What’s New With YOU?
Updates from congregations around the church of the Lutheran Confession
2020 will long be remembered for many things, perhaps most notably the worldwide Coronavirus outbreak. The year also marks the 60th anniversary of Messiah congregation, Hales Corners, Wisconsin. Our history has its share of controversies which strained the fellowship and caused painful heartaches. But ultimately, as in all things, God was working for the good of His people, and through the difficulties our spiritual family was strengthened in its love for the Lord and in its determination to hold fast to the true Word. In addition, three major building projects—the latest in 2006—have played a prominent role in congregational life.
In contrast, recent years have been generally quiet. Yet that doesn’t mean there is nothing new. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) Every Sunday service, every school day, and every midweek Bible class is a time to receive a fresh supply of God’s mercies in Christ Jesus to meet the challenges of life in a sinful, dying world. God’s mercies, new and provided in abundant supply through Word and Sacrament, have been the inspiration needed to keep “pressing on” toward the heavenly prize, as St. Paul urges. Those mercies assure all of us as believers that our labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
God’s mercies equip us each day for being Jesus’ witnesses. The Gospel message never changes, but the pandemic has altered how we carry out the Lord’s commission. We now rely much more heavily on our online presence to reach both members and those outside our fellowship. Sunday services, Bible classes, council and voters’ meetings, and to some extent school classes and activities, have been virtual rather than in person.
One of the biggest changes in the past “quiet” years has been a wonderful affirmation of the Lord’s encouragement in Psalm 78: “What we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power and the wonders he has done . . . which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commandments.” (Psalm 78:3-7 NIV84)
Most of the founders of Messiah Lutheran Church have been called home to the Lord. However, their love for the Savior has lived on in their children and others of that second generation, who also selflessly gave of their time and talents for the Lord’s work. Just as the Lord urges, these children in turn taught their children the wondrous truths of God’s love. They brought them to church and Sunday school. They sat down with them for home devotions. They talked of God’s love and what it means for daily life.
We see the continuing fruits of that today. One of the largest demographics within the congregation is made up of those twenty-five to thirty-five years old. The new generation is willingly stepping up and filling positions on boards and church council, and taking the leadership in other areas of church life. Their enthusiasm and energy, tech savviness, openness to new ideas, and above all, their obvious desire to serve Christ, are amazing gifts to the whole congregation. They are now the ones bringing their little ones to the Lord for His blessing—and so the Lord’s kingdom grows!
Another “new” development in the not-too-distant future is the retirement at the end of this school year of our longtime school principal. Mr. Ted Quade was called by Messiah twenty-nine years ago to be the first teacher and principal of the new Christian day school. His love for the Lord and dedication to teaching, along with his firm guidance and his selfless concern for students and parents, will influence new generations for many years to come. The Lord’s mercies truly are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!
Michael Eichstadt is pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, and president of the Church of the Lutheran Confession.