Happy New Year. As we enter into a New Church Year, it is a great time for us to pause and look at how we are living the gift of our faith. God loves you more than you can ever imagine, and he has blessed you with everyone that you love and everything that you have. He wants you to enjoy all the wonderful gifts that he has given and continues to give you daily. He wants you to worship and praise him; to remember who has given you everything and has put you on earth. He has blessed you and given you all the gifts you need to live a happy and successful life. He is still with you, and he will not ever leave you. He wants nothing more than for you to enjoy and appreciate them.
With that in mind - it is right and a good thing to use the gifts God gave us for the purpose that he has for them. We are to live faithfully and worship and praise the author of all life. We are to show him that we appreciate everything that he has done and continues to do in our life. As we continue to live our Faith Journey, we grow in our appreciation of these gifts
and we are to grow in our understanding of and Worship of this wonderful God.
This is where it gets good and interesting. Us living our faith is a gift from this wonderful God, it is the greatest way that we can worship and praise the creator of the world. It is the best gift that we can give God to show him that we know him and love him. We are not just praising a wonderful person who has gone before us or a great leader from times past. No, we are worshipping and praising this God who has created everything. We get to go to church every Sunday and worship and praise Him. We gather with other faith filled people as we journey together throughout this life and into the next life. Sunday worship then works as our family meal. We come together as a family and eat a meal together while sharing our stories
and growing together. We, with one mind and heart (the mind and heart of Christ), all praise God, and honor and respect one another. We all try to live a life that reflects the love that Christ has put into our hearts. We live a life that builds up the body of Christ here on earth. Advent is the season that, as Christians, we look forward to the coming of Christ. It is that time that we anticipate the greatest gift that has been given to us -Brand new, every year at Christmas, - Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Born new in our lives. Born new into the world here and now. Born into all the chaos and mayhem that is going on right now in our world. No matter where we have been or what we have done up to this point- we get a chance to start
over. Jesus Christ wants to come into your life once again. To live in our heart and life. What an awesome and amazing God that we have. To call us and set us apart to live in this world, to walk with him through everything that we go through, and to walk with him when we do not understand the world and what is going on. To truly know that we have God with us, and He is always looking out for our best interest.
Going to church is important today because it allows us the opportunity to stay connected to this God. To set aside a day to worship and Honor Him. To keep Holy the Sabbath. To encounter this God. The best thing we do here on earth is to worship and praise this wonderful God. Let’s have a wonderful new year in which we come together with one mind and heart to praise and worship this awesome God of ours. See you in church!!
Rev. Stephen W. Barch
As we continue to deal with COVID pandemic restrictions and finding our new normal, we need our faith more now than ever. God is Essential and it is about time that the world realizes what Christians already know. That God is real and he is alive; He lives in you and me everyday. A successful life is not the stuff we have, but rather is found in the way that we experience God in our lives. To experience life at its fullest, we need to live the Love that God has given to us. This Love has to start at home; we need to love and respect ourselves and our families. The special people that God has placed in our lives to teach us about love. These are the very people who are going to be with us throughout life so that we can grow in Love together. We also have our Church family, the family that we join to grow in our faith. Our church family is a lot like our birth family. These special people are there for each other as we journey in faith through this thing called life. Our faith family is who we join together with to worship this wonderful God.
When you look at the history of religion and what is at the heart of religion, it has always been to Worship God. The best thing that we do in this world is to Worship the Creator of the world. To worship this Good God who has created us and given us everything that we have and everything that we enjoy. At the heart of Worship is Sacrifice. Worshipping God requires that I do something. It is not about getting stuff, but rather what can I do for God. He wants us to Worship and praise him. Jesus spent his whole life worshiping the Father. He spent his life honoring and praising him. God has given us the faith that we enjoy and he wants us to use it to worship HIM. We have been called to share that faith with others; we are being called into action. When we go to church on Sunday we come together as a family to worship our God together. So, when we go to church and participate in the service, we are giving back to God the worship that he desires. It is with one mind and one heart that we pray together. Our attendance at Church on Sunday makes a difference in our lives. It is not a chore that we have to do, but rather it is the opportunity that God has given to us to worship him in the manner that he wants. The heart of Worship is sacrifice, so we come to church not to just sit and listen, but rather to sacrifice –to give back to God some of the gifts that he has given to us. Our time, our attention, our presence, our sacrifice. God wants us to worship together as a family and to become the Body of Christ that He has called us to be. Becoming this Body of Christ counts on our attendance and participation. Each of us are important to the Body. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
May we realize that we have been gifted with the ability to let the world know about this awesome God who loves them. See You at church this Sunday.
We are moving into the fall and trying to get back into the swing of having a schedule; kids are in school, going to church on Sunday! It is a good time to re-evaluate where we are. Especially since “normal” seems to be just out of our reach.. What is this year going to look like?? No one knows—we have to walk by faith and not by sight. We have to trust in God and find ways to live into our faith. We all profess a faith and it is easy to have one when nothing is required of us to live it out or live into it. When things get rough-such as this pandemic– it is scary that we don’t know how things are going to go- trusting in and praying to God takes on a whole new meaning. Trusting God stretches us beyond where we think that we can go. It takes walking by faith, by our belief in a God who loves us and is with us, One who will bless us in the good times and the bad. A God who is involved in our daily lives and who wants to share our life with us and to walk with us every step of the way.
As we begin the church’s program year—this is a good time to look at the way that we live out our faith. So how are we living our faith in our daily lives? How am I strengthening that relationship that I have with God? Do I offer him my best? Do I spend time with Him throughout my day? Week? Do I allow him to speak to me in the events and thru the people that he has put into my life? Jesus told his disciples and he tells us that we can not love God and despise our brothers, for if we love God then we have to love our neighbor. Jesus has called us to change the world around us, to build the body of Christ here on earth by the way that we love our neighbor and to really live out our faith by the extra mile that we take with our brothers.
Is there is something that God is calling us to do or say that will help to build up others and to strengthen the Body of Christ here on earth? There is no time like the present to step into our relationship with Jesus Christ a little bit more and allow Jesus to work in and through us to show the world the power of his love and presence. Are you willing to listen to the little voice inside that is leading you to a new way of living your faith— Jesus is calling and he is calling you and me.
May God bless you on the adventure that He is going to take you on and may you experience Him in a new and exciting way this year. He wants nothing less than your heart.
The dog days of summer have arrived. It seems like living in Illinois it goes from a chilly 40’s and 50’s to 90 degrees overnight. It is summer and it is also one of the driest summers we have had in a long time. Just as we put away the masks and get to get outside we stay inside due to being to hot outside. Hang in there and think about the fact that in three months we will be complaining that it is to cold out.
As we get back to some type of normal life, where we are able to meet for worship without masks and able to be together (if you have been vaccinated). It is really nice to see those who are joining us and we miss those who have not felt comfortable coming back yet. We truly miss you, and hope that you will be back with us soon. If there is anything I can do for you feel free to call me anytime. For those of you who are coming - it is really nice to see you and be able to worship with you. It is great being together and walking our faith journey together. As we get to our new normal, we want to invite you to bring a neighbor, a friend, a co-worker or family member. We have a great faith family and would like to see it grow.
As we continue our journey through the Sundays after Pentecost, it is that time of year when we grow in our discipleship, by our worship, serving, and companionship. It is when we put our faith into action that we grow in our awareness of Christ’s presence and his gifts of Grace and peace. It is where we see Christ at work and we get to participate in his salvific act.
This is the season of the year when we are called to grow in our faith and to serve one another in Love and Peace. It is in all things that we are called to give glory and honor to God our father.
May God bless us,
As we move into our Summer months it is a good time to pause and reflect on how the year has gone so far and, usually a time to slow down a bit and rest. This year has been an exception as we continue to deal with the pandemic and try to stay safe and healthy. We want to get back to life as the way it was before the pandemic, and that will not happen, at least not now. We want to get rid of the mask completely and at least be able to move about freely, but we are not there yet. We want to be able to gather with our family and friends on our terms, but that is not here yet. We are on our way to all these things, but must first be patient. This is the hardest time; we see light at the end of the tunnel, and we want to rush things. God calls us to be patient and to trust Him. He has this and he will get us through it. As we learned in our study of the Dark Woods, God’s ways are not our ways, and he will lead us in the direction that He wants us to go. We must listen for his message and guidance. It is not usually the way that we think is best, but God knows what is best. It is our job to trust Him completely.
As we continue to grow in our faith and Love for God and one another, may we realize the gift that has been given to us is the gift of our Faith. Through this faith we are those who God calls his friends. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I call you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15
Then as God’s friends we are called to go out and share this gift with others. This does not mean that we have to preach to them, just tell our story. We have all been given a unique story to tell and no one can tell your story like you. I hope you can join us in church one of these Sundays. Invite someone to come to church and experience God and his love in their own personal relationship.
May this summer be filled with God moments and outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit.
May God bless us,
As we continue to celebrate Easter Season it is a good time to look at what the reality of Easter is. As we all know from our Sunday School days, it is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and it is where he took away our sins and gave us a new relationship with God one that opens us to all the promises in the Bible and to everlasting life. It is this reality that changes everything for us. Heaven is not just a prize at the end of our lives, but it is a life-long relationship that we have been given by God. It is a new way of living. A way of life that allows us to treat everyone with love and respect. To treat others as a child of God who deserves our love and attention.
What an awesome gift our faith is. It calls us to live not in this world but to make our heavenly world a reality here and now. To show others the reality of God’s presence in our world today. To be able to be there when someone is hurting and needs help. To be there when someone needs us to pray for them and we take the time to pray. It is going the extra mile with someone who is in need. Our faith only makes sense when we are using it to make the world a better place. Yes, I believe that it is our Easter faith that is going to help change the world. What an awesome thing to think about. God the creator of the universe has called us to live out the faith and love that God wants to share with the world. What a calling it is to participate with God in doing the work of saving everyone. This means that the way that we treat our neighbor and the way that we talk to and about others really matters. The way that I am an example of what I believe and the way that I tell my story to others is the way that I grow in my relationship with God.
We are going through a really rough time right now with the virus, the social upheaval and all the other stuff that is going on both in our personal lives and our community and nation. It is more important now than ever that we really live into our baptismal promises and share the gifts that God has given to us. To be good stewards of these gifts and what we are called to do with them.
May this Easter Season be different than all of the ones before it. May we live through these changes around us and may we help to make the world a better place by our story and the way that we share it with others.
May The Lord Bless and Keep You,
Rev. Stephen W. Barch
Happy Easter!! What a wonderful blessing Easter is for Christians. It is the event that
makes sense out of our faith and allows us to fully realize just how much God loves us. Easter
is more than a reason for family to get together and have an awesome meal. It is God’s way of
saying “This is how much I love you, now if you want to be my followers go and love others
the same way.”
Easter is so important to our faith that we should be Easter people all year long, but
since He knows that we cannot do that,- He has given us the Easter Season to remember just
how much He loves us. He gave us the greatest gift he could ever give us - OUR SALVATION.
Even after all that we have done and been through, He took our sins to the cross. What an
amazing God we have and what a spectacular example he has of caring. There are so many
lessons that we can learn during his season. The events of this season shape who and what
we are all about. We need to rise above any situation that we are in and look for the presence
of Christ, knowing that He is with us every moment of every day. That nothing can keep him
down, not even death itself. We, too, are called to be his examples of that kind of love in the
As we step into HOLY WEEK this week, may we really take time out of our busy
schedules to focus on the events of this week and not only attend services, but rather
experience all that Christ wants to give us during this most Holy of Seasons. I invite you to
join us for services this week, no matter who you are or where you have been. Know that
God’s presence is with you every step of the way.
I pray that this Holy Week, Easter, and Easter season is like no others before it. I pray
that you experience it for all that it has to offer and that it changes you from the inside out,
and that we are all better and stronger in our faith, than we have ever been before.
May the love of the Risen Christ fill you; May the Peace of the Risen Christ cover you
and May the presence of the Risen Christ – lead you.
In Christ Love,
Rev. Stephen W. Barch
At one time, it was fairly common to see signs at football games and other sporting events that read “John 3:16.” If you have been a part of a community that emphasizes memorizing verses, this might be one that you memorized. The words have a familiar cadence even to those who don’t attend church much:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
John 3:16 became a creed, a manifesto and most of all a test for many Christians. Becoming a John 3:16 Christian means that Christ envisions for all people one of two extreme outcomes ~ perish or have eternal life.
But John 3:16 does not stand on its own. In fact, it’s just one phrase in a much longer conversation that Jesus is having with his disciples. Continue just one more verse and John 3:17 reads:
Indeed, God did not send the Sone into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Taken by itself, John 3:16 can seem like the map to a pretty narrow road. But together with John 3:17, it is a promise that Christ did not come to us to blame or shame. Christ did not come to earth to test if you are worthy enough, holy enough or even faithful enough. Christ came to love, feed, heal and embrace. Christ came to save the world. Not just some of the world ~ all of the world. And Christ came to do those things using the tools he left his followers ~ those who heard his words for the first time, and you and me today ~ prayer, healing, conversation, and breaking bread together.
We don’t need to carry a sign that says “John 3:16.” By our words, actions and the prayers of our hearts, we can be John 3:17 people today and every day.
In Christ’s love - Rev. Steve
As we continue to journey through these uncharted waters, and continue to find new ways to live our faith, I want to let you know that we miss you and hope that the day we can meet in person for worship is closer than you realize. The Governor has moved Illinois to phase 4, which allows for more controlled gatherings and is one step closer to our goal of phase 5. We still need to be cautious, but we are not to be fearful. Fear cripples us and keeps us from living the life that God has planned for us. We need to pray and trust God. He is active and present. These have been scary times for all of us and we have all had our lives changed, and it is change that scares us. We are creatures of habit and when everything is comfortable, it is easy to go through life on auto pilot. God does not want us on auto pilot because we will miss all that he is doing in our lives and the lives around us. Jesus was always active and looking for the least, lost and forgotten. He wanted them to know that they are just as important in God’s eyes. We have been called to the very same task: to go out and live our
faith always looking for the least, lost and forgotten.
Now is the time to live into the call that we received at our baptism-to become the disciples that Jesus wants us to be; to have a loving relationship with the creator of the universe, and to live this relationship in such a way that it invites others to want to have the same kind of relationship. We really are the luckiest people on earth. Living in a loving relationship that has life giving rewards each day so that we can grow in our love for God and one another each day.
As we enter our Lenten season, it is a time to take this relationship seriously. We need to focus on ways that we can strengthen it through more prayer time, reading God’s word each day, & giving up some comfort in our lives so that we can focus on God’s presence more in our lives. Connect more with the people that God has put into our lives. Whatever the practice is that we do for Lent, it is to bring us closer to our Almighty, ever loving, and terrific God. Lent is a wonderful season to grow in our Christianity. May this Lenten season bring you all the blessings that God has in store for you.
O Lord Jesus Christ, by your almighty power, you opened the eyes of the blind, and allowed them to see You. As we enter into this Lenten season, we need you to open our eyes so we can see you in and around us. Give us hearts that love like you love and peace that surpasses understanding. Give us an experience of you this Lenten Season. Amen!
May this Lenten Season be the best Lenten Season ever!
May God bless you.
Rev. Stephen W. Barch