On the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were together behind locked doors because of their fear of the Jews. Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (John 20:19-20 - EHV)
How good is your life? Is your job safe, or is there a lay-off coming? How good is your health? Is Covid-19 a concern for you and your family, or is your health doing well? How good is your economic situation? Is your bank account doing well and your retirement account is doing well because the market is doing well? Life is good, or is it?
You may have noticed that all of the questions that I just asked are what most of us would call important questions, but in reality they are insignificant in comparison to the most important question, "How good is your relationship to God?" Or to put it a different way, "When you die, where will you go—to heaven, or hell?" Now those questions simply have to be answered, or there will be a nagging sense of worry, emptiness, insecurity.
The problem is, as we look into our hearts and minds and earthly lives, we often times don’t find see things as good. Have we been perfectly patient with those around us? Have we always been an example of Christ-like love toward others, or do we rather see in ourselves a rash of impatience, unkindness and selfishness? Is life really good?
The disciples understood this problem in much the same way we do as our text tells us, “the disciples were together behind locked doors because of their fear of the Jews.” They locked themselves in a room because things didn’t look good. Earthly speaking, they had no idea what was going to happen next. They had no idea whether they might lose their lives, just like Jesus their leader lost his life. Life was tough, and they no idea what to do next. And then, Jesus miraculously appeared and stood among them.
And what did he do? He showed them his hands and his side. Those pierced hands and side were proof that they were forgiven and life was very good. Jesus’ suffering on the cross and death was full payment for all their sins – even their sins of fear and insecurity. The crucified and now risen Lord Jesus was proof that the favor of God was upon them and heaven was open for them! Their lives were good!
When the world and our sin seems to be winning the battle, Jesus also tells us, "Look at my hands, look at my side! You are forgiven! God shows us over and over again that he is good. You are loved and forgiven by God! Heaven is your home! And you have my peace!" That is why we can say with confidence, Our Lives Are Good!
Pastor Mark Gartner
Do you find yourself waiting on Sundays for the video of our worship service to upload after it is live-streamed? It does take a long time—sometimes half a day for our video to upload in HD, after which you’ll be able to find it on our Youtube page. However, you can always find the link on our Facebook page, which is public. Otherwise, we can email you the link to the service Sunday morning and you’ll be able to watch the video before it is able to be found on our Youtube page. If this interests you, please contact us and we can put you on the email list.
Hymnals and Bibles:
Soon we will be looking to return the Hymnals and Bibles to the pews to be used by those who desire. We will still be printing everything in the bulletin, but we know that there are still some people who would like to use the Hymnal and the Bible. NOTE: We will not be cleaning the Hymnals and Bibles after each service. You may use them at your own discretion.
After this weekend, we will no longer be asking members to signup for worship services. You may come to whatever worship service works best for you. We may be bringing back the signup for our Easter Services because of the anticipated higher number of people attending those services. Thank you to those who have taken the time to signup each week.
A few years ago St. John set up a fund to support our members who are attending Martin Luther College (MLC). This coming school year, we will have one of our members attending MLC to study to be a teacher in our WELS Schools. If you would like to contribute to this fund, please mark your special offering to the "MLC Fund" by May 1st.
Midweek Lent Services:
Wednesday Febraury 17 is Ash Wednesday where we will begin our midweek Lent Services. There will be services each Wednesday at 10:30 am and 6:30 pm. The theme for this year will be "The Hands of the Passion". There will be a meal served each Wednesday from 5:30-6:15pm. Please signup each week in the back of Church if you plan on attending the meal.
NOTE: The Confirmation class times will be changing for Lent. We will meet from 5:00 - 6:00pm each week. We encourage the Confirmation Students and their families to stay for the meals and to attend these special services.
Bible Information Class (BIC):
Pastor Frey is beginning a new BIC class on both Tuesday mornings at 10:00 am and Thursday evenings at 6:00 pm. If you are interested in joining St. John or if you are already members of St. John but would like to grow in your knowledge of God's Word, please contact Pastor Frey to join in this class.
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.
Worship During Covid-19:
Worship Cleaning After Each Service
In order to encourage and practice social distancing, we are trying to limit each Worship service to around 75 people and because of the Governor's mandate we are strongly encouraging everyone to wear a mask (but we are not making it a requirement to attend). We are offering 8:00 and 10:30 services on Sunday as well as 6:30 pm on Monday. Please note, that we are in need of volunteers to help sanitize the sanctuary between services. It only takes about 10 minutes, so we pray that you will!
To find a more detailed look at our Worship procedures during this Covid virus, you may click on this link which takes you to the information that is found on our Website's front page.
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. If you have already had Covid or you are not wanting to wear a mask, we would ask that you consider sitting in these front pews in order to free up space for others. 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.