Lord, keep us joyful in Christ our King! On this last Sunday of the Church Year, we rejoice in the fulfillment of God’s plan for our salvation through Christ our King — the King who once came as a sacrifice; the King who still shepherds us day by day; the King who will conquer all our enemies. Rejoice in his reign and look forward to the day when every knee will bow with us before the King of kings and Lord of lords!
Lord, keep us watchful for our triumph! Today the Church hears the strains of the distant triumph song and affirms, “Blessed are they who are called to the marriage feast of the Lamb.” Jesus wants us to be the waiting Church — the Church that watches for her Savior and cries, “Come, Lord Jesus!” As we journey through these last times our vigilance slips and our hearts get drowsy. So we pray, “Keep us ever watchful for the coming of your Son that we may enjoy his feast forever in heaven.”
Lord, keep us mindful of the Judgment! He will come to judge the living and the dead. We confess it every Sunday, but often live like those are empty words. Number your days aright, and gain a heart of wisdom. Today the Church prays that God keep us ever mindful of the Last Judgment that we might be found in faith, fruitful in word and deed. Then there is no need to fear the judgment, but rather look forward to the day of our redemption.
Lord, keep us faithful to your Word! The Festival of the Lutheran Reformation of the Church emphasizes the true Church’s unfailing reliance on the Word of God and unflinching testimony to it in the face of persecution. Jesus promised to pour out his Spirit on the Church that we might be God’s mouthpiece even before kings. Today the Church prays that the Lord give us the strength to be faithful and the peace of knowing our lives are secure in his hands.
The Lord has prepared a festive banquet and has offered it free of charge to all people. Our God has gone to great lengths to bring lasting joy into our lives. He spared no expense in preparing the feast of our salvation, not even the life of his one and only Son. How we live in this world shows our appreciation for that.
Faith is the very foundation of the Christian life. Faith, worked by the Holy Spirit through the gospel, allows us to do great things for the Lord and see eternal life as our ultimate goal. Let us thank God daily for the gift of faith.
Our God wants real repentance that leads to true obedience. One day everyone will bow before Jesus and confess him as Lord. Some will do so in grief and others in joy. God wants real repentance from every sinner that they might bend the knee to Christ in true obedience and confess with gladness that Jesus is Lord.
What is God like? Over the next four Sundays, the Church hears Jesus tell four parables which reveal characteristics of our God. Today’s lesson causes us to ask: Is God fair? No, he’s not. He doesn’t give us what we deserve, and that’s called mercy. In fact, he gives us what we don’t deserve, and that’s called grace.
God tells his Church to model our forgiveness on his: a boundless, free, and loving forgiveness based on the sacrifice of Christ. How could our sinful hearts ever forgive like that? The Prayer of the Day asks that the mercy and grace of God precede us and follow after us, that we might love God with undivided hearts.
The Church fulfills her role as her brother’s keeper. The keys of the kingdom have been placed in our hands. It is our privilege and responsibility to bind and to loose — to carry out the task Christ has appointed us to on his behalf. We reach out with Law and Gospel for the sake of those whom Jesus redeemed.
In the struggles of daily life, we can be tempted to question God or join in with the world or give up the fight. By means of contrition and repentance the Christian is renewed for service in the kingdom of God. Such service is our spiritual worship.
God’s people trust in him to provide. God reveals his mighty power chiefly in showing mercy and kindness. God feeds hungry mouths and hungry souls with his gifts of grace. When we bring our problems to Jesus, he richly supplies all we need.
The Christian seeks spiritual wealth. Our lessons today show people who have come into great wealth, but still this earthly wealth only serves to illustrate where true treasure lies. Today we see that true, spiritual wealth can only be found in God and his eternal blessings for us in Christ.
While Congregation Mission Offerings provide foundational support for the ministerial education schools, the WELS Endowment for Student Financial Assistance provides tuition help to students at all four ministerial education schools: Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Martin Luther College, Luther Preparatory School, and Michigan Lutheran Seminary. Learn how students appreciate and are impacted by this source of funding in this month’s edition of WELS Connection.
Pastor Mike Foley; Elders: Jim, Moris and Terry
Jesus is the only rest for our sin-burdened souls!
I appologize, the streaming connection is down....I am recording the service locally and will post it as soon as the service is over. (Our upload speed is currently less than 1/3 the minimum needed for streaming...and requiring more than 2.5 times the actual video time to upload. We hope to have this issue rectified by next Sunday)
Pastor Mike Foley
Christians must expect persecution for Jesus’ sake. Nevertheless, we are sustained by the Word of our God. His gospel makes us bold to confess him before the world. Only the perfect life and death of our Savior make us willing and able to make the confession and live the life of his people.
Not everyone can travel to a disaster site to pitch in, but WELS Christian Aid and Relief represents all of us . . . by organizing volunteers, helping provide for basic needs, and assisting individuals in extraordinary situations. All this work follows from Jesus’ simple command to love our neighbor. Learn more about its work this month.
Pastor Mike Foley
1 Timothy 1:12-17
God desires mercy, not sacrifice. Only his mercy can explain his calling of us to be his people. We then practice God-pleasing mercy when we see our own lost condition and rejoice that the Son of God has condescended to suffer for our salvation. That makes us want to reach others with God’s amazing mercy and grace.
God is serious about his holy Word. It is his power for salvation. It gives us life. Therefore he doesn’t want anyone adding anything to it or subtracting anything from it. It may be difficult to stand against those attacking his Word, but it is always worth it.
The mystery of the Holy Trinity is beyond our comprehension. Yet it is proclaimed in Scripture and believed by Spirit-wrought hearts of faith. We believe in the one true God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Triune God is our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Lose this doctrine, and you lose it all.
The fifty days have passed and the promised Holy Spirit is poured out upon the Bride of Christ. The once-hidden gospel is no longer the possession of a chosen few. For the Spirit enables the message of salvation to enflame hearts for bearing witness to the ends of the earth.
This edition of WELS Connection focuses on the important work of the Mission for the Visually Impaired. Part of WELS Special Ministries, this organization produces devotional and other materials in braille, large print, and digital files and distributes them free of charge throughout the world. See how its work can impact WELS members and non-members alike.
Pastor Mike Foley
1 Peter 3:15-22
The love of God who lives in us leads to a life of obedience. Jesus’ promise of another Counselor is a loaded one: the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to do what Jesus asks. Today’s lessons teach that love for our risen Lord means obedience to his commands. Only Jesus’ promises make that possible.
I apologize, the live version of the service has a couple of errors throughout it. One that I was able to fix for the sermon re-post was the pastor's microphone died early on during the sermon and I didn't notice it for 5 minutes. I mixed in the auxiliary microphone for the re-post though so there is no loss of audio for the sermon video. The other error was the hymn slides after the sermon were not capturing correctly...I fixed it part way through the hymn prior to the offering, but I have no plans of reposting the service to include those slides I'm afraid.
Pastor Mike Foley
1 Peter 4:12-19; 5:6-11
Live in eager expectation of glory! That glory is not dimmed by earthly suffering; rather, such suffering reminds us of the glory that awaits us. First the cross; then the crown. Our light and momentary troubles cannot mute the joy of living in eager expectation of glory. Our Savior, who can’t go back on his word, promises the Spirit and his own return to bring us into glory forever.
I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. Christ’s message is so exclusive that it rejects all others. He doesn’t say, “I show you the way,” or “I have the truth,” or “I lead to life,” but “I AM the Way, the Truth, the Life.” The exclusivity of salvation resting in the person of Jesus Christ is a rock against which the unbelieving world crushes itself, but upon which God build his Church.
I forgot to start the recording for the sermon until after the reading was complete. If you wish to hear the reading along with the sermon itself, please watch the video above which is the archived version of the live service. The sermon reading begins at around 23 minutes 13 seconds in.
Pastor Mike Foley
Acts 6:1-9; 7:2a,51-60
1 Peter 2:19-25
On “Good Shepherd Sunday” our attention is fixed on Jesus the Good Shepherd of the sheep. His care and concern are recognized by those whom he has called as his sheep. Even in suffering, his sheep know his care for them and follow him.
The certain hope of eternal life with God is founded on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God had carried this hope in his Word through the ages. How did the disciples fail to anticipate the resurrection? How did the people of his day fail to see the Messiah God had promised? They let their wants and cultural expectations color their view of Scripture, and hope was lost. But God restored hope by raising Jesus and pointing his people back to his promises.
For more than 150 years, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., has been training men to be pastors, professors, and missionaries around the world. In this edition of WELS Connection, discover more about the school’s overall ministry and its vision of service to the Lord and his people.
Pastor Mike Foley
1 Peter 1:3-9
In the face of doubt, Christ gives us proof and peace. To the doubting disciples, he gave certain proof that led to certain peace. Through his Word and sacraments, Jesus gives the same proof to all people. “Peace be with you,” said our Lord. Then he sent his people forth with this message of peace based on the proof of his resurrection.
On this most holy of days, we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. Connected by grace, through faith, to our risen Lord, we rejoice in the victory of the resurrection and in full confidence of our own resurrection from the dead.
Darkness descended on the world that day as God draped Creation in the darkness of mourning. For the Light of the world was flickering out. Though guiltless, he was tortured and cursed; though innocent, he died among criminals. Who could ever call this day “good?” Only those who know the truth of the cross: “Sing my tongue the glorious battle; sing the ending of the fray. Now above the cross, the trophy, sound the loud triumphant lay. Tell how Christ, the world’s Redeemer, as a victim won the day.”
Christ shows us the full extent of God’s love for us. The Church calls this day Maundy because of Jesus’ “new” command in the Gospel lesson that his followers love one another (it is the dies mandate). Christ shows the full extent of his love in service and in sacrifice. He loves us more than life and feeds us his body and blood to prove it. Reconciled to God, we then follow his command to love one another.
Hail the King who humbly comes to save us! For 1700 years the Church has celebrated this festival that opens Holy Week. The time for Christ’s glory had come. He would not, however, gain glory in the manner of other kings. Rather, he would humble himself in great acts of love for us, and then the Father would exalt him to the highest, because he had fulfilled God’s saving mission.
Jesus will raise us from death to life. The crown jewel of the coming kingdom is the resurrection of the dead. One day, Jesus will defeat the last enemy and life will reign in our new Eden with God. On our Lenten walk to Calvary, the Church sees the Savior who came face to face with death and defeated it. God help us remember that Jesus, the Life, has made us heirs of eternal life.
Many WELS congregations use kids summer Bible camps to build bridges to the gospel in their communities. In this edition of WELS Connection, see how Bethlehem Lutheran Church, a home mission in Richland Center, Wis., used a STEM camp to connect with young families in its neighborhood.
Pastor Mike Foley
“There was one named Barabbas, who was imprisoned with the rebels and had committed murder in the rebellion…”
The microphone battery went out during the service and I had no other mic active for such a circumstance...I have since added a backup microphone just in case, but unfortunately nothing can be done about this service. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Pastor Mike Foley
Jesus calls us from sinful selfishness to selfless service. Selfishness puts self before all and leads to pride and envy. Repentance, however, means despairing of self, trusting in Christ, and leading lives of selfless service modeled after our Savior, who came to serve and give his life as a ransom.
Previously I uploaded the "Service (1920 x 1080)" Recording with no sound...that issue has now been rectified. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Pastor Mike Foley
The light of the world brings sight to the blind and judgment to the blinded. We were born in the blindness of sin, but Christ came to shine his light into our darkened eyes so that we might see him and live. He gives gracious sight to the blind who trust in him; he gives blinding judgment on those who reject him; finally, he displays the work of God in the lives of those who walk in his light.
The gift of God comes by faith. Not a holy life or acts of obedience, but simple trust in the promise of God brings the gift of living water for thirsty souls. Abraham believed God’s promise. He had faith in God who justifies the wicked, and God credited it to him as righteousness. By this same faith, Christ gives righteousness to all who believe.
The Son of God goes forth to war and defeats the devil for us. The Prayer of the Day sets the tone for Sunday: the ancient foe warred on mankind in the garden, but God promised to send a champion to battle on our behalf. The Second Adam came to do what the first could not, and in the desert the battle was joined. But for us fights the valiant one … he holds the field forever.
Return to the Lord! Ash Wednesday calls us to a forty-day journey of repentance and renewal. Recognition of our sin leads us to cry out for mercy and trust in God’s promised forgiveness. Return to the Lord for he is gracious! Having obtained his pardon, we seek a renewal of faith and life that we might live as baptized children of God.
Jesus appears in glory as the Son of God. Before he suffers as man’s substitute, Jesus gives his Church a glimpse of the glory that he set aside to be our Savior. See how he loves us! The Majestic Glory became a man to suffer and die for us, just as Moses and the Prophets had foretold. How good to be here!
The Savior’s Sermon: Live a holy life! Jesus came to free us from sin. His Word today reminds us just how holy our God is, and the dire warnings remind us just how holy he wants us to be. After examining our lives, we must despair, but we are reminded to flee to Christ who has the words of life. So we ask to be given the grace both to know and do what pleases him.
Let your light shine! Jesus tells us: You are … so be. You are the light of the world, so be light for the earth. You are the salt of the earth, so be salt for it. Our calling as children of God means our lives will reflect our new status, and the world around us will be blessed by us.
The Savior’s Sermon: Trust in God’s strength! The Beatitudes are hard for us to swallow. Jesus seems to be espousing a Christianity imbued with fatalism at best or defeatism at worst. Look closer, however, and see what he says. The weaker you are, the stronger God is in your life. The weaker you are now, the more ready you are to trust in a future reward. Trust God’s grace and you will find many reasons to trust his strength.
Jesus appears as the light that shines in the darkness. Dark places remain covered in the shadow of sin and unbelief. Now there are, however, bright places, too, and there you find God’s children. Jesus shines his light by preaching repentance and the good news of the coming kingdom, and he invites us to follow to a new life illumined by him.
Jesus appears as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This Lamb would take away the sins of the world and bring both Israel and the Gentile nations into the kingdom of God. The hearts that see this Savior in faith cannot help but take news of this salvation to the ends of the earth.
The long-expected Christ has arrived; the waiting is over as the Son of David is anointed. The Father’s approval sounds from heaven and book-ends the season of Epiphany, when with the Holy Spirit and with power it thunders again on the Mount of Transfiguration as the Son is revealed in glory.
The Incarnation reveals the unseen God to the eyes of the faithful. The light of Christ illuminates hearts and eyes once darkened by sin (prayer of the day), and the whole world sees the salvation of our unseen God made visible in our flesh-and-blood Savior (verse of the day).
The Son of God came into this world to serve as our Substitute under the law of God. As our brother in humanity, Christ did what we cannot — he perfectly kept that law of God, and he freed us from the guilt and power of sin.
God’s Word for us this day raises us up above the cute and the trite and the trivial; for so many people that is all that Christmas is about. But there is nothing trite or trivial in what has happened today: The deepest lowliness is but the mask for the greatest glory, the glory of him who came to be our Savior!
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Just as Mary, on the very first Christmas, we too meditate on the mystery of Christmas. Christ was born in order to live, die and rise from the grave for us! The Word became flesh and through faith we see his glory! Glory to God in the highest!
The celebration has been a tradition in Mexico for 400 years, and started in 1586. Many Mexican holidays include dramatizations of original events, a tradition which has its roots in the ritual of Bible plays used to teach religious doctrine to a largely illiterate population in Europe as early as the 10th and 11th centuries.
While its roots are in Catholicism, even Protestant Latinos follow the tradition.
Our service starts outside and later enters into our church sanctuary. The service is performed in both Spanish and English.
Unfortunately, the only portion of this service we are currently able to record is within the walls of the church. Please join us here in person for the full experience.
What’s the best way to prepare for his coming? It’s not with frantic doing. It’s not with a focus on what we have done or promise to do. It’s not with how we will pay back what he comes to bring. The best preparation for Christmas is a readiness to receive.
In this season of Advent (Coming) we focus on the three “comings” of Christ: his coming into this world as a baby to put himself in our place and to pay for our sins, his coming in glory at the last day to take us into the full enjoyment of our salvation, and his coming into our hearts through the power of his word which gives us faith and makes that salvation our own. And that leads us to REJOICE...
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near! The Forerunner prepares for the coming Christ by preaching repentance that brings renewal of life. The Root of Jesse will come in swift judgment on the unrepentant but in mercy and grace for God’s people. His coming will end the wickedness of the world and usher in a new age restored to the perfection with which God made it.
There is a time for everything. This evening is the time to reflect on the year past and the forgiveness our Lord has given us. It is also a time for looking at the year ahead and the peace God gives us here and on into eternal life.
Keep watch! The unexpectedness of Christ’s coming doesn’t change its certainty. We know he is coming with judgment on the unbelieving world and grace and rescue for his people. We are filled with hope, with love, and with light. With anticipation in our hearts, we long for the fulfillment. “Come, Lord Jesus! Amen!”