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The Bible is a book of Advents

Christian faith is getting worn down in Western culture because it has become the norm to separate God and spiritual forces from the world of senses. Religion is becoming compartmentalized to Sunday and church events. The relevance of faith to daily life is getting strained, and people are getting crushed by the modern pressure toward secularization.

The season of Advent is a time for us to remember that Jesus’ arrival into the world is the central theme of all Scripture. From the Old Testament to the New Testament to the present to the end times there is one unified Christian theology. There will be moments when we experience vast differences in how we see the world compared to how people in the biblical times saw the world. Even today people will live under different circumstances and experience daily life in very different ways. Advent is a church season when we rejoice that in all places and in all times God finds a way to bend our lives toward seeing him at work. With expectancy and readiness, we look for God.

Even while people live under the crush of secularization and struggle to imagine God is at work, we look with hope for meaning and purpose in our days. When you understand the Bible as a book of Advents, of arrivals, of God coming into the world, then you gain a greater sense of how God is still at work in this world delivering hope and promise into our days. This Advent season our midweek services, on December 1, 8, and 15 will take place at 4pm and 6:30pm. There will be a brief communion service offered after the 6:30pm Vespers prayer services. The midweek Vesper services will look at the many ways that God arrives in the Bible to deliver hope and promise into the world. As we rejoice with God’s activity in the Bible, we will be equipped to see God still works to deliver hope.

On December 1, we will rejoice at the different impossible birth stories in the Bible that show us that God works in the impossible moments to deliver a living hope. On December 8, we will see the impossible places where God was unexpected. We will rejoice that God arrives in the wilderness and reveals that God can come to the places abandoned of hope. On December 15, we will hope with certainty that God works through people to deliver his love into a world becoming dominated by hate. We will be equipped to see how God works through his servants to deliver love through the weak and struggling in this world.

Advent is a season that prepares us in body and soul to receive the arrival of God. Advent is a season that look forward to the birth of Jesus on Christmas. Advent is also a season that prepares us for the birth of faith in the lives of people who do not yet know God. Use this December as a time to break away from the crushing pressure to place God in a box that remains unopened and unused. Make your family rituals filled with opportunities to witness Jesus’ love arriving in this world. Open your heart and your life to witness Jesus at work in your daily life. You and I can marvel in moments of humility that Jesus was born to such a time as these days when sin and struggle make it hard to imagine God can be here among us sinners.

Posted by Evan Gaertner

Renewing Our Shepherd Capital Campaign Update

As we enter into the final year of our 3 year capital campaign, some projects are complete, while others are in process or in final planning phases. 2020 saw the completion of significant roof replacement at both facilities, as well as some window replacement at the school. We also resurfaced the parking lot and driveway at the school in 2020. In 2021, we completed the remainder of the window replacement in both facilities. These projects were transformational, both in terms of aesthetics of our buildings, as well as in energy savings. As we enter the colder months, rooms are much warmer with our new double-pane windows.
 
Currently in process, is the renovation (and restoration, after significant flooding) of the church lower level. The scope of this project was enhanced due to flooding, as well as the desire to "seize the moment" and make the lower level restrooms handicap accessible. The mens and womens restrooms will be 50% larger, and the quilting room restroom will be twice its original size, as a private, family restroom. All will feature touch-free fixtures and diaper changing stations to serve the many ministries that involve children. The fellowship hall and classrooms will all have new ceilings and lighting, new wall treatments, and new flooring. There will be a combination of carpet and vinyl flooring throughout the lower level. When complete, we will have a beautiful new space to serve the next generation. Eventually, we plan for new furniture, and new audio-visual technology to enhance the meetings and classes that will utilize the space. We hope to have a usable lower level by early 2022.
 
The organ restoration is in process, and is hoped to be largely complete before this weekend, November 14.
 
 
Looking ahead, the final two projects of the campaign are the church parking lot and school restroom renovations. The school restroom project was put on hold in July due to inflated pricing and timing issues. We will put that out for re-bid in early 2022, with hopes of starting construction as soon as school is done in June. Final design is currently taking place with landscape, lighting and signage for the church parking lot. We hope to present our plans to the city in November/December for final approval, and put that project out for bid in January. This is another transformational project that is expanded from the original plan. The parking lot will feature landscaped islands with lighting, all new asphalt parking and concrete sidewalks, and new identity signage for our church. 
 
Original commitments to the capital campaign were approximately $2M. To date, we have collected approximately $1.8M, and spent approximately $1.8M. Project enhancements and cost increases have pushed our total project costs to nearly $3M. We are blessed to have other funds potentially available to complete our planned projects. Thanks for your continued support of the Renewing OS campaign. We anticipate collecting 100% of commitments, and welcome continued and additional gifts above and beyond original commitments so that we can prepare our facilities to serve the next generations for many years into the future! 
 

Facilities Updates

 
Extreme rainfall events have continued to plague us. In September, we experienced almost 4 inches of rainfall in one night. This rain overwhelmed the drainage systems on our school playground, and resulted in water intrusion into our gym. The end result was a failure of the wood floor in the gym. Replacement is underway, and it should be complete by January 1, in time for the very busy winter sports season. Working in harmony with the floor replacement,  we are also planning to update and replace some equipment on the school playground. Civil engineers have been retained, and additional drainage measures will be implemented on the playground to account for future extreme weather events.
Posted by Dave Priskorn

End of the Church Year

The liturgical church year comes to a close in November. The church for centuries has kept track of days and seasons and commemorating special occasions with a calendar. The church year is structured around the acts of salvation that God delivers into this world for us in Christ Jesus. The Sundays and seasons of the church year help us journey on a path that shows us Jesus Christ at work in this world building the kingdom of God.
 
Advent, the beginning of the church year will be celebrated this year on November 28. Advent marks the beginning of the journey we take each year. We begin the church year with anticipation that Christ is coming into the world. We celebrate that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary and came into the world in our own human nature to redeem us sinners. Advent is also a time to celebrate all the ways that he comes to us again. Our journey through the church year follows the footsteps of Jesus as he is born, appears to the nations, is crucified, and rises again. After the season of Easter, we celebrate the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. With the resurrection of Jesus and the promised presence of the Spirit, we spend most of the rest of the church year reflecting on the mission of the church and what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
 
The church year journey reminds us who God is for us and who we are for our neighbor. We are reminded that God is with us in Christ Jesus. We are encouraged that the Spirit works through the gospel to call, gather, and enlighten us in the faith. We celebrate that God invites us to be a part of his mission to restore his creation. Through everything that happens in the church year and in our own lives we rejoice that Christ is our Lord and Savior.
 
The church year ends in November with reminders that this world will face judgment. The trumpet will blast. Christ will return with all authority in heaven and earth to judge the living and the dead. We will face judgment day with confidence in Christ. He is our resurrection. The scripture readings at the end of the church year are filled with honesty that the world coming to an end will be frightening. The honesty of fright is matched with the confidence that we will not face the end times alone. Our Lord is victorious over sin, death, and the devil. Christ’s love holds us more securely than any of the forces of evil that try to pull us away from God. Rejoice in Christ. The end is near, and yet our savior is always closer than the end times.
Posted by Evan Gaertner

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