Growing..not in years or time, but in momentum and growth as a Christian. Each person of the Trinity active in our lives brings growth. Growth gains momentum through encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ. So lets us grow and grow together, in Grace, Faith, Love, in Jesus, in Friendships, in Mission, and in passion for people.

The Fellowship of Believers  

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.”

- Acts 2:42-43

I was struck by the events following the ascension of Jesus and the Experience of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit was active. In fact, the early Church was attracting a lot of attention.

I happened to come across this section of Scripture again this week. As I approach retirement in a few days, something jumped out at me. As I reread the event, I saw that the Holy Spirit was using the apostles to teach the Word. As they did, the believers devoted themselves to the Word. The also devoted themselves to the breaking of bread and prayers. I was intrigued by the idea that they devoted themselves to the fellowship.

I looked at my calendar. I calculated that from the day of my installation at First Lutheran till the day of my re- tirement, I will have spent 1,944 days as your Pastor. I think of them as wonderful days. Yes, it is true that we’ve spent the Sundays beginning with March 28 in stay safe mode because of a Pandemic that came with guidelines, mandates and confusing recommendations that resulted in, by my retirement date, 23 live-streamed Sunday Worship Services. However, there was something true in the Early Church that I find true with the First Lutheran experience.

I have been the Pastor of seven LCMS congregations. I would have to say that ALL of them held to the teachings of the Prophets and Apostles. They all practiced the breaking of the bread. They all had a high regard for prayer. The thing that varied the most from congregation to congregation was the level and joy of fellowship.

These last paragraphs of Acts chapter 2 describe the fellowship of the Early Church. They say it is described, it was a big part of what brought “awe” into the hearts of those observing what was happening in this new Church under the Lordship of Jesus and the Leading of the Holy Spirit.

These months of the Pandemic, my own personal health struggles, surgeries, hospitalizations and healing along with the excitement of a wedding, a new bride and your love and acceptance of her, and your love and acceptance of me have allowed me to experience your reaching out to me and ministering to me. I too am in awe. I am in awe of your demonstration and definition of fellowship. I believe that this truly is a part of what the reformers called the consolation of the brethren. It is attractive. It is beautiful. It is powerful.

As you move through this time of transition, with a move to a new phase of ministry, I pray that you will hold on to and build upon this strength. Strive for deep love toward each other. Reach out to each other and the community. To me, those observing the fellowship of the early church were jealous and wanted to be a part. It was a part of the attraction. When they came, the experienced the love of Jesus.

As Martha and I move through the transition of retirement, keep us in your prayers. We love you and have been so blessed.

By the way...Your prayers are powerful. I am beginning to get some strength back. I have adjusted to the vision loss. I have an optimistic faith that I will see some restoration of sight. And I am confident to continue to regain health.

God Be Praised!

Pastor Tommy

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