I Wrote A Letter…

I really don’t use snail mail all that much anymore. But here’s proof that I did this time. It’s that important…

Today I’m at the cancer clinic. Every four weeks I come here to receive Intravenous Immunoglobulin Therapy (IVIg).  I am not expecting anything out of the ordinary, though I’ve been surprised before – and often.  But I am expecting something totally out of the ordinary with Stronger Together.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a letter to members of Immanuel’s elected boards and to people who volunteered to lead our Stronger Together efforts.  I’d like to share that with you now. If you are not associated with Immanuel Lutheran Church, I think you’ll still get the message loud and clear and I pray you’ll find it useful.  If you do have ties to Immanuel, I’d like to extend an invitation for you to get involved. And I like to hear what you ALL think. So here it is…

Friends –

Mellow Lutheran Church is located near a series of stunning lakes and beautiful views. It’s my preferred vacation location and if retirement is in my future, maybe it will include a log cabin.

They’ve had one service on Sunday for as long as anyone can remember. Everyone not only has their favorite pews, they even have their “own” parking spaces. Pews and parking spaces are handed down through the family.  Those parking spaces are not your typical yellow striped spot on the blacktop. Rather, they are special places in the field across from the church able to accommodate a trailer for a boat or snowmobile.

Pastors tend to stay a long time at Mellow Lutheran Church In fact, the last three only left when they were carried out in a hardwood coffin.  When they need a new replacement pastor, men apply for the position. Everyone knows it is the best church to serve; there is ample fishing, hunting and hiking. Often the best place to visit with a member in the winter is in their ice house.

Mellow Lutheran Church does not have any issues. There has not been a sharp word of disagreement at a congregation meeting since there was that unfortunate minority movement that wanted to change the date for the annual Spaghetti Dinner. The date did not change and that family went to the Methodist church.

Mellow Lutheran Church also hasn’t added a new family since the church was remodeled after WWII.  They do not set an annual budget because they don’t want to offend anyone with the possibility of a deficit.  The organist keeps a close record of the hymns so they sing all the good ones regularly.  And every seven years, the men gather on a Saturday after the Super Bowl and before fishing season opens to paint all the interior walls. Flat white has been the color of choice even though there was that pastor years ago who suggested semi-gloss.

Well, Immanuel is a little different than Mellow Lutheran Church. We set budgets and run deficits. Some think we need to cut back on services and others disagree. We get confused sometimes about which color and texture paint to use, as well as which repair to the building comes first. We park wherever we want (except in my spot). Pastors and other workers have come and gone too frequently for some, yet others think they stay too long.

Immanuel has a deep passion to grow. We want all the desks filled in our school so that more children will learn about Jesus.  We want all the pews filled in the church (even if new people take “our” seat) so more people will hear the lifesaving message of Jesus Christ. We want our building to reflect the honor and respect due our Heavenly Father.  We want a strong spiritual and physical presence in our community. And we expect our pastors and teachers and everyone on staff to be dedicated servants at the top of their calling.

We know we are “Stronger Together.” So, at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday April 29 we will come together once again to pray and talk about why we do what we do at Immanuel. It sounds simple, but there are many voices and opinions that need to be heard. If you’d like to attend, please R.S.V.P. to Diana Broj. Please join me as together we “Grow the Community in Christ.”

See you in church, and in the community,
Pastor Tom

A Blessing from Immanuel’s 4th Graders

Special Olympics Global Messengers Kurt and Lisa Nobel gathered with Immanuel Lutheran School students for chapel Wednesday.

Holy Week and Easter Services can take their toll on a pastor and I’m certainly not immune.  And we had another worship service yesterday!  It was the usual weekly school chapel, except it wasn’t usual.

Immanuel’s 4th grade students led us in worship and they did it very well.  What a blessing to the whole school and one I enjoyed very much! Bible verses, song, and an offering, plus lots of standing and sitting back down…at the appropriate times of course.  Some of their parents were even able to attend this midday service, blessing them too.

The blessings didn’t stop when chapel ended. We were joined by Special Olympics Global Messengers Kurt and Lisa Nobel, who thanked Immanuel for supporting the Hospitality and Game Tent on Sunday.  They also stressed the importance of doing your best and supporting your teammates. More on that here…

See you in church and in the community!
Pastor Tom

Easter Monday 2017

It’s the day after Easter and I often blog on Easter Monday. I’m always exhausted and I always feel compelled to remind people to keep the joy of Easter alive.

Like last year, I think it will be easier to remind people of the joy of Easter, because Immanuel is involved in Stronger Together, an incredible movement to reach the people of Palatine with the life-saving message of Jesus Christ. Isn’t that what Easter is all about? I’ll be writing more about Stronger Together soon, but for now I’d like to share the following with you again this year because it’s really important that we keep Easter alive…

The magnificent sounds of the trumpets, organ, all the other instruments, and, of course, the choirs, are still ringing faintly in our ears. The colors and aroma of the beautiful Easter flowers are pleasant, but fading, memories. The company has gone home, or perhaps you yourself have returned from visiting friends and family. It was a wild, wonderful, and beautiful weekend. But now it’s Monday and we are exhausted, weary, and perhaps feeling the effects of stress from such a busy weekend. Now it’s time to get the kids to school (if they don’t have it off like our ILS students do), and/or get yourself off to work, finish the grocery list, pay the bills, start the laundry, run the errands, etc.

It’s only been a few hours since we were together in a full church shouting “He is Risen Indeed!” We felt good and confident that, for a few moments, everything in our life seemed to be okay. Our questions were answered. Collectively we had a sense that whatever challenges we may face in the next few days, we could come out ahead. God seemed closer and more real than he has in months, if not longer.

And now it’s Monday, the day after…
We aren’t sure what the disciples did on the Monday after.  Maybe they stayed together celebrating the news of the resurrection, while keeping a low profile in case soldiers or religious leaders came looking for them. We can’t be sure what they did on the day after Easter except we know that their lives were never the same. The men who had been so timid and fearful were now becoming courageous and brave. Their moments without faith were forgiven and their new mission was becoming very clear. Their questions were answered. Easter became such a huge part of their lives that nothing would ever be the same again.

For most people the day after Easter will seem like any other day. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can keep the joy of Easter alive not just today or this week but much, much longer. Let the spirit of God fill you with faith and the certainty that hope and optimism are yours through Jesus Christ.

Do not allow the day after Easter to take away the encouragement and optimism and hope you felt and knew on Easter Sunday. The tomb was empty and as you face whatever challenge comes your way just go back in your mind to that empty tomb. There is real power and hope and optimism there.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:11 ESV)

Let’s continue to look for answers together!

See you in church,
Pastor Tom

 

 

Easter – The Answer!

Today our questions are answered!  Today we truly celebrate in worship! THE Answer stands in front of us, reaching out to hold each one us tightly.  Four worship services will be held: 6:00 a.m. Easter Sunrise Worship Service, 8:00 a.m. Traditional Worship Service, 9:15 a.m. Blended Worship Service, 10:45 a.m. Contemporary Worship Service.

“When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?’ And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back— it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.” Mark 16:1-8 ESV

It has become a small Easter tradition for me to share a devotion written by Immanuel volunteer Dave Brazzle and I feel privileged to be able to do it again this year.  Here’s Dave’s devotion:

Mark 16:1-8—Jesus Has Risen

Hallelujah! He Is Risen! Have you ever thought about what it would have felt like to be the first people to know of our Lord’s resurrection? Think of the range of emotions that these women must have felt…from the conflict of questioning if this really was the resurrection of Jesus, to the unprecedented pure joy of believing that the prophesies have been fulfilled, that all of His promises are true and that Jesus is surely the Son Of God!

The women were told to go and tell the disciples. But instead, we are told that they ran out and told no one, for they were afraid. What about us? With the help of the Holy Spirit, who lives in our hearts, we hold fast to the promise that Jesus died in payment for our sins, making us fully acceptable in God’s eyes and assuring us of our place in heaven. We know and we believe. But just as with the women at the tomb, how often do we share what we know with others, or are we also too afraid? May all of us partner with Christ and share our belief; show and tell others where your peace comes from, for God will be with us and He will provide the words that we all need.

An Easter Prayer:

Risen Savior! You have conquered death. Because you live, I shall live also. Words cannot express my joy but you know my heart. Increase my faith, dear Lord, that I may live each day with the sure and certain promise of eternal life. In your most precious name I pray, amen.

Let’s continue to look for answers together!

See you in church,
Pastor Tom

The Easter Vigil: Does Hope Seem Lost?

We continue to seek answers this Holy Week. As we do that, a little background on “Holy Saturday” may be helpful.  The seventh day of the week, the day Jesus rested in the tomb, is Holy Saturday. It is a traditional day of quiet meditation and Christians for centuries have contemplated the darkness of the world without a future and without hope apart from God and his grace.

Easter Vigil
While making vigil through the night is not as common today, Christians nonetheless gather on Holy Saturday to wait in expectation for the news of Christ’s resurrection and for his second coming. At Immanuel, we have a “service of watching” that ushers in the resurrection, the Vigil of Easter. Read more…

Please join us at 5:00 p.m. tonight for the Easter Vigil Worship Service.

Let’s look for answers together!

See you in church tonight,
Pastor Tom

Good Friday – Looking For Answers

Last week, I told you that Good Friday is for those who feel alone and rejected at times.  Isn’t that all of us?  Tonight in worship, we’ll continue to look for answers.

But first, a little background.  On Good Friday we commemorate the arrest of Jesus, his trial, crucifixion and suffering, death, and burial. Since Holy Communion is a celebration and we are observing the death of Jesus, we do not have communion on Good Friday. In worship, you can expect a series of Scripture readings, and time for prayer and meditation. Our service will end in darkness, reminding us not only of Jesus’ death but of the hopelessness in the world without God. The final candle, the Christ candle, will be carried out of the sanctuary to symbolize the death of Jesus. There will be a loud noise to symbolize the closing of Jesus’ tomb.

Art from Pastor Matthew Rosebrock, my son-in-law, age, capturing part of the most powerful event in all of history.
Art from Pastor Matthew Rosebrock, my son-in-law, capturing part of the most powerful event in all of history.

Please join us at Immanuel for Good Friday worship at 7:00 p.m. this evening. For anyone interested in reading the scriptures about Good Friday, just search on your device:

  • Matthew 27:27-28:8
  • Mark 15:16-16:19
  • Luke 23:26-24:35
  • John 19:16-20:30

Let’s look for answers together!

See you in church,
Pastor Tom

 

Looking for Answers: A Maundy Thursday Prayer

It’s “Maundy Thursday” and I’d like to take a moment to offer a prayer and an invitation to join us tonight at 7:00 p.m. for Maundy Thursday worship.  We’re seeking answers this Holy Week and Maundy Thursday is all about being deceived. It is what happens when you invest time and energy and love in someone and then you find they have deceived you. And it hurts. You want an answer but it doesn’t seem to come.

Please join with me in prayer.

Dear Jesus:

On Maundy Thursday, we remember your unselfish example, your betrayal, the institution of Holy Communion and your prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. May we learn from your example, even as receive your Body and Blood in the bread and wine.  Help us faithfully seek answers from you. Amen.

Read more about Maundy Thursday.

Let’s look for answers together!

See you in church tonight,
Pastor Tom

 

Wednesday of Holy Week: Looking for Answers

We continue to look for answers this Holy Week. Though we’re not meeting for worship tonight, we can take the opportunity to privately study the Bible and pray. Scripture briefly mentions Wednesday of Holy Week:

“It was now two days before the Passover . . . and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him.” Mark 14:1

Can you imagine the desperation of the Jewish leaders as they tried to find a way to execute Jesus quickly and quietly before he gained even more support and followers? Even among his enemies, God was at work for his purposes. The Scripture was to be fulfilled – Jesus, the innocent, would die for the guilty.

Today God works in the events of our lives to bring about good, even in times of suffering and in times of questioning. Even as we seek answers to life’s questions, we need to remember that God indeed has a plan for each one of us. Trust him even as you pray for his help, his comfort, and his answers. Jesus has indeed taken away the sins of the whole world!

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, as you worked through those who plotted to kill your Son, Jesus Christ, to carry out your plan of salvation, may we always remember that you indeed work through the events of our lives to bring about good. Thank you for your patience and faithfulness, even as week seek out answers. Amen.

Please join us for Maundy Thursday Worship at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow night.
Please join us for Maundy Thursday Worship at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow night.

Our Wednesday Lenten worship services concluded last week, but I’d like to invite you to Maundy Thursday worship TOMORROW at 7:00 p.m.

Let’s look for answers together!

See you in church,
Pastor Tom

 

Looking for Answers: A Day of Controversy and Parables

It’s Tuesday of Holy Week and we’re looking back on the most significant event in human history, even as we seek answers to questions we have today.  Let’s focus on Mark 11:27-13:37.

On Tuesday, beginning at the Temple in Jerusalem, the opponents of Jesus confront him and question his authority. Jesus confidently knows his authority and does not engage his enemies. However, their anger grows and this brings Jesus closer to the cross.

Later that day, perhaps on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem, Jesus will teach his followers in parables and warn them against the Pharisees. He predicts the destruction of Herod’s great temple and tells his disciples about the future, including his return.  I can only imagine how many questions the disciples had, but perhaps were too afraid to voice.

Chapters 12 and 13 of Mark are filled with familiar scripture to many people, yet reading these chapters with a “Holy Week” mindset is bound to provide fresh insight.  Countless other people have never read these scriptures and Holy Week is a perfect time to start!  In Chapters 12 and 13 of Mark,  you will find Jesus’ response when asked about taxes (12:13), The Lesson of the Fig Tree (13:28) and more.  In this section, Jesus answers the question of “when” he will return (13:32) as well. Read these chapters today, grow in Christ, and share your faith! 

If you have any questions about any of this, please feel free to contact me (PastorTom@ilcp.org) to discuss it! Pastor Warren (PastorWarren@ilcp.org), Pastor Donald (PastorDonald@ilcp.org)and  Deaconess Suzanne (sfingerle@ilcp.org), are also readily available  – just call the church office at 847-359-1549.  Believe me, we treasure this type of discussion and this week is all about seeking answers to questions.

PRAYER  

Dear Lord,

Let us remember that you promised to come once again. May we make good use of this time as we grow in faith, and call others to faith and salvation. Please be with us as we study the Bible and seek answers to our questions. Amen.

See you in church,
Pastor Tom

Monday of Holy Week: Looking for Answers

It’s Monday of Holy Week and a great time to study the “Clearing of the Temple,” described in Matthew 21:10-17, as we look for answers this Holy Week.

The day following Palm Sunday Jesus goes to the temple and as he finds the entrance crowded with money changers and sellers of sacrificial animals, he overturns their tables. He makes a whip and drives them out. Animals and money and tables and merchants go flying everywhere. What a scene!

People were using religion to fill their pockets. Worship in the Temple had been disrupted. The very place to honor God, to offer prayer and praise, was desecrated.

There is to be no barrier to God in our lives and places of worship. Jesus is the focus of our prayer, our worship, and our service throughout our lives. Jesus truly is THE answer.  Religion fills our hearts and our souls, not our pockets!

PRAYER
Heavenly Father, dearest Jesus, help us to remove any barriers that would keep us from you. May your word come freely to us as we walk blameless in your sight. Please be with us as we seek answers from you.  In your name we pray, AMEN.

Let’s look for answers together!

See you in church,
Pastor Tom

Matthew 21:10-17 ESV

And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?”  And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant,  and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,

“‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies
you have prepared praise’?”

 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.