dead, Jesus made himself available to them in a physical way. But now he was going to leave them in the natural, physical way. They were not going to see him with their physical eyes. They were not going to walk around and eat with him. He was going back to the place he was before. But before leaving them Jesus gave them something to treasure. “He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.” (Luke 24:44-46 NIV 84) So what was the treasure? His word! The very word he had told them from day one. The word they had since Moses wrote down Genesis. And what did Jesus and the word point them to…his suffering and resurrection.
Why do you think Jesus had to go back to what was written and what he taught them? Why do we need to hear the same thing about Jesus over and over? It boils down to the sinful heart that beats within the disciples then and now. Jesus must continue to point us back to his word. He must continue to point us to his suffering and resurrection. This is the only way for people like those disciples and for people like us to hear how terribly we need Jesus’ suffering and resurrection. Our lies, our anger, and all other visible sins are just the symptom of our sinful nature which we inherited from our parents. When God convicts us of sin, it causes us to see clearly that each one of us has not earned the right to enter the glory of heaven.
But this sad state we find ourselves in is not the only thing God reveals to his disciples in his word. It is truly sad that so many people who call themselves Christians think that God is out to get them, that he is a vengeful God waiting to destroy. And, perhaps, we at times think the same. But Jesus revealed the whole truth to his disciples.
When God’s word leaves us shaken to the core because we cannot enter eternal life, Jesus pronounces the most precious words we can ever hear, “I forgive you!” As often as God’s word brings us down because of our failure to live up to his standard, his word lifts us out of the pit and lays us in his loving arms. Again, we go back to his suffering and resurrection. He points out to us again and again the forgiveness he won though his suffering, which he gives to us by his empty tomb.
Jesus reminded the disciples that repentance and forgiveness must go hand and hand. God breaks us down to lift us high. Every sin we are guilty of which comes out of our sinful heart has been forgiven. There is nothing that can stop us from entering the glory of heaven. Jesus has opened the way. And he is making a place for us.
What happens when you hear good news? Look at the reaction the disciples had. “52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” (Luke 24:52, 53 NIV 84)
Worship and joy! Isn’t that awesome!? Even though they would no longer have Jesus walking around with them, even though they had to hear how horrible they were because of sin, the message of forgiveness caused them to worship with joy. The same rings true right now. But not just right now, tonight, tomorrow, the next day, when you are sick, when you suffer, when you are on your death bed, no matter what circumstance we may find ourselves in, we can worship our God with joy in our hearts because he set us free from sin and opened heaven to us. Let us continue to worship our God with the same attitude of joy that his disciples have had ever since the day Jesus ascended into heaven.
A Servant of Christ,
Rev. Patrick Feldhus
Our Sunday morning bible class at 9 am will continue to focus on training for outreach and evangelism until May 16th.
In person Sunday School will continue on Sundays at 9 am until May 16th.
Grace will need volunteers to help at the Le Sueur food shelf for the month of May. If you are interested in helping, please talk with Lois Wacker.
Our Church “adopt a highway” cleanup will be on Saturday May 1st at 9 am.
Elders will meet on May 2nd after worship at 11 am.
We will have a special worship on Thursday May 13th at 7 pm to celebrate the Ascension of our Lord.
The council will meet on May 16th at 11 am after worship.
Pastor Feldhus will be attending the Mankato pastor’s circuit meeting on May 20th at Friedens in New Prague.
There will be a congregational planning meeting on May 22nd at 9 am. Everyone is encouraged to attend and give your input.
The WELS Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM) is marking 60 years of service to people in Malawi and Zambia. The first clinic began operating in Zambia in 1961; in 1970, CAMM started a clinic in Malawi as well. By meeting the physical needs of the people they serve, the door opens to share the good news of Jesus. Over the past 60 years, God has given CAMM the opportunity to provide people with physical care in the name of Jesus approximately three million times. The CAMM clinics in Malawi and Zambia serve all the medical needs short of hospitalization for close to 50,000 people, including:
Routine child health and nutrition services
Delivery of babies in Zambia (mandated by the government)
Pre- and post-delivery care
Comprehensive HIV/AIDS health services
Outpatient medical services
Chronic disease monitoring
Making sure villages have safe water supplies and adequate sanitation
Teaching on topics such as general health and how to plant and care for nutrition gardens
Integrating COVID-19 management strategies to both provide care for and minimize possible infection transmission
Shelly Sievert, chair of the CAMM stateside committee, says, “As we approach our 60th anniversary in Zambia, we reflect on God’s continued grace to our clinic and our staff, which includes ten nationals in Zambia. Our Zambia clinic has been operating with little oversight from the stateside committee for close to 15 years and thrives!”
Now, the Malawi clinic will also shift to operate with a fully national staff. “Although 2020 was a tough year for the world, it gave us time and the opportunity to look at our clinic procedures in Malawi, which have been operational for over 50 years. We currently employ 11 nationals, 1 of whom is a registered nurse,” says Sievert. “After 50 years, our CAMM stateside committee, with guidance from the Administration Committee for Africa, and with prayerful consideration, has decided that the time is right. God has provided us the right staff, the right expatriates to train the staff, and the right support to do this.”
Sievert says, “We thank God for the opportunity he allows every day for our clinics to operate, for the staff to care for the patients, for the chances our staff is given to share their faith, and for his continued generosity.” To learn more about the work of CAMM and find out how you can help, visit wels.net/camm.
The 66th biennial synod convention will be held at Luther Preparatory School in Watertown, Wis., July 26-28. The theme of the convention is “Here We Stand,” echoing Martin Luther’s bold stand on the Word of God at the Diet of Worms in 1521.
The location of the convention was changed from Michigan Lutheran Seminary in Saginaw, Mich., to Luther Prep because of the uncertainties of gathering restrictions in Michigan.
Another change that was made due to those same uncertainties was to hold a “mini-convention.” Instead of the usual 400 delegates, only about 75 delegates will attend the convention in person. Those delegates will include floor committee chairmen and secretaries, along with two lay delegates from each floor committee. (Floor committees are each assigned an area of the synod’s work to discuss and to bring reports and resolutions to the convention for consideration.) The remaining delegates will participate electronically in elections and floor committee work in advance of the convention. The convention will also be livestreamed to enable all virtual delegates to observe.
Important items of business to be considered by the convention will be the approval of the Ministry Financial Plan (budget) for the next two years; the proposal to change the current pension plan for WELS workers to a defined contribution plan (similar to a 401(k) plan); and the elections for various synodical positions, including the First Vice President and synod secretary. The convention will also consider a number of “memorials,” which are requests for the synod to take specific actions.
The convention website, which will house all convention information and documents, including election information and memorials, is now live at wels.net/2021synodconvention. All delegates have received, or will soon be receiving, convention information and registration instructions via U.S. mail.
Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder