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,
It’s hard to believe but we are just a week away from Christmas now. Over the past 3 weeks we have been preparing for Jesus’ coming in all kinds of ways. In your homes, I am sure that many of you have been decorating and baking. Perhaps you have been following along with our daily online Advent Calendar or you were able to join us for the Advent Event this last Sunday. Or maybe none of this has happened, and you are wondering where time has gone.
Whatever the case may be, I hope that you will connect with us over the next weeks as we continue our preparations and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. More than ever, we need to hear these words of hope and love in the midst of the chaotic and messy world in which we live. So, come and join us this coming week as we gather (online) to worship and share stories, as we lament and rejoice, as we sing and praise the one for whom we have been waiting! O come, let us adore him!
With anticipation and hope,
Traditions and ritual are often what make the holidays so special. And Advent is a time when these preparations and reflections become especially important to us. For many of us, it’s about cookie baking, and tree decorating. It’s the ugly sweater parties and special worship services. This year we might not gather with our aunts and cousins to pump out 15 varieties of cookies and we will not smoosh the family into a pew on Christmas Eve. These are expectations we may have as we go through this time of year. And yet, unmet expectations do not need to be a bad thing. Perhaps for this year, it is an opportunity.
At Peace, I believe we have done a pretty good job of taking ahold of this opportunity. I have been blessed by the stories, memories, and traditions you all have shared in our Online Advent Calendar. This Sunday, we will continue with our 2nd Annual Advent Event from 10:30 – Noon….outdoors and masked of course! We will gather on Christmas Eve outside for worship to sing and praise God that Holy Night. And years from now, I hope we will remember the Christmas when we bundled up and froze our toes as we sang Silent Night together.
Our faith is alive, perhaps even more so this year in these unprecedented times. And so let us be reminded that the mess and chaos of the world can give birth to the hope and joy of a Savior. And more than cookie baking and tree decorating, this is what matters.
May unmet expectations give birth to new experiences of God’s presence and love this Advent season. For this is an Advent like no other!
“Rejoice, rejoice, take heart in the night, through cold the winter and cheerless…”
As the temperatures continue to fall and the longest nights of the year are upon us, it can feel rather cheerless despite the merry music and dazzling decorations. As the world sings Joy to the World, we wait wondering when this will all be over. When will the virus be over? When will the isolation be over? When will the grief be over? When?
If this time of waiting has you a little less jubilant than you desire, perhaps you are living into Advent just as it is meant to be. So often we rush from Thanksgiving to Christmas, but I believe this year we are given the gift of truly experiencing waiting. Waiting in the unknown. Waiting in loneliness and loss. Waiting in anticipation. As long and hard as these days feel, this is a gift. Because in waiting, the gift of the promise becomes so much more joyous.
Recently, my kids asked if they could just open their gifts now. I asked them what Christmas would feel like if they opened all of their gifts now and did not wait for Christmas. “Oh, I didn’t think of that.” Waiting builds anticipation. Waiting enriches the promise. Waiting gives space for the reality of life to meet the promises of God. And when that happens, it is salve for our soul.
What is to come will be all the more joyous because of the waiting we have endured. So perhaps as we wait, the promise of a Savior will stir a bit deeper within us this year. Perhaps as we wait, the gift of new life will hold new meaning this year. Perhaps as we wait, the hope of gathered friends and family will be treasured more this year.
These days are hard and yet, have hope “the rising sun shall crown you with light…” God blesses us with hope these days, hope for a day when what is lost and broken and painful will be restored. Even in the difficult days, have hope my dear friends for we have a God who enters our world bringing peace, love, joy and hope. And so, we wait for Emmanuel, “God is with us!”
First, Happy Thanksgiving!
I hope you have a blessed day today and that if you were not able to participate in Thanksgiving Worship last night, please consider viewing our worship anytime on Facebook or on our website.
Unfortunately, the way our world is geared nowadays, we slide quickly into Christmas mode after Thanksgiving, if not weeks before. And yet in the church we are called to push back against the hustle and bustle of Christmas and dwell in this season that we call Advent.
There is nothing wrong with the joy and celebration of Christmas, but I would encourage you this year to also allow space for the anticipation and contemplation of Advent. How do you prepare for the coming of Christ? Is it just a rush to get to Christmas Day? Or are you allowing for times to reflect on who we are waiting for?
I hope you will join me beginning on Sunday for a daily Advent Calendar that will be posted on our Facebook page, as well as on our website. Our congregation will be sharing stories, memories and music to help us pause for a few minutes each day and prepare for the coming of Christ.
For many of us, we have been given the gift of time this year. Time we have not had in years, and so I would encourage you to not rush. Take time and reflect as you prepare knowing that our Savior will come. And we will rejoice!
A week from today we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. For many, this is a day of family gatherings (for better or for worse!). And for many, this year will look a bit different.
It will be just the four of us this year. It is disappointing in many ways, but we’re also trying to find new opportunities in this small family gathering. With a tendency to always cook twice as much as needed, I asked everyone what the one thing was they had to have for Thanksgiving. Stuffing for Delia. Buns for Andrew. Green bean casserole for Brad. And mashed potatoes for me. These are the necessities…and then there is turkey. As I sized-up turkeys this week, I wondered how our family of four would eat twenty pounds of meat. This will be a feat indeed.
I don’t know what our Thanksgiving will look like yet, but no matter how we celebrate, I pray that we will take time to give thanks. This is my prayer for you as well. May we all pause, if but for a moment, and give thanks for the undiscovered opportunities that are before us as we do so many things differently. And let us never forget that we are blessed, even when life is hard.
I am grateful for all of you and the ministry we do together. I give thanks with a grateful heart!
If you are anything like me, this election has been overwhelming. Confusion, uncertainty, frustration, and disappointment are just a few of the feelings I’ve experienced. How about you?
A not-so-secret “secret” in the pastor world is that we often preach what we need to hear most. Today as I write this, these words from Isaiah are what I need to hear. I hope they will be a helpful reminder for you as well in these trying times.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” -Isaiah 43:1b
Whoever you voted for does not change whose you are. God has claimed you as a child of God. And you are deeply loved. As we look to the future, I pray we will move forward acting and speaking in ways that share our loving identity. I pray politics will not keep us from continuing our work to care for our neighbors and God’s incredible creation. I pray that each of us would live into this identity of beloved child of God.
Fear not! God is with us.