A Busy Weekend

This past weekend was very busy for us, and this is the first opportunity to sit down and write it all down to share with you.

We had our first garage sale, which ran Thursday-Saturday. We had advertised it as starting at 7:30a.m., but people were lining the street at 7:00, as soon as we put our signs out. Each day, we ran well past our 3:00p.m. advertised end time, because people were still stopping by. It was an exhausting experience, but we did pretty well. More importantly, we were able to see many of our extra household items go to new homes. That was sometimes bittersweet, but also a bit cathartic.

On Saturday, we were privileged to attend the La Crosse Zone LWML Rally at Faith Lutheran in La Crosse. Ryan got to present to a group of about 30 ladies, and they had lots of great questions and discussion with us. Then, we were treated to a great salad luncheon afterwards.

Ryan with Pastor Paul Mundinger and the La Crosse Zone LWML President

Ryan with Pastor Paul Mundinger and the La Crosse Zone LWML President

Next, we got to attend the Divine Service at Prince of Peace Lutheran in West Salem, WI, where Ryan preached and celebrated, since Pastor Schockman was out of town. After service, we enjoyed some great refreshments and then Ryan gave a presentation to a very attentive assembly while the children got to enjoy Sunday School. (Unfortunately, we are bad at remembering to take pictures in church, so we don’t have a photo from this.)

Then, Sunday afternoon was Ryan’s official installation service as a missionary. We gathered with a small group of saints at Messiah, La Crescent, including some of our friends from St. Peter, Elma (our former parish). Pastor Matt Lorfeld preached a great sermon about the peace of God, and Pr. William Utech, the Minn. South District Mission Executive, officiated the installation. It is always a bit awkward for a pastor to sit and listen to a sermon, especially when it is directed right at you, but Pastor Lorfeld did a great job of giving us the comfort of the Gospel as we go out on this journey.

Pr. Utech installing Ryan as a missionary

Pr. Utech installing Ryan as a missionary

L-R: Jim Cumming, Kevin Froelich, William Utech, Ryan McDermott, Matt Lorfeld

L-R: Jim Cumming, Kevin Froelich, William Utech, Ryan McDermott, Matt Lorfeld

Thank you to everyone who was involved in this momentous weekend, to all who have been praying for and encouraging us, and to all whom we look forward to meeting soon!

Exuberant Goodness

O, glorious, high office, too high for the angels! May we always hold it in high regard, not looking at the person who bears it and despising his weakness, but looking instead at the Institutor of this office and His exuberant goodness. Let us turn to Him in faith so we can experience the blessings of which the preachers have spoken and, through them, be gathered together one day into the barns of heaven as a completely ripe sheaf.

 – C.F.W. Walther, from God Grant It, (c) CPH 2006 [emphasis mine]

This morning, in our family devotions, we read this passage as reprinted in the Treasury of Daily Prayer, and the phrase “exuberant goodness” stuck with me. What a way to describe the grace of God in Jesus Christ!

In this coming Sunday’s Gospel lesson, St. Luke records that when Jesus showed Himself to the disciples, “they disbelieved for joy, and were marveling.” (Luke 24:41) In other words, what the Lord set before their eyes was “too good to be true.” This fact that the Lord of life whom sinful men crucified was standing before them in the flesh – that was too good to be true.

That is why Thomas doubted. That is why we doubt. It’s too good to be true. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” can’t be the whole story of salvation. You must need to do something, to choose something, to cooperate somehow. Nothing is free.

Except it is.

“Peace be with you,” proclaims our risen Lord. Not just a warm, fuzzy contentedness, like being wrapped in a warm sweater. A real peace, the peace that only comes from the presence of the Body of Christ among us. This peace is your being made whole by having your sins forgiven. For sins cannot remain where our Paschal Sacrifice stands for you.

The exuberant goodness is that God gives this gift to you. And He gives it. And He gives it again. And then He gives it a different way, but still the same Jesus. He gives you a minister to administer it to you, to make the historical fact a present reality.

Every. Single. Time.

Christ is risen – Alleluia!

He is risen indeed – Alleluia!

“Making Religious Comments”

The martyrdom of Stephen

The martyrdom of Stephen

I have seen two pieces of news lately that, when set side by side, make a very odd picture of the Church.

First is the news from Kenya about the killing of 147 and wounding of 104 at Garissa University. It is reported that the killers targeted Christians for executions as they went about on their grisly errand. These faithful souls were martyed at the hands of al-Shabaab militants, but they held the good confession, and they were blessed to celebrate the Paschal feast in the presence of their King.

Second is news reported from Ho, Ghana, where the Chairman of the Christ Apostolic Church International (CACI), Apostle Dr Stephen Kwame Amoani, has admonished Ghanaian clergy not to make unnecessary religious statements, lest one inflame tensions between groups and cause conflict. Lest another sect or religion take offence, the good “Apostle” encouraged Christians rather to focus on building a better society and a more stable government.

On one hand, you have those who were faced with death for the confession of Christ Crucified, and they persevered to the end, not fearing the one who has power only over the body. They received the blessed rest eternal.

On the other hand, you have a so-called “Apostle” telling his people not to make a good confession, lest they offend others and unbalance their idea of a peaceful society. What will the fruit of this confession be?

For my money, I pray that the Lord would grant me the kind of Easter the Kenyan students had, someday, and I pray that He would keep me from the false peace that comes from a weak or watered-down confession.

Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word.

Curb those who by deceit or sword

Would wrest the kingdom from Your Son

And set at naught all He hath done.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Christ is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!