Dear friends in Christ,
We continue our survey of Church History from the book of Professor E.A.W. Krauss from our St. Louis seminary of a century ago. This month we continue our look at Pastor Heinrich Melchior Muehlenberg, The Patriarch of the American Lutheran Church. This month we catch a glimpse at what December 1742 was like for him as he was getting settled into his congregations. As you read through this, notice the disarray the Lutheran congregations are in; remember that many of those passing themselves off as pastors were hucksters at worst and ill-qualified at best. What great cause we have today for rejoicing. We have seminaries forming well trained men as pastors; we have a synodical structure that looks out for both congregation and pastor. Let us thank our Lord and remember our Synod, District and congregations in prayer.
43.2 [part 2] HOW MUEHLENBERG SETTLED INTO HIS CONGREGATIONS
Friday, 03 December: I was invited to be a guest of a German sugar refiner who was a zealous Lutheran. He neither liked the Zinzendorf way nor approved of Mr. Kraft’s presbyterial arrangement. I also had him read the court preacher’s letters and this made him rejoice most heartily.
Sunday, 05 December: I preached in the morning on the text of the day, had many listeners, was known among the people, announced that at Christmas the Sacrament would be held and that in the afternoon there would be a sermon in the Swedish church. In the afternoon there was again a large assembly in the Swedish church.
Monday, 06 December: Mr. Kraft was very busy making me a part of his consistory. He had also already previously declared Mr. Caspar Stoever Assessor Consistorii and now wanted to ordain an immoral teacher into the preaching office for the country congregations. I asked him to excuse me. He correctly noted that a number of reasonable men recognized my call as legitimate; therefore he made another attempt and said he wanted to serve the three places together with me. I remained silent until further reflection.
Tuesday, 07 December: I wrote of my circumstances to the Most Reverend Ziegenhagen, as well as, or as bad as, a confused mind would allow in such delirium. On Wednesday a man came to me, Mr. Peter Boehler, who was sent from Count Zinzendorf. He asked about my call, and I responded in love. On Thursday I had various visits and wrote a Latin letter to the Swedish pastor, Tranberg, and reported to him the circumstances of my call.
Sunday, 11 December: I rode with Mr. Kraft out of the city through Germantown where my benefactor led me before various houses and showed me off to the people as a curiosity. Among others, a staggering so-called brother in the faith came. Kraft pulled on the reins of his horse. The man said to him, “Brother, you must baptize my child and also be the godfather.” In the afternoon we had persistent rain and got completely soaked and had to cross the two swollen rivers in the dark night.
Sunday, 12 December: I preached for the first time in Providence—in the church officer’s barn. After the sermon Mr. Kraft read aloud the letter of the court preacher and the members seemed to be pleased. Mr. Kraft also did his best to take me away from the city and to encourage this congregation. In the evening there were several with us with whom I had edifying conversations.
Monday, 13 December: Mr. Kraft took a horse and rode ahead to New Hannover. I also arrived there toward evening. Meanwhile, Mr. Kraft had consulted with the wife of a church officer about whether it would be good when I marry if I should take a wife from the city or a farm girl. The old man wanted to make me happy in body and soul by force. In the evening some quack kept us company. He had been called into the neighborhood to talk to a dead man, who was often seen and frightened the people.
Tuesday, 14 December: I was asked to baptize a child of the congregation. Mr. Kraft went along and dictated how things were to be done. The elders, church officers and a number of members had gathered. Mr. Kraft left me alone in the room and went out to the assembly and began a speech: “I have now brought you the new pastor and would rather give him to you than anybody else. I will pastor a congregation with him eight miles up. If you do not immediately make arrangements and receive this blessing with thanks now, I will immediately go with him to Lancaster and install him there as preacher.” Disorder and dissension broke out with this and some came to me and asked what all that meant: whether the old man is my superior, whether the call from the court preacher was wrong. Now I could no longer spare Mr. Kraft but in his presence I read to the assembly one more time my call and asked whether they were all in agreement. All answered: Yes! Yes! I further said that I was not associated with Mr. Kraft; that he has no power over me other than what he took for himself or what they would give to him. He could not install me either in Lancaster or anywhere else. He wanted to excuse himself and smooth everything over. But it did not help at all. The people were happy and the elders brought me to a man who till now did not belong to the congregation because of the disorder in it; but now he wanted to attend because he hoped things would improve. The same man had a little cabin by his house in which I could study and sleep but not walk around; they gave it to me for a residence. It was somewhat roomier than what Diogenes’ barrel must have been. The elders asked if I would still stay with them because after my first sermon a faction again insisted that their old pastor, Schmidt, preach. He replied that they would have to bring him written permission from me. I then promised to preach the following Sunday and to stay there that long. After I looked at my dwelling, I again went to the church officer’s home. Mr. Kraft was still there. I told him privately that he greatly sinned up that point. He left on Wednesday after playing a role here and went to Lancaster. On Saturday I had some company who complained about their neighbors and thought I should mention it and condemn it in the sermon the next day. Answer: This is not in accord with Christ’s teaching. The command is in Matthew 18. 15-17. It also says: Do not judge right away; first hear the other side. On the following Sunday I preached here before a great assembly, which also came from the neighboring area, baptized two children and explained the doctrine of baptism and also reminded the adults of their baptismal covenant and announced that there would again be worship on Christmas. The church officers from Providence were here and as soon as worship ended, I hurried with them to Providence and found a great gathering in and around the barn…. On Monday a church officer from Hannover came and wanted to pick me up. But I couldn’t go with him because I had to go to Philadelphia one more time and tell why I could not be in Philadelphia at Christmas. On Tuesday I traveled to the city and on Wednesday I visited Mr. Koch and several other good friends and explained to them that the congregations in Hannover and Providence acknowledged my call and I had to celebrate Christmas with them. The friends were confused by this and blamed the church officers for not honoring my call more. The church officers finally came and said the people insisted that I should be here for the festival or else they would not have Holy Communion. Answer: Mr. Koch should tell them because he certainly knew them better than I did. At Mr. Koch’s advice I had to promise to be in the city again on the Third Day of Christmas and preach in the Swedish church, because the Swedish pastor, Tranberg, would be present then and could examine my call letter before the congregation. In the evening Mr. Kraft came back to the city from the country. When he heard what happened, he was extremely angry, sinned with coarse words, went here and there and threatened what he would do. I told him that it was his own fault; that he should not pry into what did not belong to his office; that on the Third Day of Christmas he could come in the Swedish church and then we could compare our call credentials. On Thursday we set out in the morning and arrived in the evening in Providence. I had promised to come to Hannover on Friday. The people from Providence let borrow me a strong horse that happily brought me. On First Day of Christmas I held services with a great assembly. On the Second Day Christmas I rode to Providence, found a great assembly and preached on the Festival’s Gospel.
On 27 December at 1 pm I was coming into the city. Mr. Kraft was going into the country and met me before the city. At 2 pm we went out to the Swedish church which was about one and half miles from the city center on the Delaware. The Swedish pastor, Tranberg, and Mr. Koch were already in the church as well as Mr. Schleidern, a good friend of mine who, without my knowledge, had invited several Lutherans from Germantown. On top of that, I had also been told that Count Zinzendorf had sent informants. After I gave a short sermon, Pastor Tranberg stepped before the altar, requested my letter and had the officers, elders and the rest of the members of the small Lutheran congregation approach and read the letter and call from Court Preacher Ziegenhagen, my ordination certificate from Leipzig, my matriculation and diploma from Goettingen University and explained all of it in English because he was not so fluent in German. Then he continued saying that there is the following order in the evangelical Lutheran church: they do not accept just anyone into the preaching office; he must have a legitimate call and certificate of ordination, or else all kinds of harmful disorder would spread. They would then have to declare openly whether they recognized my call and ordination as legitimate. The elders and several others answered they had as much right and share in one call and sending as the congregations in New Hannover and New Providence. Mr. Koch replied that they had accepted old Mr. Kraft as their preacher. The reply to him was that they had not accepted him, nor given him a call and wanted to remain with the one whom Court Preacher Ziegenhaen had sent at their request. At this they entered with happy faces and gave me and Pastor Tranberg the right hand and with it confirmed my call to them as well as to the other two united congregations.
“Thus in spite of all obstacles that were put in his path, Muehlenberg was recognized as the called pastor and caretaker of souls by all the congregations, at whose call he had come to America.”
He then sat in the saddle; and it soon became apparent that he could also ride.
So far Professor Krauss
BRING YOUR POINSETTA TO CHURCH CHRISTMAS EVE! You can help beautify our sanctuary on Christmas Eve by bringing a poinsettia to church with you. Then bring it home with you to enjoy and beautify your home as you celebrate Jesus’ birth. Remember our Christmas Eve Service is at 7 pm.
LWML NEWS: Hello Ladies, I think winter is here and 2016 is close to the end. We have a meeting today and I hope we have more than our four faithful ladies. Upcoming this month on the 18th is our cookie exchange. I hope we have lots of cookies, and I'm sure the cookies will be yummy. We will also need to talk about the Epiphany dinner. A little birdie told me we will be hosting the Spring Rally. I think that is it for this time.
God Bless and have a blessed Advent season, Carol, Pres.
As we begin a new Church Year a thought comes to mind: each month a list of food pantry donation items and church needs [ie. Paper towels etc.] is published in the newsletter. While I notice the church item collection has increased, the food pantry items have not.
The basket in the vestibule is for this purpose. I do not take the collection each month because I wait until we have accumulated some items.
However, I know that we can do much better at our donations. As a congregation we voted to give $250 to the Southern Tier Food Bank again this year. Members have also again participated in Operation Christmas Child for this year. I know this is a generous congregation.
What I would like to see is for each member to bring in even one item for the food pantry collection each month. It would be wonderful to have to drop items off every month. Trust me, the need is there, I have seen the line waiting for it to open.
St. Matthew 26 vs.11 says "For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me."
God's blessings to you all in this new year of the church.
THE SEASON OF ADVENT—
“Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds.”’ But they did not hear no heed Me,” says the Lord. [Zechariah 1.4]
The purple color of the paraments on the altar reminds us that the season of Advent is to be a time of repentance. We are to prepare for Advent when we reflect on our life and turn away from wrong paths.
The Children of Israel had to learn by bitter experience how disastrous it is when a person shuts him/ herself off from this call to repent. As a result of its persistent breaking from God’s word, the judgment finally came with the Babylonian exile, which the prophets had long warned about. The Israelites should have learned from the errors of their ancestors. Instead of stubbornly holding fast to their sinful ways, they should have been freed from their guilt by honestly repenting and have straightened things out with God.
How do we react when God touches our sore spot? We too easily shut ourselves off to the uncomfortable statements of Holy Scripture. No one is happier about this than Satan who wants our eternal destruction. Our sin remains as long as we are not ready to repent. But when we are led to sorrow, then we can also ask God for forgiveness. And God gladly grants us this forgiveness because Jesus, as our Substitute, was condemned to death on the cross for our sins.
Dear Lord, help me to recognize my sins and forgive me my guilt for the sake of Jesus’ suffering and death. Amen. –Pr. Holger Weiss in God Is For Us, 02 December 2013
ADVENT BEGINS WITH THE GOSPEL ACCOUNT OF JESUS ENTERING JERUSALEM ON PALM SUNDAY IN FULFILLMENT OF THE PROPHECY OF ZECHARIAH 9.9:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Who does not recognize the glorious Advent hymn of George Fredrick Handel “Daughter of Zion, Rejoice”? His text and the bright, jubilant melody reflect the great joy at the coming of the king to His people once again. It is a king who does not come as a domineering monarch or with the fame of a military commander in order to lead his people to victory to his glory or into defeat. He does not let others bleed for him, but rather He gained the victory over sin, death and devil for all who trust in Him, when He poured out His own innocent blood for us.
The question remains: Is Jesus this king? Is He the longed for, expected Redeemer, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Deliverer, who according to God’s promise would crush the head of the serpent [Gen. 3.15]? And how does a person get this certainty?
One thing is clear: we do not get a “proof” in the scientific sense. Yet faith, which is kindled in our hearts by God’s Word, is strengthened by this word and holds to it unwaveringly. This faith sees the great number of prophecies fulfilled in detail in the life of Jesus. In reliance upon this word we can certainly say: Jesus Christ is the promised Savior. In His Person the true God stands as Man before us. This Just One opens heaven to us and serves us as He saves us.
Now Lord, You richly give to us; You Yourself were poor and weak; You love uniquely—You seek after sinners. Therefore we raise our voices on high to sing to You “Hosanna” and are eternally thankful. Amen. –Pr. Rolf Borszik in God Is For Us in 14 December 2013
And say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD. Zechariah 6:12 (ESV)
When, in Advent, we think about our Lord’s coming, we can also picture it like a branch. The Old Testament prophets—including the prophet Zechariah—suggest this. A newly sprouted branch comes from a stump. Jesus comes from the Father who begot Him from all eternity and then became man. Often the stump is not seen but yet when the branch sprouts, the branch makes it noticeable. God dwells in the hidden places but becomes known in Jesus. What a wonderful God from Whom He, Who Himself is God, comes: He is a God who is full of love and who gives Himself for the sins of the world. A branch receives its power from the trunk. Jesus has His power from God the Father. Many times in the New Testament it says that Jesus sought quiet in order to speak with the Father in prayer.
When Zechariah speaks of Jesus as the Branch, he especially makes clear that He will branch out from His place. In this context he is speaking about the temple of the Lord. This is a picture of the believers, the living stones in this temple [1 Peter 2.5]. We clearly see this prophecy fulfilled. The Lord’s Church, the assembly of the believers, sprouts and grows worldwide. Advent celebrates this. If you, too, trust in Jesus as the Branch, then Zechariah is also speaking about you in this promise. You can rejoice that you have recognized God’s true face in Jesus. There is no end of His love for you. Like Jesus, you can draw strength from God, hear the voice of the Father and go to Him in prayer. Yes, do that, so that you can sprout to the glory of God.
Heavenly Father, I thank You that in Jesus I see Your endless love. Lord, hold me close to You. Amen. –Pr. Martin Wilde in God Is For Us, 11 December 2013
A MOBILE LUTHERAN BIBLE STUDY...Issues, Etc. is a radio talk show hosted by LCMS Pastor Todd Wilken and produced by Lutheran Public Radio in Collinsville, IL. This week's topics include: John the Baptist Prepares the Way, Jesus Changes Water into Wine, Noah, Andrew the Apostle and more. You can listen to what you want when you want at www.issuesetc.org and on the Lutheran Public Radio mobile app.
BAPTISM AND CHRISTMAS
The epistle for the day after Christmas, Titus 3.4-7, is about baptism. There is a wonderful connection between baptism and Christmas. Luther notes: Here you have the reason why, the end to which it is called Baptism, and what its ultimate meaning is: to be a washing for the soul or as St. Paul calls it, Titus 3.5, “a washing of new birth,” by which we are born out of this fleshly, sinful birth and way of life to the new, spiritual life, in which we are justified before God and become heirs of heaven. [AE, LVII, 160]
Christmas teaches us that God became man and entered every phase of human life from conception and birth to death. He did this that He might cleanse us from sin—not just to suffer and die for our sins but to fulfill God’s holy Law and to be our righteousness in every phase of our life, beginning with our conception, growth in the womb and finally our birth.
What does this teach us? We are sinners from the very first moment of life—conception. This Holy Scripture clearly teaches: Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me [Psalm 51.5]. In no phase of our life are we without sin and innocent.
Because we are sinners, we need what baptism offers and gives—the forgiveness of sins and a new spiritual birth, a heavenly birth from water and the word, as Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” [John 3. 5-6]
So what does this mean? Babies are sinners and need what baptism offers and gives. That’s why we baptize babies. Babies are not just cute; they are sinners like all people. St. Augustine notes: Who brings to my remembrance the sin of my infancy? For before You none is free from sin, not even the infant which has lived but a day upon earth. Who brings this to my remembrance? Does not each little one, in whom I behold that which I do not remember of myself? In the weakness of the infant’s limbs, and not in its will, lies its innocence. I myself have seen and know an infant to be jealous through bitter looks on its foster brother. Who is ignorant of this? [Quoted in: The Lord Will Answer: A Daily Prayer Catechism, CPH, 2004, pg. 431.]
FROM OUR SYNOD’S STEWARDSHIP DEPARTMENT: Every Christmas present that sits wrapped under your Christmas tree will wear out. It will break or go out of style. This fact was there, somewhere, in the back of your mind even as you bought them, but you bought them anyway. For you love the person you bought them for, you wanted to see that look of joy it brings to their face.
So also God gives to you. But greater. What He gives will never wear out, break down, or go out of style. For what He gives is His eternal and only-begotten Son, wrapped in your flesh, and placed upon the tree of the Cross. He gives His Son for you. He gives that you may have everlasting joy. He gives because He loves you. This is why the Word became flesh to dwell among you.
And that is who is given to you. The Word who is God yet was with God from all eternity. The Word through whom all things were made. The Word who is the only-begotten Son of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, being of one substance with His Father. The One who called all things into existence, the One who spoke to Moses from the bush that burned yet was not consumed, the One whose glory filled the tabernacle to dwell among His people, God Himself, has taken on your flesh.
Even though the Word is made flesh, even though God became Man, His Divinity is not lessened. His Divinity is not changed. His Divinity remains, pure and unchanging, but your flesh, your human nature, is exalted. Your flesh and humanity is assumed into God. God became man so that you would become like unto God—holy and righteous, without sin, without death.
And so it is that the Son given to you wrapped in your flesh is placed upon the tree of the Cross. And no tree was ever adorned more beautifully. Its ornaments were nothing less than the Blood of God, poured out as an atoning sacrifice for your sins. Its garland the Body of God, hanged in death that you may have life. Its light the incarnate Light of the world, strung up to call you and all men unto Himself, to enlighten you, to make you His own. He gives you HIs life, He gives you joy and peace—peace with God in heaven and peace with one another on earth.
And from the tree of the Cross the Lord Jesus places another gift for you upon the Altar. It is the Fruit of the Cross, His crucified and risen, living Body and Blood, the Fruit of the Tree of Life, wrapped in bread and wine and given to you. He fills you with His Glory. He makes your mouths and your hearts His manger. He abides in you and you in Him.
The Word became flesh to be placed under the Cross for you. You are forgiven. This is why we give. We give because He has first given to us. And just as it was a joy for Him to give all He had to us. It is a joy for us to give to one another and His church so that this message of forgiveness, life, and salvation may be proclaimed.
On January 14, 2017, it has been arranged to have Pr. Michael Meyer, a FEMA trained instructor, from Lutheran Disaster Response Teams in St. Louis to come to the Syracuse, NY area for a one day six hour training class. The primary purpose is to train volunteers to help here in upstate New York with in disasters that occur here, and to help out when possible in other areas of the country places such as in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana. Attendees will receive a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) wallet card that would allow them to work with first responders at almost any emergency. The cost is $10.00 per person, to cover the costs.
The Eastern District currently only has only a handful of volunteers in the Scranton, PA area. With all the people within the Eastern District we should be able send more volunteers to help out not only in local disasters here in upstate New York, but also to those outside of our area. Both men and women over the age of 18 are invited to attend.
The site of the training is currently set at Grace Lutheran Church, 3965 Carter Rd., Canastota, NY 13032, This may change if we are blessed with a good turn out.
Please contact Pastor Kirstin Bjornstad if you have any questions.
A CHRISTMAS DINNER for people who may be alone on Christmas will be offered at First Presbyterian Church of Corning located at First and Pine Streets on December 25th.
There will be a short worship service and Christmas sing-a-long at 12 noon and dinner will be served at 12.30. The free dinner is offered as a gift to people in the community to bring fellowship and celebration to those who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day. Transportation to the church is available. Please call the church office to make reservations by December 16, 2016.
FROM THE LCMS FOUNDATION
God’s Generosity in Us
The tabernacle fashioned by Moses included three compartments, which Martin Luther compared to three parts of a human being.
The holy of holies, God’s dwelling place, was first. In it was no light. Just as God exists in the darkness of our faith, Christians believe that which we don’t see, feel or comprehend.
Although pride and self-sufficiency is the human heart’s natural path, faith regards us as unworthy of the honor of God’s gifts. Like Mary, we should pay attention to what God does for us, rather than all the works we do for others. We are saved only by what God has done for us. Believing is a gift of God!
The second compartment, was the holy place where the candlestick and seven arms and seven lamps stood, like all manner of reason, discrimination, knowledge, and understanding of visible and bodily things.
Adam and Eve didn’t necessarily see different things after the Fall. Moses says their eyes were opened and they saw that they were naked, though they had been naked before and were not aware of it. (Genesis 3:7).
Mary understood God’s work as great. She highly exalts, or esteems God’s power, knowledge and desire to save His people. God is magnified in our knowledge especially as His grace and goodness is experienced.
The third temple compartment was called the outer courts; this lay under the open sky and in the full light of the sun. Our body, like the outer courts is open to all, so that people may see our works and manner of life.
Dependent on faith, we possess the whole inheritance. Through faith, soul and body are able to remain without error and evil works.
For more information, contact Robert Wirth, LCMS Foundation Gift Planner @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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