From the Pastor
A God Who Speaks
August is that traditional time of year that all thoughts turn to the new school year. After a brief time of a well-earned rest and recreation, educators and students alike jump back into their school routine. This year, those preparations are accompanied by a bit more concern and forethought than usual. Unlike August of 2020, many of us have benefited from one of three COVID vaccines—with the promise of future vaccines for younger children not far down the road. But though vaccines have made life somewhat more normal for those of us who were able to get them, our elementary-age children have not yet been able to receive that benefit. Moreover, August of 2021 now sees COVID variant cases on the rise all across the country. Decisions about face coverings, person-to-person interactions among students, and—of course—the best possible environment in the classroom for our children and youth is, once again, front-and-center. And though circumstances are different, similar decisions for our church’s worship life, Sunday School, and faith formation programming will be needed, too. We are all weary of masks! Yet I’ve gotten used to putting a mask in my pocket every day and have all my masks lined up by the door ready to go. Depending on how our county statistics develop over the next few weeks and months, you will see me wearing my mask more often. This isn’t fun, and it isn’t what we expected for the fall of 2021, but like all things—we are in it together. More importantly, no matter what tomorrow brings, God WILL see us through. Why not start the new school year off with that reminder and a prayer, in person, for those in your family who are returning to the classroom If you are able to do so, we invite teachers, coaches, school staff, and students to bring their backpacks, bags, and briefcases for a prayer of blessing for the new school year, over the weekend of August 28-29.
We do not have a God who is far removed from us. We do not confess faith in One who gets our attention through violence and terror, like the “little g” Greek gods from long ago. We have a God who got right down into our world in the person of God’s own dear Son—Jesus Christ! Not only that: from the beginning of time, ours has been “a God who speaks.” It began with a Word that called the universe out of nothing (Genesis 1:3-31). It found fulfillment in One who would be our Good Shepherd, with a voice that we hear and recognize (John 10:27-28). Our Good Shepherd’s speaking brings us life and hope that carries us through each day. This month, in our weekly sermons, Pastor Zach and I are focusing on the Word of God as the Bread of Life that nourishes our souls for the journey of faith. Sermons for much of August will focus on Old Testament story of salvation containing God’s gift of food—for both body and soul—that ultimately found its fulfillment in Jesus. We are also, of course, getting ready for Sunday morning adult Sunday School, beginning September 12 at 9:30 AM! Pastor Zach and I will team-lead this class as we read the Epistle of James and discern, with all of you, where God is leading us to enjoy the benefit of being God’s people who live “Life Together.” Please be on the lookout for registration for this class later this month.
As I stated in my monthly newsletter article from July, church leadership will be making a recommendation this month about the installation of permanent cameras inside our main sanctuary and Family Life Center. A part of the deliberation will also be a conversation on whether or not to include screens in the main sanctuary. Screens in the main sanctuary would, among other things, allow us to simplify our present multi-paged paper bulletins, facilitate use of the hymnal, and draw younger readers into the service in a way that is currently a bit challenging. Their use would be limited, tastefully done, and intended to enhance our traditional worship service, not restyle it into something else. If you would like to find out more, I encourage you to make an appointment to speak to me or with RLC Council President Barry Needle. Also, please reserve August 29 as the date for a Town Hall at RLC to present the recommendation on this important development in the life of our congregation. We are looking forward to hearing your thoughts and moving forward with this project that we hope and pray will further God's mission among us.
Our Good Shepherd speaks. We hear His voice. He knows us and we follow Him. He gives us eternal life. We will never perish. And no one can snatch us out of His hand.
What a great message for us as we begin a new year of life together in God’s Word…
Pastor Jonathan Blanke