“John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin.” (Mark 1:4 – EHV)
Have you ever heard of the acronym, KISS? It is an acronym which stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” At its core, it is a phrase that is telling us that we should try to keep things simple so that we don’t confuse people. Sometimes the best things are the most simple things. This is certainly true in the world we live in, and it is just as true when we think about God and his plan to save us.
As we look at God and his Word, we notice that God also likes to keep things simple. In our Bible verse above we see God sending his messenger, John the Baptist. John’s message was very simple. He preached, “a baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” His life was also simple. He lived and preached out in the wilderness wearing clothes made out of camel’s hair and ate locust and wild honey for food. It doesn’t get more simple than this.
John and his message were also as simple as they come. John’s message didn’t contain hundreds of rules, rituals and traditions to follow like the religious leaders of the Jewish people had set up that you needed to follow to be saved. No, John said repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. His simple message was preparing the people for Jesus, the Promised Messiah. He was keeping things simple so that all could see Jesus as the only way to heaven.
As we look at God’s Word, we see that most of things that God does for our salvation are simple. He entered this world in such a simple way as a child, born in a manger. His plan of salvation to pay for the sins of the world was accomplished on a simple cross. He gives us in the Lord’s Supper a simple piece of bread to eat and small drink of wine and tells us that this is his true body and true blood shed for the forgiveness of all our sins. In Baptism he tells us that plain water when connected to his Word washes away all our sins and plants saving faith in our hearts.
In a world that at times seems so complicated and confusing, it is so wonderful to see God and his plan of salvation is so simple and yet so perfect. There is nothing complicated about God’s love for lost sinners like us who have been forgiven of all our sins by God’s perfect plan in sending his one and only Son to suffer and die for us. I pray that this Advent Season we KISS as we keep our eyes on Jesus and the reason why we celebrate Christmas.
God used John the Baptist and his simple message of repentance to prepare the way for Jesus’ first coming. In the same way may God use his Word to help prepare our own hearts and the hearts of those who may hear our message for the coming of Jesus on Judgment Day. As we live our lives and share our faith, may we thank God that he has always followed the KISS acronym with us, as he this Advent and Christmas season clearly and simply points us to Jesus as the only way to heaven.
Pastor Mark Gartner
New Bible Classes:
Pastor Gartner has started a new Bible Study on Sundays at 9:15 am entitled: “Catholicism Today — A Study of What the Catholic Church Teaches and How It Measures Up to God’s Word.” Join us as we look at some of the key teachings of the Catholic Church in light of God’s Word, and we will also look at ways on how we can share the truths of God’s Word with those in the Catholic Church who may struggling in their faith.
Pastor Frey is leading a Bible Study on Mondays and Tuesdays called, "Counterfeit Christianity." The devil is called the Father of Lies (John 8:44); he uses his web of lies to lead Christians away from God Word and thus away from the one true faith. This study, based on the book, Broken: 7 “Christian” Rules that Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible by Jonathan Fisk, will examine these lies of the devil and their antidotes from Holy Scripture.
If you would like to receive a recording of these Bible Classes, please contact one of the Pastors and we will send you the link for these recordings.
Midweek Advent Services
Our Advent mid-week services will be on December 2, 9, and 16 at 10:30 am and 6:30 pm. Plan to attend these mid-week services as we prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of our Savior. This year’s theme will be “The Songs of Advent.” Each week we will be looking at one of the three songs from Luke.
December 2 — The Song of Mary.
December 9 — The Song of Zechariah.
December 16 — The Song of Simeon.
Children’s Christmas Service
Due to the ongoing pandemic it has been decided to alter our format for our Children’s Christmas Service this year. After surveying parents and discussing it among our Sunday School Teachers and Council members, it has been decided to have our children sing parts of two Christmas hymns and recite a few Bible Passages together as one large group at the beginning of the service before sitting back in the pews with their parents. The date will be the same as it always is—the Sunday before Christmas—December 20th. The children will sing and recite during both services.
Because of the uncertainty of how many will attend these services (and we still want to be able to socially distance), we are strongly urging everyone to sign up ahead of time. If both services are too full, we’ll add another service. The sign-up is now live. Please click on the link below to see more information and for a link to the sign-up.
Christmas Eve Worship
We are still planning on holding our normal Christmas Eve Worship services—at 3:00, 5:00, and 7:00 pm. However, like the Children’s Christmas Service, because of the uncertainty of how many will attend (and we still want to socially distance), we are strongly urging everyone to sign-up ahead of time, either online or by calling the office. If all three services are too full, we’ll add another service. The sign-up is now live. Please click on the link below to see more information and for a link to the sign-up.
Men's Bible Study
Tuesday December 14 at 9:00 am the men are invited to our Men's Bible Study as we continue our study on the WELS doctrinal Statement, "This We Believe."
We will decorate the church for Christmas on Saturday, December 12th at 9:00 am. All are welcome to come and help. Please contact Pat Gowey if you have any questions.
If you are not comfortable sending your child to in person Sunday School, we have weekly recorded videos of each weeks Bible Lesson and the Lesson sheets that we can send to you so that your child can still learn the valuable truths of God's Word. Please contact us if you would be interested in these materials.
In order to encourage and practice social distancing, we are trying to limit each Worship service to 75 people. We are offering 8:00 and 10:30 services on Sunday as well as 6:30 pm on Monday. We are also asking everyone to sign up each week for whatever Worship Service you plan on attending. Please note, that we are in need of volunteers to help sanitize the sanctuary between services. When you sign-up you’ll have an opportunity to mark whether or not you are willing to help out—it only takes about 10 minutes, so we pray that you will!
You can find the link to sign-up on the front page of our website at: www.stjohn-appleton.org.
We rejoice that we have been able to return to the Lord’s house to worship together, but at the same time we want to do so in a safe manner. The 8:00 am service is the most attended service, which perhaps will make some of you feel uncomfortable. First off, if you feel uncomfortable in this more attended service. we encourage you to attend either the 10:30 am or the Monday evening service which offer plenty of room in order for you to socially distance. In addition, our Council has decided to remove the ropes for the first few pews of the lectern side of the sanctuary. People deciding to sit in these “unrestricted” pews should use their own good judgment on social distancing. We hope that, with enough worshipers sitting in this section, it will leave enough space in the rest of the sanctuary for everyone else to socially distance. If you have any questions, please speak to one of the Pastors or a Council members.
As we go forward, we will continue to live-stream our services and posting our worship folders online. We will be recording our Sunday 8:00 am service which means you can watch anytime after 8:00 am on Sunday morning. If you need any help accessing these resources, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
You can find our worship services at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCsQs-LDzlHE1NTjOaVaQ2A.
ou can find a bulletin for each Worship Service so you can follow along here: https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EqetvOMWflhLsfsLRcDkxSgBL2cnYkpiuk8Klh7d-r_XQg?e=07dSma.