Remove my sin with hyssop, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51:7 - EHV)
Today, the day before Ash Wednesday, is what some people call, “Fat Tuesday,” or “Mardi Gras” in French. The idea behind this name indicates the practice of over-indulging before giving up something for Lent (it was the day when one would clear the house of cooking fat, since unused lard would turn rancid during the “fasting” days of Lent). However, for many, this day has turned into an excuse to have a day (or week or month) full of partying and debauchery. Just think about the idea of Fat Tuesday for a moment—how contrary it is to the way God wants us to live. Many use it as an excuse to sin as much as possible before giving such things up for six weeks, as if you have to get a lot of sinning in before you won’t be sinning as much for Lent. Not that the sinful nature needs an excuse to sin—it doesn’t; but it also takes full advantage of every opportunity it has to indulge in sinful revelry.
Maybe you don’t participate in the debauchery of Fat Tuesday, but your sinful nature doesn’t need much convincing to participate in other acts of wickedness and sin. Rarely do we need to be convinced to sin—it’s something that comes naturally to us because we are born as sinners and do nothing but sin according to our sinful nature. Even now as Christians, we often fall into sin—even using God’s grace as an excuse: “God’s going to forgive me anyway, so I might as well enjoy life and do whatever I want.”
Today is also know by another name, “Shrove Tuesday.” The celebration of Shrove Tuesday includes participating in Confession and Absolution. The idea is that to prepare for the penitential season of Lent it is good to confess your sins and hear God’s message of absolution—that is, the forgiveness of our sins.
Confessing our sins and hearing about God’s grace of forgiveness through Jesus Christ, is something that can be done every day of the year, but how appropriate it is for Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. The entire season of Lent is one of repentance and forgiveness. It’s a time to reflect on our sins, as well as on God’s grace and Christ’ love in giving up his life to save us from our sins.
Psalm 51, written by David, is a penitential Psalm—that is, it’s a Psalm of repentance, written after his sin of adultery with Bathsheba. With David we confess that we are sinful from birth and that all our sins are ultimately against God. But with the confession of our sins comes the acknowledgement of God’s grace in Christ. Also, together with David we have the sure and certain confidence that when we are forgiven by Christ, we are freely and fully forgiven! Hyssop and water didn’t cleanse David from his sins, it was the Lord. Hyssop as a plant that priests used as a sort of sponge or sprinkler to apply blood or water on the worshiper as a part of ceremonial cleaning. But once again, David knew that the hyssop did nothing, it was the Lord! And when the Lord removed his sin with the ceremonial sprinkling, he was clean—purified from his sin. He knew that when the ceremonial water was applied to him, it was as if he was pure and holy in God’s eyes.
Of course these ceremonial washings foreshadow the blood of Christ, about which John writes, the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, he has removed all our sins and makes us clean. By shedding his holy precious blood, he has made us whiter than snow. Because of the work of Christ, we have the sure and certain confidence that our sins have been forgiven and we are pure and holy in the eyes of the Lord. And this forgiveness, this washing away of our sins, doesn’t depend, then, on who we are or what we have done; but purely on the grace, mercy, and love of our Lord, who gave up his life on the cross and shed his holy blood to cover over our offenses. And that is how we know that our forgiveness is sure and certain! So, on this Shroud Tuesday (and Ash Wednesday—as well as every other day), let us confess our sins to the Lord, hear of his grace, and be confident in our forgiveness!
Pastor Andrew Frey
Midweek Lent Services:
Wednesday February 17 is Ash Wednesday where we will begin our midweek Lent Services. There will be services each Wednesday at 10:30 am and 6:30 pm. The theme for this year will be "The Hands of the Passion". There will be a meal served each Wednesday from 5:30-6:15pm. Please signup each week in the back of Church if you plan on attending the meal, so those who are preparing the meal for us can plan ahead.
NOTE: The Confirmation class times will be changing for Lent. We will meet from 5:00 - 6:00pm each week. We encourage the Confirmation Students and their families to stay for the meals and to attend these special services.
Hymnals and Bibles:
Soon we will be looking to return the Hymnals and Bibles to the pews to be used by those who desire. We will still be printing everything in the bulletin, but we know that there are still some people who would like to use the Hymnal and the Bible. NOTE: We will not be cleaning the Hymnals and Bibles after each service. You may use them at your own discretion.
After this weekend, we will no longer be asking members to signup for worship services. You may come to whatever worship service works best for you. We may be bringing back the signup for our Easter Services because of the anticipated higher number of people attending those services. Thank you to those who have taken the time to signup each week.
A few years ago St. John set up a fund to support our members who are attending Martin Luther College (MLC). This coming school year, we will have one of our members attending MLC to study to be a teacher in our WELS Schools . If you would like to contribute to this fund, please mark your special offering to the "MLC Fund" by May 1st.
Do you find yourself waiting on Sundays for the video of our worship service to upload after it is live-streamed? It does take a long time—sometimes half a day for our video to upload in HD, after which you’ll be able to find it on our Youtube page. However, you can always find the link on our Facebook page, which is public. Otherwise, we can email you the link to the service Sunday morning and you’ll be able to watch the video before it is able to be found on our Youtube page. If this interests you, please contact us and we can put you on the email list.
Bible Information Class (BIC):
Pastor Frey is beginning a new BIC class on both Tuesday mornings at 10:00 am and Thursday evenings at 6:00 pm. If you are interested in joining St. John or if you are already members of St. John but would like to grow in your knowledge of God's Word, please contact Pastor Frey to join in this class.
Pastor Gartner started a new Bible Study on Sunday November 29 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.
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.
Worship During Covid-19:
Worship Sign-up and Cleaning After Each Service
In order to encourage and practice social distancing, we are trying to limit each Worship service to around 75 people and because of the Governor's mandate we are strongly encouraging everyone to wear a mask (but we are not making it a requirement to attend). We are offering 8:00 and 10:30 services on Sunday as well as 6:30 pm on Monday. Please note, that we are in need of volunteers to help sanitize the sanctuary between services. It only takes about 10 minutes, so we pray that you will!
To find a more detailed look at our Worship procedures during this Covid virus, you may click on this link which takes you to the information that is found on our Website's front page.
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. If you have already had Covid or you are not wanting to wear a mask, we would ask that you consider sitting in these front pews in order to free up space for others. 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.
You 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.