St. John’s Stephen Ministry has offered care and support to people in need for more than sixteen years. We are looking for men and women who are willing to answer Jesus’ call to serve as Stephen Ministers.
In observance of this Memorial Day weekend, St. John’s disciple Ray Boosinger wrote the following reflection, inviting us to experience its true meaning. Ray is a retired Air Force officer and a member of our Military Ministry Team. Thank you to Ray and to all the disciples at St. John’s, both past and present, who have served our country so courageously.
On that first Pentecost, God breathed the Holy Spirit into the church and the church began to move in awesome and powerful ways! Everywhere one looks these days here at St. John’s, the movement of the Spirit is evident. Let me outline just a few of the ways the Spirit is moving as God does a new thing in our congregation.
It’s hard to believe that Summer is just around the corner. It seems like yesterday we were all complaining that it was snowing on Easter Sunday. But, as I look out the window in my office and see the trees and flowers in bloom, and the preschool kids playing in the grass, there is no doubt that summer is almost here.
Tim was an active member of the church I served on internship in Ohio. He and his entire family were leaders in the congregation. One thing, however, perplexed me about Tim. While the rest of his family would come to church all dressed up in their Sunday best, Tim showed up Sunday after Sunday in a pair of shorts, an untucked t-shirt, and tennis shoes.
In 1633, the residents of Oberammergau, Bavaria vowed if God would spare them from the bubonic plague they would produce a play every ten years depicting the life and death of Jesus. The town was spared from the plague, and for the last 400 years the residents have been producing and performing their world-famous Passion Play. In 2020, St. John’s will be celebrating our 150th anniversary and will be sponsoring a tour to Germany, where we will not only have the opportunity to see this performance but also see many other sights in Germany important to our Lutheran heritage, including Luther’s hometown of Wittenberg. If you are interested in learning more about this once-ina-lifetime trip, please join usfor an informational meeting
on Monday, April 23 at 7:00p.m. in the Adult MeetingRoom. We will go over many
of the details of the trip as well as registration information. For those of you who are on the fence about coming, or want to view pictures and hear about the sights, please join us this Wednesday, April 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the Adult Meeting Room for “A Trip To Lutherland” presented by St. John’s disciple Elaine Birtch, who traveled to many of these sights in 2017. As we look forward to celebrating our 150th anniversary here in Springfield, we invite you to journey with us to the land of the reformers and the beginning of our Lutheran Movement.
Together in Christ,
WELCOME to St. John’s on this Easter Weekend! We are delighted to have you worship with us! Our congregation’s mission is to be and make disciples of Christ, in response to God’s grace. We live out this mission through RELATIONSHIP. In fact, our congregation’s vision statement is all about RELATIONSHIP:
St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church is called to grow in meaningful relationships with Christ, with each other, and with our community as we are gathered for worship, equipped for discipleship, and sent to care.
“So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified” (Mark 15:15).
Imagine going to the movies with your spouse and two kids. You throw down $35 to buy tickets to a movie that’s gotten all kinds of hype. You stand in line at the concessions counter for what seems like an eternity and throw down another $48.99 on a large tub of popcorn, four large sodas, and a box of peanut M&M’s. You finally make it into the theater, take your seats, and the movie is almost over! You catch the final scene and see how the movie ends, but you miss everything else that leads up to it. Sure, the final scene is impressive, but, not knowing what came before, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. If that was your movie experience, how many of you would feel good about your investment of time and money? How many of you would be satisfied with your experience? How many of you would go back up to the ticket counter and demand your money back?
Obviously, going to the movies to catch only the final scene doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. As we enter this Holy Week, it makes even less sense to jump straight from the shouts of “Hosanna!” on this Palm/Passion Weekend all the way to the glorious celebration of Easter next Sunday without stopping along the way to first see how the story will play itself out on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. As tempting as it might be to skip the suffering and pain that happens in between this Sunday and next, to do so would be like only catching the final scene of a movie. Without the meal Jesus shares with his disciples in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday, without Jesus’ cries of anguish from the cross on Good Friday, and without the dark sadness of Holy Saturday, the good news of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday simply doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. To truly understand Easter we must first experience the rest of the story. To truly understand the joy of resurrection, we must first undergo the cross.
Please do not miss the story of this week. Come to worship on Maundy Thursday (7:00 p.m.) to share in Jesus’ meal with his disciples and to hear Jesus’ command to serve. Come to worship on Good Friday (10:00 a.m – Service of Word and Prayer around the Cross; 7:00 p.m. – Chancel Choir Presentation of John Stainer’s The Crucifixion) to be transformed by Jesus’ suffering death on the cross. Come to worship on Holy Saturday (5:00 p.m.) to welcome the light back into the darkness and to be renewed in the promises of baptism. And, then—and only then—come to worship on Easter Sunday (7:30, 9:30, 10:30 a.m.) to celebrate the joy and promise of resurrection. The story’s too good to only catch the final scene! Bring your family! Bring your friends! Bring your neighbors! The tickets are free!
Becoming NEW +
“Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit’” (John 12:23-24).
Next weekend, March 24-25, begins the holiest week of the entire year for us Christians. On Palm/Passion Weekend, we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into the holy city of Jerusalem, joining the crowd in waving our palm branches and crying out, “Hosanna!,” which means, “Lord, save us!”
However, even as we raise our palms and shout our “Hosannas,” we know all too well how Jesus’ week in Jerusalem will turn out. By the end of the week, the One who is heralded as king hangs dead on the cross, having given his life for the life of the world. We will anticipate the events of the week with the reading of the Passion Story from the gospel of Mark, hearing anew the dramatic story of Jesus’ trial before Pilate, his crucifixion, his final words from the cross, and his dying breath.
Palm/Passion Weekend involves us as participants in the events yet to come, taking us on an emotional roller coaster ride as our joy quickly turns to sorrow. It is a ride many of us in our own lives have experienced as well as the joy we once knew gives way to the sorrow of grief and illness and brokenness and loss. Palm/Passion Weekend reminds us that it is a journey we do not walk by ourselves. Jesus walks the journey with us, experiencing the full depths of human suffering, even to the point of death on the cross, to free us once and for all for the joy of life in God’s kingdom.
Commit yourselves this year to full participation in this most meaningful journey. Commit yourselves to join us in worship next weekend for Palm/Passion Weekend as the journey begins. It is a journey that takes us through the depths of sin and sorrow and into the joy and promise of everlasting life. It is a journey that promises to change our lives forever. Please come. Come and let God’s love change you.
Becoming NEW +
“From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom” (Numbers 21:4).
This year on Palm Sunday, March 25, we have a unique opportunity happening here at St. John’s. Our Beyond Bread Small Group is preparing for us a traditional Passover Seder Meal that will be served at 6:00 p.m. Space is limited to the first 30 participants who sign-up. Sign-up sheets are available at both Welcome Centers. In addition to a unique and delicious meal, the Seder Meal invites us into the story of God’s deliverance of God’s people from slavery into freedom. The Seder Meal is more than a meal. It is a worship experience like none other.
But why? Why might Christians want to participate in a traditionally Jewish observance? To answer the question of “Why?”, I turn to a writing by Barbara Balzac Thompson.
“The Seder is one part of the present-day Jewish seven-day Passover celebration. The name Passover harks back to the time when God, through Moses, led the Israelites out of their slavery. The Egyptian pharaoh was finally convinced to let the people go when the angel of death killed every firstborn in Egypt but ‘passed over’ the Israelite homes that had put lamb’s blood on their doorposts.
To recall that great deliverance, the elements of the traditional Seder meal symbolize significant features of the Israelite experience. Both the event of God’s deliverance and the directions God gave Moses for later commemoration of the Passover history are represented in the Seder ritual and meal.
Christians are particularly interested in this ritual meal because it was during a Passover celebration that Jesus instituted Holy Communion. It should be realized, however, that the Passover clearly predates and is entirely separate from the Eucharist. The Seder is a later Jewish form of the Passover observance, useful and important in its own right, having been practiced for more than 1,000 years. It must not be mixed with Christian concepts or expressions if it is to be authentic. It is a Jewish celebration of freedom useful in helping Christians understand Judaism” (Barbara Balzac Thompson. Passover Seder: Ritual and Menu for an Observance by Christians. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984.)
Sign-up today! Seats are going fast! Come and be reminded anew of how God intervened to deliver God’s people Israel and how God’s deliverance continues still to free us!
Becoming NEW +
St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church is called to be in meaningful relationships with Christ, with one another, and with the community.” This first half of our mission statement is what we strive for every day. This weekend we will hear the story of the 10 Commandments. These words, given by God to Moses to share with the Israelites, remind us of the relationship that God establishes with us. The laws given to us are not laws to punish us, or to keep us separated from one another. They are laws focused on maintaining and build relationships with God, with others, and with our community. God wants us to be in relationships with one another, and by following these commandments, we have a “blue- print” as to how these relationships are to be formed and maintained. This upcoming June, the vans, trucks, and trailers will be loaded once again as we set off on our annual mission trip to Marion, Virginia. This will be our 11th year becoming the hands and feet of Christ as we complete home repair projects through Project Crossroads. Through our actions, hundreds of lives have been directly impacted through the relationships we have formed. We have been called to share our resources with those less fortunate than us. By traveling to Marion every year, we are reminded of how, through our actions, we share God’s love and strengthen the relationships we have built over the years not only with the residents of Marion, but also with each other. On behalf of the entire Mission Trip Planning Team, I invite you to join us for this year’s trip. If you are able, please join us at 9:15 a.m. this Sunday in the Parlor for an informational meeting, where we will go over some of the details as well as be joined, via Skype, by Mark Stransky from Project Crossroads. If you are unable to come to the meeting, but would like information, please come talk to me or grab a trip brochure located at both of the Welcome Centers. Together in Christ
The horror of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida on Ash Wednesday that left 17 dead and many more wounded continues to haunt us, raising many questions and fueling political debate around multiple issues. Regardless of our stark differences about what the solution is, surely we can all agree that something needs to be done to stop this senseless violence and to keep our children safe. In response to the shooting, our ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton offered a helpful statement. I share her thoughts with you.
Becoming NEW +
“A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled because they are no more” (Matthew 2:18).
As we live into these first days and weeks of Lent, we do so riveted by the news of another tragic mass shooting, this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Ash Wednesday. My heart, like yours, is filled with anguish; my spirit, like yours, laments. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be consoled because they are no more, and so do we.
We pray for the inconsolable loved ones and for the shooter and his family, for those terrorized by what took place and those who are unmoved. We acknowledge our own failings and ask God to guide us in finding new ways to turn the tide together on both the availability of assault weapons and the lack of mental health care.
But we know that those things alone won’t solve this epidemic. All of us, including the church, must take a close look at ourselves. How are we cultivating a culture of violence, hatred, anger, and fear, and how can we participate in building a counter-culture where people can experience God’s intended peace and life abundant for all?
Lent is a time for lamentation, dwelling with our sorrow, and facing the painful reality of death. We take each step certain that God weeps with us, walks with us in our deepest sufferings, and in the end makes the ultimate sacrifice for us – through death on a cross. This is our strength for the journey.
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
“And the Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him”
Worshiping together as a community is central to our Christian faith. It is also central to our journey through the 40-day season of Lent. In addition to our weekly worship each Saturday and Sunday, we invite you to worship with us on Wednesdays during this Lenten season as we continue to grow in faith and discipleship to Christ.
We offer two worship opportunities each Wednesday. The first is held at 12:15 p.m. in the Parish Life Center (PLC) Lobby. A delicious lunch is available beginning at 12:00 noon. Simply pick up your lunch, grab a seat at one of the round tables with your fellow disciples, and worship while you eat. Worship ends by 12:45 so that you can make it back to work if needed. The second begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. Come early and grab a sandwich and a bowl of deli- cious, homemade soup to share with your fellow disciples before you worship. Serving begins at 5:45 p.m. in the PLC Lobby and runs until 6:40 p.m. Let’s pack the PLC Lobby and Sanctuary this Lent as we come to be fed in both body and spirit!
In addition to Wednesday worship and fellowship, we are offering an additional opportunity this Lent as well. A small group study will be offered at 6:00 p.m. each Wednesday in the Parish Life Center (PLC) as we view and discuss the video
study It Is Finished, based on the last words Jesus spoke from the cross. Grab your soup and sandwich, bring it with you into the PLC, and enter into Christ’s final moments before his death on the cross. Then, join us for worship afterward in the sanctuary as the reflection on Jesus’ final words continues.
Don’t do Lent on your own this year. Come and do Lent together each Wednesday as we grow together not only with Christ, but also with one another!
Becoming NEW +
“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God” (Mark 1:14).
With the addition of a Full-Time Director of Media and Communications here at St. John’s in mid-2017, we have already seen many significant improvements in how we communicate our many ministries both inside our congregation and in our community. We have an entirely new website that is much more interactive and user-friendly. We are in the midst of transitioning our monthly Eagle newsletter to a quarterly Eagle magazine. We have incorporated our congregation’s new logo into all of our print and online media. This weekend, you are experiencing a newly designed and easier-to-read Messenger. And, we now are live-streaming one of our worship services each week on-line! Many good things are happening!
I am excited to share with you one additional new thing that is happening that will help us all stay better connected and informed of what’s going on at St. John’s. Just this past week, we launched a completely new and redesigned calendar on our church website – www.stjohns-springfield.org. This new calendar will update itself every 15 minutes and will include the most up-to-date information about everything that is going on in the life of the congregation.
To access the calendar on the webpage, simply click on the three small horizontal bars in the righthand corner of the webpage. These menu tri-bars will display our website menu. Simply click on “Calendar” and the current month’s calendar will appear. You have several display options once you access the calendar. You can view events either by month or by week. You may also access ministry-specific calendars, such as a calendar for Adult Ministries, Youth Ministries, or Children’s Ministries. If you want to learn more about a specific event, simply move your cursor over the event and an information box will appear.
This new online calendar replaces the printed monthly calendars that used to be printed in the monthly Eagles. It is now the most accurate, thorough, and up-to-date calendar for everything that’s going on at St. John’s. I invite you to check it out and access it regularly to keep informed. The way we communicate with one another is rapidly changing. Our new online calendar is yet one more way we are sharing the good news with new and ever-changing generations for the sake of Christ’s gospel.
Becoming NEW +
“In the beginning...”
The lessons we hear remind us of the new things God has done. We hear
in Genesis the new thing God did in creating everything in our world. Out of nothing, God created us and all things in this place we call our home. 2,000 years ago, God did another new thing. Christ Jesus, God’s Son, was sent into the world for us. We hear that in the Jordan River Jesus was baptized and God called out saying, “This is my Son”. In our own baptism, we are reminded that God called out to each of us, telling us that we are God’s children, and that God will always be with us.
God will also be doing new things here at St. John’s in 2018. Not only will God be at work through the building remodel and addition, but also through the existing ministries and the changing ministries and the new ministries that God will call us to do.
One ministry area that has experienced change already in 2018 is Youth and Family Ministry. Youth ministry is ever-changing and, as youth graduate and new youth enter in, there becomes an opportunity to evaluate the current programming and see if it is what the current youth are looking for. After conversations with youth and parents, Sunday nights were not working with schedules. In order to work with youth and family schedules, for the rest of the school year, Encounter will be paused to evaluate this ministry. I am grateful for all the youth who made Encounter what it was and for all the parents and volunteers who helped out.
By not having Encounter, there have been some schedule changes. The youth Bible Study is now on Sunday morning and will be a time to dig in deeper to the books of the Bible and look at them in a different perspective. Wednesday Night LIVE! is the new Wednesday night youth group. It will be a time
for fun, service projects, and to hang out with friends. If you are a high school youth, come and see what these new programs are. If you know a high school youth, encourage them to come and check out the new programs and see what God is up to in their lives.
In Jesus’ baptism and in our own baptism, we are reminded that God has called us his children. In our lessons today, we are reminded that God has done and will continue to do new things. In 2018, as we journey towards the new things God has called us to do, take time to listen and see what new thing God is calling you and St. John’s to this year.
Together in Christ,
“Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:8-10).
Two thousand years ago, Paul took the good news of Jesus and proclaimed it in a new way to the Gentiles, announcing that, in Christ, all peoples now had access to God’s grace. Five hundred years ago, a Roman Catholic priest by the name of Martin Luther took advantage of the brand new, high-tech Gutenberg printing press to proclaim the message of the gospel across Europe. Throughout the ages, the Christian church has had to find ever new ways to share the good news of Jesus, adapting to ever-changing means of communication and technology. The Christian church of today is no exception. Change is happening at a record pace and, while the gospel has not changed, how we communicate the gospel must.
As I shared in last week’s Messenger article, in 2018 we are going to be experimenting with some new communication methods. Instead of receiving a monthly Eagle newsletter in the mail, you will be receiving four quarterly Eagle magazines. These will arrive in March, June, September, and December. The primary purpose of these newly designed Eagle magazines will be to tell the story of how God is at work in and through the congregation of St. John’s. In the months when you will not be receiving an Eagle, you will receive a postcard in the mail, sharing the highlights of what will be taking place at St. John’s over the coming weeks. You should have received your January postcard in the mail this past week. The weekly Messengers included in the worship bulletins will continue and will include all of the needed information about upcoming ministries.
Moving to a quarterly Eagle will allow us to focus more on our internet and social media communication, including e-mail, Facebook, and our newly designed website at www.stjohns-springfield.org . The website is the best place to find all the information you need to know about what’s going on at St. John’s and how you can get involved. In addition, two weekly e-mails will be sent out to the congregation, one on Tuesdays of each week sharing what’s happening “This Week” at St. John’s and one on Fridays of each week sharing what’s happening “This Weekend” at St. John’s. In order to make these e-mail communications most effective, we, of course, need your most up-to-date e-mail address. During this weekend’s worship, we will be asking everyone to share with us their most up-to-date e-mail address so that we can make sure you are receiving the information you need. Thank you in advance for your help as we continue in the tradition of St. Paul, Martin Luther, and many, many others of proclaiming the good news of Jesus in ever new and changing ways!
Becoming new +
“The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give” (Isaiah 62:2).
With each new year comes change. 2018 will be different than 2017 just as 2017 was different than 2016. Sometimes change is good. Sometimes change is bad. Regardless, change is seldom easy.
One of the many things that is rapidly changing in our society is how we communicate with one another. While print media such as newspapers and magazines used to be the primary way of sharing information, today the internet and all the varied forms of social media have superseded print as the primary way people share information. I still greatly enjoy reading my news in a good, old-fashioned newspaper and I have yet to send my first tweet, but I realize I am in an ever-shrinking minority.
As we have looked at how we share information here at St. John’s over the past year, it has become increasingly clear that we need to streamline our communications to make them more effective, particularly for those who no longer rely on print as their primary source of information. As a result, the Leadership Board has decided that, for a one-year trial basis, we will move from a monthly Eagle newsletter to a quarterly Eagle magazine. In 2018, you will receive this more substantial and more engaging Eagle magazine in March, June, September, and December. In each of the other 8 months of the year, you will simply receive a large postcard in the mail highlighting the primary ministry events taking place in the coming month. In addition, the weekly Messenger insert in the bulletins will continue.
Moving to a quarterly Eagle will free up our staff to make our website, Facebook, and e-mail our primary and most effective means of communicating information both within the congregation and with the larger community. If you have not yet visited our website at www.stjohns-springfield.org , I invite you to do so. In addition to all the information you need to know about upcoming ministries and events, you can listen to sermons, access the weekly Messengers and daily devotions, enjoy pictures of recent congregational events, and even give to support the many ministries of St. John’s.
As I shared at the beginning of this article, change is seldom easy. Our new means of sharing information will take some getting used to and will certainly have some advantages as well as disadvantages. As this is a one-year trial, we look forward to hearing your feedback on all of our means of communication. Let us know what works and what doesn’t work as well. In the end, our goal is simply to do the best and most effective job we possibly can in sharing information with you and in communicating all the exciting ministries that are happening in and through St. John’s. Now off to my typewriter to see if I can send my first tweet, though I might stop to read the newspaper along the way!
Becoming in Christ +
“He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty” (Luke 1:52-53).
In addition to being the 4th weekend of Advent, this Sunday is Christmas Eve and this Monday is Christmas Day which means lots and lots of visitors! Churches around the world, including here at St. John’s, will welcome more visitors over these two days than any other weekend of the entire year. The large influx of visitors at Christmas challenges us to have on our “A-game” when it comes to hospitality! For many, this weekend might be the only time during the entire year that they come to church which means that this is our only opportunity to welcome them (or not!). We have a big job to do and it’s up to ALL of us!
Just this past week, Pastor Adam shared with me a blog post written by an ELCA pastor about her recent experience in visiting another ELCA congregation. Her experience serves as a helpful reminder to all of us.
“This morning I was reminded of the importance of ushers as I visited a local ELCA congregation for worship with my two-month-old daughter. It’s a lesson that I will be taking with me to my parish when I return from maternity leave and one I wanted to briefly share with you to consider too. I’m a first-time parent and I didn’t realize how much of a struggle it is to get ready on a Sunday morning and to get to worship on time. We finally made it this morning just in the nick of time for worship but arrived to usher-less doors and sanctuary. As I walked around the back seats searching for a seat in the sanctuary while dragging along my infant in her car seat carrier, there was no one to direct me and when I asked people if I could sit in the empty seats near them, I was informed that they were saving them. As a church insider I know that, yes, this Sunday happened to be the kids’ Christmas program and, yes, it made sense that the church was full. However, as a new parent, I was so excited to finally make it to worship (and on time!) and devastated that I couldn’t find a seat for me and my child. Finally I gave up and walked out of the church building. This morning truly felt like ‘there was no place in the inn’ for my family. If I wasn’t already familiar with the church and its pastor, I don’t know if I would have the courage to go back. What if I had been a first-time parent seeking a new church home? Other than my sadness at feeling rejected this morning, the lesson I take for me and for many of our congregations is that the hospitality of our ushers matters. Having someone direct me to a seat or offering to bring in a chair for me and my infant would have made a huge difference in my morning and my opinion of the congregation. I hope this Christmas Eve all of our congregations can offer thoughtful hospitality (and helpful seating direction) to our guests whether they be long-time members or newcomers seeking Christ.”
As this pastor so rightly states, the hospitality of our ushers and greeters and worship leaders truly matters, but so does the hospitality each of us offers to those who are seated around us or who we meet in the parking lot or who we pass in the hallway. As we gather for Christmas worship these coming days, let’s all be extra attentive to welcoming those guests and visitors in our midst. Help them find a seat. Make sure you speak to them and tell them how glad you are to see them. Point them to the bathrooms. In doing so, we’re doing more than simply being welcoming to them. We are sharing with them the Christ-child and, for some, they may never have experienced him before.
Becoming in Christ +