|St. Peters Lutheran Church LC-MS Founded 1885||
Hopefully you've been with us each week in worship as we take a moment to train our children. If not, you can catch up quickly by teaching them this:
What is Worship
God coming to serve us through His Word and Sacraments - forgiving our sins, strengthening our faith, rescuing us from death and the devil. We (better put, our faith) receives these precious gifts and we respond in thanks and praise. Also, in worship God teaches us and we take what we've learned and go spread the good news.
How do we prepare
Before worship, we should be in prayer asking God to soften/open our hearts to receive His Word. We should remember our baptism and all the blessings God gave us in that wonderful gift. During the week leading up to worship we should be in His word and spending time in prayer as He wants to hear from us and speak to us to guide us each day in the path of righteousness.
Notice the acolytes who bring the light of Christ from the Ascension Candle to the altar, signifying Christ's presence with us, specifically in the bread/wine - body/blood on the altar. The acolytes are like guardians of the service...in the first centuries following Christ, followers would gather in secret to avoid persecution from the Roman soldiers. They needed light in the dark places (like catacombs) and needed someone to be on guard. The acolytes served these roles for those gathered in worship. Today they bring the light and serve and role models for us to follow in our worship.
As we now prepare to begin our worship service, the pastor steps forward and "invokes" or calls upon the name of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) for "wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." Matthew 18:20. This is to remind us that God is present, as He promises to always be not just in worship but wherever we are thanks to our baptism (we are baptized into His name, so the Invocation reminds us also of our baptism). Since all who are gathered agree with this, we respond in unison by speaking/singing "Amen" which means "Let it truly happen" or "It shall be so"
We, Pastor Mike and Pastor Mark, wish to extend our heart-felt "thank you" to our beloved church for all of your prayers and cards. We wish to thank the staff for the flowers, the church board for the angels and our congregation for the beautiful wind chimes; they will help us carry on the memory of our beloved mother/grandmother for years to come. We know the pain of this loss will linger, and while your loving arms have lifted our spirits, it is the sure hope of the eternal life won for us by Jesus Christ that gives us strength for the day. May this hope be yours too in your own time of need. Thank you all for reminding us of this joy by your acts of love shown to us this week.
We also wish to thank Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Arenzeville, IL for their wonderful service. To Pastor Dierks, we say thank you for your leading of worship and your care for Bernita in her final days. To the LWML who put on the meal, thank you for taking care of our physical needs. Many hands made light the work for the day and we appreciate all who went unnoticed in our eyes, we are thankful that God sees your service even when we do not.
May God bless each of you,
Pastor Mark & Pastor Mike
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”
You're doing something eternally important! As parents, we know worship with kids is not easy, our wives (Beka and Margi) remind us often. Parenting in general is tiring. Parenting in church can be really tiring.
We know you came to church already tired. Your battle most likely began at home while rushing around to get everyone dressed, fed and off to church. The battle continues at church. Juggling everything/everyone as you find a seat. We see you wince as your child cries and we see you anxiously pull things out of your bag of tricks, anything to try to calm them down. We see you cringe when they “whisper” every thought. We hear the exasperation, the pleading & begging. We see you speaking with your older child for the 10th time, “No, the service is not over.” Not everyone is looking, but we know it feels that way. We’ve sat with you, holding a child/grandchild in the pew, we know the hopeless feeling.
You’re wondering, is this worth it? We know that a few families gave up the battle at home asking, “Why do I bother?” You often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. Going to church to hear the Word of God, and leaving with the knowledge that no one, including yourself, heard a word. We have seen it in our wives when we come home. We know how hard it is to do what you’re doing, but we want you to know, it matters. It matters to us. It matters to my children (& grandchildren) to not be alone (read: the only kids) in the pew. It matters to the congregation to know that families care about faith, to see young people joining them in worship and passing on the faith. And even on those weeks when you can’t see the little moments, it matters to your children.
What you are doing is eternally important. When you are here, the church is filled with a joyful noise. When you are here, the Body of Christ is more fully present. When you are here, we are reminded that this worship thing we do is a family affair, God’s family, and has been passed down from generation to generation. We gather together around God’s Word and Sacrament to grow in the faith and pass it on to the next generation. When you are here, we have hope that these pews won’t be empty in ten years when your kids are confirmed and are able to behave and be quiet. We know you are trying to teach them how and why we worship now, before it’s too late. They are learning that worship is important.
It matters that they learn at a young age that worship is what we do as a community of faith in response to what God has done in, through and for us. It matters that they see our Lord is a Lord who serves. It matters that they learn about the faith by encountering God’s Word Sunday after Sunday. It is important that they learn everyone is welcome, that their worship matters. When we teach children that their worship matters, we teach them that they are enough right here and right now as baptized members of the church community. They don’t need to wait until they can understand, read, pray or follow along to be welcome here. It’s vital that our children learn they are an integral part of this church and that their prayers, their songs, and even their perfectly timed cries and whines are a joyful noise because it means they are present.
We know it can be hard to bring your children to church, but thank you for all you do. Please know that your family - with all of its joyful ‘noise’ and struggles - is not simply tolerated, but welcomed. You are a vital part of this community, God’s family, gathered in worship to the glory of our Heavenly Father. Together we will encounter God and express our thanks and praise to Him for His many gifts. Together we will educate the next generation of Christians and expand the kingdom of God. Don’t give up hope, what you do this day will make an eternal difference.
God Bless each of you for the work you do in raising His children,
Pastors Mark and Mike
Senior Pastor at St. Peters. God has given me a wonderful wife and 4 God fearing children. I graduated from Concordia St. Louis Seminary in 2009 with a Masters in Divinity.