From the Pastor :: June 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It's summer! Well, not officially until June 20th, but we have entered the summer phase of church activities. The Youth Group end-of-the school year celebration was held at the home of Carl and Jean  Gray; the choral season has come to a close; midweek Bible studies are on summer break; Sunday school is also on summer break, but only for the children. The adult Bible class will continue to meet through the summer months. If you haven't had the opportunity to join the adult class during the school year, please join us now. Bring your family, perhaps parents can take turns watching the younger children in the nursery. Older children can join in the class. We will continue our study of Upon This Rock, a Bible study based upon the theme of our church body's national convention this summer. We will also spend just a little time each Sunday listening to (and learning?) some of the new liturgies and hymns that are available to use in the Lutheran Service Book.

RANDOM THOUGHT #1 - Confession
"If you were a Christian, then you ought to be happy to run more than a hundred miles to confession and not let yourself be urged to come." (Luther: A Brief Exhortation To Confession)

One of my classmates, the Rev. Alfonso Espinosa recently wrote: "The Holy Scriptures are replete with texts expounding on the crucial nature of confession depicting life in the LORD Jesus Christ generatedd by the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacrament. From the Older Testament in Psalm 32:3-5: 'For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night yoour hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. [But then] I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, 'I will confess my tresgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.' In the Newer Testament in 1st John 1:8-9 we read, 'If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.' It is no wonder why Luther spoke of the priority of confession and absolution the way he did! This is living in one's baptism; this is giving up on our sinful pride; and this is the expression of life, because it leads us back to Jesus our forgiveness. May daily confession be our daily breath."

Yes, may daily confession be our daily breath. What a joy and a privilege it is for me as your pastor to fulfill God's will by pronouncing Holy Absolution to those who seek it through confession. Apart from the proclamation of God's Word, this is my primary responsibility.

RANDOM THOUGHT #2 - Voters
The next voters' meeting is the last Sunday of this month (June 26) following the monthly carry-in luncheon. According to our congregation's bylaws, "any communicant member of this congregation who is 18 years of age or over, both male and female, shall be eligible to vote." Currently, the voters assembly has only two regular meetings a year - in June and November. The two main areas of responsibility for the voters is to elect the lay leadership of the congregation and to approve the annual church budget. This month elections will be held. Additionally, reports from the various boards will be presented. If you have not been a member of the voters assembly, I encourage you to take an active role in the work of St. James beyond worship attendance on Sunday mornings, attend this meeting and consider joining the voters.

RANDOM THOUGHT #3 - Summer celebration
I have the pleasure of working with Ryan and Abby Wagler as they plan a St. James Summer Celebration. This will be an old fashioned cook-out and homemade ice cream social fundraiser. As you read about it in this month's Scroll, I hope that you will consider how you can help with this and volunteer. The Summer Celebration will have multiple purposes: it will serve as a fundraiser for the youth group and next year's VBS; it will (hopefully) bring many people from the community to our location, thereby providing an opportunity for the community to learn about us and an opportunity for us to invite the community to join us for worship; and it will be fun!

RANDOM THOUGHT #4 - Summer events
In addition to the Sunday morning adult Bible class, there are other events and activities you can participate in through the summer. If you loke to read, Concordia Publishing House is offering a special summer reading program, Read like a Lutheran. The program brings together faith, literacy, and fun for the netire family. Thousands of readers participated in the program in 2015. In 2016, readers will find new reading lists, a new website, prizes, and more. You can learn more by going to read.cph.org.

The Stewardship Games are fast approaching (June 18). Talk to Karen Woodhouse or Dave Lapierre if you want more information.

I'm sure the Missions/Evangelism Board will accept volunteers to sit at our church booth at the Cass County Fair July 11-15. Talk to Mary Lou Foerg or Angie Alpha about how you can help out.

Volunteers are also needed to assist with Vacation Bible School (see the VBS page in the Scroll). Ryan and Abby Wagler hope to make St. James' VBS the best in Cass County. They can use all of the help you can provide. At Barnyard Roundup, Jesus gathers us together.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Dehning