Pastor’s February Message: “Rediscovering Jesus”

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Free to the first 144 households…

Now that I have your attention, either by the use of italics or bold print or simply the word “free” in my opening line, be assured, this is not simply a gimmick. I do plan to give away 144 gifts in the
coming month, but I need you to read on to understand why.

Last summer I lunched with a former member of Emmanuel. As we talked, she encouraged me to
read several books—books that she had used in her new church home in Florida—and more
importantly, books that had inspired her own faith life. One was “Rediscovering Jesus” by
Matthew Kelly. Its back cover describes this book as “a profound invitation to seek deeply personal answers to our deeply personal questions. Each page seems to effortlessly reach deep into our lives, providing spiritual wisdom and practical insights that help us get to know both Jesus and ourselves in a new way.” The cover went on to say that “Rediscovering Jesus” was part of a 2016 Best Lent Ever ministry organized by the Dynamic Catholic Institute—an organization “passionate about re-energizing Catholics and their parishes.” So moved by this book, my Lutheran friend ordered six additional copies to give away and apologized for not having one left for me. No matter. I was intrigued enough to order my own–and then six more to share with staff. I found that in its 40 devotions—each simple enough to read in minutes and powerful enough to contemplate for hours—Matthew Kelly guided his readers to rediscover One who comes to Catholics and Lutherans alike as “Savior,” “Teacher,” “Master” and “Friend.”

Last fall, I began imagining all of Emmanuel rediscovering Jesus and having one of the best Lents
ever in 2017. Especially as my parish ministry nears completion, I could think of no greater legacy
than to have helped others know the love revealed by God in Jesus and the abundant life realized
when following his Way. And then the idea hit me. What if I were to follow my friend’s lead and
purchase copies of “Rediscovering Jesus” to distribute among my friends at Emmanuel? What if
members were to commit to pondering these daily devotionals throughout Lent—perhaps even
joining small groups to discuss what they rediscovered about our Lord? What if we kicked off this
500th Anniversary Year of the Reformation with a greater belief in the “holy catholic church,” a
church Jesus still desires to unite as one? What if other readers became so enthused, they bought
copies of the book to share, and this study expanded to enfold many others with the good news
of Jesus Christ? What impact could my gift have?

We are about to find out! I have purchased 144 books—twelve dozen copies of “Rediscovering
Jesus.” In the Bible, the number twelve suggests the complete nature of God’s goodness. Both
the 12 Tribes of Israel and the 12 Disciples called by Jesus were deemed enough by God to help
build a holy kingdom on earth. I trust God will use my gift of 12 dozen books to further that work
and complete my service to Emmanuel in a good way.

But I need your help. I will not simply put out the 144 books to be dispensed. I’d like to know
who’s yearning for Jesus to be rediscovered in their lives and in the life of our church. Then, as I
reserve each copy, I will write a personal note in the book and pray each takes its reader(s)
through one of their best Lents ever. I’ll prepare these books throughout February and have them
ready for your pick-up before Ash Wednesday, March 1.

Please take some time now to consider this offer. The book is free, but you can choose to refuse
it. If you decide to join the congregation in reading this book, reserve one of the 144 copies of
“Rediscovering Jesus” by emailing me at bneubauer@elcvienna.org or by phoning the church
office at 703-938-2119. Or sign up for a copy (and perhaps an accompanying small group study) in
the Centrum over the coming weeks. For now, I’m asking that we keep it one copy per family. And
if we should run out, don’t worry. With a problem like that, it will be a pleasure to order more!
I look forward to hearing from you; and, excited about your partnership in the gospel, I remain,
yours in Christ! Pastor Beth