NEWS!

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Services
On Christmas Eve, (Wednesday) the Sunday School will present their service entitled “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!” beginning at 6:30pm.  The service will again close with the traditional hymn of “Silent Night,” followed by the darkening of the church in preparation to sing “The Lord’s Prayer” by children and congregation.  Our Christmas Day service, “The Miracle of Christmas – God Became
Man”
 on Thursday will begin at 9:30am.  Pastor Roekle will be preaching and the choir will be singing.  Please join us!  Bring a friend!

Hymn of the Week
You are encouraged to take home a copy of The Hymn of the Week devotion, which is located at the top of the stairs for your personal meditation at home.  If you need to take a hymnal home, please do so, but remember to bring it back this week for worship. 
 
2015 Budget Approved
The proposed church budget for 2015 was approved as amended, at the Congregational Voters’ meeting held this past Thursday, December 18th.  Copies of the approved budget are available in the north tower room.  If you would like a copy emailed to you, please contact the church office at churchoffice@firstracine.org to request one.
 
A Look Ahead to New Year’s Eve
Ring in the New Year with Jesus by attending our New Year’s Eve service on Wednesday, December 31st.  The service is scheduled to begin at 6:00pm so that you are able to get to other celebrations held on this night.  Plan to attend prior to your other engagements!

2015 Contribution Envelopes
The 2015 contribution envelopes have arrived.  You will find your packet in your church mailbox.  (Multiple packets for family members can be found on the table in the church library.)  For our record keeping purposes, please do not use these envelopes until 2015 as a few envelope numbers have changed.  A new category was added to the envelopes for the “4 Steps” debt reduction program that was presented at the 165th anniversary breakfast.  If you’re interested in giving to the “4 Steps” program yet this year (2014), please use the “Other” category and write “4 Steps” in the blank.  At the start of 2015, you may use the new category “4 Steps” which is printed on the new envelopes.  These funds will be used to pay off our loan debt. 
 
36 Hours of Christmas Sponsored by WELS Groups
WELS congregations, schools and groups in SE Wisconsin & northern Illinois, including First Evan, are again sponsoring the 36 Hours of Christmas on WRJN, 1400 AM.  The continuous Christmas music begins at noon on Dec. 24th & continues for 36 hours.  The WELS groups are the sole sponsors of the Christmas music mix and have a brief message every hour on the hour.  Sponsoring
ongregations, schools and groups will be identified every fifteen minutes.  Please tune in and listen!  Make a note of the new channel this year; it is on WRJN, 1400 AM.  (For those who wish to listen online, go to www.wrjn.com.)
 
Worship Service Recordings on DVDs
Please be reminded that our worship services are recorded onto DVDs by our teens.  Tim and Jan Weidner make several copies and distribute them accordingly so our shut-in members who request these copies receive them.  Paper copies of all sermons are also available and may be emailed, put into your church mailbox or mailed to your home.  If you or someone you know would like to start receiving these DVDs or copies of the sermons, please notify the church office -churchoffice@firstracine.org or 633-8267.
 
Greece Tour
Are you interested in walking in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul?  A 10 day tour of Greece, including a 3 day Mediterranean cruise is scheduled for October 19-25, 2015.  The tour is being hosted by Pastor Gene Kock.  See such places as Kavala, Philippi, Thessaloniki, Meteora, Athens, Corinth, Mars Hill & much more.  If you would like more information, please contact Pastor Roekle at pastorroekle@firstracine.org.
 
Taste of Shoreland Volunteer Meeting
The Taste of Shoreland (a dinner and auction which raises thousands of dollars for tuition assistance) will be held on April 25, 2015 at Shoreland Lutheran High School.  Many volunteers are needed for this event.  Please contact Joy Lee in the Mission Advancement office at development@slhs.us if you would like to help.  There will be a volunteer meeting on Tuesday, January 20th at 6pm at Shoreland LHS
 
Please Consider a Gift to the Organ Fund
Please be reminded that we have an organ fund needed to rebuild our existing organ or to purchase a new one.  We encourage you to contribute to this fund whenever possible.  To make a contribution, you may do so along with your regular offering.  On your offering envelope, simply write “organ fund” with the amount you are contributing in the category marked “other”.  There is already a substantial amount of money in the fund, but we anticipate that we will need a sizable amount in addition.

Member Assistance Reminder
Keep in mind that a group has been set up to help if members ever find themselves in need of necessities such as food, clothing, etc.  If you are in need, you can contact the Member Assistance Team (MAT) for help.  Either send an email to mat@firstracine.org or drop a written request in the locked dropbox in the church library with your name and contact information.  Also, if you would like to be included among those members who are notified when donations are needed, please contact the MAT at the email address listed above.  
 

 


 

 
A New Logo:  The Picture of Our Purpose
           
            Symbolism permeates the entire history of God’s relationship with people.  After the flood God showed Noah a rainbow.  At the first Passover God taught about the Savior by using lambs and blood on doorways.  Jesus used many pictures to tell people who “I AM.”  He is the bread of life, the light of the world, the good  shepherd, the vine.  The Christian church picked up on this use of symbolism, and for many centuries symbols have appeared in Christian churches and Christian worship.  Our own church building is full of pictures and symbols that teach us the gospel and remind us of what it means for us.
 
            Your church council recently authorized the use of a new logo for use on publications, letterhead, and other church-related materials.  You will see this logo often as a visual representation of our congregation.  The intent is that, after some use, whenever people see the logo they will immediately connect it with First Evangelical Lutheran Church.  But like other Christian symbols, this logo is meant to teach people and remind people (including us) who we are and why we exist.  This logo is a meaningful one; it pictures our purpose.
 
            Let’s take a brief look at each part of the First Evan logo.

We preach Christ crucified.  The Cross is the center of everything we are and do.  On the cross, Jesus won our salvation by receiving the punishment for the guilt of our sin.  The church exists for no other reason than to connect people to the blessings of Christ’s cross.  At the cross the guilty conscience finds forgiveness.  At the cross the burdened soul finds rest and refreshment.  At the cross we see our Savior, whose love for you is so boundless that he determined to do everything necessary to bring you peace now and to secure your eternity.  This is what it’s all about.  Any description of our church and its mission must start at the cross of Christ.  Our logo, the visual description of our church, is no different.  It starts with the cross.
 
There are only two ways that God has provided for us to connect people to the cross.  One of those is The Word.  The open Bible describes what goes on in our church and in our homes.  We study and search the Scriptures diligently, because we know that by them we possess eternal life (John 5:39).  What the pastors preach and teach is not their opinion, but rather the words of God himself taken from his holy Scriptures.  What the members of our church believe and confess is not the latest theory or philosophy, but rather the timeless and changeless truth of God’s inerrant Word.  The Word directs faith and life, because through the Word the gospel goes to work on our hearts.  The Bible is “written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).
 
The second way God has provided to connect people to the cross is the gospel in the sacraments.  The shell represents one of the two sacraments:  Baptism.  Baptism saves us by connecting our lives to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Everything that Jesus did for you becomes your own personal possession through your baptism.  Baptism is our birth:  it’s how many of us entered the church.  Baptism is our life:  it’s a constant reminder of our daily cycle of repentance and assurance of forgiveness.  Baptism is our mission:  Jesus commanded us to baptize others as we make disciples of all nations.  A shell is sometimes used to hold the water or pour the water at a baptism.  Therefore, the shell is a universal Christian symbol for baptism.  The three droplets of water remind us that we baptize into the name of the triune God—“In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
 
The second sacrament is The Lord’s Supper.  The wheat and grapes signify the earthly elements in this sacrament.  Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night he was betrayed, took bread…Then he took the cup.  Jesus used unleavened bread and wine when he instituted this sacrament; therefore, we do, too.  In that bread and wine of the sacrament Jesus’ real body and blood are present in a real way, connecting us to the body and blood that he gave and poured out at the cross and therefore giving us the blessings of that sacrifice:  the forgiveness of sins.  And where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.  This particular representation of wheat and grapes was taken from the corners in our church sanctuary.  Next time you are in church, look up to see if you can find them.
 
            The purpose of our church is two-fold:  to care for the spiritual needs of the Christians in this family of believers we call First Evan and to reach out to others that they might come to know the true God and Jesus Christ, his only Son.  If a Christian is going to grow in his spiritual life and not remain immature, he will do so only through the gospel that is found only in the Word and sacraments.  If others are going to come to faith and join the Holy Christian Church on earth, they will do so only through the gospel that is found only in the Word and sacraments.  A simple phrase has been employed to describe this mission of ours and how it will be accomplished:  Growing and Going with the Word and Sacraments.  Now we have a logo that describes in symbols that very mission.
 
A.J.Dolan

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. ~ Proverbs 3:5