We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also. -2Corinthians 8:1-7
Here in the New Testament the apostles establish the precedent of congregations sharing together in common work and encouragement. Saint Paul here in 2Corinthians 8:1-7 reports to the congregation in Corinth how the congregations in Macedonia (some distance north of Corinth) had participated in a relief effort regarding a coming famine (Acts 11:27-30). Saint Paul shares the example of the Macedonian generosity in order to encourage the Corinthians congregation toward the same kind of generosity. Not only does such an example move the Corinthian congregation to participate in the relief efforts, but it also gives the Corinthian congregation an idea of how the Macedonian congregations are doing.
The reason that I bring this up is to lay before you the apostolic example of congregations having concern for one another. In our own day and age therefore it is expected that congregations today share concern for one another, particularly if such congregations share a common confession of faith.
One such opportunity is coming up and that is the Circuit Convocation to be held at Saint John Lutheran Church in Mattoon. Preparations for the Divine Service to begin at 9am are already under way and I am pleased that members of our parish choir will be participating in the circuit choir that will sing at the Divine Service at the Circuit Convocation. The guest speaker is booked and ready to go. In honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation we have secured a Luther impersonator to educate and entertain after the Divine Service is concluded. Then once the guest speaker has completed his portion of the program I will chair a “business” meeting where I would like each congregation to share with the group how their congregation is doing so that we may provide mutual support and encouragement where necessary and possible. Then there will be free time and perhaps another presentation in the evening about Luther sites in Germany. That last item is pending. The ladies of Saint John are looking forward to hosting the circuit and have provided a catered lunch for the day. All laypeople of all members congregations of the circuit are invited and encouraged to participate.
One special item of note is this: At church council, voters assembly, during the announcements on Sunday morning and in other forums I have announced that the Convocation is on Saturday, July 22, beginning at 9am. The date had to be changed because the Ladies Aid at Mattoon and Pastor Jacobsen recently realized as they began preparations for the Convocation that Mattoon’s annual Bagel Festival was that day and there would be logistical problems with parking if a bunch of Lutherans showed up in town that day along with festival goers. After consulting with our guest speaker and the other congregations in the circuit (via their pastors) August the 5 is the new date. Divine Service will still begin at 9am with guest speaker, lunch, and an opportunity to share to follow. Below is the proposed agenda
I look forward to the lay people of all of our congregations getting together, sharing how they are doing with each other, and encouraging one another in the faith as we face an increasingly godless world together with the light of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Because of Jesus,
Rev. John Sharp
Pastor of Immanuel, Broadlands
Circuit Visitor of Mattoon Circuit
August 5, 2017
9am — Divine Service
10:30am — Preliminary Presentation – Guest speaker
11am — Luther Impersonation – Guest speaker
12pm — Lunch – Saint John, Mattoon
1:30pm — Q&A with Luther Impersonator – Guest Speaker
2pm — Convocation Proper – Circuit Visitor
4pm — Break
5pm — Supper – Immanuel, Tuscola
6:30pm — Lutherland Trip Presentation – Pastor Jacobsen