Dear church family and friends,
Thank you for your many prayers and expressions of support for myself and our family during recent months. I apologize for my lack of communication. I continue, along with my kids and many of you, to be on a long and interesting journey. But as our friend Bart Larson once put it, too – it’s a glorious journey. We have learned so much about life and death and priorities and looking for God in all things.
Some day I’ll be able to piece it all together and understand what the bigger story is. In the meantime, we truly have a sense of stepping heavenward. Eternal life with the Lord is much more real to us than ever before.
In the meantime, we continue to make our way through the grief and recovery process. Someone told me that if I had been hit by a truck six months ago (which it feels like I was), I would still be recovering from my injuries today. In addition, the departure in August of our daughter Betsy for college was like losing our last little piece of Diana. Without our being conscious of it, Betsy had taken on much of Diana’s presence in the home. Over the summer, we looked forward to her coming home every day from her part-time jobs in order to take the younger kids swimming or to prepare a nice meal for the family. So, it was a little like – while recovering from the injuries of being hit by the truck – we were involved in a second, smaller accident that aggravated our initial hurt. Things will heal again ; at least, that’s our belief.
God’s Word has been a constant companion and help through all we’ve experienced. I read through the book of Job with new understanding. Job didn’t have any idea what was going on “behind the scenes” – he just knew that bad things kept happening ! He made some bold statements in the midst of his ordeal :
- “I loathe my own life” (10:1). I think I can say I’ve had a taste of that sentiment.
- “Let not the dread of God terrify me” (9:34). Yes, we, too, have learned a lot about God ! Truly, as Lewis describes in The Chronicles of Narnia, God is not a “tame lion.”
- “He who is at ease holds calamity in contempt” (12:5), Job answered his friends at one point. Isn’t that the truth ? When all is going well, we want (and try) to hold disaster at arm’s length. However, after you’ve suffered some in life – even a little bit – calamity kind of becomes a familiar companion. You stop trying to fight it off, and you realize that even in “calamity” God is at work for your good. A problem is, though, that it seems in our society there’s not always a place for hurting people. Could that even be the case, too, in the church ? I hope we have the patience and compassion to come alongside people who are hurting. The church is full of them.
I am enjoying a new and growing relationship with my kids. The five of us in Hermann are slowly but surely melding into a pretty good team. Esther is the only female at home now, but she’s pretty capable of keeping all us guys in line. As the Baroness said to Maria, in The Sound of Music, “My dear, is there anything you can’t do ?” I’m very proud of my South Carolinian children too – all are involved in ministry and studies, growing in relationships, and … waiting for a baby. I’m eager to see them all again some time this fall.
Thank you for caring and praying !
In the meantime, … there are some fun things going on at Emmanuel which I want you to be sure to know about. A new school & church year is upon us :
- Jeremiah Clarke Romig was born Saturday, August 31, to Emily and Jeremy Romig.
- Lillian June Azevedo was born Tuesday, September 3, to Anna and Brian Azevedo.
Congratulations to the parents, grandparents, and families ! We welcome these new ones into the world and wonder at God’s creative ability and love of people !
It has been a privilege to get to know some new people attending at Emmanuel like the Cantrells, Schneiders, Sherrows, Rachelle Hill, Pettijohns, Romigs, Azevedos, David Kiser, and others. Please look around and introduce yourself to folks who seem new to you ! We would still love to have at least 80% of our church family attending a Sticky Group (home group) this fall. If you aren’t sure how to plug into a Sticky Group, please speak with Scott Parker or John Gloe. If you need a church directory, please let me know. If you are not currently part of the email Prayer Chain at Emmanuel – or if you need to make a change in your contact information for that chain – please let Alex or Genelle Grieshaber know that.
New Sunday School Classes
This coming Sunday, September 8, is our kick-off Sunday with the new “Discovering Christ & Our Church 101” class for all adults. This class will run for the remaining four Sundays in September at 9:00 a.m. and is for everyone who thinks of Emmanuel as their church home … or who is interested in learning about Emmanuel and possibly becoming a member of the church. We hope, over the course of these four weeks, to examine all together the philosophy of life and ministry at Emmanuel. What is Emmanuel all about ? What is the DNA of Emmanuel, and why are you an important part of what happens here ? Please plan on coming – we would like to have a maximum commitment from all our adults over the next four weeks. The class will be team-taught by our Elder Board. Plan on arriving early this Sunday for the start of our class at 9:00. Don’t think of this as a class for newcomers only – it’s for all of us to refocus and recharge for ministry together.
There will be special classes and activities for children during September, starting this Sunday : A nursery will be available during the 9:00 hour for ages 5 and under. Activities are planned for children ages 5-11. Those young people over age 11 are invited either to help with the children’s ministry or to attend the Discovery 101 class. Should be a great time !
Worship will be at 10:15 this fall, as usual. This Sunday we will plan on eating lunch together after the worship service. Please bring a main dish and a side dish or dessert. Drinks and tableware will be provided.
New Sermon Series
I will start this Sunday preaching through the book of Daniel – a book we’ve never worked through systematically since I’ve been at Emmanuel. I’m looking forward to it. Talk about great stories … and great servants of God ! And a great God ! But, also much of Daniel connects with prophecies that have to do with end times – times we may be very close to living in. It’s an important book ! I’ll be using a two-word theme for the series, taken from the conclusion of a lesson Daniel gave to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon : “Heaven rules.” (Read Daniel’s words in Daniel 4:24-27, and the king’s ultimate response in 4:34-37.)
Daniel is history and prophecy – both of which help us grow and teach us to hope. General Robert E. Lee (what does he have to do with Daniel ?) once said this :
The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient ; the work of progress is so immense and our means of helping it so feeble ;the life of humanity is so long, but that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing waveand are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.
Among those at our church who love history is our Pastor Jeff Roth. September marks two years of Jeff and Allison and their family being with us. I’m grateful for their investment in our lives and their example of godliness and commitment to Jesus Christ. Let’s thank Jeff and Allison for all they do among us !
Hope to see you Sunday !