GROW DEEP - 75th Anniversary Edition


Our theme for the celebration of WG's 75th anniversary is: Founded in Faith. Made for Mission. Growing in GraceGod has poured out His blessings onto our church. We are a church Founded in Faith, nourished by the faith of the many saints who have gone before us. We are a church Made for Mission, today and every day. The Gospel compels us to go and share His Good News with others. And as we age, we age with the amazing grace our Savior Jesus Christ continues to lavish upon us. We look forward to continually Growing in His Grace as we anticipate what He has planned for our future. 

May these devotions and our 75th Anniversary celebration inspire you to worship, praise and thank our awesome God! May our congregation, and each of us individually, continue to flourish through each peak year as we give God all the glory and live out our mission statement:  Together, we will develop generous disciples who Know and Enjoy God in Worship, Read and Reflect on Scripture, and Serve and Share the Gospel.

75 Days - Daily Devotions:

WEEK 1: March 17th through 23rd

A call … a dream … a vision of what could be … the promises of God fulfilled over and over again. That is what God planted into the hearts and minds of the leaders of the Western District (now the Missouri District) and Concordia Lutheran Church in Kirkwood in the mid ‘40s.

A real estate deal … the purchase of a piece of land approximately 500 feet from Elm on the north side of Watson Road, historic Highway 66 (what is now the Arsenal Credit Union).

Overwhelming obstacles and prohibitive costs associated with building a church on the newly acquired piece of property … discouragement in the hearts of many of the committee members, resulting in their withdrawing from the planning process.

The search for an alternate place to meet … the very first worship service held at Grant School (corner of Watson and Grant Roads) on April 11, 1948. In spite of inclement weather, 35 souls were present for that first worship service, including 17 children and 5 adults who attended Sunday School/Bible classes.

Great rejoicing on earth and in all of heaven when Mr. Wallace Sweeten became the first person to be baptized into the Christian faith at the small mission congregation on November 21, 1948.

These are some “snippets” of the story of God’s faithfulness in the early years of our history before Webster Gardens was officially “born.”

The story of our congregation begins back in the 1930’s when a number of farms south of Webster Groves were being sold for residential development. In the mid ‘40s District leaders of the LCMS and Concordia Lutheran Church in Kirkwood envisioned the new residential subdivision known as Webster Gardens, formerly the Toft Farm, as a potential new mission field. After assessing the results of a 1945 survey of 100 homeowners, however, it was decided that further action toward establishing a new congregation should be put on hold. But just two years later after more subdivisions were built and annexed to Webster Groves, the results of a second survey led to the decision to move forward with the planting of a new Lutheran church, to be known temporarily as The Lutheran Church of Webster Gardens. We were FOUNDED IN FAITH … faith to move forward with God’s plan to reach the lost!

Step Into the Future: Make a commitment to spend time each of these 75 days reading and reflecting on the selected Scriptures. Make a commitment to pray for our congregation each day, giving thanks to God for all that He has done, is doing and will do in our future!


“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” (Psalm 95:6 NIV)

We have probably all received many invitations for activities at church such as joining a small group, event planning, helping to serve or coming to a pancake breakfast. But the best invitation we have received is the one to come and worship. What a life-changing invitation! And it personally comes from God. In today’s reading we are invited to come and bow down in worship. We are invited to kneel before the Lord our Maker. God Himself invites us, His people at The Lutheran Church of Webster Gardens, to come. This invitation isn’t to be put aside, but rather, in thanksgiving, we are to come often with sincere hearts.

When we come into God’s presence for worship, we participate in Word and Sacrament. We show respect to our Creator God, and with contrite hearts we humble ourselves, confessing our sins. Through the grace of God, we depart restored by His forgiveness. The God we worship rejoices over us and always promises to be our God. We are His beloved people who celebrate with joy the 75 years of being refreshed and empowered through the Spirit as we worship at Webster Gardens. To God alone be all the glory and praise.

Lord, we worship You alone with hymns of praise and thanksgiving for Your presence and love every day. We praise You as we celebrate the 75th “birthday” of Webster Gardens TODAY! Keep our hearts in tune with Your Word and Your will. Thank You, Creator God. Amen.

Author: Emilie Vincent


“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV)

Why put a beautiful treasure in an ordinary clay jar? To keep it safe! Who would think that ordinary vessels would contain extraordinary treasure?

God does! That’s how our church was founded! It began with ordinary men who canvassed the area, met many people and invited them to be a part of this new Lutheran congregation. These ordinary people, meeting in ordinary spaces, became a clay jar containing an extraordinary treasure! This treasure is the message of a loving God who created the world, sent His Son to redeem us, and who fills us with the Holy Spirit to encourage and sustain us as we use our gifts in service to Him.

I joined this congregation in 1981 as a teacher at CCLS, a clay pot sharing this treasured message each day. My four children were nurtured in their faith through this church and school. What a treasure!

May we all remember the beauty of the precious Gospel of Christ and respond with joy as we’ve seen the rich blessings of God being poured out upon this ordinary congregation for 75 years. May we walk in faith as God continues to do amazing things using ordinary people like us.

Dear Heavenly Father, continue to allow us to be vessels of clay sharing the beautiful message of Christ’s redemption for all people. Equip us to be faithful in delivering that treasure and to focus, not on ourselves, but on Your precious Word as we proclaim hope to a lost and hurting world. Amen.

Author: Kathy Metcalf


“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:10-11 ESV)

These verses are foundational for understanding the church and how it is built, beginning with a declaration of grace. By the grace of God, the apostle Paul was a wise master builder. Any skill we possess is a gift from God. We, as individuals and as a church, exist on God’s grace and favor, not on our merits or deserving. By grace we are fellow workers with God in building the Church. We must guard against vanity. We do not have the option of building Christ’s Church however we want. There is only one foundation: Jesus Christ. If it isn’t built on Him, it isn’t a church.

God enables ordinary people to work in partnership. As with the church in Corinth, Webster Gardens was founded on one foundation alone: the person and work of Jesus Christ. It was true then, is true today, and will be true for the future.

We are to take care how we build upon it. We are responsible to God for building the Church upon the foundation of Jesus in a way that accords with His Word and His ways for His glory. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we strive to that end.

Lord, we are a church “Founded in Faith.” Help us to play our part in the building of Your Church according to Your Word. Keep us from trying to build Your Church according to our desires—not our way, Lord, but Your way. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Author: Wayne Clements


“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV)

 During my high school summers, friends and I would meet at the local pool “to practice” a diving technique known as a “cannonball.” However, our devious and immature intentions really were to see how large a wave we could create, scattering swimmers to the periphery.

 Our lives are much like the waves we created. In our youth, we were strong and robust; we made waves which hopefully impacted the world around us in a positive fashion. Decades later, our strength has diminished. Like an aging St. Paul, we look through life’s rear view mirror and evaluate the waves we have made. Before his conversion, St. Paul was a persecutor and murderer. Contrastingly, by God’s grace there is joy and contentment when he states, “I have fought the good fight, finished the race, and have kept the faith.” So no matter what our age or the legacy we are leaving, we, too, can be grateful for the “foundation of faith” that the Spirit planted in us.

 Whether our waves have been a tiny ripple or a great tsunami, Christ died for us and rose again with the promise of everlasting life. We are His baptized children, redeemed and deeply loved.

 Dear Jesus, You are my Lord, my God, my all. Thank you for the good waves I have made and amend and forgive those that were not to Your glory. Amen.

 Author: Denny Hugo


“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” ( Ephesians 6:11 KJV) 

As I learned at Webster Gardens in Pastor Constien’s 1961 Confirmation class, God has a plan for our lives. But over the years I’ve also found that the Enemy has a plan for us—one devised for our defeat. The frontlines of that lifelong spiritual battle are everywhere—in the family, neighborhood and workplace. 

Putting on the armor of God is key to the outcome of this conflict. As our pastors remind us, be vigilant in prayer and spending time in the Bible where God shows us His wisdom and promises. There, we learn to have peace in tumultuous times; to see and love others as God sees them; and to trust completely in His faithfulness for provision, strength and comfort. 

Wanting what God wants for us results in fulfillment and joy we could never attain under our own wisdom/steam. When we prayerfully seek His will while making plans and choosing life paths, He can use us as vessels through which to pour out blessing to others, which our church does constantly through its many iServe programs. 

It’s the difference between wondering “who I am” and knowing “Whose I am,” and frees us from getting our identity from others or from cyberspace! 

My Lord and my God, Your provision of daily bread, comfort, strength, guidance and wisdom causes us to bow our knees and hearts in boundless love and thanks. Your endless promises make us yearn to be with You forever. Amen.

 Author: Jan Burmeister


“So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.” (Romans 12:1-2 CEB) 

As I look back on the 50 years that I have been a member at Webster Gardens, I can see how the Holy Spirit has used my participation at this congregation to grow the faith I received at my baptism. I am being “transformed” and my mind “renewed” as I worship and study His Word. My service, done for His glory, is one way I “offer my body as a living sacrifice.” 

For 75 years, there have been many opportunities to serve Him through the ministries of our church. 

Corporate Worship: As we gather in worship, we grow in faith. We have a rich history of music in worship including traditional, contemporary, organ, piano, brass, strings, percussion, choirs/praise teams. I was blessed to sing in choir for several years. 

Proclamation of the Word: Bible reading, sermons, Sunday School, VBS, adult Sunday/weekday classes. I know that God has blessed and grown me when I serve as a Bible class facilitator or on committees and/or boards. 

I believe Webster Gardens is a community of faith-filled people, welcoming others to join them in loving and serving the Lord Jesus. How have or will you live out this passage here at Webster Gardens? 

Lord Jesus, You have gifted us with a congregation founded in faith. By the power of the Holy Spirit, enable us to present our bodies as living sacrifices, to serve in Your mission of reaching the lost with the Good News of the Gospel. Amen. 

Author: Renee Whittle

WEEK 2: March 24th through 30th

A single mom with two children … a house in disrepair … no one to help do the work or help with the expense. Members of Webster Gardens served this family. Not only did they make the necessary repairs, but they made many upgrades to the home. But that’s not all that this family received. They received the love of Jesus demonstrated in continued acts of kindness, invitations to worship and activities for the children. They came to worship; they became members of Webster Gardens. They grew in faith and service, and they joined a small group where they were nurtured and strengthened in faith. They extended invitations to other family members, some of whom were in crisis situations themselves, to come and learn about Jesus. They brought a child who had experienced the loss of a loved one. He heard about Jesus and is learning how much God loves him in Sunday School, VBS and in worship services. 

A family looking for a new church home and school for their children. They visited Webster Gardens and were immediately welcomed and invited to return. They were invited to take an active part in the church community, Bible class and small group. They grew in the knowledge of God’s Word. They were encouraged to serve in areas of ministry where God had gifted them. They enrolled their children in CCLS where they were invited to be active in the school community. They reached out to other adult family members who were looking for a new church home. Those family members came. Their children were baptized and nurtured in the faith through Sunday School and our Christian day school. Some of their children’s children were baptized and are now being nurtured in faith through the ministries of the church and school. 

Isn’t that how the church grows? Isn’t that the vision those first nineteen courageous pioneers had when they met together in 1947 at the home of Dr. and Mrs.Theodore Hanser? Wasn’t that the vision of members of Concordia Kirkwood and Concordia Seminary students who joined together to conduct a door-to-door survey in Webster Groves, handing out over 5,000 brochures that same year? God received all the praise and glory when 27 people became charter members of The Lutheran Church of Webster Gardens on March 18,1949. We have witnessed that same cycle over and over again at Webster Gardens these past 75 years. God has blessed us; we are now a congregation of over 1500 members who are being discipled through the ministries of our church and our Christian elementary and high schools. We were FOUNDED IN FAITH … and called to share that faith with others. 

Step Into the Future: Write a note of thanks or text a family member or friend who has encouraged you in your faith journey. Reach out with a word of encouragement to someone who may be struggling; extend an invitation to worship.


“I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” (Romans 1:16-17 NIV) 

Ooh, Ouch! Again? Another missed opportunity to share God’s Gospel because I over thought and felt awkward or was “ashamed.” Have you ever lacked confidence in sharing God’s Gospel like I have? Don’t beat yourself up and feel guilty, but go back to what you know is true. Paul knew the power of the Gospel because it is the power of God for salvation. You and I know the Gospel’s power and why we believe it. Those who founded this church knew the power of the Gospel and believed it. Truth does not depend on our ability to defend it. It is still true. 

The Gospel also shows us the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God is something He credits us in faith. We are not righteous by our own doing but because of what God has done for us. In Romans 3:22 it says, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” From faith for faith, meaning it starts with faith and ends with faith. “The righteous will live by faith.” We are founded in faith. May we find joy and celebrate these truths as we share them with others. 

Dear Lord, thank You for covering me with Your righteousness. Help me to share with confidence your Gospel, knowing the power it brings to all those who believe and those who do not yet believe. Amen. 

Author: Barb Guiley


“My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done.” (Psalm 78:1-4 NIV) 

God calls us to encourage each other’s faith. Most of us are at our church because somebody at some point shared God’s Word with us. 

I am thankful I grew up attending The Lutheran Church of Webster Gardens. My faith was strengthened through the collective efforts of Sunday School teachers, members of our congregation and my parents—all of whom invested time, guidance and support in shaping my spiritual journey. Countless members of our congregation told me about Jesus and His love for me. 

These verses show I am responsible for sharing my faith with the next generation. Everyone needs support from other believers during their spiritual journey. I need to follow the example set by older members of our congregation and mentor people as they grow in their faith. 

I encourage you to think of ways you can tell the next generation about Jesus. How can you connect with the next generation at church and in our community? How can you point them to Jesus? We should all strive to share God’s Good News that somebody shared with us. 

God, I am grateful for everyone who taught me about You and Your Word. Please give me the courage to find people inside and outside of our church to tell about Jesus. Help me share Your love with the next generation. Amen. 

Author: Ethan Peter


“For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” (James 2:26 ESV) 

When I first read this verse it seemed contradictory to what I learned at Webster Gardens as a youth. Yes, I grew up here! My faith is founded in God’s Word, words which Pastors King and Gledhill and Mrs. Herd taught me in youth group and Confirmation. 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not a result of works.” (Ephesians 2:8-9a NRSV, emphasis added). How could James state that faith without works is dead when Paul so clearly states that we are saved by faith and NOT because of works? 

Well, for me, it was important to look at these verses through the lens of each author’s audience. While Paul is talking to Gentile Christians, James is speaking to Jewish Christians who were founded in faith and were being given practical ways to live out that faith. James 2:26 is a reminder to me that I don’t do good works to receive salvation. However, as I mature in my faith, fill myself up with God’s Word and practice gratitude for His faithfulness, the good works will flow out of me. 

Lord, thank You for Your words and for the leaders at Webster Gardens who have taught them to us. They are the message of Your faithfulness in our individual lives and in the life of our church. I pray that You fill each of our hearts with the love that You have for us so that it can overflow to everyone with whom we interact today. Amen. 

Author: Stephanie Bowman


“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV) 

One of our most important responsibilities/privileges is being a parent. Each generation of children faces their own challenges in life. As Christian parents, it is our job to equip our children to meet those challenges. We are instructed by God to train our children so they mature into caring, effective, successful Christian adults. It is our God-given duty to devote time and effort to the instruction of our children in the Christian faith. When our children start school, we turn part of their life-training over to their teachers. We trust those teachers to care for and protect them and to instruct them academically and socially. 

Webster Gardens has a 75-year-long commitment to Christian education. From the beginning, a core value has been the Christian education of our children. Starting with Webster Gardens Lutheran School in 1952 and the 1973 forming of Christ Community Lutheran School, we have made the financial, spiritual and facility needs of our day school a priority. I’m grateful for the strong commitment, then and now, to provide the resources needed so children learn about God’s love—in Sunday School, worship, Confirmation, youth group, CCLS and Lutheran South High School—and can live out their God-given potential. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the commitment of our members and leaders to Christian education, providing both academic and spiritual training these 75 years. Many children have benefited from that care and support. Thank You for creating that foundation that teaches our children to live their lives with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Amen. 

Author: Glenn Sprich


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5 ESV) 

Often I read the Bible and am not quite sure I understand what God is telling me. This passage is an example. The words “In the beginning” remind me of Genesis 1:1, but after that, the repetition of words confuses me. 

I find this paraphrase from The Living Bible helpful: “Before anything else existed, there was Christ, with God. He has always been alive and is Himself God. He created everything there is—nothing exists that He didn’t make. Eternal life is in Him, and this life gives light to all mankind. His life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it.” 

What John wants us to know, without a doubt, is the identity of Jesus. Jesus is God. Jesus brings ALL things into being. And Jesus invites us to find life in Him—forever. He is our foundation as individuals and corporately as His church. As I age, internalizing this helps me feel less fearful about my mortality. And hearing about the light that shines for EVERYONE brings me even more peace. No grief, health concerns, frustrations, anxious times or disappointment can snuff out His light of hope—for any of us EVER! 

Jesus, Your light is comforting and brings us security, especially when we sit in feelings of darkness. Thank you for surrounding us with Your light. Thank you for allowing Your light to shine through the people of this congregation. We were founded in faith. Grow us in faith so that we may continue to shine Your light in the dark places of our world. Amen. 

Author: Mary Cernik


“I am the Vine, you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV) 

With all the technology of computers, cell phones and smart watches, we need to remember that they all need POWER to run. 

Jesus tells us in our reading today that He is the Vine. If we seek Him and stay plugged into Him, He assures us that He will be all the “power” we need to be His witnesses in this world. If we “remain” in Him, we will bear all the “fruit” that we need to share His love and mercy with others. He also says that without Him, without His power, we cannot bear His fruit, and we can “do nothing” for the Kingdom. 

I am so grateful for the pastors and leaders that God has called to serve our congregation over these past 75 years. I am grateful for the people in the congregation who have led Bible classes, prayed and spoken words of encouragement. Their “fruit,” produced by the power of the Holy Spirit working through them, has helped me and many, many others to know the love of Christ and to share the love of Christ. 

Dear Heavenly Father, I ask that You help us to keep Jesus first in our hearts and thoughts. Jesus is the Vine. We need Him. Without Him, we know we cannot bear the fruit that marks us as His children. Help us to remain in Him as we love and serve others. Amen. 

Author: Brian McCain

WEEK 3: March 31st through April 6th

A devoted Quaker from childhood … drawn to the community she found there. First a move, then a job change that made it impossible for her to attend the weekly meetings. For more than 15 years, she could not find the community she longed for and needed. But God had a plan for her and her family. When she and her husband were seeking a school for their daughter, they found Christ Community Lutheran School. Through that connection, she learned about Greenhouse on Tuesday mornings and was stunned that she did not have to be a member to attend! It was here, through the love and support offered by the ladies and leader of her Greenhouse group, that she again found the community she'd been missing for so many years. And when her daughter started asking to be baptized, she responded to the work of the Holy Spirit, confessed a saving faith in Jesus and was baptized, along with her children. Then, both she and her husband were confirmed. But there’s more … God was still at work. Shortly after joining, their house caught on fire. Once again, they experienced an outpouring of love and support from members of our congregation. By her own confession: “I can’t believe everything (this church) has brought to our spiritual growth … I’m healing slowly, but steadily with the help of God and the Webster Gardens community … I can’t imagine not being a part of Webster Gardens.” 

God gave a mission to our founders and to us as His people … to make disciples! Making disciples involves much more than just building a building. It is about connecting with people and sharing the Good News of Jesus and His gift of salvation. It is about walking with people ... teaching them, showing them, doing life with them! That is exactly what Webster Gardens has done for this family and countless others over the last 75 years! From the beginning, our leaders knew that community and Christian education were of critical importance in discipling people. By 1951, just two years after our founding, there were 140 children attending Sunday School and 100 children who came to our first VBS that same year. Just one year later in 1952, our Christian day school began with six students in the first kindergarten class. Now that school, CCLS, has spread to multiple campuses with over 700 students and overseas to Africa! And community? Women’s Ministry has provided biblical teaching and community to women since 1948 when the first “Friendly Circle” was formed. Today, Greenhouse is reaching hundreds of women every week, discipling them through biblical teaching and Christian friendship! 

Step Into the Future: Seek out a child or a family with young children in church. Tell the children you are glad they are there; tell them that Jesus loves them. Speak a word of encouragement to the parents as they pass on a foundation of faith to their children.


"What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up." (1 Corinthians 14:26 NIV) 

These words were written by St. Paul to the church leaders in Corinth in the first century AD. In the 20th century AD, when my husband and I were searching for a new church home and school for our oldest child, we visited congregations near us. One stood out: it was 15 years old, was growing rapidly, had built a new sanctuary and had a day school. 

Now, 75 years after the founding of that church, our church, God’s Word is still preached, hymns are still sung, lessons are still learned, and the promised revelation of life in heaven is still believed. 

With gratitude in our hearts, we thank God for our pastors who have faithfully preached Law and Gospel as written in God’s Word; for musically talented people who have enriched our worship with hymns, both old and new; for teachers who have taught our children what it means to be loved by Jesus; for lay people who have contributed time and talent so that God’s work continues in our community and beyond. 

And that child who started kindergarten here 60 years ago? She’s a Webster Gardens’ member along with her brothers and their families. To God be the glory! 

Lord, we give You thanks for the abundant blessings You have showered on Webster Gardens these past 75 years. You have been so faithful! May we continue to be Your instruments so that many more will come to know You in the future. Amen. 

Author: Adrienne Johnson


“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7 ESV) 

Deuteronomy 6:4 begins this section of Scripture with the word “hear.” These verses are known in the Jewish tradition as the “Shema.” Shema is the Hebrew word for “hear.” God instructs His people to hear His voice and obey. Jesus calls these same words the “first and greatest commandment.” 

Moses told the Children of Israel to teach these words “diligently” to their children. That is our task as well. 

I want the best for my children. I want them to be healthy, well adjusted and happy, among other things. However, the most important thing my children need is to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. It is my responsibility as a parent to train up my children in the way they should go, and one of the responsibilities of the church is to help me do this. 

I am thankful, as a member of The Lutheran Church of Webster Gardens, that leaders in the past and present have been committed to Christian education for children and adults. It is God’s Word that points us to Jesus and the salvation He brings. It is God’s Word that teaches us how to live in response to His great love. 

Lord, thank You for blessing us with Your Word. Thank you, also, for a congregation that is faithful in teaching that Word so that we may diligently pass it on to others—especially to our children and grandchildren. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen. 

Author: Wayne Knolhoff


“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music to the Lord in your heart.” (Ephesians 5:19 NIV) 

Growing up, I was excited to see Hymn #326 on the worship board at the front of our small Lutheran church. “I Love to Tell the Story” was my favorite hymn and still makes my Top Ten list today! 

The simple words of the second verse ground me and remind me of God’s purpose for my life: 

I love to tell the story, ‘tis pleasant to repeat

What seems each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet

I love to tell the story, for some have never heard

The message of salvation from God’s own holy word! 

The sweetest joy God has given me is to praise Him through singing! My childhood pastor planted seeds of faith and the “joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.” That foundation of faith has led me to share my love of making a joyful noise with preschoolers like my grandson and those in Sunday School at Webster Gardens. Each children’s song teaches a Bible truth we can hold in our hearts throughout our lifelong walk with Jesus. “Yes, Jesus loves me, the BIBLE tells me so!” resonates as easily at age 80 as it did at age three! So, go tell the story! 

Dear Jesus, help us to fix our eyes on You and the promises in Your Word so that we are always ready to share Your message of salvation with all who cross our paths today and every day. We love You, Jesus! Amen. 

Author: Judy Ruf


“Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right … Fathers don’t frustrate your children with no win scenarios. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.” (Ephesians 6:1,4 MSG) 

Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus speaks to both Jews and Gentiles with instructions for parents to lead their children “in the way of the Master” (the Lord). Children are a gift from God, and parents are charged with the instruction and discipline in the Word of their children. 

The visionary founders and leaders of Webster Gardens have been steadfast in blessing generations of parents with guidance, prayer support and Christian education for their children. The first kindergarten class at Webster Gardens in 1952 had six children, only four years after the first worship service. CCLS was organized sometime later in 1973. 

Over the last 75 years, Webster Gardens has been faithful with the discipling of countless kids, teaching them the truths of the Bible and Christian behavior. We may never know the real impact of CCLS, Sunday School teachers, Confirmation leaders and the parents that supported them. But we do know kids were instructed and guided in the Word, and that can never be taken away from them. 

Our own kids were blessed to be products of Lutheran education, from elementary through high school. We thank God we had the churches, schools and teachers to make that possible. 

Heavenly Father, we thank You for gifting our community with Christian resources to properly raise and guide our children in the Christian faith. Bless us with the commitment to continuously share Your message of mercy and love with our children and our community. Amen. 

Author: Phil Bayes


“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father.’” (Romans 8:15 ESV) 

Remember when the Children of Israel were rescued by God out of slavery in Egypt? God led them into the wilderness to grow them in total dependence on Him. 

I experienced the same situation. I had no idea I was a slave to my fears, paralyzed to live. Moving from St. Charles to Webster Groves, I envisioned every worst possible “thing” my family could experience. Then the Lord led me to Webster Gardens. He led me out of slavery into discovery and dependence on Him. He met me in each of my fears: after my sister’s early death from cancer … He said follow Me; in my job situation ... depend on Me; leaving my home ... trust Me; in my depression ... come to Me. I will care for you. He fed me with His Word, and I had been starving. He provided His deep well of forgiveness. I was so, so thirsty. I thank God that He led me to a place that was founded and built on faith and to people who showed me Jesus. 

Where is the Lord taking you? Are you in His wilderness? He will lead you; He loves you perfectly. Follow Him; He will provide. Rest in His Word. 

Dear Lord, I praise You that You are my Father, and I thank You for leading me into Your wilderness to feed on manna, Your Word, and drink from the Rock of Forgiveness in Jesus. Keep me ever close to You, continually growing in faith and trust. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Author: Lail McCary-Tornetto


“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:7-8 ESV) 

Lutheran education is one of my passions. In fact, our Lutheran day school is the reason we joined The Lutheran Church of Webster Gardens. But Webster Gardens is blessed with strong educators in leadership throughout the whole church, not just in the day school. Whether during a sermon, Bible study or youth ministry, our church leaders raise the bar on teaching God’s Word and instructing us in the faith. 

In our reading for today we are encouraged to reflect on our leaders both past and present, to imitate our faith instructors and look at outcomes in their lives and actions. Wow! We have so much to be thankful for in our past and present leaders. Through the efforts of faithful church leaders throughout our history, we have been continually pointed back to God’s unchanging, eternal Word. Through the efforts of faithful leaders 75 years ago, we have our wonderful Webster Gardens church home today. And through the efforts of our current leaders, we have rich instruction at every age level, in every part of our facility. 

What about us today? What outcomes will our own lives and efforts produce—both for our neighbors now and for generations to come? 

Thank you, God, for leaders who founded our church in faith 75 years ago and leaders who have continued to instruct us in that faith. Raise up future leaders for future generations. In Your name we pray. Amen! 

Author: Jessica Anderson

WEEK 4: April 7th through 13th

We’ve all seen it happen in different ways at different times, but the story is really the same. You are together with your family in the waiting room at the hospital, desperate to find anything to do to divert your thoughts away from the critical situation in front of you. All the while, you are hoping against hope that your loved one makes it through the surgery. Minutes seem like hours. Your hearts are aching; you are terrified of what could happen. You worry about how life might change for you over the next several hours. A few Christian friends come into the room. They huddle together around your family and you join hands in prayer. You feel His presence in the room. As the feelings of terror, pain and stress that were so crippling are released and given to God in those moments of prayer together, the tension begins, ever so slowly, to diminish. Peace begins to settle in and crowd out some of your paralyzing thoughts. Those friends stay with you for hours. They talk with you and let you talk. They take you to the cafeteria for food or something to drink. Later, after they have gone, you get notes, emails and texts—sometimes more than once a day—encouraging you with words from a hymn or Scripture to let you know that prayers are still being prayed on your family’s behalf. 

Prayer is the fuel God uses to give us the power to step forward. For 75 years, Webster Gardens has been stepping forward in the Holy Spirit’s power—power that has been “fueled” by prayer. Undoubtedly, it was prayer that fueled the earliest decisions in our church’s history and prayer that has covered every decision concerning staffing, program changes and building decisions since then. We pray as God taught us and for others every Sunday as we gather together in public worship, we pray in small groups, we pray in Sunday School and youth classes. Prayer is a core component of the curriculum for our new members. We celebrate the National Day of Prayer by praying; we pray for specific ministries on Sundays dedicated to those ministries. We pray for the daily needs of our “missionaries” when they serve on “mission” trips. Our pastors and leaders are lifted up in prayer by partners who fast and pray for them; our confirmands have prayer partners who daily pray for their spiritual growth. We have had prayer walks in our neighborhoods, prayer vigils, prayer books, praying wells, prayer cards, sermon series on prayer and so much more. We have received “prayer prompts” that remind us to pray, at the same time each day, for a specific need or area of concern for our church. We have opened our doors and invited our entire community to come into our sanctuary to pray during times of crisis in our country like 911. We are a church that prays! We are a church FOUNDED IN FAITH … and built on prayer! 

Step Into the Future: Read a Psalm of Praise; use it as a prayer of praise. Thank God that you are “founded in faith.” Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind and heart someone who needs prayer. Stop what you are doing NOW and pray for that person or need.


“I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13 NIV) 

I came to church in tears one Sunday morning a few years ago. I didn’t even know if I wanted to be there. I sat in a corner of the balcony where I thought I wouldn’t be noticed. I was heartbroken, scared, faced difficult decisions and felt too weak to handle the overwhelming circumstances in my life at that time. Where was the strength God promised? I knew this verse from Philippians well, yet I needed something tangible to convince me it was true. Jesus came through. 

After the service, four different members of our church came to me, sensing my struggle. Each asked to pray with me and let me share my burden. Likewise, members of my small group prayed fervently with me and encouraged me throughout my difficult time. I learned, firsthand, that just as Jesus provides His grace through the tangible elements of water in baptism and bread and wine in His Supper, He provides His strength through the people of His Church! 

With that strength, I accomplished things I never thought possible; my faith was strengthened as I experienced answers to prayer; and my witness was strengthened as I now share my story to encourage others. 

Dear Jesus, thank You for the strength You provide through the people of Your church, especially my brothers and sisters at The Lutheran Church of Webster Gardens. Keep us mindful that this congregation, founded in faith, is the tangible means of Your grace and strength to our neighbors. Amen. 

Author: Sandi Geis


“First of all, then, I urge that supplication, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” (1 Timothy 2:1 ESV) 

In this passage, Paul is writing a letter to Timothy that is full of encouragement, wisdom and instruction for the church. In true Paul fashion, he begins with what the foundation of faith is built upon, Jesus Christ. These instructions include praying for all people, including those who do not believe. Paul not only says that this is pleasing to God, but also that God desires all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 

I’m sure there are a few people in your life that come to mind when you think of unbelievers. Are you praying for them? Are you praying for the opportunities to tell them about Jesus? Thanks be to God—we know He hears those prayers for others and works through the Holy Spirit to bring that firm foundation of faith in Christ into their lives. 

Webster Gardens has a 75-year-long history of sharing Jesus in this community and discipling people in their faith. We pray for many more years to share Jesus with those who do not yet know Him. 

Heavenly Father, thank You for hearing our prayers. Guide our hearts and actions to do Your will in our daily lives. Help us to tell others of Your saving Gospel message. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Author: Emily Schatz


“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer … every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” (Acts 2:42, 46-47 NIV) 

I once heard a woman say that when she walks through the doors at Webster Gardens, she feels SPECIAL. That perfectly describes how I have felt for my 25 years at Webster Gardens. People point me to Jesus at Webster Gardens, a church founded in faith, a people rooted in faith. I need that. I get that in Small Groups; I get it in shared meals and shared mission trips; I get it when I am in the building. I get it when I’m with you away from our building. You make me feel SPECIAL! 

I struggle with the fact that God’s love rarely feels TANGIBLE to me. My friends at Webster Gardens allow me to feel God’s love in a TANGIBLE way that I crave and desire. I feel it when you share authentically with me and when you allow me to share authentically with you. I feel it when we laugh together. I feel it when we cry together. Mostly, I feel it when we pray together out loud and in person. The vision statement of Webster Gardens during a portion of my 25 years was FRIENDS SHARING CHRIST. Yes we are! Yes we do! 

Lord, the first century church was a community of believers founded in faith just as we've emulated a couple thousand years later. May we continue to share the love of Jesus with all people so that everyone can know how special they are as Your adopted children bonded together. Amen. 

Author: Charlie Heisner


“For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” (Hebrews 3:4 NIV) 

When we found our current home for sale, we were excited, but our initial offer was rejected. While looking at another home in the neighborhood, my husband saw the owner of our house in her garage. He decided to go talk to her. Meanwhile, a friend called. We prayed and asked if it was meant to be, God would show a sign. While walking in the front yard, I looked down and noticed a water meter box. The writing said, “Ford Meter Box, Wabash, IN,” a small town where my mother-in-law grew up. A feeling washed over me. Was this my sign? Two weeks passed; our agent called stating the owner got a feeling we should purchase her house—and we did! We saw God’s hand in it all! 

Our home purchase was bathed in faith and prayer. I am thankful that our church home was built by God and has been bathed in faith and prayer, too—for 75 years. 

I have learned when I am obedient to God’s will and surrender to Him, I am blessed. I believe God led us to our home, and He led us to our church home at Webster Gardens. 

Lord, help me to seek Your will in every situation. You are the builder of everything. As Moses was faithful, we, too, need to be faithful and obedient to Your will. Help me to remember that You are in control and present even when I don’t trust. We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) Amen. 

Author: Cathy Shearman


“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22 ESV) 

In 2014, my husband and I went on a medical mission trip to Ghana where we saw unique “ant hills” above ground, 6 to 24 feet high! The ants would start a tree, and over a few months they would decimate it into a tall pile. Sometimes we may find ourselves working diligently to make our own “ant hills.” In doing so, we can tear down the very place that gives us peace and happiness. 

Paul wrote to the church of Ephesus, explaining to Jewish members that although they were God’s chosen, the Gentiles were every bit as saved through Jesus’ dying on a cross. He died for all of them (v. 21). He encourages them, and us, to see all people, even people “unlike” us, as God’s children, and part of our family. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, He has united people from all nations to Himself and to one another in His church. 

As we pray, read the Word of God and seek to live a life reflecting the kind of love Christ has for us, we grow to be His church founded—and grounded—in faith! I thank God that Webster Gardens is God’s church ... founded, grounded, and still growing in faith! 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for your gift of Jesus and for saving us—all of us—by His sacrifice on the cross. Help us to be a mirror to others, reflecting Your compassion and love. Send Your Holy Spirit to help us deliver Your Good News to the lost, those like and those unlike us! Amen. 

Author: Donna Russell


“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.” (Hebrews 11:1-2 MSG) 

We often ask our kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The responses vary from football player, teacher and ballerina to doctor and nurse. We could each add our own grown-up wish as well. But the reality is, we often follow in the footsteps of our parents or grandparents. We watch them as we grow up and want to be just like them. 

So, what does it look like when the people we grow up with are people of faith? They do not have to be pastors or even leaders in the church, but we see them live their faith. As children, we may not understand it. In fact, we may not totally understand it as adults. It is there, though, leading us gently, kindly, compassionately. The faith of those that came before us affects us still. The prayers spoken over us are still being honored in our lives, even when we don’t see it. 

We are blessed to have faithful people lead us through life at Webster Gardens. For 75 years, the prayers of our community have reached the heavens and been poured out on us. The faith we cannot see is still seeing us through. 

Father, may we be people of faith. Allow us to see faith work in others and allow our faith and our prayers to guide us and continue to guide those that come after us. Amen. 

Author: Phylan Peters-Bahkou

WEEK 5: April 14th through 20th

A young mom from Japan in this country. Someone from our Mission Team visited her and her family. She needed some physical help; we helped her. But more than physical help, she needed Jesus. The family was invited to worship with us. She came. She heard the Gospel. She responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and accepted Jesus as her Savior. Before returning to Japan with her family, she was baptized. She has remained strong in her faith in her home country, even though only five percent of the population believes in Jesus. On a recent return trip, she shared that she felt so welcomed at Webster Gardens and felt immediately like she belonged. 

A high school student from our congregation on a Webster Gardens’ mission trip to Belize. Her job? To accompany one of the doctors on home health visits there. Together, she and the doctor talked to “Martin by the Sea,” a blind man whose shack is on the beach and likes to visit with just a towel wrapped around his waist. They visited an elderly stroke victim who lived in a plywood home about 12’x16’ and needed his gnarly toenails trimmed. They did gentle PT with DeeDee who was a boy with cerebral palsy due to birth trauma. Filled with compassion for these children of God, she became the hands and feet of Jesus. This young woman cites that trip as a formative reason she majored in nursing in college. 

In the ‘80s, there was a strong congregational emphasis on teaching congregants how to share their faith and articulate the Gospel based on “stepped” programs and outlines. Using lists of new “move-ins” in our area, groups of people went outside of our doors and knocked on the doors of those new to our neighborhoods. We invited them to join us for worship and other events at our church, we asked if they had prayer needs and prayed with them. At that time we also placed ads in local newspapers advertising our worship services and special events for the community. We passed out Gospel tracts with candy at Halloween and on other holidays, and more. In the past couple of decades there has been a growing emphasis on involving more people in “hands-on” mission work. We have had teams of people serving and sharing the Gospel in our own local community and have had many families going to Amigos de Cristo in Sedalia, Missouri. We have sent teams to China/Hong Kong, East Africa, Belize, New Guinea, Venezuela, Turkey, and Mexico and have partnered with CCLS in Uganda. We have sent and supported our own missionaries in Ankara, Turkey, and Acuna, Mexico, through Casas por Cristo. By God’s grace, people from all over the world are coming to a saving faith in Jesus! We were MADE FOR MISSION … made to witness to those who do not know Him, both near and far! 

Step Into the Future: Do you believe you are really “made for mission”? Are you motivated by a desire to joyfully respond to God’s grace and mercy? Ask God to grow in you a strong desire to do His “mission” work wherever you are.


“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7 NIV) 

While today’s Scripture passage refers to a deliverance that prefigures Christ’s deliverance from sin, it also speaks to each of us as we carry out Jesus’ Great Commission, to go into all the world. Our feet carry us to our homes, work, international students and refugees in St. Louis, mission trips, neighbors, friends and more. God has cleansed us from sin and made us His own, putting His seal upon us and putting His saving message in our hearts. He has equipped each of us to let our feet carry us to those who need to hear the Good News that Jesus is their Savior, too. 

God also says in Acts 13:47b (NIV), “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” How exciting that the “ends of the earth” are coming to St. Louis as students and refugees. Jesus, the Word made flesh, has called us out of sin’s darkness and frees us to accept His call to be a light in word and deed to those sitting in the darkness of sin. We were “made for mission.” Opportunities to be His feet and light are endless. 

Heavenly Father, please send Your Holy Spirit to guide my feet and open my eyes and heart to opportunities to speak fearlessly Your precious Good News of salvation with the words that You give me. Amen. 

Author: Marj Lang


“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me.’” (Isaiah 6:8 NIV) 

I am not a pastor. Never worked in a church. And yet I have found myself spreading the Good News of Jesus in many interesting situations. 

I was asked to pray at a friend’s retirement ceremony with zero preparation time. I’ve sung Gospel songs with little children, possibly the first time they’ve heard His name. I had a conversation about faith with a coworker whose spouse was diagnosed with a terrible disease. I spoke words of blessing at my brother’s wedding and led a prayer at a dying relative’s bedside.  

God places us in situations where there are others who need to hear His Good News. You and I were called to be His disciples and spread the Gospel. If you are like me, though, that may seem like an intimidating assignment. You may be nervous. How will you know the right words? What if you can’t remember that perfect Bible verse?   

I was nervous; I had similar doubts running through my mind. And yet, when the opportunities came, words came from the Holy Spirit. Comfort came. Jesus came. And they will come for you too, because we were made for this. We were made for mission

Dear Lord, please put those people in front of me who need to hear the redeeming Good News of Jesus. When You do, let me not miss the opportunity; equip me with the words, through the Holy Spirit. Use me so that others come to know You and believe. Thank You for the mission. Amen. 

Author: Billy Klug


“We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 NIV) 

As a missionary, I think of one specific man we served when I read this Scripture. He asked, “Why are you building me a house when you don’t even know me?” He couldn’t understand why people from another country would do that for his family. I replied, “Because God loves us, He gave us the opportunity to come bless your family and share His love for you by building you a home.” Throughout the build the father saw our love for God and asked more questions. He shared his story with us. He wanted to know more about how he could change. We gave him a Bible. He broke down crying and told the group that he’d never had anyone show love like this to him before. 

Love is a choice. We love God because He chose to love us FIRST. God’s love is unconditional, and He commands us to love others. We do this by CHOOSING to help and serve others, both near and far. We live in a broken, sinful world, so it is not always easy, but we have the Holy Spirit in us who makes it possible to be His “made for mission” people! 

Dear God, thank You for Your mercy and unconditional love. Please help us to be mirrors of Your love in everything we do. Transform our hearts. Make us missionaries who are led by the Holy Spirit so that we may shine Your light in the dark places of our world. Help us to demonstrate the same love Jesus did for us when He gave up His life on a cross. Amen. 

Author: Nick Wille


“For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 13:47 ESV) 

The Lutheran Church of Webster Gardens … inherent in our name is the name of our community. Paul, in today’s reading, points out that the Lord put him and Barnabas in that part of the world to be a light for the Gentiles, to be witnesses of His love and grace. They were bold in their proclamation of the Gospel. The Jewish leaders were jealous. They rejected the Good News, and they condemned those who believed. Their behavior was the opposite of our Savior’s message of grace.  

For 75 years, our congregation has been boldly proclaiming the Gospel. At one time we considered changing our name to one with more “Christian significance.” The decision was made, however, to let our significance be expressed through the actions of our lives … lives made not to condemn but to serve and share this Good News. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16 ESV) 

We give God thanks for placing our church here in this community with His mission and message of grace to share! 

Lord, let us continue to be a “made for mission” church, full of lives blessed and filled by Your grace so that we are overflowing with a desire to share Your Good News. Forgive us for the missed opportunities to witness. Make us bold, and not ashamed, to share Your promises and be a light to family, to neighbors, and to the ends of the earth. Amen. 

Authors: Matt and Amanda Ford


“Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the Good News about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?’ And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.” (Acts 8:35-38 NIV) 

This reading is about following the call of the Holy Spirit. Philip responded to God’s call without knowing the exact purpose of his mission. As Christians we recognize this act of obedience as the truest form of faith in Christ. The Lord calls us; to Him, we answer. Philip goes; he meets a eunuch. Together they study Scripture. They share a time of discipleship. I personally find joy in the fact that it’s just the two of them. Philip does not seek to get the attention of many, but devotes time to sit with this one man. Then, because of Philip’s obedience and the work of the Spirit, the eunuch is baptized. 

Our church supports groups who follow God’s call to show the world His love and salvation. As His “made for mission” people, we have sent teams across county/state lines, international borders/waters to shine His light into the world. Connections have been made much like that of Philip and the eunuch: seemingly unlikely, and oftentimes brief, but divinely planned. Like Philip, we have responded to the Spirit’s call to bring God’s love and salvation to the lost. 

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the opportunities You bring us to live out our faith through obedience to You. Please grant us the courage to follow Your call, wherever it may lead us. Amen. 

Author: Natalie Johnson


“And I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.” (Philemon 1:6 ESV) 

Imagine a software salesman walking into an office building, eager to make a big sale. This meeting is important, as his income depends on customers seeing the value and ultimately buying the product. 

The potential client looks across the desk at the nervous salesman and opens the proverbial door: “I’m listening,” he says. “Tell me about your product.” After a few uncomfortable moments of stammering, fumbling with his laptop and trying unsuccessfully to demonstrate the software, the salesman sheepishly confesses, “I actually don’t know much about it, but I’ve heard good things.” 

You know what happens next. The salesman walks out, defeated and embarrassed, not knowing where his next paycheck will come from … all because he wasn’t prepared. Now instead of a sale or paycheck, imagine it’s life and death … literal eternal life. Our only purpose on this planet is to love God and share His Gospel. If we’re to carry out God’s will and be the “Made for Mission” disciples we’re meant to be, we must always be prepared. It’s important to study the Bible and always be ready to share. We never know when God will open that door for a much more meaningful meeting. 

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to thirst for Your Word so I may effectively study, learn, comprehend and, ultimately, live out Your Gospel. I know You’ve put me on earth to witness to others about my faith. Please help me to be the disciple and person You’ve designed for me to be. Amen! 

Author: Greg Detter

WEEK 6: April 21st through 27th

Youth doing battle in a “jousting arena” armed with large, inflatable lances or donned in helmets and tennis shoes jumping off wooden ramps on skateboards … teens jumping, diving, flipping onto an inflated velcro wall … toddlers and school-aged children scattered all over the church lawn and athletic field carrying bags and buckets and running to gather as many candy-filled “eggs” as possible or decked out in Halloween costumes jumping into bounce houses, getting their faces painted and playing games … middle schoolers gathering together to “go sledding” on hills with no snow … adults and families coming together to build floats for the Webster Days’ Fourth of July parade that carry the message of Jesus … and teams of “walkers” who follow behind the parade cleaning up the waste and trash! These are some of the “pictures” that help tell the story of our congregation. 

In the late 1980s and ‘90s, with an increased focus on evangelism, Webster Gardens took a step of faith and called a Director of Outreach and Assimilation. One of our goals was to reach out into our own community to provide opportunities for adults, families and youth to come together to hear about Jesus. To that end, events like the Easter Egg hunts/Easter Eggstravaganza, Frightless Halloween and Christmas outreach events targeted families in our area. Follow-up was made with hundreds of families, strangers became friends, and many of those attending these events became members of Webster Gardens and gave their lives to Jesus. We are MADE FOR MISSION ... God’s mission of sharing the Good News of Jesus in our own community. 

Step Into the Future: Take an extreme step of faith … get to know a neighbor. Talk about Jesus with them. Invite them to an event or seminar at Webster Gardens appropriate for them or their families. Come with them and then stay “connected” to them following the event.


“And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13 NIV) 

My faith walk has been a bit meandering. I was baptized as an infant but almost never attended church services as a child, teen or young adult. I finished school, started my career, married a Lutheran and became a mom. My life was incredibly busy, and I kept God at arm’s length. 

Then a friend invited me to a kids’ event at Webster Gardens. I agreed to go, and my faith journey began in earnest that day. I started attending worship services and Bible classes. I joined a small group and became involved in various ministries. I started to see beyond myself, and God developed in me a genuine concern and caring for people outside my circle of family and friends. I realized the mission God intended for me: to serve others in love, and in doing so to glorify Him. I serve not to earn God’s favor, but as an expression of my gratitude for all He has given me. 

Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to “never tire of doing what is good.” That is my fervent hope: that I, created in Christ Jesus, may continue the good works God prepared, in advance, for me to do. 

Dear God, strengthen me when I grow weary. Keep me mindful that I was “made for mission.” Show me the good works You will have me do. Help me to grow in faith and serve others in Your name. Amen. 

Author: Jacqui Skoglund


“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV) 

Worshiping with my family is something I look forward to. But, if I’m honest, there have been times in my life when I have been tempted to skip church and sleep in, go to the lake or go to an athletic event. Maybe you have, too. But we all know these are just excuses. We likely all also know people who attend church only for special occasions like Christmas and Easter (sometimes referred to as “Chreasters”). But it seems that once someone starts making excuses for not going to church regularly, the chance of becoming a “Chreaster” increases. 

When I do not attend church and Bible study consistently, I miss what God wants for me—to be involved in a community of fellow Christians who enjoy God in worship, spur one another on, and celebrate and strengthen our faith in Christ. These are the blessings that I receive by participating in our church community. And what blessings these are! 

So the next time you are tempted to skip-out on church, I encourage you to reconsider and worship Him together with our community of Christian believers at Webster Gardens. Share in the love of Christ with one another. 

Lord, with so many temptations to choose other things over church, I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide me to regularly participate in church and Bible study with fellow believers in our church community. Amen. 

Author: Craig Uhlig


“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 NIV) 

My go-to Bible is the copy I received at an LCMS youth gathering in Atlanta—a bent cover, torn pages and notes in the margins. I had just graduated from high school and was about to move away to college. At that event, a certain kind of seed was planted in my heavily distracted teenage heart. 

That seed would sit quietly for years while I watched Mom and Dad volunteer. But since my first Habitat for Humanity build as an adult with my dad, I have helped build more houses, mentored many youth, served within several organizations, fed first responders and helped families in the court system have an incredible Christmas. My parents’ example was a sturdy start to my volunteerism, which allowed me to share my light in my personal way. We were each “made for mission,” equipped with unique talents and gifts. I am grateful for opportunities to use mine and shine His light. 

There is a never-ending need in every community. If you’re not able to physically serve, what about being patient, kind and prayerful? What about helping someone pray who doesn’t know what to say? Bring your gifts to the table; use them for the good of others. 

Father, please spark my heart to serve Your people so that I can let my light shine for a greater good. Guide me to be an example of Your love while making a difference in someone else’s life. Amen. 

Author: Laura Binneboese


“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9 NIV) 

When Christ returns, will I be ready to be counted as His servant? I wondered. 

Shortly after coming to Webster Gardens, our pastor challenged us with a mission: to take responsibility for our personal relationships with Jesus. Was church, Bible class and small group attendance enough to give evidence of my faith? Did my life reflect Jesus? I knew I needed to get real and embrace God as sovereign in this earthly world as well as in my promised eternal life. He alone will determine the date my earthly life ends and the date of Christ's return, but I needed a plan to be ready!

I started reading The Bible in One Year each night, followed by a devotion and prayer. During this time with God, real communication and intimacy grew. I felt so good that I shared this joy with others. I found the courage to tackle my selfish tendencies, one day at a time, with God as my hope, strength and Lord. It's an ongoing and often frustrating process. But I have found that faith, forgiveness and fellowship abounds at Webster Gardens, giving me support and God the glory as He grows His Church! We are on His mission!

Thank You, Lord, for redeeming me, for calling my name and for claiming me as Your own. Help me to make Your mission my mission. Help me to share Your love and walk humbly with You. Amen. 

Author: Ellen Black


“Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples.” (1 Chronicles 16:24 NIV) 

I grew up in a family where we were told that our gifts came from God and they were to be used to serve Him. My parents modeled this by their deeds more than by their words. Volunteering was a part of who we were.  

God has blessed me with many gifts, and I try to use them in service to Him. As Jesus said in Luke 12:48 (NIV), “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.” 

One of my gifts is music. I remember my first solo in church at Webster Gardens on Christmas Eve when I was five. And although my voice is aging and I no longer solo, I continue to declare His glory in song. I’ve sung in many venues, but the most meaningful have been at funerals. I know that there are people who attend funerals who don’t go to church otherwise. This is an opportunity to tell of His marvelous deeds. I take that seriously and always pray that the Holy Spirit will use my words to plant those seeds. This is my mission

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gifts You have given me and the opportunities to use them to tell others of Your Gospel. Amen. 

Author: Terri Gibson


“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV) 

Growing up, my family were “church hoppers.” We never regularly attended any one church for a significant period. Because of that, I never had a true understanding of the Gospel. My strongest memory of church as a child was being denied a cookie by my teacher because I didn’t answer a Bible trivia question! 

As I grew older, my curiosity also grew. I felt a pull to learn and understand my own faith and how it could guide me and shape my life. The more I learned and understood, the more my love for God grew. I knew that I wanted to help others understand just how much God loves them. I never wanted another child to feel like an outcast because he or she didn’t know a Bible trivia answer! 

God calls us to be on His mission … to use our gifts to serve others as His stewards. Webster Gardens is a congregation of “helpers and doers” and, most importantly, followers of Jesus who love and serve Him! 

I have no doubt that God wove my own family’s story in such a way that we moved to St. Louis, and we found our true home in this church.  

Dear Lord, thank You for Your Holy Spirit and for the gifts that He gives. Thank You for leading and guiding our church family in Your mission to reach the lost for these past 75 years. May we always be faithful to use our gifts in service to You. Amen. 

Author: Meredith Herd

WEEK 7: April 28th through May 4th

If you ask her, she would tell you that she lives in a basement apartment. But that’s not really true! The only thing that makes it an apartment is the fact that she lives there. It is really just a basement—a dark, damp, musty-smelling concrete room with no closet for her clothes, no stove for cooking and no shower. Most of the time she sits in her wheelchair in front of the one small window making craft items and writing cards. A family member came each day to bring groceries and do all the things she couldn’t do for herself. But that family member got sick and was no longer able to help. She needed someone to be the hands and feet of Jesus to her! She needed people from Webster Gardens who provided food, help and friendship to her and who shared God’s love with her and with other members of her family. 

There are many people like “Sue” in our community who need our help. That’s why in 1989, a parish health ministry team, and later a human care ministry team, began to reach out with God’s love and care in very practical, tangible ways to Sue and people like her in difficult circumstances. In 2011, we expanded that ministry, and more people were involved in serving others in our community through our iServe teams. We launched “extreme makeovers” for families in need, did small household/car repairs, helped with utility payments when needed and more. We are MADE FOR MISSION … God’s mission to help hurting people. 

Step Into the Future: Pray this week that God will put one person in front of you who needs your help … physical help, financial help, a word of encouragement or prayer. Respond as God leads you to be the hands and feet of Jesus to that person.


“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Galatians 5:13-14 NIV) 

As I look back on our history, I notice in 1948 the “Friendly Circle” was formed. It has since been called Friendship Circles (part of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League) and currently Greenhouse. Small groups of women (sorry guys) meet to study God’s Word and look for ways to freely serve Him and each other in love. Although the name has changed, the purpose has not. 

My small contribution to that ministry for many years was to organize and serve meals to families after a funeral. It was an opportunity to meet churched and unchurched family members who needed a place to reconnect with each other and share memories of their loved ones. Many women freely and lovingly gave of their time to prepare food and be physically present for those families. 

Webster Gardens was Made for Mission. In order to accomplish this, we expanded our facilities when needed and added staff. But just as it was in 1948, there are still many ways to serve Him here as a volunteer. What will it be for you … praying, missions, serving families in need? Will you use the freedom you have in Christ to serve Him here at Webster Gardens? 

Father, I thank You for Webster Gardens and for all the lives that have been touched by its ministries over the past 75 years. May we continue to serve in this place and “love our neighbors as ourselves.” Amen. 

Author: Sharon Pahde


“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27 NIV) 

I want to tell you a story about my neighbors: Sam, Joanne and Charlotte. A number of years ago, I noticed a crew of people in pink t-shirts working hard in their yard. On another hot day, they were outside walking slowly, pushing a stroller, and Joanne had a cap on her head. I put a few details together and asked Sam if something was wrong. Joanne had cancer. 

Fast forward a year … Joanne was losing that battle with cancer. I organized my CCLS students and their families for a Big Rake team, and we cleaned the yard. Sam invited me in. I sat by Joanne’s bed. She grabbed my hand and held it, looked into my eyes and said, “Thank you; you didn’t need to do this.” I said, “I know. We wanted to. It is our opportunity to serve you!” 

God has called us to serve our neighbors. That moment of service has helped me look for other opportunities to serve. I encourage you to look for ways to serve by doing small acts of kindness–a listening ear, a helping hand or a word of encouragement. Our actions show the boundless love that Jesus has for us. 

God, thank You for the opportunities You have provided through the ministries of Webster Gardens these 75 years to serve others. Guide us to continually respond to opportunities to serve, just as the Good Samaritan did. May our service and our actions show others the boundless love You have for them and for us. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Author: Suzanne Braun


“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV) 

In 1989, Lutheran Foundation grants provided the funds for the training and certification for four parish nurses to lead our congregation in holistic ministry. We served all generations of Webster Gardens and our surrounding community. 

Parish nursing is multi-faceted, and I can recall many “made for mission” experiences while serving as a parish nurse, including this one. My pastor-husband invited me to join him for a “lunch date” following a new-baby hospital visit. But before we entered the hospital room, we learned the baby had just died. We were shocked and stunned. We, too, had experienced a premature birth and been told our baby was not expected to live the night. God’s words of comfort and love were a great support to us at that time. Gently we went into the room. We shared our condolences, tears and deep sorrow. My husband left to minister to the father praying in the chapel. I continued to minister to the mother, sharing God’s words of comfort and love that we experienced during our time of sorrow. That day, we thanked our Lord for using us to minister to this young couple in their need, in the same ways God had comforted us. 

Dear Father in Heaven, we thank and praise You for shaping and preparing us to share Your love, comfort, support and plan of salvation with others in crisis or need. Your love and faithfulness in the good and hard times has blessed us to be a blessing to many and equipped us for Your mission in this place. Help us be open to Your plan and mission to those around us daily. In Your name we pray. Amen. 

Author: Judy Teuscher


“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19 NIV) 

September 27, 1997 was one of the darkest days of my life. On that day, I delivered my second son, and he died in my husband’s arms minutes after his birth. My world collapsed! I didn’t know how to survive with a mountain-sized hole in my heart. Every week I sat in a church filled with people and cried, feeling utterly alone. But it was through my grief and pain that I saw Jesus. Ladies at my church, who knew they were to “Go and make disciples,” helped to fill that hole. They poured their love into me by being present in my life day after day and taught me about being the hands and feet of Jesus. Their bold faith, put into action, showed me God’s relentless love. 

God calls us to serve people so they will come to know Jesus as their Savior. I was served so graciously and unconditionally, and I have never forgotten that precious gift bestowed upon me. God worked through those women to bring me the gift of faith! The greatest tragedy of my life became the greatest blessing. For it is through the death of my child that I was granted life in Jesus Christ! 

Father God, You have commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations. Give us eyes to see the needs around us and the courage to boldly share our faith so that others may see You through our words and actions. We were “made for Your mission.” Use us so people come to know Jesus. Amen. 

Author: Georgeann Arnold


“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV) 

My husband has gone on many Webster Gardens’ mission trips, but I have never felt that same call to build houses in Mexico or clean up following floods and storms in the United States. Still, I believe God has a unique purpose and calling for me, for each of us. My greatest mission is to know Jesus and to make Him known. And no matter what stage of life I have been in, God has always had His mission work for me to do. 

It’s easy to allow my life to be dominated by my own plans and desires. But when what I do is controlled by me instead of by God, my life lacks real purpose. I have felt the most fulfilled and have experienced the most joy when I have used my gifts and talents for His mission, doing what He prepared for me to do. 

For the 42+ years that I have been a member of Webster Gardens, I have been encouraged to be “on His mission,” to look outside of myself … to step into the role that God has for me … to bring hope and healing to a hurting world. Made for Mission? Absolutely! 

Lord, You have created each of us with a unique purpose. Help us to refrain from being focused on ourselves but to keep our eyes and our hearts focused on You and Your mission. Use us as individuals and as a church to make Jesus known in our world. Amen.  

Author: Edie Grieshaber


“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:22-24 NIV) 

I learned about the fruits of the Spirit at a young age. Like me, perhaps you learned them by singing a song that recited them. My brothers and I would march in a circle around the kitchen while singing that song. When I was younger, I thought I had to strive to show the fruits of the Spirit by my own power. And, I assumed that it might be a constant mental battle to show joy over frustration or kindness over meanness. But just this year I’ve learned that the “fruit” comes from being rooted and grounded in my faith in Christ. I received the gift of the Holy Spirit at my baptism. As He works in me, the fruits of the Spirit will show through me in my words and actions. 

I often think about people who don’t know Christ or have no idea of the love of Christ. We have the opportunity to be a witness to them ... to show them that love and the forgiveness, joy, and more, of Christ. We are God’s ambassadors, meaning we represent Christ. We were “made for mission”—His mission! May our thoughts, words and actions be a witness to others of His love. 

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word and the guidance it provides. I pray that we will take any opportunity we get to be Your hands and feet, to serve and love our neighbors. May we mirror the character of Christ in our day-to-day lives, and may our hearts be on fire for You. I pray that we will have boldness to witness to our neighbors. Amen. 

Author: Hannah Hiers

WEEK 8: May 5 through 11th

A mentally challenged adult man, invited to worship by a neighbor who brought him every Sunday. A call from a family member asking if he could serve in the church. The answer: “Yes!” He already knew the love of Jesus, but through the kindness and care of members at Webster Gardens, he felt loved and celebrated. 

Groups of mentally and physically challenged high school students who found love, acceptance and meaningful “jobs” to do. Young special-needs girls/teens enjoying a “Father-Daughter” dance in our gym. Parents of special needs children who could gather together for fellowship and support. 

Sight-impaired single adults whose home needed some repairs. They were served, not only through the love and generosity of those who made the repairs and cleaned their home, but also through the invitation they received to worship with us. Teams of people drove them, shopped with them, and ordered and picked up Braille bulletins and hymns so they could fully participate in the worship of God each weekend. 

Early in our congregation’s history, there was a desire and commitment to reach out to children with special learning needs and their families. That desire and commitment to special needs learners led to a special Sunday School class, Vacation Bible School and a classroom in our school staffed through our partnership with Lutheran Special Education Association. Later in our history, other partnerships developed with organizations like ARC and local support groups so children could reach their God-given potential through service and social events. We are called to continually be a congregation GROWING IN GRACE ... to be vessels of His love and mercy to ALL God’s children. 

Step Into the Future: Send a card or note to someone who is physically or mentally challenged in some way. Let them know how much they are loved.


“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44 ESV) 

I like to think I’d give up everything to gain what is even greater, but I gave nothing to be made God’s child. So I wonder, “Who is doing the seeking in this parable, and what’s the treasure?” 

There is Someone who sought out the lost and gave all He had to buy a treasure. Jesus came seeking a priceless possession, and finding it, He gave His very life to make it His own. It’s hard for me to imagine, but in the eyes of the Lord Jesus, I am that prized possession! I’m the treasure! 

I find such great comfort week by week, especially in my times of discouragement, to come and hear of the One who gave up everything to make me His own. I don’t often feel “golden,” but the gospel of grace helps me to say, “I am the Lord’s own treasure, a pearl of priceless worth.”

Go ahead, say it. It’s in the Bible: “I am the Lord’s own cherished treasure!” It’s true. You are! Knowing it, confessing it, living it, is called growing in grace. 

Give me grace and faith today to see, dear Lord, that bought at a price, I am Your treasured child. When I face discouragement and doubt, turn my eyes to Jesus, who sought and found me and paid the perfect price to make me His own. Amen. 

Author: Darrell Zimmerman


“(Jesus Christ) died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep, we might live with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:10-11 ESV) 

Many things in life are uncertain and in the world of men, nothing is. Despite our best efforts, measureless forces personally impact our individual lives. Today, we face overwhelming problems of injustice, oppression, starvation and disease at all levels of contemporary society. Fascinatingly, one of the most beautiful aspects of the Gospel is that Jesus did too. He faced the crushing and mechanical nature of the imperial Roman Empire, the greed of the men around Him and the devastating impact of both on the intimate lives of His friends and family. And yet, Jesus came anyway. He died at the hands of these forces and rose again, not for a kingdom here on earth, but for a greater kingdom. 

In the context of Thessalonians, Paul exhorts other believers (including us!) to remember Whose they are and to which kingdom they belong. We are not of this world nor its kingdoms of sand and dust. We are members of the kingdom of the Rock, where salvation is always assured. Therefore, we encourage one another. We remember with Paul that God has destined us to obtain salvation through Jesus, and grace upon grace, whether we are “awake or asleep.” 

Gracious God, thank You for the gift of Jesus. As Your children who are growing in grace, may we remember to encourage one another in Your promises today. Amen. 

Author: Alex Newsome-Murphy


“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9 ESV) 

Peter's instruction to proclaim the excellencies of our marvelous God is a relevant calling for Christians to live differently. Even when faced with impossible challenges, we are called to proclaim His excellencies. Is God excellent because we wake up in our comfy house with a three-car garage, stainless steel appliances and granite countertops? Is God excellent because our family is healthy, our careers are successful and we won the game?  

God is still excellent when our house and possessions are destroyed, when loved ones get sick and even when God calls them home. When we are sick, slow, foolish, and even when we lose the game, God always remains excellent. We are committed to people because we are committed to God. We aren't to seek our own glory or approval from others. We are called to be different … to continue growing in grace by the power of the Holy Spirit in us. We are called to proclaim the goodness and faithfulness of God to all people—sinners, the least of these and even those we would consider our enemies. May God grant us the courage to proclaim His excellencies without ceasing, in the good times and the bad. 

Almighty God, thank You for the 75 years that Your goodness and faithfulness has been proclaimed at Webster Gardens. Guide us to continue making that proclamation as a church and as Your people every day of our lives. Show us how to love the people You place in our paths. And thank You for being with us every step of the way. Amen. 

Author: Julie Beck


“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 NIV)  

“My thoughts and prayers are with you.” How many times have you said this to a hurting friend or written it inside a card? I admit I’ve said it, gone home, and then forgotten to follow through. My church family has not forgotten to follow through, though. After a major loss in my life, I have TRULY felt an outpouring of God’s grace through the prayers of my Christian friends. 

I felt strengthened by the prayers of friends on the day of my husband’s funeral. At one point that day, my son and I locked eyes and he said, “I feel peace, Mom.” I could feel the Lord’s arms around us. Another time I could especially feel God’s presence was during the memorial service. I know those who were there, and others, were praying for us. Again, I felt that peace. So many are “carrying" my family’s burden with us. 

I have been strengthened and lifted by the care and love, the prayers, cards, calls, texts, letters, emails, visits, flowers, food (even the cookies!). What a loving and Christian community we have at Webster Gardens. My faith has grown, and I think that of my friends has, too. 

Heavenly Father, thank You for the love and support for each other You have created in our church. Please help us to remember to carry each other’s burdens and to faithfully pray for each other. Amen. 

Author: Marilyn Meyer


“And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses: grace and truth came from Jesus Christ.” (John 1:16-17 NIV) 

How are you? Such a common question. Common answers: OK, fine, so-so. But what if you are dealing with sickness, irritations at work or home, a problem child or feeling misunderstood? Is the situation depressing your spirits? Are you feeling exhausted or frightened? 

John 1:16 reminds us that we are receiving "grace upon grace," but when dealing with life, it is often difficult to block out our problems and to concentrate on our blessings. 

Blessings? Pause in your daily life and count your blessings. Begin with Jesus who generously smothers you with His grace and truth, love and protection. When life becomes hard, give these problems to Him. He is your Shepherd who will abide with you, who will hold your hand as you walk through the weeds, guiding you through this life to your heavenly, blessed home. You are never alone. You are a loved child of God, and His grace gives you truth, righteousness, wisdom and life without measure or end. 

So how are you? Know you are a beloved child of God. He's got this! He's got you! 

Dear Lord, as I begin this day, remain beside me. Fill me with Your peace and love. Thank You for Your presence and care. Thank You for Your family at Webster Gardens and for daily growing us in grace. Amen. 

Author: Sandy Meyr


“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NIV) 

I admire those with an unshakable faith. My faith journey has been less so. Perhaps you are like me. I believe God’s promises; yet, my vigor in pursuing my faith is often lukewarm. However, what I lack I often find in those around me, and I am made stronger by their strength. For “a cord of three strands is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV) And “iron sharpens iron.” (Proverbs 27:17a NIV) 

Living life among this church, I see evidence of His spiritual gifts on display in service and action every day, the breadth of which is hard to describe. As an example, my family and I were blessed with great compassion and acts of service from this church body when we faced unexpected heartache and despair, including the loss of a child. Those same saints who cried with us also encouraged us and allowed us to lean on them for comfort and spiritual clarity when we could find none. Their spiritual gifts fed our body and spirit when we had little strength of our own. 

In the company of other Christians, I know that my faith is strengthened through the presence of their spiritual gifts. For that, I am greatly blessed. 

Thank you, Jesus, for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and for all the gifts He bestows on us and in Your church body. Each of us is gifted with unique talents, skills, strengths and purposes that serve to glorify Your name. May you embolden me to be courageous in employing those gifts you have entrusted to me. Amen. 

Author: Tom Heard

WEEK 9: May 12th through 18th

Parents whose daughter was battling cancer. A good friend witnessed the family grieve and cling to God throughout their daughter’s illness and death and was inspired by the family’s faith. She became determined to visit the family’s church, Webster Gardens. She “wanted a relationship with God and a faith like those parents had.” She was immediately greeted and made to feel welcome. She came again … and again. She began to form friendships in the church. She grew in faith and became a member. It was clear that God was at work in her life … AND in her husband’s life. Her husband, who had not been interested in joining a church, asked if he could join her one Sunday morning sometime later. He was warmly welcomed as she had been and also became a member. They were both invited to use their gifts in serving ministries at the church. They responded willingly and joyfully, generously giving of their resources and time to serve others, both inside and outside of our church walls. 

She and her family fled from their home country because of the violence there. She was lonely and depressed. She believed her life was not worth living. She came to a Webster Gardens’ rummage sale where she was met by people who welcomed her with a smile and kindness. After hearing her story, people prayed with her, invited her to church and followed up with her after she left. Later, our members helped her with small home repairs. Some spent time with her outside of church, sharing meals and friendship together. After a while, this struggling woman responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, confessed her faith through the Rite of Confirmation and became a member of Webster Gardens. Now she is growing in faith and sharing those same smiles, love and kindnesses that she received in a serving ministry. 

Webster Gardens has a reputation for being a welcoming community that seeks to help people take steps in discipleship. It is an accountability that everyone in our church community shares. For the last couple of decades, Webster Gardens has continued to add resources to our Connections Ministry to respond to the changing needs of guests, ensuring that they are seen and heard and connected into our community with each subsequent visit. We have added staffing for Groups Ministry and have relied on smaller circles of relationships within Small Groups, Women’s, Men’s and Senior Ministries, as well as outreach support ministries like Griefshare and Human Care, to help people stay connected and to provide ongoing care and support for individuals in need. We are a congregation GROWING IN GRACE … sharing God’s love and kindness with hurting people. 

Step Into the Future: Seek out someone you do not know in church this week. Introduce yourself to that person. Make that person feel welcome … whether they are a member or a guest! 


“Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart, as working for the Lord, not men.” (Colossians 3:23 NIV) 

Having lived in several states through the years, I have visited a lot of Lutheran churches and had developed a routine. I intended to visit Webster Gardens in that same routine: quietly entering, worshiping and then quietly leaving—MY plan.  

God’s plan, however, was to show me His grace through the people of this church. I was greeted at the door—met by these wonderful folks, introduced and welcomed. They, heartily, from their souls, showed me what the church was about. It was beyond my expectations for sure, but certainly within God's expectations. WOW! What an experience.   

That is our church. Just look around. From the various services to Bible classes, to VBS, to special programs throughout the year, we are given the opportunity to work for the Lord and continue to grow in His grace. 

Colossians 3:23 encourages us to work at it with all of our hearts for the Lord, so let us continue to grow and to take that “work” outside the church walls. In whatever we do and with whomever we meet, let’s work at it with all of our hearts for the Lord. 

Dear Lord, with humble hearts, we ask for guidance as we grow in Your grace. Let us follow Your example, both in and outside of our church, accepting all peoples and working at all of our daily tasks as if we were working for You and not men. Amen. 

Author: Judy Lessentine


"This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.” (Psalms 102:18 NASB) 

Psalm 102 is a psalm about struggle, but it is also a psalm about God’s faithfulness. When I read the words in verse 18, I’m reminded that we have a responsibility to share our own story of God’s faithfulness and our beliefs with the next generations so they may know the truth, praise God and continue to share this truth. This means being good role models—letting go of our selfish desires, trusting God's will and loving our neighbors as ourselves. It means demonstrating kindness, forgiveness and mercy to others. It means being humble and teachable, recognizing that we are saved only by grace. 

We at Webster Gardens also have the responsibility and privilege to share God's story of our church—the struggles, the victories, the servants who have gone before us and God's incredible faithfulness through it all over the last 75 years. We are to continue working to create a stable and thriving church that is growing in grace, a church that will serve the next generation. We are to pass our legacy of faith on so others will know and praise Him. That is how we can be faithful to our mission and glorify His Name. 

Father God, we thank You for Your faithfulness to Webster Gardens and for the servants You have placed here. We pray for the next generations of believers so that we all may praise Your name together. Amen. 

Author: Todd Craig


“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a NIV) 

In a track relay race, a team consists of individuals who run their portion of the race, carrying a baton which they pass to their teammate. Each team member must complete his/her segment for the team to be successful. 

In the Christian life, God marks out a part of the race which, as believers, we have been called to complete. Over 75 years ago, God prepared a course that wound through the neighborhoods of Webster Groves, Crestwood and Affton. He called believers to run this course and invite others to be part of the team that eventually became The Lutheran Church of Webster Gardens.  

Each generation has taken the baton of faith from the one before. Now, we carry the baton and run the course that God has prepared for each of us. We look to Jesus as we share our faith with family, friends, neighbors and others that we will meet along our portion of this race. We do not know when our race on earth will be complete. As believers, we do know that Jesus won the race for us. Jesus endured the cross and offers the victory of salvation to all who believe in Him. 

Heavenly Father, thank You for the generations before us who followed Your course and founded and grew our church. Help us to be a church that is always growing in grace as we look to Jesus and share our faith with people that You place on our paths. Grant us the persistence to run the race in a way that honors You. Amen. 

Authors: Cindy and Mark Buchschacher


“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV) 

Years ago, amidst personal tragedy, I heard a beautiful rendition of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” The song brought me to tears, especially the line about God providing “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” Fittingly, the hymn, rooted in Lamentations, illustrates that God’s steadfastness often comes during challenging times—as does spiritual growth. For months, I clung to this reminder of God’s “new mercies” when life seemed pretty dark. It became a favorite hymn, and I still sing it to our son at bedtime. 

At Webster Gardens, I have felt God’s steadfast love through Women’s Ministry. When I quit my job after our son’s birth, I experienced both the joy of motherhood and its isolation. Greenhouse fed my faith through Bible study, but it was also the one place I could be around other moms weekly—a lifeline when life felt untethered. During the pandemic, when many of us dispersed and felt isolated again, my group switched to Zoom and later to meeting in parks. Then and now, we talk about our faith, share challenges and successes in parenting, connect via messages throughout the week and provide each other a “soft place to land” amongst faithful friends. 

Dear Jesus, thank You for showing us Your new mercies every day, both during joyful times and sorrowful times. Help us to grow in Your grace and faith and connect with the people You graciously place in our lives. Amen. 

Author: Julie Bode


“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)     

Have you seen the movie Mission Impossible? Well, in these verses, Paul is sharing a prayer about Mission Possible! Paul wants to let the Ephesian Christians know that no matter what they can think of or imagine, God can do it all and more! He wants them to know that because of the fullness of the Lord, their spiritual cup is overflowing; God is so much more than their minds (and ours!) can even take in. 

This message is not about us. It is about God, and it is for all generations. His power is greater than anything we know. He alone can do everything. We are encouraged to pray boldly and rely totally on God’s power to guide us in our everyday lives. 

As a church, a family or even a small group, we know it is only through God’s grace that we do good works, and we know the power to do those works comes from the Holy Spirit in us. I am grateful to have grown up learning about Christ from my family and my church family at Webster Gardens. I am grateful that He chooses to use me as a vessel to share His grace! 

Dear Lord, I pray that You continue to work through each of us every day of our lives. Fill us immeasurably with Your Holy Spirit so that we may reflect Your love and glory to others. Keep us strong in our faith and growing in grace now and forever. Amen. 

Author: Josh Schmidt


“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 NIV) 

Many years ago, my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Our children were still young, and it shattered our family’s world in ways we couldn't fathom. We lost our hopes and dreams for the future and the present, as Alzheimer’s robs you of your loved one bit by bit. 

Throughout this journey, God has been faithful. He has gently led us, shaped us and showered us with His grace along the way, especially through the love shown to us by our small group and church family. 

One of His many blessings was the ability to work from home so I could care for my husband. A few years ago as I sat working, I became overwhelmed with soul-weariness. As I sat there feeling the heaviness of what seemed to be never-ending caregiving, God placed these words on my heart: “Do not grow weary in doing good.” In that moment, I knew God saw my suffering and loved me enough to encourage me to continue. 

Are you experiencing trials and weariness? Know that God is intimately acquainted with your hardships. He hears our every prayer, knows our needs and never grows weary of listening to us, caring for us and loving us. 

Lord, let Your glory, power and faithfulness be reflected and magnified in my weaknesses. Thank You for choosing me to be a conduit of Your love. Strengthen me according to Your good will so that I can continue growing in grace as I serve You and others. Amen. 

Author: Kristen Schade

WEEK 10: May 19th through 25th

She worshiped faithfully every week … until she couldn’t any more because of her health. So she watched services broadcast on television. Still, she ached for the special connection she had with others in her own faith community. 

COVID! The world would never be the same … masks, plastic gloves, no-touch policies, quarantines. People with health issues and those over a certain age were advised to stay in their homes, venturing out ONLY to go to the doctor! 

He was called into active duty on foreign soil … far from his family, job and his friends. He missed them and their life together. He missed worshiping together with them on Sunday mornings. 

How did Webster Gardens respond to these needs? Following the model of the Acts 2 church, Webster Gardens began a ministry called “Church on Wheels” in the 1970s. Teams of four to six people led worship services for the homebound. They read Scripture aloud together, sang hymns together, had a brief message and a time of fellowship together. Later, lay leaders were also trained to administer Communion to those same people. And COVID? Committed to embracing technology as a way to connect with people and advance God’s mission, cameras were installed in our sanctuary. Those cameras made it possible to record and livestream our services. Now, people who cannot physically attend church because of their health, those who are far from home and those looking for a church home can worship together with our Webster Gardens’ family on their home computer screens! God has been GROWING us IN GRACE and opening new doors and ways to share His message of love and mercy! 

Step Into the Future: Spend an hour this week visiting someone who is homebound, in a rehab center or the hospital. Take a devotion book to leave with them, share one of the devotions and a prayer together, talk about their favorite Bible verses or hymns. Or take your laptop and worship together via livestream.


"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you ... because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now ... It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace." (Philippians 1:3, 5, 7a ESV) 

The word “community” gained new meaning for so many of us during 2020 and the years that followed. Community was lost as we isolated ourselves within our homes. But incredible community was found in neighbors willing to lend each other necessities, in neighborhoods coming together outdoors and in creative community building that emerged through food trucks and birthday parades. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he praises the beauty of their community and the impact their faith and joy will have for generations to come. 

The first chance we had to return to church for Communion after the shutdown of 2020, I wept at the sight of the altar, overcome with joy to be surrounded by the community I so deeply cherished and missed. God made us to be in community. There is no question that our community at Webster Gardensgathering together, worshiping together and digging deep into His Word togetherhas and will continue to make a lasting impact. I thank God when I remember you, “because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:5-6 NIV) 

Lord, we praise You for the JOY that comes from being in community with one another. Continue to guide us as we seek Your will in our gatherings, worship and community building to praise and honor You for generations to come. Amen 

Author: Amy Dunn


“Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.” (Acts 9:31 NIV) 

Why did God inspire Luke to write this verse? It comes at an odd place if not read in context. This story comes after Paul (or Saul) is humbled by God and devotes his life to Him. Paul had made a career out of hunting Jesus’ followers for persecution by the Jews. Paul was rejected at first by the other disciples because of his reputation, but he desperately needed grace. God showed His grace to the disciples, and the disciples needed to show grace to the ruthless Paul. The strength and growth that the early church enjoyed was a growth in grace. 

I can think of times when a group of classmates was strengthened at a school event after someone was given a second chance. In fact, I was given a lot of grace and a LOT of second chances myself. When we forgave and accepted each other, the group was made better and stronger. When people exercise grace and kindness toward each other, everyone is built up. 

God sent the free gift of His Son. He instructs us as individuals and as His people at Webster Gardens to grow in His grace.           

Father, thank You for the growth in grace we have experienced at Webster Gardens these past 75 years. Help us to show Your love to others with our actions. Help us to encourage the best in others to build and grow strong, gracious relationships. Amen. 

Author: Simon King


“But He said to me, ’My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV) 

What power is in these simple words! Paul is writing to a congregation that has been divided regarding his standing in their community—turmoil I can only dimly imagine much less compare with any hardship I’ve experienced in my life. Yet, he sees clearly that only in Jesus is he able to continue in his ministry of sharing the incomparable riches of knowing, trusting and living daily in the strength of a relationship with his Lord. 

This congregation certainly has experienced times of uncertainty and confusion over the past 75 years and will, no doubt, experience more in the future. But certain of His steadfast love and continually “growing in His grace,” this faithful group of people has certainly lived out their trust in Jesus. As we look to the future, we can be sure that God’s grace and His power will be our strength! 

I’m so thankful God led me to this congregation over 40 years ago. My life would have taken a very different path had He not! 

Lord God, Heavenly Father, may we all, humbly yet confidently, trust in Your unwavering love and remember with Paul that “I can do all things through Him Who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13 NIV) Amen. 

Author: Mary Beth Sullivan


"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God's people—the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven ... In the same way, the Gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God's grace.” (Colossians 1:3-6 NIV) 

I love how Paul is bursting with joy about God’s salvation delivered through His Son, Jesus Christ. As Paul says in verse 5, the Colossians have the hope and expectation of a reservation in heaven because of God’s plan … Good News! 

I am so humbled by this same grace. I am only too aware of my many shortcomings, which makes God’s grace even more abundant. God also continues to change lives by His Holy Spirit, which Paul references in verse 6. 

Additionally, God provides through His Church. I enjoy God in worship with friends and family. I know God better through weekly Bible classes and small group. This congregation has become such a part of my life that I turned down two different job offers in other locations because we couldn’t contemplate leaving this church. 

I praise and thank God that He put me in this place. I pray that He challenges this congregation to persistently take steps in discipleship, evangelism and generosity. As Paul states in verse 6, this same Good News is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives. 

Dear Lord, thank You that Webster Gardens is Your church, growing in grace by the power of the Holy Spirit. May we continue to “bear fruit” for the Kingdom. May we continue to be salt and light in our community and in our world. Amen. 

Author: Eric Jacobs


“Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” (2 Peter 3:17-18 NIV) 

I know who Jesus is and how He took my sins to the cross so that I can live with Him in glory. Still, when my first marriage ended in divorce, I felt such shame and remorse that I stopped attending church. I knew that was a lifestyle unbefitting a Christian, but I was depressed and even developed an eating disorder. I avoided worship services because I did not want to be confronted with my sin. I did not feel I deserved Jesus’ love for me. 

But God remained active in my life through people I did not expect. I came into work one day to find a rose lying on top of a book called Each Day a New Beginning with a little note from a coworker tucked inside. That little book and the concern of that friend started my journey back to the acceptance of God’s grace. I read that book (until it literally fell apart) and my Bible every day, and I returned to church. Some 14 years later, God brought us to Webster Gardens where I am regularly reminded of the fact that God’s mercies really are new every day in spite of my humanity and frailties. 

Lord, thank you for Your mercies and grace and for the 75 years of ministry of Webster Gardens. Help us to be ever watchful that we do not take Your gift of grace for granted and fall into activities or thoughts that do not honor You and Your great sacrifice. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Author: Kathryn Gritts


“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV) 

We all know what it feels like to be encouraged, to be built up. It brings a positive feeling in your chest. “Good job.” “I love you.” “Feeling better?” Encouragement can also press you to go on when you feel like quitting. “That’s rough.” “Can I help?” “You did the right thing.” Sometimes no words are neededa hug, a smile or a cookie does the trick. When we build each other up, we’re saying you matter. When that encouragement comes from Christian friends, we show God’s grace and remind each other that we matter to our heavenly Father. My mother recently passed, and oh how I soaked up the words of encouragement. “She’s with Jesus.” “You’ll be together again.” Yes, indeed! 

In the verses before today’s passage, the discussion is about the end of the world—and that we don’t know when it will happen. So, ”therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” That’s not a suggestion, it’s a clear directive. It also means this: Don’t tear each other down.

Paul's last few words are a strong pat on the back: “just as you are doing.” In other words, keep up the good work. Yes, let’s do that! 

Heavenly Father, thank You for the Christian encouragement that has been shared among the community of Webster Gardens for these past 75 years. Please nudge my conscience to stop me from saying things I shouldn’t. Help me grow in grace and notice ways to encourage and build others up so that Your love shines through me. Amen. 

Author: Lydia Johnson

WEEK 11: May 26th through May 30th

Imagine that you are a refugee family who has left your home in search of a safer, better life for your family. You arrive in the United States. You can’t speak the language. You have no home, no job, no car. You are afraid, yet hopeful. You end up in St. Louis, but you need help assimilating into the culture. This is the reality for many refugee families in our community. A Webster Gardens’ small group responded to that need for one family. They helped the children register for school and helped the parents understand their bills and mail. They drove the mother to and from her job everyday for a year until she got her driver’s license. They drove the family to countless appointments and helped the family move into a new home. While they initially made just a three-month commitment to help this family, they are still occasionally helping them two years later.  

Other groups have developed relationships with evacuees from Afghanistan who live in Affton. They make appointments and drive the moms and children to doctor and dentist appointments, make small household repairs, help with online registration for the children’s summer and fall school year, assist the children with school assignments and take them to the library or Grant’s Farm during school breaks, and provide needed household items and toys for their children for Christmas. 

In the last 25 years of our history, our local outreach efforts have focused on urban settings in north St. Louis at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, to international students through ISM (International Student Ministry) and to new Americans through our partnership with Christian Friends of New Americans. Conducting VBS at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, sorting clothes and food in the food pantry there and “Taking Jesus to the Streets” in north St. Louis are a few of the opportunities God has given us to serve. In addition, He has led us to assist with after school programs for at-risk students in the Affton and Lindbergh School Districts and to partner with local government to serve those in need in the community. We are a congregation GROWING IN GRACE … staying anchored in God’s Word and obediently extending His grace and love to others. 

Step Into the Future: Take time today to lift up all our “missionaries” at Webster Gardens and those missionaries we support through our larger church body in prayer. Pray for boldness for them, pray for their safety, and for their effective witness of the Gospel.


"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift from God—not by works so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV) 

In today’s reading from Ephesians, we learn that our works do not earn us salvation and a one-way ticket to heaven. We receive that gift by faith alone, through Christ alone. No matter how hard we try, we can never do enough or be good enough to earn salvation. God does not give us a list of “do's and don’ts” to obtain eternal life. He gives us grace instead and rescues us through His Son. Our salvation is secure, not because of what we do, but because of what Christ has done for us. 

My youth pastor, Pastor Gledhill, used to say, "No news is good news without bad news." That bad news is we ALL “fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23b NIV), but because of Jesus, we are made righteous. 

God’s gift of salvation through Jesus is a truth that has been taught at Webster Gardens every week—for the last 75 years. Our response to that amazing gift is to continue growing in grace, “to live out our faith where we live, work and play, with thankful hearts eager to share the Good News everywhere.”*  

*Quoted from 

Dear God, thank You for Your amazing grace and the gift of faith planted in our hearts at our baptism. Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit who daily encourages us to continue walking in faith and growing in grace. Amen. 

Author: Megan Gledhill


“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:1-4 NIV) 

It’s hard to go more than a few hours without hearing or witnessing division. It can be discouraging. Paul, however, wants to encourage us to be a church growing in grace and humility. He uses language of unity rather than division with phrases such as “being united with Christ,” ”common sharing of the Spirit,” “being like-minded,” “having the same love” and “being one in Spirit and mind.” 

If we quiet ourselves to think about Paul’s encouragement, we shift our approach and work toward unity with others. We stop focusing on division. Paul’s direction in verse 3 is very simple: Show humility and value others above ourselves. Don’t look to our own interests, but rather to the interests of others. The exercise here seems to be to make a conscious shift away from “what do I want?” and to replace it with “what is in the best interest of others?” 

How do we put this shift into practice in our lives? Pray daily for God’s love to grow in us. Remember that those with whom we may disagree are children of God. Finally, acknowledge that we are all sinners, still growing in grace, who have done nothing to deserve God’s love and mercy. 

Heavenly Father, help me to recognize and respond to the needs of others willingly, cheerfully, and with humility of heart and gentleness of Spirit. Amen. 

Author: Stuart Vogelsmeier


“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let’s go to the Lord’s house.’" (Psalm 122:1 LBT) 

During construction of our current sanctuary, I met a visiting Africa missionary. I was delighted to meet him and show him the progress on the building. We walked into the church. The roof, walls and windows were complete, but there was only a concrete floor. No pews. There were two large spaces for future organ pipes and a projection screen. No cross. No altar. Things looked bare, but I was satisfied with the progress. I will never forget what the missionary said as he observed the scene. “If we had a building this size, we’d put 3,000 Africans into it for worship!”

We expanded our sanctuary at that time to accommodate “the next 500” new members, and the Lord has added to our numbers since 2004. 

Could Webster Gardens ever serve 3,000 faithful fellow Christians here? It begs the question: “How will our Lord use us?” We can be glad, even overjoyed, to have such a wonderful temple! We can rejoice as we celebrate our 75th year with over 1,500 fellow members! Will we meet yet another 500 … or 1,000 or more souls and say to them, “Let us go into the Lord’s house”? 

Father, use me to witness to others. Bless Webster Gardens with numerical growth and distinction for generosity and serving. Bless each of us at Webster Gardens with spiritual growth as well. May we always be “growing in grace.”  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Author: Mike Vincent


“I appeal to you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” (1 Corinthians 1:10 NIV) 

United States of America? United? Really? Seems we’ve never been SO divided in our country, but worse, even in our own families. As Christians we aren’t unified because we are all similar, but because of our one Lord, one faith, one baptism. God unifies us. 

Unity is so important that Jesus asked God for it three times in one of His last prayers on earth.   The Bible urges, “I appeal to you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” Really? Can that be? 

At Webster Gardens, I’ve watched God say, “Yes, really!” Across all of our biggest decisions about pastors, about buildings, even about money, God miraculously unified us toward His plan. 

Today we often avoid speaking, fearful that it might divide us further. But God says, “Speak! Speak softly, helpfully, gently, graciously, wholesomely. Speak encouragement!” The soothing tongue is a tree of life. Be a tree of life! The brokenness of today is a world crying out for unity. So speak hope and leave the rest to God. 

Dear Heavenly Father, in this broken world, help us as believers to be unified in You. Guide our hearts and our minds and our tongues and our words. Let our speech be filled with Your wisdom, truth and grace. Lead us as we love one another and witness to others. Help us to be a tree of life to those who need healing most. In Jesus’ most holy name, Amen. 

Author: Anne Dunajcik