Dear Friends through Christ Jesus:
For the past month, our gospel of Luke has been teaching what means to follow Jesus, teaching what it looks like to be a disciple or what we call today, a Christian. Through a barrage of parables or short stories, Jesus informs us, quite clearly, that following him is not a walk in the park. Being a Christian is not the easy path. However, hopefully we have also learned that once you have seen the Lord, the work, and all that God has done for you, once you realize all the wonderful gifts Jesus freely offers, you will do just about anything.
We live in a crazy world. Always have and always will. Right now, the world gives us a virus that lingers on, disrupting economies and causing the global inflation of greed. The world offers us a war in Ukraine, killing our brothers and sisters for more, more land, more money, more power. The world teaches that our religious and political differences make us fierce enemies, causing divisions between countries, families, and friends. The world will always provide enough grief and hardship to go around. Yes, we live in a crazy world, always have and always will.
Begs me to ask, “Who in their right mind would put their faith in the world and what it teaches, when they could put their faith in Christ Jesus and what he teaches? Who in their right mind would take what the world offers, when Jesus offers strength and comfort in weakness and pain, offers freedom to what holds us down, healing when sick, guidance when confused. Who in their right mind would put their faith in a world that causes sin and death, when they can put their faith in Jesus who destroys sin and promises life-everlasting?” The choice sounds like a no-brainer. For Pete’s sake, look at what the man is offering! Sure, it is hard, but a great investment for the future.
Peace has been blessed with disciples who go out their way to give of their time, talent, and treasure. Through the faith of a few, we come close to supporting all our ministries, not quite, but close. Through the faith of a few, we have accomplished much. The grounds of Christ’s Church look the best they have in many years, a necessity in today’s society. More importantly, Peace has been a beacon of hope for many people in our neighborhood and beyond.
We feed the poor through our food pantry by distributing yearly, what amounts to over $250,000 worth of food, if purchased through your local grocery store. We support Meals-On-Wheels from our front porch, serving over 150 daily meals to the homebound. We support the Children’s Hunger Project feeding less fortunate children. We are the “home base” for Shepherd Center, offering brain stimulation and fellowship for our senior citizens. Countless lives over the years have been saved from the disease of alcoholism through the daily meetings of AA held at Peace. We provide worship space for brothers and sisters in Christ and welcome local community groups to our beautiful campus. We visit the sick and shut in. We will baptize their babies and teach their youth.
We marry those in love and bury those who die. We offer Word and Sacrament to all who walk through our doors and offer that same Word to 250-350 searching souls each week through Facebook and our website ministry. Folks, Peace Lutheran is trying it’s hardest to do the Lord’s work.
Here’s an incredible piece of knowledge you may not know. Peace provides the prementioned ministries with an earthly annual budget of $250,000! Folks, that’s it. Upkeep of seven aging buildings, a pastor who is not overpaid and yet content, a part time office manager making $15 per hour and few benefits, two of the most talented music people I’ve had the pleasure of working beside. Truthfully, I’ve served churches where we paid much more, for less. Our custodian spends 10 hours a week, working with her husband to keep our entire facility spotless at $15 per hour. (We only pay Dina, not Chris and no benefits.) We have a volunteer treasurer, volunteer choir, volunteer yard and maintenance people. Folks, we run this community of faith with the bare minimum.
Some of your leadership worries how Peace Lutheran struggles to make ends meet and lately ends have not been meeting. Me, not so much. I don’t lose sleep over financial matters or head count. However, the question that pops in my tiny mind is, “How can that be?” With all that the Lord does through this Lampstand called Peace, for as shrewd and frugal as we can be in carrying out Christ’s ministry, with all the saints and sinners we currently have, how can we not have enough? Especially, when I know in my heart that most of us have been blessed with plenty. Plus, there is so much more to do.
Twenty-five years ago, Sandy and I walked away from a very comfortable existence, totally uncertain of our future. We did this because of faith about the size of a mustard seed. A choice was made to serve his Holy Church as a minister of Word and Sacrament. No regrets. Through those years, I have learned through experience, that when I use or rely upon that little bit of faith, when I return to my baptismal waters, God provides what I need. Not what I always want, but always what I need. Always. Now, my task, my calling is simply to share this firsthand abundant-lifegiving-knowledge, share an understanding of Scripture and always proclaim the love of God to the best of my ability. Then I sit back and let God do the rest. I really do not have the time or the desire to worry about financial matters and how many walk through our doors. I leave that one up to you. Afterall, most of us seem to be in our right mind. Our choices sound like a no-brainer and we have plenty enough. So, let’s go and do the work of the Lord.
In Christian Love,
Pastor David Trexler