First Lutheran Church Plainville, Kansas
Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
I was in a meeting last month, and the presenter, a District executive recounted how he had asked his staff: what have we done in the past three years? He told us that there was an initial pause, as those gathered asked themselves what had they really accomplished in the past 3 years. The pause was short lived, as they ended up with a list of 25 accomplishments, some more significant than others, but all things that at least some progress had been made on.
As we turn the page on the calendar, I ask you the same question: what have we, as a congregation, accomplished in the past year?
So often when the ‘to do list’ is endless and seems to be added to daily, we often forget that along the way, we actually did get some things done.
So what happened?
- We survived. Often when the question is asked about hopes for the future of the congregation, the answer is to just survive; so if nothing else, we survived another year. We made it through 2017, and we will have the doors open and the lights on in 2018.
- We celebrated. 2017 was the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and we spent an entire year learning about Luther and the Reformers. We went to Hays and saw the new Luther movie; we went to Phillipsburg and heard a Seminary professor present on the Reformation; we had Bible studies and bulletin inserts and a series of newsletter articles, all marking this special year in the life of the Church.
- We mourned. Sadly, 2017 was a year in which some transferred from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant; and while we rejoice they are with the Lord, we grieve they are no longer with us.
- We rejoiced. 2017 was a year of baptisms and confirmations, as the Church Militant expanded once more. We welcomed each one of them in the name of the Lord, and we pray that their life of faith would be blessed.
- We were visited. Both congregations were officially visited by the Kansas District. Our voices were heard by those in Topeka, and they have responded in joy for the work that we faithfully carry on here in western Kansas.
- We grew. Not always numerically, but we grew in the Lord. We studied the Word in Bible class. We ate and drank the body and blood of Jesus; we remembered our baptisms; we confessed our sins and heard the words of absolution. We are not the same people we were a year ago; we have refined ourselves on both the lathe and in the fire, and through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are stronger in the faith.
- We were faithful. The Word was faithfully preached and the Sacraments were rightly administered. The culture around us demanded once again that we capitulate to their demands and their ways; and yet, we stood firm and we remained faithful to God over and above man.
Keep this in mind as you ponder what 2018 will bring. 2017 was not a lost cause in the least,
and neither will 2018 be. The Lord is working in you, in His Church, and in this world in ways we do not always see or understand, and yet when we look back over the year, let alone over a lifetime, we see that His hand is always guiding us.
God Bless! Pastor Schmidt