This Sunday we are going to try something. We are giving you the option of worshiping in-person outdoors. I’ll be honest. I’m thrilled to be able to preach to real live humans. I’m excited to see your faces, even if covered with masks. And I’m happy to be in your presence, although still 6+ feet away.
While I’m eager for worship this Sunday, I know that it will not be the same. There will be parts of worship we will not do due to health risks. Singing will be by soloists. And who knows how the weather, sound system and technology will be acting come Sunday morning. This makes me nervous excited!
While I want everything to go just so, I know there is much that is out of my control. This last Sunday was a shining example of what can go wrong. My prayer is that as we gather, whether online or in-person, with a glitching screen or temperamental weather, we know we are a part of God’s great and messy creation. We are united in something so much bigger than ourselves. And God will show up whether it’s perfect or perhaps even more so, when it is not.
So, thank you for the incredible grace you have shown me in this time of trial and error and frustration and learning. Your grace is strength and encouragement for me as we navigate these uncharted waters. We are blessed to be a community of love and grace no matter how we worship.
Your sister in Christ,
I have found there are times in my life when it has been hard to explain something I know. People will ask, how was your trip? The trip was great! What was great about it? In those times, it can be difficult to specifically say what it was about the trip that made it so great. It is hard to put it into words.
We have all had these experiences when we have been left searching for words. And yet, we know that there are some questions that are important for us to answer.
This Sunday we will hear Jesus’ question his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter is quick to answer and is even commended for his good answer. But what if Jesus asked you this question today? What would you say? And whatever it is that you would say, would it make a difference in how you live Monday-Saturday?
As we move to Sunday, think about this question. Who do you say Jesus is? The answer might make all the difference for you.
See you Sunday,
While I’m still on vacation a few more days, I want to remind you of my challenge from last week. Maybe you forgot all about it. Well, here is your reminder!
What have you done to find rest in God this week?
If you need some ideas…
here are a few of my favorite renewing activities:
- A long walk on the Tomah trails
- A hike at a state park
- A nap
- Eating ice cream (Don’t laugh! It can be a spiritual experience!)
- Reading a book
- Talking with a (physically distanced) friend
- Walking by the water and praying
- Cooking a good meal
- Eating a good meal (Why cook a good meal if you can’t eat it?)
- Time with my family
Finding ways to rest in God are so important. I hope you’ll take some time this week!
Almost every Wednesday I sit at my desk and ask myself, “What is a word I can share with my congregation this week?” In all honesty, this is one of the most challenging parts of my work right now. What is there to say that might bring hope and faith and connection, when we are all feeling isolated and frustrated and tired? Except for a few extreme introverts, this has been hard.
After procrastinating for a good 24 hours, I’m still feeling a bit clueless about what I might say this week. This is probably not the first sign that I need a vacation. Although it may not write my next Weekly Update, it does remind me of God’s encouragement of rest. Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
Lately, many of us have been carrying a heavier load than usual. This burden comes in many forms: physical, mental, and spiritual burdens. Whatever burden you are carrying around right now, I hope that you will find rest in our Lord. Give yourself permission to take a break from the craziness and find rest. This might be a walk by the water, nap in a hammock, conversation with your best friend or devotional reading. Whatever it is, do not forget to care for yourself and connect to the One who gives us rest. For when we find rest, we are strengthened for the work ahead.
So with this in mind, I’ll be taking off next week. I’ll be spending some time in the woods with hopes of being renewed by creation. So what might you do to find rest in God this next week? Maybe it’s just a few hours, but I hope you find some time to rest too.
For many of us, August marks a time of transition from summer vacations and family reunions to buying school supplies and getting ready for another year. This is still a reality to a certain extent, but if you are anything like me, it just feels a little different this year. I am not experiencing the excitement of new backpacks and unopened boxes of crayons. And I’ll be honest, I haven’t even thought about school shopping yet.
We all know our lives continue to look different in this time of COVID-19. And sometimes that leaves us feeling a bit MEH. We have not lived through a time like this ever before. But that makes me wonder, in these different times, how do we, as the church, give opportunities for renewal and new life? Or more directly, what do you need right now? What would give you life? What would connect you to the One who is life and love and hope?
On Monday, August 3 we will be holding All Ministry Night on Zoom. This will look a bit different than usual as I hope to dig into some of these questions as we think about our way forward as the church. I do not want the church to be a place that fills your calendar more than it fills your cup. So join me as we think about these questions and help me to think about ways we might bring new life to our community.
Join me on Monday, August 3 at 6:30 on Zoom.
God’s Peace & Blessings,
Click here to watch video
The Kitchen Committee has been working hard over the last few months to bring forward the best option for our kitchen remodel at Peace. This will be the final piece of our 3-phase remodel that began with our sanctuary, moved into our fellowship hall, and will be completed with the kitchen. What is being presented has been recommended by the kitchen committee and approved by the council to come to a congregational vote on July 26 at 10:30am. It is important that we have a quorum for this meeting so that if passed, we can immediately begin this project.
See more information in the linked video that gives an overview of the remodel project. Thank you to Ben Jacobsen for leading the kitchen committee and recording this video.
We’re hopeful that we will be able to move forward with this project and have it completed by the time we safely gather again. Please let us know if you have any questions prior to our congregational meeting on July 26.
Click here to watch video
We are all learning how to live in new and different ways in the face of COVID-19. Within the church that has meant gathering online rather than face-to-face. Meetings are being held virtually rather than in person. Our fellowship is happening over phone calls rather than over donuts and coffee. I’ll be honest. I miss how things used to be. I miss all of you. But I am also hopeful that we will take the best of this time forward and be a stronger church for it.
Tonight our church council will be discussing a few important items that are requiring special consideration in these unusual times. The first is a live, online communion service. This would allow us to commune together while being separated as a community. It would be a new format for sharing the body and blood of Christ without compromising safety. Whether this recommendation is approved or not by the council, know that you are always welcome to schedule an outdoor communion service with me.
The second item of business will be making a decision about remodeling the kitchen at Peace. A committee has been working hard to weigh the pros and cons of this project and is recommending council to move forward with the remodel. Council will decide between moving forward with the full remodel or making the minimal updates using a grant received for this purpose. If the council approves the recommendation to move forward with the kitchen remodel, a congregation meeting will be held to approve the remaining funds from our Revelation 2:019 project.
Both of these items are up for consideration tonight. Please pray for council as we work to make the best decisions for our congregation and the mission we share. Be looking for more information about this to be sent out by email tomorrow.
We are learning as we go. As we re-imagine how we are the church, there will be learning along the way. We appreciate your flexibility and input as we work to protect the most vulnerable while staying true to our calling to be the body of Christ. No matter what challenges we face, I do believe that God is walking with us through it all.
While I’m away…
I’m off on vacation this week, but I’ll be back at it after July 5. As I take next Sunday off, you are encouraged to check out some of the other online worships around our Synod.
For a full list of worships in our Synod check out: Click here for Synod worship list
Or perhaps better yet, in celebration of our 10th anniversary as a worshiping congregation, you’re invited to worship with one of our own, Pastor Alyssa Weaver, at Our Savior’s Lutheran in Iola. We will be posting information about her worship service on Facebook, or feel free to check out their Facebook page where they post worship each Sunday at 9 am. Click here for Our Savior’s Lutheran in Iola Facebook page
It’s important to be reminded that we are church together. This isn’t about a building or even a particular pastor; it’s about being the body of Christ at all times and in all places. Thank you for this gift of time away and blessings as you worship with your brothers and sisters in Christ across this church.
God’s peace & blessings,
Holy Communion. Eucharist. The Sacrament of the Altar. Whatever you prefer to call it, it is a meal like no other meal. A meal that brings forgiveness when we need it most. A meal that connects us across distance and time to our most beloved. A meal that comes with a promise of salvation and eternal life. Although we at times get in the habit of receiving the bread and wine, it is not a gift to be taken lightly.
This is why over the past few months pastors and bishops across our church have been looking closely at how we share this meal in these times. What does it look like when we are sheltering in place? How do we safely distribute when we are making all attempts to physically distance?
Over the last few weeks, our Safely Gathering Task Force has met to discuss recommendations made by our Bishop Jim Arends. After discussion with our Safely Gathering Task Force and with the blessing of our bishop, we will be making recommendations to the council to provide opportunities for sharing Holy Communion online. We are hoping to begin these opportunities in July with a communion service following our regular worship time.
We are learning and growing in this time and so we ask for your patience as we discover the best ways to live out our faith in ways that are true to our beliefs. As much as I miss being a gathered community, I value your lives far beyond our need to gather. Thank you for your support and understanding as we have been church in new ways these past few months. I truly believe God is opening up new ways of being church…ways that we may have never imagined.
God’s peace & blessings,
I must admit that I thought I had forgotten Father’s Day this year. On Sunday, after worship, it hit me like a load of bricks that I had forgotten Father’s Day. How did I miss it? How could we not bless our fathers? After checking my calendar, I realized my corona-brain was just playing tricks on me. Thank goodness!
Here is a blessing you might pray over the fathers in your life this Sunday. We remember those who are fathers or have been like fathers to us. We pray for those who have not been able to be fathers but so deeply desire to be. We pray for those who have not been the fathers they have wanted to be. For all fathers we pray!
God of all creation, pour out your blessing on all fathers and those who provide fatherly care. You have made them in your image and given them children to love and care for in your name. Bless them with a heart like your heart: discerning and thoughtful, bold and decisive, compassionate and loving. As they model for their children the life that is lived by faith and not by sight, grant them courage under pressure and confidence in your power. When troubles threaten to overwhelm them, grant them your coping calm. When doubts give rise to anxiety, shore up their trust in your promises. When joy fills their days, grant them a keen gratitude for your abundant supply of grace. Season them with a lively sense of humor, Lord, for it will make life richer for us all. In all circumstances preserve them as your own. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
God’s love and peace,
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