Thanksgiving Eve

Related image

Sermon Preached by Pastor Roth

Old Testament

Deuteronomy 8:1–10

1“The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers. 2And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. 3And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord4Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. 5Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. 6So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. 7For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, 8a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, 9a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.”

Psalm

Psalm 67

1May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
2that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
3Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

4Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
5Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

6The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
7God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Epistle

1 Timothy 2:1–4

1First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Epistle

Philippians 4:6–20

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

10I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

14Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel

Luke 17:11–19

11On the way to Jerusalem [Jesus] was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Introit

Psalm 104:24, 27–28, 30; antiphon: v. 33

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
These all look to you,
to give them their food in due season.
When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.
Glory be to the Father and  to the Son
and to the Holy  Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever.  Amen.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

Collect of the Day

Almighty God, Your mercies are new every morning and You graciously provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may acknowledge Your goodness, give thanks for Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience all our days; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

The Last Sunday of the Church Year

Related image

Sermon preached by Pastor Roth

Old Testament

Malachi 3:13–18

13“Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ 14You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? 15And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’”

16Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. 17“They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.”

Psalm

Psalm 46

1God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Epistle

Colossians 1:13–20

13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Gospel

Luke 23:27–43

27And there followed [Jesus] a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

32Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

39One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Introit

Psalm 134; antiphon: Psalm 33:8

Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands to the holy place
and bless the Lord!
May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who made heaven and earth!
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!

Collect of the Day

Lord Jesus Christ, You reign among us by the preaching of Your cross. Forgive Your people their offenses that we, being governed by Your bountiful goodness, may enter at last into Your eternal paradise; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost

Image result for burning oven

Old Testament

Malachi 4:1–6

1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.

4“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and just decrees that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

5“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Psalm

Psalm 98

1Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
2The Lord has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
3He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.

4Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
5Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
6With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

7Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who dwell in it!
8Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together
9before the Lord, for he comes
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity.

Epistle

2 Thessalonians 3:1–13

1Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, 2and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. 3But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. 4And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

6Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

13As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.

Gospel

Luke 21:5–28

5While some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, [Jesus] said, 6“As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 7And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” 8And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. 9And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”

10Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your lives.

20“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

25“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Introit

Psalm 121:1–2, 5, 7–8; antiphon: Luke 21:33

Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.

Collect of the Day

O Lord, almighty and ever-living God, You have given exceedingly great and precious promises to those who trust in You. Rule and govern our hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit that we may live and abide forever in Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost

Image result for Moses and the burning bush

Old Testament

Exodus 3:1–15

1Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

7Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

13Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.”

Psalm

Psalm 148

1Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!

3Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
4Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

5Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
6And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

7Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!

9Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!

11Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!

13Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the Lord!

Epistle

2 Thessalonians 2:1–8, 13–17

1Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. . . .

13But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

16Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Gospel

Luke 20:27–40

27There came to [Jesus] some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, 28and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. 30And the second 31and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32Afterward the woman also died. 33In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”

34And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” 39Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40For they no longer dared to ask him any question.

Introit

Psalm 115:2–4, 8, 17–18; antiphon: v. 11

You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.
The dead do not praise the Lord,
nor do any who go down into silence.
But we will bless the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the Lord!
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.

Collect of the Day

Living God, Your almighty power is made known chiefly in showing mercy and pity. Grant us the fullness of Your grace to lay hold of Your promises and live forever in Your presence; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

All Saints’ Day

Image result for All Saints painting

Old Testament

Isaiah 1:10–18

10Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom!
Give ear to the teaching of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
11“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats.

12“When you come to appear before me,
who has required of you
this trampling of my courts?
13Bring no more vain offerings;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
14Your new moons and your appointed feasts
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15When you spread out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.
16Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.

18“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.”

Psalm

Psalm 130

1Out of the depths
I cry to you, O Lord!
2O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

3If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.

5I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

7O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
8And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.

Epistle

2 Thessalonians 1:1–12

1Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 4Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.

5This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel

Luke 19:1–10

1[Jesus] entered Jericho and was passing through. 2And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. 4So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Introit

Psalm 50:1–2, 14–15; antiphon: v. 23

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!
The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!

Collect of the Day

O Lord, stir up the hearts of Your faithful people to welcome and joyfully receive Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, that He may find in us a fit dwelling place; who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

The Festival of the Reformation

Related image

Preached by Pastor Roth

First Reading

Revelation 14:6–7

6Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

Psalm

Psalm 46

1God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Epistle

Romans 3:19–28

19Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

21But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Gospel

John 8:31–36

31So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

34Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Gospel

Matthew 11:12–19

12[Jesus said:] “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

16“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

17“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

Introit

Psalm 34:1–2, 11, 22; antiphon: Psalm 119:46

I will speak of your testimonies before kings, [O Lord,] and shall not be put to shame.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
I will speak of your testimonies before kings, [O Lord,] and shall not be put to shame.

Collect of the Day

Almighty and gracious Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Image result for jacob wrestling

Preached by Pastor Roth

Old Testament

Genesis 32:22–30

22The same night [Jacob] arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. 24And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”

Psalm

Psalm 121

1I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Epistle

2 Timothy 3:14—4:5

14As for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

1I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Gospel

Luke 18:1–8

1[Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Introit

Psalm 74:18–19, 21, 20a, 22a; antiphon: v. 2a

Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old,
which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage!
Remember this, O Lord, how the enemy scoffs,
and a foolish people reviles your name.
Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts;
do not forget the life of your poor forever.
Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame;
let the poor and needy praise your name.
Have regard for the covenant;
arise, O God, defend your cause.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old,
which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage!

Collect of the Day

O Lord, almighty and everlasting God, You have commanded us to pray and have promised to hear us. Mercifully grant that Your Holy Spirit may direct and govern our hearts in all things that we may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of Your name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Related image

Preached by Pastor Roth

Old Testament

Ruth 1:1–19a

1In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. 3But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, 5and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

6Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. 7So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. 8But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 11But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, 13would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” 14Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

15And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

19So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem.

Psalm

Psalm 111; antiphon: v. 10

1Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
3Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
5He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
7The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
8they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
10The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!

Epistle

2 Timothy 2:1–13

1You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

8Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

for he cannot deny himself.

Gospel

Luke 17:11–19

11On the way to Jerusalem [Jesus] was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Introit

Psalm 34:2–4, 17; antiphon: Psalm 48:1a

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God!
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God!

Collect of the Day

Almighty God, You show mercy to Your people in all their troubles. Grant us always to recognize Your goodness, give thanks for Your compassion, and praise Your holy name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Mental Illness and the Christian Faith

*Originally published in St. Peter’s June 2019 Newsletter.
Written By: Pastor Roth

Last month I shared something online that struck a cord with many. The basis for the post was a cartoon by a Christian cartoonist titled, “Depression, Anxiety, Meds, and Shame” (If you using an electronic device you can click the link to view the cartoon.) It speaks on misconceptions about mental illness and faith. It’s message touched my own heart and life, so I decided to share it with a little of my own story of depression and anxiety in the hope of encouraging others who may be suffering.

I did not expect the response I received. The public comments, messages, and in person responses by those inside and outside our congregation, laity and pastors, gave me reason to reflect and consider that sharing my story in our newsletter may be beneficial to many. Some of what I will share may shock and startle some of you, maybe even give you pause in relation to me as your pastor, but I pray it gives those who have never experienced mental illness a glimpse into the suffering, and those of you who have suffered or are suffering the knowledge that you aren’t alone, you are not to blame, you are not the cause nor issues with your faith, and God has not forsaken you.

The hope of reaching a single person who suffers or even giving insight to the family of someone who is suffering outweighs any hesitation I have in sharing my own story. There are many reasons I have not yet talked openly about my struggle with depression and anxiety. It is not that I am ashamed of my illness, for there is nothing to be ashamed of. Indeed, I have shared pieces with some of you as I felt appropriate or helpful. The main reason I have hesitated is that I did not want to give you all cause for stumbling in the faith. For many, the idea of a pastor who suffers from anxiety and depression is hard to swallow. There are many misconceptions about mental illness, especially regarding the faith, and I did not want to give any of you concern or opportunity to stumble.

However, I pray we have reached a level of trust in the near three years that I have been serving among you that I am now able to freely share my story and do my part to help confront misconceptions and help those who need to hear that they are not alone; even pastors are not immune to mental illness. Because the truth is, mental illness is much more prevalent than you might think.

The Enigma of Mental Illness
If you believe you do not know anyone who suffers from mental illness it’s likely because you simply do not know. The CDC reports an estimated 50% of all Americans are diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in life. One in five Americans (children included) will experience mental illness in a given year; one in twenty-five Americans live with serious mental illness; “serious” meaning it significantly interferes with one or more major life activity.

So consider this: we have an average of about a hundred people in worship on Sundays, split roughly even between services. That means when you sit in worship, there are likely about ten people worshiping with you who are suffering from a mental illness, two of whom cannot function normally in their daily life.

The CDC also reports 50% of all chronic illness begins by age 14 and 75% by 24. Mood disorders are the third most common cause of hospitalizations for those under the age of 44. Suicide, often associated with symptoms of mental illness, is the 10th leading cause of death and 2nd among people aged 15-34. Serious mental illness costs about $193.2 billion in lost earning per year. Those with mental illness are also at greater risk of physical health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease, and those with serious mental illness on average die 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.

With so many who suffer and the severity of effects, it seems there should be more awareness, knowledge, and understanding of mental illness. Even so, mental illness remains an enigma, an elusive mystery to most. Those who have never suffered from it do not understand; those who study and treat it have no clear objective way to do so; those who suffer have difficulty understanding and explaining it. No two people experience mental illness the same way (there are over 200 classified types!) and there is no single cause. A variety of factors may contribute to a mental illness including early adverse life experiences (like trauma and/or abuse), experiences of other chronic ongoing medical conditions, biological factors (genes or chemical imbalances in the brain), use of alcohol or recreational drugs, and the feelings of loneliness and isolation. All of this paints a very complex picture of mental illness that is quite hard to understand.

Misconceptions of Mental Illness
Unfortunately, as we do with so many other things we do not understand, the enigma of mental illness gives rise to many misconceptions. This is true not only in society, but especially within the church. One of the most common I’ve heard is that those who suffer choose to suffer, as if they could simply muster the will-power to “get over it” or “snap out of it” or “suck it up” and “be happy” in order to get on with life. The ‘church’ version of this is that people who have a mental illness simply need to “have more faith,” as if faith was our own work and not a gift from God for the salvation of mankind. Such claims not only hurt the psyche but also the soul.

Mental illness is not so easy to overcome. There are a lot of factors that contribute to a mental illness, as discussed in the last section. Depression for example isn’t your everyday blues. It’s not even normal grief. Depression goes down to the very core of a person and takes strangle hold on not only what they think and how they feel but even on who they are. Every day becomes a battle just to make it through. For some, the will power required to even get out of bed in the morning is more will power than most people will exert in a normal day.

The extra heartbreak is when this comes from the church, the very people who should understand that this world is corrupted on account of sin. Most would consider it horrific to tell someone suffering insulin shock, “If you had enough faith then you wouldn’t suffer from diabetes! Now just will your blood sugar levels back up and get on with life.” Yet many of those same people wouldn’t think twice about tell someone suffering a depressive episode, “If you had enough faith then you wouldn’t suffer from depression!” Maybe not in those exact words, but with the same meaning. Of course, they wouldn’t think of adding, “Now just will your serotonin levels back up and get on with life,” because, well, they don’t understand that most often there are physical realities behind the emotional suffering.

Another misconception is that mental illness is a personal weakness or a familial failure. Often people just want to point fingers and lay blame, but that helps nothing. And then there are the stigmas: they’re manipulative, they use people, they only care about themselves, they push people away, they’re self-destructive, they refuse to do what needs to get done, they’re lazy, and so on. The reality is that people who suffer from a mental illness are often incapable of thinking at such levels. Their illness impairs their higher functioning abilities and they simply react. When it takes all you can muster to get out of bed in the morning and face the world, there is hardly any energy left to plan out the rest of the day, much less plot out some master manipulation of others.

People who suffer from mental illness already have feelings of guilt and shame, being unloved, alone, and misunderstood, and much more. Misconceptions and stigmas only serve to drive them deeper into isolation. If they have not already been diagnosed, then fear from the misconceptions and stigmas often keep them from seeking a diagnosis and they remain untreated. There is not much care and compassion for those who suffer and so it’s no wonder that so many people are afraid to talk openly about their own struggles with mental health. That is why I want to share my own story with you all. I pray to give some insight to those who do not understand, but ultimately to let any of you who might be suffering from a mental illness know that you are not alone!

My Story: Early Childhood—The Storm Brews
*Please note: this is my reflection. Some of it I have come to understand through the help of counseling, but some remains through the lens of depression and does not always reflect the reality outside of me.

For most of my memorable childhood I suffered. Life was hardly enjoyable, but I didn’t know different. I am the youngest of five and so I thought it all was just part of the chaos of life, a chaos that seemed to absorb and swallow me whole. That chaos formed me in many ways. For example, my parents were so busy with all of my older siblings activities that they never seemed to have any spare time or energy to focus on me. So I told myself at a very young age that I needed something to stand out from my siblings in order to get my parents’ attention and finally receive the love, care, and attention from them I desperately desired.

As I watched, I noticed how much stress my older siblings seemed to cause my parents with not only their busy schedules but also with poor performance, causing trouble, or giving them grief. My little brain then concocted the idea that I would win my parents adoration by being “perfect”, the child who needed nothing from them, did well on everything, and never stepped out of line. You can probably see the storm brewing. A child should never have such thoughts in regard to their parents. This is the Law in the place where the Gospel should be.

How reflective of reality these feelings were is not relevant to the discussion of my story, as what is important is that was my internal reality and this was the most formative experience for me. Believing I had to be perfect to win my parents attention, approval, affection and care I became emotionally unbalanced. I developed an overly active sense of guilt, shame, self criticism, and insufficiency over even the slightest mess up or the smallest mistake. I was not winning the love from my parents I desired and believed it was all my fault for not being good enough. I seemed to just be disappearing father into the chaos of life.

One memory that exemplifies and compounded this internal experience is when I attended a meeting with my mom. I was bored and didn’t want to disrupt, so I asked to go to the playground. After what seemed like forever the loneliness became unbearable. I went in to find my mom, but she wasn’t there. No one was. I went to the parking lot and it was empty. Fear seized me and not knowing what else to do (it was too far to walk), I went back to the playground to try and figure out where I could sleep that night as it was already dark. I have no idea how much time passed, but eventually I saw headlights pull into the parking lot. My friend from down the street came to my house to give me a birthday gift and that is when my family realized I wasn’t there and what had happened.

Events like this weren’t often, but they were enough to reinforce my internal experience: I was not good enough to be noticed, loved, and cared for. I did not have the emotional intelligence or stability to cope with or communicate this, nor was I given the tools or space to learn. No one knew what was going on, that I was suffering, feeling unloved and unwanted. My pain manifested in emotional breakdowns. My family just thought I was oversensitive. They became impatient with me. My breakdowns were met with demands to “stop being a baby” or the like. This led to continued feelings of rejection and being unloved and unwanted by my family driving me deeper into self-criticism, guilt, shame, and feeling insufficient. I began thinking, “If you weren’t such a screw up and a baby then they’d love you. If only I were perfect…” It was a vicious cycle, and I thought I was to blame.

As all kids do, I transferred this way of relating to parents and family to the way I related to the world. I believed if I was perfect I would finally receive the attention, approval, and affection from teachers and peers that I was not receiving at home. My anxiety began to mount every time I tried something new or was placed in new social situation. I was so afraid of failing or making a fool of myself because then no one would love me. Every failed or unsatisfactory interaction I had became my responsibility, my fault. It became so overwhelming that soon I stopped trying new things all together and avoided social interaction. I became an extremely reserved child.

My Story: Middle School—The Storm Unleashed
You may have heard me say, “You couldn’t pay me enough to go back to middle school,” or the like. Sometimes, even now, I don’t know how I survived those years. It was beyond the regular middle school ugliness. My middle school experience drove me deep into the suffering that had already begun in my early childhood. Since I was reserved I had few friends for support and the middle school kids are just ruthless. I was the token last-picked that never got passed the ball. There were some kids that even made me their favorite target. It would seem like they would go out of their way to ridicule me.

The teachers didn’t help either. Most didn’t notice or didn’t care about the bullying. Some even bullied me themselves. There was one PE teacher that was set against me for some reason, even though he was never my teacher. Once when had free play in the gym I had boys in my class throwing basketballs at me. The teacher watched and did nothing. Another time in health class another boy held down my arm and drew an inappropriate picture on it. The teacher would not let me go to the bathroom to wash it off as my “punishment” for “letting” the kid draw it on me. My band teacher was no better. In eighth grade I left band for theatre and my teacher refused to speak to me the whole year, ignoring me when we passed in the hall.

I even had an incident with a vice-principal from a different grade. She called me a liar and threatened to punish me because I would not confess to an incident she accused me of. She claimed I bullied another kid on the bus and said she had a video of the whole event. She said she was going to punish me whether I confessed or not. I insisted I only stuck up for the kid. She called him in and he corroborated my story. (His parents were the ones who reported it.) She finally let me go, but not without threats of punishment if she ever caught me doing the slightest thing. I had never even had a detention before. Remember, I devoted myself to never causing my parents trouble.

These are just some of the experiences in Middle School that reinforced my internal experience and transformed it from “I must be perfect to stand out and be loved” to “I am unlovable, and no matter what I do the whole world is against me.” My anxiety and insecurity skyrocketed. I began to despair and I had nowhere to turn. No one understood what all I was going through and experiencing. When I tried to talk about it with my family I would break down and told that I was being overly sensitive and I just needed to toughen up and stop being a baby. So I learned to swallow all those dark feelings deep inside and pretend like everything was okay. In order to survive I learned to numb myself to the pain. Of course, those feelings never actually went away. They only festered deep down into full on depression, corrupting me to the point where I was paranoid that everyone hated me and was bent on hurting me.

My dog and Confirmation class were my only relief, the only things I looked forward to seeing and doing. They are probably what brought me through. I was convinced my dog was the only living creature who loved me, and I enjoyed learning about God and His promises: what He has graciously done for us and what He continues to do. Even though I was suffering my faith increased. It did not take away the pain, though, nor did it protect me from any further suffering. My faith had no effect on my depression, and in fact it was on account of my faith that I began to beg God to simply come and take me away.

My Story: High School—Surveying the Damage
By the time I entered high school I had suffered for many years and depression had taken over my life. I was in such despair that, though I was never suicidal, I would fantasize my own death. A recurring fantasy was letting go of the wheel on a particular windy road that I drove. In my distorted thinking there were two reasons I would never do it: 1. I was a coward, and 2. I felt guilty at the cost my parents would incur in paying to bury me and a new vehicle. Part of me knew deep down my parents would grieve, but I believed it would be on account of the tragedy of it all and not in actually losing me. No, in fact I was convinced they’d be happier without me weighing them down, that the friends I made in theatre would be happier without me holding them back, that the world would be a better place without me in it since I was simply a failure and a screw up.

My sophomore year my friends and I discovered an “online journal” site where we could write and post whatever we wanted. (Facebook wasn’t available until my junior year!) I finally found a place I could vent all my pain and share it with whoever. Somehow my sister discovered my journal and read some of what I posted. She had friends who had depression and she recognized symptoms in me. She shared her concern with my parents. A few days later I came home from school to my parents waiting for me. They confronted me with some of the things I wrote and asked me if I would go to a counselor. They had already scheduled an appointment in case I said yes.

For the first time in my life I realized life wasn’t supposed to be like this and there may be hope. I was so tired of living life that I was willing to do anything that might help. So, I went and talked and received a diagnosis. That was about 15 years ago. My counselor then worked with me for nearly a year. She helped me challenge my thought patterns to come to a more rational understanding of things. I can’t forget one situation she helped me think through because it shows just how badly depression had messed with even my ability to think. I remember telling her how my sister and my mom conspired against me because my sister came home from college one day and asked my mom to make my favorite meal when I was busy that evening and wouldn’t be home for dinner. My counselor helped me realize that my sister most likely desired that meal and didn’t even consider that it was my favorite. No conspiracy afoot.

I owe much to that counselor. She helped me find a foundation and a way forward. I could distinguish normal thoughts from depression induced thoughts. I could start seeing a world in which things sometimes happened and there was no master plan against me. Despite that, depression had still left it’s devastation. My anxiety remained, and is still something that I have to fight against, as well as a sleeping disorder I developed, a common symptom that comes with depression and other mental illnesses. I have had two sleep studies done at different times, both confirmed I had sleep problems yet were unable to offer any solutions.

By the time I graduated High School though I was a different person, but I needed a fresh start. I chose a college where only one other person from my school was going. I was ready to put the past behind me and see what the future held.

My Story: Life Beyond—Recovery Efforts
I didn’t realize at the time, however, that it wasn’t going to be that easy. Depression is an illness and doesn’t simply go away. I learned that the hard way. I had decided by the end of my freshman year that I was going to become a pastor, but instead of a reason to rejoice my faith became a point of turmoil. After a variety of difficult situations and circumstances my depression came back. Several of my close friends were into a different kind of theology and claimed to “experience God” in ways I had never heard before. It was intimate and I did not know why God did not give me the same experiences but instead let me slip back into depression. I was hurt and tried to run from God, but He never let me run far, neither would He let me get lost in false theology. I wanted to so bad that I once tried to eat a paint chip that fell from the ceiling hoping it was “manna from heaven.” Once I realized what it was I gave up trying to force God’s hand and tried to be satisfied with what He gave me.

My last semester of college was particularly rough. I had to drag myself out of bed each morning in order to get to class. I didn’t always make it. I had lost 50 pounds in a couple of months because of my anxiety and depression. Throughout that time I was looking forward to entering the seminary to become a pastor. When I finally got there I was deep in depression once again. Marie can testify that the first couple of years of our marriage were not easy nor happy ones. My faith was growing by leaps and bounds, but even preparing to be a pastor did not make me immune to depression.

Thanks be to God for “Pastor as Counselor.” The class required us to have six sessions of counseling. I asked a professor, Dr. Bruce Hartung, not knowing what to expect. We began to meet and much to my surprise we had much to discuss. I learned although I had learned to change my thought patterns there were still deep roots to my depression that were living and active: primarily that voice that told me that I had to be perfect in order to be loved. The irony is when I began those sessions with Dr. Hartung I wanted to be “the perfect patient” so that he would be pleased with me! He helped me address those roots of depression and that’s when I realized that this was going to be a lifelong battle. Once my requirement for class was fulfilled I continued to meet with him and work through even more. He helped drag be back out of the pit of depression by helping me understanding more about myself and my past. He also helped me understand that depression was just another thing that happened in this fallen world, and that it was noting to be ashamed of or to assign blame for. That last part was really important to my healing because I so bad wanted to protect my parents from blame (it was their love and approval that I desired in the first place after all) that I avoided saying anything that could be taken as placing blame at their feet. He freed me to be able to address all of that and helped me walk through the trauma I experienced as a child.

My time at the seminary also helped fix all the bad theology that I had accumulated in college. I began to understand that suffering is not a sign of weak faith, but instead the mark of a true Christian. We endure all things for the sake of Christ, depression is not excluded. Depression is just yet another expression of the corruption of creation by sin. Suffering from depression makes you no less a Christian than does diabetes or heart disease or even allergies. Sanctified reason gave me a foundation and a way forward, but the Gospel gave me life.

Even after all of that, knowing my struggle with depression, the seminary still allowed me to graduate and I still received a call and was ordained. Now, as a pastor I get to preach that life-giving Gospel every week and guess what: I still am not immune to my depression. Some days are better than others, but I have gone through several rough patches since I arrived in Humboldt. I fought off many of them, but at the beginning of this year I those familiar voices of guilt, shame, self-criticism and insufficiency became more powerful and I knew it was time to seek help. I reached out to a former LCMS pastor in Topeka who retired to do full time clinical work and have been meeting with him via telemedicine about twice a month. I informed both President Lange and our elders what was happening and that I began meeting with him. He has helped me once again to return from the abyss.

Once I no longer need to meet with him I know it will only be a matter of time before I need help again. I have managed my depression with counseling thus far and have not needed to take medication, but that may change in the future. There is nothing wrong with using medication either, and some people need it. These are gifts God has given to help us live in this fallen world. Faith does not make you immune to depression, and believing it does is a severe lack of understanding of the Christian faith. If you suffer from depression or any other mental illness and would like to reach out to me I’d be happy to hear from you. If you’d like to ask me any questions about my depression I’d love to answer. Blessings be to you.

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost (LWML Sunday)

Image result for Luke 17:1-10

Sermon preached by Pastor Roth

Old Testament

Habakkuk 1:1–4; 2:1–4

1The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.

2Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
3Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
4So the law is paralyzed,
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
so justice goes forth perverted.

1I will take my stand at my watchpost
and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me,
and what I will answer concerning my complaint.

2And the Lord answered me:
“Write the vision;
make it plain on tablets,
so he may run who reads it.
3For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.

4“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him,
but the righteous shall live by his faith.”

Psalm

Psalm 62

1For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
2He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress;
I shall not be greatly shaken.

3How long will all of you attack a man
to batter him,
like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
4They only plan to thrust him down from his high position.
They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths,
but inwardly they curse.

5For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress;
I shall not be shaken.
7On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

8Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.

9Those of low estate are but a breath;
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath.
10Put no trust in extortion;
set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, set not your heart on them.

11Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
12and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
according to his work.

Epistle

2 Timothy 1:1–14

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

2To Timothy, my beloved child:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

3I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

8Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. 13Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Gospel

Luke 17:1–10

1[Jesus] said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. 3Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

5The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

7“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

Introit

Psalm 119:162, 164–165, 167; antiphon: v. 166

I hope for your salvation, O Lord,
and I do your commandments.
I rejoice at your word
like one who finds great spoil.
Seven times a day I praise you
for your just and righteous decrees.
Great peace have those who love your law;
nothing can make them stumble.
My soul keeps your testimonies;
I love them exceedingly.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
I hope for your salvation, O Lord,
and I do your commandments.

Collect of the Day

O God, our refuge and strength, the author of all godliness, by Your grace hear the prayers of Your Church. Grant that those things which we ask in faith we may receive through Your bountiful mercy; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.