Kairos Torch Prison Ministry

Thank you to everyone that supported Dennis Morgan and me this past weekend on the Fox Valley Kairos Torch Prison Ministry Weekend.  With your prayers and contributions you were part of this powerful weekend where we sat alongside 18 incarcerated youth at the Illinois Youth Center.  Yes! that prison that you see on the north side of Route 38.

Adult mentors from churches around the Fox Valley, Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Congregationalists, Methodists, and Baptists joined together to serve the youth on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a mission to engage the youths’ reasoning skills to help them make better life choices going forward.

kairos torch prison ministryThis was an opportunity for us to follow the example of St. Ignatius who said that we can “See Jesus in the lowly places”.  The Illinois Youth Center is absolutely the place where Jesus would be today.

When you stand with these youth you create kinship with them, and once you do that it is impossible to despise or discard them … you can only love them.  They are beautiful individuals who are God’s creation … just like you and me.

There are few moments in my life that I have ever felt closer to God than I did this past weekend.

Kairos Torch Ongoing Mentoring

Under the guidance of Kairos Torch, both Dennis and I are committed to providing  ongoing mentoring to the some of these youthful offenders with weekly visits until they are released.

kairos torch meal ticketsYou will hear more about this ministry in the coming weeks and months and you will have an opportunity to become more directly engaged as we plan Kairos Torch #7.  In the meantime, thank you, thank you, thank you for:

  • your prayers,
  • your donations of meal tickets,
  • the creation of meal place-mats by our Club Wow children.

Torch Keep Me Informed

  • If you are interested in supporting future Torch Activities you can let us know by filling in this short form.
 

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Roles of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, plays an active role in our lives as believers. Here are some of the wonderful things the Holy Spirit does for us, as we talked about last Sunday!
  • He gives us boldness to share our faith.  (Acts 1:8, Acts 2:1-4, Acts 4:31, Matt.10:20)
  • He helps us to live according to our new nature. (Gal. 5:16-26)
  • He provides us with gifts and talents to serve God. (I Cor. 12:1-11)
  • He is our Comforter, our Counselor, our Helper, our Advocate (John 14:16, 26; 15:26, Acts 9:31)
  • He is our Teacher of all things spiritual. (John 14:26, John 16:13, I Cor. 2:9-16, Eph. 1:17)
  • He convicts us of sin in our lives  (John 16:8-11)
  • He intercedes for us before the throne of grace when we have no words. (Romans 8:26,27)
  • He sets His seal of ownership upon us until we reach heaven’s doors. ( II Cor. 1:21-22, I Cor. 3:16, II Cor 5:5)

What is to give light must endure burning – Lent at Rejoice

Lent is coming… and fast!

Lent is the time for the church to “amp up” its reflective nature.  It’s a time to take our faith to the next level.  This is often done by intentional serving in specific ways. Additionally, we take time for silence and devotions, fasting and prayer.  Ultimately the church wants to engage with Jesus on a deeper level.  Is it possible for us to do this?  Are we really interested in taking this journey??

If we give attention to spiritual disciplines, good things tend to happen!

The in the Old Testament we often hear God say through the prophets: “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you.”  Lent affords us the opportunity to “draw near!”

This year we will follow closely the life, message and teaching of Jesus from the gospel of Luke.  Our overall theme comes from one of my favorite writers, Viktor Frankl: “What gives light must endure burning.”  His words give us a profound image to ponder.  Jesus the light of the world flames out on the cross, but in that mysterious and grim tableaux of crucifixion God removes the sin of the world.  Thanks be to God this is not the end… for after Good Friday there is Easte

How might we make the most of Lent this year?

My invitation to you is to take the journey with us and attend every service throughout Lent, as our messages will have a deep and meaningful theme that will span the arc of Lent and take you from the significance of the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday all the way through the resurrection on Easter Sunday.  Come to each service but before you do pray for yourself, the service, the ensemble, our children’s ministry with Janeen and Jessica, me (!!!), and ask God to open your heart to new dimensions of grace.  Make a real spiritual investment in our community.

We want to grow spiritually, we want to grow in our relationships, we want to grow in our stewardship… and here is one way to honor these worthy ambitions.

Let me state it again: make the effort to be here at worship consistently, prayerfully, and expectantly each and every service in Lent.  I believe you, your family and our church will be blessed by this ambition!  Lent is a great opportunity… let’s make the most of it!

God bless you as we journey on the path of faith together!

Pastor Lou

The Light we need NOW

Advent is over, Christmas is celebrated… what’s next?  Where are we going as we journey towards Easter??  Our theme for the next few months will be: The Light we need NOW!

Jesus whole ministry is about illumination!  He shows us who God is and what he is like.  He illuminates for us how to live by faith, what reconciliation looks like, and he opens our imaginations to the promise of eternal life.  Can we seek that light now?  Yes we can and we will!

In these weeks, we will seek God’s light to shine fully on us and give us the clarity we need in the confusion and darkness of this time.  In the beautiful words of John: “The True light which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world…”

Light is a great image of our faith!  Jesus is:

  • the light that shines in the darkness
  • the light of the world
  • the light which lights our path
  • the light so powerful that all the darkness of the world cannot overpower it
  • the light that illumines God and ourselves

In the Sunday readings between now and Easter we will ponder how God’s light can give us the clarity we need to live boldly and at peace in this historical moment.  Make the effort to seek this light in the community at worship in the New Year!

~With much love, Pastor Lou

The Gift and Task of Advent

Advent – the four weeks before Christmas – cuts across the grain of culture.  Advent is an irony and a paradox!

Instead of getting ready for the birth of Jesus, Advent (in the history of the Church) has been a time to get ready for the return of Jesus, the end of the world, and the coming of God’s Kingdom in its absolute fullness!

It actually has something of that Lent vibe of reflection, rededication, and redirection.  It is also an invitation to serve.  Rejoice has looked at Advent as a time to journey out in service as well as a time to reflect.  With Operation Christmas Child, Angel Tree, and Feed my Starving Children, we as a church step up to serve.

However we do want to give Advent some real opportunity to pause, give thanks, and reflect. This can be a great gift to all of us as the pace intensifies towards Christmas.

So… let Advent be a countercultural intrusion into our schedules! Together for the next 4 weeks let’s engage some measure of spiritual discipline.  Here are 3 things to consider:

  1. Take a few minutes every day for silence and creating a space for you to be present to God.
  2. Take a moment to pray a prayer of thanksgiving for people who have blessed your life.  Perhaps you can include a word about this in your Christmas card to them!
  3. Take the initiative to show up with love in a different way at least once in the next four weeks!

Finally pray for our community here at Rejoice. Pray of our Relationships, our Spiritual Growth, our Stewardship and our Community Impact!  Let Advent be a time of intentional prayer!

Here is where we are going… each Sunday in Advent we will focus on the following:

Advent calls us to be:

Fully Alive

     Fully Awake

         Fully Aware, 

and Fully Ready to share in God’s Kingdom!!

From all of us on staff – we wish you a beautiful Advent!  Let’s make the most of it!!

With much love,

Pastor Lou

The Journey Outward – Advent 2015

Again this year, we celebrate The Journey Outward – not with midweek Advent services journey outward lo reswithin our walls, but with opportunities for individuals and families to “journey outward” and take part in short-term service projects that will impact our community and our world. In doing so we honor Jesus’ own words: The son of man came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

We invite you to step up, step out, and take The Journey Outward this Advent season with:

  • Operation Christmas Child – Shoe box gifts let children around the world who suffer at the hands of crushing poverty, war and natural disaster know they are loved.  Pick up your supplies now at church and bring your shoe box to Rejoice by Sunday, Nov 22nd.  Want to get more involved?  Volunteers are needed to staff our collection center during National Collection Week Nov 16-23 – sign up for a shift or two in the narthex!  Then join us after the 2nd service on Sunday the 22nd for our Packing Party as we prepare the shoe boxes for their journey overseas – this is a project for adults as well as kids of all ages, and lunch will be served.  High schoolers-it’s a great way to earn volunteer hours!  Sign up at church. Questions? Click here to contact OCC coordinator Heather Macklin.
  • Angel Tree – Angel Tree is an opportunity to serve our community by providing Christmas presents to needy children. Tags will be available Sunday, November 29th and gifts are due back to Rejoice by Sunday, Dec 13th.
  • Feed My Starving Children – Rejoice returns to Feed My Starving Children on Wednesday, December 2nd from 6:00-7:30 PM!  Join us for a deeply meaningful and fun service opportunity at the FMSC location in Aurora where we will pack life-saving meals sent to impoverished children in over 70 countries. Adults and children grades 3 and up are invited to participate. Sign up now at Rejoice.  Want to grab a spot for you and your family before they fill up?  Click here to send a message to the coordinators!

Thoughts on Spiritual Growth

I wanted to share with you a few of my thoughts on Spiritual Growth.  During last Sunday’s message, we broke up into little groups to define spiritual growth and there were as many answers as people!  And that is exactly how it should be.   We have different gifts, we have unique personalities and we are all on different points on the spiral helix of our faith journey!

As we embrace this topic consider this decidedly Trinitarian way to imagine Spiritual growth:

  • Spiritual Growth is a deepening awareness of God’s indwelling presence.
  • Spiritual Growth is about the longing to understand in ever deepening ways the mystery of Christ’s life, death and    resurrection and what it means for us to act purposefully as his disciples.
  • Spiritual Growth is an evolving communal experience of Grace, power and wisdom from the Holy Spirit.

Our congregation has made it clear that spiritual growth is something we want to reach for boldly in this year.  And because of this, it will mean making choices and decisions to show up to ministry events such as the Concert of Prayer, the women’s retreat, Beer and Bible Study, my Luther class and Sunday Worship as examples!  If we are serious about spiritual growth we have to ratchet up our investment in what we put into it!  We need to ask ourselves: if we want to grow what needs to change for us now?

Here is an exercise to start us off:

For the next 7 days, begin or end each day with making the sign of the cross on your forehead and heart (this is to remind us that in our Baptism we have been claimed by God as his own).  Recite slowly the Apostles Creed, and then pray the Lord’s Prayer… but really concentrate on what you are praying.  Don’t rush through it.  If you do, start over and make it count.  Then take 5 minutes to be silent. Just make yourself available to be in God’s presence.  No phones, computer, or distractions.  5 minutes.  Try it for 7 days and see what happens.

May this week and this year bring us the growth we are seeking.

With much love,

Pastor Lou

Volunteer Opportunities in Children’s & Student Ministries

Here at Rejoice, we are passionate about leading kids to know Jesus. That’s why we value our volunteers who are instrumental in helping to nurture their developing relationship with Jesus.

Our programs for children as well as students in middle and high school are vital for a strong, thriving ministry and we need the help of many volunteers committed to this goal.  No previous experience is necessary to lead a group.  Your biggest investment is simply your time and love  – much of the preparation and lesson planning has already been prepared in advance!

We ask that you prayerfully consider how you can serve the children of Rejoice with your time and talents and fill out the form below.

Yes, I'm interested in helping!

 

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Rejoice seeks Nursery Supervisor

footprintWe are currently accepting resumes for our p/t Nursery Supervisor position.  If you are interested in applying, please upload your resume and cover letter to the form below, or you can mail your letter and resume to:

Rejoice Lutheran Church
ATTN: Dana Fry
0N377 N Mill Creek Dr
Geneva, IL  60134

Resumes should be received by June 30, 2015.  For a full job description, please click here.

Rejoice Nursery Supervisor Application Form

 

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Help Local Moms in Need

Movers for MomsAgain this year Rejoice is honored to partner with Two Men And A Truck in their annual Movers For Moms Project, where we will be a collection site for donations of care package items which will be delivered to mothers in need at Lazarus House  in St. Charles and Mutual Ground in Aurora on Mother’s Day to help them create a better life for themselves and their families.  Items can be dropped off here at Rejoice any time between now and Sunday, May 3rd – read on for a list of donation suggestions:

  • Manicure supplies
  • Tweezers
  • Make-up and items such as brushes, remover
  • Cotton pads/squares
  • Women’s/children’s socks
  • Underwear (l/xl)
  • Sweatpants/sweatshirts (l/xl)
  • Gift cards – fast food, grocery stores, gas cards, bus passes
  • Hats
  • Gloves
  • Scarves
  • Shelter items, such as – cleaning supplies, Lysol wipes, toilet paper, Kleenex, paper plates, garbage bags
  • Non-perishable pantry items, such as – snack/cereal bars, cereal, fruit snacks, pasta