The monthly newsletter of Trinity and Zion Lutheran Churches
2338 Mountain Lion Road 508 South Mill Street
Conant, IL Pinckneyville, IL
Have you ever thought about Ascension Day
and said, “What a comforting day this is”? The fact that Jesus left this earth
and returned to heaven may not seem like a cause of “comfort and joy,” to use
the words of a hymn. I’m sure the disciples weren’t filled with joy at first
when they saw Jesus leaving them. After all, they were anticipating a different
future. They had just asked Jesus, “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to
Yet now Jesus has left them. But that, too, is something good. As Peter said in last week’s Epistle reading, “Jesus Christ has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” (1 Pet. 3:22) Jesus rules, and that is a good thing! He rules over the universe by his power and he rules over his Church with his grace. All things are subject to him, even the forces of evil, and that is a comforting thought. Our Savior is in charge; he had given us the gift of eternal life and even now he is watching over us. We have an advocate with the Father. What more could we hope for!
And yet there is more. Jesus told his disciples that it was good that he was going away, for if he didn’t, the Spirit would not come. (John 16:7) Jesus assured his disciples that he would not leave them alone as orphans. The Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost and brought these men joy and peace beyond anything they had ever known. They received “power from on high” and were bold witnesses for Jesus. They were enabled to withstand persecution and even rejoiced when they suffered for the name.
Jesus has ascended to heaven and we can rejoice and take comfort in that fact. Jesus rules on our behalf. He has given us the same Spirit the apostles had. All things will work for our good since Jesus is in charge. And he will come again to take us home. All is good, since Jesus “ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” Take comfort in this fact as you believe in Jesus to the day of eternal life.
TRINITY’S NEWS NOTES
Since “April showers bring May flowers”, as they say, wonder what our May “mini” floods will bring us? God is good though, He always knows our needs, so we thank Him for His continuing care.
We have a list of thank-you thoughts to begin our NEWSLETTER this month—sure hope I do not miss anyone I should have added. If I do, please forgive me, and remind me!
We thank Joyce and Paul for those beautiful May flowers they have shared for our altar this month.
Thanks to Kathi and Willie for giving our landscaping in front of church a spring “cleaning”. It looks so fresh and nice now.
While we are “looking” at the front of the church, thanks to
While we are still “outside”, thanks to
Moving inside, which now looks lighter, more like the outside, with the new LED bulbs we have. Thanks to Brian and Ilene for buying and installing them for us.
Hope I didn’t miss anyone. Speaking of missing someone-we are glad that Susan Palmer was able to worship with us again, following her recent surgery. We are glad she is making progress in her healing.
All the members of Trinity should have received a special “letter” about our 120th Anniversary by the time you get this. If you have not, please let me (Helen) know so I can get one to you.
Speaking of our Anniversary, we invite everyone to mark your calendars now, for our special Anniversary Service—Sept. 17, 2017. The 10 o’clock service will be followed by a picnic dinner outside Trinity. Our guest speaker will be former pastor, Rev. Russ Helbig. More details will be forth-coming.
Ponderings by Rev. Ronald A. Jansen
It was during the planting of oats that the harrow came into play in the spring. First the ground was turned over by the single bottom plow pulled by our new 1949 Allis Chalmers tractor. Today, the tractor, which replaced our ancient Fordson, appears to be little more than a garden tractor. In the second step we used a spring tooth “drag” to even out the furrows. The third step was loading the “drill’ boxes with oat seed and fertilizer and planted. Then came the last step, the harrowing. The harrow had spikes which when drug over the field would smooth out the final clods of dirt.
However, the word “harrow,” was also used to describe Jesus’ descent into hell between his crucifixion and resurrection. In the Apostles Creed we confess, “He descended into hell…” This is based on I Peter 3:18-19, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison.”
One of the interpretations of this passage is that Jesus went into “hell” to plunder or pillage hell of the souls of the righteous Old Testament believers.
An Easter Carol from the fourteenth century tells us of Christ,
Who baffled death and harrowed hell
And led the souls that love him well
All in the light of lights to dwell.
Most scholars interpret Jesus’ descent into hell as an occasion when he proclaimed his victory to those who had rejected him as Messiah and Savior.
I suspect that our harrow on the farm hasn’t been used for several decades. The “harrowing of hell” is also a concept fallen by the wayside.
A Thought or Two About Stewardship
One of the best known and beloved psalms is Psalm 23, the Shepherd Psalm. There we learn that the Lord is our shepherd. And since He is our shepherd, we will not want. We will not suffer want because the Lord, our shepherd, will lead us to green pastures and beside still waters. In other words, the Lord, our shepherd, will provide for all that we need in both body and soul.
Yet, we live as though this is not the case. We live as though we actually suffer from want, that the Lord, our shepherd, will not provide for all that we need. And thus, we live as though the Lord is not our shepherd. And that means that we live as though we are not the Lord's sheep.
How do we do this? We do it when we put anything else before Him and His provision for us. When we think that going to work is more important than receiving the gifts that He won for us on the cross, a violation of the First and Third Commandments. We do it when we fail to give generously of the first fruits of what the Lord has provided for us because we think we don't know what the future will bring, even though He has promised that He will lead us to green pastures and still waters. We do it when we think that the Lord is only in the business of helping those who
will help themselves, we do this because we have a mind set on earthly, temporal things and not on heavenly, eternal things. We do this because we have stopped hearing the call of our shepherd, which comes through His Word.
The Word of God is how our shepherd calls us to himself. Through that Word, the Holy Spirit gathers and enlightens us with His gifts. Through that Word, we are kept holy and nourished in the one true faith, the faith that follows our Shepherd wherever He leads us. He promises to lead you to your true home, to the land flowing with milk and honey, to a better country, not of this world, but a heavenly one.
And so, here's the good news: The Lord is your shepherd still, even, and especially, for wayward sheep. For Jesus seeks and saves those who are lost. He finds the lost sheep and carries them back to the fold. He is the shepherd that lays down his life for His sheep. The Lord is your shepherd. Let us live then as His sheep.