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The Time of the Church

Our daily lives tend to fol­low a rhythm of sea­sons, rou­tines and pat­terns. The ordi­nary rhythm of life ebbs and flows between work and rest, day and night, win­ter and sum­mer, hol­i­days, vaca­tions and ordi­nary, mun­dane life. These rhythms would be empty cycles, void of mean­ing, with­out being anchored in the One who gives mean­ing and pur­pose to our very lives: Christ Jesus.

The sea­sons of the Church Year, much like our very own lives, fol­low a rhythm that is anchored in Christ Jesus. The first half of the year (Advent – Easter) is focused on the events of our Lord’s life; “His con­cep­tion and birth, His fast­ing and temp­ta­tion, His suf­fer­ing and death, His res­ur­rec­tion and Ascen­sion, His ses­sion at the right hand of the Father, and His pour­ing out of the Spirit.” 1

Hav­ing fol­lowed our Lord’s life from Christ­mas to Easter, we have now entered into the sec­ond half of the Church Year known as The Sun­days after Pen­te­cost or The Time of The Church. After cel­e­brat­ing the fes­ti­vals of Christ­mas, Epiphany, Trans­fig­u­ra­tion, Easter, Pen­te­cost and so on, the sec­ond half of the year can seem like going from vaca­tion back to the ordi­nary, mun­dane rou­tines of life!

This is, how­ever, one of the main emphases of the Sun­days after Pen­te­cost — our every­day, ordi­nary, lives as Chris­tians. As the sea­son focuses upon our Lord’s teach­ing and our lives as His dis­ci­ples, the litur­gi­cal color is green which bespeaks growth. What exactly does it mean to live by faith? How do we live in the world but not of the world? How do we love our neigh­bor and wit­ness to the ever­last­ing hope we have in Christ?

Won­der­fully cap­tur­ing and artic­u­lat­ing the themes of the Sun­days after Pen­te­cost, Pius Parsch writes;

The Sun­days dur­ing the Pen­te­cost cycle develop three great themes. The first is Bap­tism and its graces. We are bap­tized and grounded in the graces of Bap­tism. Every Sun­day is a reminder of bap­tism and a small Easter. The sec­ond theme is prepa­ra­tion for the sec­ond advent of the Lord. It is treated in detail in the final Sun­days of the sea­son. The remain­ing theme, the bur­den of the Sun­days mid­way after Pen­te­cost, may be sum­ma­rized as the con­flict between the two camps. Although we are placed in the king­dom of God, we remain sur­rounded by the king­dom of the world. Our souls are labor­ing under Adam’s wretched legacy and waver con­tin­u­ally to and fro between two allegiances.

By these three great themes the liturgy cov­ers the whole range of Chris­t­ian life. In Bap­tism the pre­cious trea­sure of the Spirit was con­ferred. Through it we are God’s chil­dren and may call God Father. Through it we have become tem­ples of the Holy Spirit, heirs and broth­ers of Jesus Christ. Nev­er­the­less, Bap­tism has not trans­lated us to a par­adise with­out toil or trou­ble. Rather we are sent out into a trou­bled world to work and strug­gle. We must guard the holy land of our souls against hos­tile attack. We must learn to know and con­quer the enemy, and such is the task that will con­tinue until we have taken our final breaths.” 2

The Sun­days after Pen­te­cost focus on our Lord’s teach­ing for us, His peo­ple, as we learn to live out our bap­tism, through the power of the Holy Spirit, as His peo­ple. But there is more! Parch continues,

The Church serves as both the hero­ine, who teaches us the art of war­fare, and our strong fortress and shield in the con­flict. Through Holy Com­mu­nion, she bestows aid that repeat­edly frees the soul from the entan­gle­ments and temp­ta­tion. How does she do this? Courage and strength and per­se­ver­ance flow from the Word of God in the Ser­vice of the Word, and they flow in even fuller mea­sure from Holy Com­mu­nion. Of our­selves we are help­less crea­tures, wholly unable to with­stand the attack, but in Holy Com­mu­nion another bat­tles for us. The Might­ier, Christ, van­quishes the mighty. 3

Rooted in the liv­ing waters of God’s Word and nour­ished by the holy food of the Lord’s Sup­per, we are strength­ened over these ordi­nary Sun­days after Pen­te­cost to live as God’s peo­ple in this world, to do His work where He has placed us, as we wait for and antic­i­pate His com­ing again.

  1. William Wee­don, Cel­e­brat­ing the Saints (Con­cor­dia Pub­lish­ing House, 2016), 280.
  2. Pius Parsch, The Church’s Year of Grace (Litur­gi­cal Press, 1964), IV, 9495.
  3. Ibid., IV, 95.

Image from Con­cor­dia Lutheran Church, Nashville

Rev. Shawn Net­tle­ton is Senior Pas­tor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at This email address is being pro­tected from spam­bots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 9703052420.

Vaca­tion Bible School 2017: Mighty Fortress

We had a great week of Vaca­tion Bible School! 28 chil­dren joined us over the week as we focused on God who is our Mighty Fortress, our Shield, our Refuge and our Deliv­erer. We also con­fi­dently cel­e­brated that Jesus is our cham­pion over sin, death and the Satan. Because Jesus acts through His Word and keeps His promises, every day is a day to give thanks and cel­e­brate His vic­tory for us!

Our VBS Mis­sion project this year sup­ported Shar­ing God’s Mighty Word. This mis­sion out­reach sends Bible-​based lit­er­a­ture to inner-​city kids around the U. S. The children’s response was quite impres­sive as they did an excel­lent job bring­ing in their daily offer­ings giv­ing $103.06 to sup­port this mis­sion project!

Thank you to every­one who donated var­i­ous items and to every­one who vol­un­teered their time and energy to plan, dec­o­rate, teach, orga­nize and lead a fan­tas­tic week of VBS!

Serv­ing with you in Christ,
Pas­tor Nettleton

Rev. Shawn Net­tle­ton is Senior Pas­tor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at This email address is being pro­tected from spam­bots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 9703052420.

Sum­mer Intern­ship

Shortly after begin­ning my first year at Con­cor­dia Sem­i­nary in Saint Louis, Mis­souri, I was assigned, like all sem­i­nary stu­dents, to a local con­gre­ga­tion for what the sem­i­nar­ies call “field work.” Dur­ing my time at sem­i­nary, Immanuel Lutheran Church in Crys­tal City, Mis­souri, and Hope Lutheran Church, Saint Louis, Mis­souri, pro­vided this pastor-​in-​training with ample oppor­tu­ni­ties to put my stud­ies to work; teach­ing Bible classes, serv­ing in wor­ship and occa­sion­ally preaching.

Field work has been and remains an impor­tant aspect of sem­i­nary train­ing for men prepar­ing to enter the Office of the Holy Min­istry. Over the years, con­gre­ga­tions in the Fort Wayne and Saint Louis areas have pro­vided sem­i­nary stu­dents the oppor­tu­nity to gain impor­tant parish expe­ri­ence before and even after their year of intern­ship or vicarage.

A sum­mer music intern­ship offered by a sis­ter con­gre­ga­tion sparked the idea of a sum­mer intern­ship here at Saint John’s. After reach­ing out to Con­cor­dia The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary and Con­cor­dia Sem­i­nary last year, both sem­i­nar­ies wel­comed the idea of Saint John’s offer­ing a sum­mer intern­ship for a sem­i­nary stu­dent who had fin­ished his first and was head­ing into his sec­ond year of seminary.

Last Novem­ber, Con­cor­dia Sem­i­nary pro­vided the name of a stu­dent inter­ested in a sum­mer intern­ship. After some fine work by our intern­ship com­mit­tee (Wil Shi­moda, Ron Young, Del Fredin, Ruth Seiler and Tom Miles), the com­mit­tee rec­om­mended first year sem­i­nar­ian Ben Van­der­hyde to be hired as our sum­mer intern. On April 30, the con­gre­ga­tion voted to approve this recommendation.

Grow­ing up in the Den­ver area, Ben is a native Col­oradoan. He is a mem­ber of Uni­ver­sity Hills Lutheran Church, where his father, Rev. David Van­der­hyde, serves as pas­tor. Ben is a grad­u­ate of Con­cor­dia Uni­ver­sity Wis­con­sin, where he majored in Parish Music. Ben and his wife Grace, a grad­u­ate of Con­cor­dia Uni­ver­sity Nebraska, wel­comed the birth of their first child, Lar­son, on March 31 of this year.

As a musi­cian who plays both piano and organ, Ben will serve as our sum­mer organ­ist. He will also gain some parish expe­ri­ence help­ing with var­i­ous aspects of pas­toral min­istry, includ­ing Vaca­tion Bible School, teach­ing adult Bible classes, assist­ing in hos­pi­tal calls and home vis­its and preach­ing a ser­mon or two.

Ben will be installed as sum­mer intern on Sun­day, May 28 dur­ing the Divine Ser­vice. A recep­tion for the Van­der­hy­des will fol­low the ser­vice down stairs in the Large Fel­low­ship Hall. We wel­come with joy the Van­der­hy­des to Saint John’s!

Rev. Shawn Net­tle­ton is Senior Pas­tor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at This email address is being pro­tected from spam­bots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 9703052420.

Singing with the Exiles

The word “exile” con­jures up images of mass depor­ta­tion, refugee camps, pris­on­ers of war, dis­place­ment and post-​traumatic stress dis­or­der. After the inva­sion and destruc­tion of Jerusalem in 587 BC, Judah’s exiles lived in a world that had been shat­tered into a mil­lion pieces. “The exiles had no earthly king, no tem­ple, no royal city, no land, no liturgy, no sac­ri­fice, no hope, and what looked like no future. And so they had no song to sing.” 1

Gath­ered by the waters of Baby­lon, these exiles lamented: “How shall we sing the Lord’s songs in a for­eign land?” (Psalm 137:4). Even worse, they won­dered and ques­tioned: Is God for real? If so, does He really care about us? Has He com­pletely for­got­ten about us? What does our future hold? Will our lives ever change? Liv­ing in exilic hope­less­ness and despair, God’s peo­ple won­dered if the Lord would ever free them and bring them home!

Do you ever feel this way? Does it look as though your cur­rent prob­lems are more than you can bear? Do you find your­self ask­ing: Why did this hap­pen? Why did God allow it? Is there any jus­tice or order in the world? Will God really deliver on what He said?

It is to these very ques­tions, wor­ries and doubts that our Lord speaks in Isa­iah 4055. To those bro­ken by their own sin or sins of oth­ers, Yah­weh speaks to exiles words of com­fort and hope! Every­thing that was wrong will be made right again! The Lord will raise up His Ser­vant. He will be wounded for our trans­gres­sions and crushed for our iniq­ui­ties (Isa­iah 53:5). Through Him, the Lord will renew all things! Through Him, He will bring His peo­ple home in peace!

This is why Isa­iah can call the exiles to “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Isa­iah 42:10a) and cre­ation to “Sing for joy … for the Lord has com­forted His peo­ple and will have com­pas­sion on His afflicted” (Isa­iah 49:13). The rich and deep promises of God in Isa­iah 4055 speak com­fort and hope to our own exile; to our own ques­tions, wor­ries and doubts. God has an answer, a Ser­vant who has come to bring us home for­ever! Rejoic­ing in the Ser­vant of the Lord, Jesus Christ, we will be “Singing with the Exiles” this Lenten sea­son. Join us on Wednesday’s as we learn from Isa­iah to walk the Lenten way to the cross and to the empty tomb. God promises to turn our weep­ing into joy and present pain into an end­less Alleluia!

Lenten Mid­week Series

March 8: “He Only Has Eyes for You” (Isa­iah 43:17)

March 15: “Marked” (Isa­iah 44:15)

March 22: “Break­ing Down the Gates” (Isa­iah 45:18)

March 29: “Get Out!” (Isa­iah 48:1722)

April 5: “One Lit­tle Word Can Fell Him” (Isa­iah 49:16)

Meals served at Noon and 5:45 PM

  1. R. Reed Less­ing, Isa­iah 4055: Con­cor­dia Com­men­tary (Con­cor­dia Pub­lish­ing House, 2011), xiv.

Rev. Shawn Net­tle­ton is Senior Pas­tor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at This email address is being pro­tected from spam­bots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 9703052420.

The Lit­tle Gem of the Bible

As we enter into 2017, the year of the 500th anniver­sary of the Lutheran Ref­or­ma­tion, our Sun­day morn­ing Adult Bible Class will be study­ing some of the books of the Bible and other doc­u­ments that were impor­tant to the redis­cov­ery and reclaim­ing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As a young pro­fes­sor of the­ol­ogy at the Uni­ver­sity of Wit­ten­berg, Mar­tin Luther began to lec­ture on the Psalms some­time in 1513. Not only did Luther begin his aca­d­e­mic car­rier lec­tur­ing on the Psalms, but it remained one of his most cher­ished and loved books of the Bible.

Luther con­sid­ered the Psalter a gem, a trea­sure within the trea­sure book itself. He believed that the entire mes­sage of the Bible was sum­ma­rized in this one lit­tle book. In his “Pref­ace to Psalter,” Luther writes, “The Psalter ought to be a pre­cious and beloved book, if for no other rea­son that this: it promises Christ’s death and res­ur­rec­tion so clearly — and pic­tures His king­dom and the con­di­tion and nature of all Chris­ten­dom — that it might well be called a lit­tle Bible. In it is com­pre­hended most beau­ti­fully and briefly every­thing that is in the entire Bible.” 1

The “sweet fra­grance” of this “lit­tle Bible” gives us insight into the lives of the saints, “how they spoke with God and prayed … in great earnest­ness and on the most impor­tant mat­ters.” 2 The Psalter lays before us the very words, deeds, hearts and souls of the saints; how they acted and responded when in dan­ger, dis­tress, or need. The book is “replete with evi­dences of the human sit­u­a­tion with all its com­plex­i­ties.” 3 Wher­ever we are in life, we can find our­selves in this book.

A human heart is like a ship on a wild sea, dri­ven by the storm winds from the four cor­ners of the world. Here it is stuck with fear and worry about impend­ing dis­as­ter; there comes grief and sad­ness because of present evil. Here breathes a breeze of hope and of antic­i­pated hap­pi­ness; there blows secu­rity and joy in present bless­ings. These storm winds teach us to speak with earnest­ness, to open the heart and pour out what lies at the bot­tom of it.” 4 The Psalms speak amidst every kind of storm wind; they give us the words of joy, praise, thanks­giv­ing, sor­row, lament that flow from the bot­tom of the heart to God in prayer.

The Psalms are not then sim­ply prayers of the saints gone before us, but a prayer book for all the saints. For “every­one, in what­ever sit­u­a­tion he may be, finds in that sit­u­a­tion psalms and words that fit his case, that suit him as if they were put there just for his sake, so that he could not put it bet­ter him­self.” 5

This in and of itself makes the Psalter unique and valu­able. How­ever, the Psalms are more than a mir­ror of the soul and a guide to prayer, they also point us to their ful­fill­ment in Christ. The Psalms pro­claim Christ and His work for us! This lit­tle gem of the Bible gives us every aspect of the Chris­t­ian life and Christ Him­self. As Luther con­cluded, “in a word, if you would see the holy Chris­t­ian Church painted in liv­ing color and shape, com­pre­hended in one lit­tle pic­ture, then take up the Psalter. There you have a fine, bright, pure mir­ror that will show you what Chris­ten­dom is.” 6

Join us on Sun­day morn­ings as we dig into this lit­tle gem of the Bible!

  1. Mar­tin Luther, “Pref­ace to the Psalter (1545)” in Luther’s Works, Vol. 35 (Muh­len­berg Press, 1960), 254.
  2. Ibid., 254255.
  3. C. Has­sel Bul­lock, Encoun­ter­ing The Book of Psalms (Baker Aca­d­e­mic, 2001), 15.
  4. Luther, 255.
  5. Ibid., 256.
  6. Ibid., 256266.

Rev. Shawn Net­tle­ton is Senior Pas­tor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at This email address is being pro­tected from spam­bots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 9703052420.