Read this and see our deaconess quoted!
Have you ever had a Bible verse you wondered about? A verse that did not make sense? A belief that just didn’t make sense to you? Or perhaps just a Biblical subject you wanted to discuss further?
Join us Thursday September 26th and on the fourth Thursday of each Month from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM at Jersey’s in Roseville.
Perhaps you’d like to know more about what’s going on in the Synod, the District, and the Church at large.
If you have any questions please contact Pastor Peperkorn at 916-624-8185 or [email protected]
Proper 6c, Pentecost 3 (June 5, 2016)
TITLE: “And He Gave Him to His Mother”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. Luke chapter seven.
The Virgin’s Son meets the Widow’s Son. That’s the scene we have in our text today. On the one hand, you have the Lord of Life, the son of Mary and the Son of God. He has healed the Centurion’s servant. He is the prophet of God who is with His people. And He is on His way into the city of Nain, a little village that is full of grief.
And there in Nain, you have the Widow’s Son. He’s dead, lying on a bier. We don’t know why he’s dead, or how it happened. All we know is that he is surrounded by a grieving crowd, and especially by his mother, who is a widow. With her dead son all of her life goes into the grave. He was her livelihood, her protection, and kept her place in the village. But without him, she is alone, without anyone, and left to her grief.
But it turns out that she is not alone as she thought. The Virgin’s Son comes to her and bids her, “Do not weep.” So there is the woman, in between death and life. Her dead son and her living Lord are both before her. Who will win in the clash of the parades?
Every day you are faced with this choice, the way of death and corruption, or the way of life and holiness. Will you believe the lies of Satan. Will you believe, as this mother was tempted, will you believe that with her son in the thrall of death, that this is the end for him and for her? Do you believe that is the case? Every day you face sin and corruption. Every day you see the lies surround you. And you even participate in them. Sometimes your cry may be that of the widow from first Kings? “Did you come here just to see me killed?”
But that is really a false picture. You are not the mother in our text, with the choice of life or death. You are the one who is dead, on the bier, being carried out by your friends. That is who you are, because death and corruption has had its way with you. You cannot escape it.
Well, not on your own, at least. For that woman and her son had a friend whom they did not know. They had Jesus Christ, the Lord of Life. In Him lies all of the power of the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come. And He is not satisfied to just say to the woman, “Do not weep.” Left on it’s own, that is a pretty cruel thing to say. But when Jesus says to her, “Do not weep,” He’s not saying, “Buck up, little camper! IF you’re just happy things will get better.” No. When Jesus says “don’t weep,” what He is really saying is, “You don’t need to cry anymore. I will make all things well.”
And He does. He touches the bier, and the funeral parade stops. He says to the dead one, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” Get up. And when the Lord of Life speaks, death itself has to sit up and pay attention. Jesus then gives the young man back to his mother.
But so what? What does that have to do with you, as you sit in between death and life, trying to find your way through the corruption and mess that you face every day?
It means this. You aren’t a neutral party in this whole mess we call life. You don’t make choices between death and life every day. Left to yourself, you are dead, as dead as the young man in our text. But also like this young man and his mother, you are not left to your own devices. You have a champion in Jesus Christ, the Lord of Life. And this Lord of life called you from the grave when you were baptized. And He calls you back every single day of your life.
Today we have A young man being confirmed in this Christian faith. He will confess Jesus Christ the righteous one, and promise to cling to that faith until death. It is the same promise that most of us made at one time here as well. He won’t make this confession on his own, though. That confession is a gift that only God can give by His Word. It is a confession of life against death, and one that can only come as the Holy Spirit gives us by His Word.
God has, indeed, visited His people. Here, today, Jesus Christ has come to you, raised you from the dead, set you up in a place of honor. Come and join the feast. All things are now ready.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
Tuesday of Pentecost, (May 17, 2016)
TITLE: “Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled”
Family and friends of Gene, especially his daughters, stepsons, and you, Peg. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. John chapter fourteen.
William Eugene Holland was born on February 22, 1931, and was baptized on the same day. He was married to Harol Demmon, until she passed away in 1984. He married Peggy Irvine on October 19, 1985. Gene died in Christ on Wednesday, May 11 in the year of our Lord two thousand and sixteen., at the age of eighty five years. “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”” (Rev. 14:13 ESV)
Gene led what I think we could call a full life. Working in trucking, taking care of family, church, Bible class, hobbies. His life was lively, if not always easy. I think it would be fair to say that Gene had a, um, sparky personality. Sometimes that spark came out in wit and good humor; at other times it was a sort of darker or sharper spark. But you really didn’t need to wonder where you stood with Gene. He would tell you, whether you wanted to know or not. I can remember visiting Gene one time just a few weeks ago. The deaconess and I were chatting with him and with Peggy, and I asked after a while if I could read some Scripture and have a devotion with him. His response, “It’s about time!”
Things with his diabetes took a turn for the worst about five years ago. I’m sure I couldn’t even list all of the various ailments that came as a result of diabetes. Circulation problems, heart, lungs. But five years ago was when gangrene had set in, and the result was that he lost his left leg. I think it would be fair to say he never really recovered from that. He tried to keep his humor about it, though. I can remember when I would come and visit there was more than one occasion when I was greeted with a, “Hello Pastor! Sorry I can’t get up to greet you properly.”
But all joking aside, the last five years were hard. Sometimes almost unbearably hard for both Gene and for you, Peg. But still Jesus says,”Let not your hearts be troubled“. But that’s hard to imagine after the last five years. What does Jesus mean when he says let not your hearts be troubled?
To start with, Jesus knows your sorrow and pain. He’s not saying that isn’t true or real. He knows your griefs and sorrows, just as He knew Gene’s griefs and sorrows. Jesus rejoices when you rejoice, and weeps with you when you cry and are sorrowful. And so it is that Jesus knows your sorrow in the face of death, even the death of a father or step-father, husband, friend. That sorrow is real, because death is real. And the sad reality, for Gene and for all of us really, is that we all deserve to die. Our sin breaks us, separates us from God and from each other. Even Gene, for all his sharpness and wit, Gene fully recognized that he was a sinner, and that he had made many mistakes in his life, some of them doosies. The kitchen table prayer happened a lot, “I a poor miserable sinner confess to you all my sins and iniquities…
Gene, you see, was baptized. He is an heir of heaven and a child of eternal life. God forgives all those sins, some of whom we know, some which are between him and God. God is about forgiveness and mercy, not judgment, not fear and hatred and enmity. And that new life is what fed Gene for his whole life long. The body and blood of Jesus, given and shed for him and for you.
So when Jesus says Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid, He says this because He knows how the story ends. He knows that He would die for the sins of the world, and that He would rise again from the dead. So now, when Gene dies, or you, or me, when we die it is never the end of the story. It is a part of the story. Maybe the saddest part of the story. But it is never the end of the story.
“In my father’s house are many rooms…and I go to prepare a place for you.” That’s what Jesus promises. Jesus promises to make things right. Your brokenness healed. Death defeated. Sins forgiven. Reconciliation. Peace. Real peace. Not the peace of the world. Not peace which really means separation. That’s not peace. No, the peace that the world gives is at best an illusion, something that lasts for a few minutes, or days, or years, and then is gone.
No, the peace that Jesus gives to you is that Gene will rise again from the dead. In his body. Whole and purified. Made right of all wrongs and fixed of all its frailties. And he gives that same promise to you. “And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God, and my eyes shall behold and not another.” That’s the promise that God makes to you this day and every day.
But until that time when we are reunited, be at rest, Gene. Be at rest until we are reunited with saints and angels and all the company of heaven. We will rejoin you soon.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
Holy Cross Lutheran Church Presents
Bioethics for the Church, Society, and the Family
January 9, 2016
8:30 a.m to 2:00 p.m.
Lunch is provided
What is bioethics, and why should I care as a Christian?
Increasingly, bioethics issues impact our daily lives. We see the news, read the magazines, and wrestle with discussions about issues such as homosexual marriage, abortion, or gender dysphoria, just to name a few.
Join us as we get a primer on how we approach these questions under the cross, and with the mercy of Christ clearly in our minds and hearts.
January 9, 2015
- 8:30 a.m. – Registration
- 9:00 a.m. – Morning Prayer
- 9:30 a.m. – Presentation
- Noon – Lunch
- 12:45 p.m. – Presentation
- 2:00 p.m. Closing
You may download a PDF of this page by CLICKING HERE.
For more information, please ask for Pastor Todd Peperkorn or email him at [email protected].
About our Speaker
The presenter for this seminar is Rev. Prof. Scott Stiegemeyer, assistant professor of theology
and bioethics at Concordia University in Irvine, California. He is a writer and speaker on many topics surrounding ethics and the Christian life. He is also co-host of the podcast, The Crux of the Matter, with Pastor Todd Peperkorn.
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
4701 Grove Street
Rocklin, CA 95677
The internet is slow today and posting on the alwaysmercy site is laborious, so I will send this email the old fashioned way. photos to come later when internet is better.
Love and always mercy,
I am sitting on a little balcony off my hotel room, overlooking the parking lot and the swimming pool. I can't actually see the pool because of a high wall, but I have swam in it a couple of times—it is clean and nice. To my left (across from the gate and high concrete wall with razor wire,) are houses. Most houses here are two stories high. One particular house is an old white concrete house, and at night, the people sit in their windows or lean out on the porch railings and watch the world go by on the little red dirt street below. I often wonder what they think about this hotel. It hasn't been here too long–is it an invasion of their peace? Is it something for them to look at and pass the time watching the comings and goings of people?
Next to this house is a large field of tall grace or rice. The other day three little boys were playing there with long sticks that looked like fishing poles. They must have spent hours there. Remember those childhood days of playing for hour upon hour, not even wanting to come home for dinner?
Friday, March 1, was my first day “working” at the Lutheran hospital in Antsirabe. I was dropped off at the hospital in the morning around 8:00. Saholy called Dr. Harrison to let him know I had arrived. Saholy, Fred and Dr. Just let for the seminary. I waited outside for an hour, figuring Dr. Harrison was busy. Finally he comes up the walk and says, "I've been looking for you forever…" yikes. I made my apologies and said that I had been out front the whole time. He was trying to find a place for me (meaning, with a nurse who spoke English), had me change into scrubs, and I feared he was going to put me in surgery with him (near fainting episodes from my first trip to Sudan played through my head). He considered having me help in the injection center, but since the nurse there didn't speak English, he decided it was not a good idea. Finally, he sent me to the pediatric ward, and it was like coming home.(My first years of being a nurse was in pediatrics).The head nurse, Vioronia was sweet, kind and helpful. She also had two medical students there so we had great stilted English chats. I cleaned beds with disinfectant, changed sheets and held babies.
Then a little boy, Louva, age 9, came in with a severe nosebleed. His sweet face and gentle countenance reminded me of my son Christian at that age when he had similar problems. Labs were drawn and his Hemoglobin was dangerously low, as was his hematocrit, and platelets.(The gift of many medical terms is that they are derived from latin, so I can decipher some things). I listened to his heart, and his heart
rate was extremely rapid due to his low hemoglobin, helped the mom with stopping the nosebleed,(and the blood was flowing down the back of his throat so he was coughing out thick, coagulated blood). It broke my heart. The nurse said, we need to transfuse him and was thinking, "YES! Give him hundred pints of blood because he is going to undergo cardiac arrest if we don't. Then she said, we don't have blood here….the family has to donate. To make a long story short, Louva did get 500cc of whole blood. I had to leave before the transfusion began, but was able to return later in the day to see the life giving blood dripping into his veins. But then, his nosebleed had stopped, and he looked better. Ah, such joy to me. Dr. Just and the others got to meet Louva and his mother. We prayed with them and I promised to return as soon as possible.
We were able to see Louva again on Sunday afternoon, (after the four hour church service). He was looking good, with a huge smile on his face. The language of presence, smile and touch often transcends the spoken word.
Monday, March 4, I went back to the hospital. Dr. Harrison put me in the medical surgical ward. I worked with a nurse named, Landy. The head nurse was Vivian. Landy and I gathered supplies, including the "sterilized" tools for wound care. They sterilize by cleaning in soap and bleach and then boiling the instruments. I got to help and even did wound care–simple post-op care for appendectomies, C-sections, prostectomies, fistulas to name a few. I finished a little before noon and went to pediatrics where I spent some time with Louva, his mother and aunt. His older sister and baby sister came by around 12:30. I got him up, and outside for a short walk. He tires easily. His lab work came back right before I left,and while improved, his hemoglobin is still very low. He will need another transfusion soon. The good new is that his platelets rose from 19,000 to 228,000! That means he has relief from bleeding and nosebleeds. I will talk to Dr. Harrison about costs for hospital stays. This family has no money and the Lutheran church here is providing food for Louva during his hospital stay since families have to provide food for patients.
I will work one more morning in the hospital and “help” teach seminary students and their wives one more day as well. They are very interested in the deaconess program as a way in which women can serve Christ and His church in an office.
OK….wrote this and it didn't send out because of the slow internet connection….here it is a few days later….worked at the hospital again this morning and had dinner with Dr. Harrison and his wife Doimina. Gave them 3 water filters. One for their family, one for the pediatric ward and one for the staff or where ever he sees fit. Nursing skills are back on track! My little friend, Louva is doing better and may go home tomorrow. I fear he has leukemia or some such thing. No definitive diagnosis, but his labs and symptoms indicate this.
Lots of love,
29 January 2013
I have been rather immersed in all things African as of late. Getting ready for the upcoming benefit for Kenya has thrust me back into photos, writings, emails and conversations about Africa. I came across something I wrote in June 2010–the week I spent by myself, working with Deaconess Caren in the slums of Kibera and Kanagware.
Kibera, 19 June 2010
The slums of Kibera harbor a life that is seemingly filled with despair and hopelessness. The “streets” (rutted dirt pathways strewn with the debris of plastic bags, plastic bottles, garbage, human excrement and who knows what else) are filled with the smell of sweat, garbage, smoke and whatever is cooking. The houses are merely tiny, dark spaces with room enough for a small couch, perhaps a chair or two, and a bed which holds the entire family. The family typically consists of a widow or single mother with several children. More often than not, the woman is HIV+, and a widow—or perhaps, cast out by her husband for her status, despite the irony that she became infected by him. She cares for her own children and often times the children of a sister or brother who has died as well.
As you walk the filthy streets with sewage running in the gutters it is easy to undergo sensory overload. The smells assaults the nose, the poverty is evident at every turn, a cacophony of sounds fills the air (including the ever present African rap), and it is hard to take it all in. The tin roofs of the slums go on forever with children running in the streets, along the railroad tracks and on trash piles. They kick soccer balls made of plastic bags bound tightly together by string. They push old tires down the street and make the familiar sounds of children at play. In many ways, they seem much more content than their more affluent American counterparts.
Winding through the very narrow “hallways” of the slums, going from one widow’s home to another, I was struck by the simple gesture of hope that hung on clotheslines that crisscross the slums. In the midst of mud, dirt, garbage and filth, freshly washed clothes were reminders of hope, dignity and the promise of life. I found great comfort in weaving in and out of these wet garments.
I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you. (2 Kings 20:5)
The Lord gathers up the tears of humanity and transforms them into the waters of life by the alchemy of the cross, where suffering and death are changed into joy and life bythe self-gift of love.
Magnificat, March 2012
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Amen. The sermon for this morning is based upon the Gospel of the Day from St. John chapter 2, and it is about God’s gift of marriage.
We’re going to play a little game here at the beginning of this sermon to see if you’re paying attention. Everyone close your eyes. Now raise your hands if you have a perfect marriage, where you and your spouse never fight, your children are well behaved, and life clips along smoothly all the time. You can open your eyes now.
I am sorry to tell you that Holy Cross Lutheran Church is full of messed up marriages. Surprised? Me neither. Marriages have been messed up since Adam and Eve. Because of our fallen nature, it frankly comes with the territory. Husbands and wives fight and quarrel with each other. Children are disobedient and rebellious. In one fashion or another, we all demonstrate this sinful nature that lurks within us. Sometimes you can’t see it directly, but all of the problems of our lives really prove this to be true.
That’s the Law talking to you. The Law shows you that you are a sinner, and it does this either directly through His Word, or indirectly by pointing to you to all of the problems and messes of your life. This is not how God wants the world to be. This is not how God wants your life to be.
This is all reflected in that little phrase from our text, they ran out of wine. Now you may be thinking to yourself that this is hardly on the same level of a problem as divorce, or death, or the myriad other problems that families face the world over. I mean, come on, they just ran out of wine. What’s the big deal?
The big deal is that God loves you and wants to show His gifts upon you, yes, even wine. And yet time and time again, our resources as husbands and wives and families come up short. There isn’t enough money to stretch on the bills. I don’t have enough time to spend with my family. And yet you are stuck. If you work less, you can’t provide. If you work more, what’s the point? You can’t win. Sin has us so wrapped up in this world that it very hard to see your way out of the quicksand at times.
They ran out of wine. At a wedding, running out of wine is a problem. A marriage is a gift from God and a thing of beauty in His eyes. For that, God gifts of Himself and His great creation to us. But because of our sin, we run out. Our work and effort can only take us so far, and sooner or later, they fail. Every single time. They fail when it comes to smaller things like not having the resources to buy the right kind of wine for the wedding, all the way up to wrecked marriages and even death. You can’t do it. That’s what God’s Law says to you.
But Jesus came to the marriage. There is incredible comfort in those words, aren’t there? If anyone can save our failed lives, spent resources, and save us from the chaos and wrecks that seem to trail after us, it is Christ Himself. Heaven knows that no one else can help.
Yet that is exactly what He does. Like this unnamed couple in our Gospel reading for today, Jesus enters into your lives. He does not enter into the lives where everything is shiny and happy and pretty and perfect. We all try to put on that front from time to time. God knows better. No, He enters into your life precisely because it is messed up. He comes into your world because you can’t get yourself out of your world.
In the Gospel, Jesus provides for their needs when the least expected it. Who would think that the Almighty God would use something as common as water to bring joy and happiness to a marriage? And yet that is exactly what He does. He takes the common things of this life, the most ordinary and humble, and through them brings about something that is miraculous. Imagine a wedding feast where the wine was created by God Himself! Now that is a good vintage.
As miraculous as that miracle is for them, it doesn’t hold a candle to the miracle that God does for you in His Holy Supper. Here at His wedding banquet, He gives you the finest bread and the richest of wines, for the bread which He gives is His body, and the wine which He gives is His very blood. He gives this to you not finally to make the trials and struggles of this life better. No, He gives this body and blood to you so that you may come and be a part of His eternal banquet. He gives this to you so that you feast not just for this life, but for all eternity.
So what about your marriage? What about all of these problems that you face today, like trials and struggles with money and time, family stress, medical problems, and whatever other crosses you may face. What does God do for them?
For these problems He gives you many things. For of all, He gives you faith so that you can look at these crosses in perspective. All of these trials will come to an end. They are just for a time. So no matter what the problem is, when it is viewed from the perspective of eternity, God gives you the strength to carry on.
But He also gives you something else. In our Gospel today God says to you that marriage, and everything which comes with it, husbands and wives and children, that marriage is blessed by God. Jesus came to the marriage.
And He comes to yours this day and every day. So when you are frustrated with your wife for nagging at you, when you are angry at your husband for being so lazy, and when you children are exasperated with your parents for being so demanding, and when you parents and mad at your children, know this: you are doing God’s work in that place. As a husband or wife, as a father or mother, as a son or daughter, God is at work in your life. For you see, you are God’s instrument, His hands and feet in that house.
There is great comfort in that. A task is easier to handle if you know that someone cares about what you do. Well, I am here to tell you today that God cares. More than that, though, God is actually a part of your life, especially when things are tough. He will not abandon you. Just like Jesus came to that young couple so long ago and turned their sorrow into joy, so He will see you through the crosses and trials of your life so that you may join Him at that great eternal heavenly banquet feast. Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith, unto life everlasting. Amen.