It just dawned on me that as of the first of this Month, June 1st, I will be entering my seventh year of service to St. John’s Lutheran Church. Yup! You’ve all had to put up with me for six whole years. What is most amazing about this is that when I am out in public, the grocery stores, restaurants…wherever…I often run into people who think that I still work in the TV business for Q6. I guess they don’t watch all that often!
A lot has changed in and around St. John’s since June of 2009. Back then we had just broken ground on the new church and school building. The foundation was being prepared and the Laborers For Christ were chomping at the bit to start putting up walls. Our worship services were held up in the house above our current facility. We could cram only about 55 people in at one time so we had two services on Sunday to accommodate the average of 78 people attending that month. The church offices were also in the house, along with everything else that we did. The membership of St. John’s Lutheran stood 118. Early the next year, February of 2010, we opened our preschool in the new building, and began our Sunday worship in the new sanctuary on March 21st, two weeks before Easter. Actually though, the first service in the new building was the Memorial Service for Eunice Kempff, held in one of the classrooms on February 11th. Today our average Sunday attendance is over 140 and membership has grown to 244.
That means that in the past 6 years we have welcomed a lot of new brothers and sisters into the St. John’s family. We’ve laughed with them, cried with them, shared the Lord’s body and blood with them, rejoiced with them, learned from them and loved them. We have also had to say goodbye to many of our beloved. Some of these include John Butterfield, Eunice, Jane Kuhlmann, Martha Kollmann, Betty Newton, Ed McCoy, Glen Myers, Norma Poppe, Ursala Lorenz, Ed Bell, Bette Newton, David Garinger, Gladys Kumnick, and Betty Schroeder who have been welcomed by our Lord into his eternal heavenly kingdom. By my count I have been blessed to have baptized 26 people, infants and adults, into the family of God. A lot has happened in a relatively short period of time. I can’t even begin to imagine how many anthems our choir has sung, how many pots of coffee and cakes we’ve consumed, or how much candle oil we’ve burned through. Things happen so fast!
In the middle of all this change we often grow impatient. We want more, and we want it to come to us faster. That’s just plain human nature, especially in our culture today. I sure fall into that trap. A very wise pastor of ours from the past always used to remind us that life, yes Christian life, is a marathon, not a sprint. That’s not to say that rapid growth or change is a sin, but rather that we follow God’s timing. He is the one that makes things happen and He arranges the circumstances. You’ve got to admit that all of the change that has occurred within St. John’s Lutheran Church in the past 10 years, since 2005, from selling and moving from our downtown home to a new property and church/school home here in the Latah Valley, is not because of what we have done. It all comes from the hand of the Lord. The turnaround in our congregation, from one on the brink of death to now teaming with life is not because of our works, but only because of His will and work.
I thank God for His patience with us, His loving-kindness, His mercy and grace, His provision and protection, and for the mission and ministry that He has given to us to participate in. That’s something that we always have to keep our focus on. He has brought us here for His mission and ministry. We are not the reason that we’re here. The reason we’re here is right outside of our doors, all around us, the people that we have come to serve, the people that He wants to save. The verse at the top give us some perspective on the fact that God is not bound by time. The very next verse says this (2 Peter 3:9) “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”