Recently, after going to the post office, I arrived at home and started looking at that day’s mail in the presence of my wife. I spoke out loud as I perused what we had received. “Request for money, Request for money, Request for money, Request for money, Request for money, Request for money. Hmmm, offer to spend.” I had 6 letters asking for donations, and one credit card offer. In fact, I had two requests from one place in the same day! Does that sound familiar?
Actually, I’m thankful to live in a country where not all good causes are paid for by my taxes. The government doesn’t just take all my money and dole it out to what it considers to be worthwhile causes. We have the privilege of deciding what needs we want to help alleviate, and which ministries we want to support. But I confess, sometimes when the mail comes I wonder.
Do you ever feel that way about God’s church? Does it ever seem to you like the church is always asking for money? As pastor I get all sorts of advice concering financial issues. I’ve been told by more than one person, “Pastor, you don’t talk about giving enough.” Others tell me, “You talk about money too much!” As you can see, finances are always a sensitive topic.
As I read through the Bible again in my daily devotions, a September reading from 1 Chronicles 29 really struck me. David was gathering resources so his son, Solomon, could build a temple for the Lord. David contributed personally to the temple project and then he gave an opportunity for others to respond. This is part of what we are told.
6 Then the leaders of families, . . . gave willingly. 7 They gave . . . gold, . . . silver, . . . bronze and . . . iron. 8 Any who had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the temple of the LORD . . .
9 The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD. David the king also rejoiced greatly. 10 David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, "Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 12 Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. (1 Chronicles 29:6-13)
The leaders and the people of David’s day “gave willingly” and "wholeheartedly." David not only gave, but acknowledged that “everything in heaven and earth” is really God’s! (v. 11) This was one of the few moments of clarity in the history of Israel. On this day David and the people confessed that all they had belonged to the Lord. In faith, they responded to the God’s love and returned generously what He had given.
But, even more than the surprisingly faithful giving, do you hear the praise of God by both the people and by David? Why do you think they praised God? Acknowledging God, rather than taking credit ourselves, is rare. And, generosity is not always a natural reaction. So, on this day of willing generosity, David and the people praised the Lord.
This Sunday at St. John we have an opportunity to think about the grace and provision of God, and to consider our response. We will consider how God provides us with all we need to live and more - our "cup overflows.” (Psalm 23) We will meditate on how God is gracious to sinful people like us, in Jesus. As Paul writes, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) God’s goodness and His grace to us in Jesus does not make sense. But God IS gracious and loving. God’s goodness and grace call for praise, for a response.
I pray that all God’s people are aware of His goodness in our lives and His grace in Jesus. I pray that we willingly and wholeheartedly want to respond and contribute to His work, both in our local congregations, and for His work around the world.
Let me share with you about that mail which I recently received, the letters asking for donations. All the requests I received were from places where I had already contributed. In fact, the ministry which sent two letters on the same day, Lutheran Hour Ministries, is one of my favorite places to give. It seems the more we give, the more we are asked. But, when God’s people recognize His goodness and grace and respond willingly, it is reason to praise God.
A Child of God, Praying that I Respond Faithfully to God’s Goodness and Grace,
P.S. Pastor Aaron Spratt was commissioned in Anchorage on Saturday, October 14, to be pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Juneau, and Missionary to SE AK for the Alaska Mission for Christ. Here are a couple of pictures. https://photos.app.goo.gl/zRlBQ7AXFIzu13742
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.
ST. JOHN ACTIVITIES
CELEBRATION POTLUCK AND DESSERT COOKOFF – A day of thanks and commitment will happen in worship THIS Sunday, October 22. We will consider God’s blessings in our life and our response to His blessings in worship on this Sunday.
There will ALSO be a pot-luck dinner after worship on October 22. The Church Council suggests that all St. John families attend and bring:
· A dish cooked from the recent St. John cookbook (perhaps your own offering), and . . .
· A dessert! We will have a judging of desserts that people wish to enter. We will later share the recipe for the winning dessert.
PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND AND CELEBRATE THE GOODNESS OF GOD!
SERMON SERIES – “A WALK OF FAITH” – This school year sermons will look at God’s direction for His people by examining the faith lives and stories of individual Christians. During October we will not only consider Scriptural examples, but also examples of people from the Reformation.
October 8 Katie Luther
October 15 Johann Von Staupitz
October 22 Prince Frederich – Stewardship Sunday
October 29 Martin Luther
THANK YOU, SARA! – The St. John Elders have discussed for a while that Sara Guhl has faithfully served the members of St. John on the piano and organ and through directing the choir for over 30 years! On Sunday, November 5, we will honor Sara for her many years of faithful service at St. John!
JAMIE’S NEWS! – DCE Jamie Walters announced in August that she and Philip were expecting another child. At our August Elders’ meeting, and September Council Meeting, Jamie shared that when the new baby comes along at the end of 2017 she will step down as DCE at St. John and begin staying home to take care of her two boys. We THANK Jamie for 13 + years of serving the youth and children of St. John!
The Elders and other leaders are working on a plan to bring a DCE intern from Concordia College, Seward, NE, where Jamie went to school. We will have a meeting at 1:00 p.m. this Saturday, October 21, with Tim Rippstein, DCE placement director from Concordia University, Seward, NE.
CHURCH FINANCES – At the August Church Council meeting the St. John Council asked that the congregation be informed that finances have fallen behind. After being ahead through May, finances fell behind during the summer. August and September were better, but finances are still behind as of the end of September.
Perhaps, you were away for a time and haven’t kept up on offerings. Perhaps you are a new member and haven’t started giving regularly. Perhaps you would like to help in someway. Please consider how you can help us catch up on our responsibilities.
PERMANENT FUND – Permanent Fund Dividends have been deposited. For many years St. John members have encouraged one another to tithe, or give 10%, from this benefit of living in Alaska. Long time member, June Liebing, would stand up in church and say, “The checks come from the oil, but the oil comes from God.” Please consider how you might use this opportunity to help God’s work at St. John.
An All-Alaska Celebration
The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
The Alaska Circuit
Of the Northwest District, LCMS
Saturday: Youth Gathering at Anchor School, 10:00am – 8:30pm*
Servant Event at Lutheran Social Services of Alaska (LSSA)
Fun Afternoon Activity
Closing Contemporary Celebration
Sunday: Celebration Event
4pm – Celebration Concert and Hymn sing***
5:15 – Celebration Worship Service
6:30 – Celebration Meal
· Guest Preacher for the Celebration Worship Service: Retired Army Chaplain, Reverend Paul F. Howe
Monday - Movie Zion Lutheran Church will be hosting a screening of a new movie entitled “Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World” on Monday, October 30th at 6:30pm at Regal Tikahtnu Stadium 16 theater. Tickets for the event are $11 + $1 booking fee. We do need to sell a minimum of 97 tickets to ensure the event happens, you are encouraged to purchase tickets NOW! I would love to see this showing sell out! Call Zion Lutheran at 338-3838.
REFORMATION CELEBRATION HOUSING
Should you need housing in Anchorage for this event, Inlet Towers, 907-222-8712 is providing a discounted rate. The rates they offer for all out of town guests wishing to attend are as follows:
· $64.99/night – All Standard Room Types (Single Queen, Single King, and Double Queen Rooms).
· $89.00/night – King suite Rooms (featuring a master living area and master King Bedroom)
· $119.00/night – Elite Suite Rooms (King Suite with premium, boutique furniture packages, 2 flat screen TV’s upgraded bathrooms, kitchenettes, and premium beds).
Reservations: Simply call the Inlet Tower front desk at 907-276-0110 and reference the rate code: 500
REGULAR CONGREGATIONAL ACTIVITIES, STARTING IN OCTOBER
· Promise Keepers’ Men’s Group is meeting again on Tuesdays, at 7:30 p.m.
· Lifelight Bible Class are meeting again and will finish its study of the Gospel of Luke on Wednesdays at noon.
· Wednesday Confirmation Classes started for the year on Wednesday, October 4, at 2:45 p.m.
· Choir Practice will start THIS Wednesday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m. Melanie Kopperud and Temple Christiansen will help lead our choir.
· Lay Ministry Classes will start on Saturday, October 14, at 9:00 a.m. (THIS MAY BE AN 8:00 a.m. class)
· Saturday Confirmation – Meeting on Saturdays at 10:30. Watch for more details.
OTHER GROWTH AND SUPPORT OPPORTUNITIES
ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL IN SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER
· “The Invisible War – What every Believer Needs to Know about Satan, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare” – This Chip Ingram class of 8 sessions will be taught by Dave Nufer and Kathy Rockey beginning September 10. (Kathy Rockey says that if you have ever tried to get a family, especially with small children, ready for church on Sunday, you have probably been involved in Spiritual Warfare.)
· Martin Luther and the Reformation – This class will be taught by Pastor Rockey beginning October 8 when he returns from his dad’s 90th birthday celebration.
WEDNESDAY WORSHIP continues to meet each week on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. and continues weekly until Advent services start in December. This weekly evening worship service provides an opportunity for those who cannot worship on Sunday, or for those who enjoy an extra time to worship God. (The sermons on Wednesdays are not the same as Sunday, so you can attend both services if you wish.)
HOMESCHOOL SUPPORT GROUP – A Homeschool Fellowship Group is meeting at St John. If you have questions you can contact Temple Christiansen 907-354-6312 or Cynthia Carlson 907-521-7004.
DIVORCE CARE – Divorce Care is a 13 week video based Bible Study and support group for those who have been through divorce, or are going through a divorce. Ruth Zellar and her daughter, Kristy Anderton, are leading this group.
This group has decided to meet on Sunday nights, at 5:00 p.m. and to share pot luck food. Babysitting is provided. You can call Ruth at 907-232-3823 for more details.
AN NOTE AND AN INVITATION FROM FAMILY PROMISE - Special Recognition and Celebration-October 22-29, 2017 - 12 years of service to our families without housing!
Your congregations each annually provide approximately $22,500 in value in donated lodging, volunteer hours and meals! That adds up to $275,000 total value from each congregation over our 12 years!!
A Gathering will be held at Glacierview Alliance Church Saturday, October 14th at 4pm for snacks (bring one to share if you wish), accolades and the chance to serve after our garage sale.
Laurie Kari, Executive Director
Family Promise Mat-Su
Family Promise Mat-Su
OTHER ACTIVITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES
Anchorage Lutheran Concert Series – Anchorage Lutheran will again hold a concert series at 1420 N Street in 2017-2018. The initial list of concerts includes the following.
· October 29th 500th Year Anniversary of the Reformation: Bach Cantate BWV 140, with community choir conducted by Grant Cochran 4pm
· Sunday, December 10th Fairweather Flutes
· Saturday, December 16th Community Carol Sing. 7pm
· Sunday, January 21st Bel Canto Alaska 4:30pm
· Sunday, February 11th Glacier Brass 4:30pm
· Sunday, April 8th Stephen Price Organist 4:30pm
DID YOU KNOW THAT MUCH INFORMATION ABOUT ST. JOHN is available on our church website? On our web page you can find sermons, newsletters, and these weekly devotions. The link is: http://www.stjohnpalmer.org
In fact, IF YOU WANT TO RECEIVE YOUR MONTHLY CHURCH NEWSLETTER BY E-MAIL please e-mail Judy Stahancyk and let her know. You can call at 745-3338, or e-mail Judy at email@example.com. If you receive the newsletter by e-mail it saves printing, postage, and time compiling the newsletter. Also, you receive the monthly newsletter more quickly!