A February Letter from Pastor Joe







Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

In Ninety-Nine Stories of God, Joy Williams tells about a traveler who meets three men pushing wheelbarrows. He asks them what they are doing.  Each gives him a different answer. The first said: “I toil from sunrise to sunset, and all I receive for my labor is a few francs a day.”The second said: “I’m happy enough to wheel this wheelbarrow, for I have not had work for many months, and I have a family to feed.” The third said: “I’m building Chartres Cathedral.”

The three workers have different perspectives about the work they are doing. The first understands the work to be toil for not very much reward.  The second is grateful for the work so that he can feed his family. The third sees a greater vision than just pushing a wheelbarrow. He is building Chartres Cathedral something extraordinary for God and for people.

If someone asked you about the wheelbarrow you are pushing, what would you say?  Especially in the church, it is easy to be overwhelmed by a task, not appreciated, or see little return for our effort.  Other times, we easily see the greater task God has called us to and we rejoice in it.

So my question is: what are you doing with the wheelbarrow you are pushing?

Christ’s Servant

Rev. Joseph A. Johnson

WORSHIP in January & February

“But who do you say that I am?”  Matthew 16: 15

New Testament Understandings

SUN Jan 13:  Jesus of Nazareth

SUN Jan 20: Resurrection of Jesus 

SUN Jan 27:  Titles for Jesus 

SUN Feb 3:  Genesis of the Gospels 

SUN Feb 10:  Hymns about Jesus #1

SUN Feb 17:  Hymns about Jesus #2

SUN Feb 24:  Everyday Living

Sunday Morning Worship Series at 10:30 am with Reverend Joseph A. Johnson

Advent Music Service & Brunch Buffet

Sunday, December 9  ~ 10:30am Worship; 11:30am  Brunch
Celebrate the Second Sunday of Advent with Us!

We’ll be lighting the Candle of Love!Special Music during Worship with the Chancel Choir,  Handbells Choir, and  Children’s Choir plus Vocal and Instrumental Soloists.

Advent Breakfast Brunch following Worship in Wesley Hall.


An Advent Letter from Pastor Joe

See, God, I have come to do your will, O God.

Hebrews 10:7

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

During this Advent/Christmas/Epiphany Season, I will focus my attention on the epistle lessons of the New Testament.  Don’t worry.  We will read the traditional stories about Jesus’ birth (the annunciation, the birth, and the coming of the Magi) on Sundays and at our Christmas Eve worship services.

The Church has appointed Advent as a time to reflect on the Second Coming of Jesus which includes remembering his “First Coming” in the manger in Bethlehem.  Familiar themes include watchfulness, repentance, obedience, and restoration.

Over the millennia, the Church has adjusted its expectation of the Second Coming of Jesus.  The Apostle Paul was forced to do this as the first generation of Christians in his churches began dying.  But Paul never gave up on his hope of the Second Coming.

During Advent, we will be reading from two of the Pauline epistles and the epistle to the Hebrews.  These epistles encourage Christians like us – who are living between the two Advents of Jesus.  In the scant verses the lectionary provides us, many new themes emerge.  However there are three we will focus on:

FIRST ~ Restoring One Another’s Faith

This year has brought many changes to the lives of the congregation: job losses, medical diagnoses, and unexpected deaths.  As Americans, we consider faith a fairly private matter.  Paul did not.  As a pharisaic Jew, he felt Christians were obligated to assist each other in the faith.  Who at Church would you be willing to discuss your faith with and to receive encouragement from?

SECOND ~ Expressing Gratitude for Those Who Share in the Labor of the Gospel

Did you know that Elmhurst has over 30 Christian Communities?  During Advent, the worship committee will provide cards addressed to each of those communities.  They encourage you to take one card and write a note of appreciation and gratitude for those laboring in the vineyard with us.

THIRD ~ Following Jesus by Doing God’s Will

The countdown to Christmas has begun. Many of you probably have compiled your to- do lists and have begun checking them off.  Perhaps we could add this line to our Christmas list: follow Jesus by doing God’s will. The writer of Hebrews encourages us to ask how we ourselves are revealing our faith.

During this Advent may we affirm with Jesus and with one another:

See, God, I have come to do your will.

Christ’s Servant,

Worship in September

When we think about the letter of James, we focus on the oft quoted, Faith without works is dead.


While this is an important message, James has more to say in this letter of 108 verses which was written to first century Christians.

James encourages each of them to be a friend of God as Abraham was.  Join this September exploration of the Epistle of James to re-discover how we can be friends of God.

Sept. 2      James and Wisdom James 1:17-27

Sept. 9      Partiality James 2:1-17

Sept. 16    Speech James 3:1-12

Sept. 23   Two Wisdoms James 3:13-4:8

Sept. 30   Prayer of Faith James 5:13-20