“Peace be with you!” What comforting words those must have been for the tortured and guilt-ridden disciples. They had forsaken Jesus at his crucifixion. They were meeting secretly behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. The women had told them they saw Jesus and that he was alive. Yet they did not believe. Their confusion and doubt robbed them of peace.
And then Jesus miraculously appeared to them! He showed them his wounds. He revealed that he had conquered death and was alive to tell about it. And one word summed it all up: peace.
Jesus’ peace is not just a neighborly greeting. It is the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. It is the pronouncement that God’s just anger over sin is appeased by Jesus’ holy blood.
Whoever holds the gift of God’s peace in Christ enjoys the greatest sense of well-being anyone could ever know. All is well between God and man. This condition of peace stands forever. Our feelings may fluctuate because we forget about God’s peace. But the Word and promises of God never do. “Peace be with you!” are words that never fail.
Jesus, your death gives me hope and joy knowing that my sins are forgiven. Draw me close to you in faith that I might always have your peace. Amen.
[Jesus said] “Do not let your hearts be troubled. . . . Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these.” John 14:1,12
There is a good reason why Marvel Studios is worth nearly five billion dollars. Everyone loves a hero. But superheroes are in short supply. So, we call anyone a hero who goes above and beyond to protect and serve us. And we should. We should be thankful for our everyday heroes. They continue to work tirelessly to take care of us during this crisis.
But what about the rest of us? Those of us who cannot go to work? Those of us who have lost jobs? What’s our place and purpose? As nice as staying at home sounds, it just does not seem very heroic.
If ever there was a hero, it was Jesus. He worked tirelessly to take care of others—feeding the hungry, healing the sick. But he did more than relieve the temporary troubles of people. He went above and beyond when he went to the cross. His death and resurrection supply the entire world with eternal protection from all of sin’s terrible consequences. He gives forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation to all who trust in him.
And he does more. He also gives your life purpose. You are essential. By his powerful Word, you can do great things. You can feed souls hungering for hope. You can forgive sinners hurting from guilt. You can comfort souls scared of death. Even during this crisis, you can do all these heroic things from your own home. Whether you are doing these things for those living with you, or for those you reach out to online or on the phone. What a privilege it is to be a hero!
Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me a place in your family and a purpose for life. Amen.
A patient walks into the doctor’s office. The doctor says, “You are deathly ill. The good news is you can get well. You just need to spend some time in the sun.”
The patient replies, “Is this a joke? I’m fine. I feel a little off, but I can take care of it with diet and exercise. You could always just give me a prescription. If it is really bad, you could always perform surgery.”
“No,” the doctor responds, “I’ve studied this illness extensively, and I specialize in treating it. I’ve successfully cured hundreds of people. There is only one way to take care of it: If you don’t want to suffer a horrible end, then stand in the sun.”
The patient stands up abruptly, and as he walks out of the room, he says gruffly, “That may be your truth, but it’s not mine. I’m going to find my own way to save my life.”
It would be tragic, wouldn’t it, for someone to lose his life simply because he didn’t like the cure his doctor provided? It is even more tragic when someone loses eternal life in heaven simply because they don’t like the cure for sin that God has provided.
We all need a cure for sin. You see, we are all sinful by nature. It is a spiritual disease we ignore at our peril. And we can’t prescribe our own cure. We can’t cut out the problem.
We need the Son—not the sun in the sky but God’s Son who hung on a cross to pay the price for our sins, the Son who rose from the grave to prove that he had cured even death itself. We need Jesus. Jesus is the only cure for sin and death.
Are you troubled by your sin? Are you troubled by the thought of your death?
Stand in the Son. You won’t regret it.
Jesus, you are the way, the truth, and the life. I trust in you. Amen.
“Why are you leaving? Don’t you love us? We need you! How will we go on without you?”
Father was about to board a plane. He was going across the ocean to a distant and unfamiliar land. But it was a better place than the one they lived in now. He was going there to find steady employment, build a home, and set up a good life for his family. He would be gone for a long time. But he assured his wife and children, “When everything is ready, I will come and get you. Then we will be together always.” The promise of a better life lived together sustained the family during the difficult days while father was away.
The same is true for followers of Jesus. He has ascended to heaven, where he is preparing a far better life for us. When we face difficult days in this world—when a loved one dies, a relationship ends, a job is lost, or a virus spreads across the globe.
During those difficult days, remember the promise Jesus gave the night before his death. He said that our hearts do not need to be troubled because he is preparing a place for us, and he will come back one day to take us there.
And we will be with the Lord forever!
Come, Lord Jesus! I look forward to a better life lived together with you and all of your people. Amen.
“A man’s home is his castle, and each man’s home is his safest refuge.” That may sound like an endorsement for current “Safer at Home” rules. However, English judge and politician, Sir Edward Coke, penned that law in the 1600s. According to that law, no one may enter another’s home without an invitation.
Perhaps, after weeks of self-isolation, your home feels more like a prison than a palace. Perhaps you are living alone and long for fellowship with friends and family. Perhaps you are living with your family but have discovered that being together for so long can strain relationships as nerves fray and patience runs out. As comfortable and comforting as home can be, earthly homes are not perfect places.
But such a perfect place does exist. It is a heavenly home being prepared by Jesus himself. But you cannot just walk in. And he cannot just let you in. Because it is a perfect place, anything imperfect cannot enter. And, sadly, every one of us is imperfect. Thankfully, Jesus paid for our imperfection by going to the cross. He promises to cover his followers in his own perfection so that we are able to enter the perfect heavenly home he is preparing for us.
Discontent, disease, and disagreements are not going to be part of that home. Jesus has made sure of it.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to earth that I may have a place in heaven. Amen.
It is hard not to be troubled about something these days. We have had to cancel plans. We have postponed or altered significant life events. We have lost jobs. We have watched friends or family contract and succumb to COVID19. And there’s nothing we can do to change the situation. We aren’t in control. This tiny virus has affected every aspect of our every-day lives. No doubt, it is bound to affect our future way of life too.
But then Jesus speaks over our anxiety and distress: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” There is great comfort in believing in the God who created the world. It means that he is more powerful than any pandemic. There is blessed assurance in believing in the God who so loves the world. It means that he gave us his Son to rescue us from all our troubles.
Don’t be troubled.
Jesus came to calm our troubled hearts. He took away the troubles of experienced fishermen by quieting a raging storm. He took away wedding troubles by changing water into wine. He took away hunger troubles by feeding thousands on a few loaves and fish. In fact, he took away every trouble that sin and death caused by overcoming them on the cross. He suffered the judgment we earned for our sins. And he silenced death by rising from the grave.
What do you want to do when trouble comes your way?
Do not let your heart be troubled by guilt. Believe in God who forgives you for Jesus’ sake. Do not let your hearts be troubled by death. Believe in God who gives eternal life to all who believe in his Son. Do not let your heart be troubled by anything else. Believe in God who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jesus, you know my troubles. As you took care of the world’s troubles on the cross, I believe that you are taking care of my troubles now. Amen.
So, what makes you nervous? What brings fear to your heart or anxiety? I would think that the possibility that your life could be in danger would make you afraid. Of course, guilt is powerful, too. A guilty conscience can cause lots of anxiety, lots of nervousness.
On Easter Sunday evening, Jesus’ followers had both issues. First, they thought their lives might have been on the line. After all, the Jewish religious leaders had put Jesus to death—how hard would it be for them to get the disciples? Additionally, they were struggling with guilt. For whatever reason, they hadn’t quite gotten it, hadn’t paid attention when Jesus told them he’d rise from the dead. Then, they got several reports that he HAD risen. If he really had, how would he deal with them? In anger and judgment?
Here is what the Bible says happened: “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord” (John 20:19,20).
In the place of fear, there was now forgiveness. Why? Because of the reality that Jesus had really died, Jesus had really risen. The sight of Jesus’ nail-scarred (but risen!) hands drove fear out of their hearts!
So picture Jesus: He’s standing in front of you, smiling, hands outstretched. You can see the nail scars on his hands. He says to you, “Peace be with you.” There in his word of peace, in his nail-scarred, risen hands—is the antidote to fear, all fear. For there, in the hands and words of Jesus—there is forgiveness.
Ah Jesus, my risen Savior, often I’m nervous and afraid. Forgive me! Focus my attention on your nail-scarred, risen hands, that I might see clearly that my sins are forgiven, and that I’m at peace with you. Amen.
We prepare ourselves to worship the one Savior God by expressing our humble repentance, offering our fervent prayers and singing our thankfulness of praise.
P: Christ is risen!
C: He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!
HYMN 141 At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing
INVOCATIONhymnal page 15
P: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
OPENING PRAYER hymnal page 10
P: O Lord — our Maker, Redeemer, and Comforter — we are assembled in your presence to hear your holy Word. We pray that you would open our hearts by your Holy Spirit, that through the preaching of your Word we may repent of our sins, believe in Jesus, and grow day by day in grace and holiness. Hear us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION hymnal page 38
P: We have come into the presence of God, who created us to love and serve him as his dear children. But we have disobeyed him and deserve only his wrath and punishment. Therefore, let us confess our sins to him and plead for his mercy.
C: Merciful Father in heaven, I am altogether sinful from birth. In countless ways I have sinned against you and do not deserve to be called your child. But trusting in Jesus, my Savior, I pray: Have mercy on me according to your unfailing love. Cleanse me from my sin, and take away my guilt.
P: God, our heavenly Father, has forgiven all your sins. By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord, Jesus Christ, he has removed your guilt forever. You are his own dear child. May God give you strength to live according to his will. Amen.
✠ T H E W O R D ✠
The Lord Jesus speaks to us in Scripture reading, preaching and song.
FIRST LESSONActs 17:1-12
Summary: The apostle Paul proclaims Jesus, only Jesus
When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.
But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.
As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
PSALM 33 hymnal page 79
*Read verses and sing refrains.
Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
It is fitting for the upright to praise him.
For the Word of the Lord is right and true;
He is faithful in all he does.
By the word of the Lord were the heavens made,
Their starry host by the breath of this mouth.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
He commanded, and it stood firm.
The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
He thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
The purposes of his heart through all generations.
The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of his unfailing love.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
And to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and will be forever. Amen.
EPISTLE LESSON 1 Peter 2:4-10
Summary: The disciple Peter describes Jesus Christ as the Cornerstone of the Church
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
VERSE OF THE DAY John 14:6
P: Alleluia. Alleluia. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia. I am the way, the truth, and the life, says the Lord. Alleluia.
♫ Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! These words are written that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
GOSPEL LESSONJohn 14:1-12
Summary: “I am the way, the truth, and the life…”
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Jesus the Way to the Father
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
P: O God, you form the minds of your faithful people into a single will. Make us love what you command and desire what you promise, that among the many changes of this world, our hearts may ever yearn for the lasting joys of heaven; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
SERMON HYMN 356 You Are the Way; through You Alone
SERMONETTEJohn 14: 1-6 (underlined in Gospel lesson)
“I Am the Way”
I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
HYMN 367 Christ By My Leader
EASTER SEASON PRAYER
*Read by Pastor
LORD’S PRAYER hymnal page 43
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
CLOSING PRAYER hymnal page 43
P: O Lord God, our heavenly Father, pour out the Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep us strong in your grace and truth, protect and comfort us in all temptation, and bestow on us your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
BLESSINGhymnal page 44
M: Brothers and sisters, go in peace. Live in harmony with one another. Serve the Lord with gladness.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
Then Lord look on you with favor and + give you peace.
CLOSING HYMN 759Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled
*Canter sings verses, everyone sing refrains.
Next week’s theme: May 17, 2020 The 6th Sunday after Easter:
“Living In and For the Living Lord”
(The LORD said:) “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). For the past 6 weeks now, our nation’s “Safe at Home” social distancing mandate has changed how we live and how God feeds and leads us with his Word. However, we need to remember that the power of God’s Word and the comfort of the gospel is not diminished by the way it is delivered. You will hear law and gospel. You will be assured of Christ’s forgiveness. Your faith will be nourished and our trust in God’s unchanging promises will be strengthened.
Perhaps God will use this experience to lead us to never take public worship for granted again. I pray that God is also using this crisis to draw many in our nation to see the value of forgiveness, faith and the Word of God. As He tells us, “My Word will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11). If you know of someone who doesn’t have access to these on-line worship opportunities, please let us know. Call (608-297-2866) or email <email@example.com> church/school secretary Ciara Neuhauser at the church office or leave a message.
At the encouragement of our church synod leaders, we will be reserving distribution of the Lord’s Supper for its regular and normal use within the gathering of the body of believers, except in special circumstances. We take comfort in knowing that we have two forms of the means of grace – Word and sacrament. Forgiveness received through God’s Word is no less powerful and effective than the sacrament.
Every Saturday at 11am (either at Emmanuel at St. John’s) we will record an abbreviated service that will be uploaded to our website <www.stjohnsmontello.org> & linked You Tube channel together with a bulletin file available for viewing at your convenience. These services will also be available via DVD, printed sermon & bulletin mailings. Many thanks to those helping with our recorded services including: Darrell Buchholz, Pastor John Dolan, Kerry Mann, Rachel Naumann, Ciara Neuhauser, Larry & Lynn Sellnow, Lucas Stelter, Sue Tutaj, James Wachholz and Lauren Zietlow. Thanks also to the Sellnow’s for recording weekly school chapel devotions and for Pastor Dolan for recording weekly Bible studies.
While we might be tempted to face this situation with a great deal of disappointment and chagrin, we also recognize the opportunity God is placing before us to ponder and grasp ever more firmly his promise of spiritual health for our souls and to reflect the light of his love to others. We can:
– pray for God’s healing for those affected by the virus
– pray for those involved in essential services – medical personnel, first responders, and those who keep the peace
– share the links to our website and worship service with family, friends, and acquaintances
– renew our daily devotional life
– continue to support the message and ministry of our congregation by responding in thanks to God for his gift of eternal life through offerings mailed to the church office, by electronic-ACH-auto-pay-direct-deposit giving or via credit card at <www.stjohnsmontello.org> menu button “Church Recorded Service” DONATE NOW yellow button. Call Ciara at the church office for direct depost giving details.
– offer care and compassion for those who need support and a listening ear
Church elders, shepherd, trustees, other concerned members and Pastor Zietlow have been contacting all E/SJ members (via email, text, and phone) to make all aware of the situation, to offer alternatives for those who do not have a computer or internet access, and to offer any special assistance during these challenging times. Following our governor’s announcement on 3/24, all WI residents are to stay “Safe At Home”. President Trump also advises that we continue this “social distancing” until May. These are trying times..times for personal reflection, Bible study, devotion and prayer. Pastor Zietlow (608-408-7830 talk/text) and our E/SJ Elders are available for emergency home visits. Please reach out to them directly.
We as your church family want to be able to help and serve you, but we can all rejoice as we look to the One who is our real and lasting helper. He is our strength and that’s especially comforting in a time like this, when our human weakness is made so clear!
In Jesus Christ our loving, protecting, crucified & risen Savior,
“The Lord knows the way that I take, and when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)
Dear School Children & Families:
Your goodness and generosity have been displayed by the offerings already made to the 2019-2020 Kids C.A.R.E. mission project: Early Childhood Education in Indonesia. Why do we support a mission project? God gives us, even as children, the opportunity to serve Him by sharing Jesus, the Best Gift God gave to us and the Best Gift we can give to others. While we live on earth, God gives us the task of sharing the Hope that we have in our Savior Jesus with others. Giving to missions is one way to do just that! Kids C.A.R.E.–Kids Care About Reaching Everyone with the Gospel.
While the children cannot meet at chapel, they can still share their final gifts for children in Indonesia, and we hope parents will encourage their children to do so. Most children brought weekly offerings through March. Since social distancing continues during the weeks of April and May, perhaps you would take that into consideration as final gifts are made. Place your gift in an envelope labeled “Kids C.A.R.E.” and drop in off with school work to your child’s teacher or mail it to “Kids C.A.R.E., St. John’s Lutheran School, 313 East Montello Street, Montello, WI 53949.All gifts must be received No Later than Friday, May 15.
Working together wonderful things can be achieved. The Kids C.A.R.E. Giving Thermometer currently stands at $966.96—wouldn’t it be great to stretch that figure to over $1,000 to share Jesus with children in Indonesia!
Our Hope Is Built On Christ
The Fifth Sunday of Easter – A
God’s Word for Today
The creative, sustaining Word of Christ brings people into fellowship with the one, true God. Christ, the “Living Stone,” builds up his people like living stones into a spiritual house. Such people of “noble character” now search the truth of God’s Word receiving from it every spiritual blessing.
First Lesson (Acts 17:1-12)
Why was it important for Paul to show the Jews in the synagogues that Christ had to suffer? (v. 3)
For what activity should we remember the Berean Jews?
Second Lesson (1 Peter 2:4-10)
What description does Peter give of all who are joined to Christ by faith?
According to Peter, to what purpose did God call us, his own people, out of darkness? (v. 9)
Gospel (John 14:1-12)
Why was Jesus’ departure not a source of sorrow but a reason for rejoicing?
Must we wait for eternal life to be united with Jesus?
What is the comfort of knowing that a place in heaven exists with our name on it?
Jesus calls himself “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” What is the significance of the three definite articles?
The idea of a suffering Messiah was a stumbling block to the Jews, and so it was important to show that he must suffer.
They took their Bibles seriously. Each day they would test the message of Paul by comparing it with the Scriptures.
He describes them as living stones being built into a spiritual house. Believers are like a temple in which God dwells and where living sacrifices are continually being offered to him.
God called us to declare his praises, that is, to tell the whole world what he has done for us through Jesus Christ our Lord.
He was leaving in order to prepare for them a place in his Father’s house. And, he added, he would return and take them to the place he had prepared. There they would all be together again!
In John 14:23 Jesus stated that he and the Father will come to us and make their home with us. Thus the mystic union is a reality already in this life.
Things in this life come and go, they change, they see decay. But our God is our one constant in our lives. What comfort to know that beyond this ever-changing world we have a place prepared for us by Christ in heaven.
It clearly points out that Jesus is the only way to heaven. He is the world’s one and only Savior (Luke 2:32). Only through Christ our Savior do we ever come to the Father.
Dear members of Emmanuel and St. John’s,
As you all are very aware, we have not been able to physically worship together as a church family or have our students attend school since mid-March. That does not mean that our ministry has slowed down.
In almost every way our ministry here at Emmanuel and St. John’s has had to be retooled and redoubled efforts to meet the challenge that COVID-19 placed before us. And, with any great challenge lies great opportunity.
Your Emmanuel and St. John’s church leadership put together an emergency team in March and met to outline how the churches could carry on our ministry to get the Sunday sermons to our members. In that meeting we decided to have Pastor record his sermons and have them uploaded to our YouTube channel. It was also decided that Pastor and the Elders of both congregations would identify and reach out to the members they KNEW would not be able to utilize the YouTube sermons and provide a different format for those members.
Even though our St. John’s and Little Lambs students have not been able to be in the school physically, our staff have continued to work tirelessly to provide for their spiritual and academic needs via technology and distance learning. Our staff has been there to support school parents through the transition to this new way of spiritual and academic learning.
The Synod recommended for churches to apply and utilize the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program through the CARES Act. Emmanuel and St. John’s financial team met, filled out the loan application, and turned it in to FORTIFI Bank. We were granted the loan on the second round of funding from the federal government. This loan gives us the two and a half months of payroll that is completely forgivable as long as we utilize it for payroll.
After having our teacher calls returned, the St. John’s School Board has requested a Martin Luther College graduate from the WELS assignment committee. Assignments will be announced on May 16. Please keep the assignment committee, MLC graduates, and our school in your prayers.
The St. John’s council will be meeting later in the month in anticipation that at that meeting we can be laying the ground work to a return to physically worshiping together and, God willing, preparing for the physical return of our students our classrooms in the fall.
Please keep our ministry, staff, and leaders in your prayers until we meet again. Know that YOU are in our prayers as well.
I remember counseling a 16-year-old boy about a problem he was having. I asked if he had prayed about it, and he nonchalantly answered, “I haven’t prayed in three years.” When I asked him why, he replied, “Because God is going to do what he’s going to do whether I pray or not.”
He had a point. God says in Isaiah 46:10, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’” So why bother to pray?
Because God promises that our prayers make a difference. James 5:16 tells us: “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” The Bible tells us about times when prayer had a direct impact on things. For example, God told a man named Hezekiah that it was time for him to die. Hezekiah prayed for God to spare his life and God healed him and gave him 15 more years to live (2 Kings:20).
But wait. That just doesn’t make sense. How can the God who plans and controls the future tell us that our prayers affect what he does and what happens? I have no clue. But that’s ok. All I need to know is that I can trust God. And if he tells me that my prayers make a difference, then I know they make a difference.
So, pray boldly, even if you can’t fully understand how your prayers synch with God’s sovereign will. Pray boldly, not because you fully understand how prayer works, but because you are fully convinced in Jesus Christ that God loves you.
Lord, I am amazed that you give me the privilege to pray and promise that my prayers make a difference. Help me to be confident that you will hear and answer when I pray. Amen.