Poster — Wor­ship Slides

Poster — Front-​and-​Center Slides

Poster — Event Slides

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.

He Became Like Us

As we approach the cel­e­bra­tion of our Lord’s nativ­ity, we are again and again reminded of the pro­found mys­tery of His incar­na­tion. This fun­da­men­tal Chris­t­ian teach­ing, that lies at the heart of our faith, defies our human rea­son and under­stand­ing. Yet, as Mar­tin Luther once put it so well, “could we com­pre­hend this mys­tery by human rea­son, there would be no faith.” 1

That the Cre­ator of the uni­verse chose to come down, take on our very flesh and blood, and dwell with us reveals the depths of His love for us! Our com­fort and joy of the sea­son rest in this very truth, that our Cre­ator was lying in a manger. Nobody cap­tures the impor­tance and neces­sity of this pro­found mys­tery with sim­plic­ity and clar­ity bet­ter than Mar­tin Luther. Luther’s 1532 ser­mon on The Annun­ci­a­tion pro­claims in a mas­ter­ful way the heart of Christ’s incar­na­tion and depths of God’s love for us. May this ser­mon bless your Advent and Christ­mas reflec­tion, prayer and worship.

The Day of the Annun­ci­a­tion to Mary 2
by Dr. Mar­tin Luther, 1532

Our wor­ship today com­mem­o­rates the con­cep­tion of our Lord Jesus Christ. To honor, praise and give thanks for this event, we want to con­sider this Gospel, so that this arti­cle of faith may always abide in our church. St. Luke describes this event as follows:

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a vir­gin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was trou­bled at his say­ing, and cast in her mind what man­ner of salu­ta­tion this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt con­ceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the High­est: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his king­dom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, see­ing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the High­est shall over­shadow thee: there­fore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elis­a­beth, she hath also con­ceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called bar­ren. For with God noth­ing shall be impos­si­ble. And Mary said, Behold the hand­maid of the Lord; be it unto me accord­ing to thy word. And the angel departed from her.Luke 1:2638


The rea­son for this fes­ti­val is that it is an arti­cle of our faith: “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was con­ceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Vir­gin Mary.” Women call it “becom­ing preg­nant;” the arti­cle of faith calls it “con­ceived.” Mary’s impreg­nat­ing or con­cep­tion was by the agency of the Holy Spirit. This arti­cle of faith must for­ever remain a part of Chris­t­ian doc­trine, a truly excel­lent, won­der­ful arti­cle of faith, against which, first of all, the devil con­tends, and then, also, all those who side with the devil. We Chris­tians are called upon to believe and to con­fess a teach­ing which by the world is con­sid­ered to be rank foolishness.


From the stand­point of rea­son, it does indeed appear to be a fool­ish con­cept for Chris­tians to believe and con­fess. Women, no mat­ter how high or low their sta­tion, become preg­nant in only one way, namely, as is writ­ten in Gen­e­sis 1:2728: “So God cre­ated man in His own image, in the image of God cre­ated He him; male and female cre­ated He them. And God blessed them and God said unto them, Be fruit­ful, and mul­ti­ply, and replen­ish the earth.” But with Mary, God made an excep­tion, some­thing that had never hap­pened before in the world, or would ever again hap­pen as long as the world endures. She con­ceived a child and became a mother not by virtue of a man, but by the Holy Spirit. Pre­pos­ter­ous to human rea­son and to every think­ing per­son! And the more learned and wise they are, the more fool­ish they find it that Chris­tians believe and con­fess this, some­thing so totally unac­cept­able and impos­si­ble to human reason!


In Ger­man we are accus­tomed to say, If I do as other peo­ple do, I won’t end up a fool. It’s a rule of thumb com­monly accepted as mak­ing good sense. How­ever, in the mat­ter of con­fes­sion of the arti­cles of faith we need to shove the proverb into the comer and say, If you’re going to be a Chris­t­ian, you will per­force believe and do things which other peo­ple do not believe or do. Yes, I’ll have to appear odd and strange to other peo­ple who are vexed and offended because of my faith. That’s the sit­u­a­tion here. I’m to believe that Mary, a vir­gin, is preg­nant, and will become a mother, but no soul on earth knew about it, only she. This sounds fool­ish and impos­si­ble … Nev­er­the­less, it is true: Mary was preg­nant, became a mother, and yet remained a chaste vir­gin! She is a true to life vir­gin, not a stone or wooden statue, but a human born vir­gin. Just as other mor­tals have flesh and blood and are mor­tal, so, she too, has flesh and blood and is a mor­tal per­son, the same as any other woman. Yet God accom­plished some­thing unique with her, that she bore a son and truly became a mother. She car­ried Him, gave birth, and nursed Him; yet no one knew the cir­cum­stances except she alone.


Only we Chris­tians believe this arti­cle of faith, and we are con­sid­ered sim­ple­tons and fools by the world for it. For our belief, the Turks and the Jews mock and laugh at us, as do also the wiseacres of the world. But, then, all arti­cles of our faith seem ridicu­lous and fool­ish to our rea­son. The same is true for this arti­cle. The angel’s announce­ment seems ridicu­lous and fool­ish, that Mary should con­ceive and bear a son who would be not only a true man, but also true God. The world looks upon us Chris­tians as naive fools for believ­ing that Mary would be this child’s true mother and yet remain a chaste vir­gin … Of the essence here, there­fore, were the words of the angel’s announce­ment: “And, behold, thou shalt con­ceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name Jesus.”


But of even greater sig­nif­i­cance is the angel’s fur­ther word: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the High­est: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His king­dom there shall be no end.” With these words in the pic­ture, the whole world, heaven and earth, become too nar­row for this child’s domain. This is all above and beyond the laws of nature and the lim­its of our rea­son­ing power. How is this pos­si­ble, our rea­son asks, that this child should be called the Son of the High­est and should at the same time be the nat­ural son of a poor mor­tal vir­gin? But the angel announced it and we Chris­tians believe it; Mary was not only a chaste vir­gin, but con­ceived and became mother of a truly human son. But this child, whom Mary con­ceived, deliv­ered at birth, cared for, and nur­tured, like any mother does her child, is, and is called, the true Son of God. This, above all things, rocks the world’s wis­dom and par­tic­u­larly riles up the Jews. And who knows what the devil will stir up against this arti­cle of the faith by means of the fanat­i­cal sects, if the world goes on …


There­fore, let us com­pre­hend the full sig­nif­i­cance of this arti­cle, firmly resist­ing reason’s objec­tions and lis­ten­ing to what God’s Word says. This arti­cle is well doc­u­mented in both the Old and New Tes­ta­ment; so it must cer­tainly be valid. Were it right to do so, I could be as much a smart aleck and deride the arti­cle just as sharply as our oppo­nents do, or some other egghead among us who could out­strip them in their sophistries. They fig­ure no one can ana­lyze some­thing as keenly as they do. They take us to be stu­pid num­skulls. Fools though we be, nonethe­less, we under­stand their stu­pid­ity which they con­sider to be great wis­dom. Our response to them is: What you con­sider utter fool­ish­ness, we believe, to the praise of our Lord God and our sal­va­tion, and in defi­ance of our wiseacre oppo­nents. I, too, know how to count the fin­gers on my hand and fig­ure out that no woman, no vir­gin, accord­ing to the fixed order of things in nature, becomes preg­nant on her own. It would not only be stu­pid, but wicked and irra­tional, for a woman, or vir­gin to say that she had con­ceived on her own. But we have a sov­er­eign Lord over us, God in heaven, who attests to this vir­gin that she con­ceived and became a mother with­out the agency of a man.


God thus demon­strated that He could cre­ate humans in more ways than one. In the begin­ning He did not cre­ate man and woman simul­ta­ne­ously and in the same way. He was not like some fenc­ing mas­ter who teaches his stu­dents all he knows and then col­lects his fees when the lessons are over. Rather, God remains Mas­ter and Cre­ator for­ever and ever, and we will never exhaust the lim­its of His skill, power, and wisdom …


In other words, God chose here not to fol­low the usual order of gen­er­a­tion, but pro­vide a new way. A vir­gin would con­ceive. This would be the sign and won­der. Nev­er­the­less, His arrange­ment is half of the nor­mal order, in that the child would be born of a young maiden …


True, we Chris­tians might say that accord­ing to rea­son it seems ridicu­lous that a vir­gin should con­ceive, become a mother and give birth to a son who would not only be her nat­ural son, but also God’s true Son. But here I must shove human rea­son and wis­dom under the bench and not lis­ten to what rea­son has to say, but what God in His Word has to say. For He who is in heaven above, Cre­ator of all wis­dom, surely knows a bit more than all of human rea­son. He who placed the eyes in my head and your head cer­tainly sees more than you and I see, as Psalm 94:9 states: “He that planted the ear, shall He not hear? He that formed the eye, shall He not see?” The Cre­ator must be greater, more dis­cern­ing, more wise than the creature.


That is why we should be held cap­tive by God’s Word and not try to spec­u­late beyond it. God announces in His Word that this child is true God and true man, born from eter­nity by the Father, and born on earth of a true, human lin­eage, out of the body of a woman, like any other child, from a mother who nur­tures Him like any other mother, except that this con­cep­tion and birth take place in a super­nat­ural way and this son is born of a vir­gin. We must envelop our­selves in this Word of God, because with our rea­son we can­not fathom it. Wiseacres lit­er­ally drown when they try to unravel the mir­a­cle with their reasoning.


The announce­ment of the angel as our Creed states is: “I believe in Jesus Christ … con­ceived by the Holy Ghost,” in other words, I believe that the Vir­gin Mary con­ceived a son, who is also God’s only Son. By whom did she become preg­nant? There was no one, but her­self. She stands alone, with­out a man and no one has acted in the con­cep­tion other than the Holy Spirit …


Now, Mary rea­soned with the angel as to how this could come to pass. In those days maid­en­hood was not par­tic­u­larly esteemed . The angel, how­ever, approaches Mary and very gen­tly tells her that she has found favor with God and man. He brings her the tid­ings that she should con­ceive and bear a son who shall be called the Son of God. In tur­moil, she thinks, I am but a poor Cin­derella, and I should become a mother and bear a son when I have had no rela­tion­ship with a man? Who is going to believe me that I con­ceived on my own? She also feels that these tid­ings of the angel place her in dan­ger of death. She won­ders, too, when it becomes evi­dent that she is preg­nant and peo­ple ask about it, how will I then prove that I had no rela­tion­ship with a man? The truth is, if the Lord God had not placed spe­cial pro­tec­tion over Mary, she would have been burned at the stake or stoned. Under the law of Moses, a woman who became preg­nant with the child’s father unknown was to be burned at the stake or stoned. So, because the nor­mal sequence of events were to be sus­pended in this con­cep­tion, Mary was afraid, and she asked what would hap­pen to her.


There­upon, the angel sums it alto­gether for Mary and says, If you try to ana­lyze it from the stand­point of rea­son you could never con­ceive, or if you con­ceived, the penalty under the Law would be death. But the great dif­fer­ence in your case is that “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee.” In other words, for you the Holy Spirit is the bride­groom, by whose excel­lent power and work­ing you will con­ceive “and the power of the High­est shall over­shadow thee.” Almighty God will see to it that nei­ther the devil nor the entire world will avail to fault you. You will become a mother and bear a son, but only God on high and the Holy Spirit will really under­stand how. There­fore, let it be our Lord God’s con­cern in bring­ing it about. With Him in con­trol, who is there that can thwart His action? What power on earth can hin­der God Almighty? … Do not be afraid, there­fore, for noth­ing will harm you.


That day, that moment when Mary assented to the angel Gabriel’s announce­ment, Christ was con­ceived. In that hour when she said, “Be it unto me accord­ing to thy word,” she con­ceived and became the mother of God; and Christ, there­with, became true God and true man in one per­son. Even though He is a tiny fetus, at that moment He is both God and man in Mary’s womb, an infant, and Mary is the mother of God.


The Turks and the Jews make fun of this arti­cle of faith and feel that they have excel­lent rea­son to deride it. For that mat­ter, we could ban­ter about it as well as they. But as Chris­tians, we must firmly hold onto this arti­cle of faith and never waver. From the begin­ning of time it has been proph­e­sied that God’s Son would become man and that His mother would be a vir­gin. The first prophecy given Adam and Eve soon after the fall (Gen­e­sis 3:15) stated: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel.” God does not say the seed of the man, but rather the seed of the woman. There­fore, the mother of this ser­pent crusher must be a vir­gin. Later the patri­archs and the prophets also proph­e­sied of this, until finally the beloved apos­tles pro­claimed it to all the world. We have been bap­tized into this faith and are called Chris­tians because we believe and con­fess it to be true. Let us, there­fore, per­se­vere unwa­ver­ingly in this faith. And if, as time goes on, sec­tar­ian spir­its deny it, let us take a staunch stand in behalf of it.


This arti­cle is really the bot­tom line. Christ wanted His begin­ning to be like ours, but with­out sin, because He wanted to sanc­tify us wholly. We begin life in sin, we are con­ceived in sin, born in sin, no mat­ter whether we be emperor, king, prince, rich or poor; every human being is con­ceived in sin accord­ing to Psalm 51:5. Only Christ the dis­tinc­tion and the honor to have been con­ceived by the Holy Ghost’s power. Since from our con­cep­tion we are sin­ful, we are peo­ple whose flesh and blood and every­thing about us are soiled by sin, as indeed we see in our­selves; or when we look at those around us in the world, be set by evil desire, pride, mul­ti­ple dev­ils and mis­er­able unbe­lief. Thus we are con­ceived and born … Christ could not be sub­ject to such impure sin­ful con­cep­tion and birth. He, indeed, was a gen­uinely true, nat­ural human being, but not con­ceived or born in sin as all other descen­dants of Adam. That is why His mother had to be a vir­gin whom no man had touched, so that He would not be born under the curse, but rather con­ceived and born with­out sin, so that the devil had no right or power over Him. Only the Holy Spirit was present to bring about the con­cep­tion in her vir­gin body. Mother Mary, like us, was born in sin of sin­ful par­ents, but the Holy Spirit cov­ered her, sanc­ti­fied and puri­fied her so that this child was born of flesh and blood, but not with sin­ful flesh and blood. The Holy Spirit per­mit­ted the Vir­gin Mary to remain a true, nat­ural human being of flesh and blood, just as we. How­ever, He warded off sin from her flesh and blood so that she became the mother of a pure child, not poi­soned by sin as we are.


Thus what the angel spake came true: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the High­est.” For in that moment when she con­ceived, she was a holy mother filled with the Holy Spirit and her fruit is a holy, pure fruit, at once true God and truly man, in one per­son. In time, then, this godly mother gave birth to God’s Son, a gen­uine man, but with­out any sin. Undoubt­edly, his blood was red, his flesh, white; he suck­led at his mother’s breasts, ate por­ridge, cried and slum­bered like any other child; but his flesh and blood were holy and pure. He is a holy per­son, the son of a pure vir­gin and God’s Son, true God and man in one person.


On this day we preach about this arti­cle of faith, that our Lord Jesus Christ is true God and true man in one per­son con­ceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a vir­gin. It is an arti­cle of faith that pro­vides unique com­fort against the devil … He did not become God and an angel, but God and man. He does not assume the nature of angels, but that of Abraham’s seed, a human being, flesh and blood. That is why He is called Immanuel, God with us; not just because He is around and with us, liv­ing among us and help­ing us. That would be well and good, but He became like us, of our nature. He assumed flesh and blood and bone like us, yet with­out sin, which is our lot. The devil hates to hear this joy­ful tid­ing, that our flesh and blood is God’s Son, yes, God Him­self, who reigns in heaven over every­thing. For­merly, each Sun­day, we used to sing Nicea’s con­fes­sion of faith, for­mu­lated at the Coun­cil of Nicea, in the words: Et homo fac­tus est, “And He became man,” and every­one fell to his knees. That was an excel­lent, com­mend­able cus­tom and it might well still be prac­ticed, so that we might thank God from the heart that Christ assumed human nature and bestowed such great and high honor upon us, allow­ing His Son to become man.


It almost seems as though God is at enmity with the world. Present con­di­tions are so shame­ful all around us in the world, as God allows mur­der­ous mobs and rab­ble, so much vio­lence and so much mis­for­tune to pre­vail, so that we might think God is only Lord and God of the angels and that He has for­got­ten about mankind. But here in our text we see that He befriends us humans like no other crea­tures, in the very clos­est rela­tion­ship, and, in turn, we humans have a closer rela­tion­ship with God than with any crea­ture. Sun and moon are not as close to us as is God, for He comes to us in our own flesh and blood. God not only rules over us, not only lives in us, but per­son­ally became a human being.


This is the grace which we cel­e­brate today, thank­ing God that He has cleansed our sin­ful con­cep­tion and birth through His holy con­cep­tion and birth, and removed the curse from us and blessed us. By nature our con­cep­tion and birth are flawed and laden with sin. In con­trast, Christ’s con­cep­tion and birth were holy and pure. Through His holy con­cep­tion and birth our sin­ful nature, flesh, and blood are blessed and made holy. It is on this basis that we are bap­tized, so that by means of God’s Word, the sacra­ments, and the Holy Spirit we might have the fruit of His holy con­cep­tion and birth. May we always thank Him for His grace and never become weary or sur­feited in hear­ing and learn­ing this. Amen.

  1. Mar­tin Luther, “Third Christ­mas Ser­mon (Hebrews 1)” in Com­plete Ser­mons of Mar­tin Luther, Vol. 3, ed. Eugene F. A. Klug (Baker Books), 2:173.
  2. Mar­tin Luther, “The Day of Annun­ci­a­tion to Mary (Luther’s House Pos­tils)” in Com­plete Ser­mons of Mar­tin Luther, Vol. 7, ed. Eugene F. A. Klug (Baker Books), 284293.

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.

Cel­e­brat­ing the Saints

Almighty and ever­last­ing God, You knit together Your faith­ful peo­ple of all times and places into one holy com­mu­nion, the mys­ti­cal body of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant us so to fol­low Your blessed saints in all vir­tu­ous and godly liv­ing that, together with them, we may come to the unspeak­able joys You have pre­pared for those who love You; through Jesus Christ, our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for­ever. AmenCol­lect of the Day for All Saints’ Day

The col­lect (prayer) for All Saints Day reminds us that we are blessed by the exam­ple of faith and “godly liv­ing” of Chris­tians now sainted. The prayer also encour­ages us to fol­low them as they fol­lowed our Lord Jesus. In a ter­rific lit­tle devo­tional book titled Cel­e­brat­ing the Saints, Rev. William Wee­don reminds us of the value of remem­ber­ing and even cel­e­brat­ing the saints who have gone before us.

As we have noted in our Sun­day morn­ing Bible class, the Lutheran Ref­or­ma­tion was not a rad­i­cal ref­or­ma­tion. The Lutheran Reform­ers did not throw the baby out with the bath water (even though many 20th Cen­tury Luther­ans were guilty of this). There were, of course, abuses with respect to saints that had crept into the church which needed to be con­demned and cor­rected. For exam­ple, as Wee­don notes, “Nowhere … do the Sacred Scrip­tures pro­vide a com­mand to invoke the saints, a promise about this being pleas­ing to God, or an exam­ple of any­one ever invok­ing the saints.” 1 The idea that we need any­one else as a medi­a­tor or inter­ces­sor other than our Lord Jesus is absolutely pre­pos­ter­ous and utterly blas­phe­mous! “Still, despite the abuses, Lutheran Chris­tians knew and con­fessed that there was a right­ful place in the life of the con­gre­ga­tion and of the indi­vid­ual Chris­t­ian for the remem­brance of the saints.” 2

The Lutheran Reform­ers gave three good rea­sons for retain­ing the cel­e­bra­tion of Saint’s Days and All Saints’. First, it gives us the oppor­tu­nity to thank God for His mercy shown to those who have gone before us in the faith. Sec­ondly, our faith should be strength­ened as we recall God’s mercy and grace shown to these saints as to us. And thirdly, as we remem­ber the saints, we are encour­aged to imi­tate their faith and good works accord­ing to our own call­ings even as John reminds us “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord… that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds fol­low them!” (Rev. 14:13).

There is value in remem­ber­ing the faith and lives of those for whom Jesus was also “their cap­tain in the well-​fought fight.”< 3 We can find strength, courage and com­fort in their lives, even as we give thanks for God’s gra­cious work­ing in them. I will ever remem­ber and be encour­aged by my sainted grand­mother kneel­ing at her bed­side every night for prayer, her gra­cious con­cern and care for oth­ers that was always in thanks­giv­ing for the love she knew and received in Christ. Over the years, I have been encour­aged by so many who have dis­played rock solid faith in the midst of suffering.

Weedon’s recent work, Cel­e­brat­ing the Saints, offers a devo­tion for each of the saints on the church cal­en­dar found in the Lutheran Ser­vice Book (pgs. xii – xiii), includ­ing Isaac, Han­nah, Noah, Augus­tine of Hippo, Johann Sebas­t­ian Bach, St. Patrick, St. Stephen and so many more. It also offers devo­tion for the days and sea­son of the Church year. This splen­did devo­tional resource can be used for table or per­sonal devo­tions in the home and I rec­om­mend it to you.

As we remem­ber the mul­ti­tude of wit­nesses past and present, we do so with our eyes fixed where they fixed theirs — on the Lamb of God whose blood washes away our sins. For as we remem­ber and cel­e­brate the sto­ries of the saints, “we real­ize that we are always and only cel­e­brat­ing the love that shone forth from our Lord’s cross.” 4

Blessed All Saints’ Day,
Pas­tor Nettleton

  1. William C. Wee­don, Cel­e­brat­ing the Saints (Con­cor­dia Pub­lish­ing House, 2016), 7
  2. Ibid., 7
  3. Lutheran Ser­vice Book, “For All the Saints” (Con­cor­dia Pub­lish­ing House, 2006) 677, stz. 2
  4. William C. Wee­don, Cel­e­brat­ing the Saints (Con­cor­dia Pub­lish­ing House, 2016), 8

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.