Connections May '22

May 1

3rd Sunday of Easter

I hope to see you in worship today.

Today in worship, we hear the story of Jesus on the shore with some fish, Peter swims to the shore, and then Peter and Jesus have their heart breaking and at the same time, life-giving, forgiveness bearing exchange. A conversation that not only conveys forgiveness and restoration, but also gives Peter a mission for the rest of his life.

Three times Jesus asks “Peter do you love me?” Peter exclaims that he does, and Jesus responds… “Feed my lambs” “Tend my lambs” “Feed my sheep”.

It is truly wonderful.

Blessings to you, Pastor Phil

I liked this prayer for today…

So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”

John 21:7


without number.

Nets too heavy for lifting now.

You gave more than they could ever hold.

And John saw with his

eyes of love


the man on the

shore was



too want

to see with the

eyes of love, and

be weighed down with

the miraculous catch of care.

“Lord, you know that we love you.”

Let us feed your


Copyright © 2022, Anne M. Osdieck. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce for personal or parish use.

May 2

Jesus came and stood among them and said,

“Peace be with you.”

John 20:19b

I often think that hymns can serve as excellent texts for devotions.

Today I invite you to consider an Easter hymn that we do not sing very often. "The Strife is O'er, the Battle Done”. ELW #366

This was originally a Latin hymn, first published in 1695.

A friend and colleague, Pastor Merv Olson, served at Gold Hill Lutheran Church while I served at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. Merv had his father move to town in the final years of his life. When Oscar died, I had the privilege of serving as the pastor for his funeral.

The day Oscar died, Pastor Merv called, and I answered the phone; Merv’s first words were, “The strife is o'er, the battle done.”

I think of that every time I consider this hymn.

Oscar’s service was a celebration of faith, a commending of a beloved father, and a turning for comfort and promise, to the one who redeems us in Jesus Christ.

A blessed third week of Easter to you!

Pastor Phil

The Strife is O'er, the Battle Done - ELW 366

The strife is o'er, the battle done;

Now is the Victor's triumph won!

Now be the song of praise be sung.


The powers of death have done their worst,

Jesus their legions has dispersed;

Let shouts of holy joy outburst.


The three sad days have quickly sped,

Christ rises glorious from the dead.

All glory to our risen head!


Christ closed the yawning gates of hell;

The bars from heaven's high portals fell.

Let hymns of praise his triumph tell.


Lord, by the stripes which wounded you,

From death's your servants too,

that we may live, and sing to you.


May 3

Jesus came and stood among them and said,

“Peace be with you.”

John 20:19b

I would like to invite you to reflect on Martin Luther’s Easter hymn, “Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands.”

A friend once shared in his church’s newsletter, that he thought many of Luther’s hymns were so hard to sing, it might be best simply to read them as a devotion. I suspect this is true of many of Luther’s hymns.

Here is hymn #370

Easter blessings to you today.

Pastor Phil

Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands ELW 370

Christ Jesus lay in death's strong bands for our offenses given;

but now at God's right hand he stands and brings us life from heaven.

Therefore let us joyful be and sing to God right thankfully

loud songs of hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Our Savior Jesus, God’s own Son, here in our stead descended;

the knot of sin has been undone, the claim of death is ended.

Christ has crushed the pow’r of hell;

now there is naught but death’s gray shell -

its sting is lost forever. Hallelujah!

Here the true Paschal Lamb we see, whom God so freely gave us,

who died on the accursed tree - so strong God's love! - to save us.

See, his blood now marks our door; faith points to it; death passes o'er,

and Satan cannot harm us. Hallelujah!

So let us keep the festival to which the Lord invites us;

Christ is the very joy of all, the sun that warms and lights us.

Now his grace to us imparts eternal sunshine to our hearts;

the night of sin is ended. Hallelujah!

Then let us feast this Easter day on Christ, the bread of heaven;

the Word of grace has purged away the old and evil leaven.

Christ alone, our holy meal, the hungry soul will feed and heal;

faith lives upon no other! Hallelujah!

May 4

“I am the good shepherd.

The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…”

John 10:11

This coming Sunday is the Fourth Sunday of Easter. The 4th Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday; with Psalm 23, being among the readings that day, and in each of the three years in the lectionary, the Gospel reading from some part of John chapter 10.

This is the passage where Jesus declares himself the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep...

Only a few of you, I suspect, do not know that LeRoy was an Animal Science professor at the University of Wyoming. Dr. Johnson was a renowned expert in sheep. He had a delightful bumper sticker on his car. It was bright red, and simply had this on it: "Sheep!"

Many of us smiled every time we saw it...

Good Shepherd Sunday.


And, quite fitting.

The hymn, “The King of Love My Shepherd Is” is a beautiful paraphrase of Psalm 23.

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

The King of love my Shepherd is,

Whose goodness faileth never;

I nothing lack if I am his

And he is mine for ever.

Where streams of living water flow

My ransomed soul he leadeth,

And where the verdant pastures grow

With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,

But yet in love he sought me,

And on his shoulder gently laid,

And home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death's dark vale I fear no ill

With thee, dear Lord, beside me;

Thy rod and staff my comfort still,

Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread'st a table in my sight;

Thy unction, grace bestoweth:

And O what transport of delight

From thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days

Thy goodness faileth never;

Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise

Within thy house for ever.

ELW #502 Henry Baker, 1868

May Jesus, the Good Shepherd be with you today, may he guide you and keep you in God's care, now and always. Pastor Phil

May 5

The Lord is my shepherd,

I shall not want

Psalm 23:1

Did you know that none of the New Testament writers quote Psalm 23 in their works? I remember being quite surprised by that when I first learned this.

“The Lord is my shepherd” has become such an important word to us, speaking of God’s great love for us, and of Jesus our savior caring for us. We turn to Psalm 23 for comfort and peace in times of distress, we turn to it to hear the promise of God’s presence in times of need. Jesus the Good Shepherd is a favorite image, so much so, that some people make statues of Jesus the Good Shepherd!

The hymn; “Shepherd Me O God” by Marty Haugen, (the composer of Holden Evening Prayer liturgy) has become a new favorite song for me.

The refrain is a wonderful interpretation of Psalm 23, mixing the Psalm’s promise of being shepherded and cared for, with the promise of life given to us through Jesus:


Shepherd me,

O God

Beyond my wants

Beyond my fears

From death into life

Shepherd me, O God. Marty Haugen, ELW 780

May this beautiful poetry give voice to a prayer for us all, that God might shepherd us from death into life, that God might send us to bear God’s creative and redeeming word to the world.

Blessings to you, Pastor Phil

May 6

“I am the good shepherd.

The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…”

John 10:11

LeRoy Johnson’s funeral will be at 11:00 a.m. today here at Trinity.

The past few days I’ve shared hymns that go with the 4th Sunday of Easter, since the Psalm for Sunday is Psalm 23, and the Gospel reading from John chapter 10, these songs are fitting in so many ways…

I invite you to reflect on hymn #764 in our hymnal, Have No Fear Little Flock.

Have No Fear, Little Flock

Have no fear, little flock;

have no fear, little flock,

for the Father has chosen

to give you the kingdom;

have no fear, little flock!

Have good cheer, little flock;

have good cheer, little flock,

for the Father will keep you

in his love forever;

have good cheer, little flock!

Praise the Lord high above;

praise the Lord high above,

for he stoops down to heal you,

uplift and restore you;

praise the Lord high above!

Thankful hearts raise to God;

thankful hearts raise to God,

for he stays close beside you,

in all things works with you;

thankful hearts raise to God!

Text: Luke 12:32, st. 1; Marjorie Jilson, b. 1931, sts. 2-4

Text © 1973 Concordia Publishing House

Blessings to you this Friday, as we raise thankful hearts to God, and seek the comfort and promise of the resurrection.

Pastor Phil

May 7

“I am the good shepherd.

The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…”

John 10:11

The 4th Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday, since the Psalm for Sunday is Psalm 23, and the Gospel reading from John chapter 10. Today, let me simply share Psalm 23. These words bear comfort and promise and more.

May you know God’s presence today.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd,

I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;

he leads me beside still waters;

he restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I fear no evil;

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff - they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

May 8

4th Sunday of Easter

Good Shepherd Sunday

I hope to see you in worship today.

A blessed Mother’s Day to you!

The service will be posted online.

It is Good Shepherd Sunday, today we hear Jesus as he proclaims that as our shepherd, he hears our voice, and will never let us go.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil


O God of peace,

you brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ,

the great shepherd of the sheep.

By the blood of your eternal covenant,

make us complete in everything good

that we may do your will,

and work among us all that is well-pleasing in your sight,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.


May 9

So the religious leaders gathered around him and said to him,

“How long will you keep us in suspense?

If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

John 10:24

I was able to write the Pastor’s Corner column for the Sheridan Press last week. I tried to reflect a bit on how God is much greater than our minds can comprehend.

The post-Easter appearances of the risen Jesus seem to hold within them an inherent elusiveness. Maybe this should help inspire a humility in us as we seek to share God’s love with the world.

I’ve included the Pastor’s Corner article here.

A blessed week to you, Pastor Phil


A Question and An Answerer - Pastor Phil Wold - Trinity Lutheran Church

There is a fun story about a member of a synagogue who was frustrated with his rabbi. He felt like he could not pin him down on anything. Finally, in exasperation he confronted his rabbi: “Rabbi, why is it, that every question I ask you, you answer with a question?”

The rabbi thought for a while, looked him in the eye, and replied: “What’s wrong with a question?”

That makes me laugh, and invites us to think. Perhaps the question we might ponder might be exactly this; “What’s wrong with a question?” Or maybe, it might be more fruitful to consider: “What’s wrong with an answer?”

Answering questions with more questions is part of a deep wisdom in the Jewish tradition. Many will suggest that we might well be much closer to the truth with wise questions, than with most all of our answers.

This coming Sunday, many of our congregations will hear from the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John. There, Jesus speaks of himself as the Good Shepherd. In John 10:24, the religious leaders are frustrated with Jesus, and they seek a yes or no answer to the question of whether he is the Messiah.

They do not get that clear answer. Rather, Jesus speaks of the relationship he has with those who follow him, the relationship he has with God, and the implications of that for those who love him.

It is all quite frustrating for those who question him, and it also frustrates our own desires to pin Jesus down and define exactly who he is, and what that means.

In this season of Easter, we revisit many of the stories of Jesus’ resurrection appearances. The Gospel writers seem to communicate a certain elusiveness to this risen one. Their eyes are kept from recognizing Jesus, one story says. Another says “none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord.” Jesus appears to them behind doors that are shut or locked, and he seems to come and go at his own whim…

At the same time, it is made very clear that this is no ghost. He has flesh and blood. He eats with the disciples. The risen Jesus is a concrete and real one, but he is also one who is not under anyone’s control. In the risen Jesus, God is on the loose, and while they cannot conjure him to their side, he will never leave them.

I suspect that there is important insight for us here. Our quest for clear answers might well betray a desire to be in control of God. If we can define exactly how God is acting, and what God plans to do, and where God will be and where God will not be, then we are in functionally in charge of God.

When we become too certain of our answers, I wonder what has happened to this one who appeared to the disciples, but they did not ask him who he was.

When we claim know everything about God, then God has been reduced to something that will fit into our small minds. When we believe we can contain God, it is a small step to simply taking over for God, and all the chaos that results from that.

In Jesus, we are known by God. God has come into our midst in this one, born in humility in Bethlehem. This one who taught and healed and answered questions with questions. This one who exercised God’s power in suffering love, and who rose from the dead and appeared, in elusive ways, to many disciples. Faith in Jesus calls for a humility lived out in love and care for all, especially those on the margins.

In Jesus, we find that rather than giving answers, God gives an Answerer. The one who answers our lostness and loneliness with God’s own presence, and calls us to bear God’s surprising love to this world that is never really sure of the right question.

May 10

O sing to the LORD a new song;

sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Psalm 96:1

It is the season of Easter, and this quote from Walter Brueggemann’s book “A Gospel of Hope” speaks of Easter’s new song. As a scholar of the Old Testament prophets, Dr. Brueggemann invites us to hear God’s call to justice in the call to love and righteousness, hope and peace.

I wish I could find the context of this paragraph, how he leads in to speaking of a new song. I guess we can assume he is speaking of the new life given to us by our belonging to the risen Lord Jesus.

"The new song never describes the world the way it now is.

The new song imagines how the world will be

in God’s good time to come.

The new song is a protest against the way the world now is.

The new song is refusal to accept the present world as it is,

a refusal to believe this is right

or that the present will last.

The church is always

at its most daring and risking

and dangerous and free

when it sings a new song.

Because then it sings

that the power of the gospel

will not let the world finally stay as it is."

Walter Brueggemann, A Gospel of Hope

Sing well! Pastor Phil

May 11

The Lord is my shepherd,

I shall not want

Psalm 23:1

I receive a number of daily devotions. There are some I read more consistently and more carefully than others. Some are from ELCA sources, some from other communities. Some I have received for many years, some not nearly as long. I recently subscribed to the daily devotion from the Henri Nouwen Society.

In the “about” section of the website, it says: “Henri Nouwen was a Dutch-born Catholic priest, professor, psychologist and prolific writer. He taught psychology at the University of Notre Dame and pastoral theology at the Divinity Schools of Yale and Harvard before leaving academia to become the pastor at L’Arche Daybreak, a community for people with intellectual disabilities.” The bio has much more to say.

I thought I would share this reflection from a few weeks ago.


While realizing that ten years ago

I didn’t have the faintest idea that I would end up where I am now,

I still like to keep up the illusion that I am in control of my own life.

I like to decide what I most need, what I will do next,

what I want to accomplish, and how others will think of me.

While being so busy running my own life,

I become oblivious to the gentle movements

of the Spirit of God within me,

pointing me in directions quite different from my own.

It requires a lot of inner solitude and silence

to become aware of these divine movements.

God does not shout, scream, or push.

The Spirit of God is soft and gentle

like a small voice or a light breeze.

It is the Spirit of Love.

May you take note of the ways the Spirit will guide you today.

Peace, Pastor Phil

May 12

Beloved, let us love one another,

because love is from God;

everyone who loves is born of God

and knows God

I John 4:7

A poet and writer asks the question: “what are people for?”

His question is an examination of why we exist. He is asking: What is our purpose in life?

I like this line from Martin Luther:

Faith brings you to Christ

and makes him your own

with all that he has;

love gives you to your neighbor

with all that you have.

Martin Luther

Blessings to you as you live out your faith, Pastor Phil

May 13

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.

Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

John 13:34

In worship on Sunday, we will hear these life-giving words from Jesus: “love one another… as I have loved you…”

One key aspect of Lutheran theology is the distinction between law and gospel. The gift of God making us God’s own children through Jesus Christ, is Gospel Good News. The words that speak that reality into being, the words that call us to live in this Good News, are words of Gospel.

The word of law is the word that judges us in our shortfalls, points to our own inability to save ourselves, and propels us to seek God’s mercy.

Determining which words speak Gospel, and which speak law into our lives is an important task.

“Love one another… as I have loved you…”

Here is a question for you: Jesus says this is a new commandment for us, and so it is law.

Is this also Gospel?

In many ways, I suspect that the answer is that within this command, lies the rich gift of the Gospel. The call to love one another bears within it, the love given by God, and the deep meaning imparted into your life, since you are now commissioned by God to bear God’s never ending love to this world in need.

May this command give life and joy!

Pastor Phil

May 14

And the one who was seated on the throne said,

“See, I am making all things new.”

Revelation 21:5

In worship on Sunday, we will hear from the 21st chapter of Revelation. One commentator makes the point that we do not get what we expect from the end of Revelation. There is no terror and destruction, rather, God has a new heaven and earth in in store for us.

Here are some comments from a New Testament professor - Dr. Israel Kamudzandu. (I had a friend who would have said, upon hearing that name, “that’s not Irish.” No, he’s from Zimbabwe.) Dr. Kamudzandu teaches at Saint Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, Missouri.

He says of this Revelation text:

“In Revelation 21,

people do not go to heaven

as most people have been taught

but rather God comes down to earth to dwell with mortals —

“the new Jerusalem descends from heaven,”

and God makes a home among mortals (21:2-3).

There is no prediction about the end times,

no rapture and no punishment

but God comes to be the home of humanity.”

I find that closing phrase to be quite thought provoking; “God comes to be the home of humanity.”

I’ve seen pious comments about heaven being our true home. God as our true home is quite the image…

May you dwell with joy in your true home.

Peace, Pastor Phil

5th Sunday of Easter

May 15

And the one who was seated on the throne said,

“See, I am making all things new.”

Revelation 21:5

I hope to see you in worship, 8:30 and 11:00

The service will be posted on the Trinity web site.

The Prayer of the Day today:

O Lord God,

you teach us that without love, our actions gain nothing.

Pour into our hearts your most excellent gift of love,

that, made alive by your Spirit,

we may know goodness and peace,

through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.


May 16

The Lord is my shepherd,

I shall not want

Psalm 23:1

I shared this devotion for the opening prayer at our Congregational Meeting yesterday, and I thought I would include it in Connections today…

But God

by Anthony Robinson | published on May 12, 2022

“But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held by its power.” – Acts 2:24 (NRSV)

We sometimes overuse the little word: “but.” We say something nice to our spouse or partner as a prelude to “But, dear…” Or we express appreciation for something said by a speaker while our words are a build-up to our “But…” We discard a good idea, saying, “But I can’t do that.” We scatter our little negations like weed seed.

Here, however, it’s not our word of negation. It’s not our “but.” It’s God’s.

Here in Acts, Peter has told the story of Jesus. He repeated all the sad words of the story: “betrayed,” “handed over,” “crucified,” and “killed,” each word a nail in the coffin. The world had done its worst. But that wasn’t the end of the story. Peter went on: “But God.” But God has the last word. And that word is life. That word is resurrection. “But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held by its power.”

Amid the terror of the Nazi years in Germany, a leader of the Confessing Church, Martin Niemoller, preached a sermon called, “But God.” He spoke of all the ways that Hitler, the Nazis, and their brutality and mendacity seemed to have utterly triumphed. Then he said, “But God.” “But God raised him up because it was impossible for him to be held by death’s power.” But God. God will have the last word.

When it seems the end has come, “but God.”

When you see no way forward or out, “but God.”

When death has done its work and it seems all hope is gone, “but God.”

Because of these two littles words, because of the defiant divine disjunction everything is different now.


O God, we give thanks that you have both the first word and the last one. Trusting this, may the words we speak and the lives we lead between be faithful to your Word. Amen.


This devotional by Tony Robinson also appears in This Is How We Begin: Devotionals and Prayers to Start Meetings, a collection of devotionals intended to center church meetings in God’s wisdom.

The Daily Devotional is a spiritually deep and refreshing well, to which thousands of readers are drawn each day. The overall vision and voice of the Daily Devotional is tended by the Stillspeaking Writers’ Group and supported by the staff of The Pilgrim Press.

May 17

For you shall go out in joy,

and be led back in peace;

the mountains and the hills before you

shall burst into song,

and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:12

We have used this offering prayer a number of times this Easter season, and I’ve thought it would be fitting to share it for Connections…

Everlasting God,

the whole universe sings a new song of praise:

the rivers clap their hands,

the hills ring out for joy.

As you have raised us to new life in Christ,

give us voices ready to cry out for justice

and proclaim resurrection joy

wherever your Spirit leads us.

In Jesus' name we boldly pray.


I like the poetry of this prayer, inspired by Isaiah 55.

May we join the whole universe in a new song of praise.

Blessings, Pastor Phil

May 18

For you shall go out in joy,

and be led back in peace;

the mountains and the hills before you

shall burst into song,

and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:12

“Light Dawns on a Weary World” hymn #726 in the ELW, is a beautiful interpretation of Isaiah 55.

I encourage you to listen to the song, (click here it is less than four minutes.)

The refrain comes to mind for me when we pray the offering prayer I shared in Connections yesterday.

Everlasting God, the whole universe sings a new song of praise: the rivers clap their hands, the hills ring out for joy. As you have raised us to new life in Christ, give us voices ready to cry out for justice and proclaim resurrection joy wherever your Spirit leads us. In Jesus' name we boldly pray. Amen.

Here is the refrain:

The trees shall clap their hands;

the dry lands, gush with springs;

the hills and mountains shall break forth with singing!

We shall go out in joy,

and be led forth in peace,

as all the world in wonder echoes shalom.

- text by Mary Louise Bringle

I love that line; “The trees shall clap their hands.”

Who knew trees have hands? Who knew that the mountains and hills praise God?

As spring brings so many things to life, let us rejoice in all things new that God has in store for us for our world.

Peace, Pastor Phil

May 19

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

and do not return there until they have watered the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout,

giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;

it shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,

and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11

Don’t tell anyone, but I just heard that there is snow in the forecast.

I like that line that goes something like this: “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody seems to do anything about it.”

The weather comes our way, and we get to react to it.

There might be a theological insight here.

God’s grace comes to you, in many and various ways, and you get to react to that as well. Maybe, like a weather forecast, knowing God’s word and promise might help shape your expectations of what is coming. If you know about God’s love for you, you might be more likely to see it when God graces your life…

I encourage you to - when the weather requires it - drive carefully, dress appropriately etc.

And - when life requires it - keep your eyes out for the many ways God will be with you bearing hope and life, forgiveness and grace.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

May 20

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.”

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit,

whom the Father will send in my name,

will teach you everything,

and remind you of all that I have said to you…”

John 14: 18, 26

I saw a billboard a few weeks ago. It declared in large bold letters “You Deserve an Advocate”. I assume that it was an ad for an attorney.

I wondered about that.

In the Gospel reading we will hear on Sunday, Jesus promises the Spirit as an Advocate. Not as something you deserve, but as a gift of God’s love. While the billboard suggested an advocate as your right, I have a suspicion that you would have to pay for that advocacy. (Gotta cover the cost of the billboard you know!)

The gift of the Spirit is, as Jesus says in verse 27, given in a way out of sync with the rest of the world. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

May you receive God’s gifts to you with joy, knowing that the one who gives so differently, invites you to live differently in this world.

Blessings, Pastor Phil

May 21

And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God

Revelation 22:10

We hear from the book of Revelation again tomorrow. The last chapters of the book bear promise of a “New Jerusalem.” It is interesting that the image the Bible often has of a heavenly promise, the image of God’s restored creation is an image of a city.

So often we see places that are “unsullied” by other people as heavenly. The prophets and Revelation point to this city as the place of renewal of all things. I think that points us to continue to care for one another, to do al we can to build human relationship, and for us to receive forgiveness so that we can bring forgiveness to bear in all our dealings with one another.

That is quite a vision!

A blessed Saturday to you, Pastor Phil

May 22

The 6th Sunday of Easter

Worship today is at 8:30 and 11:00. Online here.

The Prayer of the Day for today.

Almighty God, your only Son was taken into the heavens and in your presence intercedes for us. Receive us and our prayers for all the world, and in the end bring everything into your glory, through Jesus Christ, our Sovereign and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

May 23

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.”

John 14:18

I often think that this is one of the most interesting promises in the book of John. “I will not leave you orphaned…”

How did he know? How did Jesus know that loneliness is such a terrible burden for me? How did he know that I needed this promise more than most any other?

We live in an age when many concluded that God does not exist.

We know differently. We know that the existence of God is not what really matters. The wonder of the Gospel is that the God who has created all things, not only exists, but will never leave you.

What a gift for a lonely world!

May you know God’s presence this week.

Peace, Pastor Phil

May 24

The Lord is my shepherd,

I shall not want

Psalm 23:1

Spring has sprung, and the summer is right around the corner. (I trust that it is, even if the weather doesn’t seem to be consistently moving forward…) This is the season for re-creation. I saw this years ago, and set it aside. It is a nice reflection on fishing…

Fishing and Prayer

Fishing, like prayer, can bring peace of heart and give time for personal reflection. Like prayer, it can be disheartening sometimes the catch will be small, or there will be nothing but a few bites. Both fishing and prayer require patience and humility, because with both, you ultimately depend on an answer from outside yourself. Johann Christoph Arnold

Happy fishing, or thinking, or whatever you do in the summer, may you also pray with patience and humility and faith! Pastor Phil

May 25

And whatever you do, in word or deed,

do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

I serve on the Montana Synod Stewardship Task Force. We met the other day, and as we planned for Synod Assembly, which is next week, I thought that I could share some of our Stewardship thoughts that we have published in the worship bulletin over the years.

I am not sure who said this, but it is a good insight.

Stewardship is not a matter of giving a little more;

rather, it is a way of life.

Blessings to you, as you care for all the gifts you have been given.

Peace, Pastor Phil

May 26

You are the light of the world.

Let your light shine before others,

so that they may see your good works

and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-15

I am sharing some of the “Stewardship Boxes” we have used in the bulletin. One thing that I think many people miss, is the fact that good stewardship is a tending to our faith, and a living out the love of God in the world.

This quote, then, is an incisive stewardship thought…

A human life is like a single letter of the alphabet.

It can be meaningless.

Or it can be a part of a great meaning.

May 27

While [Jesus] was blessing them,

he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.

And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy;

and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

Luke 24:51-53

One of the daily devotions I subscribe to reminded me - I should not have missed it - yesterday was Ascension Day. (Acts 1:3 tells us that Jesus' ascension was 40 days after Easter).

Years and years ago, I heard a professor ask this compelling question and offer a thought provoking answer.

He asked: “Where did Jesus ascend to, when he ascended into heaven?”

After dismissing the notion that Jesus had gone “up” to heaven, away from us… he suggests that we might see the Ascension this way. That Jesus ascended into the future.

Thus; as you live your life into each moment, Jesus stands there, greeting you as you enter that time. This means that the ascension of Jesus means that God is with you always and forever. Bearing forgiveness for the past, and hope for the future…


May you know God’s presence; now and always!

Pastor Phil

May 28

“And remember, I am with you always,

to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:20

Today we will have a funeral service for Jerry Baker at 1:00. We pray that the sure and certain hope of the resurrection will be an abiding gift for Susan and for all who loved Jerry.

Two weeks from today, June 11th, we will have a memorial service for Carol Dau, who passed away in January of 2021…

The 28th chapter of Matthew tells of the resurrection, and Jesus’ promise to always be with his disciples.

Verse 17 has this interesting line: “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted…”

Mark Allan Powell, in his book Loving Jesus, offers this observation about this translation of 28:17 “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” …

“...I want to note that the word “some” is not actually found in the Greek Bible. Why is it in the English version? Well, Matthew uses a particular construction here that allows translators to think that the word “some” could be implied. He also uses that construction in seventeen other instances, though no one ever seems to think the word is implied in those cases. It could be implied here, but why would it be? I asked a Bible translator that question one time and got the following response: "The verse wouldn't make sense otherwise. No one can worship and doubt at the same time." I invited this fellow to visit a Lutheran church. We do it all the time.” - Mark Allan Powell, Loving Jesus. p. 121

Not only Lutherans, but all Christians. (I might suggest that Lutherans can be a bit more open to admit to our doubt than some!)

It surprises me that the translator had such a rigid view of belief and doubt. I like the insight that the opposite of faith, is not doubt, but certitude. Certitude is not really belief, but rather a sort of overdrawn certainly that reduces relationship to some sort of mathematical equation.

Doubt can be an agitator, keeping us engaged in our conversations with God and in our serving God’s creation.

May your faith be nurtured through prayer and love and serving and hoping and wondering and living!

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

7th Sunday of Easter

May 29

Our summer schedule begins today 9:00 a.m. Sunday worship. One service… the service will be online as well.

Wednesday evening worship at 7:00 p.m.

The Prayer of the Day

O God,

form the minds of your faithful people

into your one will.

Make us love what you command

and desire what you promise,


amid all the changes of this world,

our hearts may be fixed

where true joy is found,

your Son,

Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit,

one God,

now and forever.


May 30

“This is my commandment,

that you love one another as I have loved you.

No one has greater love than this,

to lay down one’s life for one’s friends…”

John 15:12-13

A blessed Memorial Day to you, Pastor Phil

Two Memorial Day Prayers from our tradition:

Almighty and everlasting God,

whose providence guides your people in diligent service,

bless the officers and enlisted women and men of the

Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard

as they perform the duties of their calling.

Give them not only true love of country

but also love of you

and an understanding of your love for all people;

so that, relying upon your guidance,

they may courageously defend our nation from every foe,

promote justice, honor, and unity among our people,

and be a means of fostering mutual respect and

understanding among all peoples of the world;

through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord.


From Prayer in Time of War for Church and Home, prepared by the Common Service Book Committee of the United Lutheran Church in America, © 1942 United Lutheran Publication House.

Those who have given their lives

Eternal God,

we give thanks for all those who have shown the greatest love

by laying down their lives for others.

We especially thank you

for those in our military throughout history

who have sacrificed their lives for their fellow citizens

and for us who came after.

As we remember their service,

keep us mindful of all those for whom this day is a burden,

and send your spirit of comfort to them.

Be present with all the women and men

who are serving in the military today.

Let them live for the peace known only from you.

Help us to be worthy of their legacy,

and keep us mindful of their service,

that in all things

we may live our lives in praise and thanksgiving to you;

through Jesus Christ,

our Savior and Lord.


From Evangelical Lutheran Worship Prayer Book for the Armed Servic

May 31

God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble

Psalm 46:1

Yesterday was Memorial Day.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces has been a reminder of why we do all in our power to avoid war.

As we give thanks for the sacrifice of those who have served our country and given their lives, we continue to pray for peace.

In John chapter 15 we hear Jesus say; “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends…”

We are called to an active citizenship, caring for our country and our communities. This call is grounded in our baptism into Christ. It is further inspired by those who have given their lives for us.

May your citizenship be a faithful response to all the gifts you have been given.

Peace, Pastor Phil