Dear Friends in Christ,
It's always a pleasure to welcome friends back home. This last Sunday, we welcomed Pastor Norb Oesch back to our pulpit, a pulpit he filled for 14 years as our Senior Pastor. I remember so well being in awe of his ability to preach the gospel, challenge the congregation and preach Jesus. Pastor Oesch did the same for us Sunday and it was a great opportunity for us.
Pastor Oesch also allowed me a platform to lay before you the vision we have been working toward with Elders, Trustees and Staff. Last year we started to ask, "What would God have us do at St. John's for our community?" "How can we be the hands and feet of Jesus in the City of Orange and in our Region?"
The Scripture that guides that vision is from Hebrews 10:19-25
This Scripture bids us...
Since we have great confidence in Jesus as our Savior,
+ Let us draw near to God with confidence and hope
+ Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we confess
+ Let us consider how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds
+ Let us not give up meeting together
Our Lord has called and claimed us as His own children. As I write this message to you, I have a black cross on my forehead and a black index finger on my right hand because it's Ash Wednesday and we put crosses on the 700 people in chapel this morning. This ashen cross is a sign of human frailty and Jesus' strength for us on the cross. Today is a day to remember sin and give thanks for grace.
So our Lord calls us out. Formally, as a congregation, He calls us out to spur one another toward love and good deeds. Our congregation is in the midst of pulling together a team of about 12 people who will gather information, organize and deploy our resources into the community of Orange. As we get into our community, we can spur one another on, and even more spur on our community to see Jesus through us and our works of "love and good deeds."
Our Lord calls us out informally as well. Pastor Oesch spoke so clearly Sunday of each of us working in our homes, families, work, recreation, weekend sports, club teams and anywhere we go we go in the name of Jesus. Our witness is not so much in dynamic words, but in kindly actions of love and encouragement. So much is made of how hostile the world is to Christianity and Christians. God calls us not to match the hostility, but to bring peace and healing.
As this team gathers in the next two or three weeks, please pray for them and for our congregation. There is no question that it will be hard work, but there is also no question it will be joyful work. Together in the name of Jesus we bring His love into our community. There may be no more joyful work!
As I write this, I'm heading over to the sanctuary for Noon-day worship for Ash Wednesday. This Lenten Season, we have services on Wednesdays at Noon and again at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. Lenten Dinners will be served by our ministries in Walker Hall at 5:30 and the food and fellowship are fantastic. Please join us in community as we find our way to Easter.
God bless you for Jesus' sake,
Rev. Timothy M. Klinkenberg