ConnectioNS November

November 30

For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

I Thessalonians 5:2

Advent has begun… Not only that, it is Cyber Monday!!!!

I hope your Advent prayers can help make this time of waiting a life-giving chapter for you. Prayer can help us to take note of the wonder of living, the wonder of all around us, the wonder that God has come to make us God’s own.

Here is an excellent invitation to take time for wonder this Advent. It is by Pastor Tony Robinson - and from the Daily Devotional of the UCC.

Only Wonder - Written by Anthony Robinson

What will this child turn out to be?” - Luke 1:66 (NLT)

It would be an odd person who, looking upon the face of a newborn baby, did not experience wonder. Wonder at brand new life. Wonder at the ever-changing expressions on that tiny face. …And wonder at what this child shall become.

The particular baby of Luke’s story is John, who will be John the Baptist, herald of Jesus. John’s birth is attended by an extra dollop of wonder. His until-now childless parents are old when he is conceived. His father, Zechariah, had been struck instantly speechless for doubting the angel Gabriel’s promise of a child. Zechariah finds his tongue when he confirms Elizabeth’s unconventional choice of a name: John. “But no one in your family has that name!” the kinfolks protest. “His name is John,” underlines Zechariah.

A child born to the wrong people. Speech, suddenly gone, just as suddenly returns. An unprecedented name. Something strange, something wondrous, is afoot.

Wonder abounds. Which is a good thing, a very good thing. St. Gregory of Nyssa once commented, “Concepts create idols; only wonder comprehends anything. People kill one another over idols. Wonder makes us fall to our knees.”

Take a break today – maybe for the entire Advent season – from concepts and lists, from judgments and bickering. Only wonder. Fall to your knees at the wonder of it all. And while you are there, praise God for babies, for speech and silence, for your own wondrous life, and for the baby God who will soon come to share our life and set us free from sin’s power, even Jesus.


For this special season of wonder that is Advent, I praise and thank you, O Lord. Let the healing magic of wonder rest upon me this day.

About the Author: Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. You can read and sign up for his blog at

November 28

For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

I Thessalonians 5:2

Advent begins tomorrow - the beginning of a new Church year.

I always do a bit of a double-take when I see the readings for the First Sunday of Advent. I can’t help but think of Advent as a time of preparing for Christmas. Yet, the season of Advent is given to us so that we might look ahead - not simply to Christmas, but to Christ’s return at the culmination of history.

While some “flavors” of Christians put a lot of energy into talk and teaching about the end of times, we tend not to. I very much like Dr. Mark Allan Powells’ encouragement about end times texts. He suggest that we should embrace the spirit of expectation that is encouraged in end times stories.

No need for speculation of when and where and how, but an attitude of expectation of Christ’s appearance… This can take many shapes, and might give a bit of life and love to our walk in faith. Maybe it is a bit like watching for loved ones to arrive after a long absence. Expectation can shape our waiting, and give life to our serving.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

November 27

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

Today is known known to be a pretty big shopping day in our culture. It can be easy to complain about the ills that are caused by consumerism and to wax poetic with righteous indignation. But I often find such diatribes to simply leave me cold. The fact is, in a culture as wealthy as ours, we struggle with consumerism not just today, but every day. Not only that, I suspect that guilt tripping one another about it might simply cause us to toss up our arms in frustration and give up altogether.

I want to encourage you to remember why you may be buying Christmas presents for people you love. This is in celebration of the great gift of the Christ child! This gifting is a living out of God’s gracious and generous way in the world!

Now, you might want to spend carefully, buy local when you can, give to charity in the name of those who have everything they want or need, consider and throughout your shopping, be mindful in your spending and giving. And remember, this is a privilege for we who have so much, and have many people we love for whom we are moved to give them a token of our (and God’s) love.

A quote from Eugene Peterson:

“No life of faith can be lived privately.

There must be overflow into the lives of others.”

Thanksgiving - November 26

…in everything by prayer and supplication

with thanksgiving

let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6b

I want to wish you a Happy Turkey Day, and I want to say that I am thankful for you. You are in my prayers, stay safe.

Here are some prayers and lessons from the liturgy for today: A Blessed Thanksgiving to you!

Peace, Pastor Phil

Day of Thanksgiving - Thursday, November 26, 2020

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God our Father, your generous goodness comes to us new every day. By the work of your Spirit lead us to acknowledge your goodness, give thanks for your benefits, and serve you in willing obedience, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Reading: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written,

 “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;

  his righteousness endures forever.”

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Gospel: Luke 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

An Offering Prayer

God of all goodness, generations have turned to you, gathered around your table,

and shared your abundant blessings.

Number us among them that, as we gather these gifts from your abundance, and give thanks for your rich blessings,

we may feast upon your great love and care for all that you have made,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.


May the God of all creation, in whose image we are made,

who claims us and calls us beloved, who strengthens us for service,

give you reason to rejoice and be glad!

The blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

be with you today and always. Amen.


Beloved of God, go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

From Sundays and Copyright 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #26385.

November 25

I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.

II Timothy 1:3

As I mentioned in yesterday’s Connection, I like the focus on gratitude that comes with Thanksgiving. While much could be said about gratitude - in fact numerous books have come out lately - it is interesting to consider that gratitude requires, among other things, a fair measure of humility. (As soon as I type that, this terrible (and quite funny) quote comes to mind: “Humility is the first of virtues - for other people.” Ha! That is by Oliver Wendell Holmes. In response I should share the insight of the great philosopher Cicero: ""A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.”)

As I was saying, gratitude requires one to whom we might be grateful, and thus the humility to say thanks… Perhaps one of the great gifts of faith is we know whom to thank for all good things!

This quote by Melody Beattie may be a bit self-help-y, but I suspect that it is also true:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

November 24

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 love the focus on gratitude that comes with Thanksgiving.

Here is another quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

November 23

He was despised and rejected by men;

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;

and as one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:3

I shared a line by Dietrich Bonhoeffer yesterday in the sermon. He was a theologian, pastor and Martyr in Germany during WWII. This prayer is fitting as we finish out the Church year and look ahead to Advent.

Lord Jesus Christ,

You were poor

and in distress, a captive and forsaken as I am.

You know all man’s troubles;

You abide with me

when all men fail me;

It is your will that I should know you

and turn to you.

Lord, I heard you call and follow;

Help me.


- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

November 21

…he humbled himself

and became obedient to the point of death—

even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him

and gave him the name

that is above every name…

Philippians 2:8-9

I am sharing a prayer for Christ the King Sunday that was prepared by Rev. Thom Shuman, who posts these on his blog, Lectionary Liturgies.

Each year, on the last Sunday of the Church year, we celebrate Christ as King. I like this. It is a time to stop and state the obvious. God reigns in the world in a remarkably different way. God exercises power in a way that is virtually incomprehensible to the powerful.

As we mark the end of this present year, and look ahead to the year to come, may we faithfully follow the one whose reign is always one of love and grace. Peace to you, Pastor Phil

Almighty God:

from the beginning of time

to the end of eternity,

you have chosen

to use your power and majesty

to love us,

to redeem us,

to shape us as your people.

King of Kings

and Lord of Lords:

you became weak

so you could confront

the strength of sin and death,

confounding their ridicule

with your resurrection.

Spirit of God,

resting upon us:

may your power enflame us

with your peace;

may your peace touch us

with your grace;

may your grace fill us

with your hope;

may your hope lead us

into your Kingdom.

God in Community, Holy in One, may your word be on our lips,

as we pray together as Jesus has taught us, saying,

Our Father, who art in heaven...

November 20

Therefore encourage one another

and build up each other,

as indeed you are doing.

I Thessalonians 5:11

This coming Sunday is Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the Church Year. A new year begins with 1st Sunday of Advent, on November 29th. I want to encourage you to consider an Advent discipline of some sort this year, as we mark the days of waiting for Christmas.

Along with other Pastors and leaders in the Montana Synod, I have contributed to a daily Advent devotional for this year. “Equipping… for the Work of Ministry.” I think this link will bring you to the pdf of the document. (Let me know if it does not work.)

“The work of ministry” in this title is not talking about church stuff. We are talking about the many ways in which you and I live out our baptism every day.

As we pray for one another, as we support each other, let us rejoice in the ways we are called, and equipped and able to “build up each other” for serving the world with the love of God.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

November 19

Therefore encourage one another

and build up each other,

as indeed you are doing.

I Thessalonians 5:11

This coming Sunday, the Gospel reading is The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats from Matthew 25. This parable of judgment compels us to reach out and care for all in need. In caring for the hungry, the lonely, the sick - we are told - we care for Christ himself.

It might be interesting to wonder if reaching out to care for people in need - if that might also fit under the category of encouraging and building one another up. For when we extend care, we more fully become the people God has called us to be.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

Let me share this note I received today from Lutheran World Relief:

I write today to share with you an urgent update and video from our Lutheran World Relief staff on the ground in Honduras. Families hadn't even begun to recover from Hurricane Eta when Hurricane Iota made landfall this week. Thousands of people rode out the storm in makeshift shelters because their homes were destroyed by Hurricane Eta. And shelters are overwhelmed, making it incredibly difficult to maintain sanitation and social distancing to prevent COVID-19 infections. We've also heard specifically from cocoa farmers that their trees and harvests have been washed away. As I watch the news today, the death toll continues to rise.

Here's how you can help--

Please share this video with your congregation. Include it in worship, post it on your social media, send it out in an eNews...

To view and share on YouTube:

Individuals and congregations can make direct gifts at

If you chose to send a check, please write "Hurricane Iota" in the memo and send to: Lutheran World Relief, PO Box 17061, Baltimore, MD 21297-1061.

We are so grateful for your congregation and for the generous ways you continue to love our global neighbors.

God bless you, Lisa

November 18

Therefore encourage one another

and build up each other,

as indeed you are doing.

I Thessalonians 5:11

This devotion, by Marchaé Grair is from the UCC daily email, the Daily Devotional. I assume she comes from a very different sort of tradition than most of us have, having grown up in the Black Church… That is my assumption.

I liked this quite a bit, I thought it fit with the I Thessalonians verse we’e been reflecting on, and I hope you find it thought provoking as well.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

We Belong to Each Other

How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! - Psalm 133:1 - by Marchaé Grair

When I was in high school, I was selected to go on a leadership trip in Washington, D.C. My mom couldn’t afford to send me. She was a single parent, and it was too expensive for her to buy me a roundtrip plane ticket and pay a hefty tuition.

The Sunday after I received the invitation, our small but mighty church passed a collection plate and collected enough money to send me on the trip. This was not a group of wealthy people for whom a donation meant no sacrifice. But they saw a person they loved in need and knew that, collectively, they could do something about it.

They decided I belonged to them and they belonged to me. They decided that because they were my village, they would do what they could, and they had faith that it would be enough.

I have channeled the memory of that collection plate often, especially when I’m broke and feel as if my offering is too small. There have been times when a couple of dollars was all I could give, and I almost let the embarrassment about the amount of the gift stop me from giving at all.

And then I remember how that collection plate changed my life. And it wasn’t because of how much each person gave, it was because of the spirit with which they gave it.

Giving isn’t about who has the most money or who can give the biggest offering. We give so that people can feel a tangible impact of our love for God and for one another. Giving is a concrete declaration that we belong to each other.

And belonging to each other means that we give what we can, when we can, to support the collective good of the church.


How good it is to belong, O God! How glad I am to offer my support and love so that others know they belong, too.

November 17

Therefore encourage one another

and build up each other,

as indeed you are doing.

I Thessalonians 5:11

I just saw a reference to some new words that have been coined during this pandemic. There were a few I had not encountered before, and the one that jumped out me was “Coronacoaster.”

Have you seen or heard that word? I bet you can guess what it means.

As we face the ups and downs of these days of pandemic, it is good to have a bit of humor, and at the same time, we want take some time for careful consideration of what we are going through.

In our response to the Coronavirus, as we ride this Coronacoaster, it seems to me that we are on a bit of a downslope right now, and we might be forgiven for screaming a bit.

In the Wold household, we have recently made some disappointing changes to our Thanksgiving plans, and are going to miss out on time with some of those whom we love most dearly. I imagine the same is true for many of you.

I imagine that we need to remind one another to not grow weary, as we “encourage one another and build up each other…”

I want to say this without judgment. While we grow weary at times, we are part of a tradition that spans centuries. We just marked the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The Psalmist prays; “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Wisdom might help give us perspective and imbue a bit more patience.

This truly is a trying time. As Christians, we stand in a long line of God’s faithful, who have found God to give strength for the day, and hope for the task.

May you know to look for God’s presence, no matter where you might find yourself on this “Coronacoaster.”

November 16

Therefore encourage one another

and build up each other,

as indeed you are doing.

I Thessalonians 5:11

We heard from I Thessalonians 5 yesterday for worship. Verse 11 jumps out at me: “Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.”

I just heard something I’ve been told in various ways quite often over the years. Their loved one - for whom Trinity has prayed - was overwhelmed with gratitude, and wished to thank each and every one of us for our prayers for him. Fun!

I think that we often under-value, and maybe even dismiss, the importance of building each other up.

I liked this comment by a New Testament scholar in regards to this verse: “Not much hope grows where not much love flows and love needs to flow through people…” (William Loader)

While we may assume it goes without saying, let us encourage one another and build each other up - because that is good for us, and for our community!

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

November 14

[Elijah was told] “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

I Kings 19:11-12

We have just two more Sundays until Advent begins. While time passes the same each year - (of course) - this year it feels like Advent is sneaking up on me.

As we come to the end of the Church year, the lessons assigned for Sunday worship fix our eyes on the end of all things, and God’s promised salvation.

Here is a prayer for worship tomorrow that rejoices in God’s work in the world, and invites us to deeper trust.

It is from the web site of Rev. Thom Schuman, Lectionary Liturgies.

Prayer of the Day


in the silence,

when we struggle

to control our lives,

may we, once again,

empty ourselves of our pride and fears,

to be filled with your hope.


in these moments,

when we cannot let go

of our worries and doubts,

may we, once again,

open our hands to hold your faith.


on this day

which is only and always

your gift to us,

may we, once again,

live into your kingdom.

Now, as we lift our hearts to you,

God in Community, Holy in One,

we once again pray as we have been taught saying,

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.

November 13

Let each of you look not to your own interests,

but to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:4

It’s World Kindness Day!

Who knew?

A friend sent me a very nice prayer the other day, saying that he thought I might like it. Since he’s a preacher’s kid, he ought to know that if I did like it, I might well mention him, and go on to share with you. But, since it is World Kindness Day, I will leave him out of it.

I like how this prayer seeks to put our efforts to limit the spread of Coronavirus in the context of care for our neighbor. A sort of kindness day perspective.

Here it is:

A Prayer for Putting on a Face Mask

Creator God,

as I prepare to go into the world,

help me to see the sacramental nature of wearing of this cloth.

Let it be a tangible and visible way of living love for my neighbors,

as I love myself.

Christ Jesus,

since my lips will be covered,

uncover my heart,

that people would see my smile in the crinkles around my eyes.

Since my voice may be muffled,

help me to speak clearly,

not only with my words,

but with my actions.

Holy Spirit,

as the elastic touches my ears,

remind me to listen carefully and caringly to all those I meet.

May this simple piece of cloth be shield and banner,

and may each breath that it holds,

be filled with Your love.

In Your name and in that love,

I pray.


Rev. Richard Bott, Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Canada

November 12

“Be patient, therefore, beloved,

until the coming of the Lord.

James 5:7

Friends in Christ,

Lately, I have been thinking about the fact that it seems that when it comes to dealing with this pandemic, our patience is wearing thin. Interestingly, yesterday’s email from our Montana Synod included these “Words From the Bishop.” Our bishop, Dr. Laurie Jungling, wrote about patience beginning:

“During my brief time in the military, an often-used phrase was “Hurry up and wait!””

She commented on how our society is not very good at patience. Then she makes this observation:

“…for followers of Christ, patience is still an important part of the fruit of the Spirit. (Gal 5:22) In fact, the words patient, patience and patiently are used 35 times in the New Testament, each time as an aspect of Christ-like love. Again and again, followers of Christ are called to be patient, especially as we await the coming of Christ.”

She goes on to say:

“Patience, however, does not mean to sit and do nothing as we wait.”

Along with our bishop, let me encourage you in active waiting; that you might live, in our Bishop’s words:

“in hope-filled faith in God.”

How will this will take shape? In as many different ways as there are members of Trinity. Let us join together to pray for Trinity, for our community, for those in need of healing and those who serve to take care of us all. Let us persevere in working together to keep our community safe, and to show God’s love to all whom we can.

Bishop Laurie again:

“Remember that patience in Christ requires practice: the more we do it, the better we get at it.”

As weariness comes our way, it is encouraging to see patience as a way of bearing Christ-like love to this world in need. Thanks bishop Laurie!

Pastor Phil

You can sing up for the Synod email newsletter at: - toward the bottom of the home page.

November 11

For everything there is a season,

and a time for every matter under heaven

Ecclesiastes 3:1

With today being Veteran’s Day, I thought I would share from The Prayer Book for the Armed Forces that the ELCA published just a few years ago. We have a copy here if you have a service member you would like to gift with this fine little prayer book.

I will conclude with a nice Litany for Veterans written by Pastor Tom Williams, of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.


Almighty and ever-living God, we give you thanks for the men and women who have served and defended our country and the values of freedom and justice we hold so dear. Help us be mindful of the sacrifices they made and the hardship endured by their families and friends, so that we never take for granted the privileges they have secured for us. Hear us, we pray, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen. (ELW The Prayer Book for the Armed Forces p. 66)

A Litany for Veterans

On this day, we remember those who have served in our armed forces

Pause for silent reflection

Prince of Peace, even as we pray for an end to war,

We give thanks for our soldiers’ courage, for their love of country, and for their work to bring peace to our world.

Healer of All, bind up the wounds of all who have served

Show us how to comfort those who are hurting.

Merciful God, all suffer the cost of war.

We remember widows and widowers, orphans, and all those separated from those they love.

We pray, Gracious God,

that swords will be turned into plowshares and that peace will reign.

We give thanks for all who have served. Shield from danger those who bravely protect us. With them, may we glory not in war, but in your love and righteousness. Strengthen us to be your peacemakers in the world. Amen.

November 10

But, we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

I Thessalonians 4:1

I have to reflect a bit more on 1 Thessalonians 4.

The word gnostic relates to esoteric mystical knowledge. We use that term mainly to talk about some ancient religions. It can also describe many religious world-views of every time and place.

Gnosticism is a perspective that claims to have knowledge and insight unavailable to those who are not part of the little sect that thinks they know better than everyone else.

Gnostics will tend to believe that their special knowledge sets them apart, and makes them saved, while others are left out.

When Paul points to inside knowledge, it is not to look down on those in the outside, and point out how lost they are. Paul’s word of knowledge and insight inspires hope.

Even grief is shaped by the hope of Jesus Christ, and this great good news inspires - not looking down on “the lost" - but inspires us to reach out, and lift others to the same life giving knowledge and joy.

November 9

But, we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

I Thessalonians 4:1

I touched on this in my sermon yesterday, but want to say it again. These words from 1 Thessalonians offer rich comfort for us:

Our grief, like everything else in our lives, is transformed when we belong to God through Jesus Christ. We certainly do grieve in this life - but we do so with the hope of the Gospel.

Every aspect of your life is transformed by your baptism into Christ. This might well be a good verse for you to memorize. Or maybe, internalize the core promise, that the gift of the Gospel is so all encompassing, that even grief is shaped by hope.

November 7

This is the day that the LORD has made;

let us rejoice and be glad in it..

Psalm 118:24

Did you know that today is National Bison Day???

Now that you think about it, don’t you wonder how you made it this far through National Bison Day unaware?

You’re welcome.

I learned this vital factoid from an email that came my way. At first, I just rushed past the note, probably checking on something less important, like the election. Then I went back to the email in question.

It’s National Bison Day!

One interesting thing about that, is we can see Bison most every day of the year, can’t we? I imagine that if I just turn around, I could see a few right out the office window. And how often do I really take notice? How often do I admire and enjoy the beauty of that majestic animal, created by God?

Now, I guess I could beat myself up for not being more mindful. Or, I could take this National Bison Day as a reminder to enjoy and marvel at this gift we have of being able to see them so regularly. Maybe I could say a prayer of thanks to God for such beauty. Then it might be wise to go on to pray for my family and congregation and others God has given so generously - whom I also take for granted sometimes.

The same is true for the great gift of belonging to God through Jesus Christ.

Like me, too often, you take this miracle of grace for granted.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want you to feel bad about that. I simply encourage you to rejoice that such a marvelous gift is yours, and maybe you might want to take notice of it sometime today, and say a prayer of thanks. Thanks for God’s grace. Thanks for Bison. Thanks for all whom God has placed in your life. Peace to you, Pastor Phil

November 6

This is the day that the LORD has made;

let us rejoice and be glad in it..

Psalm 118:24

Friends in Christ, I want to share with you some people to keep in our prayers. On Wednesday evening, Roman Skatula died. Let us pray for Marty, and her entire family. There will most likely be a funeral for family in the near term, and in the spring, we hope to have a more public celebration of Roman’s life.

Part of being Church is in praying for one another. Here are a few of our fellow Trinity members to keep in our prayers: Carol Dau who has had back surgery, Dorothy Quick, Dorothy Quick, Mona Bilyeu, Virginia Todd, Dorie Thoma, Ernie Ward, (Shawna Michelena’s father), Clint Fuller (Tracy Ressler’s brother). Let us also pray for those who work in our schools, teachers and support staff, our Trinity students, and all the children given into our care here in Sheridan.

I mentioned joining Bishop Laurie Jungling in post-election prayer for our communities yesterday.

Bishop Laurie shared a morning prayer that she uses in her personal devotions, and I asked her to share it with us, so we could include it for Trinity Connections.

She was glad to do so.

Let us pray…

Thank you, gracious God, for the gift of this new day.

Awaken me to your abiding presence;

Open my eyes to your creation;

Open my ears to your promises;

Open my heart to the needs of others.

Fill me with your Spirit and guide me this day

In works of kindness, justice, and mercy.

I ask this in the name of Jesus, the light and life of the world.


November 5

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

I just joined eleven other leaders in our synod in prayer and post-election conversation led by Bishop Laurie Jungling. We prayed for local leaders, for state leaders and for our president. We prayed for our Church, and shared words of Gospel hope and love.

Knowing my friends and colleagues who were there, we didn’t all vote for the same persons, but we serve the same Lord.

Today, I will share the prayer that closed our time together this morning - known as the Prayer of St. Francis.

I suspect that most of us have heard this prayer a number of times. It seemed surprisingly fitting this morning, and I immediately thought: “I should share that for Trinity Connections.”

So, let us pray…

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console,

to be understood as to understand,

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


November 4

I saw it in our kitchen the other day, and it caught my eye, caught my heart. It is a prayer for healing that we used in worship earlier in the year. We have printed it out and it sits by our kitchen sink.

I’ve included this prayer in Trinity Connections before, and it feels fitting for me to share right now.

O God, our refuge and our strength, you made us in your own image, and redeemed us through Jesus your Son.

Look with compassion on the whole human family, and heal us of the arrogance and hatred that infects our hearts.

Break down the walls that divide, and heal our communities.

O Jesus, we long to reach out and touch even the fringe of your cloak, reach out to us, dear Jesus, and call us to walk in faith, that we might be made well.

O Spirit of God, by the power of the resurrection, comfort all who mourn, give hope to all who wonder, give healing to all who hurt and give your peace to all the world.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

November 3

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive..”

Colossians 3:12-13

It is election day, and I trust that most all of us will have voted by the end of today.

I think about this every once in a while. I grew up in suburban Minneapolis, and I remember in the early 70’s, there was a vote in our community concerning subsidized housing. The pastor of our congregation addressed that vote a number of times. He did that by saying: “When you vote on this, remember, that you are a Christian.”

I have a suspicion that one of the the most complex things about voting and our faith, is the fact that one can defend most any vote from their faith perspective. That means it takes a fair measure of generosity of heart and careful understanding to avoid falling into camps of “us against them.”

I trust that our votes will be informed by our faith in Jesus Christ. I also suspect that we will not vote the same on every issue. Perhaps it would be wise to recall Luther’s words in the Small Catechism; the 8th commandment: “Thou shall not bear false witness.” Luther offers this wise counsel: “We are to fear and love God so that we do not betray, slander, or lie about our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain his actions in the kindest way.”

And so - blessings on you in your voting, and blessings on our country, as we seek to love and serve in Jesus’ name.

I liked this prayer that our ELCA Bishop, Bishop Elizabeth Eaton shared:

Let us pray together for our nation:

O God, where hearts are fearful and constricted,

grant courage and hope.

Where anxiety is infectious and widening,

grant peace and reassurance.

Where distrust twists our thinking,

grant healing and illumination.

Help us in these days to elect trustworthy leaders,

participate in wise decisions for our common life

and serve our neighbors.

Bless those we elect,

that our nation may grow toward peace among ourselves

and be a blessing to other nations of the earth;

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

November 2

“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

Yesterday was All Saints Day. I really like the Prayer of the Day for All Saints, and I thought I would share it here today. (As a personal favor, I will not tell you to vote!)

Let us pray.

Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one communion in the mystical body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Grant us grace to follow your blessed saints in lives of faith and commitment, and to know the inexpressible joys you have prepared for those who love you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

I especially missed gathering together yesterday, because I have come to value All Saints more and more through the years. In part, I suspect, this is because I have more personal saints in my own life whom I have commended to God’s care. Yet I think it is more than that. Much more. I have grown to understand, more and more, how we are connected to one another, and how this touches on so many aspects of our lives. That is something I love about this verse from II Timothy.

May God bless you, in your sincere faith, and may All Saints be a time to to recall where this faith first resided, and may we ever give thanks for those who have made sure this faith lives in us!