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Quick Information

9:00 a.m. - Sunday School and Adult Bible Study

10:30 a.m. - Sunday Divine Service
(Holy Communion is celebrated weekly).

We are located on Jefferson Ave., just south of I-44 in St. Louis, MO.

Map of 2241 S Jefferson Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63104-2237

Parking lot is accessible behind the church from Armand or Shenandoah.

(314) 776-1274


Ascension Service

Posted: April 30th, 2015, by hellwegej

On Thursday, May 14, at 6 PM, Emmaus will be holding our annual Ascension service.   So, what’s the big deal? Ascension has become a largely forgotten holiday in the contemporary Church. People don’t decorate their homes for Ascension; we don’t give gifts or have Ascension parties. Jesus’ Ascension has been upstaged by other Christian days.

Especially in this day and age, Jesus’ Ascension can seem insignificant. In a day when we worry about devastating earthquakes, beheadings and other martyring of Christians, police brutality and rioting in the US, and even possible government persecution of churches who maintain the biblical teachings about homosexuality, what difference does it make that Jesus ascended bodily into heaven?

All the difference in the world!

Jesus didn’t ascend into heaven as a dramatic way of leaving this planet after His earthly ministry was trough. Jesus didn’t ascend into heaven in order to enjoy a well earned rest after His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection. No, Jesus Ascended into heaven to, as the Apostle’s Creed so eloquently put it, to sit “at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.” And this sitting at the right hand of God the Father means that Jesus now reigns, along with the Father, over all creation.

Therefore, when the world seems to be completely out of control, it is Jesus’ Ascension that reminds us that He is still in control. When we wonder if knife wielding terrorists will end the Christian Church, Jesus’ Ascension points out who is really in charge. When we look at uncertainty in our own lives, Jesus’ Ascension reminds us that the one who died for us, is the same one reigning over all creation.

I therefore urge you to celebrate Jesus’ Ascension this year. If your church does not have an Ascension service, please join us at Emmaus.


In Christ,

Pastor Hellwege

Holy Week at Emmaus, April 2-5, 2015 A+D

Posted: March 30th, 2015, by bmayes


Here at Emmaus Lutheran Church, our Holy Week Schedule is:

Maundy Thursday, April 2, 6:00 p.m.

Good Friday, April 3, 6:00 p.m.

Easter Sunday, April 5, 10:30 a.m.

We invite you to join us during this most holy of times.

A curious thing has happened in recent history of the Church in America.  Holy Week and Easter has been eclipsed by Christmas.  What is Christmas?  It is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, in fact the celebration of the miracle of God becoming flesh.  However, this would do us no good if God in the flesh did not also suffer, die and rise again for our salvation.  If there would be Christmas, but no Easter, Christmas would only mean the coming of a visitor, but not a savior.

Throughout history, the primary festival of the Church has been Easter, but even here there is more to it than just Easter.  Rather, it is a celebration and remembrance of Jesus’ passion for our sakes.  Thus, the celebration is actually over a week long.  The celebration of Jesus’ passion starts with Palm Sunday.  This day is set aside in the Church to remember how Jesus entered into Jerusalem, hailed as a king, in order to ultimately take His crown of thorns and ascend his throne on the cross.  The next major celebration is Maundy or Holy Thursday.  The term “Maundy” comes from the Latin for mandate, as Jesus gave the mandate to love one another.  This day remembers also Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper, which was tied directly to His Passion.  It was after this, on what we would call Thursday night, but was part of Friday by the Jewish calendar, Jesus was then arrested.  Good Friday is then the time that we specifically commemorate Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross.  It was there that Jesus bore the guilt for all mankind and took God’s wrath for our sins that we might be forgiven.  Finally, Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.  Because Jesus rose from the dead, as God’s people, we are now promised eternal life with Him.

These events are the core of the Gospel, of God’s salvation being won for us through Jesus.  This is what Christianity is all about.  Let us reclaim these as the central celebrations of the Church year.

We encourage you to take time this Holy Week to celebrate Jesus’ passion, suffering, death, and resurrection.

Spring Newsletter 2015

Posted: March 28th, 2015, by Alicia Rolland

God has provided Emmaus with wonderful opportunities in the last few months, and we’re excited to share!

Learn all about our school building’s new chapter thanks to Emmaus’ recent partnership with Educational Enterprises, Inc. Find out about Thrive Parent University’s new meeting space, and enjoy a devotional message from Pastor Hellwege.


Download (PDF, 1013KB)

Luke 11:14-28. The Unity of God’s House

Posted: March 8th, 2015, by bmayes

Lent 3, Oculi, March 8, 2015 A+D, Emmaus Ev. Lutheran Church U.A.C., St. Louis, Mo.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. DEARLY BELOVED:

A company is strong when all of its workers are united and working toward the same goal. A family is strong when all of its members are united and working toward helping and defending one another. A country is strong when it is united and virtuous, when no one is trying to overthrow the government. And a Christian congregation is strong when it is united under God’s Word, bearing with one another in love, working toward helping one another, working toward the same goal of edifying one another and bringing Christ’s Word to the unbelieving world. Unity is a requirement for strength. It is a requirement for protection. A strong house must be unified.

And it’s for this reason that the devil tries to scatter and divide. He doesn’t try to scatter and divide his own kingdom, he tries to scatter and divide God’s household, God’s flock. Jesus points this out to His detractors. The devil indeed scatters and divides, but he does this not to Himself. (Therefore when Jesus is casting out devils, it’s not by the devil’s power that He does this.) The devil tries to divide God’s household, because divided, God’s flock becomes weak and defenseless.

Faced with a divided kingdom and a divided Temple, Jeremiah, in the Old Testament, was unable to cast the demons out of the house. The evil spirits of the people of Judah had filled God’s Temple, and unity had been destroyed. Instead of being united to God’s Word, each of them were going their own evil way. Therefore, the Lord told the prophet Jeremiah, “Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the Lord all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word. It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds.” (Jer. 26:2–3). They were unified, in a sense, unified in resisting God’s Word. Unified in their evil ways, they spurned the most important unity—unity with God’s Word—and they stood in evil unity against God’s prophet. God’s plan was that they would stop being unified against Him, but would be unified in repentance. Later in Jeremiah, it seems that some people did indeed repent, but not all. Some found unity with God. Others remained scattered and divided, just as many people today remain scattered and divided as fornicators, unclean persons, covetous men, who are idolaters, not having any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (cf. Eph. 5:5–6). We are not deceiving you with empty words, but we are warning you of these things, just as Jeremiah warned the people of what comes from being divided and scattered from God’s Word. It’s too bad that Jeremiah spoke, but was unable to fully cast out the demons from God’s House.

But Christ, the stronger Man, has indeed cast out the demons from our house. Although the devil is depicted as a strong man, fully armed, who guards his own palace, Christ is one stronger than he, who comes upon him and overcomes him, takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils. Christ is the stronger Man, who has cast out the demons from our house. That is to say, we all were once under the devil’s power. In Luke’s Gospel, our bodies are described as “houses.” Jesus spoke of the strong man and the one stronger than he, when He was casting out a demon from a mute man. The man himself is the house that Jesus speaks of. We ourselves are like houses. The devil ruled us and had us as his possession to serve him in unrighteousness, guilt, and misery. But Christ came to our house, that we might serve Him in righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.

So how did He come to our house? For the answer to that, turn to the creed. The creed explains how Christ came to our house, overcame the devil, took away the devil’s weapons, and divided his spoils. This is how He did it: “He came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; And was crucified also for us . . . And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures . . . Whose kingdom will have no end.” That’s how He came to our house and overcame the devil. And he makes His victory our victory by means of the last part of the creed, where we confess the Holy Spirit and His work. “And I believe in the Holy Spirit; . . . And I believe one holy Christian and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins; And I look for the resurrection of the dead, And the life of the world to come.” That’s how Christ’s victory becomes our victory—through the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church: the means of grace and the resurrection. So you see, Christ by His death and resurrection has cast out the demons from our house. And as a result, we live together as His Church, as a holy temple in which God desires to dwell.

Now we all have probably known businesses which just don’t work, where everything is in chaos, and very little good work gets done. Think of how pointless and futile it would be if everyone in a company was free to do whatever he wanted. The purchasing people would be buying supplies to try to fill the warehouse. The cleaning people would be thowing those supplies away to try to clean out the messy warehouse. Some engineers would want the machines fixed one way. Others would fix them the other way. The accounting people would try to sell the products too high, and the marketing people would undercut them by selling the same products too low. In this sort of a situation, with no clear leadership and no rules, the business would be in chaos, almost no good work would be done, and soon they’d all be out of a job. For a house to be strong, it must be unified. Businesses that are not unified in their goals and clear in their duties just don’t work.

It is similar for the Church, even though the Church should not be seen as a business. St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12, speaks of the Church as a unified body, where each part of the body has its own duty and its own vocation. He says, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ” (v. 12). He’s saying, just as the body must work together in order to live and grow, so also the Church. And the way that the Church works together is not by business plans, but by love. Paul says in today’s epistle reading, “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” As long as there is unity of faith and doctrine, then we must bear with the weaknesses of others. Martin Luther had a good insight into this. He once wrote, “We are surely prepared to observe peace and love with all men, provided that they leave the doctrine of faith perfect and sound for us. If we cannot obtain this, it is useless for them to demand love from us. A curse on a love that is observed at the expense of the doctrine of faith, to which everything must yield—love, an apostle, an angel from heaven, etc.!”1 But where we have unity of doctrine, where we are unified in believing the true, biblical teaching, there love is necessary to cover over the many faults of others. We can and must bear with the weaknesses of others. Think of what would happen if people didn’t bear with your weaknesses: your laziness, your worrying, your impatience, your backbiting, your rudeness, your disrespect, your concern for yourself first and foremost. (And we all are guilty of these things to one degree or another.) Think of what would happen if people did not overlook these things and simply love you. Life in the home, in the congregation, and in the workplace would be ten times worse.

Look: Christ loved us so much that He gave Himself for us to be an offering and a sacrifice to God. This is the sort of love which binds people in unity, where previously there was strife. This is the sort of love that heals and makes friendship where formerly there was enmity. And first and foremost, this is the sort of love which fully and completely reunites us with God. Not that our love does this. But our love is a reflection of God’s great love for us. God’s love is that Christ would be our sacrifice, for a sweet-smelling aroma to cover up the stench of our sins in God’s nostrils. Now, as a result of His love, we too can begin to love one another by means of the Holy Spirit. The congregation, especially, is like a house. Christ our God is a Man stronger than the devil, who has cast the evil spirits out of this group of people. But not only does He cast out the evil spirits, He also fills this house with the Holy Spirit. It is this Holy Spirit, with His seven-fold gifts, who unites this house. Through His grace—through the Gospel and the Holy Sacraments—this house is the house of the Holy Trinity. It is the place in which God desires to dwell. It is the place where God’s kingdom has come upon us through His gifts. Jesus said, “If I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.” And this is indeed the case. We pray “Thy Kingdom come,” and through His gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation, God’s kingdom is here, in this united house, this congregation gathered around the Word and sacraments. For God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word, and lead godly lives here in time and hereafter in eternity.

The devil tries to divide us in two ways: by destroying our faith in God’s Word and His mercy, and then by destroying our love and our mercy for each other. May Christ, who sits at God’s right hand, and the Holy Spirit, who is the Finger of God, always cast the devil out of our house, even as He promised He would. Amen.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Rev. Dr. Benjamin T.G. Mayes


1Galatians 1535, AE 27:38.

What is Fasting All About?

Posted: February 25th, 2015, by bmayes

fasting1Many people “give something up” for Lent.  This is certainly a noble bodily discipline.  But is this a biblical, Lutheran practice?  To the possible surprise of many, Lutherans have historically approved of fasting.  One of the theologians I have been studying wrote about this.  Conrad Dieterich (1575-1639, “archdeacon” of Marburg, professor in Giessen, and superintendent of Ulm), discussed fasting in his Institutiones Catecheticae (Catechetical Institutes).  This work, which is more like a short systematic theology book than an explanation of the Small Catechism, was reprinted around twenty times between its debut and the 18th century.  It was also popular with early generations of the LCMS.  In 1892, an abridgment was published by Concordia Publishing House under the title “Dr. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism Thoroughly Explained in Question and Answer by Dr. Johann Conrad Dietrich.”[1]  This work was the predecessor of our blue synodical catechism.  Four years later, a German translation of the entire work was published in St. Louis under the title, “Catechetical Institutes, that is, Thorough Explanation of Dr. Martin Luther’s Catechism in Question and Answer, Provided with Notes.”[2]

As an appendix to his explanation of the Lord’s Prayer, Dieterich includes six pages on fasting.  He defines it as “the voluntary, complete abstinence from every food for the purpose of more meaningful devotion, whether it happens from one’s own will or at the arrangement of one or the other Christian congregation, as often as necessity demands it.”[3]  In explaining what he means by voluntary, he says, “The abstinence is, furthermore, voluntary; therefore it is not bound to particular commands and orders, much less to particular days, manners, and customs; it is also not necessary in the sense that it would bind all the faithful together, but rather it is undertaken out of one’s own will and choice.”[4]

But what about this concept of total abstinence from all food?  Isn’t that a bit extreme?  Precisely.  To fast is to abstain from all food, according to Dieterich, “not just this or that food, such as meat, eggs, butter, milk and others, but all food.  For fasting, according to the standing linguistic usage of Scripture and the custom of the saints of the Old as well as of the New Testament means literally: to abstain from all nourishment, whether it lasts for a day, as the people of God generally practiced it (Num. 29:7; Judges 20:26; 2 Sam. 1:12; 3:35, etc.) or for several days, (two days, Neh. 1:4; or three, Esther 4:6; or even four, Acts 10:30).  In a non-literal sense it is called fasting when one lives off of scanty and meager fare and at least takes to himself no breakfast or no lunch, and also consumes cheaper and rougher food and drink for a long period of time (see 1 Sam. 31:13; Dan. 10:3).  Therefore it is not fasting in the literal sense when one abstains from breakfast, but takes lunch and supper with a certain limitation in the choice of foods.”[5]  Note that for Dieterich, the goal is not to do away with the discipline of fasting, but to restore its biblical rigor!  He sees the “giving up” of one or the other food as not being strict enough.  But he would by no means reject a distinction of foods, as long as it was undertaken freely and had some rigor to it.  Giving up merely one choice food (such as chocolate) in favor of other foods would, on the other hand, by no means count as “fasting,” either in the literal or the non-literal sense.

Next, Dieterich discusses the purpose for fasting.  Fasting awakens a more fervent devotion which consists in 1. the mortification of the lust of the flesh, 2. true humility of the heart before God, 3. more serious sorrow over sins, 4. a blessed contemplation of heavenly things, and 5. devotional prayer.  Dieterich caps off his discussion of the benefits of fasting with a quote from the early church father Augustine.  “Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of desire, quenches the fire of lust, kindles the true light of chastity.”[6]  It is obvious that Dieterich is throwing out neither discipline nor an appreciation for the early church fathers.

What about necessity?  Is fasting “necessary”?  Here Dieterich gives a nuanced answer.  Fasting is generally commanded to us in Scripture (Joel 1:14; Matt. 17:21; 1 Cor. 7:5).  He writes, “I say ‘generally,’ because both the public fasts as well as the private ones are, to be sure, prescribed generally in God’s Word, but definite times for fasting, definite manners and ceremonies for fasting are nowhere commanded in the New Testament.”[7]  So fasting itself is commanded, but the “when” is a matter of free choice, along with the other “manners and ceremonies” which accompany fasting.

Dieterich has much to say about the Roman Catholic manner of fasting, which I must omit here for the sake of space.[8]  Suffice it to say that Dieterich protests against the stereotype that Lutherans do not fast, and have “banned fasting from the Church completely.”  “They have not banned it, but have only condemned its unbearable abuse.”[9]  Meanwhile, the Lutheran Church is free at any time to institute a public fast, especially when an emergency may require it, but always to the exclusion of superstitious abuse.  If Dieterich had been here on September 11th, 2001, he might have seen a public fast, instituted by and for the whole church, as being completely appropriate in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

In the absence of special emergencies, however, fasting is a free discipline.  We are free to make use of it as a spiritual exercise in connection with prayer.  Fasting is like doing exercise, for example, lifting weights.  Exercise is not what keeps one alive, but is a way to grow stronger.  Likewise, prayer and fasting is not how God keeps us alive in faith.  He does that through the Gospel and Sacraments.  But prayer and fasting are disciplines, exercises to help strengthen us in our Christian life.  Fasting is not for children, the sick, the elderly, or those with special dietary needs.  Fasting should not be undertaken if it would be dangerous to your health.

So, should we “give up something” for Lent?  Sure, why not?  Giving up something, such as coffee, alcohol, or sweets, is a bodily discipline.   But I would suggest that we also, at some point, practice true, biblical fasting—giving up all food and drink except water.  The oldest of Christian fasts was for a day or two in preparation for Easter.  Therefore I suggest that we all give up something for Lent, and then fast on Holy Saturday, breaking our fast with the Holy Feast of Easter.  This is a free discipline, but one that can help us to appreciate Easter all the more.

[1] Dr. Martin Luthers Kleiner Katechismus in Frage und Antwort gründlich ausgelegt von Dr. Johann Conrad Dietrich (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1892).

[2] Conrad Dieterich, Institutiones Catecheticae: das ist, gründliche Auslegung des Katechismus D. Martin Luthers in Frage und Antwort und mit Anmerkungen versehen, trans. Friedrich Wilhelm August Notz (St. Louis: F. Dette, 1896).  In my presentation, I follow the Notz translation.  This work is worthy of further study, especially in his treatment of the Keys and the Office of the Holy Ministry.

[3] Dieterich, Institutiones Catecheticae, 403.

[4] Dieterich, Institutiones Catecheticae, 403.

[5] Dieterich, Institutiones Catecheticae, 403.

[6] Augustine, Sermon 230, in Dieterich, Institutiones Catecheticae, 403.

[7] Dieterich, Institutiones Catecheticae, 404.

[8] See Dieterich, Institutiones Catecheticae, 405-408.

[9] Dieterich, Institutiones Catecheticae, 408.