HS Winter Retreat

Election Day Prayer Vigil

The sanctuary will be open for prayer (it normally is by the way) on Election Day.  To help with your prayers on Election Day, we have put together a resource with Scripture readings, a meditation on our vocation of citizen, and some suggested prayers.


Election Day Prayer Vigil

Suggested Order of Meditation:

Daily Prayer for Individuals and Families in Lutheran Service Book pg. 295-298


You may read the appointed readings for the day given in the red letters and/or read one or more of the suggested readings included below.  We encourage you to allow the readings to form your prayers.


Suggested Readings


Psalm 118:5–9 (ESV)

            5       Out of my distress I called on the LORD;

      the LORD answered me and set me free.

            6       The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.

      What can man do to me?

            7       The LORD is on my side as my helper;

      I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

            8       It is better to take refuge in the LORD

      than to trust in man.

            9       It is better to take refuge in the LORD

      than to trust in princes.


 Romans 13:8–10 (ESV)

8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.



Isaiah 9:6–7 (ESV)

             6       For to us a child is born,

      to us a son is given;

                  and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

      and his name shall be called

                  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

      Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

            7       Of the increase of his government and of peace

      there will be no end,

                  on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

      to establish it and to uphold it

                  with justice and with righteousness

      from this time forth and forevermore.

                  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.


Psalm 46:1–11 (ESV)

            1       God is our refuge and strength,

      a very present help in trouble.

            2       Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,

      though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

            3       though its waters roar and foam,

      though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

            4       There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

      the holy habitation of the Most High.

            5       God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;

      God will help her when morning dawns.

            6       The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;

      he utters his voice, the earth melts.

            7       The LORD of hosts is with us;

      the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

            8       Come, behold the works of the LORD,

      how he has brought desolations on the earth.

            9       He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;

      he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;

      he burns the chariots with fire.

            10       “Be still, and know that I am God.

      I will be exalted among the nations,

      I will be exalted in the earth!”

            11       The LORD of hosts is with us;

      the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Psalm 47:1–9 (ESV)

            1       Clap your hands, all peoples!

      Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

            2       For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared,

      a great king over all the earth.

            3       He subdued peoples under us,

      and nations under our feet.

            4       He chose our heritage for us,

      the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah

            5       God has gone up with a shout,

      the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.

            6       Sing praises to God, sing praises!

      Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

            7       For God is the King of all the earth;

      sing praises with a psalm!

            8       God reigns over the nations;

      God sits on his holy throne.

            9       The princes of the peoples gather

      as the people of the God of Abraham.

                  For the shields of the earth belong to God;

      he is highly exalted!

Eph 5:1–14 (ESV)

5 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light.


Psalm 1:1–6 (ESV)

The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked

1 Blessed is the man

      who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

                  nor stands in the way of sinners,

      nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

            2       but his delight is in the law of the LORD,

      and on his law he meditates day and night.

            3       He is like a tree

      planted by streams of water

                  that yields its fruit in its season,

      and its leaf does not wither.

                  In all that he does, he prospers.

            4       The wicked are not so,

      but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

            5       Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

      nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

            6       for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,

      but the way of the wicked will perish.

1 Peter 2:13–17 (ESV)

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

1 Timothy 2:1–4 (ESV)

2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.



Reflection on the Christian in Society

I have just said that Christians, among themselves and by and for themselves, need no law or sword, since it is neither necessary nor useful for them. Since a true Christian lives and labors on earth not for himself alone but for his neighbor, he does by the very nature of his spirit even what he himself has no need of, but is needful and useful to his neighbor. Because the sword is most beneficial and necessary for the whole world in order to preserve peace, punish sin, and restrain the wicked, the Christian submits most willingly to the rule of the sword, pays his taxes, honors those in authority, serves, helps, and does all he can to assist the governing authority, that it may continue to function and be held in honor and fear. Although he has no need of these things for himself—to him they are not essential—nevertheless, he concerns himself about what is serviceable and of benefit to others, as Paul teaches in Ephesians 5[:21–6:9].

Just as he performs all other works of love which he himself does not need—he does not visit the sick in order that he himself may be made well, or feed others because he himself needs food—so he serves the governing authority not because he needs it but for the sake of others, that they may be protected and that the wicked may not become worse. He loses nothing by this; such service in no way harms him, yet it is of great benefit to the world. If he did not so serve he would be acting not as a Christian but even contrary to love; he would also be setting a bad example to others who in like manner would not submit to authority, even though they were not Christians. In this way, the gospel would be brought into disrepute, as though it taught insurrection and produced self-willed people unwilling to benefit or serve others, when in fact it makes a Christian the servant of all. Thus, in Matthew 17[:27] Christ paid the half-shekel tax that he might not offend them, although he had no need to do so.


-Martin Luther


Suggested Prayers

For good leaders

Lord God, as I pray for all who are in authority, I thank You especially for the form of government given us in our beloved country.  Give me the grace with my fellow citizens to value the officers and magistrates of our government as those sent by You.  Instill in me that respect and honor that is due them.  Lord, endow them with wisdom for their several duties, with a spirit of sacrifice for the common welfare, with mercy and justice, with uprightness and kindliness.  Correct the evils of selfishness, greed, a vain desire for honor, or abuse of power among us as well as in the other governments of the world.  Grant that the true purposes of government may prevail, safeguarding peace and prosperity, so that we may live soberly and uprightly in Your sight and have opportunity to tell of You and Your kingdom.  These petitions I direct to You because in Jesus I know You as my Father and Lord. Amen.

Lord, Grant that we may choose trustworthy leaders, contribute to wide decisions for the general welfare, and serve You faithfully in our generation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.


For Peaceful Life Together

Heavenly Father, God of peace and harmony, You would have Your children on earth live together in peace and quietness.  Frustrate the plans of all evil men who would stir up violence and strife, spoil the weapons of those who delight in war and bloodshed, and according to Your will, end all wars in the world.  Lead us to confess the truth of Your Word that from the lusts of our own hearts come wars and fighting among us.  Help me by Your Word and Spirit to crucify my sinful flesh and to root out the evil that would lead to strife and discord, so that to the best of my ability, I may be at peace with my neighbor.  Mercifully hear my prayer and grant us peace in our days.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

For Comfort in Distress

Heavenly Father, I come to Your throne of mercy bowed down and wearied by the weight of suffering and disaster visited upon our country.  I beg You to protect this nation in our hour of need. I acknowledge my trespasses before You and do not deny either my own transgressions of Your holy Law or the sins of other citizens of my homeland.  We are laden with iniquity, but You call us to Your forgiveness, salvation, hope, and life.  Turn the hearts and minds of all to You, that they might find peace through the cleansing of Jesus’ blood.  Let me not be confounded or dismayed so that I, a child of Your grace, may courageously speak to this needy world of the hope that is within me.  Make me an instrument of Your peace in a world of conflict, a witness to the power of faith in a world lost in unbelief, and a bearer of the joy that overcomes the sorrow of a fallen world.  Grant to the leaders of this nation and all the nations of the world wise counsel, calm thinking, and unselfish aims.  Amid the tumult of disaster, build Your kingdom and turn even more souls to Yourself.  Because of Your grace, we are not altogether lost but find peace and forgiveness I You.  O Lord, give me the grace to seek You, trust You and confess You, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.


For Guidance In Our Vocation As Voters

Lord God, You have called us, Your servants, to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown.  Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with Your most gracious favor, and further us with Your continual hope, that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in You we may glorify Your holy name and finally, by Your mercy, obtain eternal salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen


For Blessings Upon Our Country and Neighbors

Almighty God, You have given us this good land as our heritage.  Grant that we remember Your generosity and constantly do Your will.  Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, and an honorable way of life.  Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil course of action.  Grant that we, who came from many nations with many languages, may become a united people.  Support us in defending our liberties, and give those to whom we have entrusted the authority of government the spirit of wisdom, that there may be justice and peace in our land.  When times are prosperous, may our hearts be thankful, and in troubled times do not let our trust in You fail; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen




Prayers are from

Lutheran Service Book Concordia Publishing House: St Louis 2006

Lutheran Book of Prayer Concordia Publishing House: St. Louis 2005

HS Winter Retreat

Family Worship

What does family worship look like?

I thought I would share what my family does.  But before I do, I want to stress that what you are about to read is something that we grew into.   We did NOT start out this way.   It has grown over the course of several years.  So, what I hope is to give you an example of something that you can grow into using in your own family.  For those of you who are not members of OSLC-Joliet, we have kids ranging from 4-9, so it does work with the younger set.

Every evening just before bed we sit down all together.  And we follow this order of service.

  • Say Invocation – “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” making the sign of the cross
  • Sing from Sing the Faith – Luther’s Small Catechism set to music- we usually sing about 3 songs one is the newest the other two are review songs.  We have a schedule drawn up.
  • Read the account for the day from The Story Bible
  • Ask the kids the questions that accompany each account.
  • Say the prayer that accompanies the account.
  • Say the “Learn by Heart Verse” from Congregation at Prayer and Repeat twice.
  • Review older “Learn by Heart Verses”  we also have a schedule set up for reviewing the verses.
  • Say the Catechism for the week from Congregation at Prayer
  • Sing a hymn from My First Hymnal – we do try to go by the church year.
  • Prayer time – Everybody has a chance to offer different petitions and depending on if the petition is a request or thanksgiving the rest of us will respond “Lord, hear our prayer” or “We thank you, Lord.”  As a note, if you are just starting you may need to prompt your kids by asking if there is something that they are thankful for or that worries them.  And it is OK to be thankful for something we adults may think as inconsequential.  All good things should be received in thankfulness.
  • Lord’s Prayer
  • Luther’s Evening Prayer – Luther’s Small Catechism under Daily Prayers
  • Benedicamus – L: We bless the Lord F: Thanks be to God

Depending on the length of songs and how distracted the kids are a particular evening it takes about 15-20 minutes to do the whole service.  I tell you though it is worth the time and effort.  And if you are thinking “That’s great but you’re a pastor,”  it doesn’t take a pastor to do.  What it requires is patience and a willingness to grow.  I also want to note we do plan at some point to switch from using The Story Bible to using a regular Bible translation once our youngest is a little older and can follow along better.

A good way to start is this

  • Invocation while making the sign of the cross
  • Scripture reading – possibilities are the daily Bible Reading from Congregation at Prayer or a reading from The Story Bible
  • Lord’s Prayer

From here you can grow.  And at the same time, you don’t have to follow what we do.  I am sharing what we do as an example.  You can also follow the Order of Meditation on the Congregation at Prayer.  You can use the order of Family Prayer found in the Lutheran Service Book or Treasury of Daily Prayer.  I will attest that what we are doing works.  Our kids are picking up the hymns, verses and catechism rather quickly this way and their familiarity with the Bible is becoming rather astounding for kids so young.

Links to the resources I mentioned in the post

My First Hymnal

The Story Bible

Sing the Faith and CD

Treasury of Daily Prayer

Congregation at Prayer

HS Winter Retreat


Prayer. The simple task of talking to God. Yet of all the disciplines out there, prayer seems to be the hardest one for people to develop. So I want to take a few minutes to talk about prayer and how to go about being more comfortable with prayer. First let’s talk about how a prayer life develops. It starts with learning simply prayers. I remember many hours teaching my sons how to say the good night prayer. “Now I lay me down to sleep….” It took a few weeks but eventually they picked it up and were saying without much help from me. I still remember watching my then two year old son teach this prayer to his stuffed Winnie the Pooh.

The next prayer we learn is meal time prayers with ” Come, Lord, Jesus be our guest.” The prayer serves as the first real focus prayer we are praying to God to thank him for the many blessings that he has given us in particular the food we are about to eat. These two prayers are common among new believers. Why? Because they are easy to learn and they express our feelings. Eventually we need to learn to go beyond rote prayers to speaking our mind in prayer. This takes a lot of discipline in the life of a Christian. Right? Wrong. Truth be told it does take time. But it shouldn’t. After all prayer is not something that takes higher degrees of learning. Prayer at its basic elements is talking to God. So anytime we fold our hands or just simply lift our hearts to God to chat for awhile is in fact prayer. We become more comfortable by praying. Just by doing it. We learn that the words don’t matter. For the Holy Spirit speaks in ways that we cannot explain. (Romans 8:26-27) Don’t get me wrong prayer can be rote and there is nothing wrong with memorized prayers. They tie us to the church universal and bind us in unity. The greatest prayer of all is the rote prayer known as the Lord’s prayer. Spend a few minutes looking at this prayer. Really study it and your faith will grow. There is nothing wrong with repeating what has always been said. Still prayer should not stop there. We need to grow in knowledge and faithfulness. We should be growing in prayer so that as things happen in our lives, we are comfortable with lifting them to God in a ongoing conversation. Whether it is a concern for a family member, or ourselves, or a prayer of thanks for God’s many blessings.

My personal life of faith began with prayer and the first thing that I have done in many cases was pray. My wife and I prayed right after I proposed to her and right after the birth of each of our children. Both of our boys were prayed over before the first hour of their lives was up. A practice that continues to this day in my personal prayers is to pray for them and their mother. I want to encourage everyone to lift up their concerns to God in prayer and not to worry about what to say. Let the words flow from you. In fact it is even OK to start by saying “Lord I am not sure how to say this…” God understands our place. He understands our hearts and knows what we need before we even pray it. Still it is a good practice to talk with God. He even tells us to do this. “Come, let us reason together. (Isaiah 1:18a). This is God saying let’s talk about things and work them out together.

So take a few minutes to pray today. Remember that prayer is just talking to God and letting him know how you feel. Have a conversation of praying to God and listening to him in the Word. It is my prayer that everyone who reads this will grow in the knowledge of God and will grow in prayer.

In Jesus name, AMEN

HS Winter Retreat

Spectator Sports

Do you know what spectator sports are?  They are sports that generally have people watching them being played.  Spectator sports usually require a venue in which the watchers can view the event.  Many times the venue is a stadium.  Baseball is a spectator sport, NASCAR is a spectator sport.  If television is involved, it is a spectator sport.

Worship is not a spectator sport, and yet, all too often, we attend services in the capacity of a spectator, not a participant.  What is worship – it’s an ‘act’ of religious devotion -it means to do somethingWorship is a participant-event  that requires us to act!  What are act’s of worship?  Here are some I can think of:  Confession/contrition/repentance; prayer; singing/praising; giving; hearing/active listening to the Word; testifying .  The following are not my words, but are worth repeating:  ‘Too often worship has become a place of safety and complacency, a narrowly private experience in which solitary individuals only express their personal adoration. Even when we gather corporately, we often close our eyes (and our voices) to those around us, focusing on God but ignoring our neighbor. But true biblical worship does not merely point us upward–it should turn us outward as well.  Psalm 100: ‘Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.’

In our world today, too many people are not singing God’s praises, but only sitting on His premises!  Remember that idea the next time you are at worship, inspire those around you!   II Samuel 6:  ‘David…danced before the LORD with all his might…’  I Chronicles 16:  Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.  Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.  Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.’  II Chronicles 5:  The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang:  “He is good; his love endures forever.”

HS Winter Retreat


For the past year, I have been a member of a HOPE Cell.  HOPE stands for “House Of Prayer Everywhere”.  Our group has committed to daily, individual, intercessory prayer for everything from our Church, to our Mission(s) to our Country; as well as family, friends and enemies alike!  It is based on the book: ‘The 29:59 Plan, A Guide to Communion with God’.  Our group also gathers together about every third Saturday at Church to pray.  If we have a theme, it is this:  Prayer is our first resolve, not our last resort!  Our commitment to each other was to meet for 12 months and the 12th month is fast-approaching.  We need your help to continue what we have begun!

What has your President learned from this experience?  First, I have learned how to pray.  I mean how to pray in a focused, intentional, way.  I have learned discipline, making the commitment to pray everyday.  I have learned about people, because when you pray for them, you think about them; when you think about them; you feel closer to them.  In the process I have learned about myself too.  Most importantly, I have learned that communication with God is a journey – a growing process.  I will be the first to tell you, I am not an eloquent speaker and it is hard for me to be ‘on-the-spot’ when it comes to prayer.  I have learned that prayer is not about inspiring words or articulate expressions that move the angels – it’s about a humble spirit that seeks to honor our Lord.

There are many verses in Scripture that command us to pray, Paul says this in 1 Timothy ‘1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone…’  It is our duty, our mission and our obligation to pray!  I would ask you to prayerfully consider joining a HOPE Cell.  You can contact either me, or one of the Pastors if you are interested.  Remember: When praying, don’t give God instructions – just report for duty.

HS Winter Retreat

‘A Mighty Fortress is our God….’

What powerful words penned by Martin Luther those many centuries ago!  He goes on to talk about our God in terms of warfare – a ‘trusty shield’ and a ‘weapon’.  Did you know that, as Christians, we possess the ultimate ‘Weapon of Mass Destruction’?  And that would be God’s Almighty Word!  The Apostle Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 10: ‘For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’

As we commemorate and celebrate the Reformation and the work of Martin Luther this month, consider the Power of God’s Word – the ‘Holy dynamite’ we use to demolish arguments and pretensions through the work of the Holy Spirit!  Hear again the word of Ephesians 6 as you’ve never heard them before:  ‘Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.’