January 4th 2021

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

 

Happy New Year.  Can I have a raise of hands for those who made it up to ring in the New Year?  If you did, your Pastor had about three hours of sleep already.  It was 12:00 somewhere. Seriously, wishing you all a great 2021.

 

Wondering if anyone makes New Year’s resolutions?  Some of you might pick a word that you concentrate on for the year.  Would you like to share your practices for the New Year?  Please send them to me using the email or phone number below.  I will keep them anonymous.  I think it would be a good way to see what members of our congregation are doing and it may spark ideas in others.  I will pray over them each week and I hope you will do the same.

 

Our winter coat drive is over.  Thank you for all those who donated coats, mittens, hats, gloves and even snow pants.  Thank you.  I wish I could give you a final number.  Your generosity was so great that we lost count a few weeks ago.  Thank you.  Spend a moment right now and picture a child warm because of what you offered.  What a blessing. 

 

I want to offer two items for you to consider:

 

1) The first deals with our continued mission to help our community.  Below you will see part of this mission.  We have opened our basement to store gently used furniture.  Last Saturday, because of the generosity of our members, we were able to give a couch, a recliner, and a bed to someone in need.  We have already given a bed to a high schooler, and various items of furniture to the young family we are currently helping.  A washer and dryer are heading out early January to a family in Ohio, IL that St. Matthew’s of Princeton is helping.  They reached out to us because Pastor Scott is my mentor and he heard what St John’s is doing.  What a great use for our basement that has been empty since I came here.  If you have anything to donate, give me a call.  We can pick it up if you can’t bring it to church.  Items in need are end tables, lamps, dressers, etc.  I really want to stress – gently used items. 

 

We also have seen a greater need for help in living expenses.  At the beginning of this health crisis, I mentioned in a previous letter that we experienced an uptick in request for HyVee gas/food cards.  If you recall, we used to give ten-dollar cards and then we increased it to twenty.  In our budget, in the Mission Fund, there is a line item for the Good Samaritan Fund. In the last two months or so, not only is there greater need for gift cards but for larger ticket items, such heating oil, electricity, car insurance, monthly phone payment, and rent.  We have blown through the money that was allotted to the Good Samaritan Fund, but because of  donations from members of your church, we are still trying to meet the needs of those requesting help.

 

Your church is working with PADS and Tri-County Opportunities.  They have far greater resources that we can ever supply.  But here is the problem.  The people we help are living in crisis mode on a daily basis.  Some have lost their jobs due to the fallout of COVID.  Each one of them has a story and I always praise God that it is NOT my story.  If we are going to help them, we lead them to PADS (which works with the homeless) and Tri-Counties (which works with renters or homeowners). However, even though they have greater resources, they are slow in providing them.  When I ask those in need how soon they need help, their usual response is yesterday.  It is not that the electricity is going to get turned off, it has been turned off. 

 

I am working with a group of people who help me in dealing with these responses. What we do is try to supply their immediate need and then make it a condition if they want further help  they have go through PADS or Tri-Counties.  We also have contacts with these two organizations to help us verify that they are working in their system. 

 

I am trying to be totally transparent.  You should know what we are doing at St. John’s.  Yes, we are fixing the plumbing and the air conditioning, but we are also serving the needs of our community.  For all who donate money to the church, you are part of this. 

 

The need is not going away.  It is hard to believe that it will probably get worse.  Your continued generosity, your open-handedness since the beginning of this pandemic, has been outstanding.  I cannot thank you enough for what you have done for our church building and the mission of this church.  I know some of you are tapped out, giving the most you can.  I thank you.  Your church thanks you.  But for others who can give more, this is what I propose:

 

            For the next three months, besides giving what you normally give to the

            Church, you add a given amount more and designate it to the Good Samaritan

            Fund.  This designation will continue to meet the needs of our community. 

 

I ask that you pray about this.  No amount is too great or too small.  Some of you have received a blessing in your bank account just recently (stimulus check). Would you consider using part of that blessing?   Please, if you have any questions or comments, direct them to me.

 

2) I promise to make this one shorter.  January 24th is our Congregational Meeting.  The agenda, the budget, and information for those who are running for council, will be given to you in the next couple of weeks.  We are allowed to run our meeting on-line through Zoom.  The Church Council wants all of you to have the opportunity to take part in this.  The two ways a member can do this is by either phoning in or using the internet.  We will have our first practice session this week.

            a) For those who are calling in using your phone, we will do this Wednesday, January 6th at 11:30.  It will take about 10 minutes.  Once we are logged in, I will pray for all of you and then you can go on with your day.  This is what you need to do:

                        i. Call this number:  1-312-626-6799, then listen to the prompts.

                        ii. It will ask you for your Meeting I.D. Using your keypad type in

                                    815-223-1144#            (do not forget #)

                        iii. It will then ask you for the participant I.D.  Using your keypad type in

                                    0#        (do not forget #)

                        iv. Finally, it will ask you for your password.  Using your keypad type in

                                    1144#              (do not forget #)

Your phone number will appear on my screen.  I will ask you, “who you are,” so we have record of your attendance.  This is not a big deal now but for your vote to count in our Congregational Meeting, you must attend the meeting.  If there is more than one person using the phone, I will need to hear from all of you.  For instance:  If Patty and I call in on her phone, someone will ask who is speaking.  They must hear Patty’s voice and Tom’s voice.

 

            b) If you are using the internet, we will have a practice session on Wednesday night (6th) at 7:00 pm.  Eloide will send everyone the internet address to log in on (You do not have to have Zoom) . Kelly McCurry will be standing by on her phone to help with any problems.  Her phone number is 224-723-8976.  Get logged on and I will pray over the group at about 7:10.  It is the same day as our Rabbit Trail Group, and you are always welcome to join our discussion.

 

Sorry about the length.  I promise to cut my sermon short next week (Greg, I am kidding!) If you need anything, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I am very aware for some the holidays are not joyous.  Let’s talk.

 

May the peace of the Lord be with you always.  Always!

 

Pastor Tom

630-334-1771

pandtredig@gmail.com

November 30, 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I love Thanksgiving. I hope you had a happy one. It probably was different, but I hope that it was still good. To remember what we are thankful is always good. One of those things I should do more often. My daughter’s family has a practice at the dinner table to express one thing they are thankful for. A great idea.

My last couple of letters have been lengthy. Trying to keep you all informed. I have many odds and ends this week.

· We celebrated the first Sunday of Advent last weekend. I hope that the message and the service was relevant and meaningful to you. Our recorded Wednesday services will be ready every Wednesday of Advent by 7:00 p.m.

· I hope you understand what I mean by expanding your Advent wreath to your whole room. Instead of placing the candles in a wreath, try placing them in the appropriate corners of your room (might need different candles). Give it a try. Tell me what you think. I hope that it will remind you of God’s work throughout the week.

· Speaking of work, Town & Country is starting work, December 1st on the plumbing. They hope to be done by Christmas.

· Thank you to all who helped with the food baskets and children’s winter coats. St. John’s was able to provide 33 baskets. The people at Parkside who collected the food were amazed. Our coat drive continues through December. We were able to deliver 30 coats. She too, was amazed. Don’t forget the hats, mittens and gloves. Thank you again.

· Thank you to all who texted or emailed your laments. If you have not sent them to me, please feel free to do so. My last two Wednesday messages will be on hope. Could you please send me what you are hoping for. Thank you for helping me with the Advent messages.

· Children, I need your help. I would like you to draw a picture for me for our Christmas service. It will be based off of the reading in Luke 2:1-20. I need 10 pictures drawn for the service. Please call Eloide and she will assign you a picture to draw. Open to all children of the congregation.

· I remember visiting someone last December, before Christmas, where she was living. She had a stack of cards sitting in her lap. She told me that they were cards from her church. She was not aware that I was her Pastor, but she knew that she was well loved by her church. I will always remember this. Below are the addresses of those who are homebound or living in an assisted living center. Would you consider writing a Christmas card to a number of people on this list this season. It means more than you can ever imagine.

· We celebrated the wedding of Bethany Nelson and Tim Wold last Saturday. The bride and groom and their parents were in attendance. They tried to get married in March. They planned a beautiful wedding and then COVID hit. I am here to tell you that it was still a beautiful wedding.

· Some of you know William Etzenbach. He passed away last week. Can you please send them a card letting Gerry know that she is in your thoughts and prayers.

· Don’t know when we will meet in person again. The week of December 5th and 6th will still be recorded. Still planning on an outdoor service, December 24th, Christmas Eve, at 5:00 p.m. Mark your calendars.

Hoping all of you stay healthy and well during this Advent Season. Continue sharing the Good News. May the peace of the Lord be with you always.

Pastor Tom

630-334-1771

pandtredig@gmail.com

HOME BOUND:

            Marlene Hurr – 1020 Second St., Apt. 808, LaSalle, IL 61301

            Katie Selbrede—1314 Creve Coeur, LaSalle, IL 61301

            Ron Meisel—2519 Market St., Peru, IL 61354

            James Meyer—908 25th St., Peru, IL 61354

            Shirley Rife—2027 Tenth St., Peru, IL 61354

            Dorothy Dippel—2180 Meridian Road, Peru, IL 61354

            Hattie Jenkins – Aperion Care Spring Valley, 1300 N. Greenwood St., Spring Valley 61362

            Millie Barry – Hawthorne Inn, 1101 31st St., Peru, IL 61354

            Roger Tidaback - Hawthorne Inn, 1101 31st St., Peru, IL 61354

            Robert Mellen – Illinois Veterans Home, 1015 O’Conor Ave., LaSalle, IL 61301

            Gaylon Ehlers – 801 E. Etna Rd., Ottawa, IL 61350

            Shirley Tevis - 801 E. Etna Rd., Ottawa, IL 61350

            Carol Eckwall – Caledonia Senior Living, 2800 DesPlaines Ave., North Riverside, IL 60546

November 23rd 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Despite of everything, we still have so many things to be grateful for. Hope you take some time reflecting on what you are thankful for during this season.

Because of government mandates, we will be moving to only recorded worship for the next two weeks. Please be safe. COVID is beginning to come closer and closer to our church family. We have had many members, or family members being affected by this virus. Take care of yourself and others.

Advent starts this Sunday, November 29th. It is a season of waiting for Jesus Christ’s return. However, it is not a passive waiting. Advent is where we actively prepare for his 2nd Coming. Despite everything, here are a few things that your church is doing to help you prepare:

· We will have recorded Wednesday services at 7:00. Marilyn and Pam will be performing the Holden Evening Prayer service and Pastor Tom will have a short message. Please join us on the internet.

· My first two messages will be on Lament. The definition of lament is “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” I need your help with this. Can you please send me your lament. What are you grieving now? What are you sad about? Please send them to me either by calling, texting, or leaving me an email. Please do not send them to the church. I have given Eloide enough work as it is.

· Right now, we are recording our weekend service. Please consider making the room you view the recording in your Advent wreath. Yes, the whole room. When we light the candle, light your candle and place it in the appropriate corner of your room. Hoping when you walk into this room during the week, you will remember the Advent season.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. What a giving spirit this church has. Hopefully you have seen some of the pictures of the food baskets(boxes) that you donated. 13 were brought to the church. Another 20 were purchased by your monetary donations from Aldi. I said ten, you said thirty-three. Thank you. We now have transitioned to winter coats, hats and gloves. We have over twenty children’s winter coats already. Thank you again. We will continue our children coat drive throughout December. If you still want to donate, we probably should transition to hats, mittens and gloves. If you are not comfortable shopping, please make your donation and we will shop for you.

Don’t forget! November 28th and 29th is Stewardship Weekend. Please send or drop off your Time and Talent / Giving Cards and place them in the drop off box by the front door. I know the Church Council is working on next year’s budget and your return of your Stewardship materials will be helpful in their planning. Don’t forget to pray over them and then return them with joy.

Would you please consider the following? I attended a Zoom meeting put on by our Northern Illinois Synod. They had three health care workers from the Rockford area. A question was asked to all three of them what the church could do for them. The first thing all of them said was to pray. They talked about being stretched pretty thin. They also commented that initially, when the pandemic started, they received many expressions of gratitude. Now, with the second wave, everyone is tired, and they have not received nearly the expressions of gratitude for their services as in the past. This made me grieve. I have grown tired also and I have forgotten them in my prayers. I am asking you to continue keeping them in your prayers. I also added the addresses of IVCH and St. Margret’s Hospital at the bottom. I know there are more places, such as your doctor’s office, etc., that can use an expression of gratitude. Please consider sending them a card or another expression of thanks.

The peace of the Lord be with you always. Always!

Pastor Tom

630-334-1771 *** please send your laments using this phone number

pandtredig@gmail.com or email.

St. Margaret’s Hospital Illinois Valley Community Hospital

600 E. First St 925 West Street

Spring Valley, IL 61362 Peru, IL 61354

· Just address it to a certain area of the hospital such as ICU, Emergency, etc.

November 16th 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Schedule Alert: Next week, both Saturday and Sunday Worship, November 21st and 22nd will be cancelled. We will continue to have the recorded service available at the usual time. The major reason is your Pastor needs a break. Your worship team needs a break. The Synod Office Staff has given us a gift by planning the complete worship service (not including communion) and I am going to accept this gift especially before the Advent and Christmas season. Thank you for your understanding.

I continue to marvel at your open-handed giving. At this time last week, I wrote about two of our ministries in which St. Johns is participating in through December. The first one is putting together food baskets for the elementary schools in Peru. I told them we would be able to do 10 baskets without really knowing if we would want to do this. As of today, we have 20 baskets donated. I think I shouldn’t marvel anymore and instead be thankful. The people of St. Johns are amazing. I would like to switch over to winter coats, hats and mittens/gloves. Remember this is for Youth Service Bureau. It is for children who have been taken out of their homes immediately, often with just the clothes on their back. We will be collecting gently used or new children coats, hats and mittens or gloves through the month of December. The same rules apply. You can drop them off at church or leave them on your front porch, and I will come pick them up. Or you can send a donation and we will go shopping for you. Whatever you feel comfortable with.

Our Gospel reading last Sunday was the Parable of the Talents. There are many ways a preacher can go with it but bottom line it reads that the owner gave a servant “five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to their ability” (Mt. 12:14). I think I could spend another sermon or two on “according to their ability.” I am fully aware we have members in our church body that have been given five or two or one or even less than one. We all have different abilities to give. It is true for our stewardship letter which came this week. We do not expect everyone to give the same. What we do expect is for you to give what God is calling you to do.

The most important thing you can do for your church is pray. We need your prayers. We are headed into the Advent and Christmas season which is most likely going to look entirely different than what you have seen in the past. Pray for your church and its leaders. Pray for the ministries that we support. Pray over your stewardship commitments. Yes, we need your monetary support. But we also need your support in so many other areas. We are burning our volunteers out. If you come to church, please consider helping out. But most of all, add your church to your prayers. Add your pastor to your prayers.

Let’s talk Advent services. Last year, we had Wednesday night services. We will continue to do so but they will all be recorded. We will continue to do the Holden Evening Prayer service. Marilyn graciously agreed to sing for this service. In between the music there will be a short message by Pastor Tom. Each Wednesday will be a different short message. They will be posted every Wednesday during Advent. Our first one is December 2nd.

Weekend service will turn to the preparation of Jesus’ Second Coming. Hopefully, we will have the Affirmation of Baptism students reading what each candle stands for throughout the month. What we would like you to consider is to make your whole room an advent wreath. If you are watching the service in your living room, make your living room your advent wreath. You don’t have to have the greens, just four candles. All you have to do is to put the candles in the appropriate corners. This way, your room will become the “wreath.” When you do your devotion or quiet time, light the candle. Remind yourself that Jesus is coming again, Alleluia.

The Christmas calendar will hopefully come out next weekend. Church council is meeting on Tuesday, November 17 to discuss this matter. If you have any thoughts, make sure you call or drop them an email.

Below, you will see what is happening with Sunday School. Please continue to pray for the children and the teachers of this important ministry. We have some ideas for Christmas that involves the youth of our church. I hope they will participate.

The peace of the Lord be with you always.

Pastor Tom

630-334-1771

pandtredig@gmail.com

Missy Pinter, Sunday School Coordinator

Sunday School is currently filming weekly videos of our lessons and posting them on Google Classroom. The students are able to access the Google Classroom on their own computers and can watch and participate in the weekly videos. The supplies from each season are picked up at the church so the students have their bibles (prek, 3rd, 6th) and the leaflets for the lessons. Students that we have heard from enjoy the weekly lessons online, though the students and teachers miss being able to meet in person each week. 6th grade also started a new curriculum this year. It is called Connect and it starts with creation and goes though the Bible from old testament to new testament. Students are enjoying these lessons. If you have any questions about Sunday School or would like to sign your child up for Sunday School, please call the church office or e-mail stjohnsperuss@gmail.com