Connections May

Trinity Connections

Pastor Phil Wold cell - 307-763-1115

May 31

 “Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,

whose hope is in the LORD their God...”

Psalm 146:5

A blessed Memorial Day to you.

A Memorial Day Prayer –

Heavenly Father, as our nation pauses today to remember those in the military who have given their lives for freedoms we enjoy, we pray you would have us all look to you for strength, comfort and guidance.

Be with all who serve in our Armed Forces. Bless them and their families. Grant your loving protection.

Let peace prevail among all the nations, O God.

Preserve the lives of the men and women in uniform as they defend us.

Most of all, we pray that you would turn the hearts of all – military and civilian – to your holy Word where we find the true peace that surpasses all understanding. Move us to repentance, help us to know and treasure your saving grace. This we ask, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

May 30

Trinity Sunday

Today is Trinity Sunday.

Blessings to you from our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

Worship is at 9 today...

The Prayer of the Day:

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. Amen.

May 28

 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.”

Romans 8:26

I had a typo in yesterday(afternoon)’s devotion. I said that worship was at 9 a.m. “this morning.” I was using words typed for Sunday, and failed to edit them.

I appreciate that you forgive me when I make a mistake like that. At the same time, we want our communication to be clear and undertaken with care. Sunday, May 30th we begin the summer schedule... Sunday worship at 9 a.m.!

This past Sunday, we heard from Paul in Romans 8. “The Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words...”

God desires a relationship with you, and God invites and commands you to pray. Not only that, the Holy Spirit will help to give voice to those deepest prayers that have no words. While this may not always be clear, it is better than clear. There is an amazing level of care in this communication!

May 27

 “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.”

John 3:16

This coming Sunday, we mark as Trinity Sunday.

That is our namesake, Trinity.

I find this line from the hymn “Holy God, We Praise Your Name” quite thought provoking...

“Holy Father, Holy Son,

Holy Spirit, three we name You

While in essence only one,

undivided God we claim You,

Then adoring bend the knee,

as we own the mystery.”

While we understand the doctrine of the Trinity to be revealed to us in scripture, it is also true that this is a way of naming God, who is - above and beyond all defining, all naming. This sort of theorizing can make God more and more remote. The Trinity is a way of talking about God who has come to us in Jesus Christ, and made us God’s own by the work of the Holy Spirit.

I like the poetry of this hymn; and often poetry is the best we can do when speaking of God.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

SUMMER SCHEDULE!! Worship this morning at 9:00.

Wednesday evening worship is at 7:00, outdoors weather permitting.

Speaking of summer, please pray for our students today, I believe this is the last day of the school year for many of our wonderful children, and their summer break begins this afternoon. Just thinking about that makes me smile.

May 26

 “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.”

John 3:16

This coming Sunday, we mark as Trinity Sunday, and our Gospel reading is John 3:1-17.

While we know and love John 3:16, I wish we also knew the next verse just as well. “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 3:17)

The gift of Jesus is so far reaching that the entire world is transformed by God’s amazing generosity. This world saving work of Jesus sends us out to bear God’s love in all our lives. Transformed by Christ, we have the marvelous privilege of of being God’s ambassadors.

Blessings to you today, May you be a faithful ambassador!

Pastor Phil

May 25

 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life

I Timothy 6:17-19

I receive daily devotions from a number of sources. (I don’t always take the time to read them, perhaps you understand...) Daily Dig shared this quote from Basil of Caesarea. He lived from 330-379, and Wikipedia tells me he was a bishop and “influential theologian who supported the Nicene Creed.”

I suspect his wisdom is shared this week because this coming Sunday is Trinity Sunday. (Reminder, Sunday, May 30th, worship is at 9:00 a.m.)

I trust you, too, will find his words interesting to contemplate.

Fling wide your doors; give your wealth free passage everywhere! As a great river flows by a thousand channels through fertile country, so let your wealth run through many conduits to the homes of the poor. Wells that are drawn from flow the better; left unused, they go foul.… Money kept standing idle is worthless; but moving and changing hands it benefits the community and brings increase.”

Basil of Caesarea

May 24

And one called to another and said:

 “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;

 the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Isaiah 61:3

This coming Sunday, we mark as Trinity Sunday.

The doctrine of the Trinity is a wonderful gift to us. A friend told me his pastor had this to say about the Trinity: “If you can explain it to me so it makes sense, I won’t believe it any more.”

I suspect that he meant that part of what is ‘right’ about the doctrine of the Trinity, is that it is a concept that cannot be contained in our minds.

God is beyond our defining, beyond our containing. The idea of God as three in one, one in three, is a definition that is as beyond our rational comprehension as our God is.

There is no need to “understand” God. One simply needs to know that in Jesus Christ, this God beyond our understanding has come to you to bring you life and hope, forgiveness and salvation.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

May 23

Our Bishop offers our last of these Equipping for the Work of Ministry devotions this Easter season. Listen closely (or should I say, read closely), I think she is contending that each and every one of us has been equipped for Ministry, and each and every one of us is being sent out to serve!

The Day of Pentecost

“When the day of Pentecost had come…all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts 2)

What if the people in the room that day had said no? What if they had resisted the Spirit’s power, pushing back with a “no, thank you.” “I’m too busy.” “I disagree with your mission.” “I have free will.” “I’m worried, anxious and scared.”

They didn’t resist, of course.

ALL of them were filled with the Spirit and followed the Spirit’s lead, proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ in other languages. Thank God they ALL followed, for ALL were needed to participate in the birth of Christ’s Church.

In Pentecost, we see, hear and feel the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s power equipping us ALL for the ministry into which Jesus Christ has called us. We may try to say no or resist the Spirit’s call to ministry, but as many know firsthand, resistance is futile. And too often it leads to weeping and gnashing of teeth.

It is so much easier when we open our full selves to what the Spirit is doing in us. For it is the Spirit who calls, gathers, enlightens, equips and sanctifies us to be the followers of Christ. In Jesus’ Resurrection, we ALL are raised to new life (despite still being trapped in the old). And in the Spirit’s Pentecost, experienced in our baptisms, we ALL are empowered and equipped to proclaim and live the good news of God’s love for us in Christ!

Pastor Laurie Jungling, Bishop, Montana Synod

May 22

When the day of Pentecost had come,

they were all together in one place.

Acts 2:1

Pastor Bonnie Novak offers this reflection on Acts 2, the Pentecost story… Tomorrow we have the last of our Equipping for the Work of Ministry devotions. It has been nice to “hear” from pastors and leaders around our synod. I will continue writing devotions during the Pentecost season.

"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place."

This verse struck me as something we all hope will be true soon. For all of us to be together in one place… in our congregations… in person… worshiping together. How wonderful it will be when that will happen.

Here the people are together, but there is still a barrier. The barrier of language. But when the Holy Spirit came upon them like the wind, the people were able to understand what the other was saying.

To be able to understand is to take away fear. How wonderful it would be to understand the languages of our brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray that we will take more opportunities to worship together no matter what our denomination is, no matter what language we speak. I pray that we can take all the barriers away, that we put in our way, and just be brothers and sisters in Christ, worshipping together, giving praise and thanks to our God... being God's beloved children together.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, be with us as we celebrate the coming of your Spirit among us. Amen.

Pastor Bonnie Novak, First Lutheran Church, Wolf Point and Bethel Lutheran Church, Grain

May 21

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains, and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who groan inwardly while we wait for the redemption of our bodies.”

Romans 8:22-23

Today’s reflection is by Pastor Tim Tostengard

Romans 8:14-17, 22-27

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains, and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who groan inwardly while we wait for the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:22-23).

In this passage, the apostle Paul offers a corrective to our human tendency to put ourselves at the center of the universe.

We generally speak of salvation in human terms: ‘Have you been saved?’ is likely a question you’ve been asked or about which you’ve heard.

A more biblical question would be, ‘Has the world been saved?’

In this passage, Paul speaks not only of us human beings groaning, awaiting redemption but the whole creation doing so.

That redemption is promised not only to us but to the whole creation. As John 3:16 reminds us, ‘For God so loved the world.’ That’s a promise not only for us human beings, but for the whole world God made, in all its wonder and diversity.

Pastor Tim Tostengard, American Lutheran Church, Billings

May 20

“Indeed, the whole earth is mine,

but you shall be for me

a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.”

Exodus 19:5-6

We heard from Pastor Darren Paulson a few weeks ago. He is a great friend. Here is his reflection on Exodus 19.

Wilderness packs a truckload of meanings.

Some negative: fear, abandonment, confusion, scarcity, danger.

Others positive: beauty, discovery, interdependence, illumination, endurance.

For God’s people of the Exodus and for the generations beyond, there were multiple meanings of wilderness, but perhaps the most enduring truth was that it was a place where God abided with them. Regardless their obedience or rebellion – if their words were praise or complaint – when they strayed or followed – not dependent upon their thankfulness or ingratitude – God remained faithful. God was hesed (steadfast love). God was grace.

My introduction to wilderness began as a young camper and later as a staff member at Christikon Bible Camp. The director, Bob Quam, had committed to embody such a grace – imperfectly at times, but steadfastly determined to make the camp a place where all guests experienced the welcoming love borne from an unwavering God of grace.

An indispensable part of the ministry of camp was the staff – and great care was taken in shaping us into ministers. It was from Bob that we talked and wrestled and plumbed the depths of God’s Word. With humility, we discovered in real-time the Law/Gospel dichotomy. Our nature of simul justus et peccator – especially as impetuous young adults – was exposed. We realized the riches of our theological tradition was not simply an academic exercise, but a way of life. Because all of it was anchored in the rhythms and patterns of worship and prayer, play and study, egregious mistakes and unexpected triumphs, fellowship and community, confession and forgiveness, Word and Sacrament. Grace.

But the power of the camp ministry was that we (the staff) – the recipients of such hesed and grace – became ministers to the campers who joined us. We received grace that we might multiply grace. As much as Bob will be remembered by the staff (and truth be told, most everyone who ventured up that road), the staff will be remembered by the campers. God’s promise to those ancient wanderers in the wilderness continues to take hold today –

“Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.” Exodus 19:5-6

Pastor Darren Paulson, Atonement Lutheran Church, Billings

Please keep in your prayers the family of John Siebert. A memorial service is being held for him this morning at King of Glory Lutheran Church in Billings.

The committal service will be here on Sunday afternoon.

May 19

[The Lord] said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?”

I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.”

Ezekiel 37:3

Today’s devotion is a reflection on Ezekiel 37, the Valley of the Dry Bones. I think often of a professor who was talking about how so many things in our world seem lost and forsaken. He painted a pretty bleak picture. And then he asked the question that Ezekiel faced: “can these bones live?”

I think you know the answer…

Today’s reflection is taken from an offering by Pastor Daniel Disch of Atonement Lutheran Church, Missoula.

Ezekiel 37:1-14

In the valley of dry bones, can there be life again?

The prophetic vision begins with a scene of calamity: bones.

The prophet’s beginning is not much different. His wife died the day the Babylonian siege began. He was there when Jerusalem fell, and he was among those removed from Judah to live in Babylon.

In the desolation and grief of exile, he is called to be a prophet. Can these bones live, Ezekiel, in the wake of such things? Can anyone blame him answering - “O Lord God, you know”?

There, in the valley where dreams and expectations lay dashed, God sent the Word to Ezekiel to proclaim ‘to the bones’ and ‘to the breath’ the very word of life.

We hear that God will open the graves of those who are lost, and cut off. The spirit of God is put back into them – and the community – for the sake of life.

What will happen next with the multitude?

Perhaps it is this very vision, and experience, that leads him into expectation and hope.

Pastor Daniel Disch, Atonement Lutheran Church, Missoula

May 18

How manifold are your works, O Lord!

  In wisdom you have made them all;

the earth is full of your creatures.

Psalm 104:24

Our deviation for today is prepared for us by Jenny Kunka, who serves as the director of Norther Rockies Institute of Theology, (NRIT serves our Synod theological education).

Jenny is not a pastor. She’s a normal person. Her father was pastor in our Synod, and I first met her when she was a counselor at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp. (I think she now has sent kids off to college, which I suspect, makes me… old.)

For today’s devotion, Jennny has written a Palm, inspired by our reading for this coming Sunday, Psalm 104 - a Psalm that praises God, who creates all living creatures and gives us our food “in due season.”

Psalm 104:24-34

Oh Lord,

I praise you for your worms, tilling the soil.

I praise you for the slow turning from green to gold of the wheat.

I praise you for the rain, when it comes, and the farmer who yearns for it.

I praise you for the trout flashing in Montana waters,

The eagle watching from above.

The wind that lifts the eagle’s wings.

I even praise you for Leviathan; those monsters of the sea who scare and fill us with awe.

These behemoths who bow to you, Lord, for you made them.

I praise you for the humans.

Bewildering and stubborn and generous and searching and lost.

I praise you for the humans and all that they love more these days:

Family and friends and hugging and deep breaths of air.

I praise you for peace among neighbors.

I praise you Creator of all things,

Lover of the giant squid and the worm, the redwood and the crocus.

Healer of humanity.

Hearer of our prayers.


Jenny Kunka, Executive Director, NRIT, Montana Synod

May 17

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

Today is Syttenda Mai - the 17th of May, marked as Constitution Day in Norway. Some Norwegian Americans will suggest it is Norway’s July 4th. Mostly I think it is an excuse to have a celebration as spring is arriving. Also, a great friend and colleague, both he and his wife share a birthday today. My mom passed away on this date 24 years ago. A day for celebration, commemoration and remembrance. As we make our way through life, we find ourselves marking both joys and sorrows at the same time, knowing Christ’s presence in each.

I want to encourage you to join in worship from yesterday - - the sermon reflects on Jesus’ prayer that we might all be one. Maybe give it a listen.

A reminder: Congregational Meeting: We will hold our Congregational Meeting to elect Council Members on Sunday, May 23rd, between services.

Today’s Equipping for the Work of Ministry devotion is on Philippians 1:3-11, prepared for us by Pastor Carol Seilhymer who serves two parishes in NW Montana.

Paul begins his letter to the Philippians simply with, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” The first few verses demonstrate a bond between Paul and the congregation built on mutual affection, love, and support. The gratitude he expresses is more than just a feeling but is a practice. Gratitude is distinguishing the amazing things that we have, we are, or we experience. It is looking and seeing the many ways the joys and challenges in life bless us.

What could it look like to practice gratitude in your life? In daily prayers, lift up the people you work with, play with, and live with by asking God to strengthen them in the good and challenges of their lives. Or begin a letter or conversation to a close friend with words that you give thanks to God for their friendship and support every time you think of them. Maybe the church council begins with a prayer and then sending a card to someone, letting them know they are a beloved child of God.

After beginning the practice, you may find new joys and blessings in life. Together our relationships may deepen in Christian love as Jesus commanded us to do.

Pastor Carol Seilhymer, First Lutheran Church, Plains and Our Saviors Lutheran Church, Thompson Falls

Speaking of gratitude - we rejoice with David Todd and Rachelle Carroll who were married yesterday with Pastor Phil presiding.

May 16

7th Sunday of Easter

John 17:6-21

“I ask… that they may all be one.”

John 17:20a, 21a

I have added a few verses to today’s Gospel reading; Jesus’ prayer for us to be one. May our prayers join those of our Lord, and may our unity be a witness to God’s great love for us, and for all the world.

Pastor Lindean Barnett Christenson is a good friend. She serves Christ the King Lutheran Church in Bozeman, and I have served with her for years on the board of Christikon. She has prepared a reflection on today’s Gospel text for today; John 17:6-19

Have you ever overheard someone’s prayer for you? Or perhaps someone has said, in response to your need, “I’ll pray for you,” and then done so, right there on the spot? How did it feel? Awkward, comforting, encouraging?

In these 14 verses, the disciples overhear Jesus praying for them (and in verse 20, not just for them, but for “those who will believe in me through their word.” That would include you and me!). Jesus prays for their – for your - protection, joy, and sanctification in the truth. Jesus also tells God that just as Jesus was sent into the world, he has sent the disciples into the world. It’s a bit like Matthew’s Great Commission. Where is Jesus sending you this week?

O Christ, as you send us into the world you love,

empower us by your Spirit, to share your word,

your joy and your peace with all in need. Amen.

Pastor Lindean Barnett Christenson, Christ the King Lutheran Church, Bozeman

May 15

And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

I John 5:10

Today we have a reflection on 1 John 5:9-13, provided for us by our Synod Vice-President, Dick Deschamps.

9 If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. 10 Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. Epilogue 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

The old adage is that ‘words are cheap’, when comparing merely saying we are going to do something, as opposed to actually doing it. But in reality, words are important. They direct, educate, comfort, entertain, and can hurt. How the words are delivered is also important. Do they come to us, directly from another person; are they guised in some type of social media; or do they have legal standing as from a court of law?

In the reading from 1 John 5, we hear the word testimony, as in a solemn statement made under oath. So, we are talking about important words. John says there are levels of testimony; that of humans and that of God, of which God’s is greater. God has testified through His Son, and this testimony of eternal life is transcribed on our very hearts. And whoever has this testimony of God’s Son, has life.


A few weeks ago, we commemorated, celebrated the event which gave final testimony for all of God’s covenants. God in the form of Jesus, the man, the prophet, the teacher, conquered death for all humankind, gave us a transcript for life, and bade us to follow him. As I follow Jesus the Christ forth from the cross, I do feel more alive, more able to deal with the challenges of life. I have come to believe that God the Trinity is with me, and you, each step of the way.

So, as we go forth from our Easter joy, we can move with confidence that nothing can separate us from God’s love; that love shown through in the gift of his Son, truly is life, here and now.

Believe it! It is written on your heart.

Dick Deschamps, LPA, Synod Council Vice President, Hope Lutheran Church, Bozeman

May 14

In those days Peter stood up among the believers…

Acts 1:15a

We are in the middle of May, and the springtime weather is not quite meeting our hopes. I recall a line my dad shared with me once, “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”

We seem to be coming to the end of this pandemic season. For over a year, we have not known what to expect. Now that we are emerging from this… “chapter” of our lives… - we still do not know what to expect. However, it seems that new things are afoot.

Come what may, let us give thanks to God for calling us together to be Trinity Lutheran Church. Let us take hold of the calling to serve God’s great love for the world with joy and purpose.

Pastor Scott Thompson has a reflection on Acts 1:15-17, 21-26 for us for today.

15In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred and twenty people) and said, 16‘Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— 17for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.’

Judas ranks among the most loathed in history… Jack the Ripper, Pol Pot, Vlad the Impaler, they’re all up there with Judas. But the likes of Sauron, Lord Voldemort, and Cruella de Vil also make that list. Oh, how we love our villains.

It’s interesting though, that while the newly minted apostles seek to procure a replacement for Judas, they refrain from ever vilifying him. “He was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” Peter declares, as if to commend the work Judas had done. “Judas turned aside…” not, Judas was an [expletive] backstabber.

The early followers of Jesus seek to find a replacement for Judas not because they believe their former co-worker should be written off and forgotten, but because they trust in the will of God that has been working through all of them; in the one “who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus;” in that very one they followed to the cross and beyond. Peter himself knows all too well the perils of that journey.

“It was necessary that the scripture be fulfilled…” Peter says regarding the effort to select a replacement apostle. Because this is the scripture that gave us Jesus… the scripture that brings hope to all sinners… the scripture that reaches into the depths of hell to save even the most loathsome villain. Thanks be to God.

Pastor Scott Thompson, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Kalispell

May 13

While [Jesus] was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them.

They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Acts 1:10-11

Today is Ascension Day. 40 days after Easter. Always on a Thursday. I doubt I ever took note of this holy day on the Church calendar before graduate school.

A friend and colleague tells about growing up in a parish where more than 50 members would gather on Ascension Day for morning worship. That is a different day, and a different part of the Lutheran community, isn’t it?

I wonder. How might it shape our faith if we carved out time to commemorate Jesus’ Ascension?

I just read a daily devotion that invited us to mark this day with a picnic or by climbing to some high place to imitate the Mount of Olives from where Jesus ascended… Fun.

Pastor Peggy Paugh Leuzinger has a reflection for us on the texts for Ascension Day, Luke 24:44-53.

“Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

Luke 24:45-48

Because Ascension Day is always on a Thursday, congregations often do not mark the event of Jesus’ ascension into heaven. In a congregation I served, there was a large painting in the fellowship hall, at the end of the room, of Jesus ascending into heaven.

I always wondered ‘why that depiction?’ and ‘why it was placed there?’ As I reflect on that picture and where it was placed, I am thinking that someone in the congregation had it right.

It is good to know that Jesus ascended (we recite the Creed regularly to remember, after all.)

But the point of the ascension of Jesus is that as he left, the Holy Spirit came. The Ascension is part of the story, but it is not the point of the story!

In the Luke/Acts two-part book, Jesus’ ascension here at the end of Luke flows into Chapter 1 of Acts. The disciples and all the others who engaged with Jesus at the end of Luke and who witnessed the ascension also waited in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit. Jesus’ ascension was an ending, but a new beginning was on the horizon. And as Jesus was about to leave, he reminded them, “You are witnesses of these things” (of his life, death and resurrection.)

What do you witness to? How does a living Savior empower you to witness?

Pastor Peggy Paugh Leuzinger, Director for Evangelical Mission, Montana Synod

A prayer for Ascension Day

O God of earth and sky,

as Jesus came among us in Bethlehem to raise us up to heaven,

so today we recall his departing from us at Jerusalem to be in all places.

Though he is hidden from our sight,

enable us to abide in him

by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit,

until his mercy and grace fill your whole creation. Amen.

from The Daily Office: A Book of Hours for Daily Prayer(Volume Three: The Great Fifty Days). Copyright © 2000 Order of Saint Luke Publications.

accessed at:

May 12

While [Jesus] was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them.

They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Acts 1:10-11

Today’s reflection is by Pastor Scott Hedegaard. He is a good friend who serves Redeemer Lutheran Church in Great Falls. A few years ago, while sitting conversing at our cabin, Scott mentioned that he had begun dating one of our colleagues. He and Pastor Barb Gwynn were married last month.

Here is his reflection on Acts 1:1-11

Can you imagine it? You are among the disciples. You have seen Jesus do some marvelous things – heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead, calm the seas, and walk on water. You have even witnessed him rise from the dead.

But now this? As you watch Jesus lifted up on a cloud into the heavens, you would have to be amazed.

Then two men in white show up and ask you, “Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?”

“What?” you say, pointing to the sky, “didn’t you see that?”

Of course, the men in white offer a promise. Just as Jesus left, so he shall return. In the meantime, you will have work to do. Your task is not to gaze into heaven; it is to bear witness to the transforming power of Jesus. Soon the gift of the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon them.

Their task is ours for we are among them.

As the old saying goes, “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.”

We are sent to the ends of the earth to proclaim God’s good news in the living Christ.

Here I am, Lord; send me. Amen.

Pastor Scott Hedegaard, Redeemer Lutheran Church, Great Falls

May 10

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you;

abide in my love.

John 15:9

Pastor Julie Long serves Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Broadus, Montana. I was in a Zoom meeting with her a few weeks ago, and she was in Wisconsin at the time. Her 95 year old mother had been placed on hospice, and the family was gathered to be with her in her final days. Her mother’s funeral was on Saturday. The obituary for Abigail “Gail” Beguhn, gave beautiful witness to a life of faith.

Julie posted a stanza from Abide With Me on FB, saying it was one of her mom’s favorite hymns.

"Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes,

shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;

heav'n's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;

in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”

A nice tribute.

Here is Julie’s reflection:

This text is part of Jesus’ farewell greeting to his disciples, gathered in the upper room. It’s time to sum up the past 3 years of public ministry, time to share advice and words of wisdom.

The main word is “love”.

This is not mushy soap-opera love that is here today and gone tomorrow. This is agape love: deep, abiding, self-sacrificing love. Jesus is our source of agape love: “love for someone or something based on sincere appreciation and high regard; to love and to regard with affection and loving concern.”

It doesn’t say we have to like everyone. We can still wish someone well; support them in loving and caring ways, work for justice on their behalf, without particularly liking them. That’s agape love. This love is for all people, for all time. We are called to live that love. Understanding love is easy. Living love is the hard part.

Thankfully, we have the ultimate example to follow and we don’t do it alone. We have each other. We are in this together. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit we can do even greater things in the name of Christ so that our joy may be complete.

Pastor Julie Long, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Broadus MT

May 8

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word.

Acts 10:44

Pastor Scott Kiehn who serves a three point parish in Eastern Montana, Baker, Plevna and Ekalaka has prepared a reflection on the reading for tomorrow from Acts 10:42-48.

Old Testament professor Rolf Jacobson loves the fact that it is “while Peter was still preaching” that the Holy Spirit falls on the people. As if the Holy Spirit is saying “hey preacher, enough!”

The Ephesians 4 “Equipping the Saints” reading has been a message that I try to pattern my ministry after. It was exactly two years ago today that I had a highlight in my ministry. I was gone for my Brother’s funeral, but before I left, we arranged for Don, one of our Lay Pastoral Associates (LPAs) to baptize one of our confirmation students before the Affirmation of Baptism Service on the upcoming Sunday.

Because of our situation with LPAs and a three-point parish, we had previously received permission for Don to do the baptism. On the same day of the baptism Don did a funeral for someone who was not a member at our church. We had conversations over the phone and I emailed some resources but Don and the staff stepped in and did ministry in a really big way.

The details, faith growth and ministry that day were remarkable. Don and everyone involved got to experience how ministry and the Word of God takes us from Death to life. They experienced death and life twice that day. From physical death to life through the proclamation of the resurrection and of one being put to death and raised to new life through the waters of baptism.

Pastor Scott Kiehn, United Trinity Parish of American Lutheran Church, Baker, Peace Lutheran Church, Plevna and St. Elizabeth Lutheran Church, Ekalaka

Please pray for our Trinity Sunday School, and all our youth.

May 7

By this we know that we love the children of God,

when we love God and obey his commandments.

I John 5:2

Today we have a reflection on I John 5:1-16 prepared for us by Pastor Kimberly Peterson of Choteau.

My father loves football and baseball and fishing and is tone deaf. So naturally he was blessed with a daughter who has zero athletic ability but is musical. Despite my father’s lack of interest in music and high school band in particular, I remember him being at every concert and recital—and there were lots of them—throughout my childhood.

My dad didn’t love band or orchestra, but he did love me. So he invested his time in being there for me, building relationship, and at least attempting to love what I love.

The truth is, we don’t always love following God’s commandments. Loving one another, in particular, can be a challenge for us. And yet this reading from 1 John tells us that that love of God is to obey God’s commandments… and that God’s commandments are NOT burdensome!

If my father had sat at my band concerts with his arms crossed, slouched down and acting grumpy, if he had rolled his eyes and told me he didn’t want to be there, I would not have experienced his love and presence in the same way. Instead of acting as though my concerts were a begrudging duty, my father saw them as an opportunity to show how much he loved and valued me, and tried to love them because I loved them. In the same way, we are called to view God’s commandments not as a burden, not as something we HAVE to do out of fear or obligation, but a way that we can show God how very much we love God. And by following God’s law, even when it’s hard, we show our neighbors how much we love God as well. What a wonderful witness to our relationship with our Risen Savior and testimony to what God has done for us!

Pastor Kimberly Peterson, Trinity Lutheran Church, Choteau

May 6

“For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.”

Isaiah 65:17

I believe that the May Newsletter will hit your inbox early this afternoon.

For our Equipping for the Work of Ministry devotion, we hear from Pastor Fisher as she reflects on zwords form the prophet Isaiah.

“For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.” (Is. 65:17)

Christ is risen. God is creating a new world, a new way. But many would rather go back to the old way. We want to go back to Egypt. Enslaved - but well fed. God tells us we are not to remember the old way, not to bring it to mind, but to look forward.

We long for how it used to be. With bare faces we hugged, we crowded around the table, we sang. Then 2020 hit, a rogue virus, chaos, and mandates. Things changed, we were not ready for this chaos. Something was happening to our perfect world, our perfect church. But was it really perfect? Weren’t we wondering why people didn’t attend like they used to? Would God be able to create anything new out of this unimaginable mess? It’s amazing to watch as people use their God given gifts to master technology, to stretch themselves, and to find new ways to minister in a new world. We are reaching people who were unchurched. People who had left our congregations years ago are tuning in to worship with us. We’ve been pushed to hone our gifts, to write letters, to record said missives, Bible Studies, children’s sermons. We now reach more people than we can seat in our pews. God has created, is creating, and will continue to create a new world, a new way. God gifted us to be His instruments in this new creation. We step up into new situations, seeking wisdom on how we can be used to proclaim - Christ is risen.

Pastor Tonia Fisher, St. James Lutheran Church, Columbus

May 5

You know the message he sent to the people of Israel,

preaching peace by Jesus Christ—

he is Lord of all

Acts 10:36

I had mentioned last week that Pastor Cliff Gronneberg died at the age of 103. His funeral will be on Saturday in Bozeman. I will include the obituary at the end of this devotion. These devotions are prepared for us by the Stewardship Task Force, and I can’t help but observe that Pastor Cliff was a wonderful, wonderful steward of his life.

Todays devotion is a reflection on the 1st Lesson for this coming Sunday, Acts 10:34-43. It is prepared for us by Pastor Darren Paulson, who is a good friend. His wife Trudi serves at St. John’s United as director of adoption. She worked with Laura and me in the adoption of David 20 years ago. I have stories to share, but it is time to take note of Darren’s devotion for us.

Acts 10:34-43

It was a short sermon, really. Unless there was a significant redaction, Peter’s sermon couldn’t have lasted longer than 2 minutes, even including pauses for dramatic effect. This may have been the inspiration for my homiletics professor Sheldon Tostengard who wryly said, “Nobody gets saved after 7 minutes. Keep it brief.” (Why can I never remember this when I’m in the pulpit?!)

But we know that it wasn’t the length of the sermon, or Peter’s loquaciousness, or the relevant illustrations, or a winning three-point formula.

It was the Good News.

In these days, it is difficult to find good news. People are scared. We have lost loved ones. Our politics is fractured, to say the least. The future sometimes looks unbearable. Yet, this is not a new phenomenon. There were those in Peter’s audience who were in our same shoes. Despite the absence of good news, in Peter’s sermon, they heard Good News. I mean THE Good News!

Peter declared that God is not only with us, but, through Jesus, God walks alongside us and will carry us through. This, too, shall end — things will get better. But things will also be getting worse. The end will come, though, and the one waiting for us at the other side is the one who has been walking alongside of us the whole time.

Pastor Darren Paulson, Atonement Lutheran Church, Billings

Obituary for Pastor Cliff Gronneberg

I.C. “Cliff” Gronneberg of Bozeman, MT, November 9, 1917 – April 26, 2021.

Cliff was born on a farm near Hannaford, North Dakota. He graduated with his BA in 1941 from Concordia College, Moorhead, MN and his MN DIPL in 1945 from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN.

Cliff was ordained as a Lutheran Minister in 1946. He served as a Navy Chaplain during WW2, where one of his assignments was to the Boston Naval Yard. He served as one of three chaplains and had the honor of being the chaplain on the USS Constitution, aka Old Ironsides, that fought in the War of 1812. Later he was promoted to base chaplain. From there he was sent to San Francisco and Hawaii. He was discharged in 1946.

Cliff married Ruth Horton in 1946 and they had six children; Ingrid, Jim, Mark, Mary, Paul and Krista.

Cliff served churches in Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Minnesota. He retired at the age of 65 and then went on to serve as an interim minister for an additional 17 congregations throughout the Montana Synod, his last at age 93.

As a minister, Cliff was known for his “faith, responsibility, vigor, experience, common sense, confidence and the ability to deal gently but decisively with conflict.” He was honored with the Montana Synod Spirit of Hope Award in 2009. Cliff was selected to be a member of an Honor Flight to Washington, DC, which was a great source of pride for him.

As a husband, father, grandfather and friend, Cliff was known for his love of fishing and bowling with the family, raucous pinochle bidding and games, his penchant for just getting into the car and driving to places of interest, and his constant quest for exploration, knowledge and learning. He never lost his child-like curiosity. He took great pride in taking care of his home, lawn and garden. He could fix/build/repair almost anything.

Cliff loved to travel and he and Ruth led many groups to Scandinavia and the Holy Land. He loved ham radio and was enchanted with Yellowstone National Park. He loved taking guests for tours of the Park. He took great pride in being 100% Norwegian and was a past-president of the Bozeman chapter of Sons of Norway.

He served the State of Montana legislature by serving as both Chaplain of the House and the Senate.

Cliff had a unique ability to really listen to people and never made them feel that their opinions were wrong just because they may be different than his, nor did he try to convince them that he was right. He was patient and kind. He had an amazing laugh, that would be filled with unabashed joy (particularly when he won a bid in Pinochle). He had a twinkle in his eye and was never afraid to laugh at himself. He was compassionate and took loving care of Ruth until her death when she had Alzheimer’s.

Cliff was one of a kind, he stood for faith, joy, curiosity, serving others and family. He will live on in the hearts of the family and the many people touched throughout his long and full life, and his absence will be deeply felt.

Cliff was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth, son, Jim, and daughter, Mary (Don) Chapman.

Cliff is survived by his daughters; Ingrid (John) Johnson of Nampa, ID, and Krista (Dennis) Hammann, of Chaska, MN; sons, Mark (Julie) of Denton, TX, and Paul of Burnsville, MN; 15 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be held on Friday, May 7, 2021 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service, 113 S. Willson Ave, Bozeman, MT.

Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, May 8, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. at Hope Lutheran Church, 2152 Graf St, Bozeman, MT.

Memorials in Cliff’s name may be given to a Lutheran church or charity of your choice. Cards of condolence may be sent to Mark Gronneberg, 12320 Grosbeak Dr., Denton, TX, 76207.

May 4

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;

break forth into joyous song and sing praises.

Psalm 98:4

It is May 4th, Star Wars Day! A blessed May 4th to you!

We know that if someone says; “May the force be with you” - a Lutheran may well respond with “And also with you.”

I like Star Wars, and yet I can’t help myself. The blessings of God are different than the Force of the movie. The Force is a magical power that can help you reach your full potential. The gifts of God are given so that you can live as God’s child, and bear God’s gifts to the world in need.

Again, a blessed May 4th to you!

Today’s devotion is by Pastor Scott Thompson. He serves on the Stewardship Task Force, and it has been nice for me to get to know him.

Here is his reflection on Psalm 98:

After over 50 years of church-going and almost 25 years of rostered ministry, I was recently made aware of the fact that Psalm 98 is the basis for the beloved Christmas carol, Joy to the World. If I squint, I can see it… but it seems to me that the good Isaac Watts took quite a bit of literary license.

This revelation has compelled me, however, to hear the carol differently. While I always thought it right and proper to sing of the world receiving Jesus as her King with joyful preparation and the acclaim of heav’n and nature, the insight that these themes are of a Psalm rooted in a people recently freed of captivity in Babylon widens my scope of view. Like Handel’s Hallelujah, often performed at Christmas but actually a song illuminative of the Easter portion of Messiah, Joy to the World will never again be for me just a Christmas song.

God once reached into the oppression wrought by an imperialistic Babylon to free those covenant-bound to God. The Lord has reached into the oppression of death wrought by sin to free those same - and more. By all means, make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises, and let the sea roar, let the floods clap their hands, let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord. Joy to the world, for the Lord is risen, he is risen indeed!

Pastor Scott Thompson, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Kalispell

May 3

“Let me sing for my beloved

my love-song concerning his vineyard…”

Isaiah 5:1

Pastor Tonia Fisher serves our congregation in Columbus, Montana. She and I have crossed paths a number of times recently at Zoom meetings.

For our Equipping for the Work of Ministry devotion, Pastor Fisher reflects on Isaiah 5:1-7.

“My beloved had a vineyard - he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.”

Every Country Western aficionado knows how sad a love song can be. The love song in Isaiah is heartbreaking. A vine was brought out of Egypt. Planted to thrive and produce, to bear sweet fruit for the good of all. Lovingly tended with hopes and dreams of a fruitful harvest, only wild grapes grew.

The vine, the children of Israel, turned from God to self, using their sweetness to fulfill their own dreams and desires. Called, blessed, and gifted for good works, God expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard only the cries of victims.

We are equipped by God for good works. Created to seek justice, to love God and one another, instead we turned from God to self. Instead of sweet grapes we produced wild grapes.

This song does not have a Hallmark movie ending. We want to know the guy gets the girl and they live happily ever after. But this song leaves us – nowhere. Maybe we can take this abrupt ending and write a different conclusion. Knowing for what it was created and gifted, can this vineyard produce a fruitful harvest?

Created to reflect the light of God, which is needed to produce sweet fruit. Sent to share the cleansing and nourishing water of life with our neighbors. Fed on the life-giving words of God. This vineyard is to seek justice, to feed the hungry, and to care for those in need.

God has blessed us to be fruitful for the good of the world.

Pastor Tonia Fisher, St. James Lutheran Church, Columbus

May 1

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.

John 14:9

Pastor Jason Asselstine has been serving the Montana Synod as Associate to the Bishop for several years. One could say that along with Bishop Laurie Jungling, and DEM Pastor Peggy Paugh Leuzinger, they are part of the pastoral staff at Trinity.

So, take note of what your pastor, Pastor Asselstine, has to offer for us today on John 14:8-14

While going through some old pictures of my grandfather, I found one of him as a young man. I was stunned at our resemblance. His hair and his strong chin were just like mine. His piercing, soft eyes, just like mine. But what struck me even more was not his appearance, but how much we were alike in other ways. He loved to use his hands and saw the value of hard work, honesty and integrity. Even though I hardly knew him, I could see his influence (and genes) in my life and in the mirror, almost like he was living on through me. I think this is akin to what Jesus was saying to Phillip in our passage from John 14. Jesus is highlighting the ways that he and the Father are one. “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (v.9)

As followers of Christ, we, too, have been created in the image of Christ and are witnesses to God’s goodness and love. We have seen and heard about the countless ways that God, through Jesus, changed, and continues to change, the world.

Jesus tells Phillip (and us) that we will be able to do amazing things in God’s name if we only ask. It is as if God lives on and changes the world through us… we are doing God’s work… with our hands.


Pastor Jason Asselstine, Associate to the Bishop, Montana Synod