I had the opportunity to play basketball in high school, as many do. One day, as we got ready for practice, we were told that the gym was unavailable for whatever reason and that we would be working out with the wrestling team that day. “That’ll be fine.” I thought. “I’m in great physical shape from all the running.” I could not have been more wrong. I spent the next two hours in a 90 degree, sweat-filled room doing more sprints, pushups, sit-ups, and other exercises than I had ever done in such a short amount of time. Afterward, we told our coach that we never wanted to do that again. Our coach replied, “You may hate it now, but it will lead to strength on the court later.” Of course, from that point forward, we worked out with the wrestlers once a week. I strongly dislike wrestling workouts.
Most of us don’t like wrestling with God too much, even with there being so much to wrestle with God about. Coronavirus, racial injustice, and politics are just a few things that are constantly in front of us each day, and the Lord has not given us an explanation. Why does injustice still occur? Why is there a pandemic? These things are all in the hidden will of God, and He has not given us a definite reason why. Yet these questions persist in our hearts and minds.
That being said, God invites us to wrestle with him over these questions. Consider Psalm 13:
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
The scriptures are filled with people asking God questions from the depth of their hearts. What I am most concerned about is that, instead of wrestling with God about these issues, we hide behind our long-held presuppositions about race, politics, or medicine based on what we’ve heard, seen, or googled. Yet the psalmist has none of these things to rely on. He cries out to the Lord and wrestles with him in prayer.
We here at St. John’s have asked folks to be wrestling with God during this time. Such times are rife with the opportunity to lift our concerns to our Lord rather than hiding behind our conclusions about race relations, politics, or medicine. We’ve asked you to wrestle with when it is time to return to in-person worship. We’ve never suggested an answer, but we do want you wrestling with the question in prayer and conversation with your family and friends.
Psalm 13 concludes, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountifully with me.” God may never provide answers to all of our questions, but when we wrestle with the Lord in prayer and conversation, He draws us back to His promises and what He has done for us. That’s why we wrestle with our Lord. It strengthens our trust in Him and His promises, so that we may be stronger even in the midst of the bizarre circumstances we find ourselves.
June 18, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Amid this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and as the re-opening continues to evolve, I wanted to provide an update, support, and encouragement as God continues to bless us by His Word in new and powerful ways!
There has been a lot of praying, conversation, and planning by your leaders and staff over the last few months as we seek to follow the Lord and bring His love to you and our community. As different aspects of our ministries re-open, there are challenges, but we continue to trust in His promises for His people. I am excited to announce that we will have a Congregational Meeting on June 28, 2020, at 12:15 pm. It will be held in the sanctuary, and we will be following the same social distancing protocol we are using for church service to minimize contact and keep us all safe.
We have lots to discuss and some important decisions the congregation must vote on. This includes the ministry plan for fiscal 2020-2021. In light of the changing environment connected to COVID 19, the St. John’s Leadership Board is recommending that we take a shorter view for the ministry plan. We are recommending a 3-month Ministry Plan to be reviewed and updated in September. We also have to elect three members to the Leadership Board. There will be a link to the agenda for the meeting, as well as short bios of the candidates for your review. These information packets will also be handed out before the meeting. I would like to encourage you to attend the meeting and learn more about all that is happening at St. John’s.
As people of God, we trust in the Lord and call upon Him to increase our faith, and we ask that the Holy Spirit give us confidence to live our faith out in powerful, loving ways. God’s promises are true! We ask for God’s mercy and His strength in the days ahead.
Celebrating the Lord’s Supper During this Time of Pandemic
As we continue to evaluate the state of the pandemic in our community and how God’s people are strengthened in faith during this time, the worship ministry would like to share two announcements regarding the Lord’s Supper in July:
We will celebrate the Lord’s Supper according to our regular schedule (1st, 3rd, and 5th Sundays) starting in July, in the sanctuary. In order to maintain proper social distancing, the Pastors will be serving communion to you and your family in the pew while wearing a mask and gloves.
2.We recognize some just aren’t ready to be in the sanctuary yet, and thus we will provide “in-vehicle” communion on Sunday, July 5th, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM as we have done the past two months.
We look forward to receiving God’s gifts of His Son’s body and blood with you!
St. John’s Worship Ministry
Discipleship in as many places as possible
An Update on Life Groups at St. John’s
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)
There’s an important question making its way around St. John’s these days. The question is: “When can our life group meet again?” St. John’s is here to assist you in seeking a prayerful answer.
When St. John’s closed its doors on in-person worship activities, our church leadership also made the difficult decision to cancel all life group gatherings until further notice for the sake of our church family’s health.
The impact of this decision varied: many groups have suspended activities while individuals stayed in touch; other life groups continued to meet on the internet or over the phone; some life groups even reported having conversations more frequently due to the quarantine. Whatever the case, it has been a great reminder that God is always at work in and through His people.
Now that we have begun to meet again in worship, the Unified Leaders of St. John’s are encouraging our life groups to consider doing the same. Our goal, Lord permitting, is to see the majority of our life groups restored and active at St. John’s by September, though we understand every life group will approach this differently.
Whether you’re a lay leader or a member of one of our many life groups, this is a time for reflection and conversation with one another. I invite you to prayerfully consider the following:
How did this quarantine impact your life group(s), when do you hope to meet again, and what would it take?
As these days come and go, remember that whether on earth, or in heaven, or when all of creation is restored, it is good to be together in the Lord.
Leaders: as you consider meeting, please reach out to your Management Team Lead for guidance on re-opening and procedures to consider. The official policy for re-opening Life Groups has been attached for informational purposes. In addition, please make use of the attached flowchart for some helpful questions to ask your group as you pursue fellowship once again.
Confirmation has probably been a word at the back of your mind, if at all, in these troubled days. Due to the Coronavirus, our plans and routines have been thrown into disarray as businesses, churches, schools, and jobs have closed their doors. Even as society begins to open up again, it may take some time before we’re “back to normal.” So, what does that mean for those seeking to confirm their faith?
To use the old phrase: “There’s no time like the present.”
At St. John’s, we do confirmation a little differently. Our approach is built around voluntary confirmation, which is confirmand-driven, and church-supported. Pastors work with one-on-one with families in a relaxed, conversational atmosphere as we seek to help our confirmands take ownership of their faith and step forward with confidence in their beliefs alongside the rest of the church. When pastoral conversations are concluded, confirmands join the next available Promises of Grace class to complete the process and be both welcomed and celebrated with the rest of our new members.
Unsurprisingly, this “small scale” approach to confirmation allows both families and pastors a great deal of flexibility for scheduling, and even for taking proper precautions in the midst of times like these. Confirmation conversations have successfully been ongoing, even now.
God’s promises are good at all times, and these times, in particular, are rich for exploring how faith and life come together in real ways. Don’t add it to the always-growing list of “I’ll get to that later.” Come and see; come and be blessed!
Whether you’re seeking to confirm your faith or want to support someone in your house as they seek to confirm theirs, give the church office a call (262-334-4901), and we’ll see how we can walk together with you.
I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!” (Ps. 122:1)
As on-site services resume at St. John’s, we are looking for some volunteers to help us keep up with the sanitizing procedures between services.
We are looking for adults 18+, people who are not considered high risk individuals, and people who are not already actively serving on a ministry team (we are trying to lighten the load of the ushers and other ministry leaders already serving in worship; however, if you are an usher or worship team leader, you are more than welcome to volunteer for a Sunday service as you feel led).
Volunteers can sign up to sanitize after the 8:00 AM, 9:30 AM, or 11:00 AM Sunday services (Saturday and Wednesday services will be taken care of by usher teams). We will create a rotating schedule of 2 people per service to get us through the summer or for as long as these procedures need to be in place.
The procedures include sanitizing:
-Offering box surface
-Chairs used in the narthex or by the fireplace
-Any other frequently touched surfaces (note, this does NOT include cleaning bathrooms but DOES include the door handles for the bathrooms)
Teams will be overseen by Asst. Worship Director Rachel Morton, and by sextons Bob Krause and John Ehlke. Once responses have been collected, Rachel will email the schedule to everyone.
St. John’s West Bend – Worship Re-opening Unified Leader’s Announcement
Excited to Open Safely!
We are excited to open again for worship following our usual worship schedule. However, recognizing that COVID-19 is still a threat, we wanted to share with you some precautions that we at St. John’s are taking and that we are asking you to take as you prepare to attend worship.
Please watch the video and download the letter to learn how we cotinue to honor God and our community.
Families of all ages are welcome to participate in St. John’s first virtual VBS. It will be hosted in the comfort of your home during the week of July 6-10. During this Covid-19 pandemic, it is important to remember God is with us! Join us as we travel through the Bible discovering times when God was with us, and still is with us. We will conduct science experiments, create our own unique crafts, and play fun-filled games which will bring us closer together. Registration is available through St. John’s App. Material pick-up will be on Monday, July 6th. An e-mail will be sent out with more information about material pick-up time and location.
As we prepare for the 2020-2021 school year, we invite you to enroll now in our K4 classroom. We have multiple options, including a half-day morning class or full day classroom. The deadline to enroll is June 30. If you have any questions, please contact us at 262-429-1061.
Click through to their website for up to the minute news and information. www.lwlhs.com
Contact Living Word
Contact the office to learn how to join the Living Word Luther High School family.
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