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June 2024
Welcome Summer, welcome month of June! What are you seeing around you in June? Will there be birthday parties, anniversary celebrations or memories of treasured anniversaries? What about: Juneteenth-June 13th, Flag Day recognition on June 14?

As for me? I was confirmed in June, graduated high school in 1978 in June. My Dad’s birthday was in June, and many of my summer jobs began in June. This month has been a time to look back and celebrate and a time to roll up my shirt sleeves and prepare to get to work. Should this month of June be any different?

In church, we have been looking back as we cleaned out rooms, held a yard sale and finished many renovations and upgrades to prepare for weddings. One wedding will occur at the end of June, one in October and one in November. Lutheran Chapel Church is setting a course to host many celebrations for
years to come. Our scripture readings for the month will help us hear again how the disciples picked up the pieces, prayed and began doing the work of the church. After being filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the disciples continued to preach and witness to the faith that Jesus had displayed to them.

In the business of “doing” the work of the church do the disciples fully come to terms with everything Jesus had taught. Because of their travels, preaching and witnessing the church grew by the hundreds and thousands. Likewise, when we are busy showing our faith to others, others will want to join us in ministry.
Our efforts need to be visible to others and inviting for visitors.

We will begin offering a “Pet Friendly” outdoor worship service at the stone altar each Sunday at 8:00 to help others reflect on their faith. I will offer time for prayer, reading and reflection on the daily Psalm, followed by Holy Communion. The goal is to reach out to everyone and particularly neighbors who might not have a priority to commit to a full worship service but feel a need to connect with God in a tangible way. And what better, than to worship alongside your beloved pet. The service will last only 20-25 minutes so folks can
get back to their morning routine.

Pray for this ministry and the neighbors who will pause long enough to worship here. Pray for God to reclaim their heart and renew the Spirit with them. Pray that they want more than a 25 minute visit and will come back for a full worship experience with the family of God. And if you want to see God at work…come one morning and bring a chair. You too can pause long enough to ponder God’s Psalmody and receive communion.

May June find us gathering to worship, celebrate and enjoy the unfolding of God’s Holy Spirit this month. See you in Church!
Pastor John

May 2024

Catching The Vision

According to secular standards when one thinks of “catching the vision” it usually implies the activity of seeing with our eyes. “Did you see that”, “I can’t believe my eyes”, “the new color looks beautiful and changes the mood in
the room.” Seeing things for ourselves such as spring tulips, daffodils, azaleas, and dog woods fills us with anticipation of new growth.

Reflecting upon the scriptural lessons for May, new visions abound for the disciples and the blooming church. Paul has visions of what to do. John has visions of abiding with Christ. Pentecost empowers our vision through the
Spirit of God which is here in our midst. Such a vision for the church is not experienced with our eyes but felt in our heart. A heart that is actively searching and listening for God in our three Sundays offering Holy Communion.

In May of 1926 a young seminarian named Dietrich Bonhoeffer was invited to speak to a gathering of clergy prior to World War two. He based his thoughts on Psalm 127 to redirect the vision of his hearers from a limited focus
on the tasks and thoughts of society to consider what God is doing in their midst. The Psalm reads, “unless the Lord builds…the builders labor in vain.”

Bonhoeffer’s thoughts ask us: “Why do we begin to rebuild what has been destroyed (in WW1) instead of waiting for God to build? Why do we continue to work to establish the church where once it belonged? Why do we struggle for the moral and religious education of our children, if all we do is in vain?
Certainly, all our doing is in vain if we do only what we want to do. Then we can hope for nothing. But when we are most careful to do what God wants and not what we want, the it is as though the Lord himself builds. For how can the Lord build except through us? It is only when we build other than in the spirit of the Lord that our very best work is in vain.”

We are beginning a new ministry together and our calling is to listen for God’s call and presence which guides us and His church into newness of life. New visions of our community life together are being shared so that our gatherings in worship and committees might better connect our hearts with the Holy Spirit. Not radical changes by any means, but a vision that opens doors for community members to utilize our facilities, more invitations for our
members to engage in the work of the Kingdom.

May is the month for visions. Let us lend our hearts for visioning the work of the Holy Spirit. We have renovated: worship space, bridal rooms, bathrooms, hallways, closets, fellowship hall improvements, and more. Let us take this vision from God’s house, His Holy Word, and the ministry we do together in His name. Here is to our catching God’s vision together. See you in Church!
Pastor John

April 2024

HAPPY EASTER! He Is Risen, Indeed! The Good News is that the tomb is empty! Jesus has gone on to Galilee, as he said he would. He has gone to prepare a place for each of his followers. He will come again to take us all to be with him…and with God, our heavenly creator.

Make no mistake, this proclamation has nothing to do with worldly things like: spring, or bunnies, or flowers, or bulbs, spring dresses, new shoes, new clothes…NO! This proclamation is the PROMISE of God, the HOPE of all believers, and the JOY that death is not the final word. God has spoken and demonstrated his Love for humanity by the RESURRECTION of Jesus.

God’s PROMISE was to send a Messiah who would save the world. Save the world from the oppressive, controlling Roman authorities? No, God intended more then this saving action. God promised to bring Salvation to the world for
all who would believe and have faith in God’s word (Scripture) and God’s living word (JESUS, The Christ). By our faith in Jesus declaring him to be My Savior, My Lord, My salvation and looking up to Him in all things…Faith gets connected with God’s word (written and lived in Christ) and we are made righteous by God, and embraceable once again.

Our HOPE is that God’s promise will always be honored by God to love us, forgive us, and redeem us by welcoming us into His heavenly kingdom. All of Holy Scripture points towards this hope by God’s followers, Israel, those who are Baptized by water and the Holy Spirit. Since we have been filled with and renewed by God’s Holy Spirit, we are God’s new creation and bound for greater things in both life and death.

Our JOY is that the darkness of Good Friday when God’s Son died on the cross, did not prove victorious. Death did not win the day. Death merely separated the disciples from their teacher for a brief period of time…three days…the blink of an eye, until God’s gift of RESURRECTION to new life happened. And HAPPEN, IT DID! Jesus rose from the tomb and appeared to his disciples for some 40 days. Forty days of walking with his community of believers to demonstrate the VICTORY that awaits God’s children.

In this way, the truth of EASTER is made real for each of us. It can not be explained, It can only be realized and lived through Faith in God’s Word, His living Word that we now call Jesus, the Risen Christ! May these few paragraphs inspire your faith and draw you closer to God’s eternal presence. A presence filled with new life, new aromas of Hope and Joy. Do not let the trials experienced on “Good Friday” dampen your dreams in life. Rather, look up to the empty cross, the Empty Tomb, so that you can cry out with all creation, Alleluia! Jesus Lives!

See you in worship,
Pastor John

February 2024

Welcome February, Welcome Season of Lent. This is the season when the church brings into focus our identity as baptized children of God and our unworthiness due to our preference to live in sin. For Martin Luther, this was his “journey into the dark night of the soul”. A time to listen humbly from the foot of the cross as God calls for repentance. God’s call to redirect our daily chores in which we have prioritized and turn our heart in the direction of

Such a turning looks different for each of us. We are all traveling at different speeds, in various directions, seeking worldly gains. Repentance is the calling by Jesus to stop the vehicle, turn down the distractions so that we can listen and respond to God’s voice.

God’s voice is calling us to move in new directions during Lent that will bring us closer to him and closer to each other. We come together on Wednesday evenings for meals and time to hear God’s word. Through conversation and
reflection, the opportunity to grow closer in our walk with the Lord and our understanding of the new ways God is making his presence known in our midst. Wednesday meals are hosted in the Fellowship Hall.

Sundays we gather for worship in the recently refurbished sanctuary. We also have newly refurbished rooms and bathrooms that will accommodate and attract both young and old to experience the newness of God’s house. We
feel called to invite others in our community to “come and see” what God is doing to renew and restore his people. As we grow closer in our walk with the risen Christ, we are compelled to invite and share our faith with others. “Come
and see” and become a part of God’s transforming presence during Lent.

Tuesday, February 13th we gather for a “Mardi Grais” themed Shrove Tuesday Pancake supper. Bring your smiling humor along with your appetite and help us celebrate the joy of being together. We conclude with a fire filled
event setting the tone and mood for a more somber Lenten journey on February 14th . Ash Wednesday does not include a supper meal, but the next six Wednesdays offer dinner at 6 and program at 6:45.

February is here and we move forward in faith embracing God’s blessings along with our discipleship.

See you in church,
Pastor John

January 2024

Happy New Year!!!
Who Knew? Who knew that we would be together in the year 2024? Yet, here we are. A new year together as God’s family in China Grove, North Carolina. We come together to worship, pray, praise God and support one another along life’s path. For three years and counting we have indeed been gathering together in the name of ministry and celebration. So, Let us step out together into 2024 with a resolution to continue serving God and neighbor to the best of our ability.

Our worship themes in January kick off with Epiphany on the 6th (the 12th day of Christmas) as we remember the witness of the 3 wise men who came seeking the King of the Jews. They were the first to proclaim the advent of His birth. Now it is our turn to have an Aha moment! (an Epiphany) and recognize Jesus as our king. Can you imagine these wise men bumping into King Herod and asking the location of the King of the Jews? The wise men passed over king Herod to continue their journey seeking The King. Herod was disrespected…and must have been furious. After all, the came offering gifts…but none for Herod.

Themes for Sunday begin to follow the important events in the life of Jesus. First, Jesus was baptized …at age 30 mind you. Then we hear about the call he made to his 12 disciples. We focus on the calling to 2 different sets of brothers and how they left everything in their lives to follow the teacher. And the month concludes with Jesus healing on the Sabbath day. An action that upset the religious leaders, but pay attention to the statement the demon makes on January 28. He exclaims, “I know who you are…Jesus of Nazareth…” The Demon knew right away. The disciples are just beginning their education about the identity of Jesus. They do not know for sure until after his death, resurrection and appearance to them.

So again I ask and ponder the question…who knew? Do you know who Jesus is? Do you and your family know? Do we as God’s Church know who Jesus really is? Do we know that He longs to greet us in His heavenly Kingdom? Do we offer ministry in His Name in all that we do? Remember, the demon knew right away. But for you and I…and his disciples it will take a lifelong journey of faith to make a confident proclamation.

The statement “I know who you are…” made all the difference to a demon. I wish it made the same difference to worshipers in China Grove. It’s been my experience as a pastor to sit with members at their bedside when the end times approach and remind them of our hope in Jesus. I remind them of the promise of God’s Word to “…Go and prepare a place for you so that I may take you to be with me…” I remind them because they have forgotten…or never fully accepted… or simply doubt the identity of Jesus.

Remember the words of the Wise Men… “We seek the King of the Jews”

Remember the words of the Angels… “…For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord!...”

Remember the words of disciple Peter… “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”

Remember… “His Body…broken for you, His blood, shed for YOU!”

Remember his simple call to… “follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

“My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” You, each of you has been baptized in His name and adopted as His child. You are family. You know the truth about God’s greatest gift to humankind. Now, let us tell about this to the community. Let us show them by our actions and our LOVE, how
Christmas was intended to change the hearts and lives of mankind. When we tell the story we help others look forward to a new year with Christ.

Who knew?
You know.
In 2024 Let us all become as Luther said, “…be little Christs to the world.”

Happy New Year! Wait…aren’t we suppose to tell it on
the mountain? Which mountain? Can it be found on google?

See you in church.
Pastor John

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