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Dear Congregational Family,

1. All Hallows’ Eve: Tomorrow is known as Halloween, but few people know that what it actually means is “All Hallows’ Eve”. This was the “holy/hallowed” evening of prayer and preparation before All Saints’ Day (November 1st). All Saint’s Day is a festive day of the church to remember and celebrate:

a. That we, who are sinners, have been made to be the saints (holy ones) of God through the perfect righteousness of Jesus!
b. We remember and celebrate those saints of God who have passed on to glory during the previous year.

We will be making these remembrances and celebrations on All Saints’ Day Sunday on November 4th. This is always a very special Sunday to us as we also gather around the Table of Holy Communion and receive this intimate sacramental meal with our Savior and with one another in Christ. Holy Communion is also a time in which we look forward to the Eternal Feast of the Lamb which awaits us in Heaven.

2. Martin Luther: Most Lutheran’s know that Luther was not out “trick or treating”, but rather was nailing his “95 Theses” to the church door on Halloween. But WHY did he do it on THAT particular day? It was because he foremost of all wanted to call the Church to REFORMATION concerning the issue that we are made holy/justified/saved by Grace Alone through Faith Alone. We are made the holy saints of God by the finished work of Christ on the cross, not by our good works. As the Church prepared to celebrate “All Saints’ Day” the next day, Luther used this opportunity of “All Hallows’ Eve” to highlight the truth that Christians are made to be holy saints of God by Christ Alone!

3. Jewish Congregation at Tree of Life Synagogue: This past weekend the deadliest attack on Jewish people in America occurred here in Pittsburgh. This horrific attack is hard for us to comprehend, and our hearts go out to all those who lost family members, to those who were injured (which includes four police officers), and to the entire congregation, as well as to the wider Jewish community of Pittsburgh. We are in prayer for all.

As Christians we have a special bond with the Jewish people. God chose the Jewish people as His own through which to bring salvation into the world. (Because of this, Satan has always had an intense hatred toward the Jewish people). Jesus took on human flesh and was born as a Jew and continues in His Jewishness today as the God-man for all eternity. Even in heaven, Jesus is identified as the Lion of Judah and the Root of David (Revelation 5). The Apostle Paul clearly writes that when we (Gentiles) were brought to salvation, we were grafted into the Olive Tree of the spiritual Israel, as the children of Abraham. Therefore, in a very real spiritual sense, Christians are Jews and share the same ancestry! To hate the Jews is to hate Jesus Himself. Let us love and pray for the Jewish community in our midst which is in so much pain today.

4. Stewardship: This week I am sending out our annual stewardship letter, along with the Time & Talent Sheet and Pledge Card to help you pray and respond to God’s call to engage in the ministry of our church. Just like we are studying in Nehemiah – we need everyone engaged in the building and mission of the congregation! The 2019 Offering Envelopes will also be available in the Conference Room beginning this Sunday for you to pick up.

God bless you as we continue,

“Growing Together in our Faith as the Family of God.”

Pastor Carlson

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