John 2:19- 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.”
How do you measure the time it takes to build large mega structures? Weeks, months, years…but I think we all would agree that days would not be used to measure the time to build large mega structures. Even with our technological advances, it still takes months to build skyscrapers. It took years to build ancient mega structures like pyramids, the Great Wall of China, and the Roman Colosseum which still stand tall today. In our bible passage Jesus is standing in the great temple complex in Jerusalem. It took 46 years to get the temple to the level it was, and Jesus talked about raising it in 3 days! You can imagine many people scratching their heads in disbelief. Even if Jesus had access to all our modern equipment, and unlimited manpower, there would be no way to rebuild the temple in only 3 days to the way it was before being destroyed.
Unfortunately, the people did not understand what temple he was talking about which also showed that the people did not understand who Jesus was. Jesus was not referring to the physical building, but rather his body. Many of the people, he was talking to, were going to hate Jesus so much that in three years’ time, they would call for his crucifixion. They would approve of his body being destroyed. They would think that they got rid of him once and for all. But they did not know who he was. He is God Almighty. He had the power to raise his temple in three days! That is exactly what he did on Easter morning.
Jesus rebuilt his dead and broken temple to shine with the glory of Lord. He finished the work of bringing life to those who are dead in their sins. His rebuilt temple is the guarantee that he can rebuilt all dead and broken temples of the Holy Spirit. This is good news for all of us. The wages of sin is still destroying temples in death. We have all earned the grave by being born in sin and displaying sin in our lives. But thanks be to God! He sent his Son to rebuild his temple in three days so that he can do away with sin and death for all of us. You need not fear that which Jesus can and will rebuild. Life has defeated death. Your bodily temples will rise from the dead and inherit eternal life all because the Jesus raised his temple in three days!
A Servant of Christ,
Rev. Patrick Feldhus
Our Sunday morning bible class at 10 am will continue with the book of Revelation and how it urges us to proclaim the good news to all.
Grace is participating in a Lenten rotation with the other pastors of our circuit.
Holy Week begins on April 10th with Palm Sunday worship at 9 am, Maundy Thursday worship on April 17th at 7 pm, Good Friday Worship on April 18th at 7 pm, and Easter worship on April 17th at 9 am. There will also be a breakfast on Easter morning at 8 am.
The next Pastor’s study club will be on April 21st in Belle Plaine.
The annual District Pastor’s Conference will be held in New Ulm at MLC April 26th through April 28th.
Grants available to help more people hear the Word
WELS Mission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MDHH), part of the Commission on Special Ministries, is offering $500 grants toward the installation of a hearing loop to WELS/Evangelical Lutheran Synod congregations that apply for it. MDHH is also able to point congregations toward additional research, contacts, and other resources around hearing loops.
MDHH reports that hearing the spoken word in a church setting continues to be a struggle for people dealing with hearing loss. They may miss a phrase that would have been the exact thing their heart needed that day. Or they may choose to stop coming to church because they are frustrated or discouraged by the amount of effort required to catch the full message.
Modern technology has solutions to alleviate this problem. One of these is to install hearing loops in churches. A hearing loop works with people’s hearing aids to provide a clearer sound directly into their ears. MDHH is encouraging congregations to consider a looping project by offering a grant to help fund it. If a congregation is planning or has already begun any kind of building or renovation project, this is an especially great time to consider installing a loop.
If your congregation is interested in installing a loop in your sanctuary, contact email@example.com for more information.
Lord God, in this world of darkness and evil, the light of your saving gospel continues to shine. Through that good news you have brought people around the world from the darkness of sin and death into your marvelous light. But evil exists and Satan’s work in this fallen world continues. As many in Ukraine are experiencing unimaginable hardships and suffering, we ask that you would be with them. Protect them; provide for them; and, above all, strengthen their faith and trust in you and your promises. We commend them to your gracious care, knowing that you have promised to be with them always. Even though they are now walking through the shadow of death, enable them to fear no evil. We ask you, in your love and wisdom, to restore peace and safety to those now enduring the horrors of war and bloodshed and to continue to let your gospel message be the comfort and hope that so many desperately need. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
The situation for our brothers and sisters in the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC) remains dire. We thank God that none of the pastors or members have lost their lives, but at least some members report that their homes have been destroyed. Some of the pastors and members have relocated to places that are relatively safe and removed from the heavy fighting, but others remain in areas where military activity is taking place every day. We continue to pray for their safety.
Last weekend, several ULC congregations—even some in areas controlled by foreign forces—were able to hold worship services either in person or virtually. God’s Word continues to be proclaimed even in the middle of a terrible war.
Rev. V’yacheslav Horpynchuk, the bishop of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church, has been in regular contact via Zoom with Rev. Roger Neumann, the WELS liaison to the ULC. I am also able to communicate with the bishop. Pastor Neumann has been providing daily updates on the situation as reported by Bishop Horpynchuk.
WELS members have already been very generous with gifts intended to support relief and humanitarian efforts both for members of the ULC and for the refugees and local citizens in need of help. We thank all those who have given gifts for Ukraine relief. Those gifts are being channeled through WELS World Missions, which remains in contact with the ULC and is still able to transfer funds. To date, $125,000 has been sent by World Missions. You can give a gift by going to wels.net/give-ukraine.
Currently, collecting physical relief items (blankets, water, canned goods, diapers, etc.) to send to Ukraine is not the best option for assisting those impacted by this war. The expense and logistical complexity of getting such items to those who need them make such an effort impractical. WELS is assisting with humanitarian aid for refugees in Poland through an agency called Direct Relief. To date, WELS Christian Aid and Relief has sent $50,000 to Direct Relief. This highly rated disaster relief organization specializes in providing medical assistance and supplies where they are needed most. It has both the inventory and infrastructure to bring medical aid to an area quickly. We have worked with this organization for many years and trust its work. Other sister churches in Europe are also looking for ways to provide assistance.
Missionary Luke Wolfgramm and his wife, Jennifer, who were living in Novosibirsk, Russia, have safely exited the country. They are currently staying in Durres, Albania, where Luke is providing continuing education to leaders of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church of Albania, WELS’ sister church. From there they maintain regular contact with the three national pastors in Russia, encourage the Russian Lutheran Church’s leadership and 270 members, and continue online seminary training. The Wolfgramms will be returning to the United States this summer for regularly scheduled meetings and family time. Depending on how events unfold, they will most likely relocate to another location in Europe to partner with sister church bodies in their theological education and outreach efforts.
This entire tragic drama is another stark reminder of the wickedness and depravity that infects the human soul. And yet, even in these darkest of days, we remain confident that the Lord of lords is still ruling with his grace and power. We pray for an end to the war. We pray that God would preserve the lives of his believers in Ukraine, as well as the lives of all the citizens of Ukraine. With confidence in his promises, we commend them all to his gracious care and protection.
Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder