Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
This past Sunday late worship was a little different for me. Yes, as pastor I led parts of the worship at the beginning and at the end of the service. But, the main portion of the worship was the presentation by the Sunday School children of their Christmas program for this year. The children read Bible verses, explained symbols, and sang songs. So, I was not in robes for this service. Also, I did not sit up front in order to lead worship. Instead I sat in the back of the church with my family The back two rows were full of 2 Rockey parents or grandparents, Kathy and myself. Also three of our four children were in that row (one had taught Sunday School and then went skiing), in addition to 6 Rockey grandchildren. When you put that many Rockey’s in one place it tends to be noisy, and maybe a little rowdy, even in church.
I heard my wife talking after the worship service, maybe complaining a little. She was in the kitchen with Becky Nance who had commented on the fact that I got to sit with my family. (Becky was operating the screen for worship, so she had a close-up view.) Kathy said, “Yes, in fact one of the grandchildren even asked why he was there. . . But, he was the worst of them! He was picking on them and egging them on – in church!”
I confess. I’m guilty as charged. My grandson, Jackson, asked me, “Poppy, Why are you here?” Most of the time I do sit up front and lead worship. I explained to him, “Today is the children’s program.” And then I poked him. Well, maybe I poked him a couple of times.
I’m not sure there is anything that brings more joy to my heart than worshiping with my family. Actually, I think Kathy is even more warmed by sitting in the back of the sanctuary and herding her brood. What a joy to both worship our Lord AND to love our family all at the same time!
Once Jesus was asked how best to keep God’s commandments. His answer is helpful and instructive for our lives as Christians. In Mark 12 we read about Jesus, 28 One of the teachers of the law came and . . . asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" 29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:28-31) So Jesus is telling us that we live out our calling as God’s children best when we love God and when we love others. Is there any better way to answer God’s call than by worshiping Him along with our family???
When I visit family in Florida I have a similar joy because I get to worship with my dad and with my siblings and extended family. We all grew up attending First Lutheran Church in Gainesville, FL. One of my brothers is pastor of Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Oxford, FL, south of Ocala. And my sister is a leader at Good Shepherd Lutheran in Chiefland, FL. When Kathy and I visit we again get to worship with our family. What a JOY!!!
God’s Church has traditionally observed the season of Advent before Christmas so that our hearts are ready to receive Jesus. During this season of Advent, as we prepare for the coming of our Savior, is there any better way to prepare for Jesus than by worshiping with family?
P.S. This past week was a BUSY week of preparation and activities at St. John! Here are some pictures.
· Confirmation classes last week made signs for the Family Promise Van and went Christmas caroling. https://photos.app.goo.gl/seo6fxBtTTcTiK5h2
· VPA Play outing – We had 20 tickets for the Valley Performing Arts play, “A Christmas Carol” and 22 people attended. Here are some pictures of some of the folks eating at Piccolino’s (Marcellos) before the play - https://photos.app.goo.gl/Z2MI46X00QaUrK8y1
· Sunday School Christmas Program – The Sunday School Christmas program was a blessing to all who attended. Here are some pictures from this year’s program. - https://photos.app.goo.gl/NrvDtXB7LtsVwu1E3
· Jamie Farewell – Last week we had an opportunity to say farewell to Jamie Walters who has served as DCE at St. John for over 13 years. (She will continue through December.) Here are a couple of pictures - https://photos.app.goo.gl/VlR6orI0FdiqyB9l2
· Ice fishing 12-11-2017 – And of course, here are some pictures from this past Monday’s ice fishing trip – 3 bites and 2 fish - https://photos.app.goo.gl/CVnj514ABbhPI2zt2
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.