St. John's Lutheran Church | 391 Mount Hope Road, Middletown, NY 10940 | 845.342.1963 | stjohnsmiddletown@gmail.com

Pastor's Page





December 2017


Dear Friends in Christ:

I was recently at a pastor’s meeting, and I heard one of my colleagues say “I’m so glad this 500th Anniversary of the Reformation is over.  I am just so tired of hearing about it!”  I don’t know if you feel that way, sitting in the pews each Sunday, but I certainly do not.


The last two months have been very exciting for me, as we have had many occasions to reflect upon the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation.  I think our congregation put together a great calendar of events and worship to focus on this milestone in church history.  I deeply appreciate all the individuals and groups that came together to make these events happen.  From the “Luther” movie, to the Organ Recital; from the German Dessert Night to our Reformation Sunday celebration using an historic liturgy; from the conference-wide “Reformation 500 Celebration which we hosted to the Reformation 500 Outdoor Monument with Stained Glass, it has been an exciting two months for me, and I hope for many of you.

Some have asked the very interesting question, “Was the Reformation a success?”  Great question.  On one hand, no it was not a success.  Martin Luther was not able to get the Roman Church to debate and consider reforms.  He was removed (excommunicated) from the church because of their refusal to discuss and debate.  In the short term, I think the Reformation was a failure.

In the longer term, I think it really was a success.  Look as relations today among Christians.  It is probably better than at any time in the last 500 years.  We are careful not to speak ill of our fellow Christians, and we recognize that our God is at work in all of the Christian churches, not just the ones with the name “Lutheran” on their front sign.  I am very proud of the interfaith and ecumenical work that our congregation is involved in.  The Reformation made a lasting contribution by getting the Church to center itself on Jesus Christ and the Word of God.

For the last few months I have shared with you the famous “solas” of Martin Luther.  Let me refresh your memory:

Sola Scriptura (scripture alone)

Sola Fide (faith alone)

Sola Gratia (grace alone)

Sola Christus (Christ alone)


To this list I now add the fifth and final of the great Reformation solas:


“Soli Deo Gloria”

This one may look familiar.  The Latin translates:  “to God alone the glory.”  You might recall that the initials “SDG” were inscribed by Bach at the conclusion of every musical piece that he composed.  Ken DeLeeuw carved those initials into every stained glass window he and Julene created for our church.

“Soli Deo Gloria” (SDG) should be a constant reminder for us as to why we are here, and what the church is all about.  We love “our” church, and often refer to it that way.  In truth, it is not “my” church, or even “our” church.  It is Christ’s church.  Every song we sing, every offering we give, every time we pray, every time we receive the Lord’s Supper, every time you wash a dish here or clean the floor after a dinner, it had better be “to the glory of God.”  This congregation does not exist for our entertainment or amusement, not even for you to see your friends and family.  We exist ONLY to give praise and glory to God, and His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As this 500th year comes to a close, let us never forget to give praise and honor to our God, the Lord of all.  SDG.

In Christ,


Pastor Rustico +