Sunday, December 30, 2012

December 30th

Only one more day until 2012 draws to a close. It has been an amazing year. One thing that is amazing is how fast this year has gone. It seems like only a short time ago we were saying goodbye to 2011 and hello to 2012. I have been told by those who are older than I am that as you grow older the years go faster. I reached 51 years of age this year and it appears that those ones who have said that to me were correct. The year is going much faster than I could have ever imagined. (Is that because I am so busy? Is it because I am older? Is it a matter of perspective? I can't answer that question.)

This year has also been amazing for the church life. There have been a few naysayers who have stated that St. Paul's hasn't been growing. I would counter with the facts. Average worship attendance has been on a steady increase over the past 4 years. Point of fact is that it has increased to the point where we are nearing an average of 250 per weekend. Yes, we have released a large number of members over the year but that hasn't affected our attendance. Many of those we have released are ones who haven't been active in worship life for many years. At the same time, we have continued to bring in new members, both adults and children. It is exciting to be a part of the work of the Lord in reaching out into the Troy community.

Then there was the celebration in June of the 25th anniversary of my ordination into the pastoral ministry. That was a great weekend. I am thankful that I was given the opportunity to celebrate with my brothers and sisters of St. Paul's. The members put together a wonderful day - the morning worship with Rev. Dr. John Oberdeck preaching, the afternoon spent with family, the dinner and program in the evening. The gifts that were given to me, one of those gifts being the special quilt that had quilt blocks signed by a large number of the members. That quilt now hangs in our basement here in the parsonage. It truly is a thing of beauty. I had a great day.

Things at St. Paul's school have been going very well. This is the 1st year that we have made the concerted effort to connect the preschool with the day school. In the past years the two had been in the same building but had really been separate. We can be thankful that they have joined together into one school instead of two. Too many families came to preschool without being aware of the day school, which meant that we missed the opportunity to bring more children into kindergarten. And we see the outcome of this change with 20 children coming into our kindergarten this year. That was a tremendous growth for St. Paul's school. The preschool classes continue to be a strong asset to our school with nearly 40 in the preschool 4's and 25 the 1st half of the year in the preschool 3's with another class beginning here with the new year beginning. All we can say is, "Thank You Lord, for blessing our school in such a wonderful way."

And I bring to the end my thoughts on this day, December 30, 2012. I have other things to ramble about but for the moment, this is the end of my ramblings.

Friday, December 21, 2012

End of the World

I waited. I watched. I wondered. And I realized it wasn't going to happen. The world wasn't going to end today, December 21, 2012. This is the day when the famed Mayan calendar told the world that time and being was going to come to an end.

It did cause me to think. It caused me to wonder what it would really be like to have the world come to an end. I am talking about the day when Jesus will come again. We talk about it many times. We confess it in the Apostles' Creed (...sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty, from whence He will come to judge the living and the dead. "). Jesus' return is inevitable, something that is going to happen.

And I thought about it, I wondered. People will be going about their daily lives; They will be going to work, buying and selling, preparing and eating meals, coughing and sneezing, in the hospital and at home, sitting at the window watching the window blow the leaves across the parking lot, sleeping in the bedroom, showering, shaving, changing clothes, and doing a whole host of other mundane things that are done over and over again each day. It will be just like it was in the days of Noah. People didn't know what was taking place when the first drops of rain began to fall and as the water burst out of the springs in the ground. Daily events were taking place.

I walked through the church building and thought, "Is it time? If it is, what will it really be like?" That is a good question, what will it really be like? Loud? Trumpets? Angels? Clouds with light? Bright light? Will I see Him when I sit inside a building? Will the buildings collapse? Will they disappear? What will it be like to suddenly see Jesus?

That last question is really hard to imagine. What will it be like to see Jesus? Hearts leaping with joy! Knees bending in honor of the King of kings. Believers rejoicing. Unbelievers moaning in terror. It will be an amazing event.

Jesus coming on the clouds. What would it really be like? I read Matthew's gospel, Paul's letter to the Thessalonians and the Revelation of St. John. All of them tell us that Jesus will come again. But obviously it wasn't meant to be today.

I still sit and wonder...what will it really be like?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Church Ornament

St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Troy, IL will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the current church building on February 10, 2013. To go along with this celebration, the youth group of St. Paul's has commissioned a commemorative 50th anniversary ornament.

These brass ornaments show the likeness of the church building. They come in a special perma-suede folder. There are only 300 of these ornaments made, each numbered consecutively.

The cost of these ornaments is $15. They make great gifts for those who are members of St. Paul's, were baptized, confirmed or married at St. Paul's, or have some connection with St. Paul's.

If you would like more information can contact the church office (667-6681) or Debbie Wittenberg (call the church office for information on how to contact her).

Thursday, December 6, 2012


This last Sunday, Dec. 2nd, brought the beginning of Advent. During this season, Christians say, "Come, Lord Jesus!" I often think we misunderstand what we are saying there. For most people, it is only a season that gets you ready for Christmas. In this season you start to rev up the motor, getting the gift giving warmed up and the party mode primed. It's all about Christmas. Advent is just the pre-Christmas season in which we have expanded the 12 days of Christmas to encompass all of December.

What we forget is that there is a three-fold emphasis in this season of Advent. First is one that we have started to speak of - it is a season in which we say, "Come, Lord Jesus" as we prepare to remember His 1st coming as a babe in Bethlehem. We do prepare our hearts and lives for the coming of the Christ-child at Christmas. It isn't about the parties and the gifts. It is all about the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us (John 1:14). We prepare for the greatest event in human history - the incarnation of the Son of God.

Second, we say "Come, Lord Jesus" in Your Word and Sacraments. Come into our hearts and lives right now, right here, where we live, breath, work and play. Come to us, abide with us. Be with us daily Emmanuel. And He does! He comes to us as we read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the Word of God. He comes to us in His body and blood in, with and under the bread and wine in the Sacrament of the Altar. He comes to us, abides us with and strengthens us. Advent is about His coming into our lives.

Third, we say, "Come, Lord Jesus" as we prepare our hearts and lives for His second coming. He is coming again, only this time not as a babe born in a stable but as the King of kings, the Lord of lords. He will come upon the clouds for all eyes to see Him, for every knee to bow before Him and for every tongue to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Yes, He is coming again! (On Dec. 21st? Who knows? It might be when He returns. But don't hold your breath. Instead share the message of the Gospel with others so that they Spirit can work in their hearts and bring them into a relationship with Jesus as their Savior.)

Advent is about the coming of the Lord. Come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly.