From The Pastor’s Desk

“Wake up”

Pastor_Paul : December 5, 2013 8:58 am EST : Expired, From The Pastors Desk, Pastor Paul's Ponderings

Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death . . . Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.  +Revelation 3:2-3


“Wake up.”  These words can come gently, as when I find myself waking up one of our children from sleep to start her day.  Or sometimes they come urgently, as when Heather notices me getting sleepy at the wheel:  “Wake up!”  During this season of Advent, the Lord Jesus speaks to us in both tones as well.


“Wake up.  Wake up to a world of wonder, a world filled with grace and peace, mercy and hope.  It’s all around you, if you would or could only have the eyes of your heart opened to their presence, like a child is gently awakened to the wonder and beauty of a new day unfolding before her very eyes.


“Wake up!”  You are heading directly into danger!  You must snap out of it now or there will be dire consequences to your health and the health of those around you!  Whether it’s the danger of crazy Christmas consumerism, complacency to the Christ-child who comes, cutting competition (three words:  Christmas light displays), or some other December minefield, you’d better be alert or else you’re headed for a crash.


In each of these calls to wake up, there is a moment, as pregnant as Mary on December 24th with possibilities.  The Bible calls it a kairos moment, sometimes translated as an “opportune” or “right” time.  “At the right time, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6).  “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!”  (2 Corinthians 6:2).  These wake up calls are an invitation to step off the maddening treadmill of life long enough to reflect on the patterns and moments of our lives and ask a very important question or two, such as why?  Why am I behaving this way?  Why does this always seem to happen?  Or what?  What might God want to teach me about myself and God’s world in this moment?  Or how?  How might my life as a Beloved Disciple Making Disciples be different moving forward?  Our reflections than can move toward action, new and renewed actions motivated and directed by God’s Holy Spirit at work within us, bringing about deepened faith in Jesus and a more certain hope in God’s coming salvation or deliverance, both for us and the world God so loved that he gave us his only begotten Son.


As we move through this season, let’s keep our eyes and ears and hearts open for such moments, such signs.  Some places that may be especially full (dare I say pregnant?) with hope include the Wednesday evening Advent vesper services, the Advent Small Groups where 35+ people are gathering in community to read and reflect and prepare for Christ’s coming, the “Joy of Christmas” gathering December 8th, our caroling outing to St. John homebound members December 22nd, and of course Christmas Eve worship at 4:00 p.m. (a repeat engagement of the “Meet Me at the Manger,” no-rehearsal children’s Christmas pageant we started last year) and 7:00 p.m.  Through these and many other ways, may we “keep awake” to the possibilities of God’s salvation and healing reaching out still today to us.  And may the end result, once again, be Christmas JOY.  A Blessed Advent, all – and Merry Christmas, too!


In His Grip, Pastor Paul

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Installation of ELCA Presiding Bishop being streamed live at St. John this Saturday

Pastor_Paul : October 2, 2013 11:22 pm EST : Expired, From The Pastors Desk, Weekly News


Monday, September 30, 2013


On Saturday, October 5, 2013, St. John Lutheran Church, 729 West Washington Blvd in downtown Fort Wayne, will be video streaming the installation service for the incoming presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, most recently the bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod, ELCA.  The installation itself will occur at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago in Chicago, IL, which seats approximately 1,500 people.

The Rev. Jessica R. Crist, bishop of the ELCA Montana Synod and chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops, will preach the sermon. Scripture texts for the installation service are Isaiah 42:5-9, 2 Corinthians 4:1-12 and Mark 4:1-9. Among the guests attending are representatives from the ELCA’s full communion partners, members from The Lutheran World Federation, ELCA companions from around the world, members of this church and others. The liturgy will include a diversity of music led by organ, piano, bagpipes, brass, choir, soloists, drum, guitar and more.


St. John’s sanctuary will be open beginning at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Savings Time) for pre-service music, with the Installation service starting at 3:00 p.m.


Parking is best accessed of of either eastbound Jefferson Blvd or southbound Van Buren St..  All are welcome!


Further details about Bishop-Elect Easton are included below.  Questions about the event at St. John may be directed to the Rev. Paul Offhaus at 260-426-5751, ext 101.


Installation – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

About Bishop Eaton
The 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly elected the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton as this church’s fourth presiding bishop. She will serve a six-year term beginning November 1.

Born in Cleveland on April 2, 1955, Eaton earned a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music education from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio.

Ordained June 4, 1981, Eaton served as assistant pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church in Worthington, Ohio; interim pastor of Good Hope Lutheran Church in Boardman, Ohio; and pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Ashtabula, Ohio. She was elected bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod in 2006 and re-elected in May 2013.

Eaton is involved in a number of boards and committees. She is a board member of Trinity Lutheran Seminary and Capital University, both based in Columbus, Ohio. She is a member of the Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee and the ELCA Conference of Bishops Executive Committee. She also serves on the Conference of Bishops Domestic Ready Bench and serves in roles with the ELCA Malaria Campaign, the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry, PORTICO Philosophy of Benefits Task Force, Ohio Council of Churches and Lutheran Planned Giving in Ohio.

Prior to her election, Eaton was the liaison bishop to the ELCA Church Council and a member of the ELCA Memorials Committee for the 2007, 2011 and 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assemblies. She served as a delegate to The Lutheran World Federation Assembly in Budapest in 1984, on the review team for Lutheran Episcopal dialogues in 1982, and she was a part of the delegation from the ELCA’s predecessor church bodies to the German Democratic Republic in 1982.

Eaton’s husband, the Rev. T. Conrad Selnick, an Episcopal priest, is pastor of St. Christopher’s-by-the-River in Gates Mills, Ohio. They reside in Ashtabula and are parents of two adult children, Rebeckah, who is married to Michael Ray, and Susannah.

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Looking for Poetry in the Everyday Madness: disarming

Pastor_Paul : July 10, 2012 11:18 am EST : From The Pastors Desk, Pastor Paul's Ponderings

A friend of mine from waaayyy back in grade school (at St. John Lutheran Church and School, actually–only this was in Wheaton, IL, not Ft. Wayne, IN) posts a blog entitled, “Looking for Poetry in the Everyday Madness.”  Her name is Amy Wolgemuth Bordoni.  She is married with two boys and lives in the far western suburbs of Chicago.  Occasionally I will  be sharing one of her blogs that I find especially meaningful or touching.  This one from last month, “Disarming,” is one such blog.  Powerful.  Touching.  Worth the five minutes of your time it will take to read!

Looking for Poetry in the Everyday Madness: disarming.

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Daily Bible Reading — a Lifeline amidst the Chaos

Pastor_Paul : July 10, 2012 10:57 am EST : Expired, From The Pastors Desk, Pastor Paul's Ponderings

For almost a year and a half now, I have been listening to the Daily Audio Bible (aka DAB) podcast, also available online, via Facebook and through free iPhone and Android apps.  DAB includes daily readings from the Old and New Testament, plus a daily reading from the Psalms and another from Proverbs.

DAB has proven to be an invaluable resource to help me stay more centered on God’s Word, the Bible, as I seek to follow Jesus as his disciple.  The soothing voice of Brian Hardin, the usual reader, doesn’t hurt either–nor do his thoughtful reflections and prayers after each day’s reading.

Just Google “Daily Audio Bible Brian Hardin” to learn more.  In addition, below is a link to a more extensive review of Passages, a book by Hardin that contains both the Daily Readings as well as some personal reflections for each day:

Tammy Is Blessed: Book Review: Passages by Brian Hardin.

May we all center ourselves daily on God’s Word!

In His Grip, Pastor Paul

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Pastor_Paul : June 1, 2012 10:55 pm EST : From The Pastors Desk

On the fiftieth day of Easter, The Day of Pentecost (Greek for Fiftieth), the Christian Church gathers each year to celebrate the ongoing life of the Holy Spirit who is its breath, vitality, and inspiration for all we do. Through the Holy Spirit, the Good News unravels age-old divisions among peoples and nations. In the waters of baptism, the Spirit gives us birth as sisters and brothers in Christ and unites people of different races, tribes, and ethnic groups.

On this day each year, the church gives thanks to God for the Holy Spirit, who continues to sustain life and faith in each new generation. This year, Pentecost fell on May 27th Memorial Day weekend, to be more precise. As such, there’s a decent chance many of you missed the festivities, which included Riley Paxton’s Confirmation (congratulations, Riley!) and almost a dozen folk proclaiming, Jesus of Nazareth is risen from the dead and is Lord of all! at the same time during the Acts 2 reading our attempt at capturing a bit of the flavor of that first Pentecost, when the apostles proclaimed the Good News about Jesus in the native tongues of their many listeners. Thanks to all of our readers!

Pentecost is also a wonderful opportunity to consider the Holy Spirit, who in Lutheran circles is often called The Forgotten Member of the Trinity. Too true! Most Lutherans are far more comfortable with Jesus and God our Heavenly Father than we are with the Holy Spirit. I don t find this all too surprising, as the majority of Lutherans come from northern European stock, a cultural landscape where control and a general lack of expression dominates. In contrast, Jesus tells us in John 3, The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. The apostle Paul furthers this analogy when he writes, And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba! Father! (Galatians 4:6). Think with me of a child crying out for Daddy’s (or Mommy’s) attention, not really pausing to consider whether or not Daddy is occupied with someone or something else. (Some of you don t need much imagination to picture this, only memory!) Or think of a child running to greet her or his parent coming through the door . . . not very quiet or controlled, is it? And in the same way, the Spirit doesn t always cooperate with our attempts at control and quiet.

In terms of the New Testament as a whole, the phrase Holy Spirit occurs a total of 89 times. Here are a few, all of them taken from before the Day of Pentecost in the Bible:

The angel said to [Mary], The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. (Luke 1:35)

[Jesus said,] I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11)

[Jesus said,] If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13)

[Jesus said,] When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say. (Luke 12:11-12)

[Jesus said,] I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. (John 14:25-26)

Jesus said to them again, Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained. (John 20:21-23)

[Jesus said,] But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Thank God for the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, first given to the Church on that first Pentecost so long ago!

In His Grip,
Pastor Paul


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Welcome to the St. John Lutheran Church Website

sjluth : May 1, 2012 12:01 pm EST : From The Pastors Desk

From The Pastor’s Desk

Welcome to the new and revised St. John Lutheran Church Website! It is exciting to see and participate in all the brand new mission and ministry opportunities that we share together. We welcome all visitors, members, and friends to journey through our website and find out about the many opportunities for ministry that happen in Jesus’ name, at St. John Lutheran Church, the West Central Neighborhood, and in Fort Wayne, Indiana!

St. John Lutheran Church is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  There is a classic worship service at 9:00 a.m. (with organ and a more traditional liturgy) and a modern service at 11:00 a.m. (with piano, praise choruses and singers).  Sunday school classes for all ages take place after communion at the first service (~10:00 a.m.), as well as an adult forum that usually discuss the sermon in greater depth (~10:25-11:10).  There is a third opportunity for worship on Wednesday evening at 6:20 p.m. that is more casual.  This follows a community meal at 5:15 p.m. that is held for our church family and our neighbors.

To learn more about the St. John community, feel free to browse our website or, better yet, come on out for worship or attend one of our other activities.  You may also find us on Facebook and request our Weekly newsletter by emailing

We welcome all who choose to be a part of St. John, A Beloved Community of Disciples Making Disciples.  May God bless and keep each of you in God’s boundless love!

In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Paul Offhaus

We envision a world fed and led by God

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How would you like your home blessed?

A Home Blessing is a wonderful way to welcome and invite God into your home, whether a new or long time resident, whether a house, an apartment or mobile home.  The blessing usually involves  prayer, lighting a candle, Bible readings and moving from room to room to bless various areas of your home.

Pastor Paul enjoys providing this service to folk, whether a member of St. John or a neighbor in our wider community.  Just call the church office at 426-5751, x100 to set up a time and/or learn more.

Holy Week Services at St. John

All are welcome to worship with the St. John community:

On Good Friday (April 19), noon until 3, the worship space will be open for a self-guided walk through the 14 Biblical Stations of the Cross as identified by Pope John Paul II in 1991.

At 7:00 p.m. on Good Friday there will be a Tenebrae Service of Shadows, where 14 candles will be extinguished one by one as together we hear and respond to the account of Jesus’ Passion–his betrayal, arrest, trial, suffering, and death on the cross–as recorded in John’s Gospel.

Finally, on Easter Sunday (April 21), we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus with two services, 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. The former is more traditional, with organ and a full liturgy, as well as a brass quintet for Easter. The latter is more casual, with piano led worship. In between services there will be an Easter Egg Hunt for the little ones led by our youth.

Come join us as we reflect together and celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the life of the world!

A Little Bit of Mark in Our Lives

This article is intended to introduce the Gospel of Mark to us as a congregation, primarily because we will be spending most of the year hearing it read during worship on Sunday mornings.

There is a sense of URGENCY in Mark’s Gospel. For starters, it the shortest of the four Gospels (16 chapters), weighing in at a full five chapters than the next shortest, John (21 chapters). No waxing poetic for Mark! While John makes a sort of Throwback Thursday comparison that places Jesus, the Word Made Flesh, back at the beginning of all creation, in the Word God Spoke that brought all things into being, while Matthew and Luke harken back to the beginning of Jesus’ life by telling the story of his birth (along with a couple of genealogies thrown in for good measure), Mark’s beginning is much more to the point:

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
+Mark 1:1

Then he quotes some Scripture and moves on to the coming of John the baptizer (Mark’s name for him, not mine), who was sent to prepare the way for Jesus’ big entrance. Get in, say what you need to say, get out. That’s Mark’s style. But notice what he’s doing as well in that one, short sentence. The beginning of the good news. Not the beginning and ending. It’s a subtle reminder to his hearers that this good news (aka Gospel) that started in and through Jesus is still going on today, wherever and whenever today might happen to be. It took root and started in a particular place and time, but it is still going on today—in places and times all around the world. Even – or especially – in your own place and time.

No mincing of words, either. It takes all of 110 words and only 5 verses to dispense with John arrival and preaching, which is roughly between half and one-fourth the words/verses the other three Gospel writers use (Matthew: 270/12, John: 348/18, Luke: 478/20). Get in, say what you need to say, get out. After Jesus is baptized and emerges (victorious, we must presume, since Mark characteristically wastes no words telling us) from being tempted in the wilderness, Jesus preaches his first sermon. All thirteen words of it (fifteen in the original Greek). Imagine me giving a thirteen word sermon some Sunday! (Good old Mark, some of you are probably thinking right about now.) Here it is:

“The kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe the good news!”
+Mark 1:15

Again, note the urgency. The kingdom of God has come near, almost like a comet comes near a planet before soaring off to some remote corner of the galaxy—or even universe. Better catch it before it’s gone! Jesus is God’s comet, swooping in on us here on planet Earth, bringing with him good news of God’s kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven, good news of a new and different kingdom than that of Caesar, the ruling Roman monarch of the time, good news of deliverance for the poor and outcast of society, those on the outside looking in, those oppressed by the evil that seems so strong.

And then there is one. Little. Word. A word Mark uses like it’s going out of style and he has a closet full he needs to get rid of before it does. The word is euthus in the Greek, usually translated immediately or at once in English. It appears 41 times in Mark’s Gospel—11 times in the first chapter alone! And to give you a wider point of reference, this Greek word appears only ten more times in the rest of the New Testament. That means that in Mark’s Gospel, which comprises just 8% of the New Testament, we find a word whose usage comprises 80% of the word’s use throughout the New Testament. You think maybe this is an important word for Mark? “Follow me.” And immediately they left their nets (and for two of them, their own father) and followed. For Mark, the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus falls upon us like a swooping hawk with claws extended, demanding that we give it our undivided attention. From beginning to end Mark tosses us in a speeding car chase, careening from curve to curve, until we are deposited, breathless, outside the empty tomb with the women, staring open mouthed at a young man who is telling us, proclaiming to us, the good news of God’s kingdom that he is risen, that we are to go and tell, to proclaim to, his once and future disciples this very same, life-transforming good news. Immediately.

May the urgency of this good news surround us as we hear Mark tell his urgent tale in the year ahead, especially this month as the journey of Lent begins February 14, when love and ashes meet and kiss each other.

See you in church!
Pastor Paul

SNOW / WORSHIP UPDATE (2/1/15): 9 am YES, 11 am NO

Hello, St. John friends and members! While our entire northern Indiana region is under a National Weather Service winter storm warning, our local travel status is still at advisory status. This is based on the IN Dept of Homeland Security travel status website (link below), which indicates travel status by county. As of right now, there are NO counties with either a red (aka Level 3) or even an orange (aka Level 2) status. Allen itself is one of 11 counties in Indiana with a yellow (aka Level 1) status, meaning routine travel may be restricted and individuals should use caution . . . currently snow accumulation appears to be under 3 inches, with accumulation the past hour at less than 1/4 an inch . . .

Based on all of that ‘accumulated’ info, St. John is HOLDING its 9 am service today. At the same time, based on anticipated additional snowfall (it’s not gonna stop, people!), St. John is CANCELING its 11 am service. So all you 11am’ers, please come early or don’t come at all!

And all of you, please make your own decision regarding those roads–a source tells me they’re slick under that snow. If they don’t look safe enough for your liking, please don’t risk it. Worship God at home instead this morning, and pray for the safety of all those out on the roads and/or caught in the snowy weather.

Please spread the word to others who may not have email or internet access, thanks!

Ugandan Orphans Choir Coming to St. John!

Ugandan Orphans Choir Coming to St. John!
The Ugandan Orphans Choir, a group of ten talented Ugandan children, will be performing at St. John on July 11 at 7:00 p.m., as part of the Three Rivers Festival opening day activities. All ten children have been given hope through Childcare Worldwide’s Sponsorship Program and now they are here to spread that hope to audiences all across the United States. The choir has performed nationwide at churches, schools, at Disneyland, on King 5 Television’s “New Day Northwest,” at Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, and on the steps of the White House.

These children delight audiences with traditional African songs and dances. Megan DiRienzo, Curator of Education at the San Angelo Museum of Fine arts says, “All of you have amazing talents, beautiful voices and some serious dance skills! A performance like yours was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We fully support you on your mission to end child poverty!” Mark your calendars now, and also consider whether or not you might be willing to provide housing for 3 days for some of the choir during their stay in Fort Wayne. Look for details on this later this month.


What exactly is a healthy spiritual life? And how do you get one? Is it possible that all the richness of human experience is spiritual? So to live is to experience God. But how then do we take it further and intentionally do what it takes to lean into the presence of God? What does it look like to walk with God every day, in every aspect of your life?

Over 12 weeks this summer, beginning June 15/18, we’ll explore 12 words that speak to the seasons of the spiritual life. Words that we say in times of joy, and words groaned in sorrow. With each of these words, we’ll spend time on both Sunday and Wednesday evening digging into the practices each word represents, and where we see them in the Bible. We begin with ‘Here’ and move clockwise around the circle, ending Aug 31/Sept 3.

West Central Development News — City Buys 8 Properties

See the following link to learn more about a recent city purchase that could be good news for the West Central neighborhood’s future development . . .

City Buys 8 West Central Properties To Be Redeveloped (VIDEO) | Indiana’s NewsCenter: News, Sports, Weather, Fort Wayne WPTA-TV, WISE-TV, and CW | Home

City Buys 8 West Central Properties To Be Redeveloped (VIDEO) | Indiana’s NewsCenter: News, Sports, Weather, Fort Wayne WPTA-TV, WISE-TV, and CW | Home.