From the Pastor’s Heart Archive

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted March 1, 2019 By admin

Before you read this page, first go pick up your Bible. Then go to the kitchen and pour yourself a glass of water. Now set the glass filled with water beside your Bible on the table nearest you and begin reading.

A book I enjoy reading is written by Max Lucado titled Come Thirsty. Within its pages, one can hear God calling us, inviting us to come to him as a father calls his dear children. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about God’s love for his people. As we begin our annual Lenten pilgrimage toward Easter, it is appropriate that we ponder how we approach our Father in heaven. It is a time to earnestly study God’s Word and to pray for heightened awareness of God’s presence each day. It is a time to look deep inside our lives in order that we may see ourselves for who we are as sinners, yet also to see ourselves for whose we are, God’s beloved children redeemed by the blood of Christ. Lent is a time when Christians around the world take time to reflect upon God’s mercy and grace. It’s also a time when we are to consider our lives as disciples, loving God with all our heart and loving our neighbor as God loves us. Such is the journey of Lent.

As God’s people, during Lent we are metaphorically traveling the Jerusalem road toward the cross of Good Friday. The cross is where the powers of sin and evil meet the powers of God’s righteousness and mercy. The events of the cross are the focal point of Lent. They bring the powerful message of God’s salvation through the sacrifice of his Son. Yet, weighed down by the burdens of earthly life, we tend to focus more on worldly things and fail to realize the full impact of what Jesus has done to redeem God’s people. Pulled in several directions at a time, life becomes a blur and before we
know it, we have lost touch with our Lord and Savior. In order that you may fully realize God’s awesome power and love in your life, I invite you to “come thirsty.” Come thirsty to worship and join the hearts and voices of your church family, singing praises to God for all he has done and continues to do. Come thirsty to hear the message of God’s deliverance from death to life for all who believe. I invite you to come thirsty for God’s love, to hear his gospel proclaimed and to realize the love he has especially for you. Come thirsty also to our mid-week Lenten services. Enjoy the fellowship we share and hear the message of Jesus’ victory upon the cross. Come thirsty to learn how you too are
called as a disciple of Jesus Christ, empowered and equipped for ministry and sent into the world for the sake of those who are neediest among us.

Finally, I invite you to ponder the Bible and the glass of water set before you. As you open the pages of Holy Scripture, you will be reminded that, in Baptism, God made water to be a sign of his unfailing love and his promise to save his people. Through water and the Word, God washes us clean from the stain of sin and makes us his own.

Commit to worshiping with us during Lent and come thirsty for God’s love. Be refreshed through the water and the Word as we journey toward the cross of Good Friday. It’s there where sin and brokenness meet the powers of God’s love and righteousness, and his goodness and mercy endure forever.

Grace and peace,
Pastor David Nuottila

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted February 4, 2019 By admin

“To those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:2-3

If you want to know what a person is really passionate about, just listen to them as they speak. It doesn’t take very long to figure out what makes them tick; it’s that one thing they continue to bring up repeatedly. If there is any doubt as to what makes the apostle Paul tick, all we need to do is read the introduction and opening salutations of his first letter to the Church at Corinth. In particular, notice whose name continues to be lifted up.

Paul was zealous for his faith in Christ and eager to share the good news of God’s salvation throughout his known world. Being among God’s people and rejoicing in the promise of life in God’s kingdom is most certainly what fueled Paul’s fire. Throughout his missionary journeys, Paul endured hardship, imprisonment and even shipwrecks, yet nothing seemed to dampen his excitement for telling others about the power of God’s love made manifest in Christ’s victory over sin and death.

The gospel is a message of God’s perfect and unconditional love for his people. The news that sin no longer has the power to condemn those who have faith in Christ Jesus is too good to keep to ourselves. As people
redeemed by Christ, we too are possessors of this good news. We have a wonderful gift to share with a world in need of God’s saving grace. Being among God’s people, in fellowship with the faithful and gathering for worship adds fuel for our fire just as it did for Paul. But once the fire is lit,
we cannot sustain it by ourselves.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul teaches the Church that we need to remain steadfast in the hearing of the gospel. We need to share in the supper that is Christ’s body and blood and we need to live in faithful fellowship with all who share the gift of God’s grace and peace. As a family of faith gathered at St. Jacob’s Lutheran church, we must pay attention to the time we spend together as a church family.

Yes, we are busy people with busy lives, but the burden of such a life is one we place upon ourselves. In the lives of Christian people, all too often, time with the church is sacrificed in order to engage in worldly activities. For instance, when is the last time you heard someone say, “I have to leave the football game early so I can make it to our church’s fellowship event”? No, it is usually the church that sees people leaving worship early, or skipping
it entirely, in order to keep their habits or participate in worldly functions. Before we know it, personal habits and worldly agendas take precedent and time spent in worship and fellowship begin to fade. As Paul points out, when we live for ourselves, the fire burning within will certainly diminish. Some will fall away.


Even faithful Christians (especially) need to be on guard. Those who would be seen as examples must be diligent in their faith and practice. If one is faithful 90% of their time, it is the 10% others will see. Christians need to
know and understand that no matter what may happen in this world, God’s grace and peace given through Christ Jesus cannot be overcome. In those times when we fall short of God’s expectation for us, we need to be reminded that our sins are forgiven and as such, God calls us all to be saints together in every time and place, living together in the unity of Christ.


And so, we too gather as did the Church in Paul’s time, in the name of Jesus in order to hear the message of the gospel. We too come to confess our sins, receive God’s grace, partake in the supper and at the close of the meal, hear the words of God’s blessing as they are pronounced over the entire assembly. It cannot be emphasized enough; there is no better place to be than in the presence of God and among his people. With that, I greet you as Paul greets those whom he writes to throughout the ages: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen!


Grace and peace,
Pastor David Nuottila

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted January 9, 2019 By admin

“Arise and shine, your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

For centuries, astronomers have plotted the courses of the stars in order to keep track of time and the passing of the seasons. Navigators of ships used the stars to help guide them to their destination. And long ago, ancient cultures shared stories of mythical characters whose constellations may be seen as people gazed at the night time sky. Much has been learned by tracking the many points of light that pierce the darkness of night.

Following the birth of our Lord Jesus, there were others who also looked to the stars, one star in particular. The Magi from the East followed this star which led them to Bethlehem. By marking the exact time when they first saw the star and following its light westward, the wise men were led on a journey upon which they encountered Christ. Once they reached their destination, God revealed to the them the one born as his own redeeming light. It is in this epiphany that Jesus is revealed to the world as God’s ultimate outpouring of love.

The celebration of the Epiphany of our Lord is the proclamation that long before we could have ever stumbled our way out of darkness, God’s light has come to us. Through our Baptism, God makes us children of the light. In our thankful response to God’s grace, we carry the light of Christ into the world so that others can experience the fulfillment and wonder of God’s promise of a Savior. It is through loving God above all else and serving our neighbor in the name of Christ, that we let our light shine. Our Lord calls each and every one of us to serve as a beacon leading others to the truth of the gospel, just as that single star led the Magi so many years ago.

As we begin a new year in ministry, I would invite all of our church family members to consider the ways in which you proclaim the gospel and share God’s love. We have the opportunity to engage is so many missions of the NALC and within our mission district. Here in Chapin, we can feed the hungry, give aid to the poor, provide shelter and welcome those who have no place for worship. St. Jacob’s is uniquely positioned to serve our neighbors in town, and the many who live in developing communities all around us.

We also have the opportunity to serve Christ through our service to others around our country and world. I am so pleased that many of our church family members have embraced the mission work of Pastor Stephane Kalonji and I in the Congo. Several other congregation have also joined St. Jacob’s in supporting this important mission. Through your efforts and generosity, pastors have Bibles from which to teach and preach, many hungry children are fed, and a community of God’s people have a relationship of faith and love with a congregation who will pray for them and minister to them in times of trial. Jesus calls us all to follow his example of love and service for the sake of the least among us. I would also invite those who have not considered attending Sunday school and one of our weekly Bible studies to give it a try. As Christians and disciples of Jesus Christ, daily reading of Holy Scripture is essential and weekly gathering for worship and learning is most beneficial for those growing in faith and hope. There is no better time to begin such practice than during Epiphany, the season of light.

Since the birth of Christ, the time of our lives is no longer marked by plotting stars and our destination is no longer found by tracking celestial bodies. Our time and our destination are caught up in Jesus Christ. To use a metaphor, the books of Holy Scripture serve as the stars of our celestial journey and Christ our compass. Led by God’s Holy Spirit, we travel through life’s journey always remembering to let our light shine before others, so that all may see that in Christ the light of the world has come.

Grace and peace,
Pastor David Nuottila

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted December 1, 2018 By admin

Recognizing newsletter deadlines, once again, I have the peculiar task of writing a Christmas message even before I’ve worked up an appetite for Thanksgiving turkey. So, to get in the mood for the season I’m playing Christmas music on the computer as I write. Most of us have our favorite Christmas song and I am no different. My favorite is O Holy Night. I love this song and it never gets old.

Many of my favorite artists have recorded O Holy Night. There are dozens of renditions that will literally bring a tear to my eye. Like so many, I get caught up in the emotional response to beautiful music played by amazing musicians or sung by gifted vocalists. Throughout my years as pastor, members of previous congregations have given their renditions of this beloved song, only to reduce their pastor to tears of joy as they offered their gift. You may wonder what it is about this song that solicits such a reaction for me. Truly, beautiful as it is, it is not the melody. O Holy Night captivates me so because of its message. The words speak so strongly to the power of God’s love.

In 1847, a priest commissioned Frenchman Placide Cappeau to write a poem for the Christmas mass. He knew this poem would be central to the priest’s proclamation so it must be scriptural and reverent. The poem would have to speak to the struggle of our human condition and at the same time declare the hope of God’s people fulfilled through the birth of the Christ child. Turning to Luke’s gospel, Cappeau imagined what it might have been like to witness the birth of Christ on the holiest of nights. Cappeau’s poem speaks of a night extraordinarily different than most. The sky was so clear that the stars seemed to shine brighter than ever before. The opening of the song leads us into this same vision:

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
this is the night, of our dear Savior’s birth!

We’ve all witnessed Christmas nights such as this. Yet, we realize that even at Christmas, the world is still filled with difficulties and challenges . There is a reason God came to earth in human form. Our world is one bent on disobedience, selfishness, and anger. Each week, as we confess our sins we admit our part in the world’s calamity.

We cannot pretend that God is not privy to the instances where we have not kept his commandments. We cannot live as though he has not seen the wrongs we’ve done toward one another. Even the most faithful among us has sinned against God and against a neighbor. Yet, there is hope, and this is where O Holy Night gets my full and complete attention. Cappeau writes:

Long lay the world, in sin and error pining;
Till he appeared and the soul felt his worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices;
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

God has kept his promise to save his people; he has sent his Son, the child of Mary to be Savior and Lord. Cappeau offered his congregation a declaration of God’s grace and forgiveness made possible through the life, death and resurrection of a single child born on that holy night. Just as he was born in humility, Jesus would also humbly endure the burden of shame brought about the world’s sin. The message of O Holy Night proclaims the powerful truth of God’s salvation made known as the King of Glory makes his entrance into the world for the sake of all humanity. This is no ordinary child. This is no ordinary night. This Christmas, as I have and always will, I invite you all to worship with me and the rest of your church family on the holiest of nights. Come hear the message of God’s grace as we remember how our Savior and Lord breaks into our time a space yet once more. Hear the words of the gospel and realize the thrill of God’ssaving grace.

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night; O night divine!

Grace to you and peace, this Christmas,
Pastor David Nuottila
From the Pastor’s Heart

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted November 1, 2018 By admin

It’s hard to believe it’s already time to write my article for the November newsletter.  Today, it’s raining, strong winds are blowing, and tropical storm Michael just deposited a tree in my driveway.  I am also  preparing to go on vacation tomorrow (Oct. 12) but truth be told, my mind is on our shared ministry in  November.  This is a busy time for the Church, and November is a month filled with opportunities to serve God and His people.

Think about it.  We begin November as a church family celebrating the Sunday of All Saints.  We remember fondly those beloved saints who have gone on to glory before us.  It is a special time for Christians as we  reflect upon the lesson taught to us by so many faithful followers of Christ Jesus.  It’s also a time for us to consider the ways we serve our Lord as well.  Then, a few weeks later, we conclude the month in celebration of Christ our King, a time to reflect upon the ways our Lord makes His grace known throughout the seasons of the Church.

Sandwiched in between these two festivals, there are so many other things that beg for our attention.  There are elections of  government officials and football rivalries to enjoy.  And don’t forget setting time aside to enjoy the annual Thanksgiving feast!  All of these beg the question, “How do we juggle the demands of our daily life and our life as a disciple of Christ Jesus?  It seems something has got to give.

Sadly, all too often it is the church that takes a back seat.  As life gets busier and busier, we know and  understand that we must cut back.  Each of our  activities is important to us, and we hate to miss out.  But God calls his people to be disciples first and above all else.  This is where All saints Sunday and Christ the King intersect.  Remembering the saints who taught us the faith, we strive to follow the example of Christ our King.  Doing this, we follow the faithful examples of those saints who have died and now live in Christ’s glory.  One such person in my life was my  Grandma Bea.

Grandma Bea was a leader in the community in which I grew up.  She was the first woman ever  elected to our town’s council.  She was also  chairwoman of the Northville Beautification Society, and the founder of the Northville Business and  Professional Women’s League (some of you may have noticed her B.P.W. placard on my desk).  Somewhere in all that, Grandma found time to put up preserves and vegetables, care for her many  grandchildren, bake wonderful bread and volunteer with the Red Cross.  I don’t know how she managed to do all of this.  I do know, however, that she never missed a Sunday in church, she was a generous giver with her tithes, and always took time to tell others of the wonderful things God has done and  continues to do.

This November, I invite you to remember the saints who have gone before us and follow their many examples of faithful living.  There is much to do here at  St. Jacob’s, many ways of being a part of our ministry together.  Above all else, remember to attend worship each Sunday and give thanks to the One who provides all we need, and whose mercy and grace endure forever.

Grace to you and peace,

Pastor David Nuottila

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted October 1, 2018 By admin

As we move into the month of October, we move also into the beginnings of a busy time of year. Autumn months always seem to be chock full of activities. Plans are made for mountain trips, outings to apple orchards, football games and a host of other things. As you begin to make your autumn plans, allow me to ask a simple question. How do you plan to be a disciple of Jesus Christ each and every day?

With each new day, Christians have the opportunity to share their faith in Christ with others who may not realize God’s activity in their lives. As God’s people we also wake up to the Christian responsibility to thank God for His many blessings. In this, we should offer God the finest of what we can offer of ourselves. When a child of God begins each new day with such emphasis, the life of discipleship begins to take hold and we live into the calling God has for each one of us. So again, how do you plan to be a disciple of Jesus Christ each and every day?

In my asking this twice, I hope you are not simply waiting for my answer. I hope you are not expecting me to offer a directive for the church that challenges you to do your part as I see it, for such is not my intent. I am asking this question because as followers of Jesus Christ, we each respond to His call to follow in different ways. Some are able to engage in the life of the congregation more regularly than others. Some take time to come to the church and serve on committees, provide services such as lawn care and cleaning, others may even show up every time the doors are open. Still, others among us have different responsibilities.

We have parents with small children, members who work not just one, but two jobs, and still others who may have health related issues that prevent them from participating as they once did. Yet, no matter where we may fall in this broad spectrum, as God’s people each one of us bears the Christian responsibility to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus calls all of us to go into the world and make disciples by sharing with them the good news of God’s salvation. This is why I ask; how do you plan to be a disciple of Jesus Christ each and every day?

As Pastor, I will do my best to help you discern the answer to this question. I will do what I can to help you pray, study God’s Word and live among God’s people so that you might hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit who is calling you to a life of discipleship. I will continue to pray for you and your family, preach to you the gospel of Christ Jesus, lead you in worship and teach you and your children the faith in which we baptize. In turn, I pray that you too will help me to further discern the answer to our question, for even pastors need to learn to take time to enjoy their relationship with Christ.

Yes, we have a busy time ahead of us; one filled with opportunities to worship God, love our neighbor and enjoy the fellowship of God’s people. In all of this, choose to take time each day to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Then be sure to share His blessings of grace, mercy and love with those whom God places within your midst. Soon, you will realize you are living the life of discipleship, and the question will have its answer.

Grace to you and peace,
Pastor David Nuottila

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted July 31, 2018 By admin

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink
his blood, you have no life in you. John 6:53

Each week, as a family of faith, we gather in worship around God’s Word and Sacraments. The Word is the gospel through which faith is passed along. The
Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion are the means by which God imparts His grace through faith. Simply put, we receive the good news of Christ in our hearing, and then we receive the benefits of this good news through water, bread and wine connected to God’s promise of salvation.

As sinners, we are not worthy to gather in God’s house on our own. We do not deserve to come to His table of grace as a result of our own actions. Yet, thanks be to God, we are made worthy through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit sanctifies us through the blood of Christ, extends
forgiveness of sin and nourishes our faith through Christ’s very body and blood.
Realizing this, the hearts of Christians are filled with joy as we partake of this heavenly food. Still, there is a disturbing trend that has emerged within the Christian Church.

As congregations gather, we do so as people who have busy lives and full schedules. We are also a part of a society that seeks fulfillment in earthly endeavors. We compartmentalize nearly all aspects of life and fit those into convenient blocks so as one will not encroach upon another. When one activity spills over into the next, something must give, and so we move on. It even happens in worship on Sunday morning.

Over the years, I have noticed more and more
Christians leave worship immediately following their receiving Holy Communion. Other pastors have
encountered this same behavior. For me, this points to two things. The first is that worship was not the highest priority for the day. The second is that there is a lack of understanding of the Eucharistic movement in worship.
On the heels of our sermon series of the Ten
Commandments, we will recall that God said, “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” God
provides one day in seven for His people to rest from their labors and to be refreshed by His Word of grace. As humans, we need this time apart from earthly demands. As sinners, we need this time for repentance, confession, absolution and renewal. To rest in the Word and promise of God is to forsake earthly timetables and gather with the faithful to be strengthened by God and through one another.

The Eucharistic movement within our
service beckons us to follow our Lord’s
invitation to the table and receive the feast of forgiveness and life. As invited guests, we should come with great reverence and respect for Christ our host. We enjoy the company of fellow Christians saved through the sacrifice of our Lord and
Savior, tasting His goodness and basking in His mercy and love. To suddenly get up from the table and leave before the meal has ended robs worshipers of hearing the blessing of Christ and the benediction (good words) our Lord rains over His
children. Just as we desire for guests at our table to remain and enjoy the benefits of our friendship, God enjoys the fellowship of His people as they remain until all are fed and blessed with His love.

The human may say these are just words, but the sinner longs to hear this blessing for it is music to a sin-sick soul. My prayer is that we all enjoy the meal of God’s grace together. Gathered as a family of faith, I pray we savor the joy of our life together and share in the blessing of our Lord’s love for His
children.

Grace to you and peace,

Pastor David Nuottila

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted July 1, 2018 By admin

And [Jesus] said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:21-23

At the onset of my seminary instruction, I wasn’t accustomed to leading the liturgy during worship. I’ve never been a musician and to this day I do not read music or play any sort of instrument. Still, I dearly love leading the congregation through the sacred music of liturgy. Yet, in the beginning such was not the case.The first time I was scheduled to intone the liturgy, my supervising pastor suggested that I run through everything a few times with our music director. Since this particular congregation had lay members who served as assisting ministers, this was a normal occurrence, so off to the music director’s office I went.

Following a few vocal warm ups, the organist played the piano as I sang rather quietly through the six verses of Psalm 1. Truthfully, I needed to work at overcoming my self-perceived lack of ability. Tom helped build my confidence; he encouraged me and made me work through my fears. It wasn’t long until I rather robustly sang out the entire Kyrie and Hymn of Praise in the solitude of
his office. I was feeling much better about my task for the morning and decided to tackle the Psalm one more time before practice was over. After singing the Psalm one last time, my supervising pastor bolted into the room and asked if I would please turn off my wireless microphone. Little did I know that, for about fifteen minutes I had been serenading the group gathered for prayer in the
church Nave.

As I look back on this event, I realize, had I known the microphone was switched on I would not have made such a public display. Rather, I would have quickly switched it off and sheepishly got on with my practice. Instead, I was able to boldly share the good news of God’s saving grace. Even if my voice is not on par with those of qualified musicians and vocalists, there could be no denying that the power of God’s grace through his Son Jesus Christ was heard. Jesus asks his disciples, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?” Certainly not! God blesses the Church with the most precious treasure there is, the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Each baptized child of God is therefore called to give witness to the wonders of God’s mercy and grace by sharing this gift with the world. Within the baptismal rite of the Lutheran Church, we quote Jesus’ words when we exhort the newly baptized to “Let your light shine before others
so they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

In a world fallen into sin and broken beyond human repair, the only hope for salvation comes through Christ and believing that through him, God indeed keeps his promises. Jesus of Nazareth is light and life for the world. Baptized into his death and resurrection, the light of Christ dwells within God’s people. Jesus calls each of his children to share their faith, to be of loving service to their neighbor and to proclaim the power of God’s saving grace. My prayer is that you won’t be timid in doing so. Be bold! Overcome the fears of speaking the truth of Jesus with others, realizing that you are enabled with the gift given through the Holy Spirit of God. If you don’t know how, or you feel you lack the ability, come see me and just as Tom helped me, I’ll help you work through your doubts. In Baptism, the light of your faith is ignited. Shine your light so that through the darkness of the world, all may finally see the glory of the Father and at last enter the gates of our eternal home.

Grace to you and peace,

Pastor David Nuottila

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted June 1, 2018 By admin

Many folks express a common concern when it comes to church worship attendance. “How can we grow in number?” “What can we do to attract new members?” These are two frequently asked questions. They are very good questions, but it seems that so often we struggle with the answers. Could it be our focus is misplaced? Or Perhaps our definition of evangelism needs clarification. It could be our hopes and expectations are what need to be re-aligned rather than our focus on membership rolls.

It goes without saying that as we welcome visitors among us on Sunday morning, our worship is enhanced and we are glad they are here. Wouldn’t it be great if we saw several new faces among us each week? In that light, perhaps it’s time we roll up our sleeves and get back to the basics. After all, it’s not just that we want more people to worship with us. Rather, we have a wonderful gift that we are called to share; the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Before we can grow the church, we must first learn to grow as disciples. We must learn that living within our baptismal covenant with God means loving God with all our heart, and loving one another as we are loved. We need to come to the house of the Lord for worship, prayer and fellowship. Living together in Christ means enjoying the gifts we all bring to those gathered in this place and beyond. It means sharing our mutual joys and celebrations, grieving together in our losses, and experiencing life together. God calls his people to lives of faith, love and service towards their neighbors. These sound simple, but the reality is that most congregations struggle with the aspects of discipleship. Certainly, we have room for spiritual growth.

The life we present to the world makes a difference. All too often, the un-churched look upon Christians and see no appreciable difference in the way they live their lives. Too many Christians continue to live according to a worldly standard. Jesus, however, calls his disciples to live for God alone, loving and serving as Christ loved and served. The world is filled with people searching for hope, peace and love in their lives. Such hope is made sure and certain through Christ, and seen through the Church at worship, in the community and in the mission of God according to the gospel. Such hope is shared by those who know Christ as Lord and God. Such is the life Christians are called to live. In short, we need to study God’s Word earnestly and learn to apply it to every aspect of our lives.

Sharing faith and God’s love is what brings people into the community of believers. When the un-churched see the people of God living differently, they are provided a vision of hope for a life filled with God’s blessing. The real evidence that we are doing the work of evangelism comes when the life we live as Christians looks less like a fallen and broken world, and more like a community of faith, a com-munity inviting others to come and see the goodness of God.

The evangelizing Church is one that grows in faith and love. It is filled with disciples, not members. Growing together in faith and our calling as disciples will most certainly strengthen our ministries. My prayer is that we are faithful disciples, serving as Christ served. In order to do that, we must first grow in faith and learn to share our many blessings with others.

Grace and peace,

Pastor David Nuottila

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted April 1, 2018 By admin

Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Luke 24:5-6

Soon, our Lenten journey will reach its conclusion and our prayers for mercy and grace will again include resounding shouts of “Alleluia!” With the Easter celebration the church springs to new life in Christ. If you would like to get a jump start on the Easter season, read the events of Holy Week and then the first Easter. As I do this, a few words quickly come to mind.

The first word is “Surprise!” – Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, women went to Jesus’ tomb only to find the stone rolled away and his body
missing. Inside the tomb, the angel of the Lord told them that indeed, Christ has risen! Imagine their surprise when they witnessed this, and then saw Jesus very much alive. Imagine the surprise of the two disciples who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus when they finally recognized the stranger was actually Jesus himself. How many times are we surprised to find Jesus in our midst? How many times have we experienced a moment of God’s grace and seen the face of our Lord through the actions of others? Easter is a time of such surprises and grace filled moments, especially as we seek to spread the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to the entire world.

Next is “Joy.” To say those who witnessed his resurrection were suddenly overcome with great Joy is perhaps the greatest understatement ever made. It is impossible for us to imagine the events of Holy Week with all of their extreme grief and sorrow. It would stand to
reason that we also could not imagine the joy the disciples and friends of Jesus felt once they realized he had been raised for the dead. The immense joy and power of Christ’s resurrection changed the lives of the disciples and followers of Jesus forever. Even though we too know the sorrow of death at the passing of a loved one, this same Easter joy is ours as well. The Easter celebration and the good news of Jesus’ resurrection give the church
reassurance that God has redeemed his people, and we are also changed forever. Saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ Jesus, we are inheritors of eternal life in God’s kingdom. The grave no longer has the final word. This is the good news to be shared.

The third word is “Renewal.” – On that first Easter Sunday, when it was evening, Jesus appeared to the remaining eleven and opened their hearts and minds to understand the scriptures. He empowered them to be witnesses to all that he had said and done. Suddenly, being fishers of men took on new meaning. During Easter, we too can renew our commitment to follow Christ. Easter is the perfect time to recommit ourselves for mission and ministry. It is a good time for those who have gotten out of the habit of weekly worship to once again join the Sunday assembly in praise and thanksgiving. Easter is also a great time to rededicate ourselves in our life of discipleship, to support the mission of the church, to give generously in ministry to those less fortunate, and to join the church in prayer for our world and all who are in need.

I look forward to sharing the joy of this Easter season with you. I also look forward to renewing our efforts to follow Christ to those places the Holy Spirit leads us. Who knows what blessings God has in store for us as we continue to share the good news? Who knows the joy we will find? The answers to these questions and many more will certainly be yet another Easter surprise.
Grace and peace,
Pastor David Nuottila