Posted by nancy on April 26, 2017
I am sure I speak for most pastors when I say that Lent and Easter are pretty packed for pastors. Holy Week required four sermons in three days for me or five for the week. Hey, they don’t shake themselves out of sleeves. My son, who is a pastor, was sick with a fever on Easter Sunday. He said with adrenaline and the Holy Spirit’s health, he’d get it done. He did by God’s grace. Lots of times pastors tend to get a guest speaker the week after Easter to fill in so they can have a break. That has not been my practice, but I will admit the whole week after Easter is hard. The sermon for the next Sunday is the hardest to write.
It shouldn’t be that way. Easter is the best! It forms the center of the Christian faith. If Christ is not raised our faith is futile and we are lost in our sin, wrote the Apostle Paul. If Christ is not raised from the dead, pastors have wasted a lot of time and so have the people who listened and believed. BUT HE HAS RISEN!!!! Now what? Tell the world! Have a resurrection faith that knows that we will live forever with the Lord. Live as one who knows it. Lots of hearts need to be touched. Lots of people need to know. Lots of work for Christ that needs to be done. That’s what is next!
We would love to tell you about it! We would even like to do it NOW!
Pastor Larry Zahn
Messiah Lutheran Church
Posted by nancy on March 28, 2017
A Week to be Always Remembered
“I have but one passion; it is He, He only.” Nicolaus Zinzendorf, a German religious reformer, spoke those words in the middle 1700’s. He was referring to the passion he had for Jesus. But his passion for Jesus was born out of Jesus’ passion for him and all humanity.
People refer to Jesus’ “passion” as that final period of his life covering his final visit to Jerusalem leading to his crucifixion on Mount Calvary. The passion of Christ is central to the salvation of humanity. The word “passion” comes from the Latin “passionem” which means suffering or enduring. Through his passion we are reconciled to God, something we all need to know so desperately.
Jesus did indeed suffer and endure so much to save us. In fact, we can’t even understand all that he endured. The words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Luke 23:36) come to mind? Jesus cried out these words when he knew that the Heavenly Father turned away from him so Jesus could suffer the full wrath of the world’s sins. Who can understand that? Whenever I have preached about that, I must say that I grope for words to express the “passionem” that Jesus suffered.
Jesus’ passion was focused not on a select few, but on a world that you are part of. Anyone who reads this needs to know that. In fact, if someone doesn’t read this, the same is true. Set aside the week that will always be remembered. I invite you to join us:
April 9th Palm Sunday 10:30 am
April 13th Maundy Thursday 7:30 pm
April 14th Good Friday 7:30 pm
April 16th Sunrise Worship 7:30 am
Easter Worship 10:30 am
Posted by nancy on February 21, 2017
The Forty Days of Lent
Lent is a forty day period of repentance and renewal that prepares us for Easter. It provides us with a special time to recall the suffering, death and finally the resurrection of our Lord. Lent prepares us for a more meaningful observance of Holy Week and Easter.
Christians have observed Lent ever since the early days of the church. Originally it was a time for emphasizing repentance and baptism. Baptisms were performed in the early church on Easter Eve after a long period of instruction.
The forty day observance of Lent is still an important part of our corporate life as members of God’s family of believers, not just Ash Wednesday, but all forty days. We don’t arrange for baptisms any more on Easter Eve, but we still emphasize repentance as an important part of our preparation to celebrate our victory in Christ over sin, death and the grave. And we remember that in our baptism we began a new way of life.
On Ash Wednesday, March 1st, we begin another pilgrimage with our Savior to Jerusalem. We are going again to a mockery of a trial, to a scene of horrible violence on Calvary, to a funeral, and to recall an unbelievable ending to the greatest story ever told — the resurrection.
We are going on this pilgrimage again to remember and to give thanks for all that God has done for us in Christ. We are going again to renew the relationship with our Lord, begun in our baptism, renewed as we celebrate his victory over our worst enemy.
A little girl asked a question when her baby brother was baptized — a neat question that is at the heart of our Lenten pilgrimage. She heard the pastor say, “Receive the sign of the cross on your head and on your heart to mark you as a redeemed child of God.” When the ceremony ended she ran to her grandmother, brushed aside her bangs, raised her head and asked, “Is it still there?” That just may be the question we all need to ask ourselves again during Lent. Are you ready and eager to join us on our pilgrimage? Come Ash Wednesday and the following Wednesdays right up to Holy Week at 7:30 PM.
Pastor Larry Zahn
Don’t Expect from Government What Only God Can Give Us
Someone once said, “The impersonal hand of the government cannot help as much as the helping hand of a neighbor.” I agree. When the good Lord gave us the commandments, he said that they could be summarized in one word – love. Love the Lord and love your neighbor. In fact, government would not be necessary if we could love the Lord and our neighbor perfectly. Since we sin and hate and covet and steal and slander, God created government to guard and protect us from each other.
We should never expect government to bring perfect peace in this world. Government does not and cannot change hearts. Jesus does that. He changes our status before God. He became the guilty one for us and supplies us with the forgiveness we need. He changes us from the inside. The apostle Paul said it like this, Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12: 1) God’s mercy, not government, is what changes things – how he views us and how we view each other.
I JUST GOTTA TELL YOU
When Grandma's and Grandpa's get to see their grandchildren, they are a bundle of information. They catch the grandparents up on all the news that has taken place in their lives. "I just gotta to tell you." Adults aren't any different when the news is great. A promotion. A new house. Best of all, "We are expecting a child!" We just gotta tell you!
The Christian Church is like that too. "We just gotta tell you!" We aren't trying to be rude and obnoxious. We are not trying force something down your throats like we are accused sometimes of doing. We just gotta tell you about the best and greatest gift anyone can have. That gift is intended for you too. This is the time of the year when "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son" really hits home. Through God the Son, Jesus, we have life...of the eternal kind. Not just me, but you too! Believe it. "Whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." We just gotta tell you!
We want you to have the gift too. That's the way God intended it to be! That's why we invite you to come to our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. That's why we invite you to any of our services and Bible classes. We just gotta tell you!
I hope you come so I can tell you!
Pastor Larry A. Zahn
Posted by nancy on September 14, 2016
What is a Lutheran?
In the South the two major denominations are Baptist and Methodist. Lutherans fall down the list after the Presbyterians and Catholics and others. There are places in this country where the Lutherans and the Catholics are the two major denominations. A man once visited the church where I was a pastor. He said he was looking. The only two denominations he had not tried were Lutherans and Jehovah Witnesses. To cross out Lutherans from his bucket list he worshipped with us. He stopped by; he then studied; he stayed.
Why? For the reasons Martin Luther tried to reform the church of the 16th century! The doctrines of grace alone, faith alone and Scripture alone had been lost. That’s what the Reformation was about when Lutheran nailed the 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517.
Lutherans are all about 1) grace alone – God’s undeserved love given freely in Jesus Christ whose substitutionary life and death forgave our sins; 2) Faith alone – by simply believing what Jesus did is true and certain we receive the benefits of being not guilty because of our Substitute; 3) Scripture alone – where God recorded and promised all of these blessings to be true. That’s the Christian message. It’s the Lutheran message. We invite you to hear it! Come see us!
Pastor Larry Zahn
Posted by nancy on July 12, 2016
The Good News
Messiah Lutheran Church exists to share Good News with the people of Alpharetta/Johns Creek. Someone for whom I was her pastor once said something that stuck with me. She just started to take some medication for some joint pain she had. She said that she appreciated feeling good again, because she had felt so bad. She experienced the contrast; the greater the contrast, the greater the ability to appreciate feeling good.
That is true in a spiritual way. God gave us his commandments. An honest, self-effacing comparison of what they say will cause us to hurt. David had a way of saying this so many ways in the psalms. In Psalm 32 he writes, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.” His sins made him physically ill. He was depressed.
But the psalm doesn’t quit there. “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.” The cover-up ended. Acknowledgement of the reality of his sin was out in the open; he was honest. He was also honest about God’s holiness. God is holy. He is just and punishes sin. But then comes the good news. The Savior, David’s Son, would come. He took David’s place. He took the place of all the world. He offered to the Father in heaven a perfect life. Yes, God demanded perfection but also supplied it in Jesus. That same Jesus took our sins upon himself so we could be healed. That’s the good news! The best news!
I try to make very sure every sermon I preach or a Bible class I teach that basic message of Good News is there loud and clear. We call it the Law and Gospel. I invite you to come and hear it.
Pastor Larry Zahn
Posted by nancy on March 15, 2016
Easter Means Everything
I have moved three times to three different churches. The first was after graduating from the Seminary. I was called to start a church from ground level. Those were great years. I can’t tell you how much that first church means to me. My second church was an established church with a school. I learned a lot there too. There was a lot going on in that church. Sometimes it was overwhelming but it sure was interesting work. My third church, Messiah Lutheran Church in Johns Creek, Georgia, is a church that was formed from the first church which I began under the Lord. I have known some of the people here since I began the ministry in 1977. One thing I have learned is this: There is a tremendous bond that God creates through his word with people. As a pastor preaching the love of Jesus makes for special fellowship. The Bible uses the word fellowship – you me and God who brings us together. The bond among Christians is special. We are brought together because of the Lord, and we stay together because of the Lord. Eventually we all go the way of all flesh. As a pastor I know this: The person I saw the day they were born and born again in Holy Baptism, the person whom I taught the truth of God’s love to, the person who shared a meal or a personal problem with one day dies. It is not easy to officiate at the funeral of such a person whom I got to love and appreciate over the years. At a time like that, Easter means everything. Because I live, you will live also, says Jesus. For the Christian family there is never a final good bye. Jesus died; Jesus rose; Jesus lives again and so do we. That’s the guarantee of Easter. That’s why Easter means everything. Come see us if you aren’t sure!
Pastor Larry Zahn