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Category Archives: Newsletter Article

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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What will you do this year?

It is a new year! 2017 is gone and 2018 is here and now is the time we think about what we will do this year.

So what are your resolutions this year?

Do you want to lose weight?

Do you want to quit smoking?

Maybe it’s to quit drinking.

Maybe you want to save more money.

Or maybe you want to get into shape. Let me remind you that round is a shape.

How many of

us will make resolutions and do our best to keep them and seem to fall short come January 15, or maybe if we’re lucky February 1?

How about we look at resolutions this year a little different?

How about if everyone here focuses on God rather than ourselves?

What if we look at the Holy Trinity instead of the unholy trinity (that is me, myself, and I).

You see 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” Whatever you do do it for the glory of God. Make everything you do this year, not about yourself, but

about God.

Make your resolution to live your life for God, even if no one else does.

If we all focus our lives on God, then we will also have happier healthier lives and all of society will benefit. Who is with me?

 

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Holiday Bucket List

I shared this picture on Facebook and have seen it several places. I think it is a great way to orient ourselves at this time of year. But it also reminds me that sometimes we fall short of the mark.

Some of you may be aware that St. John’s received an anonymous letter early in early November. This letter was from a family that has visited us here at St. John’s several times and wanted us to know that they did not feel welcomed at fellowship or a “part of the gathering after church”.

I have shared this letter with council and a few or our committees and all seemed to wonder how this could happen, but have also shared with me similar things that have happened. I know of members of the congregation who voiced to me concerns about feeling welcomed. Just the other night at a committee meeting, a member of the committee shared how they sat at a table and those who were already sitting there didn’t even make eye contact with them.

One of the things that drew me to St. John’s was the welcoming open atmosphere and the genuine concern this congregation portrayed. We are open and welcoming in worship but the fellowship time has seemed to have taken on a time for sharing with friends and catching up from the past weeks. And don’t get me wrong we all need time to do this, but we as members of the congregation need to be aware of the perceptions that are happening in our building. People are leaving our congregation on Sunday morning feeling alone. People are sitting at tables and being shunned. And I know, as you know, we are better than that.

And I am at fault here also. I do not spend a lot of time in fellowship because I am usually in Adult Sunday School. Should I be in fellowship, yes I should. However, I should also be at Adult Sunday School. I’m not pointing fingers at others, I am saying I am at fault here too.

So what do we do about this?

We be present and talk to people. Make a conscious effort to say hello to someone you are not sure who they are. Ask them there name and chance asking if they are a visitor. I have done that to members of all the congregations I have pastored because I haven’t seen them in a while and just plain forgot. We are human.

Give hugs and spend time with friends. Fellowship is about building up the body, including new people and fostering lifelong relationships.

Send love to those around you. Seek out someone who looks down and see if you can help. Be the presence of Christ in the moment for someone.

Be the light in this place and everywhere. God has given us a wonderful place to call home in St. John’s! Let us share that with everyone and open ourselves up to the new and the old and embrace where God is leading us.

So be the light and welcome the stranger in our midst and let us build the body of Christ!

 

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Being thankful…

We are entering the month of November with our holiday coming up here in the United States of Thanksgiving, where we gather with our families and we sit around and overindulge on foods we probably shouldn’t eat and then sleep on couches as we “watch” football games. Now don’t get me wrong I will be doing all of this. But why do we do this?

We do this because we are thankful.

But what does it mean to be thankful?

I looked up thankful on Merriam-Webster.com and it means conscious of benefit received.

It means when I am thankful that I understand the benefits I have received.

And benefits may or may not be tangible. Meaning I may not be able to hold those benefits in my hands.

For instance, I am oh so thankful for the people of St. John;s and the benefit I have received from you. You are open and welcoming and you go out of your way to help others, it is a truly thankful job to be your pastor.

I am oh so thankful for the blessing and benefit I get from my 3 beautiful daughters. They are a joy and wonder as I watch them grow into wonderful young ladies who will take on the world and continue to bring joy and blessing to my life.

And I am so thankful for the blessing God gave me in my wife. She is a rock that keeps me grounded and a magnificent companion in this life. I am blessed and thankful beyond imagination!

So always remember that no matter what is happening in your life there is always something to be thankful for.

So be thankful, conscious of the benefit of your life and blessings, and thank God for that.

 

 

 
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Posted by on 2017/11/01 in Newsletter Article

 

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