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Messages from Pastor Tucker

December 2023

November marks the final Sunday in the church calendar year and December ushers in the new season of Advent. I am wondering how ready we are? All of the worship services have been planned, bulletins are being prepared. The organist is busy practicing for the many opportunities to sing God’s praises, but I still wonder, how ready are we?

“Advent” is the time of preparation prior to Christmas. There are gifts to be purchased, cards to sign and mail, decorations to display...but how are we to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Savior? We will pray “Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come...” and begin looking for God to do a new thing. God’s power will be brought forth to do a new thing in His creation and you and I are like the shepherds in their fields...watching. What “POWER” are you anticipating that God will reveal? Is it the power of Healing, Faith strengthening, blessings of a fortune, or peace in the valley?

What does it mean for you and I to call upon Jesus as LORD? Is this man from Nazareth, born in Bethlehem to Mary and He truly our LORD? Does he rank first among our priorities and desires? Do we know his word as well as we know the college sport rankings or the anticipated track of the DOW?

Are we ready enough for Him to leave his heavenly throne and “COME” into our lives? And upon his arrival, are we ready to return with his heavenly domain?

I see the look on your face...(in my imagination), and I know that no one is truly ready for these things to happen. Yet, God’s word calls us to be watchful, and ready for His untimely arrival. We pray for this to happen, but we are like the five foolish bridesmaids who were caught... unprepared. Jesus did say that He would return. Jesus wants our hearts to be ready to receive Him. So, how do we do this? How will you prepare your heart?

May I suggest that each of us develop an Advent habit of encountering God in His word by reading it daily. Take the lessons home with you each Sunday... and reflect on the meaning of each text. Pray that God would reveal his presence to you in the text. Ask God to shine the light of understanding upon your heart. Sing the words of an Advent Hymn to yourself...perhaps a hymn that we sung last week.

Slowly God will began transforming our heart and our lives to His will. He will begin preparing our hearts and minds for the “new thing” He is about to do in this season of Advent. He will make us ready for the next proclamation and “awaken us to the coming of His NEW Day!”

“Change happens slowly”...said the wise observer. Change is not something we like, but change is exactly the reason that God sent his Son into the world. To change the world. To bring light that would cast out the darkness, to show love where there is only hatred, and to bring forgiveness and new life where SIN has us in bondage from God’s presence. These are the very changes that
bring joy from our Savior to be lavished upon his people. Such change is very anticipated in each and every heart.

So, may we “learn a lesson from the fig tree...” to know that a new growing season is upon us.

May we realize that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s words will not pass away.”

May the preparations continue with God’s disciples to instill within each heart a longing for his gift, His only Son that we would see him as ... Our Lord! Happy Advent!

May our preparations continue in His Name, Amen. Hope to see you in church soon.

Pastor John

November 2023

The month of November has arrived. What takes priority on you schedules for this new month of 2023? Election Day comes first. It is our civic duty to vote for leaders in our local elections. These are the leaders who will make decisions about how our taxes will be spent. Your vote and my vote matter for the future of China Grove and Rowan County. Vote and pray for our community leaders.

Did you know that Reformer of the church Martin Luther’s birthday is this month?

What about Veteran’s Day? How will we recognize this day of honoring those who served in the military? Who do you know who served?

Our Gospel readings for the whole month are found in Matthew, Chapter 25. Will our community leaders be like the “wise” or “foolish” virgins? Will they be prepared for what lies ahead or will they be lacking and fail themselves and those around them? Next, is the parable about “talents”. The master has given “gifts” to us to use. Will we use them wisely to honor Him? And finally, judgment day arrives when Jesus returns to separate the “sheep” from the “goats”. We all hope we are deemed to be “sheep” so we must be listening to
the voice and direction of the Shepherd. Has this been a priority of yours for the past 10 months?

Along with these scriptures we will celebrate the Festival of All Saints Day. We will remember and honor the families of those who have died since last All Saints Day. We will give thanks to God for welcoming them into His nearer presence. Is there a Saint that has been a role model for your faith journey? Who is this saint?

That covers each of the Sunday mornings we gather for worship and in November we have an additional time for worship and thanksgiving. The Sunday before Thanksgiving we will gather at Mt. Zion UMC to worship and fellowship with the faith communities with whom we share the cemetery. Each of the ministers have a leadership role and one choir will be highlighted in singing. The offering for this service will be canned food items that will be donated to Rowan Helping Ministries. Come and join us for this new annual event. Our
congregation will be hosting it in a future year.

In closing, may I remind you about our Annual Meeting on the second Sunday in November. We will be approving our spending plan for next year and electing 3 council leaders. Once again, your vote matters. Please, pray for your council leadership team as we move forward in faith to serve our neighbors. Pray, Vote
and Give Thanks to God for all of His many blessings. I pray and give thanks for your faith and sharing your faith journey together.
Pastor John

October 2023

The frost is on the pumpkin, the hay is in the barn, signs that point us to October. Happy October! Along with the cooler temperatures comes shorter days and longer nights. Great sleeping weather…but don’t sleep in and miss church.

In this season of Fall we have several changes which require your attention. First, we will be celebrating Homecoming with a service of remembering what worship life used to look like. The worship committee has some fun things in store for us all on October 8. There will be some special guests present for a special dedication event. You won’t want to miss the homecoming service.

Second, our annual meeting is just around the corner where we will vote on 3 new council positions and firm up our spending plan budget. Pray for our members to become church leaders and serve a term on council.
Perhaps you would consider service a three-year term?

As for the budget, it will look like last year’s budget with no major changes in store. We are behind in our giving so everyone is encouraged to catch up our tithes so we can meet the budget by the end of December.

Changes are in store for us with our worship music. Several suggestions were received from our worship survey recorded last July and we plan to respond to your feedback. A big thank you to everyone who filled out a survey.

October also means the Festival of the Reformation. Martin Luther’s writings encourage the church always be about the business of reforming. How might we plan to Re-Shape the way things are so that we feel challenged and active in living out faith in Christ? We talked about this last Lent, and I am wondering if we can come together with our neighboring churches for a service of Thanksgiving. Plans are in the works to worship together the Sunday evening before Thanksgiving. We will provide rides for those of us who prefer not to drive after dark.

Again, I want to wish you a Happy October and I look forward to seeing you in church!
Pastor John

September 2023
Well here it is again, Back to School time. Time to pay extra attention as we drive through school zones and keep an eye out for students. As the students in the community travel back to classes, I wonder if we too can re-dedicate ourselves to learning more about our faith? How about Back to Sunday School Days? Certainly, every person’s faith needs to grow in many ways. How about you, where might your faith have a “growing edge?”

Some of us in the church need to learn how to be better at dreaming for God’s future in the church. What is God planning for this congregation over the next decade? Do you for-see more: Bible study classes, worship opportunities, or apple pie preparations? Should there be more sermons, more music, or more fellowship meals? What might God be calling us to do?

And what kinds of “Ministry offerings” is God wanting us to be involved with? Homeless ministry, ministry to the elderly, ministry to children and families? The NC Synod is making plans for ministry with refugees…is this something God is lifting up for us?

If we want to focus on GROWTH, how can we go and greet our neighbors to invite them to worship with us? Should we consider going door-to-door with printed materials explaining who we are and how Lutherans are a Grace-filled church, loving and forgiving as we reach out to others in the name of God’s son.

We have a few ideas regarding our worship offerings and want to thank all members who participated with our survey. Now we must all continue to gather for worship and sing praises to God. Plans are being made for community worship events around Thanksgiving and Lent. There will be additional services with other congregations and visiting clergy to lead the services. So Stay tuned for details.

One of the Sunday school classes is shifting gears and committing to a different topic for study. A series from Cokesbury Publishing is being previewed to help us gain insight into the teachings in the Gospels. Each book has a different author who had their own style and own emphasis in their telling of Jesus life. They were each Jews but their communities were different. Some wrote to fellow Jews, some were writing to Jews in communities of Gentiles. What can you and I glean from a fresh study and lively conversation of the gospels?

We will continue our Sunday lessons in the books of Romans and Matthew’s Gospel. We will hear how communities of faith live in harmony, live honorably, Witness and share love in the midst of diversity and take a stand to practice faith in the Messiah. This wisdom from scripture still has value and meaning for the church today. That is, if the church is engaged in “living” the old, old story of Jesus and His love and not simply singing about it. Of course, we sing hymn…I Love To Tell the Story; but we need to put the story into action. Remember, It’s September, and Church School is back in session. I look forward to seeing you in Worship.
Pastor John

August 2023
The “Dog Days” have arrived. Outdoor life is hot and keeping cool is a challenge. I learned about my own heart health that it is not wise for my health to be outside for any length of time in August without a bottle of water, a shady place nearby and a return to air conditioned comfort asap. If I don’t listen to my body, I will become overheated and sick.

This month we have all been asked to provide feedback with an evaluation of our Sunday service. I hope and pray that you will participate. Evaluations will help us to look back at ourselves and our plans…and chart a course by which we can improve for future worshipers. After all, who here does not want to welcome others and invite others to join in worship?

In August, our Gospel readings will take us through Matthew chapters 14,15, and 16. We see how Jesus feeds 5000, empowers Peter to walk on water, Learn how He has come to the lost sheep of Israel, and asks Peter “Who do YOU say I am?

Matthew reveals how Jesus is much more than a man, He must be the Son of God because of the things he did. Feeding so many, defying gravity, finding and healing those who are lost. Like Peter, we must come to our own confession…of WHO this is each Sunday. Is He our Lord? Or do we come to worship to just see each other? Is God bringing new life to all people? Or do we chose to remain on the sideline and watch as others grow in faith and serve neighbors? Has not God done something miracle like in your life such as “walking on water?” Did He not bring healing, order, direction and forgiveness to you?

Lutheran Chapel is a “living church” in motion with the “living bread” living body of Christ. How might we be more active as this “living” community? Where can we grow differently and be more attractive to the lost sheep? What miracle awaits for this church to step out in faith and remain focused on the cross of new life? Remember, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink into the water. Let us keep our eyes on Him, get out of this boat, and move in the direction of Christ. Do you think we can do this? Are we ready to evaluate where we have been and set a course for a new future?

Ponder and pray about these questions of spiritual growth and faith journey as you complete and return your worship evaluation. Then, come and join us on Sundays so that we can walk together in Christ.
Pastor John

July 2023
Happy Independence Day! July means celebrating the birthday of America! I pray that your celebrations are family, fun filled events wherever that will take you. At church, we celebrate our independence from sin, Satan’s daily taxation of temptations and deceptions that ill lead us in the wrong direction. Not those who are in Christ, we are independent of the stains of sin and promised salvation through our faith in Christ. Do you believe this? St. Paul says in Romans 6, “We have been buried with Christ by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” This gift of independence is ours through the event of Baptism. But that is not all, like any finale adds joy to a fireworks display, God also adds more to the faith life of His children. God sustains our relationship with him through The Sacrament of the Altar, Holy Communion which Luther explains for us in the Small Catechism (ELW p. 1166). “The words, given for you and shed for you for the forgiveness of sin show us that forgiveness of sin, life and salvation are given to us in the sacrament through these words, because where there is forgiveness of then, there is also life and salvation.” So, again I say, Happy Independence Day! Salvation is ours through our faith in Christ! Let us now work together, worship together and serve our neighbors together in the name of Jesus. And here in the month of July, that means working together to make and sell apple pies at Farmer’s Day on July 15th. Can you join the congregation in this great week of making, preparing, cooking, and selling pies? Or do you prefer to buy a pie, make a donation, and share a smile with a mouth full of Lutheran Chapel joy? No matter how you choose, I do hope you will have some ownership in this ministry that is so well received by the community around us. We are not trying to break any record of sales as compared to previous years. No! We just wish to do our best and share in fellowship as we work together to provide a treat of faith to our neighbors. Come and help us get ready for Farmer’s Day by making pies! I hope you celebrate July in some special way. Remember your Baptism. Receive the Sacrament of the Altar and Worship with the joy of being truly free in Christ Jesus our Lord. Now, Let the real fireworks begin as we celebrate His Victory!

See you in church,
Pastor John

June 2023

Welcome to the green season of Pentecost! The time of the church year when our worship themes turn to the calling of disciples and the work of the Church. It is a good time for us to reflect upon our calling to be God’s people. Like the disciples, we hide for our safety, remaining behind locked doors. We hide inside our homes with the air-conditioning turned on. We hide from everything except our appointments with our doctors, maybe you want to hide from them too.

But here in the season of Pentecost, God has fulfilled the words of Jesus to “send an advocate” to accompany us and empower us with “truth”. Being empowered, the disciples were told to go into the world, teaching and baptizing in the name of Jesus. How about us? What can you and I do to teach others about faith? Who can we teach, and who can we telephone and invite to worship?

Speaking of worship, What specifically do you like about Sunday worship? What do you treasure about our weekly gathering to sing, pray, and encounter God in His Word? We will be taking a survey about Sunday Worship likes and dislikes so that we can be our best each week. Grace, forgiveness, and healing are God’s
gifts to his people; weekly worship is our gift to God. Let us make sure we are doing our best to plan and conduct worship gatherings. Watch out for this survey to be available later this month. Some of my favorite memories from the month of June include: graduations, confirmation services, day trips to visit places and turning on the large attic fan in my childhood home which would keep us cool at night. I did not grow up with air-conditioning. Now, I cannot live without it.

I suppose “getting older” has made me that way. I hope this “getting older” will not be my excuse to avoid God’s words at Pentecost. Since God has sent his
Holy Spirit into my life, your life, and His catholic church; we have been called to serve and care for others. How might we break free from the fortress of our “locked doors” and have conversations about faith? If I offer a Bible study at church…would you attend? If we have an ice-cream social in the fellowship hall…would you bring your spoon? Would you bring a friend? Could you telephone a friend to join you? What if we were to offer a night of sharing our gifts…a talent show? Would you come and sing, tell a joke, share a picture you have painted, read your favorite poem, or tell us all about the time you did something silly?

It's Pentecost, Let us focus on coming together and being together in the Name of Jesus. Can you think of something else we could plan that would bring the church family together?

May God’s blessings stir your heart this June, “like tongues of fire dancing upon the heads of the disciples”, may we be witnesses to the gift of life that God has gifted to us all.

See you in church,
Pastor John Tucker

May 2023

Welcome May!
What will this month bring to your household? Early in May, the Running of the Roses is held. It’s Kentucky Derby time. Southern Belles dress in their finest, including a flowery hat, and drink Mint Juleps. It’s Kentucky Derby Day. In mid-month we honor mom on Mother’s Day second Sunday in May. Then, at the end of the month, we honor our military personnel who gave the ultimate sacrifice to assure our freedom and way of life. Memorial Day. What will this month bring to you?

In the life of the church, we are focusing on the readings of the Easter Season. That is, what did the disciples do following the Resurrection? How did the death and new life of Jesus change their priorities for life? And where did this new priority take them in life? As we continue to celebrate the fifty days of Easter, our readings include Jesus’ promise that he goes to prepare a place for his followers in his Father’s house. Our baptism commissions us to share Jesus’ mission in the world. As 1 Peter reminds us, we are a holy people, called to proclaim the one who called us out of darkness into light. In words and deeds we bear witness to the risen Christ—our way, our truth, our life. Our second lessons will follow the First Epistle of Peter from start to finish. Read it’s message in for the early church followers that is only five chapters long. Look at the wisdom, direction and blessings for the church which are still true today.

I have been sharing my concerns for direction and vision in our ministry together. I feel that God has called us to be involved in ministry that is focused on others and not simply our church family. We are expected to take
care of each other. But what else is God calling us to do? What picture of “Hope” are we called to be offering to the community? Pray about this. Ask God to show us a clear vision. (My wife, Jeanne says enough about a vision. So I say, OK…Where do we go from here? “Not my will Father, but Your will be done.” See what you can glean from your reading of First Peter. What direction is God lifting up for His church? Peter reminds his congregation, “…the God of grace who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen and establish you.” God is with you and me in this busy month of May.

What will this month bring to your household? It is deemed as the following: National BBQ month, National Hamburger month, National Salad Month and Older Americans Month. How might we use this month to bring honor and glory to God…and not just our waist lines? Without a clear vision this month, it sure will be tempting to give into the many voices calling to us to be busy. Let us get busy for sure, after all It is May…the busiest month in the year from start to finish. Let’s not miss the opportunity to be busy for the Lord! May the Easter celebration continue.

See you in church,
Pastor John

March 2023

March has arrived and our Lenten disciplines are underway. Have you settled in to a discipline of reading your Lenten devotions? The devotion for March first gives us a statement to ponder, “There is no end to the things that can awaken our wonder…” wonderment of God and His creation. As Spring awakens creation,
where do you see and connect with God’s presence? Can you see and feel God’s renewing spirit in the flowers as they are poking through the garden beds? Have you felt God’s healing spirit following a recent visit to your doctor’s office? God is certainly busy making all things new.

As we continue weekly worship at 9:00 each Sunday morning, our lessons are helping us connect with our wonderment of the covenants that God made. Each week our lesson from the Old Testament reminds us of the promises that God made with his children. God’s covenants include: land, descendants, protection, law to direct our path, and all he asks in return is that we love Him with our whole heart. We promise to have no other God’s before Him. Our willingness to do that keeps the covenant in place.

God’s promise of covenant with his people and our devotion to Him is what sustains us in life. Our path is not guaranteed to be easy, but God has promised to walk with us through the struggles. Struggles like our issues of health and well being, our failing strength and balance, our struggles to maintain our finances, and difficulties to keep up with the relationships we have with each other. God is present with us in all of this. So too, is God with us in the struggles of our Lenten journey. We might struggle with our choices to deny
ourselves things and treats in Lent, but remember that Christ struggled too. He gave up his options to follow God’s plan for Him and the salvation of all believers.

As the month of March unfolds, so too will our puzzlement of God’s presence in creation. As we gather on Wednesday evenings for Supper and Worship, we will explore elements of God’s Grace. What is Grace? Who offers this Grace? Where is Grace in the world to be found? Our conversation begins with a video
presentation followed by lively conversation. Join us on this Lenten Journey of Grace!

Carry on in your discipleship. I look forward to seeing you in church.
Pastor John Tucker

February 2023

Welcome February, Welcome Season of Lent. This is the season when the church takes a more serious look at 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 stop the direction in which we are traveling, realize that we are lost without his presence, and turn our hearts around to the direction of discipleship.

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 His “Bread of Life” might be received.

This sounds so simple but, it still alludes us all. We feel as if we are “in charge of” the world around us and we like being lost. We enjoy blazing new trails, finding new paths and we are blind to the truth that we are traveling further and further away from the “Light of the World”. Like you, I really do prefer the light so I have to come out of the darkness. I personally seek to do this by getting myself to a place where I can hear God’s Word, think about this Word and apply it to my daily life. God’s Word is a “Living Word”. It was not meant to merely remain in a Holy Book or be spoken by church leaders. It is meant to make a difference in your life and my life, calling us to repent and change direction.

This is an invitation, an option I offer to you…to stop your daily grind and join your church family on Wednesday evenings for a meal together followed by a brief worship service. Our focus is to hear God’s word and be reminded that all of us are in the same boat, needing to refocus our lives on faith in God’s Son. In this way, “The Word” reminds that God is not finished with any of us. He is busy trying to shape us into His Church so that our lives are lived to His Glory. Won’t you consider joining us for worship on Wednesdays? “The Word” will invite you into a deeper walk with that which matters most. Matters most? What does that mean for you? …Can FAITH take a bolder stand in your daily activities? is exactly This is the reason we are called together each LENT. I pray that I will see you for Supper in the Fellowship Hall.

Pastor John

January 2023

Happy New Year – 2023! Where did 2022 go? The year went by far too fast and it seems like yesterday that we were celebrating the beginning of 2022. We are finishing the first month of the church year as the church year begins with Advent and the Birth of Our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ.

Many things changed in 2022. We lost 8 members of our congregation during 2022. We pray for God’s peace for all of these families. We have returned to a “normal” worship service (no mask, separate seating or contact tracing) and are using the ELW hymnal for our liturgy and hymns. We held several Bible Studies and have returned to having meals in the Fellowship Building. We have several members that are now in long term care facilities. We ask for God’s healing presence to be upon each of them. We’re glad that Laura Agner has joined us as our organist after the unexpected loss of Gail Deal.

Where did the time go? Time is like the ocean tide – it is every present – it comes in with the sunrise in the morning and goes out with the sun setting every evening. Night falls and the world becomes dark. We can’t change it and it is the same every day, month and year. We constantly wish that we would have more time to do the things that we need or think we need to take care of immediately or to finish. Do we use our time wisely for thanking God for his constant love and presence among us? For giving us what we need not what we think we need.

New Year – New Beginnings! We all (or most of us) make New Year resolutions. Lose weight, give up certain foods or drinks, organize our house or office, spend more time with loved ones, and to read the Bible Daily and pray for ALL the world. Some of the resolutions take root and grow, but most of them wither and fall by the roadside within a few weeks or months. With each new year/new day we have the possibility to make an impact on someone or something through kindness, volunteering, calling, writing a note (a lost art since texting & email have become popular), or simply listening when someone wants to talk. Take the time each day to renew your spirit with the Word of God. We have a new look to Chapel Notes which I hope you enjoy. My wish for each of you is to have a Happy New Year – filled with God’s loving arms wrapped around you and that you would truly know that he is with us each and every day!

Peace & Love!

December 2022

Welcome Advent! We begin preparing our hearts and homes for the advent of the Messiah. God’s greatest gift of love has been prepared and will be out for delivery soon. Oh that our “ring doorbells” would capture the delivery and announce the arrival that we all anticipate. I am wondering what each of us must do to prepare our hearts to receive this greatest gift of all?

We have the next four weeks to continue preparations. We begin by decorating
the sanctuary and church building with the “Hanging of the Greens”. We want to give the outward appearance that we are making changes. And beautiful changes at that! What changes also need to be made to change our hearts and perspectives to show love and shine forth God’s divine light to others?

Advent hymns will help us to Watch for Messiah and Keep Awake! What is your
favorite Advent Hymn? Can’t think of one? Make that your goal in the coming
weeks…select a favorite and commit it to memory. Then, Identify a Scripture
reading that captures your view on what it means to long for God to come and
rescue his people?

Savior of the Nations Come…will we be ready for his arrival? Have you thought
about how you personally will greet him? How will you Prepare the Royal Highway that leads to your inmost dwelling? It will take more than a gift of canned food items for others... so ponder what changes need to be in the works.

“No more let sin and sorrow grow not thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessings flow…” Is there a blessing you are hoping to receive this year? What blessing might we as a church be called to give to others? Are you on board with providing such a gift to the community?

We have a lot of things to ponder in this season of preparation. Not only our
outward decorations, but singing hymns that will help us reflect on God’s purpose to move his followers away from the darkness of sin into the light of life. If we are not yet ready, what will it take for the world to get ready? How might we together make plans to further the preparations? Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel… Let us all look to the heavens for God to enter the story, and let us be caught looking, waiting and watching as He arrives to bring us light. Happy Advent! Happy Christmas this December.

Pastor John

November 2022
Welcome November! What do these words mean to you? Many people are anxious about the election in the week ahead. I pray that you will not be anxious. Cast your vote and pray for God’s will to be done. Then pray for our leaders to allow God to overshadow their decisions and policies, remembering that in two years, we will vote again to elect new leaders to carry the torch of liberty and justice for all.

Election day seems to be the central theme at the moment, but we have
forgotten about our church calendar and the festival day that comes before
Election Day. I am talking about All Saints Day. This is a day for worship when we pause to remember all of the Saints who have died since last November, who now live in God’s nearer presence. I hope you will join us for worship on November 1 at 9:00 AM for this celebration of life everlasting.

For some in the church family, November means a celebration of our veteran’s service to country on November 11. We remember their commitment to God and country and their unselfish priority to represent America in the Fortress of safety and battlefield of conflict. It is said that there are few people who will lay down their life for another. Jesus Christ is the first; and our soldiers and veterans answered a similar call. Thank you, Veterans.

Let us not forget our National Day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday.
What are you most thankful for? With who will you spend this holiday? What is
your favorite food to share? How is God part of your celebration? I am drawn to reflect on Psalm 95: verse 2 “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise to him with songs.” How has God blessed you and your family this year? Sing God’s praises over these blessings.

The last Sunday in November begins the season of Advent-4 weeks until the
birth of our Lord and Savior. How might this year’s celebration be different then previous celebrations? What new joy are you planning to share to embrace this holy season? Might there be a concert or caroling event you could attend now that the pandemic is less urgent?

Welcome November! A month that my dentist says has increased his business due to the multitude of people who have broken teeth as a result of stress
over election day. May your life not reflect such stress, rather… “give to Caesar the things of Caesar, and give to God the things that belong to God” (Mt. 22:21). Give God thanksgiving…for all he has provided and His promise to be with us, even to the close of the age. God has this…Have Faith .
Pastor John

October 2022

Welcome Fall! I can’t believe that October is here, and the year is quickly drawing to a close. The daylight is shorter, and the nights are growing cooler and longer. I welcome cooler days, changing leaves, pumpkins and all things Fall. I am excited to say that we have a very busy October at Lutheran Chapel. Please take note of all
the events happening this month.

We have a Paint Fund for renovations to our Sanctuary. Bids are still be collected at this time but with the age of our age it will probably be costly. We appreciate all that have given generously and are looking for ways to fund this project.

Changing seasons means changing many things: Sweaters and long pants will replace t-shirts and shorts. Our gardens are slowly waning as soon frost will be on the pumpkins. We will be raking leaves instead of mowing grass. Hot soups will be replacing salads. Sweet iced tea is a staple for me year-round. Football games have become a Thursday and Sunday must watch on TV. How do we change ourselves?

Our Gospel Readings for the month is from Luke 17 & 18, and John 8. Each reading involves faith, our treatment of others, and how we perceive ourselves. We need to take a hard look inward and ask, “Am I doing all that I can to help others?”, “Am I putting others down to make myself look better?”, “Am I treating others as I would like to be treated?” We should be reaching out to those that are less fortunate than ourselves and letting them know that we are available to help.

We have many opportunities to help through our Social Ministry, Main Street Mission, Rowan Helping Ministries, Food Lion Feeds, and Lutheran World Relief. These organizations need our support in ways that don’t always involve money. Prayer is a huge support for any need. Volunteering to check on someone that may not have family, sometimes it’s just a phone call to someone. You can purchase a $5.00 meal kit at Food Lion for a local food bank. Donate food to our Social Ministry for the local food pantry at First United Methodist Church in Landis. One person can change the world – one action at a time.

Consider visiting someone you haven’t seen in some time. Get to know your neighbors. Consider volunteering at our Lifeline event on October 17. Engage in charity. Be a good listener. Give someone a compliment. It doesn’t cost anything to SMILE at someone.

Faith must be center stage in our lives – every second of every day.
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”  And the Lord
said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to
this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. Luke 17:5-6 ESV

What size is your Faith?


September 2022

Happy September! School is back in session, days are getting shorter and nights a little bit longer. As cooler temperatures arrive, what priorities fill your heart? How will you be spending the hours of waning September sunlight?

As Pastor of this family of God I am hoping to see more of you in weekly worship. I know there are many “druthers” that fill our thoughts: I..druther do these things; I..druther sleep in; I..druther wait until life is more safe; and the list goes on. To many people today have let the priority of attending worship slip away along with a desire to be active in the family of God. I get it.

We just completed a series of sermons in August that examined four individuals who were codified as “Saints” in the annuals of church history. Saint Dominic, Saint Mary, Saint Bernard and Saint Nikolai Grundtvig. Each child of God was an every day kind of soul but they made a commitment to their walk of faith, trusted in the Lord to guide them, and accomplished extraordinary things. Through their walk of faith, the Kingdom of God grew and lives were changed. Preachers, teachers, and hymn writers were turned into bishops and saints; and a young adolescent girl became the mother of the Savior. Lives are changed every time individuals act upon their faith and do things in God’s name.

On August 28th we learned how Pastor Nikolai Grundtvig confronted his
congregation in a sermon dated 1810 and asked a pointed question “Why has the Lord’s Word disappeared from His House?” He stated his opinion that a spirit of Rationalism (acting from the perspective of opinion, reason, and knowledge) had overtaken the church. Clergy and members of society were deemed to be living in “spiritual poverty” witnessed by “no sense of morality in the world and a spirit of indifference was prevalent”.

Nikolai believed that people in society of 1810 had turned away from faith in God, trust in God’s word and lives of discipleship to care for one another. I fear that in the year 2022, church and society are traveling on the same path. A path that leads away from and not in the direction of the cross. The parallel with modern times…“social media” has become the “rationalism” where opinions and scientific knowledge are accepted as “truths”. Regarding society’s lack of morality, remember the events of looting and lack of discipline that has prevailed for two years. If indeed my observation is true, then church and society are due for a “Great Awakening” and a call to return to God’s word. Words of: belonging, forgiveness, family of God, stewards of creation, peacemakers, caretakers of our neighbor. I am wondering…which of these truths from God’s Word do you run from…have the most difficulty putting into practice…struggle with?

History tells us that Nikolai left his pulpit to resolve his own beliefs and during his absence, he wrote over 1000 hymns-several of which we still sing today. “He was able to infuse new spiritual life into a spiritually depleted Church. Writing hymns of the Spirit which contained some of the most profound theological themes, yet possessed the most lovely lyrics emphasizing the Word of God as the one and only rule and guide for the believer” (Online Encyclopedia Britannica).

If indeed the church and society are on a parallel path from the practices of 1810, how might we affect changing the Church and those the church is trying to reach?

This September, what can you and I do to bring glory to God’s name? How can we be witnesses to belief and trust in God? Whose life can we shape and change?

On June 3, 2022, Bishop Tim Smith wrote to all 197 congregations of this Synod… “As a church called to welcome the stranger, and as the North Carolina Synod, we are asking you to help us care for and welcome refugee families”. Lutheran Services of the Carolinas is anticipating resettling 750 Ukrainian Refugees. Lutheran Chapel has been invited to join with Lutheran churches in: China Grove, Enochville, and Landis to see how we might join together to welcome someone in the Name of Jesus.

May we in the church… turn off the opinions and science around us …pick up our commitment to be active in ministry…and ponder what it means to “be Christ to our neighbor”. More details of this endeavor in the coming weeks.

See you in Church,
Pastor John

August 2022

The Dog Days of Summer are upon us! According to the Farmer’s Almanac this is a  period of particularly hot and humid weather occurring during the summer months from July until August 11. The star called Sirius (which means scorching in Greek) is visible just before sunrise next to where the sun will peak the horizon.

In ancient Greece and Rome, the Dog Days were believed to be a time of drought, bad luck, and unrest, when dogs and men alike would be driven mad by the extreme heat! Today, the phrase doesn’t conjure up such bad imagery. Instead, the Dog Days are associated purely with the time of summer’s peak temperatures and humidity.

For us in the church, August is the time we turn up the air conditioning, sing hymns and hear scriptures about God’s Word that continues to shape his community. Our New Testament readings are from the book of Hebrews and the Gospel is found in Luke’s book. Luke teaches that it is “God’s pleasure” to Give the Kingdom to His followers. The Kingdom is God is a pearl of great price given to each of us.

God’s Word is also a gift offered to the church to REFINE and make pure His people. We are refined as God’s heat is applied so as to help us re-orient our priorities. John the Baptist baptized with water; Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Spirit so that we do not fall back into our old ways.

God’s Word calls us to KEEP THE SABBATH DAY as God’s Day! Take rest from your labors, let go of life’s stressful demands and REST…pray, meditate on God’s blessings in your life, and sing to yourself your favorite hymn. Make a day of it! Sabbath – time apart…with the Family of God in church worship!

Our month concludes with the teaching that all of us have been INVITED into the family of God and it is our calling to become busy with the activity of INVITING others to join. Scripture calls us to: invite the poor, the hungry, the seekers looking for something, invite them to join us in weekly worship. Can we? Will we?

So, in the month of August we will be refined by the heat of God’s Word and the heat of the “Dog Days of Summer”. Are we paying attention to this light that surrounds and illuminates? One light is a star that is visible only by those who watch like the watchmen in the morning. The other is the light of God’s wisdom and promise to walk in the heat and darkness…walk with those who are baptized in His name, so that He might bring them an eternal kingdom of Light.

The August heat is hot, no doubt. And the Heat of God’s Word surrounds us to change us into His Image. May you be melting in God’s Divine Love! I hope to see you in church.

Pastor John

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