Overheard at a local hardware store

Senior Pastor Marcus Mackay
 
Overheard at a local hardware store, in a galaxy far, far away . . . (actually it was in Zionsville, IN)
 
Guy 1: “Hey, you look familiar! Have I seen your face somewhere before?”
Guy 2: “Ummm. Probably not. I just moved to the area.”
 
Guy 1: “No man, I really think I have seen your picture somewhere…maybe the newspaper?”
Guy 2: “I doubt it. The picture that was in the paper of me is actually a few years old and my wife says I have aged considerably since then, besides growing my beard during the winter.”
 
Guy 1: “I knew it! Why was your picture in the paper?”
 
Sidenote: At this point I could have had a lot of fun with this guy, but a Pastor is supposed to be honest, right?
 
Me: “I am the new pastor at Advent Lutheran Church here in Zionsville.”
Guy 1: “Cool! I knew I recognized your face. What kind of Lutherans are you?”
 
Sidenote: In hindsight, I probably should have just said something like: the kind that use the liturgy, believe in original sin, that the Bible is actually the Word of God, that Baptism saves you, that the Body & Blood of Jesus is really present in the bread and the wine, that we are justified by grace through faith . . . but we were in the hardware store, so I just said:
 
Me: “We are Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.”
Guy 1: “Yeah! I’ve heard about you guys . . . the MISERY SIE-NOD!”
 
Let’s stop there, ok?
It is true that somewhere along the path of life this gentleman that I met in the hardware store had heard or been exposed to the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Misery! It has been a long-standing joke, not just among Lutherans, but also among Kansans, Iowans, Illinoisans (is that a word?), etc. It is actually fairy accurate!
 
In April of 1518, Martin Luther is called before the Augustinian Order in Heidelberg to defend and further explain his views on indulgences, which he had just attacked six months earlier in the 95 Theses. Ironically, the word “indulgence” does not occur once in the records of this debate (called a “disputation” and something we need more of in the church). Many theologians believe it was even more important than the 95 Theses. The Heidelberg Disputation contains 28 Theses followed by 28 Proofs (explanation of the Theses).
 
Here are the first three Theses:
1) The law of God, the most salutary doctrine of life, cannot advance man on his way to righteousness, but rather hinders him.
2) Much less can human works, which are done over and over again with the aid of natural precepts, so to speak, lead to that end.
3) Although the works of man always seem attractive and good, they are nevertheless likely to be mortal sins.
 
May I summarize?
1) The Ten Commandments won’t help you obtain righteousness.
2) You can’t keep the Ten Commandments.
3) Whatever you do won’t really get you anywhere and is probably sin.
 
Misery. Sin. Death. Helplessness.
 
Yes! As Missouri-Synod Lutherans, we talk about sin, death and helplessness. It is our nature and the state of this life as we await Christ’s return. We acknowledge, even embrace it. Living is difficult. Raising children is challenging. Suffering hurts. And dying might be the hardest thing we ever do.
 
So what is one to do?
 
Embrace the misery. Recognize the problem. And then?
 
I will let Luther answer this one:
17) Nor does speaking in this manner give cause for despair, but for arousing the desire to humble oneself and seek the grace of  Christ.
18) It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ.
19) That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things which have actually happened (Rom. 1:20; cf. 1 Cor 1:21-25),
20) He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.
21) A theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.
 
Misery, yes. But through the suffering and the cross of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, there is grace and mercy. Covered with His righteousness in your Baptism. His life-giving Body and Blood coursing through your veins and weary bones. His Word of Absolution, which is absolute comfort, spoken to you.
 
Let us be theologians of the cross, shall we? Certainly as we speak with our neighbor in the hardware store, but especially as we receive His gifts in the Divine Service.
 
Jesu Juva (Jesus, help me),
Pastor Mackay
 
11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
4 Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. 5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:4-5
 
You can read a free translation of the Heidelberg Disputation here: http://bookofconcord.org/heidelberg.php


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


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


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.
 


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