How blessed is the person whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 How blessed is the person whose guilt the Lord does not charge against him, in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away as I groaned all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me. My moisture was dried up by the droughts of summer. 5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover up my guilt. I said, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Revelation 32:1-5 - EHV)
“Wait until your Father gets home.” Do those words send shivers down your spine? They sure did me when I was younger (Yes, I did get in trouble from time to time). When your mom said these words it means that you did something that was really bad—so bad that your mom was going to refer punishment to your Father, which was going to be far worse!
Two weeks ago—during our third midweek Lenten service we used the words above as part our confession and absolution. They are fitting words for us to use during the Lenten season—really, they are appropriate during any time of the year!
Lent, of course, is a season of repentance (hence the reason why we are looking at these verses today). But why is Lent a season of repentance? Because during the Lenten season we focus on Christ’s passion—his suffering and death on the cross. We realize that it is our sins that led to Christ going to the cross. If none of us would have ever sinned, Christ wouldn’t have had to die in our place. We take a look at our lives and how we haven’t obeyed God’s commands, and so we deserve nothing but his wrath and punishment. And so we are filled with a deep-felt sorrow, remorse, or guilt over our sins. We are deeply troubled by what we’ve done in the past, or by what we still continue to do.
David wrote the words of our Psalm today; and he was greatly troubled by his sins. David is looking back after he was forgiven, and he is telling us how he felt. Look at what he says in verse 3 and 4—today we might say, “I’m dying inside” because of my sins. It seems that David wrote these words after he had sinned with Bathsheba. Allow me to quickly retell what happened. In spring, King David, instead of leading his men into war as was custom, he stayed back in Jerusalem. Walking around on his roof one night he saw a woman, named Bathsheba, bathing; he sent for her, slept with her and she became pregnant. Bathsheba, however was married to a man named, Uriah. After various attempts to cover-up his sin failed, David commanded his general to back-off Uriah during a fierce portion of an upcoming battle. So David was essentially guilty of murder. After Uriah died David married Bathsheba and he thought that he had gotten away with this sin. For about a year he thought that—until, one day, the prophet Nathan came to him and exposed David for the horrible things that he had done. David, now forgiven; was looking back at how he felt like during that time—it was as if he was dying, his guilt and shame was slowly eating away at him (and rightfully so).
But this Psalm isn’t a negative one, but a positive one. Notice at what David writes to begin the Psalm, How blessed is the person whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is covered…David rejoiced in the forgiveness of the Lord. David deserved punishment—nothing but God’s wrath and anger for what he had done. David knew it, his conscience was screaming at him. His sins weighed heavy upon him. But God forgave David’s act of sinful rebellion; he covered over his sin (as Christ covered over the sins of the whole world through his death on the cross). He did not charge him of any sin—but he was fully forgiven.
At times we may feel like David did after committing a sin. We are filled with guilt and shame and our sin slowly eats away at us so it feels as if we are dying inside. At such times, repent as David did; so you may receive the forgiveness Christ won for you!
When you were younger and did something that was bad, perhaps it was really bad (and we’ve all been there before) we tried to hide it, we tried to cover up our sin. The last thing we wanted to happen was for our parents to find out—again, “wait until your father comes home” sent shivers down our spine! David tried that for awhile—until Nathan came to him. Then, he willingly confessed his sin to the Lord and received forgiveness. So we too confess our sins to the Lord and receive forgiveness! We don’t hide them (God knows about them anyway), but willingly confess them—and know that we are forgiven! How? By Christ! He has forgiven us by his death on the cross, which paid the price for our sins and removed them as far as east is from west so that they will never return to us to condemn us.
The season of Lent is a time to concentrate on Christ’s death. It’s a time of repentance; but it is also a time of rejoicing! For Christ has forgiven us despite our sin! So we willingly confess our sins to the Lord, who has covered them with his blood!
Pastor Andrew Frey
Church Seating and Social Distancing:
With things moving slowly in the right direction with Covid-19, more people have been returning to worship each Sunday. Because of the pews being roped off for social distancing, this has caused some issues with finding enough seating for everyone. After considering all these things, the Church Council has decided that it will be removing the ropes from the pews on Sunday March 28.
While we may be taking down the ropes, this doesn't mean that common sense is to be thrown aside. We are asking everyone to use their Christian love and judgment as they consider not only their own levels of comfort with social distancing, but also their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Please be respectful of each other as you worship, especially as you look to respect each other’s comfort levels with social distancing.
Remember that our 10:30am and especially our Monday evening services aren't full and one can socially distance if so desired. If you have any questions, please talk to one of the Pastors or to one of the Church Council members.
Because of the Governor's mandate we are still encouraging everyone to wear a mask (but we are not making it a requirement to attend).
Easter For Kids:
Due to the uncertainty of how many would attend, we are not going to hold an in-person Easter for Kids this year. Instead we will be offering Easter for Kids to-go kits, similar to what we did for Christmas for Kids. These packages will include interactive opportunities for your children to learn about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Please sign up by March 21st on the sheet in the entryway or online so that we know how many to prepare. A pick-up date will be announced shortly.
Holy Week Worship Schedule:
Maundy Thursday: 10:30am and 6:30pm (With Holy Communion)
Good Friday: 1:30pm and 6:30pm (With Holy Communion)
Easter Sunday: 6:30am, 9:00am and 10:45am (With Holy Communion)
Easter Breakfast will be served from 7:30-9:00am (Please sign-up so we can get an accurate number.)
Worship Service Through Your Phone:
If you have no Internet and would like to still listen each week to our Worship Services, you can dial 1-920-212-3625 each week and you will be able to listen to our Sunday morning Worship Service. Each week the service will become available to listen to each Sunday after 10:30am and you can listen to these services at any time during the week. If you have any questions, please call Church.
Midweek Lent Services:
We are continuing our midweek Lent Services. There are services each Wednesday at 10:30 am and 6:30 pm. The theme for this year is "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:
We have returned 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.
We will no longer be asking members to sign up for worship services. You may come to whatever worship service works best for you. Thank you to those who have taken the time to sign up 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.
Pastor Frey started a new Bible Study on Sunday March 7th at 9:15 am on the New Testament book of Colossians. Join us as we look at this important letter which highlights the person of Christ and his work of salvation.
Pastor Gartner started a new Bible Study on Mondays and Tuesdays starting Monday March 8th at 8:00 am and Tuesday night March 9th at 5:30 pm. The title of this Bible Class will be, "Luther’s Small Catechism – A Study of The Apostles’ Creed, Baptism and Holy Communion." Martin Luther wrote the Small Catechism to help assist Christians in their learning the basic truths of God’s Word. Please join us in this Bible Class as we seek to strengthen our faith as we use Luther’s Small Catechism to refresh our knowledge about The Apostles’ Creed, Baptism and Holy Communion.
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.
We will continue to live-stream our services and post 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.