February Construction Update

Hello from Zion!  Things continue to move along with our construction projects here at the church.  If you come up here during the week, you’ll see workers doing all sorts of stuff.  Rather than writing about what’s been happening, I thought I’d share some pictures with some information.



Those trenches have our plumbing and electrical lines in them.

Building Team 2

It’s important to make sure the base is packed tightly.  I’ll think about this picture the next time I read Jesus saying something about building things on a solid foundation!! (Matthew 7:24-27).




Today (Friday), we saw some concrete trucks on campus.  Before the pipes buried underground, they are sealed in concrete and then the dirt is tightly packed on top of them.


There used to be a wall there!  Part of the walls to the stairwells were removed this week.  We did this to help bring attention to the stairwells so people who can will be able to use the balcony more often.

Building Team 1

Do you recognize where the light switch was?

The Adventure Begins, Part 2

We need to give you some important updates about what’s happening at Zion. As we said yesterday, we invite you to see everything that happens next week as a way for us to practice generosity with each other and see this as an adventure.

Here are the major things that will happen over the next few days:
-The portables next to Church #3 are being moved this Friday and Saturday. One of the portables will be going off church property while another will be moved next to the Music Apse for church use.

-The construction zone will be marked off the week of November 16 with temporary safety fences. There are two areas that are off limits and will require us to adjust accordingly.
-The first area is at the corner of the property adjacent to the Church of Christ. The parking spaces on the 1604 side of the Pump House and the lawn next to it will have the construction trailer and storage for construction supplies.
-The other, larger area is in the middle of the church property. It includes the area around the gazebo, an edge of the FLC on the 1604 side, and much of the lawn on the 1604 side.

Campus Map
The highlighted areas in yellow will be fenced off starting the week of November 16.

Again, it is important to remember that these areas are off limits, even on Sunday mornings or other times when construction workers aren’t present.

Rayburn Middle School

Several months back, we started having conversations with the principal of Rayburn Middle School, Scott McKenzie, who happens to be a member of Zion.

Rayburn has a large number of students that live in poverty.  Earlier in the school year our church donated some of the school supplies it collected to the students at Rayburn.  They sent a thoughtful note that I referenced in an earlier blog.

Today I received this wonderful email from Scott sharing this link.  In the email he mentioned that some of the kids we helped with school supplies are in the picture in this article.

God calls us to share the resources we have to be a blessing to others.  I’m thankful for the ways in which the people of God have stepped up in ways like this to bless youth with basic supplies that are needed for their education.

Ever thankful for your partnership in the gospel,

Pastor Russell

School Supplies and Canned Fruit

Part of our mission as Zion Lutheran Church is to serve God’s people, especially the most vulnerable in our community.  We do that in a lot of different ways here at Zion.  For instance, we have this great connection with our friends at Taking it to the Streets, which provides food for the homeless in downtown.  You should come the next time we do this!

Late last week we received an email from our friends at Christian Assistance Ministry (CAM) saying that they are in desperate need of canned fruit and plastic children’s hangers.  We’ve been long-term  partners with our friends at CAM and have people at Zion that volunteer in a variety of ways there.  Thanks to your generosity, we had several people that brought in canned fruit that will help feed the hungry in San Antonio.  We will continue to collect fruit and hangers and will take them to CAM.

Our Women of Zion (WOZ) are in the middle of a great service project.  They are partnering to provide school kits to children across the world.  Our goal is to collect enough supplies for 150 school supply kits.

So far we’ve collected:
530 black and blue pens
100 rulers
124 boxes of crayons
118 scissors
185 erasers
115 pencil sharpeners
262 spiral notebooks
1305 pencils

We still need:
220 black or blue ink pens
50 more rulers
26 more boxes of crayons (16 or 24 count)
32 more scissors
35 more pencil sharpeners
338 70-page spiral notebooks (note: they are currently on sale for .17 at HEB and WalMart)

Can you help? For more information, stop by the WOZ table in the narthex or call the church office for more information.

As always, thanks for the many ways you seek to be a blessing to others!!

Holy Smoke 2!!

This Sunday our Lutheran Men in Mission is partnering with the Women of Zion for our second Holy Smoke! event.  Come out for some sausage, beans, and potato salad plates.  You can get them to go or eat in Fellowship Hall.  Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children.

The proceeds from this event go to help support Habitat for Humanity.  But how will this money be used?

Lutherans in San Antonio of all stripes (ELCA and non-ELCA congregations) have worked on a Habitat House in San Antonio as a joint partnership for several years.  We believe that as Lutheran Christians we can work together to help provide simple, decent, affordable housing for families in need.

This takes money to make that happen.  Lutherans across the San Antonio area are trying to raise several thousands of dollars to help with the construction materials.  Every dollar that is raised at Holy Smoke II will go to provide materials for this house.

So this Sunday after you come to worship, come and grab a plate to eat for a good cause.  Stay in the Fellowship Hall or take some home with you!


It’s the End of the World As We Know It!

Today I want to talk about the last things… The fancy church word pastors and scholars use is called “eschatology.”  It literally means the study of the last things.

A saying that is sometimes attributed to Martin Luther helps me to frame my comments – “If I knew that tomorrow was the end of the world, I would plant an apple tree today!”

The Nicene Creed declares that Jesus Christ “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.”  From the beginning of our history, Christians have been living with the realization that Jesus will come again to bring a new heaven and a new earth.  Lutherans start with the assumption that this is good news.  All that is wrong with this world will be restored by God’s grace.

In the last several centuries there has been a renewed interest in eschatology by certain parts of the Christian church.  On its own, that’s not a bad thing.  To grossly oversimplify things, how we think about the end makes a difference in how we live in the present.  Lutherans haven’t really been having lots of conversations about these sorts of things.

But to have a brief conversation I think we need to start with the Bible.  Lutherans read the Bible with Jesus Christ as the center.  He is God’s Word made flesh.  While some Christians look at Scripture start with the assumption that God’s Word is a road map that predicts history or gives us propositions to believe or accept, Lutherans talk about how Scriptures center on Christ, the Living Word, who speaks to us through these ancient words.

Because Jesus is at the center of our reading of Scripture and because we stress God’s grace, we start with the understanding that all of life is in God’s hands.  God keeps and protects us as a shepherd keeps sheep.  This means that we don’t have to worry about the end of the world because it’s all in God’s hand.  Our job is not to spend inordinate amounts of time preparing for the end of the world by doing things like predicting the end of the world.  Our job is to be signs of the new creation that is springing up around us.  It is to do things like work for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:2) and to trust that God’s kingdom is coming on earth as it is in heaven in/around/through us.  The daily tasks we do are signs of God’s kingdom breaking in that will culminate with the second coming of Jesus.

In other words, we Lutherans are much more interested in the signs of new creation that are springing up on earth than we are about when the end of the world will be. Our job is to live in hope and to trust that God’s desire for the world is good and gracious.

The Great Controversy – Part 2

Yesterday I wrote about a book that had been in several mailboxes by the title The Great Controversy.  I’ve not read the book yet and probably won’t get to it any time soon.  But here are some of my thoughts:  

The author, Ellen G. White, is a really important figure in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) tradition.  In the 1980’s there was a statement on how mainstream SDA’s think of her writings.  They believe that she had the gift of prophecy and that her writings are “the product of that inspiration, are applicable and authoritative, especially to Seventh-day Adventists.”  (For more on what they said, go to this website.)   Interestingly even though a woman’s writings are a really important part of their tradition, they remain divided on the ordination of women as pastors.

While Lutherans and Seventh-day Adventists share a common belief in the Triune God, we also have some significant differences.  For instance, SDA’s stress practices like tithing and Old Testament dietary laws as binding on Christians.  Lutherans stress the freedom a Christian has because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Another important distinction is that Lutherans primarily gather on Sunday because this is the day Jesus rose from the dead (see Acts 20:7), while SDA’s believe that Christians are obligated to worship on Saturday.

When I talk with Christians from other traditions, you can often hear different things emphasized.  For instance, Lutherans place a strong emphasis on God’s grace as a gift given to us.  While that’s a theme that runs throughout the whole Bible, a lot of Lutherans I know will find great comfort in Paul’s writings in the New Testament.

SDA’s stress two books in the Bible that are about the end of the world – the Old Testament Book of Daniel and the New Testament book of Revelation.  You can see glimpses of this on the back cover of The Great Controversy:  

Solemn and important… are the events taking place in our times.  But what do all these really mean?  Could these be warning signs, arousing us to some imminent danger?…  The Great Controversy reveals that the world is a theater of conflict.  The actors – you and me – are preparing to act our part in the last great drama.  And our choices and actions have a part to play in the outcome of this agelong struggle.”  

Notice the language of conflict that I mentioned yesterday.  Also notice the emphasis on the end of the world (i.e. the last great drama.)  Tomorrow I’m going to briefly offer a Lutheran response to this….

Life Together

by Vicar Emily Ebert

Life Together. We all have our own ideas of what the phrase, ‘Life Together’ implies. We all have our own communities of which we are a part, and our own ways of existing within them. We throw around words of ‘love’ and ‘community’ as followers of Christ, but how do those words get played out in our lives? Sometimes there are unconscious boundaries that prevent us from revealing our whole selves to our neighbors. If we are unable to reveal our whole selves, then we might begin to wonder about the depth of our relationships. If we are unable to face the realities – the joys and the struggles – in our own lives, in our community at Zion, in our various circles of friends, and even within what we see as our various circles of enemies, then what kind of relationships do we have? We need relationships that create systems of support and love, but we also need relationships that challenge each of us and help us grow as a community. In Psalm 133:1, it says “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when God’s people dwell in unity!” That does not mean we will agree on everything, but it does mean we will listen to each other, bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:25).

This week we begin our book study on Bonhoeffer’s book titled Life Together. Bonhoeffer was a man who brought faith, doctrine, intellect, theology, action, and discipleship together. The book is based off of the experience of life in a community for an underground seminary during the years of the Nazi regime. Bonhoeffer not only challenged the German sense of community, but the sense of community within the German clergy, challenging action and inaction within the communities of the Holocaust. Bonhoeffer gives advice and guidance that can challenge us to think about how we live as followers of Christ, within our congregation and within the world. The purpose of the study is to build curiosity about what the words of Scripture and Bonhoeffer’s words mean for us now. Come, ready to dive in. Come, ready to challenge each other. Come, ready to question the world we live in.

Zion still has books available for $10 (also available on Kindle). Contact Karen Stein (kstein@zionsa.org) or Emily Ebert (eebert@zionsa.org) if you are in need of a book. You may also call the church office at 210-688-3090.

Each week, we will discuss one chapter of Bonhoeffer’s book. If you miss a week, that is okay. Let me (Emily) know, and I can send you the study questions for the week you missed.

1. Wednesdays – starting June 3, 6:30-7:30am at The Egg & I on Bandera (a great way to start off the morning, especially if you cannot make an evening Bible study time)
2. Wednesdays – starting June 3, 7-8:30pm in room 101
3. Sunday – starting June 7, come to Adult Sunday school at 9:30am
4. June 15-19 – 7-8:30pm, meet in the Narthex to study one chapter each night during evening VBS. Register with Karen Stein for this session by June 7th.