St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
1889 – 2014
In 1889, 125 years ago, President Benjamin Harrison was in the White House. In Paris the Eifel Tower rose over the city landscape. American photographer George Eastman produced a celluloid-roll film for taking pictures. Four states were admitted to the Union: North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington and Montana. The Czars still ruled Russia. Queen Victoria still wore the crown in Great Britain and would do so for another 12 years. Vincent Van Gogh was painting pictures. Thomas Edison was inventing all things electric. Arthur Conan Doyle was writing stories about a fellow named Sherlock Holmes. Louis Pasteur was working hard to prevent infectious diseases.
In 1889, 125 years ago, a small group of Lutheran Christians established a congregation. They were a “daughter” congregation of St. John’s in Barre Mills. The preaching and the teaching were based on Dr. Martin Luther’s German translation of The Holy Bible – Die Heilige Schrift. Horses and wagons (and sleighs in the winter) were the chief mode of transportation.
Much has changed in the last 125 years. Our ancestors could scarcely have imagined automobiles with heat, air-conditioning and music rushing at 65 mph down a thing called the Interstate. They could not have envisioned men travelling to the moon, flying across oceans while watching movies, heating up left-overs in a microwave oven, talking to people halfway around the world on little things called cell phones. They might have wondered whether “the internet” was something with which you catch fish. Cable television programs on large-screen TVs would have left them awestruck, but also offended by much of what is portrayed on those large screens – even before the eyes of little children.
Yes, much has changed in the last 125 years. Some changes are good – the technology which makes our lives easier and with which we can spread the gospel, health care that eases our pain in a world broken by sin. Other changes are not good at all – the moral and spiritual breakdown of a world on the threshold of Judgment Day.
But “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). The best news ever announced has not changed. It is ever good and ever new. It is simply this: Our God stepped on to this planet and became our Brother. This God-Man, Jesus Christ, lifted to His shoulders the weight of the world’s screaming guilt and sin, yours and mine too. He carried it to a hill called Calvary and hoisted it to a bloody cross. He who had no sin became sin for us so that we might be declared free and clear in the sight of a just and holy God. He took our place. He broke through the dark gates of the cemetery. He rose triumphant. He is our living Lord, not a dead hero. He has promised to come back for us. He has left us here to do His work until He returns. Our life has purpose and meaning. God made us. He bought us. We have no higher honor and calling than to live the moments He has given us in the service of Jesus Christ. This message has not changed. We need to hear it. Others need to hear it. God grant us to believe it.
On this 125th anniversary of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church all praise and honor and glory be to the God of our salvation – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – who has loved us with an everlasting love – who remains changeless in a changing world – who is the same yesterday and today and forever!
Artwork by Karyn Lukasek; used with permission.