Pastor’s Post for Sunday May 15th

Dear friends in Christ:

This Sunday (May 15) is the Day of Pentecost.  Don’t forget to wear red when you come to worship this Sunday as we celebrate and share the gift of the Holy Spirit giving birth to the church.

Today in our seniors luncheon gathering we were talking with one another about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We realized that there are many different paths that the Holy Spirit accompanies us on to bring us ultimately to Himself in heaven. Some shared how the Holy Spirit spoke to them through the lives of others, their loved ones, pastors, and Sunday School teachers. It was good to share our stories.

I think one of the ways I see the Holy Spirit working in my life is the way I came to feel like I really belong among God’s people. The Holy Spirit leads us in different ways, and one way is by helping us to know that we “belong” in our church family even if we cannot articulate the exact formulations of the Small Catechism. Even to this day I know that I belong in the church where I grew up in New Orleans. I was baptized there. My parents brought me to Sunday School and worship services there. I learned the Bible there. I attended our Lutheran Day School and later confirmation classes on Saturdays. I was confirmed there on Mothers’ Day in 1967. It was in that church that I first felt God’s call to ministry and experienced the help and support of my pastors in seeking to discern how I could best respond to that call.

But not everyone grew up in a church going family like I did. One person shared how though she never went to church or Sunday School after about the age of six, still even then she said, “I knew that God loved me and that Jesus was my Savior.” Clearly this is evidence that the Holy Spirit works in our lives.

This Sunday we give thanks for the Holy Spirit’s working in the lives of Gabe Havranek and Ellie Hintzman who are to be confirmed, and for the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit to help them and all of us sense we belong in the family of God.  And we pray that they may ever sense the Holy Spirit leading and guiding them in the faith through the difficult maze of adolescence and early adulthood.

How has the Holy Spirit led you to know that you belong as a member of God’s family? How could you and I invite others to also come to feel that same sense of belonging?

One of the important avenues of belonging is our Growth Groups at Shepherd of the Valley. Next month the Biblical Equipping Ministry Team will be leading us in a month long emphasis on the importance of being part of a Growth Group, and how Growth Groups can be a resource for inviting others to draw into a closer walk with Christ. People who participate in our Growth Groups will be sharing their experiences with us in worship, and we will end the month with a special Sunday School Hour devoted to inviting people to consider being part of a growth Group if they already are not.

Pastor Joe Hughes
Voice & text: 217-898-9063