Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
On Sunday, November 11, I worshiped with Kathy at First Lutheran Church in Gainesville, FL. I grew up and was nurtured in my faith in this congregation in my youth. It is always a blessing to worship with folks I’ve known for over 50 years. It is a blessing of joy to go “home” and see familiar faces who ask how I am doing. (On this Veterans’ Day Sunday we were also treated with some beautiful patriotic music in worship. And, an old seminary classmate of mine, Pastor Dennis Bartels, was guest preacher.) Worship with God’s people was a blessing on this day.
After worship I took Kathy to eat at a favorite restaurant of hers. Since Kathy grew up in Memphis, TN, she still has a place in her heart for “southern home cooking.” We ate at Cracker Barrel. It seems, even though our worship was finished around 11:15, we were not the only ones who had that idea. When arriving around 11:45 a.m., many groups of people were waiting outside the restaurant talking with one another. We were told there would be a 30 minute wait. Yet, even with 3 or 4 groups of families or friends being called for a table every minute or two, with some groups as big as 11 people, our wait may have been 40 minutes. A lot of people must like southern cooking! When we were seated I watched as people were greeted and served, as tables were cleared, as families and friends enjoyed their time at the restaurant. They were not rushed, but there was a constant stream of customers.
I asked our waitress how many cooks they had working that day. She said, “Six cooks, I think. Maybe one other cook, too. And, there are managers all over the place, and probably in the kitchen as well.” I was impressed. To prepare and serve that many people and that much food in a comfortable atmosphere with just 6 or 7 cooks speaks well of the teamwork at this restaurant.
Then I got to thinking. Since we were on vacation in FL in November for maybe the first or second time in almost 30 years, my sister, Martha, hosted a “Rockey Family Thanksgiving” at her house on Saturday, November 10, two weeks early. Our meal included 8 households, over 20 people, and at least 8 cooks. We had much for which to be thankful, and the abundant food helped us celebrate. I think our meal may have gone even smoother, and the wait for food was less than it was on Sunday at the Cracker Barrel. We had pretty good teamwork too.
I also began thinking how I might have been part of the teamwork for that meal, how I might helped. Kathy made the food we brought to the Rockey Family Thanksgiving. She made cornbread dressing, cranberry and orange relish – ground by hand, 2 pumpkin pies, 1 pecan pie, and pumpkin cupcakes and fixings for the younger children to decorate. What did I do? Hmmm. I helped shop. I helped pick out cornmeal. I found the cranberries and paid for them. I bought a bottle of white wine. I didn’t really do that much, but I guess I did do something.
God’s plan is that His church works like a team. In 1 Corinthians 12 (and Romans 12) God inspired St. Paul to instruct the church, “4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7) In other words, God created each of us differently. We have different abilities, talents, and gifts. But God expects us to use these gifts as part of all God’s people, “for the common good.” Later on in this chapter the family of God’s church is also described as a body. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27) Each believer in Jesus is part of Christ’s body, part of the Church. And, God expects us to do the part we are gifted to do.
In fact, when Jesus was teaching His disciples on the night before His crucifixion, He instructed His disciples, 1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. . . 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-- fruit that will last.” (John 15:1-2,16) God expects disciples of Jesus to bear fruit. We are not just spectators in a worship service. We are part of the body, part of the vine, growing disciples and spreading the good news of Jesus’ love so that there is eternal fruit. We bear eternal fruit when people learn of Jesus, when people believe in Jesus, and when by God’s grace people are saved to go to heaven. That is eternal fruit.
Ultimately Jesus, the true vine, is the source of all fruit. Jesus is the Son of God who left heaven to endure the poverty and suffering of this world. Jesus is the sinless Savior who nevertheless died for the sins of all people. Jesus is the one and only who overcame sin and death and Satan when He rose from death and from the grave. All eternal fruit comes from the true vine, from Jesus. But we are branches. We have received gifts. We are part of the body. And God expects us to bear fruit.
After eating at Cracker Barrel, but even more after being part of the “Rockey Family Thanksgiving” feast, I asked myself how I might have been part of the teamwork of the meal, and how I might helped. The answer is that I probably could have done more. I could have used my gifts to serve others in my family a little better (even though I did keep giving updates to everyone about the FL Gator football game.)
How about you? Do you know how God has gifted you in Jesus with love, with forgiveness, with eternal life, and with His Spirit? Do you know that God has blessed you with knowledge and faith, with gifts and abilities? How are you part of the teamwork of Christ’s Church? How are you helping spread the love of Jesus?
A Child of God, Thankful to be Part of Christ’s Church, Seeking to Bear Fruit that Lasts,
P.S. I didn’t take many pictures, but here are a couple of pictures from our Florida Rockey Thanksgiving on November 10.
P.P.S. I bought my plane tickets to FL in July when my dad was still alive, but failing some. I would be in Portland for a November District Board of Directors’ meeting and thought that, since I was halfway to FL, I should go to see my dad. I didn’t know my dad would pass away in August. I ALSO didn’t know my brother, David, would have a heart attack when I was in Portland, and bypass surgery when I was in FL. Being in FL allowed me to visit David in the hospital 3 times. I see God’s hand in this trip in a way I didn’t know about ahead of time. Thank you for your prayers, David had 4 bypasses, and a valve replacement. He went home on Tuesday!
P.P.P.S. GROWING IN FAITH SO WE CAN BEAR FRUIT - As pastor I am serious about helping our folks grow in their faith in God’s love for them in Jesus. I strongly believe that personal devotions make a difference. Here are some devotional resources you may want to use in your home.
· Little Visits with God is the book we used most often. Here are copies of that book, and OTHER home devotional materials for families. (There are also some copies in the church library. -
· Advent devotions – I recently bought 4 copies of these Advent devotions, 1 for each home where I have grandchildren, one for my own home, and one for the church. You may want to purchase one of these Advent devotions for your family.
· PERSONAL DEVOTIONS FOR 2019-2020? Will you to join me in studying God’s Word together? I plan to use the “Today’s Light Devotional Bible” from Concordia Publishing House in 2019 and 2020. . If you want to buy one of these Bibles and study with me starting in January here are links for the Bible.
o From CPH (Our Church’s publishing house) for $26.39 + $7.00 shipping -
From Amazon for $32.99 + free shipping -
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.
SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES TO GROW AND SERVE
THANKSGIVING BLESSING – St. John has been asked to provide a Thanksgiving meal to the needy in our community. People may help hand out food on Saturday, November 17 at Real Life Church on the Palmer Wasilla Highway. There are shifts from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and from 12 noon till 3:00 p.m.
CHRISTMAS SHOEBOX PROJECT - St. John will again participate in the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Shoe Box project. The last 3 years we have collected over 50 shoe boxes to bring the joy of Christ at Christmas to children around the world. Al Kastar is working with Ethan Mirly on this project. (We will need some people to purchase their own boxes this year for this effort.) If you have a box to donate, please bring it in now!
THANKSGIVING WORSHIP – NOVEMBER 21, 7:00 P.M. – We celebrate the national day of Thanksgiving at St. John on the evening before Thanksgiving Day, Wednesday evening, November 21 at 7:00 p.m. After a contentious election cycle, our worship is written to pray for our country and our leaders, for unity and justice. Plan to come and give thanks to God for His blessings to our country, and to pray for our leaders!
VPA OUTING – MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET – SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 25 – The St. John Fellowship Board is sponsoring a trip to the VPA play, A Miracle on 34th Street, on Sunday afternoon, November 25 after church. The play takes place at 2:00 p.m. We will also have a taco bar for those attending.
We have 30 seats set aside for this outing. Please sign up on the signup sheet in the narthex to let us know you are coming. Tickets cost $22.00 each. You may pay in the office for your tickets.
VOTERS’ MEETING – DECEMBER 2 – Our Annual Voters meeting is held after late worship on Sunday, December 2. We will vote on a budget and elect officers and board members. In addition, we will discuss a new vent hood for the kitchen, and possibly take a first look at Bylaws revisions.
This meeting is the one planned time we meet each year as a congregation to vote on plans for God’s work at St. John. It is good to have as many of our members present as possible for this meeting. We will be dealing with MANY IMPORTANT ITEMS OF BUSINESS!
There is a pot luck meal before the meeting. Please bring a main dish and a side dish.
COMMUNITY ADVENT MEAL – HELP NEEDED – The Fellowship Board is planning a pasta and salad meal for the Community Advent Service. We will need help. There is a sign-up sheet in the narthex.
SUNDAY SCHOOL CHRISTMAS PROGRAM – The Sunday School Christmas Program will be presented on Sunday, December 9 in late worship.
CHRISTMAS CAROLING – We plan to visit the homes of some of our shut in folks on Sunday afternoon, December 9 to sing carols. I usually organize this and the Fellowship Board helps.
MOVIE NIGHT - We will show the movie “The Star” at St. John on Saturday evening, January 5. Come and enjoy and evening of family fun before the end of Christmas break.
STEPHEN MINISTRY TRAINING – We will soon be starting a new Stephen Ministry class at St. John around the second Thursday in January. If you are interested in serving as a Stephen Minister, a confidential, trained, Christian care-giver, see Rhoda Olson, Amy Peltier, or Pastor Rockey.
There are applications forms to be filled out to be considered for serving as a Stephen Minister.
REGULAR GROWTH AND SERVICE ACTIVITIES
SUNDAY SCHOOL FOR THE 2018-2019 SCHOOL YEAR IS OFFERED EACH SUNDAY MORNING FROM 9:45-10:45 a.m. – COME AND GROW!
· CLASSES ARE OFFERED FOR CHILDREN OF ALL AGES from birth through High School.
· ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES – Two adult classes are offered.
o Elijah – Hunter Richards is teaching a class looking at the important old Testament prophet, Elijah. The Class will meet in the South Fellowship Hall.
o Christian Stewardship – is offered by the Stewardship Board. This class, taught by Eric Wyatt and Pastor Rockey will look at all areas of Christian faith and service as part of our stewardship / management of God’s gifts to us. This class from Synod will be taught in the north Fellowship Hall.
PRAYER MINISTRY OPPORTUNITY!! – There are Elders in Pastor Allen’s former office between worship who are available for prayer each Sunday between services. Prayer is one of the greatest gifts God gives His people. Come bring your prayer requests. Come join in praying for God’s work, and for others.
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.)
DID YOU KNOW THAT SUNDAY SERMONS ARE RECORDED AND OFFERED ON LINE ON OUR ST. JOHN WEBSITE? The July and August recordings are available here: .
OTHER OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH AND FELLOWSHIP
KITCHEN OVEN HOOD REPAIR – A NEW PROJECT AND OPPORTUNITY – St. John received a yearly visit from the State Fire Marshall this past August. The Fire Marshall indicated that we need a fire suppression hood over our stove to be in compliance for large events, even though we have passed Fire Marshall inspections in the previous 12 years.
In the October 14 meeting of the Church Council, the St. John Council voted to pursue remedying this situation. We have an estimate of $30,000 to accomplish this task. We also received an offer of matching funds to raise $50,000 for this repair, and other needed repairs.
A plan of paying for these repairs has not yet been determined. However, you should know St. John will be conducting discussions about these issues. We will talk more about the kitchen vent hood and fund raising efforts at the Voters’ Meeting, December 2.
FROM OTHER ALASKAN LUTHERAN CHURCHES
BILL HILGENDORF, PASTOR OF STERLING LUTHERAN AND COOPER LANDING COMMUNITY LUTHERAN –
Bill Hilgendorf, with his wife, Roberta, have served Sterling Lutheran Church for the last few years as a Licensed Deacon. Bill was recently ordained as a Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) at his home congregation in Wisconsin, and was installed as Pastor of Sterling Lutheran on Saturday (so pastors could attend), November 10. Here are some pictures from that installation.
FROM THE YOUTH OF MT. DRUM LUTHERAN CHURCH IN COPPER CENTER:
Hi Pastor Rockey!
Mt. Drum Lutheran Church Youth are selling Krispy Kreme Doughnuts as a fundraiser for our youth attending the National Youth Gathering in Minneapolis next summer. 1 dozen glazed doughnuts cost $15. We will pick up doughnuts in Anchorage the afternoon of Thursday, November 15th and can deliver them to St. John Lutheran Church before your church office closes. (Exactly what time would that be on Thursday?)
Please share this email with anyone who might be interested in placing an order. To place an order, simply email.
Todd and Kim Roeske
“CHRISTMAS MARKET, MUSIC, AND LUTHER TRIP” TO AUSTRIA AND GERMANY AT THE END OF 2019
Pastor Jonathan and Kathy Rockey will be leading a trip to Germany November 26-December 10, 2019. We will start in Vienna and end in Berlin. The focus of this trip will be Christmas markets, music, and Martin Luther. Information about the itinerary, cost, and registration can be found at this link from Luther Tours. -
Already, about 20 people have indicated an interest in attending. If you want to know more about this trip talk to Pastor Rockey or Kathy.
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:
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. 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!!
Jonathan Rockey, Child of God, Husband, Father, Son, Grandfather
Senior Pastor, St. John Lutheran Church
907-745-3338 - church