We still live in the glow of Easter. When I ask our confirmation class students, when does the Easter season end, I get some unusual looking faces. The question assumes that the Easter season ends, much like we think Christmas ends when we pack away the ornaments, take down the tree, and clear out the gift wrappings. The winter snow melts (or at least we hope at least to have no more of winter!) and the spring flowers start sprouting and blooming.
But the Easter season does not end. It does NOT end! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia! That message continues until our earthly proclamation is transformed to the heavenly joy of “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of Sabaoth!”
This Easter joy continues to fill the Church with hope. Hope in Jesus who defeated death and will not allow the gates of hell to prevail against His Church, including St. John’s Lutheran Church and School here in La Porte, Indiana.
But have we felt the attacks of those gates of hell? Have we sensed that Satan has tried to darken our doorway? Have we fallen into temptation to decline our love for our Lord and for our neighbor? While church worship attendance has seen a decline, we are saddened to think it is simply Satan who is ‘winning’ in this column of statistics. Another column of statistics is the contributions given to the work of St. John’s. It may not be an exciting thing to give money to pay for the salaries and benefits of our workers or to pay the utility bills. But that’s what it takes to operate a church in this world today, so that the message of salvation is taught to our children in our school and for the upkeep of our property so others may join us for worship.
But the third column in this statistical report is the number of willing and capable workers to do the day-to-day or week-to-week things that keep the mission and ministry of St. John’s operating. Our Thrift Shop is operated solely by volunteers who week after week take their turns in ‘manning the store’ and serving our community. The Willing Servants are called into action to serve meals after the funeral of a member to offer a time and place of consolation and fellowship. The Altar Guild prepares God’s house for worship each week. The Trustees care for the physical upkeep of our buildings and property. The Elders assist with member care and the worship services. The Day School Board meets to plan and provide programs of education for our students. That’s part of the ‘people’ resources we have.
But we could do more. Other Boards and Committees are not functioning as there are no people who have stepped up to serve. As a result, the work they would do has to be done by someone else or not at all. Imagine if no one did the work of an evangelist! Where would the church be if no new members joined? That is a concern.
We do thank the many people who have served as our volunteers, helping in the Thrift Shop, with the Willing Servants, Altar Guild, and so on. For some, it was time to step out due to health or other personal concerns. Today I ask, “Will you rise up? Will you be moved by God’s grace to give more of your love and time to your Lord and Savior and serve Him in His Church? What has prevented you from doing so?” I pray that as you read this, you would be moved first to prayer, then to action. I will be praying for you, as you consider ways to serve our Lord, and love the people for whom the Good Shepherd bled and died-and was raised again! He was raised so you could be raised-raised to acts of love and service in His Church.
Be blessed as you consider how you may rise up and be included in the work of Christ’s Church today!
Pastor Ron Brauer