We're entering 2014. As for 2013, Time magazine has announced Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic church to be the most noteworthy "Person of the Year." Now, the Pope is not, of course, the representative of all Christianity, and yet...we ought to be happy that Christianity is finally getting some positive recognition...right? Well, that all depends upon the reason for the recognition.
In a CBC article entitled "Pope Francis's personal appeal rebuilds his flock", one person spoke of Francis's newfound celebrity in this way: "What's most attractive about Francis is the simplicity and the authenticity of his own witness. People get it," said Prof. Catherine Clifford of St. Paul University in Ottawa. "He's cutting through the jargon of things and really communicating the heart of the Gospel message in a very direct way."
When I hear about someone communicating the Gospel in a direct way, I think of St. Paul who says things like. "I resolve to know nothing but Christ and him crucified" ( 1 Cor. 1:22). "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16) "O foolish Galatians who has bewitched you. It was before your eyes that Jesus was publically portrayed as crucified" (Galatians 3:1). If Christ is not raised, then our preaching is in vain and so is your faith" (1 Cor. 15:14). "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Cor. 15:20). Christ crucified and raised for our salvation...Now there's some direct and hearty Gospel!
And so I reread the CBC news article to find out how the reporter thought Francis manifested the "heart of the Gospel." Frankly, I didn't find much of St. Paul in the new pope. There was no mention of Jesus Christ; of his blood-payment for the sins of the world, or that he has conquered death. All I found was that the new pope has "railed against unbridled capitalism"...the heart of the Gospel of Castro maybe, but not of Christ. One person attempted to explain the appeal of Francis's gospel in this way: "It's the sense of joy and sense of life that you get in conversations among Catholics now. There's something fresh. There's something really exciting that's happening. And none of us know quite what it is."
Evidently, the "it" that's causing all the excitement is not the gospel of St. Paul. So what is it?
In January, the church transitions to the season of "Epiphany", a word that means "to make manifest." To manifest something is to make it clear; however, Pope Francis has been praised by the world precisely for making no clear statements about controversial issues like abortion and homosexuality. And from what I've seen, his celebrity in the world doesn't come from making clear statements about the gospel of Christ either. Is that what gets people so exited? Is it that he's what the world wants from a clergymen...a nice guy who doesn't draw clear lines? To be fair, the pope has been clear about some things, like the need to help the poor, and that "unbridled capitalism" is bad. Yeah--well, unbridled anything is bad; and taking a stand for helping the poor is like taking a stand against murder...it's a pretty safe place to situate yourself because nobody's going to disagree with you. And while you're being agreeable, while you're standing safely on neither side of the fence, you can be sure of one thing; you will make no epiphany of Christ who is himself a sword of division (Matt. 10:34).
Now the Pope can't help how he is portrayed by others. Maybe his clear proclamation of Christ has been censored or skewed by the media...I dunno. What I do know is this: for Epiphany we should rejoice not in the press coverage of Christianity, but in the one thing that has been made clear to the world, though the world does not comprehend it. God manifested himself in his Son, who was sent into the world to die with it and die for it, and rise again to overcome it. The only hope for this world is that it will die, and the sooner the better; because only when the corruptible dies can it be raised again incorruptible.
Only when Christ comes again in glory will he transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:21). Only then will the poor be fed, every tear be wiped, and death be swallowed up forever. In the meantime, we remain within the body of his church where he is not obscure, but manifest to us in the flesh. Jesus comes to us and he makes himself known. No, not in Time magazine or the media spotlight. As the disciples who came before us, so we clearly recognize Jesus every Lord's Day in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:35). Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Pastor Nathan Fuehrer
MUSINGS, A THANK YOU AND A BLESSING FOR THE NEW YEAR
Today I was reflecting on the past year and on the New Year we are about to embrace. I rarely if ever concern myself with resolutions as most end up as empty, unfulfilled ideations, broken and forgotten within a few days. We have it not within ourselves to keep anything we resolve to do unless the Spirit of the Lord provides us with the power and strength "to will and to do His good pleasure". (Phil. 2:13). The blustering winds of change impact us all and without Him as our anchor, our Rock, we will drift through this New Year as we ended the previous one, helpless and unfulfilled.
God has not promised us a smooth passage through this life. We live in a sin-sick world and as a result, pain, grief and sadness affects us all. This year will bring days of hills and valleys, bumps and bruises, victories and failures. Yet, God has assured us of His abiding presence and His help will be with us. And He amazingly provides it even though we don't deserve it and often fail to thank Him for it.
In Matthew 5:16 it say, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the many faithful members of Immanuel who have worked hard volunteering their time and talents this past year. I know they have and will continue to let their light shine to the glory of God. Thank You.
Throughout this next year of 2014 may you be comforted, blessed and assured through all the trials, blessings and challenges this next year may offer by remembering the grace of our Heavenly Father, the comfort and assurance of our heavenly home through the Salvation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May the Lord Bless and Keep you this next year.
Katherine Parish Coordinator
AN OPEN INVITATION
There is no person of insignificance to our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. The Lord can use us all to be his hands, feet, head, and heart, to share and spread the gospel and the love of our Savior Jesus Christ. We are the body of Christ. There are many needs, positions and creative ways to share the gospel to build up and strengthen our members, friends, community and the world. Come have a coffee and visit with me or I can come to you! I would love to just get to know more of you. And just maybe, down the road we can discover a way for you to Shine Your Light Brightly for Christ.
Scripture is filled with illustrations of the different types of people God can and does use. God used the following people and their stories to point to Jesus Christ and he can use you too!
NOAH...got drunk! ABRAHAM...was too old! SARAH...laughed in disbelief and scorn! LOT...was a compromiser! ISAAC...was a daydreamer! JACOB...was a liar! LEAH...was ugly! JOSEPH...was arrogant, abandoned and abused! MOSES...committed murder and had a stuttering problem! GIDEON...was afraid! SAMSON...had long hair and was awomanizer! ELIJAH...feared for his life and was suicidal! DAVID...committed adultery and had a man killed! RAHAB...was a prostitute! JONAH...ran from God! JOB...went bankrupt! PETER...denied Christ Three Times! JAMES and JOHN...were prideful wanting choice seats! APOSTLES...were unbelieving and full of fear! THOMAS...doubted! DISCIPLES...fell asleep while praying! MARTHA...worried and anxious! SAMARITAN WOMAN...was divorced five times and living in adultery! ZACCHEUS...was too short and was an embezzler! PAUL...was a persecutor, legalistic and “chief of sinners”! TIMOTHY...had chronic stomach trouble! JOHN MARK...got homesick, gave up and abandoned his mission! LAZARUS...was dead!
Coffee is on! Come by for a visit; Give me a call; we will get together 403-756-2149 or 403 327-4336.
Katherine Canfield Parish Coordinator
MOMS & TOTS GROUP
Moms & Tots Group is starting again this month running the second & fourth Thursday morning of each month Jan 9 & 23 -- 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. More moms are always welcomed and encouraged to attend. Please call Katherine Canfield at 403-756-2149. This month we are planning tentatively to have a Moms & Tots Family Social and Pot Luck at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday Jan 16th. Hope to see you all there. Volunteers Needed for child care for Moms & Tots group. 1 ½ -2 hours once or twice per month is is the only commitment we need Please consider helping us out. Contact Katherine Canfield 403-756-2149 for more information.
Rides Needed - There are some members of our congregation who would like to attend church on Sunday but require transportation to and from church. If you are able to assist by providing an occasional ride please contact Katherine Canfield at 403-756-2149 /403-327-4336 or sign up on the bulletin board in the Narthex. The pins on the map indicate areas of the city where people live who require rides.
PRAYING MOTHERS GROUP
Praying Mothers Group Would like two or three more participates to join our group. We are a group of Ladies that meet together to talk, listen, and share concerns, provide support and pray together. Please consider joining us. Speak to Katherine Canfield 403-756-2149 or Sandra Zasandy 403-327-8342. Our meeting time is flexible. Give us a call. Prayer provides comfort and security, and also fulfills the mission the Lord has for us to pray for each other and bear one another’s burdens. I cannot think of any better way to truly love your children/grandchildren, families & friends than by lifting them up in prayer on a consistent basis.
Thanks to all the young children and youth who participated in this year’s Sunday School Christmas concert! It was wonderful!!
From all the Sunday School staff at Immanuel Lutheran Church, “We wish you all a Blessed Christmas and New Year!!” John 10:11; “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”
We will see you all again for Sunday School on January 5th, 2013. The lesson schedule will be as follows: Jan. 5: “The Presentation of Jesus.” Jan. 12: “A Miraculous Catch of Fish.” Jan. 19: “Jesus, Our Shepherd.” Jan. 26: “Jesus Sends the Seventy-two.” Matthew 4: 19; And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
There is one staff position vacant. Please let Kathy Withage know if you would like to teach Sunday School or if you have any questions about Sunday School or if you need more offering envelopes. If at any time you would like to contribute your talents to the children’s ministry, in our church, please speak to Pastor Fuehrer, Kathy Canfield or Kathy Withage.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL FROM PUERTO PENASCO!
Following is a brief summary of some of the activities we have been involved with since our mission group left in November. Although we accomplished a tremendous amount in a few short days, there is much more to do to complete our projects and/or further the functionality of the properties of the families we have come to know.
Maritza and her boys, Victor and Hector: Sadly, Maritza's grandmother passed away shortly after the group left and she left the city for several weeks. Because the house was locked, we could not finish the indoor plumbing. Miles, with the help of friend Dan, installed a tank on the roof and the final coat of stucco is soon to be completed. Now that Maritza is back, we will try to schedule the indoor work. With the help of Kerri and our friends Howard and Hong, we delivered beds on Dec 23 for the two boys, along with fresh, new airplane-themed bedding. I hope you will be able to view the pictures to see how thrilled they each were. They loved their backpacks from the Sunday School kids and started playing with the goodies immediately. We also took along a Santa pinata which Miles hung in the center of the house as per instruction from Maritza. They were to enjoy retrieving the candies on Christmas Eve as is tradition. Maritza was extremely grateful, also, to receive new bedding, personal gifts, and a gift card from the local grocery store (paid for with funds through our mission fund).
Ruth and her boys, Fendor and Dereck, A tank was installed on top of the bathroom at Ruth's. However, the city water truck refused to fill from the perimeter of the property as we had hoped. So, we hired "big Joe" to spread the pile of caliche to create acceptable access to the property. Miles spent a couple of days finishing the drywall and hooking up the water lines for the shower (with some help from Dan and our Canadian neighbor Gary). Ruth now has a functioning toilet and shower, as well as an outdoor tap, all with good water pressure. Our gifts to this family included the wonderful quilts made by Immanuel's Empty Spools. Fendor and Dereck especially liked the many pictures on the quilts as well as the wrapping. Another gift card and various gifts were given as well as a pinata - again hung from the center of the ceiling.
Cristina and her family Early in December, I took Cristina to the power company to see about getting power to the property. With the help of our interpreter, Amador, we filled out the necessary forms and paid the several fees until we got to the last demand from them to install a pole, complete with meter, before hook up would be scheduled. So, Miles and I purchased the pole and strapped it to the top of his little red truck and off we went to Cristina's. We also supplied cement so that her husband could install the pole at the corner of their lot. Shortly after, she was successful in getting her own power and no longer needs to "borrow" from a neighbor. On December 24th, we were able to deliver gifts for the entire family and shared our New testament books with the neighborhood kids who have come to know our vehicle when we enter the area.
Juarez family: Jeronimo, Maria Isobel, Noe, Bertha, and her two boys Miquiel and Jeronimo Every time we visit with this family, we learn more about them and appreciate them more and more. They are hard working people who take pride in their property and are extremely grateful for all we have done for them. Jeronimo installs tinting films for vehicle windows but his customers are few and far between. Maria is a cook for a mining crew and works 12-hour shifts, 6 days a week for less than $1.00 per hour. Our funds have purchased mud and tape so the dry walled rooms can be completed. We also had block delivered so the septic can be finished. The roof will be repaired by Mission Jim's helper (hopefully, before the next rain). On Dec 23rd, we arrived with gifts for all and the grocery cards. Jeronimo junior received the quilt from Immanuel.
Amador Tello and Irma Miles hired a local fellow to help with the trenching at Amador's and the water line to the house was complete. A tank was installed on the roof and he now has a functioning toilet and shower. After some persistent visits to the power company, he can now proudly flip light switches to light each room of his home ( a single bulb in the middle of the room). He will move from his apartment to permanently reside in his home in the month of January. He thanks everyone for the Christmas gifts and for all our help.
I wish you could all experience the joys that our mission work is bringing to us and to all those who have offered to help (and/or listen to our stories). It was great to have Kerri here through the holidays to play Santa with us, on behalf of Immanuel and other donors. We will continue to do what we are able, with the help of God, to assist these families and others we may come to know.
Again, a blessed 2014 to all of you!
In His Service, Shirley Masnyk
UPCOMING EVENTS 2014 Fridge Note Reminder February 8--- Family Bowling 6:00 p.m. Holiday Bowl $5.00 per game 2 games each /no charge for shoes Contact Sandra for more information @ 403-327-8342 Reserve your place now!
March---An Acting Up Drama Event Contact Lori for more information @403-524-1034
April –Nothing Planned Yet. Stay Tuned
May 31--- Pie/Cake Auction Contact Person Janet @ 403-320-7596
June 10 --- Ladies Salad Supper Contact Person Lori @ 403-524-1034 Mark these events on your calendars and plan to attend! These events have been planned by the Board of Outreach. If you have any questions please speak to the member listed for the event. If you wish to assist or volunteer for any board of outreach activity please speak to any member of the Board of Outreach. Remember to bring a friend to these events.
Immanuel Lutheran Church Financial Statement November 30, 2013
MISSION OFFERINGS A-BC District Mission Donations for Month $20.00 A-BC District Mission Donations to Date 1186.50 CLWR Mission Donations for Month 1720.00 CLWR Mission Donations to Date 7014.20
BANK ACCOUNTS Servus Credit Union Cheq. Acc.t Balance $14696.90 Dedicated Accounts Balance 24072.58 Church Extension Savings NIL
CURRENT MONTH Budgeted Income 31,803.50 Actual Income 36138.77 Budgeted Disbursements 31,803.50 Actual Disbursements 29118.99
YEAR TO DATE Budgeted Income 318642.00 Actual Income 330137.69 Budgeted Disbursements 349838.50 Actual Disbursements 378951.57
20 Rocky Mountain Blvd West Lethbridge AB T1K 8E1 (403) 327-4336 firstname.lastname@example.org
Office hours and worship schedule
Office hours: 8:30 AM - 2:30 PM, Monday - Friday
Sunday Worship: 9:00 AM - Traditional Service 11:00 AM - Contemporary Service 11:15 AM - Sunday School (following the Object Lesson)