Dear Fellow Children of God,
This past Sunday, while on vacation, I worshiped at First Lutheran Church in Gainesville, FL. The previous Sunday, January 15, I worshiped at Trinity Lutheran Church in Easthampton, Massachusetts. These two congregations were my spiritual homes as I grew up.
For the first 12 years of my life I spent Sundays attending worship and Sunday school at Trinity Lutheran. I also sang in the children’s choir and served as acolyte. I spent my holidays and my Wednesday evenings during Lent and Advent worshiping at Trinity with family, friends, and neighbors. While recently worshiping at Trinity I saw friends with whom I grew up. I saw and spoke to the parents of friends and classmates, and met new members of this family of faith.
When I was twelve and my family moved to Gainesville, Florida, First Lutheran Church was the place where I worshiped and grew, where I was taught and encouraged, where I served and was served. I still consider the man who was my pastor at First Lutheran to be my pastor, and Kathy and I ate breakfast with Bob last week. While worshiping in Gainesville I also saw people with whom I worshiped regularly as a child and saw people with whom I sang in the choir. I talked to the pastors who cared for my mom while she was ill. I even saw a woman who was in the Sunday School class I taught while I was in high school.
There is a peace and comfort in being able to “go home” to the place of one’s spiritual nurturing. There is strength in attending the congregation where a person grew up and finding many of the same people in church reaffirming their faith in the Lord and Savior of the world.
Ultimately, our real home is not found on this earth but in heaven. However, God intends for local Christian congregations to be a place of family. In Hebrews 2:11 we read, “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. . .” God is our eternal Father. Jesus is not only the divine Son of God, but He is also the Son of Mary, a man who is our brother. That makes all of us brothers and sisters, and it makes our congregations our spiritual home in this world.
As a pastor I know only too well that in congregations, as in families, there are disappointments, disagreements, and divisions. But, in healthy families people face their difficulties with love and forgiveness and purpose. In the church we have the love of God, the forgiveness of our brother and Savior Jesus, and the shared promise of eternal life in heaven. Christians should be able to deal with family difficulties as well so that we can continue in the nurture of our spiritual homes.
I pray that all of you have a spiritual home where with Christian family your relationship with our Lord is nurtured and your life as a child of God is strengthened and encouraged.
A Child of God, thankful for my Christian family,
P.S. These pictures from a gathering of the “Rockey Family” for baptism this past Sunday. https://picasaweb.google.com/jonrock53/RockeyFamilyGatheringMatthewLeonSBaptism?authuser=0&feat=directlink
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 always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message. . . Or, if you know someone who would like to receive one of these e-mails, please send me their e-mail address.