St. Paul's Weekly Update
Expect the Unexpected
The weekly email is back after a couple weeks vacation as we continue our journey through the Epiphany season.
What do you expect in 2022? If you look back to 2021, there are probably many things that happened that you did not expect.
What do you expect from Jesus in 2022? If we learn anything from the Epiphany season, it is to expect the unexpected from him.
On the second Sunday after Epiphany we'll see the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11) and how Jesus reveals his glory in all sorts of unexpected ways. But the wonderful thing about Jesus is that when he does unexpected things, they are always better than expected.
Sunday Worship @ 8 (Livestream)
Monday Night Worship @ 6:30pm
Bible Class and Sunday School @ 9:15 at the School
Wednesday Bible Classes @ 10:00am (Proverbs) and 7:00pm (Gospel of Luke)
Thursday Bible Information Class @ 7pm
Annual Voters' Meeting--This Sunday at 2pm (including calling of a 2nd grade teacher for next year!)
Men Alive! conference -- February 19th (menalivebalm.org -- more below)
Special Note about recent "noises" during worship:
You may have noticed a couple strange shouts and noises in late service recently. One of our beloved MLS students has uncontrollable "tics." She told us about this ahead of the school year, and feels badly and apologizes for them. We've assured her that there is nothing to forgive, and that we love to have her in worship and are happy to "bear with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2)." So if you hear some distracting noises in worship, say a quick prayer to God that he helps us take another opportunity to reflect the love of Christ. Thank you!
Epiphany: Jesus Appears!
Theme this Sunday: Jesus Appears as Our Miraculous Savior
In today’s Gospel, Jesus performs his first miracle: He turns 120 gallons of water into wine. Jesus doesn’t touch the water. It’s no trick. It’s a real miracle. He does it because the Father now wants him to go “public” and reveal his glory. As a result, his disciples trust in him as the Son of God.
First Reading: Isaiah 62:1-5
Who is speaking in these verses through the prophet Isaiah? For instance, who’s the “I” of verse one?
The pre-incarnate Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, is the speaker.
For whose sake would Jesus do what he did as our Savior?
Jesus says that he would speak “for Zion’s sake” and “for Jerusalem’s sake.” (In the Old Testament, “Zion” and “Jerusalem” often represent the people of God, the Church. That is the case in these verses.) In other words, Jesus serves as our advocate; he speaks on our behalf before his heavenly Father. (See 1 John 2:1; Romans 8:34.)
What is the result of Jesus’ gracious work for his people?
No longer are we estranged from our heavenly Father because of our sin. Instead, the Lord delights in us (Hephzibah), and we are “married” (Beulah) to him. All this is a result of Jesus’ work as our gracious Savior.
Psalm 145 - A response of praise to the God whose greatness goes beyond our comprehension
Second Reading: Ephesians 3:14-21
Jesus came to visit a wedding in Cana. What does Paul pray for the Christians in Ephesus, by contrast? (See 3:17.)
Paul prays that Christ may not just visit but dwell in the hearts of believers through their trust in Christ.
Nobody knew how Jesus turned water into wine. Likewise, what does Paul want Christians to know? (See 3:19.)
Paul wants Christians to know the love that surpasses knowledge, the immense love Christ has for us. (Note the irony. How do you truly know something that surpasses knowledge?)
How much is God able to do? (See 3:20-21.)
God is not just able to do what we ask. God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.
Gospel Reading: John 2:1-11
What problem arose at the wedding in Cana to which Jesus and his disciples were invited?
The wedding had run out of wine. It was customary in Jesus’ day for weddings to be celebrated several days. It seems clear that the wedding hosts had not adequately prepared.
How did Jesus react when Mary told him that they had run out of wine? Why did he react this way?
Jesus wondered why Mary involved him, stating, “My time has not yet come.” Jesus seems to be suggesting that it wasn’t yet time for him to publicly reveal himself as the promised Savior through his miracles. As it was, the forthcoming miracle seemed to be performed quietly.
What did Jesus do to resolve the problem?
Jesus changed water into wine. Although his disciples trusted in him, it seems his miracle went otherwise unnoticed. (Note also the wondrous kindness of Jesus in performing a miracle that was not necessary but improved a celebration. What a Savior we have, one who loves to do more than he promises and more than we need!)
Hymns: 375, 374, (611, 671) 584
Order of Service Note: Over the next couple months, we're going to start introducing Setting 3 in the hymnal. If you'd like to find recordings of the organ accompaniment for the Gloria, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei, you can find them here: https://welscongregationalservices.net/hymnal-introduction-resources/#toggle-id-4
Worship helps from: https://wels.net/worship-help/
As we continue to introduce the new hymnal, we'll share some thoughts from the new book above, Christian Worship: God Gives His Gospel Gifts (available here from Northwestern Publishing House ) will be summarized.
12. Liturgy -- The End: The Service of the Sacrament
Our worship focuses on the gospel, which is proclaimed in the Word of God. The Sacrament also gives the gospel--the good news of the forgiveness of sins. So... why receive the gospel again?
Think about a married couple. Shouldn't a spouse show his or her love in several ways? It's not enough to say, "Well, I told you I loved you a year ago!"
Think about medicine. If Communion is a "medicine of immortality" as it has been called, why not receive it again and again? You can't overdose on the gospel!
Think about our weakness. We have weak, sinful hearts. God knows that we need his love and comfort often. So he says, "Do this as often... for the forgiveness of your sins."
Why wouldn't we receive the gospel again with joyful hearts in the Sacrament?
Other Devotional Materials:
WELS Daily Devotions: https://wels.net/dev-daily/
Family devotions: https://wels.net/family-devotion/
The 2022 "Men Alive" Rally is coming soon! Sign up on your own and we can meet there or carpool. The website is menalivebalm.org . Let's get a good group of men together for this. The keynote speaker is Stephen Schroeder talking about "Lessons from the Front Lines."