FROM THE PASTOR...
Happy New Year! 2018, the new year is here. How the time has flown. Where did 2017 go. So a New Year, how many New Year resolutions have you made? “I am going to eat more fruit.” “I am going to give up pop.” “I am going to lose 1000 pounds.” “I am going to go on a date night 4 times a month with my spouse.” “I am going to spend more time with my kids, my family.”
We all seem to try to change who we are when the new year rolls around. If you notice, all the resolutions that I mentioned deal with changing our physical and personal lives. We all know that we should be better with our bodies and relationships with others.
But what about the Baby born in Bethlehem? What do we do with Him? Jesus came to this earth as a baby in a manger that He may go to the cross for you. So what about your spiritual life? How many New Year resolutions have you made about your spiritual welfare? Does it ever cross your mind if you are ready for the return of your Savior Jesus Christ? Many times our spiritual life is not on our minds, it is something that can wait for later. When I am older, then I will get serious about my eternal future. Many do not take their eternal life very seriously. What about you? Are you prepared for the return of your Savior? We do not know when Christ will return!
Being prepared is not just saying “I believe in Jesus” and think just because I say it I am okay. Being prepared is not just going through the motions. Our God is not fooled. He knows your heart. The Israelites just went through the motions and look what happened to them, exile and different other calamities came to them because they rejected their God.
How do you know if you are prepared for Christ’s return? Being in God’s Word, both personally and in corporate worship (that is coming to church to the Divine Service). Being in the Divine Service is where we receive God’s gifts promised to you through His Word and sacraments. Being at the Divine Service regularly to receive from God what He has to offer us. What does it mean to be in church regularly? Is that just on Christmas and Easter? Is it four times a year? Is it once a month? Is it every Sunday of the year? Think about it, how often do you eat? We eat three meals day. What would happen if you only ate at Christmas and Easter? What would happen if you only ate four times a year? You would die, because you do not feed yourself. What happens to your faith if you do not nourish it? It grows weak and then dies and then the temptations and influences of this world and Satan leads you away from your sinful nature, salvation earned through Jesus Christ.
I know that you know that the baby born in Bethlehem, we just celebrated His birth, this Baby was born and laid in a manger so that He could go to the cross for you. That is the greatest gift that you can have and guess what? We treat Jesus just like we do our New Year resolutions. How many of your resolutions have you kept? If you are like me, start out okay but then by day three we say, “what resolutions.”
Our spiritual life, the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, that we have because of Jesus, His birth, life, death and resurrection, is not something we should treat like a New Years resolution. Without faith in Jesus Christ all is lost. It is so important for us to be ready for Christ to return, and being ready is being in His Word and attending His Divine Service to receive the gifts of God. Sometimes we do not like the hymns, or we think that we do not get anything out of the sermon, we say to ourselves that there are hypocrites in that church, or we do not like the pastor, but God’s Word carries out what it promises it will do, it leads to eternal life. Receiving forgiveness does not depend on your feeling of being forgiven. Forgiveness is based on what Jesus Christ has done for you, paying the price for your sins, dying and rising for you.
I strongly encourage you to be in the Divine Service every week. We receive much more than good feelings in the service. We receive forgiveness through God’s Word and Sacraments. We receive eternal life with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
May this new year, 2018, be filled with many blessings for you. I pray that you do not let the ways of the world lead you away from your salvation in Jesus Christ. May our Triune God bless and keep you this new year.
It’s a new year. It’s a time when we take stock of the year past in order to improve the year to come. It’s a time when we sit down to plan and implement what we want to accomplish and even change. Part of that is planning our stewardship for the coming year.
Often we find this difficult and daunting and even joyless. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it is really quite simple and full of joy. So here are some tips to make that planning less stressful. You begin by answering these three questions: Who are you? To whom do I give? And how much?
So, who are you? The Table of Duties in the Small Catechism informs us. Are you a hearer of God’s Word? Are you a citizen of society? Are you a member of a family? Stewardship covers these three estates: church, society, family. We don’t particularly struggle to give to society or family. Our struggles, our difficulties and our questions arise in giving to the church.
So, what is our duty as members of the church with regard to giving? The Table of Duties, again, gives us a guide. If you are a hearer, a member of the church who receives instruction, St. Paul taught: “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor” (Gal. 6:6). This means the local congregation is primary.
Your pastor is the one called to preach the Gospel to you and administer the Lord’s blessed sacraments to you. Your congregation is the place where those things happen. Thus, when God calls us to give to the church, He has the local congregation in mind. For “the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14).
How much do we give to the local congregation? Our only instructions are these: to give regularly (1 Cor. 6:1–2), proportionally (1 Cor. 16:1–2; 2 Cor. 8:12), and generously (2 Cor. 8:20) of our first fruits (Gen. 4:4; Prov. 3:9; Lev. 27:30) with a spirit of eagerness (2 Cor. 9:2), earnestness (2 Cor. 8:7), cheerfulness (2 Cor. 9:7), and love (2 Cor. 8:23).
In other words, giving to the church is not to be an afterthought, given after everything else is spent. In this way, it is deliberate. We give regularly – weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly – keeping in mind our own strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. We set it aside beforehand – before anything else is spent.
From those first fruits, we set aside a proportionate and generous amount. Ten percent was the standard for the Israelites. This was a command for the ancient Israelites. We can give as much as we want, but ask yourself: do we really want to be less generous than was commanded of the Israelites? Is the job of the New Testament Church bigger or smaller than the job given to Israel?
And how are we to give it? We give it with eagerness and earnestness. We give it cheerfully and with love, not out of compulsion. For through the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments, God has made us His children, forgiven us all our sins, given us grace upon grace, promised us life everlasting with Him in His kingdom, and filled us with His own Spirit, the Holy Spirit. This makes giving a joy, as Jesus said, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
It’s that easy. And it is joyful. For in stewardship, our gracious and giving Lord invites us to take part in the work that He accomplishes here on earth, providing for the ongoing preaching of the gospel as well as those who are in need. Taking part in that makes all our work holy – work that is done in service to the Lord as priestly members of His kingdom.
OFFERING ENVELOPES for 2018 are now available in the narthex ( lower level). Please pick yours up and begin using them. Envelopes make the point that we are not just making a contribution; we are helping support the work of God’s mission. Please note that there are special envelopes for our Lutheran School in the 2018 packet. If you don’t see envelopes with your name, contact the church office; we will get a number assigned to you and a packet of envelopes ready.
7 -Teresa Thies, Sally Henderson
14 -Kara Aguallo, Vicki Henton
21 - Lori Sweeden, Andrea Luce
28- Stephany Hausmann, Janene Odell
BIBLE STUDY OPPORTUNITIES. . .
Sunday Adult Bible Study - 9 am Fellowship Hall.
Martha Circle - 2nd Monday, 7 pm
Rhoda Circle - 1st Tuesday, 7 pm
Highland Park Bible Study - Wednesdays, 9:30 am
Hemingford Bible Study - Mondays, 2 pm Hemingford Care Center
Lydia Circle - 2nd Wednesday, 1:30 pm
Bible Break - Thursdays, 9:30 am, Conference Room
Men’s Bible Study - Fridays, 6:30 am, Fizzy’s
Tabitha Circle - 4th Monday, 6 pm, Fellowship Hall
ALTAR GUILD will meet Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 6 pm in the conference room. Becky Herian will give the devotion.
RHODA CIRCLE will meet Tuesday, January 2nd at 7 pm.
MARTHA CIRCLE will meet Monday, January 8, 2018 in the fellowship hall at 7 pm. Marlene Mischnick will give the devotion and Pastor Mueller will lead the Bible study.
LYDIA CIRCLE will meet Wednesday January 10, 2018 in the fellowship hall at 1:30 pm. Marilyn Banks will be the hostess, and will give the devotion and Pastor Mueller will lead the Bible study.
QUILTERS meet the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month.
ALTAR FLOWERS in December were pink poinsettias from Dale & Betty Vaughn in memory of Betty’s Mom, Esther Dyer; white poinsettias in memory of Elmer & Dorothy Eskam from her daughter and her husband, Harvey & Bev Schnell.
RETURN TO SENDER: A reminder to notify the church office of any address changes. We are required to pay a fee for undeliverable mail.
ONGOING MISSION PROJECTS: We are not accepting clothing at this time, due to the fact that the Orphan Grain Trail does not have any extra storage. Used bedding is needed by the quilters. Canceled postage stamps are needed for mission projects. Old eye glasses and outdated hearing aids are useful to others. Clothing and bedding may be left in the quilting room. Other items can be left in the cupboard under the guest book.
GREETING CARDS: If you plan to send greeting cards for any occasion please consider cards from our LWML. We have Birthday, get well, sympathy, anniversary and others. These are nice and all have scripture text. They are located in the lower level of the narthex of the church.
THE MISSION BOARD WOULD LIKE TO THANK everyone who donated for the Christmas food baskets this year and all who helped in delivering them.
BAPTIZED on Sunday, December 3rd was Elena Wilcox, daughter of Anthony & Heather Wilcox and on Sunday, December 10th was Baylie Heusman, daughter of Jeremiah & Kerri Heusman.
OUR SINCERE CHRISTIAN SYMPATHY to the families of Harry Jensen (Julie Jensen’s uncle) and Velda Holzwarth (Marlene Stewart’s mother.) Be comforted by these words, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heberews 13:5.
THANK YOU to everyone for all the prayers, cards and food that we received. We are truly blessed!
–The Helen Bartels family
IMMANUEL EV. LUTHERAN SCHOOL 2017-2018 ALUMINUM CAN DRIVE is an ongoing year-round fund raiser. This helps fund the operational costs of our school. Please ask everyone to collect and save all aluminum cans and bring them to the east side of the school and place in the bins that are labeled “Aluminum cans.” We appreciate your help in this ongoing effort!
THE MARTHA CIRCLE would like to thank everyone who donated cookies and other baked goods for the Cookie Walk and those who helped set-up and clean up. The variety of "goodies" was outstanding and we were overwhelmed with the number of shoppers this year. Over $2300 was raised! Thanks be to God for His many blessings in this endeavor!
RAISING DISCIPLES total receipts to date as of December 17, 2017 is $549,809.39.
THANK YOU to everyone who shared poinsettias for the wooden cross for the Christmas Eve services.
FLOWER CHART FOR 2018 will be up in the lower level of the narthex after the first of the year for anyone to sign to share flowers in memory of someone or to celebrate a birth, birthday or anniversary or anything that they want.
THANK YOU to all who participated in this year’s Angel Tree gift program. There were twelve children that you served. –The Board of Missions
THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES on behalf of the church, would like to thank the anonymous donors for the funding for the entire lighting project that was just completed!
The December kindergarten theme has been "A Child Is Born." The students learned about the prophets foretelling the birth of a Savior, the appearance of angels to Mary and Joseph, and the birth of Jesus.
While the students have been progressing rapidly in learning to read, they are also learning to write sentences. They have become quite creative in their illustrations of the sentences and love to add detail to their stories.
In Social Studies, the students studied colonial times and compared living then and now. The students learned that most people living in colonial times made their own clothing, ground their own wheat and corn to make bread, and grew their own food. They made some simple crafts for a Colonial Christmas.
Other highlights of the month included the music presentation "Christmas in Black and White," attending the movie "The Star," Christmas caroling, and Christmas parties.
A blessed Christmas and New Year to all children and their families! –Mrs. Gerth
FOURTH AND FIFTH GRADE
Many great activities happened in the past month. The highest on our list is the birth of Jesus, our Savior. We have enjoyed learning and singing many new advent and Christmas hymns. Our school proclaimed this wonderful message of Jesus’ birth at the musical on December 14. The kids did a fantastic job of telling about “Christmas in Black and White”.
In religion class, we have been studying the miracles of Christ. We are memorizing the Lord’s Prayer and other assigned Bible passages. Each day the students make an outline or a summary for the story that was presented.
This month, we will be writing an essay with a patriotic theme. It will be submitted to an essay contest. Students are learning a connection with English and Latin words, parts of speech, and many new concepts in math class. Students are progressing well in spelling levels, too.
We are excited to celebrate National Lutheran Schools Week from January 22-26. Our class will take an online mission trip to Cambodia this year. It is sponsored by the Lutheran Hour Ministries. Our support of the Wolf family in Africa continues. What a blessing to support a missionary family!
It is a joy to see the children grow in their understanding of God’s Word. We are excited to be able to pray and talk about Jesus at school. Thank you for your desire to have a school where our children can learn the truth of God’s Word.. –Mrs. Schnare