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The Year of Our Lord 2020 (Sept. 2020)

The Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Twenty

The words from the Epistle of James have become painfully relevant this year: “15 You ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:15, ESV). If we needed a reminder of the value of adding “God willing,” to our intended plans, we have had it in no uncertain terms. It may have been a hard lesson, but it’s a necessary one: Be careful what you put your trust in. Who or what do you trust in during a time like this when even Walmart fails you?

The question drives us back to where we should have been all along: God. Amid the seeming chaos in the world around us, God remains in control. He permits war, bloodshed, and political upheaval only for as long as it serves His plan of salvation, He uses pestilence, financial ruin, and even the plots of evil men it to further His good and gracious will. From our perspective, this world seems to be hurtling out of control. But not from God’s perspective. 2020 may seem to be a year of chaos, but it is, to use the old terminology, the year of our Lord 2020.

We mark the changing of seasons by the beginning and end of sports seasons; by the passing of school years; and by mowing grass, which gives way to raking leaves, which gives way to plowing snow, which gives way to pruning shrubs…. Instead, let’s focus on marking our time on God’s calendar. Rediscover the pattern of daily prayer in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Rediscover the seasons of the church year, each with its unique emphasis on the life and work of Jesus Christ. Renew your focus on the holidays—the ‘feasts’—of the church year, with the great events and people that they keep in our collective memories. Since, this year, we have such a pointed reminder to add “God willing” to all of our plans, let’s make a special effort to focus on what God’s will is for you. His will was to redeem you at the price of the holy, precious blood and the innocent suffering and death of His beloved Son. And His will, now, is to call, gather, and keep you in that gift to life everlasting. That is His good and gracious will. 

God bless each of our households through the rest of the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Twenty, through the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Twenty-One, and into all eternity in Jesus Christ. 


Pastor Steve Stolarczyk

Quick Look at Matthew’s Skeleton (Oct. 2019)

Continuing Our Look at the Gospel of Matthew...

Before we go further into the book, let’s take a quick peek at Matthew’s skeleton.
No, not that skeleton…. The structure, or the outline of the book.
If you were going to teach someone the Christian faith, how would you approach it? Part of the genius of Luther’s Small Catechism, is the way that it lays out the full breadth of what it means to be a Christian in just six sections: the 10 Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Sacrament of Baptism, Confession & Absolution, and the Sacrament of the Altar. By learning these six ‘chief parts’, you get a very solid introduction into the Christian faith. 
But there are other approaches. As Matthew wrote his Gospel, he used an outline that was quite different, but just as simple. A very rough outline of the book of Matthew starts with a section on the person of Jesus (chapters 1-4), then records 5 ‘discourses’— the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7), a teaching to the apostles in chapter 10 as they are sent out to preach the Gospel to the surrounding areas, a set of parables in chapter 13 which describe the Kingdom of Heaven, a set of parables and teachings in chapter 18 which describe life in the church, and a sermon about the End Times (including how we, as believers, should approach that day) — and then concludes with Matthew’s account of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. 
Now, that probably sounds mind-numbingly academic— as if it might help you pass a test in a theology class, but wouldn’t be of any benefit in daily life. But go back to my initial question again: how would you approach the task of teaching someone the Christian faith? The way we answer that question; the way we approach that task says a great deal about what is really important for believers— not just for new believers but for you and me, as well. Matthew begins and ends his instruction with Jesus— both literally and figuratively. Who is Jesus? He is true God and true man; conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. What has He done for you? He has suffered, died, and rose again. And, as He ascended into heaven, He sent His church to make new citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven by baptizing and teaching them all that Jesus taught. 
In between, Matthew’s readers are introduced to those teachings of Jesus. And those teachings challenge us; they accuse us; they run contrary to so much that comes naturally to us. They reveal quite clearly how desperately we need what Jesus came to do. Is it necessary that you be able to recite the outline of the book of Matthew? No. But if we notice what Matthew is doing and how he tries to introduce you to Jesus Christ, you’ll get to know Him even better. 
That’s what you can expect to get out of the study as we work our way through the book of Matthew, section by section: to come to a better knowledge of Jesus Christ and our common faith. Please join us and take advantage of the opportunity.

—Pastor Stolarczyk



Don't Forget to Remember (Feb. 2019)








[1] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, [2] looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1–2, ESV)

Even though the snow is still falling, we suddenly find ourselves within a month of the holy season of Lent. There are a number of ways of approaching Lent. One that is, arguably, among the most helpful, is to think of it as a time of remembering. We dedicate special time each day and each week to remember what our Lord willingly submitted to. And we remember what He gave us, in the process. It is an awesome thing to realize that God, Himself, set aside the glory, honor, and majesty of heaven to live as one of us. It is even more awe-inspiring to meditate on the perfect life He lived in every respect. And all that He suffered is almost unimaginable.

Make sure you take the final step, however. Remember what Jesus did—and what it means for you. His perfect life is credited to you. He took on human flesh in order to have a body that He could offer as a sacrifice for your sin. He claimed you as His own to seat you, with Him, in heaven in glory and honor and majesty.

We understand that better as we also remember the lives of the saints who have gone before us. What does it mean to live as one of God’s people? What was particularly important for them in their walk with God? What did they treasure? What did they have little time for or interest in? In what ways was their faith tested? That will be the focus of our Lenten preparation this year. In a word, it is about remembering: Remembering what He did; remembering their example; and remembering who you are in Christ. Start preparing to make the most of this upcoming Lent.


-- Pastor Stolarczyk


Who Are Your Heroes? (Jan. 2019)

Who Are Your Heroes?


We’ve been working our way through the book of Hebrews. I hope you’ve been following— and have benefitted from— our adult Bible study discussion, the Advent devotional, and the Advent midweek series. One of the things that we’ll be doing in the coming months, especially the Lenten devotions and midweek series, is spending time in Hebrews chapter 11– the chapter on the “Heroes of the faith.” These men and women really were tested in a variety of ways and, by their actions, showed where their faith truly lay. We’ll revisit their stories, learn how, exactly, they were tested, and see what God accomplished through them. 

As we hear their stories once again, we’ll be reminded what genuine ‘faith’ looks like. More importantly, we’ll be pointed to the object of their faith: Jesus Christ. Their faith was strong enough to accomplish remarkable things because the One in whom they placed their trust was most certainly trustworthy. It’s worth learning about the saints so that we can be encouraged by their example. But the greatest blessing is the evidence that their lives give that the One in whom you have put your faith really is more powerful than the devil, the world, and you sinful flesh— even more powerful than death itself. He has promised you seemingly impossible things— that you have been born again in baptism, that your sins are forgiven, that you have eternal life— and these stories reassure us that, as impossible as they seem, God’s promises are trustworthy. 

So please be watching for the Lenten devotional and the midweek series. Take full advantage of the opportunity to join us for adult Bible study, either in person or via the livestream on our Facebook page. Make the most of this opportunity to dig deeper into this wonderful section of God’s Word.


Pastor Stolarczyk

The Greater One Is Coming (Dec. 2018)

nullA lot happens during the month of December. There are a lot of events, a lot of activities, and a lot of preparations. Among the carols, the cards, and the craziness there are also the declarations that: “Jesus is the reason for the season.” This is most certainly true. But what does it mean? How, exactly, should we adjust our attitudes or actions in response to this reminder? We often toss around phrases like this one that sound very nice, but leave a lot unsaid.

There’s actually a lot to say about this simple phrase. Beneath the traditions, beneath the activity, there is a specific person that we’re getting ready to celebrate. We’re getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. His birth is more than just an historical event that we are commemorating. It’s an event that has real meaning for you today.

As our Advent theme puts it: The Greater One Is Coming. This Jesus who was born is greater than angels; He’s greater than Moses; and He’s greater than the Old Testament priests. It’s worthwhile to simply ponder the significance of that fact. But, as I mentioned above, this is something that has real meaning for you today.

Angels are glorious. But He didn’t become an angel. He became one of us. He humbled Himself so that He could exalt you, with Him, to the right hand of the Father. Moses is the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. But Jesus is the greater prophet who leads you through the waters of baptism— destroying your spiritual enemies in the process— sustains you with bread from heaven and His living water while you travel through this wilderness, and gathers you safely into the Promised Land. The Old Testament High Priests literally served in the presence of God. But, because He offered the final sacrifice for the sins of all humanity, Jesus is God with us.

The traditions and activities are all good and salutary— as long as they don’t come between us and the real meaning for the season: who Jesus is and what He came to do. Remember: Jesus is the reason for the season.

Pastor Stolarczyk

Dive Into Hebrews with Us (October 2018)


Simply put, my goal this year is to help you discover the great treasure that we have in the book of Hebrews.

The message of the book of Hebrews is quite stunning. The author (we're not sure who he was) takes familiar people or things from the Old Testament and uses them to show how much greater Jesus is. It really is stunning to understand the ways in which Jesus is greater than angels, Moses, and the High Priests. But (spoiler alert!) the part that is really mind-blowing is the implications for what Jesus has done for us. You've been exalted above the angels since He became one of us--not one of them-- in order to redeem you. He has given you a greater peace than anything that Moses promised the people. You have been made a kingdom of priests under your Great High Priest. The heroes of the faith? "[39] All these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, [40] since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect" (Hebrews 11:39–40, ESV). It is truly an amazizng book. Or, to say it better, it is a book with an amazing message.

You'll have several ways of diving into the book of Hebrews durng this school year. The main one is through our Sunday morning adult Bible study. That will be the best opportunity to work our way throught the message of the book together, ask questions, and find the answers that it offers. Even if you've missed the first sessions, it will most definitely be worth your time.

We will also build on that study throughout the year. And we'll do it in a couple of ways. Our Advent and Lenten series this year will be based on the book of Hebrews. The theme for our Advent services will be "The Greater One is Coming: A Child Greater than Angels; A Child Greater than Moses; and the Great, Infant High Priest."  We'll also offer an advent devotional based on that theme, as well. 

During Lent, our theme for our midweek services will be "The Heroes of Faith and Us-- Made Perfect In Christ: By Faith, Creation; By Faith, Abel; By faith, Enoch; By faith, Noah; By faith, Abraham & Sarah; By faith, Isaac, Jacob, & Joseph." Again, our Lenten devotional will develop that theme even further.

Please don't miss this opportunity to discover and dig deeply into the amazing message of this book. May God richly bless our study of His Word this year.

-- Pastor Stolarczyk


The End of the Circle (June/July 2018)

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  - Micah 6:8


We’ve come to the end of another school year. As I write this, students are counting down to the first day of their summer vacation— and that number is well into single digits. As a pastor who has the privilege of teaching four days a week in our Lutheran School, I have yet to reach the end of the school year feeling like we’ve covered all that there is to cover. Without fail, I get to the end of the year feeling like there is still so much to cover, so much that they’ll need to know.

And yet, it’s fitting that, each year, we come to the end and say, “It’s enough.” We haven’t covered everything, but you have what you need to prepare you for what you might encounter. Correct doctrine is vital. We’re warned repeatedly in scripture to mark and avoid those who teach false doctrine. And, at the same time, it does no one any good to spend our lives with our noses buried in our Bibles. We learn in order to live. We know in order to do. As God said through the prophet Micah, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

That’s where the Good News of Jesus Christ leads, doesn’t it? Pure doctrine is nothing more and nothing less than the amazing revelation that Jesus Christ took your sins upon Himself and went to the cross to suffer and die for you. He now sends you out to love and serve others as He loved and served you.

Coming to the end of the school year is a lot like coming to the end of a circle. Before we know it we’ll be back again for the start of another year. And it’s like coming to the end of the circle in another way: because faith and actions go hand in hand. We learn in order to do. We do according to what we’ve learned. Whether you have children who are still in school or not, I hope that you make the most of this opportunity to put faith into action.