September 2021

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. …  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:5,8

September marks the beginning of the grape harvest here in Spiesheim. Having lived here for over a year, we have been able to observe the entire grape growing season. After the harvest, surprisingly the grape leaves display all the fall colors. Then the vintners come through the fields and prune the plants down to the main stalk and one or two bare branches that remain tied to the support wires. Pruned vines(The sickly and unproductive plants are completely destroyed.) When spring returns, the vines quickly come to life filling the fields again with lush green leaves. Another surprise…the farmers come through once again and chop off the branches that are growing up and away from the main vine. Now the heart of the vine receives the nutrition it needs for the grapes that are just beginning to appear. The vintners continue to care for their plants and guard their crops from hungry birds. Before long the many varieties of grapes are ready for another harvest.

Living in this part of Germany has really made us appreciate the truth that Jesus is the vine. The vine stem/stalk is thick and strong. It holds the plant in place and channels nutrition to the leaves and fruit. Jesus gives us, the thin, leafy branches the ability to produce fruit. If we remain in him through continual study of his Word and faithful use of the sacraments, we will receive the power we need to bear fruit. Jesus also reminds us that our fruits of faith show that we are truly his disciples and that, in this way, we glorify God the Father.

 “I am the vine; you are the branches. We know and trust that Jesus is the source of our sanctified living. We know that apart from him we will fail. Our sinful nature needs no help in producing anger, greed, jealousy, and a whole host of commandment breaking behaviors. We don’t need to be reminded how to be bad. We do need to be reminded to grow in sanctified living.  Knowing this, we turn to our Savior, ask for his forgiveness and his help to lead a life that produces good fruit.

What are those good fruits? In his letter to the Galatians, St. Paul provides the answer. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). Producing good fruit begins with love—love for God and love for our neighbor. Living in God’s love, our attitude becomes one of joy and peace. Our actions toward our family and neighbors are peaceful, patient, kind, good, and gentle. Finally, we can exercise control over our sinful desires and impulses that lead us away from God-pleasing attitudes and actions and produce true fruits of faith.

Jesus has promised that if we remain in him, we will bear much fruit. He has also provided with his powerful Word so that we can remain in him. May the Holy Spirit guide and direct us as we continue to grow in our sanctified living. May our fruits of faith be a blessing to others and give all glory to our Heavenly Father.

Your gentle blessings, Lord, outpour
On all our labors evermore.
Our hearts with your good Spirit fill
That we may gladly do your will.
Christian Worship 223

News From Our Worship Groups

With great thanks to God for his never ending blessings, our London worship group, on September 5, was able to meet in person for the first time since March 2020. It was a special day as we worshipped and celebrated the Lord’s Supper, and as we acknowledged the baptism of Livia Regel, who had been baptized during the time we could not meet together.

A special visitor was with us from the States. Pastor Larry Schlomer, the administrator for WELS world missions, spoke to us about the possibility and planning for a full-time missionary in London.

Northwood Methodist Church

Susanne and Nola provide preservice music

The choir beautified the service

Livia Tamsin Regel

We acknowledged the baptism of Livia

Our Offerings in August

€140.00 and CHF410.00 were received in basket offerings. €4061.32 were received as direct deposits to the Chaplaincy bank account.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:7,8

Direct Deposit Information

Please consider direct deposit of your offerings to our ministry.
Designate: John Paul Hartwig
IBAN: DE21 5519 0000 0106 6260 13
BIC MVBMDE5

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August 2021

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:10

August —the beginning of a new school year for many. Time to sign up for classes, buy books and supplies, and maybe to prepare for dorm life. Students are excited and some are even anxious. Parents are excited to watch their children learn and grow. They might also be anxious about the many challenges their children will face. Maybe parents will be taking classes too and will share doubly in the preparations for the new year. Students and parents alike are aiming for positive, enriching experiences. To that end, much advice will be given and received before the classes begin.

Christians know where to look for the best advice—God’s Word. The book of Proverbs contains wise advice for facing the challenges of the world. It also strongly warns against the dangers of falling into foolish practices. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fear God—that’s the best way to show love for God and to lead a life pleasing to him. This month let’s take a closer look at these ancient, inspired words of wisdom and realize how they can guide us today.

King Solomon’s wisdom was an astounding, world-renowned gift from God. The Bible records the depth of his wisdom and the breadth of his writings.

God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore…. He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five.  He spoke about plant life….He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles and fish.  From all nations people came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom. (1Kings 4:29-34)

The book of Proverbs only contains a fraction of Solomon’s wisdom and includes additional ‘sayings of the wise.’ In fact, the division of the chapters fits perfectly with this month’s devotional plan. There are 31 proverbs and 31 days in August—a chapter a day! Take this as a challenge and read a chapter each day. Follow us on FaceBook and get a daily reminder from Proverbs during August to keep you on track. Every day during August we will post to FaceBook a truth from the corresponding chapter of Proverbs. Our FaceBook page is WELS Europe. Please note: it is not the WELS European Civilian Chaplaincy site. That was a previous site for this ministry which is now an orphan.

Chapter one states the book’s theme. Its purpose is to instruct the young to lead a ‘disciplined and prudent life’ and the wise to ‘listen and add to their learning.’ The book’s introduction focuses on advice for the young man starting out in life. He is encouraged to make God-pleasing decisions and to avoid worldly temptations. Although this section targets the young, its scope is much broader. We know that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for …training in righteousness.” (2 Ti 3:16) Since our training never ends, all age groups will benefit from a journey through this section of Scripture.

In the opening pages of Proverbs, we first meet Wisdom personified. Solomon declares that following her advice will lead to a prosperous and happy life. Then he warns against folly–‘the things the Lord hates.’ (6:16) The main collection of Solomon’s proverbs starts in chapter ten. In this section, we picture how Old Testament believers applied those verses to their lives and then try to make a parallel application to our life. Some of the verses will remind us that we are not loving parents, faithful students, or honest workers. Others will remind us of the attitudes and actions that constitute God-pleasing, sanctified living.

Ultimately, this study of Scripture should point us to the wisdom that saves. In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul reminds us that “you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” (1Cor 1:30) Knowing that we have this gift leads us to take to heart the guidance from God’s Word we find in the book of Proverbs.

May God bless our study to the strengthening of our faith and to glory of his name!

 

O Word of God incarnate, O Wisdom from on high,
O Truth unchanged, unchanging, O Light of our dark sky,
We praise you for the radiance That from the hallowed page,
A lantern to our footsteps, Shines on from age to age.

CW 279

News From Our Worship Groups

Congratulations!

Livia Tamsin Regel, the daughter of Valerie Kohler-Regel and Ben Regel, was baptized in London on 29 July.

 

London Worship On Again

God willing, we will have face-to-face worship in London again in September. This is long overdue. The last time we worshipped together before the restrictions of the pandemic came into effect was March 1, 2020! We plan to have our service on September 5 at Northwood Methodist Church at 13:00.

Our Offerings in July

€150.00 and CHF260.00 were received in basket offerings. €2,631.07 were received as direct deposits.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:7,8

 

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July 2021

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Co 3:17

Fireworks, parades, and backyard barbecues. Americans celebrate the Fourth of July with these time-honored traditions. They celebrate all the blessings that come with the freedom that was won for them over 200 years ago. In quieter moments, Americans will also remember that freedom isn’t free. They were taught that many people died so they could be free—free to govern themselves and engage in ‘the pursuit of happiness.’ They realize, and are thankful, that many people continue to spend their lives protecting that freedom.

The Declaration of Independence is the cornerstone of the freedom that Americans enjoy, but it is Article One of the Bill of Rights that most gladdens the hearts of Christians. In that article, they are guaranteed the right to freedom of worship! That same freedom is enjoyed by the Christians in the countries served by WELS Europe. They, too, are thankful that our military presence here continues to help protect that freedom.

Freedom to choose our government, our way of life, and our place of worship is truly worth celebrating. Yet we know that there are much more important freedoms.  Freedoms Christ won for us. We are free from the powers of sin, death, and the devil.  And well we know that those freedoms came at a great cost, not of many lives, but of one. “…Jesus Christ…the firstborn from the dead…has freed us from our sins by his blood.” (Rev 1:5) Jesus gave us back the freedom we once had.

In the Garden of Eden our first parents were “free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…” (Gen 2:16-17). Sadly, we know that freedom was lost when Adam and Eve disobeyed the Lord. They were no longer free to live in complete holiness and happiness. They became slaves to sin. We inherited that same fate. But Christ has set us free from that slavery.

St Paul wrote to the Galatians, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1) Jesus not only released us from the slavery to sin, but also removed the sting of death and the power of Satan over our lives.

And now there is the great paradox—our Savior freed us from the chains that bound us to sin and death in order that we might become slaves to our gracious Master.  “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Ro  6:18) We  know that slaves are purchased property. And we have been purchased, “not with gold or silver, but with HIS holy, precious blood” as Luther so aptly said in his explanation to the second article of the Apostles’ Creed. Knowing this, we gladly and willingly serve our gracious Master. Luther continues with these words concerning our service to Jesus. “All this he did that I should be his own and live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he has risen from death and lives and rules eternally.”

July is the month that Americans celebrate their freedom. Let it also be the month that we Christians reflect on the freedoms that Christ won for us. Let us thankfully served the God who won freedom for us and continues to guide us in righteousness through his holy Word.

Before the Lord we bow,
The God who reigns above
And rules the world below
In boundless pow’r and love.
Our thanks we bring;
In joy and praise our hearts we raise
To heav’n’s high King.

The nation you have blessed
May well your love declare,
From foes and fears at rest,
Protected by your care.
For this fair land, for this bright day our thanks we pay—Gifts of your hand.
Christian Worship 618

These hymn verses were written by the same man who penned America’s National Anthem—Francis Scott Key.

News From Our Worship Groups

 

We say farewell this month to the Youngs – Amber, Riley, and Robert – who are leaving Ramstein for Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. God’s blessings in your new endeavors!

Welcome to Katelyn and Axel Angel and their children, Enzo and Phoebe, who came to Ramstein from Arizona.


We welcome the Hearys – Ryan and Vianka, and their chidren Maria, Reagan, and Asher – to the London worship group. Ryan is a pilot stationed at RAF Brize Norton.

Welcome to the Gunn family – Derek and Paige, and their children Sawyer and Carson. Carson Asher Gunn was baptized on June 27 at Ramstein. The Gunns live in Baumholder.


Our Offerings in June

€180.00 and CHF140.00 were received in basket offerings. €2,631.07 were received as direct deposits.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:7,8

June 2021

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and PRAY in the Holy Spirit.
Jude 20

June is the month that summer officially begins. It is often time for graduations and new beginnings. For some, it is a time to leave the daily grind and head out for a well-earned holiday. It is time to enjoy warm, sunny weather and picnics and barbecues. It can also be a time for relaxation and reflection. So, let us take the opportunity to reflect on our devotional life and especially on our privilege of prayer.

Jesus taught the disciples that they had the privilege to speak with a Father who is also a King.
They might have imagined entering his throne room with their list of petitions, asking for physical and spiritual blessings. They surely trusted in their Father’s love and the King’s wisdom in granting their requests. And Jesus reassured them that the Heavenly Father would hear and answer their prayers. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10)

praying handsJesus taught us the Lord’s prayer. Luther gave us his morning and evening prayers. Our parents taught us prayers for meals and for bedtime. Sometimes those prayers are stanzas from familiar hymns. But what about all our special, personal prayers? St. Paul instructs us in his letter to the Ephesians. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (6:18).

Paul’s pattern for personal prayers begins by reminding us to pray with a faithful heart, a heart given to us by the Holy Spirit. Next, we are encouraged to pray on all occasions. Of course, we pray in church and on special occasions such as weddings and baptisms. But all occasions can also mean anytime or anyplace. Your prayers can include thanksgiving for special blessings, requesting help in times of trouble, or even asking for guidance in small, daily matters. Send all kinds of prayers to the heavenly Father’s throne. Ask him for anything, anytime. Paul ends with an encouragement to stay alert and pray for your fellow Christians. How often have we found comfort in knowing that others are praying for us in our time of need? If we follow his advice, we will be like the Thessalonians — praying continually and giving thanks in all circumstances.

We can continue praying to the Lord with prayers from the heart or prayers we have committed to memory. We can also turn to our Bibles, hymnals, and devotion books when we struggle to find the right words. And we can be assured that when all those resources fail, “… the Spirit helps us in our weakness. …The Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Ro 8:26-27)

Scriptures are filled with invitations and encouragements to pray. They abound with promises that our gracious God will hear and answer our prayers. Search them daily to strengthen your faith and enrich your prayer life. Reflect on the privilege you have to approach your dear Lord in prayer.

Come, my soul with every care;
Jesus loves to answer prayer.
He himself bids you to pray
And will never turn away.

Christian Worship 409

News From Our Worship Groups

 

Mathis Wedding

Congratulations to Maria Bachmann and Philippe Mathis who were married in Glattfelden, Switzerland on May 7.

Cizewski Family

Congratulations to Brynn Cizewski who was confirmed at Ramstein on May 9. (l-r Chad, Brynn, Lily, and Katie Cizewski)

 

Adam Lahey

Congratulations to Adam Lahey, from Spangdahlem, on his high school graduation. God’s blessings to Adam as he transitions to American college life at Texas A&M.

Rappuhn

We bid a fond farewell this month to Alex Rappuhn who will be leaving Ramstein AB for Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, Montana. Blessings on your future endeavors, Alex. We will miss you.



 

Our Offerings in May

€120.00, CHF500.00, and $510.00 were received in basket offerings. €2508.18 were received as direct deposits to the Chaplaincy bank account.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:7,8

Direct Deposit Information

Please consider direct deposit of your offerings to our ministry.
Designate: John Paul Hartwig
IBAN: DE21 5519 0000 0106 6260 13
BIC MVBMDE5

Devotional Materials Available

WELS Ministry to the Military has prepared a packet of materials including a New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs, a devotional book called God Our Refuge, and a pamphlet from Time of Grace ministries. These materials are appropriate for all, not just the military.  We will have them for distribution at our worship services. Please take one for yourselves and to give to friends and neighbors.

 

A Personal Note…

June 23 marks the first anniversary of our arrival in Germany. We thank you all for welcoming us so warmly and making us feel at home. The Corona virus has made these past months strange in many different ways, but we thank God that it seems we are toward the end of all this. And through it all it has been a wonderful privilege to see you, week in and week out, and to be able to worship with you.

To God be the glory,

John and Helen Hartwig

May 2021

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord! We are still rejoicing over the celebration of our Savior’s resurrection. We are cheered by the sunny spring days and new foliage and flowers blanketing our gardens. We are filled with hope that the health of all people will soon be renewed. We are thankful that we worship in freedom, and we pray for those who are yearning for that privilege.

In May the blessing of worship centers on Ascension and Pentecost. On Thursday, the 13th, we remember the day that Jesus returned to sit at the right hand of the Father, where the heavenly hosts sing his praises. “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Rev 5:12) Jesus ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us and to continue his rule over all creation until he returns on Judgment Day. Before he left, however, Jesus promised the disciples that he would still always be with them, and he gave them the great commission—to preach the Gospel to all creation. Finally, he told them to wait in Jerusalem until he would send them the gift of the Holy Spirit. This special gift would embolden and enlighten the disciples as they carried out their new mission. Praise the Lord! Praise him in his mighty heavens!

Only ten days later, Jesus kept his promise. It was the traditional day of Pentecost that the Jews always celebrated on the 50th day after the Sabbath of Passover week. On that particular Pentecost something extraordinary happened. As the believers were gathered together in Jerusalem, the sound of a violent wind filled the house and what appeared to be tongues of fires rested on each of them. They began speaking in other languages. Because it was a festival week for the Jews, many worshipers had come from other countries to join in the celebration. Naturally, people were astonished and confused by the unusual sights and sounds. Peter explained that a prophecy from Joel was being fulfilled—the Holy Spirit was being poured out on the believers. (Joel 2:28-32) Peter then shared the message of salvation and urged them all to repent and be baptized. Praise be to God, about 3,000 people were baptized that day. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

The Holy Spirit continues to build the kingdom in the same way. He carries out his work so quietly that we often forget how powerful he is. He has the power to break into our stubborn, stony hearts and minds. He accomplishes this through the very words he inspired. The gospel message is preached and thousands of people repent and are baptized. Martin Luther summarized the work of the Holy Spirit with these familiar words from the Catechism, “In the same way (by the gospel), he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.” Not only does the Holy Spirit give us faith, but he also unites us with other Christians, helps us understand the Scriptures, and guides us to lead a God-pleasing life. Praise the Lord! Praise him for his acts of power and his surpassing greatness!

We can sing heartfelt hymns of praise as we remember our Ascended Lord and celebrate the gifts of the Holy Spirit!

Praise the God of all creation;
Praise the Father’s boundless love.
Praise the Lamb, our expiation,
Priest and King enthroned above.
Praise the Spirit of salvation,
Him by whom our spirits live.
Undivided adoration
To the great Jehovah give.
Hymn 380 Christian Worship 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her.

Proverbs 31:25-28

Mother’s Day is celebrated in the US (and also Germany and Switzerland) on the second Sunday in May—May 9 this year. Sorry to our UK moms, we missed your day. In the UK Mother’s Day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday in Lent, which was March 14. Next year we will be paying closer attention.

Prayer of Thanks for Mother’s Day

God, in whom we move and have our being,
You know us, love us and sustain us.
We praise you for your goodness and thank you for your care.

You created the world and all that is in it.
You knitted us together in our mother’s womb.
You made us male and female in your image.
You made each one of unique and individual—unique in the talents and gifts we have to serve you.

We had gone astray, lost in our sin, yet you came looking for us.
You sent your son Jesus to be one of us.
He gave up his life so that we might be found in you.

Gracious God, today we especially thank you for mothers-
For their care and nurture, for love and support, wisdom and sacrificial giving,
For  tears and smiles, encouragement and correction.
Thank you that in such love we see a reflection of you own love for us.

Fill us afresh with your Holy Spirit,
That we may know your great love and truth.
Anoint us with your spirit’s power that we may witness to you
and serve you and love your people and world.
To the glory of God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

~ written by Howard Carter

 

April 2021

Joy. Assurance. Peace.
He is risen indeed!

On Easter morning, our family always greeted each other with these words: The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!!! We were happy because we knew what the day would bring. We would join our congregation in a most festive service. Resurrection white had replaced Lenten purple. The altar, no longer bare, was adorned with spring flowers. The scent of Easter lilies filled the air. Triumphant hymns. Voices joined in heartfelt alleluias. Scripture proclaiming joy and victory. Our Savior had won the battle! Life eternal is assured! Hallelujah! And to top it all off, an Easter breakfast waited in the fellowship hall. It was a day of joy!

But what about that first Easter morning? It was a day of what? Perhaps mixed feelings? The disciples were not sure what the day would bring even though Jesus had prepared them for his resurrection. He had raised people from death and had promised that he would rise again on the third day, hadn’t he? It was now the third day…

Mary Magdalene had ventured out while it was still dark on that first Easter morning. Seeing the stone rolled away, she assumed someone had moved the body of Jesus. Weeping,as if still in mourning, she bent over to look inside the tomb. Why? To confirm her fears?She saw and spoke to the angels seated where Jesus had been, and she still believed the body had been moved. Turning, she saw Jesus, but didn’t recognize him. Only after the Lord called her by name did she finally experience the JOY of knowing that her Savior was alive!

Later in the day, two dejected disciples were heading out of town. While they were discussing the events of the past few days, Jesus came up and walked with them. Cleopas and his friend explained how sad and confused they were about the crucifixion and the recent news that the women had seen an empty tomb. (The disciples were kept from recognizing him because their first Easter experience was going to be a lesson from the Master.) What they heard from Jesus must have surprised them. “How foolish you are and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken” (Luke 24:25). Then Jesus, the master teacher, reviewed the teachings from the Old Testament that were fulfilled with his life, death, and resurrection. He was assuring them that the work of salvation had been completed by his victory over death. When the Lord finally revealed his true identity, the disciples marveled at how their hearts were uplifted as Jesus opened the Scriptures to them. They experienced the ASSURANCE that their living Savior was victorious!

As evening approached on that first Easter day, the disciples were gathered in a locked room. They were frightened of what the Jews might do to them. They were troubled by the conflicting news. Was Jesus alive? Was his body taken? Did the Emmaus disciples really talk with Jesus? Doubts were swirling in their minds. Their loving Savior knew just what they needed. Suddenly he stood among them.“Peace be with you.”

But the disciples weren’t at peace. They were both frightened and amazed at what was happening. They couldn’t believe their eyes. Jesus assured them that he was not a ghost by showing them his sacred wounds and eating a piece of fish. Then he repeated the message that he had shared with the Emmaus disciples. He opened their minds so that they could believe the Scriptures had been fulfilled. Jesus had triumphed over sin,death,and the devil. They were redeemed and forgiven. True PEACE came to the disciples that evening. They had no need to fear! With joy-filled hearts and minds they could proclaim that message to all nations.

Proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ Throughout EuropePage 2of 3spoken”(Luke 24:25). Then Jesus, the master teacher, reviewed the teachings from the Old Testament that were fulfilled with his life, death,and resurrection. He was assuring them that the work of salvation had been completed by his victory over death. When the Lord finally revealed his true identity, the disciples marveled at how their hearts were uplifted as Jesus opened the Scriptures to them. They experienced the ASSURANCE that their living Savior was victorious!

As evening approached on that first Easter day, the disciples were gathered in a locked room. They were frightened of what the Jews might do to them. They were troubled by the conflicting news. Was Jesus alive? Was his body taken? Did the Emmaus disciples really talk with Jesus? Doubts were swirling in their minds. Their loving Savior knew just what they needed. Suddenly he stood among them.“Peace be with you.” But the disciples weren’t at peace. They were both frightened and amazed at what was happening. They couldn’t believe their eyes. Jesus assured them that he was not a ghost by showing them his sacred wounds and eating a piece of fish. Then he repeated the message that he had shared with the Emmaus disciples. He opened their minds so that they could believe the Scriptures had been fulfilled. Jesus had triumphed over sin,death,and the devil. They were redeemed and forgiven.

True PEACE came to the disciples that evening. They had no need to fear! With joy-filled hearts and minds they could proclaim that message to all nations.Songs of praise, joyful Alleluias, festive celebrations surely carried the disciples forward as they shared the resurrection story. Mary Magdalene had experienced the joy of Easter—the joy that the living Savior “calls his own sheep by name” (Jn 10:3). She could tell of the love that Jesus has for every single person. Jesus’ assurance to the Emmaus disciples was that the Scriptures had to be fulfilled,and that the Scriptures hold the message of eternal life. They knew firsthand that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Ro 10:17). The fearful disciples experienced lasting, spiritual peace from the one who reconciled us with God.“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven,by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross”(Co 1:19-20).

Jesus made that first Easter very personal. He sought out his sad, confused,and doubt-filled followers. He comforted and strengthened them with his words. He prepared them for sharing the victorious good news of salvation. The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!! Alleluia!!

Christ the Lord is risen today!
Saints on earth and angels say;
Raise your joys and triumphs high;
Sing, O heavens and earth, reply.

Christian Worship page 149

Holy Week Devotions

Martin Luther College has made a series of devotions. These eight Holy Week devotions explore the truths of Jesus’ love for us through the poetry, imagery, and music of Lent and Easter hymns. Use the devotions for your spiritual refreshment daily during Holy Week.

You can read them online, download them as PDFs, download them as podcasts, or request they be sent to you via e-mail. Links are also provided to music by various MLC choirs and musical groups.

Congratulations

Congratulate Jessica and Florian Bachmann from our Switzerland worship group on the birth of their daughter Miekaon March 20.

March 2021

March!

March, in English, is the only month whose name is also a command. It was named after Mars, the Roman God of war. This month we dedicate our newsletter to those who, traditionally at least, march a lot—our soldiers.

The WELS European Chaplaincy is dedicated to serving the men and women of the United States Armed Forces in Europe. We share the Gospel of Jesus with soldiers and their families who live far from their home congregations. It is the first way we honor and support our soldiers as ween joy fellowship with those who are living the military experience in a foreign field. Of course,many civilian families participate in the worship and fellowship the chaplaincy provides.

We all can agree that service members have experiences that truly are unique. They follow orders. They keep physically fit. They transfer to different bases and posts often! Their living quarters change, sometimes drastically. They need to function in a variety of cultures during each assignment. They, and their families, need to be flexible. They need each other for moral support (and because only they can understand the special language of military acronyms). They know what ACK, BCM, PCS and TDY*mean without having to explain themselves. All this is happening while they serve and protect us and our allies.Fighting the enemy, physical combat, weapons, artillery, and endless training. These make up the harsh reality of military service. Our gratitude and respect go to all those who face these realities for us.

There’s more. Just like the rest of us, our service men and women belong to another armed forces. They join all believers in the army of Christian soldiers. Indeed, there are many similarities. Christian soldiers serve others. They enjoy fellowship and each other’s moral support. They live in a variety of locations and cultures. Yet there is one big difference.Our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians6:12).

Our fight is against the world that mocks our faith. It is against our sinful flesh that struggles to remain faithful. Most of all, our fight is against the evil foe. Jesus knows all about our spiritual battles. He faced ridicule from the world and answered with the truth from God’s Word.He was tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. He fought against the evil foe and won! Yes, Jesus knows very well the battles we face. He also knows the help we need to fight those battles. He provides that help in his Word.

Listen to what St. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:14-17 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,with the breastplate of righteousness in place,15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.Paul is telling us to prepare for battle by wearing protective gear and by wielding the powerful Word of God. Notice that the Lord first provides us with five pieces of defensive armor. He knows the attacks will be many and strong. Then he provides us with the one and only offensive weapon we need: God’s Word! It can thwart any spiritual danger that comes our way. Hebrews 4:12 assures us that “the word of God is alive and active.Sharper than any double-edged sword…”

Fellow soldiers, we have been given all the military equipment we need to fight the good fight of faith. Our commander in chief is Christ the Lord.Therefore, we can march on with confidence and courage as we face our spiritual challenges. May the faithful study of God’s Word strengthen us and uphold us until we join the Savior in our heavenly victory.

Onward, Christian soldiers
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before.

Christian Worship page 537

*Key: Acknowledge, Beyond Capability of Maintenance, Permanent Change of Station, Temporary Duty

 

Comings and Goings

Seen recently in Munich.

Seen recently in Munich. Yes, the sun was shining, but it was cold! If you weren’t aware of this custom, Google“Eisbachwelle,” and see it for yourself at the south end of the English Garden.

It is our intent to highlight the comings and goings into and out of our groups so we all have a chance to get to know each other better. Since the last posting in January we welcome the following folks:

To USAG Stuttgart: Jeff and Tanya Bessler and their son, Sam, and daughter Abby.

To Ramstein: Another Bessler family(no relation to Jeff and Tanya). We welcome Katie and Greg and their children, Sierra, Adrianne, Nathan, Lukas, Isabella, and Jeremiah.

Also to Ramstein: Ryan and Melanie Truschinski and their children, Joyce, Jason, and Noah.

Welcome to you all. It’s great to have you and your families with us. We can’t wait until we are again able to have Sunday School,Bible class, and fellowship opportunities along with our worship.

Sadly, we bid a fond farewell to the Hansons who are ending a five year stay at Ramstein. Reidand Brenda, and their children,Avery and August,will be leaving this month for Fort Bragg in North Carolina. God’s blessings to them in their new adventure. We will miss you!

February 2021

For God so LOVED the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Bush in SpiesheimFebruary is here. The dark days of winter are slowly but surely waning, and the first signs of spring begin to appear. There is even a popular American observance to mark this change—Groundhog Day.In fact, Americans celebrate all sorts of things in February (an escape from the dreariness of most of the month in most of the country?). February holiday sand celebrations run the gamut from observing that Groundhog to honoring past leaders on Presidents’ Day. It is also Black History Month. In addition, there are a few obscure, humorous celebrations too like Wave All Your Fingers at Your Neighbors Day,Read in the Bathtub Day,and International Tongue Twister Day.(Trust me… you can Google it.) But the favorite February observance, although not a holiday,has to be Valentine’s Day. It is a day to celebrate love, and many do that by sending cards, candy,and flowers to those dearest to us. In America Valentine’s Day accounts for nearly $20 billion in economic activity each year.

More importantly, February also begins the season when we remember how our God showed his love to the world. On February 17th, Christians observe Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It is the time of year we reflect on what it means that ‘God gave his one and only Son.’We ponder the depth of that love as we focus on our Savior’s journey to the cross. We watch as Jesus institutes his Supper with his disciples. We see Jesus betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. We follow him to the judgment hall where he is tortured. We watch as Pilate condemns Jesus to suffer the horrible death of crucifixion on Golgatha. We stand silently as Joseph lays our Savior in the tomb. We walk away filled with sorrow over the cause of Jesus’ suffering and death—our sins. And, yet, our hearts overflow with thanksgiving for the Death that gave us eternal Life. Our hearts are filled with joy that our God showed us what true love is.

That love is summed up beautifully in these words:We know what LOVE is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. (1 John 3:16)May your February be filled with the love of family and friends. May your devotions be focused on the love that our heavenly Father lavished on us when he sent Jesus to be our Savior. May your hearts overflow with thanksgiving for his LOVE!

Christ the Life of all the living, Christ, the Death of death, our foe,
Who, thyself for me once giving, To the darkest depths of woe—
Through thy sufferings, death and merit I eternal life inherit.
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be, Dearest Jesus, unto thee.
Christian Worship page 114

Nymphenburg Palace Munich

Easter Retreat Cancelled

It is with great reluctance that once again the Easter retreat will be cancelled. It is frustrating for us all, but the signs all point to such a decision.Although the hard lock down in Germany is set to end mid-February,there are daily reports that the rate of infections is still too high. As a target for easing lock down restrictions the federal government would like to see 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in a seven-day period.Today the rate still stands at 90.9.New variants of the virus cause additional concern.The vaccine rollout is also proceeding very slowly in Germany. Younger, healthier people who wish to be vaccinated will have to wait several months for their turn. Even should the youth hostel open again for groups, many may find it unpleasant to meet, masked and distanced,in a small meeting room for our worship and Bible study.We are hoping to hold a Reformation retreat. So mark 29-31 October on your calendars for a special time together.

Why Lent?

Market square NürnbergAsh Wednesday, February 17 this year, begins the season of Lent. The current custom of a 40-day Lenten season dates to 331AD when Athanasius instructed other bishops about observing Lent.The 40 days of Lent correspond to Christ’s 40 days in the wilderness where he fasted and was tempted by Satan before beginning his public ministry. Lent ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. The six Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter are not counted in the 40 days.The last week of Lent is Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday when we remember Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. On Maundy Thursday we remember Jesus’ instituting the Lord’s Supper in the upper room with his disciples. Jesus’ crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday.And on Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The liturgical color of Lent is violet. It reflects sorrow and suffering and also the royalty of Jesus Christ. Often today in Lutheran churches the purple is replaced with black on Good Friday and a black veil covers the altar cross. The Gloria in Excelsis and the Alleluias are not used in Lent, reflecting the solemnity of the season. These customs signify the sorrow of the Christian that, while continuing to rejoice in our salvation, we recognize that it was mankind’s sin, our sin, which caused Christ’s death.

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and it is the custom of many Christians, including some Lutherans today, to mark the forehead or back of the hand with the sign of the cross. Ashes symbolize several aspects of our human existence: They remind us of God’s condemnation of sin, as God said to Adam, “Dust you are and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19) They remind us of the shortness of human life. At the grave the pastor will pronounce, “We commit this body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Ashes are also a symbol of our need to repent, confess our sins, and return to God.

For modern Lutherans Lent is a time for reflecting on our Lord’s suffering and death. Careful and honest consideration of the cause of our Savior’s crucifixion will produce a profound sense of personal responsibility for our Lord’s passion –his agonizing suffering and death.Through all the solemnity of Lent our thoughts will ultimately be led to resurrection. Because your Savior lived and died for you, you will also rise with him to a newness of life.

May God bless your Lenten reflection.

Photos this Month

  • Heidelberg Schloss
  • Bush in Spiesheim
  • Nymphenburg Palace, Munich
  • Market square, Nürnberg

January 2021

Good News Newsletter

WELS Europe

Proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ Throughout Europe

Light! God created light on the very first day. He created special lights to rule the days and nights on the fourth day. And many, many years later he caused a very special light to guide the wisemen to the baby Jesus. Christians celebrate the visit of the wisemen during the season of Epiphany. It is the time we remember that Jesus came not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles.

The Magi from the east came to Judea because they had studied the Scriptures. They knew from Numbers 24 that “A star will come out of Jacob.” And they knew from the prophet Micah where they would be able to find the Savior. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, … out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.

”The star became their guide to the place where Jesus was. The star provided light throughout their journey. The star revealed the Savior of the world to them, the Savior they worshiped and honored with their gifts. They were overjoyed!

The star that guided the wisemen is not the same star that guides us. Our star is God’s holy Word. It guides us to find Jesus. It provides light along our earthly path. It shows us how to worship and honor Jesus with our hearts and with our treasures. God’s Word reveals the reason Jesus came into this world. He himself declared, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). We are overjoyed!

January 6th marks only the beginning of the Epiphany season. During the following weeks, we witness the ministry and miracles of our Lord. The season ends with the celebration of Jesus’ transfiguration, when “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:2).

May this focus on our Savior and the light that he brings to the entire world guide us as we journey into our New Year!

I want to walk as a child of the light;
I want to follow Jesus.
God set the stars to give light to the world;
The star of my life is Jesus.
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus!
Christian Worship Supplement page 771

 

Save the Date

At this time the Easter retreat in Germany is still planned for April 1-4. Watch for a special newsletter later this month with details.