Celebrating 50 Years


In 1973, Richard Nixon embarked on his second presidential term, only to be tangled in a web of scandal. Weary of war, our last troops came home from Vietnam, closing a chapter of conflict and strife. An oil embargo sent shockwaves, quaking the economy of our nation.

In those winds of change, a sanctuary took shape: Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church. Where? Here, nestled in a town, likewise, brand new and incorporated. This hallowed space offered spiritual solace and faith-filling nourishment. The Gospel’s light glimmered on this consecrated ground. Aglow, we beamed as a beacon for hungering souls, calling out to those seeking refuge.

Blessed are we, this assembly of believers in the fold of God. Five decades unfurled for us under His watchful gaze, in a testament to His faithfulness. Today, friends and members unite to receive God’s saving gifts and respond with praise and gratitude for the blessings given. May the Holy Spirit tune our senses to His Word as we turn our thoughts to “God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.”

In our Creator’s grand design, the earth’s valleys and peaks garner a place of distinction. Bathed in sunlight and bearing the scars of untold storms, the Ozarks inspire reverence. To the west, the Rockies rise. These silent sentinels pierce the sky. In the east are the Appalachians. Ancient and enduring, they stretch toward the sunrise. To us, millennia leave them untouched as they echo timeless tales of ages gone.

The sacred whisperings of our psalm proclaim, “Before the mountains came into being.” Earlier than the dawn of our world, before a cliff claimed its place in the skyline, God existed. With no starting or ending, no ticking clock or turn of the earth can contain Him.

Years and eons hold no sway in the kingdom of the Eternal One. To Him, they are a daytime spent, or an hour held within the shroud of night. Time itself bows to His majesty, for He is immune to its relentless pursuit. “Lord, You are our dwelling place in every generation.”

In the downpour of a deluge, Noah and his kin rejoiced in the sanctum of a wooden ark. The floodwaters surged, but the boat kept them aloft. Safe, they stayed from the tempest’s wrath. The Israelites, pursued by Egyptian fury, found an unexpected deliverance. A path emerged in the Red Sea’s depths, providing a route of rescue. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, trapped in the furnace’s fiery heat, did not burn. Salvation came not from their power, but from God’s omnipotent hand.

This same God stirred the hearts of our founding fathers and mothers. In steadfast trust, a few sowed a seed. This sprouted, blossomed, and bore fruit. Fifty years past, our gathering still stands as a monument to God’s love, grace, and preserving promise.

Time passes in a span we may sense as significant. This length is but a brief murmur in our Lord’s endless expanse of eternity. With Divinity touching humanity, He, our everlasting shelter, guided and shielded us through our years. Is God not constant and unchanging? Yes! Of course, we faced adversities and braved hardships. The psalmist implores, “You turn mortals into dust and declare, ‘Return, O children of man!’”

Half a century advanced as we weathered countless changes. Many went home to be with God. Others moved to be closer to family or for health reasons. Challenges arose. Economic downturns unsettled our underpinnings. Moral dilemmas tried our beliefs. A tornado raged, tearing off the rooftop of our building. A global pandemic tested our collective resolve. By our Lord’s blessing, we, on this day, celebrate our golden jubilee.

Our Lord sustained His chosen ones during their 40-year wandering in a wild and arid wasteland. So He kept this congregation—for a decade more. Four pastors, three organists, and one secretary served during this time, human hands doing God’s work.

In our harsh and topsy-turvy existence, we soon wonder if something is wrong. Yes. An inherited stain, age-old and primordial, taints us. This legacy from our fall into sinfulness embeds into our being. The result? Our flawed nature and awaiting demise are sure as the sun’s descent at day’s end. Scripture minces no words: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23).

So, the One without beginning, embodied in Jesus Christ, entered this realm of fleeting moments. Such a life He led, untarnished by transgressions. In pure selflessness, this promised Savior sacrificed Himself, paying the steep price for our wrongdoings. By offering Himself, His blood became a cleansing torrent, washing away our sins. More than this, He died so we may live. The Son of Man came to serve, giving Himself as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

Such wondrous words become, to you and me, a soothing balm. Descending to earth, God graced us in His boundless benevolence. With uncountable mercies and much abundance, He came, redeeming and restoring. Did you hunger and thirst for these gifts and seek to savor them? Do you live these out and share them with others? Everyone needs God’s Word to convict, comfort, and grow.

Over the waxing and waning of seasons, the tumultuous tide of time brought us a cascade of catastrophes. The energy crisis of the 70s ignited concerns for the future. A shortage of resources, once abundant, cast a pall of worry over our country. The prospect of life bereft of luxury left us uneasy.

Fast forward to a fateful day in September, engraved in infamy. A specter of horror rained from the sky, rewriting our history in the ink of destruction and sorrow. Pillars of steel and glass crumbled. The ruins of towers and extinguished lives disordered us in dread and despair. Our sense of security, once robust, withered in an instant.

In 2020, an unseen foe struck. A virus gripped our land in a vise of panic. The fabric of our society soon started to fray under its touch. The once-assured rhythms of wellness turned into a haunting strain of uncertainty. Its impact lingers, unearthing secreted longings and deviancies, forcing us to question our understanding of what is normal.

Crises, be they from scarcity, terror, or contagion, do not define us. Those specters are not the sculptor of our essence. Remember, a Christian seeks relief, not in never becoming fearful, but in where he turns in those troubled times. A believer’s heart thrums with heavenly wisdom, “My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2).

Psalm 46 cracks open an epic upheaval, a creation in flux. Cataclysms quake the cosmos and break the firmament, spewing shards into the abyss. Immense and towering heights plunge, its remnants plummeting into the deep. Waters, once placid, convulse and rage. The sovereign God, greater than these, presides. Our mighty fortress in the storm reigns supreme.

So we will not tremble, though the earth rock or mountains topple into the sea (Psalm 46:2). To whom shall we turn in times of turmoil? Profess Him aloud: Our loving God, the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.

In the turbulence of life, God’s omnipotence becomes our bulwark, and His compassion, our reprieve. The world may tremor, but we find our stronghold in the cradle of His arms.

So we stand, ready on the threshold of another 50 years. This humble fellowship will travel on roads, untrod and unknown. Better still, we are at the cusp of the third millennium of our Lord’s resurrection, where fear finds no foothold. Despite the evil and uproar, He proves Himself our buttress and support in times of unrest (Psalm 46:1).

Today, as we stride into this new epoch, we recall Christ’s conquest of our iniquities on the cross. Engulfed by the grave, He did not tarry, for the tomb cannot confine Him. No, our incarnate God rose victorious. Robed in mortality, He opened the gates of immortality. This triumph, etched in the annals of time, lights our passage as we journey, guiding us toward our destiny.

“Christ, raised from the dead, will never die again. Death no more lords over Him” (Romans 6:9). With Scripture, we rejoice. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57)!

Now, our endeavors, imbued with such potent and profound truths, find meaning. In Jesus, our efforts are never futile. So we press on, undeterred, as we traverse the time unfolding ahead.

In resonance with the Apostle Paul, our spirits soar. Listen to his stirring summons in 1 Corinthians 15. “My beloved brothers, be firm and immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord.” In Him, “your labor is not in vain” (vs. 58). These words ring out through the centuries, for they spring forth from our Savior’s triumphant deeds, a glory now our own. Amen.


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