St. John Lutheran church, New Minden, IL

St. John Lutheran church, New Minden, IL

November 17, 2013, St. John Lutheran Church, New Minden, Illinois (pastored ably and faithfully now for nearly 26 years by Rev. Timothy P. Mueller) was struck by a tornado for the third time in its history.

Several homes of members across the street were also destroyed.  No congregation members were killed, but two people in the community, who had been visited by Pastor Mueller, lost their lives.  Both Pastor and people are bringing God’s comfort and peace to family members and to many others.

Some years ago, for the 150th Anniversary of St. John’s in 1996, Pastor Timothy Mueller edited a history of the congregation, which of course included descriptions of the previous two tornados – May 27, 1896, the same day as “The Great St. Louis Cyclone,” which killed hundreds, and again on June 7, 1907.  When St. John’s was hit for the third time in its history, we remembered a dedicatory prayer included in the history, a prayer written by the then pastor of St. John’s, Rev. Emmanuel Koestering, for the occasion of the dedication of the renovated church on November 10, 1907. See especially how the prayer strikes a note of humble dependence on the grace of God, submitting to God’s chastening, yet trusting His mercy in Christ and holding God to His promises:

O Lord God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, unsearchable in the unity of Your essence and the trinity of Your persons, and at the same time incomprehensible in the judgments and ways in which You deal with Your children on earth!  In deepest humility and veneration we appear for the first time in our renovated house of God before Your holy face.  You have permitted us to experience Your judgments out of Your mighty hand.  Twice You have spoken to us by means of storm and weather.  Twice You have placed members of this congregation suddenly in the dust of death and have left behind deeply wounded and bleeding hearts.  Twice You have allowed this Congregation to weep upon the ruins of their church.  Deeply You have humbled us before our brethren in the faith and before the mocking world, as if we were great sinners more than others and not Your dear and precious children on whom You bestow Your hearty and good pleasure for the sake of Your dear Son, in whom we believe and who is the joy and comfort of our hearts at all times.  But, dear heavenly Father, although we humbly confess to be great sinners before You who have deserved all Your temporal and eternal punishments, yet Your faithful Word stands before us as a brightly shining sun: “Whom I love, him I chasten” (Hebrews 12:6). And we believe firmly without any doubts, that You have visited us, not in Your wrath but in Your fatherly love and grace and through Your faithful sufferer Job You do call to us: “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.  For He bruises, but He builds up;  He wounds but His hands make whole.  He shall deliver you in six troubles, yes, in seven no evil shall touch you” (Job 5:17-19).  And You have permitted us to experience the truth of this word now.  Yes, You have not only struck and wounded us, but Your faithful and merciful hand as Savior has again raised us up, healed us, and filled our hearts with peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.  We have been able to kiss Your chastening hand because we recognize and believe, as You have convinced us, that Your eternal grace and mercy lead us through the sorrow of death to heavenly joy, and from deep outrage to the heavenly crown of glory.  See, dear Father, for that reason we appear before You today with joyous praise and thanks to Your divine name in our newly given House of God and confess from the bottom of our heart: This is the Day the Lord has made for us.  “O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good” (Psalm 136:1).  You have done great things for us.  We rejoice in it. O Lord, help! O Lord, let it turn out well for us!  But we ask now, Lord God, Father, You, the Lord of our life, abide with us; it is almost nighttime, the day of this world is declining, its end is coming near.  The Judge is at the door.  O abide with us with Your grace, with Your Spirit, with Your comfort!  Protect this precious house of God and retain in it Your pure Word for us.  May Your Word ever be our heart’s rejoicing and comfort!  May we, like the wise bridesmaids, watch and pray with patience and good works, seek after eternal life, and be clothed with the garments of the righteousness of Your dear Son Jesus Christ, that when our hour comes or You appear in the clouds of heaven for the final judgment, we be found worthy to stand at Your right in the shining forth of Your eternal glory and may hear the most blessed greeting: “Come unto Me, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for You.  O pious and faithful servants and maids, come, enter upon the eternal joy of Your Lord!” (see Matthew 25:34).  Amen, may it be true for us all.  Hallelujah!  Amen. Amen (from a 1921 History of St. John Lutheran Church, New Minden, Illinois, quoted in Our God, Our Help in Ages Past: 150 Years of Documents, Pictures and Other Tokens of God’s Blessings upon St. John’s Lutheran Congregation, New Minden, Illinois, edited by Pastor Timothy P. Mueller, published by St. John’s, New Minden, Illinois, 1996). 

+ Herbert C. Mueller
First Vice-President