S.P.A.R.K.  (St. Paul Church’s Announcements to Read and Know)      January 2023

Dear friends in Christ,

Despite the high amount of people experiencing Covid and flu, coupled with the extreme weather, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Sunday services at St. Paul were blessed with many people in attendance. The 3:00 PM Christmas Eve service had 150 people, mostly visitors whom I’ve never met before. In fact, at both the 3 and 7:00 PM services, there were more visitors in attendance than members. What can this tell us? It may be the case there were lots of people in the area visiting family and wanted to attend a Christmas Eve service. Countryside Community Church canceled their Christmas Eve services due to the storm, and there may have been a few others in town that did as well; so perhaps some of their people attended here. Whatever the case, the bad weather may have been a factor in our church being a vital ministry in our community during the Christmas weekend. There were a few preschool alumni families in attendance, which is always nice to see, knowing our preschool is also a vital ministry here. Regarding our midweek Advent services, I have prepared a separate article on that if you wish to read it.

Looking ahead at 2023, Lent starts on Sunday, February 26th! I hope we see as many if not more visitors this coming Easter as we did Christmas 2022—without the bad weather. And of course, I always encourage and pray for strong attendance from you, our members. There are a couple of special events happening during Lent I want you to get ready for: on Saturday, March 4, we are hosting the Kapelle choir from Concordia University Chicago. They will give a concert of sacred choral music in our sanctuary at 7:00 PM. The other event is an evening with our friend Yoel Ben David from Jews for Jesus. He will be here Sunday, March 26th at 5:00 PM to give us an update on his ministry. This event might include a potluck dinner – more on that as we get closer.

God’s blessings be upon you and your family as we enter the new year.

Pastor Don

Greetings in the Name of Jesus

Welcome to the Advent-Christmas Season!  We begin a new Church year.  From birth to Ascension, we will spend time absorbing ourselves in the life of God’s Son, the Messiah, Jesus.  My favorite hymn in Advent is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”  Emmanuel means God with us.   Indeed, we need God to be with us.  Whatever your struggle is now, you can invite Jesus into your life to help you.  Maybe you feel exasperated, fatigued, and frustrated about what is happening in your life now.  You can invite Jesus to come and save, restore, and transform you. Jesus is your help in time of need. He knows exactly how to help.  He loves you!  As the hymn says:  “And open wide our heavenly home. Make safe the way that leads on high, and close the path to misery.  Rejoice Emmanuel shall come to thee.”

Do you avoid driving at night?  There will be three Mid-week Advent worship services on Wednesdays starting on Nov. 30, then December 7, and 14 in the Senior Center at 1:30 pm. You will discover how a love story in the Old Testament leads you to the love story of Jesus for you.  You will experience how this love story offers love that can change your life. 

Maxine and I wish all of you a joyous Advent-Christmas Season!  Thanks for being a blessing to us.  O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Rich

        

Bingo the Basset Hound
Bingo the Basset Hound

Greetings from your friendly Basset Hound,

 

Things are humming at the Senior Center.  We are happy for the repairs and painting of many helpers.  The Seniors will not meet on December 28 and January 4.  I plan to head south to attend the Basset Hound annual assembly.  We will explore new sniffing techniques to track down rabbits.  I hope to absorb some Sun to see me through the winter.

I have done some research on Christmas humor.  I hope this the following makes you smile! 

  • What happened to the person who stole an Advent Calendar? The person got 25 days!
  • Why was the snowman looking through the carrots? He was picking his nose!
  • Why does Santa have three gardens! So he can ho, ho, ho.
  • How did Mary and Joseph know Jesus’ weight when he was born? They had a weigh in a manger.
  • What do snowmen eat for breakfast? Snowflakes
  • Why are Christmas trees bad at sewing? They drop their needles.
  • Why did the Skeleton skip the Christmas party? He had no body to go with.
  • What did the wise men say after they offered up gifts of gold and frankincense? Wait, there’s myrrh.
  • What did the gingerbread man put on his bed? A cookie sheet.

 

That concludes my research.

 

Enjoy your Advent and Christmas Season.  Chat with you next time year.

Love, Bingo your Friendly Basset hound

 

S.P.A.R.K.

 (St. Paul Church’s Announcements to Read and Know)

     December 2022

 

THIS IS MY SON

A series of worship and preaching for Advent and Christmas

    Whenever I meet with a couple for pre-marriage counseling, I share this quote: “Every disappointment involves unmet expectations.” Then we talk about what expectations for marriage are realistic or unrealistic. I also let them know their spouse will inevitably let them down— sometimes multiple times a day! Marriage is not the only source of disappointment and unmet expectations. Every human relationship will deal with these issues. Have you been happy with every decision an elected official has made, even one for whom you voted? Does your boss ever let you down? Have your employees always done their job well? Do your friends always come through for you? Do your children always make good and wise decisions based on what you have taught them? Human beings will disappoint by failing to meet expectations. No wonder the psalmist tells us in Psalm 146:3–4, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”

    Parents have hopes and expectations for their children. Sometimes these are healthy expectations. Other times parents place unfair or unrealistic expectations on their children. This Advent season, we will look at three different sons of men who were disappointments to their fathers. In the first week, we will be introduced to Cain, the son of Adam. No doubt Adam had higher hopes for Cain than for him to be known as the first murderer in history. But his murder of his brother reveals the murder lurking in all our hearts. In the second week, we will be introduced to Ishmael, the son of Abraham. Though it was not his fault, Ishmael was a disappointment to Abraham because he was not the child of the promise. Abraham’s efforts to take things into his own hands highlight our own tendency to do the same in our relationship with God. In the third week, we will be introduced to Absalom, the son of David. This rebellious son broke David’s heart and exposes the rebellion we display against our heavenly Father. But each week, we will also be pointed to a different Son. This Son is the true Son of Adam. He is the true Son of Abraham. He is the true Son of David. He is the Son who never disappointed His Father. He is the Son who never did any wrong. He is the Son of whom the Father spoke: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5).

This true Man, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, is also the Son of God, the very Son of God now living in our flesh and blood. This Son is Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, who fulfills the hope of salvation “that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:5). He is the One whom the psalmist spoke of in Psalm 146:5: “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God.”

    During this series, entitled This Is My Son, you will hear again that your heavenly Father is not disappointed in you. Rather, through Jesus, He considers you to be His beloved child, with whom He is well pleased.

 

ADVENT 1 – Sunday, November 27. Cain, the son of Adam.

ADVENT 2 – Sunday, December 4. Ishmael, the son of Abraham.

ADVENT 3 – Sunday, December 11.  Absalom, the son of David.

ADVENT 4 – Sunday, December 18. Joseph, the son of Jacob.

CHRISTMAS EVE – Saturday, December 24. Jesus, the son of Joseph

CHRISTMAS DAY – Sunday, December 25. Jesus, the Son of God.

May God bless us this Advent and Christmas!

Pastor Don

Greetings in the Name of Jesus

What is on your mind?  Do you have good thoughts?  Perhaps you are troubled with unhappy feelings.  Maybe you are burdened with negative thoughts.  May I share a word from St. Paul? 

Philippians 4:8. He said, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.” 

God’s way is to fill your mind with powerful and redeeming thoughts. God’s truth sets you free.  Meditate on God’s Word.  Read your Bible and let His word bring new life to you.

This month we focus on Thanksgiving.  Thank the Lord for His bountiful blessings.  This month we as a nation are urged to give thanks.  God loves to hear our praises.  Be sure to vote as there are many issues important to Christians. 

Maxine gave me a Newsletter from October 2016 that marked the beginning of our weekly meetings in the Senior center.  Wow!  It has been six years.  We have grown younger!  Zeke has moved and now Bingo has joined us.  Before I give him the pen, Maxine and I thank all of you for your love and support.  A Blessed and thankful Thanksgiving!

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Rich

 

Greetings folks,

Bingo the Basset Hound
Bingo the Basset Hound

 

How about that six years of meeting in the Senior Center!  We truly are thankful for all the blessings God has given us. Thanks to all the folks who have currently been working on the building making improvements.  You are appreciated!  I hope all of you enjoy the Thanksgiving Holiday. 

Most of you will eat turkey.  So I researched some Turkey humor for you.  Ready or not here it is.  Gobble up! 

 

What is a turkey’s favorite dessert?  Peach gobbler!

Why didn’t the turkey want dessert?  He was stuffed.

What are turkeys thankful for on Thanksgiving?  Vegetarians.

Can a turkey jump higher than a house?  Yes.  Why?  Houses cannot jump.

Why do turkeys love rainy days?  They love fowl weather.

Why do turkeys play drums?  They have drumsticks! 

Why do cranberries turn red?  Because they see the turkey dressing. 

 

Enough for this month.  Come see me at the Senior Center.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Love from Bingo, your friendly Basset Hound

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19.

A pastor’s November newsletter article to the people of his church usually contains the customary “let’s give thanks to God for all the blessings he’s given us this year.” This year it seems more than customary to give thanks to God; the fact that we are still gathering to worship and carry out the ministry of Jesus Christ despite the difficulties we face—well—we owe our very existence and every breath we take to Him. It’s his church after all, and he will make it grow and prune it at will. Perhaps he is doing a new thing right now as we struggle to understand and cope with apathy, dwindling membership and internal strife.

Regarding the “new thing” God speaks to us about through his prophet Isaiah, the commentary in my Lutheran Study Bible says this: Rather than looking back on the glory days of the past exodus, the Lord wants His people to see Him as their present provider of exodus, their deliverer from Babylon. He demonstrates this by bringing life-giving water to His people living in the wilderness and desert. (p. 1160)

God was doing a new thing in the mass departure of his people Israel from captivity in Babylon. What is he doing now in the mass departure of his people from the church he established through his Son, Jesus Christ? Well one thing is for sure, he is still caring and providing for us. This may not seem new, as he has cared and provided for his people all along. But when it looks and feels like things are falling apart, God tells us every moment that he has provided us a deliverer from death, the devil, and hell. Not only has he brought us life-giving water in our baptism, but he also gives us his life-giving body and blood for the forgiveness of sin. I’ve tried to find a word that goes beyond “customary” in describing our thanks to God for this, but it escapes me right now. Nevertheless, I rejoice with you that God has made us his people and will see us through every time of trouble. May his peace always be with you.

Pastor Don

While I was at the Oregon Pastor’s Conference last week, someone was thoughtful to leave a “Chick Tract” on my desk at the office. I’ve talked about these “Chick Tracts” before; they’re illustrated booklets created by Jack Chick out of Ontario, California. They’ve been in circulation for decades, inviting kids and adults to accept Jesus as their Savior before it’s too late. Each tract (there are hundreds of them) cover a variety of topics concerning the Christian faith. The one left on my desk is, “The Attack” published in 1985. It tells the story of how Satan has been attacking the Word of God since the creation. After the time of Jesus, Satan managed to get intellectuals in Alexandria Egypt to incorrectly translate the Hebrew Bible and New Testament manuscripts into a “mess” which made people doubt the truth of God’s verbally inspired word.

 

“The Attack” goes on to try and convince you that many Bibles today, including the New International Version (NIV,) and English Standard Version (ESV,) are based on the Alexandrian manuscripts, which do not contain all of God’s Word. But if you send $12.95 to Jack Chick’s publishing company, you can get a book which has all the missing verses from your corrupted Bible. Our Lutheran Study Bible, an ESV published by Concordia, notes these missing verses and the fact that they are not found in the earliest known Greek manuscripts. For example, look up Acts chapter 8, verse 37. In your Bible, you may notice the text goes from verse 36, to 38. Where’s 37? You should find a note somewhere at the bottom of the page or in the commentary about the missing verse. It should say some manuscripts don’t contain the words in verse 37 and should also tell you what the words are. You can find other examples such as Matthew 8, verse 11, and Mark 15:28.

 

There’s nothing sinister or mysterious about this. While it is true the devil attacks God’s Word constantly in many ways, the fact that your Bible is missing some verses isn’t one of them. Some English Bible publishers choose to go with the earliest Greek manuscripts because it is known that Christians added in some verses for clarity or to complete some scenes such as the Ethiopian eunuch receiving faith and confessing Jesus is Lord. By leaving the verses out of the main text and noting them elsewhere on the page, you, the reader, can discern the nuances which exist in manuscripts used by Christians in the First Century which make up the New Testament. If you want an English Bible which contains all the verses in the main text, get a King James Bible (KJV.) The KJV considers late Greek manuscripts available to English scholars in the 16th Century. By the way, Jack Chick heartily recommends this version.

 

This all plays well into the Reformation which we will celebrate on Sunday, October 30th. Wear something red on that day. I’ll explain why when we get there. Not to spoil the reason we celebrate but be assured we have the enduring Word of God—early and late manuscripts of the Gospels, Acts, Paul and John’s letters were used to build up the church. The problem isn’t with the Word, it’s with us. And I’ll talk more about that later as well. Until then, may the Lord abide in you until he comes again in glory.

 

Pastor Don

 

The leaves are starting to change color. Pastor Rich

Greetings in the Name of Jesus

The leaves are starting to change color.  Darkness comes quicker.  A reminder that things are changing.  We, as people are changing.  Our hair color changes.  Our physical abilities diminish.  But our focus needs to stay on what really matters.  Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  It is easy to become distracted.  Keep your focus on Jesus.  Read God’s Word.  Concentrate on the Good News and not on all the bad news.  Jesus loves you.  He took our brokenness on himself and took our punishment that we might live with Him in Heaven.  Focus on Him and you will have true peace and joy.  As you focus on Him,  you will be blessed.

How about the Senior Saints who won the Baked Bean Bake Off at the Octoberfest,  The top three were Pam Garrett, Karen Baldwin and Peggy Pariseau.  Way to go gals!  God’s Blessings as you journey into Fall.

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Rich

        

Hi folks,

Bingo the Basset Hound
Bingo the Basset Hound

                        

The dog days are over for another year.  Kinda sad.  But I enjoy the return of the Seniors.  Thanks to all who repaired our Center.  The new green siding looks great.  Wonderful that so many came to help.  The Seniors all say thanks.

I hope all of you enjoyed your summer.  Remember if you visit another church, I would like for you to bring me a bulletin.  I pass them on to Pastor Rich.   Leslie Atiyeh brought me one from Luther Memorial Lutheran Church. 

Now time for a smile or two. 

How about some fall season smiles.

How do trees get on the Internet?  They just log on.

How do you fix a broken pumpkin?  With a pumpkin patch.

Why does Humpty Dumpty love Autumn?  Because he had a great fall.

What did the leaf say to the other leaf?  I am falling for you.

Why do birds fly south in the fall?  Because it is quicker than walking.

What happens when winter arrives?  Autumn leaves.

If the pilgrims were still alive, what would they be famous for?  Their age.

Why did the apple pie cry?  Its peelings were hurt. 

Okay that is enough for October.

 

 

Love from Bingo, your happy Basset Hound

 

fireworks

S.P.A.R.K.   (St. Paul Church’s Announcements to Read and Know)

 September 2022

Dear friends in Christ, I am taking some time off from church work, but I will see you again on Sunday, September 11th. Below are some newsworthy items you should know as the summer comes to a close, and school starts. 

  • On Sunday September 11th Leslie Abbott will be installed as preschool teacher at the 10:45 AM service. We are excited to have Leslie as our teacher along with a large group of thee-year-olds enrolled—that means lots of new families to meet and get to know over the course of the year. Diana Burda will continue as preschool aide along with Rebecca Sanchez. 
  • Also on Sunday, September 11th we say “farewell and Godspeed” to Kathy Prehm, who has been our preschool teacher and director since 2012. A reception will be held after the 10:45 AM service in the church lower level. There will be food, cake, and a presentation. I encourage all of you to attend to recognize and thank Kathy for her outstanding service to our church and community. 
  • Firm Foundations Academy is getting ready to launch their hybrid homeschool in Modular C and the old schoolhouse. Parents of the children who are enrolled in this program have donated many hours to cleaning and repairing the classrooms for school. This is a rental agreement and not a new mission of the church. However, we have established a good rapport with the owners of this exciting program and pray there will be opportunities for the ministry to be involved in the lives of the families who come here. 
  • Beginning Sunday, September 11th I will be leading a new adult education study, Callings for Life: God’s Plan, Your Purpose. This series will cover questions many of us have such as, “what is my purpose in life?” “what is the one thing I was born to do?” and more. While I encourage all adults in our congregation to attend Bible study between services, I especially encourage parents with children to attend this. We have a Sunday school for your children to learn about God while you attend the adult education. Please come! 

The ministry of our church enjoyed a productive and enjoyable summer. The National Youth Gathering, while brutally hot in Houston, was a success. So was our Vacation Bible School, thanks be to God, Jen Gatke, and all our volunteers who made it happen. Confirmation and Family Camps at Lutherwood were also highlights of the summer for our youth and families. Now it’s time for me to rest a bit, fly some model rockets at Sod-blaster IV in Pasco, and recharge for all the activity which will be happening on our campus after Labor Day. God bless you all and have a safe and blessed rest of summer. 

 

Pastor Don 

Greetings in the Name of Jesus,

How fast the summer past.  I pray that you had quality time with Jesus.  We were challenged to read the book of Acts.  This gave us an opportunity to explore the church in the post resurrection era.  Being in God’s Word is essential for survival in today’s woke culture.  This month I encourage the seniors to delve into the letter to The Colossians.  Read and meditate on one chapter per week.  I invite all of you to join the seniors in this exercise.  Colossians gives insight into the person and work of Christ.  You will discover what it means that Jesus is the Head of The Church.  It calls us to rise above all worldly philosophy and sin.

The Senior Saints will resume weekly gatherings on Wednesday, September 14.  Bring your sack lunch, your Bible, and yourself each Wednesday at 12 noon.  Water and coffee will be provided.  

Are you ready for persecution?  In 2 Timothy 3:12 it says everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  The world may hate you for what you believe, but in the end you win.  We have life everlastingly with Jesus.

May the Lord bless you and keep you!

Pastor Rich

        

Bingo the Basset Hound
Bingo the Basset Hound

Hi folks,                       

Hi all, I look forward to seeing my Senior friends again on Wednesdays.  

I will miss the dog days of summer.  Now I need to go back to sniffing out rabbits.  After all that is what we were bred to do.  Thanks to Claude Hampton and his crew for hauling a piano to the Center.  Thanks to all who took care of the Senior Picnic.  It was a great time!

Now time for a smile or two.  This month it is about rabbits.

  • What did the rabbit give his Girlfriend?  A 14 carrot ring.
  • Where do rabbits work?  At IHOP restaurants.
  • How do you know a rabbit is in a good mood?  He is hoppy.
  • Why did the rabbit build himself a new house?  He was fed up with the hole thing.
  • What is a rabbit’s motto?  Don’t be mad, be hoppy.
  • Why are rabbits so lucky?  They have four rabbit’s feet.
  • What is a rabbit’s favorite game game?  Hopscotch.
  • One more?  What do you call a rabbit working in a hotel?  A bell-hop.

Have a good September!  

Love from your Basset Hound

Spark

S.P.A.R.K.  (St. Paul Church’s Announcements to Read and Know)

Summer 2022

In his report of the 50th anniversary celebration, Pastor F. Westerkamp, commenting on the fact that the congregation was getting old, said it so well: “May our gracious God grant that the dear Gospel of Jesus, the Savior of sinners always remain new, sweet, precious, and desirable to us until the Lord closes our eyelids. Then our weak and so often pitiful praise will become praise that is perfect and roars through heaven to the glory of Him who has purchased us sinners for His blessed possession and has transferred us into the heavenly inheritance. Oh, what a glorious and eternal Jubilee we shall then celebrate!”

 The above paragraph is from our church’s 125th anniversary booklet. Notice pastor Westerkamp, in 1928, said the congregation was “getting old.” My goodness! I wonder if he could have imagined the congregation would celebrate its 100th and 125th anniversaries? There’s no reason to doubt we will celebrate our 150th in 2028 either. If Pastor Westerkamp were alive today, he would think the congregation was getting very old for being around so long! Come to think of it, he would be very old himself! Thanks be to God, the Good News of Jesus Christ never gets old. It brings life and immortality to light in sinners like us. And it’s for all people who hear it and take it to heart.

In an essay I read recently by Roger Kovaciny, (a former Lutheran Church worker in Ukraine,) he outlines some reasons why the Church is experiencing an “evangelism implosion.” Some of them seem symptomatic to me as to why our church is facing difficulties in gaining people. For example, he says, “One reason why the church grew [in the first Century] was because during persecutions, the many people helped by Christians wouldn’t turn them in to the Romans. And during the numerous plagues that ripped through premodern cities, Christians saved many victims by nursing them instead of fleeing. Many who recovered attributed their rescue to the Christians or the Christians’ God. Many were converted. Just like today, the church didn’t grow from miraculous mass conversions or evangelism programs. The Mormons found out their ubiquitous cold calls are successful only one time out of a thousand. (Sound familiar?) What works for them is what works for us: having children or making friends and bringing those friends to church or a meeting with the pastor. Meeting with the pastor at the home of a friend is fruitful one time out of two—literally five hundred times oftener than a cold call on a stranger.”

I must admit, in my thirteen years in the ministry I have never been invited to someone’s home to speak to a friend about Jesus. I would in a heartbeat if asked to do so. Perhaps Mr. Kovaciny’s experience overseas was different than what I have seen in the Northwest. Some of you have told me you’ve invited your neighbors and friends to church, and they politely declined. What else can you do? Have more babies? That’s one solution; but it’s not an option for a lot of us at St. Paul because, well, to put in Pastor Westerkamp’s words, we’re “getting old.” If Kovaciny is right, then we will have to work harder and be more persistent in our invitations to friends to come to church. To that end I pray the Lord to give us courage and strength to do it.      

Pastor Don