Connections November '21

November 30

The people who walked in darkness

have seen a great light;

those who lived in a land of deep darkness—

on them light has shined.

Isaiah 9:2

I often think of Advent as a season of light. It might be more accurate to say it is a season light in the darkness. Especially for Christians in the Northern hemisphere, as the nights grow longer, we light candles to shed light in the darkness.

Hanukkah began for our Jewish neighbors on Sunday evening. This festival of lights is a commemoration of victory for the people of Israel, and a rededication of the temple. This event took place about 160 years before Jesus was born.

I really like the line; "A candle loses none of its light by lighting another candle.”

In this season of candle lighting, of celebrating the light shining in the darkness, let us rejoice to dwell in the light.

This prayer from the Service of the Word in the ELW, (page 220) might well be an Advent prayer:

O God of justice and love,

we give thanks to you

that you illumine our way through life

with the words of your Son.

Give us the light we need,

awaken us to the needs of others,

and at the end bring all the world to your feast;

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,

be honor and glory forever.


May the Light shine for you, Pastor Phil

November 29

Jesus said to them, “When you pray...”

Luke 11:2

Advent has begun. While I will often point out that this is the beginning of the Church year - (Year C for those who like to take note of highly technical designations like that!) - I have to admit that January 1st feels like the “beginning” of the year, and Advent really doesn’t quite inspire the same felling… For instance, I’ve never thought of ‘New Year’ resolutions at the beginning of Advent.

Well, I recently ran across this list that I had set aside years ago. This is from Renovare, a group that seeks to build on and encourage: “the spiritual practices of Jesus and of the historical Church.” This list invites us to consider some “prayer practices” and it seemed to me this could offer some possibilities for Advent/New Year’s Resolutions, maybe not resolutions, so much as possibilities for your Advent devotions.…

Advent Blessings to you as we enter this season of promise!

Pastor Phil

Practicing a Prayer-Filled Life

1. I will pray 10 minutes each morning or evening

2. I will pray without words (in silence) for five minutes each day.

3. I will offer a short prayer throughout each day (for example, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner" or "Lord Jesus, come and abide in my heart more and more.")

4. In this week I will set aside one hour that will be free of distraction. I will use the time for solitude, prayer and meditation on the Bible.

5. I will take a walk outside and appreciate God through creation or simply sit and watch a sunset.

7. I will set aside in this week, 15 minutes as a time of thanksgiving. I will sit and think about everything I am thankful for. (This is not a time to pray for others, simply to say thank you.)

8. I will practice listening to God. I will take one verse of scripture and spend 10 minutes in this week just thinking about one verse.

9. I will spend 10 minutes holding my family and others before God in prayer.

10. I will pray for the pastor and the leaders of Trinity Lutheran Church. I will ask God to give them courage and strength and wisdom. I will pray for their protection.

11. I will read from a devotional book.

12. I will remember the Sabbath. I will allow myself to do nothing and sit in God’s presence.

13. I will thank God for being with me in this week.

Excerpted from "A Spiritual Formation Workbook" by James Bryan Smith, with Lynda Graybeal.

HarperCollins, N.Y. pg. 87, 1999.

November 28

First Sunday of Advent

Today is the First Sunday Advent.

The first Sunday of the Church year.

Sunday worship will be at 8:30 and 11:00

No Sunday School today.

The Prayer of the Day:

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.

By your merciful protection

awaken us to the threatening dangers of our sins,

and keep us blameless

until the coming of your new day,

for you live and reign with the Father

and the Holy Spirit,

one God,

now and forever.


November 27

“And be thankful.”

Colossians 3:15

Holy Communion has many names. We usually refer to it as The Lord’s Supper, and if I think about it, I probably most often simply refer to it as “Communion.” A name that we rarely use, but is used quite widely in the Church is “Eucharist.” Eucharist is the Greek word “thanksgiving.”


Gratitude follows from the gift of Jesus giving himself for the life of the world, doesn't it?

This weekend of Thanksgiving, leads to our beginning of the “new year” for the Church with the season of Advent.

May we be filled with joyful gratitude as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s appearance in our midst.

Peace to you.

Pastor Phil

November 26

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Matthew 25:40

I think often of a comment Mother Theresa made in an interview I read a long time ago.

The reporter asked her something like: “For what are are you most grateful?”

I thought perhaps she should say something about the Gospel, about God’s gift of sending Jesus to save us…

Her response was more like this. “I am most grateful for the poor. For through caring for them, I may love my Lord.”

For what are you most grateful? Family, friends, the great freedoms we enjoy and the many blessings that come our way. They all are part of the gifts for which we give thanks.

Let us join Mother Theresa, in gratitude for the great gift that God has given us. The gift of calling us to respond to the outpouring of God’s love in Jesus Christ, by pouring ourselves out in love for the world.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

November 25

“And be thankful.”

Colossians 3:15

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

Here is the Prayer of the Day for Thanksgiving:

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.


Blessings to you and yours! Pastor Phil

November 24

“And be thankful.”

Colossians 3:15

My internship pastor liked Colossians 3 for wedding sermons.

“As God’s chosen ones, …clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. …forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… And be thankful…”

That’s just part of the passage, and it’s all good!

I like that list… compassion, kindness, humility, patience, forgiveness. All topped off with a call to gratitude.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, I hope you will join me in gratitude for the community of Trinity Lutheran Church.

I am deeply grateful for your generosity, your faithfulness and the joy of being in this community together with you. Of course, community calls for compassion, kindness, forgiveness… the whole list is fitting - for a marriage, and for any community.

Blessings to you this season of gratitude and joy, and know that I am grateful for you.

Thank you.

Pastor Phil

November 23

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you…”

Romans 1:8a

November has traditionally been the season that we have a stewardship emphasis for Trinity. A few of us met with a stewardship leader from the Montana Synod, to consider our approach to stewardship this year. As we thought about Trinity Lutheran Church, and your great generosity, we concluded that this season should perhaps simply be a season of giving thanks.

Thank you for your generous giving to Trinity.

Due to your generosity, Trinity is in fine shape financially, and we have been able to continue our generous support of many ministries, including ELCA World Hunger, Lunch Together, Food Group and more.

Trinity is a very generous community, and I believe that this is a reflection of the gratitude we live in response to the Gospel.

And so, once again, Thank You!

Blessings, Pastor Phil

November 22

in everything by prayer and supplication

with thanksgiving

let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6b 3:15b

Thanksgiving is a time to focus on gratitude.

I sometimes think that I lose track of gratitude. Often my prayers entirely consist of concerns and intercessions, and I overlook thanksgiving.

Rather than lament too much about that, I am hoping to take this week to remember to be grateful for the many gifts God showers upon us.

Paul’s words in Philippians are fitting to remember this week (and always!)

“…in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Take note: this is not a rejection of concerns and intercessions, it is an inclusion of gratitude!)

A blessed Thanksgiving week to you, Pastor Phil

November 21

Christ the King Sunday

Today is the last Sunday of the year, Christ the King.

Advent begins next Sunday.

The Prayer of the Day:

Almighty and ever-living God,

you anointed your beloved Son

to be priest and sovereign forever.

Grant that all the people of the earth,

now divided by the power of sin,

may be united by the glorious and gentle rule

of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever. Amen.

November 20

And be thankful

Colossians 3:15b

I love this passage from the 3rd chapter of Colossians:

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.

Above all,

clothe yourselves with love,

which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,

to which indeed you were called in the one body.

And be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly;

teach and admonish one another in all wisdom;

and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.

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 3:12-17

There is a lot of advice and positive encouragement here. I really like the short sentence in verse 15. “And be thankful.” In the midst of a call to love, forgiveness, compassion and more, there is that quick note, inviting us to live in gratitude as well.

Rather than go on with more advice, I will simply encourage you to live with these words from Paul as we make our way to Thanksgiving!

A blessed weekend to you, Pastor Phil

November 19

In everything

by prayer and supplication

with thanksgiving

let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

In a sort of odd, and maybe funny, almost sad reflection on the cultural emphasis on gratitude of late; a writer said this:

“By demanding gratitude of everyone, we have rendered that same gratitude null and void. Feeling grateful because you’re told to feel grateful is not gratitude, but it is now part of an endless list of demands we must (but cannot) live up to. It is no longer enough to be successful or happy or fit, you must also be grateful for all of these things.”

Reading this caused me to recall something Luther wrote shortly after the controversy that followed the publication of the 95 Theses.

In Article 26 of the Heidelberg Disputation, Luther writes:

The law says, “do this,” and it is never done.

Grace says, “Believe in this,” and everything is already done.

The demand to be grateful, while well meaning, and pointing you to a great good, is doomed to fail. Gratitude is joy at the gift given. Which drives me to another obscure quote, this time from theologian Gustav Wingren looking at Luther’s theology: “Faith is joy at a gift which man received without becoming as good as he hoped.”

Faith and gratitude are oriented toward the goodness and faithfulness of God. I think this is why our culture is never sure how to talk about them. When speaking of gratitude, it gets lost in the demands. When speaking of faith, it gets lost in all sorts of ways, most especially in the insistence that faith is authored by our own selves, rather than a response to God’s love and grace.

In everything, give thanks. Not because you have to, but because God is so generous and gracious and loving, and because you have been gifted with the capacity to respond with gratitude.

Blessings to you, Pastor Phil

November 18

In everything

by prayer and supplication

with thanksgiving

let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

I love this passage from Philippians 4:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

Do not worry about anything,

but in everything by prayer and supplication

with thanksgiving

let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God,

which surpasses all understanding,

will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Thanksgiving is a week away, and I would like to reflect on gratitude a bit in these next few days.

If you google the phrase “health benefits of gratitude” you will get close to half a million hits.

That is, well, impressive? crazy? wonderful? interesting?

As God’s people in Christ, we are called to gratitude.

I encourage you to embrace gratitude in your life, not because it is good for your health - - - though it seems like it is - - - but because God is gracious, and gratitude is only a fitting response to the giftedness of God’s amazing love.

I have a suspicion that when gratitude is embraced because it is good for you, then something is lost in the process. I wonder how gratitude, if it is not directed towards someone, is really exercised...

Some studies show that regular worship attendance is good for your health and your relationships. Yet I would encourage you to worship, not because of the benefits, but because God desires for us to gather regularly to hear the Good News. In hearing of God's love, it is only fitting to praise God for such generosity.

In an incisive reflection on gratitude; Rev. Al Rogness shares a bit of a poem he had encounter but not memorized. Titled something like “Atheists Lament” he suggests the lines conclude like this: “I can stand at the open grave of a loved one and steel myself, I don’t need God. But, when the autumn leaves are in full color, and the sun is shining brightly, and I’m walking through the woods with my beloved’s hand in mine, it’s a terrible thing not to have anyone to thank.”

The deep giftedness of gratitude, lies in the relationship it nurtures between you, and the giver of all good things!

I am grateful to God for you!

Peace, Pastor Phil

November 17

“Let us hold fast

to the confession of our hope

without wavering,

for he who has promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23

I wonder if we might consider Hebrews 10:23-25, (which was our 2nd lesson last Sunday), to be a compelling description of the Christian life. (Not THE description, but "a" description of our life in Christ.)

“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering,

for he who has promised is faithful.

And let us consider how to provoke one another

to love and good deeds,

not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some,

but encouraging one another,

and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

Heb 10:23-25

There is quite a bit there!

Hold fast without wavering.

The hope of our confession.

He who has promised is faithful.

Provoke one another (in a good way!).

Meet together and encourage one another.

As I said, there is quite a bit in this passage. In fact, I become a bit overwhelmed, seeking a way to underscore what Hebrews 10 offers for us to reflect upon and seek to live out in our lives together.

Undergirding it all, is the faithfulness of God. I think when we take our eyes off of God's faithfulness, and pay attention to our selves, we miss the giftedness of the Gospel. When we see this central aspect of our life in Christ, when we perceive that all of life is gift from God, we easily hear the call to reach out and share God's gifts with the world.

I shared a video on Saturday, it tells the story of one ministry that our giving to ELCA World Hunger helps in Kentucky. If you didn't have 6 and a half minutes to watch last time, maybe you can make time now, it is down the page a bit here…

This is a living out of our ELCA tagline, "God's work. Our hands."

We might also call it “love and good deeds.”

I invite you to take a look again at these words from Hebrews 10:23-25.

Let us hold fast indeed!

Blessings to you, Pastor Phil

November 16

And let us consider

how to provoke one another

to love and good deeds

Hebrews 10:24

What might it look like to “consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds”?

That seems like it could be hard work. Or maybe it could be lots of fun.

I suspect it might look like serving Lunch Together or quilting or helping with the Food Group. For our young students, it might look like going to school and being a good friend, being kind, working hard as an excellent student. Being a caring and excellent teacher, might fit in the category of “love and good deeds.” Really, any of the callings and activities of our daily lives.

Perhaps we might want to thank those we see showing kindness and care. Maybe we might be wise to point out when we see people helping to make our community a better place.

May you take note of, and encourage the good things you see in those around you today.

Peace, Pastor Phil

November 15

And let us consider

how to provoke one another

to love and good deeds

Hebrews 10:24

Yesterday we heard from Hebrews 10.

I find this a most intriguing phrase. “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds…”

What an interesting encouragement.

Usually the word provoke has a negative connotation. Here, we are being called to help spur one another to love.

Wouldn’t this be an interesting goal for the week; provoking one another to love and good deeds?

Blessings to you today, and throughout this week.

I encourage you to look for ways to share and bear God’s love in all you do.

Peace, Pastor Phil

November 14

25th Sunday after Pentcost

Next Sunday is the last Sunday of the year, Christ the King.

Advent begins 2 weeks from today.

The Psalm for today:


Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you;

I have said to the LORD,

"You are my Lord, my good above all other."

All my delight is in the godly that are in the land,

upon those who are noble among the people.

O LORD, you are my portion and my cup;

it is you who uphold my lot.

My boundaries enclose a pleasant land; indeed,

I have a rich inheritance.

I will bless the LORD who gives me counsel;

my heart teaches me night after night.

I have set the LORD always before me;

because God is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;

my body also shall rest in hope.

For you will not abandon me to the grave,

nor let your holy one see the pit.

You will show me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy,

and in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

The service is posted online the sermon will be added later.

November 13

Then the righteous will answer him,

‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food,

or thirsty and gave you something to drink?

Matthew 25:37

In November we have traditionally invited one another to consider a special gift to ELCA World Hunger. World Hunger Envelopes are available in the narthex this month. (They are not necessary, you can also simply note in the memo line of your check that your gift is for ELCA World Hunger.)

I have not done this often, but I am going to encourage you to watch this video from ELCA World Hunger. It is striking to consider that we have neighbors in our own country who go days without food. Thanks be to God that we have the opportunity to give aid through our Church.

This video tells the story of a nonprofit ministry supported by our gifts to ELCA World Hunger. Manna From Heaven is located in Myra, a community in eastern Kentucky. I think you will find it a worthwhile 6 and a half minutes to watch this story.


Manna From Heaven partners with Lutheran Church of the Resurrection (LCR) in Cincinnati to provide food and other essentials to 1,500 to 2,000 people every month. Through LCR, Manna From Heaven learned about ELCA World Hunger’s Domestic Hunger Grants, which made the purchase of an incubator possible for their chicken project.

Families who participate in the chicken program receive 20 chicks, a water dispenser, feed and education on how to raise the chicks. With this support and the families’ diligent care, the grown chickens lay eggs almost daily, providing a long-term source of protein.

May we give thanks for all the blessings we enjoy, and the gracious call to care for our neighbors.

Peace to you, hope to see you in worship tomorrow. Pastor Phil

November 12

"You also must be ready,

for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”.

Luke 12:40

My friend and colleague, Pastor Doug Vold, wrote a great reflection on how November seems the shortest month of the year. It becomes an interesting meditation on expectation and Advent. He said I could share it with you.

November Time

Pastor Doug Vold

November has always seemed to me to be the shortest month of the year.

Technically, of course, that is February. But nestled between Halloween and the cultural craziness of December, the month of November seems like the breath before the plunge. Blink and it's gone.

Which means a lot of November is lived looking ahead.

Are we getting decorations ready? Are we doing a bunch of Christmas shopping?

Are we starting, even now, to get stressed out at the prospect of events to come? Travel plans? Get with it!

I have two quick thoughts about our experience of time in November.

One, I remind myself to live in the present to the extent that I can.

This is because wonder is something we experience in the present.

Wonder seems related to awareness, alertness, and attention to the senses at this moment.

It's hard to plan for. It's carried forward only as a memory.

Yet wonder brings joy that nurtures the soul.

That said, (thought #2)

It is fascinating to notice how strongly the future can affect the present.

The strong pull of something coming up affects us ahead of time.

Which makes it kind of a parable of God's kingdom.

God's future is not yet here. But its strong pull can affect our hearts and minds and activities ahead of time.

We feel its influence. We can't help but anticipate its coming.

All this leads to a rather awkward conclusion.

November time can seem more like Advent than Advent.

May hopeful expectation shape November for you, AS WELL AS your Advent, (from the First Sunday of Advent, November 28th; or maybe beginning today)! Peace to you, Pastor Phil

November 11

For everything there is a season,

and a time for every matter under heaven

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Today is Veteran’s Day. A blessed day to all you who have served our country with love and devotion. Thank you!

This prayer is from The Prayer Book for the Armed Forces, published 8 years ago by the ELCA and our publishing house, Augsburg Fortress.

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.


(ELW The Prayer Book for the Armed Forces p. 66)

November 10

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

I Corinthians 15:10a

Today is Martin Luther’s birthday.

Here is a line from Luther’s response to being censured by the pope. It was written 500 years ago, yet seems as if it could have been offered up today as a devotional reflection on our life in Christ.

This life, therefore, is not godliness

but the process of becoming godly,

not health but getting well,

not being but becoming,

not rest but exercise.

We are not now what we shall be,

but we are on the way.

The process is not yet finished,

but it is actively going on.

This is not the goal but it is the right road.

At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle,

but everything is being cleansed.

Martin Luther

(From "Defense and Explanation of All the Articles” [1521])

Luthers Works 32.24

May we trust the faithfulness of God to make us God’s own, now and forever.

Peace to you, and Happy Birthday Marty! Pastor Phil

November 9

Jesus wept.

John 11:34 (RSV)

“Jesus wept.” Read these words and rejoice.

Much has been made of the fact that - in this translation - this is the shortest verse in the Bible. “Jesus wept.”

For all its brevity, it says quite a bit, doesn’t it?

Jesus wept.

In the face of the loss of his friend, Jesus shed tears. Seeing Lazarus’ sisters in their grief, he was overcome with grief himself. Even though just a few verses earlier had spoken of the promise of the resurrection, even then, he was moved to tears by the pain of loss.

The book of Hebrews, in a number of places, (2:17-18; 4:14-16) speaks about how Jesus has entered into the sort of life that we ourselves live, and how this speaks to God’s desire to save us as we are. (Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. Hebrews 2:18)

“Jesus wept.” This shortest of verses speaks volumes about Jesus’ love for Lazarus and his family. It speaks even more of God’s love for us, and for all the world.

I read these words; “Jesus wept.” And I rejoice.

What an amazing measure of love, that God should enter into our world in Jesus Christ! That Jesus should enter into friendship and love and loss and weeping. That God’s love for you will go this far!

Thanks be to God for the measure of God’s love shown in Jesus Christ.

Pax, Pastor Phil

November 8

I was glad when they said to me,

“Let us go to the house of the LORD!”

Psalm 121:1

Yesterday our 4th and 5th graders received their first communion. It was a delight to have this day to celebrate this gift with them. It was inspiring to see them receive the bread and wine with youthful reverence.

The Psalmist proclaims gladness at the call to gather together at God’s house. While I’m sure that regular worship can at times seem like a task and obligation for most all of us, a day like this brings deep joy.

May this coming week bear times of awareness of God’s presence, and the gifts of God’s grace.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

November 7

“I am the resurrection and the life.”

John 11:25

An interesting liturgy for "feasting with friends" at All Saints:

In celebrating this feast

we declare that

evil and death,

suffering and loss,

sorrow and tears,

will not have the final word.

But the joy of fellowship, and the welcome

and comfort of friends new and old,

and the celebration of these blessings of

food and drink and conversation and


are the true evidences of things eternal,

and are the first fruits of that great glad job

that is to come and that will be unending.

So let our feast this day be joined

to those sure victories secured by Christ,

Let it be to us know a delight, and a glad

foretaste of his eternal kingdom.

Bless us, 0 Lord, in this feast.

excerpt from "A Litugy for Feasting with Friends"

from Every Moment Holy by Douglas McKelvey

November 6

When [Jesus] had said this,

he cried with a loud voice,

“Lazarus, come out!”

John 11:43

Tomorrow is All Saints Sunday. I hope to see you in worship.

Remember our 4th and 5th graders receive their first communion.

One point many preachers will make tomorrow will be to proclaim; “you are all saints.” I have fit that into many an All Saints Sunday sermon myself. We know this is true, each one of us who belongs to God through Jesus Christ, is a saint of the Church.

Our Gospel text tomorrow is from the 11th chapter of the Gospel of John, the story of the raising of Lazarus.

I like the suggestion, made by a number of preachers, that we might well say that “you are all Lazarus.”

Like Lazarus, Jesus calls you out, calling you to live in the new life that God bears to you through Jesus Christ.

Listen for this call. Look for ways to live out the resurrection hope and life poured out for you and for all the world.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

November 5

“I am the resurrection and the life.”

John 11:25

Sunday we mark All Saints. I suspect All Saints becomes more important to us as we get older.

It is hard for a child to be interested in All Saints Day, especially since the day before, Halloween takes up most all of the real estate in a child’s heart and mind. I suspect that my children, in their 20’s, don’t really notice All Saints, they are so busy, learning, living, playing.

Even in those next few decades, it is probably not a very significant day for most. Yet now - - - after having commended more beloved family and friends to God’s eternal care - - - this day takes on more significance for me.

And so, I look forward to All Saints Sunday. I look forward to that point in the Communion liturgy, when we name those whom we’ve lost in the past year.

Once again, we take note of the loss, and more importantly, we take note of the promise. We believe that the last word to be spoken to them is God’s word of resurrection and life.

May the sure and certain hope of the resurrection be a blessing to us all!

Pastor Phil

November 4

And the Word became flesh and lived among us,

and we have seen his glory,

the glory as of a father’s only son,

full of grace and truth

John 1:14

I ran across this thought about gratitude and wanted to share it.

“There’s so much to be grateful for,

words are poor things.”

- Marilynne Robinson, Home

What a thought, that some of life’s richest blessings go beyond words. It is also true that many of life’s greatest challenges often have no words… So many of life’s deepest experiences are times and feelings and events that cannot begin to be contained in words.

This coming Sunday a number of our children will be receiving their First Communion. In Holy Communion, God reaches out to you, not with words, but with the bread and wine of Jesus’ last supper.

In the Small Catechism, Luther says that Holy Communion bears to us, “…forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. For where there is forgiveness of sin, there is also life and salvation.” He then offers this question:

How can eating and drinking do all this?

It is not eating and drinking that does this, but the words, given and shed for you for the remission of sins. These words, along with eating and drinking, are the main thing in the sacrament. And whoever believes these words has exactly what they say, forgiveness of sins.

Did you catch that? It’s the words, “along with eating and drinking…” Interesting. It is the words, but the eating and drinking that is beyond words…

Please pray for our 4th and 5th graders who will be receiving their First Communion. This is an important day for them, because: “There’s so much to be grateful for, words are poor things.”

Blessings, Pastor Phil

November 3

Above all, clothe yourselves with love,

which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:14

I really like November. This month has two of my very favorite days. Thanksgiving, and Laura’s birthday.

This is a season of gratitude. You can look on the internet and find thousands and thousands of articles about how gratitude is good for you.

While that may be so, it is also true that gratitude is simply a fitting response to the many blessings God has poured into our lives.

While we might seek to grow in gratitude in order to gain the benefits it bears, I suspect it would be more life giving to grow in gratitude simply because gratitude is a fitting response to the blessings of life.

I like the simple sentence in the midst of this wonderful passage from Colossians 3. “And be thankful”

I encourage you to carry these words of encouragement from Paul with you as you go through the day. And be thankful!

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. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 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 3:12-17)

Pax, Pastor Phil

November 2

I hereby command you:

Be strong and courageous;

do not be frightened or dismayed,

for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

This week of All Saints Day, I share this prayer, which speaks of God’s creative purpose and of God’s presence with you always.

Oh, that I might ever know

Your Presence in every face

Your Pulse in every heart;

That I might ever feel

Your Breath in every breeze

Your Touch in each rain drop;

That I might ever see

Your Smile in every bloom

Your Might in each sunrise.

And, oh, please grant

That I might view

Life's beauty through

Your Eyes.

- Beams of Prayer: Spiritual Reflections with Edward J. Farrell p. 33

November 1

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

A blessed All Saints Day to you.

The Prayer fo the Day for All Saints:

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.


I share with you - again - this great line by Methodist missionary, bishop and writer, E. Stanley Jones:

“Every person who belongs to Christ

belongs to every person who belongs to Christ.” -

I am so very grateful for our belonging to one another.

A blessed week to you, may memories of those “saints” in your life who are no longer with us, be filled with love, grace and hope.

Pastor Phil