Whatever has been is what will be again, and whatever has already been done is what will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9 – EHV)
So, here we are five days into 2021—does it feel like 2020 to you? It does to me. The new year always does. Every year it takes me to about February until it becomes a habit to write down the proper number for the new year! Besides a different number on the calendar each new year always feels the same way as the previous year. Sure things change from year to year—we especially notice the advancements in technology and in the medical fields. But as the old saying goes, the more things change the more they stay the same.
Solomon, who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, made this observation. He was the smartest man to ever live; and wrote this book as an old man with a life-time of observation and experience under his belt. What he saw was life repeating itself. Fashions and styles that were in vogue decades ago, and were considered outdated not too long ago, are once again fashionable. Philosophies that people championed in previous centuries are taught once again, just presented in a different package. False teachings that the Church struggled with at one point in time, manifest under a different name.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. This is especially true when it comes to sin and grace. Sin remains sin no matter how people want to deny it. The wages of sin remain death. We still can’t do anything to save ourselves.
And that is why Christ came. Every year we celebrate the coming of the Son of God and every year we celebrate Easter. And so every year we celebrate our forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Because that fact doesn’t change! Jesus is still our Savior from sin. He still gave up the glories and riches of heaven, became our brother in order to serve as our substitute. He still willingly went to the cross and paid for our sins, suffered through our eternal punishment, and rose from the dead to give us the ultimate victory. He still gives this salvation to us by his gracious gift—received through faith in him, which is another gift, worked by the Holy Spirit!
Sin is always going to remain sin and Christ is always going to remain our Savior! Those things don’t change, even if many people deny this truth, it remains. When it comes to sin and grace there is nothing new under the sun.
Does that fact—that things stay the same, make you sad or despondent. It may. We’d like to think that we are making advancements in one way or another as a society, or as a people. Change is fun, change is exciting. But praise the Lord that he does not change, nor does his love for us. Praise the Lord that he still is our Savior, and we still have the sure and certain promise of eternal life in heaven forever! May we rejoice in this fact, that during this life under the sun, Christ is and will remain our Savior. And he’ll still be our Savior up in heaven where he will shine like the sun in his divine glory!
Pastor Andrew Frey
Patrick Gowey was installed this past Sunday as our new Council President. We thank Kris Wilson, outgoing President for his years of service. Also, Andy Pevonka was elected this past October for a full three-year term as our Evangelism Coordinator, which also began on January 1st. Please keep all three men in your prayers.
We will be taking down the Christmas decorations after Confirmation classes at 7:30 pm this Wednesday, January 6, 2021. You may also come early—anytime on Wednesday to help. Please considering helping if you are able.
New Bible Classes:
Pastor Gartner started a new Bible Study on Sunday November 29 at 9:15 am entitled: “Catholicism Today — A Study of What the Catholic Church Teaches and How It Measures Up to God’s Word.” Join us as we look at some of the key teachings of the Catholic Church in light of God’s Word, and we will also look at ways on how we can share the truths of God’s Word with those in the Catholic Church who may struggling in their faith.
Pastor Frey is leading a Bible Study on Mondays and Tuesdays called, "Counterfeit Christianity." The devil is called the Father of Lies (John 8:44); he uses his web of lies to lead Christians away from God Word and thus away from the one true faith. This study, based on the book, Broken: 7 “Christian” Rules that Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible by Jonathan Fisk, will examine these lies of the devil and their antidotes from Holy Scripture.
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.
If you are not comfortable sending your child to in person Sunday School, we have weekly recorded videos of each weeks Bible Lesson and the Lesson sheets that we can send to you so that your child can still learn the valuable truths of God's Word. Please contact us if you would be interested in these materials.
In order to encourage and practice social distancing, we are trying to limit each Worship service to 75 people. We are offering 8:00 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.
We rejoice that we have been able to return to the Lord’s house to worship together, but at the same time we want to do so in a safe manner. The 8:00 am service is the most attended service, which perhaps will make some of you feel uncomfortable. First off, if you feel uncomfortable in this more attended service. we encourage you to attend either the 10:30 am or the Monday evening service which offer plenty of room in order for you to socially distance. In addition, our Council has decided to remove the ropes for the first few pews of the lectern side of the sanctuary. People deciding to sit in these “unrestricted” pews should use their own good judgment on social distancing. We hope that, with enough worshipers sitting in this section, it will leave enough space in the rest of the sanctuary for everyone else to socially distance. If you have any questions, please speak to one of the Pastors or a Council members.
As we go forward, we will continue to live-stream our services and posting 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.