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Category Archives: Newsletter Article

Change

It is September and time to get back into the routine of how things are during school. Routine?!?!?!

I’m sitting at my desk thinking about how we now have new staff members and things are not routine. Things are not happening the way they always have and that is not bad it is just different.

But isn’t it funny how we look for Fall to be that time when the hustle and bustle of Summer gives way to routine, and how nerve racking it can be to not have that routine.

We are joined this Fall by Patrick Kieper as our Youth & Family Minister and so things will be different. Patrick will bring new and exciting ideas for our youth and all of the congregation. His passion for ministry will hopefully ignite all of our lives and help us to grow deeper in our faith! But with this will come some different ways of seeing and doing things.

We are also joined in the office by Julie Cavil our new Office Manager. She brings a passion for helping others and using her talents to help us all be in the know and keep St. John’s moving forward. She will be a wonderful asset to our team. She will bring a new way of looking at and doing things.

All of this change might rock the boat a little, but I am reminded of the sign that hangs in my office, Change isn’t just something you get from a vending machine.

Change isn’t good or bad, it is just different. If we focus on where God is leading us, that is what it is about. Growing as disciples and following God where He leads us.

So get ready for the unroutine routine of Fall and settle in to deepen your faith!

 

 

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Back to School

It is August and for some of us, that means it is time to start preparing to go back to school!

Teachers will be in class rooms if they haven’t been already. Getting things ready for the new students to arrive in the fall.

Parents will go back school shopping with reluctant children.

Kids will not want to go shopping.

But all of the whining and worrying doesn’t stop school from coming. It is kind of like the Grinch, no matter how many trees or presents he takes Christmas still comes. No matter how many times you say you don’t want to go shopping or hide that back to school list, school will still come. You can’t stop it from coming.

 

And really isn’t that how we should all live every day of our lives? School is for learning, and we should never stop learning. The day I don’t learn something is a bad day. I want to keep learning and growing.

This is the attitude we need to have about life and faith. Our faith is never something we graduate from. Confirmation isn’t the end of our learning process or mean we are perfect disciples of Christ. It is never enough, we will never know it all. We are constantly learning and growing in our faith.

So buy some supplies and get ready to dig in and grow in your faith. Crack open your bible and knock the dust off of it and dig into it. We need to seek and learn. Are you ready to learn with me, and to continue to grow as disciples of Jesus?

 

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Running Relationships

I’m sitting at my desk thinking about the upcoming youth trip to Houston and all the things that have to be done for that. All the money the youth still have to raise. And I think about all the things that need to get done between now and the time of our family “vacation” to the Black Hills, and that needs to be done before the youth trip after that.

My mind wanders as I think about all the things that need to get done and all the things that will have to be done this summer. We seem to kick it into overdrive in the warm months here and fit in everything we have not been able to do when we were inside.

And that thought makes me think of the picture, which is The Trinity by Andrei Rublev. It is a depiction of the Holy Trinity with a wealth of images imposed together. There is the mountain and the tree for the cross and the temple. 3 “angels” or “persons” communing together. They are living in relationship together. And the best thing about this icon for me is, the Trinity is not complete. You see at the bottom of the icon, between the feet of the Father and the Spirit there is an opening. There is space that needs to be filled or an opening for you.

You see sometimes we get so hung up on what we think we have to do that we miss what we need to be at. I’m guilty of this. You see God is always in relationship and is inviting us into relationship with Him.

This trip to Houston with the youth is about building relationships. Don’t lose sight of the relationships God has blessed you with and work on building them this summer.

 

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2 Dirty words in church!

I recently read an article from Luther Seminary about the two dirty words in the church. Evangelism is one. Because we find it hard to understand our faith enough to talk about it with others. Or maybe we think if we don’t know the answer to every question they ask we will look like our faith isn’t really ours. Trust me on this, I get it because I do not know the answer to all of the questions about faith. Have you seen the sign on my office door? It says, “I don’t have any answers. I’m a non-prophet.” But the other dirty word in the church is Stewardship. Because stewardship brings up the f-word. Finances.

This reminded me of the discussion we are having in Confirmation about sacraments. And how in baptism the story was that when Roman soldiers were baptized they would get baptized with their right hand out of the water. The reason for this was because they used that hand for their sword and they still wanted to be able to kill. The image above is the modern spin on this story. We will give everything to God except our wallet, and when we hear stewardship that is what we think. The church just wants our money.

Well no that is not what I want when I talk about stewardship. You see Stewardship is more than money. It is being a good steward or manager of what God has placed in your care. It includes yourself, your time and all of your possessions. And Parents, you being a good steward is raising your kids in a way that God would have you do that. You see stewardship is not just about financial aspects but is a way of life. Living as a good steward is living as God has called us to be in the world.

So live your life as a good steward, managing what God has blessed you with so that all of the world may come to see the blessing they have from God also.

 

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Woke!

As I sit at my desk and think about what to write for the April Newsletter this Tuesday of Holy Week I remembered an email I received from Old Lutheran. Their idea or concept for this Easter is Jesus Woke. And so they sent this in an email to explain that.

“Woke means to be aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues. It is in that context that we know that Jesus is WOKE to injustice and WOKE to indifference. Not only on Easter Sunday when Mary and the others went to the tomb and discovered that he was WOKE but Jesus is WOKE to the sins of humanity. In Jesus Resurrection we are all WOKE in Christ.”

I think of Easter being April 1, April Fools day and wonder, would Jesus joke with the disciples on this most important morning. Jesus came out of the tomb and saw His shadow and said, “Sorry guys, 6 more weeks of Lent!” This is a Jesus who is woke.

Jesus was aware and attentive to the issues in the lives of the disciples and all of those around Him, then when He walked this earth and now, as He walks it with us. Jesus is aware of what is happening in all of those who trust Him lives and seeking to help them and guide them through the ups and downs of life.

I wonder if we are woke to anything other than ourselves? When things don’t go like we want them, or we don’t get our way how do we respond? Are we attentive and aware of the issues in the lives of the people we are close to? Do you know what is happening in your neighbor’s life? Or are we so wrapped up in our own issues we can’t see them?

Jesus just died when He could have stopped it, but He knew it was not about Him, even though it is all about Him. Jesus woke and was woke all of His earthly and God’s kingdom existence.

So are you Woke? Because in His Resurrection we are all Woke in Christ!

Grace,

PJ

 

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Change

Jesus replied, “You do not understand17 what I am doing now, but you will understand after these things.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” ~ John 13:7-8

I have this picture hanging on the bulletin board in my office. It is a postcard I received at my call in Texas from the publishing house of the ELCA promoting a new resource. But it speaks volumes that we sometimes forget. Change isn’t something we only get from a vending machine. Meaning many things. Change isn’t something that happens always when we want it. Imagine if we would know everything that was going to happen and could make a choice between options. I used to love reading books that allowed you to do this. If you want Sally to go for a bike ride turn to page 45, if she stays home and does homework turn to page 14. But this isn’t the way life works. Change sometimes comes at us when we least expect it and can seem to not always be good. But really it is how we accept it and move with it that makes how it really affects us and the world around us.

As I said in my sermon on February 25 Jesus said this to Peter the night He washed the disciples’ feet, and Peter wanted nothing to do with it because that isn’t the way it is done. That is against what society says should happen and this isn’t the way we have always done it.  Jesus told Peter, “You don’t understand…” This is a new way to think about things and the way that society wants or the way we have always done it is not necessarily the way we are always going to do it.

You see change isn’t good or bad. It is different than what we have known. And different can help us grow. Grow as disciples, grow as beacons of His love in a world that needs to see Him. So don’t let change be anything other than what it is, a growing edge for all of us. And know that when Jesus washes your feet you are clean and set as a messenger of His love to the world.

Be the change the world needs to see

 

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Paths and Plans

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

I was reminded of this path today when I received a message from a confirmation student from the congregation I served in Victoria. This is a path at Ebert Ranch. A camp in the Southwestern Texas Synod of the ELCA. It is a beautiful place with horses and long horns, and a great place to get away and connect with God. This path I believe if memory serves me correctly led to a labyrinth. A place where one journeys inward to find the path or the plan that God is calling us to. Have you ever wondered if there was a plan or a path to life?

Like there seems to be a road map that your life is following only you have never seen it…

Jeremiah is an interesting book that starts with a calling to a boy who says he is too young and unable to speak, leading through to many conversations with him and many peoples for God. All of this leads to the verse above in chapter 29…

God knows the plans He has for each and everyone of us, plans for us to prosper and not fall, plans for a future and a hope. That hope is Jesus Christ! He is the future and the hope each of us can base our lives on, He is the map that will lead us to where we need to go.

Just as Jesus brought St. John’s and my family together, He is continuing to work in and through all of us to bring about His plan and mission here in this place.

So remember to notice where Jesus is working, to share that and invite others to come and see and to always keep Jesus in view, and be ready for the ride of your life as we continue to His wonderful mission here in this place!

Grace,

PJ

 

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