Emmanuel Lutheran

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Evalgelical Lutheran Church in America Northeastern Ohio Synod
Letters from Pastor Alan Smearsoll

October, 2023

My daughter Karen posted several pictures of her, Sree and Meena on a  recent outing to the zoo. She captioned the photos “fall weekends are the best.” These photos brought back memories of when she and Kevin and Bryan were little and we would take them on fall hikes, go to fairs and fall festivals and rake giant leaf piles to jump in. Perhaps this is why fall is my favorite time of the year. Now, with Meena, I get to live that all over again and create new memories, not for me this time, but for my granddaughter. What a joy!

As the seasons cycle through, so too does life. We grow older and think we are still young and can do the things we did thirty years ago. I’ve seen more people end up in the hospital because their mind played the dirty trick on them of saying “you can do this” when they couldn’t, or more specifically, shouldn’t. You all know who you are. J 

All of us experience this cycle in life. Not everyone is ready or willing to accept it and that usually lands a person in trouble. There is always a struggle between what is old and what is new. The old try to hang on to what was and the new try to move beyond what was to what will be. If our ancestors had succeeded in hanging on to what was, we could still be riding around town on horseback! Think about that for a moment.

The church is in the same boat. Time passes and we remember times of full pews and Sunday school classrooms. We want that for this generation as well. For decades the saying has always been “we need more young people in the church. They are our future.” It just occurred to me that Meena might not even like to jump in a pile of leaves! I wouldn’t want her memory of Papa to be one of forcing her to do it just because it brings me joy. That’s selfish of me.

What will be the new things we will do together that she will fondly remember as she grows old? What new things will we do that will create fond memories of church for these, our “grandchildren?” If we don’t, they might not have any memories of church at all.

Jesus said “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” He also said “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” Was he trying to tell the future church something crucial to its continuation?

Old and new are important. Tradition can be carried on in new ways. Emmanuel is learning how to teach our little ones through means other than Sunday School. A new Bible study this fall is being held at someone’s home and has ten people signed up (one who is not a member)! Kids Club is reaching children and their parents, some not associated with a church, with the story of Jesus on a different day than Sunday morning. The Discipleship Bible Study and the Dandelion Project have broadened our horizons on what it is to be a follower of Jesus and what it is to be a church in the world today. Hmmm…we are starting to create those memories for the next generation. Praise be to God!

Pastor Alan

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Salem, OH 44460