Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. For his mercy endures forever. (Psalm 136:1 – EHV)
What were you doing March 16, 2020? It was on this day, three months ago, our state began implementing the initial stage of the “lockdown” to combat the Covid-19 virus and things in our state and in our country and in the world came to a screeching halt. These last three months have been tough in a lot of ways. It has been tough physically as we figure out ways to deal with this new virus. It has been difficult emotionally as we try and handle the new stresses that have come into our lives, and it has certainly been a test spiritually as we only just recently began worshipping in a public way a couple of weeks ago. With all this going on, the question we need to ask ourselves is, Do we have anything to be thankful for?
It would be very easy for us to look at all the things around us and think that we have no reason to thank God. Has that thought crossed your heart and mind over the last three months? Things haven’t been going the way that we would have liked, but does this mean that the words of the Psalm writer are wrong or shouldn’t be followed? That is a rhetorical question, because we all know that we can and should thank God all the time, because his love and mercy last forever and ever.
About halfway through this Covid-19 mess, I was reading a devotional book entitled, “364 Days of Thanksgiving” from our NPH. The point of the book is to remind us that rather than thanking God only one day of the year on Thanksgiving Day, we should really change our view and thank God the other 364 days as well. What this devotional book led me to do was develop my own version of a “Daily Thoughts” journal page that I began filling in every day (well almost every day) about different things in my life and in the lives of those around me.
As I filled in these ways that God was working in my life, I was being reminded on a daily basis of what the Psalm writer was writing so many years ago. I have so much to be thankful for. God has put people in my life and has blessed me with things I don’t deserve, only because of his grace and mercy. But sadly what I began to see as I filled in this journal was all too often my own sinful heart and this sinful world were leading me to forget that God’s mercy is with me today and forever.
At the end of this devotion I will place the links for you to look at this “Daily Thoughts” journal. I am not saying that you have to use it, but it has been a true blessing to me as I began to see more and more clearly God’s mercy that last forever and ever. More importantly, whatever you do, I pray that you begin to see that whether there is Covid-19 or not doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t really matter what is going on in our daily lives, because what truly matters is God’s mercy which has been shown us by Jesus’ death on the cross. With the cross we know and believe God’s eternal love for us. He gave his life for us in love that endures forever. He loves us the same today as he did when he died on the cross. We may not always see it or understand it, but that doesn’t matter. His love and mercy for us endures forever.
Pastor Mark Gartner
Daily Thoughts - Devotional Journal (Word)
Daily Thoughts - Devotional Journal (PDF)
Returning to Public Worship:
How great and wonderful it was to see people in-person as we worshiped our Lord together these past two weeks! Together with the June Newsletter, you should have received a copy of our plan for returning to public worship. Please look over the document carefully. Please note that for the time being, since only one or two ushers will be needed per service, we will not be in need of Usher Teams. If you have any comments or concerns, please contact one of the Pastors or any of the council members. The document can also be accessed by clicking the link below. https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:b:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EaBy-IahwepIjjaHxkS5IbMBC7X1SDx1pug80s5jAzCihQ?e=fJjd64
In order to encourage and practice social distancing, we are trying to limit each Worship service to 75 people. To help with this, we added an extra service on Sunday morning. We are offering 7:30, 9:00 and 10:30 services on Sunday as well as 6:30 pm on Monday. We are also asking everyone to sign up each week for whatever Worship Service you plan on attending. Please note, that we are in need of volunteers to help sanitize the sanctuary between services. When you sign-up you’ll have an opportunity to mark whether or not you are willing to help out—it only takes about 10 minutes, so we pray that you will!
You can find the link to sign-up on the front page of our website at: www.stjohn-appleton.org.
You can also signup by going directly to this link (it will be a different link each week):
As we go forward, we will continue to live-stream our services and posting our worship folders online. We will be recording our Sunday 7:30 am service which means you can watch anytime after 7:30 am on Sunday morning. If you need any help accessing these resources, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
You can find our worship services at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCsQs-LDzlHE1NTjOaVaQ2A.
You can find a bulletin for each Worship Service so you can follow along here: https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EqetvOMWflhLsfsLRcDkxSgBL2cnYkpiuk8Klh7d-r_XQg?e=07dSma.
We recently finished our Online Bible Studies. We are currently trying to figure out the best way forward through the rest of the summers. Stay tuned for more information!
Hopefully this week, we will be sending out some information to all the Confirmation families as we seek to find a plan that works for all the families involved. Thanks for your patience as we put this all together.
The WELS Missions office is partnering with the Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society (LWMS) to host an online event called Taste and See! This first-of-its-kind event will combine the very best of Taste of Missions and LWMS Convention to provide all WELS members an opportunity to be an important part of gospel outreach occurring in our synod.
Tune in LIVE to the following opportunities to be together and encourage one another. Join us on the WELS Missions or LWMS Facebook pages or Taste and See website at the following times:
Saturday, June 27, 11 a.m. CT: Opening worship service immediately followed by the LWMS Flag Presentation
Wednesday, July 1, 7 p.m. CT: Home Missions Q&A Panel
Wednesday, July 8, 7 p.m. CT: World Missions Q&A Panel
Saturday, July 11, 6 p.m. CT: Closing worship service featuring the commissioning of three world missionaries and one home missionary, immediately followed by a Q&A panel with newly commissioned missionaries
Free Digital Resources from NPH
Our Synods Publishing House, NPH, is offering many great digital resources for free for the time being—including June’s Forward in Christ and the latest edition of Meditations. Please click on the link below for more info.