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

September 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Here are some words that I hope sound familiar:

As you bring your children to receive the gift of baptism, you are entrusted with responsibilities:

 -to live with them among God’s faithful people,
 -bring them to the word of God and the holy supper,
 -teach them the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments,
 -place in their hands the holy scriptures,
 -and nurture them in faith and prayer,
 -so that your children may learn to trust God,
 -proclaim Christ through word and deed,
 -care for others and the world God made,
 -and work for justice and peace.


These words should sound familiar to all of our church family because they are repeated every time we celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.  In front of the entire gathered congregation, including family and friends, a child’s parents and godparents are making this promise to God. Any promise you make is a big deal.  A promise to God is the “biggest deal” of them all.

This month our Sunday School resumes after taking the summer months off.  We are also announcing First Holy Communion Classes that will be held in October and November.  Our two Bible Study groups will also be getting back to work after a summer break.

Why does our church do all of these things?

The answer is easy:  To assist parents in fulfilling the promises they made to God that they would raise their child to know and love God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Over the last few years our congregation has invested a lot of time and money on improving our Sunday School.   This was part of our “Strategic Plan (remember that?).” Most of our classes have new curriculum to teach the faith to our children in more exciting and creative ways.  We have updated many of our supplies and some activities associated with Sunday School. All of those efforts mean nothing if our church’s children are not in Sunday School every week.

I would like to especially ask our Sunday School age children’s parents to make sort of a “Fall Resolution” to bring your children to Sunday School every Sunday this year, or at least as often as you can.  I know there are other demands upon your time, but surely you can set aside one hour each week for your son or daughter to learn about God and the faith that we share. I have to be honest and tell you that every year when we gather the new students for Confirmation Class, it is very obvious to Bob Howerter and me who has been to Sunday School and who has not.  The children that have been a regular part of our Sunday School over the years have the background of faith and Biblical knowledge that the others simply do not possess.

Our Sunday School is for all children beginning from age 3 through grade 7.  (We are flexible on the “age 3” minimum, so 2 ½ or 2 ¾ is probably OK too). The 8th and 9th graders attend worship on Sunday morning and have their classes on Tuesday evenings.  First Holy Communion Classes are for 4th graders plus any older children who have not yet received their First Holy Communion.

Maybe September 9th can be a new beginning for you.  Every parent wants to be faithful to God and keep those baptismal promises.  May God grant you the will and ability to keep your promise, as you child learns to “know, love, and serve” Christ.

A Personal Note

As many, but not all of you know, this summer I had my own “medical issue” to deal with, which culminated in surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on July 13th.  I can report that all went very well, and after taking two weeks of medical leave, I am back on the job, and back leading our worship.  I now consider myself one of those “cancer survivors!”

Words cannot express my appreciation to all of you for all the prayers that have been offered, and all the expressions of kindness I have received.  I have received so many cards, e-mails, texts, and telephone calls, I can hardly thank all of you for your kindness. I have received gifts of food and other expressions of help and affection.  This is really the first time I have been seriously ill in my nearly 62 years, and I have experienced for the first time what it means to be the “care receiver” rather than the “care giver.” I have also learned how difficult it can be to navigate our medical system, while at the same time I am thankful for the outstanding care I received.  God has been good, and has blessed me throughout all of this, including my recovery. As our youth often say: “God is great.  All the time.”

So to my St. John’s family, I simply say “thank you” from the bottom of my heart.  Families rejoice together, laugh together, and cry together. I have done a little of all three over these last few months.  I thank God for my wife and children, and for all of you, my St. John’s family. Your affection for me means more that I can say, and those feeling are returned many times over.

Many, many thanks.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Rustico +

Pastor's Page