In the name of God, the Father, +Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
6 Rejoice always,17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Paul penned these words to the fledgling Christian community in Thessalonica and Biblical scholars date the epistle to 43-50 C.E. It is Paul’s earliest recorded letter and perhaps the oldest writing we have from the early Christian church. This passage is part of Paul’s final exhortation to the Thessalonians. His emphasis on giving thanks has been one of the important themes of the letter. As he concludes his message Paul stresses rejoicing, praying and giving thanks as important components of the Christian life.
The last four months have been filled with challenges, frustrations, disappointments, sadness, and sorrows. During this pandemic and social unrest there have been also moments filled with joy, surprise, and happiness. Throughout these months prayer has been an important part of our life together. I have found myself frequently turning to prayer and conversing with God in these days. Prayer remains a significant resource and spiritual discipline for people of faith. “Pray without ceasing” exhorts Paul and his words challenge us to incorporate prayer into the daily fabric of our lives. Prayers can be formal or informal. They can take place at home, church, school or at work, in planes, trains, automobiles and boats, while we walk, run or ride our bikes, and as we stand or sit. There are no boundaries for when and where we can offer to God our petitions, intercessions, and requests. God is present and hears our cares, hopes, and fears. To assist you in your prayer life, prayer lists are shared in each weekly worship bulletin and in this newsletter. In addition, the congregation has a prayer team (called the prayer chain) and if you are interested in participating please sign up on our webpage or contact the church office. Lutheran hymnals contain prayers that can also be utilized to guide and enhance your prayer life. As this pandemic lengthens and as the challenges facing our nation and church regarding racial justice increase, may we all seek to. pray without ceasing.
Rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances encourages St. Paul. In the wake of my cardiac event I have reflected on these words quite often. I do rejoice and give thanks to God for the gift of life. I am thankful for the love of my family, the help and concern of friends, the medical care from doctors, nurses, and staff at the hospitals, and for the many expressions of concern shared by the congregation. Thank you for your prayers, cards, calls, flowers, and get well wishes. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and kindness.
Rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances. Throughout this pandemic I rejoice and give thanks to God for the ways the congregation has intentionally continued its ministry to share the refreshing and renewing good news of Jesus Christ. Congregation quilters are making masks for the community and Gettysburg Hospital. In order to assist food insecure families in our community, volunteers have provided food for Ruth’s Harvest and helped pack boxes with food for distribution. Many of you have helped out with the worship videos by reading or singing. Our Bible study and Wednesday evening theology group have been meeting regularly to study and learn. The congregation council, committees, and task forces have continued to meet and provide leadership. Forty persons attended the Lament and Repent Prayer Virgil held on the Commemoration of the Emanuel Nine (June 17). I give thanks to God for the wonderful support of and participation in the vigil. There remains, however, much work to be done as we advocate for racial justice. I encourage you to get involved with the congregation’s racial justice task force and participate in the congregation’s anti-racism work. This is truly part of our mission to share the renewing and refreshing love of God with the world.
Thank you for your many financial gifts and offerings to Christ Lutheran. This support enables the congregation to continue its ministry to the Gettysburg community, the world, and each other. Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560) once offered a prayer calling on the Almighty, eternal God to “guide and sanctify us by Your Holy Spirit.” Indeed, may God guide and sanctify us as we serve God and God’s people.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Stephen Herr