Monday, January 8, 2024

January 7 2024 Sermon and Announcements

 

CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

January 7, 2024

 

How Far Are We Willing to Go?

Matthew 2:1-12

 

It has been almost two weeks since the Christian world celebrated the birth of our Savior. Today we are going to look at the ones who were not there the night, the day Jesus was born. Some in the Christian world call January 6 the Feast of the Epiphany, which is the day some believe the wise men arrived to pay their respects to the newborn King of the Jews. As we read this morning, these Magi or wise men came from the east. They had seen what is stated to be a star that obviously was brighter and unlike any other star they had ever seen.

 

Last Sunday our Sunday School lesson talked in some detail about all the events concerning the star, the wise men and their coming to worship this king. It stated these wise men were probably advisors to the leaders of the land they lived in. That they were probably astrologers who referred to the stars for guidance in their recommendations to their leaders. When they saw this star in the sky, it was so amazing, so miraculous they had to see what it was about. Their profession compelled them to follow this star. Because it appears they came from some distance away, it is believed these wise men were almost certainly Gentiles. Whether they knew anything about the prophecies about a Messiah to the Jews or not, we do not know. It is quite possible there were some living in their land that knew the Jewish people were waiting for a Messiah. They also could see the star was in the direction of Israel so they may have believed maybe, just maybe the God of the Jews was about to do something miraculous. So off they went following this star that was there for everyone to see.

 

There are several amazing things about this story. Before we get into some of them, I want you to understand what I believe about this story, as well as others in the Bible. I believe every one of the stories in the Bible tell of actual events that really happened. While some of the events may have more than one meaning, I believe they are all about things that did happen in the lives of God’s people. That being said, let us look at some of the things that make this story so amazing. First, we see that men from a long way away came to see what the star really meant. Once again, most theologians believe the wise men were Gentiles that made this long journey. Whether they knew who they were going to see before they left their county or found out on the way they had become convinced they were going to find the King of the Jews. They brought with them expensive gifts fit for a king. So, the first amazing thing is that Gentile Magi would travel months or even years to find this king who wasn’t one they necessarily believed in.

 

The second amazing part is that it would seem none of the Jewish priests were in the least interested about what had happened in Bethlehem. There is no mention of anyone else from Israel realizing that the star was there for everyone to see had any special significance for Israel and the Jewish people. When Jesus was born, the shepherds came and saw what had happened and told everyone they saw about all the things that had happened to them. Since it seems none of the locals followed up on the shepherds’ story, does that mean they thought the shepherds were nuts? That they had been out with the sheep too long?

 

So as I considered what the Magi was willing to do and how far they had been willing to go, I wondered how far would I be willing to go? How far have we been willing to go for our Savior? We are not certain how far these men travelled to get to Jesus, but we know they did not hop in their car and in a day of two were there. They travelled for months, maybe even more than a year to see Jesus. They put their lives on hold to see what the God of Israel may have done for His people. How much have you and I given up to serve our King? I do not begin to claim to know what God has, is, calling each of you to do for the Lord. Maybe each one of you has done most all of the things the Lord has asked you to do. But as I have been compelled to look honestly at my life, I must ask myself, “Am I where the Lord wants me to be with my walk with the Lord?”

 

AS we consider the faithfulness of the Magi in making this long journey to worship the King and then their ability to listen to the Lord to not go back to Herod as they originally planned to tell him where Jesus was, I wonder, “Am I as committed and as connected to the Lord as these Gentiles were?”

 

What an amazing story of God using the most unlikely to be part of His story. Some may view you and me as unlikely parts of God’s story as well, but each and every one of us need to realize we are important to God. And we are important parts of God’s ongoing story. As with Mary and Joseph, as with the shepherds, as with the wise men, there is just one requirement when God says, “Will you?” That is for us to be willing to say, “Yes I will.” So how do we answer the question, “How far are we willing to go?” How far have we been willing to go or our Lord and Savior?

Pastor Larry

Announcements:

 

Sunday School 9:00

Tuesdays 9:30 Bible Study

 

Today after worship—special council meeting

          12:00-3:00 nativity display at Millikin Homestead

January 14 after worship—board meeting

 

--Time for Messenger renewals and/or new subscriptions. Pick up a form in the back if you want to subscribe via the church club--$14.50 for 1 year. If you are renewing and there are no changes, no need to fill out anything. Give new forms to Carol by January 14.

--2023 offering envelope summaries are complete and are in church mailboxes or mailed

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

Donation Box for January: Utilities

First Sundays: Food Bank donations

Keep in Your Prayers

Ava; Nora Hanaver; Jonah Martina; Jan Bower; Larry Traxler; Randy and Michelle West; Mike Gentry; Eli Brunner; Nancy Fansler; Doug Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Tina Wilhelm; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; shut-ins; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Moracco; Israel and Hamas war

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Panther Creek congregation and the Youth/Young Adult Ministries office.

 

 

Monday, December 18, 2023

Third Sunday of Advent

 


CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

December 17, 2023

Promises Made

Micah 5:2-5

 

The Story Behind The Beloved Christmas Carol "Silent Night"

WRTI Your Classical and Jazz Source | By Susan Lewis

Published December 20, 2021 at 12:27 PM EST

It was 205 years ago when "Silent Night" was first heard by Austrian villagers attending Christmas Eve mass in St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf. How did this simple melody, with its words of comfort, become a beloved hymn of peace throughout the world?

The Story

"Silent Night" is about a calm and bright silent night, and the wonder of a tender and mild newborn child, words written in 1816 by a young priest in Austria, Joseph Mohr, not long after the Napoleonic wars had taken their toll.

"The backstory is that the priest went for a walk before he wrote it, and he looked out over a very quiet, winter-laden town," says composer/conductor John Conahan, who co-organized the Silent Night Sing-In with WRTI in 2018, 2019 and 2023, and created a new arrangement of the famous carol. "He was inspired...the town was at peace."

It was Christmas Eve, 1818, when the now-famous carol was first performed as Stille Nacht Heilige Nacht. Joseph Mohr, the young priest who wrote the lyrics, played the guitar and sang along with Franz Xaver Gruber, the choir director who had written the melody.

An organ builder and repair man working at the church took a copy of the six-verse song to his home village. There, it was picked up and spread by two families of traveling folk singers, who performed around northern Europe. In 1834, the Strasser family performed it for the King of Prussia. In 1839, the Rainer family of singers debuted the carol outside Trinity Church in New York City. 

The composition evolved, and was translated into over 300 languages with many different arrangements for various voices and ensembles. It was sung in churches, in town squares, even on the battlefield during World War I, when, during a temporary truce on Christmas Eve, soldiers sang carols from home. "Silent Night," by 1914, known around the world, was sung simultaneously in French, German and English.

Over the years, the carol's mystique grew with its popularity. After the original manuscript was lost, for decades, some speculated that the music had been written by Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven. In 1994, an original manuscript was found in Mohr's handwriting, with Gruber named as composer.

Today, the Franz Xaver Gruber Museum in Hallein and the Joseph Mohr School in Wagrain, Austria honor the creators of this classic carol. The Stille Nacht Gesellschaft—or Silent Night Society—hosts a virtual Silent Night museum, tracks events, and promotes the use of all six verses, which in the words of Silent Night Society president "[encourage] peace and [demand] responsibility for the globe."

The English version of "Silent Night" is typically sung in three verses corresponding with the original 1, 6, and 2.

Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright. 'Round yon Virgin Mother and Child, Holy Infant so tender and mild.  Sleep in heavenly peace,  Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night! Shepherds quake at the sight! Glories stream from heaven afar, heavenly hosts sing Alleluia! Christ, the Savior is born, Christ, the Savior is born.

Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love's pure light. Radiant beams from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace.  Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

 

Before we look at today’s scripture and message, how many of you knew Silent Night actually has 6 verses? As has been the case with some of the carols we have looked at, this story seemingly was inspired as a result of a world in turmoil and a night that the composer experienced when all seemed as God ideally intends for His creation, His people. A beautiful, silent night, that reminded Joseph Mohr of what could be, not what had been. This song did seem to be written as a Christmas song. It was inspired by God to help us all know God is with us through the good and the difficult times of life. His peace and love are there in the midst of our storms if we invite him in. For the message that we have today, this song jumps the gun a bit for what we will be looking at this morning.

What a glorious promise God is making to His people through Micah. The first promise talks of Bethlehem. Bethlehem had not been one of the towns that had held a lot of prominence in the story of God’s people yet. It was to have the ruler, the Messiah, come from it. God’s people had been dominated by others for quite some time when this promise was made. God’s promise warned them that it was still going to be a longer wait until the good shepherd would come to redeem them. In fact, this was written 700 years before the birth of Christ. Of course, they did not know for sure how long the wait would be, yet you have to believe they wanted to believe it would be within the lifetime of those who first received this promise. Yet the promise went unfulfilled for generation after generation.

It would have been easy for this message, this promise, to have been lost, forgotten. Yet there were those generation after generation that continued to hope and wait for God to honor this promise.

 

Let us now move forward to Luke 1: 26-35 and then skip to verse 38. Here we read that God is setting the stage to fulfill what had been promised by the Old Testament prophets including what we read in Micah this morning.

 

Let’s face it, we all want to see things happen on our timetable more times than not. Whether Mary knew of all the promises made hundreds of years earlier or not, we do not know. We do know by what has been recorded that Mary with only a little questioning was willing to do what the angel said would happen. Let us look a little closer at what was told to Micah and then what the angel, Gabriel told Mary about the child who would be born to her.

 

 

Micah 5:4-5

He will stand and shepherd his flock
    in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
    will reach to the ends of the earth.

And he will be our peace…

 

 

Now let’s see what was promised to Mary in Luke.

Luke 1:32-33

New International Version

32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

 

So, we see the promise made to God’s people through Micah 700 years earlier is finally about to happen or so it seems. God sent Gabriel to a young woman living in Nazareth to announce God is about to do something never before done. If you think about it, God is all about doing the impossible. Story after story in the Old Testament is about God doing something new for His people, through His people. Doing things that seem impossible but for our God nothing is impossible. There are also a number of stories in the New Testament as well.

The stage is set. God’s promises have been made through Micah and now to a young girl in Nazareth. Did God do what he promised? Stay tuned as we will see next Sunday whether God was really able to keep these promises. All of God’s people, all of creation depend on it.

Pastor Larry


Announcements:

 

Sunday School 9:00

Tuesdays 9:30 Bible Study cancelled until after the first of the new year.

 

Check your mailbox!

 

December 20 7:00 p.m. Christmas Worship Service here—Prepare for Christmas with meditations, songs, the sharing of the bread and cup, and candle-lighting.

December 24 ADVENT OFFERING—see insert in your bulletin; envelopes will be provided next Sunday

 

Needed: Volunteers for Children’s stories. Please sign up in the back.

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

Donation Box: The Lord’s Storehouse

First Sundays: Food Bank donations

 

Keep in Your Prayers

Ava; Nora Hanaver; Jonah Martina; Jan Bower; Larry Traxler; Randy and Michelle West; Mike Gentry; Eli Brunner; Nancy Fansler; Doug Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Tina Wilhelm; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; shut-ins; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Moracco; Israel and Hamas war

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Neighborhood congregation and On Earth Peace.

 


Monday, December 11, 2023

Second Sunday of Advent

 


CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

December 10, 2023

 

I Bring Good Tidings

Isaiah 40:9-10

The Story Behind the Christmas Carol "Joy to the World"

(Taken from https://galaxymusicnotes.com/pages/learn-the-story-behind-joy-to-the-world)

Isaac Watts, and to Since 1719, “Joy to the World” has been a Christmas staple. Its lyrics were crafted by date, it remains one of the most-published hymns in Northern America. However, the fun fact is, the song wasn’t even intended to be a Christmas carol, as its original version had no such link with Christmas. It wasn’t even supposed to be a song!

Origin

According to church history, Isaac Watts was one of the most prolific and celebrated creators of hymns. However, his most famous creation, “Joy to the World” was born of coincidence, rather than desire. In 1719, Watts published “The Psalms of David,” a collection of poems where each verse was based on a psalm. But, instead of translating the original texts of the “Old Testament,” he made some subtle adjustments. His poems referred more explicitly towards the works of Jesus, thus seeking inspiration from the New Testament.

Musical Overview

The majority of the hymns of “The Psalms of David “have now fallen into obscurity, except for the second part of “Psalm 98.” Ironically, the poet had no intention of creating a Christmas carol when he composed the verse. However, in 1836, Lowell Mason composed a riveting melody for this second part and combined with its popularity in the church. “Joy to the World” started its journey into the music stratosphere.

The musical origin of “Joy to the World” is somewhat mystical. Lowell Mason’s version remains the most prevalently utilized to date, which was the fourth revised interpretation of the carol. Lowell named it “ANTIOCH,” the tune of which is attributed to George Frideric Handel. The choruses of Handel’s oratorio, titled “Messiah” shared a chance resemblance with “ANTIOCH.” A theme of this musical accompaniment also portrayed an eerie similarity with the orchestral inception of “Comfort ye,” a recitative.

Further, the first four notes also bear a striking similarity to the opening of the choruses “Glory to God” and “Lift up your heads,” all belonging to the same oratorio. However, this claim has its loose ends, since no autographed score by George Frideric Handel exists. This, added with zero documentary evidence suggesting Handel’s involvement offers “ANTIOCH” the benefit of the doubt. In 1986, John Wilson further unearthed the fact that the initial publication of “Joy to the World” was in two separate English collections. One of these versions, titled “Comfort” is dated back to 1833. This again creates a theory excluding Lowell Mason from the list of the composer, as his first version is dated three years after.

Isaac Watts

Although Isaac Watts is well appreciated today, he was considered to be a black sheep back in his time. He severely disturbed the status quo of his contemporary musical culture and was also termed as a heretic for his lyrics. He grew up in a society that consisted only of sections of scriptures and psalms being incorporated with music. Watts broke this hegemony, as he noticed a certain lack of emotion among the congregants who performed it. He hated this monotonous and dull negligence that was prominent upon the faces of the performers. His father challenged him to do something about this, and eventually, he started tweaking his verses, opening a whole new frontier of possibilities.

The Accidental Christmas Hymn

Another widespread debate that is most associated with this hymn is its origin as a Christmas carol. Although it clearly depicts the Second Coming of Christ, it doesn’t have any trivial connection with the Christmas story. However, contrary to popular opinion, there lies a correlation - a “Second Coming” cannot be manifested without a “First Coming.” The piece is all about fulfillment, depicting the notions of a supernatural phenomenon, of what could be achieved from its impact. Similarly, Christmas does not only dwell in the past attainments but also looks forward to the grace that was achieved subsequently. The song proclaims the ultimate joy that is yet to be revealed, establishing a strong connection with the festive period.

 

We read some of the history of one of the most beloved Christmas songs there is, Joy to the World. As we read, this song was never intended to be a Christmas song. Clearly the first few lines could be viewed as talking about the birth of Jesus. However, that was not the intent. The song really is about the second coming as opposed to the birth of Jesus. The song, we learned, is based off Psalm 98, not Luke 2:10-11. The passage in Luke joyfully says, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.” One could easily believe this scripture was the inspiration for Joy to the Word but it was not. Instead, it is based on the 98th Psalm.

 

Isaac Watts was looking forward the Lord’s return. Starting with verse 4 of Psalm 98 we read, “Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music, make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the rams’ horn-shout before the Lord, the King.” The next couple of verses say ALL the earth will rejoice before the Lord. Then verse 9 concludes by saying, “Let them sing before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.” So, while Joy to the Word is about Jesus, it is not the first coming that is the main focus but His second coming. The scripture I read to begin with talks about several things the Lord was going to be doing. Verse 9 starts off by saying, “You who bring good tidings” twice. At the end of verse 9 it then says, “Here is your God.” Most theologians believe this is a reference of three different things God is going to do.

(1) God’s people returning to Jerusalem from exile.

(2) The first coming, the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

(3) The second coming of Jesus Christ.

 

So, as we sing the song, Joy to the World, let us consider all of the things this song is saying. The first verse can easily be viewed as being about Jesus’ arrival and the joy that it represents. However, the remaining three verses clearly state what Jesus brought to the world during His ministry, as well as what the world will truly experience when Jesus returns. No matter whether this explanation of what inspired the writing of Joy to the Word changed the way you view this song or not, it is a song of promise, of hope and of true joy. The hope and joy that transformed the world began in a manger 2000 years ago. God has always loved His people. God’s mercy and grace were a key part of every story in the Old Testament. However, God’s love, mercy and grace took on a new dimension when the Savior of the World came to earth as a little baby. That is what we celebrate at this time of year. Whether it is what is written in Isaiah when we are told you who bring good tidings or in Psalm when we are told to shout for joy all the earth or in Luke when the angels said, “I bring you good news of great joy.”

This is our story to claim because God came to earth for you and me. So, let us share the good tidings of God’s love. Let us sing Joy to the World because we have a reason to be excited about God’s love for all who will believe.

Pastor Larry

Announcements:

 

Sunday School 9:00

Tuesdays 9:30 Bible Study

December 13 6:15 Exec Comm; 7:00 Commissions; 7:30 Board

New and current members—all members check your mail box for info that needs to be returned to Carol today.

December 20 7:00 p.m. Christmas Worship Service here

 

Needed: Volunteers for Children’s Bible story in nursery during worship. Please sign up in back.

Children’s message volunteers. Sign up in back.

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

Donation Box: The Lord’s Storehouse

First Sundays: Food Bank donations

 

Keep in Your Prayers

Connie Ashenfelter; Patty Jo; Patty; Ava; Nora Hanaver; Jonah Martina; Jan Bower; Larry Traxler; Randy and Michelle West; Mike Gentry; Wilma Cable; Eli Brunner; Nancy Fansler; Doug Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Tina Wilhelm; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker;  Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; shut-ins; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Moracco; Israel and Hamas war

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Hurricane Creek congregation and the CoB in Spain.


Friday, December 1, 2023

Community Christmas Vespers

 This is short notice, I know, but our annual community Christmas Vespers is this Sunday (!!), December 3, 2023, at 4:00 p.m.

This is always a lovely service, and we serve a light supper afterwards. Come and enjoy the blessings of the beginning of the Advent season and the fellowship of the meal following.



Monday, November 6, 2023

Sermon and Announcements November 5, 2023

 

CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

November 5, 2023

Luke 5:1-11

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,[a] the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

 

Come Follow Me

Luke 5:1-11

Today we officially welcomed Bob into the Cerro Gordo Church of the Brethren family, much like we did with Dorthea, Bill, Bob, Ruth and Martha a few months back. While each one was already a part of God’s church family, they had not been officially part of this congregation’s fellowship.

 

God has called each and every one of us to be a part of the work he is continuing to do wherever we might be throughout our lives. The role God is calling us to do may change but the overall mission remains the same. God wants us to be his witnesses. When Jesus was just beginning the ministry that God the Father was calling him to do, he knew he would need help. That is a part of what life on earth is all about. No one person is expected to do all things by themselves. Whether it has to do with sharing the word of God and the salvation he has made available to everyone or simply living life with all of it’s ups and downs.

 

In the Garden of Eden God had Adam look for an appropriate help mate. When none could be found from all the animals God had created, he created woman because God knew the importance of supporting one another no matter what we do or what we face in life.

 

As Jesus began his ministry, he knew that others would be necessary, not only during his earthly ministry, but long after his time on earth was over. The importance of being there in work and play, in good times and difficult times is still an essential part of God’s plan for us. When Jesus called his first disciple, it was because God had made even Jesus need support and at times reassurance during his time here on earth. There have been those who claim they do not need anyone but themselves, but even the most independent person knows in their heart how important it is to have others at key points in their lives. That is why in the ministry Jesus had and the one each one of us has, it is important to have others to bounce things off of. Others that help us stay focused.

 

God wants us to be part of a church family. I pray most all of you has a family that loves you and supports you, just as you love them and support them. Not everyone has a family that is close by or a family that offers support in those good and bad times. God has created the church for just those situations. The Lord gives the church this encouragement.

James 1:27 – “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

 

One of the most important roles the church has is to be there for one another. Let’s face it, none of us are going to get it right all the time. We may be, at times, pulled many different directions. But being part of a supportive, loving church family is what God’s desire if for each one of us. May we continue to work hard to fulfill that call on each one of us here at the Cerro Gordo church of the Brethren. May we find ways to love and support each other, even when we do not agree on everything.

 

Jesus knew that even though he was God, he would need the help of others to share the message of hope and redemption God the Father had given him to share. God still wants and needs our help. May each one of us continue to answer the call, just like Simon Peter did when Jesus first reached out to him. While our role in God’s church may change over time, there will still continue to be things each one of us can do. We simply must be willing to say yes, yes I will do that, knowing God will honor and bless you, a faithful and important part of his family.

Pastor Larry

Announcements:

Sunday School 9:00

Tuesdays 9:30 Bible Study

November 8 Board meeting—6:15 Exec Comm; 7:00 Commissions; 7:30 Board

November 10,11 Oakley Brick Revival 6:30 pm

November 12 Council meeting after worship

November 18 LaPlace CoB soup, sandwich supper 4-6 pm

 

College Care Package snacks are needed by November 12. We have 10 students so far.

 

Needed: Volunteers for Children’s Bible story in nursery during worship. Please sign up in back.

Children’s message volunteers. Sign up in back.

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

Donation Box: The Lord’s Storehouse

First Sundays: Food Bank donations—TLS needs cold cereals and canned goods.

Keep in Your Prayers

Ava (Traxlers’ great-niece); Carolyn Hirsch; Nora Hanaver; Jonah Martina; Jan Bower; Larry Traxler; Randy and Michelle West; Mike Gentry; Wilma Cable; Eli Brunner; Nancy Fansler; Doug Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Tina Wilhelm; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker;  Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Doug Fansler; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; shut-ins; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Moracco; Israel and Hamas war

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Highland Avenue congregation in Elgin.


Monday, October 16, 2023

October 15 Sermon and Announcements

 CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

October 15, 2023


There Will Be Wars and Rumors of Wars


Matthew 24:3-8


Jesus warned his disciples about the things that would happen

in the world as the end of this age got closer and closer. We

have talked about this before, but the disciples were convinced

Jesus would come back for his people during their lifetime.

Obviously, that did not happen. Here we are 2,000 years later

and we are still waiting for Jesus to come for his church. All

throughout history since Jesus made this announcement to his

disciples the world has experienced wars and rumors of war.

That is still happening today. For over 1-1/2 years Russia and

Ukraine have been at war. The United States of America and

many other European countries have been giving aid to

Ukraine. Now just over a week ago a group called Hamas went

into Israel and killed and kidnapped Jewish people as well as

some American citizens. The brutality of what Hamas did have

caused most nations to condemn what they did. Once again

America is drawn into another inevitable war.


I am not going to go into why these wars are taking place.

However, I will say this about the war that is about to officially

happen between Israel and Hamas. When God promised a set

apart people to Abraham, he made this promise to Abraham.

Genesis 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever

curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed

through you.” As God’s church, we must pray for peace, yet at

the same time, the church and this nation I believe must

support Israel.


Before we move on, Peter reaffirmed what God had promised

Abraham a thousand years earlier. Acts 3:25   And you are

heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your

fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all

peoples on earth will be blessed.


I have mentioned the two wars that are catching the attention

of most Americans but there also continue to be wars in Africa

and civil unrest in South America and elsewhere throughout the

world. Even tough Jesus warned that wars and rumors of war

will happen, he also called the church, his people, to do what

we can to strive for peace. In what we know as the Beatitudes

Jesus said in Matthew 5: 9, “Blessed are the peacemakers for

they will be called the sons of God.” So, we have an obligation

to do everything in our power to seek peace. The sad reality is

not only are there wars in the world but seems to be the


equivalent of wars in this nation. One group after another

seems to have trouble finding ways to live at peace with

another.


Politics have become a nasty place in which neither side at

times is willing work with the other on anything. I still

remember hearing of how two leaders of their respective

parties dealt with their disagreements. In the 80s when Ronald

Reagan was president, clearly at that time he was the leader of

the Republican party. At the same time Tip O’Neal was speaker

of the House. As a Democrat most considered him to be the

leader of the Democratic party at that time. Throughout the

eight years Ronald Reagan was president he and Tip O’Neal

would have strong disagreements about what America should

be doing on a variety of policies. They would have meeting

after meeting to try to come to some sort of agreement. When

it was all said and done and the battles were over, they found a

way to not only not hate each other but on occasions go out to

eat together and do other things together. They found a way to

disagree without being disagreeable.


Whether we are talking about the wars going on around the

world or the ones going on in our nation, the church needs to

be committed to praying that the Lord can get all involved to

find a way to resolve their differences peacefully. In regard to

the wars going on in the world at this time that may be hard to


do because too many bridges may have already been burned.

However, in this nation and even in our churches, we need to

pray that the Lord can bring us together. In some cases, maybe

the best we will be able to hope for is to agree to disagree.


May we seek out God’s word for wisdom and guidance. May

the Holy Spirit reveal to us those things that can bring us

together. What Jesus told his disciples 2,000 years ago is sadly

true for mankind. There will be wars and rumors of war. This

will happen until the Lord calls his church home. That, however,

should not prevent us from doing all we can do to promote

peace in this nation in our churches and in the world. The most

important weapon in our warfare is prayer. That being said I

believe we should pray for the people of Ukraine to remain

independent of Russia. I also believe we should pray that Israel

remains a nation and that the most extreme elements of Islam

will be defeated. I also believe we should pray that our

churches and our nation can find a way to turn down the heat.

That all of us will be wiling to find ways to support in love one

another without demanding that we compromise on what we

believe. This is also true within families between friends, as well

as at the workplace. It can call start with you and me. Pray for

the Holy Spirit’s guidance on how and what to pray for. If

everyone would take the advice given in Romans 12:18, there

would be no more wars. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on

you, live at peace with everyone.” If we all would realize that it


does depend on us and I mean really all of us. God is still

changing hearts and minds one person at a time. May we

faithfully do all we can do to promote God’s holy and righteous

standard. I will say it again, “There will be wars and rumors of

war.” But God has given us a message of hope, of love and of

grace to share in a world, a nation, a community that is

searching for answers. You and I have been called to be God’s

ambassadors. May we answer that call in whatever way the

Lord leads us with, the starting point using our most powerful

weapon, PRAYER.

Pastor Larry


Announcements:


October is Pastor Appreciation month.

Sunday School 9:00

Tuesdays 9:30 Bible Study

October 17 1:00 Women’s Fellowship meets at the library—We

will learn about the history room.

Oct 21 1-4 p.m. Pumpkin Fest Oakley Brick Church


College Care Package snacks are needed by November 12. We

have 7 students so far.


Delegates needed for District Conference in Lanark Nov 3,4


Needed: Volunteers for Children’s Bible story in nursery during

worship. Please sign up in back.

Children’s message volunteers. Sign up in back.


Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

Keep in Your Prayers


Traughber family; Nora Hanaver; Jonah Martina; Jan

Bower; Larry Traxler; Randy and Michelle West; Mike Gentry; Carolyn

Hirsch; Eli Brunner; Nancy Fansler; Doug Larrick; Ron & Kathleen

Petersen; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Tina Wilhelm; Carl and

Wilma Cable; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Adiline Young; Kim

Lehmann; Doug Fansler; Mayo and Darlene Hanaver; Stacie Warren;

Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; victims of disasters; victims

of shootings; shut-ins; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine;

Moracco; Israel and Hamas war

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Walnut Grove congregation and

the COB in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.