Give Thanks

Give ThanksGrateful

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”     –Ephesians 5:20

 

We’re heading into the season of thankfulness. Unfortunately, our thankfulness is sometimes limited to a season.  Not that we are not thankful at all times, but sometimes we just need to slow down enough to take notice of all God has blessed us with.

Soon on Facebook we will see people post as part of a November Thankfulness Challenge.  It’s been a common challenge over the past few Novembers.  Each day people will post something in their life for which they are thankful.  Family and friends.  A warm home and a car that works.  It might be something small or simple, like peanut butter, and yet it enriches their life.

I think this is a good practice for us as we head toward Thanksgiving.  Throughout the Bible, God encourages us to be thankful.

  • “Give thanks in all circumstances…” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  • “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (1 Chronicles 16:34)
  • “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor. 1:4)
  • “Give thanks always…” (Ephesians 5:20)

And yet, our struggles and gripes often get placed before our thankfulness.  So I want to challenge you this November to take time to consider the ways God has been at work throughout your life and give thanks!  Thank those people who have blessed you and listened to you and cared for you.  And thank God for all that has been provided for you…your family, your talents, your life.

As I challenge you, I want to give thanks for some of the ways I have been especially blessed.

  • I thank God for Peace Lutheran Church and the energy and passion this congregation has to welcome, worship and walk with Christ.
  • I thank God for the blessing of my family and how they enrich my life and challenge me each and every day.
  • I thank God for leaders at Peace who have a vision for what God is doing in this place and are excited about following that vision.
  • I thank God for the many members who exemplify what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ by loving God and loving our neighbors.
  • I thank God for the love and support that has been shown to me and my family.
  • I especially thank you for the ways you have appreciated me as your pastor. THANK YOU!

For all of this and so much more, I give THANKS!

Pastor Dawn

Cross+Gen Faith Formation

 

 At Peace we are looking to change the way we look at faith formation.  Over the last few decades of the church we have moved faith formation out of the home and into the hands of professionals in the church.  We like to assume that has been working well for us when in reality the church is missing whole generations of people educated in this way.  So what’s the solution?  Is there a solution?  We think that intergenerational faith formation makes the most sense.

 

First, think about your childhood.  Who were the people that you could count on or turn to when you needed help?  Many of us could come up with quite the list I would guess.  Family and friends, aunts and uncles, neighbors and church family.  We were surrounded by a network of people that we could count on.  So who are these people for our youth and children today?  What kind of safety net of people do our children have around them? Now, think about the problems kids had to deal with back then compared to what kids are facing today.  You can see that it is even more important for kids to have adult support now than ever.

The way that we have divided out the ages over the years have cut down on the number of cross generational relationships that our children and youth have.  We send them off to Sunday School rooms rather than getting to know them.  We set up a youth group and let the youth director entertain our youth.  For some this works out, but many are falling through the cracks without a network of people to help raise them up in faith.

Some 500 years ago a man named Martin Luther encouraged faith formation to happen in the home.  He wrote a little book called the Small Catechism to share the important theological points of our faith.  But since that time, faith formation has moved from the home and into the congregational setting with pastors and Sunday School teachers leading the way for our children.  And yet the research remains constant.  The greatest faith influence on our children are not pastors or teachers, but parents.

There is a movement to help parents and families have faith conversations at home.  How do we help them?  By modeling and equipping our families in the church to carry these conversations home.  We are ALL needed to help equip our children with faith language and faith relationships that pass on the faith. At Peace, we’re ready to give this a try because our mission reminds us that we’re “growing disciples who Welcome, Worship and Walk with Christ.”  We all need to grow as disciples.  Growing disciples includes learning about faith at church and at home.  This is how we grow as disciples.  Cross+Gen Faith Formation will be a way of doing this.  So what is Cross+Gen about?  Obviously cross makes sense in the church, but it’s also similar to “inter.”  Gen is short for generational.  So we’re looking at inter-generational or Cross+Gen faith formation.

At Peace beginning on September 17, we’ll be giving this a try.  We’ve created a year of learning together that will focus around the parts of Luther’s Small Catechism.  We’re hoping people of all ages will come together to learn and grow.  You don’t need children to be part of this.  You don’t need to be a child.  You just need to be willing to open yourself to learning and growing with others in our faith family.  As they say with Cross+Gen, “Every age has gifts we need and every age has needs we gift.”  Please come and give this a try with us.  Come and be part of the faith formation that is happening at Peace.  Come and gift others with the gifts you have to share.  See you Sunday, September 17 and each Sunday after following 8:30 worship for Cross+Gen Faith Formation.

Your sister in Christ,

Pastor Dawn

 

The Season AFTER Pentecost! What does this mean?

It’s the season after Pentecost and it’s 26 weeks long.  If you’re counting…that is half the year.  Even in my world were time seems to fly, that is a long time!  What is this season of Pentecost?  What does it mean?

Unlike the rest of the year, we’re not getting ready for Jesus to be born or for Jesus to die.  We’re not celebrating God with us as a baby or the resurrection of Jesus the Christ.  We’re not necessarily celebrating or waiting for anything, but during this season of Pentecost, we called to live out all that Jesus is, has been and will be in this world.  We are called to be the church…the gathered people of God!

Acts 2 gives us our first look at the church.  “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

Community sharing, fellowship, potlucks, worship, and joy, much joy.  This is the church.  The church is a people, not a place.  The church is active and moving, not stagnant nor still.  The church is responsive to all that God has done.  Pentecost is a time when we respond to the stories we have heard for the past half a year.  It’s a time when we actively live out what God has taught us through Jesus Christ.

At Peace, we have so many opportunities to live out our faith over the next 26 weeks.  As we collect food and shoes and school supplies for those in need, we are being the church.  As we worship in the park and share a potluck lunch together, we are being the church.  As we attend summer camp or synod assembly, we are being the church.  We are living out God’s generosity and love in our lives.

We are God’s chosen people called to be God’s hands and feet in this world.  We are called to bring light to dark places and joy to places of sadness and sorrow.  How will you be the church these next 26 weeks?

With joy,

Pastor Dawn

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”   1 Peter 2:9-10

Make a Difference!

Dear Partners in the Gospel,

Little choices and big choices confront us. How will I begin this day? What will I do for the rest of my life? God gave us the gift of choice. This gift was a part of the “package deal” when we were chosen by God to be God’s holy people. Because we are chosen, we have the freedom to choose. Each of us has control over our thinking, our actions, our bodies, and the expression of our emotions. We have power, and are empowered, to grow and develop in grace. We have the power to become more than we can imagine and to become all that God meant us to be.

We can choose to make a difference in our family, or community and our world, every day.

On Confirmation Sunday I shared a portion of “On the Anvil”, a book written by Max Lucado entitled “Today I Will Make a Difference.” Because I received so many requests for a copy of that reading, I am sharing that article with all of you in this edition of the newsletter

 My prayer is that this will become a daily inspiration for you to make a difference too!

Today I will make a difference. I will begin by controlling my thoughts. A person is the product of their thoughts. I want to be happy and hopeful. Therefore, I will have thoughts that are happy and hopeful. I refuse to be victimized by my circumstances. I will not let petty inconveniences such as stoplights, long lines, and traffic jams be my masters. I will avoid negativism and gossip. Optimism will be my companion, and victory will be my hallmark. Today I will make a difference.

I will be grateful for the twenty-four hours that are before me. Time is a precious commodity. I refuse to allow what little time I have to be contaminated by self-pity, anxiety, or boredom. I will face this day with the joy of a child and the courage of a giant. I will drink each minute as though it is my last. When tomorrow comes, today will be gone forever. While it is here, I will use it for loving and giving. Today I will make a difference.

I will not let past failures haunt me. Even though my life is scarred with mistakes, I refuse to rummage through my trash heap of failures. I will admit them. I will correct them. I will press on. Victoriously. No failure is fatal. It’s OK to stumble – I will get up. It’s OK to fail – I will rise again. Today I will make a difference.

I will spend time with those I love. My spouse, my children, my family. A man can own the world but be poor for the lack of love. A man can own nothing and yet be wealthy in relationships. Today I will spend at least five minutes with the significant people in my world. Five quality minutes of talking or hugging or thanking or listening. Five undiluted minutes with my mate, children, and friends.

Today I will make a difference.

Let’s all strive to make a difference in our families, our community and the world for the sake of the One who called and commissioned us to MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Blessings,

Pastor Sue

Stay on that Road!

May 2011

Dear Partners in the Gospel,

In shaping us to be His disciples, Jesus contrasts two approaches to life. The one approach is the way of the majority. It has a wide gate, a broad road and is well traveled by many. It is marvelously tolerant. Anything goes! People can treat people anyway they choose. Alternative lifestyles are just choices one makes. And the gate is wide enough to accommodate all. The road is spacious, with room for all. “It is “easy”, not difficult, free from constraint. It’s popular! Everybody’s doing it. But it leads to destruction, to God’s ultimate judgment on sin. (2 Peter 3:7)

The other way is the way of the few. The gate is small and the road is narrow. It cramps ones style. It’s restrictive. It’s “hard,” difficult, even harsh. It may bring distress and suffering. It certainly isn’t popular. It goes against the grain of society. It is through much tribulation that one enters the kingdom. (Acts14:22) But we choose this path, because this road leads to life! Abundant life on earth and eternal life with Christ!

And this way is well charted for us. Jesus has walked the narrow and hard path in our place. He choose the nails for us. He bids us to follow to take up our cross and follow. What he commands and expects of us is therefore not burdensome (I John 5:3). “For His yoke is easy, and burden is light.” As we come to the month of May and continue our celebration of Easter, it is in the Word and sacraments that his Spirit provides the strength we need to follow the narrow path….the path to abundant life!

May our May 2011 prayer be; “Lord, by your grace keep us on the road that leads to life with You forever and ever. Amen!

In Service to Christ,

Pastor Sue Sheffer-Meyer

Peace is a Person

Jesus said, “I am leaving your with a gift- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So do not be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

Dear Partners in the Gospel,

Peace–we all want it.  We want peace and security in our homes, our church, at work, in our communities. Government leaders and diplomats spend their careers promoting it on a national and international levels. They go to conferences to diligently seek peace and security, but often with disappointing results.

We hear claims that we can find peace through meditation, through positive thinking, through yoga, and through religion.   All of these do not produce the kind of peace our hearts need, but leave us searching for what is genuine. True lasting peace is found in a personal relationship with our Creator God this God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus promised, Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. Don’t let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. We receive Christ’s peace when we recognize that sin creates a barrier between us and God, a barrier we cannot penetrate.  Jesus Christ can provide the reconciliation we need by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:20.)  We receive Christ peace when we place our faith in Him alone.

Whenever someone asks me what the peace of God looks like I share a story of an experience I had when I was 13.  I went to my first national youth event of the former UELC at Dana College in Blair, NE. My feelings of peace and security had been deeply affected by the sudden death of my father. One of the main sessions focused on the issue of understanding God’s peace. The session was led by a religious artist.  As he talked to us, he was painting on canvas. His work of art was revealed a cliff of a mountain, with flashing lightening and daytime driving rain storm battering that mountain. With his brilliant strokes you could almost feel the intensity of the raging storm. As he was nearing completion of the canvas, he began to focus on one of the crags he had created in the mountain side, and just inside the crag of the mighty rock face, protected from the raging storm, wind and rain, he painted a brilliant colored song bird chirping his  heartfelt praise… to the God who created him.  I think that experience is linked to my love of Isaiah 49:15:  I will never forget you, for I have carved you on the palm of my hand.

Peace is a Person!   We find eternal peace with God ( Jehovah Shalom) when we commit our lives to Jesus Christ, (the Prince of Peace) as revealed to us by the power of the Holy Spirit!   

As we gather for worship each week as Peace Lutheran Church, we experience His everlasting presence among us which allows Christ’s peace to saturate our hearts and minds as we pray, praise, and seek to extend His “Shalom” to others.   May our prayer always be:

Jesus, thank you for the peace of mind and heart that you rain down on us.  In the midst of our circumstances, we want to receive your peace for our lives.   Help us to keep our eyes fixed firmly on you and to enter into your peace.   Amen.

Shalom,

Pastor Sue

  

  

 

Can’t You Just Feel It in the Air?

Praise the Lord! Praise God in the sanctuary; Praise God with the sound of the trumpet; praise God with the lute and harp! Praise God with timbrel and dance; Praise God with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise God with loud cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!
                                                                                                               —- Psalm 150

September 2010

Dear Partners in the Gospel, 

We enter a concert hall or sanctuary, find our seats, and listen with anticipation as the orchestra or music team tune their instruments. The sound is often discordant, not melodic. But the tuning is simply a prelude to either the concert or to worship.

C.S. Lewis suggested that’s how it is with our devotional practice and even our worship services. Sometimes they sound discordant, but God hears our prayers and praises with Fatherly delight. And each time we worship and praise we are really preparing for participation in the glorious symphony of heaven. Now we are making a minuscule contribution to the harmonies of angelic and redeemed hosts ,that wonderful cloud of witnesses who cheer us on in our race of faith. 

Our worship, praise and adoration, pleases the heart of God more than the finest renditions of earth’s greatest orchestras. And a child of God whose heart is  filled with praise and who lifts up their voice–harmonious, hoarse or harsh–brings great joy to our Creator God. 

Almost two months ago we declared that Peace Lutheran would be a House of Praise.  And we have been true to our word. I don’t know about each of you, but I leave worship each week with a song in my heart that carries me through the week until the next time we gather together to offer our prayers and our praises.

I sense that even our attitudes are transformed when we realize that our worship and praise as the people of Peace Lutheran brings such delight to God’s heart while at the same time filling our hearts with joy and peace. We are so blessed to be able to pray, praise and fellowship together in a church sanctuary that resounds with joy and singing. 

Can’t you just feel it in the air!  Grace and peace abound here!

Joyfully, heartily resounding,
Let every instrument and voice
Peal out the praise of grace abounding
Calling the whole world to rejoice and praise!
                               —-Routly

 

Peace Lutheran Church … A House of Praise.

In service to Christ,

Pastor Sue

Peace Lutheran: A House of Prayer

My house shall be called a house of prayer, says the Lord; in it all who ask shall receive, all who seek shall find, and all who knock shall have the door opened to them.

Dear Partners in the Gospel,

We have been gathering as Peace Lutheran ELCA for a month now, and what a joy and delight it has been to worship together, pray, fellowship, learn and work toward a common goal together.

We’ve accomplished much for the furtherance of God’s kingdom in these short weeks. We’ve named ourselves Peace Lutheran, ELCA. We’ve described ourselves as a House of Prayer, a House of Praise, and a House of Peace!

We have our phone established, our webpage created, we have a summer contract with our brothers and sisters in Christ at First Congregational UCC, and we are negotiating for a longer term contract for the fall. In the very near future we will vote on a church logo so we can announce to the greater community that a vibrant worship community has formed among them which is committed to prayer, praise and peace.

In this month’s newletter article, I would like to focus briefly no our descriptive phrase: A House of Prayer. I belive the greates reputation of Peace Lutheran Church should be as a House of Prayer. Churches have reputation as a great singing church, a great preaching church, a great program church. But how long has it been since someone referred to a church as a praying church? It has been said, The church is dying on its feet because it is not living on its knees.

Someone asked Rev. Billy Graham why he should go to a church since he gets nothing out of it. Billy Graham responded that there are three reasons why we go to church.

First, we go to worship God. In other words, we should focus no God, not on ourselves or on other people. The Bible states in Psalms96:1 and 6, Come, let us sing for joy Lord–let us bow down in worship.  As we enther church on the Lord’s Day, we should ask God to help us focus our mind and heart on God.

Secondly, we go to learn from God’s Word. God wants to teach us about God’s unconditional love for us through the life, minstery, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the way Gods does that is through the preaching and teaching of the Bible. Our prayer shold be that of Samuel, Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. (1 Sam. 3:9)

Thirdly, we go to encourage, help and support one another. It is unfortunate when people come to a church service and never speak to another person, because as Christians we need each other. We need a strong community willing to pray for the church, the world, and all in need, and to pray that God will use us to uplift someone who needs to hear of the saving grace of God in their life.

My fervent prayer is that nothing distract us from always giving God our heartfelt worship and that Peace will always strive to be that House of Prayer, Praise and Peace.

Blessings,
Pastor Sue