"He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty, that we should desire Him.  He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised and we esteemed Him not." (Isaiah 53:2-3).


     As I opened the blinds this morning and gazed upon my back yard, I thought to myself, "what an ugly mess."  It's hard to picture green grass arising out of that sea of ice and mud.  This picture of our yards right now seems somehow fitting as we relate to the Church.  We are in the midst of Lent, the season in the Church Year where we contemplate the things we would rather look away from-our sin and Christ on the cross.


     We would much rather cover up our sin than acknowledge it.  In fact, as sinful creatures we are prone to claim the traits of God for ourselves.  We claim that we are good.  We work hard on our images thinking that we can achieve beauty by our efforts, thereby making ourselves pleasing to God and our neighbors.  We believe we are truly free in every sense of the word.  These traits, goodness, beauty, and freedom, are traits that properly belong to God.  The traits that properly come from within our being, apart from God, are quite the opposite.  (See Jesus' word in Mark 7:14-23 for the complete list of what comes from within our hearts.)


     While we were busy claiming God's traits as our own, God humbled Himself and came to us.  He came to us that we might be set free from our bondage to sin.  He came to save us.  He came in humility.  The Creator of Beauty, Beauty in the flesh, was nothing to look at and we despised Him.  Jesus entered our world of mud and muck, our world of sin, and He became ugly.  He took our sin upon Himself that we might become beautiful in God's eyes.


     The beauty of our Savior was hidden.  His beauty was not displayed by His appearance.  Hollywood would not have desired Jesus' services.  Christ's beauty was revealed on the cross, where the compassion, mercy, and forgiveness, of God were poured out for the world.


     As we gaze at the cross, we awake from our delusions that we have beauty, or goodness, or freedom(You were bought with a price!)to offer God.  As we look to the cross, we see our Lord giving everything for us!  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  As we look to the cross, we are reminded that we are baptized into His death and resurrection.  The goodness, beauty, and freedom we possess do not come from within us.  They are gifts of God, purchased and won for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior.  These gifts are freely and personally given to us as we are joined to Christ and made members of The kingdom through the waters of Holy Baptism.


You are God's child and you are loved not because you are beautiful.  You are beautiful because you are loved by God in Christ Jesus!  Our yards may look dismal and hopeless right now, but we hope that with the coming of Spring they will receive new life.  So our lives may look quite bleak as we take an honest assessment(Apart from Christ, we are dead), but we trust in the grace and mercy of our Lord who will grant goodness, beauty, and life everlasting to even us!  "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 118Smile


God's blessing as you journey with Him this Lenten Season.


Pastor Matt



Well, we are definitely in the throes of winter.  This winter it has been very hard to predict what is going to be thrown our way!  We have experienced 20 below zero and 40 above in the same week and the roller coaster of weather continues.  While each winter is a unique journey, the destination is well known-SPRING!  In the Church Year, this month also marks the beginning of our Lenten journey.  Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, is February 14th.


Lent is the journey we make as we travel with Christ from the Mount of Transfiguration to Jerusalem, where He will face the cross and grave for our sake.  Lent is a prayerful and contemplative season of the church year.  During Lent we offer midweek services to provide additional opportunity to contemplate our salvation in Christ Jesus.  Midweek services begin with Ash Wednesday(February 14th) and will continue Wednesday evenings at 7:00 PM throughout the season of Lent.


This year, during our midweek services, we will focus upon the journey.  Our overall theme is "Return from Exile: A Lenten Journey."  This series, published by CPH, was written by Dr. Jeffrey Pulse, a favorite professor of mine at Concordia Theological Seminary.  The beginning of our journey is exile in the wilderness of sin and death.  From the first sin in the first garden, we have been exiled into the wilderness where we have wandered without any ability to find our way out.  But every journey has a destination.  Our return from exile brings us into the promised land, the perfect place, the new garden-the ultimate destination which was established for us by Jesus' death and resurrection.


There is great joy in the journey as we  see  where our returning brings us; but there is also a somber attitude when we consider what Christ faced on account of our sin.  Each leg of our midweek Lenten journey will tace a theme beginning in the Old Testament and continuing into the New Testament, pointing us to the joy that is ours on account of Christ Jesus.  These midweek services will provide the opportunity to contemplate the reality of our earthly journey with eyes fixed on its destination--the empty tomb and the open gates of everlasting life.  All the while, we never lose sight of the underlying reality of joy as we are reminded that we do not walk this way alone.


I look forward to journeying with you this Lenten Season.  The way is far from predictable, but the destination is certain--the feast of victory at the table of our Lord!


May the Lord richly bless you as you journey with Him this Lenten Season.


Pastor Matt








"Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Luke 2:19).

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,


Christmas is a season of wonder.  It's amazing how fast the wonder fades.  We reach December 26rh the songs, decorations, and joy of the season, the anticipation and wonder, have slipped away.  Even the glorious food of the season is now just viewed as "left-overs."  Though the cookies might be getting stale, the true wonder of the Christmas Season never grows old.  Let's join Mary and treasure up these things(the wonders of His love)rather than store them away in the attic.


At Christmas time, especially, we hear of the wonder.  Mary wonders at the announcement of the angel that she will give birth to the Son of God.  Mary wonders again as she receives more angelic news from the shepherds of Bethlehem.  At Christmas time we sing of Mary's wonders.  "A great and mighty wonder, a full and holy cutre: the virgin bears the infant honor pure!"  Or if you prefer, the final verse of Joy to the World.  "He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteouness and wonders of His love..."

We live in a world that likes to think that it has all the answers.  Thinking that there is nothing beyond our knowing, really makes the world a dull place.  Then at Christmas time we hear afresh the account of Jesus' birth and we wonder.  To wonder means that the world might just be more profound than we thought, more mysterious than our reason has taught us to believe.  To wonder means that we are aware that we do not know something something fully.  To wonder means that we find ourselves struck dumb.  We are forced out of our "I know everything" mindset and realize that our search for the truth might be more of a lifelong quest.


Along with Mary, we realize that we do not know or understand everything.  We realize that our Lord is the one who knows all; therefore, we treasure up what we receive from Him as He leads us on the Way of Truth.  As we understand that all things are in His hands, and wonder at what this means, we are set free.  Our wonder leads to joy in Him.  The wonders of His love for us cause us to sing "Joy to the World."


Hold onto your wonder, it is a gift from God.  Continue to treasure up the Word of the Lord in your hearts all year long, as Mary did, for this is how our Lord prepares us to meet Him.  In this world, we are ever "on the way," as we are called to follow Jesus.  As we follow our Lord, we continue to wonder, continue to hope for the Day of His coming, the Day when our joy will be complete.  Until that Day, we continue to rejoice in the birth of the Newborn King and the wonders of His love!


Pastor Rasmussen


Thank You:

A very special thank you to all of the generous and wonderful people who thought of our family this past month.  In the midst of the Christmas season, I have been reminded many times of God working in and through His people.  Your very generous congregational gift, cards, prayers, food, and gifts are much appreciated!  I thank God for you and I thank you.--Pastor Matt, Adrienne, Makenna and Chloe.




Dear Christian friends,


"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name, Immanuel."  Isaiah 7:14

We now have another successful bazaar in our collective memory.  It is a blessing to watch so many come together and transform the common areas of our building for the festive event.  This creative endeavor is not only an occasion for meaningful fellowship, but it also provides an opportunity to open our doors to our neighbors that they might see Christ's light in us even as we serve them.  The fruits of our labors are poured into the sanctuary, and all is done to the glory of God.


I particularly enjoy the creative spirit of the handicrafts: the stitches sown, the assembling of varied fabrics in the quilt work, the flowers arranged, the wood formed, the paper transformed by paint.  These are all visible outlets of our desire to create.  Whenever we make something, we are making use of what has already been made.  The wool of the lamb is spun that it may be knitted to make a sweater.  The tree is felled, sawn, and formed to make a table.  The paint is made from beautifully colored products of nature.  All of our "creations" are actually repurposing, rearranging, and recycling what has already been created.  We may be able to bake from "scratch," but we are not able to create nothing from nothing.  God, on the other hand....


God speaks, and reality is made.  "Let there be light," is spoken, and behold, there is light.  Likewise, when the time came for the virgin to conceive, she was found to be with child.  Out of nothing, light came into the world through the voice of God.  By this very same power, the Son of God came into the world through the womb of the Virgin Mary.  "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."  (John 1:14).  The Son of God is created in our image that we might be recreated in His.  This is what we dwell upon during the season of Advent.


I pray that you will contemplate the meaning of the season and receive the gifts of our gracious Lord in Sunday morning worship and Wednesday evening services at 7:00 PM (Dec 6th, 13th and 20th).  These brief devotional midweek services provide additional opportunity to savor God's love for us, shown in the Christ Child.  The theme for our midweek services will be formed around Luther's instruction on the contemplation of the Word of God--oratio (prayer), meditatio (meditation), and

tentatio (perseverance in suffering).  We will use Mary as our guide as we contemplate the creative miracle of Child in her Womb this Advent Season.


A blessed Advent and Christmas to you, and may the light of the Lord shine upon you both now and forevermore.


In Christ,

Pastor Rasmussen


"I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright in the congregation"  (Psalm 111:1).


With the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation still fresh in mind, we enter into the month of Thanksgiving.  Many today wish to divorce the virtue of thanksgiving from its source, namely God.  It is most difficult, and a bit strange, to give thanks without acknowledging the Source from Whom all blessings flow.  Martin Luther commented on Psalm 111:1, "Thankfulness is the virtue characteristic of real Christians; it is their worship of God at its best.  They thank God and do it with all their heart.  This is a virtue unattainable by any other human being on earth...To thank with all your heart is an art-an art which the Holy Spirit teaches."  

The Holy Spirit working through the living and active Word of God has opened our eyes to see the true state of our hearts.  Realizing that we have nothing to offer God, we are prepared to receive the gifts won for us through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, our Lord.  He took our sin upon Himself and clothed us with His perfect righteousness.  So great is His love for us!  What can we do for God in return?  We are tempted to spend a lot of time and effort trying to think up good things to do to please God.  There is a great damage in overthinking things in that we often, as a result, end up missing what is truly most important.


Luther's favorite Psalm 118.  The first verse reads, "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is god; for His steadfast love endures forever."  Luther comments, "This verse teaches us what the proper sacrifice is that pleases God most; for we cannot perform any greater or better work for God, nor can we render Him a nobler service than thanking Him"  God's true desire is that His children receive the good gifts He gives with thankfulness and praise.  Indeed, this is what the Divine Service is all about each and every Sunday.  Our Lord serves us with His gifts and we respond with thanks and praise.  Again, hear the words of Psalm 111: "I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright in the congregation."


True thanksgiving can come only by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the living and active Word of God.  So we gather together to receive the gifts our Heavenly Father gives to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, and we give thanks with our whole hearts.


We, who have nothing to offer God, are made upright and holy through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ.  Join the congregation of the upright in the congregation in giving thanks to God every Lord's Day and also with a special worship service this Thanksgiving Eve-Wednesday, November 22nd at 7:00 PM.

"Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him"(Colossians 3:17).


In Christ,

Pastor Rasmussen



We have reached the month of October.  On Sunday, October 29th, we will celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.  You may be thinking, "Ok, great, but what exactly are we celebrating?" Well, I'm glad you asked.  We are celebrating the message Luther proclaimed from the rooftops.  Sinners (that's us) are justified (declared blameless before God) through faith alone (by believing in the all-sufficient work of Jesus Christ for us).  This message did not originate with Luther.  "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His Grace, as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23).


This message is strange to our ears.  This message was railed against in Luther's time as people did not want an old revelation.  They wanted an updated experience of God.  Some things never change.  Yet, Luther's message had the power to begin a reformation.  It changed the hearts of many and continues to this day.  Again, what are we celebrating?  How did this strange message lead to a reformation that is worth commemorating 500 years later?  This message has great power not because it was championed by Martin Luther.  This message is nothing but the Gospel itself.  The Gospel applies to all people of every time and place.  It has always come as a strange message because it is quite literally not of this world.  In short, the Reformation was about our justification.  How can we stand before a holy and righteous God?  Answer: through faith in Christ alone.  Luther said it this way in the fifth stanza of his hymn "Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice:"  God said to His beloved Son: "it's time to have compassion.  Then go bright jewel of My crown, and bring to all salvation.  From sin and sorrow set them free: slay bitter death for them that they may live with You forever."


Yet, we continue to rebel.  Today, we place God on the stand and we judge Him.  "God if You are so good and loving and perfect why do You allow suffering and evil in the world?"  We no longer fear the judgement of God for we have placed ourselves in His place.  We choose to live the illusion that we know best.  Yet, reality has a way of barging in on us and destroying the illusion.  Is humanity really "good" apart from God?  Read the news headlines any day of the week.  We must abandon the illusion and repent.  To fully understand the beauty of the Gospel we must first be brought to see our brokenness and our need for a Redeemer.


Understanding Jesus Christ as our Redeemer is what Luther's teaching of justification is all about.  I am nothing.  I can do nothing.  I know nothing.  I have nothing.  If I relied on myself then my life would be lost for all eternity.  "We are beggars, this is true!"  But we have a Savior "who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sancitification and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30).  This is what we celebrate-the glory of Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners, He and He alone!


Please join in the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this month.  It's still all about Jesus!"


Pastor Matt


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,


Jesus said to Martha, following the death of her brother Lazarus, "I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever beieves in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.  Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26).


It has been a lush summer.  The rain has kept our yards surprisingly green, even through the month of August.  Gardens are now ripe for the picking.  Yet, signs of the season to come are beginning to show.  Leaves are beginning to turn-hopefully the beginning of a beautiful autumn before the trees are again stripped bare for the winter.  Year after year the seasons give us a visual of the cycle of life.  There are a couple of ways to contemplate this lesson that annually unfolds before us-1)birth, life, and death, or 2)death, resurrection, and new life.  Baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection, the Christian is encouraged to view life according to the second option(Romas 6:1-11).


Either way, death is the part that is most likely to make us uncomfortable.  It isn't fashionable in our day to discuss death.  Apart from God, one struggles to find a place, meaning, or purpose for suffering, failure, defeat, and their ultimate end, death.  As a result, death is often glossed over or denied.  It's a topic we often put off until it literally enters the room.  Then it's often recast as something natural and good; a cause for great celebration.  In fact, death is not natural, or good.  It entered the world through sin(Romans 5:12).  The devil is one who works to destroy the life that God gives(John 10:10).  Christ is the One who came to destroy the works of the devil(1 John 3:8).


Christ's death on the cross destroyed death.  His resurrection from the dead and His Word of life gives the hope of life eternal to all who believe in Him.  Though we must suffer death, on account of sin, in Christ, we are delivered from death to life everlasting.  By faith, we are given great hope that our Lord will remain with u s from death to life everlasting with Him.


Still many questions remain.  What is the purpose of a funeral?  Is it okay to be cremated?  Once I'm dead why does my body matter at all?  What happens when I die?  I could go on and on.  Thankfully, there are many resources within our church body that addresses these questions and many more.  The July issue of Lutheran Witness titled "Jesus: Defining Death, Defying Death" is a great place to start.  Face to face teaching and interaction is even better when grappling with these difficult issues.  I'm pleased to offer just such an opportunity.


Saturday, September 30th, I look forward to leading a congregational retreat on Death, Dying, and the Resurrection.  We'll discuss the questions listed above, we'll walk through the funeral planning process, and you'll have the opportunity to ask questions that might be on your heart or mind.  I pray that you'll consider attending to see what Scripture has to say regarding death and to see how the practices of the church reflect the Scriptural teachings.  This is one of the events that will help prepare us for the celebration of the Reformation this year.  Please consult the full calendar of events for "Celebration Reformation," found in the newsletter, for details of this retreat and listings of other planned events.


May the Lord of Life give you peace and hope, even in the face of death.


Pastor Matt





Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the following is excerpted from the sermon I delivered on Sunday, July 16th.

                             A Summer Parable-The Parable of the Sower(Matthew 13:1-23

A Sower(God the Father)scatters seed (the Word) the world over, yet most of the seed that is sown never produces fruit.  The seed by the path, the seed in the rocky ground, and the seed among the thorns all belong together as seed that is, in the end, unfruitful.  Why?  Well, we surmise, there's a lot of seed out there that appears to need our help.  Let's see what we might do about this.  Let's pick rocks and test soil and buy some Miracle-Gro at Aubuchon's.  Sounds reasonable, except there is no defect in the seed, that is the Word.  It's all there, it's perfect, and it achieves its purpose without our work.  Jesus died for the sin of the world.  Yet we often act as if something needs to be done to activate this reality.  (Pray this prayer.  Follow these rules.  Act this way.)  It's not that something needs to be done, that we need to get busy or think up some sort of creative way to stimulate the seed.  The mystery of the Kingdom is that what has been done perfectly can be rejected.  When God at last comes to the world, He comes in ways that are mysteriously lowly, weak, and resistable.


The fullest enjoyment of the fruitfulness of the Word is available only to those who interfere with it least.  It's not that we do things; it's that we don't do things that get in the way of the Word.  The one who bears fruit is the one who hears and understands.  Our response does not keep the Word from achieving His purposes.  Our response, rather, determines whether we will enjoy His working or be in opposition to it.  Think of it this way.  The unproductive soils are not threats to those who fail to make the best response.  They are laments that describe what we miss when we choose to follow the ways of the devil, the world, and our flesh.  "O Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not (Matthew 23:37).


The parable indeed calls for a response, but the response is not a call to accomplish a work, but rather, to bear fruit.  Fruit, that is, the fruit of the Spirit, is not grown by our deliberate effort.  Fruit is allowed to grow under the guidance of the Spirit who takes what is the Word's and makes it known to us.  We are grafteeed intot he life giving vine and therefore, produce fruit.  The fruit given us through the Word by the power of the Holy Spirit is what make us truly human-Love, joy, peace, patience (longsuffering), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  These are not the results of our efforts.  These are the fruits given us as free gift, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, the Word.  The goal s not to amass works.  The goal is not to amass works.  The goal is to allow the Word to have His way with us that we may experience lift as He gives it to us and bear fruit according to His good pleasure.


As believers, as followers of Jesus who trust in the forgiveness won for us on the cross, our lives, by the grace of God, are fruitful.  Yes, we still live in a world where Satan, persecutions, wealth and worry are everywhere.  In in the midst of all of this, by the guidenace of the Holy Spirit, we follow Jesus faithfully through this valley of the shadow of death, trusting in His Word and His way.  Clinging to Jesus, hearing the Word, receiving what is sown by the Sower, you are not the seed on the path, the seed in the rocky soil, or the seed among thorns.  In Jesus, the Word of the Kingdom has come to you.  In Jesus, you bear fruit.


God's blessings on your summer.  May it be fruitful!

Pastor Matt






"When He had finished speaking, Jesus said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."  And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!  But at Your word I will let down the nets." And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking."  Luke 5:4-6


Dear brothers and sisters ni Christ,


I suppose you could say it's now fishing season here in Vermont.  If not fishing, it's the season we get out and do what we know and like to do.  What a blessing to have so much to get out and see and do!  In our summertime doing, we can be quick to forget our Lord's working and action in and through our lives.


If you are a fisherman, I'll bet you have a method to your madness.  I'll also bet that you are a little skeptical of the "advice" others might give you on the topic.  Simon Peter was a skilled fisherman.  It's what he did for a l iving.  After a fruitless night of fishing Jesus offers the seasoned fisherman a word of advice, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets."  We know what Peter was likely thinking:  "Jesus, You might teach from a boat, but fishing is my livelihood.  I know what I'm doing, but because I respect you I'll give it a try."  We think the same way.  We go about our necessary business believing that the weight of our well-being rest entirely on our shoulders.  Whatever we might "haul in" depends on our effort.  What does God have to do with my day to day matters?"


Well, following the advice of Jesus, Peter's haul of fish was extraordinary!  Our God is near.  He shapes and forms  us and makes us His own through even the ordinary tasks of life.  Peter is ashamed that he doubted his Lord.  His sin weighs heavy upon Him.  "Depart from me for I am a sniful man, O Lord."  Jesus does not adminish Peter.  Rather, He forgives and encourages, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men."  Indeed, Peter left everything and followed Jesus.


Jesus is also with you always-even now!  He leads us and guides us, He sustains and upholds us, He directs our days and our deeds. Whether you are fishing or hiking, or biking or working, know that the Lord is with you.  More than this, give thanks for all that He accomplishes in you and through you as you live to His glory.


Lord, forgive me when I fail to regonize Your work in my life that I may live in service to You.


God's blessings to you!


Pastor Matt







"Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (James 1:22).

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The leaves are out, the mud is dried up, the grass is getting thick, and the weeds are coming fast.  We are, without a doubt, in the season of growth-lawns need mowing, gardens need planting, trees need pruning, weeds need pulling, and the list goes on.  There is no shortage of things to be done.  Likewise, in the Church, we have entered the season of growth.  The season of Pentecost is the longest season of the Church year, taking us all the way to Advent.  During this season, we are refreshed and built up in the faith.  To say it another way, we learn what it means to be a baptized child of God.  We are equipped, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to daily put off our old self and to clothe ourselives in the righteousness of God, given us in baptism.  You may now be wondering, "OK, what does this mean?"

It means that we are equipped to be "doers of the Word."  The Word of God is active and living.  Baptized into His name most holy, we receive the implanted Word with meekness and so are saved(James 1:21).  This Word that we receive, Jesus Christ, sets us free. We are perfected through Him and by Him.  We are set free to serve our brothers and sisters, "to visit orphans and widows in their afflliction."  The Word of liberty draws our gaze away from ourselves that we might see and serve others and so serve Christ Jesus.  James encourages us not to be stained by the ways of the world or deceived by the laziness and self-centeredness of our sinful flesh, but instead be transformed by the living Word of God.

How do we become "doers of the Word?"  As we gaze out our windows, we can readily see the yard work that needs to be done.  "I really need to trim that tree, or plant the garden, or mow the lawn."  What about Kingdom work?  How do we go about it?  Our Lord gives us some surprising guidance in Matthew chapter 25.  When the righteous are commended by Jesus for feeding Him, clothing Him, visiting Him, and caring for Him they are left dumbfounded.  "Lord when did we do these things you speak of?  Jesus answered them, "As you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me."  (Matthew 25:40)And so we find out that in serving others we are serving our Lord.

Where do we begin?  We begin at home and expand from there as the Lord puts us in contact with others.  We look to serve our families, our co-workers, our neighbors, those our Lord places in our lives.  Each day new  opportunities arise to be doers of the Word. Embrace them as they come and know that in serving others you are serving the Lord.  When you feel ill-equipped or inadequate in your service remember from where your strength comes.  Return to the Lord.  Confess your sins.  Receive His forgiveness, His body and blood for the strengthening of your faith, His Word.  The living and active Word in you will make you a doer of the Word.  When you doubt your accomplishments, take heart in the fact that the righteous were unaware of their service to the Lord.  Their humble works were blessed because they were children of the heavenly Father.  Thanks be to God in Chris Jesus!

Dear heavenly Father, may your Word continue to grow in me that by the power of Your Holy Spirit I may be blessed in my doing.  Amen.

In Christ,

Pastor Matt


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,


This Easter Season we rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, from the dead!  As the weather begins to warm slowly, and the grass starts to take color, and the buds on the trees swell, we begin to plan life in a new season.  We clean out our closets and deliver treasures to the Women's Guild Flea Market.  (The ladies are busy working even as I write.)  We make plans for gardens and vacations and work to be done before we go on vacation and the list goes on.  We take pride in our planning.  We place a lot of stock in our planning, so much so that we are given to think that our future and hope rest on our planning ability.  Sometimes things go according to plan and oftentimes things don't.  A prominent boxer once said, "Everyone has a plan, and then they get punched in the face."  Indeed, life can throw punches that upset our plans.


Early in the morning on the first day of the week, women set out to visit the tomb where Jesus had been laid.  Their plan was to apply lovingly some finishing touches on the dead body of Jesus.  When they arrived at the tomb, they were hit.  It's quite certain they were gut-wrenched.  The body of Jesus was not there.  They were perplexed and alarmed.  Their plans were upset.  The Lord had other plans.  Looking back, it's quite certai that the women saw that their hope and comfort came not from their planning but from their Lord's.


It's good to plan, but it's also necessary to remember that our ultimate hope is in our Lord's plans for us.  When life throws an ugly punch that steals our strength, we fall into the arms of our Lord and Savior, our Rock, our Strength, our Deliverer.  When the women saw Jesus, they dropped their spices and ran and spread the Good News.


"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you."  (Jeremiah 29:11-12)Our Lord's plan for us was born of the Virgin Mary, He suffered, died, and was raised from the dead for our future and our hope.  Our Lord delivers us from the blows that life deals.  We may get knocked down, but in Him we cannot be defeated.  When our plans seem to crumble, remember the Lord has a plan for you and in Him you have a future and a hope.  "It is finished."  The victory has been won.


Plot your gardens; plan your vacation; make a list of work to be done and rest in the assurance that your hope and your future are planned for you by the Lord.  When you become discouraged, do not lose hope, or do not pride yourself into thinking that all depends upon you.  Call upon Him.  Pray to Him.  He has promised to hear you.  He has already delivered you through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.  He is risen!  Alleluia!''


In Christ,

Pastor Rasmussen




Winter has officially given way to spring, and in the month of April, Lent officially gives way to Easter.  (Please mark your calendars-Easter is April 16th.  Our services will be at 8:00 AM and 10:30 AM with a breakfast between the services).  Why is Easter the most celebrated day of the Church Year!  Indeed, it  is the day on which we celebrate the historical tact of the Resurrection of our Lord, the very cornerstone of the Christian faith.  What does this mean?  Why is the truth the source of great celebration?  To understand the great joy of Easter, we must take a look at Lent, the season of fasting that culminutes with a great feast, the Celebration of the Resurrection.


Lent is a season where we are called to examine ourselves.  We hold up the mirror of the law and take a serious look at what comes from within.  It was once a common practice during the season of Lent to make an attempt to bridle the selfish desires desires of the flesh by giving something up, by tasting, or by devoting an increased measure of time to the Word of God.  The point of these measures is remind us of the frailty of our flesh.  On our own, we are powerless to change our lives in any meaningful way.  In many ways, the Season of Lent plays the role of the law-our sin is unmasked and our great efforts to cover out sin and justify ourselves fail miserably.  Yet, God provides a way.


With the Resurrection of the Christ, a power, not our own, has come upon us.  We are given a strength that raises us above the power of the law.  We are actually set free fromm our bondage to the law by the merciful love of God, the sacrifice of His Son for us.  In light of this love, we no longer strive to be good because we have to; we strive because it is our joy to please Himi Who has given His life for our freedom.


Easter is the celebreation of our deliverance from the hard law of God that judges and condemns us in our sin.  Christ has delivered us from that law and harsh judgement.  Christ suffered our death sentence that we may be set free.  The good news is that our freedom does not rely on our effort.  Our observance of the law, no matter how careful or strict we might think it will be, we will never earn our freedom or keep us from sin.  Something far greater is needed-the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!  This love does not come by our efforts.  It is the merciful gift of God lavished upon us as a result of Christ's victory.  His love is the source of our love and holiness.  We taste His love and share in His victory every Lord's Day as we receive the salutary gift of His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of our sins.  This is the joy of Easter.  this is the fruit of the ressurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


"God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ...and raised us up with hm and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus....For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own ding; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."  (Ephesians 2:4-9)


He is risen!  Let us rejoice in His love!

Pastor Matt




March is here, which means maple sugar season is here.  This year, March also ushers in the season of Lent-March 1st is Ash Wednesday.  While you are working in the woods tapping trees and watching snow melt, you might also take some time to contemplate your need for a Savior.  What a Savior we have in Jesus!


Lent is a prayerful and contemplative season of the church year.  During Lent we offer midweek services to provide additional opportunity to contemplate our salvation in Christ Jesus.  Midweek services begin with Ash Wednesday and will continue Wednesday evenings at 7:00 PM throughout the season of Lent.


This year, during our midweek services, we will contemplate one of the most astounding and mysterious gifts our Lord gives to His people-His very body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins in the Sacrament of the Altar.  While the chief blessing and benefit of the Lord's Supper is the forgiveness of our sins, there are several different images and metaphors used in Holy Scripture to highlight the blessings of the Lord's supper, many of which are reflected in our hymns.  In our midweek services series titled "The Lord's Supper: The Salutary Gift"(Concordia Publishing House, 2016)we will explore and unpack these images.  Allow me to begin here with the word "salutary."


Salutary is a word you don't hear or use every day, although it is a word you hear every Sunday.  In the Service of the Sacrament the Proper preface always begins with these words, "It is truly good, right, and salutary ...."  So what does salutary mean?  It's actually a word so packed with meaning that a simple synonym doesn't really suffice to replace it.  So, here's a list of words that help define salutary:  beneficial, advantageous, good, profitable, productive, helpful, useful, valuable, worthwhile, timely, health-giving, life-giving.  Now I hope you have a heartier understanding of the word and the title of our midweek series, The Salutary Gift.

The goal of this series is to set before our eyes the many blessings and benefits of the Lord's Supper.  Our hymns help us in this regard by making connections that we might not otherwise make.  They draw upon the themes of Holy Scripture and teach us to appreciate the full range of blessings that are present when the faithful are gathered around the life-giving, nourishing, and salutary gift(Now you know what this word means.  In case you forgot, please refer to the definition above.) of our Lord's holy body and precious blood.


As we contemplate and explore the riches of the Lord's Supper, I pray that your understanding as well as your appetite for this miraculous gift will increase.  This is also a most appropriate focus for the season of Lent as the Lord's Supper is built upon the sacrifice of our Lord on the Cross of Calvary.  (Daily devotional booklets that correspond with this series are also available.  You may pick one up on the credenza on your way into the sanctuary.)


May the Lord richly bless you this Lenten Season as you contemplate the richness of His love for you.  "This is love:  not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atning sacrifice for our sins."  1 John 4:10


Pastor Matt



 "When [Jesus] got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.  And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but [Jesus] was asleep." Matthew 8:23-24


As I write, it is a little stormy outside.  The sleet is hitting the window and the plow trucks are making their rounds.  The news headlines in our country right now are even stormier.  It appears that there's much to be uncertain about.  Perhaps, you too, are battling the wind and waves of personal storms in your own life.  Life, at times, can get fairly scary.  As our boat gets swamped with waves and we toil to keep afloat, it can seem that our Lord is, well, fast asleep.  We feel ignored by the One who is supposed to be our Savior.  Here's the important question.  When the wind and waves rise up and test your faith, when you can no longer keep up with the bailing bucket where do you turn?  The disciples decided to give their slumbering Lord a shake, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing."

The One who slept, the example of faith, arose and rebuked His disciples, not for waking Him, but rather for troubling themselves with their own fears.  "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith."  Yet, the Lord is much more than example for us to follow.  He doesn't tell the disciples to follow His lead and catch some sleep.  The Lord next rebukes the wind and the waves.  The sea obeys and the frothy waves become a great calm.  His (Pdisciples wonder aloud: "What sort of man is this, that even the winds and sea obey Him?"  He is also the object of faith.  "You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."  (Matt 1:21).  Jesus accomplishes what we cannot.  No matter how great the storm, the salvation of the Lord is greater.


With the Lord in our boat, we truly have nothing to fear.  Yet, we still fear.  When it seems like the boat is about ready to capsize, follow the lead of the disciples.  Take your fear and run to the Lord.  Are you afraid of a rebuke?  Have no fear; the Lord will not quench your smoldering wick of faith.  Actually, we ought to thank God for not letting us become dependent upon our efforts, our doings, or our visions of how things should be.  He will not allow us to ride out the storm in false self-confidence.  His rebukes are actually blessings, for they empty us of our self-reliance that we may be filled with His love.  We must recognize our brokenness before we can be built up in His love.  In any time of uncertainty, turn to the Lord.  "Blessed are all who take refuge in Him."  (Psalm 2:1)


                                 Heavenly Father, when our faith falters,

                      turn us to the One Who controls even the wind and the waves,

                                  the One Who saves, Jesus Christ, our Lord.


May the Lord richly bless you this Epiphany Season.

Pastor Matt



Arise, shine your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.  For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness, the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.  And nations shall come to your light, and kinds to the brightness of your rising.  Isaiah 60:1-3

January ushers in the season of Epiphany.  This year the Epiphany season takes us to the end of February.  Epiphany is a word that comes into our language from the biblical Greek, meaning "appearance" or "manifestation."  An Epiphany can be understood as an "a-ha" moment; that moment when the light bulb goes on in our mind; that instant when the last piece of the puzzle reveals the full picture.


Our household just experienced an Epiphany.  Our oldest daughter, Makenna, has been suffering a rash for several months now.  We just found out that she has Celiac Disease.  No more gluten in our household as she is extremely sensitive.  We just learned this morning that there is gluten in bath soap and shampoo.  (This explains the severe itching she has been experiencing in the tub.)  Who knew there was gluten-free shampoo and soap?  We thank God for the diagnosis and for the fact that her symptoms should go away in a few weeks.  All to say that our household has had an epiphany, an a-ha moment, and life will be different from here on.


And so it is in the church.  During the season of Epiphany we celebrate the revelation, the "a-ha" of the Son of God coming into our world as a human being, Jesus Christ.  The first "a-ha" moment was reserved for Mary and Joseph when the Son of God, Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary.  This is when Jesus Christ, the light of the world, first penetrated the thick darkness of the peoples.  The Light did not shine for Mary and Joseph only-it spread, and quickly.  The shepherds were also drawn to the babe wrapped in swaddling cloths.  When they departed, they did not keep this "a-ha" moment to themselves but made it known as they returned to their flocks.  These "a-ha" moments are of eternal significance.  The Light has shined.  His glory will be seen upon you.  Life will never be the same.


The event that typically marks the beginning of the Epiphany season for us is the visitation of the Magi or wise men.  They are led by a star to the infant Jesus.  They travelled from the east looking for "he who has been born king of the Jews"(Matthew 2:2).  These men from the east were not Jews, so their recognition of Jesus is the first manifestation of the point that Jesus came not only for the Jews, but also the Gentiles.  His light is not discerning.  It attracts the "nations," that is, everyone.  When the wise men from the east bow down and worship Jesus, an "a-ha" moment is triggered.  Light is shed upon the words of Isaiah: "And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.  Jesus is the light of the world.

This season of Epiphany, we give thanks to God for shining His light upon us, for revealing Himself to us in His Son, Jesus Christ.  For in Crist we have been called out of the darkness of our sin and into His marvelous light of forgiveness and salvation.  Life will never be the same!  Thanks be to God!


In Christ,

Pastor Matt


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