The Lord says: These people approach me with their words, and they honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. (Isaiah 29:13 - EHV)
I like to watch those flipping homes shows where they “flip” homes by buying and remodeling homes to make money. It never ceases to amaze me how many problems they run into when they start to tear down the walls to expose the true problems of these homes. Many times these homes might have looked fairly decent on the outside, because they had new siding to cover up the mess lying behind the siding. Or how a major issue was covered up or hidden so that it might not be noticed like with the plumbing or electricity or structure of the home, only to find out that it is a real mess. It is very clear that you can’t always judge a home by the way it looks on the outside.
Isaiah, in our verse above, talked about the people living in his day who looked good on the outside but were only going through the motions and Jesus quoted these words from Isaiah to talk about the people in his day, “He answered them, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites. As it is written: These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” (Mark 7:6) It is very easy to say the right things, but it is much more difficult to honor God with our hearts You can’t judge a book by its cover and guess what, God doesn’t! God judges our hearts and is not fooled by the nice looking exterior. God judges our hearts.
Are things any different today? No! As we live our lives on this earth, we sometimes make ourselves to look like that house with the new siding which was rotten underneath it. On the outside we can look like good people or good Church members, but what will we find when we look in our hearts. It is easy to say or think “I was confirmed at St. John Church or I am a member of the WELS, so I am OK with God.” But where are our hearts? Are we just going through the motions? Are we only a member in name but rarely attend worship or open our Bibles. It is so easy to think we aren’t too bad or at least we are better than the “bad” people?
This view changes once we look at ourselves from God’s perspective. We can’t fool God. God sees and knows everything. According to God’s view, we are no different than the “evil” people of this world. This is only magnified when we look at the Ten Commandments. Even if we could work around God’s command to be perfect, how do we escape God’s accusation that we are idolaters, murderers, thieves, adulterers, gossipers, or liars? God’s holy law accuses and condemns us just as quickly as anyone else.
But take comfort that In spite of our wicked hearts, God loves us. He also sent Jesus to rescue us. Jesus came to save us not because we were so good, but because God was so merciful. He didn’t spare his only Son from death, but sent him to the cross so we could be declared not guilty. This act of love leaves us lost in wonder and praise. How could he do that? How could he love such a miserable wretch as me?
Pastor Mark Gartner
Sunday School Singing:
Sunday March 14, the Preschool - 1st Grade children will be singing in both services. Please have them to the Church basement by 7:45am. They will be singing at the beginning of the service and then will go and sit with their families.
Church Seating and Social Distancing:
With things moving slowly in the right direction with Covid-19, more people have been returning to worship each Sunday. Because of the pews being roped off for social distancing, this has caused some issues with finding enough seating for everyone. After considering all these things, the Church Council has decided that it will be removing the ropes from the pews on Sunday, March 28.
While we may be taking down the ropes, this doesn't mean that common sense is to be thrown aside. We are asking everyone to use their Christian love and judgment as they consider not only their own levels of comfort with social distancing, but also their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Please be respectful of each other as you worship, especially as you look to respect each other’s comfort levels with social distancing. If you have any questions, please talk to one of the Pastors or to one of the Church Council members.
Holy Week Worship Schedule:
Maundy Thursday: 10:30am and 6:30pm (With Holy Communion)
Good Friday: 1:30pm and 6:30pm (With Holy Communion)
Easter Sunday: 6:30am, 9:00am and 10:45am (With Holy Communion)
Easter Breakfast will be served from 7:30-9:00am (Please sign-up to get accurate number. )
Worship Service Through Your Phone:
If you have no Internet and would like to still listen each week to our Worship Services, you can dial 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.
Midweek Lent Services:
We are continuing our midweek Lent Services. There are services each Wednesday at 10:30 am and 6:30 pm. The theme for this year is "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, so those who are preparing the meal for us can plan ahead.
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.
Hymnals and Bibles:
We have returned 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.
We will no longer be asking members to signup for worship services. You may come to whatever worship service works best for you. 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.
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.
Pastor Frey started a new Bible Study on Sunday March 7th at 9:15 am on the New Testament book of Colossians. Join us as we look at this important letter which highlights the person of Christ and his work of salvation.
Pastor Gartner is starting a new Bible Study on Mondays and Tuesdays starting Monday March 8th at 8:00 am and Tuesday night March 9th at 5:30 pm. The title of this Bible Class will be, "Luther’s Small Catechism – A Study of The Apostles’ Creed, Baptism and Holy Communion." 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.
f 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 Sign-up and 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.