Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April 1 devotion

You can watch today's devotion here.


Love your enemy
Luke 6:27
4/1/20
Pastor John C. Berg

27 “But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.

This is your daily devotion for April 1st.   This week we are exploring the times Jesus used the word “love.  On Monday we saw how the Biblical idea of love is that it’s an action.  Doing what’s best for someone else.  Yesterday we heard Jesus’ command to love other people.  Today we’re going to get more specific about who is included in “other people.”
I have a vivid memory of a Saturday in fourth or fifth grade.  A classmate had a birthday party at his house and invited everyone in the class except me.  I’m 43 now so I’m over it, but I will admit that if I think about that memory for while I really can still feel the pain.  It w devastating.   I didn’t have the confidence to weather something like that.  The boy who did that to me might have been the first person in my life that I thought of as an enemy. 
You probably have a similar story.  Your enemy was a bully at school or a former friend who spread a terrible rumor about you.  Is there someone at work who undermines you, someone who talks behind your back?  It seems we live in a time when we are took quick to view those who have different political beliefs as enemies.  Maybe you wouldn’t use the word “enemy” but you most likely know someone who treats you with something very different than love. 
This is what Jesus says in Luke 6:27 “But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you.”  So are you listening?  Jesus tells you to love your enemy.  If you really take that in, really chew on it you might want to spit it out.  You love your spouse, your kids, your friends.  How in the world are you supposed to love someone who doesn’t love you, someone who actively sins against you?
It goes back to what we talked about on Monday.  Love is not an emotion.  It’s often accompanied by emotion, but love itself is an action.  Jesus is not telling you to have warm and fuzzy feelings about your enemy.  We can’t make ourselves feel an emotion, can we?  He says “do good to those who hate you.”
That’s at least possible, although certainly not easy. In fact, doing good to our enemies is still very difficult.  A few verses later Jesus gives us the key: “be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”  My enemy does not deserve my love just as I don’t deserve God’s love.  Yet, I receive God’s love as does my enemy.  Who am I to withhold love from anyone?

Let’s pray:   Heavenly Father, you are merciful to me every day.  Help me to love those who don’t love me. Amen.



Tuesday, March 31, 2020

March 31 devotion

You can watch today's devotion here.



Love Is An Action
John 3:16
3/30/20
Pastor John C. Berg

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.


This is your daily devotion for March 30th.   Today we begin a new series.  We will look at the times Jesus used the word love in the Bible.  Of course, the Bible talks about love extensively and often does so without using the actual word love.  We’re focusing on those occasions when Jesus himself spoke the word “love.”  It may be the most important word in the Bible.   It defines our relationship with God and with each other.  It is the purpose of the church and the motivation for our actions.

Let’s begin with the most famous time when Jesus spoke the word “love.”  In John 3 he said to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  One of the reasons I want to spend a few days talking about love is because I think our culture has so obscured or misused the word that it’s almost lost its meaning.   Love is equated with sex.  Love is spoken of as if it’s just a feeling or something you fall in and out of.  Perhaps the most recent reinterpretation of love is this idea that love is being accepting of all behavior of all people.

In just one verse Jesus efficiently redirects us and defines what love really is.   What Jesus is talking about is the most important love there is-God’s love for us.  Lest we misunderstand or misapply Jesus defines who the “us” is.  God so loved the world.   None of us can remove ourselves from that word.  The world includes you.  It is a fact that God loves you.

This means so much more than God having warm and fuzzy feelings for you.  It doesn’t mean that God accepts all our behavior or at least ignores it.  It means that he sent his only-begotten Son because our behavior required it.  The Biblical definition of love is doing what is best for someone else, no matter the personal cost.  What was best for you and me was for God to sacrifice his only-begotten Son so that we could escape the eternal consequences of our behavior.  Love is an action.  God loves you no less than he did on the day his Son died for you.  So be prepared!  Be ready to observe the loving acts of God in your life. 

Let’s pray:   God Almighty, help us to see your love in our lives as clearly as we see it on the cross. Amen.



Monday, March 30, 2020

Daily devotion

You can watch today's devotion here.




Love Is An Action
John 3:16
3/30/20
Pastor John C. Berg

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.


This is your daily devotion for March 30th.   Today we begin a new series.  We will look at the times Jesus used the word love in the Bible.  Of course, the Bible talks about love extensively and often does so without using the actual word love.  We’re focusing on those occasions when Jesus himself spoke the word “love.”  It may be the most important word in the Bible.   It defines our relationship with God and with each other.  It is the purpose of the church and the motivation for our actions.

Let’s begin with the most famous time when Jesus spoke the word “love.”  In John 3 he said to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  One of the reasons I want to spend a few days talking about love is because I think our culture has so obscured or misused the word that it’s almost lost its meaning.   Love is equated with sex.  Love is spoken of as if it’s just a feeling or something you fall in and out of.  Perhaps the most recent reinterpretation of love is this idea that love is being accepting of all behavior of all people.

In just one verse Jesus efficiently redirects us and defines what love really is.   What Jesus is talking about is the most important love there is-God’s love for us.  Lest we misunderstand or misapply Jesus defines who the “us” is.  God so loved the world.   None of us can remove ourselves from that word.  The world includes you.  It is a fact that God loves you.

This means so much more than God having warm and fuzzy feelings for you.  It doesn’t mean that God accepts all our behavior or at least ignores it.  It means that he sent his only-begotten Son because our behavior required it.  The Biblical definition of love is doing what is best for someone else, no matter the personal cost.  What was best for you and me was for God to sacrifice his only-begotten Son so that we could escape the eternal consequences of our behavior.  Love is an action.  God loves you no less than he did on the day his Son died for you.  So be prepared!  Be ready to observe the loving acts of God in your life. 

Let’s pray:   God Almighty, help us to see your love in our lives as clearly as we see it on the cross. Amen.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

March 29 worship

You can watch today's video here.

Remember to let me know if you desire communion.  I'm happy to bring it to you.

~Pastor Berg

Friday, March 27, 2020

March 27 devotion

You can watch today's devotion here.



A Place for You
John 14:1-2
3/27/20
Pastor John C. Berg

1“Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you.

This is your daily devotion for March 27th.   Behind me is an apartment building being constructed a couple blocks from house.   It’s good to see that construction hasn’t halted as so many other activities have.  People still need homes.  They still need places to live.  In John 14 Jesus said to his disciples, “1“Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you.” 

I have a vivid memory from childhood that when I heard this I pictured Jesus up in heaven sweeping and decorating a room for me.  That’s not a terrible interpretation.  It reflects the main point that heaven is prepared for us because of Jesus.  But a little context to these verses helps us see with more detail how Jesus prepared a mansion for us.  John 14 is part of a five chapter section that is really one long extended quote of Jesus.  It’s wonderful.  Jesus and his disciples are in the upper room celebrating the Last Supper.  It’s the day before his crucifixion. 

Do you understand?  When Jesus said “I am going to prepare a place for you” he was referring to what would happen the next day.  He would prepare heaven for us by offering himself as the perfect lamb of sacrifice. 

And Jesus tells us that this is a reason for us to not let our hearts be troubled, not to be afraid.  There are horrific stories coming out of England right now in which families are only able to say goodbye to dying loved ones through video chats.  That’s heartbreaking.  I pray that none of you have to experience such a thing in the coming weeks.  But friends, we have such amazing comfort when a fellow Christian dies.  Their entrance into a heavenly mansion is guaranteed because it depends on the work of Christ.  Perhaps you won’t see them in their moment of death.  But you will see them in an eternal moment of life.


Let’s pray:   Dear Jesus, your work on the cross has opened heaven to us.  Use this difficult time to spread that good news to those who don’t yet believe. Amen.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Devotion and NEWS

Because of Minnesota's Stay at Home order we've had to change some plans.  Here are important updates:

1.  The plan for you to schedule a time to receive communion at church has been cancelled.  I can visit you, however.  If you'd like to receive communion​ contact me and we will arrange a time.
2.  Worship has been cancelled for the foreseeable future.  This will most likely include Holy Week.  If there is any way we can worship for Easter we will, but it seems unlikely.
3.  Video devotions and worship will continue.


4.  A new secure mailbox has been installed at church so you may feel confident mailing your offerings.

 
You can view today's devotion here.

Why did you doubt?
Matthew 14:27-33
3/26/20
Pastor John C. Berg

Matthew 14:27-33  (EHV)

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once, saying, “Take heart! It is I! Do not be afraid.” 28 Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 Jesus said, “Come!” Peter stepped down from the boat, walked on the water, and went toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind, he was afraid. As he began to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand, took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God!”

This is your daily devotion for March 26th.  It all kind of hit me today.  I’m having one of those down days during the pandemic.  Up to this point, I’ll be honest, I’ve kind of been energized by it.  I’ve felt more useful to people.  It’s been interesting making plans and figuring out what it means to be a church and a pastor during a time like this. 

But today, really starting yesterday, has not been a good day.  Governor Walz, understandably, has issued a stay-at-home order.  And so all sorts of plans that I had been working on fell apart.  Just hours earlier I emailed you explaining how you could schedule a time to come to church and receive communion.  Well, we’ve had to cancel that.  And we’ve had to cancel worship for the foreseeable future.  You may have been expecting that but we had some hope that this would only be for a couple weeks. As of right now we will not meet for worship for the foreseeable future which includes Holy Week.  We’re probably not going to get together for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday or Easter Sunday.  That’s really hitting me hard.

I feel like Peter in Matthew 14.  28 Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 Jesus said, “Come!” Peter stepped down from the boat, walked on the water, and went toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind, he was afraid. As he began to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Peter was going along just fine, kind of like how I felt.  He was going along just fine, walking on water, and then just like that he started to sink when fear grabbed him.

31 Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand, took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” That’s a good question isn’t it?  Me of little faith, why did I doubt?  Yes, these are trying times.  Yes I’ve made about a dozen different plans that have been completely torpedoed in the last couple weeks as some news breaks a few hours later.  Big deal!  The Lord has blessed me tremendously.  The Lord has blessed you abundantly.  I’m not drowning.  Maybe it feels like we are.  Maybe if feels like we are sinking into the abyss like Peter was.  Maybe this pandemic is going to take me down.  But that’s OK because there’s another drowning that happened and that drowning fills me with confidence.

In the water of Holy Baptism my sinful nature was drowned.  I was given new birth into a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  As were you.  And no pandemic, recession or plans foiled can take that away.  Be comforted by your baptism.  Comfort your children by their baptism.  The Holy Spirit made you a child of God and nothing can take that away. 


Let’s pray:   Dear Jesus, thank you for the many blessings you have given us, especially the blessing of faith.  We know that we will come through this trying time and on the other end, like the disciples in Matthew 14 , we will worship you by saying “truly you are the Son of God.” Amen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Stay at home update

The church council is discussing tonight what the Stay at Home order means for our congregation.  It is likely that we will not be able to distribute communion as I had recently announced we would.  Stay tuned.

March 25 devotion

You can view today's devotion here.



Life!
Luke 24:36-40
3/25/20
Pastor John C. Berg

Luke 24:36-40  (EHV)

36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 But they were terrified and frightened and thought they were looking at a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled? Why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

This is your daily devotion for March 25th.  Sometimes, when fear overtakes us we don’t notice the good around us.  That might be happening to some of us right now because what we’re really afraid during a pandemic is the ultimate fear.  It’s the fear of death.  When we’re mourning a loved one’s death we have a hard time even noticing anything else.  When we feel that death is stalking us it tends to crowd out everything else.  Just the prospect of death can lead us to ignore all the life around us.  Our rhubarb is coming up.  Yesterday one of you shared a picture of your tulips doing the same.  Life is returning.

The disciples in Luke 24 are a perfect example of death crowding out everything else.  The risen Jesus came to them and they were terrified.  36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened and thought they were looking at a ghost.  Jesus’ death had hit them so hard and their fear of possibly meeting the same end resulted in them fearing the one thing they most needed-Jesus living and with them.

Jesus’ reaction is one of grace: 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled? Why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.  The ultimate response to fear, the antidote to the fear of death is always the risen Christ. He went through it.  And he lives.  Death has been conquered.  Your Jesus is alive and you will live with him for eternity.  Step back and get a little perspective. Yes, disease and death are scary and powerful.  But the risen Christ is alive and all powerful. 


Let’s pray:   Jesus, let the new signs of life in spring remind us of that you defeated death and so we have life eternal.  Amen.

Communion Annoucement

Dear St. John members,

I appreciate all the kind comments you have made about the video devotions and worship.  It is very nice to know that people are watching.

I want to give you the opportunity to receive Holy Communion this week.  I will be available at church from 9:00-5:00 on Thursday and 1:30-4:00 on Saturday.

If you wish to receive communion on one of those days please call/email/text me to arrange a time for your family.  I will commune one family at a time.  Please do not enter the building until it's your appointed time.

I will be taking extra precautions for hygiene.  I will not have time to visit during this process but would be more than happy to do so at another time or via phone call.

If you desire communion but are not comfortable leaving your home we will arrange a time for me to come visit you.  

God bless!

Pastor Berg

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

March 24 devotion

You can watch the daily devotion here.




See with eyes of faith
Mark 4:40
3/24/20
Pastor John C. Berg

Mark 4:40  (EHV)

40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still lack faith?” 

This is your daily devotion for March 24th.  In Mark 4 Jesus said to his disciples, “why are you so afraid?  Do you still lack faith?”  Our dog Mo is a 200 pound English mastiff.  His bite force is equal to that of an African lion.  He definitely has a strong “protect the home” instinct.  Mo also is very affectionate toward us and trusts us.  And yet, he’s scared of a plastic bag being shaken over his head or a chair being pushed toward him.  Does he not really trust us?  Or is his instinct not to let anything fall on him just overwhelming powerful?

What exactly happened with the disciples in Mark 4?  They were in a boat with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee when a storm arose and waves splashed into the boat.  They woke Jesus up and said, “teacher, don’t you care that we are about to drown?” Instincts of self-preservation are strong.  That’s not really the issue here though, is it?  The way they ask this question expresses doubt in Jesus’ love for them. 

If you are afraid, that is not necessarily a sinful lack of trust in God.   If you are doubting God’s love for you and for all of humanity that is something we need to deal with.  With the disciples Jesus spoke and the storm stopped.  He cared.  He had the power to do something.  The disciples just didn’t see it as they looked at him asleep in the boat.  The increase in COVID-19 infections and the economic fallout are both sometimes talked about as waves that are going to come crashing down on us.  Look with the eyes of faith and you will see Jesus standing between you and the waves.  He is in control.  He may let them hit you for a while, but even that he will use for your good. 


Let’s pray:   Holy Spirit, strengthen our trust in you, in the Father and in the Son that we may see all things through the eyes of faith.  Amen.

Cancellation/Postponements Update

 



  • SCLA Spring Gala, scheduled for Saturday, March 28th, has been postponed.
  • LWMS-St. Croix Circuit, Spring Rally, April 18th, Pilgrim Lutheran, has been canceled.

Monday, March 23, 2020

March 23 devotion

You can watch today's devotion here.



Peace replaces fear
John 14:27
3/23/20
Pastor John C. Berg

John 14:27  (EHV)

27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not let it be afraid. 

This is your daily devotion for March 23rd.  I am craving peace in my life.  I feel that to be an effective pastor and a prepared father and husband I need to be very aware of the news right now.  As I’m sure you’ve experienced, checking the news every hour is not bringing a lot of peace into my life.  Just today we found out that our Governor is self-quarantined, the Lt. Governor’s brother has died from COVID-19, Senator Klobuchar’s husband is infected, and the Governor of Wisconsin has ordered Wisconsinites to stay at home.  I could go on but the purpose of these devotions is not to make your afraid.  Rather, we are looking at the times and reasons Jesus told us not to be afraid.

In John 14 Jesus says, “27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not let it be afraid.  The peace Jesus offers is not simply a truce.  It’s not a negotiated surrender that inevitably will be broken.  It’s not just flattening the curve. It’s the only peace that lasts. 
Jesus says that he doesn’t give as the world gives.  The world can give us some good things.  Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, the internet.  But the world can’t take the bad away.  Only Jesus can do that.  Right now I’m looking at a little 3d printed figure of Jesus carrying his cross.  Of course Jesus literally did that, but it’s also symbolic of Jesus carrying away the evil that torments us.  He took upon himself our sins and its consequences.  In its place he gave us peace, the peace of knowing God’s love and providence.  Do not let your heart be afraid, rather let the peace of God drive away the fear.  Amen.

Let’s pray:  Jesus, when fear strikes our hearts replace it with peace, just as you replaced our sins with your righteousness.  Amen.
On Saturday I told you I would share something happy with you each day.  Yesterday’s worship service has been watched on Youtube 102 times and it has reached 591 people on Facebook.  God is working amazing things through this crisis. 
Stay safe in God’s peace!



Sunday, March 22, 2020

March 22, 2020 worship

You may watch today's worship service here.

Here is the sermon:


There is a safe place!
Fourth Sunday in Lent
Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16
3/22/20
Pastor John C. Berg



One who lives in the shelter of the Most High
    will stay in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord,
“My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”
Surely he will rescue you from the fowler’s trap,
from the destructive plague.
With his feathers he will cover you,
and under his wings you will find refuge.
His truth will be your shield and armor.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the plague that prowls in the darkness,
nor the pestilence that destroys at noon.

14  The Lord says,
Because he clings to me, I will rescue him.
I will protect him, because he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him.
I will be with him in distress.
I will deliver him and I will honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
and I will let him see my salvation.



Many people my age and younger feel like we’re in a movie right now.  We’ve seen many apocalyptic movies and TV shows.  A terrible event happens and it changes everything.  Sometimes there’s an asteroid strike, or an earthquake, or a tsunami or a zombie outbreak.   The scariest ones are those in which the enemy is a virus.  Earthquakes happen in relatively small areas.  Destructive asteroid strikes seem unlikely and of course, zombies aren’t real.  What’s scary about a pandemic is that it’s difficult to get away from.  In fact, that’s not even what we’re trying to do right now.  The scientists, the infectious disease experts tell us that many of us will become infected and for most of us it won’t feel much worse than a bad cold.  What we’re trying to do with all this social distancing and hand washing is to prevent a large percentage of us from all getting sick at once because it would overwhelm our healthcare system.  There is real concern that our doctors and nurses don’t have enough personal protective equipment, or enough ventilators, or even enough beds. 

So we are told to stay at home.  But it’s not foolproof is it?  In our worst moments of fear it can feel like there is no safe place.  How similar this pandemic is to how sin works.  No human being escapes what we call “original sin.”  We inherit it from our parents.  It really is like an infection.  If I have COVID-19 it makes me unsafe for others.  It affects how I feel and how I behave.

Original sin makes me evil.   And so it makes me do evil things.  I am not safe for others.  I’m selfish, quick to anger, and greedy.  I look out for myself and care only for what brings me pleasure or reduces pain.  Just as I can’t escape original sin, I also can’t get away from doing sinful things.  It’s certainly good to avoid temptation, but moving to an uninhabited island would not stop me from evil thoughts.  It would not prevent me from rebelling against God or making a coconut or myself into a god. 

That is the state of every human being.  And that is the real cause of death.  4,825 people have died in Italy from the Coronavirus.  Let me correct that.  Billions of people have died because of sin.  But there is a safe place.  That place is with God.  Almighty God who created us desires to be our refuge and fortress.  He wants to cover us with his wings and to be our shield and armor.   He wants to rescue us from plague, pestilence and pandemic.

Our safe place is with God because his truth protects us.  The whole truth matters.  All that God says is important.  We must be aware of our sinful condition to appreciate the other great truth that God proclaims to us in his Word.  He saved us through Jesus.  You may remember the silly asteroid movie called “Armageddon” in which Bruce Willis sacrifices himself to save the world.  If you’ve watched a few zombie movies they all have a scene in which a hero stays back as a sacrifice for the herd of zombies to allow time for the group to get to a safe place.  We are in a moment of appropriate appreciation for the health care workers who may sacrifice themselves for the greater good. 

Why are we so drawn to these stories?  Why do so many movies and books have a character sacrificing himself for others?  I’m convinced it’s because it reminds us of the great sacrifice that gave us a safe place.  The only morally perfect human being who has ever lived suffered death on a cross, out of love for sinners.  And because Jesus Christ is also true God that death accomplished much more than any other sacrifice in history.  It redeemed all of humanity.  All of us have been set free from sin and its consequences.  That is the truth that protects us. 

God is our safe place when we trust in this great truth. It’s through faith that God gives us all the good things he wants for us.  If we take it all for granted our trust in that truth can weaken and even disappear entirely.  Perhaps one of the good things that God will work out of this terrible time is that more of us will appreciate what really matters.  Perhaps we will take more seriously that our faith and the faith of our loved ones need to be strengthened by regular contact with God’s Word and sacrament.  I am truly sorry that we’re not assembling together at this time.  I hope you know what an agonizing decision that was.  I look forward to seeing you all again soon.  I am also confident that God works through his Word when it is proclaimed on Youtube and in snail-mail. 

God is our safe place as he answers our calls.  He is listening to your prayers.  And God doesn’t just listen.  He answers.  It may not always be what we want, but it’s what is best for us and that’s why he is our safe place.  Call out to him!   Think of how often you wash or sanitize your hands right now.  How about we trying folding our hands in prayer as often!  We can say for sure that God always answers our prayers for salvation with a resounding yes!  Your safe place is always with God.  Dwell under the shadow of his wings.  Amen.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

March 21 devotion

You can watch today's devotion here.

Worship video tomorrow morning at 9:00.  I encourage you to gather with your family at that time to keep the habit of Sunday morning worship strong. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

March 20 devotion

You can watch today's devotion here.

At 9:00 on Sunday morning a worship service video will be posted on the Facebook page and Divinity's Youtube page.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

March 19 devotion

You can watch the March 19 daily devotion here

Worship Services Postponed

Dear members of St. John,

After carefully studying the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health, after much discussion and prayer, the church council has decided to suspend physical worship services for the time being. 

We do not take this lightly.  All Christians need to gather together for Word and Sacrament and so we hope this will be for a short period of time.  We will reevaluate on a weekly basis.

In the meantime we are working on different ways to serve you with the Word and even the Sacrament.  It might take a little while to get it all up and running but at the very least on this Sunday morning we will post a video of a sermon/worship service on our Facebook page and Divinity's Youtube page.  We are also considering the best ways to serve our members who do not spend much time on the internet.

We are going to work hard to give you the comfort of God's Word.  Please check your email and our Facebook page regularly.  Pray for each other, dig into the Word and look for ways to love others!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Service Cancellation Update!

Psalm 27:1 says, "The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid?"

Trust in your God during this time of uncertainty, chaos, and disease.  Things are changing so rapidly that we are having a hard time making plans at St. John.  Here's where we're at so far:

1.  Midweek Lent services are cancelled.  This is partly because other churches and pastors are involved.
2.  We are working on ways to serve you through the internet.
3.  We are discussing what our plans are for worship and hope to have something to announce tomorrow.
4.  We are also working on plans for how we can help our most vulnerable members.

Please let me know if you are ill or quarantined!

Pastor Berg, St. John Church Council

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Dear St. John family,

Out of love for each other we are instituting some new practices at St. John due to the COVID-19 outbreak in our community.

We will not cancel worship, unless things get much worse. We want you here, but if you do not feel safe coming then stay home in peace! For now we will have Bible Class and Little Lights, although that may change soon.

What we are doing:
1. We discourage any handshaking.
2. Hand sanitizer is available. We encourage you to use it, but we do have a very limited supply. If anyone comes across some please purchase it for church.
3. Everyone is encouraged to spread out in their seating arrangements.
4. Offering plates will be set out rather than passed.
5. We will not use the friendship registers.
6. All fellowship time snacks are cancelled. This includes coffee. You can bring your own!
7. Lenten suppers are cancelled.
8. We will stand for communion so that we are not all touching the rail.
9. Common cup will not be offered for communion.
10. Individual cups will be further spaced out in the tray so that as you grab a cup you will not accidentally touch another cup.
11. Communion distributors will thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water immediately before and after distribution.
12. As I distribute the bread I will do my best not to touch anyone's hand with my hand.
13. If you do not feel comfortable receiving the sacrament, that is just fine.

Some of these suggestions may seem like an overreaction to you. If so please consider a couple of things: 1. It seems wise to me to be overly cautious. 2. We owe it to those who are very concerned/afraid to go above and beyond to help them feel comfortable gathering around the Word and Sacraments.

Fear not, friends. Our God is strong!

Friday, March 13, 2020

Anticipating Worship (March 15)



Jesus Is the Light of the World!

Readings:
Isaiah 42:14-21
Ephesians 5:8-14
John 9:1-7,13-17,34-39

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, look with favor on your humble servants and stretch out the right hand of your power to defend us against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Sermon:  John 9:1-7,13-17,34-39
"Jesus Pierces the Darkness"


Please join on Sunday, The Third Sunday in Lent, for worship at 11:00 am,
There is Bible Study at 10:00 am.
(There will be no Little Lights this week.)

Pastor John Berg will lead us in worship. 










Monday, March 9, 2020

Midweek Lenten Service - March 11th

Join us at St. John for our Midweek Lenten Service 
Wednesday, March 11th, at 7:00 pm, in our Lower Chapel area. 
Supper will be served at 6:00 pm

Pastor Hackbarth will be leading us in worship.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Reminder: See you Saturday!

We are excited to see you on Saturday morning, starting at 9AM, to spend time studying God's Word, praying, reviewing the Diagnostic Report from our ministry planning analysis, and participating in a seminar on what our next phase "Mission/Vision Setting" is all about.

If you have not done so already, you can pick up a copy of the report on a table in the church lobby. See you tomorrow!

Daylight Saving Time Begins!



Daylight Saving Time begins next Sunday, March 8th. 
Remember to set your clocks ahead 1 hour before turning in on Saturday.

Anticipating Worship (March 8)




Worship Focus:
Jesus Is the Gift of God for all Nations

Readings:
Genesis 12:1-8
Romans 4:1-5,13-17
John 4:5-26

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, you see that we have no power to defend ourselves. Guard and keep us both outwardly and inwardly from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts
that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.   Amen.

Sermon: John 4:5-26
"Be True Worshippers"

Please join us Sunday at 10:00 am for Bible Study and Little Lights,
and Worship and Praise at 11:00 am.
Pastor John Berg leads us in worship.