June '22

June 1

“I give you a new commandment,

that you love one another.

Just as I have loved you,

you also should love one another”

John 13:34

I mentioned last week, the suggestion I heard from Dr. Walter Bouman - a theology professor at our Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, Trinity Lutheran Seminary - that we might envision that in the Ascension, Jesus ascended into the future.

There is a dimension of this that is quite radical…

Often, religion is a conservative force. This, of course, is not a bad thing!

There is an interesting line about tradition:

“Tradition is the living faith of the dead.

Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.”

I digress...

Now that God, in Jesus Christ, has ascended into the future, when we consider the workings of God, we look, not only to the past - to established traditions and old ways - we look to the future, and see God calling us forward.

One might suggest that this is a powerful force for change grounded in love and hope and life.

Peace, Pastor Phil

June 2

Jesus said

“I give you a new commandment,

that you love one another.

Just as I have loved you,

you also should love one another."

John 13:34

A few days ago I had started sharing some “stewardship thoughts” for the Connections devotion. Here is another:

“Faith brings you to Christ and makes him your own with all that he has; love gives you to your neighbor with all that you have.”

- Martin Luther

I like this quite a bit. I had a professor who would ask: “Are you saved?”

The answer; “Yes.”

Then, he would add, the REAL questions is: “What are you saved for?”

The answer: “For your neighbor!”

Blessings, Pastor Phil

June 3

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,

says the LORD,

thoughts of peace and not of evil,

to give you a future with hope."

Jeremiah 29:11, NKJV

Today our Montana Synod begins our Synod Assembly. (This is the first Assembly we’ll have had in 3 years. Usually we gather annually.) The 145 congregations of our Synod belong to one another, support one another, and work together, along with 64 other Synods, some 10,000 congregations in all.

I believe it is important that we are able to be Church together, and to join together in caring for God’s world.

Among the agenda items is a “Synod Conversation on the Future of the Church.”

For some time now, we have known that we are in a time of cataclysmic change. There is no clear road map for where we are headed, only the assurance that God will guide us each step of the way.

Please pray for us, as together we seek to discern how God is calling us forward in these . . . interesting . . . times.

Peace, Pastor Phil

June 4

[Jesus said]

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.

I do not give to you as the world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled,

and do not let them be afraid.”

John 14:27

Tomorrow is Pentecost. (Wear red!)

We will have one service at 9:00 a.m.

In our Gospel reading tomorrow, we will hear from Jesus as he gives promises to the disciples as he prepares to leave.

He leaves us with peace, and with the promise of the Holy Spirit.

It looks like now, ass much as ever, we need the gift of peace. I pray that each and every one of you, I pray that we, Trinity Lutheran Church, might be faithful bearers of peace to our world in turmoil.

Hope to see you (in red) at worship tomorrow.

Pastor Phil

June 5

The Lord is my shepherd,

I shall not want

Psalm 23:1

The Prayer of the Day today:

God our creator,

the resurrection of your Son

offers life to all the peoples of earth.

By your Holy Spirit,

kindle in us the fire of your love,

empowering our lives for service

and our tongues for praise,

through Jesus Christ,

our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you

and the

Holy Spirit,

one God,

now and forever.


June 6

[Jesus said]

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.

I do not give to you as the world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled,

and do not let them be afraid.”

John 14:27

We used this prayer from the Vigil of Pentecost service yesterday.

I thought it might be nice for us all to begin this season with these words.

Blessings to you,

Pastor Phil


and ever-living God,

you fulfilled the promise of Easter

by sending the gift of your Holy Spirit.

Look upon your people gathered in prayer,

open to receive the Spirit’s flame.

May it come to rest in our hearts

and heal the divisions of word and tongue,

that with one voice and one song

we may praise your name

in joy and thanksgiving;

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God,

now and forever.


June 7

The Lord is my shepherd,

I shall not want

Psalm 23:1

Sunday, as we were singing the hymn of the day, "Spirit of Gentleness" by James K. Manley, I thought these words would be excellent for Trinity Connections.

Here are the lyrics.

Blessings to you today, Pastor Phil

Spirit of Gentleness by James K. Manley

Refrain: Spirit, Spirit of gentleness,

blow through the wilderness calling and free,

Spirit, Spirit of restlessness, stir me from placidness,

Wind, Wind on the sea.

1. You moved on the waters, you called to the deep,

then you coaxed up the mountains, from the valleys of sleep;

and over the eons you called to each thing:

wake from your slumbers and rise on your wings. Refrain:

2. You swept through the desert, you stung with the sand,

and you goaded your people with a law and a land;

and when they were blinded with their idols and lies,

then you spoke thro’ your prophets to open their eyes. Refrain:

3. You sang in a stable, you cried from a hill,

then you whispered in silence when the whole world was still;

and down in the city you called once again,

when you blew through your people on the rush of the wind. Refrain:

4. You call from tomorrow, you break ancient schemes,

from the bondage of sorrow the captives dream dreams,

our women see visions, our men clear their eyes,

with bold new decisions your people arise. Refrain:

June 8

For we are what he has made us,

created in Christ Jesus for good works,

which God prepared beforehand

to be our way of life.

Ephesians 2:10

A stewardship thought for today.

Stewardship encourages people to lead generous lives,

strengthens faith,

and impacts the world.

Peace, Pastor Phil

June 9

For now we see in a mirror, dimly,

but then we will see face to face.

Now I know only in part; then I will know fully,

even as I have been fully known.

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three;

and the greatest of these is love.

I Corinthians 13:12-13

This coming Sunday is Trinity Sunday. The only day we commemorate a doctrine of the Church. (Many breathe a sigh of relief at that good news!)

I would suggest that if we are to mark just one, this is the doctrine to stop and visit with each year.

Trinity is our way of speaking about God, whom we can know only in part.

I like how this understanding of God, names God as one who is - in God’s own self - in relationship. Father, Son and Spirit.

This is how you know God. Not in theory. Not by God’s attributes. Not even by God’s accomplishments.

You know God in relationship.

You know God as the one who has created and redeemed you, who calls you by name and accompanies you each step of your life.

I like that Trinity is our name.

May our relationships reflect the wonderful relationship of the Trinity, and the saving relationship God has established with each and every one of you.

Peace, Pastor Phil

June 10

I give thanks to you,

O Lord my God,

with my whole heart,

and I will glorify your name forever.

Psalm 86:12

With Trinity Sunday just around the corner, I share this prayer from Fr. Peter Scagnelli, a priest, liturgical scholar and writer. (He lived - 1959-2017)

We glorify you, O God,

and ponder the mystery of the wisdom

by which you created the world

in wondrous beauty and order.

We, your church, your new creation,

reconciled in your Son and sanctified by your Spirit,

ask you to lead us through endurance

into hope

and from hope

to full knowledge of you,

who are love itself,

fullness of truth and undying life.

We ask this through

our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

God for ever and ever.


From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

June 11

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

II Corinthians 5:17

We have entered the season of Pentecost. Tomorrow is Trinity Sunday, and then, beginning June 19th, the Sundays get named “The 2nd Sunday after Pentecost” until the 24th Sunday after Pentecost, also known as Christ the King Sunday, November 20th. I call it the long green season.

The season of Pentecost is also referred to as “Ordinary Time.” There are reasons for this name - I like the suggestion that “ordinary” has been transformed by the presence of Jesus in the world. Therefore, this name is not a “blah blah it’s ordinary time.” Rather, it is a rejoicing that even the ordinary, every day of our lives is washed in the presence of God who loves us, and seeks to transform all the world through our bearing God's love to the world in need.

A blessed Pentecost season to you, Pastor Phil


June 12

O LORD, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8:1 (RSV)

It is Trinity Sunday, we will gather for worship here at 9:00 today. One service. The service will be posted on the Trinity web site.

The Prayer of the Day today:

Almighty Creator and ever-living God:

we worship your glory,

eternal Three-in-One,

and we praise your power,

majestic One-in-Three.

Keep us steadfast in this faith,

defend us in all adversity,

and bring us at last into your presence,

where you live in endless joy and love,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

one God,

now and forever.


June 13

I give thanks to you,

O Lord my God,

with my whole heart,

and I will glorify your name forever.

Psalm 86:12

Yesterday was Trinity Sunday. I shared the beautiful poetry of the final stanza of the hymn “Holy God, We Praise Your Name” in my sermon.

The entire hymn is an excellent devotion.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

“Holy God, We Praise Your Name” ELW #414

Holy God, we praise your name;

Lord of all, we bow before you.

All on earth your scepter claim,

All in heav’n above adore you.

Infinite your vast domain,

Everlasting is your reign.

2 Hark! The glad celestial hymn

Angel choirs above are raising;

Cherubim and seraphim,

In unceasing chorus praising,

Fill the heav’ns with sweet accord:

“Holy, holy, holy Lord!”

3 Lo, the apostolic train

Join your sacred name to hallow;

Prophets swell the glad refrain,

And the white-robed martyrs follow;

And from morn to set of sun

Through the church the song goes on.

4 Holy Father, holy Son, Holy Spirit,

Three we name you,

Though in essence only one;

Undivided God we claim you

And, adoring, bend the knee

While we own the mystery.

June 14

For by grace you have been saved through faith,

and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…

For we are what he has made us,

created in Christ Jesus for good works,

which God prepared beforehand

to be our way of life

Ephesians 2:8, 10

I was just reading an email from The Northwest Intermountain Synod… (Our Synod in Eastern Washington & Idaho) and appreciated what the author was saying. I checked, and it was fun to see that it was written by the Associate to the Bishop there, Pastor Phil Misner. (My dad and his mom married just a few months before we moved to Sheridan in 2006. I will get to see Phil in a couple of weeks for a memorial service for Solveig - who died this past Christmas.)

In his note, Phil observed:

“It seems to me that we live in rather intense times.”

He then shared about driving through a town, “listening to the news on the radio… about the divisiveness in our current political and public culture. I couldn’t help but notice the over-abundance of …campaign signs, some… making absolute (and seemingly divisive) claims.

Those signs combined with the news… equated to this overwhelming sense of urgency and intensity. It felt like all the decisions I made and would make; all the actions I would and would not do held immense consequence.”

I really liked the insight he added:

“Upon reflection, I can understand how such a feeling might be experienced as empowering – giving me the sense that I might be able to make a difference. That, however, was not what it felt like in the moment. Instead, it felt paralyzing and crushing because of the intensity of it all…”

Empowering and paralyzing are strikingly different effects of the intensity of these times. I wonder if we don’t often feel a bit of both at once.

As we venture forward in the season of Pentecost, may you know the comfort and prodding of the Spirit on your journey.

When paralyzed, may you know that God the Holy Spirit sends you out, impelling you to bring God’s grace and love to bear in whatever ways you are able.

When empowered, may you remember that God is the source and ground of all that is good, and while you are sent to bear God's creative and redeeming love to this world in need, God is the source of it all, and success does not depend on you.

Blessings to you today.

Pastor Phil

June 15

As many of you as were baptized into Christ

have clothed yourselves with Christ.

There is no longer Jew or Greek,

there is no longer slave or free,

there is no longer male and female;

for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:27-28

Our 2nd lesson on Sunday is from the 3rd chapter of Galatians.

Paul declares that in Baptism, we are all one.

This is quite a radical claim.

In commentary on this text, Dr. Elisabeth Johnson, ELCA pastor, professor and missionary says:

“Paul reminds us that whatever human categories may describe us, they do not define us, “for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” All human categories are subordinate and ultimately irrelevant to our primary identity as members of the body of Christ.”

I like that.

The many categories I have for myself and those around me, the many judgments I make inward and outward - they are all irrelevant.

May you live today, once again reminded of the most relevant category that describes you, child of God, clothed with Christ.

Peace, Pastor Phil

June 16

As many of you as were baptized into Christ

have clothed yourselves with Christ.

There is no longer Jew or Greek,

there is no longer slave or free,

there is no longer male and female;

for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:27-28

Ruby Mae was baptized last night in worship.

Like you, she has been clothed with Christ…

Belonging to God in Christ transforms everything.

I have a suspicion that as true as this comment might be, none of us can really come close to fully comprehending what this means for us and for all whom God has given us to love.

Your identity is not something you fashion.

It is given.

You are God’s own child.


Pastor Phil

June 17

There is no longer Jew or Greek,

there is no longer slave or free,

there is no longer male and female;

for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

A friend of my mother’s made a stole for me as a present for my ordination. She asked for a Bible verse to put on that stole. I chose Galatians 3:28.

I like the suggestion that “every line you draw, excluding someone, you will find Jesus on the other side of that line.”

In our Baptismal service on Wednesday, the congregation was asked: “People of God, do you promise to support and pray for Ruby in her new life in Christ?”

Our response: “We do.”

Belonging to God through Jesus Christ also means we belong to one another.

Blessings to you this weekend, let us remember to support and pray for one another.

Pastor Phil

June 18

…for in Christ Jesus

you are all children of God

through faith.

Galatians 3:26

Here is a verse for you to carry with you today.

Galatians 3:26 “…for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.”

Yes, you are!

Peace, Pastor Phil

Let us keep Reed Ritterbusch and Alex Peterson in our prayers, as they will be married this evening. May God bless them in their life together, so they might be a blessing to others!

2nd Sunday after Pentecost

June 19

A blessed Father’s Day to you.

In our Gospel reading today, we hear the story of the man who had many demons, and Jesus heals him. Although he wants to join Jesus, and go with him, Jesus commends him to stay in his home town, saying "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you. “

Each of us, also made whole by Jesus, bear the same sending mission.

I hope to see you at worship here at 9:00 a.m. The service will be posted.

Peace, Pastor Phil

The Prayer of the Day today:

O Lord God,

we bring before you the cries of a sorrowing world.

In your mercy set us free from the chains that bind us,

and defend us from everything that is evil,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.


June 20

When the days drew near for [Jesus] to be taken up,

he set his face to go to Jerusalem

Luke 9:51

The Gospel reading this coming Sunday is Luke 9:51-62.

While he was preaching professor at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, David Lose wrote a reflection on this text. He spoke about how Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” This determination meant that other folks could not control him.

Dr. Lose shared about how a power outage in his part of the city reminded him of how much we seek to be in control of things, and how we even invest a bit of religious zeal in the illusion of control…

He wrote:

“We invest a lot of time, energy, and money

in being in control.

And plenty of religious folks invite us to invest

lots of time, energy, and money to surrender to God’s control.

Yet the world is still a terribly chaotic and unsettling place.

So what if the deepest calling of Christian disciples

isn’t to be in control

– ourselves or vicariously through God –

but rather to give up the illusion,

to take some risks,

and to throw ourselves into this turbulent life

and world God loves so much -

trusting that God will join us in the adventure,

hold onto us through all the ups and downs,

and brings us in time to the other side.”

I suspect these words of David Lose might provide some interesting space for reflection in the week to come.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

June 21

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

It is the longest day of the year.

In the midst of much darkness, you are called to shine forth with God’s love. I invite you to look carefully today, and see the many ways God’s light shines into your life. Also, look carefully for the ways God invites you to reflect that light into your world.

May God’s light shine bright! Pastor Phil

June 22

When the days drew near for [Jesus] to be taken up,

he set his face to go to Jerusalem

Luke 9:51

Like so many folks, I am concerned about our present cultural moment. There is a great measure of division in our society, and it is easy to feel powerless in the face of it all.

It should sadden us when Christianity is a part of the dividing.

As I mentioned in Monday’s Connections - our Gospel reading this coming Sunday has Jesus with his face set toward Jerusalem. With this determination, the Samaritans will not provide him hospitality on his way.

This conflict is difficult for all of them.

In reflecting on this part of the story, Dr. Matthew Skinner, New Testament professor at Luther Seminary wrote this:

Jesus operated on the fringes in so many ways.

He confused different kinds of people.

He’s still there, and he’s still doing it.

In a first-century society

where there were a wide array of ways

of being Jewish

or even Samaritan

(in terms of living out what it meant

to live faithfully to the God of one’s ancestors),

the Jesus of the Gospels

comes across as

remarkably unconcerned

about identifying

the one, singular, right way.


he calls people to himself.

He calls people to take on a new identity,

one fully embodied in and defined

by his very self.

It is all so simple, really.

Turn to Jesus.

Find your life and your redemption and your hope and your call in him.

Now, discerning what this means can be simple, and it can be quite difficult. Yet this is where we look. And when we look to Jesus, I believe we will find one who - most of all - calls us to love and care for each and every person in God’s world.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

June 23

For freedom Christ has set us free.

Stand firm, therefore,

and do not submit again

to a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1

On Sunday we hear from Galatians chapter 5…

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

I like these reflections on this text by Methodist preacher, James Howell:

“Paul most assuredly does not say

‘You are free! So freely choose God!’


‘God gives you freedom and hopes you’ll choose good instead of sin.’

No, it’s that Christ sets us free, implying we are

(as Augustine, Luther, Wesley, Barth, all the great theologians have clarified)

most assuredly not free.

Our wills are bound, shackled, to sin, self, world.

Our only hope is to be liberated by the miracle of God’s Spirit –

and once free, it’s not so we might do as we wish,

but so we might then bind ourselves freely and joyfully to God,

to do God’s bidding –

as Wesley put it, My life is no longer my own.”

He later adds:

“Holiness is not a matter of gritting your teeth and trying really diligently to do what God requires.

We may grit our teeth, and we do try hard.

But I am not able to do what God wants of me, I am not capable of the life God wants for me.

A changed life is the gift of God's Spirit.

Paul described this new life, the life for which we were made, as “the fruit of the Spirit.”

Not “the fruit of my good intentions,” but the fruit of the Spirit:

“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23


May you know these fruits nd share them generously!

Pastor Phil

June 24

For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment,

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Galatians 5:24

I’ve mentioned this often, but it bears repeating. Dr. Rolf Jacobson, Old Testament professor at Luther Seminary likes to suggest that he would title a book on the Ten Commandments: “Your Neighbor’s Best Life Now”.

That is, of course, a riff on the tv preacher's book “Your Best Life Now.”

We are part of a wonderful tradition. A tradition that helps us to clearly understand the promise that the Gospel bears for us and for our lives.

These are two very different understandings of what God is doing in the world - Your neighbor’s best life - or your own.

Jesus calls us to a life that is hard for our culture to fully understand. Rolf's book probably would not sell very well.

However, love and forgiveness are not interesting alternatives. This is our path, your neighbor's best life is the life we have been given.

A blessed weekend to you, Pastor Phil

June 25

When the days drew near for him to be taken up,

[Jesus] set his face to go to Jerusalem.

Luke 9:51

Our Gospel lesson tomorrow has some bracing words from Jesus, as he challenges us to follow him with a single mindedness that is impossible to achieve apart from the working of the Holy Spirit.

"No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back

is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” A preacher spoke about how Jesus had a choice. He could have gone to the comfort of home. He chose to go to Jerusalem, to conflict, suffering and the cross…

The cross is our path as well. We are called to follow Jesus, to join him as he gives himself away in love for the world.

In this summer season of re-creation and renewal, let us consider again how our following might give life to others.

Peace, Pastor Phil

3rd Sunday after Pentecost

June 26

Worship today at 9:00 a.m. The service will be posted online.

The Prayer of the Day today:

Sovereign God,

ruler of all hearts,

you call us to obey you, and you favor us with true freedom.

Keep us faithful to the ways of your Son,


leaving behind all that hinders us,

we may steadfastly follow your paths,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen

June 27

Bear one another’s burdens,

and in this way you will fulfill

the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

This coming Sunday we hear from Galatians chapter 6. This week when we celebrate freedom, we hear words from Paul that speak to how freedom is to be lived out in our lives.

The law of Christ is freedom? Yes.

“Bear one another’s burdens…” These words follow closely on the heels of Paul’s admonition: “For freedom Christ has set us free.”

As you consider your July 4th celebrations, I invite you to contemplate freedom this week, and take note of the many opportunities for service your freedom provides for you.

Peace, Pastor Phil

June 28

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right…

Galatians 6:9a

Less than a week before July 4th, let me share this quote from one of my favorite theologians, Gustaf Wingren.

Freedom is rooted and grounded in service

and whenever we try to define what freedom means in daily life

we are brought back to this,

i.e. to service.

Wingren, Gospel and Church

Let us give thanks for our freedom every day.

Blessings to you, Pastor Phil

June 29

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right…

Galatians 6:9a

Among my very favorite things written by Martin Luther is his treatise; “Freedom of a Christian”. (Published in 1520.)

The great popularity of the Reformation was more than an overthrow of an oppressive Church, it was the clarion call to live out our faith every day, in love toward our family and neighbors, in harmony with our world…

“Christians live not in themselves,

but in Christ and in their neighbor.

Otherwise they are not Christians.

They live in Christ through faith,

in their neighbor through love.”

– Martin Luther, “Freedom of a Christian” (LW 31, 371)

Peace, Pastor Phil

June 30

He said, [to Elijah]

“Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD,

for the LORD is about to pass by.”

Now there was a great wind,

so strong that it was splitting mountains

and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD,

but the LORD was not in the wind;

and after the wind an earthquake,

but the LORD was not in the earthquake;

and after the earthquake a fire,

but the LORD was not in the fire;

and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

I Kings 19:11-12 23:1

I am about to share insight with you that I have encountered over and over through the years. (This is not necessarily something I do. But it is something I know to be true!)

We are called to take time listening to God in order to be renewed and restored to ourselves…

Part of that listening is weekly worship.

Part of that listening is reading scripture, and devotions.

Part of that listening is prayer.

As we look ahead to a holiday weekend, one with fireworks and noise and all sorts of activity - look for times of silence as well.


God is calling.

And sending

Peace to you in your journey, Pastor Phil