John the Baptist 12/5/23
Last week, I wished you a happy New Year. Because the church year starts
with Advent which began December 3rd. The first lit candle of the Advent
wreath was Hope. This week we light the second candle – Peace. Each year
we invite John the Baptist to offer us Hope and Peace.
The Peace John offers comes from releasing our regrets.
The hope comes from visions of a spirit-enlivened future.
John lived in the desert near the Jordan River, an area empty of distractions. It
allowed him time to consider his own life. He understood out there what he could
leave behind and what he could embrace. He left behind regrets, fancy foods, and
classy clothing. He clasped ahold to God’s future.
The people of that time were drawn to him. Rumblings of change were in the air.
They too wanted to be ready for what was next. They flocked to John: The whole
Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to John to confess
their sins and be baptized. (Mark 1:5)
John offered first Peace: Release the hold that the sins of the past have on your
Some of you know that Connie and I enjoy watching the Chiefs football team.
They lost last Sunday to the Packers. In the final minutes, there were some
questionable calls, including an uncalled pass interference. But to his credit, their
quarterback Mahomes said:
“It is what it is,” said Mahomes. “The guy was probably a little early, but at
the end of the game, they’re letting guys play. I’m kind of about that. I’d
rather you let the guys play and let the guys win it on the field. It’s a hard
job man. When we’re in that situation, I can’t want a flag. I must go out
there and win the game myself and with the rest of my teammates.”
I find such candor refreshing.
When Politicians come to the rare point of admitting mistakes. They normally do
so as a non-confession. Rather than admitting they were wrong, they suggest
something like I am sorry you misunderstood my words or actions. You, the
hearer, are at fault. Such people, in my experience, drain the room of energy.
Rather than being a drain on others, John urged people to face and release their
regrets. Learn and grow from your errors and gain insight from the experience.
During our study of Forgiveness, the point was made that one of the most difficult
lessons in life is to recognize that we are human, limited and fallible yet prone to
John the Baptist’s second lesson was Hope. Once we drain away the power of our
foibles, we can become fountains of hope. John was. Standing out in the desert
eating locusts and wild honey, he offered a banquet of Promise. He saw a day
when “One mightier than I” would come. He would baptize you with the Holy
John saw himself as unworthy to untie the Messiah’s shoes, but he was proud to
be his messenger. As people came up out of the waters of the Jordan, they too
could become springs of hope. One of those was Jesus himself.
Martin Luther, like the Apostle Paul, was well aware of his own sinfulness. Yet he
allowed the power of his errors to be washed away and replaced by faith in the
power of God’s Grace. He was freed by God’s unmerited love to hold to the
promise of salvation. He understood the words of our Psalm for Sunday (85:2):
You have forgiven the iniquity of your people and blotted out all their
Draining himself of regret, Luther became a geyser of hope. He preached, wrote
hymns, and catechisms over 54 volumes of works in all.
Each week I write a message. Thank you for reading it. It takes some faith to
believe that my words can be an inspiration to others. But that is the hope John
offers us. Push regrets to the side, have faith to believe that you can bring living
waters to barren places.
This Christmas you may know of neighbors or friends who do not have the peace
and hope that John offers. So, we offer you a new way to invite others into
Christmas’s true spirit, one box of cookies, one calling card at a time to be handed
out December 17. Please take them from the table in the narthex.
Lord, each year we go out to the desert to hear John’s words of encouragement.
Help us to release past regrets so that new hope can be born in us. At peace with
ourselves and full of hope, may we become streams of living water.
Grace & Peace, Pastor John
Semi-Annual Meeting on Sunday – New members will be received during
worship. After worship members will be elected to the council and the 2024
budget will be passed. An Agenda, Ballot, and Budget are attached and will be
provided that morning.
Please return your time and abilities form and Pledge/Commitment form by
. We want to report on how many were received. The forms are
available in the narthex.
New Members – Interested in joining Faith? We will have a new member
orientation on Dec 10th before church at 9:40; and then receive you as members during
the service. Let Pastor Bunge know if you are interested.
Poinsettias and Musicians – We will be purchasing Poinsettias for the Christmas
season and need your support to fund and dedicate them and fund the special
Christmas Eve musicians. Use the offering envelopes to designate the plant in
honor or in memory of someone. Or write it on your regular offering envelope.
LAUREN SCHAFER our Office Assistant’s hours are: 12:30-3:00 M – Th.
Pastor will be in on Monday and Tuesday, December 3 and 4, and 11 and 12.
A Defibrillator has been purchased for the church and preschool and is in the
copy room of the office. Robyn Blue is willing to instruct those who are interested
in some education on how to use it.
Confirmation Class we are taking a break until January 28, due to holidays and
Next Pantry – December 9 We are looking for grocery bags (Stater Bros. best)
and boxes of cereal, bags of rice, macaroni & cheese, and canned fruit.
Choir – We are singing this Sunday for Advent. Join us for practice at 9:00 am
ahead of worship. All voices are welcome.
SPECIAL CHRISTMAS EVE CHOIR We invite you all to join us for a special choir for
music for Christmas Eve. We’ll practice at 9:00 on the 10th, 17th and 24th
Bells – We meet on Thursday nights. Let Irm know about your interest.
Adult Class – Nelson Hall will be leading a class on prayer after the first of the
year beginning January 17 @ 1 pm.
WELCA – The Next Women’s Bible Study will be Saturday, December 2 at 9:30 a.m. in
the Fireside Room.
QUILTING – Thanks to all those who purchased lap quilts last week. If you missed
out and would like to purchase one, let Emily Smith know, at 909.255.2452. So far,
this ministry has completed eight more quilts for Central City Lutheran Mission
and 20 were donated to Lutheran World Relief. Thank you!
• Pastor Louis Balderach wrote to say he is doing well. He lives in Texas.
• Pray for the family of Pastor James Hasting Reeb. We received word that he
passed away on November 9 in Sisseton, South Dakota. He did interim work here
at Faith in the early 2000s.
• The Koenig Family – GOOD NEWS
Joe after the removal of his cancerous kidney, which had stage 4 cancer the
oncologist this week said no cancer was detected in his body!
Jeanne Koenig’s stint in her skull is draining the accumulating spinal fluid
which is affecting her eyesight, speech, and motor skills.
Daughter, Jessica’s leukemia is being managed, but it leaves her tired.
Lucas and Joey lost a grandmother, Lael Shea – whom they called Mimi.
• erwin appreciates our continued prayer for Lynda.
• Kyle and Dana would appreciate prayers for their son, Kevin’s, Mother-in-Law,
Lisa, suffering from cancer.
• Cesar and Kim would also appreciate prayers for their sons, Tim, and Kyle. Cesar’s
Sister Maria also had a lump removed from her neck and the biopsy came back
• The Sheas would appreciate prayers for Rebecca and Chris Herandez in need of
housing for themselves and the twins.
• Continued Godly journey for Brendan Simms, son of Bonnie Strack.
Friday, Dec. 8 – @ 6 pm Preschool Christmas Program. Fellowship hall.
Saturday, Dec. 9 – @ 4 pm Faith Lutheran hosts the Christmas Concert of the
Inland Valley Chorale. Invite a Friend. Sign up to usher in the Narthex or call the
SUN Dec. 10 – Semi-annual Congregational Meeting – New Members received.
SUN Dec. 17 – Advent Three Chaplain Shane Friberg will be with us.
SUN Dec. 24 – Advent Four Service @ 10 am.
SUN Dec. 24 – Christmas Eve Service @ 7 pm.
SUN Dec. 31 – Carols and Readings
SUN Jan. 7 and 14 – Christmas One and the Baptism of Jesus
SUN Jan. 21 – 10 am worship followed by our second Semi-annual Congregational
BULLETIN BOARD FOR FIRESIDE ROOM
We will be expanding the bulletin board in the Fireside Room so we can display
lots of pictures of Faith. If you have any that you have taken, please forward via
email to Debi Hitter, firstname.lastname@example.org. She will print them for the bulletin
board and pass them on to Lauren for the website.
SUN. Dec. 10 – Semi-Annual Meeting following service. We will provide
coffee and Hot Chocolate in the Narthex and thanks to Karen Hall for
providing pumpkin bread.
NOTE – COOKIE OUTREACH
SAT DEC. 16. NOON. We are asking you to please bring your cookies to the
Church and stay, if you can, for about 1 hour to help us package them so they
are ready for people to take on Sunday.
SUN DEC. 17 – Cookies & Conversation for Fellowship
Time in the Fireside Room.
There will also be 48 cookie boxes in the Narthex. Feel
free to take more than 1 until gone. They are meant to
be used as an outreach to cheer someone up or invite
them to our Christmas Services. There is a card
attached for you to write a note and a card with service
times to invite people to join us for Christmas services.
SUN DEC. 24 & SUN DEC. 31 – Please enjoy the holidays with family and friends.
SUN JAN 7 – WELCA
SUN JAN 14 – Pat Motschall and Sharon Cady Host
SUN JAN 21 – Semi-Annual Meeting. Coffee and Hot Chocolate in the Narthex.
SUN JAN 28 – All Congregation Potluck