This article by Marie Landskroener originally appeared on the Concordia Publishing House Music website on November 20, 2018.
Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
(“Abide with Me,” LSB 878, Stanza 1)
So was my family’s anthem nearly every evening when I was little. We made it our own with little added embellishments, as kids (and sometimes dads) are wont to do, and then scurried off to bed (always obediently and willingly, I might add—just don’t tell my mom I said that). Little did we know the preparation that was taking place, the ultimate preparation in life: we were preparing to die.
That, you might be thinking, is morbid! Innocent children heading off to bed preparing for their deaths? Well, as I learned in American history, only two things in this life are certain: death and taxes. In all seriousness, though, if death is certain (unless, of course, Christ comes in our lifetime), then why should we not spend every moment preparing to die a good death? Why should we not be ready for it when it comes?
Possibly the best-known Christmas service in the Western world is the festival of Nine Lessons and Carols held each year since 1918 at King’s College, Cambridge, England. Adapted by churches all over the world as part of their Advent and Christmas worship, Lessons and Carols is a service which celebrates the birth of Jesus through selected passages of Scripture interspersed with choral music and congregational singing which reflect on those Scriptural passages.
Pacific Hills’ annual service of Advent Lessons and Carols will take place on Sunday, December 9, during the 8:00 am and 10:30 am services. Our service begins the same way in which the King’s College Christmas celebration begins – by recalling the rebellion and fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and the need for a Savior. We then hear prophecies from Isaiah, Jeremiah and Micah which unfold God’s message of love and redemption; God comforts His people, calls on them to prepare for their Savior to come, and promises a new covenant – a righteous branch to be born in Bethlehem to save us all.
The festival culminates with a reading from the Gospel of St. Luke in which John the Baptist proclaims the Advent of the Messiah and calls us all to repentance as we prepare to meet him.
Rev. Matthew Wood visited Pacific Hills Lutheran Church on Sunday, November 18, 2018. Rev. Wood lead a presentation on his work in Indonesia that is planned for February 2019, and preached during the 10:30 am service. Rev. Wood and his family has traveled over 9,000 miles over the past 15 weeks to raise support for his work in Indonesia. He will work closely with the Indonesian Christian Lutheran Church (GKLI) and help train pastors and lay leaders by providing resources through educational workshops, translation projects and other efforts.
Matthew is originally from Minnesota. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theology from Concordia University, St. Paul, in 2006. He received his Master of Divinity in 2011 and a Master’s in Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) in 2015 from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Following seminary, he served as pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church in Maplewood, Missouri.
On Veterans Day, November 11, Quilts of Valor presented five quilts to PHLC members and veterans. Each quilt was crafted by loving hands of Quilts of Valor, Omaha Chapter #577, most by members of our congregation, to recognize those who served during World War II. One intended for a now-deceased member, was presented to a Marine currently serving overseas.
Frank Bladt - U.S. Navy (1943-1946). Quilt pieced & quilted by Elain Whiteing
Paul Gladman - U.S. Army (1944-1945). Quilt pieced by Melissa Peters, quilted by Joan Workman
Robert Loeck - U.S. Army (1945-1946). Quilt pieced & quilted by Joan Workman
Duane Fieck - U.S. Navy (1943-1946). Quilt pieced & quilted by Ellen Lessmann
Timothy Mechaley - U.S. Marines (Post-911). Quilted for Al Simonson, presented to Timothy.
This article by Erica Tape originally appeared on the Concordia Publishing House Music website on October 30, 2018.
Sola Scriptura, sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus. Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone.
This Reformation teaching is especially poignant on All Saints’ Day, a day when many of us remember those who have gone before us in the faith. The solas teach us about the pure Gospel, and the Gospel gives us hope in the resurrection. As you rejoice in the Reformation, may you find comfort in the Gospel and share that comfort with others who may be mourning on All Saints’ Day.
“Our Vict’ry Has Been Won”
In the end of the fourth stanza of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” (LSB 656/657), we sing about everlasting life:
And take they our life,
Goods, fame, child, and wife,
Though these all be gone,
Our vict’ry has been won;
The Kingdom ours remaineth.
Why does the church sing? It’s an interesting question, especially since we live in an age where singing together has become somewhat anachronistic. So, why do we do it?
There are many passages in Scripture that refer to music and to singing, but for the moment, consider just two of them. In Job 38:7, we are told that at the creation of the earth “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.” In Revelation 5:11-12, St. John tells us that in his vision of end times he heard “the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand…In a loud voice they sang ‘Worthy is the lamb who was slain…’” These passages illustrate an important point: that the church – God’s creation – has sung from the very beginning of time, and will continue to do so through the end of time. And we, God’s people, have the marvelous opportunity to participate in this song of the universal, timeless church… right here… right now…on this particular date and in this particular place.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in Life Together, states it this way: “O Sing to the Lord a new song,” the Psalter calls out to us again and again. It is the Christ hymn, new every morning, that a community living together begins to sing in the early morning, the new song that is sung by the whole community of faith in God on earth and in heaven. We are called to join in the singing of it. It is God who has prepared one great song of praise throughout eternity, and those who enter God’s community join in this song It is the voice of the church that is heard in singing together. It is not I who sing, but the church. However, as a member of the church, I may share in its song. (emphasis added)
It is October in Lamb of God Preschool, which means all things pumpkin!
We decorated pumpkins this week, and we will be celebrating our harvest parties at the end of the month.
One way we keep the focus on Christ is by picturing a jack-o-lantern with hearts for eyes, a cross nose, and a fish mouth. The heart eyes remind us of God’s love for us. The cross nose reminds us that when we sin God forgives us because of Jesus’ death on the cross. The fish-shaped mouth reminds us that we are Christians who follow Jesus. When the pumpkin is cleaned out inside and the light is put in it, we are reminded that God cleans us up and his light is in our hearts.
May all we do and say reflect the light of Christ in us.
Lamb of God Preschool
This weekend (September 30th) we launch our three-week stewardship emphasis entitled, “Generous Giving.”
Our giving always starts with God … The Apostle Paul said, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it (1 Corinthians 4:7)?”
This reminds me about a story that I read about a Sunday school teacher who gave a bunch of stickers to each of her students. The stickers read, “This belongs to Jesus.” They were to place the stickers on everything at home that they owned such as radios, bicycles, roller blades, etc. These stickers were to remind them that all of these things actually belonged to Jesus and to encourage them to use them in ways pleasing to Jesus.
Pacific Hills Lutheran Church Welcomes New Director of Music
Dr. Jeffrey Blersch
First Sunday August 26, 2018
Jeffrey Blersch is Professor of Music at Concordia University, Nebraska, where he teaches organ, music theory, and is the conductor of the Cantamus Women’s Choir. Blersch is a graduate of the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music where he received degrees in organ performance and music education, and of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he earned the Doctor of Musical Arts in Organ Performance. His principal teachers have included Roberta Gary, Garth Peacock, and Marilyn Mason. Prior to his appointment at Concordia, Dr. Blersch served as Cantor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Peoria, Illinois, Associate Professor of Music at Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and as an elementary music specialist in the Brunswick City Schools, Brunswick, Ohio.
Blersch has been an active church musician since being appointed organist of Peace Lutheran Church, Cincinnati, Ohio, at age eight. Best known for his creative hymn interpretations, he regularly performs recitals and hymn festivals across the United States. Recent performances have included The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City, the Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, Texas, as well as conventions of the American Guild of Organists, Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, and the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.
Blersch is also an active composer; over one hundred of his compositions and collections are published exclusively with Concordia Publishing House and four of his original hymn tunes are included in Lutheran Service Book. He has produced two compact disc recordings of his original works: Resounding Alleluias and On Christmas Night.
Blersch and his wife Carla, also an organist, have three children, Aaron, Ryan, and Jenna.
Plan now to join us on the 26th as we welcome Dr. Blersch to Pacific Hills Lutheran Church.
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