From the Pastor's Desk
Dear Members and Friends of St. Paul:
Happy New Year (and Merry 11th Day of Christmas)! As we begin the new year I want to update you on several things that are going on at St. Paul Lutheran Church.
We are half way through the Narrative Lectionary for 2021-22. That means that we have finished our survey of the Old Testament and have begun to focus on the Gospel of John. In fact, we began our focus on the Gospel of John on Sunday, December 19. For the last three Sundays, we have been reading from Chapter 1 of John. This Sunday, we move into Chapter 2.
One of the things to look for in the Gospel of John is the use of the number seven. In particular, there are three sets of seven that I want you to notice. The first set of seven is found in Chapter 1 and 2. I would call this the Seven Days, as Jesus begins his ministry. In 1:19 we hear about the ministry of John the Baptist at Bethany. Then John recounts three different events, beginning each by saying, “The next day…”
Day 1: The Ministry of John (1:19-28)
Day 2: John Testifies about Jesus (1:29-34)
Day 3: John’s Disciples Follow Jesus (1:35-42)
Day 4: Jesus Calls Philip and Nathaniel (1:43-51)
Day 7: The Wedding at Cana (2:1-11)
These are found in verses 1:29, 35, and 43. In 1:29, John testifies to who Jesus is; in 1:35, two of John’s disciples follow Jesus; and in, 1:43, Jesus calls Philip to follow him. Then, in 2:1, John tells us that “on the third day” Jesus and his disciples went to a wedding at Cana in Galilee. Thus, the Seventh Day is the first day that Jesus performed a “sign”.(Sign is John’s word for a miracle.)
This begins the second set of seven, namely the “Seven Signs”. Although John testifies that Jesus did many signs during his ministry (20:30-31), he focuses on seven in order to teach us who Jesus is. These Signs are
Turning Water into Wine (2:1-11)
Healing of an Official’s Son (4:43-54)
Healing of a Lame Man (5:1-9)
Feeding of the five Thousand (6:6-13)
Jesus Walks on Water (6:16-21)
Healing a Man Born Blind (9:1-7)
The Raising of Lazarus (11:1-14)
The final set of seven has to do with what are called the “I AM Sayings” of Jesus. On each occasion, Jesus uses the formula “I am…” You might remember that “I Am” is the name of God revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14. This is not lost on Jesus’ enemies, who accuse him of blasphemy for saying, “Before Abraham was, I am.” (8:58) In the “I AM Sayings” Jesus states something specific about himself.
I am the Bread of Life (6:35)
I am the Light of the World (8:12)
I am the Gate for the Sheep (10:7)
I am the Good Shepherd (10:11)
I am the Resurrection and the Life (11:25)
I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. (14:16)
I am the Vine; you are the Branches. (15:15)
I encourage you to look these sets of seven up in your Bible. What do you think that the Spirit is teaching us through these sets of seven?
There will be a Service of Healing at each service on the weekend of January 22-23. We will follow our usual order of service, but add a brief service of healing after the sermon and before Holy Communion. Those who choose may come forward for prayer and anointing with water. Pastor Lutz and I will both be involved in the service.
I would like to offer a course on the Faith5 called “Holding Your Family Together”. It is designed primarily for parents of children and youth, but all are welcome to join us. The class will last for six weeks. Someone will be contacting parents in the next few weeks to get their feedback, so that we can choose the best time for all.
Memorial Service of Pastor John Underdahl
Don’t forget that the Memorial Service for Pastor John Underdahl will be on January 15 at 11:00 a.m. A reception will follow immediately after the service in Underdahl Hall. Please join us as we celebrate Pastor John’s life and ministry and show our love to Nancy and the rest of the Underdahl family.
On behalf of my family and of the whole staff of St. Paul Lutheran Church, I want to thank all of you for the cards and gifts that you gave to us at Christmas time. In particular, I want to thank the congregation for the generous Christmas bonus that you gave to me and to the rest of the staff. We appreciate your love and generosity.
Yours in Christ,
From the Lion's Den
We certainly wish to extend a heartfelt thank you to the congregation for their unanimous vote on December 5th to approve the recommended funding to complete the 2nd floor of the school. Your continued support is greatly appreciated!
With the "finish line" approaching in mid-2022, we would also express our many thanks to the Building Committee, Council members, Pastor, and others who have given countless hours throughout this major project to ensure its completion.
Church/School Vans Alarm Notice - A recent Florida mandate requires our vans to have a "Child Reminder Alarm" installed, which has been completed. Instructions pertaining to the alarm are in each van and also when the keys are checked out through the church Office Administrator.
Have a Happy and Blessed New Year!
Jim Kraus, Chairman
From Pastor Lutz
To members and friends at St. Paul,
Christine and I want to thank you for your kindness this Christmas Season. We really enjoyed all the cards and gifts and the beautiful poinsettia. The bonus was most generous. In so many ways you make us feel a valued part of the congregational family. May God bless you and keep you in the new year.
Pr. Bob and Christine Lutz
We're Off to Zambia and Ocala, Too: Mission Update
That’s right, we heard back Kristin Engstrom, and she is excited to hear that St. Paul will continue to support her work as she returns to the mission field. She has accepted a placement in Zambia. Below is a portion of her latest correspondence with us and the link to her blog.
Your mission committee – Kay Blankenship, Joyce Brand, Jill Hoglund, Harold Peek, and I are excited to explore a mission opportunity closer to home. Next month we will share with you our plans to join with other Florida Bahama ELCA churches to support a new
church in Ocala for the hearing-impaired community. We are looking forward to being a part of this one-of-a-kind congregation.
Karen Peek, Mission Chairperson
A Note From Kristin Engstrom
To give you a sort-of short update on my situation, I am still in the US, but not actually waiting to go back to Senegal, but to Zambia (in southeastern Africa). In March 2020, the ELCA asked all missionaries to return to the US, and so I accompanied the Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) from Senegal back to the US, as they needed t
return to the US as well.
Eventually, the decision was made that it was not possible to have a YAGM program in 2020-2021. As a result, the ELCA ended my position as a YAGM country coordinator in March, 2021. Thankfully, I was able to return to Senegal in February and March of 2021 to say thank you and goodbye to our YAGM collegues and hosts. As of right now, the plan is to restart the YAGM program around the world in August of this year, for the 2021-2022 year. So, if there are any young adults aged 21-29 who want to participate in the YAGM program, applications are now open at https://elca.org/yagm!
The good news though, is that I have accepted a new call as an ELCA global missionary in Zambia, in southeastern Africa. I will serve as the Facilitator for Leadership Development and Capacity Building. We are right now waiting on a work permit from Zambia before I deploy. Hopefully I will leave in January of 2022.
Follow Kristin at https://alongwithpastorkristin.blogspot.com.
Lutheran Men in Mission
January 2022 Bible Study Breakfast
The LMM monthly Bible Study will be Saturday, January 22, at 7:30 A. M. in the Parish Hall. We are continuing the Course on "Spirituality.” This is the first session where we will be discussing the subject "Pain and Suffering: Where Is God When It Hurts?” The Bible study topic is “Harsh Realities: ‘Paul’s thorn in the flesh‘” (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). This Bible Study will follow Option 2: Advanced: Teaching with Margin Questions.
2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (NIV)
Paul’s Vision and His Thorn
12 1 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations.
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
This letter, which may have been written after an actual visit by Paul to Corinth, refers to an upheaval among the Christians there, during the course of which Paul had been insulted and his apostolic authority challenged.
The Corinthians were celebrating those who boasted about themselves and their personal power. Perversely, the more boastful and abusive a person was, the more the Corinthians respected them. Consequently, Paul being a humble and unassuming man was diminished in their sight, which led the Corinthians to give less credence to Paul’s teaching despite being an apostle without equal in the church. This was a dangerous situation for the church since the Corinthians were giving attention to false teachers in place of Paul’s sound teaching.
It’s important to put into the proper context the personal experience Paul is going to relate concerning a heavenly revelation in Christ. In 11:30 Paul precedes telling this experience by stating, “I will boast of what pertains to my weakness” and follows up this story of what most would consider an extraordinary “tale” with the problems that followed. Paul tries to use all events and opportunities to teach Christ’s power working through Paul so that all men will be drawn to Christ – not to Paul. (This is quite a contrast to the false teachers who use such events to increase their ratings or contribution levels.)
Discussion will focus on what we think is the main message of 2 Corinthians. Who is Paul talking about in 12:1-7 and why does he tell this story? Is there any significance to Paul asking God three times to remove his thorn in the flesh? Also, what did God mean when he told Paul My grace is sufficient? Is God’s grace sufficient for us, also?
All men of the congregation are invited to attend.
Letter to WELCA
Thank you so much for the very generous monetary donation. We are going to use the money towards our flooring project. We are so thankful for your love and support.
The Twin Cities Pavilion
Bible Studies and Fellowship
Wednesday Evening Meals - The meals are served at 5:30 PM. $8 for adults and $4.00 for children.
St. Paul Lighthouse - The group is for children in 3rd through 6th grade and meets at 6:00 PM on Wednesday nights.
Kids First - For children in grades K-2nd, this group meets Wednesday evenings at 6:00 PM. We will play games, sing songs, & learn a short lesson from the Bible each week.
Youth Group meets at 6:00 PM. It is for grades 7-12.
Ladies Thursday Morning Bible Study – All ladies are welcome to the 9:30 Bible study in Underdahl Hall every Thursday. (Please enter through Jimi's office.) This past week we focused on Jesus's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem via the Mount of Olives (a very popular Jewish burial site for over 3,000 years) and His desperate, spirit-tortured petition to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane. Olives are pressed into oil; GETHSEMANE means "oil press."Our Lord Jesus, the Anointed King, was "pressed" for our redemption, completely emptied of His (perfect) humanity for our (sinful) sake. The Bible is filled with intentional metaphors and symbolic connections. Please join us as we continue to marvel at and witness God's Grace through the life of His Son Jesus. How does Jesus's death on a cross relate to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Curious? Just show up!
Lutheran Men in Mission - The Purpose of Lutheran Men in Mission (LMM) is to bring you together in Christian fellowship with other men in our congregation. We hope to get you involved in an existing LMM activity which interests you and we also hope will stir up ideas for new activities. LMM breakfast at 7:30 am, the 4th Saturday of January.
Lutheran World Relief Quilters – The fourth weekend of January on Saturday beginning around 9:30.
Pastor John Underdahl
Forty-two years after answering a call to establish the first Lutheran church in Niceville, Florida, the Reverend John L. Underdahl was called again to be with his Father on February 24, 2021. He left hundreds of parishioners with memories of his allegorical lessons on living, homespun tales drawn from life in a very large family on the prairie of Minnesota and about dogs and cats in his family in Niceville.
Pastor John was born on February 26, 1945 in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. After high school and completion of a two-year program at The Lutheran Bible Institute in Minneapolis, John earned a B.A. degree in History from Dana College in Blair, Nebraska in 1969. He then returned to St. Paul MN to study at the largest Lutheran seminary in the nation, Luther Theological Seminary, graduating and being ordained in 1973, but only after meeting and marrying in 1971 his devoted partner for life, Nancy Nance. Together, they embarked on their first ministerial adventure: Faith Lutheran Church in Yucaipa, California. Their next service was First Saint John’s Lutheran Church in Toledo, Ohio, where they stayed for six years before receiving the mission call to Niceville in August, 1979. From then until his retirement on November 23, 2014, Pastor John and Nancy nurtured and served the congregation of St. Paul.
John and Nancy raised their three sons, John, Matthew, and Mark in Niceville while ministering to the needs of a growing congregation and a budding pre-school which meant so much to him and to Nancy. In addition, John served as Wing Chaplain for the 919th Special Operations Wing at Duke Field, humbly committing himself to what he described as a “Ministry of Presence,” reminding airmen of God’s presence in trying times. Chaplain John Underdahl retired in the grade of Lieutenant Colonel, USAFR.
Pastor John is reunited with his son Matthew, who passed from earthly life on February 2, 2002 and is inurned in the St. Paul Lutheran Church Memorial Garden Columbarium. He is also predeceased by his mother and father, Berthina and Hans Underdahl; brother, LuVern; and sisters, Ilene Johnson, Maxine Clementson, and Barbara Westerfeld.
John is survived by his spouse of 50 years, Nancy Underdahl; his sons, John and Mark (fiancé Elizabeth Geldbaugh); his grandson Matthew and his granddaughter Maci; his brothers, Jerry and Brice; and his sister Shirley Westerfeld.
A celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, January 15, 2022, at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Niceville beginning at 11am. Pastor John’s family wishes to express sincere gratitude and deep appreciation for the loving care of Dr. Gilberto Vigo and the nurses and staff of Emerald Coast Hospice Pensacola. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Niceville or to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Pastor John’s family and the congregation of St. Paul invite and welcome all who loved John to join us in remembering the man who always reminded us that Jesus loves us and “will never let us go.”