Communication, Collaboration, and Encouragement

A devotion by Pastor Wes Poole

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices, and tell of his deeds with songs of joy. Psalm 107 21-22 NRSV

There is a story told about Ivan the Great who ruled Russia as Czar in the 15th century. He was a warrior, a fighter, and a conqueror of kingdoms. The Soviet Union as we knew it a couple of decades back was basically put into place by Ivan the Great.

Ivan was so busy doing battle that some of his comrades became concerned because he hadn’t taken time to get married and have a family. They came to him and said “You’ve got to get married because you’ve got to have an heir to the throne.” But Ivan said “I want to do battle and to conquer more territory, you go find a wife for me.” So they did.

Ivan’s men found a wife for him from the daughter of the king of Greece, a beautiful girl. They said to Ivan, “We found a wife for you, but there’s one problem.” “What’s that?” he asked. “If you’re going to marry her, you have to be Greek Orthodox,” they said. Ivan the Great said, “Well, if you think she’d make a good wife for me, that’s no problem, I could be Greek Orthodox.”

The king of Greece was thrilled with this because it meant that Ivan wasn’t going to invade his territory. So the Greeks sent tutors to Russia to tutor Ivan and 500 of his elite soldiers, everyone a great warrior. The soldiers required tutoring because Ivan said, “If I’m going to be Greek Orthodox, they’re going to be Greek Orthodox.”

They tutored all these men in the Greek Orthodox faith and finally Ivan and the soldiers went down to Greece for the wedding. But before the marriage they had to be baptized into the Greek Orthodox church. It was an incredible sight as thousands of people came to watch Ivan the Great and his 500 soldiers all wade into the water at one time to be baptized by immersion into their new church.

Five hundred soldiers with full armor and five hundred Greek Orthodox priests were standing in the blue water of the Mediterranean Sea for the baptism, when all of a sudden the king of Greece said, “We’ve got a problem.” The problem was that in the Greek Orthodox church you could not be a warrior and a member of the church at the same time.

So they held a hastily-called diplomatic meeting in the water to ask, “How are we going to work this out?” They came up with a simple answer. Just before the priests immersed the soldiers, each man took out his sword, held it high above the water, and allowed the priest to baptize everything but his sword arm. This came to be known as “the unbaptized arm.”

The point of the story?? Well I’m certainly not advocating arranged marriages! I didn’t write the story anyway, but the author was making the point that there are many Christians today who have unbaptized checkbooks. Like the warriors who dedicated everything to God except their sword arm, many of us have dedicated every part of our lives to God except our money. As a wise man once said, “The last thing to be converted is our pocketbook.”

Uh oh…now I’ve gone and done it….I used “the M word”!!!

(Collective groan ensues throughout the congregation!)

Please bear with me on this one! You’ll never hear me berating anyone about money, particularly during a global pandemic with the economy in jeopardy.
My point is that for the church to remain the church, we still must have adequate resources. If it were Stewardship Month, we’d be talking about “time, talents, and treasures”. That’s always relevant, but our situation is different right now. Many are unemployed or underemployed. Personal financial security is not something many of us can claim. So please understand, this is not about guilt…at all! Everyone is doing what they can. God values our efforts, whatever they are. I know I do!

We do have one new resource available though that I’d like to bring to your attention. Thanks to the good work of our church leadership, we now have a link on the church website where you can send in your tithes and offerings electronically. It is safe and secure, and of course…contactless. With many of us not able yet to return to in-person worship, this is an invaluable tool we have to keep our ministry alive and well and ready to roar back when COVID is behind us. May that day come quickly! On a personal note, Christine and I will be using this resource exclusively for our personal giving from now on. Check it out at www.goodshepherdwb.org.

More importantly, I want to encourage anyone who needs pastoral care or services to call on me personally. At this time, home and hospital visits are generally ill advised or not allowed at all. Still, if you need to talk to your pastor, or just have a message for me, please email me at pastorwes@goodshepherdwb.org. I will get back to you ASAP. Of course, you can always call the church and leave a message. That might take a bit longer, but only a little, and I’ll still get back with you as quickly as I can.

This has been a long road, and we aren’t at the end of the journey yet. Now more than ever, we must seek to build each other up. The Fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; these are as important as they’ve ever been. Likewise, the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is as timely as always. We are a community of kind and caring people. I know we will continue to meet the challenges ahead. Right now, a lot of days may seem like “Good Fridays”. Never fear though…Sunday’s coming!

Let us pray…
God of Peace, we thank you for bringing us this far along our journey. We know we’re not at its end, as yet, but you are walking this entire road with us. Inspire us to even greater acts of kindness and generosity, for when we see our neighbors in need, we look into the face of Jesus himself. We also lift up for you today our Good Shepherd family. Help us continually to recommit ourselves to the health and well being of our congregation. Keep hope alive in us, for hope in you is never in vain. We ask these things in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Be well, be kind, and be safe.

Blessings,
Pastor Wes †

Returning to Live Worship

Starting June 28th we will be able to worship together again as a church family. Services will be at 8:30 and 11:00 am. Our worship experience will be different as we implement health and safety measures for everyone’s protection. Though we must continue physical distancing we will be together in God’s house to praise and worship our Lord and Savior.

A video recording of the 11:00 service will be available online Sunday afternoon for those who cannot attend. We ask that you refrain from attending worship if you are feeling ill; have symptoms of Covid-19; or may have been exposed to the virus.

What to expect when coming to worship —

  • Social Distancing will be necessary. Please maintain six feet from other families.
  • Face masks will be required when entering the building.
  • Seating will be limited to every other pew.
  • You will be asked to sign in for attendance tracking.
  • Please pick up your bulletin before being seated.
  • We will not be singing but there will be instrumental music and recorded solos.
  • An offering plate will be placed in the back of the church to leave your offering when entering or leaving worship.
  • Attendance capacity will be limited to allow social distancing.
  • Communion will not be celebrated at this time.*

*The announcement mailed this past week indicated we would be celebrating communion. At this time we are still working out the details to celebrate communion safely. We will be celebrating communion as soon as we have developed a safe distribution method.

Easter Lilies

Thanks to all who have provided Easter Lilies to enhance our worship.

Easter lilies are given to the glory of God in memory of:

  • Frederick and loved ones by family
  • George by Georgette and family
  • Charlotte and Clayton by Georgette and family
  • Joanna and Samuel by Georgette and family
  • Nancy by Helen
  • Carol and David by Helen
  • Charles and Edith by Helen
  • Janet by Sandra and Leah
  • George, Dorothy, and Janice by Doris and Barry
  • John, Louise, Charles, Bev, and John P. by Sheldon and Mary Ann
  • Sheldon, Sarah, Sandra, Mart, Clo and George by Sheldon and Mary Ann
  • Charles, Rose, Christine, and Dorothy by Sheldon and Mary Ann
  • Amy by Wilma, Gary, and Matthew
  • Catherine by Ray
  • Tobias by Ray
  • David by Evelyn
  • Robert and Sandra by Evelyn
  • Caroline R. by Brooke and Libby
  • Roger P., Sr. by Brooke and Libby
  • W. Brooke by Brooke and Libby
  • Jane D. by Brooke and Libby
  • Doug by Brooke and Libby
  • Rip by Brooke and Libby

Easter lilies are given to the glory of God in honor of:

  • Good Shepherd Lutheran Church congregation by Sheldon and Mary Ann
  • Children and grandchildren by Evelyn
  • Maisy, Maggie and Marti by Brooke and Libby
  • Viktoria, Ana and Charlye by Brooke and Libby
  • Jayson, Zarek and Codie by Brooke and Libby
  • Leaders of Good Shepherd by Brooke and Libby

Last names have been been omitted on web site posting for privacy and security. A list with full names will be provided in print when we are able to return to normal worship and activities.

Holy Week/Easter Worship

Holy Week and Easter worship begins this evening at 7:00pm. The video worship services include Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. The three services allow opportunity for remembrance and reflection of the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection.

The worship videos will be available as follows and can be watched anytime after the scheduled time.

  • Maundy Thursday – April 9 at 7:00pm
  • Good Friday – April 10 at 7:00pm
  • Easter Sunday – April 12 at 8:00am

Services can be accessed from our home page at goodshepherdwb.org.

Our worship experience will be different this year but having to stay in our homes allows more time for personal reflection.

Message from our Church President

Peace of the Lord to you.

I truly miss sharing those words with each of you during Worship. I miss being with each of you on Sunday morning, but it is as it must be for now. I want each of you to know that I pray for our family each and every night looking forward to when we can be together again.

Until then we can be together in spirit. I thank Pastor Poole and Daren Bernecker for producing the wonderful message each Sunday and hope that you will watch as the Holy Week approaches.

This year will be different for sure but our being apart is also our protection. How long this will last is hard to tell but through prayer we will get to the other side.

Thank you to all of you who have mailed in your offerings. I check the mail everyday. Several people have called me about their offerings and I ask that if you are able please send them to the church. Your support is still needed and appreciated.

If you have a special need or questions many have my number or you can call the Church.

Peace of the Lord be with You All!

Guy French

Church Activity Updates

As events with the Covid-19 pandemic unfold we find it necessary to cancel all regular worship services and in person meetings/activities through at least Easter. Video worship services will continue to be available online every Sunday as long as we are able to continue recording them. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday video services will also be available online.

Pastor Wes is available for pastoral care if needed. Please leave a message at the church office (570-824-2991) if you are in need of pastoral care.

Online meetings can be arranged for leadership and ministry teams as needed. Please email Daren Bernecker at darenb@goodshepherdwb.org to set up a meeting.

The CEO Weinberg Food Bank and NA will continue to use our facilities. Please contact those organizations to verify their schedule.

In Christian love continue to uphold one another and the world in thoughts and prayers. Remember that God’s love is everlasting and he is always with us. We will weather this storm together in spirit even though we are physically apart.

Please continue to check back here for future updates. If you are not receiving updates by email you can register to receive them by entering your email in the box under Receive Updates by E-mail.

Online Services Continue

It was a pleasure to see all of the positive comments from this past Sunday’s video service. We will be posting this Sunday’s service also. The service can be viewed anytime after 8:00am Sunday morning.

As events unfold we find it necessary to continue with online video worship through Easter and possibly longer. We are planning special video services for Holy Week and Easter to enhance the worship experience. The schedule for services available online will be:

  • Palm Sunday 8:00am
  • Maundy Thursday 7:00pm
  • Good Friday 7:00pm
  • Easter Sunday 8 :00am

You can watch the services anytime after they are available. We will keep each service available online as long as possible.

As we continue through this unprecedented time we must stay grounded in our faith and continue to pray for all those affected by this virus and everyone in need.