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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

June 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The season of Spring has shown its beautiful shiny face, displaying new life for a few weeks now. This is a good thing to reflect on, especially as we come to the close of the Easter season, we remind ourselves of God’s great gift of life given to us by Jesus. We know that He did not stay dead, but rose from the grave, demonstrating to us that we now have a new life as well. This is such a marvelous gift given to us, as we can live in Christian freedom in the shadow of the cross and the
empty tomb.

However, even though the Eastertide is coming to a close, that doesn’t mean we stop celebrating Christ’s glorious death and resurrection. In fact the celebration gets much more vigorous. On June 4th we will celebrate the day of Pentecost. Some call this day the birthday of the church. However, that doesn’t really explain what truly is taking place, since the church was born when Adam and Eve were created. We all have the same faith as Abraham, after all. The church – through faith – has existed since the beginning of time.

What Pentecost is, however, is the fulfillment of what Jesus said in Acts 1:6-8, “6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Instead our celebration of Pentecost commemorates the great sending of the first pastors, the 12 first apostles – which in Greek apostles means “sent ones.” They were given the gift of the Holy Spirit in a unique way to go into all the world. This is not speaking of a command given to the laity of the Church, but the apostleship that has been passed down from age to age as the Office of the Ministry. This Office was ordained for the specific acts of withholding forgiveness from those who do not repent and forgiving of sins of those who do repent (see John 20).

It is in the sending of the 12 apostles that the word of God begins to spread out from the physical location of the nation of Israel into the entire world. In fact, with the speaking in different tongues, we are shown, just as with the coming of the Magi near the beginning of Jesus life on Earth, that the message of a loving God isn’t just meant for the Hebrew nation, but for the whole world. God shows us here that God’s grace is for the likes of Jews, Greeks, Romans, Americans, etc. His salvation is for you, for me, for your neighbor, and for those you haven’t met, and may never. This is the good news for us as Christians. Why? Assurance of salvation. With the good news of Jesus there is no doubt that Christ has given Himself up for the many, for the forgiveness of your sins, and the promise of your own resurrection, where your body will be raised from the dead. You will then live with Jesus forever in heaven, where there is no more sin or any of its effects.

This is what you are as the church: the forgiven children of God. How? Because God has made you into a wonderful treasure all His own. You are the treasure more precious to Him than any platinum (for those of you who know precious metals), gold, or silver. Even if all the precious metals of the entire universe were gathered together, it still wouldn’t be worth enough in comparison of you as His treasure. Therefore, He will love and protect you into eternity as He has promised you through the Son, Jesus Christ.

Therefore – especially today with all that is going on around the Earth, in your congregation here at Faith, and even your own families – I commend you to your Father who loves you and promises to care for you and defend you from all evil of body and soul.

The Peace of the Lord Be with You Always. Amen.

Your Brother in Christ,
Pastor Jonathan Holmes

The full newsletter can be found here:
http://www.faithmoorpark.com/files/pdf/2017/2017-06-Newsletter.pdf

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

May 2017

To My Beloved Brothers and Sister in Christ,

April has come and gone. Easter has been celebrated. Spring is in full swing. We have thus begun a new season in the church year, having started with Easter. Now this season will lasts for 50 days, in which then Pentecost will be celebrated. However, before Pentecost is a feast day that seems to be rarely celebrated: Ascension Day. Now, the problem might be that Ascension always takes place on a Thursday, and everyone is still recovering from Lent and the last thing they want to do again is go to church in the middle of the week... again.

However, that dismisses the importance of such a day. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:9-10:
In saying, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.
It is a little hard to grasp: How can Jesus fill all things? The answer simply, first, while complexly grasped, that is this exactly what we are told in scripture, and He has the last word. Second – and this always seems to be the trump card – He is God, who fills all things and sustains all things, no limits, omnipresent (He's everywhere!).

It is amazing when you think about it: Jesus ascended in order that He would be with His whole church; to be with you and me through the rest of time. You may ask: “How does He do this?”. As complex as it might seem to understand, it is simply through His spoken Word and the Holy Sacraments administered, which is Baptism and the Lord's Supper. This is where Jesus says we can find Him, nowhere else. It is only through these Means of Grace that God places Himself for the benefit of all who hear and partake of these means to strengthen them in the one true faith.

While you do not have an ascension service, it is important nonetheless. Suffice it to say, though, we cannot just simply skip over this day. It has too much significance for us Christians and Christ's presence among us, as those Means of Grace provide us with the only vehicle of forgiveness, life, and salvation.

The Peace of the Lord be with you always. Amen.

Rev. Jonathan Holmes

The full newsletter can be found here:
http://www.faithmoorpark.com/files/pdf/2017/2017-05-Newsletter.pdf

Faith Lutheran Church • 123 Park Lane • Moorpark, CA 93021 • (805) 532 1049 • Send Email