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 Message From Our Pastor

 

The people of Pilgrim Evangelical Lutheran Church are truly A PILGRIM PEOPLE. They are people who are on the move, rejoicing to run the race that is set before them. Sometimes they stumble, at other times they fall, but God’s pilgrim people always keep on striving, because they know where they are going and how to get there. They are in no doubt about their destiny. Pilgrims know and find their rest and home at last, in Jerusalem the blest, (LSB #813). 

These pilgrims, young and old, come from many DIFFERENT NATIONS, different races, but they all belong to the SAME FAMILY. They are CHILDREN OF GOD through faith in Jesus Christ. Their pilgrimage through this life may be short or long, yet like Christians in all generations they look forward to their arrival in that celestial city “whose builder and maker is God.” 

Pilgrim people know that here they have no permanent home. They know that “the here and now” is not all there is. Thus they are freed from the fundamental anxiety of existence. Yet at the same time they are never at rest, and NEVER REALLY AT HOME IN THIS WORLD. They will always be incomplete until they meet their Saviour “face to face.” They carry within themselves what C.S. Lewis calls “that inconsolable secret,” a feeling of homesickness for their real home. Without such a homeland toward which their faith in Christ directs them, these citizens of heaven here on earth would indeed find life to be tedious and tasteless affair. 

God’s great love for sinful mankind was demonstrated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the hinge upon which the door of history swings, the motivation and mainspring of all our endeavours. CHRIST ALONE makes possible the certainty of OUR ETERNAL INHERITANCE. But we are a people not only interested in the journey’s end, but also in the journey itself and what happens along the way. Christ, our Lord, has promised to be with us on the journey. For that reason our Lord Jesus Christ established His church. He calls us into Christian fellowship. He equips and sends us to help others for whom Christ died, on to that destination. [Pilgrim Lutheran Church 25th Anniversary book, p. 1-2] 

Life can be lonely at times, but you need not be alone in your journey. Christ the Saviour, longs to be known by pilgrims just like you. He encourages you to join like-minded others in their journey with Him. If you don’t have a church home, we hope you will make Pilgrim Evangelical Lutheran Church, your church home.

 

Yours in Christ,

 Pastor Mark Koehler

 

Sunday November 29, 2020 First Sunday in Advent Service Will Be At 11:00 AM

 

Information from Pilgrim Lutheran Church Covid Committee

Facebook Video On Returning To Church

(Click on word Facebook to view video)

 

 

WHY MEET IN PERSON? 10 REASONS TO COME BACK TO CHURCH AFTER COVID-19

CHRISTIAN NEWS, July 6, 2020, p.9 By David Gunderden, crossway.org, June 13, 2020

Over the past few months, most churches have stopped meeting in person. A global pandemic, government regulations, and a desire to serve each other and society have kept us from gathering. Instead, we've held "services" online, met "virtually," and used technology to connect.

Many churches are now resuming our meetings, or will soon. But these new services feel strange. Our sensitivities are heightened, our differences are on display, and we have to endure restrictions and protocols that are awkward, inconvenient, and frustrating. Then no matter how safe we make it, some of our church family still can't come.

With all this in mind, some believers may feel tempted not to come at all. If our restored gatherings are so different and restricted, our online options so available and convenient, and our physical presence a genuine vulnerability, why should we even meet in person.?

This is a valid question. But before me make our decisions, we need to reflect on the importance of our gatherings so that our desire to meet grows instead of atrophying. So, unless you're someone who needs to stay home for health reasons, here are ten reasons to come back to church.

1. We're embodied creatures. God made Adam from earth's soil, Eve from Adam's side, and humanity from their union (Gen.1:26-27; 2:18-25; 3:20).We're embodied souls, male and female, in his image. We're not ethereal beings made to float in virtual space. We're not just pixels and screennames, headshots, on Zoom and Facetime. We're human beings. We're designed to see and hear, and taste and touch and feel our way through the physical world God's made. In recent months, we've seen the power of our online world. But we've also felt its limitations. No loving couple gladly accepts a "long-distance relationship" as ideal. Neither should a loving church family.

2. The church is one body. The Bible consistently teaches that the church is Christ's body on earth (Eph. 1:22-23). Each believer is a different body part, but we're intricately knitted together (Eph. 4:15-16). We're not independent but interdependent. Our spiritual gifts are like eyes and ears and hands and feet that each part play their part in the body's growth and mission. Yes, even at a distance, we're still Christ's body. But like any healthy body, we shouldn't want to stay dislocated.

3. The Spirit is drawing us. Not only are believers one body; we also have one Spirit (Eph. 4:4). The Holy Spirit-the third person of the Trinity - inhabits God's church, an he's always drawing us toward unity. God's Spirit can't be divide, so when believers are separated involuntarily, we feel the tension - like a rubber band stretched too far. The Spirit within us yearns for us to be together, like that same rubber band pulling us back in.

4. We're a spiritual family. In the church, God is our adoptive Father, so we're all spiritual siblings - God's "household" (1Tim. 3:15).   With our different ages and genders, Paul even calls us fathers and mothers, sister and brother, sons and daughters (1 Tim. 5:1-2). But families aren't meant to be separated. Healthy families live together, laugh together, cry together, and help each other. Parents with grown love when the adult kids get together - and those parents are only fully satisfied when everyone's present. We must must be faithful during this season to reach out to those who can't safely join us. But all who are able should seek to gather for our life-giving family reunions.

5.Preaching is a sacred moment. Our generations used to John Piper sermons and Beth Moore videos and Ravi Zacharias clips. Phones and screens and apps are now our default medium. In just three months, we've grown used to watching our own pastors and leaders teach God's Word through wi-fi and glass. In this digital environment, we must remember that preaching is fundamentally a live, sacred moments (Acts 20:20, 27). Yes, it can be streamed and recorded and posted, benefitting both virtual attendees and future hearers. But for a local family of believers, God's word is best communicated live as the Spirit empowers and appointed preacher and trusted shepherd to articulate God's word personally in a moment pregnant with purpose and possibility. In these moments, pastors shepherd their own sheep, and sheep hear the voice of their shepherds. In these moments, we're struck not only by the content of the message but also the gravity of the moment. When we hear God's Word taught in a congregation, we resonate not only with our risen Lord and his royal word, but with each other. A feast enjoyed together is better than food eaten alone.

6. There's nothing like singing together. There's no experience on earth like a congregation singing (ps.95:1-2). Singing together glorifies God by re-enthroning him in the hearts of his people. Singing together brands our minds with truth and warms our hearts with grace. Singing together symbolizes our unity as we harmonize over the gospel. Singing tighter expresses our emotions to God (and we have lots of emotions right now). But we don't just sing to glorify God we also sing to encourage each other (Col 3:16). And we can't sing to each other through a screen. Yes, we're vulnerable. Congregational singing could get an American Christian infected, just like it could get a Chinese Christian arrested. But like the underground church has always done, God's people will figure how to praise him together, as faithfully and safely as possible. We'll wear masks, or clean the air, or meet outside, or recite psalms, or even whisper. But ultimately, God will hear the rising praises of the Christian church, and it will be good if we're there to express them together.

7. We need baptisms and communion. Whether your church has practiced these ordinances "virtually" or not, ever believer needs to see and taste these gracious symbols so that we can sense the gospel story once again. Baptism and communion remind us that God communicates to us in sensory ways. In these two ordinances, we taste and touch and see and hear the gospel, whether the splash of water in a baptismal tank as a new believer dies and rises with Christ, or the broken bread and crushed grapes that feed us with the remembrance of his sacrifice (Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 11:26). The way we practice these things may look different for a season, but our hearts will need them more than we know.

8. You have a job to do. If you're a believer, you have a job to do when the church gathers. The work of ministry isn't mainly for pastors and leaders. It's for every Christian. Every believer has spiritual gifts meant to be used and every church body desperately needs every body to be active. (Rom. 12:4-8; Eph. 4:15-16; 1 Peter 4:10-11). When we stay home, we can still listen and give and call and text virtually. But there are many ways we simply can't serve or encourage or build up Christ's body unless we're physically present.

9. Our worship is a witness. Each week our friends and neighbors and coworkers walk through the same broken world we do, but without our hope and our map. Each week they suffer challenges and tragedies that make them wonder where grace and truth can be found. Yes, there are ways we can minister to them online, and we should rejoice that God's now reaching new people with new methods. But the unbelieving world also needs to see the gospel's transforming power embodied in a local family of Christians who love God and serve each other in the most gracious and gritty ways.

10. Greetings change our lives. It may seen strange to end with the act of greetings - a simple activity that's become so restricted and complicated. But all over the New Testament, the writers not only greet the churches but ask Christians to greet each other. These greetings aren't just an afterthought tacked onto the end of their letters. These Greetings symbolize the reconciling power of the gospel and foster our family dynamic. The way we greet each other - and the fact that we greet each other - is central to the church's life and witness. Happy greetings remind us of the gospel unity we enjoy in Christ. Awkward greetings declare that the healthy church shows no partiality. Avoided greetings remind us to resolve our conflicts and reconcile our hearts. Every greeting reflects God's love, reunited Christ's body, enables hospitality, cultivates selflessness, opens doors for ministry, and bears witness to the God who's welcomed us through Christ. Even if these greetings are masked, touchless, and distanced, they're still life-shaping micro-events in every church. Just recently, our church held an outdoor worship service in our parking lot after not meeting for 10 weeks. What were the happiest, most explosive moments? Our greetings. We need to see each other.

You may not be able to return right away. You might need to exercise caution for yourself or those you love. You might need to keep watching from a distance for a while. But when time is right, God's people can and must gather again, I hope you'll join in. After all, out gatherings are ultimately a taste of heaven. The bible's version of heaven doesn't look like a quarantine, a livestream or ZOOM call. It's a " face to face " encounter with the risen Christ and a worshipful reunion of both saints and angels  (Heb. 12:22-23; Rev. 22:4). In the life to come we won't be siloed and segregated in mansions of glory, but living and working and loving and serving together in a new world where righteousness dwells (2 Pet. 3:13). So once we know it's safe, wise and no disservice to our communities, let's gather together again - in person - until all things are new. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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