In Case You Missed It

From the Confirmation Students
Thank you for supporting our Confirmation Service Project that we did as part of our “Living Lutheran” Confirmation Retreat Saturday, April 9th. Your support helped us raise over $900 and pack 3,644 meals to help fight hunger through the organization Kids Against Hunger. There were about 24 volunteers that helped at the packing event. Thank you!

Micah and Kaylee

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.

Visit for more information or visit our Royal Guide for autism resources in the QCA at

Message from April 14, Maundy Thursday by Pastor Richard Pokora
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

Several years ago, on a trip to New York City I happened to walk past a small red brick church sandwiched between much larger office buildings in the mid-town area. Curiosity got the best of me. I poked my nose in the door just to take a peek at the interior of the church.

What I saw was surprising. The sanctuary was dark and looked nothing like what might be expected from a church located in the heart of New York City. The room appeared to be lifted out of a medieval English parish church.

When I returned home, I checked the internet to find more information about this church. The building, it turned out, had been designed more than a hundred years ago by an English Victorian Gothic Revival architect. The congregation and architect had determined to follow the principles of Cambridge-Camden Society, founded in 1839, which aimed to revive historically authentic Anglican worship, restore medieval churches and build new churches in the Gothic style.

I was surprised and not surprised by what I read about this church. First, anyone who has traveled to cities, like Boston or New York, knows that many churches in those areas follow a Gothic model. I was surprised, however, to see that going forward in the church meant going backward 500 years. It takes a particular mind set to believe that real Christian worship and theology are somehow embodied in principles of single point in time, particularly medieval England. Why is that time more significant for the life of the church, than any other?

Maybe what caught my attention was their definition of what a church ought to be. The web site described a church as the roof and walls that surround and protect a eucharistic altar. Now that is a very interesting definition of a church, if for no other reason that it mentions nothing about the people of the church or what is done at the altar or the place of scripture or even Christ within that building.

On this Maundy Thursday, we should ask ourselves what is it exactly that makes a church? Martin Luther said the church is wherever the people of God gather to hear the word of God preached and receive the sacraments. We recall from our study of scripture that at the time of Jesus there were neither church buildings nor altars. Jesus never walked in a church building nor did he ever do anything at an altar. These are things the church would add later to facilitate the preaching of the word of God and the administration of the sacraments.

Martin Luther would have argued, as does the Lutheran Church today, that what makes the church the church is what Christ commanded us to do and be as a people. Whether we have an altar or a building for that purpose is of an entirely secondary matter.

On Maundy Thursday we return to examine and receive what Christianity has argued is the foundation of the church, that is the Sacrament of Holly Communion. When Jesus gathered his disciples together on the night before his death, he wanted to give them one thing that would symbolize his life and ministry and guarantee his continued presence in the life of his disciples. As he sat at the Passover table eating with his followers, he picked up a piece of matza bread, broke it and distributed it to his disciples to take and eat this bread which both symbolized and embodies him. Then in a similar manner, he took a cup of wine used at the meal, blessed it, and gave it to his disciples. He told them the wine in the cup also both symbolized and embodies his presence to them. Finally, he said whenever and wherever they gather as a Christian community, they should repeat this practice to remember him and what God had done through him, by again eating the bread and drinking the wine.

Clearly, it is not the altar building made by human hands which creates the church. The church is not a human creation, but a divine one. St. Paul went so far as to describe the church as the body of Christ. We are individually members of it, just as an arm or a leg is part of our human body. The head of the body is Christ himself, which reminds us that without the presence of Christ in the church it would be nothing at all.

The great struggle of the church in every age is let Christ define himself and the body of people he has created. Medieval Christians may indeed have seen the church as walls and roof which contain an altar. If that was their understanding of what it means to be a church, they missed the mark. We miss the mark in our own way. We have to struggle again and again to remember precisely who it Christ wants us to be as his people. We make the same mistake our fore bearers made. We tend to make the church in our own image, rather than in the image of Christ. If for no other reason, we gather together today on this Maundy Thursday to hear again what Christ says the church is all about.

Today we have our own problems understanding this meal. Sociologist have made several observations about our society. First, they note the breakdown of family and community and the difficulty individuals have living in a family and community. Nowhere is this better symbolized than in the simple act of eating a meal. The meal has always been the one time and place where a family or a community comes to gather and renews the bonds that bind them together. How often do modern families all gather around a table to gather to eat and renew the bonds of family?

Studies have shown that children have fewer problems, when they regularly come together each day with their parents for a meal and to discuss the issues that concern the family. The communication which goes on at the supper table is vital to the life and strength of a family.

It is the same way in the family of God when come together for this meal. We hear the word of God read to us and taught, we receive the bread and the wine, we pray for one other, we live for this time in the presence of God through Jesus Christ. Some folks say they don’t need the church to be Christian. But St. Paul reminds us through this meal we are all part of the body of Christ and that we can no more do without each other, than the hand can do without the arm or the leg without the hip.

Today is Maundy Thursday, it is the day we consider again what it means to be the church. We remember it is not the building or altar which makes us God’s people. It is receiving the bread and the wine as the body of Christ that constitutes us. Without the church as the body of Christ, we are not the people who God created us to be. Amen

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Message from April 15, Good Friday by Pastor Richard Pokora
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

At no time do we stand closer to the mystery, the hiddenness, the total otherness of God than we do at this hour, at this moment, at this cross. At no other time do we see how completely not-us God is. This cross isn’t something we know or understand or have room for in our world or in our lives. Not one of us would do this or allow this. We would gladly die to stop this from happening to someone we love, most of all to our beloved child. There’s no room in our world for this. How do we approach this day, how do we begin to understand it?

As with so much else, perhaps the best place to begin is with the people of Israel and their story. God promised Abraham that, through him, all the peoples of the earth would be blessed—that it was Israel’s vocation to show the world who God is and what God is like. To begin to grasp the barest hint of what is happening here today, we must go to the people of Abraham—there’s no better place. Nowhere else in human history or in human thought can we find even the smallest insights into the mystery that we see full-blown before us.

It begins with a different tragedy. Six hundred years before Jesus, the Babylonians descended upon Jerusalem and destroyed it. They weren’t content with destroying the city; they wanted to destroy the inner strength of its people and of their society as well. So, they rounded up the leaders of the community—all the people who in our time would be bankers, and lawyers, and doctors, and teachers, and professional musicians, and union leaders, and clergy—and they bound them in chains and led them on the long northward trek to Babylon to become the servants and slaves of their captors.

Fifty years passed. Fifty years of bitter servanthood for the exiles and their children. The Psalms are filled with their hymns of tears, and through the Psalms, their tears became part of their tradition—and of ours.

And then the Babylonian Empire fell to Persia, and a different Great King struck a different policy. Cyrus the Great let the servants go home; he let them return to their own country and rebuild their land.

Through both the darkness of exile and the first rays of hope, Israel kept asking, “Why have we suffered so much? Why us?” And a poet appeared among them, a poet-theologian, who wrote songs of unsurpassed beauty to suggest a hopeful answer to those searching questions of human grief. He was a new genius, who was led to suggest an idea that, quite possibly, no one had ever suggested before. He said something about a nation and a people that had, quite likely, never been suggested of any nation and of any people before his time. He sang new songs, different and amazing songs. These songs come to us in the middle of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, and today’s first reading is the heart of these songs.

This magnificent prophet focused on the servant status of his people. They were slaves and servants in bondage and oppression, and the poet took this image of servant and re-worked it in terms of glory and salvation. It looked as though his people were servants of oppression, but actually, they were servants of God. And their suffering, when born in hope and as an act of faith, was the key not only to their salvation but to the salvation of the world.

For the first time in human history, the mystery of sacrifice, which had almost universally been a part of the religious life of the people, was seen as more than a way of giving an angry or a hungry god something it needed, or wanted, or demanded, or deserved. For the first time, sacrifice was seen as a rejection of the world’s categories of worth, value, power, and victory, and was understood instead both as God’s way of faithfulness and redemption for his chosen people, and as the hidden path to the salvation of all creation. The songs of the servant in Isaiah are about this, and they are new songs.

Jesus himself grew into his own sense of vocation and mission under the power of these words, and perhaps he saw himself as that servant, and his path as that way of gentle faithfulness that all too often leads to suffering. This cross is what that faithfulness finally came to look like in his world, at his moment. The inspired song from Isaiah is revealed in its fullness, and with its greatest power, in the agony, defeat, and shame of Golgotha. To be a Christian means to sing this way. It means to look for, and to find, in this peculiar and distressing direction, the depth of God’s truth.

In Jesus, and in his cross, we can begin to see how this ancient poet of Israel, so long forgotten and ignored, was given the gift of seeing into the deepest heart and soul of God. In spite of what the world thinks, in spite of what seems to us the way things are, and the way things have to be, in spite of our own values, hopes, and dreams, in spite of all of that: Here is the meaning of life; here is the way of God; here is our hope, and the hope of our world.

And there’s more, for if we fasten our attention so single-mindedly on this one moment, this one day in the past, that we can’t recognize the brokenness of our own hearts and the brokenness of our own world, as God’s eternal key to new being, then we will have missed the central point. This is not just about back then, and it’s not just about this cross.

The hope hidden in this cross continues; we can make it our own. We can recognize that only here can our own inner divisions, our own sinfulness, our own brokenness, receive the possibility of healing and of wholeness. A great rabbi [1] once said, “There is no heart so whole as a broken heart.” Such is the fruit of this sacrifice. But remember, as with Isaiah’s Servant and as with Jesus, the wholeness we receive is for the life of the world.

On the one and only day we call Good, we stand at the foot of an ancient mystery of sacrifice and salvation, given poetic voice by the rivers of Babylon and fully revealed only here. We can choose to embrace this mystery, this path, as our own, or we can turn away, and seek our own path. And we will do one or the other.

What it means, what it looks like to embrace this path—to choose faithfulness over security, to choose self-giving love over self-protecting alternatives, to choose painful honesty over comfortable denial—to struggle to move this man on a cross to the center of our lives and of our character. What this looks like in our world, at our moment, cannot be predicted, let alone described. It probably won’t look like this cross, but it may well feel like it from time to time. There’s just no telling. That’s part of our mystery, and of our hope. his cross is the path of life.

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your minds and heart in Christ Jesus.