Royal Ball Run for Autism
Thank you to all who attended and supported the Taco Thursday Fundraiser to kick-off the Royal Ball Run for Autism season.
All Saints Lutheran Church is looking for monetary donations to support Royal Ball Run. The donations are so the church will once again be listed as a Royal Supporter on the back of hundreds of Royal Ball Run t-shirts. Please write Royal Ball Run on the memo line of your check. The church will write one check to Royal Ball Run in June.
- 1000 Runners and Walkers each year
- 600 Royal Ball for All Participants each year
- One Annual Autism Resource Fair
- $300,000 donated to support local autism programs to date
Now in its 11th year, the 2022 Royal Ball Run for Autism and Royal Ball for All promises to do even more to raise autism awareness and raise funds for local autism programs.
The Royal Ball Run weekend of events will likely look a bit different this year due to uncertainties around Covid-19 but we’re getting creative. Currently, we’re exploring a carnival on June 17 at 5 p.m. in Milan, IL with a 5K race on June 18. Royal Ball Run for Autism also hosts an Autism Awareness Night to mark World Autism Awareness Month as well as an annual autism resource fair to connect families to resources.
Message from April 6, Mid-Week #5 by Pastor Richard Pokora
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rarely does the church admit mistakes. But since it’s Lent, maybe we could. Maybe we could admit that we, the church, have domesticated Jesus. Made a milk cow out of a raging bull. Softened His call. Cheapened His grace. Made confusing His clarity. Worse of all, we’ve violated the eleventh commandment: Thou shall not make God boring! And if that is so, then, what has it cost Jesus? What has it cost the world and what has it cost us?
It’s next to impossible to gauge how many people have come through the doors of our churches in earnest only to leave in disappointment. Impossible to gauge the number of people who came in open but left closed. My sense is that there are many. If creeping secularism is the mother of the Spiritual-but-not-Religious Movement, then its Father is dispassionate Christian witness. We should admit that. God will forgive.
So, what do we do? To whom do we turn? How about St. Paul? You remember his story. He never lacked passion. But his passion was perfected when he met the Risen Jesus on a dusty road. Until then Paul was going nowhere fast. After that meeting, everything Paul says and does is about one thing, trying to throw words and deeds at his experience of Jesus Christ.
That’s the mark of actually meeting God, things get changed. What we think about God, ourselves and others, all change. Each of Paul’s letters are about this. His confidence is the first thing that changes after meeting Jesus. Before, he had confidence in his pedigree, confidence in his willpower to keep the rules. He even had confidence in persecuting the church. But something happened. His confidence shifted. Paul’s balance sheet changed. Red has become black. What was gain is now loss. What was foolishness is now foundational. New insight is gained through faithful living. That’s the way it happens best. You can almost hear him say, “God is in Christ and Christ is in me. It’s true, God is trustworthy.” Paul is clear now. There’s a better confidence to have. God confidence! “There’s value that surpasses all other value,” and that is “knowing Christ Jesus….” (Phil 3.8)
I like how Paul doesn’t try to placate his listeners. “Surpassing knowledge,” he says. God is not relative. Pay attention; this God is real. The most real. This is what the church is called to in this present age, a gentle boldness. Bold in God because God has been bold in love toward us. We hold a gentle confidence while the inferior confidences of the world crack and crumble.
While our tendency as a church is to speak more of institutional life and issues and such, we could take a lesson from Paul in our times. When church is dominantly about those things, then church loses its edge and forgets the beauty of its uniqueness. Young people and guests are the first to recognize this has happened to us.
But churches do thrive when they exist as a treasure trove of God’s revelations in the world for the world. Church is a gathering place for those of us who can’t contain the good news of God by ourselves. Church is that place of confirmation for the world weary, who hope in God. Church is where we are being made seasoned spiritual guides as we ourselves journey on to spiritual maturity. That’s where the power is. God confidence. No God confidence, no power. No power, no transformation. No transformation, then, what’s the point?
Does our faith resemble Paul’s? And if not, why not? Are we guilty of “…taking on a form of godliness while denying the power thereof?” (2 Tim. 3.5) We scarcely want to be inconvenienced for Christ’s sake, let alone actively forfeit anything. Just look at the cajoling that has to go on in most churches for time or money needed to enlarge God’s mission. Just look at how much we like being liked more than leading our people in the direction that God is calling them.
Like the Bible story, we have become the rich man and made Jesus the poor beggar who sits at our gates. And “there is a great gulf fixed between us.” (Luke 16.26) Still, it does not have to be so. Paul didn’t embark on a faith of de-privileging himself. His forfeiture was the consequence of gorging himself on Christ. Praying without ceasing, cheerfully giving, basking in the quiet that speaks, ever mindful that there is no condemnation or separation from the love of God in Christ Jesus. This filled him up and rescued him from the folly of entitlement.
And it will rescue us. Paul never said I want to know lack or hardship or loneliness. Nobody says that. He said I want to gain Christ. He said, “I want to know Christ.” (Phil. 3.10) He said, like John, “I must decrease and He must increase.” (John 3.30) Come what may. He said no stuff, no self- preservation, no pride of position will keep me from that.
This is what young people and people beyond the church are checking our eyes for, an obsession with ultimacy. They want to know, for all our praying and singing, sitting and standing, have we gained something the world cannot give? And having gained Christ, have we made Christ first? So many believe in God, but they wonder does the church still believe in God? Paul would always say, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” And I believe him. How else could he say to people under the threat of death for following Jesus, “That, I reckon these present afflictions are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Rom. 8.18) You can’t say those words until you’ve lost something and seen Jesus change it into abundance.
What shall we do? Paul said it plainly, “…press on toward the goal….” (Phil. 3.13) Paul had a goal-oriented faith. And so must we. That goal had three parts. Step one: “Forget what lies behind.” (Phil. 3.13) Jesus has redeemed the past and bought us a future with his love. So don’t get stuck in the past. You are free. “Those whom the Son has set free are free indeed.” (John 8.36) Step two: “Strain forward.” (Phil. 3.13) Moving forward with Jesus takes some work. You have to confront your fears. Christianity is for the spiritually athletic. It stretches us exactly how we need to be stretched. You can trust the process. Step three: “…press on toward the goal of the heavenly calling.” (Phil. 3.13) Followers of Jesus aren’t obsessed with being good people like so many people are nowadays. No, our goal is God, not good. We can’t make ourselves good. Obsession with our goodness is narcissism. The only good there is comes from pursuing God, so we press on toward our heavenly calling.
You and I have been called to release heaven wherever we are. And you and I have been given the capacity to release heaven wherever we find ourselves. And more heaven gets released every day you and I press on with Jesus. Forgiveness is from heaven. So is love, peace, joy, generosity, and kindness. We’re pressing on toward that at home and at work, in the church house and in the courthouse–wherever we find ourselves.
Pressing on with Jesus is the only way to be right with God. That’s the whole point. Pressing on with a God that is beyond our asking or imagining. A God who came among us gently, lived wonderfully, taught truthfully, died violently, was risen triumphantly, empowers generously and remains our companion steadfastly. No words can contain it. No effort can attain it. Shame on us if we constrain it. The best thing is to proclaim it. That’s the whole point.
May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.