Dear St. John School Families,
We’ve experienced a super positive start to the new school year. Thanks to all who have already
stepped up to volunteer for some aspect of service in support of our school programs and events.
Throughout my first year as St. John’s Principal, my role was primarily one of observer. It’s now great to
be in the position of knowing people and anticipating what’s ahead rather than merely reflecting on
what just occurred.
One of the events we are currently anticipating is Alumni Night: Connecting Past to Future. On October
5, after Saturday evening worship, we will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony and prayerful dedication of a
new cross and bleachers in our gymnasium. We thought this would be a great opportunity to invite
former students back to campus. This event will follow our first all-school Pep Rally of the semester on
October 4 where students will get their first chance to sit on the new bleachers and see the new cross
constructed of the wood from the bleachers that were in the gym for so many years.
One of my first realizations upon touring the campus when I arrived last year was that the wooden
bleachers would need to go. They were not only a splintered safety hazard; they did not meet the
Americans with Disabilities Access standards required by law. When bids for new bleachers came in at
close to $30K, I found myself on my knees asking God for provision and guidance so we could find
funding for this project that had been put off due to budgetary constraints. As I prayed, I clearly saw a
vision of an exquisitely rustic yet modern cross fashioned out of planks from the existing bleachers—a
piece of art that would serve as a constant reminder to put Him first in all things. As God would have it,
there was even a wood-working artist in our midst. Tim Nummela, husband of our newly married
kindergarten teacher, Rachelle Nummela, agreed to transform my vision into reality. Please attend a
volleyball game or basketball game at some point this school year so you too can help us christen the
new bleachers. Wherever you choose to sit, please take a moment to pray for all those who will sit in
that exact spot for years to come.
There seems to be no shortage of improvement projects in our school. Just the other day, we had to
replace a Smart Board projector—another unanticipated expenditure from our tight budget. Such
projects provide additional reasons to be generous when you consider participating in school
fundraisers. We will very soon launch our Annual Fund Campaign. As you will see when you receive the
campaign materials, we have intentionally positioned this essential aspect of our school’s yearly
fundraising to occur in the fall so that we can give appropriate attention and generosity to the School
Auction hosted by the PTL in the spring. By the time you receive the appeal for your contribution to the
Annual Fund in early October, we will already have secured a few commitments and a few actual dollars. The commitments come in the form of 11th (June) and 12th (July) month “tuition” payments as charitable gifts to the school. This was a new option on the enrollment forms, and we’d love to see more families take advantage of making giving this easy in the years ahead. As for the actual dollars, I want you to know that the first Annual Fund donation came from a student, specifically one of our bighearted 5th graders who decided to donate the proceeds from his lemonade stand to the school. May God bless and magnify that truly generous gift of $11.25 as the springboard to a tremendously successful Annual Fund Campaign.
The School Advisory Team met for the first time a couple of weeks ago. This is a group of parents who have graciously volunteered to meet once a month with the School Administrative Team. While this group has no decision-making responsibility, they provide invaluable wisdom and encouragement from the parent perspective as we continue to move the school forward. The School Advisory Team is essentially a sounding board made up of parents who represent all grade levels of students in our school. Members agree to serve for two years; half of the team is new each year. This provides some continuity while also bringing fresh voices to the table. Members’ input can and often does inform the decision making of the Administrative Team. During our September meeting, we reviewed some of the topics we discussed last year such as: school safety, communication, enrollment fees and process, and the creation of an EC Studio space. The following folks are serving on the team in case you want to share your ideas with them: Kevin Alm, Jen Barker, Karen Brown, Julie Kaempfe, Craig Moellenhoff, Glenda Olivio, Becky Prange, Dan Rockwood and Chuck Vollmer. We are grateful for their service.
As we head into October, we near the end of first quarter. You’ll notice a new term for what has for decades been known as the “Parent-Teacher Conference.” We are adopting the label Student Progress Conferences instead. That terminology more directly speaks to the nature of what is being discussed and throws the focus to how students are progressing at various developmental stages. We are excited about the fact that our middle school friends will be attending their conferences. In fact, middle school students will guide their parents through work samples, assessments, and projects during the conference as evidence of their conceptual mastery and skill development. The middle school teachers have been diligently working with students to compile academic portfolios to use at these student-led conferences. Some of the projects are digital in nature, so if you have an iPad, Smartphone, or other tablet, you are encouraged to bring one to the conference. If you do not have any of those devices, one will be available at the table for you. The teachers who work with your child will be rotating through and may stop by to answer questions and highlight examples of work that show progress in their given subject area. We hope this new format will be a way for your child to more actively take ownership of his or her academic progress in preparation for high school. As always, you should feel free to contact any teacher with a question and should not wait until conference time to seek clarification.
Living in the Light!
Principal, St. John School
Dear St. John School Families,
Life is not fair.
God is in control of life.
God is not fair.
It makes sense and it’s hard to argue any differently. We’ve all thought it and not without good reason.
I grew up in a small town and attended a four-room Lutheran elementary school. I had only seven students in my class. One of my best friends was John Wegman. His folks lived outside of town on some acreage with a pond and woods—a great place for boys to explore. When we were in high-school, John’s mom was diagnosed with ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease. It was an especially aggressive strain that quickly left his mom debilitated and in a few short months hospitalized. She was transferred to a larger hospital 30 miles from our small town. Her husband, who was still working full time to provide for his family, drove back and forth every evening to see her. One night he fell asleep at the wheel, crossed the median and was killed in a head-on collision. Within months, John’s older brother also died when he failed to make a sharp turn on a dark road leading to their home.
Within a very short time, this somewhat affluent and blessed family experienced extreme devastation, leaving only John and his older sister to survive multiple tragedies. As his teenage friend, I could not help but wonder why. Their family was the epitome of what it means to be faithful Christians. His mom and dad were leaders in our local congregation. It made no sense.
I thought about them again this past week as I heard one of our pastors teach about God’s interaction with Gideon. Why God called Gideon a “mighty warrior,” and then asked him to lead Israel in war against the Midianites is anyone’s guess. It made no sense. When God came to ask Gideon to lead Israel, God found him hiding from the enemy. God’s choice confused even Gideon. He asked, “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
Then there is the issue of Gideons’ doubt. God tolerated his lack of faith when Gideon tested Him by causing the fleece to be soaked from the morning dew while the surrounding ground was left bone dry. When Gideon doubted that result, God allowed the fleece to be dry but the surrounding ground to be wet with dew. This was only the first of several times Gideon questioned God’s judgment. AND GOD SEEMED OKAY WITH GIDEON’S DOUBTS!
Fast forward to the New Testament and compare Gideon to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptizer. When the Lord announced that Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were going to get pregnant in their old age, Zechariah asked a very logical question. “How can this be, since my wife is well past child-bearing age?” The Bible tells us that God struck Zechariah mute because he doubted the Lord’s ability to do what He promised!”
God is not fair. He cut Gideon a break and demonstrated extreme patience towards him, but apparently had no patience with Zechariah. How does that work? Why are some allowed their doubts and not others? Why do some people lived charmed lives and others struggle? On what basis does God make such decisions?
These are questions that fuel disbelief in many, and confuse the faithful. God is God and doesn’t owe anyone an explanation, but there are biblical reasons for such inequities.
- God treats us as His children. Wise parents know their children are different and treat each one appropriately, but not the same. (1 John 3:1,2)
- We have a very narrow definition of blessing. In our mind, a blessing is always something positive in life. But God knows some of the greatest blessings in life come through struggles and hardship, sometimes not understood at the time. (Genesis 50:20)Death is viewed differently from our vantage point vs. God’s.
- Death in this life is viewed as tragic and sad. God says the sufferings of this age are not worthy to be compared to the glory He will reveal to us on that day. (Romans 8:18)
- We are not God and will never understand His perfect ways. Do you really want a God your feeble mind is able to fully comprehend? Would you trust a God who is no wiser than you? (Romans 11:33-36)
A friend of mine calls the term “fair,” the f-word in his home. No one is allowed to say it out loud. He doesn’t allow his children to ever accuse their parents of being “unfair” in their treatment of the family. As parents, they reserve the right to decide what is needed in each child’s life and render their decisions to the best of their ability. I don’t think being a parent is a requisite for understanding God, but it helps!
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” Romans 11:33,34
- What about God confuses you?
- Would you prefer a God you could understand?
- Why is the cross all you need to know to trust God’s judgment?
At this moment in my life, I would describe my relationship with God as;
A. Close and getting closer.
B. Barely on speaking terms.
Click here to take the survey and take a moment to leave a thought or opinion.
If you were unable to attend services last weekend and would like to listen to the message, visit our homepage at www.stjstl.net and click on Media at the top right of the web page. Growing Deeper, a Bible study, written to accompany the message series is also available to download.
St. John Church is now live streaming Sunday service at 9:15am and 11:00am. Join us!
Gracious Lord, You confuse me. I rarely if ever know what you are trying to teach me in life. And I must admit that I have a me-centric view of all events. I know that everything is not about me. I realize You have the entire world’s needs to consider and that sometimes I am just swept up in the events of the nation or society. When I am able to be objective I realize that some things I experience in life may be allowed for the benefit of others who observe my faith and my trust in your no matter what. But mostly I tend to complain and demand better treatment. Forgive my narrow view of life and world events. Help me to realize that You are not always the cause of difficulty in life. Help me accept that you are the answer not the cause to the world’s problems. Mostly Lord, I’m asking you to help me grow up and be more mature in my faith; Amen.
Click on the links below to learn more about what's going on at St. John!
- Register to be part of Serve St. Louis on Saturday, October 12.
- Not in a small group? Want to find out about small groups and need some help? Come to our next Small Group Networking Night on Sunday, September 29 from 6:00pm-7:00pm. It’s a casual evening and we’ll even provide some food and drinks for you as you meet other people. Childcare available with pre-registration. Don’t wait. Register now!
- Parent Orientation for Children’s and Youth Ministry on October 20. Register now!
Stephen Hower, Pastor
Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14
(and to lower my golf score)
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