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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

If you could look into the future, where do you think St. John will be in five years? That's not an easy question to answer.  If you had asked me that five years ago, my answer would have been completely wrong!  God has a way of doing things that are quite different than our own thoughts and plans.  Sometimes we are disappointed, but oftentimes we are delighted.   

One thing at delighted me (and still does!) is all the folks God has led to us.  Most of those people are still here; some have come and already moved on.  But what a blessing they were to us while here, and we pray, we to them.  And maybe before five years are up, Jesus will return, and we will be reunited with them and all our fellow members past and present, in the Church Triumphant!  Who knows?

But we are always looking to the future, uncertain as it is.  The Lord always provides ways for us to reach out to our community and creates opportunities for us to do so.

Along with opportunities come challenges.  The next five years could very well be challenging ones for the church.  Hostility toward those who hold to the truth of the Scriptures as the inspired Word of God may continue and even increase, bringing a time of testing and persecution.  Increasingly, pastors seem to be in short supply.  Perhaps our congregation will experience other kinds of sorrows.  We just don't know.

But there is one thing we do know, one thing we can count on, one thing we know will never change, and that is the love and mercy of our God and Savior.  His Word will be proclaimed, even if there are may who reject it.  His sacraments will continue to be given--cleansing, feeding, and strengthening His flock.  And His Church will go on, for the gates of hell cannot stand against it.  Those are promises we can cling to and rely on, no matter what the future holds.

So, we continue to rejoice in those promises, as sure and true for us as Jesus' empty tomb.  He lives, and so will we.  In a world and life where not much is certain, how good to have a foundation that cannot be shaken.

And in answer to the question at the beginning of this letter?  In five years, we will be with Jesus--either here in time or there in eternity.  Thanks be to God!

God's richest blessing!

Pastor M <t><

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