June '23

June 1

“And remember, I am with you always, 

to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:20

Sunday is Holy Trinity Sunday. While we take the First Sunday after Pentecost to focus on this doctrine, the focus is on our God who is one who has entered into our very real lives… 

While some might perceive this as an ethereal pursuit, it is really quite down to earth.

The God we know as Trinity is one who has created us and all that exists, and has come into our midst in the person of Jesus Christ, and made us God’s own through the working of the Holy Spirit. God has left us Holy Communion and Baptism as gifts that involve real elements of our lives, food and water, and touches on every aspect of our world. 

This is, in fact, quite the opposite of ethereal. The God you know as Trinity is not some “idea” somewhere out there. God is as near to you as your own breath. God watches over your going out and your coming in, and the very hairs on your head are numbered. 

Jesus’ promise to the Disciples is announced to you as well, Jesus is with you always, from now, until the end of all things…

Blessings to you, Pastor Phil

June 2

“And remember, I am with you always, 

to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:20

Our friend Pastor Doug Goodwin would sometimes address the folks gathered for Ecumenical Worship with the greeting: “Hello Church.”

I like that. 

A Christian faith community, gathered together, is aptly referred to in this way: “Church”

Sunday is Trinity Sunday, and we might do well to consider what it means for our faith community that we bear this name: Trinity Lutheran Church. 

I wonder what it says about us and our faith, that this is the name that we have chosen for ourselves. 


I suspect that this centers us in Jesus Christ, and also in God our creator who sent Jesus to redeem the world, as well as in the Spirit who calls and gathers and sends us out. 

Blessings to you, Church, may you boldly bear the love of the Trinity to all whom God places in your path!

Peace, Pastor Phil

June 3

Tomorrow is Trinity Sunday.

A Prayer for Trinity Sunday

God of delight,

your Wisdom sings your Word

at the crossroads where humanity and divinity meet.

Invite us into your joyful being

where you know and are known

in each beginning,

in all sustenance,

in every redemption,

that we may manifest your unity

in the diverse ministries you entrust to us,

truly reflecting your triune majesty

in the faith that acts,

in the hope that does not disappoint,

and in the love that endures. Amen.

Reproduced from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers copyright © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission.

Peace, Pastor Phil

Trinity Sunday

June 4

Worship is at 9:00 this morning - it is Trinity Sunday

The service will be posted online.


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 5

“And remember, I am with you always, 

to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:20

Yesterday was Holy Trinity Sunday. 

These are the last two stanzas of “I Bind unto Myself Today” Hymn #450 in the ELW. This song is known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate, and the words are attributed to St. Patrick; who lived from 372-466.

The Trinity is a doctrine about how we name the God who comes to us and makes us God’s own children.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

“I Bind unto Myself Today” #450

Stanza 4

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Stanza 5

I bind unto myself the name,

the strong name of the Trinity

by invocation of the same,

the Three in One and One in Three,

of whom all nature has creation,

eternal Father, Spirit, Word.

Praise to the Lord of my salvation;

salvation is of Christ the Lord!

June 6

“Go and learn what this means, 

‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' 

For I have come to call not the righteous 

but sinners."

Matthew 9:13

This coming Sunday we hear the story of the call of Matthew, the tax collector. This sort of action by Jesus is quite unsettling for the religious authorities, and they object.

It is in response to them that Jesus invites us to "learn with this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'"

I have a suspicion that we know what it means, and we find Jesus’ understanding here to be a great gift, but I also suspect that like many Christians before us, we lose our way, and need to often be redirected: “Go and learn what this means…”

Learn well today!

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

June 7

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

which means, “God is with us.”

Matthew 1:23

"And remember, I am with you always,

to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:20b

I really liked this devotion from The Women of the ELCA “Daily Grace” email devotion a few days ago. It is from Sara Miles, who is an author and speaker with quite a story. She wrote the book “Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion.”

Blessings to you today. Pastor Phil

The Most Important Word

It’s sort of like a theological party game: what’s the most important word in the Bible? Jesus? Love? Mission? God? Sin? Mercy? What do you think?

Theologian Samuel Wells says the most important word in the Bible is… with. 

It’s a trick question, but I have to agree: The most important word in the Bible is with.

The Trinity is, at heart, about with: about what Christians call perichoresis. This is the dance in which the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one being, existing through their mutual relationship. And God is always gathering all humanity into that undivided relationship, bringing us all into life with God.

Notice: with, not for. God is not for us in the sense that God is always going to be giving us exactly what we want, protecting us from illness and harm, and making us rich. God is just with us. God sticks with us. Delights in us, plays with us, suffers and abides with us. In trouble and in doubt, when everything goes perfectly and when everything falls apart: God is with us.

This message is excerpted from “With you” by Sara Miles in the June 2015 Gather magazine.

June 8

“Go and learn what this means, 

‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' 

For I have come to call not the righteous 

but sinners."

Matthew 9:13

On Sunday we hear the story of the call of Matthew, the tax collector. 

As Jesus is contending with the religious leaders, he responds to them;  "learn with this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’" This is a quote from the prophet Hosea. Jesus’ adds to the prophet’s words that he came to call “not the righteous but sinners.”

There are many ways to reflect on this word. One question might be, ‘are there any for whom Jesus has not come?’

As Paul says in Romans 3, quoting from Ecclesiastes: “There is no one who is righteous, not even one…” Rom 3:10.

Interesting thought.

As Jesus calls for us to regard one another with mercy, I believe that he is grounding this call in the mercy of God.

Mercy is how God acts toward you.

Mercy, is our calling as well.

Look for mercy.

Act with mercy.

Bear blessings where you can, and rejoice in the blessings God bestows on you.

“Learn with this means…” 

I suspect we could spend a lifetime in this learning.

Pax, Pastor Phil

June 9

I thank my God every time I remember you, 

constantly praying with joy 

in every one of my prayers for all of you, 

because of your sharing in the gospel 

from the first day until now.

Philippians 1:3-5

When Associate to the Bishop, Pastor Brenda Frelsi was here last month, she shared that over half of the congregations in the Montana Synod are currently without a pastor. Many are so small that they will not have a pastor in the foreseeable future.

In response to this reality, Montana Synod pastors have begun to provide sermons to these congregations, so a sermon prepared for them can be presented for Sunday worship. I like this way of connecting us to one another. 

I signed up to provide a sermon for Sunday, June 11th, because that is our daughter Susie’s birthday. I wanted to say a personal thank you to Montana Synod congregations, because in their support for our Synod, they have supported St. Johns United Family Ministries, who works with families in adoption in Montana. (We worked with LSS Montana in our adoptions of Susie and David, the predecessor to St. Johns United Family Services.)

I have shared quite often this line by E. Stanley Jones - 

“Every person who belongs to Christ, 

belongs to every person who belongs to Christ.” 

Not only is that sorta catchy, it is true. 

I am grateful for our Montana Synod, which shapes every day of my life in profound ways. 

I thought as long as I am directing a word of gratitude to Montana Synod congregations, I would also say to you: “Thank you.” 

Thank you for the amazing ways you have blessed me and my family!

Blessings to you this weekend, Pastor Phil

June 10

“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’

For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

Matthew 9:13

Blessings to you this Saturday, I hope to see in worship tomorrow morning.

A Prayer for us all:

O God,

as the showers renew the earth,

bathe us in your healing power.

Stretch out your hand, that we may live

and know that you alone are God,

in whose faithfulness we have life all our days. Amen.

Reproduced from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers copyright © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission.

2nd Sunday after Pentecost

June 11

A blessed morning to you!

Worship at 9:00 today, one service.

The service will be posted online.

The Prayer of the Day today:

O God, 

you are the source of life and the ground of our being. 

By the power of your Spirit 

bring healing to this wounded world, 

and raise us to the new life of your Son, 

Jesus Christ, 

our Savior and Lord. 


June 12

“Go and learn what this means, 

‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' 

For I have come to call not the righteous 

but sinners."

Matthew 9:13

I wonder if we ever fully comprehend all that Jesus is saying when he proclaims that he has come to call “not the righteous but sinners.”

I wonder, should we take offense at this - at least a little bit?

Or, might we find ourselves relieved that we need not pretend to be perfect?

This Word from Jesus bears deep hope. Here Jesus promises that we can rest securely in the Good News of God’s forgiving grace.

I have a suspicion that the learning Jesus calls for here is a life-long endeavor.

Peace to you this week, Pastor Phil

June 13

“I have come to call not the righteous 

but sinners."

Matthew 9:13b

I continue to reflect on our Gospel reading from Sunday. There is great Good News in Jesus’ call to sinners. However, the Good News is not in our being sinners, but in the Grace of God that bears forgiveness and restores relationship.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian and anti-Nazi dissident who was a key founding member of the Confessing Church. He was killed by the Nazis near the end of the war. 

In one of his most well known works, "Life Together," he wrote: 

"It is the grace of the gospel,

which is so hard for the pious to understand,

that it confronts us with the truth and says:

‘You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner;

now come, as the sinner you are,

to God who loves you.’

"He wants you as you are;

he does not want anything from you,

a sacrifice, a work;

he wants you alone.”

As you are, I pray you may know Christ’s presence today, Blessings, Pastor Phil

June 14

When he saw the crowds, 

[Jesus] had compassion for them, 

because they were harassed and helpless, 

like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 9:36

I suspect that we all really like to be right. Yet it seems that Jesus is more interested in loving the world, than in being right.

Here is a wonderful line that I set aside years ago. 

“To be kind is more important than to be right. 

Many times what people need 

is not a brilliant mind that speaks, 

but a special heart that listens.” 

Lubavitcher Rebbe - 1902-1994

The teacher who wrote this is Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Wikipedia has this to say about him: “known to many as the Lubavitcher Rebbe or simply the Rebbe, was an Orthodox rabbi... He is considered one of the most influential Jewish leaders of the 20th century.

Blessings to you today, Pastor Phil

June 15

These are the names of the twelve apostles: 

first, Simon, also known as Peter, 

and his brother Andrew; 

James son of Zebedee, 

and his brother John

…and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

Matthew 10:2, 4b

On Sunday we hear the story of Jesus sending the 12 out to bring Christ’s compassion to [quote] “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 

In the listing of the 12, (beginning with Peter) we encounter a rather unremarkable group. None are identified by their accomplishments or their titles. Rather, a few are brothers, a few of their father’s are named, Matthew, we are told, is a tax collector. And finally, the 12th on the list is “Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.”

This seems to suggest that you might well fit right in with the disciples. You do not need a fancy title, or any great accomplishments to be a disciple. In fact, if a tax collector and a betrayer can be included, you will have a hard time avoiding the call yourself.

And that is, of course, a good thing!

May you answer Christ’s call today in creative and loving ways. 

Pax, Pastor Phil

June 16

This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

Matthew 12:17, 21

I Thessalonians has this wonderful verse:

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” (I Thess 4:13)

I just read a moving and insightful reflection on this word of hope and promise. Some have suggested this word from Paul means that we do not need to grieve because of the promise of the Gospel. 


We grieve. We grieve with hope. 

Back to the reflection that gives rise to this devotion:

The writer had this moving comment:

“Christian hope in the new life ahead does not mean dry eyes and a still face in the here and now. Hope, in fact, has many faces and one of them is an ugly cry.”

The Gospel gift hope is the promise of God present with you now, as well as the promise of the resurrection. God’s presence may not rule out all tears, but it promises one who will hear our cry. As the Psalmist says: “I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1

May you know God present in your joys and sorrows, abiding in the promise of God’s great love for you.

Blessings, Pastor Phil

June 17

Jesus had compassion for them, 

because they were harassed and helpless, 

like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 9:36

Here is a prayer of the Day for tomorrow…

Blessings to you, Pastor Phil

God of compassion,
you have opened the way for us
and brought us to yourself.
Pour your love into our hearts,
that, overflowing with joy,
we may freely share the blessings of your realm
and faithfully proclaim the good news of Christ. Amen.

The 3rd Sunday after Pentecost

June 18

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

The service will be posted online

The Prayer of the Day

God of compassion, you have opened the way for us and brought us to yourself. Pour your love into our hearts, that, overflowing with joy, we may freely share the blessings of your realm and faithfully proclaim the good news of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen

June 19

Then [Jesus] said to them, 

“The sabbath was made for humankind, 

and not humankind for the sabbath…”

Mark 2:27

[I wrote and shared this a few years ago, thought I’d recycle it. Worry about drought? hmmmmm]

A robin is outside, singing at the top of her lungs. (Or his lungs, I didn’t get the robin’s name.) It is wonderful, and, after a while, it might be a bit annoying. Ha!

I suspect, that if I am my best self, that loud signing is a delight. 

Did I mention that it is loud? Like, really, really loud?

Many things in life are like that. Not simply good, but mixed. 

Did I say many things? It might be more accurate to suggest that most every single thing is mixed. 

I delight in the beautiful weather this morning, while sharing concern about the possibility of drought. We rejoice at the promise of resurrection, while grieving the necessity of the promise. 

The early reformers developed a way of speaking about the Christian life. We are “Simul Justus et Peccator” - that is to say, we are simultaneously justified and sinner. We are, at our very best, forgiven sinners. Theologians will talk about the “simul character of life.” Life as those who belong to God through Jesus Christ, has within it, an aspect of simultaneousness.

Blessings are often mixed, life is mixed, and God is love.

Perhaps that is why the robin sings so joyously!

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

June 20

You have turned my mourning into dancing;

you have taken off my sackcloth

and clothed me with joy,

Psalm 30:11

Here is a daily devotion from the Women of the ELCA, “Daily Grace”

Last week, I woke up in a surly mood. You know the kind—when you open your eyes and just think “*%&(@%!” for no apparent reason. My whole day looked to be doomed with this black cloud of surliness … until I walked out the front door of my New York City apartment building.

As I emerged onto the busy sidewalk, I was accosted by an enormous cloud of soap bubbles. Swatting through the blizzard, I looked up the street and saw a woman walking away, pushing a stroller. Sticking out of the buggy was a tiny arm holding a battery-powered bubble machine that was exploding shiny spheres all over the mob of similarly surly morning commuters. Squeals of laughter echoed from the stroller.

I watched as people stopped, looked up from their intense sidewalk stares and began to smile. The world tends to beat that childlike wonder out of us. Then all of a sudden we wake up surly, mad at the world or perhaps ourselves, for no reason.

The good news is that it doesn’t take that much to remember: a smile, a kind gesture, a little child with a bubble machine. In a split second, our joy emerges like the morning sun over the horizon.

This message is an excerpt from “Soap angels”

by Susan Sparks in the January/February 2021 issue of Gather magazine.

June 21

“…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.

Years ago, we were in a picnic area in Banff National Park on June 21st. We were the only people at this fairly good sized rest area, sitting at a table in the center of the grounds.

In the midst of our meal, a couple walked up to us and said something like “You’re in luck, you’re in the middle of our Summer Solstice Party!” And they set their cooler on the table.

We were taken aback, to say the least, and fairly sure they were quite rude to be imposing on our picnic in this way. They could have easily set up on some of the other tables there off to the side… 

Once we recovered from the surprise, and their many, many friends arrived, and we had been introduced to them all, and included in the festivities, and offered food and drink, we found it to be a delight.

They were right, we were in luck to be in the middle of their Summer Solstice Party.

We laugh about this surprise over 30 years later.

How might you spread some light on this longest day of the year?

What sorts of hospitality can you share today?

Let your light shine!

Pastor Phil

June 22

“…for [your Father in heaven] makes his sun rise 

on the evil and on the good, 

and sends rain on the righteous 

and on the unrighteous.”

Matthew 5:45

I know that more than a few of you might - like me - be a bit tired of the rainy weather.

I like the line in the prayers in the Holden Evening Prayer service: 

“Grant weather that nourishes all of creation.” 

This reminds me that while I might find the rain to be inconvenient, and I prefer sunny weather, there are many who rely on the weather for their livelihoods. Not only that, good weather for growing crops helps God to grow the food that nourishes all of our lives.

I try to remember that we have known too many years of drought to be too sad about rain. (But I would sure like a sunny day or two!)

I also know that we could soon be wishing for cooler weather…

Let us pray that there is minimal flooding, that the rainy weather is good for crops, and that we all might rejoice in the wonders of God’s good creation. 

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

June 23

The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in 

from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121

I was looking through some worship resources from years past, and I came across this Blessing for Travelers. (For one thing, I was interested to see that travelers has only one L.) 

As we enter the summer, I thought I would share it with you.

Blessings, Pastor Phil


(From Welcome Home, Year of Luke, p.118) 

Use this prayer before leaving on a journey 

O God, 

our beginning and our end, 

you kept Abraham and Sarah in safety 

throughout the days of their pilgrimage, 

you led the children of Israel through the midst of the sea, 

and by a star you led the Magi to the infant Jesus. 

Protect and guide us now as we set out to travel.

Make our ways safe and our homecomings joyful, 

and bring us at last to our heavenly home, 

where you dwell in glory with our Lord Jesus Christ

and the life-gjving Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever. 


© 1997 Augsburg Fortress

June 24

“Those who find their life will lose it, 

and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

Matthew 10:39

Here is a prayer grounded in the Gospel for tomorrow, Matthew 10:24–39

Pour forth into our hearts, strong and faithful God, 

the wisdom and daring of your Spirit, 

that we may take up the cross and follow Christ, 

willing to lose our lives for his sake 

and to manifest to the world the hope of your kingdom. 

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 A, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

4th Sunday after Pentecost

June 25

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

The service will be posted online, click here. https://www.trinitylutheransheridan.org/4-pentecost-june-25

Here is the Prayer of the Day:

Teach us, good Lord God, 

to serve you as you deserve, 

to give and not to count the cost, 

to fight and not to heed the wounds, 

to toil and not to seek for rest, 

to labor and not to ask for reward, 

except that of knowing that we do your will, 

through Jesus Christ, 

our Savior and Lord. 


June 26

“…the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, 

and to give his life a ransom for many”

Matthew 20:28

Rev. Suzanne Guthrie has an interesting and challenging web site where she shares prayers and quotes and reflections in conversation with the Gospel text for Sunday. (http://www.edgeofenclosure.org) She draws from quite an array of resources. 

She posted this prayer by 19th century philosopher and theologian, Soren Kierkegaard for yesterday.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Thou didst not come to the world to be served, but also surely not to be admired or in that sense to be worshipped. Thou wast the way and the truth – and it was followers only Thou didst demand. Arouse us therefore if we have dozed away into this delusion, save us from the error of wishing to admire Thee instead of being willing to follow Thee and to resemble Thee.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

June 27

“A disciple is not above the teacher, 

nor a slave above the master; 

it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, 

and the slave like the master”

Matthew 10:24

Here is a meditation from Saint Cyprian, (210-258). He was elected the bishop of Carthage in 249, and he served - at times in exile - until he was martyred in 258, having refused to make a sacrifice in honor of the Emperor. 

 When we say, “deliver us from evil,” 

there remains nothing further that ought to be asked. 

For once we have asked God's protection against evil, 

and have obtained it, 

then we stand secure and safe 

against everything that the Devil and the world would work against us. 

What fear is there in this life 

for the one whose guardian in this life is God? - Saint Cyprian

Blessings, Pastor Phil

June 28

The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it,

the world, and those who live in it;

Psalm 24:1

I was paging through a magazine, and I saw a beautiful picture of a mountain lake, accompanied by these words from Psalm 96:

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;

let the sea roar, and all that fills it;

let the field exult, and everything in it.

Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy

I just spent a bit of time in the Big Horns, and this spoke to me. I love the image of the forest singing for joy. What a wonder to join the forest in singing for joy to God our creator.

I said on Sunday, (sorta) something that crossed my mind recently: 

I am a good enough theologian to understand that it is a profound thing to tell you that you are God’s creation. I am afraid I am not a good enough poet to make you see the breadth and depth and wonder of this good news.

Perhaps it is the poetry of the trees that moves us when we are in the forest, overwhelmed by the wonder of God our creator.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

June 29

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;

I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

Psalm 104:33

An article titled: “Singing is good for you. Singing with others may be even better” sings the praises of choirs - (did you catch that? Ha!) -

and tells of studies that have shown that singing in choirs has all sorts of benefits for people. A great deal of the positives come from the social connections provided by a choir. 

I couldn’t help but think of our Trinity Choir, and of BASICS, and how their singing has been a great blessing to Trinity, and to their own lives as well.

You belong to Trinity, and we belong to one another. I have a sense that we would be wise to take note of the gifts of community. The gifts of those who share their wonderful musical talents in leading us in worship.

We would also be wise to note that each of you, in your own way, bear Christ to our community, and share God’s love and life and promise and care. 

On Sunday we will hear from Jesus as he proclaims: 

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me,

and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” (Mt 10:40) 

This is quite a Word from our Lord. 

As you bear Christ into this day, may your life sing out God’s love and grace. Pastor Phil

June 30

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, 

and whoever welcomes me 

welcomes the one who sent me.”

Matthew 10:40

One of the more profound lines that Martin Luther wrote is from the Small Catechism - his reflection on the 3rd article of The Apostles Creed. There Luther reflects on our belief in God the Holy Spirit with this:

"I believe that I cannot by my own understanding or effort

believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to him.”

In our Gospel reading on Sunday; we hear Jesus proclaim this amazing word of promise: ““Whoever welcomes you welcomes me…”

I have a suspicion that one of the more difficult to believe aspects of your faith, is that anyone who welcomes you, welcomes Jesus Christ, and in welcoming you, (and, thus, Jesus as well), that one welcomes God, the creator of all things.

May you know that God has elected you to bear God’s own creative and redeeming love into this day.

Blessings! Pastor Phil