Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. Judging by the holiday’s name, the way to celebrate Thanksgiving seems pretty straightforward: What could be simpler than counting your blessings and saying a prayer of thanks for them.
But the beauty and simplicity of the day have, for many, become complicated by a host of things that divert attention from the object of our gratitude: ìThe Lord.î Expressing thanks can be difficult when our mind is preoccupied with expectations (our own as well as others’), a loved one isn’t there to celebrate with us, or for some it is a high stress occasion.
The truth is, on a day set aside for being grateful, many people feel miserable. In fact, Christians are no exception. However, regardless of our feelings, the Bible tells us to constantly give thanks to the Lord.
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Two reasons many of us don’t get the principle of thanksgiving right are somewhat opposite to each other.
We give thanks only for the things we feel thankful for.
We speak words of thanksgiving out of habit without truly grateful.
In the first case, we fall short of the goal laid out for us in God’s word — namely, to give thanks in everything. In the second case, we’re behaving religiously on the outside without being transformed on the inside. Instead of giving the Lord our gratitude, we are offering Him platitudes.
It is easy to be grateful when things are going well. What about the times when we feel that our life is falling apart? God want us to give thanks at all times, because He has a purpose for thankfulness. When we are thankful, we become more aware of His presence and more motivated to find His purpose. Thankfulness teaches us to trust God, build our faith, and recognize our dependence upon Him.
Amanda Sabelko, Deacon CYF Ministry Development Director
You know it’s fall when we take our annual two week faith formation break for MEA & our lutefisk dinner! Our first couple months have been going great, stop by sometime to see all the smiling faces on Sunday mornings or Wednesday afternoons.
This year, we are taking more of an initiative to have all ages learning foundational pieces of our faith. Some are focusing on learning the books of the Bible, some are memorizing the Lord’s Prayer, and some are even going to learn all about the Small Catechism! In September, all of our 4-year-olds and 3rd graders received Bibles as part of the promises we made to their families in Holy Baptism — to place in their hands the Holy Scriptures. This month we are celebrating 3-year-olds as they receive a prayer pillow from the congregation. They will all receive prayers every month from December to October 2018. Prayer Pillows will be given out on November 12 and 15 at all services.
Thank you for your commitment to the faith life of our students and others within our congregation.
After months of dialogue within our group, the Transition Team has come to a place where we can comfortably and confidently engage in productive, informed conversations with the greater congregation. The most effective way to develop a clear sense of identity, purpose, and mission, as well as build consensus and commitments for the future, is to draw from continued input that represents the whole congregation.
October activity included a well-attended Sunday forum in the Fireside Room, a “Keep, Change, Add” exercise that elicited some wonderfully creative and insightful responses, and a meeting with Bishop Delzer that was incredibly informative and served as a valuable opportunity to grow a healthy understanding and linkage to the Southeastern Minnesota Synod (Missed it? Watch or listen at www.stjohnskasson.org/bishop-town-hall).
In November, we are excited to introduce an interactive game board activity that has been created to deepen and widen congregational conversations. We will be offering several opportunities for Transition Team-led participation (see below). We ask that you make a special effort to be part of one of these opportunities. We can also provide your group (commission, family, friends) the materials to self-facilitate the activity.
We thank you for taking the time to talk with us and with each other and for praying for our congregation. God continues to lead us into a very exciting and promising future!
Interactive Game Board Dates:
11/7 – 6:30 pm – Commission and Circles
11/12 – 9:10 am – Coffee Hour and Sunday Confirmation
11/15 – 4:45 pm – Wednesday Club 56
11/15 – 5:30 pm – Families with Free Pizza provided!
Creation Kids Preschool had great attendance and support for the pancake breakfast and silent auction. Thank you for what you do for our young children.
Welcome to Becky Wheeler, our new teacher assistant for the 4s. We are grateful to Kris Foley for the time she has been with our program and now look forward to having Becky on our staff.
We are pleased to have three new board members. Ann Holtan, Rachel Linbo, and Jessica Paulsen are sharing their time and ideas as we continue to provide an exceptional Christian preschool experience for our children and families.
November is Thankoffering month for Women of the ELCA. At St. John’s we began the tradition by starting to quilt on Wednesday, November 1. Ladies begin to come at 8 am and others join in when they can. We have a social time around 9:30 am to meet everyone and learn of projects that we need or that we have done for others. It’s a very relaxed morning and a great way to meet women. All are welcome and there are many kinds of jobs that can be done.
The Women of the ELCA will lead us in Thankofferings on Sunday, November 12 at both worship services. On this day when the offering is brought forward, women, children, and anyone who wants to participate is welcome to bring food, blankets or whatever you like forward as an offering to those in need. You can use baskets, paper bags or however you like to bring this forward and leave it at the altar. All children are welcome to participate, parents also.
There will be offering envelopes available for anyone to use if they would like to participate with an offering of gratitude.
Thankofferings began in the late 19th century when boxes were placed in homes, the families usually women placed coins in them for times when they were blessed, usually this was every day. This traditions was started by the Episcopal Church women followed by the United Methodist women, later in the Lutheran tradition. This tradition is still active in all of these congregations. Please join the Women of St. John’s in this tradition.
Adult Fellowship is encouraging everyone to come & support†the Care & Share Auction on November 16 at the new location right here at St. John’s. This is such a great way to help the community make the holidays a little brighter for folks in need right here in the Kasson-Mantorville area.
I wish all of you could know the amount and quality of time and work your Transition Team has put in, and how rewarding it has been. The Transition Team is a group of eight specially chosen members, plus myself. They were assigned by the congregation council with five developmental tasks to help our congregation renew, refresh and plan for the future. We are intentionally taking some significant time to assure that your congregation has a clear sense of mission and direction, in order to attract and call a pastor with the commensurate skills to lead you into to the future to which God is calling you.
Here are the five developmental tasks:
Come to terms with the past of the congregation
Discover a new identity
Enable positive change in leadership
Renew relationships with the Southeastern Minnesota Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and other expressions of the wider Church of Christ.
Commit to new directions in ministry.
The team members have, so far, put in more than two hours each week, reading, thinking, discussing, and wrestling with the tasks listed above. We only wish you could know how enlightening and rewarding it has been for us as a group. And there is so much more to do.
Right now the team is looking for effective and creative ways to engage you in that same conversation. The team is now planning small forums for as many groups as they can gather to share what they have learned and also listen to your reflections. Small blue flyer is available at worship services and at the welcome desk with very general bullet statements, to invite you into the conversation.Please take advantage of these group meetings, and invite team members to your groups.
Another group of confirmands affirmed their baptismal promises on Sunday, October 1. Twenty-six young people who said and continue to say yes to the gift that Christ bestowed on them at baptism. I am always impressed with our students of all ages, but I want to brag about this group for a moment. Four of them are teaching Sunday School/Oasis this year (not to mention that 11 of our team of volunteers this year are current confirmation students or high school students). Two of them are children’s ministry assistants on Wednesday afternoons. They are teachers, musicians, service minded, and understand what it means to care for God’s people. They have a good grasp of the gospel message of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. They are beginning to have a really strong grasp on the concept of the Trinity, and as someone who has worked with seminary students I can tell you this is not an easy thing. They hold the Bible as central to their faith, but are honest in realizing that they could do a better job of reading and studying it. In this day and age honesty when it comes to how we engage with our faith is essential. In their faith statements they wrote things like, “there is a place for us,” “God has my back,” “defined by God,” “God on my side,” and “Jesus wants us in eternal life.” These kids get it. They know what public confession of faith is for and why forgiveness is important. These kids, those who have gone before them, and those who come after them are earnest in their faith. Sometimes they just need a little help and room to grow. They need a safe space to develop and nurture their faith. Can we at St. John’s continue to give that to them? In the affirmation of baptism service, the minister asks the question of the assembled congregation, much like at a baptism service, “People of God, do you promise to support these sisters and brothers and pray for them in their life in Christ?” The response to this is simple and one that I know you will agree with me is what we all strive for, “We do, and we ask God to help and guide us.”
Our Southeastern Minnesota Synod’s bishop, Steven Delzer, will join us on†Wednesday, October 11. He will preach in worship and lead us in a town-hall-style meeting afterward. We will hear more about how the synod will help guide us on this process of defining our congregation and seeking out our future leaders. It is a great time to ask questions about the coming months.
St. John’s will be a part of KM Community Ed’s Community Trick or Treating on Sunday, October 29 from 3:30-5:00 pm. We’ll be doing a Trunk or Treat in the parking lot. Decorate your vehicle and come on out! Our trunks will have non-food treats to allow children with allergies and diabetes to also have a safe place to trick-or-treat. Questions? Talk to Amanda email@example.com or (507) 634-7110.