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
Happy New Year!! What an exciting time of year. Everyone is in the Christmas spirit and they are more generous and friendlier than other times of the year. It is also that time of year that everyone seems to make New Years resolutions. (Well maybe you have made one and broke it by now) . So many of us are going to lose weight, exercise more, get out of debt, stick to a budget, stop smoking, save for the future, or spend more time with the family. No matter what the resolution is we set our heart on it and start off really good and then we lose heart. It made me think –Is there a Christian new year resolution list and what would it look like:
1. Pray More: He said to me, “This is the word of the Lord.. Mot by might nor by Power, but by my spirit says the Lord (Zechariah 4:6)
2. Invest in my spiritual gifts Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
3. Care for myself spiritually Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for with Christ Jesus took hold of me (Philippians 3:12)
4. Make the tough decisions I know are best. And now, compelled by the Spirit, I a going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the lord Jesus has given me.—The task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace and Love.
5. Confront the patterns of sin in our lives Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance that race marked out for us. ( Hebrews 12:1).
6. Do the hard work to build community: If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you, if he listens to you, you have won your brother over (Matthew 18:15)
7. Quit comparing myself to other Christians, other leaders and other churches Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?” Jesus answered “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You follow me.” (John 21: 20-21)
8. Prioritize my family A Christian must be well—thought of—committed to his life. Attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God’s Church? (1 Timothy 3: 2-5)
9. Be more open to change See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up: do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19)
10. Stayed focused on the vision They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe of the many wonders and miraculous signs that were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common, selling their possessions and goods, they gave to everyone as he had need. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2: 42-47 niv)
May we honor God by committing to one or more of these resolutions for the year 2021 and beyond.
May God bless us all.
Rev. Steve Barch
What an amazing time we are living in. Challenging, distancing, very different from our normal life. There is a pandemic going on , social unrest, Political warfare, economic disaster and loneliness all around us. It is enough to make you want to give up. There really is nothing normal about the state of affairs right now, but we as Christians know that this is when God shows up and does his best work. If you really study scripture you see that this is not the first time for the craziness that we are going through right now. God has dealt with this stuff generation after generation. He knows how to handle it and he will. He just asks us to remain faithful and trust him. Faith is not really faith, if we know what is going to happen. Faith is really faith when we have to give it to God and know that he will take care of it. God’s ways are always the best ways and we have to trust him to show up and do what is best.
Dealing with life the way it is right now would be nerve racking without faith and knowing that God is present with us and it is HIS world. He just asks us to remain faithful and watch for HIS presence. Our job is not to fix others--it is to lead them to a relationship with God and to allow God to do what he is going to do in their lives. To love God with all of our Heart, Mind and Soul, and to love one another as He loves us. To really care for one another and genuinely look out for each others needs both physically and spiritually; to do for one another what God would do for us.
As we begin our Advent season and we wait for our Messiah to come, it is a great time to reevaluate how we are doing at putting our faith in Jesus Christ and the promises that he has made throughout scripture. How are we being Christ for others. How are we taking our faith into our daily lives and living for God’s kingdom. We as human beings are by nature selfish and impatient. We want what we want and we want it now. Jesus wants us to trust him and to put our faith in him and wait for him to act. It is a great lesson to learn both in todays society and in our lives in general. God knows what is best and he will be there every time. We just need to slow down and let God be God and let him do what he is doing. May we try some new practice this advent season, may we spend more time in prayer, read more of his scripture, and try to help out someone new during advent.
Advent is that time that we wait for the coming of Christ, but it is not a time to be idle. Christ has called us to action and he is watching to see what we are doing with the gifts that he has given to us. Gifts for the greater Glory of God.
In Christ’ Love
Happy November. We almost have to remind ourselves what month it is -as the virus has changed things so much. The months just keep running together and we are moving through the year so quickly. We can’t go and do what we are used to and we can’t be together the way we want to. Nothing is the way it use to be but know that it is ok because God is still with us and just as active as he has been. Yes things are different, but with change comes the ability to see God in a new way, and experience what he is doing in our lives and in the lives all around us.
God knows everything that we are going through and everything that we are experiencing and he will give us the strength and wisdom that we need to get through it. He knows us better than we know ourselves and he is walking every step of the way with us. He is working miracles and he is leading us in the direction that He wants us to go. Stay strong in your faith. Trust God and watch for his presence all around you.
Whether you are joining us in person for worship, online, or if you are not able to know that you are still part of our family and we care about you. You are not going through this alone and we care. We want to let you know we are only a phone call away if you need someone to talk to or someone to listen –Please feel free to call me anytime. I don’t want anyone to go through this alone. If you know someone who needs anything please give them my phone number, or I can call them. I want you to be able to stay in touch with your faith family. I know that things have gotten really hard on everyone. The church is here for you and it only can be because of your generosity and commitment . God wants to thank you for the way that you live out your faith.
As we enter into the holiday season please stay safe, follow the CDC guidelines and pray for one another and all those who have been affected by the virus in any way. God is going to get us through this. He is with us and is blessing us each and everyday.
In Christ’s love,
Rev. Stephen W. Barch
Another month in which we continue to shelter in place and look out for one another. Another month of social distancing and still trying to stay connected to one another. The longer the shelter in place continues, the harder it is on people who just want to be with family and friends. We were not made to social distance- and it is hard on people to be away from one another. We, as the body of Christ, have the calling to reach out to our brothers and sisters and find ways to connect and let them know that they matter. Even though we can not be together physically, we are together Spiritually and emotionally. We, as the church, are now called to find new and unique ways of connecting to one another- both those within the Church as well as those outside the Church. When we were called in our baptism, it was to live out our faith, growing each and everyday into our baptismal vows. God has given us many different ways and many different situations, and he is with us in all of them. We too often become comfortable going to church and praying with other like-minded people and calling it “living out our faith.” Jesus called us to live out our faith outside the walls of the church - reaching the least, lost, and forgotten. Church is where we are fed to have the strength for what God has called us to do.
What an opportunity we have now! We need to reach out in faith and know that God is with us. He needs our hands and our feet to do the work that He wants to accomplish. When we offer it to the Lord and work for his kingdom here on earth, we see wonderful things happening. We see God at work and we get to work with Him. What an Awesome God we have. Our have to’s become get to’s. I get to do this for the Lord. We realize what a privilege our baptismal calling is to us and the world that we are in. Yes, things around us may have changed, but our calling has not changed and we are continually growing in our faith and the opportunities that God continues to give to us daily.
If you, or anyone you know, are struggling or are lonely PLEASE give them my phone number and tell them they can call me and we can talk. There are many people who are struggling with all kinds of challenges during this time and they need someone to talk to. My phone is (309)361-0182. May we all pray for one another. May God bless our thoughts and deeds. All for the kingdom of God.
Rev Stephen W. Barch