February 2024

Trust in Him. Believe His Promises.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

(Jeremiah 29:11)

A challenge for many WELS members who live in Europe is how what worship looks like can suddenly change.  Depending on a person’s circumstances, while living in the U.S. an individual or family may be living in an area with numerous WELS congregations and have multiple worship opportunities every week.  There are opportunities to spend time with fellow believers and many ways to support one another as Christians.  Suddenly, orders come in that say that you will be living overseas for the next years and after what seems like a very short amount of time you are living in Europe.  Opportunities for worship are limited.  You can have church together with others perhaps twice a month at most or once every few months.

The Ishtar Gate of Babylon, Pergamon Museum, Berlin.  The gate was built by Nebuchadnezzar II and was in Babylon during the time of the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews.

The question is, how should we react as Christians when we face a situation like this, when the worship life we once participated in and enjoyed suddenly changes and we are in a new and unfamiliar environment?  We can learn much from the Holy Scriptures about this matter by looking at similar challenges for God’s people in the path and how God worked through these times.

The year 587/586 BC was a significant year in the history of God’s people.  The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.  Life had been hard leading up to this point.  In 605 BC, some of Jerusalem’s elite were taken away into Exile.  You are surely familiar with some of their names:  Daniel, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego.  In 597 BC the Babylonians returned and took more people captive, including the prophet Ezekiel.  The Babylonians returned to Jerusalem 598 BC and Nebuchadnezzar II, King of Babylon, laid siege to the city.  After terrible thirty month siege, the city of Jerusalem fell and the Babylonians destroyed the Temple that had been built by Solomon centuries before.

Imagine the questions that must have gone through the minds of the people in Babylon.  God’s people had worshiped at the Jerusalem Temple for centuries.  Keep in mind that the Temple was the only place where sacrifices to the LORD could be offered.  What should God’s faithful do now?  How could they worship without the Temple?  When and where would the Books of Moses be read to the people?  We know that this was significant for the people of Judah.  The prophet Ezekiel was living in Babylon when the Temple was destroyed and he recorded the exact day that the first Jewish refugee arrived from Jerusalem and told the people in Babylon that the Temple was no more–the date was January 8, 585 BC.  Ezekiel writes, “In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month on the fifth day, a man who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, ‘The city has fallen!'” (Ezekiel 33:21).

That was a hard time for God’s people.  Being in exile in a foreign land and now their place of worship was destroyed, it could have been easy to give up hope.  Yet, there was hope for all who looked to the LORD.  A contemporary of the prophet Ezekiel was the prophet Jeremiah.  Through Jeremiah God had warned the Jews to turn back to him or he would send them into exile.  But he also promised that he would not forget their promise to send the Messiah from among their own people.

God promised the people that after 70 years in exile, the people would return (Jeremiah 25).  We know that in Babylon Daniel read this prophecy and found assurance in it (Daniel 9:2).  While living in exile, Daniel and the Jews went through many hardships and trials.  Yet, the promises of God remained secure and no matter what changed–even the destruction of the Temple–nothing changed God’s love for his people.  After the people returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the Temple, some cried when they saw how humble the new Temple was in comparison to Solomon’s Temple.  Yet, God promised that this Temple would be more glorious than the previous Temple.  What would make it more glorious?  The presence of Christ would be the source of its glory.  This second Temple would be the one where Jesus was brought forty days after his birth.  It was here that he would visit at the age of twelve during the Passover.  He would teach in the courtyards of the Temple during his ministry, including the week he died on the cross.  The presence of Jesus in worship is what makes worship special and glorious, no matter what the physical surroundings.

Living overseas while serving in the military can certainly bring challenges with the changes to worship life and challenges to your faith.  However, these challenges can be overcome.  Just as God had promised to deliver his people out of captivity from Babylon, so he has also made promises to you.  He has promised that his Word will always achieve the purpose for which he sends it (Isaiah 55:10-11).  He has promised that no one who trusts in him will be put to shame (Romans 10:11).  He has promised to hear our prayers and gives us the answer best for us (Matthew 7:7-11).  The list could go on, but the point is simple.  Being in the military and living overseas means dealing with changes and challenges.  It does not mean that God is not with you and it does not mean that your faith cannot grow during your time overseas.

The Gospel in Word and Sacrament is just as effective in a military chapel or private home as it is in large churches and packed sanctuaries back in the U.S.  What makes the difference is taking the time to use these means of grace that God has provided his church so that your faith continues to grow.  Attend worship services in person when you have the opportunity.  Watch services online when that opportunity is not present.  Take some time, especially during this season of Lent, to read the passion history of your Savior and contemplate all that he has done to earn heaven for you (Matthew ch. 21-28; Mark ch. 11-16; Luke ch.19-24; John ch.12-21).

Remember that God has a plan for you and your life.  Even as your life changes, his love for you never changes.  Just as God accomplished his will among his people when they could no longer worship at the Temple in Jerusalem, so he can strengthen your faith as you serve away from the church you grew up or surrounded by the people that you know.

As we approach Lent and see the great love Christ showed for us by suffering and dying to earn heaven for us, let us never forget the many promises God has made to us.  Let us also marvel at the promise he has kept: sending his Son to earn our forgiveness on the cross.

“When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:10-13)

In Christ,

Chaplain Robert Weiss


“‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty.  ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.” (Haggai 2:9)

Easter Retreat – March 28-31 in Heidelberg

Our Easter retreat is quickly approaching and we would love to have you join us!  We will hold this year’s Easter retreat at the Jugendherberge Heidelberg International  from March 28 through Sunday, March 31.  Here is the general plan for the retreat:

Thursday, March 28

  • Dinner at the youth hostel
  • Maundy Thursday worship
  • Fellowship time at the youth hostel

Friday, March 29

  • Breakfast at the youth hostel
  • Bible study/kids activities
  • Lunch at the youth hostel
  • Free time to explore Heidelberg
  • Dinner at the youth hostel
  • Good Friday worship service
  • Fellowship time

Saturday, March 30

  • Breakfast at the youth hostel
  • Bible Study/kids activities
  • Lunch at the youth hostel
  • Free time to explore Heidelberg
  • Dinner together at a local restaurant
  • Fellowship time together after dinner

Sunday, March 31

  • Breakfast at the youth hostel
  • Easter Sunday worship service
  • Group Picture
  • Depart for home

The address for the Jugendherberge Heidelberg International is: Tiergartenstraße 5, 69120 Heidelberg.  The website for the Jungenherberge is: www.jugendherberge.de/en/youth-hostels/heidelberg/.

Here is the link for the registration form to sign up for the retreat: https://gf.wels.net/wels-europe-easter-retreat/

The Easter Retreat is wonderful opportunity for all of us to gather for worship and fellowship and we hope to see you there!

In Christ,

Pastor Weiss

Fall Retreat 2024

We will hold our Fall Retreat on November 1-3 in Nürnberg.  Our place of lodging is the Jugendherberge Nürnberg, located in the old city city-center immediately adjacent to the Kaiserburg.  Further information on this will be distributed as the Fall Retreat approaches

Regular Worship at Stuttgart

We are now holding worship services at Robinson Chapel on the first Sunday of the month at 4:00 pm.  Thank you to all of the WELS military members at Stuttgart who facilitated the start of regular worship services at Stuttgart.  We are also grateful to the chaplains at USAG Stuttgart for their help.

ELFK Winter Pastors Conference

Pastor Weiss attended the winter pastors conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church (ELFK).  All of the pastors in attendance were very welcoming and it was a joy for Pastor Weiss to study and worship with our sister synod in Germany.  While there he was able to give a report to the pastors of the synod on his work in Europe as well as study together with those in attendance.  Topics of study included a portion of Isaiah in Hebrew and C.F.W. Walther’s Law and Gospel.

If you are traveling in the area where the ELFK has congregations and would like to visit, please contact either Pastor Weiss or one of the ELFK pastors directly.  For more information on the ELFK and where they offer worship services, please visit their website: https://elfk.de/

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