Epiphany 3

“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 +

Pastor Greg

Baptism of our Lord

“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,

Pastor Adam

Epiphany of our Lord

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 +

Pastor Greg

Christmas 1

“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 +

Pastor Greg

Advent 4

“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 +

Pastor Greg

Advent 3

“Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed” (Isaiah 61:9).

There is no doubt that children hold a special place in the kingdom of God. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus teaches, “Let the little children come to me; do notstop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (10:14). And, “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (10:15). As the song simply states, “Jesus loves the little children!”

 

Here at St. John’s, we love the little children as well. Especially at Christmas time, but all through the year, in the children of our congregation we see the love of the Christ-child beaming bright. Just this past week, the 175 children of our St. John’s Preschool proclaimed the true meaning of the season through their annual Christmas program. This Sunday at our combined 10:30 worship service, the children of our congregation will present their annual Christmas program Follow the Star. And each week, as they gather for Sunday School, as they share in the Children’s Message, as they participate in Sprout!, as they play in our church nursery, the smiles and laughter, the energy and enthusiasm, the love and welcome of our children richly bless our congregation and our community.

Thank you, St. John’s, for being a congregation that values and seeks to include children in all aspects of our congregation’s life and ministry!

Thank you, Sunday School teachers,Sprout! leaders, preschool teachers and staff, nursery staff, musicians, and all those who share your gifts in ministry with the children of our congregation!

Thank you, parents, for taking seriously the promises you made to your children in baptism and teaching them that they are loved and valued by God!

In a world that thrives on competition and that demands of us to constantly prove that we are worthy of our place in it,

THANK YOU, St. John’s, for being a place where children and their families are welcome, just as they are, and where ALL CHILDREN have a place as God’s beloved creation! There is no better gift we can give our children than knowing that God loves them. May that be our mission, not just at Christmas, but all through the year.

Becoming in Christ +

Pastor Greg

Advent 2

“O come, O come, Emmanuel. Come to our hearts and in our presence dwell.

We wait in hope for peace once again. Return to us the joy of Bethlehem.”

-Pamela Martin

 

For many the time leading up to Christmas is flled with chaos. With parties to

host, presents to buy, traveling and visiting friends and relatives it can seem

like the list is never ending. There is always something else to do. We get

caught up in making sure everything is perfect. We get caught up in the presents, not the presence, during this busy season.

The prophets foretold of a time when a Messiah shall come and free Israel

once and for all. No more would the brokenness of humans keep them from

a relationship with God. 2000 years ago, God entered into the world, not

through a mighty king, but through a tiny baby, born in a manger. Through his

love for us, God gave us the greatest gift, Christ Jesus.

The gifts that God offers us through Christ Jesus are something that we could

never accomplish on our own.

 

“I have come to comfort those who mourn, to give them joy instead of sorrow,

hope instead of despair. My unfailing love will not be shaken; my promise of

peace stands forever.”

None of this would be possible without the power of God’s love that shines on

each of us. Even as our world seems to be falling into chaos and the darkness

seems to grow, we are reminded that the presence of Christ is always with us.

The light of Christ, the light that dispels the darkness, surrounds us each and

every day. This light, which burns in each of us, is the calmness our lives need.

When your life seems like the chaos is setting in, take time to sit in the presence of this light. Let the light of Christ vanish the darkness chaos seems to

bring to our lives.

 

Through the music of Mark Hayes and the words of Pamela Martin, it is our

prayer that during this season of rejoicing at the birth of our Messiah you will

be flled with hope, peace, joy, love and the light of Christ.

“Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come in love, our darkness to dispel.”

 

Pastor Pam

Pentecost 24

“Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of the master” (Matthew 25:21).

This Sunday, November 19, our congregation gathers for our Annual Meeting at 12:00 noon in the Parish Life Center (PLC). There are three primary action items on the agenda: 1) Approval of the 2018 Budget; 2) Election of Leaders; and, 3) Voting on whether to proceed with the Proposed Building Renovation and Addition. In addition, the Annual Meeting gives us the opportunity to celebrate together all that God has done and continues to do in and through our congregation.

Two of our congregation’s ministries that touch our community in powerful and life-changing ways are our St. John’s Lutheran Preschool and our St. John’s Eagle Endowment Fund. You can come and hear directly from leaders of each of these ministries during our Adult Forum this Sunday from 9:15-10:15 a.m. in the Adult Meeting Room (AMR). 

Since 1990, our St. John’s Lutheran Preschool has touched the lives of thousands of families in our community by offering a top-quality Christian education to 2-through-4-year-olds. Currently we have 174 students enrolled. The preschool is our preschool. It is part of our mission and ministry. It is one of the many ways we live out our mission to be and make disciples of Christ. The preschool is governed by a board of six elected member-disciples of St. John’s. Rachel Helton serves as the board president. As Lead Pastor, I also serve on the board. We can be very proud of the quality of our preschool.

A more recent ministry is our St. John’s Eagle Endowment Fund. The Endowment Fund currently has a balance of $261,620.08. The Endowment Fund provides a way for disciples to give financial gifts to the congregation that fuel long-term mission and ministry in our congregation, in our community, and in the larger ELCA. The gift principal remains invested by the congregation. The growth from the principal is awarded through annual grants to support capital improvements at St. John’s, local and community outreach, and ministries of the ELCA. This year, we will be awarding $11,300 in grants to recipients that will be announced at the Annual Meeting. The Endowment Fund is managed by the Endowment Committee, comprised of 4 elected member-disciples of the congregation, together with the Leadership Board President and myself serving as advisory members. Mike Bloechle currently serves as the committee chairperson. 

Our congregation has been richly blessed with an abundance of resources to use for the sake of proclaiming the good news of Jesus in both word and action. However, with blessings come responsibility. As today’s gospel reading from Matthew reminds us, Jesus expects us to use the gifts we have been given and not to hide them in fear. We can be most thankful for our St. John’s Lutheran Preschool and our St. John’s Eagle Endowment Fund. How can we continue to responsibly use and grow these ministries for the living out of God’s mission both in this place and beyond?

Together in Christ +

Pastor Greg

Pentecost 23

“Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. Let those who love your salvation say evermore, ‘God is great!’” (Psalm 70:4).

Next Sunday, November 19 at 12:00 noon our congregation will gather in the Parish Life Center (PLC) for our Annual Meeting. It is a time for all voting member-disciples of the congregation to gather together to conduct the business of the congregation as well as to discern how God is calling us to be Christ’s church in the coming year.

As always, one of the most significant items of business on the agenda for the Annual Meeting is the adoption of the annual budget. The annual budget of the congregation serves as a mission plan for how we are going to allocate God’s resources for the living out of Christ’s mission in and through St. John’s in 2018. Also on this year’s agenda is a motion from the Leadership Board to proceed with the proposed building renovation and addition that is designed to increase and grow our hospitality space outside of the sanctuary as well as to add much needed office space for our growing staff. Following much prayer, discernment, and listening to the congregation over these past many months, the motion that the Leadership Board is presenting reads as follows:

Motion to Proceed with the Proposed Building Project

The St. John’s Leadership Board moves that the congregation:

1) Approve the proposed renovation and addition project at a total cost not to exceed $1,389,000;

2) Grant the St. John’s Leadership Board the authority to add up to, but not more than $350,000 to the existing mortgage for the purpose of completing the project; and,

3) Grant the St. John’s Leadership Board the authority to take out a short-term construction loan not to exceed $500,000 to be paid off in its entirety no later than May 31, 2020.

At the Adult Forum this Sunday from 9:15-10:15 a.m. in the Adult Meeting Room (AMR), representatives of the Leadership Board, Finance Committee, and Property Ministry Team will be sharing more details with you about both the Proposed 2018 Budget and the Proposed Motion above. Please plan on being in attendance to learn more about how God is calling us to move forward in living out our mission to be and make disciples of Christ, in response to God’s grace. It is a most exciting time in the life of this congregation. Come and be a part!

Together in Christ +

Pastor Greg

All Saints

“Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

On Sunday, November 19 at 12:00 noon, our congregation will gather for our Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting is more than just a time to conduct the business of the congregation, though such business is, indeed, important. The Annual Meeting is a time for us to gather together as God’s people to celebrate together all that God has achieved through St. John’s over the past year, to dream together about what God might have in store for us in the year to come, and to discern together how God is calling us forward in mission and ministry.

At this year’s Annual Meeting, we will be voting on whether to proceed with a significant building renovation and addition project in the coming year. I will share more information in next week’s article about the specific motion that will be presented by the Leadership Board. In addition, during next week’s Adult Forum from 9:15-10:15 a.m. in the Adult Meeting Room (AMR), a presentation will be shared to help you learn more about both the building proposal and the proposed 2018 budget. 

Also in preparation for the Annual Meeting, this weekend’s Adult Forum will feature representatives from each of our five Vision Teams, sharing with us what God has accomplished through them during the past year and what their hopes and dreams are for the coming year. Our five Vision Teams correspond to our five primary Ministry Areas and are led by the following team leaders and pastoral liaisons:

  • Community Care

Team Leader: Jeff Pirmann

Pastoral Liaison: Pastor Pam Mitcham

  • Discipleship

Team Leader: Sharon Cassens

Pastoral Liaison: Pastor Adam Connolly

  • Outreach and Mission

Team Leader: Todd Bringuet

Pastoral Liaison: Pastor Adam Connolly

  • Stewardship

Team Leader: Jennifer Read

Pastoral Liaison: Pastor Greg Busboom

  • Worship

Team Leader: Melissa Roselle

Pastoral Liaison: Pastor Greg Busboom

Following the five presentations, time will be given for questions, conversation, and dreaming together about how and where God is calling us as a congregation. Your presence and participation are both needed and valued! Come and join together as we rejoice in all that God is doing here at St. John’s and as we look forward to the future God is preparing for us!

Together in Christ +

Pastor Greg

Reformation

“For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law” (Romans 3:28).

Five hundred years ago, on October 31, 1517, the Roman Catholic priest Martin Luther posted 95 theses on the front door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg University where Luther served as a professor. Luther’s 95 theses are 95 complaints against the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church of his day and center around Luther’s staunch opposition to Pope Leo X’s selling of indulgences for the forgiveness of people’s sins. These 95 theses created

a firestorm across Europe and eventually led to Luther’s excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church and the formation of the Lutheran movement of which we here at St. John’s are still a part.

For ve hundred years, the Lutheran movement has centered around ve primarily theological claims.

Claim #1 – Sola scriptura (Scripture alone). Lutherans claim that God’s Word, contained within the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, is the Church’s sole source of authority and that God’s Word constantly calls the Church to reform itself according to the gospel of Christ.

Claim #2 – Sola de (Faith alone). Lutherans hold that it is not the doing of good works that save us, but rather that we are saved solely by faith in Christ. Such faith is a gift of God’s Holy Spirit, created in us by God’s Word at work in our lives. Good works proceed from our faith, but good works do not create faith.

Claim #3 – Sola gratia (Grace alone). Lutherans believe that salvation is a gift of God’s grace to us in Jesus and not something that we can somehow earn or deserve. God accomplished our salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are saved not because of anything we have done or could do, but only by what God has done for us in Jesus.

Claim #4 – Solus Christus (Christ alone). Lutherans teach that we are not righteous (made right with God) on our own, but rather that in our baptism, we have been clothed with Christ’s own righteousness. We have been made righteous (right with God) because Christ’s righteousness has been given to us. Christ alone saves us.

Claim #5 – Soli Deo Gloria (To the glory of God alone). Lutherans trust that Christ has made us free to no longer live our lives for ourselves, but rather to live our lives wholly and fully for God as we love and serve our neighbors. Now that we have been saved by grace through faith, we are free to live our whole lives in worship and praise of God.

Even as we give thanks for the past 500 years, all the more we look forward to how God is calling us forward for the sake of Christ’s gospel in the world over the next 500 years. The world needs the gospel. The theological claims we Lutherans continue to make put us in a unique position to proclaim the good news to today’s world in both our words and our actions. How is God calling each of us to live out the claims we make and to share the good news that, in Christ, we have been made free? How is God calling St. John’s to live out our mission to be and made disciples of Christ, in response to God’s grace?

Together in Christ +

Pastor Greg

Pentecost 19

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5).

Be. More. Together. These three simple words communicate our fall theme here at St. John’s. First, we are called to be. The Christian life is not ultimately about doing, but rather about being, that is, being the freed and forgiven children God has called us to be. The Christian life is not ultimately about what we do, but rather about who we are. Second, we are called be more. Our identity as forgiven children of God frees us to be more than we otherwise would be without Christ’s forgiveness. The forgiveness that is ours in Christ frees us to live our lives wholly and fully for God and for our neigh- bors. No longer is our primary concern taking care of ourselves. Christ has freed us to make our primary concern our relationships with God, with each other, and with the world around us. And, nally, we are called to be more together. As Christians, we are called into community. We become more when we are in relationship with others. And, our witness to Christ in the world becomes more when we combine our gifts with the gifts of those around us in service to others.

This coming week, you will be receiving in the mail your Stewardship Packets for 2018. Included in your packet will be your 2018 Commitment Card and your 2018 Time, Talents, and Touch Form. As you prayerfully complete both of these forms for the coming year, the Stewardship Vision Team asks that you think about how God is calling each of us to be more together. How is God calling us to share our nancial resources in order to care for the church and Christ’s mission in it, to care for one another, and to care for our community? How is God calling us to share our time, our talents, and our touch for the sake of Christ’s mission and ministry in the world? How is God calling us to be more together for the sake of the gospel?

Our stewardship goal for the coming year is not so much about a dollar amount, but rather about participation. Perhaps you’ve never pledged to St. John’s before. If that is the case, we are inviting you to be more together as you join your nancial pledge with others in our community of faith for the sake of a world in need. Perhaps it’s been a while since you’ve shared your gifts of time and talent in ministry here at St. John’s. If that is the case, we are inviting you to be more together as you jump back into full participation in the life of our congregation. Perhaps you are feeling that your faith is waning and you are growing distant in your relationship with Christ. If that is the case, we are inviting you to be more together as you re-engage your faith, growing in your participation in the life of discipleship.

Be. More. Together. Three simple words. What will these three words mean for you as we commit our time, talents, treasures, and touch to Christ in the coming year?

Together in Christ +

Pastor Greg

Pentecost 18

“Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom” (Matthew 21:43)

In the story Jesus tells in today’s gospel reading from Matthew, Jesus reminds us that we are each called and expected to bear fruit in God’s kingdom. God has called us for a purpose—to grow and share the gifts we have been given as we serve Christ and Christ’s people.

Our fall theme here at St. John’s is Be More Together as we celebrate the many gifts we have as the community of Christ in this place and as we explore how we can share these gifts with one another and with the community beyond our walls. We are more together as we grow in relationships with one another. We are more together as we share our gifts of time, talents, treasure, and touch. We are more together as we reach out beyond ourselves into the world God loves.

Next Saturday, October 14, we have a tremendous opportunity as a congregation to be more together as we gather for our Be More Fall Ministry Fair from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the Parish Life Center (PLC). Nearly 30 ministry teams from here at St. John’s will be hosting interactive displays about how each of us can get more involved in the many ministries we share. Visit at least 10 of these displays and you will receive a free newly designed St. John’s coffee mug featuring our new logo!

In addition to enjoying each of the many displays, there will be delicious homemade chili, hotdogs, and dessert for all! Enter your own special chili in the Great Chili Cookoff and win great prizes! Our very own Colin Helton will be sharing live music! There will be games and activities for the kids! And, I will be sharing information about our growing mission and ministry here at St. John’s! 

This is a most important time in the life of our congregation and the world needs the good news of Jesus more now than ever. Come and join with us next Saturday evening and celebrate who we are and who God is calling us to become! Come and join with us as we learn how to Be More Together.

Together in Christ +

Pastor Greg

Pentecost 17

Martin Luther called prayer “a strong wall and fortress of the church.” If he is right, and he is right, the mission and ministry of St. John’s is built on the right foundation.

WE ARE CHURCH TOGETHER as we PRAY . . . in worship.
We are one in the sanctuary and the PLC when we lift our prayers to the Lord.

WE ARE CHURCH TOGETHER as we PRAY . . . in groups.
Whether it’s a meeting, activity or other kind of gathering, we begin
and end with a time of prayer. Sometimes it’s sung together in a joyful, laughing, quick pace, like at a Sprout! meal. Other times it’s with bowed heads as we gather around a table for serious discussion. Youth activities often include the “popcorn” prayer as they shout out what they are thankful for.

WE ARE CHURCH TOGETHER as we PRAY . . . through the prayer chain. We can receive an e-mail every week inviting us to pray for specific people and situations based on requests for prayer turned in at worship. Be sure to put your prayer requests on the cards when you worship in the sanctuary, or in the prayer request book in the PLC. And, if you are not receiving the e-mail, you can do so by contacting Liz Kelley at bhappy34@comcast.net.

WE ARE CHURCH TOGETHER as we PRAY . . . in our homes.
“Growing Deeper” is the devotional available in print and online. Staff members share thoughts and prayers based on a scripture passage, inviting you to spend time with Jesus. “Taking Faith Home” invites families of all sizes to daily scripture reading and prayer.

Yes, WE ARE CHURCH TOGETHER as we PRAY. Together in Christ - to pray!

Pentecost 16

One of the promises made at the time of baptism is to live among God’s faithful people.  Living within the community of faith involves us in worship, learning, and serving along with others.  The gift of community brings us into relationship not only with Jesus, but with one another.

Everyone suffers losses.  Everyone grieves at one time or another.  One of the most difficult losses we experience is the death of a loved one.  It can be hard to reach out to others when dealing with feelings of sadness and loss.  We are created by God to be in community, and especially in difficult times, that community can offer support, encouragement and comfort.

St. John’s will hold a series of Grief Support Gatherings for anyone who has experienced the death of a person whom they loved.  We begin October 2 and will be led by Margie Wheelhouse, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Professional Counselor, and a Nationally Certified Counselor.  Margie has helped many people cope with grief and sadness.  “The loss of a loved one is probably the most difficult relationship problem there is,” Margie explains.  “Because the rest of the world seems to be going on as usual, it can feel incredibly lonely and bewildering.  One way to ease that pain and find a way through it is by participating in a grief support group.”  To register for the gatherings, call the church office or speak with Pastor Pam.

At our 10:30 sanctuary service this Sunday we will commission two new Stephen Ministry Leaders, Pastor Pam and Cindy Sedam.  Through the Stephen Ministry, St. John’s provides  

confidential, one-to-one Christian care to people experiencing a crisis or going through a difficult time. Stephen Ministers meet weekly with their care receiver for around an hour to listen, care, encourage, pray, and provide emotional and spiritual support for the person. Caring relationships last for as long as the person’s need persists.  For information about becoming a Stephen Minister or to receive care, please see any one of the pastors.

The Grief Support Gatherings and Stephen Ministry are but two of the ways we are church together as we encourage one another.  Your phone call, hand shake, conversation, offer of a ride, sending of a card, checking in, noticing someone may need a little help – your caring brings the love of Jesus to someone else.  Thank you.

Together in Christ – to encourage!

Pastor Pam

Pastor’s Message – Pentecost 13

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:9-10).

 

The story is shared of something that happened during Vacation Bible School a few years ago. A class was interrupted one day about an hour before dismissal when a new student was brought in. The little boy had one arm missing, and since the class was almost over, the teacher had no opportunity to learn any details about the cause or the little boy’s state of adjustment. She was very nervous and afraid that one of the children would blurt out something and embarrass him. There was no opportunity to caution them, so she proceeded as carefully as possible. 

 

As the class time drew to a close, she began to relax. She asked the class to join her in their usual closing ceremony. “Let’s make our churches,” she said. “Here’s the church and here’s the steeper, open the doors and see . . .” The awful truth of her own actions struck her. The very thing she had feared that the children would do, she had done. As she stood there speechless, the little girl sitting next to the boy with the missing arm simply reached over with her left hand and placed it up to his right hand and gently said, “Here, let’s be the church together!” 

 

Our fall theme here at St. John’s is We are church TOGETHER! It is a theme that has been lifted up across the ELCA by our Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. The truth is that we need each other. We need each other in worship. We need each other in prayer. We need each other in service. We need each other in learning. We need each other in outreach and in mission. We need each other when we are suffering and we need each other when we are rejoicing.

 

Next weekend, September 9 and 10, is Rally Weekend here at St. John’s! It is a time when we come TOGETHER as Christ’s church in this place to celebrate who we are as Christ’s people. We worship together. We learn together. We serve together. We eat together. We are church together

 

Come and join together as we worship at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, and at a Combined Celebration Worship at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. Come and join together as we join our voices with guest musician Jonathan Rundman as he leads us in worship and as he shares a special concert with us on Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. in the sanctuary, featuring some of our favorite and most beloved hymns! Come and join together as we gear up for Sunday School and Sprout! and Confirmation and a variety of Bible Studies! Come and join together as we fill Blessing Bottles to be shared with the homeless community here in Springfield! Come and join together as we share a delicious meal on the church lawn catered by Nelson’s! It promises to be a WONDERFUL weekend! Your presence is needed. We can’t be the church by ourselves. Come and join with us as we are church TOGETHER!

 

Together in Christ +

Pastor Greg

Pastor’s Message - Pentecost 12

“For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5).

For several years now, it has become increasingly clear that in order to communicate most effectively about all the ministry that is happening in and through our congregation a Director of Media and Communications was needed. In today’s world, communication happens not just through the traditional forms of bulletins and newsletters, but through a wide array of social media, including websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, e-mail, Snapchat, the list goes on and on. If we are going to be most effective in living out our mission to be and make disciples of Christ, then we need to be equipped to use all of these means of communication to share the good news.

Since the summer of 2016, Tucker Good has served as our Interim Director of Youth and Family Ministries. With the addition of Pastor Adam earlier this month and his many gifts for ministry with youth, the Leadership Board acted to move Tucker into a new position as Director of Media and Communications. Tucker has amazing gifts for this position and in just a few short weeks has transformed our website as well as many other of our communication means. Tucker will be working 30 hours per week for St. John’s in this position and 10 hours per week as the Director of Media and Communications for our Central/Southern Illinois Synod. The synod has contracted with us for this position and will be reimbursing St. John’s for 25% of Tucker’s annual salary and bene ts. This arrangement is a win-win for both St. John’s and the synod.

Tucker’s new office is located just beyond Pastor Pam’s office and
right across from the sacristy. He also has an office at the synod office
on South 5th street across from the Governor’s Mansion and will be sharing time between the two. If you or your ministry team need any help with communicating about your ministry on the website, in the weekly Messenger or monthly Eagle, via Facebook or e-mail, please feel free to contact Tucker and he will be more than happy to assist you. The best way to reach Tucker is through e-mail at tgood@stjohns-spring eld.org or by contacting him at 217.793.3933.

I am most grateful for Tucker’s new role and the abundant gifts that he brings. I am also most grateful for the bold leadership of our St. John’s Leadership Board as they continue to lead creatively and faithfully to move our congregation forward in the mission and ministry to which God daily calls us.

Equipped for discipleship +

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 7.07.18 PM.png
 

Pastor’s Message – Pentecost 11

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations” (Psalm 67:1-2).

In the past two weekend’s Messengers, I have outlined for you the primary roles and responsibilities of Pastor Adam as Pastor of Outreach and Discipleship and of Pastor Pam as Pastor of Community Care. This weekend, let me outline for you my primary roles and responsibilities as Lead Pastor.

In addition to serving as the Head of Staff, I continue to hold primary responsibility for both the worship life of the congregation and the stewardship of the congregation, serving as the primary pastoral liaison to both the Worship and Stewardship Vision Teams. I work closely with the other pastors and our congregation’s talented music staff to plan and lead worship that is Biblically and confessionally sound, awe-inspiring and spiritually uplifting, and that grows us deeply in our relationships with Christ, with each other, and with the community around us. Christian Stewardship has many facets, including financial stewardship, spiritual gifts, and care of our facilities. I meet monthly with the Property Ministry Team to care for and manage our buildings and grounds.

In addition to staff supervision, worship, and stewardship, I also work closely with the Leadership Board, meeting with them twice each month to oversee the mission and ministry of our congregation, and serve on the Finance and Administration Committee, the Endowment Fund Committee, and the St. John’s Preschool Board. In being part of these leadership groups in the congregation, we articulate and care for the mission and vision of St. John’s, seeking to align our varied resources in ways that best serve the gospel both here in Springfield and beyond.

Though each of us have different roles and responsibilities, know that each of us—Pastor Pam, Pastor Adam, and myself—deeply care for each of you and for this congregation. When one of us shows up at your home or your hospital room, it is as if all three of us are there with you. When one of us attends your meeting or your small group, it is as if all three of us are present. When one of us preaches or teaches or leads worship, it is all if all three of us are there together bearing a united witness to the good news of Christ’s love for the world. Though we now have three pastors serving here at St. John’s, we still have one mission—to be and make disciples of Christ in response to God’s grace. We are church together!

Equipped for discipleship +

Pastor Greg

Pastor’s Message - Pentecost 10

 “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matthew14:31).


Last week I outlined for you the specific areas of ministry for which Pastor Adam Connolly, our new Pastor of Outreach and Discipleship, will hold primary responsibility. This week, let me share with you the primary responsibilities of our Pastor of Community Care, Pastor Pam Mitcham.

Community Care involves caring both for those inside the community of St. John’s as well as for those in the community beyond the walls of our congregation. As Pastor of Community Care, Pastor Pam works closely with our Community Care Vision Team to envision and develop ministries that equip the disciples at St. John’s to care for themselves, for one another, and for the world around us. Ministry teams that fall within the area of Community Care include: 

•Stephen Ministry 

•Parish Nurse Ministry 

•Senior Care Ministry 

•College Outreach Ministry 

•Hospital Visitation Ministry 

•Shut-In Ministry 

•Home Communion Ministry 

•Transportation Ministry 

•Military Ministry 

•Grief Ministry 

All of the pastors at St. John’s will continue to share in caring for the disciples at St. John’s and beyond, but Pastor Pam holds primary responsibility for the coordination, development, and implementation of these ministries. If you or someone you know is in need of pastoral care, please let Pastor Pam know and she will work diligently to get you or your loved one connected with a caring ministry that best fits your particular need.

In the words of our congregation’s Vision Statement—“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 in worship, equipped for discipleship, and sent to care.” How thankful I am to have Pastor Pam part of our ministry team as she leads us in caring for one another and for the community beyond our walls!

Equipped for discipleship +

Pastor Greg

Pastor’s Message - Pentecost 9

 For the first time in St. John’s 147-year history, we now have three full-time pastors serving our congregation as we welcome Pastor Adam Connolly as our new Pastor of Outreach and Discipleship. Thanks be to God!

Growing the pastoral staff of a congregation from two to three is a big transition and will take some growing into. While all three of us—Pastor Adam, Pastor Pam, and myself—are each full ministers of Word and Sacrament in the congregation, sharing responsibility for preaching, teaching, worship leadership, and pastoral care, each of us will hold primary responsibility for different areas of ministry. Over the course of the next three weeks, I will use this Pastor’s Message to outline how this new pastoral configuration will work and who will be doing what.

As this weekend is his first weekend with us, let me start with Pastor Adam. As Pastor of Outreach and Discipleship, Pastor Adam will serve as the primary pastoral liaison to both the Outreach and Mission Vision Team and the Discipleship Vision Team. Under Outreach and Mission, Pastor Adam will relate to the Global Missions Team, the Social Ministry Team, and the Neighborhood Ministry Team. Under Discipleship, Pastor Adam will relate to the Children, Youth, and Family Ministry Teams, the Youth Adult and Adult Ministry Teams, the Small Groups Ministry Teams, and more. Pastor Adam will serve as the direct supervisor for Sam Neahring, our Director of Children and Family Ministries, and for the time being, will be serving as the primary staff person for our Youth and Family Ministries, working to grow and develop this important ministry in the life of our congregation.

Dividing the pastoral responsibilities for specific areas of ministry will help us better focus our time and energy, with each of us using our unique ministry gifts in those areas for which our gifts are best suited. It will also help ensure clear communication in and across ministry areas. Know that your feedback is always welcome and invited as we grow into this new way of doing ministry. We are church together! Again, join with me in welcoming Pastor Adam as, together, we live out our mission to be and make disciples of Christ, in response to God’s grace!

Equipped for discipleship +

Pastor Greg Busboom