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Consumer oriented religion. . .

  Posted:Jul 23, 2017 By Pastor Peters (Pastoral Meanderings)
The marketplace is a buzz with words on what the Church is doing wrong, how we are failing as a welcoming community for all people and not simply for the traditional family, and what we can do to improve the lot of our people.  Underneath it all is a betrayal of the very raison'd'etre of Christianity and the Church.  The Church has become a sort of social enterprise whose goal is the accumulation of people from the desired demographics and the tool to reach them has become a marketing technique.  The Church has become its programs instead of the body of Christ and success is gauged more by the happiness of its people than by its faithfulness to Christ.  We all know this.  I am not herald of unknown wisdom.  It has been the history of evangelicalism and of their wannabes for a long time, perhaps generations, but it is even more the domain of a consumeristic religion that fits our American ideals of a free marketplace and of individual choice.   Even Rome is being influenced by those who want it to be the Church for gay Catholics and for others who do not fit the traditional family mold.

A Christian community is not recognized for the way it deliberately and effectively reaches out to all people to reflect their wants, values, preferences, and desires.  No, indeed.  A Christian community is oriented not to people and their desires or preferences but to Christ and His Word.  Perhaps it is true that the Church has shaped itself toward a desired market but that is not something we should be celebrating or lauding.  Our goal cannot be to make people feel at home.  Our goal must be to address them with the means of grace through which Christ works and through which the Spirit plants faith.  Our goal cannot be to satisfy a market niche or even every market.  Our goal must be to create a place where the Word of God is preached in all its truth and purity, where people receive the Sacraments through which Christ delivers Himself and all the fruits of His atoning work, and where they are called to the new vocation of life as the baptized children of God.

The Church will not succeed with new programing or different programing or even with any programing (that exists for any goal except knowing Christ and making Him known).   We were not established to be an effective community organization or to promote relevant and effective programs or to satisfy the desires or wants or preferences of any and all target groups.  Christ has established His Church, His bride, to be faithful to Him.  This faithfulness is identified by fealty to the Word.  For whatever reason, perhaps most because we simply do not trust Christ to do what He has promised, we in the Church feel compelled to supplement the Word or even displace it with something more welcoming, more relevant, and more akin to the expressed wants and needs of the people we are trying to reach. 

Even when trying to be faithful to Christ it is easy to be sucked into the idea that programs are the goal, effective programs and even faithful ones.  Even faithful goals and purposes like catechesis can become the kind of programs whose appeal is designed more for the satisfaction of the participant than faithfulness to the Word.  Even worship, perhaps especially worship, has become a tool, a program, and means toward another end -- something different from being the arena of the Word and Sacraments through which Christ sends forth His Spirit and calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies His Church.  Some churches are programing geniuses and the rest of us live in envy and jealousy of the grand and glorious way they appeal to people, answer their wants, make them feel at home, and supply them with whatever it is they think they need at this moment.  But under it all their success is the failure of the Church to be the Church.  Marketing the Gospel or the congregation is hardly what we need to be about.  As if the Lord depended upon our marketing expertise to bring His product to market and make it a sales success!  What the Lord asks of us seems to be the thing we find it hardest to give -- trust, faithfulness, and obedience.  But if that is what the Church will give Him, He will accomplish what He desires and we will have had a part to play in it all.
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Sermo Dei: Psalm 125

  Posted:Jul 23, 2017 By Pastor Esget (Esgetology)

Psalm 125 + Evening Prayer + July 19, 2017


What shapes your mind? What influences your thinking? What rules your heart?

Tonight’s Psalm expresses both confidence in God and a warning to Israel at a time when they were shaped, influenced, and ruled by a foreign power. “The scepter of wickedness,” i.e., the rule of evil people, is upon Israel. And in this terrible situation, “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion” – they cannot be shaken, they will remain loyal to God, no matter how bad things get. “But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the LORD will lead away with evildoers!” The greatest threat from the occupiers is not death, or torture, or slavery, or the theft of property. The greatest threat the occupiers present is to make Israel like them, to join them in their crooked ways.


Just two weeks ago we celebrated America’s Declaration of Independence. Our national anthem teaches us that we are the land of the free. Is that true? America’s government as designed was intended to give us the free exercise of religion. America’s culture as currently expressed is intent on not only taking away that freedom, but to enslave your mind such that you become assimilated.

Eroticism without love and commitment, leisure without work, creation without a Creator, consumption without consequence, entertainment without substance – everything surrounding you is designed to turn you aside from the Way of the Lord.

Our Lutheran Confessions speak about life under the rules of medieval religion as life in “a carefully planned prison.” Today, we experience life in a carefully planned amusement park, where we can amuse ourselves to death. The operators of the American theme park have but one goal: at all costs to keep you from the exit sign labeled Truth (with a capital “T”).

We are surrounded by constant temptations to deny the faith, or more likely to simply forget, to drift away on a current of consumption. That current is taking us closer and closer to the waterfall, where we plunge to our death.

Do we have the fortitude to swim against the tide?


What will that fortitude look like? What will it take to say, “I have time for prayer and Bible reading, even if I have to take time away from social media”? What will it take for us to say, “I have strength to confess what I believe to my friend, even if she doesn’t like it”?

You are not your lowest desires. You are what God has called you: a saint. You are not a victim of fate or circumstance. You are baptized, and a citizen already of the New Jerusalem.

You are not someone who will turn aside to the crooked ways. You are those who trust in the Lord. You are like Mount Zion: you cannot be moved, but you will abide forever, because the LORD surrounds you with greater strength than anything this world can offer you.


What shapes your mind? What influences your thinking? What rules your heart?

You have a Good Shepherd who has died for your sins and risen again for your justification. Let His mind be in you.

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Sermo Dei: Fleming/Nuttelman Wedding

  Posted:Jul 23, 2017 By Pastor Esget (Esgetology)

The Marriage of Amy Fleming to Christopher Nuttelman 

St. John 20:10-18 + The Eve of St. Mary Magdalene + Our Savior Lutheran Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan


She is not wrong, Mary Magdalene. She sees a Man standing upon the earth. She supposes Him to be the gardener.

She is not wrong. He is.


The first man was designed to be the gardener – to rule on earth as God’s steward. From his side came forth the woman, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh. She would garden with her man, as co-regent. They received a divine call – to be fruitful and multiply, and so become participants with God in the ongoing act of creation.

They received a divine call – to be fruitful and multiply.

He fell, and in his fall marriage itself became a twisted, misshapen thing. She desired to dominate him, and in turn he ruled her harshly. No longer was he gardener, for the garden was closed to him. Thorns now pricked his fingers. He bled. And the bloods he and his wife mixed bore corrupt fruit. Their son was a murderer. The blood of Abel cried out for vengeance. Thorns spread and covered the earth. Memory of the garden receded into myth, legend, until at last their children’s children sneered that it was a lie. There was no garden. There is no meaning beyond bread and thorns and sex and death.


And suddenly, there He stood. Mary Magdalene is right, supposing Him to be the gardener.

She had come for death. Her Jesus was crucified. Her Jesus had died. And that same death is what calls you, Christopher and Amy, to this altar today. Today you die.

Marriage in Christ is slowly untwisting you from the corruption of the fall.

Marriage is death, but not in the foolish way that men sometimes speak of. Marriage calls you to die to your self, die to your desires and live for the other. And in this death you find the life God meant for you. This process is painful. You are drowned, then lifted up; buried, then made to stand. In the confrontation with your self-love, marriage in Christ is slowly untwisting you from the corruption of the fall. Grafted together, two branches becoming one, you are joined to the Vine. And the Vinedresser prunes you, that you might bear more fruit. It hurts to be pruned. But He is working it for your good.


He who bore the curse upon His brow, wearing the thorns Adam wrought, opening His side for His bride – this Gardener now summons you, Christopher and Amy, to take up the work He gave to our first parents. You are not slaves. You are not animals, to simply serve your basest impulses. You are no mere producers of carbon, as though your very breath was a threat to the environment. You are the crown of God’s creation, son of Adam, daughter of Eve, remade in God’s image. You are stewards of the earth. Today you receive a divine calling: Christopher, love your wife. Amy, submit to your husband. As God wills, be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and bring it under God’s loving dominion.

The goal of Christian marriage is to live into what God called the first gardeners to be. Nothing is “yours” or “mine,” but everything is gift, made by God to enjoy His benefits. You are to each other naked and without shame, nothing hidden, nothing withheld, rejoicing in the otherness, open to life.


When you were ordained, Christopher, a stole was placed around your neck. This yoke of Christ reminds us that the work is God’s and the tools He gives you—the means of grace—are everything you need for His work.

You become yoked together, bound by Christ Himself.

Soon that stole of God’s grace will be wrapped around your joined hands. You become yoked together, bound no longer by your own will or decision, but bound by Christ Himself.

And He is the One who says to you both, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt 11:28–30). Now there will be times when the burden does not feel light, but heavy. There will be times when the yoke that joins you is digging into your shoulder, pressing you down, and you feel you cannot go on. You feel lonely, misunderstood, ignored. Harsh words still ring in your ears and choke your throat. You may cry without knowing exactly why.

In your difficult times, this is what heals your marriage: returning with Mary to the place of death, you find the Gardener, the living Man who stands upon the earth and forgives sins. With tears cascading down her cheeks, Mary Magdalene was heartened by one word from Jesus, who calls her by name. There in her darkness the Word of Jesus shines like the sun. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. It gives meaning to all the menial things you do for each other. As you deal with soils and smells; as you change a diaper or wait anxiously in a doctor’s lobby, you are precisely where God wants you, and there in that moment nothing else is more important.


Your marriage in Jesus now forms a choir. Martin Franzmann’s great hymn called each life to be a high doxology. That ideal is what drew you to the Doxology Conference, where you met. Your marriage is for the purpose of doxology. Your marriage forms a choir, singing together perpetual praise to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Your marriage is high doxology to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Basic to singing together is breathing together. Have you ever noticed it, when we sing as one church? We all breathe in together – and we all exhale as one the song of praise. Breathing together as a choir requires discipline, coordination, subordination to the director, our Kantor who is the Holy Spirit. The dialogue of pastor and people is a more advanced form of this art, where a lifetime in liturgy makes us perfectly synchronized: “The Lord be with you / And with your spirit.” “Lift up your hearts / We lift them up unto the Lord.”

It will take time, discipline, coordination, subordination to the Holy Spirit to learn this liturgical dialogue of marriage. “Help me / I will.” “Love me / I do.” “Come home / I’m on my way.”

But things go wrong in the liturgy. A candle won’t stay lit, a disturbance makes you lose your concentration, you lose the pitch, lose your mind and forget your part. And that’s what will happen in the liturgy of marriage. Something goes awry and it starts to feel like everything is now wrong. And that’s when you do the same thing we do in church. Stop, take a breath, go back to the words and move on together.

Right after this account with Mary Magdalene, Jesus breathed out the Holy Spirit on the Church and gave us the gift of forgiveness. That’s the deep breath and the Word we return to when we’ve stumbled and lost our rhythm, lost our pitch. We go back to that word of forgiveness, and we move forward with the sins that once bound us now cast into the depths of the sea, the harsh words remembered no more, the selfishness put away as far as the east is from the west. Blessed is the husband whose transgressions are forgiven. Blessed is the wife whose sins are covered. I said, I will confess my transgressions to my spouse, and the Lord forgave us both the iniquity of our sin.

Jesus Christ is the light of the world. In your family this light shines.

All the cultural markers point to a dramatic decline of the church, as the West dies. But all the evidence today points to a hope beyond this present darkness. Jesus Christ is the light of the world, and in your family this light shines. In you is the life of Jesus. In you is the love of Jesus. He blesses your marriage this day. In Jesus will you die to self. In Jesus will you live. And with Him shall you be forever.

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8 Modern Errors to Know and Avoid. . .

  Posted:Jul 22, 2017 By Pastor Peters (Pastoral Meanderings)
Some time ago, Msgr Charles Pope, always well spoken, wrote in the National Catholic Reporter of 8 errors of the modern age that have crept into the Church.  It is not a list for Roman Catholics only.  We can find enough evidence that Lutherans suffer from the same errors.

It is a list worth sharing (I have shortened the original post but you can read it all here ):

8 Modern Errors Every Catholic Should Know and Avoid

These are only eight. I am just getting started. I hope you will add to the list and define carefully what you identify. But for now, consider this eightfold list of modern errors that are common even in the Church.

1. Mercy without reference to repentance – For too many today, “mercy” has come to mean, “God is fine with what I am doing.” But true mercy does not overlook sin, it presupposes it, sees it as a serious problem, and offers a way out of sin. God’s mercy is his way of extending a hand to draw us out of the mire of sin.

One of the chief errors today is the proclamation of mercy without reference to repentance. Sadly, this is common, even in the Church. It is far too common to hear sermons on mercy with no reference
This error of mercy without reference to repentance is widespread in the Church today and leads to the sin of presumption, a sin against hope.

2. Staurophobia – The term staurophobia comes from Greek roots and refers to a fear of the Cross ( stauros = cross + phobia = fear). Within the Church this error emerges from reticence by Catholics to frankly discuss the demands of discipleship. It reveals a strong hesitation to insist that even hard things are often the best the proper thing to do.

Many Catholics, including priests and bishops, are downright fearful when pointing to the demands of the cross. When the world protests and says, “Are you saying that those with same-sex attraction cannot get married or be sexually intimate but must live a kind of celibacy?!” The honest answer is, “Yes, that is what we are saying.” But since that answer is hard and rooted in the Cross, many Catholics are dreadfully afraid of a straight-forward, honest answer. The same is true for other difficult moral situations such as Euthanasia (in spite of suffering, we are still not free to take our life or that of another), abortion (despite difficulties and even in cases of rape and incest we are still not free to kill a child in the womb), and divorce and remarriage (in spite of unfortunate developments in a marriage, this does not mean that one is free to leave one marriage to enter another).

Staurophobia also makes many hesitant to issue correction within the Church and in families. There is almost a cringing fear of insisting on any demands or requirements or of even issuing the mildest of punishments or corrective measures. Things like this might upset people and that is one of the worst outcomes for a staurophobic who fears any sort of suffering, for themselves or others. They fail to see a redemptive quality in insisting on the demands of the cross.

3. Universalism – Universalism is the belief that most, if not all people are going to be saved in the end. This is directly contrary to our Lord’s own words wherein he sadly attests that “many” are on the road that leads to destruction and “few” are on the narrow and difficult road that leads to salvation (See Matthew 7:14 , Luke 13:23-30 ). Dozens of parables and other warnings also come from our Lord in this regard and the straight-forward teaching of the Lord makes it clear that we must soberly accept that many, and not a few are going to be lost unless we, by God’s grace urgently summon them to Christ and to authentic discipleship.

4. Deformed Dialogue – The term “dialogue” has come to mean an almost endless conversation. As such it lacks a clear goal to convince the other. It usually just means “talk.” In our culture merely talking is given a lot of credit.

While talking is not bad per se, it can substitute mere action for a true goal. In the New Testament is it used more often in the context of giving testimony and of trying to convince others the Gospel (e.g. Acts 17:2, 17 and 18:4).  But, as noted, in our times dialogue can actually stall conversion and given the impression that all sides have valid stances and that merely “understanding” the position of the other is praise-worthy. Understanding may have value, but mostly is of value to lay a foundation for conversion to the truth of the Gospel.

Dialogue is a tool, not a goal, it is a method, not a destination. And as a method, dialogue (in its original meaning) is a vigorous, dynamic and joyful setting forth of the Gospel, not a chatty and (seemingly) endless conversation.


5. Equating Love with Kindness – Kindness is an aspect of love. But so is rebuke; so is punishment; as is praise. Yet today many, even in the Church, think of love only as kindness, affirmation, approval, encouragement, and other positive attributes. But true love is, at times, willing to punish, to insist on change, and to rebuke error.

Yet the modern age, equating love with mere kindness says, “If you really love me you will affirm, even celebrate, what I do.” In this sort of climate, when Church teaching does not conform with modern notions of sexuality, for example, the Church is accused of “hate” simply because we do not “affirm” what people demand we affirm. Identity politics (where people hinge their whole identity and dignity on a narrow range of behaviors or attributes) intensifies the perception of a personal affront.

But instead of standing our ground and insisting that setting love and truth in opposition is a false dichotomy, most Catholics cave and many also come to believe that love can be reduced to mere kindness. Many of them take up the view of the world that the Church is unkind and therefore mean or even hateful. Never mind that Jesus said things that were, by this standard, unkind, and that he often spoke quite frankly about sin (beyond mere social justice and pharisaical attitudes to include things such as sexual sin, adultery, divorce, unbelief and so forth). No, forget all that, because God is love, and love is kindness and kindness is always pleasant and affirming. Therefore they conclude that Jesus couldn’t really have said many of the things attributed to him. This error reduces Jesus to a harmless hippie and misconstrues love by equating it with mere kindness and unconditional affirmation.


6. Misconstruing the nature of tolerance – Most people today equate tolerance with approval. Therefore, when many demand or ask for “tolerance” what they really demand is approval.
But tolerance is from the Latin tolerare : to put up with, countenance, or suffer. As such it refers to the conditional endurance of, or at least non-interference with beliefs, actions, or practices that one considers to be wrong. One might tolerate them to some degree to prevent, for example, severe enforcements or draconian penalties, unnecessary intrusion into privacy, etc. But if the objection component is missing, we are not speaking of “toleration” but of “indifference” or “affirmation.”

It does not properly reverence God’s moral vision. Instead of joyfully and zealously announcing the truth as revealed by God, many adopt a false tolerance that is indifferent to truth or even affirms error. And then, to top it off they congratulate themselves for the “moral superiority” of their tolerance. In fact, it is more likely sloth that is at work. Sloth in this case is an aversion to undertake the arduous task of speaking the truth to a doubting scoffing world.

Catholics also need to sober up a bit and realize that when many today demand tolerance from us, they have no intention of extending it to us. Many of the same interest groups that demand tolerance are working to erode religious liberty and are increasingly unwilling to tolerate religious views in the public square. Our consistent caving to demands for false tolerance have only help to usher in a great darkness and pressure to conform to or approve of serious sin.

7. Anthropocentrism – This term refers to the modern tendency to have man at the center and not God. It has been a long tendency in the world ever since the Renaissance. Sadly, though it has deeply infected the Church in recent decades.

This is especially evident in the Liturgy, not intrinsically, but as practically and widely celebrated. Our architecture, songs and gestures, incessant announcements, and congratulatory rituals are self-referential and inwardly focused. The liturgy, as commonly celebrated seems more about us than God.  It is never good, especially in the Church, to consign God to the margins. This marginalization of God is evident not only in the liturgy, but in parish life which is often top-heavy with activism rooted in the corporal works of mercy, but little attention to the spiritual works of mercy. Social organizations predominate, but it hard to find interest in Bible Study and other spiritual works devoted to God.

Announcing God through vigorous evangelization work is also rare and the parish seems more a clubhouse than a lighthouse. Human beings are important, Christian humanism is a virtue, but anthropocentrism is a common modern error rooted in excess. The worship of God and the spread of his kingdom is too little in evidence in many parishes. Parents too seem more focused on the temporal wellbeing of children, on their academic standing and so forth, but less concerned overall with the spiritual knowledge or wellbeing of them.  God must be central if man is to be truly elevated.

8. Role reversal – Jesus said that the Holy Spirit whom he would send to us would convict the world (see John 16:8 ). And thus, the proper relationship of a Catholic to the world is to have the world on trial. St. Paul says, Test all things. Hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thess 5:21-22). So, again, the world is to be on trial based on the light of the Gospel.

But too often Catholics have things reversed and put the Word of God and the teachings of the Church on trial, judging them by the perspective of the world. We should judge all things by the light of God. And yet it is common to hear Catholics scoff at teachings that challenge worldly thinking or offend against worldly priorities. Many Catholics have tucked their faith under their political views, worldviews, preferences and thoughts. If the faith conflicts with any of these worldly categories, guess which usually gives way.

Jesus says, If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels . (Mk 8:38). But many are ashamed of the Lord’s teachings that do not conform to worldly and popular notions.

All of this amounts to a tragic role reversal wherein the world and its notions overrule the gospel. It should be the world that is convicted by the Holy Spirit. Instead we put very God himself in the role of defendant. It should not be so. Do not be deceived: God will not be mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return. The one who sows to please his flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; but the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Gal 6:7-8)
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giese Pr. Ted Giese of Mount
Olive Lutheran-Regina,
Saskatchewan

The Movie, “War for the Planet of the Apes”

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Soundbite 2 – Pr. Tom Baker, Is Sin Only Disobedience? 7/21/17

  Posted:Jul 21, 2017 By Issues Etc. (Issues Etc)
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This is part 15 of 15 in the series Gospel Notes

GospelNotes-top-1000

The Gospel Notes for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity from the Lutheran Service Book’s One-Year Lectionary is now available. You may download the Color PDF , the Black and White PDF , the Bi-Fold Color PDF , the Bi-Fold Black and White PDF , the Legal Half-Page PDF , or the Legal Black and White PDF .

The bi-fold version is a “booklet form” that folds and inserts nicely inside a standard bulletin. The standard version can be printed double-sided on a 8½ x 11″ sheet, and folded for distribution through bulletins, or put on the narthex table for distribution.

The Legal Half-Page is designed for those parishes who already have the readings in their bulletins, this lets you print these notes on a legal (8½ x 14″) sheet, cut it in half, and insert it in your bulletins. It removes the left column from the other formats, and makes it so one double-sided sheet can be inserted.

Additional one-year lectionary Gospel Notes can be found here . If you would like to receive an email each week, please fill out the registration form here . This educational resource is provided by Steadfast in the Parish .

 


The Seventh Sunday after Trinity

by: Rev. Derrick C. Brown

ChiRho_green

Collect of the Day :
O God, whose never–failing providence orders all things both in heaven and earth, we humbly implore You to put away from us all hurtful things and to give us those things that are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Introit :
Psalm 47:3, 6–8 (antiphon: Psalm 47:1–2) — God is the King of all the earth

Psalm :
Psalm 33:1–11 (antiphon: v. 6) — By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made

Old Testament Reading :
Genesis 2:7–17 — The Creation of Man | Life in God’s Garden

Gradual :
Psalm 34:11, 5 — Learn to fear the Lord ; look upon Him and never be ashamed

Epistle :
Romans 6:19–23 — Slaves to righteousness

Verse :
Psalm 47:1 — Alleluia. Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! Alleluia.

 


 

You may download the Color PDF , the Black and White PDF , the Bi-Fold Color PDF , the Bi-Fold Black and White PDF , the Legal Half-Page PDF , or the Legal Black and White PDF .

We hope you find these notes useful and help us with sharing them with others. Be sure to contact us if you have questions or suggestions on how to improve these, or if you might be interested in helping us produce some of these.

 

   It appears you don’t have a PDF plugin for this browser. Use the link above to access the PDF file.

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ADP: Why?

  Posted:Jul 21, 2017 By Worldview Everlasting (Worldview Everlasting)

The post ADP: Why? appeared first on Worldview Everlasting .

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2020. Morning Chapel from Kramer Chapel, 7/21/17

  Posted:Jul 21, 2017 By Issues Etc. (Issues Etc)

chapel July 21, 2017

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