Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Order of Worship for Evening Prayer, Wednesday, April 29, 7 p.m.

The livestream of the service is available on our Facebook page.

(Lutheran Book of Worship, page 142).

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Worship order - Sunday, April 26, 2020 - 10:30 a.m.

Please click on to view the livestream of worship today.

 SERVICE OF THE WORD – St. Stephen Lutheran Church
April 26, 2020 – The Third Sunday of Easter

OPENING MUSIC             
                                    Abide With Us, O Savior                                                                              F.W. Marpurg
                                    That Easter Day With Joy Was Bright
                                                (PUER NOBIS NASCITUR)                                  Paul Manz

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Sermon April 22, 2020 (1 Peter 1:3-9)

When I was in college, I purchased and read a book titled What Do We Mean When We Say God? It was a short book full of quotes not from theologians and pastors, but from ordinary religious and non-religious people about who God was, how they prayed to God, what they thought of when they thought of him, or her, or it, or them, or whatever. The answers were all different and most of them were thought-provoking. But of course the Bible does not give us different answers about what is meant when the word “God’ is said.

In the reading for this evening, the apostle Peter explains what he means when he says ‘Blessed be God.’ He does not simply use the word God, he calls God ‘the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Therefore, we cannot think of God without Jesus Christ and we cannot think of Jesus without the Father. Both Jesus and the Father are what Peter means when he says ‘God.’

Peter goes on to say what the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us. He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In this world the best we can hope for is to have a rich, healthy, long life surrounded by loved ones. But we may not have any of these things. Moreover, all of these things are constantly under threat. We may endure times of war and pandemic and economic turmoil. Even if we remain free from these things, our life and the lives of our loved ones will eventually be taken from us. Therefore life lived only in and for this world is hopeless. It’s not that those who do not believe in God walk around with what we call a sense of hopelessness, moping all the time; it’s that if we think about it, without God, our hopes are bounded by human possibility, the capriciousness of existence, and finally the finite span of life. These are not living hopes, they are hopes that will eventually die.

But because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead Easter morning, we have a living hope. There is more to this life than simply riches, health, and length of days. The living hope is for a life that is lived in God and a death that is the gateway to eternal life. If God gives us a prosperous, healthy, stable life, well and good. But we should stop putting our trust and hope that we will have a rich, successful, prosperous, healthy life and instead put our central trust and hope in the life that God offers us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ does a specific thing by Jesus’ resurrection – gives us a new birth into a living hope. He also empowers us for this life lived in hope. He gives us the Holy Spirit which comes from him and Jesus Christ. So when we name God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we also name the Holy Spirit they share. This Spirit both protects us in the faith and empowers us to love him whom we do not see.

We have a living hope – but, as St. Paul reminds us, ‘Who hopes in what is seen?’ In the world we see only the hope that the world offers, and the threats to those hopes. We suffer the changes and chances of life and we also suffer because our hopes are not the same as the hopes of the world. Our faith in Christ must lead us to make different decisions regarding the lives we live in this world, and this can divide us from others.

The Spirit must protect us for the salvation being kept for us, in which we hope and trust. This means we will have a different attitude towards the political decisions of our times than other people. The patterns that we see in the world, that we must love our fellow political-traveler and hate those who oppose us is false. This would be true if the only thing that mattered were this life. But because our hope is not in this life but is in Jesus, we may love even those with whom we passionately disagree, and those who have control of our lives on earth. We also must put partisan feelings aside and act based upon our best thinking. Christian faith is always political, but it can never be partisan. Because we listen to God’s commandments, and must obey the commandment to not bear false witness against our neighbor, we must resist the urge to label someone as a liar and only motivated by self-interest simply because she or he is of a different political party. We must think in a different way than the world.

Moreover, we are often called to lay aside our rights for the sake of love for others. In this nation we treasure freedoms of which our ancestors could only dream. But Christians do not hope in political freedom, but in Christ. The Holy Spirit does not protect freedom, but faith active in love, which can exist with or without political freedom. Therefore, when we must, we can lay aside our rights for the sake of the love of others. This is what the Church has done by suspending worship in the time of the coronavirus. Out of love for others, we have accepted limits on our freedom. We can lay aside every freedom, if necessary, except for the freedom to believe in Jesus Christ.

Why do I speak of such things? Because when we hate and defame our political opponents and hold our earthly freedoms as the highest good, we are not putting our hope in what Jesus has done for us, but we are going back to the dead hopes of the world without God, putting our trust only in what we can do and accomplish for ourselves. That is to reject joy. Joy comes from trusting above all in what Jesus has done for us and not the condition of the world or of our lives. Joy is knowing what Jesus has done for us, and we can have joy in good and bad times, under justice or injustice, in time of pestilence and in time of health.

To have joy by the Holy Spirit in God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is salvation. This is salvation is salvation from sin, death and evil. It is forgiveness of sin, victory over death, and also being liberated on earth from false and evil ways of thinking and acting. It is being protected for a life that looks at everything not from a human perspective but from God’s perspective. That is the hope each of us should have on earth, to be liberated more and more from patterns of false and evil thinking. Orthodox Archbishop Anthony Bloom once told a story about his father, who was exiled from Russia when the Communists consolidated power in the 1920s. ‘He said to me after a holiday, “I worried about you” and I said, “Did you think I had an accident?” He said, “That would have meant nothing, even if you had been killed. I thought you had lost your integrity.” This might seem a little harsh, but isn’t it true? All of us will die, and none of us know the day or the hour. But to keep one’s faith and therefore one’s integrity is the main thing. That is the living hope we have, that God saves us to live integrally, to be integrated into Jesus’ life more and more.

Our first hymn was called Jesus Christ, My Sure Defense. It tells us of God’s promises and what Jesus has done for us, and each stanza ends: This shall be my confidence! Put no confidence in the world without God, in which we find hardship and persecution, pestilence and partisanship, and the end of all hopes in death. Instead, put your confidence in the one who has given us a new birth into a living hope, and be possessed of indescribable and glorious joy. Amen

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Evening Prayer, Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The livestream begins on our Facebook page a little before 7 p.m. You do not need to have a Facebook account to view the livestream.

Please find the order of worship below.

(Lutheran Book of Worship, page 142).

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Order of Worship, Sunday April 19, 2020 - the Second Sunday of Easter

 SERVICE OF THE WORD – St. Stephen Lutheran Church
April 19, 2020 – The Second Sunday of Easter

The livestream will begin shortly before 10:30 a.m. You do not need to have a Facebook account to view it. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Evening Prayer (Vespers), April 15, 2020

The livestream will begin shortly before 7 p.m. You do not need to have a Facebook account to view it. 

Order of Worship
(Lutheran Book of Worship, page 142).

Monday, April 13, 2020

Sermon April 12, 2020 (Easter Sunday)

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

In 1965, Cdr. James Stockdale’s plane was shot down over North Vietnam. 
Having ejected from his aircraft and parachuted to the ground,
he was taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese
and imprisoned in the place which became infamous as the ‘Hanoi Hilton.’
In 1973, he was released, having endured eight years of imprisonment,
which included torture and extended periods of solitary confinement.
He received the Medal of Honor, and remained in the U.S. Navy,
retiring with the rank of Vice-Admiral.
Long after he had returned,
he was asked by an interviewer,
How did he make it through his torture and confinement?

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Order of Worship for Easter Day

Opening music begins approx. 10:20 - service begins 10:30.

Easter blessings!

 SERVICE OF THE WORD – St. Stephen Lutheran Church
April 12, 2020 – The Resurrection of Our Lord – Easter Day

OPENING MUSIC                       
                                                Two Settings of The Strife is O’er
1.        Alec Wyton                2. Alfred E. Fedak
Two Settings of Jesus Christ is Risen Today
1.        Gerhard Knapf  2. Paul Manz

HYMN                Jesus Christ is Risen Today                    
Lutheran Book of Worship 151
1      Jesus Christ is ris'n today, Alleluia!
        our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
        who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
        suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

2      Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
        unto Christ, our heav'nly king, Alleluia!
        who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
        sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

3      But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
        our salvation have procured; Alleluia!
        now above the sky he's king, Alleluia!
        where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

4     Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
        praise eternal as his love; Alleluia!
        praise him, all you heav'nly host, Alleluia!
        Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Alleluia!

Text: Latin carol, 14th cent., sts. 1-3; tr. J. Walsh, Lyra Davidica, 1708, alt.; Charles Wesley, 1707-1788, st. 4


Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Holy is the Lord, the Almighty,
                He was, he is, and he is to come.
He is worthy of glory and honor and power.
                He created all things.  By his will they came to be.
Worthy is Christ, the Lamb who was slain;
                worthy to take the scroll and break its seals.
By his blood he purchased for God
                people of every race and tongue, of every folk and nation.
Christ made of them a kingdom
                and priests to serve our God.
And they shall reign on earth forever.
                Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

God has made us his people through our Baptism into Christ. Living together in trust and hope, we confess our faith.

                I believe in God, the Father almighty,
                                creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
                                He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
                                                and born of the virgin Mary.
                                He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
                                                was crucified, died, and was buried.
                                He descended into hell.
                                On the third day he rose again.
                                He ascended into heaven,
                                and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
                                He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
                                the holy catholic Church,
                                the communion of saints,
                                the forgiveness of sins,
                                the resurrection of the body,
                                and the life everlasting. Amen

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Let us pray.

O God, you gave your only Son to suffer death on the cross for our redemption, and by his glorious resurrection you delivered us from the power of death. Make us die every day to sin, so that we may live with him forever in the joy of the resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

FIRST LESSON               Acts 10:34-43

34Then Peter began to speak to [the people]: "I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ — he is Lord of all. 37That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

The Word of the Lord.                  
Thanks be to God.

PSALM 118:1-2; 15-24

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for | he is good;*
                his mercy en- | dures forever.
2 Let Israel | now proclaim,*
                "His mercy en- | dures forever."
15 There is a sound of exulta- | tion and victory*
                in the tents | of the righteous:
16 "The right hand of the | Lord has triumphed!*
                The right hand of the Lord is exalted!
                The right hand of the | Lord has triumphed!"
17 I shall not | die, but live,*
                and declare the works | of the Lord.
18 The Lord has pun- | ished me sorely,*
                but he did not hand me o- | ver to death.
19 Open for me the | gates of righteousness;*
                I will enter them; I will offer thanks | to the Lord.
20 "This is the gate | of the Lord;*
                he who is right- | eous may enter."
21 I will give thanks to you, for you | answered me*
                and have become | my salvation.
22 The same stone which the build- | ers rejected*
                has become the chief | cornerstone.
23 This is | the Lord's doing,*
                and it is marvelous | in our eyes.
24 On this day the | Lord has acted;*
                we will rejoice and be | glad in it.

SECOND LESSON                        Colossians 3:1-4

1If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

GOSPEL                             Matthew 28:1-10

1After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.


HYMN                                The Strife is O’er, The Battle Done                                 
Lutheran Book of Worship 135

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

1              The strife is o’er, the battle done;
                now is the victor’s triumph won!
                Now be the song of praise begun. Alleluia!

2              The pow’rs of death have done their worst,
                but Christ their legions has dispersed.
                Let shouts of holy joy outburst.  Alleluia!

3              The three sad days have quickly sped,
                he rises glorious from the dead.
                All glory to our risen head!  Alleluia!

4             He broke the age-bound chains of hell;
                the bars from heav’n’s high portals fell.
                Let hymns of praise his triumph tell.  Alleluia!
5              Lord, by the stripes which wounded you,
                from death’s sting free your servants too,
                that we may live and sing to you.  Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Text: Symphonia Sirenum, Köln, 1695; tr. Francis Pott, 1832-1909

Rejoicing in the resurrection of our Lord, let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus, and for all people according to their needs.

Silence is kept.

God our Father, your Son rose triumphant from death and made this the day of new creation, of victory over sin, death, and the devil. We thank you for the new life given to us in Christ. Continually renew in us the joy of resurrection. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Your Son rose triumphant from death, and the women ran to bear the tidings to his chosen apostles. Grant that your Church may proclaim the good news in word and deed to all the people of the world, and empower us as witnesses to the resurrection. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Your Son rose triumphant from death, and all rulers, authorities, and powers are now made subject to him. Bless our elected leaders and all who work for the public good, and help them to seek your will and serve faithfully in their offices. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Your Son rose triumphant from death and made sure the promise of the new world, free from war, pestilence, and want. Give us signs of that new world in our troubled times. Fill us with your Spirit, and make us living signs of the peace of Jesus. Come to the aid of the poor and the ill in body, mind, and spirit. Restrain the violent, lift up the lowly, give peace in our world, in our homes, and in our hearts. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Your Son rose triumphant from death and commanded us to pray in his name for our needs and the needs of others. We pray in faithful confidence for the forgiveness of our sins, for strength in suffering, and in thanksgiving for all your mercies. We bring before you the godly desires of our hearts and the needs of those who have asked for our prayers.

The congregation may offer spoken or silent petitions.

Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Your Son rose triumphant from death, and in him we put our hope, not only for this life but also for the life to come. We give thanks for all the faithful ones who have trusted in him; for Mary his Mother; for Mary Magdalene, the first to bear witness to the resurrection; for the apostles and all the saints, together with all those most dear to us who now rest in you. Draw our hearts upward, and bring us to the day when we will celebrate the resurrection with them in glory. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Into your hands, Father, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
                                hallowed be thy name,
                                thy kingdom come,
                                thy will be done,
                                                on earth as it is in heaven.
                Give us this day our daily bread;
                and forgive us our trespasses,
                                as we forgive those who trespass against us;
                and lead us not into temptation,
                                but deliver us from evil.
                For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
                                forever and ever. Amen


The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and give us peace.

HYMN                                A Mighty Fortress is Our God                                           
Lutheran Book of Worship 229

1              A mighty fortress is our God,
                a sword and shield victorious;
                he breaks the cruel oppressor's rod
        and wins salvation glorious.             
                The old satanic foe
                has sworn to work us woe!
                With craft and dreadful might
                he arms himself to fight.
                On earth he has no equal.

2              No strength of ours can match his might!
                We would be lost, rejected.
                But now a champion comes to fight,
                whom God himself elected.
                You ask who this may be?
                The Lord of hosts is he!
                Christ Jesus, mighty Lord,
                God's only Son, adored.
                He holds the field victorious.

3              Though hordes of devils fill the land
                all threat'ning to devour us,
                we tremble not, unmoved we stand;
                they cannot overpow'r us.
                Let this world's tyrant rage;
                in battle we'll engage!
                His might is doomed to fail;
                God's judgment must prevail!
                One little word subdues him.

4             God's Word forever shall abide,
                no thanks to foes, who fear it;
                for God himself fights by our side
                with weapons of the Spirit.
                Were they to take our house,
                goods, honor, child, or spouse,
                though life be wrenched away,
                they cannot win the day.
                The kingdom's ours forever!

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Go in peace. Serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

POSTLUDE      Risen Is The Holy Christ                                                                               J.S. Bach