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

Pastor's Page

February 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Well I have just completed my lengthy Pastor’s Report for 2018.  It has again been placed within our 2018 Annual Report. We put this together each year in anticipation of our Annual Meeting.  Did you know that this Annual Report and the Annual Meeting are required by our church’s Constitution? That Constitution has been amended several times, but actually goes back to 1898 when our congregation was chartered and established.  Just like the United States Constitution, which governs our nation, our congregation’s Constitution governs our life together as a church. It is really kind of boring to read, but it is important that we have it, and vital that we follow it.

My Pastor’s Report is always rather lengthy, ten pages this year. One of the things I do report on is our worship life, and our worship attendance.  I include information on our attendance at summer services, Lenten services, other special services, and of course our average Sunday worship attendance.  I always think that that is the most important number of all. If you check out my report, you will see that our average Sunday attendance in 2018 was 193. That is actually a small drop from what was reported for the year before.

I recently asked the confirmation class the question “What is worship?” You see, we are in the middle of a unit on “worship” and it seemed like good question to ask the students.  They are a smart group, and they had lots of good answers. They told me that “worship” was giving something or someone great honor or respect.  Something we admire greatly. Someone that we want to praise. Those answers are a pretty good place to start.

In our lives we can worship things, like money and power.  We can also worship other people, like athletes, musicians, or entertainers.  According to the First Commandment, these are the worst kinds of worship, and the worst of all sins.

Our faith teaches us that God alone is worthy of worship.  We gather here each Sunday morning, and on other occasions, to give that praise and honor to our God.  The God we know as “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”  That is true worship, holy worship, and God-pleasing worship.

How do we worship?  Well that takes many forms.  During our times of worship, we sing praises to God, we listen to His Holy Word, we give of ourselves to God in prayer and confession, we give an offering for the work of God’s church, we receive His love in the holy meal He has prepared for us, Holy Communion.  Our worship service has a variety of parts (called the liturgy). Some of those parts are led by the pastor, others by the organist, or assisting minister, or lectors, or ushers, or others. Those gathered for worship are participants and not spectators.  We have gathered together to worship the God whom we love.  The God who first loved us.

Worship is not the only thing we do at St. John’s.  I am not naïve enough to think that worship is the only reason people come to church.  Friendships and relationships are near the top of the list for many. Some probably come out of a sense of obligation or habit.  Some young people are required to be here by their parents. Although our congregation does many things, worship is the central and most important thing.  That is why our Constitution defines an active (voting) member as one who has attended worship, received Holy Communion, and given a financial contribution some time during the year.

Worship is the heart and soul of this church.  Here God meets us. Here we learn of His love for us, and the promise of heaven.  Worship is where it starts. See you at worship!

In Christ’s love,
Pastor Rustico +