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What can God do with you?

Lindsay Colwell
Youth Ministry Coordinator

October is upon us and the new program year is underway. This year as we take stock of what it means to be good stewards of our time, our talents, and our finances, our students will be joining in as well. As many of you know we have an incredibly talented group of kids that attend St. John’s. We have a myriad of talented musicians who play a variety of instruments or sing. Our VBS programming each summer is able to happen due to all of our middle school, high school, and young adult leaders (think college students home for the summer) who help us out. One of our high school seniors is single-handedly leading a group of 7th grade confirmation students on Sunday mornings. Our Wednesday afterschool Children’s Ministry Assistants continue to volunteer every Wednesday afternoon to make our Oasis programming possible. And the best memory to date was one of our high school juniors walking in last Advent season with a stack of ELCA Good Gift tags that she was spending her own hard-earned money on to the total of $100. Even though they may not quite have the language to describe what they do as stewardship they are doing one better…they are living out their stewardship.

In this new era at St. John’s, let’s see what sort of amazing things we can do in the Kingdom of God when we use our students as models. I would encourage everyone to take a few minutes and make a list of all of the things you would do if you had unlimited time, nothing holding you back from using your talents, and unlimited amounts of spending money. Day dream a little. And then just pick one. Pick one block of time, one talent, or one small thing financially and do it. Jump in with both feet. See what God can do with you when you remind yourself that all of you belongs to God.

Committing to God in the New Year

Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt
Interim Pastor

“I never make New Year’s Resolutions, anymore,” the man told me, “I never keep them, anyway.” I can remember all too many resolutions I’ve made and let slip away, too. But I believer New Year’s resolutions are worth making. Let me tell you why.

First, we all need changes. Some we find very hard to admit to ourselves. I’ve heard people say, “I have no regrets about my life, if I had it to do over, I’d do it the same way again.” But that attitude is way too blind and self-serving so far as I’m concerned. There is great power in confession-to ourselves, to God, to others. Owning up to our failures is the first, painful step on the road to something better.

Second, when we change calendars is a good time for assessment. How did last year go? What do I want to do differently this year? This time of year always reminds of a passage of Scripture, better understood by farmers than suburbanites: “Break up your unplowed ground, and do not sow among thorns” (Jeremiah 4:3). It makes sense. The more land you put into production, the more prosperous you’ll be.

Let me as ask you a question. What percentage of your life is producing something of value to God? How much “unplowed ground” do you have that ought to be broken up in this coming year and made useful? Reassessment. The brink of a new year is a good time for reassessment.

Third, New Year’s is an excellent time for mid-course corrections. Sure, we might fail in what we set out to do, but if we fail to plan, the old saw goes, then we plan to fail. One of my favorite characters in the Bible is Apostle Paul. Talk about failure! Throughout his life he was opposed, persecuted, shipwrecked, and stoned. Sometimes it seemed that projects to which he had devoted years were turning to dust before his eyes. But during his time in prison, he wrote” Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). No wonder he made a mark on his world. He stopped looking back and looked forward instead. He didn’t let the fear of failure keep him from trying again.

Fourth, New Year’s is a time to learn to rely more heavily on the grace of God. Now I’ve met a few self-made men and women and so have you, but so often these people seem proud and driven. There is another way: beginning to trust in God’s help. One more lesson from the Apostle Paul: “I can do all things through God who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)

If this last year, you didn’t practice relying on the Lord as much as you should have, there is no time like the present to make a New Year’s resolution. In fact, why don’t you say a short prayer right now-use these words if you like. “Dear God, I want the new year to be different for me.” Now spell out in prayer some of the changes you’d like to see. And close this way: “Lord Jesus, I know that I’m going to need a lot of help for this. So right now, I place myself in your hands. Help me to receive your strength. Amen”

I encourage you to commit your life to Jesus and make Him as your Lord who is willing to guide and direct your life. Please continue to Worship and Serve Him with your gifts and talents. I extend my heartfelt thanks for supporting the mission of St. John’s Lutheran Church.

Have a Blessed New Year!
Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt

October—A Time for Looking to the Future and the Past

Lindsay Colwell
Youth Ministry Coordinator

October is such an odd month for me. Since starting my position here at St. John’s the month has been to a large degree about looking towards the future. In October we hold our affirmation of baptism worship service for our 9th grade students as they profess their faith before the entire congregation. In the weeks leading up to that worship service I spend many evenings engaged in listening to their faith statements and talking with them about how we as a congregation can support them as they continue to move forward in their faith. October is the time that we put out all of the information about the upcoming summer’s high school youth trip, plan for fundraisers and activities throughout the year, and get a fresh start with the high school youth group.

But October is also a month of looking back for me and remembering those no longer with us. October 4th marks year six for me of being without my Grandma Alice who was my strongest supporter. October also marks the due date of what would have been our first baby that I lost very early in 2014. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us there is a season for everything, and 3:11 tells us that God has made everything suitable for its time. While October is a joyful time of looking forward and things to come, it also holds a sadness for me. But whenever I am sad or anxious about these things I am reminded of, just as many of you are I am sure, the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Christ takes the hurt in our lives and uses it for good. He used the loss of my grandmother to bring my family together in one town and put a roof over our heads in the form of her home. And without that first loss I would not have Oliver, who is the rainbow after a life of storms. As we head into our celebration of All Saints remember the sad, but don’t forget to look for how God has used it to work good.

Look for God every day

LindsayColwell 2017webLindsay Colwell
Youth Ministry Coordinator

When people aren’t familiar with the type of job that I have or are not familiar with St. John’s they tend to say to me as the school year winds to a close, “Things must be slowing down for you now that the school year is ending, right?” Usually that produces a laugh from me and the comment, “No, I am actually MUCH busier in the summer.” I spend my summer preparing last-minute details for the high school and confirmation trips, putting together summer mid-week worship with Amanda, and trying desperately to get everything ready for the coming school year. Three months sounds like a lot of time, but in reality it goes by in a flash.

This summer in mid-week worship around the fire pit we are using a book called Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. The book outlines how everything from waking up in the morning to checking email to going to bed are sacred practices in the life of our faith. We are also spending time concentrating on prayer. How can we not only make prayer a more regular part of our lives, but how can we pray for one another. One of the things that we are trying out is writing our prayer requests for the week on a Post-It note and then at the end of the service taking home someone else’s prayer request to include in our own prayers. Busy lives get in the way of our faith at times, but perhaps if we spend a little time shifting our perspective about what prayer looks like we will see that our entire day can be seen as a prayer. I have a quote up in my office that says, “God comes to you disguised as your life” (Paula D’Arcy).liturgy-of-the-ordinary

Take a moment to look around and see where God is showing up in your life. Take a moment to pray for someone else. Open your eyes to the possibility of the sacred in the everyday ordinary occurrences in your life. Find a few moments this summer to set aside the busyness and thank God for the wonder that is life. God’s blessings to you in your sacred, ordinary life.

 

Walking through Holy Week

RandyFettLet’s talk about Holy Week. Christians celebrate Holy Week in order to remember the steps that our Lord Jesus took to gain salvation for us. If you ask someone which week is the most important week of the year for the Christian, this is it. Some would say that it is Christmas. Christmas is just the beginning. Gospel writer John says that “the word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.” We celebrate Jesus’ incarnation, God in the flesh with us, but the culmination of our faith, the grand celebration, is Holy Week. It’s  Jesus’ triumphal entry into the streets of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus’ last supper with his disciples and we claim this as Jesus’ institution of the sacrament of Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday, Jesus’ death on the cross on Good Friday, at the 3:00 hour, (stop for a moment to pray on Friday, April 3 to remember our Lord Jesus’  death on the cross), and it is Easter, celebrating Jesus’ triumph over sin, death, and the grave, Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb, (and so we proclaim “Hallelujah! Jesus lives! No more let sin and sorrow grow.”). Last year we added a remembrance of the Passover meal on Holy Wednesday, the actual meal that Jesus shared with his disciples, in a very special Seder worship service around the tables in the Fellowship Hall. This year we are asking for volunteers to make contributions for the specific foods of the Passover. Please make your reservation for the meal at the Welcome Center or in the office.

I encourage you to make use of the services of Holy Week, each of them, all of them. It is an important part of our Christian spiritual journey. And bring a friend to worship with you. Bring a guest family. As spring peaks its head around the corner and we experience warmer weather, many families will be firing up the barbecue for the first time and kids will be playing out in the streets. I was with my son and family recently. The weather was warm, and the whole neighborhood was out. I was amazed at how many people stopped by to chat. The gospels record that followers found the tomb of Jesus empty; they were greeted with good news that Jesus was raised. The coldness of Good Friday was over. The sun broke through on Easter morning. They could hardly wait to tell everyone that they met. It was the climax, the culmination of Holy Week. Things were now complete. Salvation had been won for us. Celebrate Holy Week as a family. Bring your friends.

Pastor Randy