Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
This past week I wrote “thank you notes” following our 12th Annual St. John Colony Day’s Picnic. You may know that we estimate that we fed a free picnic lunch to about 1450 people again this year. The lunch, held on June 9 after the Colony Days Parade, consisted of a hamburger or hot dog, potato salad, beans, slaw, chips, and ice cream! This picnic is a big event that takes a lot of planning and volunteer labor. There is also some cost involved in feeding this many people. If the job of offering this picnic fell to just one person, or if just a few people handled this responsibility, the task would be overwhelming and unmanageable. But, when many chip in, then St. John and the members of our community are able to join hands and serve the people of Palmer.
So, I wrote “thank you notes” to the committee that planned the picnic and the parade entry. These notes went out by e-mail to the thirteen members of our Evangelism and Fellowship Boards, as well as to the 6 others who voluntarily and regularly attended planning meetings. Thank you Picnic and Parade Committee members!
I sent 50 “thank you messages” to people who provided food or helped serve. I first sent messages to those who signed up to bring food, to set up and take down, and to those who volunteered to serve. In addition, I looked at pictures of those who marched in the parade and I looked at pictures of those who helped at the picnic and then sent messages to thank them as well. Please know that in some cases I sent one “thank you” to a whole family who volunteered. But, we thanked 50 people or families at St. John who helped in one way or another. Some of these committed volunteers showed up on Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. and did not leave until 4:00 p.m. that afternoon! Thank you, volunteers!
I also sent thank you letters to the 16 businesses and organizations who donated so that St. John can offer the picnic. The cost of parade decorations and candy was $350.00 this year. The picnic supplies cost $2046.68, for a total cost of $2396.68. (My wife, Kathy, commented that we fed 1450 people for less than $1.50 each!) However, local businesses and organizations made cash donations and in-kind donations for the picnic and parade entry. These donations totaled $2370.00! An anonymous individual who knew that figure then wrote a check for $26.68 so that this event broke even! Along with the thank you letters, I also sent pictures of people eating and enjoying themselves at the picnic in order to show those who donated how their money and donations were used to serve the people of Palmer. Thank you Palmer Community!!
I am thankful for the people of God at St. John who worked together on this event. In 1 Corinthians 12 God inspired Paul to describe His church as a body, where each part has a different job or function, but they all work together. Paul summarizes this section of Scripture by saying of God’s church, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27) Personally, I get tired of seeing people disagree and fight so much in our culture today. Partisan politics, and even divisions in churches, cause people to work against one another. What a blessing to see so many of God’s people working diligently on a single task. I believe over 100 people at St. John were actively involved in one way or another. Thank you, Lord!
However, in our divided time, it is perhaps even more amazing to see so much community support and unity in one event. Members of the Picnic and Parade Committee did solicit donations from the local community. But, a number of businesses actually came to us and asked if we needed help for this effort. In Psalm 133 the King David writes, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” I understand and appreciate the sentiments of David.
It is important for God’s people to know that, while God primarily sent Jesus to save the world, Jesus also brings God’s blessings to our lives in this world. By Jesus’ suffering and death and resurrection, through Jesus’ forgiveness and love and the sure hope of eternal life, the sins and barriers that divide us have been overcome and broken down. Or, as Paul also writes, “13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,” (Ephesians 2:12-14) On the Saturday of Colony Days I believe I saw barriers broken down and “brothers living in unity!”
As we watch the news, as we peruse social media, and even as we talk with friends, we hear much disagreement and division. I personally hear shouting and even hate from people who have differing opinions from one another. What a blessing to see such unity in this large and diverse Group! Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you are our Peace!
A Child of God, Thankful for Unity and Cooperation, Instead of Division!
P.S. I have included a list below of those businesses and organizations who have supported the picnic with donations this year.
P.P.S. If you did not receive a “thank-you e-mail”, I’m not sure that everyone got the e-mail messages I sent. The spam blocker that MTA now uses indicated it stopped the sending of many of my messages. These messages did include a link to pictures. I was told that including that link may have caused the messages to be rejected for sending.
P.P.P.S. I thought about it, but I did not go fishing this past Monday. On a day of wind and rain, I stayed home and played “Mr. Fix-it!”
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.