St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church Newsletter

Glory Collides With Tragedy

Christmas is such a peaceful season. "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..." playing on the radio. Kids coming home as families gather. By now the gifts have been given, Christmas celebrations a success, cookies consumed and decorations and lights are now ready to put away for next year. 

These scenarios don't necessarily reflect the first Christmas where we see glory collide with tragedy. "The glory of the Lord shone around them and they were filled with fear..." (Luke 1:9). When God entered our world, it was glory unimaginable. Angels literally announced to shepherds that God was keeping his promise. "Peace on earth!" because God was becoming flesh, and the hope of the world was born in a stable. A time to celebrate!

But that celebration was short lived. As wise men sought to worship the Savior, we learn that King Herod - scared to death for his political power - was planning to kill the newborn king. This led to the slaughter of infants in and around Bethlehem. Celebration collided with mourning. Life collided with death. Glory collided with tragedy.

Isn't this so often what we see in the Bible?  The glory of God's presence, the glory of his promises, and the glory of his grace collide with the tragedy of sin, the plotting of mankind and the reality of death.

And where do we see the most violent collision of glory and tragedy? On the Cross. As beautiful as the Christmas season is, it's not really about Christmas trees. It's about the tree of Calvary. On that tree of a cross, God's glorious plan - offering forgiveness, life and hope - collided with tragedy. The only perfect human that ever lived would suffer an unjust and violent death. A perfect sacrifice for a fallen world.

But because we understand the glory of the Christmas story, we know that this tragedy was the best thing that could ever have happened.  The Christmas story begins with the slaughter of innocent children and ends with murder of the Son of God. These events show how much this world needed grace. The tree of the cross is where that needed grace is given.  In 2019 we again take time to follow the details of God's grace in the seasons of Epiphany, Lent and Easter. May these seasons bring our salvation into focus and offer a peace that lasts more than a season!

Because glory was willing to face tragedy, we have hope.  Not only as we enter a new year, but always and forever!

God bless our focus and worship in 2019!

Pastor Tomhave 

(The title of this article was inspired by a devotion by Paul Tripp.)


Your pastors and their families express sincere appreciation for the warm greetings and generous gifts received during the Christmas season.  We look forward to our exciting work together in the new year and ask for your prayers as we serve you with the message of Jesus.


A special voters’ meeting held on December 2nd addressed two main things:

  • The 2018-19 budget requires weekly offerings of $27,900 to meet the needs of our ministry. Through the first 4 months of our fiscal year (July-Oct) weekly offerings have averaged $25,400, resulting in a shortfall of $43,140. Current offerings are covering 93.5% of our ministry’s budget. A recommendation was approved to revise the FY 18-19 budget by transferring a larger amount than budgeted from the Limp Estate. This includes a transfer of $60K at this time and authorization to utilize the entire amount available as necessary through the remainder of the Fiscal Year.

  • A preliminary loan agreement was prepared with the Bank of Lake Mills. This would help to secure beneficial terms upon approval by the congregation to build. (This is basically a pre-approval process to lock interest rates and particulars for potential actions.) This is in preparation for a potential action by voters in the future in regard to authorization to build (see the announcement below about the voters’ meeting to be held on January 29). This is not authorization to build or act yet. That agreement with the Bank of Lake Mills was approved by our voters.


I huge "thank you" to all the participants in the midweek Advent worship services. "Thank you" to all those that used their musical talents in: accompaniment, choirs, solos, directors, organ, piano and organization of music. A "thank you" to all the groups that organized a meal each week: Operation Go, Mission Society and the Youth Group. All glory, honor and thanks be to our Lord, as we directed our focus and worship to our God who makes promises that he always keeps!


There will be a welcome potluck meal after the late service on Sunday, January 13th for all those who joined our congregation during 2018.  All members are welcome to attend. The main dish of chicken and potatoes will be provided.  Members are asked to bring a side dish of vegetables or salads, and/or dessert. Beverages will also be provided.  


Our building committee and a number of subcommittees have been working on the details of our new sanctuary. It's almost time for all of us to start discussing the project in detail together. Renderings (both exterior and interior) and the current floor plan are posted in the gathering area. Extra copies are available on a table. Feel free to take copies home to review on your own. 

On the weekend of January 13th, our building committee plans to present the project in detail that goes beyond the renderings. That will be followed by time scheduled on the weekend of January 20th for congregation discussion. Our church council has scheduled a special voters' meeting for Sunday, January 27th at 11:45am to discuss and decide whether we move forward and construct the new sanctuary. If the vote is yes, groundbreaking would be tentatively scheduled for April 1st. 


In preparation for our annual meeting we produce an Annual Report containing statistics of the past year and summaries of activities by the boards of the church council and other groups.  We ask for reports to be submitted to Terri Happel by January 16.


The annual voters’ meeting will be held on Sunday, February 3 at 11:45 a.m.  Elections of several church council and board positions are part of this meeting.  Several other items are in preparation:  a new facility use policy, school enrollment policy, Purpose, Values and Vision statements (see later item from the Vison Planning Committee) and recommendations from the Facilities Study Committee.


The Connect Group Bible Studies will start with new sessions in January.  The groups bring Christians together in a community, allowing them to grow together in Christ.  These new sessions provide a great opportunity to start the new year by joining a Connect Group Bible Study.  The topic each week will be the week’s sermon text. There will be opportunity to dig deeper into the sermon text through study and discussion while building relationships with fellow Christians in small groups. The groups will be held in homes, last one hour, and will be comprised of about 8 people.  Dates for the new session are January 27-March 16: 7 weeks. Some of the groups will have a planned place for children while the adults meet together. We are planning sign-ups for the Connect Group Bible Studies from January 13-20. Watch the service folder for more information.  


We join the following couples in thanking the Lord for blessings received as they celebrate special wedding anniversaries (multiples of five years) this month. May God’s blessings continue on you and on all of our families!

 Steve & Kim Gartner                       January 7              30 years
Mr. & Mrs. Redggy Pohlman        January 26            45 years


MARSHA HOPMANN departed this life on December 5, at the age of 72.  Her funeral was held on December 10.  Blessed are those who die in the Lord!

 GILBERT RYDER departed this life on December 12, at the age of 95.  His funeral was held on December 17.  May the Lord comfort his loved ones through his Word.


Our review of Christ’s love and goodness during the recent weeks provides motivation for our giving for the work of his kingdom.  His daily blessings supply the means to do so.  May our response always be grateful and generous!  Offerings of recent weeks for the general operating budget are listed below. Average weekly needs are currently $ 27,900.

 December 2               $ 39,920
December 9                $ 36,763
December 17              $ 23,282
December 23              $ 34,459
December 24-25        $ 48,959

Also received during those weeks were gifts of $9,365 for the Building Fund (Bountiful Blessings), $421 for the Improvement Fund, $57,865 for Phase 2 Building, $5000 for Furnishings; and $200 for Tuition Assistance.


We express sincere gratitude for these recent memorial gifts presented to the Phase II Building Fund and Bountiful Blessings:

In memory of RUTH KUHL, $120, $50 toward a new oven
In memory of MARSHA HOPMANN, $125
In memory of BETTY WELKE (mother of Ellen Brown), $10

TWICE IS NICE January 2019

Thank you, thank you, thank you! We have experienced back-to-back record sales months in October and November 2018, and yet our shelves remain full. One amazing example would be the over 70 Christmas trees that were sold in a 3-week period! How richly we have been blessed with salable donations, terrific volunteers, a growing customer base and dedicated leadership provided by our Day Managers. Our Lord is good. So many students, who otherwise may not have been able to afford a Christian high school education, have benefited from the efforts of the many faithful who support Twice Is Nice in one or more ways.

Shop: Did you know we have 50% off certain color tags the last week of each month? Find outstanding bargains anytime – even our regular prices beat other stores’ clearance prices. We’re easy-to-find and open Mondays-Saturdays from 9-5 PM: just a minute east on the Hwy 18 exit off the 26 bypass at 907 W. Racine St., next to the Jefferson Piggly Wiggly. Please note that we will be closed on December 24, 25, 31 and January 1, 2019.

Volunteer: Talk to someone you recognize from the following list and ask how easy and fun it is to help! New Volunteers: Zachary Caldwell and Angela Marsh (Bethesda Community Connection), Michael Hopper (Cross Point), Becky Grasso (Willerup), and LLHS students Emma Berg (Eastside, Madison), Sarah Bilitz (Peace, Sun Prairie), Kyle Doering (St. Paul, Lake Mills), Emily Godwin (Calvary Baptist), Brevin Jegerlehner and Bronte Perkins (Holy Cross, Madison), Haylee Meske (St. John, Jefferson), Rachel Poyner and Amber Wardall (St. John, Newville), Kaitlyn Shadoski (St. Matthew, Janesville), Emma Statz (St. Peter, Helenville), Anna Swenson (St. Stephen, Beaver Dam). Thanks to you all.

 Please Donate! This time of year historically brings a lull in donations –if your new year resolution includes cleaning your closets and basements, remember Twice Is Nice! Donations can be brought to the door in the back from 9-4:30 any day we are open. Questions?  Call 920-674-6868, ask for the day manager.


Our OWLS chapter will have its January 15, 2019 (third Tuesday) gathering at St. John Lutheran Church in Juneau starting at 1:30 PM. Rev. Jonathan Bilitz from Madison will tell us about The Wisconsin Lutheran Student CHAPEL and how it offers a safe place for University of Wisconsin students with the message of Christ. Ladies of St. John will serve refreshments. St. John Church is located at 400 South Main Street in Juneau. OWLS provides a wonderful opportunity for seniors to grow spiritually and enjoy the fun and fellowship of neighboring WELS and ELS members. Bring a friend with you.  All are welcome. NOTE: Annual memberships ($15) for the national OWLS come due again in January.