Connections March

March 31

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared,

“Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

Luke 13:21

The Gospel reading for today is John 13:21–32. When Jesus declares that one of them will betray him - the response is striking in Mark 14 (the primary Gospel we hear from this year): “They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?””

How can it be that each of them would consider that Jesus might be indicating that it was him? Do they instinctively realize that there are ways that each of them betrays Jesus, and all that Jesus represents?

“Surely not I?”

What a question. Dare we ask that question ourselves?

If following Jesus is about being washed in God’s forgiveness, and empowered to be a part of God’s healing work in the world, this question might help us to be who we are created to be.

Seeing where we have failed to live Christ’s resurrection hope, we can be forgiven anew, and be sent forth to bear his creative and redeeming word to all.

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, your Son our Savior suffered at human hands and endured the shame of the cross. Grant that we may walk in the way of his cross and find it the way of life and peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

March 30

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth,

will draw all people to myself."

John 12:32

For Tuesday in Holy week, we hear from John 12:20-36.

The Gospel of John paints a wonderfully global picture of the measure of God’s love. “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16)

Today we hear Jesus as he proclaims: “ And I …will draw all people to myself."

All people.


Any person who is hungry, anyone who is hurting, each of our fellow human beings who is lost; is of great concern to we who belong to this God who so loves the world…

We seek to feed the hungry, to care for the hurting and grieving and lost, to live our lives in harmony with God’s ways, so that we might join Jesus in his love for all people and his care for all creation.

May our Holy Week observance help us to join ever more faithfully in our discipleship.

Prayer of the Day

Lord Jesus, you have called us to follow you. Grant that our love may not grow cold in your service, and that we may not fail or deny you in the time of trial, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

March 29

Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

John 12:3

It is Monday in Holy week. There are readings assigned for each day of Holy week, along with a Prayer of the Day for each day. The Gospel lesson for today is John 12:1–11.

Let me share this reflection on verse 3:

“The house was filled with the fragrance…”

We sing, in the Holden Evening Prayer service, these words from Psalm 141: “Let my prayer rise up like incense before you…”

Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet is a prayer of adoration acted out in surprising, perhaps even offensive extravagance.

This serves as a foreshadowing of Jesus’ gift of himself - which is even more extravagant.

Mary invites us to a similar extravagance. Extravagance of lives lived in love for Jesus and in love for this world, which God so loves…

Prayer of the Day

O God, your Son chose the path that led to pain before joy and to the cross before glory. Plant his cross in our hearts, so that in its power and love we may come at last to joy and glory, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God, now and forever. Amen

March 27

The LORD is near to all who call on him,

to all who call on him in truth.

Psalm 145:18

I saw this prayer and wanted to share it with you as we look ahead to Holy Week. I am looking forward to seeing you in worship in the days to come. Some of us may set aside masks at this time, while most of us will continue to wear them.

This is a prayer for the start of Holy Week from lutheranjulia. It was posted on RevGalBlogPals.

(I have a request, if you would care to join me in reading that Passion Story from the Gospel of Mark at the conclusion of the 8:30 service (it’s a long reading) please text me today - my number is at the top of this note.)

Prayer at the Start of Holy Week

Holy God,

you have fed us all

out of your own generous and gracious hands.

From them, we have received welcome,

nourishment, hope, and consolation.

May these things grow in us,

alongside the gift of faith,

so that we may plant their seeds

in the world around us.

Through the Holy Spirit,

guide us in the week [days] ahead

to re-member our place

in your great and on-going story

of resurrection, redemption, and restoration

through Jesus Christ our Lord.


~ written by lutheranjulia, and posted on RevGalBlogPals.

March 26

You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Luke 12:40

I suspect that you know that the date of Easter moves each year. It is the Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Since it mixes both the calendar of the week and the phases of the moon, there is no pattern that repeats. One year it is April 4, the next? You have to check… It does not repeat for over a million years. Seems about right…

Easter is a surprise. It surprises the disciples, and it surprises us as well.

As you look ahead to Holy Week, I invite you to prepare to be surprised. That is, be open to the unexpected ways that God may show up in your life. Take note of how God calls you to serve in simple, every day tasks. Look for ways to be a bearer of God’s surprising grace.

I hope to see you at worship Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter.

March 25

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

Luke 1:38

Today is the Annunciation of Our Lord. You know what that means. There are 273 shopping days until Christmas!

On this day the Gospel reading is Luke 1:26-38, the story of the visit to Mary by the angel Gabriel.

While in our Lutheran tradition, we tend not to observe holy days like Annunciation, there is something powerful about stopping our Lenten observance for a minute to consider Mary and the Christ Child.

The obedience of Jesus that takes him to the cross, is preceded by the obedience of Mary, who spoke those powerful words of affirmation: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

Next week, we follow Jesus through Holy Week to Easter joy.

The joy of Easter, the wonder of Christmas all follows from Mary’s faithful response to the angel Gabriel.

May you be attuned to see and hear the many ways God invites you to serve Gods’ purposes in the world, and may your response echo Mary’s: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

Here is the Prayer of the Day for Annunciation.

Pour your grace into our hearts, O God, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son, Jesus Christ, announced by an angel, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; for he lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

March 24

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

I Corinthians 11:23-25

Today we consider The Small Catechism - The Lord’s Supper.

One of the main insights I have gained from my studies is this important distinction…

In our own way of thinking, we might be inclined to suggest that what matters most about your receiving the gifts offered in the Lord’s Supper is what you think about it, what you believe about it.

Luther considered our belief and trust in the words “given and shed for you for the remission of sins” - of utmost importance. Yet, most of all, it is the promise that Jesus makes Christ present in the bread and wine. By faith you receive the gift, but the gifts it bears, are voiced in the promise, “this is my body… this is my blood given and shed for you.”

As surely as God keeps God’s promises, that surely Christ is present for you in the bread and wine.

Take that home with you!

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

March 23

At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice,

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Mark 15:34

Story is deeply important. We think about and consider our lives as part of a story. Stories help us understand our world. You have been baptized into Christ, and you have been integrated into his story.

I just read this and thought to share it with you:

Teresa of Ávila, the 16th century mystical writer, knew of suffering.

In a particularly difficult moment of her life

she was forced to cross a river while sick with fever.

She raised her voice of complaint heavenward,

"Lord, amid so many ills this comes on top of all the rest!"

A voiced responded, "This is how I treat my friends."

"Ah, my God!" Teresa retorted, "That is why you have so few of them!”

1As told in Simon Chan, Spiritual Theology: A Systematic Study of the Xian Life (IVP, 1998) 133.

While there is humor here, there is also deep wisdom.

Our stories may carry sorrow beyond measure, yet God is with you each step of the way. While we may have moments when Jesus’ lament from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” could be our own, looking back, we can often see that we were not forsaken after all, and that the resurrection speaks God’s presence and love into the most difficult of places.

Palm Sunday is upon us. I invite you to look closely at the story of Jesus’ last week, and of his cross and resurrection. Look and see the ways you have been incorporated into God’s saving work.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

March 22

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jeremiah 31:33

I shared this story yesterday, and I thought I would include it here today. I love how it speaks to the ways God comes to us with healing and hope in even the most difficult times.

You are in my prayers, and I look forward to our gathering together in worship.

”A disciples asks the rebbe,

’Why does the Torah tell us to "place these words upon your hearts"?

Why does it not tell us to place these holy words in our hearts?'

The rebbe answers,

'It is because as we are, our hearts are closed,

and we cannot place the holy words in our hearts.

So we place them on top of our hearts.

And there they stay,

until, one day, the heart breaks

and the words fall in.’”

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

March 21

5th Sunday in Lent

Blessings to you on this Fifth Sunday in Lent

HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SPRING! (Or, I guess, technically the 2nd, if you want to be precise, astronomically speaking.)

Here is a Prayer of the Day written for this 5th Sunday in Lent. Next Sunday begins Holy Week. I am looking forward to seeing more of us in worship in these coming days, as we step out from under the shadow of this pandemic and give thanks to God for all the gifts we have received in this chapter of our lives.

Hear, O God, the eternal echo of the prayers and supplications your Son offered when, to establish the new and everlasting covenant, he became obedient even unto death on the cross. Through all the trials of this life, bring us to a deeper, more intimate share in Christ's redeeming passion, that we may produce the abundant fruit of that seed that falls to the earth and dies, and so be gathered as your harvest for the kingdom of heaven. We ask this through Christ, with whom you have raised us up in baptism, the Lord who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

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

March 20

For by grace you have been saved through faith…

Ephesians 2:8a

Our readings tomorrow are quite familiar to many of us. Psalm 51: “Create in me a clean heart, O God…”

Jeremiah 31: “The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel…”

John 12: “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit…”

These words sing out with the faithfulness, forgiveness and love of God. There are many creative people who write words for worship that help us hear afresh God’s gifts and calling. Here is a prayer written based on the lessons for the 5th Sunday in Lent.

Prayer for Lent

O God, who makes all things new,

new stars, new dust, new life;

take my heart,

every hardened edge and measured beat,

and create something new in me.

I need your newness, God,

the rough parts of me made smooth;

the stagnant, stirred;

the stuck, freed;

the unkind, forgiven.

And then, by the power of your Spirit,

I need to be turned toward Love again. Amen.

~ by Pamela C. Hawkins, in The Awkward Season: Prayers for Lent (Nashville, TN: Upper Room Books, 2009), 30. Posted on Prayer and Creeds,

March 19

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23

The baseball season will begin in a few weeks, and I think about a line that gets used quite a bit this time of year. “Hope springs eternal.”

When you are a Minnesota Twins fan, those spring time hopes are, more often than not, disappointed. But this year…

And now, we find ourselves hopeful as the end of the pandemic seems to be right around the corner.

Hope is one of the great gifts of the Gospel. Jesus shapes your life, and gives promise to your future.

In Hebrews, talk of hope gives rise to talk of caring for your neighbors, and gathering together to hear the word of hope anew.

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.

And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:23-25

May we find God’s love for us and all the world to be a source of hope and life.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

March 18

I am about to do a new thing;

now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

Isaiah 43:19

A year ago we started Trinity Connections. (I think I have missed two days in the past year, and so this might well be the 363rd day I’ve sent you an email since March 18th.)

We had no idea this would last a year and longer, but that actually is like most all of life. We don’t know what is coming next, do we?

A friend wrote a nice reflection on Isaiah 43:19: “I am about to do a new thing.” He said he groans and wonders if this is necessary.

Yet, as we might yearn for things to settle in to how they were when all seemed well, that does not account for everyone. All is not well for some, and in the changes at hand, perhaps God is at work.

“I am about to do a new thing.”

Our God is the God of Exodus and exile and return and restoration. Our God is the God of incarnation, cross and resurrection.

As life moves and changes, and new things abound, God is with us, bearing love and hope and life in God’s unexpected new ways.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

March 17

We have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:4

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!

I don’t know about you, but I forgot to wear green today. I guess I’ll have to make up for that by being sure to eat something green!

I knew a tax preparer in Butte, MT who always took this day off of work, in the midst of his busiest time of the year. Not because of all the parties in town, but because he and his family made a point of going to worship and marking this day as a holy day.

I’m not sure why I mention that, but there you go.

This evening, for midweek worship, we will look at Luther’s Small Catechism and Baptism.

I really like the question and answer that Luther provides for us here:

“What does Baptism mean for daily living?

It means that our sinful self,

with all its evil deeds and desires,

should be drowned through daily repentance;

and that day after day

a new self should arise to live with God

in righteousness and purity forever.”

Among the things I find life-giving in this teaching, is the insight that baptism has an impact on each and every day - daily repentance; and that daily practice, each day, points us to righteousness forever.

Today. Forever. Both. Renewed again tomorrow.

Blessings to you, today, and always, Pastor Phil

March 16

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,

which shines brighter and brighter until full day.

Proverbs 4:18

It feels like we are at the beginning of the end of this pandemic. The day is dawning.

I just made an appointment for the vaccine myself, and I wonder if there ought to be some sort of liturgy one could observe to celebrate. Something like a graduation ceremony, sending one out into the world with hope and trust.

Easter is also on the horizon, a celebration that shapes our entire lives with hope, trust and a calling to serve.

I look forward to more and more of us gathering for worship in the coming weeks. We will continue to have in-person worship on Sundays at 8:30 and 11. If trends continue, we will have in-person worship during Holy Week on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday as well. (The Sheridan Ministerial Association ecumenical Good Friday service will be recorded and available online.)

It has been great to have the LOGOS youth providing the midweek worship liturgy, and the Sunday scripture readings for us.

As mask mandates end in our state today, we anticipate that many will continue to wear masks, and others will set them aside, assuming it is safe to do so.

I look forward to seeing you.

Peace, Pastor Phil

March 15

For by grace you have been saved through faith…

Ephesians 2:8a

I love how Ephesian 2:8-10 moves from grace to service…

“For by grace you have been saved through faith,

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

not the result of works, so that no one may boast.

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.”

I mention this often. A theology professor at Luther Seminary often offered this question and response:

“Are you saved?”

answer: “Yes”

perhaps equally important: “What are you saved for?”

answer: “Your neighbor”

May God grant you faithfulness, patience and joy as you live the life of good works, for which you have been created.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

March 13

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

John 3:16-17

Tomorrow we will hear that most beloved of Bible verses, John 3:16. “For God so loved the world…”

Here is a prayer written for worship based on John 3:16

“For God so loved the world

that he gave his one and only Son….” John 3:16

God, you loved this world so much

that you sent your own son, Jesus Christ

to live and die among us,

in order that we might have life.

Forgive us for keeping that abundant life to ourselves,

for jealously hoarding your generous gifts,

for choosing self-interest over compassion and justice.

Teach us what it means to live as children of the light,

generously sharing your abundance

with our brothers and sisters in need. Amen.

— Christine Longhurst, posted on the Canadian Foodgrains Bank website.

March 12

We love because he first loved us.

I John 4:19

On Sunday we will hear that most beloved of Bible verses, John 3:16. “For God so loved the world…”

I like the insight of a theologian who says that God chooses to be known as one who loves the world.

God does not come as one who overpowers us. God loves us, and in this suffering love, we are transformed.

As we join with God, we find that we are called to love this world as well.

Blessings to you, Pastor Phil

March 11

We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We love because he first loved us.

I Thessalonians 1:2-3

Friends in Christ, this line from Thessalonians is an inspiring challenge, that we would maintain a steadfastness of hope.

Our Trinity Council met on Tuesday, and we are increasingly hopeful as we look ahead. This past Sunday we sang closing hymns in worship, and we are looking ahead to more singing in worship in the near future.

As vaccines become available to more of us, we can be grateful that we have made it to this point in this long pandemic journey. I am especially grateful to our Trinity Council, as they have worked diligently and prayerfully to make the important and difficult decisions that have guided us through this chapter in our history.

We anticipate that we will continue to have in-person worship on Sundays at 8:30 and 11. If trends continue, we will have in-person worship during Holy Week on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday as well. (The Sheridan Ministerial Association ecumenical Good Friday service will be recorded and available online.)

It has been great to have the LOGOS youth providing the midweek worship liturgy for us. This week’s service is posted at:

As mask mandates end in our community, we anticipate that many of us will continue to wear masks, and others will set them aside, assuming it is safe to do so.

In a few days we will mark one year since I began sending these (pretty close to daily) Trinity Connections emails. I will continue to use this communication with you, I think it has helped us stay connected.

Blessings to you, Pastor Phil

March 10

“Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name…”

Matthew 6:9

Tonight, Midweek Worship, Awe & Love leads us to the Lord’s Prayer as we reflect on Luther’s Small Catechism. Thank you to our LOGOS Youth for presenting the liturgy for us.

I have suggested that the Reformation was, in many ways, a reforming of our vision of who God is.

In reflecting on the opening of the Lord’s Prayer, Luther sees here that God seeks a loving relationship with you. That is, in many ways, a sort of pedestrian thing to say. “God loves you.” It is, at the same time, quite an extraordinary claim.

Take note. You are beloved by God, who has sent Jesus Christ to call you to relationship, and to have you live all your life, bathed in God’s goodness and grace.


Peace to you, Pastor Phil

THE LORD’s PRAYER - ELW page 1163


Our Father in heaven.

What is this? or What does this mean?

With these words God wants to attract us, so that we come to believe he is truly our Father and we are truly his children, in order that we may ask him boldly and with complete confidence, just as loving children ask their loving father.

March 9

At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice,

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”

which means,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Mark 15:34

The other day someone told me they appreciated the daily connections. He also said that receiving them at different times in the day was sort of part of it. Maybe he was suggesting it was sort of a surprise.

I had a number of Zoom meetings this morning, and Trinity Connections sort of got left out of my plans.

Please pray for our Trinity Council as we meet this evening. We will be talking about next steps as we look ahead to our friends receiving vaccines, and we get to ease our way back in to gathering together with more confidence.

I mentioned in worship on Sunday that it seems the term: “The New Normal” has been set aside. This was used quite a bit in the first months of this pandemic, and I’m grateful to not see it as often lately. As I said, I’m glad for that, any mention of “normal” and I sort of feel left out.

It will be interesting over the next weeks and months and years to reflect on what this challenging chapter in our world and in our lives means for us. We might be able to find gifts even in the midst of the difficulties.

Jesus shows us that there is no chapter of our lives where we are truly forsaken by God. In the cross, Jesus has entered God-forsakenness, so that even the most difficult moments of life are accompanied by God-with-us.

Blessings to you. Pastor Phil

March 8

Then God spoke all these words:

I am the LORD your God,

who brought you out of the land of Egypt,

out of the house of slavery;

you shall have no other gods before me.

Exodus 20:1-2

We heard these words yesterday, and they proclaim a wonderful reality. “I am the LORD your God…”

God has decided to be your God. There is no need for searching for a god who is worthy of your worship and adoration. No need to seek out any other source of life and meaning.

The book, “Free To Be” - Confirmation curriculum written by two of my teachers, begins with this line:

“God has made a decision about you.”

As you go through this week, may you bask in the wonder of this decision, and may you live as God’s beloved bearer of grace and peace.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

Friday, March 5

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:15

I am not sure where I first saw this, but it is wonderful.

“There’s so much to be grateful for,

words are poor things.”

- Marilynne Robinson.

It has almost become a fad to talk about gratitude. Yet, it often seems like gratitude is recommended as a great way to improve yourself.

The gratitude of faith is grounded in the gifts God has poured forth in Jesus Christ. This is gratitude directed toward God, not so that you might have a healthy heart, or psyche or something like that. It is gratitude, so that you might return thanks for the good things God has given you.

And so, be thankful - “there’s so much to be grateful for, words are poor things.”!

Saturday, March 6

The Passover… was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found …the money changers seated at their tables. …he drove all of them out of the temple… He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

John 2

For the 3rd Sunday in Lent tomorrow, we hear the story of Jesus turning the tables in the temple.

I suspect that when we consider this story, we may well think about how the religious leaders had gone astray. We might also consider what in our own ways of living needs to have the tables turned, so that God might point us in a new direction.

Here is a prayer written with that in mind.

Overturning Tables

(inspired by John 2:13-22; Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-48)

Truth be told, Jesus,

There are lots of tables that need overturning

in our lives;

Beneath the veneer of respectability

the tidy rows and neat regulations

hide dark addictions and angry judgements

hungry greeds and heartless rejections

We know the pain—and so do those around us—

of keeping up the facade;

What a relief it would be to have it all

upset, smashed, scattered, destroyed

So, perhaps, Jesus, today you could pay us a visit

and help us to radically rearrange

the furniture of our lives


~ written by John van de Laar, and posted on Sacredise.

March 4

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

Mark 1:14-15

Easter is now a month away, and I, for one, am a bit surprised by this. Time has seemed to move differently during this season of pandemic.

As I have said, it seems that with the availability of vaccines, things are looking more and more hopeful. As we continue with online midweek worship, I am hopeful that when we get to Holy Week, we will be able to gather on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and then be here together for Easter Festival worship on April 4th.

This line comes from a stewardship newsletter from 2009, and it is as fitting today as ever.

"According to Mark,

Jesus came out of the wilderness

and entered into public ministry.

We, too, can emerge from the wilderness

and walk into the world

ready to serve

and be the hands and feet of Christ.”

Sharron R. Lucas, Stewardship of Life Institute

I am looking forward to seeing how we emerge from the wilderness of this Covid-tide, and - renewed by this trail - seeing how we might joyfully share God’s grace with this world God so loves.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

March 3

I am reminded of your sincere faith,

a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois

and your mother Eunice

and now, I am sure,

lives in you.

II Timothy 1:5

We are looking at Luther’s Small Catechism for our Pastor’s Noon Class -as well as in our LOGOS led Midweek Worship…

Among my favorite things in Luther’s Small Catechism is his restating of the 3rd Article of the Apostles Creed -

I will share from the version that I memorized when I was younger…

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

What does this mean?

“I believe that I cannot by my own understanding or effort believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctified and kept me in true faith.

In the same way he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it united with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.

In this Christian church day after day he fully forgives my sins and the sins of all believers. On the last day he will raise me and all the dead and give me and all believers in Christ eternal life.

This is most certainly true.”

Yes, faith is a gift from God, a gift given by God, through so many - a gift we share, and a gift we are called to live and enjoy in our lives, every single day.

Blessings to you, in the many ways you live your faith! Pastor Phil

March 2

Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

…But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain.

I Corinthians 15:8, 10

Friends in Christ, yesterday, I tried to send the March Newsletter, and I first sent the February, then the wrong version of the March Newsletter.

I am going to try a 3rd time, as a pdf. I’m sorry about that. You have permission to give me grief about that one.

This past Sunday, we heard some of the foundational texts of our tradition, from Genesis, Romans and Mark.

This call to worship gives voice to the “surprise” of God’s grace. I think of the title of an autobiography by C.S. Lewis: “Surprised by Joy.”

May you be surprised anew by God’s great grace, poured out for you and all the world in Jesus Christ.

Call to Worship

(based on Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Mark 8:31-38; Romans 4:13-25)

Pilgrims, we are invited to journey through this season of Lent

towards the One who calls us each by a new name.

Disciples, we walk with Jesus wherever he leads us,

pulling our fears, our doubts, our longings behind us.

Believers, we seek to trust the God who always surprises us,

whose promises take on flesh and blood

in the good news called Jesus.

- written by Thom Shuman, and posted on Lectionary Liturgies blog.

March 1

The sun rises and the sun goes down,

and hurries to the place where it rises.

Ecclesiastes 1:5

Can it possibly be March already?

I saw a funny line. The writer offered a friendly reminder for us, considering March was on the horizon. She wanted for us to beware:

"March is a false idol that will break your heart.”


Today, with the warm sunshine, we see hints of spring. Is this a false idol? Probably not. At the same time, there are almost certainly a few more winter storms in store for us later in March, or in April, or maybe May, or…!


As the sunshine gives rise to hope for spring and summer, let me remind you of the hope of the Gospel.

This is more certain than the fact that there are storms - as well as nice weather - ahead.

God loves you with a never ending love, and has sent Jesus to make you God’s own.

We look ahead to Easter as a celebration of this truth that lights our way, every single day, even when the snow flies, and darkness threatens all round.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil