In case you didn’t notice, we have an election coming up. And if you did not notice, you must not have a TV and you must be on lockdown in your house, because the election is everywhere! While most of us cannot wait for the campaign commercials and lawn signs to go away, let me remind you this is a time to practice your faith.
As we prepare for the election, take some time to reflect on the actions, policies, and character of the leaders on the ballot. Who most reflects what God is calling us to in this world? Who reflects the love, compassion, and care for all of God’s children? And then I would encourage you to cast your ballot trusting that you are following your faith.
This Sunday will be Reformation Sunday. Some of the changes that came about in the Reformation led to the inclusion of all people in the work and ministry of the church. Martin Luther reminded us that the work of the church is not just done by priests. We are part of a priesthood of all believers who are the hands and feet of Christ in this world. If we believe this to be true, it means that our faith seeps into every aspects of our lives.
And so, as we go to work, as we go to school, as we go to the polls, we reflect the faith to which Christ has called us. May we be faithful everyday in the life we live. May we be people who reflect the love and compassion of Christ.
The next few weeks of worship will be special. We will be celebrating and giving thanks to God for a variety of people. As we do this, I am inviting you to be part of this time of thanks and praise.
This Sunday we will celebrate with our confirmation students who affirmed their baptism on October 4. These nine youth have been a joy to teach these past few years and I look forward to all God has in store for them. Please be praying for them in the days, months, and years to come. And join us as we celebrate this important faith milestone.
On October 25, we will be celebrating Reformation Sunday, a day when we remember the work and ministry of Martin Luther and many other reformers. We are a church that is constantly called to see the ways God is working in this world. And when we listen to God’s voice, we will be awakened to new ways of being church. No more, “That’s how we’ve always done it!” Celebrate with us the ways the church has been renewed and let us give thanks for Luther’s vision to bring the church to a new way of being.
On November 1, we will remember the many Saints who have touched our lives on All Saints’ Day. This is a time to reflect and remember, but also to give thanks for the ways these people blessed our lives and our faith. I am hopeful that we will be able to share this day with all the joy and tears that come with it. And let us especially remember two of the Saints who shared their faith with us at Peace: Gary Ewers and June McGloin.
Our worship is enriched as we participate together in worshipping God. So, I hope you will consider being part of what we’re doing in worship over the next few weeks. I’m looking for videos of the Creed for Reformation Sunday. I’m looking for pictures and names of Saints. Check out the details below and please consider participating in these worships! See you on Sunday!
Ever receive great news, but then you must get back to work? That’s where I’m at right now. I’m just giddy and yet, I need to write an article for the Weekly Update!
Have I left you in suspense long enough? Well, just minutes ago, I found out that Peace received the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Grant! This is a grant of almost $50,000 that will not only allow for my dream sabbatical but will also allow for renewal programs here at Peace. I am thrilled for us!
Of course, my list of concerns immediately comes to mind, as some of my plan isn’t even possible right now due to bans on travel to China among other things. But I know that our sabbatical team will work through the details and come up with the best possible renewal plan for our congregation and myself. As we figure this out, we will be sure to communicate the details with the congregation.
And so today, I want to say thank you to all who have supported this idea of sabbatical for our congregation. I’m especially grateful to the council and my sabbatical team who includes Tim Vernier, Nathan Johnson, Laura Bishop, Nicole Crego, Al Weidler and Jean Villhauer.
Now let’s pray for a successful vaccine!
Tuesday night when our council gathered, we looked at the progression of COVID cases over the last few weeks. On September 15, Monroe County had 34 active cases, September 22 – 98 active cases, September 29 – 193 active cases. Now you might say, that is all of Monroe County. However, the reality is Sparta and Tomah hold the majority of those cases.
When we look at the numbers, they are not the numbers we are hoping for. And unfortunately, the numbers are not looking to improve any time soon. I think more than anything, our congregation wants to gather again. I want to gather. But at this time, other than our outdoor worship (which depends on the weather), we are not seeing that as a viable option.
It’s been over 6 months now that we have been apart. I miss you all! But more so, I appreciate that the priority of our council is to keep our members safe. God calls us to protect the most vulnerable and so that is what we will do. I am so grateful to our council for making these hard decisions.
But, I also want to thank you as a congregation. You have been patient and supportive as our council has made these decisions. We understand this is not the ideal way to be the church, but we will continue to be the church in new and creative ways as this pandemic continues. Thank you for your support and thank you for the many ways you continue to reach out to each other as a reminder that we are the body of Christ even in these times.
God’s blessings and love,
There are moments when I forget about everything that is going on in the world today. Glimpses of normal (whatever that might be!). It usually happens as I am hiking in the woods with my family or snuggling in for a movie with pizza and popcorn. For that moment, life feels right. Life feels comfortable and easy. And then, in a blink of an eye, the reality of the world comes rushing back to me.
I cannot imagine what I once defined as “normal” will ever be normal again. Our world is changing more quickly than we often want to admit. And normal, as we often define it, means comfortable and how things have always been. We want what is normal because it does not stretch us or challenge us or pain us. We want to go back to a prior time because then we can just forget about the reality of today.
And yet, Jesus is not one to encourage comfy, cozy faith. He calls out the hypocrites. He challenges enemies to love and serve one another. He pronounces forgiveness to the outcasts of society. He loves without conditions. This is the faith that Jesus calls us to.
As people hurl hateful words and divisive actions at one another, Jesus calls us to a new way. A way that is not comfortable or easy, but is loving, hopeful and just. The way we are church will not go back to how it has always been, but perhaps this is God’s opportunity for us to find a new way forward. Perhaps, this will be the new normal!