The Good Seats

A few years ago, Connie and I had the chance to attend a Celine Dion concert in Las Vegas. I had purchased some “value” seats in the balcony, thinking that her voice could project to the upper levels. When we arrived, we were called over to the side and asked if it were ok if they upgraded our tickets for free. We thought about it long and hard for two seconds and said yes to tickets. They were in the seventh row! I will say the concert was even better from there. During the concert she often remembered her husband, Rene, of 21 years. After his death in 2016, she became the head of her family, the manager of her company and her promotions. Much more responsibility than she would have wanted, but she persevered and prospered.

As we continue our reading from the Gospel of Mark chapter 10 (vs 32- 45), Jesus tells the disciples for the third time that he will suffer and be condemned to death. As if they did not hear, James and John come to Jesus asking for an upgrade on their seats. They want the front row seats next to Jesus, one on the left and one on the right. Now, in the not too distance future, those “seated” at the right and left side of Jesus will be thieves on the cross.

Jesus says front row seats are not his to give. He wonders if they are up to drinking from his cup or being baptized with his baptism. They say: “we are able”. Jesus sees that this will come true for them. They will join in his responsibilities and sufferings, but the upgrade is not guaranteed. In fact, in heaven, I am not sure there is an upgrade. Are the balcony seats any better or worse than the seventh row in eternity?

When the rest of the disciples hear about this, they are angry with James and John. They wanted that upgrade for themselves. Jesus is clear. Life is not about rewards. It is about service. The front row seats in the kingdom of God are for those who are of service to others.

Mark, chapter 10 concludes with the story of Blind Bartimaeus. His name is one of the few we know, of all the people Jesus healed. He was a man who would not give up calling out to Jesus. His persistence paid off. He was healed, but Jesus says it was his faith that made him well. He had it in him all the time. He just needed a reason to believe.

It was hard for the disciples to overcome their blindness. Jesus repeats the predictions of his suffering three times and each time they turn to discussions of who is the greatest or who can sit where. In the end they had it in them the whole time to “see” that service to others is the path to peace. They just needed to follow Jesus on the Journey to the Cross and empty tomb.

As it turns out, Celine Dion had it in her the whole time to oversee her Vegas concerts (the highest grossing of all time) and her record sells and tours and family. She would rather not have been called to the next level of responsibility. Her upbringing had not prepared her for it. But she had it in her.

We have it in us to do what Jesus requests from us. We may not always like taking on new responsibilities, but we “see” through the eyes of faith that the path of service is the path to fulfillment. We do it, but not for the best seats in the house. There are no bad seats in the Kingdom of God. We have all been upgraded from the balcony to the main floor through the sacrifice of Jesus who became a servant for us. The blinders are off.

As we look to the end of 2021 and into 2022, we are planning our Reformation, All Saints, Advent and Christmas services. See the schedule below. We have been able to open our preschool. We will be offering infant care starting October 18, the four slots are filled. We have toddler and children up to four- and five-year-old signing up as well. We will likely have 20 total enrolled by the end of next week. We will be offering confirmation classes again starting January 9. Mid-week Lenten services start March 2. We do all this along with the quilting and the pantry and hosting the outside groups, not for the best seats in the house, but giving and service have their own reward. The blinders are off.

PRAYER     God of Mercy and Hope, we thank you for the opportunity to be of service in this world. Help us to take off the blinders and see that we have it in us to enrich our community. As members of Faith, we continue to support the work of your church.                           Grace and Peace,              Pastor John Bunge

SUNDAY @ 10 am. live stream and recording available on our website. Refreshments after services.

A handicapped area is being designated by the door of the Fireside room for the few close in spots. You will see a sign on Sunday mornings. The “normal” handicapped area is a bit far for some.

We could use additional Readers and Worship Assistants. Call or email Pastor or Carol if you can assist. Thanks to Rachael Mkanza who volunteered to read and Elisha Mkanza who volunteered to acolyte.

CHURCH OFFICE HOURS: This Week Monday and Tuesday. October 11 and 12. I will be out of town October 18 – 27.  So, no message next week. I will be back in the office again October 28 and 29. Jeanne is in on Mondays.

Quilting continues 70 quilts are on display through this Sunday. 66 lap blankets have been donated. You can purchase a quilt for $70. Your purchase helps to support the buying of more material. First one to claim each quilt will receive the quilt that morning. Special thanks to Eleanor who has spearheaded this ministry.

PRESCHOOL: We are OPEN. Spread the word! We have will likely have 16 attending the 2-5 year old’s and four infants when we open that area on the 18th. Calls coming in, spread the word. We still have toddler openings. Those interested can call the church at 909-790-1816 for tours and more information.

WOMEN – They meet the first Saturdays of the month @ 9:30 am in the Fireside Room for a continental breakfast, devotions, and prayer. Next is November 5.

YOUTH Children’s Church continues. Are you interested in assisting? Let us know at the church office or give Robyn Blue a call. My current plan is to begin Confirmation Classes after the first of the year, January 9, after all the holidays are over. The Mkanza kids are ready to go.

Next pantry Saturday, October 22. Thanks to all who assisted on Saturday.

Property We accomplished more on the front yard this week, take a look.




  • Pray for Cliff, who lost his son, Chuck. He is now staying with Fred. Bless you, Fred.
  • Pray for Eloise Johnson, she is back at church and awaiting a procedure to bring relief to unrelenting back pain caused by severe arthritis in her third lumbar.
  • Lorraine Hoeptner is not able to walk and is looking forward to a procedure Oct. 15 that may be able to relieve the arthritis in her left leg.
  • Cesar Guevara is recovering well from foot surgery and was with us in church. He is awaiting surgery for a cardiac ablation.
  • Michael Shea was with us as well and is going through tests for surgery in November.
  • Bill and Judy Martin’s daughter, Laura, started her chemo treatments.
  • erwin for strength and Lynda for healing.
  • Continued Godly journey for Brendan Simms, son of Bonnie Strack and Rebecca, daughter of Michael and Ann Shea.


We have a lot of Special Dates coming up

  • October 17 – Quilt display – 70 quits – $70 to purchase.
  • October 24 – Pastor Mark Winick to preach
  • October 31 – Reformation Sunday wear red.
  • November 7 – All Saints Sunday – wear white. We remember those who died in the past year. Do you have someone you would like for us to remember? Please call the church office and let us know.
  • November 14 – Veterans’ Day remembrance – if you have picture of yourself in the service – pass it on in an email and drop it by the office.
  • November 21 – Semi – Annual Congregational Meeting? Also, Christ the King Sunday – Thankoffering Service –Thanksgiving Potluck

Synod Outreach staff member Pastor Tom Goelrich will be here to preach.

  • November 28 – ADVENT begins. We need help to decorate the church