Connections August '22

August 1

And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

Luke 12:15

In my reading last week, I encountered many insightful reflections on Jesus’ parable about the rich man. David Lose offered some suggestion for how we might seek to live, more mindful of Jesus’ teaching that “…one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

Practice naming blessings.

The elements of abundant life that Jesus

describes throughout the gospels —

things like relationship, community, love, purpose —

…[are] more powerful than material goods.

And each of us experiences them everyday.

The joy of a good conversation,

the sense of purpose that comes from helping another,

the warmth of a loving relationship,

the feeling of community from gathering with friends or family,

the awareness of how many ways we are blessed

each and every day —

these things are palpably and powerfully available to us,

but an entire media universe

pushes us to tune into what is negative or missing

rather than what is positive and right in front of us.

So invite people to begin a daily practice of

noticing, naming, and

giving thanks for blessing.

David Lose

Let me echo David in this invitation.

Blessings abound!

Pastor Phil

August 2

A friend loves at all times,

and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.

Proverbs 17:17

Vacation Bible School begins today.

Please pray for our kids

at Discovery on Adventure Island VBS!

It was my privilege to lead the invocation at the city Council meeting last night. As I sought a prayer to help open the meeting, I enjoyed this prayer for Friendship. I sometimes think that one the things our culture most under-values is the gift of friendship. I also wonder if friendship might be the relationship that we might want to understand for one another in the workings of our city government.


Pour into our hearts, O God,

the Holy Spirit’s gift of love,

that we may share the joy of friendship,

human and divine,

revealed in the love of Jesus Christ,

who lays down his life for his friends

and in whose name we pray.


ELW Pastoral Care - page 380

Blessings to you, friend,

Pastor Phil

August 3

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend…

…the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge…

Ephesians 3:18, 19

It’s day 2 of Vacation Bible School today!

It was my privilege to lead the invocation at the city Council on Monday.

Here is the prayer I offered - based on a prayer from the ELW, a prayer for Gratitude, which I altered a bit, to make the prayer more general, and to include a petition for our City Council

Almighty God,

we humbly thank you for your goodness to us

and to all that you have made.

We praise you for your creation,

for keeping us and all things in your care,

and for all the blessings of life.

We pray,

give us such an awareness of your mercies

that with thankful hearts we praise you,

not only with our lips

but in our lives,

by giving ourselves to your service

and by living in your gifts

of holiness and righteousness all our days;

Guard and guide these your servants

as they seek to lead our city,

give them wisdom,



and love.


ELW Pastoral Care - page 361

Let us all pray for each and every one of our elected leaders, that they might serve our communities in such a way that God’s will is served for all people.

Peace, Pastor Phil

August 4

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…”

Luke 12:34

Please pray for us as we conclude Vacation Bible School today

The hymn, “They Cast Their Nets” is my favorite hymn that was in the green hymnal, but did not make it to our ELW. I am sorry for that.

I think the poetry of this song is wonderful, and I share it with you today…

They Cast Their Nets - William A. Percy

1. They cast their nets in Galilee

just off the hills of brown;

such happy, simple fisherfolk,

before the Lord came down.

Before the Lord came down.

2. Contented, peaceful fishermen,

before they ever knew

the peace of God that filled their hearts

brimful, and broke them too.

Brimful, and broke them too.

3. Young John who trimmed the flapping sail,

homeless in Patmos died,

Peter, who hauled the teeming net,

head-down was crucified.

Head-down was crucified.

4. The peace of God, it is no peace,

but strife closed in the sod,

Yet let us pray for but one thing —

the marvelous peace of God.

The marvelous peace of God.

- Lutheran Book of Worship #449

May the Peace of God be yours today in all its giftedness, in all its unsettling wonder, Pastor Phil

August 5

You also must be ready,

for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Luke 12:40

For our devotion today, I invite you to reflect on the lyrics of hymn #258, Unexpected and Mysterious.

This hymn is written by Jeannette Lindholm, who my hymnal informs me, is younger than I am… Looking at a bio, I see that she is an English professor at Salem State University, in Salem Massachusetts, and a graduate of Concordia College. It looks like 13 years after she received her Masters degree in English, she added a Master of Theological Studies, and she studied hymn writing then.

I bet Professor Lindholm is an interesting person.

Unexpected and Mysterious is an Advent song…

Unexpected and mysterious

is the gentle Word of grace.

Ever-loving and sustaining

is the peace of God’s embrace.

If we falter in our courage

and we doubt what we have known,

God is faithful to console us

as a mother tends her own.

2 In a momentary meeting

of eternity and time.

Mary learned that she would carry

both the mortal and divine.

Then she learned of God’s compassion,

of Elizabeth’s great joy,

And she ran to greet the woman

who would recognize her boy.

3 We are called to ponder myst’ry

and await the coming Christ,

To embody God’s compassion

for each fragile human life.

God is with us in our longing

to bring healing to the earth,

While we watch with joy and wonder

for the promised Savior’s birth

Jeannette Lindholm - ELW #258

May the unexpected grace of God surprise you with love and opportunities to serve!

Peace, Pastor Phil

Click here is the hymn performed at First-Plymouth Church Lincoln Nebraska

August 6

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…”

Luke 12:34

A prayer based on our readings for worship tomorrow.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

God of Abraham and Jesus,

you invite your people

to contemplate heavenly things

and urge us toward faith in you.

May your coming among us

find our doors open,

our tables set,

and all your people ready to greet you.


Reproduced from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers copyright © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission. A complete edition of the prayers is available though Augsburg Fortress

August 7

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…”

Luke 12:34

Worship this morning at 9:00 a.m. I hope to see you here.

The service will be posted online, click here.

The Prayer of the Day:

Almighty God,

you sent your Holy Spirit

to be the life and light of your church.

Open our hearts to the riches of your grace,

that we may be ready to receive you

wherever you appear,

through Jesus Christ,

our Savior

and Lord.


August 8

Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,

for in you I put my trust.

Teach me the way I should go,

for to you I lift up my soul.

Psalm 143:8

I have shared this prayer before, we have it by the window by our kitchen sink, and the other day it helped me usher in the morning.

I thought then it would be nice to share it with you for today.

My dad’s wife Solveig first shared it with me…

I like how this moves us to ask for God’s blessing so that we might be a blessing to others.


God of Light.

Spirit of Compassion.

You open up the morning skies again before me

You breathe in me the breath of life.

Be my guide in this new day

Be present with me and in me.

Heal me

Lift me

Stir me

Gift me

Let me be a blessing and a sign of you

to all I meet, let me find your blessing

and your sign in each one of them. Amen

Blessings to you today. Pastor Phil

August 9

[Jesus said:]

“I came to bring fire to the earth,

and how I wish it were already kindled!

I have a baptism with which to be baptized,

and what stress I am under until it is completed!

Luke 12:49-50

This coming Sunday we continue in the 12th chapter of Luke, and Jesus speaks more and more of the conflict that is coming. As he proclaims the Kingdom of God, the powers that be seek to do him in.

The Gospel puts love for the least and the lost at the forefront, the powerful won’t have it. The cross becomes inevitable…

This is the context of Jesus saying: “I came to bring fire to the earth…”

I set this aside quite a while ago. It is an interesting reflection by preacher, theologian, and professor, Will Willimon.

“The needs of the world are too great,

the suffering and pain too extensive,

the lures of the world too seductive

for us to begin to change the world

unless we are changed,

unless conversion of life and morals becomes our pattern.

The status quo is too alluring.

It is the air we breathe, the food we eat, the six-thirty news,

our institutions, theologies, and politics.

The only way we shall break its hold on us

is to be transferred to another dominion,

to be cut loose from our old certainties,

to be thrust under the flood

and then pulled forth fresh and newborn.

Baptism takes us there.”

May our baptism shape us and send us to give our lives in love for all.

Peace, Pastor Phil

August 10

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness

will find life and honor.

Proverbs 21:21

I sometimes suspect that kindness is an under appreciated gift.

Recently I have run across a few quotes about kindness. A friend and colleague posted this quote from John O’Donohue; Irish poet, author and priest.

He was known as a teacher of Celtic spirituality. I heard an interview of him years ago, and he seemed a deeply kind man.

There is a kindness that dwells deep down in things;

it presides everywhere, often in the places we least expect.

The world can be harsh and negative,

but if we remain generous and patient,

kindness inevitably reveals itself.

Something deep in the human soul

seems to depend on the presence of kindness;

something instinctive in us expects it,

and once we sense it

we are able to trust and open ourselves.

John O’Donohue (1 January 1956 – 4 January 2008) Irish poet, author and priest. Excerpt from his books, Benedictus (Europe) /

To Bless the Space Between Us (US) Ordering Info:

Cong Abbey; Co Mayo, Ireland

May you bear God’s kindness today and always, Pastor Phil

August 11


since we are surrounded

by so great a cloud of witnesses,

let us also lay aside every weight

and the sin that clings so closely,

and let us run with perseverance

the race that is set before us,

looking to Jesus

the pioneer

and perfecter

of our faith…

Hebrews 12:1-2

This devotional insight was offered by Father Steven Charleston a few weeks ago. He is a Native American elder, author, and retired Episcopal bishop. He was a professor at Luther Seminary in St. Paul when I was a student there, and went on from there to teach in another seminary and to serve as Bishop. He publishes a daily devotion on Facebook.

We reflected on this at our Council meeting he other night, and I invite you to join us in considering what Fr. Charleston, a member of the Choctaw tribe, has to say to us…

"I do not know why we were made believers

during the time of the great turning, but there we are.

We are one of the hinge-generations,

people living in historical periods of great and deep change.

We did not choose this for ourselves,

but I believe it was chosen for us

by a power greater than we can comprehend.

Our task is to help as many people as we can

to make the transition safely and in peace.

We may not live to see all of the outcome,

but what we do today will alter reality for many generations to come.

Let us accept this mission with a courageous humility

and go forth together in faith.”

Bishop Steven Charleston ~ July 22, 2022

August 12

Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy,

as the LORD your God commanded you

Deuteronomy 5:12

I saw an interesting article the other day that talked about how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes an article - (Article 24, to be precise) - that proclaims that “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.”

Considering that God commands a day of rest, I wonder if asserting a day of rest as a “right” changes things.

I do suspect that a Sabbath is a right, but I also would suggest that observing a day of rest as obedience to God’s command might help us to receive it as the gift that it is.

I’m not sure of all of the ramifications of this, but I do know, that I wish you a good weekend, may you find time for re-creation, and may you find time for praise of God, and may we all be filled with gratitude at the many gifts God pours out for us.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

August 13

[Jesus said:]

“I came to bring fire to the earth,

and how I wish it were already kindled!

Luke 12:49

Here is a prayer based on the challenging Gospel reading for Sunday…


Luke 12:49-53

I have come to set earth on fire.


with you is

never “sometime,”

or “maybe,”

or “not today.”

There is only

“always love"



A burning bush of love

that you came to

share with



help us with our


poorly lit




Copyright © 2019, Anne M. Osdieck. All rights reserved.

Permission is hereby granted to reproduce for personal or parish use.

August 14

The Prayer of the Day today:

O God, judge eternal, you love justice and hate oppression, and you call us to share your zeal for truth. Give us courage to take our stand with all victims of bloodshed and greed, and, following your servants and prophets, to look to the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

The service will be posted the Trinity web site.

August 15

Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth?

No, I tell you, but rather division!”

Luke 12:51

Last week, as I considered Jesus’ challenging words - especially his proclaiming that he came to bring division - I began to wonder.

Are we really that divided? More divided than other times?

Probably. And then again, probably not.

There is that old adage, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

What might it take to overcome these divisions?

I have a suspicion the answer has something to do with forgiveness. Forgiveness for me and my selfishness, as well as for the selfishness each other person bears.

Forgiveness, and love, and maybe hope as well.

I think that is the division that Jesus preaches. Dividing us from our broken ways, and sending us to live as members of God’s kingdom, and bearers of God’s rule of love.

Peace to you, you Kingdom Bearer, Pastor Phil

August 16

Is not my word like fire,

says the Lord,

and like a hammer

that breaks a rock in pieces?

Jeremiah 23:29

Our First reading this past Sunday was from Jeremiah 23. The opening of the reading proclaims: “Am I a God near by, says the Lord, and not a God far off?” It concludes with this wonderful line: “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”

The Prophet Jeremiah proclaimed this promise of the wonder of God’s presence with us, and the power of God’s Word, and these words have echoed through the centuries.

God’s powerful Word has spoken the world into being, and bears to you the promise of God’s love and life, hope and forgiveness.

I invite you to listen carefully for God’s word, and to rejoice that God has spoken you into being.

Peace to you this day, Pastor Phil

August 17

If you remove the yoke from among you,

the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,

if you offer your food to the hungry

and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,

then your light shall rise in the darkness

and your gloom be like the noonday.

Isaiah 58:9-10

Our first lesson this coming Sunday is from Isaiah 58.

I am so intrigued at the prophet calling for us to “remove …the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil” before he issues a call to feed the hungry.

(As an aside, one might ask: If one quits pointing fingers, can he or she still run for political office?)

The prophets offer a call to care for our neighbor, to establish justice. Within their view, how we treat one another in our community is important to God’s vision for us.

May we grow in grace and be good neighbors to all around us.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

August 18

“Ought not this woman,

a daughter of Abraham

whom Satan bound for eighteen long years,

be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”

Luke 13:16

In our Gospel lesson on Sunday, we have a story of Jesus healing on a Sabbath, and religious authorities objecting.

This is in part, a question of how we shall observe the Sabbath. But as one looks closely, we find that the main question might well be “what sort of God do we serve?” A question that follows from this is “what sort of people are we called to be?”

Do we serve a God who is interested most of all in our living in God’s established rules and ways? A God who is interested in our obedience and service? Or do we serve a God who is interested most of all, in loving us and calling us to live in loving relationship with all creation?

Blessings to you in all your relationships.

Pastor Phil

August 19

“Ought not this woman,

a daughter of Abraham

whom Satan bound for eighteen long years,

be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”

Luke 13:16

This coming Sunday we have a story of Jesus contending with the religious authorities about how the Sabbath should be observed. This is also a reflection of how we are to understand the God who calls us to observe this holy day each week.

Abraham Joshua Heschel was a 20th century rabbi and theologian who reflected on the meaning of Sabbath.

I am not sure where I found this quote:

In his book, “The Sabbath”

Abraham Joshua Heschel

reminds the faithful,

"There is a realm of time

where the goal is

not to have but to be,

not to own but to give,

not to control, but to share.”

What an interesting notion; that the sabbath might be a “realm of time.” A place like no other.

The Sabbath is connected to the foundation of creation, as well as to God’s work of setting the captive free…

A blessed weekend to you, Pastor Phil

August 20

“Ought not this woman,

a daughter of Abraham

whom Satan bound for eighteen long years,

be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”

Luke 13:16

We have some interesting readings in worship tomorrow.

This prayer is based on a few of them:

Blessings to you, Pastor Phil

Merciful God,

as we pour out the wealth you have entrusted to us,

the parched places are watered;

as we cease our evil talk,

the rising light of peace dawns in the darkness.

So lead us into faithful living

that your promises may unfold in us

as a woman's back, long bent, unfolds at Christ's command,

to the praise of your holy name. Amen.

Reproduced from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers

Copyright © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress.

August 21

11th Sunday after Pentecost

The Prayer of the Day today

O God,

mighty and immortal,

you know that as fragile creatures

surrounded by great dangers,

we cannot by ourselves stand upright.

Give us strength of mind and body,

so that even when we suffer because of human sin,

we may rise victorious

through your Son,

Jesus Christ,

our Savior and Lord.


August 22

Last week, Frederick Buechner died at the age of 96. He was a Presbyterian minister and quite a beautiful writer. This week I will share some insights I have gathered from him over the years.

I start with a statement Buechner wrote about the Bible…

It is possible to say that in spite of all its extraordinary variety,

the Bible is held together by a single plot.

It is one that can be simply stated:

God creates the world; the world gets lost;

God seeks to restore the world to the glory for which he created it. That means that the Bible is a book about you and me,

whom he also made and lost and continually seeks,

so you might say that what holds it together

more than anything else is us.

You might add to that, of course,

that of all the books that humanity has produced,

it is the one which

more than any other

and in more senses than one

also holds us together.

Frederick Buechner

Isn’t that great?

Blessings to you this week. Pastor Phil

August 23

This week I am sharing insights from Frederick Buechner, who died a week ago yesterday.

In an essay for the New York Times last week, David Brooks shared about his conversion to Christianity, and then wrote:

“He spent the rest of his life as a border-stalker, too literary for many Christians and too Christian for the literary set. His faith was personal, unpretentious and accessible. “Faith is homesickness. Faith is a lump in the throat. Faith is less a position on than a movement toward.” It is sensing a presence, not buying an argument.

He described the Gospel as a great fairy tale that happens to be true. The fairy tale has pain and danger, goodness is pitted against evil, people are transformed, and in the end all the characters are revealed for who they really are. To live within this fairy tale is to experience the “joy and beauty and holiness beyond the walls of the world.”

Here is another passage Brooks included in his column that I wish to share…

Listen to your life.

See it for the fathomless mystery that it is.

In the boredom and pain of it

no less than in the excitement and gladness:

touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it,

because in the last analysis

all moments are key moments,

and life itself is grace.

- Frederick Buechner, Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation

In your listening, may you hear of God’s great love for Rev. Buechner, and for you as well!

Peace, Pastor Phil

August 24

This week I'm sharing insights from Frederick Buechner, who died last week.

In Wishful Thinking and Whistling in the Dark, Buechner took all sorts of words, and wrote insightful definitions, My favorites are his definitions of the words, Grace, and Repentance:


To repent is to come to your senses.

It is not so much something you do as something that happens.

True repentance spends less time looking at the past and saying

"I'm sorry,"

than to the future and saying


Frederick Büchner, from Wishful Thinking, A Theological ABC HarperCollins 1973

I really think this is one of the best things written on repentance, and I have quoted it in sermons dozens of times…

And his definition of Grace, is also wonderful, and was also in his book Wishful Thinking.


After centuries of handling and mishandling, most religious words have become so shopworn nobody’s much interested any more. Not so with grace, for some reason. Mysteriously, even derivatives like gracious and graceful still have some of the bloom left.

Grace is something you can never get but only be given. There's no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth.

A good sleep is grace and so are good dreams. Most tears are grace. The smell of rain is grace. Somebody loving you is grace. Loving somebody is grace.

A crucial eccentricity of the Christian faith is the assertion that people are saved by grace. There’s nothing you have to do. There’s nothing you have to do. There’s nothing you have to do.

The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It's for you I created the universe. I love you.

There's only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you'll reach out and take it.

Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.

I wish you grace and peace, Pastor Phil

August 25

This week I'm sharing insights from Frederick Buechner.

This is from Whistling in the Dark: An ABC Theologized. It is his definition of chanting.


Chanting is a form of high-church popery that is supposed to set mainline Protestant teeth on edge. It shouldn’t.

Words wear out after a while, especially religious words. We’ve said them so many times. We’ve listened to them so often. They are like voices we know so well we no longer hear them.

When a prayer or a psalm or a passage from the Gospels is chanted, we hear the words again. We hear them in a new way. We remember that they are not only meaning, but music and mystery. The chanting italicizes them. The prose becomes poetry. The prosaic becomes powerful.

Of course, chanting wears out after a while too.

Whistling in the Dark: An ABC Theologized, 1988

Sing to the Lord a new song!

Blessings, Pastor Phil

August 26

Here is an excerpt from Frederick Buechner’s sermon The Kingdom of God originally published in The Clown in the Belfry:

The power that is in Jesus,

and before which all other powers on earth and in heaven give way,

the power that holds all things in existence

from the sparrow's eye to the farthest star,

is above all else a loving power.

That means we are loved even in our lostness.

That means we are precious, every one of us,

even as we pass on the street

without so much as noticing each other's faces.

Every city is precious.

The world is precious.

Someday the precious time will be up for each of us.

But the Kingdom of God is at hand.

Nothing is different and everything is different.

It reaches out to each of our precious hands

while there's still time.

May the power of Jesus’ love be with you today and always.

Peace, Pastor Phil

August 27

Here is a prayer based on our Gospel reading for tomorrow. You might be able to discern that the author is Roman Catholic. :)


Luke 14:1, 7-14

Rather, when you hold a banquet,

invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.


at times,

we hobble.

We are frozen.

We see through a fog.

We forget.

But please,

let us come to your banquet.

Hold us up, teach us the way to walk.

Tell us how to love one another.

and how to help


Give us a taste of your feast,

every time we meet you,

in Mass, communion,

and every time

we love.

Anne Osdieck - Copyright © 2022, Anne M. Osdieck. All rights reserved.

Permission is hereby granted to reproduce for personal or parish use.

August 28

Here is the Prayer of the Day

O God,

you resist those who are proud

and give grace to those who are humble.

Give us the humility of your Son,

that we may embody the generosity of Jesus Christ,

our Savior and Lord.


August 29

I will share some more passages from Frederick Buchner’s writings this week.

Inspection stickers used to have printed on the back,

“Drive carefully: the life you save may be your own.”

That is the wisdom of men in a nutshell.

What God says, on the other hand, is,

“The life you save is the life you lose.”

In other words,

the life you clutch, hoard, guard, and play safe with

is in the end a life worth little to anybody, including yourself;

and only a life given away for love’s sake

is a life worth living.

To bring this point home,

God shows us a man who gave his life away

to the extent of dying a national disgrace

without a penny in the bank

or a friend to his name.

In terms of men’s wisdom,

he was a perfect fool,

and anybody who thinks

he can follow him

without making something like the same kind of fool of himself

is laboring

not under a cross

but a delusion.

Frederick Buechner Listening to Your Life

Be wise! Peace, Pastor Phil

August 30

I have mentioned that Frederick Buechner was a writer. He was a writer who was appreciated especially by preachers. Here is a wonderful excerpt from one of his sermons.

We hunger to be known and understood. We hunger to be loved. We hunger to be at peace inside our own skins. We hunger not just to be fed these things but, often without realizing it, we hunger to feed others these things because they too are starving for them. We hunger not just to be loved but to love, not just to be forgiven but to forgive, not just to be known and understood for all the good times and bad times that for better for worse have made us who we are, but to know and understand each other to the same point of seeing that, in the last analysis, we all have the same good times, the same bad times, and that for that very reason there is no such thing in all the world as anyone who is really a stranger.

- Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons

May God satisfy your hunger through the life giving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Blessings to you, Pastor Phil

August 31

This is quite a comment on prayer by Frederick Buechner:

In honesty

you have to admit to a wise man

that prayer is not for the wise,

not for the prudent,

not for the sophisticated.


it is for those who recognize

that in face of their deepest needs,

all their wisdom is quite helpless.

It is for those who are willing to persist

in doing something that is both

childish and crucial.

May you know that your prayers are heard.

God Bless you, Pastor Phil