I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:5-6 – EHV)
We know the feeling. It is a feeling of panic. Our hearts skips a beat. Our minds screams, “This can’t be happening! Not now!” But it is happening. Our phone’s battery is down to low battery. Whatever will we do? We know exactly what we will do. We will stop everything and start charging our phones because we can’t live with a dead phone. As useful as cell phones are and as much as they are able to do for us, without being recharged they will run out of power. And when they do, they go from being powerful and useful devices to a rather useless hunk of plastic, metal, and glass. Without power, a phone is less useful than a decent doorstop.
That’s essentially what Jesus said about us, if we are not plugged into him and his Word and Sacraments. Instead of a cell phone, Jesus uses the picture of a grapevine, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” He calls himself the vine and each of us a branch. Unless a branch is connected to the vine, it does not receive the nutrients it needs and it will die. But if it is connected to the vine, it receives what it needs and can produce bunches of beautiful grapes.
How do we stay connected to Jesus? When we are connected to Jesus and his Word and Sacraments, our souls are fed. This means that without a regular diet of God’s Word and Baptism and Lord’s Supper our ”spiritual batteries” will get weaker and weaker and may die without being charged by God’s saving Gospel message. Just as a phone battery can’t last forever without being recharged, our “spiritual batteries” cannot last forever without hearing God’s Word or coming to Lord’s Supper or remembering our Baptism.
But the sad truth is that the devil has lulled many of us into worrying more about our phone batteries than our souls. If we take an honest inventory of our lives, we sadly have to admit that we often spend more time, money and energy on making sure that our phones are working than on making sure our souls are charged and ready for the battles against sin, death and the devil. How many hours a week do we spend gathered around God’s Word? Do we daily seek to find the strength that we need as our souls are battling against all the spiritual enemies in this world. Is God only an occasional worship service or a couple minutes each week to catch the latest Livestream sermon? Just as a branch cannot last very long without the nutrients of the vine, our faith cannot last very long without the nutrients of God’s forgiving love.
Think again about your phone. Think of all the wonderful things it can do when it is charged. Hundreds of apps doing hundreds of useful things. Now imagine the eternal blessings that we have as we are charged with Jesus’ love, patience, and forgiveness, but only when we are connected to him. May God, in his mercy, keep us connected to Jesus!
Pastor Mark Gartner
You have probably heard by now that Pastor Frey has accepted his call as the campus pastor at Nebraska Lutheran. A date will be announced in the next few weeks as to when the Freys’ last Sunday will be, please keep your eyes open. To read Pastor Frey’s letter to St. John, please click the following link:
Confirmation and Examination
This last Sunday, Sunday, May 2 in the 10:30 service, we had our Confirmation service where these young people made their public confession of their faith. Please keep these young men and women in your prayers.
- Lyla Magdelynne Beyer
- Will James Harris
- Adam Lyle Helmrick
- Grace Elaine Lankow
- Autumn Rae Lemke
- Joshua Nolan Mathe (private confirmation May 1)
- Lydia Kate Merrick
- Carlee Marie Olson
- Abby Marie Presteen
- Zachary James Siebers
- Mitchell Lee Volkman
William Joseph Volkman was confirmed at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Appleton and Connor Jacob Kempf was confirmed at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Appleton.
Special Voter's Meeting:
Sunday May 16 at 9:15 am, we will have a brief special Voter's Meeting as we discuss how the congregation will proceed in calling to replace Pastor Frey. Please join us for this special meeting. (Bible Class will meet immediately after this meeting).
Women of Faith and LWMS:
Tuesday May 11th at 1:00, all the women of St. John are invited to our monthly Bible Study and LWMS meeting. Our Bible Study will be on the "Amish". Please join us for this great opportunity for Bible Study and fellowship.
Worship Service Through Your Phone:
If you know someone who does not have the Internet and would like to still listen each week to our Worship Services, please let them know that you can now receive our weekly worship services by dialing 1-920-212-3625 each week and you will be able to listen to our Sunday morning Worship Service. Each week the service will become available to listen to each Sunday after 10:30am and you can listen to these services at any time during the week. If you have any questions, please call Church. Presently, we have about 3-5 people who are making use of this wonderful tool to hear God's Word.
Pastor Frey is leading a study on the New Testament book of Colossians at 9:15 on Sunday mornings. Join us as we look at this important letter which highlights the person of Christ and his work of salvation.
Pastor Gartner is leading a study on, "Luther’s Small Catechism – A Study of The Apostles’ Creed, Baptism and Holy Communion" on Monday mornings at 8:00 and Tuesday evenings at 5:30. Martin Luther wrote the Small Catechism to help assist Christians in their learning the basic truths of God’s Word. Please join us in this Bible Class as we seek to strengthen our faith as we use Luther’s Small Catechism to refresh our knowledge about The Apostles’ Creed, Baptism and Holy Communion.
If you would like to receive a recording of these Bible Classes, please contact one of the Pastors and we will send you the link for these recordings.
We will continue to live-stream our services and post our worship folders online. We will be recording our Sunday 8:00 am service which means you can watch anytime after 8:00 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.