2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death . . . 3 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
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.
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.
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!
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:
May we all center ourselves daily on God’s Word!
In His Grip, Pastor Paul
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,
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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