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Sermons & Bible Studies

Advent records sermon and bible study content from Pastor John Fiene, and guest pastors, through SoundCloud. You can access and download our content from this site, via the SoundCloud app on the App Store and Google Play, or as an iTunes podcast.
 

Notes from Advent

From self study to commentary, Notes from Advent shares the latest news, events and other information from Advent Lutheran Church.
 

Lent and Giving Up

Pastor James GradyLent and Giving Up…

At this writing we are entering the holy and penitential season of Lent. From Ash Wednesday to Easter are forty days (not counting Sundays) of repentance and preparation for the joy of Easter. For some, this may involve the act of giving up something so that daily, or many times through the day, they remind themselves of Christ’s suffering, death, and ultimately His resurrection. Their giving up something should help them focus on Christ who gave up his life to pay the penalty for all of our sins. It might be giving up chocolate or some other pleasure that helps one remember the suffering of Christ. With this is also remembered the grace and mercy shown by God and the faith given to trust in Christ, freely repent of sins and receive forgiveness. The Lutheran church does not hold to the mandatory giving up of things or fasting during lent, but views doing so as within the freedom we have in Christ. We may personally do or not do this, and we should not look down on those that do or don’t so as not to create a law either way. But, we are called to repent.

The first of Luther’s Ninety-Five theses states, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘Repent’ (Matt. 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” To Lutherans, repentance is part of our very existence as God’s children and it is brought into greater focus as we observe and remember the passion and suffering of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in the season of Lent. We see His humiliation in His incarnation and humble birth where He took on the form of our humanness and laid aside the glory and power that was His in heaven. He chose not to use it to save Himself but to glorify His Father in heaven. This glorification took place on the cross where, as eternal God, He gave up His life, defeating the power of the devil, so that we could have life eternally with Him through the power of His resurrection. This is by no power of our own. God sent His Son to have the sins of all men placed on Him. God’s perfect law in the Ten Commandments shows us our sins and our total depravity and the gospel, the good news, shows us Christ who has taken the punishment we truly deserve. With faith in Christ and the atonement He has made for our sin, we are penitent and contrite about our sins and trust in the mercy and grace given to us in the forgiveness of our sins. The absolution we receive in the name of Christ Jesus.

On Ash Wednesday, as we begin Lent, you may have ashes placed on your forehead before the start of the service. The ashes are in remembrance that we are only dust and will return to dust. And, the sign of the cross they are applied in is a remembrance of our being made alive with Christ in our baptism, where our sins are forgiven, and we are given eternal life through the power of His resurrection. On the Last Day our dust will be gathered up again and our bodies given eternal life with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. As Luther reminds us, our entire life as believers, is to be one of repentance. A life where we daily, with a contrite heart, confess our sins to God and have faith in the forgiveness God has freely given us through His Son. This gift of forgiveness, along with the gift of faith to believe it, allows us to be free to give up the one thing that Jesus tells us we must give up… “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (Luke 24:5) As Christians, through the gift of faith in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we give up our entire lives to Christ, not just a piece of our lives for forty days, and He saves our lives and makes them eternal. 

A blessed Season of Lent to all of you!

In Christ,
Pastor Grady
 

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Place your Trust in God

Beloved Advent

If there is one thing a retiring pastor wants for the flock he loves it is that they will place their trust in God as the transition of pastors begins. He prays that by holding fast to God’s Word and cherishing and preserving a right understanding and use of the Sacraments, the congregation will never need to worry about its future.

But worry we do. Trust is a rare commodity today. A recent article in the WSJ claims that societal trust is on the decline. Among millennials, the article claims, 88% do not trust the media, and 75% of them do not trust the government. I don’t think that our older generations are too far behind in those numbers. Is this one of the reasons why the Christian Church is suffering? Can we be trusted?

Can we trust our Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod to provide us with a pastor who is faithful in Word and Sacrament, meeting the qualifications that the Apostle Paul lays out in I Timothy 3:2-8: “Now an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, apt to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect…He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”

We live in a changing world and our Missouri Synod is much like a besieged city on a hill. She has many breaches in her walls. The enemies are many: The culture religion of America (reformed and “enthusiast” theology– you need to know the meaning of those words); secularism (anything goes); anti-clericalism (what is the good of all that learning?); formalism (“playing” high church with overdone religious pomp and ceremony); apathy (why work so hard and sacrifice so much to gain so little?).

Yet God has given us some very good reasons to trust. First, we have a congregation that deeply cares about the preservation and promotion of God’s pure Word and holy Sacraments. Advent has been challenged various ways in the past by assaults upon her walls and she has not given way to the devil’s devices and schemes. We also have faithful leadership, a great call committee, a faithful assistant pastor and a soon-to-be faithful vacancy pastor. They are alert watchmen on the walls, ready and willing to sound the alarm at the approach of danger. We have a circuit visitor and a district president that are both aware and supportive of our Lutheran convictions. Above all, we have a gracious God who does not forget His promises or abandon His sheep.

Although we hope and pray that we might have good reasons to trust in others, the other side of that coin of trust is trustworthiness. For a congregation to be preserved and protected, it is also necessary to be trustworthy Christians. What that means is more than just coming faithfully to church and keeping the offerings going so the church does not fall into financial trouble. It is that the people of God make it possible for their pastor to be a faithful pastor.

If a pastor must be above reproach, then you should preserve and promote his reputation. Invite your friends and acquaintances to come to church and welcome your pastor into your life. If he is only supposed to have one wife, help his wife to be accepted as a real person and make her church life as happy as possible. If he is to have his children in submission and full of respect, then don’t be judgmental towards them. (Pastor’s kids often get held to a different standard and it can easily make them rebel against the faith). If he should be gentle, be gentle with him.
If he is not to be a lover of money, don’t make him a pauper. Show him your trustworthiness by the way you hold your faith dear in your hearts. Support him and encourage him as though he were your son or brother so that he will trust you.

Advent, you are a precious people and I will always hold you dear to my heart. You have trusted me along with the One who has sent me. Be alert to the world and always be prepared to rush into any breach of the church’s fortress wall, but also rest secure knowing that God will give you someone who will be a faithful shepherd.

Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Your Pastor,

John W. Fiene

P.S. I will be leaving on Sabbatical January 1 and be back with you on March 15th. God bless your Christmas and I look forward to celebrating the holy days of Easter with you all.



Reformation Event

 500th Anniversary of the Reformation Event – October 29th  
Thank you to all of the volunteers who made our 500th Anniversary of the Reformation event a huge success.  Special food, special beer from Germany and a special time with our Advent saints. 
 
If you have photos from the dinner that you would like to share, please send them via e-mail to info@adventlutheran.org so we post them on Facebook, on our website or in an upcoming newsletter.   Thanks again!

Pastor Fiene



500th Anniversary of the Reformation Event

 

On October 29, 2017 after the 10:00 a.m. Reformation Sunday Service, Advent Lutheran Church members and invited guests will come together to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. 
 
 
Blessed Members of Advent: 
 
Why should we feast together? God had His reasons. The Feast of Tabernacles was a celebration of the harvest and of God’s gracious provision of the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years. Imagine, three million people given water and sweet bread every day for 40 years, without a price, defending them from danger and dwelling in their midst visibly in a fire by night and a cloud by day. Yet Israel so often forgot their unbelievably gracious relationship with God. There was no better way to keep that gift and relationship alive than to remember by eating and drinking in God’s presence for seven days.So why should we gather on October 29th to eat and drink together? We have not been in this Indiana wilderness for 40 years yet, but we have been cared for and preserved by God as a congregation for almost 25 years. I have been your pastor the entire time. The journey has not always been smooth, but if we consider the miracles that have taken place throughout these many years, to worship and feast together is “meet and right so to do.”
 
I did a study last year on the success of mission congregations over the past 15 years in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. I chose at random three years of mission starts. What I discovered is that very few of them were succeeding. Only two or three had grown to be self-supporting. Many of them existed on paper alone. And very, very few of them were started with the intention of being truly Lutheran.
 
We should also eat and drink, feast and make merry, thank God and call upon Him in thanksgiving for the faithful people that YOU are! YOU are the fruit of God’s choosing. YOU have been faithful and concerned about keeping God’s Word and Sacrament sacred and pure. YOU have fought the good fight of faith for all these years. So this too, is a reason to celebrate.
 
All of Israel was “required” to join in the Feast of Tabernacles. For Jesus it was three days of travel one-way, seven or eight days of worship and celebration, three days home. I wonder if they saw this as an obligation, or whether they saw it as a privilege. In the light of my coming retirement, I look forward to celebrating with you both in worship and at the banquet on October 29th. 500 years after Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church! 500 years God has preserved the Gospel of the free and unmerited forgiveness of sins so that we could come to faith, believe in our divine forgiveness and inherit eternal life. Ours has been a mere quarter century of that grace, but I, for one, can’t wait to celebrate with each and everyone of you. 
 
Pastor Fiene


Reflections on a visit to Germany for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

 

500 Reformation Choir on recent trip to Germany

Dear 500 Year Old Lutherans,

 
It is hard to imagine that a trip to Germany on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation would be anything but an edifying spiritual pilgrimage. What could be better than listening to 24 male voices singing hymns of praise to God next to the grave of Martin Luther? What could be better than hearing their wives joining them in a robust version of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God?”
 
You are probably waiting for me to say it was the most gratifying experience of a lifetime. It wasn’t. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t valuable and very much appreciated. But let me explain. What Martin Luther stood for, what Martin Luther confessed, was a Christ that had done something for him and all humanity that no one could possibly understand or appreciate without the aid of the Holy Spirit. He was not a saint. He did not want to be idolized. He just wanted all men to be freed from the chains of doubt and the fear of God’s judgment. He found Christ’s gift of a free and undeserved forgiveness in the Holy Scriptures. He faced death many times throughout his life. He did so with a faith that was mixed with fear. He knew he possessed eternal life in Christ, but his flesh was weak and trembled in the face of death. A Christian faith conquering fear; that was Luther.
 
That is why the real Luther had a hard time shining through the exhibits and pictures and commercialism that drove this jubilee. There were two places of note where I saw a glimpse. The first was in the city of Wolfenbüttel. Our family group entered the cathedral not knowing what we would find. We passed through the church, descended the steps into the crypt below where the bodies of the dukes and duchesses lay in state. Suddenly the pastor of the cathedral appeared and offered to tell us about the artwork of the cathedral. He was using the Reformation celebration as an excuse to tell us about the Christian faith and the hope of the resurrection that comes to us through Christ. It burned in his heart. That is what the Reformation was all about: Burning hearts for the true and pure Gospel.
 
The second time was when the choir group stopped at a little chapel in a village called Gruna. We thought that we would only be using the chapel for our own service, but when we arrived, the church was full of people from the village. They played a prelude for us, opened their mouths in awe as the pastors sang, and greeted us after service with warm affection and food. They only had one worship service a year in that church. Their chapel had been flooded twice in recent years. Six feet up the walls were still peeling paint. It was the old East Germany. I felt like were meeting people coming out of prison. The privilege of speaking the Gospel to them was humbling. That was what Luther felt when he discovered the Gospel. It humbled him. Humble gratitude from knowing and trusting God’s free and undeserved mercy and grace compelled him to defy the threats, bans and incrimination of emperors, popes, kings, nobles and their mighty armies.
 
We must ask ourselves: How are we going to celebrate the Reformation? It is great to have exhibits and pictures. It is wonderful to have choirs singing the incredible works of Lutheran hymn writers and composers. But the greater and lasting legacy of the Lutheran Reformation is our own burning faith in the pure Gospel of our Lord and Savior, humbly received, and with faith mixed with fear, boldly confessed to a dying and forsaken world that God wills to save.
 
Your 500 Year Old Pastor
 
(Listen now to the 500 Reformation Choir sing “A Mighty Fortress is our God!” on FaceBook.


Advent Preschool & Kindergarten now enrolling for 2017-2018

Preschool

Preschool now enrolling for 2017-2018

Advent Lutheran Preschool & Kindergarten Programs are now enrolling for the 2017-2018 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.
 
This year, we’re expanding our Kindergarten offerings, with an additional class in the morning.
 
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.



Reformation 500 Choir Tour

500 Reformation Choir
Pastor John and Mrs. Solveig Fiene, Vicar Adam & Mrs. Emily Debner, along with Advent members Rae Malesh and Elly Grubaums are participating this month in a whirlwind pastoral choir concert tour of Germany in honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. The choir includes over two dozen Lutheran pastors from across the country who were selected for this unique opportunity to serve as choral ambassadors of the faith.
 
The choir is lead by Maurice Boyer, DMA, Associate Professor of Music at Concordia University in Chicago, IL.  To  learn more about their trip’s mission,  view one of their rehearsals now  on YouTube.  
 
Advent member Chris Colson is accompanying the choir on their journey and will document their trip on social media.  Be sure to follow them at the following links:  
 
Twitter  –  www.twitter.com/Reform_ation500   – @Reform_ation500
Instagram –  www.instagram.com/reformation_500_choir  – reformation_500_choir
Facebook  –  www.facebook.com/Reformation500Choir  –  @reformation500Choir