“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples”

John 13:35

Proclaim the Gospel

Grow in Love

Serve One Another


Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, 

I had a chance to step away last week and go on an adventure with my wife.  After visiting my daughter in St. Louis, we drove around the southern portion of the state of Illinois. I am not going to bore you with details and vacation pictures, but it was fun to drive around with my wife.  We don’t usually spend time driving. 

Remember vacation pictures.  Now you can take pictures on your phone, send them to your computer or the Cloud and have them forever.  I remember as a child, my dad would pull out the screen, which was very cumbersome, and the slide projector, and we would sit there and relive those moments, sometimes with friends or relatives, who sat there politely but were probably bored out of their minds.  And of course, there were always a few slides that were upside down. 

Do you also remember cameras that actually had film in them? After we took the 12, 24 or 36 pictures in the roll, we would put them in an envelope (for me it was Clark Labs) and we would wait for a week or two to get our pictures back.  About half of them were not worth keeping.  Sometimes the pictures ended up in scrap books and these books ended up in the closet gathering dust.  Now, you take multiple pictures of the same scene with your phone, decide which one is best and delete the others with a finger.  We can print them out on our printer, or in my case, send them to Walgreens and I get them back within an hour.  Could you ever imagine this would happen? 

So much has changed in our lives.  Things we saw in the Dick Tracy cartoons are actually real. Someone imagined talking into your watch and low and behold, you can to this now.  What’s next…Star Trek?  

I was trying to clean up my computer last week (Oh the fun I have while on vacation), and I came across the Ministry Site Profile which St. John’s put together to attract a Rostered Minister in 2018-2019.  St. John’s congregation elected a committee to work on this profile.  This is not easy work.  I know some of the work that this committee did to make sure everyone had a voice when putting this document together.  When asked, “What is your congregation really excited about right now,” the committee that was representing St; John’s wrote, 

The congregation is eager to try new things and is willing to work with a new pastor to make our church a family built on the love God has given us. There has been a fresh spirit of family and friendship and members have displayed a bold investment in each other. There is also a resurgence in the congregation and a renewed effort to engage youth.” 

I am going to let this sit for a while.  I have been here for about four and a half years.  I am wondering if I am doing my part to foster our church family to be built on the love of God. I am also wondering if St. John’s would answer this question differently right now?  I hope all of us would take some time and reflect on this statement. 

What a great turnout for the Spring Breakfast.  Eggs, omelets, pancakes, sausage and all sorts of fruit – oh my.  Everything was delicious.  Thank you to all who participated in this event.  A special shout out to all those who worked to make this event happen.  Great job Missy and all your helpers.

I will be gone Thursday through Sunday this week.  I  wrote in a letter previously that I am one of the Spiritual Directors of the Via de Cristo weekend.  The weekend is this week.  I ask for your prayers that I am able to fulfill my role as Spiritual Director.  I will be leading worship as well as discussions throughout the weekend.  I am also doing a couple of talks on Grace.  More importantly, I make myself available for anyone who needs help in their spiritual journey.  If anyone at St. John’s needs pastoral care, please call Paul Baker at 815-488-2097

 God calls each one of you by name.  How awesome is that? 

Pastor Tom
[email protected]

Readings for the April 13th & 14th

Worship News

 1)      Some of you might be wondering where I get my material for worship service?  Most of it comes from Sunday and Seasons. Most Lutheran service comes from this book. I also look at the Red Book.  If you look in the front, you will see ten settings.  Each one of them is different.  Picking appropriate settings is one of the things Music and Worship does during our meetings, besides selecting songs.  We take a look at what would be an appropriate setting for the season we are in.  The lectionary gives us the readings for the weekend.  I also look at Pastor’s Workshop, which is an online site for additional ideas.  The dialog at the beginning of our worship service usually comes from this.

2)      The next question is where do I get my material for my sermons?  A lot of prayer goes into it.  So, I would say the Holy Spirit (Just like all of us, I hope I am in tune with what the Spirit is telling me).  I also use Working Preachers, which is an online site.  Here, not only do they have current commentaries, but they also have ones used in the past. This site also includes a podcast where three Biblical Scholars discuss the readings for the week.  My favorite scholar on the podcast is Matthew Skinner.  I seem to connect a little more with what he is saying. The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary is also a source I use. Then, I try to tie in my life experiences, which I hope are appropriate.  I usually get most of my research work done by Monday and then allow the Spirit to direct me. My goal is to finish my sermon by the end of Wednesday, but Eloide will tell you this doesn’t always happen.