On September 24, 2023, St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Mt. Carmel, PA celebrated its 135th anniversary. At the festive worship service, Bishop Wilma S. Kucharek presided at the celebration of the Eucharist and served as preacher; she was assisted at the service by Vicar Brian Buzik, a Slovak Zion Synod seminarian at United Lutheran Seminary, who has been serving at St. Matthew’s during his pastoral internship. The worship service was followed by a luncheon at the church. Attendance at the event included the Mayor of Mt. Carmel, Mr. Philip Cimino and his spouse, who brought a certificate from the borough of Mt. Carmel congratulating the congregation on this milestone anniversary.
The anniversary observance took place on the Sunday closest to the day the church commemorates St. Matthew, September 21st, after whom the congregation is named.
The gospel reading for the anniversary recounted the story of how the apostle Matthew was called by Jesus. Matthew, a tax collector, was someone despised by the people. Nevertheless, Jesus came to him and said, “Follow me.” And Matthew followed him and became one of Jesus’ disciples. (Tradition also attributes Matthew with being the writer of the Gospel of St. Matthew, as illustrated on the icon used on the cover of the day’s special worship folder, which was prepared by Vicar Brian.)
The bishop’s sermon illustrated how Matthew was just one example of the many followers of Jesus who left their livelihoods and comfort zones and went out into the world to go where Jesus sent them and to proclaim the love of Christ to others by their words and deeds. She shared how Jesus’ call to St. Matthew and to the founders of St. Matthew’s congregation, is Jesus’ call to us today as well: “Follow me.”
May God continue to guide and bless the people of God at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church. May they be faithful followers of Jesus, stay close to Him, and follow Jesus into the world, going to all the places where He Himself will lead them.