Poster - Worship Slides

Poster - Front-and-Center Slides

Poster - Event Slides

God is our Refuge and Strength

Six months in and 2020 seems like it will be a year most of us will never forget, though we wish we could. A global pandemic, daily death tolls, government mandated shut downs, months of isolation, millions of people unemployed causing much fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Then the tragic and senseless death of a man caught on video that enraged a city and a country. Righteous calls for justice and protests against violence were quickly hijacked by vast mobs of opportunists who seized the moment as an excuse to riot, loot, deface, burn, destroy anyone or anything in their path causing more fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Debates rage over mask wearing, government overreach, police reform, racism and cancel culture with voices calling us to take sides! More fear, anxiety and uncertainty!

What are we to do? Where are we to go? With St. Peter, we know where and to whom to turn; “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). I can't think of a better Word of God for this moment than Psalm 46.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.Psalm 46:1–3

The psalmist paints us a picture of cosmic disaster and utter chaos. Mountains, symbols of security and stability, are being shaken. They are trembling and crumbling into heart of the sea. Waters are roaring and foaming, destroying whatever lies in its path. This picture screams of God's good creation coming undone.

In the midst of the chaos and the upheaval of creation, the psalmist is bold to proclaim “we will not fear,” we will not be shaken, we will not give way! Why? Even in the most dire of circumstances in our world or in our own lives, “God is our refuge and strength.” God Himself is our place of cover, of shelter and He protects and shields all who take refuge under Him. He is our rock, our stronghold, our strength whose security can be trusted. He is “a very present help in trouble” (literally, He is “much to be found, easy to find,” in trouble). God is our help in trouble who is always there, totally available, 100% accessible whenever, wherever and for whatever.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.Psalm 46:4–7

In the midst of roaring waters, there is a peaceful stream the makes glad the city, the people of God. This stream brings calm, peace and security because God is in the midst of His people. Everything else around them may tremble, crumble and come crashing down, but God's dwelling and His inhabitants will stand and will not be moved. This stream is His Holy Word and Holy Sacraments that pardon sin, calm fears and anxieties and give living waters to the thirsting soul.

The Lord “will help her,” His people, His church “when morning dawns.” Indeed, when the morning dawned that first day of the Resurrection Christ rose up from the grave having kicked chaos and death in the teeth! This is God's consummate victory over chaos and death for you! Nothing in this life can separate you from Him and Christ's victory for you! A good friend asked me last week, “Where is this world going?” He knows and you know. It will end with the resurrection of all flesh on the Last Day!

Nations may war and rage against each other and against God's people, but the kingdoms that attack Zion, the Church, will “totter” and give way. Why? All God has to do is speak His all powerful Word and His enemies are no more! He is the LORD of hosts (Sabaoth), literally “Yahweh of armies.” He is General Yahweh who leads His heavenly hosts against cosmic and human foes for the sake of His people.

Even though the very fabric of creation is coming undone, even though God’s Word and truth are under attack, even though fear, anxiety and uncertainly rule the day, we as God’s own beloved need not fear or be dismayed for the LORD is in control and He, the God of Jacob, our Mighty Fortress, is always with us!

Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.Psalm 46:8–11

The psalmist invites us to come and see the “works of the Lord.” He, and He alone, brings wars to end by destroying the weapons of war. Yahweh of armies could have called down a legion of angels to fight for Him (Matthew 26:53). But instead He defeated the prince of darkness and all the evil he insights with a love that could not be destroyed by hatred or violence. His victory didn't look like one through worldly eyes, but a few saw it through the eyes of faith. The thief on the cross said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). The centurion at the cross said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39). This is why St. Paul says, “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Exalted among the nations on the cross, the Lord of heaven and earth disarmed and dismantled the enemies of His people (sin, death and the devil) by the shedding of His own blood and the laying down His own life (Colossians 2:15). He is now exalted over all things and all things are now under His feet until the last enemy (death) is destroyed forever (1 Corinthians 15:24–26).

“Be still and know that I am God,” is not a call to quiet spiritually, but to know that the battle belongs to the Lord and to trust in nothing else in this world but Him! This psalm is clear that the Lord God alone and nothing else is our Mighty Fortress. When we put our trust in princes, in earthly governments and rulers, in any man or man-made movement, these things become idols. And idols always fail us and always break because they cannot hold our lives. The God of Jacob alone is our refuge, our help, the only One true God who holds our lives under His gracious and protective care.

Hence Martin Luther could write in his great hymn, “Though devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us, We tremble not, we fear no ill, They shall not overpow’r us. This world’s prince may still Scowl fierce as he will, He can harm us none. He’s judged; the deed is done; One little word can fell him. … And take they our life, Goods, fame, child and wife, Though these all be gone, Our vict’ry has been won; The Kingdom ours remaineth.” 1

There is much chaos and upheaval in our world today, maybe even in our own lives. There is much to be concerned about, to pray about and to grieve over. Fear, anxiety and uncertainty abound. But fear not, people of God, for our great God is always our refuge and strength, our ever-present help in any trouble, even now. He is in control and come what may He will see us through these challenging days. He promised and He will.

Serving you in Christ,
Pastor Nettleton

  1. “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” in Lutheran Service Book (Concordia Publishing House, 2006), 656.

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 970-305-2420.

Return to the Lord’s House

May 28, 2020

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Psalmist said, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” (Psalm 122:1). Oh, how we rejoice with the palmist at these beautiful words that are wonderfully displayed on the north entrance to our sanctuary!

For far too long we have been unable to be in the house of the Lord! But thanks be to God that on Sunday, June 7, we can return to His house to receive His gifts and return to Him thanks and praise!

Since we are still living with a highly contagious disease in our community, we will be reopening our church for services following the state and county's safety guidelines. I want to thank our reopening task force for their very careful and thoughtful approach to this important work. That being said, church services are going to look and feel quite a bit different for a time. Here are a list of things you should expect when you return to the Lord’s House:

  • Everyone is required to wear a mask at all times (this is a city ordinance for all public places). Please wear your mask while walking up to and back from the communion table. You may remove your mask to receive communion and place it on again after you have communed.
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided for you at each entrance. We encourage you use it as you enter the building.
  • Attendees must maintain six feet of social distancing at all times. Floors will be marked accordingly for you.
  • Attendees will be seated and dismissed by an usher. Seating will also follow social distancing guidelines.
  • A service bulletin will be provided for you in your pew.
  • There will be no shared items in the sanctuary, cry room or nursery. Hymnals, pens, registrations cards and the children's activity center have been removed.
  • Communion will be provided to individuals or family units on a sanitized tray that will be placed on a table for communicants. The elements of the Lord's Supper will be prepared and distributed by those wearing masks and gloves for your safety.
  • There will be no Bible Study, coffee and donuts, or gathering inside the church building until a time these can be done safely.

I realize these safety measures are not what we are generally accustomed to and that many of these expectations are somewhat cumbersome. However, out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, their safety and that of our community, I ask that we would all heed St. Paul’s words to the church in Ephesians 4: “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace” (v. 1–3).

I also realize that some of you will not be comfortable returning to the Lord's House at this time, and that is ok. Those who are uncomfortable returning to in-person services and those who are at-risk are encouraged to join us for worship online.

If you and or any members of your household have recently experienced a cough, shortness of breath, fever, recent loss of taste or smell, chills, muscle ache, headache or sore throat or have returned from traveling within the last two weeks, we ask that you would please stay home and join us for worship online.

I am grateful to all who have gone to great lengths to keep our services going and streamed online for you over the past two months. I am grateful for the prayers and support of you, the body of Christ, over these difficult and challenging days. I give thanks to the Lord for the continued faithfulness of this congregation and your support for Lord's work here at Saint John’s with your tithes and offerings. Finally, I am ever thankful that our Lord has continued to sustain us in faith and love through His ever enduring and abiding Word.

Please continue to pray for each other, our church, our community, our nation and our world and an end to this pandemic. Pray that our Lord will use the difficult days for His purposes and for His good in Christ Jesus.

Serving you in Christ,
Pastor Shawn 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 970-305-2420.

Rest for the Weary

Friends in Christ,
Christ is risen and ascended on high! Alleluia!

The Word of the Lord from Matthew 11:25–30:

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Today's devotion and prayer comes from Rev. Harold Senkbeil's devotional book Where in the World is God?, pages 103–104.

When Jesus says, "weary and burdened," we're all ears. That's us. We are weary and burdened. It's not just the burden of our daily work. No, it's the weariness of living. We sometimes get downright sick and tired of everything. We scramble so fast in this world of ours, just going about the business of living, that the whole concept of rest seems foreign to us.

What can be done about it? Many people believe that the Christian faith is supposed to do the trick. Faith in Jesus will help us find a silver lining for every cloud. The trouble is that life doesn't work that way. Sheer willpower will not turn our frowns upside down into happy smiles for Jesus. The Christian church is not a big self-help group, where we simply forget our troubles by thinking happy thoughts to chase the blues away. Fortunately, Jesus has something better for us than simply happy thoughts. He give us himself.

"Come to me," he says, "and I will give you rest." It's important to hear him clearly. Left to ourselves we really don't want rest from Jesus; we want rules. We'd like to know what we can do to improve our situation, what we can do to become healthy, wealthy, and wise. We would like Jesus to give us a 12-step recovery program. At minimum, we want to know what we can do to clean up our act and make ourselves over into better people. But Jesus is not a moralist. He is a Savior!

It sounds strange to hear Jesus first invite us to rest and then in the next breath to say, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." How can a yoke be easy or a burden light? When it is the yoke and burden of Jesus; that's when! It is the yoke of the cross. On his cross Jesus pulled off the greatest swap in history. He took our sin and gave us his own righteousness. He took all our sin away with him into his death. His cross, that sign of death, is the sign of life and healing for us. This is what it means to be a Christian, to be baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus, to bear the mark of the cross in this world. This is our calling. This is our yoke, but it is also our deep and abiding joy. For every burden there is strength, in every sorrow there is comfort, and in all distress there is peace. It is the strength, comfort, and peace of Jesus Christ.

Wherever Jesus is, there is rest for weary hearts and burdened souls. He is present among us, offering a Sabbath rest for all the people of God in this world. We have the high honor to come to Jesus where he has promised to be found—in his holy church, where his Word is preached and his sacraments administered. There he continues to bring healing for weary hearts and strength for burdened souls.

Blessed Lord, grant that in the midst of our work, we may find rest and peace in your presence and may take joy in serving you, our refuge, our strength, and our great reward. Amen.

The almighty and merciful Lord, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless and preserve you. Amen

Serving you in Christ,
Pastor Shawn 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 970-305-2420.

The Ascension of Our Lord

Friends in Christ,
Christ is risen and ascended on high! Alleluia!

The Word of the Lord from Luke 24:44–53:

Then [Jesus] said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.

Today, forty days after the Resurrection of our Lord, the Church celebrates with great joy the Ascension of our Lord. It is an important, but often forgotten Feast Day in the Church. Fr. Patrick Reardon put it this way:

The Ascension of Christ is not, then, an afterthought, a sort of postlude to salvation. It is not merely an appropriate but optional parade celebrated in consequence of the victory. It is an integral part of the triumph itself; or more properly, it is the crowning moment of the Lord’s priestly offering. The Lord’s Ascension is a ritas, a liturgical event … The Ascension of Christ is the event where heaven and earth are joined forever … The place on earth where heaven and earth meet is called the Church, which finds her identity in the exaltation of Christ. The mystery of the Ascension leads immediately to the mystery of the Church. 1

The Ascension of our Lord is indeed His coronation as our new and great High Priest forever. And as our great High Priest, Jesus serves as our mediator who continually prays for us and intercedes for us before the Father. St. Paul rejoiced at this, asking, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:33–34).

The Ascension of our Lord is also His glorification by which He restores our humanity with the Father and so it is also the glorification of our humanity. This is not man become God, but God become Man to rescue fallen humanity and bring mankind back to God.

Our Lord's Ascension is also His exaltation and His ultimate vindication. Jesus has overcome His enemies. He has overcome death, He is at the Father’s right hand and He is in charge of all things! Christ's Ascension, then, is also His coronation as King of the universe. The Treasury of Daily Prayer notes,

Jesus’ ascension to the Father is His entrance to the greater existence beyond the confines of time and space, being no longer bound by the limitations of His state of humiliation. Jesus now sits at the right hand of God, which Luther correctly taught is everywhere, having again taken up the power and authority that were His since before time. Yet our Lord is present with us who remain bound by time and space. He is with us as true God and true man, exercising His rulership in the Church through the means of grace which He established. 2

Our Lord's Ascension does not stand in contrast with His promise to be with us “to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20), nor does it intend to teach that He has gone far away from us for a time, but rather, that as the God Man, our Ascended Lord even now fills all things, abides with, serves and rules His Church (Ephesians 1:20–23) as the Crucified and Risen Lord until His return.

The Ascension of our Lord is also the place where the public ministry of Jesus ends and the period of the church properly begins. As Jesus ascended to the Father, He promises the disciples (His Church) the gift of the Holy Spirit and blesses them. And as the disciples waited for the Spirit and the new community’s activity under God’s direction, there was not sorrow or sadness among the them but rather worship, joy, thanksgiving to God, as they prepared to take the message of Christ to the ends of the earth.

Jesus made good on His promise! As we wait with certain hope and great joy His return, we are not left as orphans. Jesus' hand of blessing is still upon us, His Spirit has been given, is with us, and in us as He sends us forth into the world as His witnesses. And since He lives and reigns as our great High Priest, our King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we go forth with confidence and great joy to seek the lost and care for the needy, always proclaiming and testifying to Him.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

The almighty and merciful Lord, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless and preserve you. Amen

Serving you in Christ,
Pastor Shawn Nettleton

  1. Patrick Henry Reardon, Christ in the Psalms (Conciliar Press, 2000), 91–92.
  2. Treasury of Daily Prayer (CPH, 2008), 301–302.

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 970-305-2420.

My Soul Waits for the Lord

Friends in Christ,
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

The Word of the Lord from Psalm 130.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Psalm 130 is known as one of the seven penitential (confession of sin) psalms. It is also a psalm of lament cried out by the psalmist from the "depths." The depths are the deep waters, the place where one is overwhelmed and drowning, the place of chaos and utter distress, the place where death prevails, the place where one cries out in agony for God to help! The psalmist cries out from the depths, “O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

The psalmist is bold to cry out even though he knows his sins are before him, maybe even the reason he is in the depths. He is bold to cry out the prayer of God's people, "Lord have mercy"! The godly can cry out for mercy because they know that Yahweh their God is "a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Exodus 34:6), they know that God does not keep a record of His people's iniquities (v. 3). Yahweh’s forgiveness and mercy are the grounds for such a bold prayer.

Not only does Yahweh's mercy and forgiveness give the psalmist boldness in prayer, but it gives him a confident hope that God will act in mercy and deliver him from the depths! He will wait with eager expectation, watching like watchmen for the morning, for the Lord because his hope is in Yahweh and His Word.

We might not be in the dire straits of the psalmist, but we know what it is to be in the "depths." We know what it is to cry out from the depths of uncertainty, the depths of fear, the depths of worry and anxiety, even the depths of sin and death. And like the psalmist, we are waiting earnestly, watching like watchmen for the morning, for the first glimpse of light, the first glimpse of hope on the horizon!

I'm guessing that most of us are waiting more these days than we ever have in our lives. We are waiting for a time when it is safe to go out of our homes. We are waiting in longer lines to get into a grocery store than to get out. We are waiting to get back to work. We are waiting for the day we won't have to wear a mask in public or worry about "social distancing". We are waiting to see our family, our friends, our neighbors. We are waiting to be able to be back in the Lord's house. We are waiting for our lives to get back to some sense of normal. I don't know about you, but I'll be honest, I'm not very good at waiting.

"Waiting" seems to be a reoccurring theme in the Scriptures, especially in the Old Testament. There are so many references to "waiting," even in the Psalter alone, one might wonder if God was doing anything for His people!

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!Psalm 27:14

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!Psalm 31:24

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!Psalm 37:7

Over and over again, the psalmist is content to wait for the Lord. But what exactly is it to wait for the Lord? Luther, in his commentary on Psalm 130, 1 put it this way;

The psalmist says: “I wait for the Lord; that is, in this crying and cross-bearing I did not retreat or despair; nor did I trust in my own merit. I trusted in God's grace alone, which I desire, and I wait for God to help me when it pleases Him.” Now there are some who want to set the goal, appoint the hour and measure, and prescribe to God how they are to be helped. And if they do not experience this, they despair; or, if possible, they seek help elsewhere. These do not tarry and wait for the Lord. God is supposed to wait from them, be ready at once, and help exactly as they themselves have designed. Those who wait for the Lord, however, ask for mercy; but they leave it to God's gracious will when, how, where, and by what means He helps them. They have no doubt about His aid, but they do not give it a name. They let God christen and name it, even if it is delayed immeasurably long.

God does not work according to our calendars or by our ways. Contrary to the notion that He doesn't do anything, the psalmist waits for the Lord because he knows that the Lord is faithful and will act according to His grace and mercy. This is why he can wait in expectant hope for the Lord like watchmen for the morning. In fact, wait and hope are synonyms in the Old Testament both closely related to faith and trust. The faithful wait in hope, they hope while they wait, like watchmen for the morning eager, confident, and expectant that relief from God will come when morning dawns.

God has indeed answered the prayer of His people, “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down” (Isaiah 64:1) in the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ. He has answered His people's plea for mercy in the One who is the very “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29b). He has answered His people's plea for salvation and redemption in the One “who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25).

In Jesus, God has answered every prayer of the psalmist and every prayer of His people. In Jesus, God's mercies are new every morning. In Jesus, God's yes to life resounds over death's no. In Jesus, there is always hope on the horizon. In Jesus, God has come, is coming again, and is present even now. And those who wait, who trust, who hope in Him will never be put to shame (Psalm 25:3; Romans 4:5).

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

O Lord, You are merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. You always hear the cries of Your people for help and Your grace and mercy in Jesus is new this day. Grant Your people patience and confident hope as the wait for you like watchmen for the morning; through Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The almighty and merciful Lord, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless and preserve you. Amen

Serving you in Christ,
Pastor Shawn Nettleton

  1. Martin Luther, “The Seven Penitential Psalms (1525)” in Luther's Works, Vol. 14, 191–192.

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 970-305-2420.

More Articles ...