Lent / Easter Special Services

This year our special services (Lent midweek, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunrise) built on the theme of the hymn of the day. Congregational singing is part of the rich heritage of the Lutheran Church. Not only are our teaching built strictly on the Bible, but we do not seek to hide any point of doctrine or practice.

With this in mind, Luther and the other reformers began writing hymns to explain salvation by grace through faith for the sake of Christ. These hymns clearly spoke of the grace of God, the history of salvation, and the chief parts of Christian doctrine. Such hymns as Salvation Unto Us Has Come and Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice joined Luther’s catechetical hymns.

One hundred years later, in 1618, began the Thirty Years War, which was devastating to the German people. Millions of people died as a result of the war, famine, and plague. Yet from this period in history came some of the greatest hymns of comfort. Several of the hymns we studied this year were composed during his dark period of human history.

We chose the hymns to study based on the LCMS “Hymn of the Day” suggestions for the Lutheran Service Book. Although we could have used popularity or personal preference or some other criteria, we knew that this list of suggested hymns gave a good cross-section of Lutheran hymnody.

You can find the videos of the sermons on these hymns in the Lent Midweek — 2023 page of this website. I recorded some of the sermons in my office, others were recorded during the church service.

Throughout the Easter season we will continue to use the hymn of the day as the basis for the sermon. After all, these hymns are chosen because they help explain the Gospel reading or other readings of a given Sunday. By taking the time to explore what the hymn teaches about Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, we help reinforce the theme of the day.

Thank you for viewing these sermons. I look forward to your feedback.

The Lord’s Supper Revisited

The topic of the Lord’s Supper and Closed Communion came up today in several different contexts. With several people asking the same question, maybe it is time to revisit the topic and our practice.

Our bulletin announcement says:

Holy Communion is celebrated this Sunday at Trinity Lutheran Church in the glad confidence that our Lord, as His Words say, gives not only bread and wine, but also His true Body and Blood for us to eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins. Our Lord invites to His table those who believe He is truly present, repent of all sin, and set aside any refusal to forgive as He forgives us. Because Saint Paul reminds us that we can receive the Lord’s Supper to our judgment, we are very careful to administer the Sacrament only to those who are properly prepared. When we receive Holy Communion, we publicly declare our agreement with the teachings of the church from which we receive it. Therefore, if you are not yet a member of this congregation, a sister congregation of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and if you have not previously spoken to the Pastor about Holy Communion, please refrain from coming forward to receive Communion until you have first spoken with the Pastor.
If you cannot receive the Lord’s Supper but desire a blessing, please join us at the Communion rail and cross your arms over your chest to tell the pastor of your intent.”


With this being said, we certainly practice closed Communion. Yes, the most important part of the Lord’s Supper is that which we receive from Christ Jesus. We receive His true body and true blood (doctrine of the Real Presence) for the strengthening of our faith and for the forgiveness of our sins. At the same time we are confessing a common faith, not only in Christ Jesus, but in all aspects of doctrine. Thus we are confessing that we are saved by grace alone, not by works. Thus we are confessing that the Bible is the Word of God, inspired and inerrant, and that the Law condemns certain actions such as abortion, homosexuality, and same gender marriage which are legal but immoral.

We believe, teach, and confess that Christ Jesus is sacramentaly present in, with, and under the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. When Jesus said, “This IS my body,” He meant exactly what He said. This sacramental presence mirrors the incarnation of Jesus as true God and true man.

We also take very seriously Saint Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians 11:27 and following where we are warned that it is possible to take the Lord’s Supper to our judgment. Not all Christian congregations confess the Real Presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Supper, therefore we are careful not to give to those who doubt Jesus’ words the opportunity for their harm.

What about those who had been confirmed in the LCMS, and at one time made the good confession of faith? However, based on their spouse’s desires, or their own doubt, they left the LCMS and joined another church body. Their confession of faith is not what they said at confirmation, but they repudiated that when joining in a church body that teaches other than the Real Presence. They repudiated their confirmation when they joined a church body that dismisses some or all of the Bible. The confession of your church is your public confession. If your public confession is not in agreement with the LCMS, we would be helping you to bear a false witness of your faith. If you do privately agree with the Lutheran teachings, then you are lying about your confession when you commune at your home congregation. Either way, this is not a good thing.

In 1983, and again in 1999, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod published documents about the Lord’s Supper. These were prepared by the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) to answer questions about our doctrine and practice. You can find both documents here: (https://www.lcms.org/about/leadership/commission-on-theology-and-church-relations/documents/lutheran-doctrine-and-practice).

All CTCR documents, as well as all Lutheran doctrines and writings, must stand under the clear Word of God. These statements explain our position concerning both the theology and practice of the Lord’s Supper in light of the Bible.

As a brief summary: We believe, teach, and confess that Jesus’ body and blood are truly present in, with, and under the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. He gives us this gift for the forgiveness of our sins and the strengthening of our faith. If someone who disagrees publicly with the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, or the Christian faith in general (salvation by grace through faith for the sake of Christ), we cannot commune them until they repent of their false doctrine.

There is additional criteria for determining who I may commune, but that is outside the scope of this article.

If you desire to talk about our doctrine and practice, please feel free to contact me.

Advent — What we are doing

Advent begins on the Sunday closest to the Feast of Saint Andrew. This year the First Sunday of Advent is on November 27. Our first Advent Midweek Service will be at 7:00 pm on November 30, which is Andrew’s feast day.

Our evening services begin at 7:00 p.m. On Thanksgiving Eve, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper, otherwise we will be using the daily office of Vespers. Our sermons will be available both as PDF and video on this website.

The theme is year is `”The Hymns of Advent.” We will begin this series on Thanksgiving Eve when we study Martin Rinckart’s Now Thank We All Our God.

Here is the schedule of special services for the rest of 2022:

DateDay NameTitleText
11/23/22Thanksgiving EveNow Thank We All Our God1 Timothy 2:1-4
11/30/22Advent Midweek 1Come, Thou Long-Expected JesusLuke 1:67-75
12/07/22Advent Midweek 2Once He Came in BlessingLuke 4:17-19
12/14/22Advent Midweek 3Hark! A Thrilling Voice is SoundingLuke 1:76-79
12/21/22Advent Midweek 4Hark the Glad SoundIsaiah 40:3
12/24/22Christmas EveA Great and Mighty WonderLuke 2:1-14
12/25/22Christmas DayOf the Father’s Love BegottenJohn 1:1-14
12/31/22New Year’s EveThe Ancient Law DepartsLuke 2:21
01/06/22EpiphanyJoint here with St. Paul – Fulda
Pastor Ethridge preaching

Saint Martin of Tours Medal

The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod posted this article on their Facebook page:

Today we mark St. Martin of Tours Day – Nov. 11. Traditionally the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod uses this day to announce the St. Martin of Tours Medal awards for the next year. Congratulations to the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod chaplains who will be receiving the St. Martin of Tours award for 2023:

Chaplain Jason Bredeson – U.S. Air Force Reserve

Chaplain Jason Dart – U.S. Navy Reserve

Chaplain Gregory Lutz – Canadian Army

Chaplain Douglas Ochner – U.S. Army

Chaplain Jeffrey Williams – Civil Air Patrol

Here is some Background:

The Bronze St. Martin of Tours Award

An award in the name of St. Martin of Tours is particularly appropriate for Lutheran chaplains. As a young man, Martin of Tours, who was born in 315 AD, served as an officer in the Roman Army. According to tradition, one day he encountered a poor beggar shivering from the cold. Martin drew his sword, cut his military cape in two and covered the beggar with one half. That night, according to the tradition, Christ appeared to Martin in a dream, wearing the half of the cape he had given to the beggar. The vision led to Martin’s conversion and baptism.

Martin eventually became a cleric, founded a monastery and, over the years, his piety and devotion to Christ became so well known that he was installed as the Bishop of Tours, France, by popular demand. Following his death, the remaining half of Martin’s cape became an object of veneration. French kings had the cape carried into battle and prepared a tent-like portable shrine for it. In Latin, the shrine was called a “capella.” The priest who was given responsibility for the “capa” and the “capella” was called the “capellanus.” It is through the derivation of these terms that we now have the English words for “chapel” and “chaplain.” Consequently, since Medieval days, Martin of Tours has been identified with those who serve as military chaplains.

For Lutheran chaplains, however, Martin of Tours has an additional, significant connection. On November 10, 1483, Hans and Margarethe Luther, of Eisleben, Germany, welcomed the birth of a new baby boy. Following the custom of the times, they had their infant baptized the following day. Since November 11 was the date the Christian Church traditionally remembered and honored St. Martin of Tours, the baby was named Martin Luther.

It is most appropriate, therefore, to give tribute to Lutheran pastors who have given so many years of dedicated service to military personnel with an award whose name recalls these two historic defenders of the Christian faith.

Preparing for Lent

This coming Sunday marks the beginning of the three-week pre-Lent season. The liturgical preparation for Easter takes place through three stages.

Stage One: Gesima Sundays

It begins with the ”Gesima” Sundays. These three Sundays before Ash Wednesday provide an opportunity to study the Grace of God in which graceis explained in three different ways.

Septuagesima: This Sunday is about 70 days before Easter, which is the meaning of the Latin name. The focus of this Sunday – Grace is undeserved. The Collect for this Sunday implores God to graciously hear us, who are justly punished for our sin, so that we may be delivered by God’s goodness. The goodness of God is emphasized in the parable (Matthew 20:1-16) where all the laborers receive the reward because of the goodness of the land owner. So we, too, receive the reward of eternal life because
God is good.

Sexagesima: This Sunday is about 60 days before Easter. The focus of this Sunday – Grace is passively received. In the Collect we pray to the God who sees that we put not our trust in anything we do, but mercifully defends us by His power. In the parable of the sower, the seed of God’s Word is passively received in good and noble hearts.

Quinquagesima: This Sunday is about 50 days before Easter. The focus of this Sunday – Grace is not easily understood. In the Gospel Jesus predicts His passion and the disciples ”understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.” (Luke 18:34)

The three ”Gesima” Sundays begin the Lenten preparation for Easter. They take on the character of Lent, but mildly. The color remains green, the color of the Epiphany season. No more do we sing the Alleluia. Crosses remain unveiled, and flowers may adorn the chancel. In this pre-Lent season we gradually remove portions of the liturgy as we approach Christ’s passion.

Stage Two: Ash Wednesday through Laetare

The second step of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, and ends when the week of Laetare (Fourth Sunday in Lent) is completed. In addition to the liturgical changes that began in the Gesima weeks, flowers no longer adorn the chancel, and the crucifix and crosses are veiled. During these four Sundays the focus is on temptation, faith, and the Christian struggle. The names of the Sundays are drawn from the first word of the Introit.

Invocabit: Jesus is tempted in the wilderness.

Reminiscere: The faith of the Canaanite woman is tested.

Oculi: The people tempt Jesus to show them a sign from heaven.

Laetare: This Sunday has a lighter mood to as we learn how Jesus provides for His people. Traditionally this Sunday uses rose colored paraments, unlike the other Sundays in Lent.

Stage Three: Passiontide

The final stage is Passiontide which begins with Judica Sunday (Passion Sunday or the Fifth Sunday in Lent) and extends through Holy Week and the Triduum or three Holy days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Now the focus is expressly on our Lord’s passion. The liturgy is spoken on Judica Sunday to emphasize the intense passion which our Lord endured. This intensity builds until we finally arrive at the empty tomb.

Luther’s Admonition to the Sick

Almost 500 years ago, Martin Luther wrote a pamphlet, Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague. He offers sage advice which is highly relevant today. Indeed, the first sentence is highly important. Now, his statement, “…those who are so uncouth and wicked as to despise God’s word while they are in good health should be left unattended when they are sick…” may indeed be true, but, as a pastor, I hope that I am allowed to minister to all who desire to hear of God’s mercy.


[How to prepare for death:] First, one must admonish the people to attend church and listen to the sermon so that they learn through God’s word how to live and how to die. It must be noted that those who are so uncouth and wicked as to despise God’s word while they are in good health should be left unattended when they are sick unless they demonstrate their remorse and repentance with great earnestness, tears, and lamentation….

Second, everyone should prepare in time and get ready for death by going to confession and taking the sacrament once every week or fortnight. He should become reconciled with his neighbor and make his will so that if the Lord knocks and he departs before a pastor or chaplain can arrive, he has provided for his soul, has left nothing undone, and has committed himself to God. When there are many fatalities and only two or three pastors on duty, it is impossible to visit everyone, to give instruction, and to teach each one what a Christian ought to know in the anguish of death. Those who have been careless and negligent in these matters must account for themselves. That is their own fault. After all, we cannot set up a private pulpit and altar daily at their bedside simply because they have despised the public pulpit and altar to which God has summoned and called them.

Third, if someone wants the chaplain or pastor to come, let the sick person send word in time to call him and let him do so early enough while he is still in his right mind before the illness overwhelms the patient.

Learning: Is Church Enough?

Years ago, when I was a real person with a first name, I had the pleasure of taking a number of classes from Dr. Donald Pratt, a faculty member at Princeton University. AT&T Bell Laboratories had an education department which contracted with a number of specialists to teach the skills needed in the company.

One of the courses was Techniques of Instruction, where we learned how to best use our class time. Dr. Pratt told us to have a proper ratio of explanation, exercising, and evaluation. He also reinforced the idea that you can teach from any student response, no matter how different it might be from the expected answer.

In explaining new material, you go from the known to the unknown. This is why we are discussing the doctrine of the Church as found in the liturgy. Everyone who has been exposed to the liturgy has some idea what is happening, even if they don’t know the details. “Oh, I remember the pastor facing the altar some times, and facing the congregation some times.” Thus can you teach of the priestly (facing the altar) and prophetic (facing the congregation) aspects of the Office of the Ministry.

To exercise the student’s understanding and growth in learning, we assign certain tasks. “Using your concordance (list of words in the Bible with verse reference) or other reference tools, find parallel passages to Ephesians 2:8-9 where Paul says we are saved by grace and not our own works.” Each learner will find various passages, thus reinforcing both the use of the Biblical study tools and the concept of salvation by grace through faith for the sake of Christ.

As teachers, we evaluate the progress of the learner by asking specific questions. (Question: “What do you think Paul meant when he wrote, ‘For by grace you are saved through faith?'” Answer: “Grace is God’s love which He gives to us although we don’t deserve it. We don’t earn salvation from sin and death, it is a gift. Even the faith which receives God’s love is a gift.”) (Question: “What are the two great teachings in the Bible?” Answer: “Law and Gospel.”) Dr. Pratt suggested we never ask, “Any questions?” If no one can answer the specific questions, the instructor has done a bad job of teaching.

In the Divine Service we have the rote learning of the Ordinary of the Mass, those elements of the liturgy which remain the same week to week. In the Divine Service we hear different readings, sing different hymns, and listen to the sermon. In the Divine Service we receive the blessings of God’s rich grace as we are forgiven, as we partake of the Lord’s Supper for the strengthening of our faith. In the Divine Service we have no opportunity to exercise our knowledge or to evaluate what we know. There is no dialog about the sermon.

Thus, to really learn what the Church believes, teaches, and confesses, we need to attend Bible Class. Yes, take that second hour on Sunday morning, grab a cup of coffee and a cookie or other tasty delight, sit down, and learn. For years, I have had the practice of allowing any question at the beginning of Bible Class. “Pastor, in your sermon you said … what does that mean?” What better way to learn? What better feedback can I have to improve my writing or teaching abilities?

Since the church opened following the shutdown for COVID, we have been studying the Augsburg Confession on Sunday morning. As a congregation we claim to adhere to the understanding of the Bible as presented to Emperor Charles V on June 25, 1530. It is mentioned in the constitution of this congregation, and is affirmed at the ordination or installation of a pastor. So, what is in it? How does a 500 year old document remain relevant today? What educational rabbit holes can we jump down based on our learning? How does our understanding of the doctrines mentioned in the Augsburg Confession affect us in a practical way?

Wednesday mornings a group gets together to look at current events in the light of the Bible. Again, this is practical theology. What does the “woke” culture mean to Christians? What is the form of persecution of the Church in the United States? (You don’t think we are persecuted? Join us on Wednesday!)

On Tuesday morning we have a study group and the Lord’s Supper at the Sunrise Terrace. If you can’t get to Church, the Church comes to you. Although several of the people in the group are able to attend the Divine Service on Sunday, some cannot. Yet, they take the opportunity to learn, even as they avail themselves of the weekly opportunity to receive the forgiveness of sins and the assurance of everlasting life by receiving Christ’s body and blood for their salvation.

Going to church is great, but it isn’t enough if you want to learn. You really need to take the time to dig into the Bible. More importantly, you need to discuss what you have learned, and reinforce that which you have heard.

We offer many opportunities to join a Bible Study group. If one of our existing studies doesn’t meet your schedule, we can start a group which does. In the end, you will have a better understanding of God’s rich grace and mercy, even as you receive the assurance of life everlasting.

Public Prayer Revisited

Why, pray tell, do Christians allow atheists to set our form of worship? Consider the issue of public prayers. There are many reasons that event organizers, politicians, and leaders desire a prayer of blessing for a given event. Sometimes it is actually because they believe that prayer is a means by which we receive blessings from our heavenly Father. Other times it simply adds gravitas to the situation, it makes the event look a bit more formal.

No matter the reason for the prayer, as a pastor, as a chaplain (a pastor who serves in a secular setting), I take this request seriously. The priestly role of the pastor is to offer the prayers and concerns of the people to God on their behalf. This is a solemn duty given to us.

Saint Paul told Timothy (1 Timothy 2:1-7): First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,  for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,  who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,  who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.  For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 

When we pray in public, we do so in a way which gives glory to God. Our audience is not the gathered throng, but our heavenly Father. Because there is only one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, we pray in such a way that acknowledges our prayers are offered only through Him.

Now, this does not mean that every prayer must say, “In Jesus’ name.” Obviously the Lord’s Prayer does not mention Jesus, but He is the source of that prayer, and we pray to His Father and ours. Luther’s morning and evening prayers do not end this way either, but begin “I thank you my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ my Lord…” Clearly, then, our prayers are heard for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Why do we allow the fear of those who reject God to set the form of prayer? Too often we hear, “Oh almighty one… in your precious name we pray,” without knowing the identity of the “almighty one.” Are we praying to the Triune God, are we praying to a tree? I don’t know.

I realize that I am a geek, that I don’t get the subtle nuances of life. If I want to log in to the server which runs this web site, I have to address the server. I simply can’t say, “Oh server, whichever one is out there.” This blog post would never get written.

In a crowded room, or even when at home, we address people by name or title to say, “I am speaking to you.” Shouldn’t we do that to God? Yes, He knows all things, but He shouldn’t have to ask, “Are you talking to me?”

If the atheist is offended by the name of the Lord, so be it. I am praying for him, I am praying for her, in the best way I know, through Jesus Christ. They don’t have to pay attention, they don’t have to listen. And, they don’t have the right to force me to live according to their beliefs, even as I cannot force them to believe in Jesus Christ.

So, pastors and chaplains, please pray in the name of Jesus. Stand up for your beliefs. After all, Jesus said (Matthew 10:32-33): So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven,   but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.  I don’t want to give any impression of denying our Lord and Savior.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.


The dictionary says a conundrum is a confusing or difficult decision. With the vaccine mandates, mask mandates, and all things Covid pandemic, Christians are placed in a difficult situation. Do we comply with the mandates, even if we personally believe they are wrong? Do we defy those in authority?

First off, are the mandates wrong? On September 9 the President issued a mandate that all Federal employees must be vaccinated. Also, most contractors doing business with the Federal government must have their employees vaccinated. There is no alternative way of compliance, such as weekly testing, for those who, for many reasons, do not wish to take the vaccine.

On the surface, this vaccination mandate seems reasonable. If the vaccines work as advertised, and if they are safe, this would help control the pandemic. We will never completely eradicate the disease, but we can better control it. If I care about my neighbor, would I not take efforts to keep him safe?

But, there is another aspect to this debate. The mandate does not allow for people who have health risks to abstain from the vaccine. The mandate does not allow for people who have moral reservations about the manufacture or testing of the vaccine to abstain from the vaccine. The mandate does not allow for people who desire to see the long-term effects of the vaccine to abstain from the vaccine. The mandate does not allow for anyone to consult with their physician concerning this vaccine, to see if it is appropriate.

Christians, according to Saint Paul writing in Romans 13, are to respect and obey authority. This is an application of the Fourth Commandment, and leads to peace in this society. But, when the authorities ask us to do something which goes against our beliefs and conscience, we reply with Peter, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

The authorities asking for employees to be vaccinated are not only from the Federal government, but include school districts, health care companies, airlines, and many other organizations. Do we comply, or can we ask for a religious exemption while the mandates are reviewed for legal and moral implications?

Several weeks ago, at the gathering of the pastors at the Circuit Winkel, we discussed the religious exemption letter. Several pastors noted that the Synod was neutral, for typically guidance would come from a convention or, at least, the CTCR (Commission on Theology and Church Relations). Neither body has had a chance to meet to discuss this issue. Also, Synod is advisory, so members are free to disagree.

Recently, however, I was asked to provide a letter justifying a religious exemption. I chose to accede to the request. After prayerful consideration, and after considering that we must act according to our informed conscience (i.e., a conscience which bases decisions on the Word of God), I provided the following letter.

Please note, this is written as a pastor, but not on behalf of the congregation. We have not met, either as a Board of Elders or as a Church Council, to ratify this as our official, congregational position. We will discuss the letter later this month at our regular meetings. Meanwhile, with deadlines approaching, something needed to be done.

Please feel free to comment to me about this letter.



To Whom it May Concern,

[Name,] who is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Slayton, Minnesota, is seeking a religious exemption from the immunization requirement. The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod (LCMS) has not issued specific recommendations either for or against receiving the Covid 19 vaccine. However, the LCMS has always upheld the right of individual members who, in accordance with the Word of God, choose to exercise their faith in accordance with theirconscience.

Jesus Christ, as recorded in several places, quoted the Old Testament law: Jesus answered, The most important is, ‘‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.’’ [Mark 12:29-31 (ESV)]

The Lutheran doctrine of vocation recognizes that each person has a unique calling in life, and a unique set of circumstances. For some, serving their neighbor may include abstaining from alcoholic beverages, for others the responsible use of alcohol is permitted. This becomes a matter of conscience. Saint Paul considered this matter of conscience in his letter to the Romans: One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. [Romans 14:5-6 (ESV)]

In matters of the vaccine, we adopt the same stand. If a person accepts the risks of the vaccine, then they are free to be immunized. If a person, for several reasons, declines the vaccine, we support this decision.

For what reasons might a person not be vaccinated? First, there is the concern for personal health. The Fifth Commandment says, ‘‘Thou shalt not kill.’’ Certainly this applies to caring for our neighbor, one of the arguments for being vaccinated. But the Commandment also condemns self harm. If one has a history of a negative reaction to various medications, then one needs to abstain from them. To use medications similar to those which have caused physical harm in the past is, in fact, contraindicated by this Commandment. It becomes not only a matter of health, but a matter of obedience to God’s Law.

We believe that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, as Saint Paul explained to the congregation in Corinth: Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? Ifanyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. [1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (ESV)]

If we firmly believe that a certain substance may harm our body, we are bound by conscience to abstain. In [Name’s] case, I am aware of his/her reluctance to use any medications because of his/her medical history. This is not simply a medical issue, but one of sincere faith.

There is a moral duty to refuse the use of medical products, including certain vaccines, that arecreated or tested using human cell lines derived from abortions. Several of the vaccines which are available do use human fetal cell lines, thus they should not be considered by anyone who believes that murdering the unborn is wrong.

As [Name’s] pastor, I fully support his/her decision concerning this vaccine based on discussions of his/her faith, moral reasoning, and matters of conscience. To quote Martin Luther, ‘‘…to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God.’’

Please feel free to contact me if you have additional questions.

Respectfully yours,
Rev. Dr. Jeffrey B. Williams

Sunday Evening

We fall into interesting and delightful habits. For the last eighteen months or so, I have spent Sunday evening unwinding, relaxing from the stress of preaching and teaching by spending some time alone. One of my seminary professors suggested the obligatory Sunday afternoon pastor nap is a response to the “post-partum” depression of spending a week preparing a sermon, only to see it put into the archives.

What do I do on Sunday evening to relax? I write. Each weekday, around 8:30 in the morning, you can hear the Moments of Meditation on KJOE radio, Slayton, Minnesota, 106.1 on your FM dial. For several hours each Sunday evening I look at the best way to proclaim salvation by grace through faith for the sake of Christ in 90 to 120 seconds. That is both a difficult challenge, and a lot of fun.

Of course, there are other projects on Sunday evening. In 2017 I wrote a series of sermons tying the Introit to the Gospel lesson. This was supposed to be a way to proclaim the Gospel during Lent, but the exercise and study was so interesting that I completed the whole year. Now I am collecting these sermons into a book for others to enjoy.

Of course, the KJOE morning spots are also collected into a book. You can find it at either https://lulu.com or https://amazon.com. This year’s radio devotions will be available in late January or early February next year.

I’m also pondering an approach to adult confirmation based on the liturgy of the church. Because the liturgy is drawn from the Bible, it is a great starting place. Also, we learn by going from the known to the unknown. Therefore, if we start with that which is familiar, the liturgy of the Divine Service, we can draw in the Bible and the Catechism. This is not an original idea. One of my seminary professors, the late Dr. Donald Deffner, wrote several books using this approach.

You would think that this time alone, the writing and recording, the study, would be tiring after a morning of preaching and teaching. Yet it is invigorating, especially as I can find other ways to proclaim the goodness of our Lord and Savior.

May our Lord continue to bless you.