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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sherlock Holmes and our congregation. By Pastor Ronnie Koch

In London, in 1890 The Sign of the Four was published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine. This and other novels and short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle developed the character Sherlock Holmes. This intriguing fictional detective has engaged and captivated audiences in every generation since. In that same summer, over here on the other side of the Atlantic, German settlers in Fredericksburg, Iowa set to work to build a Lutheran church. 125 years ago these founding fathers of our congregation gathered offerings and pledges for the resources to build the first house of worship for St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Unaltered Augsburg Confession. Although it was torn down in the late 1930s, much of the lumber was salvaged and used to build the second church, which still stands today, remodeled as our fellowship hall.

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Recent retellings of the Sherlock Holmes crime stories have been modernized and updated, but the essence of the character – his genius, his wit and his eccentricity – have remained intact. Similarly, 125 years later, we have modernized our church a bit with some minor details like indoor plumbing and Wi-Fi. We sing our hymns in English now and we have communion more regularly. But the essence and the character of what we do is the same, because Jesus Christ, who is at the center of what we do, is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). It's a blessing for us to follow the pattern that those old Germans set for us. Their legacy to us is much more than lumber and nails. They, like us, desired for themselves and their children to hear God's Word and believe in His Son Jesus Christ, “auf daß alle, die an ihn glauben, nicht verloren werden, sondern das ewige Leben haben”. (that whoever believes in Him will not perish but shall have everlasting life. John 3:16b). In answer to their prayers, God is allowing us to celebrate this anniversary year on June 14th with services at 9:00 am and 2:00 pm.

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