Parables for Lent: Receive Mercy//TTF Report

For the wages of sin
is death,
but the free gift of God
is eternal life
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23
 
“It’s not fair!” is the response from the workers who put in 12 hours of work and got the same wage as the workers who only worked 1 hour. What they were complaining about is “Those guys got more than they deserved!” That is the crux of the matter in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. Equal pay for unequal work. Remember the parable was told to
teach something about the kingdom of heaven—about the way that God operates. It might be that the way God operates is different than the way the world operates.
 
Some times we do wish that God would be fair. That we would get what we deserve. But in the Lenten season, we are reminded that getting what is deserved is not God’s way. Consider the repentant thief on the cross who was promised: “Today, you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
 
He got all of heaven but did no faithful kingdom service after coming to a faith relationship with Jesus. He gets the same heaven as St. Paul who served greatly and suffered greatly for the name of Jesus. That thief gets the same heaven that Billy Graham entered. That just doesn’t seem fair. That’s how God is. He favors grace above fairness. Grace to those who don’t deserve it.
 
When it comes right down to it—every person can be glad that God is a God of grace and favors grace above fairness. Think about it.
 
What every person really deserves and has “earned” is judgment and condemnation. The Bible is clear “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) This death that is mentioned is not merely the cessation of bodily activities but also includes separation from God—a lasting spiritual death. But thanks be to God—He gives eternal life as a gift—earned by Christ Jesus our Lord.
 
That brings us back to God’s ultimate act of grace based on Jesus’ ultimate experience of what is Not Fair. The one who knew no sin became sin for us. If you have ever felt that life was “not fair” you are not alone.
 
But no one has experienced injustice like holy sinless Jesus who was rejected, ridiculed, tortured and put to death as his “pay” at the end of the day on Good Friday. He gets what we deserve. And that is God’s way. So that you can have life without end—by God’s grace—as God’s free gift—something more and better than you could ever earn or deserve. And that is God’s way. The way of grace.
 
Blessings on your Lenten Journey and your Sunday worship as we celebrate “receiving grace”!!
 
Pastor Scott
Interim Pastor

 

Transition Task Force: Video Reports
In these changing times the Transition Task Force is preparing to bring their two sessions “Identifying Our
Mission Field” and “Becoming Fracture Resistant” to your home via video in the next week or two. Watch for
more details. Please join me in thanking these faithful and creative servants!

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Pastor Scott’s Blog – Parables for Lent: Receive Mercy//TTF Report

Return to the Lord your God,
for He is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and
abounding in steadfast love
Joel 2:13

Do you remember getting ready for your confirmation and being asked a series of questions from the catechism? Was it a personal interview? Or was it a group experience? In any case, the intent was to help you (and me) know and recall the key teachings and life habits of a Jesus Follower in the Lutheran Tradition.
 
As the Parable of the Good Samaritan begins it feels like Jesus and the expert in the law are rehearsing their good and true answers to the key questions for their confirmation examination. At one point the expert in the law asks Jesus—“What must I do to inherit eternal life?” This in one of life’s most important questions!! Knowing this answer is sweet to the soul.
 
Notice how Jesus answers a question with a question—“How do you read it?” In other words, what is the answer from God’s written Word, the Bible? Jesus says, tell me what God’s Word says about what you must do to inherit eternal life. The man gives an expert answer from the books of Moses, quoting perfectly from Deuteronomy 6:5 about loving God with your all and Leviticus 19:18 about loving neighbor as yourself.
 
Then Jesus replies, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live?”
 
But what if I can’t love God with my all and love my neighbor as myself? What if I haven’t done it yet? Jesus tells a parable to answer those questions. It may seem like he is just reinforcing how amazing our love needs to be so we can have eternal life.
 
But what if the Parable of the Good Samaritan is about turning the expert of the law (as well as you and me) away from what he must “do” to inherit eternal life—to focus instead on what he must “receive” to inherit eternal life? And on what Jesus has already “done” so you can have eternal life.
 
The theme for this weekend is not about you and me being a good neighbor—it’s about Jesus—the ultimate good neighbor who rescues us. The parable focuses on mercy, His mercy, which He freely and richly gives to all who will receive it.
 
What if the parable and the season of lent are about moving us away from a focus on our own obedience to instead focusing on God’s mercy?
 
See you in Worship!!
Pastor Scott
Interim Pastor

 

“Identifying Our Mission Field”
Sunday, March 15 (9:45-10:45) or Wednesday, March 18 (5:45-6:45)
 

The Transition Task Force needs your feedback as it shares its first report based on researching the needs and
strengths of Flat Rock and CLC. You will interact with this research via a demographic study and interviews
with Flat Rock Leaders. This will be compared to a new demographic study of Community Lutheran Church
and Preschool. Based on this research and comparison the TTF will share a well-researched understanding of
“Our Mission Field” so we can better serve our local neighbors, our civic needs and the needs of our Preschool and CLC households. Thanks for making this session a priority!


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Pastor Scott’s Blog – Parables for Lent: Receive the Treasure

The kingdom of heaven is like
treasure
hidden in a field,
which a man found and covered up.
Then in his joy he goes and
sells all that he has and
buys that field.
                              Matthew 13:44

This Lent we are listening to Jesus’ parables in light of his Passion. This Sunday we are going to explore the parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Priceless Pearl found in Matthew 13:44-46.
 
Jesus’ parables are often very easy to interpret. Sometimes its as easy as “A is like B,” a comparison is made between a spiritual truth and an everyday story or event. At other times Jesus simply tells us what the story means. We like it when the meaning of the parable is straightforward and simple.
 
Many times though, interpreting one of Jesus’ parables can be challenging because the meaning is not all that clear. So people may walk away with different interpretations, perhaps complementary but not exactly the same. Someone might say, though, “Well, which is it? They can’t both be right.” Actually, they may both be right if Jesus has given the listeners the freedom to bring their unique perspective to one of His stories.
 
As we explore the parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Priceless Pearl you might be surprised and deeply blessed to uncover their meanings—intended by Jesus—for you and yours.
 
See you in worship this weekend!!
 
Pastor Scott
Interim Pastor

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Pastor’s Blog – Parables for Lent: Receive God’s Word//Sunday Bible Update

As for what was sown on good soil,
this is the one who hears the Word
            and understands it.

He indeed bears fruit and yields,      
in one case a hundredfold,
          in another sixty, and 
              in another thirty”
                                Matthew 13:23

We are now in the Season of Lent. This powerful season of the church year vividly displays the love of God for you and for all people everywhere. This season shows us the Source of our hope. God for us. God and His love for us then transform and inspire us to live our lives for Him and for the life of the world.
 
This weekend we will begin our new preaching series “Parables of Lent.” Each weekend we will look at another parable in light of what we receive as “gift” through the crucified Christ. If all goes well, we will not only study and examine each gift—but actually receive it with all of it’s blessings.
 
This weekend the gift is “the Word” of God, Jesus the Savior and the Bible. What would it look like if we received this gift? What blessings does God intend for you and yours through this gift?
 
The parable of the Sower and his generous distribution of seed over path, rocks, thorny ground and good soil gives us some clues about the wonder gift of the Word—for you.
 
See you this weekend!!
 
Pastor Scott
Interim Pastor

Ethiopia Update: Home-Centered Discipleship
9:45-10:45 Community Room

Matt Hire and I will be sharing possible “culture shifting” bible teaching this Sunday and I amhoping all leaders, staff and members will be able to attend. Please also note that we will start at 9:45 (so we can get a whole hour and include all your questions). This is the Ethiopia Update that links into “Home-Centered Discipleship”. This concept is impacting Ethiopia. We are wondering if it might “fit” Community too. Thanks for making Bible Class this Sunday a priority!!

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Pastor Scott’s Blog – Gospel DNA Marker 5 and Ethiopia Update Series

 
And voice came out of the cloud,
saying,
“This is my Son,
My Chosen One;
listen to him!”
Luke 9:35
 
This week we focus on listening to God’s Word and encouraging one another in love and good deeds as we experience an ending and a beginning.
 
New this Sunday is the first of a 3-Part Sunday morning Bible Study Series “Ethiopia Update: Home-Centered Discipleship.” I am so eager to share with you my photos and videos from this trip and the teachings from God’s Word that captivated the hearts and minds of 80 Ethiopian Pastors and Professors. Many believe that this clear and simple Biblical model for marriage and the family may even inspire a revival in our own home-land. My favorite part of each day (beside Coffee Time) was their singing—I’ve captured that on video too.
 
Here are the three sessions we can enjoy together starting this Sunday morning February 23 in the Community Room. To give us enough time to laugh, learn and love let’s start at 9:45 for these 3 weeks, please.
Sunday, Feb 23:  Ethiopia Update 1: State of Church & Family Worldwide            
Sunday, March 1:  Ethiopia Update 2: “Home-Centered” Paradigm Shift
Sunday, March 8:   Ethiopia Update 3: “Home-Centered”—It Starts with Me
 
We are also wrapping up the Gospel DNA preaching series with a focus on the Transfiguration of Our Lord. We will explore this mountain top experience before heading toward Jerusalem and the cross. Meanwhile, we will be pondering the significance of this biblical truth from the life of Jesus: “When Faith is Active—Sacrifice Grows.”
 
See you in Worship!
 
Pastor Scott
Interim Pastor

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Gospel DNA: Multiplication

Jesus said to him,
“Go home to your friends and tell them
how much the Lord has done for you,
and how he has had mercy on you.”

Mark 5:19

 

In the region of the Decapolis (Ten Cities) on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus delivers a man from many demons. So many in fact that when they leave the man and enter nearby pigs—the whole heard of about 2,000 is lost as they rushed into the lake and downed.
 
This is quite a scene!

And caused quite a stir among the local folk.

They were very afraid to see this once wild man now calmly seated by Jesus in his right mind. And they were so dismayed from the loss of income from the drowned heard that they “began to beg Jesus to depart from their region” (Mark 5:17). Interesting isn’t it—they were thinking they had “too much” Jesus. They didn’t want that.
 
As Jesus was getting into the boat the healed man “begged” Jesus to take him along. But the man received the answer that most of us dread most—no!
 
But notice that this “no” comes as a “redirect” that honors the Jesus he wanted to follow. Instead of being permitted to travel with Jesus the man was told to travel to his home—and tell what God did for him that day.

A friend of mine alerted me to a hidden insight about this man. He was carrying on the witness to Jesus in a region where Jesus himself could no longer enter. What a privilege to be such a witness.

Then it struck me—we get to do that too. We get to tell what Jesus has done for us. We get to go places Jesus wants to be known. We get to bring the witness of his love and his healing power to our home and to our friends too. Maybe even places where Jesus is thought to be “too much” too. Now that’s something to think about.

See you in worship!!

Pastor Scott

P.S. Please make every effort to participate in the Budget Information Meeting on Thursday at 6:30 pm in the sanctuary. Also, make plans to participate in the Voter’s Meeting on Sunday the 19 th (9:45-10:45 am in the sanctuary) to vote on the 2020 Budget and hear other reports and updates. God is on the move at Community!


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Pastor Scott’s Blog – Baptism Changes Everything

“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death,
in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
we too might walk in newness of life.”
– Romans 6:4
 
The Baptism of Our Lord is a key event in the life of Jesus.
(Just as your baptism is a key event in your life.)
 
In fact, it changes everything.
(Same as your baptism.)
 
Jesus’ ministry begins with His baptism
(So does yours and that of your family!)
 
But there is a striking difference. Jesus came to the waters of baptism without sin. We are not so innocent. By nature, each of us is sinful and unclean and in need of life, new life found only through faith in Jesus.
 
Because of Jesus’ baptism, holy life, death, and resurrection…our baptism gives us Jesus’ innocence…and…His mission to bring life and love to our homes and to all the world.
 
Jesus heard the Father’s voice from heaven saying “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” as the water of baptism washed over him. (Matthew 3:17) Jesus’ baptism makes our baptism powerful and life-changing. It is as if you too hear the voice the Father, Jesus’ Abba, saying “This is My son.” “This is My daughter.” “With whom I am well pleased.”
 
Your baptism changes everything. It redefines your life. Paul says we now “walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
 
Rejoice in the gift of your baptism—life with God!
 
Let’s look at what “walking in newness of life” looks like through the lens of Gospel DNA—which now is part of who we are—part of our new life. This week we explore Marker 1: “Love for People” from the book Gospel DNA.
 
If all goes well, we will uncover something about the importance and place of “people” in this new life in Christ through our baptism.
 
See you in worship!!
 
Pastor Scott
 
P.S.—Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a baptism in worship this week. Hmm.

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Pastor Scott’s Blog – Intro to Gospel DNA & Epiphany

 
Greetings Friends,
 
Sunday, January 5 we will kick off the next season of the church year—Epiphany.
 
Do you know what Epiphany is all about?
 
Epiphany comes from the greek work epiphanus which means to “reveal” or to “make known”.  During the season of Epiphany our worship bible readings reveal Jesus’ mission to save all people.  Jesus also reveals His power and wisdom through miracles and teachings. And we come to know Jesus as true man and true God.
 
The Epiphany season of the church year starts with the Wise Men from the East (January 6) and concludes with the Transfiguration of Jesus (this year on February 23).   
 
This Epiphany we will focus on the wisdom of Jesus and the power of the Gospel through the new book Gospel DNA:  Five Markers of a Flourishing Church.  It will be the basis for the Sunday morning Bible study and the Preach Series starting on January 5.
 
These Five DNA Markers are the result of God’s gracious work through His Word and Spirit and were seen in bold ways in the first 100 years of the Missouri Synod.  Did you know your church body was starting 1 new congregation every week during its first 100 years? Could there be such a dynamic and expansive spread of the Gospel in North America…in Flat
Rock…today?
 
Let’s examine the life of Jesus, the book of Acts and the early history of the LCMS through the missionary eyes of author Michael Newman (a seminary classmate) who has discovered that flourishing churches are known by five distinct “markers”:

Love for People   
Multiplication
Truth
Adaptability
Self-Sacrifice

May God reveal Himself and His mission to Us this Epiphany and make these “markers” more and more real at Community in 2020!
 
Pastor Scott
 
 
P.S. If you want to “go deeper” –consider ordering your own copy of this insightful book that will be the basis for our preaching series and Bible study for January and February 2020.  
 
P.S.S. Together we surpassed the December Christmas Giving Goal of $51,500 by over $1,500!! Way to go Community! Let’s rejoice in the abundance of God’s gifts and the generosity of His people!!

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Pastor’s Blog – Blessed Christmas!!

Blessed Christmas!!
Today, the people of God around the world will gather together with friends and family to worship the new born King, the Savior of the nations—Jesus.
May this Christmas be filled with childlike awe and wonder as you reflect on the best Christmas gift, God’s pure and unchanging love for you. A love that came in the flesh– as baby Jesus on Christmas. Then showed itself to be the most unexpected and powerful love ever known—as Jesus bore the cross for you and yours. A love that many discover means more and more with each passing Christmas.
 
May you deeply experience God’s love in your heart today! Blessed Christmas!!
 
Pastor Scott

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Pastor’s Blog – Advent: The Grand Finale

Will you be a Christmas Angel this year?

Angels are messengers. They tell Good News from God during the events of Christmas.
Will you spread the news of Jesus’ birth this Christmas?
How about telling your family and friends about our Christmas Eve services 4 & 6, and 11:00?
 
Community is excited to serve you and yours this Christmas—sharing the Good News of our Savior Jesus’ birth! It is our hope and prayer that your family will be blessed to worship Jesus this Christmas Eve with your friends at Community!
 

Love Came Down at Christmas!

This Sunday is the final Advent service. We might even call it the Grand Finale—as our final preparation for Christmas Even. We can’t help but think of gifts and gift giving at Christmas time – after all – God started it!
 
He is the ultimate Gift Giver – giving us life and salvation in baby Jesus born of Mary, worshipped by shepherds, and announced by angels. This Christmas, every gift we give is an expression of love and care that reflects the perfect Gift God gave to us all – Jesus!
 
The gift of Jesus is for you! And the gifts He gives are for you!
 
How do you and I respond?
 
We rejoice together in Christmas Eve worship – like the shepherds who worshipped Him together at His birth.
 
We also respond with our gifts – like the Wise Men who gave precious treasures as they worshipped Jesus sometime later. We too bring our precious gifts as part of our worship. I encourage you to ponder like Mary the Gift of God that is born in you again this Christmas. May her song be the song of your heart too this Christmas:
 
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
 
Our December Giving Goal of $51,500 is now within reach. This is a calculation of Member Contributions needed to end 2019 in a positive cash position. Thank you for your past generosity and for helping us to end the year strong!
December Christmas Giving Goal             $51,500
December Gifts received in weeks 1 -3     $29,242
Remaining Goal                                        $22,400
 
Your special gift from the heart in the month of December will greatly impact our mission to “Impact lives” in the coming year. Thank you!
 
See you on Christmas Eve
 
Pastor Scott

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