A Note from the Pastor

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Worship in Parish Hall

The renovation of the worship sanctuary is well underway. There will be new pews, flooring, insulation, and all surfaces will be refinished. There will be a communion rail, but you won't have to stand on a step to receive the sacrament. We will have a new pulpit and lectern alongside the altar, instead of behind it. We are also updating the sound and video streaming equipment. I have heard a trial demonstration of the sound system, and I can say there wasn't a place in the room that I couldn't hear well. 

The sanctuary is the most important place for our congregation as we gather to be served by our Lord at the altar, the pulpit, and the font. There God lavishes His gifts of love and forgiveness over us. We long to get back to the sanctuary, but for the meantime Jesus is serving His people in the Parish Hall. Some members have said it is nice to be closer together during the services. 

Please pray for the success of the renovation project, and if you are able, we encourage you to give a generous gift to the renovation fund. In a few months it will be unveiled to everyone. The first sanctuary furniture served us for 53 years. Hopefully this will serve for much more than that.

Anniversary Year and Sanctuary Renovation     

   2024 is the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Immanuel Lutheran Church of Altamont. For the first ten years Immanuel met in an old school building. In 1884 Immanuel bought a “used” church building and moved it to our present location. This building served us for 85 years until 1969 when our current church was built. Since then the carpeting has been changed and some pews were removed to accommodate the music programs. Windows and doors were replaced a few years ago.

  Last year a 150th anniversary committee was formed to plan for a yearlong celebration. The members of the annual pork dinner committee asked if they could contribute to a flooring project. At their request the congregation established a renovation committee to study and present a plan, which the congregation approved on July 6, 2022. The plan includes flooring, a coating on the wood ceiling, improved lighting, a revision of the altar, pulpit, and lectern, and new curved pews facing the altar. Sketches are displayed in the church narthex. Construction is scheduled to begin in January, 2023.

  Will you help? A fund drive has begun to bring this project to completion. Consider a special gift to beautify the worship space where “God With Us” brings the message of salvation through Jesus Christ for generations to come. You can use Vanco online giving (click the "give" button) or use an envelope marked building fund.

Ascension Day

  Today is Thursday, forty days after Easter. We will have a communion service tonight. Many of you are not used to coming to church on a Thursday. But today marks an important truth for every Christian. The God who left heaven and came down to earth, went back to heaven after completing his mission. His visible presence is over for now, but he is truly with us, in flesh and blood. Ascension Day is really about this. Hebrews 1:3 says that after making purification for our sins, he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. He rules over all things. He's still got a human body. His wounds show that. But he has gone there to be our ruler, our advocate, our high priest to pray for us, and to prepare a place for us to go to. He has not left us alone. He went so that he could send the Holy Spirit to us (John 14:16). 

  Luke writes that after Jesus ascended, "They returned to Jerusalem with great joy."  They were not left alone. He ascended to be with you, all of you, in every place. He does this by the Holy Spirit working through the church's ministry. When I preach from the Bible, Jesus is speaking to you. When I baptize a person, Jesus is washing away their sins. When I place in your mouth the bread and wine, Jesus is feeding you his body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins.  Jesus ascended to share these gifts with you, as well as the gift of eternal life. "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also" (John 14:3).  Jesus is present when you tell another person the good news that you have been forgiven all your sins and will live forever.  He also hears your prayers and advocates for you from the vantage point of his throne at the right hand of the Father. 

  He wants us to go out in his name and preach the gospel everwhere. He is not distant or dead, but very near. Take heart in this and know you have a friend in heaven.

Easter Season

  I enjoy the weeks after Easter. In the Gospel readings we hear eyewitness accounts of his resurrection from the dead. We also remember he is our Shepherd and how he promised to send the Holy Spirit to us. Jesus prays for us who believe in him through the words of the apostles. The music is joyful, and we savor the victory Jesus won for us for seven weeks. 

  When we see suffering around us, like in Ukraine and other conflicts, we need some good news. Jesus says, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world." He overcame it all by dying and rising to life again. Our sin, our guilt, the devil's accusations, and hell itself. Overcome.

  On the fiftieth day after Easter, it's time for the Holy Spirit to come. He comes through the spoken word, in baptism, and in the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper, the very body and blood of Jesus. Jesus ascended to heaven, but is with us in these places. Take heart in that. God with us. Immanuel.

Getting Involved

October 6, 2021  Dear members: it's an honor to be your pastor and bring the Word of God to you each week and at other times. You have really supported the church well through the Covid epidemic with your attendance, offerings, and encouragement. Today I ask all healthy members to consider an area of service at the church. We are in a reawakening phase of ministry. People are coming back to church more often. This is great. The areas where we need help right now are youth ministry, Sunday school, and music. We need people to help on Wednesdays, perhaps once a month, to chaperone together time. We need people to sing with the men's choir and cantata rehearsal, as well as the mixed choir for Reformation and the winter holy days. We also need piano/keyboard people for the 11 am Sunday services. Consider how much you love God and your church, and find time to help us out. For those who are not so heathly or able to get around, please pray for us! God bless you all today.

Tour of France

Lisa and I will be hosting a tour of France on November 1-12, 2022. All are welcome. We will be visiting beautiful places like Mont St. Michel, Normandy, Nice, Monte Carlo, the Loire wine valley, touring a Chateux, churches and cathedrals, and spending three nights in Paris. Tour brochures are available in the Parish Hall or message me for a mailed copy.

Witness for Christ

Witnessing for Christ

   Coming to church when the Word of God is preached and the Lord’s Supper administered, instead of sleeping or working or playing—like most of your neighbors—says with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). That’s a witness in itself. It clearest to those to whom God has given you a special opportunity and responsibility to be a witness: your family (whether of blood or of faith) and your closest neighbors and friends, who know where you are and what you do. 

   To put it bluntly the other way: if you are not faithful in attending your Lord when He comes, why should anyone else listen to you when you speak about Him? Why should they think they should be where you often are not?

   Of course, simply being marked present doesn’t exhaust your witness, your testimony, in the Divine Service. What witness does it give to your fellow Christians or to visitors if you appear to be aiming merely for attendance? Do you listen attentively to the readings from God’s Word and the sermon and help your children learn to do the same? Do you treat the words coming from the pastor as words coming from God’s servant and meant by God for your salvation? When the liturgy bids you respond with “Amen”—“Yes, yes it shall be so” as Luther puts it (Small Catechism, Conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer)—do you say it with vigor and certainty? Or might that word at the end of your prayers just as well be a shrugged “whatever”?

  Likewise, how do you respond when you are invited to sing with “angels and archangels and all the company of heaven,” the joyful song of the heavenly throne room, “Holy, Holy, Holy” (see LSB p. 161)? Joined to the angels’ song is the song at Jerusalem’s yearning gates, “Hosanna,” where Christ Himself comes to you in the flesh by humble means to enliven soul and heart and body with the foretaste of the feast to come. Thus we sing, preparing to eat the holiest and most precious food on earth: the body and blood of the Son of God, given into death to save you from all sin, death and the power of the devil…Maybe you’ve never thought that way about the Sanctus, sung before the Words of Institution in the Lord’s Supper. Do these words have your attention? Your fullness of voice and heart? Do you plumb these inspired words, meaningfully combined, like a gold mine for the treasures packed into them?

From “5 Things You Can Do to Witness for Christ” by John Wollenburg Sias, Concordia, 2013, p. 12.