[Welsne_teach] Epiphany 3

Phil Hirsch MANHATTANHOPE at msn.com
Fri Jan 24 15:22:52 CST 2020

To want to be in the dark can indicate a healthy recognition of the human need for rest and sleep.

But it also can be pathological.  The one who wants the dark most of the time is sick.  The one who wants the dark all the time needs help.  The one who is dark of heart and soul harms himself and others.  We know this.  We are repulsed by such individuals.  To the extent we can, we avoid them.

We humans generally have come to like the idea of the light, of enlightenment.  Light is good.  Dark is bad.

But darkness is the default position of the human heart since the Fall.  It is where all the human hearts are.  All the time.  The aspiration to God that the natural knowledge of God inclines us only makes the darkness more difficult to extract ourselves from.  We work to find the light.  We read to find the light.  We meditate to find the light.  We educate our kids and grandkids so they can find light.

But the more mindful we attempt to be, the more we seek to let go of all that darkens, the deeper into the sticky web we find ourselves. The dark abyss of hell beckons, truly, every human heart.


I know the path to enlightenment. I know the Way.  I know the Light.  He was born to a Hebrew virgin.  He grew up in a place whose name his own people labeled as dark--"Galilee of the Gentiles."  And that's where Matthew records Jesus beginning his ministry, after His confrontation with the angel of light in the desert (Mt 4:1-11).  "On those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."  Jesus arrived.  "From that time on Jesus began to preach, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has neared'" (Mt 4:17).  Jesus had arrived.  Light had come.

"Come, follow me," beckons the Light that shines.  "I will make you mankind fishers" (Mt 4:19), Jesus said to fishermen.  He was telling those whose vocation had been to provide food for families that He has better food for any who listen that actually lasts longer than from the noon meal until supper.

The Church of Jesus sees.  We're in the light because of the Light that has dawned.  Yes, there's darkness out there.  Yes, there's darkness in your own heart and soul and spirit and mind.  Yes, there's eternal darkness that is real.  Yes, the one who masquerades as an angel of light works from darkness and to darkness of the eternal kind.  It matters to find light.  I tell you that the Light has come.  Jesus is The One.  In Him--and in Him alone--there is no darkness at all.  And all of His light is for you.  So, get a different attitude about the pretend gods and the fake ideas and the darkness that is real, yet is surmounted in the Light of Life, Jesus.  Get a different attitude about the One Who wins in the battle between darkness and light--it is the Living Lord, Jesus.

No more cynicism.  No more fatalism.  No more tribalism.  No more thinking that picking the right political figure will win the battle between light and darkness.  No more using the Bible as the morality code to merely change external behavior--as if that's the ultimate darkness and as if enlightenment is nice behavior.  No more listening to the angel of light and trusting him and thinking that the Church can't really win very much in the arena of human hearts--as if our own little voice won't ever matter.  Frankly, our own little voice isn't the one that wins the day.  But Jesus is.  And we get to speak Him into the darkness of the suicidal's heart--"Jesus lives for you and He makes you new in Him!"  We get to speak Jesus into the darkness of what feels like the dried up marriage or the relationships that are only contentious all the time--"Jesus lives and that means the old you is dead and the new you in Jesus lives, also!"  We get to speak Jesus into the darkness of the heart of the oh!-so-pious and the oh!-so-unabashadly bold rebel against God--"Jesus lives for you.  Stop trying to prove something by your actions--as if you are the one whose performance is the main thing."

Let it be said by the people of the Light, "The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light."  Let it be said often to each other in encouragement--Jesus lives.  Jesus is Light over the darkness--your darkness.  Let it be said often to those outside the fellowship, one by one by one.  Light wins over darkness--your very real darkness.  Jesus wins over the liar and the lies that loop over and over in your world.  Let them see the Light that is Jesus in simple words that flow from our hearts through our lips to the heart of a listener.  "There! A great light! No more darkness! Jesus!  For you!"

In our prayers
-Andrea Smith (daughter of Pastor Bob Smith of Redeemer, Hastings, NE) who continues in the hospital in Omaha after complications with her new kidney.

-Mike Vogel at Lord of Life, Thornton, CO on Sunday, February 16

Decision Announced
-Joel Sutton chose to continue to serve as missionary on the 1 LA (Latin America) team, whose board is chaired by Tim Westendorf of our district.
-Jeanette Schulz accepted to serve at Noah's Ark Preschool of St. John, Stanton, NE as preschool teacher.

Pastors Deliberating
-John Koester, of Gethsemane, Omaha to Aurora, IL
-Tim Spiegelberg of Carbon Valley, CO to Calgary, Alberta, Canada
-Jared Oldenburg of Eternal Rock, Castle Rock, CO to Goodview, MN

Lutheran Teachers Deliberating
-Mike Paulsen of St. Paul's, Norfolk, NE to Wyoming, MI
-Corey Pederson of Gethsemane, Omaha to Belle Plaine, MN
-Rachel Hahm of Lord of Life, Thornton, CO to Red Wing, MN

-David Schultz of Faith in Rising City at the end of the school year
-Mark Voss of Christ Our Redeemer, Aurora, CO 7/31/20

Congregations/Calling Bodies Calling a Pastor

-Shepherd of Peace, Norfolk, NE to Zachary Pudlo of W St. Paul, MN.

-Christ, Beatrice and St. Paul's, Plymouth, NE to Tim Berg of Rapid City, SD.

-Good Shepherd, Kearney, NE to Paul Workentine of Roanoke, VA.  Tom Schneider from Christ in Grand Island, NE is serving the vacancy.

-Mt. Olive, Overland Park, KS to David Naumann of Saginaw, MI.   Jake Jenswold of Rock of Ages, KC is helping with the vacancy.

-Trinity, Winner, SD to Gerhardt Juergens of Tappan, ND.

-Faith in Rising City, NE will meet 1/26 for pre-Call meeting and 2/5 for its first Call meeting.

-Christ Our Redeemer, Aurora, CO will meet 2/9 for pre-Call meeting and then Call 2/16.

Congregations/Calling Bodies Calling a Lutheran Teacher

-Zion, Denver will Call again 2/2.

-St. Mark, Salina, KS to Caty Waggoner of Zion, IL for a preschool teacher.

-NELHS to Jon Ross of Doral, FL for Math teacher.

-NELHS will Call 1/26 for English.

-Gethsemane, Omaha will Call for 3-4th teacher 1/26.

-Trinity, Waco to Richard Owen III as Principal.

-Zion, Valentine, NE will Call 2/9 for preschool teacher and for lower grades teacher.  (Emma Doble and Hannah Carter are resigning at the end of the school year to take on the vocations of mother and wife, respectively.)

-Christ Our Redeemer, Aurora, CO will Call for middle grades teacher 2/9 at the pre-Call meeting for their next pastor.


-The leaders of Zion, Bonesteel, SD and St. Paul, Naper NE and Beautiful Savior, O'Neill, NE (and the chairman of St. Paul's, Norfolk) met to discuss the potential of forming a tri-parish.

-June 1-3, 2020 the Nebraska District Convention at Estes Park Center

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