The year 2021 in review: divine services with the Chief Apostle
In good years, the Chief Apostle travels to congregations all over the world. On account of the coronavirus pandemic, however, this was not possible in 2021. Most divine services therefore took place in Europe. Here is a chronology.
January in Winterthur, Switzerland
The motto for 2021 is “Christ, our future”. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider explained the motto himself in his New Year’s address and in a divine service on 3 January 2021. The Bible text that served as basis for the divine service was taken from Hebrews 12: 1–2: “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” The core aspects of the motto are:
- “Christ, our future” also defines our present. Let us already today do His will and act in accordance with His example. He was a man of love. He forgave. He helped others. He shared.
- We plan for our future on this earth. Even in these plans we involve Jesus. Whether it is in our job, in our life as a couple, or the upbringing of our children.
- My future is also the future of my children. We cannot credibly convince our children to believe that Christ is their future if they do not feel, notice, and experience that Christ is the future of their parents.
- It is our mission to make it possible for others to experience the love of God. They must know that God loves them. Christ is also the future of my neighbour.
February in Strasbourg, France
“What do you want Me to do for you? He said, ‘Lord, that I may receive my sight’” (Luke 18: 41). Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider did not preach about a medical miracle on 14 February 2021. When it speaks about “sight” here, what is meant are eyes of faith.
- In response to Jesus’ question, the blind man did not ask Him for alms, as he would have done with someone else. He asked Him to do something that only God could do. Like all the miracles that Jesus did in Jericho, the healing of the blind beggar was a sign. By healing him, Jesus Christ showed that He had the power to forgive sins and to bring the marginalised back among the chosen people. At the same time, He showed that it was necessary to believe in Him to obtain salvation.
March in Lugano, Switzerland
In a divine service on 21 March 2021 Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider compared Adam’s disobedience with the obedience of Jesus. In Romans 5: 19 it says: “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”
- Jesus’ death on the cross was a testimony of God’s love for mankind. Jesus wanted to show His solidarity with the afflicted and the dying: He wanted to show mankind: “I am always there for you. I am with you. Everything you experience and go through I also go through.” His death on the cross opened up the way for mankind to come to God. He died for us so that we could have salvation. His death was the ransom that was paid to free people from the dominion of evil.
April in Wettingen, Switzerland
His opponents saw Him die. The disciples, however, saw the Risen One. This is how Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider began the divine service on 4 April 2021. He based his sermon on Colossians 3: 1–2: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
- Faith in the resurrection of Jesus gives us strength. We are very confident that no one can prevent us from coming to God.
- Through the rebirth out of water and Spirit, the believer receives the resurrection life. This life allows us to enter into glory.
- Those who believe in the resurrection seek the intimate connection with the Risen One. They do not only look at them themselves, at visible things, but look up and see Jesus Christ.
May in Zurich, Switzerland
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” It was this Bible text from Romans 8: 14 that comprised the basis for the Pentecost service on 23 May 2021. The Holy Spirit revealed Himself in impressive fashion in the biblical event of Pentecost:
- as a Spirit of creation: the new creation in Christ can develop within those who have been reborn out of water and the Spirit.
- as a Spirit of power, who works gently, not by force, but by providing guidance and direction.
- as a Spirit of movement: you have not yet come close enough to Jesus Christ. Keep going, don’t stop!
June in Gaggenau, Germany
The divine service on Sunday 20 June 2021 was based on Psalm 91: 14–15: “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honour him.”
- We want to trust in God and we want to believe in Jesus Christ. We believe in the efficacy of the Holy Spirit and act accordingly. Whoever does this can enjoy the fullness of salvation. This is nothing new, but I know of nothing that is more important for us than this.
July in Bensheim, Germany
A surprise visit on 25 July 2021: the congregation was delighted. The Bible passage sounded complicated: “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb: even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you” (Isaiah 46: 3–4).
- • God grants His help, His grace, and His salvation to those who believe in His promise, trust in Him, and persevere and prepare for His return. Let us remain steadfast in faith, in our love for God, and in our love for our neighbour.
- He works on our salvation every day, irrespective of our situation and our abilities, whether we are big and strong or small and weak. This promise applies to every believer, but also to the church as a whole. God watches over the church at every stage of its history and has never abandoned faithful Christians!
August in Nairobi, Kenya
It sounds like a paradox: only those who are perfect can enter the kingdom of God. Yet no human can be perfect. In a divine service on 17 August 2021, the Chief Apostle explained how Jesus resolves this issue: “And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.’”
- This event taken from the story of the rich young man shows one thing: those who are only concerned about their earthly wealth will not enter the kingdom of God. For devout Jews, material wealth was a sign of blessing: if you keep the commandments, God will be pleased; He will bless you, and you will be rich. However, we cannot earn God’s blessing or His kingdom by doing good works; we have to be perfect. The disciples understood this, yet they also knew that no one could be perfect. To be saved we must have a perfect faith. We must believe in Jesus Christ, in His sacrifice, in His teaching, and trust Him in everything. This is the key to salvation.
September in Kápolnásnyék, Hungary
The important thing is not to know when the Lord will come, but to be ready when He does return. The Chief Apostle’s sermon on 19 September 2021 was based on Matthew 24: 40–41: “Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.”
- In some places the congregations are in the sowing stage, in others they are in the harvesting process, and in still others congregational life is dormant. One cannot determine whether the Lord is about to return or not based on the level of activity in a congregation, or on the number of its members, or even on the situation of the church. He will come when He decides to come. Whether the congregation is large and still growing or very small and in decline, souls are being prepared for the return of the Lord. Salvation can be attained in every congregation.
October in Paris, France
On 17 October 2021 the Chief Apostle based his sermon on Luke 4: 21–22: “And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ So all bore witness to Him, and marvelled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, ‘Is this not Joseph’s son?’”
- Jesus came for the poor, the neglected, the lowly, the humble. Why? Because God wanted to deliver people from the grip of sin, because He wanted to deliver people from the suffering of the evil caused by sin.
- Jesus had not come to revolutionise society. He came to deliver mankind from sin. Sent by God, the Lord came to announce this message. The Apostles have been sent by Jesus to proclaim this message. The church, you and I, have been sent by God. We have been filled with the Holy Spirit to proclaim the same message. Every child of God is anointed with the Holy Spirit and has been sent into this world by God to pass on this same message.
November in Buenos Aires, Argentina
He was finally able to travel to Argentina again! Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider had made several attempts to visit the congregations in this South American country over the last 18 months, but his plans were always thwarted by the ongoing pandemic. On Sunday, 7 November 2021 he was finally able to conduct a divine service in Buenos Aires. He based his sermon on Psalm 121: 1–2: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
- We need to lift up our eyes when it comes to the Lord, the Chief Apostle explained. The question of where help comes from is one that many people ask themselves to this day. They don’t know how to deal with a particular situation, see no solution for their problems, and have no one who can help them.
- We believe and proclaim: God can and wants to help every human being. He is the Almighty, for whom nothing is impossible. Jesus Christ has conquered evil and death; they are no longer an obstacle on the way to salvation.
- God does not sleep: He is aware of the fate of every human being, participates in their suffering, and makes sure that they can obtain salvation. His purpose is to lead man into His glory, into eternal communion with Him.
December in Freudenstadt, Germany
The expectation of the Lord’s return must define our lives. This was the message of Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider on Sunday, 12 December 2021. His sermon in Freudenstadt contained thought-provoking suggestions for an active time of waiting. Already the Bible text makes one sit up and take notice: “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5: 6, 11).
- Let’s just remember that the Holy Spirit warns us that whatever happens around us must not get in the way of our spiritual preparation. Our relationship with God must remain our top priority, no matter the circumstances we are going through.