Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.
How are things at Zion? I've heard the church has had troubling times as of late.
Earlier in March I attended a funeral over in Ellisville. The gathering was large, I knew only a handful of people, members of Zion whose loved one had passed away. Standing out in the church's beautiful narthex, I was approached by someone I've known for seven years, but never met... a former pastor of Zion. Greeting one another, we briefly chatted, during which time he asked me, 'How are things at Zion?' Prayerfully and directly I responded, 'We are praying and working to be better together.' After the funeral on the way home, I reflected on the theme 'better together'. Just what does it really mean? How are we 'better together'? Let me share two observations.
First, it's a true story. Back about 1965 the 3 Mitteis boys of Royal NE started a business. With Grove Lake State Reservoir only 3 miles out of town, my brothers and I (under mom's counsel) became purveyors of fishing bait. Our operation was small but efficient, digging worms, collecting cans (thank God for Campbells) we sold our bait @25¢ dozen. Right from the start, business boomed; many fisherman and a lake loaded with bluegills. With mom's watchful eye (especially on the money) and generous' tipping fisherman, we made a bit of money, of which the boys got a small stipend. Mom got the rest. At the start of the 1967 bait season, mom had an idea-instead of spending money as we earned it, we would save for a Christmas trip to CA. The brothers agreed. By the end of summer we had saved a bit more than $250 (more than enough to buy gas for the trip). Most by now may get the connection of my story with better together... but there's more. You see, during that summer, not just worm business, but also our father's business was good. And so months later in December, the family packed bags, boarded camper to flee frozen land for CA. Things turned out great. But looking back, what if it hadn't been such a great summer? What if our dad ran out of work, and money for life's essentials ran short? What would have become of the brother's hard-earned vacation money?
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, compete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Philippians 2.1-2
Being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind, if being a family means anything, it must include 'All for one, One for all'. Over the past years, our church family, our Zion has come through some troubling times, and for our Lord's faithfulness we give thanks. In the months and year(s) to come, with one pastor leaving and another on the way, 'All for one, One for all' must have it's place in what it means for a congregation to be better together.
Second (observation) is even more true (if that were possible). There is no better place for Zion to be better together, than around our Lord's Supper. In the Divine Service, as the united people of God, there is no time more crucial and close to our Savior than when we eat His body and drink His blood. But here needs to be observed, that over the past years, especially the past years of Covid, the number of members present for Jesus Supper have become fewer and fewer. At this time it looks like more are coming back. Lord let this 'return to your table' only increase! And wouldn't that be a great report going out to former pastors and teachers and members; a report of God's people standing firm in the strength received as they knelt to receive Jesus bread of life.
'Better Together' ... what does this mean? Let's agree to agree that it's not that complex. We are better together when we are united and strengthened and equipped and thus unafraid come what may... because we are united in our Savior. It's one of Jesus' specialties you know - healing the broken, restoring the unity, bestowing His peace.
Dear members of Zion, our God is gracious and merciful. He has great plans for His mission here on Henry and Elm. Truly, truly Jesus is with you, to make the most of His mission and ministry opportunity. Remain in His Word and gifts. And always let Jesus Himself GET ALL THE GLORY. Now and forever. Amen.
~ P. K.
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