Camp Sunday July 5, Covenant Harbor, Lake Geneva Wisconsin

Thank you for looking us up! This Sunday, July 5, is the one Sunday of the year that we will NOT have worship at our campus, 1565 Larkin Avenue. Instead we are supporting Covenant Harbor Bible Camp this week by participating in their Summer Sundays worship. Covenant Harbor is in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. You can find more information about the camp and their summer programs at covenantharbor.org. Please join us July 12, 10:30 AM, as we continue to celebrate 125 years of ministry at Elgin Covenant. While you are here, surf this site for information about our programs, and beliefs, our past, our present and our future, including pdf versions of newsletters and sermons.

Welcome: The Difference Between “Inviting” and “Affirming”

God Bless you, friend. Thank you for checking out this website!

A new post has been added  to “Hot Topics.” The Hot Topics are arranged alphabetically. Scroll down to “W” and find Welcome: The Difference Between “Inviting” and “Affirming”

All are welcome to the Evangelical Covenant Church. In today’s world, however,  words are drifting in meaning. Being a “welcoming” church has taken on implications that reflect the arguments going on in the world about sexuality and marriage. As is clear from the rest of this website, Elgin Covenant holds to what American society now calls “traditional” or “conservative” views of sexuality and marriage. (We prefer the terms “Biblical” and “God-ordained” but those are words that also spark all kinds of controversy and strong emotion.) We are an “inviting” church, we are not an “affirming” church. If you need more explanation, you may begin with the Hot Topics article.

 

Living Again

Spring took its time reaching the upper midwest. March was “in like a lion,” but out like a bear. Even so the signs of life, the longer daylight, the warmth, the flowers, are reminding us of beauty and of joy in simple pleasures.

Many religions have long understood spring as a metaphor. Some have seen it as a metaphor of cycles, circular time, and sameness — for philosophies of reincarnation. The Christian faith has seen in spring a sign and metaphor for resurrection, for new life coming from the dead. The analogy should not be stretched too far. Trees that bud are not resurrected, they are coming out of dormancy — we see that in the animal kingdom too, among some mammals that hibernate for a period of time during winter.

Each cycle of the seasons move time forward. Trees get bigger and taller. Animals, including human beings, advance through stages of maturity. And then, eventually, life dies. The tree does not bud in spring, but becomes a dry trunk.

The amazing good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be simply deduced from the cycle of seasons and the life-cycles of trees and animals. It must first be declared and lived and spoken by God as an act of self-revelation, in a way that we can understand. This good news is that Jesus was dead, all the way dead. He was not hibernating, he was not in a deep coma, he was dead. Then God raised him back to life in a body that will never die again. That is good news for you and me because of what God promises in the words spoken through Jesus Christ, that by faith in him we also can share in his eternal life, we also can rise from the dead in new bodies that will never die.

The hints of spring cannot replace God’s special, spoken and revealed Word. This Word lived in the flesh of Jesus Christ, is preserved in the Old and New Testaments, and is experienced directly through the presence of the Spirit of Christ dwelling in and renewing the minds of believers. His Spirit dwelling in us is our deposit on eternal life, the guarantee of the promise. Be thankful for the seasons and for what spring means to the cycle of life, but be ever more thankful for what God has done to make that which is dead and that which will die, to live again forever.

Spring and Celebration

We are now deep into 2015, our 125th Anniversary Year. We launched our celebration on February 15 with a short film showing the origins of our tradition. On March 8 the Rev. Dick Lucco brought the word, preaching on Zaccheus and our call to be like Jesus in taking notice of others. Holy Week began on Palm Sunday, March 29, featuring a liturgical dance by a team of women and then a song by the children. April 1, missionary Ryan Karp of Chosen People Ministries took us through “The Messiah in the Passover” and led communion. Good Friday and Easter were also special worship times.

The celebrations continue. On April 26 we are holding a “Welcome Baby” shower for Josiah Johnson, born to Pastor Greg and Shannon Johnson. On May 10 our youth are hosting a special Mother’s Day breakfast (FREE) and then are leading worship with Pastor Greg. On May 17 we are having our special “Church in Mission” emphasis with our outreach pastor, Henoch Fuentes. On June 7, Central Conference Superintendent Jerome Nelson will be our guest preacher, along with a guest choir, for the celebration of Pastor Greg’s ordination and Pastor Jonathan’s graduation with a Ph.D. All of these events are on Sunday mornings and open to the public. Come to the party!

125 Years of Worship and Service

We hope you will join us this year as we celebrate 125 years as a congregation. The year-long celebration begins February 15, “Covenant Heritage Sunday” and continues through the 2015 Christmas season with special speakers, parties and picnics. Keep yourself posted with announcements on this website. The “biggest” plans are for June 7 with a guest choir and conference Superintendent Jerome Nelson to help us celebrate Pastor Greg’s ordination, the August 30 family and community picnic, and November 7, the banquet with denomination President Gary Walter, but a lot will be happening between times. Stay tuned!

New Year, New Opportunities

As January unfolds our church is gearing up for its Annual Meeting on February 8. Hard work is being done on our budget as the leadership has a cast a new vision for the pastoral office at Elgin Covenant. We are hoping to make the role of Associate Pastor for Youth and Family full-time. This means an increase in our total budget over 2014, but we believe God is setting this challenge before us. In the weeks leading up to February 8 it is our turn to discern what this means in each of our households.  This is the focus of the January-February newsletter; you are invited to launch and read that for more details.

ECCEsketch Jan-Feb 2015website Newsletter

We are thrilled by the service that Pastor Greg is bringing to our church in the Associate role, which under the plan, he will continue to perform half-time through the summer, assuming full-time responsibilities on September 1. Our desire is that by investing in this role we are helping make the church continue to be a place that is welcoming to families who can be confident that their kids are receiving a foundation in faith through the Sunday morning and midweek activities.

November and December Calendar of Events

ECCEsketch-Nov-Dec-2014-Newsletter

Our newsletter includes, as page 3, our list of special events and programs for November and December of 2014.

Please take special note that YOU are invited to these events, and we hope you take note especially of the following:

Thanksgiving Eve service and Pie Social, beginning Wednesday, November 26 at 7 PM.

Santa Lucia Coffee, Open House Saturday December 6, 9-11 AM, featuring traditional Scandinavian breakfast treats.

Family Gingerbread Decorating Party, December 7, 4-6 PM.

Children’s Pageant and Choir Program, December 14, 10:30 AM.

Our Christmas services as noted in the calendar.

Please go to the tab to find an archive of past newsletters. We hope you make worship a priority during this season.

Fall Frights: Fear and Faith

Here are some reflections on the troubling events happening in our world. In light of the emergence of ISIS in the Middle East, and of Ebola, this post offers a reflection on a Christian point-of-view towards life, death, and being afraid. But first, I invite you into our PDF fall newsletter. This will keep you up-to-date on what is happening here through October.  A newsletter archive is found at the tab Church Newsletter:

ECCEsketch Sep Oct 2014 Newsletter1

War and Disease and the Christian’s Hope

There are rumors of war as terrorists for “Islamic State” (ISIS) are alienating most of the world with their tactics. It is a blasphemy to the Muslim faith to call such an organization “Islamic State.” They have been responsible for the murder of aid workers — an egregious breach of the ethics of the Koran. One way to think about this issue is that ISIS can call themselves “Muslim” only in the same way that the Ku Klux Klan could call itself “Christian” as it did back in its hey-day of violence, murder, terror and intimidation.  The vast majority of Christians rightly distance ourselves from the hate, violence, tactics and general world-view of the Klan.

At the same time there are also fears of a widespread outbreak of a deadly disease called Ebola. This comes in addition to food-safety scares, and employee terrorism and mechanical failures in components of our infrastructure such as air traffic control and water treatment. The Fall of 2014 hardly needs a Halloween to strike fear into the hearts of many, including believers in Jesus. How do we respond in such scary times? Does believing in Jesus help?

Believing in Jesus certainly helps me, and I believe it helps millions of people, because our faith keeps these frightening things in perspective. Jesus said, in Matthew 10:28, that rather than being afraid of those who can only kill the body, we should be afraid of God, who is also in control of the state of our souls for eternity. Trust in Jesus Christ means that we keep faith with God who will rescue us from death as a permanent state — a terrifying condition–, and turn turn death into a doorway into eternal life of peace and glory. So what can ISIS do to me? Only hasten my arrival in the loving arms of God, while they meanwhile heap wrath upon themselves. What can Ebola do to me? As the Apostle Paul writes, to live is Christ, and to die is an upgrade into eternal glory!

Some want to find in these events a hint that Christ might be coming soon. Of course I agree that this is a possibility. I am also convinced that Christ might not roll the skies back like a scroll for another ten thousand years. Each generation tends to think of its own crises and issues as the harbinger of God’s final promises to end history. But friends, if Rome fell, the United States can also be eclipsed as a world power without the world ending. This is not unpatriotic. This is a Christian statement backed by both Biblical and historical perspective.

The “Black Death” scourged Europe throughout the 14th Century; throughout the late middle-ages Christians thought their world was ending, and this view was taken by many of the leading Reformers through the 1500′s. Several evangelicals in the 1600′s and 1700′s charted Biblical time-lines to point to the climax of history in their own generation. One very compelling argument saw the French Revolution as a harbinger of the Return of Christ. World War I was followed by an Influenza epidemic — those who lived a hundred years ago had much more compelling reasons to believe their world was ending than we do today.

The Church over time has developed other ways of looking at the crises and realities of war, disease, and death. Trying to teach believers to keep things in a godly, biblical perspective, the church developed holidays to celebrate various saints who, following Matthew 10:28,  gave their lives even to death for the sake of their witness to Jesus Christ. The Church in the West selected November 1 as a Feast Day to celebrate “All Saints,” to commemorate all those who had died in the Lord and for the Lord. Halloween is a contraction of “All Hallowed’s Eve,” the evening of the celebration of All Saints.

As with so many other things, a solemn reflection on the reality of death and the memory of the departed took on other meanings. Reflection on fearing only God turned into a morbid fascination with what Hell might look like, so rather than saints being esteemed, many costume themselves as the undead — ghosts, zombies, vampires and the like.

Kept in perspective and within the boundaries of health and safety, these things can be fun. I take my daughters out for trick-or-treating. I see skeleton costumes and the like as human beings making a satire of ourselves — we think we are high and mighty in our world, but one day a year we and our children remind ourselves that we are dust and we shall return to dust. If we would remember such things soberly throughout the year, our reflections should turn us humbly toward God as our source for hope, meaning, and peace.

Meanwhile, this Fall, take the visceral frights that you have from Ebola scares and ISIS terror, and make that fright productive in faith: Pray for the persecuted Church around the world, and for the Christians being added to the Company of the Martyrs by the insane hatred of terror groups and hostile, paranoid regimes.

Gearing Up for Fall: School Parking

Commuters to Larkin High School are invited to open the tab on School Parking to get the information you need for reserving a spot at our church. We are beginning to take applications. You will find a link to the pdf application form when you open the tab.

Our Fall Schedule is falling into line as we kick off our program year Sunday September 7. We plan to offer a new age division in our children’s Sunday School class. Look to this site for more details as Fall approaches. A men’s Bible Study will launch on Saturday, September 6, 7:30 AM (yes, AFTER Labor Day week-end!). Our Wednesday 6 PM dinners for $2/plate will pick up again on September 10.

But the summer is NOT over yet. Look below to see what is continuing to happen here through August.