Being Present with God

Pastor John W. Fiene

“Presence” is a word worthy of reflection, especially in the Christian Church. Technology has covertly taken its place. I was present with my grandson on his birthday – when he was in Illinois and I was in Indiana. I was present with a pastor friend in Florida. We talked to each other, but I was here and he was there. In both cases, there was something missing. I can’t give my grandson a kiss or hold him. I can’t see the smiling face of my pastor-friend. The third dimension is gone and so is the magnetism that comes through a real presence.

When a Christian worships, a Christian enters the presence of God. As the Son of God is eternally in the presence of His Father (“And the Word was with God and the Word was God.”), we are privileged to enter the presence of God through the Son as these words are spoken: “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” In the presence of the Son of God, God literally speaks to us in His Word, in the liturgy, in the three-dimensional face-to-face with Christ as He talks to us in preaching, as He comes physically in His sacramental body and blood. Among us He is present both as the priest and as the sacrificial lamb.

But people often feel that when it comes to a relationship with God, “presence” is neither necessary nor important. Church worship has taken on a type of “cell phone” mentality – the idea being that we can take God with us wherever we go. We just dial him up in our minds – a little prayer here, and a little thought about God there, and this is the same thing as “presence.” Not so.
 

A king gives a feast. He invites many to come. Some of them make excuses. “I just got married.” “I bought a cow.” Not only does the king respond by extending the invitation to the “unworthy” out on the highways and byways to fill his banquet hall, but he rejects those who were invited but played hookie with his gracious invitation. They were too important. Their needs trumped the honor of the king. Little did they realize that they would never enter his presence again.

It is hard for me to beat the drum for the attention of the minds and souls of my beloved flock, but I must ask each of us – myself included – are we letting the world covertly, subtly, change our way of thinking about our relationship with God? First Article of the Creed: “He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, all my members…my reason and senses…clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home…He richly and daily gives me all that I need to support this body and life.” But when it comes to returning and giving thanks, as only one of the ten lepers did, bowing before Jesus, worshipping with such profound thankfulness – well, isn’t it good enough to give him a “thanks-call” on the way to the game, or the store, or wherever and whatever is more important than entering the presence of God?

Even more so, the Second Article: “He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person. Purchased and won me from all sin, death and the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with his holy precious blood and his innocent suffering and death.” Imagine what it was like to be a slave during the 1800’s in the United States and what it meant to be purchased and set free. We have been purchased from sin, death and the eternity of hell by Jesus our Lord. What is the appropriate worship response? An hour or two each month? One Sunday out of three?

When those words of invocation are spoken, Christ comes truly and really, and He waits for you and me, inviting and calling, not perfect and sinless people, but broken sinners into His presence. His presence brings us into the third dimension of the Kingdom of God. As we learned in our Bible Study on Sunday morning, when we are in Christ’s presence, we are being remade in our inner persons – like a broken mirror being put together to reflect the image of the one standing before it. Christ’s “magnetism” draws out our Old Adam, kills him, takes away his power, and restores and refreshes us with a forgiven and cleansed person through His own life-giving Spirit.

Worship for the Christian, therefore, is not optional. Don’t let the world tell you differently and don’t let your Old Adam think that cell-phoning God once in a while will do the job. Think “presence.” And if and when you have a birthday party celebration – and no one comes – think about what God feels when you don’t. He loves you. Honor Him and “come into His presence with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.”

Your drum-beating pastor,
Pastor Fiene



An Interview with Vicar Debner

Please describe your family background and hometown.

I was born the first grandson of Michael Debner, the father of my dad Gregory Debner, who himself was the youngest of four brothers. My grandpa Mike went to be with the Lord on July 1st, 1983, over a full year before I was born on July 24th, 1984. He never met his first grandson. My three older sisters were like three additional mothers to me and my younger brother, and all five of us graduated from the same high school in Sylvania Ohio. I was baptized at Olivet Lutheran Church in Sylvania where my dad was an elder. After the congregation’s merger into the ELCA my parents left Olivet for King of Glory LCMS in Sylvania where I was confirmed. Sylvania as a community offered a panorama of different ethnicities, economic strata and faith backgrounds, all of which were present in the public school system I was educated through.
 

Who inspired you most as a child and your formative years. How?

The term “inspiration” carries a heavy connotation. I could look to a number of people who were influential toward my development in my early years such as authors, educators, professional athletes, pastors, doctors, coaches, etc. I would be dishonest if I was to look toward such persons as the greatest inspiration of my growing years. Regardless of how trite it might seem, I was influenced the most by my Savior Jesus Christ. It was a very difficult experience to stare death in the face during the ordeal with advanced Hodgkin’s disease at age 13-14. I don’t think a single person beyond the one who carried our sins to the cross at Golgotha outside Jerusalem impacted me more than anyone else. Reading about the endurance He showed in His passion was a terrific motivation and inspiration to stay mentally tough during such a testing time. I owe my mental toughness to the example of He who demonstrated true mental strength in the face of the most extreme adversity imaginable.
 

How did you meet your wife, Emily?

Emily and I met when I transferred to Concordia Ann Arbor and joined the wind ensemble playing trumpet. She was the music librarian for the ensemble and after a rehearsal in the fall of 2011 I helped her stack chairs in the band room. She called my assistance “precious” and we all know how the story ended (married on May 24th, 2015).
 

Where did you attend school and church?

As mentioned, I attended public school in Sylvania, Ohio. I was a 2003 graduate of Sylvania Southview and went on to study at four different Universities before completing my B.A. in Religious Studies at Concordia Ann Arbor in 2014. Prior to CUAA I was a student at Ohio Northern University from the fall of 2003 to the spring of 2005 studying chemistry, a student at the University of Toledo studying biology from the fall of 2005 to the spring of 2007, and student at Lourdes University in Sylvania from the fall of 2009 to the spring of 2011 studying theology.

All the while I maintained a membership at King of Glory LCMS in Sylvania, a congregation that had become my family and support during the wanderings of my 11 year undergraduate endeavors.
 

What were some of the activities you were involved in?

Prior to cancer I was an active Cub, then Boy Scout, reaching the rank of first class before diagnosis. I participated in youth soccer leagues from age 6 to 12, flag football from age 9 to 11, and tackle football from age 12-20 (I played a year of football at Ohio Northern). I was also a track athlete in the events of 300m and 110m hurdles, 4x100m and 4x400m relays, and the sprint medley team for my high school alma mater. At age 11 the task of learning to play the trumpet was undertaken, and apart from the year I was treated for cancer and 8 years of hiatus after graduating high school I have been playing ever since. I did some public speaking at fundraisers for the Make-a-wish foundation and spoke on the radio about my recovery from cancer through the autologous stem cell transplant I received at the Cleveland Clinic. During high school I also attended several Group Workcamps® where I had the opportunity to engage non-Lutheran “Christians” with my confessional beliefs.
 

What jobs did you have before entering the seminary?

The first job I had was working at a local Arby’s restaurant during my senior year of high school. After that I worked for a landscaping company owned by my sister’s husband’s mother for two seasons. Between those two seasons I was a truck loader for Fed-Ex Ground. I also had a stint as a seasonal worker at a local green house. I was a prep-cook at an Italian restaurant in Sylvania for 15 months, an employee at Chipotle Mexican Grill, and a member of the maintenance crew at Concordia Ann Arbor before I entered Seminary.
 

What led to your decision to become a pastor? How did you feel that you were called?

I decided to pursue the ministry after two years of studying “theology” at Lourdes University where their theological department was pushing Roman Catholic ecumenicalism and OT historical critical method of higher criticism. For me, I never had a problem while growing up believing that men of the OT like Jonah, Job, and others are real people who really lived in historical reality. After finding out that chemistry and biology were not going to provide avenues for celebrating the faith I was blessed with in Jesus Christ our Lord, and after confronting ecumenical Catholicism and higher criticism at Lourdes, I knew that my life had been impacted by the truth of God’s Word to the effect that I had no other calling in life than to serve the Lord in His holy Church.

What experiences have affirmed your calling?

I have had numerous opportunities to speak of Christ with non-believers throughout my adult life, all of which have left me with the impression that there in nothing in this world worth knowing if not for Christ and Him crucified. The passion and conviction I carry in the true faith given from Christ has left people who were total strangers to me with a sense of peaceful assurance that God has given the forgiveness of our sins as a free gift through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ.
 

What do you look forward to in the next year as a vicar?

I look forward to growing in my capacity to be a faithful servant of Christ in my responsibilities as a called and (to-be) ordained pastor. I hope to gain confidence in my preaching ability and continue growing more and more comfortable interacting with people who have not yet discovered the glorious hope of the crucified and risen Jesus. Most of all I look forward to learning more about the various dynamics that come with being a pastor and developing a rich understanding of the ministry in the context of our current age.
 


Advent Preschool & Kindergarten now enrolling for 2016-2017

Preschool

Preschool now enrolling for 2016-2017

Advent Lutheran Preschool & Kindergarten Programs are now enrolling for the 2016-2017 school year!
 
Advent offers a Christian learning environment, with small class sizes, for children ages 2 through 5. Advent Lutheran School balances teacher-directed and child-initiated learning, with an emphasis on individual learning styles and building on strengths and interests.
 
Our curriculum incorporates the Indiana State guidelines and hands-on learning to promote motor skills and brain development. Our educational philosophy is that every child is a gift from God, full of potential and ready to be nurtured in mind, body and spirit.
 
We offer a variety of half-day programs:
  • 1/2 Day Kindergarten for 5 year olds
  • Pre-Kindergarten for 4 year olds
  • Preschool for 3 year olds
  • Mom’s Morning Out for 2 year olds
  • Lunch options available for 3, 4 & 5 years

Explore these programs in greater detail at www.preschool.adventlutheran.org/classes-programs/  

Contact Deb Trewartha, Director, at 317-873-6318 for more details or to schedule a tour.

Advent Lutheran School is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Education Association.



Now Available – Year of the Bible

Year of the Bible

Get Year of the Bible Now

You can now access Year of the Bible content as blog posts on this site. Readings and study material are posted daily Monday through Saturday, in accordance with the Liturgical Calendar.  Study materials include a selected bible reading, educational study response and several questions about the reading and study.
Study materials have been developed in conjunction with Confirmation classes. As such, some weeks will only have selected readings and not full study materials.
Explore this study material today!


Christmas Service Schedule

Christmas Service Schedule
 

Christmas Service Schedule 

 
Join us on Christmas Eve and Christmas day! Bring your family and invite a neighbor to these celebrations.
 
Christmas Eve Services start at 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm.
Christmas Day Service starts at 10:00 am.


Midweek Services

 

Advent Services

Midweek Services

Join us in celebrating the Season of Advent during our midweek services.  Our midweek services feature supper at 5:30 pm with service following at 7:00 pm.  Join us Wednesdays in fellowship and worship for these midweek services.
December 2 – Soup – hosted by Board of Missions
December 9 – Chili – hosted by Board of Education
December 16 – Pasta – hosted by Board of Trustees


Thanksgiving Service

Thanksgiving Celebrate God's Blessing Religious PowerPoint
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