The Pastor's Thoughts
"I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance...I know that you are enduring patiently and pearing up for my Name's sake, and you have not grown seary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therfore from where you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first." Revelation 2 (Jesus speaking to the church at Ephesus and to us.)
Barbra Streisand once recorded a song called "The Way We Were". It was about, as the song said, a time we left behind. That's what I wnat to talk about in this column — the time we left behind.
This congregation has worshipped here for 191 years and there have been many changes over that time — changes to the building, changes to the liturgy, changes to how people dress and changes to who can participate in the governing of the congregation. Most of the time these changes have been good ones, but I suspect that some changes failed to make the life of this congregation better.
In the last century the congregation grew quite a bit, but it now has shrunk once again. There are all sorts of reasons for this and there probably isn't one answer we can point to explaining it. But it is helpful to look back and see where we've been as a worshipping community, not only to remember it but also to see what we may have lost that we need to reclaim.
The folks who founded this church said that the spread of the Evangelical faith was their most heartfelt desire. (by Evangelical they meant Lutheran — that's what we were called in Germany).
I think it's important for us to answer that question — has St. Paul's lost the very thing that our founders thought most important? Is the spread of the Evangelical Lutheran faith our greatest desire here? Or maybe has that desire been replaced with a desire to spend Sunday morning with our friends, worshipping God most certainly, but not worrying too much about how our worship between 10:30 and 12 can cause us to work the rest of the week to spread the faith we profess?
We close each service with the words: Go in peace and serve the Lord — Thanks be to God. What does this mean to you?