A Note from the Pastor

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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.

 

Holy Week

   Holy Week is the big event for Christians. During this time we really focus in on what it took for God to win our forgiveness and bring us back to Himself. Jesus went to the Jerusalem temple daily to teach. On Thursday we mark the evening of the last supper by coming together to hear a sermon and receive the Lord's Supper as He instituted it that night. The altar is stripped to remind us that Jesus lost everything, His clothing, even all His disciples left him, and he was arrested and led away as a captive. On Friday we gather in darkness and silence to remember His suffering for six hours on the cross, to remember the seven times He spoke upon the cross, and to see the love He had for us. He gave everything for us because He loved us.

   On Sunday morning, Easter, we gather early after sunrise. The service begins at the door with the lighting of the paschal candle. As the flame is carried to the altar, we praise Jesus for being the light of the world, shining through the darness of death and giving us life. Later in the morning we receive the Lord's Supper in the midst of singing the great festival songs of His resurrection.

   I hope that you will join us for Holy Week and Easter services after the long loneliness of the pandemic. The light has come! It's time to sing and praise Jesus together as a congregation again.

Pastor Wright

LERT DEPLOYED TO BEECHER CITY

The Immanuel LERT (Lutheran Early Response Team) deployed to a small disaster in Beecher City on Monday, July 20, 2020. Storms late Sunday night knocked down trees and disrupted power to several residents of the village. One mobile home was wrecked with a tree through the roof and two hospitalized. The American Red Cross provided shelter for the family. Our LERT team was activated by the Effingham County Emergency Management Agency. On such short notice only five of us could deploy. Ken Mercier, Gary Wolff, Maurice and Alta Lowry and I were able to help three residences by cutting trees and piling the debris by the street.  The mayor's office and the fire department provided rehabilitation with water and sandwiches. We were able to assist the two city employees and public works manager to get the community cleaned up. We were assisted by nearby residents and the family of one of the properties.

Immanuel received LERT training in 2013 and again in 2015. We have about 20 people trained for response. Our goal is to provide help through recovery effort and encouragement. It provides a great opportunity to give witness to our Lord Jesus through work, words, and just being there in time of need. People were certainly appreciative of Immanuel for coming.

We will try to schedule another training at Immanuel next year when the coronavirus epidemic is over. Surely there will be more disasters to respond to in our area.

Pastor Wright

Doing Good

How are you doing? Good? That expression has new meaning in 2020, with Coronavirus, economic depression, and unemployment rising. I pray you are all doing well. And if you aren't, then I pray God will help you in your time of need.

The church is doing well right now considering the situation during Phase 4 of the Illinois response to Coronavirus. We are back to having the three regular services on Sunday morning, however, they are not as well attended as before. That is understandable as some of you are compromised in your health and really need to stay away from group gatherings. That's okay. Don't feel you HAVE to come to church if you are worried, but do continue to worship with us at home using our online resources here or on cable tv. 

People are bringing their children back to church now and that's good. We are still following the guidelines of social distancing when we worship. We sanitize the church twice a weekend. Nothing is gathered or touhed by mutiple hands. Masks are encouraged and required if you are going to get close to people outside of your houshold. 

How are you doing? Good we hope. Good works, that it. While good works aren't considered for our salvation before God, they are the product of hearing and believing what God says. The word for today from Galatians 6 9 says, "Let us not grow eary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especailly to those who are of the household of faith."

We have rejoiced in seeing our members engage in good works during the crisis, in such acts as replacing the roof on a member family's home, delivering food to elder people, helping us with our video live streaming, and giving donations to the ministry of Immanuel. 

A good work that will reap a harvest is our vacation Bible school which will be offered on video stream starting July 19. Packets are available with crafts and materials. Simply register with Andy Wendling, our Director of Youth and Family. Learning the Bible stories as a child has the power to shape a persons life, literally forever.

God bless all of you in these difficult times. Especially those who must be distanced from your church and loved ones. 

Do good to everyone, everyone!

Pastor Wright

My Flesh and Heart

It is good to see businesses begin to open up again as the coronavirus diminishes. Restaurants are serving meals outside and hair stylists are clipping, curling, and setting hair again again. Crops have been planted. Much time and money has been lost. The future looks bright again, although many have died around the world from the virus.

Death will come to us all. Psalm 73:26 reads, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Our flesh, that is the body we live in, is wasting away. I have had a severe back sprain for two weeks now. Maybe you notice me limping in church. It is something I've had occasionally since my mid twenties. I know how to deal with it, but it is a nagging reminder that my body and everything else I love about the world is falling apart. One day my soul will be separated from my body. Not a pleasant thought, yet, all along God has told me  this is how it will be.

God also tells me that he is preparing a place for me in heaven. This is not because I am a pastor, preach His word to you, try to be nice, or give donations to charity. I have a place in heaven because God loves me, knows I am a sinner, and did something about it. He gave His Son to die for me and for the rest of the people in the world. Because of Jesus I know that one day my body will be raised without a back problem or any other hindrance. When Jesus returns he will raise the dead and change those still living so that they will have a glorified body. All of this comes when we trust him to save us. Faith in Jesus is the key to eternal bliss.

When we are troubled it is good to think about such things. Troubles will always be with us. Just pay a visit to a nursing home or a hospital for sick children. We can ignore death, but it comes to all of us one day. Suffering is with us now, but not forever. My heart is cheered when I think of how much God loves us, what he did for us on the cross, and where he is promising to take us after death. Heaven is my home.

Pastor Wright

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