For our Wednesday Lenten services we are focusing on resilience. Resilience reminds us that we, as humans, are able to recover from the difficult situations. We, as God’s beloved, can and will spring back into the people we once were. We are tough. We are resilient!
I think we often focus on the positive outcome, which in many ways is good. We recover; we spring back; we are tough. But I think resilience also acknowledges the hard times. Resilience isn’t needed unless you are challenged and stressed and stretched.
I can honestly say, this last year, I have been challenged and stressed and stretched. Some days, my brain feels like mush and small tasks take more energy than seem necessary. I have learned things I never imagined, and I have had to go without people I never imagined. All of this is to say, it is OK to recognize this is hard. This last year has tested us in many ways, but it has also shown us that God makes us tough. We are resilient and what we are going through is temporary.
I hope you join us on Wednesdays as we dig into how God has shown us examples of resilience throughout God’s story. Knowing those stories, I pray that we will find the resilience within each of us that is needed to spring back and recover.
During our Ash Wednesday worship, we were invited into the discipline of Lent—self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love. We hear this invitation, but what does that mean for you?
Today, I would invite you to reflect on how you might specifically take this on. Will you make a commitment to daily Bible reading and reflection? Will you give up your $5 coffee and set that money aside to give away? Will you volunteer your time at the food pantry? Will you give up desserts because few things feel like a bigger sacrifice?
However you plan to take on the discipline of Lent, be reminded that this isn’t about torturing ourselves, although it might feel like that at times, but rather this is a way to raise our awareness of and refocus our minds on God. When your tummy craves some chocolate, be reminded of Christ’s sacrifice for you. When you feel like you don’t have time for volunteer work, remember that Jesus came to help those who needed it most. When your sacrificial giving means giving up something you want, be reminded that Jesus gave so much more.
I pray that Lent will be a time to refocus your life. A time when you will become aware of the ways that Jesus sacrificed for us. A time when you will commit to this life as a disciple of Christ.
If you ever want to talk about what this might look like for you, please feel free to reach out. We take this journey together.
Next Wednesday, February 17 will be the beginning of our Lenten Season. I hope that you will join us for the many Lenten activities we have planned for this year. A few things to consider:
1. Ash Wednesday Zoom Fellowship – We’re going to try out a Zoom fellowship on Ash Wednesday. Grab a cup of soup, and join us as we check in and chat. We’ll begin at 6 pm and this will lead right into worship at 6:30 pm. Click here for Soup Supper.
2.Lenten Soup Challenge – Each Friday, beginning tomorrow, we will post favorite soup recipes. Consider making soup to enjoy on Wednesday evenings and better yet, share your favorite recipe. Take a picture of your yummy soup and post it on our Facebook page so we all can enjoy! You can submit your favorite recipes to Linda Weaver. Click here to email Linda Weaver.
3.Ash Wednesday Worship – Join us for Ash Wednesday worship at 6:30 pm on February 17. This is a time to gather for prayer, confession, and preparation for the season ahead. We will be marked with the cross in a special way this year, so bring along your tattoos (you will receive these in the mail) as well as a wet washcloth. We’ll meet on Facebook to worship together.
I hope you will join me as we begin this season of reflection and prayer that leads us to the final days of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Why You Should Attend
Our Annual Meeting is this Sunday after worship on Zoom. Now, I fully understand there are a lot of things you could do rather than attending a meeting. But I hope you will consider joining us and here are my top 5 reasons why you should!
1. In a year that has been challenging, we have continued to be the church. Come and see the ministry we have done together. There will even be a fancy video with music…ohhhh!
2. Come and vote! We need at least 39 confirmed members present to hold an official meeting. Come and put your fellow members to work!
3. If you don’t want to get voted in, you better show up!
4. Come and hear updates about our new kitchen remodel and safely gathering again.
5. Come and share your smiling face because I would love to see your smiling face!
I hope to see you on Sunday. Our registration on Zoom will begin at 10:15am with our meeting beginning around 10:30am.
Until we meet again,
On Wednesday, February 17 we will enter the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday. In typical COVID fashion, our Lenten activities will look a bit different this year. There will not be any soup suppers or Maundy Thursday feasts. We will not gather in our building each week, but we will gather online. It’s going to look different, but perhaps that’s OK. Because Lent is a different time in our church calendar.
Despite feeling there is nothing to do right now, it is easy to set our faith aside. There’s always something to watch on TV or a Facebook conversation to track. With all the distractions of life, this Lent I invite you into a time of intentionality. Carve out time each day or each week, to contemplate your Lenten journey. Consider what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Where might you be falling short? Where might you grow in the coming year? What can you commit to that will give you life and grow your faith?
This Lent, I have a few resources for you to consider using as you journey through this season:
1. Sunday & Midweek Lenten Worship – Commit to joining us for worship on Sundays & Wednesdays throughout Lent. On Wednesdays, our worship theme will be: Resilience: An Act of Faith & Hope. These services will be put together by Pastors of the La Crosse Area Synod, including myself. Throughout this series, we will look at biblical stories of resilience and consider our own resilience.
2. Lent in a Bag – pick up a bag from Peace with items and devotions to reflect on throughout the season. This can be done as a family devotion or even individually as you contemplate the season. Bags will be available at Peace beginning February 14. Please Sign Up Here if you’re interested in getting a bag!
3. Devotions – Commit to reading a daily devotion throughout Lent. Pick up a Christ in Our Home Devotional from Peace or check out the many apps on your smartphone. I would suggest “Pray as you go” or “d365”.
4. Prayer – Join our Connect and Pray group each Tuesday at 1 pm or sign up for the Peace Prayer Chain and pray for the needs of our congregation. Just let me know if you’re interested in either of these opportunities and I’ll get you connected! Lent is a time of reflection and growth. I hope you will live with intentionality this Lent by experiencing the ever-present mercy, grace and love of Jesus Christ.
Check out our newsletter next week for the many opportunities we will have available this Lent in worship and otherwise. But for today, I want to give you a sneak peek and invite you to sign up for this fun Lenten devotional.
I will be putting together “Lent in a Bag” devotions. This bag will have items to use for reflection throughout the season of Lent. These items can be used as a family devotion or even individually as you contemplate the season. Instructions, devotional scripture and questions will be included. Bags will be available at Peace beginning February 14. Please Sign Up Here if you’re interested in getting a bag!
I hope you will consider using our Lent in a Bag devotions this Lenten season as we live with intentionality and reflect on our own journey of discipleship.
Our connection to each other and to God are so important to our faith. It’s what gives us a sense of community. It’s what makes us the church. But in so many ways, this pandemic has put up barriers we have never experienced before. While in other ways, we have been given opportunities we never would have imagined before. As we start this new year, I would like to put a challenge before you. How might you connect to your faith in a new way in 2021?
This might be connecting to a ministry already happening at Peace. Perhaps it’s joining the Men’s Faith Roundtable or Connect & Pray. Maybe you’re ready to head to camp or join us on the Family Mission Trip. Maybe you’d like to join Bible study or be added to our prayer chain. Or maybe it’s something that you’re feeling called to. Perhaps there is someone you’d like to check in with once a week. Or maybe there are some books you would like to read to grow in your faith. Whatever it might be, how might you go deeper in your faith in 2021?
If there is something you feel called to or if there is a ministry you feel we need at Peace, let’s talk! Or just go for it! Trust the ways you’re feeling called and step out in faith, because it’s only when we challenge ourselves that we go deeper in faith.
So how are you going to connect to your faith in 2021? I’d love to hear!
As we begin a new year, I would like to offer you a Star Word to have as your focus for 2021. But what are Star Words?
On Epiphany (January 6), we celebrate the arrival of the Magi to bear witness to the birth of baby Jesus. Just as the Magi followed the star to Jesus, we too seek Jesus trusting the signs (or stars) that guide us closer to Christ. A Star Word is one word that you carry with you throughout this next year to guide you on your journey.
We would invite you to place whatever word is chosen for you in a place where you will often see it. On your mirror. In your car. By the kitchen sink. Place it on your pillow each morning. Some place you will see it each day and be reminded of Christ’s presence that is guiding you in your life.
Although the word chosen for you might not feel like a fit at first, we hope that you will give the word a chance to work in your life this coming year. Allow God to speak to you through this word.
So, if you would like a Star Word for 2021, please let me know and I will get one to you. You can call, email, text or go on Facebook (Peace Lutheran Church – Tomah (ELCA) and find the Star Word post. I hope that your word will speak to you throughout this year and that you will share your stories of where God shows up in 2021.
God’s love and peace,
And just like that 2020 has come to an end! And many of us cry out, “THANK YOU, GOD!” We all know 2020 has been less than ideal. And I think most of us realize that 2021 will not start out much better, but we also know there is hope on the horizon.
However 2020 has impacted your life, I hope that you will take a moment to reflect on the ways you saw God show up in your life this last year. It may be in ways you never expected. It might be opportunities that you never had before. God might have shown up in people who helped see you through this difficult year. However God showed up, I hope that you will say, “THANK YOU, GOD!”
I pray that you have a blessed 2021! Happy New Year, Peace!
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I pray that you might know the hope, joy, peace and love of God’s presence. And yet, I know that for some of you, this Christmas will feel like anything but hope, joy, peace and love. Whatever it is that you experience this year, I hope you will know you are not alone. God is with you!
I hope you will make plans to worship with us this day as we gather online (4 pm) or outside in person (6 pm). Whatever greets you this Christmas, may you be blessed!
God’s love and peace,