From the Pastor, William D. Leitch

January is the Season of Epiphany.  Epiphany means “manifestation”.  On this day, we celebrate the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles – that is, to all nations.  Some Christian traditions celebrate three great epiphanies on this day:  the magi’s adoration of the Christ child, Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, and his first miracle, in which he changes water to wine.  The word and sacraments are for us the great epiphany of God’s grace and mercy.  We go forth to witness to the light that shines brightly in our midst.

Through January, we will celebrate all these.  I find it interesting how Scripture weaves these manifestations together from the creation of the world to the manifestation of the church as the Body of Christ.  For example, worship for the Jews before the destruction of the Temple was the sacrifice of animals in the Temple.  Jesus foretold the second destruction of the Temple that would occur in 70 A.D.  At the same time, He promised that He would be the final sacrifice.  His blood would be the last blood that would need to be shed.  The sacrifice of His body would be for the sake of everyone and whoever believes in Him will receive that salvation.

So, Jesus’ blood was the last blood to be shed and that is good.  We remember this every time we drink the wine at communion.  Sometimes the invitation to come to communion is, “Come, taste and see that the Lord is good.  Jesus saved the best until last, just like the servants witnessed at the Wedding at Cana.

Believe in Jesus and things will only get better.

As I said before, I find it interesting how Scripture weaves things together.  The glory of the Lord is revealed in the reading of Scripture.  People stand at attention.  People weep.  People prostrate themselves in prayer.  The unity of the church is another reflection of the glory of God.  Most gloriously, the promises of God are fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.  Gather round.  Listen up.  Glimpse the glory of God.

 

Living Lord Annual Congregation Meeting…The Annual Meeting of the Congregation will be held on Sunday, January 27, 2019, at 11:45 am in the Worship Space – mark your calendar!  At this meeting, reports will be received from Standing Committees, Congregation Council Members will be elected, and the 2019 Budget will be approved.  Also at this meeting we will vote on the issue to permit same sex marriages to be performed on church property.  Your Annual Report will be on the table in the hall the week prior to the meeting; be sure to stop and pick it up.

 

Church Information…Please remember that you can obtain church information from the monthly Lamplighter Newsletter, the Constant Contact emails you receive, on the church website (www.lllc.org), on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Living-Lord-Lutheran-Church-493806727349110/), and postings on the church bulletin board.  Church Council Meeting minutes are posted on the bulletin board and sent out via Constant

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Contact.  We would like to see a better “open rate” when we send information to you via Constant Contact so that we know you are being informed of the activities that are occurring at the church.  If you have any other suggestions on how best to reach out to our parishioners, please see a Council member.

 

From the President, Bob McKinney

Well, where should I start with this month’s column.  I am coming up to the end of serving as your Council President.  To say the least, it has been quite interesting, and I mean that in a good way.  I think I have had my ups and downs during the two-year period.  I think we have accomplished much, but there is much to do.  My first year was wrapped up in our Shared Ministry with St. Paul.  We worked very hard in accomplishing much between our two churches, as we both have similar strengths and weaknesses.  It was our goal to continue to work on ways we could come together as one.  Then present that to both congregations for approval.  We were not able to pass a resolution to move forward, so those efforts fell short.  One last word on this – I understand it is very difficult and emotional to possibly close one church and combine with another, but in our current times, this is becoming a necessity to continue spreading the word of God and outreach we need to do in our communities.

My second year became consumed with the finances of the church.  It was difficult for committees to function at 100% because of cash flow.  Committee Chairs were digging into their pockets to fund programs so they could continue.  We had a “Catch-up” Sunday in August to help folks to catch up on their summer giving.  That helped to a smaller degree.  Every conversation I would have seemed to involve cash flow and finances.

For some good news, we were able to update more of our heating and cooling systems, install new doors, update the kitchen and women’s restroom, and several outside areas were improved.  Most of this was because of the Fuchs Fund and private donations by our congregation.

I will end this with my sincere appreciation to Council, Pastor Bill, and the congregation for your help during my tenure as President.  But, if you so choose, I will be changing chairs on Council to be the Finance Chairperson.  This will be quite the challenge and you will again be hearing some tough love from me early in the year.

From the Fellowship Committee Chairperson, Nancy Walters

Fellowship in January…Well, another year has passed.  Time for more Fellowships!  We will have our first one of the year on Sunday, January 20, after both services.  There will be a sign-up sheet on the main bulletin board.  Thank you to all who have donated supplies; every item on the wish list has now been donated.  I would also like to thank my husband, Rollie Walters, for painting the kitchen and removing the old tile from the floor.  He also cleaned the windows in the kitchen so that we can finally see!  Hopefully the new tile will be installed soon.  Stop in and see what a great job he did.  Thanks honey!

From the Later Life Committee, Member Lynne Walters

Card Class…Join us for a card-making class on Thursday, January 24, in the Activity Room.  We will be making 4 cards.  The theme is “Love and Kisses”.  Classes will be at 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm.  The cost is $12.00.  Please bring adhesives like double-stick tape and liquid glue.  There is a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board.  The deadline for signing up is Sunday, January 20.  If you have any questions, please contact Lynne Walters.

From the Parish Education Committee, Member Pat Was

The Adult Forum will begin a new Ray Vander Laan series titled “Cultures in Conflict” beginning on January 6.  The five-part series follows Paul as he travels through Greece and Israel spreading the Gospel in a world totally at odds with what he is preaching.  It offers us an opportunity to understand how we can cope with the issues of our present society if our belief is strong enough.

From the Parish Nurse, Dora Muller

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

A brand new year with all the expectations can lead to a better and healthier life.  We all try to eat right, exercise, and adopt healthier behaviors.  However, all these steps will not prevent the natural process of aging.  Our body is a perfect machine, but all machines will show some wear and tear.  Or, like my husband says, some depreciation is expected.  This year we will discuss the role of chronic diseases that can affect our health.  Some of these diseases can be the result of unwise health behaviors such as smoking; others can be occupational hazards such as fumes or gases in the environment in the work place.  And we cannot forget those genes that we inherit from our parents, which we can do nothing about.  For 2019, our goal will be to understand how chronic diseases can affect our lives, how to prevent them, and more importantly, if they are unavoidable, how to manage them.  With careful management and knowledge of preventive measures, we all can adopt measures to decrease the risk of suffering from chronic diseases all too common during our golden years.

From the Pastor, William D. Leitch

We begin the wait for Christmas, the coming of Christ, then Christmas comes and we remember that event for 12 days in our Church calendar.  Perhaps all we remember of Christmases past is the effort we put into decorating, sharing gifts, preparing big meals, cleaning the house, and then taking it all down and storing it all away for next year.  I pray that we all will be intentional about reading the Scriptures very carefully and witnessing how powerful they really are in proclaiming this Jesus, the Christ!

When I read about all the events leading up to Jesus’ birth and the events that occurred soon after, I think, “How could anyone not believe that Jesus is the Christ and that He is the Son of God?”

Come with me and hear again the incredible events and how they changed everyone then and why they should change us today.

Mary is a young teen, maybe even a pre-teen, like middle school.  The angel Gabriel speaks to her, “Mary, you are pregnant!”  In Catechism, we like to put our students in the shoes of our Biblical characters.  Our female students this year gasped and said, “I am in so much trouble!”  Yep, and so was Mary.  First, Mary replied, “There is no way!”   She knew where babies came from.  If she was pregnant, and before she was married, she would have been an adulterer and that was punishable by death – by stoning.  Yet, when Gabriel explained how this came about by the power of God, Mary not only believed, but accepted the mission with great joy.  This was one incredibly brave girl!

Next, Joseph needs to get on board, but he could not on his own.  Again, Gabriel pays a visit.  Joseph stops all action to “dismiss her quietly”.  Now, Mary and Joseph have the same “God Encounter”, God’s messenger, Gabriel.  The confidence meter just went higher.

Next, Mary visits her pregnant cousin, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s fetus does a flip inside and Elizabeth declares that the Savior just walked in.  What?  Where did this come from?  Mary had to be thinking, “Thank you God.  It is good to have Elizabeth on the team.  Whew!”  The confidence meter just went up another notch.  By the way, Elizabeth’s baby was John the Baptist.  He proclaimed Jesus as God’s son thirty years later.

Then they go to Bethlehem and Jesus is born in a barn.  By the way, the barn was not in the Yellow Pages as a publicly recognized hotel.  Still, the three wise men from someplace else in the world find him without much trouble.  An angel informs them to keep it to themselves as Herod wants to use them for no good.  They obey, leave town, and disregard all protocols to the “Big Shot”.  Don’t think for a minute they made it into Bethlehem without everyone hearing about it.  Folks have been talking about this for 2,000 years.  I am sure Mary and Joseph were pretty amazed to have these gentlemen show up and proclaim their knowledge of the son of God’s birth.  Wow!  The whole world seems to know.  Confidence going higher!

Stinky shepherds also get the message about Jesus’ birth from a whole choir of angels.  Shepherds are not lazy.  The angels said go and see.  Usually, you would expect shepherds to say, “Sorry, we need to feed our sheep or we will have a drop in revenues.  Can’t go.”  But not so!  They said, “Cool!  Let’s go.  NOW!”  They show up in Bethlehem and tell Mary and Joseph all about their encounter with God’s angels.  Confidence meter has got to be pegging now!  But that’s not all.  The shepherds tell everyone they see on the way home.  They are pumped, excited, and cannot keep this good news in.  The news is spreading like wildfire, and we know what wildfire is like.  There is no one in this world who has not heard of this child’s birth.  That is why we keep talking about it today.  There were so many eyewitnesses to Jesus’ birth, and you know about eyewitnesses, right?  You can accept or reject what they say, but you will never prove them wrong.  And since there were so many eyewitnesses how could anyone in the world not believe.

Oh, and the witnesses go on.  Simeon in the Temple in Jerusalem eight days after Jesus’ birth sees Jesus and thanks God that he has seen the Savior.  Anna, a prophetess in the Temple, stumbles onto Mary and Joseph and proclaims who this Jesus is.  Where does this end?  God is informing everyone.  The team is greater than anyone can count.  The confidence meter is pegging on high!

So, what is the reading on your “Confidence Meter”?  Come!  Let us hear the witness of all the saints who have gone before us.  Listen close to their encounter with God and God’s messengers.  Hear how they received the same message in different places and at different times.  Then let us be a witness to the world!

 

Addresses Needed for Parish Directory…Please provide the church office with your adult children’s current address, phone number, and email address.  As their Pastor, I need to be able to make contact directly with them.  If they are away at college, please provide that address so the Evangelism/Membership Committee can send them Christmas cards this month.  These are our current young adult members we are trying to reach out to in order to have discussions about what they would like to see in worship, parish education, etc., to make them excited about coming to church and bringing their friends.

 

Church Information…Please remember that you can obtain church information from the monthly Lamplighter Newsletter, the Constant Contact emails you receive, on the church website (www.lllc.org), on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Living-Lord-Lutheran-Church-493806727349110/), and postings on the church bulletin board.  Church Council Meeting minutes are posted on the bulletin board and sent out via Constant Contact.  We would like to see a better “open rate” when we send information to you via Constant Contact so that we know you are being informed of the activities that are occurring at the church.  If you have any other suggestions on how best to reach out to our parishioners, please see a Council member.

From the President, Bob McKinney

I appreciate those who came out to our Fall on the Courtyard event.  The weather did not cooperate for anything outside, but I think we all enjoyed the fellowship and good food.  Our Halloween Bingo Party at Niles Shepherd of the Valley was another success.  Judy and her gang do such a good job.  It’s fun to dress up and bring some fun to the residents.  I want to thank Pat Was for the Veteran information for our congregation and the map with the locations of each service man’s tour locations.  Very nice job!  The sermons Pastor is doing for our tithing responsibilities are right to the point.  I think we, as a church, need to make the decision of what we are about.  Will we be a church that pays salaries, utilities, and meet on Sundays to worship and that’s it?  Or will we be a church of outreach, spreading the word of God in our communities with funded committees doing their work?  We are currently looking at passing a budget with several committees being completely defunded.  We are talking about personnel raises.  Should we do that at this time?  Right now the budget has not been approved by Council to present to the congregation at our Annual Meeting, but that will happen in December.  We are dangerously close to a financial meltdown here at Living Lord Lutheran Church.  We need to start looking outside the box for creative ways of funding a realistic budget.  Pastor wants to have every member conversations concerning our budget and tithing.  I am certainly not opposed to that, but in my heart I do not think that will be the solution to our long-term problem.  I have not said anything to Council about this column and I am sure this could upset some folks, but you need to hear this.  Here are a few suggestions that I think could be pursued:  (1) Cut the ELCA Benevolence line 1102 in the budget.  We simply do not have the funds to sustain this level of giving.  We probably will not meet that level of giving this year.  (2) Look at changing the by-laws of the Fuchs Fund to allow a portion of the yearly interest to be used for the everyday running of the church.  We have a large sum of money sitting in banks earning interest and every year the interest is used for property improvements, which are needed.  But I think keeping the church open and viable is a reason to look at this fund.  Now I know that these two items are like a sacred cow to some people in the church, but we are at a crossroads.  And tough decisions need to be made.  I would really like to have a church meeting between both services sometime in December to discuss all of this and get your concerns and comments before we recommend a budget for your passage at the Annual Meeting.  Also, one last thing, I want to thank Pat Was again for stepping up and chairing the Finance Committee for the rest of this year.  His knowledge has been very helpful.