- Saturday, September 23, 6-9pm—Youth Game Night (Immanuel Youth Room)
- Wednesday, September 27, 6-7pm—Kids (K-5) AND Youth (6-12) Midweek
- Saturday, September 30, 6pm-- Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser and Youth I AM Trip Sharing (Immanuel gym)
- Wednesday, October 11—Family Night @ Immanuel
- Wednesday, October 25, 5-7pm—Family Fall Fest
The streaming our worship services is now directly on the home page of Immanuel’s website through YouTube. The services will no longer be streamed on Facebook. You can view our worship live streams here: https://immanuelloveland.org/
We are looking forward to adding additional administrative support to our team, a great team to be on! This 3-day/week position ranges from 15-20 hours a week in the church office. With a focus on Church Community Builder (Immanuel’s web-based church management software system) this position is especially suited to someone who enjoys details.
We are also hiring a Childcare/Toddler Group Lead and a Childcare Paraprofessional.
Click here https://immanuelloveland.org/about/current-job-openings/ to see the job descriptions; to apply, send your resume to email@example.com; questions may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We did it!!! Thank you for the amazing response to help us reach and surpass our $60,000 Challenge/Matching Grant for the high school initiative – wow! As of today, we have received $67,882 and not only matched but surpassed our goal! Praise God! Thank you to all who supported this to help us continue moving forward with the planning process for a high school here at Immanuel. Stay tuned for some upcoming information meetings led by Rick Overton, the Executive Director of Immanuel Lutheran High School, and the rest of the high school team.
Curious about who we are at Immanuel? Wondering what we believe and teach? Wanting to formally join Immanuel? Immanuel 101 is a 9-week class where those questions can be answered. There is no obligation to join after attending the class, but you will be given the opportunity to do so. Immanuel 101 started Sunday, September 17th and meets during the Education Hour (9:30am-10:20am) in room 112 (look for the signs!). It’s not too late if you’re still interested in being part of the class. If you or someone you know would be interested in attending the class or if you have any questions, contact Pastor Glen (gschlecht@ImmanuelLoveland.org).
Men’s Movie Nights at Immanuel will be discussing our first movie of the season, Cinderella Man, this Wednesday, September 20th, at 6:00pm. Even if you didn’t watch the movie with us, all movie-loving men are welcome to join the discussion about the powerful themes in this movie as they relate to men. You do not need to be a member at Immanuel to come. The group meets in Immanuel’s Movie Room (room 36 – 1st floor, SW corner of the building) starting at 6:00pm (look for the signs). Popcorn will be popping and beverages provided.
Youth in grades 6-12 are invited to come together on Wednesday evenings from 6:00pm-8:00pm in the Youth Room. There will be drinks and snacks, playing games, sharing with each other how our weeks are going, and most importantly, a time of devotions and prayer together. If you have any questions, please reach out to Mr. Marcus at 727-459-7026 or at mhoward@ImmanuelLoveland.org.
In addition to email updates for youth, grades 6-12, Mr. Marcus will also be using Remind this year to send out reminders for Youth events. You can download the Remind app to your smartphone or access Remindonline. To join our youth Remind, use the following link: https://www.remind.com/join/9k9h7g The group is for both youth and youth parents/guardians. If you have any questions or have not gotten our recent email notifications, please contact Marcus Howard at 727-459-7026 or at email@example.com.
Do you already like to knit or crochet? Want to try knitting at no expense (needles loaned and practice yarn provided)? Need help with basic knitting skills? Let’s do it together! All ages and skill levels are welcome! If interested, join Brenda McIntire and other knitting-lovers every Wednesday from 1:00pm-4:00pm in room 112. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you connected to Brenda.
Saturday, September 30th at 6:00pm in the gym at Immanuel, everyone is invited to an evening of food, friends, and fellowship. Immanuel’s youth will be providing an Italian dinner that evening and sharing their awesome experiences from this summer’s “I AM” High School Youth trip. All donations that evening will benefit our Youth Ministry here at Immanuel, and we invite you to wear your I AM shirts with us that evening. Come hungry for great food and hearing about how God was at work in the lives of our youth – and through them too! If you have any questions, please contact Marcus Howard (email@example.com or 727-459-7026).
“It’s ALIVE!” Yes, our Immanuel Information Station in the Atrium is NOW “alive.” Instead of our Station simply “sitting there” passively with good information on how to get involved in our congregation’s ministry, starting THIS Sunday, September 17th, our Information Station will be STAFFED weekly. For the coming weeks, Pastor Robin will be at the Information Station before and after each worship service at Immanuel. He’ll be available to answer questions and put information into anyone’s hands about the plethora of ministries at our congregation. From now on, the Information Station will be “ground zero” for welcoming our first time or long-time guests, getting people signed up for Pastor Glen’s email updates, answering questions, sharing the contact information of ministry leaders, etc. By the way, Pastor Robin is still looking for some individuals who have “hospitality” spiritual gifts and who’d like to see people connect with each other and Immanuel’s various ministries to help at the Information Station. For anyone who would like to be a part of this new ministry, Pastor Robin will be soon providing a training session that will give an overview of all that’s happening around Immanuel. If interested, contact Pastor Robin (firstname.lastname@example.org).
One of our values at Immanuel that we take seriously is encouraging every Jesus follower to be engaged in issues having to do with the public square. One key way we live out that value is to act on the invaluable right to vote that we have in our country. This year, churches across the country united for “Voter Registration Sunday,” which was yesterday, September 17th, challenging Jesus-followers to vote on issues in this upcoming election season. Issues regarding religious freedom, the sanctity of life, marriage, family, and personal identity, as well as the care and compassion for those in need are on the ballot through campaigns and candidates. If you have not registered to vote, from your phone simply text the word, “VOTE” to 50457 and everything you need will be sent straight to your phone. This will help you register to vote, request an absentee ballot, locate your polling place, and receive reminders for every election. Make a difference in the coming elections by bringing your biblical values to bear in the election process. There are 90 million Christians in America who are eligible to vote, but as many as 40 million fail to vote and approximately 15 million are not even registered to vote. We join other Christ followers in our adherence to a biblical challenge to be faithful in the public square, living out Jeremiah 29:7, which says, “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
The red, orange, and yellow fabric hanging in the sanctuary was inspired by our summer worship series, Life in the Spirit. The fabric hangs above the baptismal font and extends out over the congregation, symbolizing the baptismal life we live in the Spirit. Luther writes, “In Baptism, the Holy Spirit works faith and so creates in us new spiritual life with the power to overcome sin” (Luther’s Small Catechism). Which brings us to our fall worship series, Kingdom People. It’s our baptism that creates in us the power to live upside down lives as Kingdom People!
Some may have noticed the liturgical artwork, “Lord Lead Us” – with the image of Jesus as our Good Sheperd – was once again hanging on the northeast wall of the sanctuary. This artwork, along with the beautiful angels hanging on the wall next to the organ, was designed and created by David Bongers, his late wife Gloria, and their daughter Holly Walker. Holly was behind the threads that currently hang in the atrium, symbolizing the many threads that run through the biblical story of salvation. There’s so much more liturgical art this family has designed and created over the years, and we are grateful for their willingness to use their unique and inspired artistic gifts to enhance the worship of God’s people.
Is this an area of interest to you? Might you enjoy serving on a team that brainstorms ideas on how to enhance worship through the arts? If so, please let me know of your interest! (email@example.com).
From Pastor Robin: OK, so here’s the deal! Many, many people at Immanuel (including our church/school staff) use CCB (Church Community Builder). CCB is our relational and information network at Immanuel! I’m asking Pastor Glen to include this announcement in the Update today in order to give you some encouragement. CCB is a practical and powerful tool to enhance our congregation’s life together. You can use it search for email addresses and phone numbers for anyone who is part of our community. You can send texts from CCB without having to enter anyone’s phone number into your personal cell phone. You can check out activities and calendar items on the events tab. You can track your personal financial giving. And you can find information regarding any group in the church you are curious about! In other words, CCB can do TONS OF THINGS! But we NEED YOU to help us complete the CCB database. Personal and Family pages that are in CCB are missing information and especially photographs (which are HUGELY helpful when you are trying to get to know people in the congregation). So, here’s your challenge for the week – help us complete the CCB database. Complete your profile – there’s a 99% chance you already have a page on CCB. Complete the information listed. Post a picture! Please do that! If you need any help, call Beth at the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org), email me (email@example.com).
If you forgot how to access your page, we can help with that, too! If you need help logging in, we’ll help! If you want a picture/photo added, we can make that happen! You can get to CCB from Immanuel’s home page (www.immanuelloveland.org) or by using this link: https://immanuelloveland.ccbchurch.com/goto/login?rurl=%2Findex.php. We believe the more you use CCB, the more you’ll like it! And the more everyone uses CCB, the more information it will contain and the more practical, powerful, and helpful it will be for us to connect as a congregation.
Handbell choirs at Immanuel will begin ringing again in September. There are choirs available for all ages and abilities – from 2nd grade through high school, young adults, and not-so-young adults; for beginners and advanced ringers and everything in between. If you are interested in learning more about you or your child/ren ringing in a handbell choir at Immanuel and what the options are, get in touch with Kathy today! (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Immanuel Young at Hearts (senior adults) have an awesome slate of events coming up over the next few months. Check it out! Any questions can be directed to Jim Found (email@example.com, 970-663-5490).
- Thursday September 21, 6:00pm at Immanuel. A NIGHT FOR LIFE dinner with an inspiring pro-life speaker. https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07ejtdq19s3ce9cc08 (Open to ALL!)
- Saturday September 23, 9:00am-4:00pm. Our northern Colorado churches’ seminar for seniors at Bethlehem Lutheran in Denver.
- Sunday September 24, 11:45am. Seniors eat together at Serious Texas Barbeque.
- Friday October 13, 1:00pm. Our monthly program will be about passing our spiritual legacy on to our future generations.
- Friday November 10. Mission speaker from Hong Kong.
On Saturday, October 21st from 8:00am-12:00pm, come help keep Immanuel looking great. The focus will be on trimming, trash pick-up, and weed pulling. Enjoy some donuts, BBQ, and fellowship while you’re working! Contact Jacob Hollen (jhollen@ImmanuelLoveland.org) or the Church Office (ChurchOffice@ImmanuelLoveland.org, 970-667-4506) for more details.
The registration forms have arrived for the fall conference of SOAR, the fall event for all seniors of our churches in our Rocky Mountain District. Let Jim Found know if you would like a registration form placed in your church mailbox. If this is your first time attending, you may register for half-price (full price is $30, which includes breakfast and lunch as well as hearing the guest speakers). This event takes place at Bethlehem Lutheran Church (2100 Wadsworth, Lakewood), about one hour south from Loveland. The main speaker this year is Dr. Larry Rast, the president of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. There will also be an update from Lutheran Bible Translators. Another speaker will tell his experience with adult ADHD. The new pastor of the Lutheran chapel at University of Boulder will tell us how he is equipping students for leadership. If you decide to go, let Jim know and he will try to help coordinate rides. (970-663-2455, firstname.lastname@example.org)
We are in need of a new congregational Treasurer. This is a volunteer position. The person should have some reasonable accounting and finance experience in such things as reading financial statements, banking relationships, loan management and budgets. The Treasurer is a member of our Executive Council. If you or someone you know may be interested, please contact Greg Northrup, Executive Council President (email@example.com).
In the Sunday morning Grief class, Pastor Glen talked briefly about Immanuel’s Columbarium – did you know we had one at Immanuel? A columbarium is a place where ashes of a deceased loved one can be placed. Our columbarium is on the northeast corner of our parking lot. The columbarium was in the works for many, many years and was finally completed in November 2020. A variety of people at Immanuel helped make this a reality but most all of them have moved away and are no longer here. Jerry Austin was the “work-horse” in making the final push to get it done and Jerry is the one who is continuing to take care of the details related to upkeep and promotion of our columbarium – thank you, Jerry!
We are looking for a couple of people who may be interested in being part of the Columbarium Team along with Jerry. Several of the niches are currently in use and a few more have been committed. Policies are in place to administer the program so there is not a lot of ongoing work needed. The Team would simply provide information to support requests to reserve a niche or when a death occurs, to support needs of the family regarding the urn or box size and then coordinate the engraving of the granite cover. Future site development includes plants, irrigation, and more sandstone walking surfaces that can be engraved be placed south of the current paved perimeter. Funds are on hand to begin this work. The Team volunteers are not expected to physically do the work but help plan improvements. If you’re interested in being part of this team or if you have questions about it, contact Jerry Austin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-686-5939 (landline, no texts). Below is some basic information and additional comments on Immanuel’s columbarium.
Cost of 1-person niche (niches 1-9) – $1,000 at time of registration (or $1,100 later).
Cost of 2-person niche (niches 10-45) – $1,800 at time of registration (or $2,000 later).
Engraving of granite is included, once for single niche and twice for two-person niche.
Other Expenses Not in Basic Niche Price
Metal urn – $100 to $150 depending on selection chosen
Engraved Mahogany Wooden Urn (we have this in stock) - $60, Engraved
The niche prices, which apply to all niches, were set based on the Phase 1 costs of the foundation, approach sidewalk, perimeter sidewalks and the granite columbarium itself. They are in line with Loveland area costs. The cost of engraving the granite faces which is included now, may need to increase at some point. To provide a pleasing Columbarium appearance, the general layout and fonts used for names and dates is standardized. There is flexibility for Bible verses with room for artwork type engravings. There are nice veteran’s plaques that could be worked into the granite faces as well. Granite engraving takes several weeks to schedule. Records have been set up for each niche. Paperwork is simple and aimed at orderly administration of the site over the many years.
Our research disclosed problems with fastening flowers or flower holders on the face of the Columbarium. Our decision was to accommodate low growing flowers at the base of the columbarium unit or in flower urns on each side. This is to prevent hiding adjacent niches, damage to the granite and the problems with flower deterioration. There are many examples of the benefit of controlling all aspects of the columbarium’s appearance.
Funds were raised initially and were increased by reservation of niches as the first phase of construction was completed. Future improvements such as benches, flower urns, irrigation, ground cover, trees, shrubs, and plantings will be funded from the fees for the niches as the Congregation desired the project to be self-funding. This project was the result of many efforts over many years. The main driving force for the current effort was Francis Sedlacek, Linda Sedlacek, Jerry Austin, and Linda Austin. If anyone would like to help with the Columbarium on behalf of the Congregation, it would be an important service and appreciated. With the basic Columbarium and walks created, the remaining work is not hard: helping people who wish to use it and the planning of future improvements, which should be exciting.
Friends of Immanuel,
Kingdom People Forgive – I can’t state it any plainer than that. No, it’s almost never easy but that is who we are and what we do as Kingdom People. In my sermon yesterday on this important and challenging topic, I tried to paint the bigger picture of God’s grace (our starting point and the foundation on which we stand always being Jesus!), and how we are Spirit-empowered to do what the world doesn’t understand, what the world does not expect, and in many ways, doing what the world cannot do. I’ve heard multiple stories over the years of forgiveness that has been given that just blows me away – not being able to understand how someone could offer forgiveness in situations such as the murder of a spouse or child.
I’ve mentioned the last two Sundays that forgiveness requires nothing of the person we are forgiving and that the person we forgive may not even know about it. Ideally, both parties would be involved – forgiveness would be asked for, forgiveness would be given, and the relationship restored. But at a very base level, forgiveness has to do with what’s going on in my heart and in my head. A definition of forgiveness is this – “an intentional decision to let go of resentment or anger.”
There are times when I’ve been hurt by someone, but that person doesn’t have a clue that they did anything wrong or hurtful. It wasn’t malicious or mean-spirited – it may have come out wrong or I heard it in a way that wasn’t intended. But in those cases, I’m the one who’s walking around with this hurt in my heart, perhaps anger or, at the very least, having less-than-good feelings toward that person for what was said or done. Whether or not I forgive that person will have no bearing on him at all – it’ll make no difference whatsoever. But not forgiving that person will have a detrimental effect on me. In this case, forgiveness is a choice I have to make – am I going to let this hurt continue to damage my relationship with that person, continue to cause anger or bitterness in my heart? Or am I willing to forgive, to put that hurt to the side and let it go, not carrying that weight inside of me? We have choices to make.
The other piece I want to touch on is how harshly it seems that Jesus ends His story. Matthew 18:34-35 – “In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. ‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’” What Jesus was expressing was how critical forgiveness is when it comes to our relationships, including our relationship with the Lord. This is not new news – Jesus says the same thing when He gave us the Lord’s Prayer. Think about it. What do we say with regard to forgiveness? “Forgive us our trespasses… AS WE FORGIVE those who trespass against us.” Yes, there is some convicting Law going on here, because our Lord knows how hard it is for us, humanly speaking, to forgive others who have hurt us. But it has to happen – it’s part of our restoration, part of the health of our relationships, including our relationship with the Lord.
I’ll end this heavy article with a reminder of the amazing grace our Lord has shown us. Our King (from Jesus’ story in Matthew 18:22-34), has had mercy on us and shown us grace beyond what we can calculate and certainly beyond what we deserve. He’s forgiven our 10,000-bags-of-gold debt, a debt we had no hope of ever paying back. He’s taken us out from under that debt and He allows us to live lives that are free and full because of Jesus. And as much as we’ve been forgiven, He wants us to never lose that perspective – to remember the power of God’s grace in our lives. So then we can, in turn, share this amazing gift of grace and forgiveness with others in our lives.
Blessings as we strive, with the Holy Spirit’s help and power, toward those ends! And here’s this week’s What Now? that I hope you can work toward:
Is there a lack of forgiveness weighing you down? If it is:
- Pray – for yourself and for the person you need to forgive or from whom you need forgiveness;
- Pray for humility, for wisdom, and for strength to confront or admit this need in your own heart;
- Pray for the ability to release the hurt.
Serving together in Christ alone!
Friends of Immanuel,
As we kick-off the official beginning of the Education Hour, Sunday School classes, and new adult Bible classes, I thought it appropriate to have our Director of Discipleship and Connecting Ministries, Pastor Robin, share a few thoughts on the importance and value of learning and growing as followers of Jesus.
Shallowness and Depth and Adult Education @ Immanuel
Matthew 13:5 “And Jesus told them many things in parables...some seed fell where the soil is shallow because it’s on rocky ground.”
Here’s a biblical fact, the people listening to Jesus understood about shallow soil and stony ground. Much of the land in Israel is a foundation of rock that has a couple of inches of topsoil covering it. There’s so little dirt that, when a new plant’s roots start to sprout up, they are bound to hit rock right away. They have no chance to spread or ﬂourish. Sound familiar? Jesus says it should!
We do have our rocks in our “soil,” don’t we? Have you ever wondered, what is Jesus getting at? I believe Jesus is saying something about the fact that spiritual growth requires soil that is deep. A good plant, crop, OR heart can be all that God created it to be if it can have some decent roots that can withstand the “rocks” of real life.
Question – Is your faith putting down deep roots, deep devotion? Which word characterizes your walk with Jesus – DEEP or SHALLOW? Richard Foster in his book, Celebration of Discipline, said, “Superﬁciality is the curse of this age.” It’s a shallow world filled with shallow relationships, superﬁcial conversations, hurried moments of prayer, too much screen time, and superﬁcial commitments which, in many respects, is the exact opposite of the call of Jesus to His disciples (that being, you and me!).
Make no mistake about it, Jesus is calling us to spiritual depth. He’s calling us to have an ever-present thankfulness and humility for the gift of grace/faith that saves us but also grows us to have a passionate desire to honor Jesus as Lord by doing what He commands by following Him as a disciple. Friends, Jesus calls us to a deep faith, not one where we rely on what we do, but where what we do reflects our desire and dedication to love as Jesus has loved us and to give as Jesus has given Himself for us. A deep faith is lived out in a willingness to investigate deeper, to enter discussions and learning opportunities freely and enthusiastically while plumbing the deeper areas of faith and life in Jesus.
I’ve seen it in many people’s lives over the years in the desire to be a life-long learner – those who aren’t growing, are dying. Those who aren’t willing to take on new things, are eventually going to have to deal with shriveled up hearts and won’t have the roots in faith that are deep enough to sustain life and growth, especially when the realities and trials of life come their way.
Where’s all this headed? Here’s my encouragement to you – be a life-long learner and grow! How do you do that? One of the many ways to sink your roots deeper into your walk with Jesus is to learn more about the scriptures, more about what the Bible teaches theologically, more about how to put your faith into practice. At Immanuel, we have a VERY specific way of addressing that desire in all of us through our Adult Education/Discipleship Training ministry. This coming week (Sunday, September 17th at 9:30am), we are starting some new classes that Pastor Glen has highlighted in this Update. Look at them, pray over them, and seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in how YOU can grow by being a part of one of these classes. Every one of these classes is a great opportunity to learn and grow in your faith!
If you ever have any questions about any of the Adult Education classes we are making available at Immanuel, feel free to contact me, email@example.com. I’m happy to encourage you in any way I can to grow DEEPER in your faith!
Friends of Immanuel,
The numbers “9-11” have forever taken on new meaning since the events of 2001 in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Today is the 22nd anniversary of the tragic events that led to almost 3000 people dying on U.S. soil. Moments of silence were observed by the NFL at the start of many of yesterday’s football games and I’ve heard there will be a time of remembrance at tonight’s game between two New York teams, the Bills and the Jets. Even these many years later there continue to be very strong emotions connected to the memories of this day.
Yesterday we started our new fall worship series, Kingdom People, and the question I’m asking you to consider today is this – does being Kingdom People make any difference on a day like today? Personally speaking, I hope it does. I would hope that we would have compassion for those personally and directly impacted by that day – those who lost loved ones, friends, co-workers; those who have been emotionally scarred or deal with PTSD; or those who are dealing with other lingering and ongoing physical, mental, or emotional issues. Take a few moments today to pray for those in these categories. If you do know someone impacted, take time today to reach out to them with a call, email, or text. What are the opportunities the Lord gives us to share His love, His compassion, His caring with others? Those opportunities come to us in big and small ways.
Yesterday we specifically talked about reconciliation – a very challenging issue in our lives. As I mentioned yesterday, the world we’re living in doesn’t, by and large, value reconciliation. In many ways it seems easier to put labels on people, put them in a box, demonize them, and just walk away. But as Kingdom People, we are called to work toward reconciliation, as hard or uncomfortable as it may be. Honestly, reconciliation may not happen or may not be possible in some situations – but that doesn’t take the onus off of us trying. I’m going to leave you with this week’s What Now? and encourage you with these basic things we can do as Kingdom People to strive toward reconciliation and healing and restored relationships.
Is there an unreconciled relationship in your life? If so,
- Pray for yourself and the other party;
- Examine your own heart and your motives;
- Reach out to that individual and express your desire for reconciliation;
- If possible, meet to talk. If it would be helpful to have another person present, reach out to one of us on staff or to a Christian counselor for guidance and/or assistance.
Serving together in Christ alone!
Friends of Immanuel,
As I’m finishing up today’s email update, I feel out of breath – and not just because I’m out of shape!! There are so many great things that are starting up in the coming weeks that it can take your breath away. There’s a lot of information below, so make sure and take time to at least scroll down and check out all the headlines.
Among the great things coming up, starting up, and continuing is Sunday morning worship! This Sunday we are beginning a brand new series – our fall series entitled, Kingdom People. Through our baptism into Christ, we have been made Kingdom People – and what a privilege that is! Being Kingdom People isn’t just about getting to go to heaven when we die. It’s about how we get to live our lives right here and now, which, believe it or not, isn’t all that different from how it will be in eternity.
Of course, on this side of eternity we still have to deal with sin and brokenness, pain and heartache, tears and mourning. But because of grace, we get to live differently. The ways we approach life as Kingdom People can sometimes seem upside down from the perspective of the world. That’s what we’ll be exploring throughout the fall – how life is different for us because we are Kingdom People.
I always look forward to worshiping together as a community of faith but I’m especially excited as we get back to our normal schedule and as we start our new series. I hope you can join me on Sunday! And invite a friend to join you…
Serving together in Christ alone!
Friends of Immanuel,
Some changes are happening, starting this Sunday, here at Immanuel! The big one is the schedule. This Sunday we’re back to our “regular” schedule of 8:00am Classic Grace worship, 9:30am-10:20am Education Hour, and 10:30am Contemporary Joy worship (returning indoors).
This Sunday during the Education Hour we will have our annual Ministry Fair – check out the articles in today’s update as well as those coming in Thursday’s update for lots more info on what to expect. It’s going to be pretty cool! Plan to attend and explore some of the many, many opportunities to be involved and engaged in what the Lord’s up to around here.
Over the summer we re-introduced greeting one another and welcoming each other to worship at the beginning of each of our worship services, a part of Sunday mornings that went away in March 2020. As we tried several different ways of including that in worship, I appreciate the feedback and suggestions that were given, and we plan to continue with this moving forward..
One other practice that was set aside in March 2020 is offering the Common Cup, along with individual cups, during the Lord’s Supper. We discussed this as a Worship Planning Team and with the Board of Elders and felt it was time to bring this back into practice. We will once again start offering the Common Cup this Sunday, September 10th, in both services and will continue offering it moving forward.
For those who are unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, let me offer a brief explanation. Here at Immanuel the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is a central tenant of who we are as a Word and Sacrament Ministry. That means both God’s Word (the Bible as well as Jesus, the “Word made flesh”) and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are foundational for our lives. It is here, in Word and Sacrament, that we receive the powerful gift of the Good News of Jesus that includes His love, grace, forgiveness of our sins, hope, and life. That is why we have most baptisms on Sunday mornings during worship and why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper at most all of our Sunday morning worship services – it’s who we are as God’s people and it’s what we need to live this life faithfully!
When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we strive to do it as Jesus instituted it. As Jesus did, we use unleavened bread and wine. With those two elements, we offer them in different forms. For the bread, we have actual baked cubes of unleavened bread that one of our members makes and bakes. We also offer wafers as well as a gluten-free option, both of which are unleavened.
For the wine, we have red wine (we use a port wine here at Immanuel) and we also offer a non-alcoholic white wine, which is wine that has had the alcohol removed, which is primarily for those who are on medication or who may have struggles with alcohol. We are returning to our pre-March 2020 practice of offering the wine not only in an individual cup but now with the common cup. As with the bread, these different options are perfectly legitimate and appropriate, aligning with how our Lord intended for us to receive his amazing, powerful, and grace-filled gifts.
For those who may wish to use the common cup, here is a suggestion to make it easier for you and for our communion servers. When you come to the common cup, firmly grasp the base of the cup with one hand and with your other hand on the side of the cup, guide it to your lips. This will remove the possibility of any static electricity and also help avoid spilling. After each person drinks from the common cup, the communion server has a cloth napkin that he uses to wipe the rim of the cup.
For many years the common cup was the only option for receiving the Lord’s Supper. It was a tangible reminder that we are all one together in Christ Jesus and is reflected in what St. Paul wrote about the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11 when it comes to our unity in Jesus.
The options are available for both bread and wine, with the desire to remove any physical barriers or concerns individuals may have to receiving the Lord’s Supper. My prayer is that bringing back the option of the common cup will be a blessing to those desiring it! If you have questions, concerns, or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or to one of our Elders and we’ll be happy to talk with you more about this.
Serving together in Christ alone!
Friends of Immanuel,
This year’s school theme is, “I AM,” and our theme verse is Exodus 3:14a and 15b, which reads, “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM... This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.’” Every Thursday morning I have the opportunity to lead staff devotions and what I’ve been doing is having us think and reflect on the context leading up to the theme verse to help us better understand this year’s theme. What we reflected on today is something I’d like to share with all of you.
Today we looked at Exodus 3:5-6, which was truly a holy moment for Moses – 5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
What kinds of things come to mind when you think of “holy” or “holiness”? Think about that for a moment. A definition of “holy” that I use is that it is something set apart for a special purpose, something that is sacred. What are some of the “holy ground” moments in our lives today? A significant “holy ground” moment that came to mind for me is worship. When I asked the staff about this, they also felt like the Lord’s Supper and whenever we celebrate a baptism in worship are also holy moments.
What I encourage you to consider as we prepare to gather together for worship again in a couple days, is the holy moment that worship is. The almighty God, creator of the universe and everything in it, invites us to come to Him in our times of worship. Wow. He invites us to come just as we are, and we come into His very presence. Mysterious. Awe-inspiring. Wonderful.
We’re told that when Moses approached God in the burning bush, he “hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.” There’s a healthy tension with which we have to live as followers of Jesus and that tension is what we know of and how we relate to God. On the one hand, we know Him in Jesus – and in Jesus we see love, compassion, grace, our God who cared so much and loved so deeply that He came and took on the humanity of His own creation to be one with and one among us. In Jesus we have a God who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses and who understands the temptations we face and struggles we have because He faced them, too. (Hebrews 4:15) We can totally relate to a God like that, as culturally we use language like “personal Savior,” and “loving Father.”
The tension comes in what, I believe, we don’t think about as often – the almighty and powerful nature of our God, a God who is so far above and beyond us, who holds so much power and authority that we can’t even imagine it, much less think that we can stand in the presence of and survive. If we ponder those aspects of God’s nature, it can be downright fearful. Does God want us to be scared in His presence or to be fearful when we think about Him? Wwweeeelllll…. No, but a healthy fear of God is important when it comes to our relationship with Him. Our sin and brokenness have messed things up, including introducing a cavalier approach to God that we can so often take – not thinking seriously about what our sin has done to us and our relationship to God or about what it cost Him to restore that relationship.
We worship and serve a holy God, an almighty God, a loving God, a compassionate God, and on and on go the many traits and characteristics of God. What a gift we’ve been given to be called the children of God. What a privilege we have to trust in Him, knowing His faithfulness and love are real and they are ours. As you step into worship on Sunday, give thanks to God for His grace, His power, and His love!
Serving together in Christ alone!
Friends of Immanuel,
As our summer worship series, Life in the Spirit: It’s Complicated, winds down, we tapped into another biggie yesterday – God’s Will. I mentioned that scripturally, talk about God’s will takes us in a number of different directions and that I was only able to realistically tap into two. I thought I would at least venture briefly into a couple more in today’s email update, for those who are interested in going further.
First, this idea or desire that I’ve heard and read in various books or study guides, about “being in the center of God’s will” – while this can be a laudable notion, what exactly does that mean? As I mentioned in my sermon, without a doubt or hesitation, my assumption is that all of us who are followers of Jesus want nothing more than to want what God wants and to fully align with God in every possible way. So we pray for our Lord’s guidance and direction, praying for His will to be done in our lives and for us to follow Him.
But I believe that an endeavor of trying to find the “center of God’s will” may yield more frustration, more guilt, and more disappointment than positive outcomes. The only specific clarity we have scripturally on God’s will is what I started with yesterday – 1 Timothy 2:3-4 where the Lord, through St. Paul, expresses God’s will and desire that everyone come to believe in Jesus, and then Peter’s Spirit-filled declaration in Matthew 16:16 that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Promised One, the Son of the living God. Our Savior’s desire and will is that everyone would respond as Peter did. In addition to that, we do receive a wide variety of examples of things we’re supposed to do that are God’s will, as well as things we are to avoid, which are also God’s will (in a sanctification-sense, that I had talked about). Beyond that, we hear references of God’s will and suffering, His “good, pleasing, and perfect will,” and a statement about making plans hoping for outcomes but only “if it is God’s will.” But what would be considered the “center” of God’s will? I don’t believe we can nail that down.
Instead of striving for that particular “marker,” I’d strongly suggest that we seek God’s will constantly in our lives – that we pray about decisions that are before us, asking Him to guide us toward what would be best, and then boldly step into those decisions, trusting our Lord’s promise of Romans 8:28 (“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”). The reality is, sometimes we may be right on target with decisions made but other times we’re way off base. And that’s where grace, forgiveness at times, and humility come into play. And I’ll say it again – it’s complicated!
The other interesting angle on God’s will that I’m only going to mention briefly is from 1 Peter 3:17 – “For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” Like the topic of “free will,” the topic of “suffering” can take us down a long, long (and very interesting!) road. But for today, suffice it to say that there are times when suffering comes into play in our lives, aligned with God’s will. Not that God creates suffering or ultimately delights in suffering, but that He can and will use suffering in this broken world and even as a blessing in our broken lives.
I hope this was of some help as we continue to walk by faith, putting our trust and our lives in our Savior as we journey day-by-day in His grace and love! Here is this week’s What Now? that I encourage you to consider putting to use this week:
- Look for at least one opportunity to share with someone what Jesus means to you.
- Be thoughtful with regard to God’s will in your life this week when it comes to decisions and choices before you.
Serving together in Christ alone!
Friends of Immanuel,
Today’s email update is so jam-packed full of great stuff that I’m going to keep my article at a minimum. God is continuing to work in some pretty amazing ways – and I’m so thankful for the opportunities we have for fellowship, for learning and growing, for connecting with our Savior and with each other, and for reaching out to so many people in our community and beyond. I praise God for all of you who receive this email update and are a vital part of God’s work here at Immanuel.
The one specific thing I want to do today is to extend an invitation to my next Immanuel 101 class to anyone who is interested in finding out more about Immanuel, who we are, what we believe and teach, and why we do what we do. This is a class I teach every fall and again every late-winter/early-spring. My next class will be starting up on Sunday, September 17th. If you or someone you know might be interested in attending this class (held on Sunday mornings during the Education Hour between worship services), just let me know. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have ahead of time. Immanuel 101 is also the path to take for anyone who may be interested in formally joining our congregation.
Serving together in Christ alone!
REGULAR SUNDAY MORNING SCHEDULE
Classic Grace Worship - 8:00am
Education Hour for all ages - 9:30am
Contemporary Joy Worship - 10:30am
SUMMER WORSHIP SCHEDULE
Classic Grace Worship - 8:00am
Outdoor Contemporary Joy Worship - 9:30am
No Education Hour during the Summer
Have questions for us? Ask!