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Pastor John Albers, Rev. John M. Albers

Ministry With God’s People

By Pastor John Albers


I’m sure it has happened in the past, and I’m absolutely confident it will happen again … I’m absolutely overwhelmed! 

Over the past six weeks or so several leaders and caring church members have asked me about how things are going. I’m especially cognizant that in December I began by THIRD year already as pastor with the people of St. John’s.  So when folks asked me “How are things going,” I was also doing a bit of an assessment of the past couple of years.

Like many of you I spent the month of December feeling completely unprepared and always a little overwhelmed. I was working on plenty of things at the last minute. That Christmas Eve was on a Sunday this year also didn’t help and then I was traveling the last Sunday of the church year. So as we approached the final days of Advent, I was working on Advent services and preparing for EIGHT services before I could “wrap things up” on Thursday, December 21.

Add to the list: Debra and I received the unwelcome gift of viruses that sapped our energy during a week (January 2-5) set aside to do plenty of “catch up.”  And now, because Easter is so early this year, we’re coming into a winter season that is shorter than ever (there are  only five Sundays after Epiphany and the Transfiguration of our Lord is already the weekend of February 11.

I have and will be overwhelmed. I love EVERYTHING I’m doing, but a host of great things is still a HOST of great things.

That’s when it hit me: I am and have been overwhelmed in other ways:
  • Every time I turned around another church member was handing me a Christmas Card or gift. Once we get healthy, we’ll head out to enjoy a dinner out (or two). Some of your gifts have been intentionally set aside for a big trip to Germany next fall.
  • Every day someone else was asking how they could help or responding positively to my request for help. Several DIY’ers are lowering the cost for repairs and improvements to our school building. The Board of Elders did a fabulous job of helping me host our local pastor’s conference.
  • Leaders have been scheduling (and rescheduling) meetings and setting our congregational agenda for the coming months. 
Each of these, of course, pale in comparison to being absolutely overwhelmed by the love of God!  As I’ve shared from the pulpit (and will insist on continually): our living is built on the foundation of God’s love and forgiveness. 

As I was planning for worship I came across a Cory Asbury song we haven’t used since I’ve been pastor, but we will in the coming weeks at our Connect service. Consider the song’s refrain and what it describes (based on large part on the parables from Luke 15):

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Oh, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still You give Yourself away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Worship Calendar

Several event names will be linked to additional information available
by clicking on the name of the event.

    Worship for the Season of Epiphany

    January 13/14 – Second Sunday after the Epiphany
    • 6 pm & 8 am – Prayer and Preaching
    • 9:30 am Connect Word and Communion
    January 20/21 – Third Sunday after the Epiphany
    • 6 pm – Divine Service, Setting 1
    • 10 am National Lutheran Schools Celebration (In the Gymnasium)
    January 27/28 – Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
    • 6 pm– Evening Prayer
    • 8 am – Morning Prayer
    • 9:30 am Connect Word and Communion
    February 3/4 – Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
    • 6 pm & 8 am – Divine Service, Setting 1
    • 9:30 am Connect Word and Song
    February 10/11 – The Transfiguration of Our Lord
    • 6 pm & 8 am – Divine Service, Setting 1
    • 9:30 am Connect Word and Communion

    Worship for the Season of Lent

    February 14 – Ash Wednesday
    • 10 am – Divine Service with Imposition of Ashes
    • 6:30 pm Divine Service with Imposition of Ashes
    February 17/18 – First Sunday in Lent
    • 6 pm & 8 am – Divine Service, Setting 1
    • 9:30 am Connect Word and Song
    February 21 – Midweek 2 Lenten Service
    • 6:30 pm – Evening Prayer (Holden Setting)
    February 24/25 – Second Sunday in Lent
    • 6 pm & 8 am – Divine Service, Setting 1
    • 9:30 am Connect Word and Song
    February 28 – Midweek 3 Lenten Service
    • 6:30 pm – Evening Prayer (Holden Setting)

    Looking Ahead to Holy Week

    March 23/24 - Palm Sunday - 6 pm, 8 am, 9:30 am
    March 28 – Maundy Thursday - 10 am, 6:30 pm
    March 29 - Good Friday - 12 pm, 6:30 pm
    March 31 - Easter Sunday - 6:30 am, 10 am

    Special Events in our Calendar

    One Service for NLSW

    One Service for NLSW
    Our congregation’s calendar is dotted with several special events, several of them related to celebrating the ministry of St. John’s Lutheran School.

    We will kick off National Lutheran Schools Week with a SPECIAL SERVICE on Sunday, January 21, at 10 am.  The morning will be filled with activities, the highlight of which is a service held in our school’s gymnasium featuring many of our school’s children singing and assisting with worship that day.

    Our theme this year is “Connected” and built on Jesus’ teaching in John 15. We, God’s people, are connected to the “vine,” that is, Jesus the Christ and through Jesus to God and one another. The image of God’s people as a vineyard is as ancient as the prophets and is a reminder that we, like a grape vine, cannot live outside of our connection to Christ.


    BLOOD DRIVE: The day begins early, at 8 am. The American Red Cross will take over the school’s cafeteria that morning, providing opportunities throughout the morning for you to provide for others through the donation of blood. Follow the link or click on the QR code to schedule your appointment for that morning.
    Blood Drive QR

    BREAKFAST: The St. John’s Lutheran Church School Board will  be hosting a BREAKFAST beginning at 8:30am. Bring your family and a freewill offering to help offset the cost!  The breakfast is being catered by Cafe Trilogy.

    BOOK FAIR: A week-long PaperPie (a.k.a. Usborne Books) Book fair will also open the morning of Sunday, January 21. Look for the book fair in the Ladies’ Lounge on the north end of the school building. 

    Be sure to check out the list of activities scheduled the week of January 22-26.

    Lent 2024 Will Be Here Before You Know It!

    Lent 2024 Theme
    Easter is as early as it can be … well, almost.

    Actually, put Sunday, March 31, on your calendar and make plans to join us for worship that day and the week before.

    NOTE: Actually, Easter Sunday could be as early as March 22, but the last time that happened was more than 200 years ago (in 1818).  Easter did fall on March 23 in 2008. For that matter, Easter could be as late as April 25, but that hasn’t happened since 1943. Easter WILL be late next year, April 20, 2025.

    All of this means that Ash Wednesday, the first Day of Lent is rather early this year, February 14. As usual, St. John’s will mark these days with a series of additional worship services. A Divine Service with the Imposition of Ashes will be held at 10 am and again at 6:30 pm on that day.

    Services of Evening Prayer beginning at 6:30pm, will mark the next five Wednesdays (February 21 & 28, and March 6, 13 & 20). Plan now to join in a time of fellowship and prayer at 5:30 pm in the school’s cafeteria. The WOW group invites you to join them beginning at 5 pm to prepare Prayer Cards and intentionally spend time in prayer for individuals in need.

    More information about our Lent theme and plans for Holy Week will be included in our next online edition of St. John’s newsletter, as well as in a print edition currently scheduled for print the week of February 5.

    Church Updates

    Worship Production Team Still Needs Your Help

    How can you help? There is an opportunity to help EVERY weekend, and even for other midweek services and special events.
    Worship Production Team Still Needs Your Help

    Review of Cemetery Process and Records

    Review of Cemetery Process and Records
    A preliminary meeting for Wednesday, January 17th at 5 pm in the Ladies Lounge has been set.  Please join us for more information.


    Chancel Renovations Begin

    Even as work continues on the “finishing touches” for our Chapel, workers from St. John’s are turning their attention to another upgrade to our main sanctuary.
    Chancel Renovations Begin

    Chapel Upgrades Continue

    Chapel Upgrades Continue
    New and upgraded technology are the next steps in our chapel renovations.

    More Lighting Upgrades

    By relocating some lighting fixtures and using brighter LED bulbs, we have improved the lighting for our main sanctuary!
    Bright White Light

    Bible Studies

    Join WOW for study, prayer and fellowship

    Bible Study
    The St. John's Women of the Word (WOW) study group will pick up again on Wednesday, January 10, beginning at 6pm.  Newcomers are always welcome to join the group which is meeting currently in the Ladies' Lounge in the School building.

    Currently, as this year's lectionary includes additional readings from the Gospel of John, the group is planning on digging back into John a bit in order to set the stage for what lies ahead in this church year.  The study will continue each Wednesday through February 7th.


    Then, Lent begins on February 14th!  Easter is March 31st! (It seems really early, but it will be even earlier in just a few more years.) The WOW group has stepped up to take the lead for Lenten Soup suppers this year, each Wednesday beginning February 14th at 5:15.  Worship will begin at 6:30.  The WOW group will gather at 5pm to prepare their Care Cards (a different audience each week), then prepare to welcome others for supper, cleanup, then head to church in time for the 6:30pm ringing of the bells.

    This women's study group is happy to welcome newcomers, but with increased security on their minds, the main school door will require a four-digit code for entry. Contact the church office for the code (which is only active from 5:45pm to 6:15pm each Wednesday evening).

    Questions? Please contact Dionne directly @ 219-380-1034.
    Mark Jerndt

    Growing in Christ:

    Devotions to Strengthen Your Life with God

    By Mark Jerndt

    Yea Though I Walk Through the Valley...

    Yea Though I Walk Through the Valley...
    It’s interesting to note in this verse that; “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death’, it does not say I die there or stop there- but rather “I walk through”.  Death is but the dark valley opening out into an eternity of delight with God.  Our Good Shepherd knows this.

    Eagle Updates

    From the Desk of Principal Berndt

    Important second semester testing and assessment dates are upon us...
    From the Desk of Principal Berndt

    National Lutheran Schools Week Activities

    National Lutheran Schools Week Activities
    National Lutheran Schools Week is always a time of special events and fellowship! Here's what's happening...

    Chapel is a Great Way to Connect with SJLS

    Consider joining us for chapel each Wednesday morning at 8:10 am (whenever school is in session).
    First Chapel of the Winter Term

    Preschool/PreK/K Roundup

    Preschool/PreK/K Roundup
    It's time to think about next year's Preschool, Pre-Kindergarten, or Kindergarten enrollment! If you have a child or know of a child that falls in that age bracket, we would love to meet with you and your family or have you recommend us to others!

    Our School's Calendar

    Some events may be linked to additional information available
    by clicking on the event.

    Important Dates

    January 9: NWEA and Reading Fluency Winter Assessments begin
    January 12: Last day of Second Quarter
    January 15: Martin Luther King Day - No school for students, Professional Development Day for Teachers
    January 17: Muffins with Moms at 7:15 AM, Report cards sent home
    January 21: National Lutheran Schools Week Breakfast at 8:30 AM in the gym,
    NLSW Worship Service at 10:00 AM in the gym
    January 22-26: National Lutheran Schools week activities, PaperPie Book Fair
    January 25: Spelling Bee in the gym for grades 3-8 at 12:45 PM
    January 27: Basketball Tournament for boys & girls grades 4-5
    February 2: Kids Heart Challenge Kick-Off TBD

    Looking ahead

    February 10 - Basketball Tournament - Boys & Girls Grades 6-8
    February 13 - Valentine's Day Classroom Parties
    February 13 - Farewell to Alleluias Celebration
    February 16-19 - No School - President's Day Weekend Break
    March 20 - End of Third Quarter
    March 25-April 1 - Spring Break - School Offices closed
    April 2 - School Resumes

    Student Stories

    Christmas Craft Day

    Christmas Craft Day
    Christmas Craft Day at St. John’s was Friday, December 15th. 

    This event was sponsored by the NEST (Nurturing Eagle Support Team) and coordinated by Amy King and Sara Maas.  These fabulous leaders transformed the school cafeteria into “Operation Christmas Craft.”  The red carpet was rolled out for students to enter the crafting workshop.  There were 13 different craft stations to choose from.  These stations included a glitter ornament, sleigh, twin ornament, fingerprint ornament, Christmas Tree Ornament, Nativity stained glass centerpiece, Baby Jesus Star ornament, Snowman Soup, Christmas tree centerpiece, Christmas pen, ornament spinner, beaded snowflake, and a snowman candy bar.  Students could choose to create as many crafts as they wanted. All the stations were $1.00 and all materials were donated.  There were reindeer games to play when students were finished with crafts.

    Thank you to all of the volunteers for making this event a success!  This was a most joyous event for our students, staff, and volunteers.  The $821.75 from Christmas Craft this year will be used by the NEST to support their ongoing activities.

    Annual Spelling Bee

    Annual Spelling Bee
    "Can you use it in a sentence, please?"

    St. John’s Lutheran School is excited to announce the annual Spelling Bee Competition for grades 3-8.  All students in those grades are encouraged to participate.  This is a great opportunity to improve spelling skills and have fun.
    • The school Bee Competition will be held on Thursday, January 25, 2024 during National Lutheran School Week.
    • The competition will include 3 phases.
    • Students will sign up in their classrooms for the Spelling Bee
    • Spelling practice lists will be sent home with students and can be requested from classroom teachers
    • Parents and guests are invited to attend both the School and District Bees
    • Certificates and prizes will be awarded
    • Finalists advance to The Scripps National Spelling Bee Championship.
    Let the fun begin!

    Student Council Update

    Student Council Update
    St. John’s Student Council had a busy DECEMBER.  The students coordinated a collection of cat and dog food donations for the Animal Shelter.  Student Council members and Mrs. Skalka, faculty sponsor, delivered the donated items and toured the facilities.

    On December 4th, Student Council members enjoyed “Ringing the Bells” for the Salvation Army at Walmart.  The Grinch showed up to greet them and the students enjoyed hot chocolate to stay warm.   

    2024 Basketball Season Gets Underway

    2024 Basketball Season Gets Underway

    The St. John’s Eagles Basketball Teams are prepping for their season by giving it all in their practices which started December 4 of this year. We have four teams this year! We have 9 girls participating on the 4-5th grade team that is coached by Mr. Jacob Zoll. Our 4-5th grade boys team has 8 boys participating, and they are coached by Mr. Matt Hagenow.  The 6-8 Grade Lady Eagles have 11 participating; they are coached by a husband and wife duo, Mr. Raymond and MaryJo Maynard. The 6-8 Boys team has 11 participants, and they are coached by Mr. Chas Grott.  

    The game season starts with the Girls teams traveling down to St. Peter’s in North Judson on Tuesday, January 16th to take on the Wildcats. Game times for the 4-5 girls is at 5 pm and the 6-8 girls will tip off at 6 pm. The Boys teams start their season at home on Thursday, January 18th against the Wildcats from St. Peters in North Judson. The tipoff time for the 4-5 boys is 5 pm followed by the 6-8 boys at 6 pm.

    N.E.S.T. News

    NEST News

    N.E.S.T. (Nurturing Eagles Support Team) Update ...

    Muffins with Moms

    St. John’s Lutheran Church and School understands just how important mothers are, not only to us but also within our community. Mothers wear many titles in their lifetime such as doctor, teacher, lawyer, banker, and chef…to name a few. 

    St. John’s students will be sharing muffins with their mothers and enjoying a time of worship together at Chapel on January 17, 2024.  The event begins at 7:15 am in the cafeteria.  Students will return to their classrooms by 7:55 am and mom’s will then leave the classrooms and cafeteria to meet and sit with their students in the church by using the Portico entrance.  Chapel starts at 8:10 am and generally lasts until 8:45 am. St. John’s students and staff look forward to sharing this time with the moms of our students.

    If you are interested in helping to serve the refreshments for this event, please contact the school office at 219.362.6692.  If you are a mother of a St. John’s Eagle student, you may NOT sign up to serve but must come and be served!
    NEST News
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