PASTOR'S PAGE.......................................JANUARY 2020
At our latest monthly Circuit Pastors’ Gathering (Winkel) we were joined by District President Richard Snow who led us in a study of a report of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod entitled “Admission to the Lord’s Supper.” This document is dated November 1999. So, some of the issues spoken of have slid even further in the twenty years since it was written. We had a great discussion of this document and I thought that the section entitled “Christians as Confessors” would be a helpful read for everyone so I have included it below for your reading pleasure and your thoughtful contemplation in the New Year.
“Christians as Confessors”
The second proposition that undergirds the practice of withholding communion fellowship when doctrinal unity does not exist among those who commune is this: Christians are not to be seen merely as “individuals” but also as “confessors” of the doctrine of their own church body. In a time of rampant individualism when people “do their own thing” even when joining a church, this notion seems precarious at best to some. It also must be readily admitted that people often join a denomination for reasons other than its doctrine. Indeed, the very notion of “joining a denomination” is probably not even present in the minds of some church members, especially those who freely “church hop” from one to the other. Is it possible in such a context to maintain the idea that individual Christians represent and “confess” the doctrine of their church body?
It is not only possible; it is necessary. If the church ceases to insist that individuals represent the public confession of their church body, at least five dangers immediately present themselves.
In the first place, the current erosion of the importance of doctrine would be accelerated to an alarming extent. Many voices in our present context assert that all truth is relative and that all perspectives are equally valid. Standing against the culture, Christ’s church must hold firmly to the truth that doctrine—propositional truth—will be either true and good, or false and evil. Many people, including members of our own congregations, will be baffled by this classic approach. When we encounter these reactions, we must be prepared to explain ourselves in winsome and patient ways. We must also continue to hold high the standards for our own catechetical instruction of doctrine. Abbreviated programs of instruction, either for young people or for adults, that neglect the teaching of Lutheran doctrine will only accelerate the slide into an indifference to God’s revealed truth in Holy Scripture.
In the second place, if the doctrinal confession of one’s own church body can be ignored, then it must follow that heterodoxy poses no danger to the spiritual lives of Christians. The question stated directly is this: Does it matter, or does it not matter, that a church’s confession proclaims that the Bible is only “a faithful witness” to the truth and is not completely inspired and inerrant, or that the Lord’s Supper does not offer the true body and blood of Christ, or that the good works of Christians attain merit before God, or that baptism is merely an outward “symbol” of an inner reality? In the sixteenth century the three major theological “camps” were the Lutherans, the Reformed, and the church of Rome. Major differences in confession separated these three camps, and still separate them today.
Perhaps the most difficult issue for the LCMS today is its relationship with the ELCA. But the recent actions of the ELCA in establishing full communion with the Reformed and the Episcopalians on the one hand, and in endorsing the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification with Rome on the other hand, have made our relationship with the ELCA both more sorrowful and more obvious. We must insist that false doctrine does matter, because ultimately it turns sinners away from Christ alone and from the means by and through which He and His benefits may with certainty be found.
In the third place, if individual church members are not seen as “confessors” of their church body’s doctrine, then the concept of church membership is watered down to the point of meaninglessness. The rationale for any catechesis in the traditional sense of the term vanishes, and there emerges a resounding contradiction between our own confirmation process and the attitude with which we view members of other denominations. Indeed, there would be no theological rejoinder possible to a member of an adult membership class in one of our churches who publicly rejected (for example) the Lutheran doctrine of baptism and still wanted to join the Congregation.
Fourth, unless individual Christians can be seen as “confessors” of their church body’s doctrine, Scripture’s teaching concerning altar and pulpit fellowship as historically confessed by the LCMS becomes virtually meaningless. It is true that one could maintain that on the denominational or even congregational levels, there should not be joint communion services. But if any of the individuals in those services could–at least in theory and under ordinary circumstances—commune together, then the formal practice would be emptied of all real meaning.
Fifth and finally, the crucial passage, 1 Cor. 11:17–34, places only a minor emphasis (at least explicitly) on the need for doctrinal unity among those who commune together. But we must remember that Paul is dealing with an intra-congregational situation and that elsewhere in the letter he corrects the Corinthians’ errors in matters of both doctrine and personal morality. Moreover, the apostle quite emphatically states that those who commune at the Lord’s Table are engaging in an act of proclamation: it is the Lord’s death that they are proclaiming until he comes again. Heterodox teaching threatens and contradicts to a greater or lesser extent the pure proclamation of the death of Christ for us, even as the Corinthians’ social and personal divisions at their community meals also contradicted the Lord’s death for them all. The Eucharist is the congregation’s sacrament of unity. Differences of confession cannot be a matter of indifference when seeking the unity presupposed by the Lord’s Supper, the very unity that the Supper is given to maintain and preserve.
A blessed New Year to all, Pastor Wagner
CHURCH SERVICE: New Year's Eve Worship w/Holy Communion - December 31, 2019 – 7:00 p.m.
Church Offering Income for the Month of November: $7,616.60
First Trinity Lutheran Church Council Meeting Minutes December 10, 2019
The meeting was called to order by President Senator Tom Brandt at 7:30 P.M. Dean Damme gave an opening devotion with a reading from Luke chapter 1. The minutes of the council meeting were approved as corrected. Russell Behrends presented the Financial Secretary's report. The Treasurer's report was presented by Ron Malchow. Income received from Financial Secretary for November was $7,616.60, expenses $9,847.83, with an ending balance of $29,694.52. Motion was made to accept financial reports by Allen Pfingsten. Seconded by Dean Damme. Motion carried. (see reports)
Elders’ Report – Allen Pfingsten
· Next month’s meeting will be January 14, 2020, with the Elders meeting at 6:30 pm and council/budget at 7:30 P.M.
· Voters meeting will be January 19, 2020 after Church.
· Elders approved using older memorial money for Audio/Visual upgrades to add volume-controlled speakers in the conference room and east classroom and splitter box for the TV’s. We have a proposal from Diode Technologies for $2,027.71 to accomplish this.
· Tim Beethe Memorial money is being reserved for a project to be determined by Family and Elders.
Pastor’s Report – Not Present – No Report
Trustee’s Report – James Nelson
· Fellowship Hall has been painted.
· Michael and Megan Sothan will take the chalkboard that has been removed from the fellowship hall.
· Have not sought bids yet for tuck pointing on church.
Stewardship / Board of Education – Not Present – No Report
Sunday School Superintendent - Not Present – No Report
Cemetery Sexton – Walt Neumann
· Exterminator was out to see about new badger hole in cemetery.
· Dean Damme has acquired a devise to stream services to the school building.
Motion to adjourn by Allen Pfingsten. Seconded by Dean Damme. Motion carried. Meeting was closed with the Lord’s Prayer at 8:20 P.M.
Members present include: Senator Tom Brandt, James Nelson, Dean Damme, Ron Malchow, Walter Neumann, Russ Behrends and Kyle Spilker.
Submitted by Secretary Kyle Spilker.
Registered Visitors at First Trinity for November/December 2019: (Visitors who filled out cards.)
Nov 27 Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE; Paul/Rachel, Abigail, Grace, Saul & Elijah Burger - Kearney, NE; Dan Griebenaw – Denver, CO; Phyllis Burger – Woodbury, MN; Toby Flaming – Beverly, KS; Helen Burger – DeWitt, NE; Bailey Bannister & Travis Wilson – Omaha, NE; Emmit Sedlacek; John Burger & Spouse – Adel, IA
Dec 1 Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE; John/Kristal & Clara Auty – Dallas, TX; Tami Adam – Omaha, NE; Aaron/Lindy, Siera, Halee, & Ava Pfingsten – Arlington, NE
Dec 4 Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE
Dec 8 Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE
Dec 11 No Visitors
Dec 15 Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE
Dec 18 Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE
Dec 22 Rosie Hill – Fairbury, NE; Jeremiah/Karen, Katie, Lauren & Carter Johnsen - Grand Island, NE; Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE; Mark/Jordan Nelson – Kansas City, KS; Philip/Andrea & Mallory Nelson – Prairie Village, KS; Jim/Lisa & Gabby Bluege – Belvidere, IL; Dianna, Bailey & Adam Bannister – Omaha, NE; Toby Flaming & Hannah – Beverly, KS
Dec 24 Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE; Lyle Osborn – Lenexa, KS; Beth, Seth & Ella Kuhlman & Paul Ryalund – St. James, MO; James/Lisa & Gabby Bluege – Belvidere, IL; Phyllis Burger – Woodbury, MN; Ryan Bulin – Hebron, NE; Bill/Logan Spilker – Lincoln, NE; Diane Meyer – Blue Springs, NE
Dec 25 James/Lisa & Gabby Bluege – Belvidere, IL; Norbert Meyer – Beatrice, NE; Darcy – friend of Evan Brandt
THOSE CELEBRATING BIRTHDAYS IN THE MONTH OF JANUARY
Katie Dieman 3 Meagan McAllister 21
Randy Bartlett 3 Cynthia Wagner 22
Carolyn Nelson 3 Rebecca Behrends 23
Amy Brott 4 Nicole Arnold* 26
Terry Collins 10 Elizabeth Behrends* 27
Pastor Wagner 11 Robin Hahn 27
Anissa Beethe* 14 Randi Niemeier 29
Michael Kendall 17 Lyle Osborn* 29
Melissa Larmeu 18
THOSE CELEBRATING BAPTISMAL BIRTHDAYS IN THE MONTH OF JANUARY
Sandra Brandt 1 Kyle Spilker 14
Crystal Jordening 1 Kent Cunningham 22
Shirley Neumann 1 Carolyn Nelson 25
Jeffrey Kettelhut 6 Aaron Zimmerman 26
Joshua Malchow 6 Katie Dieman 27
Amy Brott 10 Michael Kendall 27
Brooke Koch 11
THOSE CELEBRATING ANNIVERSARIES IN THE MONTH OF JANUARY: Darin/Anna Pohlmann 20
*If your birthday, baptismal birthday, or anniversary date is missing from our lists, please contact the church office so we can include it next year.