Devotional Thought, Events

Worship Services Cancelled

This has been one of the saddest days of my life.

It started out OK. I left early this morning for a circuit meeting in Overland Park. We had text studies on Hebrew and Greek portions of the Bible and talked over a recent paper on the role of men and women. We also talked about the fallout of the Coronavirus.  We all concluded that we would continue to have worship services as long as we could.

I got home in time to conduct a conference call for another Math teacher at NELHS. The call meeting went well, but afterwards we were informed that NELHS would be canceling classes as of Friday and attempting to continue with online classes.  The staff is determined to do the best they can.  Pray for them.

This led to me check to see if any details about public gatherings had changed here in Wichita.  They had.  The “recommendation” to not have public gatherings of over 50 people had now become a “mandate” in Sedgwick County. I started to come to grips with the fact that since we have over 50 people at almost every one of our services, we would have to suspend worship indefinitely.

Admittedly, I’ve been concerned about where this virus was taking us. But, honestly, I didn’t think it would come to this. For the first time in my 32+ years of ministry, I won’t be conducting services on Sunday mornings (or Wednesday evenings).

I spoke with the Board of Elders this evening, and the decision was made to suspend services until further notice.  We also decided the following:

  • I will be sending out another email to all members with a link for WELS congregations that stream or record their worship services (a service that we do not provide but will look to add in the future).
  • I will be sending out written sermons for Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings for now, with the possibility of recording devotions/sermons/weekly updates in the near future.
  • Members will be encouraged to mail their offerings to the church or to give them online (the link is listed below).
  • Midweek activities (such as Bible Information Classes, Confirmation, Mailing Volunteers) will continue.  The church council will also meet on Sunday, as scheduled.
  • Easter for Kids, scheduled for April 4, has been canceled.
  • The Vision-Traction Organizer seminar this coming weekend has been postponed to June 26-28.
  • Easter invitations will not be sent out with the uncertainty of when services will resume. The Easter breakfast has also been canceled.
  • I will make myself available for visits either at members’ homes or at church for anyone who wants to visit and to provide the Lord’s Supper.
  • The child care center will remain open until the Health Department tells us otherwise.

As I mentioned in Sunday’s sermon, the Lord will use even this virus to “display his glory.” For the time being, that glory may seem hidden, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.  God just hasn’t chosen to reveal it yet.

Until he does, we’ll trust him.  We’ll serve him the best way we can.  And we’ll continue to preach his saving gospel. It’ll just be done in a different way for a while.  But, rest assured, we will continue to be blessed.  That’s God’s promise.

But I’m still sad. For me as a pastor, Sunday morning worship is the highlight of my week. I get excited about spending time with the body of Christ, knowing that through Word and Sacrament, God is blessing his people. So I selfishly ask you to pray for me. Pray for our church. Pray for our world. And I’ll continue to pray for you.

I will continue to share more information as it becomes available (it seems to change several times a day!). As always, feel free to contact me if you have questions or concerns. Above all, let me know when I can come visit you. I still need to be among the Lord’s people.
Pastor

Sermon

God Works Through Adversity

Sermon text: John 9:1-7,13-17,34-39

Summary: Jesus reveals his grace and glory as he heals a man who was born blind. As he does so, he corrects his disciples, who thought some great sin caused the man’s physical impairment. In woeful contrast is the willful spiritual blindness of the Pharisees who reject the miracle and its author. In the end, the one born blind regains much more than physical eyesight: he sees his Savior. But those who reject the Son of Man retain a blindness that leads to eternal condemnation.

Read the full sermon here.

Devotional Thought

It’s Good To Be Home!

When Ross was growing up, his family often went on camping trips lasting two or three weeks. They always slept in a tent — never in a motel.

As a kid, Ross loved camping. There was the adventure of driving across the country. There was the opportunity of pitching a tent in many different places. There was the beautiful scenery. For the most part, he thought it was great.

Camping gets old, however! After a couple weeks of it, Ross was ready for a real bed. He wanted something more comfortable and permanent. As his family finally pulled into their driveway, he would say to himself, “It’s good to be home!”

As good as it is to be home, earthly homes are not permanent. In fact, God’s Word compares all of life to an extended camping trip (Read Hebrews 13:14.)! It’s like always living in a tent.

While there may be days of adventure, life on this earth also includes dreary days, days of discomfort and pain, days of sadness — even death. That’s because of our sin.

Facing death can be a frightening aspect, especially if we don’t know what comes after it. That’s why Jesus means so much to us!

Jesus “tented” among us. Only his earthly life was not once marred by sin. Rather, he took on your sin and mine. He suffered and died for our sin. He then rose from the dead to prove that he paid for our sin in full.

Because of what Jesus did, we have the hope “that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Do you ever get tired of life? Escaping is not the answer. Jesus is.

Jesus has taken care of the problem that underlies all of our problems. Because of him, all Christians are able to say without fear of contradiction: It’s good to be home!

Pastor