Sunday, November 1, 2020

Thank You!

 We give THANKS to you and the Lord for the monetary gift and plaque received from the congregation on Pastor Appreciation Sunday.  The heartfelt words of the stone plaque are on display in my office and the money will be used to God’s glory,    


Gratefully, 


Pastor Jim and Pearl

November Pastor's Article

  

 

IN ALL THINGS, GIVE THANKS 

    

In this year of Covid 19, controversial elections, disruptive lifestyle, school challenges, and questions around how can we worship safely, what encouragement can we find for giving thanks?! 

 

We are often amazed at the writings of the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Around the year 62 AD, he was imprisoned probably at Rome or Ephesus for preaching the Gospel.  But even under those conditions he penned these words: 

  

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and 

  petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.” 

 

Recently, I was told by a doctor that anxiety is one of the major stressors present during this year in patients.  I’m sure this is true for many of us.  We tend to forget that the Lord is in control or we wonder why He allows conflict in our lives.  Two facts of Scripture are often overlooked: His ways are not our ways and He can turn even the wrong decisions we, or others, make in our sinful nature, into good as we trust Him.  He does this out of pure grace, just as He allowed His Son to suffer and die for our sins.  As the Holy Spirit continues to sanctify us through Word and Sacrament, we can be assured of His strength and comfort during these times.  Always be assured that you can contact me as your Pastor for private, spiritual consultation, prayer and/or the Sacrament. 

 

Of course, He wants us to remember our needs in our prayers.  We want to pray that vaccinations will be forthcoming soon, that the elections will result in God-pleasing government, etc., but always trusting His will.  With such a faith, we can look forward to Thanksgiving with the words stated above from Philippians including: 

 

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again.  Rejoice.” 

 

Our yearly special Thanksgiving worship service is Wednesday evening, November 25 at 

7 pm.  Mask and social distancing may still be recommended. 

 

 

Rev. James W. Rhiver, Pastor 

 

 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

October Pastor's Article

 GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY AND GOD

Bible scholars are in general agreement that the Apostle Paul was in a Roman prison when he penned, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the book of Romans. Therefore it is interesting that we find these words, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities for there is no authority except that which God has established.” Following these words he indicates that to rebel against the authority set over us is to rebel against God. As Christians we also know from Scripture that we are to obey God rather than man if a choice must be made.

Being a Christian in the United States presents challenges not present in the Roman world. There is no question that our nation was founded on Scriptural principles and a strong belief in God. Our system is based on decisions being made by majority rule through leaders that we choose. Personally, I believe it is the greatest form of government that exists in the world. Thomas Jefferson once stated that democracy depends on educated people as they make decisions.

It is also good to note that sin still exists in the world and that sin can taint decisions even that have good intentions. Although founded on Christian principles, we know that our history reveals mistakes in judgment and even sinful misunderstanding of Scripture. For instance, laws may allow certain actions, but as Christians we would not want to do them.

As we again look forward to the elections we want to do so prayerfully. It is good that we educate ourselves on the beliefs and philosophies of the candidates. Do the values reflect what seems to be sound with Scripture, whether or not the candidate, himself or herself, professes Christianity? Here is when education also includes the study of God’s Word. Our decisions would want to include how God wants us to continue to proclaim His message of salvation in love toward others, as we recognize the freedom we have for all to worship according to their consciences with love and acceptance toward all people.

Finally, we want to recognize that no matter the final outcome of the election, God has promised that He can and will work all things together for the good of those who remain faithful to Him and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior. May God continue to bless our nation.

Rev. James W. Rhiver, Pastor

Thursday, September 10, 2020

September Pastor's Article

 SCHOOL DAYS

Going into the month of September always brings back memories of starting back to school as a youngster. We always started the day after Labor Day. Now, of course, schools start sometime in August. This year there is much controversy over how “school” is to be handled. Some students are in controlled classrooms, others are on-line/virtual and others are simply being home-schooled.

No matter how school is determined, our young people do need education. Thomas Jefferson once said that a democracy can only exist in an educated society, or words to that effect. We want to pray that our children get the education needed to be responsible citizens. We further pray that they receive the proper spiritual education whether in Christian schools or by Christian parents (guardians), who take their faith seriously. Scripture reminds us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom.” (“Fear” in this sense does not mean to be afraid, but rather to know Him as the source of our strength and being.)

As Christians we know the full nature of God. He is the Triune God, who has promised salvation and assured us of eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus – making us His children.

Living in this world as God’s children also necessitates that we, too, follow God’s Word. This assumes that we continue to hear and study His Word in our lives – when we feel safe during this pandemic to attend church, or make an effort to read His Word, or find ways to attend church on-line or by radio, etc.

In our country we will soon be faced with elections. Here again is a place where both our secular and spiritual education comes into play. We need to pray that the right choices are made and realize that no matter the outcome, God will turn it for good as we “fear” Him.

May the Lord be with those who are starting back to school, younger or older; may He help each of us grow in the true knowledge of the Lord; and may He bless our country as we seek His will.

Pastor Jim Rhive

Thursday, July 23, 2020

JULY-AUGUST Pastor's Articles


JULY & AUGUST NEWSLETTER ARTICLE


This time of the year, I often remember to thank the Lord that He gave His people the ability to invent air-conditioning.  Some people enjoy the hot weather, but I am not one of them.  Now, let’s get on to more important issues in our lives then the weather!

With the whole pandemic situation, there is concern with our educational system and whether to open our schools as usual; how to deal with increased cases of the Covid-19 virus; to mask or not to mask,; what about the increased pressure on police due to more criminal acts in our communities; added to this is the social unrest prompted by prejudice on all sides; plus the outlook of elections that seem to have more dramatic effects on our values and existence than ever before.

As Christians, we know that the ultimate cause of all our concerns is the sin that exists in the world.  Satan is the source of confusion, sickness, hatred and turmoil.  Like Job, in the Old Testament, we may want to question why God allows all these negative things to happen. We must remember that in the midst of all the chaos, God is still in control and like Job exclaim “I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.”  His promises far exceed the cares of this life as shown through Jesus’ resurrection.

Historically, Christianity grows in times of crises.  We pray that we reflect the hope that is assured us through our Baptism and offer others encouragement to seek God’s guidance in decisions on all fronts, seek His strength to overcome negative biases and prejudices. We want to support those who work for good with prayers, encouragement and resources whenever possible.  Allow the Holy Spirit to work through you.  Amen.

Rev. James W. Rhiver, Pastor

Monday, June 1, 2020

PANDEMIC PARALLELS

The past few months have been a unique chapter in our history as a country and world. The Covid 19 has affected all of us in some way. Thankfully most of us have not experienced sickness or the loss of loved ones due to the virus. Our prayers of comfort and healing are on our hearts as Christians for all who are suffering. Likewise, we are thankful for all those who are caregivers and first responders during these difficult times.


For many the experience has been more of an inconvenience or interruptions in our usual, comfortable lives. Not to be able to go see loved ones in the hospital or care centers, not eating out or visiting friends, wearing masks to shop, etc. For Christians it has added the challenge of not being able to assemble normally for worship and partake of the Lord’s Supper to strengthen our faith as God’s people. Although, we have been able to hear His Word and worship through media. Fortunately we are now able to attend services and have the sacrament now with safe restrictions.


We know that all sickness and distress in this world is the result of our sinful condition. Yet, we have God’s promise of grace in Jesus Christ to strengthen us unto eternal life. This latter thought causes me to ponder the greater Pandemic that has existed consistently since the fall of mankind after the creation. Man was created perfect but fell into disobedience which is now a part of our very existence as human beings. This pandemic means that all people will eventually die, both physically and eternally unless our relationship with God is restored. But, God’s undeserved love (grace) for man intervened. He promised that His Son would suffer for our sins and assure us of an eternal life with Him in heaven. That “vaccine” culminated in Jesus’ dying and rising for you and me. All those who believe in what Christ did for us is eternally healed. He also promised that His Holy Spirit, who works through Word and Sacrament to strengthen us in faith and the ability to endure all hardships of this life with blessings along the way.


Thankfully, we have again begun regular worship at Faith on Sundays with safe restrictions. Sunday, June 7th, Bible class resumes at 9:15 A.M. in the sanctuary so safe distancing can be maintained. Restrictions are necessary because God does want us to properly care for the life He has given. He is also the One, Who gives the skills and abilities those trained to advise us on proper care. For those who do not feel comfortable attending for health reasons, our services continue on-line:
faithwashingtonmo.blogspot.com Private communion can be arranged by calling me at: 314-659-9424. Have a blessed life in God’s grace through Christ.

Rev. James. W. Rhiver, Pastor

Monday, April 27, 2020

April and May Faith Sermons

Faith Online

5/31/2020

Ascension Sunday the 7th Sunday of Easter
Our Glory Lies in Jesus' Glory on the Cross  Part 1
Our Glory Lies in Jesus' Glory on the Cross  Part 2
5/25/2020

6th Easter Sunday
        Jesus Never Leaves Us  Part 1
        Jesus Never Leaves Us  Part 2
5/17/2020


5th Easter Sunday
       Called to be Priests in the Kingdom of God   Part 1
        Called to be Priests in the Kingdom of God   Part 2 
5/10/2020


4th Easter Sunday
Be Imitators by Christs Power
5/3/2020

3rd Easter Sunday:
Christ Commissions And Strengthens His Church
4/26/2020

2nd Easter Sunday:
Life in the Risen Christ is Often Tested
4/19/2020


Easter Sunday:
4/12/2020

Holy Week:

MAY 2020 Pastor's Article

MAY NEWSLETTER ARTICLE

Our Church – In Dispersion

Greetings in the Risen Lord!

Well, it certainly looks like we’re having a beautiful spring. The redbuds and dogwoods are blooming; tulips and irises are beginning to open up – but wait, many of us are stuck inside. Two positive things about this spring, nature wise, are that many of us seem to be staying away from the Covid 19 virus and we’re not affected as much by allergies since we’re indoors! Who would have imagined this a year ago or even three months ago? And, I hope you feel the same as I do. I’d rather be in church on Sunday morning with others than watching a worship service on a screen or listening to it on the radio. But, praise the Lord, as least we can stay in touch with God’s Word through the techniques of modern science.
Spiritually, there are too important events in Scripture that are noted in the church in May this year. The first is Ascension Day – often overlooked because it usually falls in the middle of the week. But Ascension is important. On that day we remember how Jesus ascended into heaven after having been with the disciples for 40 days after His Resurrection. On that day He promised to be with His followers to the end of time. He promised them (that includes us!) His Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen them (us). After He disappeared into the clouds, His holy angel gave the assurance that He would come again.
The second important event of May this year is Pentecost, May 31. (I hope by that time we will be able to have worship back at our church building.) On Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles inspiring them to begin to proclaim publicly the fact of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Both of these events give us the assurance that no matter where we are as believers in Christ, we are the church. And being the church, right now in dispersion, we can and want to continue to trust and proclaim Him. He is with you! Call a friend, a relative, someone you love and in your words of comfort, friendship and reaching out to them, share His promises of strength and the assurance that we have His eternal grace no matter how this pandemic turns out. Pray for all involved in helping during this time of crisis and for our leaders to be wise in their decisions, but above all remember Christ’s promise, “Surely, I am with you always.”

Rev. James Rhiver, Pastor

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

APRIL 2020 Pastor's Article

APRIL’S SHOWERS

An old song has the words, “Though April showers may come your way, they bring the flowers that bloom in May.” Right now may seem like that song. The showers can be seen as a metaphor for the gloom and despair you may experience under this time of crisis in our country – a period of quarantine because of the Covid 19 concerns.

As Christians, it is also a period of gloom as during this this time of looking toward Easter we cannot experience the true meaning of the Lenten season for lack of opportunity to worship together with others. Oh, wait! Maybe there’s another side to this. Many Christians have practiced giving up something during Lent to remember what our Lord gave up for us – HIS SINLESS life for OUR SINFULNESS. Perhaps our hardships can cause us to meditate on His Passion.

Like the song quoted above, the season of Lent points to the joy we as Christians can realize as we celebrate also this month, the Feast of the Resurrection – Easter. Although we may not be able to be physically present at church to be reminded by the hymns, Easter lilies, prayers and the proclamation of the Word and Sacrament, we can still know the truth – Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed. I hope you are able to go online and/or TV or radio to hear again the message of Salvation for you and all who trust His promise of the Resurrection.

Take time to open your Bible, read and meditate on the words of Matthew 28:1-10. Continue reading to the end of the chapter and find the peace and JOY even during this period of distress – especially the final words of Matthew: “AND SURELY I WILL BE WITH YOU ALWAYS, TO THE VERY END OF THE AGE.”

An additional thought: Take this time to pray for all those who are serving in various ways during this crisis. You may also want to remember any who are sick or suffering in other ways in our congregation – for healing and strength, In particular, remember Roberta Meyer, recovering from a recent fall and for Marsha Benish, who mourns the loss of her husband, our member, Pat Benish, who was called to be with our Savior this past week.

Your loving pastor,
Rev. James W. Rhiver

MARCH 2020 Pastor's Article

The Season of the Passion

The season of the Passion, another way of saying the Lenten season in the church is upon us. Ash Wednesday was February 26 with a special evening worship. Beginning this Sunday, March 1until April 5, our Orders of Worship will carry the general theme “Facing the Cross”. Each Sunday we look at a different aspect of that theme: “Facing Temptation”, “Facing our Fears”, “Facing Our Worldliness”, “Facing One Another”, and Facing Suffering”.

Centering on this theme for our Lenten worship will cause us to focus on the great gift of salvation we have been given in Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. The season culminates with Holy Week beginning Palm Sunday on April 12. That week will include Good Friday services on April 17 and Easter Sunday on April 19.

All these dates are important because they represent the most important events in the church year for Christians. The whole Christian faith revolves around these events. The Apostle Paul tells us that without the resurrection our faith is in vain. During this time as Christians we want to make every effort to worship faithfully as we witness to family and Friends the importance of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Each Wednesday evening during Lent we will have a light supper and Bible study – yet another opportunity to grow in God’s Word and invite others to join us. The title of the Wednesday evening course of study is “By His Wounds We are Healed.”
May the Holy Spirit guide you to want to take part in worship and Bible study so that your faith may be strengthened and your joy in Christ be increased.

Your loving pastor,
Rev. James W. Rhiver

Sunday, February 2, 2020

February 2020 Pastor's Article


DIRECTIONS ARE IMPORTANT!
I had occasion to assemble an exercise gadget for my daughter the other day.  It came with directions for assembly and I read them carefully before starting.  Within minutes it was put together and ready to use.
A little later I decided to make a party mix that included melting butter, combining cereals and garlic spices, etc. I was to put the ingredients together in a microwave bowl and “nuke” it for 5-6 minutes.  I thought I had read the directions carefully, but after about 4 minutes in the microwave, suddenly the kitchen was filled with smoke and we were turning on the exhaust fan and fanning the smoke alarm to keep it from going off.  Oops, I missed something—I was supposed to stir the ingredients in the bowl every two minutes.
In Holy Scripture, God gives very specific directions for leading our lives.  In addition to His Ten Commandments, He also included many stories about what happens when people do not follow the directions as written!
So many times we ignore His directions or think we can get by doing things “our way”.  Our sinful nature is at work to lead us not to pay attention to our Creator.  The devil and the world would work against the Holy Spirit’s guidance He provides through Word and Sacraments.
Fortunately, God in His love for us sent His Son to follow all the directions He has given.  Jesus led the perfect life for us.  In the Garden, the night before He was crucified, Jesus said to His Father, “Your will, not mine, be done.”

Following the directions means confessing that we are sinful and in need of a Savior.  We are assured of God’s forgiveness.  So, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can make an effort to amend our sinful lives. Out of appreciation for God’s grace to us in Jesus’ death and resurrection, we want to follow God’s directions.  When we fall away we have His promise that He will restore us to a perfect relationship with Him as we confess our faith in His grace in Jesus Christ. 
Remember that as we abide in His Word and Sacraments, His Holy Spirit continues to keep us faithful unto eternal life.
--Pastor James Rhiver

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Jan 2020 Pastor's Article

Perfect 20/20 Vision 
A Blessed New Year!  What is in store for each of us this New Year?  None of us have true “20/20” vision when it comes to our future.  In the year 1620 when the Pilgrims landed in America (400 years ago), they certainly had vision, but I’m sure they never dreamed of what our country would look like today. 
In the Old Testament we read about Joseph, whose father favored him over his brothers to the extent that they grew to hate him.  In fact, as you remember they sold him into slavery.  He wound up in Egypt and because of the amazing gift given him by God to interpret dreams, through a series of negative events became the “right hand man” to Pharoah.  This position eventually allowed him to cause the tribes of Israel to continue to exist during a worldwide famine.  You may read the story yourself in Genesis, chapters 37-50. 
It is only as we read Scriptures that we can see how God used even the negative events of Joseph’s life to work His plan of redemption through His chosen people, Israel.  The events would ultimately result in our salvation in Jesus Christ.  And this is but one story that shows God’s all-powerful (omnipotent) ability and all-knowing (omniscient) ability to work all things for good to those who trust Him. 
Okay, now do you see where I’m going?!  Will there be problems in our lives this year? Because sin is in the world, all people experience problems.  Will there be good times? Certainly – because we have God’s promise of His love and care (omnipresent). 
Knowing of His fulfillment in sending Jesus to die and risewe have the assurance of eternal life with Him. He wants us to trust Him with our daily and future plans. 
Years ago there was a popular song (even in our secular world):”Put your hand in the Hand that stilled the waters”. That’s how we as Christians want to approach the New Year.  Know that “God is for us so who can be against us”.  Whether health issues, politics, or economic questions, He is always present to bring us through as we put our trust in Him and pray that His will be done. 
I pray that each of us approaches this new year with this promised vision that because we are His adopted children in Jesus Christ, we are always in His Hands.  To the glory of God in Christ Jesus.  Amen.--Pastor James Rhiver