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Messages from Pastor Tucker
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
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.
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!
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.
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 .
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?
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,
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.
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