Connections October

October 31

“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.”

I John 3:1

Today, October 31st, is that favorite of holidays, Reformation Day! Is there something else on October 31st?

Perhaps you saw the meme that said “Anyone else feel like Halloween is unnecessary this year? I’ve been wearing a mask and eating candy for 7 months now, I don’t think we need a day dedicated to it.”

Tomorrow we mark All Saints, and the lessons key on the gifts of being followers of Jesus. First John rejoiced in the wonder that we are children of God. The Reformation was a reclaiming of this great good news.

October 30

for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,

  and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,

 and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 7:17

I liked this note from Bishop Laurie Jungling:

Blessings to you, people of the Montana Synod. This Sunday is All Saints Sunday, the holy-day in the church year during which we give thanks for and honor all who have supported us in our lives and faith journeys before leaving us temporarily in death. All Saints Sunday is about remembering the dead who are no longer with us here on earth. It’s also about recognizing the saints yet sinners who still walk with us in this world and are standing in defiant joy and inspired faith against death in all of its forms. Because, you see, this holy day is also about re-membering the resurrection that is promised to us in Jesus Christ.

In essence, All Saints Sunday is about facing death head-on and smiling at it through our faith in Christ. It’s about waving good-bye to death as Jesus banishes it into oblivion. All Saints Sunday is about celebrating life, the abundant life that comes to us in God’s eternal City through the power of Christ’s resurrection from the cross. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end,” Jesus announces in the Revelation of John (Chpt 21). “It is done. Every tear will be wiped from your eyes, mourning and crying and pain will be no more. Death will be no more. See, I am making all things new.”

As Jesus wipes away our tears and our fear of death with them, let us too stand in defiant joy against all that would try to destroy the new life Christ is bringing even now into our lives.

“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

Bishop Laurie

October 29

“One of them…, asked [Jesus] a question to test him.

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?””

Matthew 22:35

Preparing the worship service for Sunday, (which will be online) I saw this prayer, which was for a different week - but I thought it makes a good meditation as we venture to All Saints Day.


(inspired by Matthew 22:34-40)

The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.

“Love the Lord, your God

with all your heart

with all your soul

and with all

your mind.

And love your neighbor

as yourself.”


let this be.

Show us how.


your love be

the lens that lets us see,

the search that takes us where we go,

the power that enlivens our lives,

the light that points to the path,

and the very grace

that saves


O God,

kindly fill us with your love.

~ copyright © 2017, Anne M. Osdieck. Posted on The Sunday Website of Saint Louis University. The website grants permission to reproduce for personal or parish use.

October 28

“God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble”

Pslam 46:1

I was a little bit surprised to look at the calendar this morning and see that it is October 28th. That means today is my younger bother’s birthday. He is now just one year younger than me. But, he won’t catch up!

I don’t think about him when I think of All Saints Day, but maybe I should. I think that part of remembering All Saints Day, is taking note of everyone who has been a gift to us in our walk with Christ. For me, that would include my brothers and sister, and many of you as well.

Let us give thanks for those whom we’ve loved and lost that are significant to our faith, and let us give thanks for those who are still walking with us. And maybe, give one of them a call, in honor of All Saints, and thank them for who they are. After all, those people are a gift from God!

October 27

“God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble”

Pslam 46:1

I wonder what we might call the hymn; A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. It is a favorite hymn, sort of like someone’s “theme song.”

Martin Luther based this on Psalm 46. There is deep promise in knowing that we can turn to God for comfort and protection.“God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present help in trouble…”

As we have been dealing with this worldwide pandemic, I have thought about the fact that in Luther’s day, the Bubonic Plague was still impacting communities in Europe. It had begun in Europe some 135 years before Luther was born, yet waves of the plague went through Europe quite regularly until and beyond his lifetime.

While we know some simple ways to help mitigate the effects of this disease, and we know how it is transmitted, they lacked such knowledge. How threatening it must have seemed! How greatly they needed the promise of refuge!

Of course, we need that promise of refuge as well. I suspect that is part of why we love this hymn so.

I think the Reformation was, in many ways, a reforming of our vision of who God is. God is not a terrifying judge, but a loving refuge. Yes, judgment is part of God’s saving activity, yet it is judgment to move us to repentance and forgiveness, and a home in God’s loving arms.

October 26

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”

Pslam 46:1

Last week, Pastor Janet Hunt offered a reflection on Psalm 46. She spoke of the deep promise of the verse: “God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present help in trouble…”

“is there a better, more fitting time to be reminded [of this]?” she asks. She then tells of a commentator who suggests a different translation of verse 11: “Be still and know that I am God.” Rather than “be still” he suggests “let go, as in, “Let go and know that I am God.”

She says: “in his commentary he offers that this verb ‘let go’ etymologically means to relax one’s grip on something.’ He goes on to say that “it might be an injunction to cease and desist from armed struggle, to unclench the warriors fist.” (p. 123) He concludes finally that the point is that God is declaring God’s supremacy over all of it. All of it.”

Pr. Hunt makes this point: “This …is a powerful invitation isn’t it?

This being so, this is a powerful invitation isn’t it?

• To let go?

• To loosen our grips — especially our ‘warrior’ grips which have us in a mode of attacking and/or fighting back?

• And oh, isn’t it so that we find ourselves there too much these days — you and I, all of us who find ourselves living and serving in a time unlike any other with what too often feels like inadequate resources both internal and external with which to respond?”

“So yes, this year I am not listening for trumpet and brass as we give thanks that God is a Mighty Fortress. I am not listening for the triumphant shout, but for the whisper of hope which helps me to let go of:

• That which I cannot control,

• That which I have, no doubt, been fighting too long — both inside and out: expectations about how to do this right and how much is enough, to name a few,

• And yes, all of that which has I have allowed to batter away at me in turn…

Oh yes, I am wondering where and how I am called to loosen my own ‘warrior grip.’

For God is our refuge and strength. And this means that for me, at least, it is long overdue time to let go…”

October 24

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

I found this on a list of Yogi Berra quotes. I don’t remember seeing that he ever said this, but it is sorta fun way to end this week of baseball quotes:

“Love is the most important thing in the world,

but baseball is pretty good, too.”

Tomorrow is Reformation Sunday, and while we might often get caught up in the drama of Luther nailing a protest document to a door, and the history is fascinating, and the characters of the Reformation interesting, the central point of the Reformation, was and is the love of God.

May the love of God to re-shape you every day! Peace to you, Pastor Phil

October 23

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD,

plans for your welfare and not for harm,

to give you a future with hope

Jeremiah 29:11

Yogi Berra is quoted as saying “I never said most of the things I said.” What he meant was that once he became known for his funny sayings, many lines were falsely attributed to him.

Someone once sent me an email that purportedly quoted from Martin Luther. It was an excellent quote, except it seemed to me more like something from the 20th century, more directed toward the sad issue of racism. I checked. It was Martin Luther King, Jr.

A preacher wrote a sermon series on half-truths. Those things we’ve come to believe as true, but that are only half true. One of them is “the Lord helps those who help themselves.”

I’m not sure how it went, I never read the sermons, but it seems like an excellent way to get at the truth.

Yes, the Lord helps us, but it is so very far from true that the Lord’s help is somehow dependent on us.

As we mark Reformation this coming week, we would be wise to underline this deep truth. The Lord helps! God has sent Jesus, so that you might be made a member of God’s family, now and forever. This is pure gift! Rejoice in such generosity!

October 22

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD,

plans for your welfare and not for harm,

to give you a future with hope

Jeremiah 29:11

Yogi Berra quotes can be an interesting academic pursuit. One of his better known lines is: “When you come to a fork in the road take it.” “I never said most of the things I said.” ― Yogi Berra

That’s funny, and the root of it is too. Yogi grew up in a neighborhood of St. Louis, where a road to his house split at one point, and then reunited. So, in giving directions, one could simply say “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.” Either way you’d get there.

In speaking of our walk of faith, some people find talk of “God’s plan for you” to be very helpful.

I’m not so sure it is.

The text I’ve referenced from Jeremiah 29 suggests that God’s plan for you might not be that specific. God plans for you to live in hope. Hope grounded in God’s love, and God’s call to be God’s child.

When you come to a fork in the road, you don’t have to work out what exactly God’s plan might be at that point. You simply discern what you can, and then take whatever next step seems wisest.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

October 21

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:23-25 1:17-18a

With the World Series under way, I’m turning to the book of Yogi. Yogi Berra, that is. He was one of the greatest catchers of all time, and quite a funny man. He said so many funny things, they’ve been collected, and called “Yogi-isms.”

People think he said these things by accident, but my brother tells of hearing him admit that he didn’t. (At least most of them, he knew what he was doing.)

Perhaps his most famous line is “It ain’t over, til it’s over.”

Which is sorta funny, and true about most anything.

Considering that we have had to pause in-person worship, I looked for a fitting Yogi-ism, and smiled when I saw this dumb line: "You should always go to other people's funerals, otherwise, they won't come to yours.”

This doesn’t have a “deeper truth.” It’s just funny. But it doesn’t hurt to touch base with the truth that God calls us together in order that we might hear the promise of the resurrection. A funeral is for the living, so that they might hear the Good News, and commend the lost friend, loved one, fellow member of the Body of Christ, to God’s eternal care.

It is true, if you go to their funeral, they probably won’t go to yours, but there is a promise that they will join you in praise of God in God’s heavenly home!

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

October 20

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you…

Ephesians 1:17-18a

As I mentioned yesterday, the World Series begins today, and I think that gives me license to use some dumb baseball quotes. There is a great story about a manager who was booed by the fans one game. Afterwards, he was asked about that, and he replied: ”Baseball is like church, many attend, few understand.” That is variously attributed, but most folks think it was said by manager, Leo Durocher, a major baseball character from the 20’s into the 70’s.

I’m not going to try to unpack that very much. It’s just funny.

It is interesting to think about how there are quite different levels of understanding when we attend or participate in things. At a concert, few (if any) of us hear all that the conductor does.

What do you need to know as a Christian?

All you need to know is that God loves you and has sent Jesus to make you God’s own and for you to live in this great love. Knowing more will not increase the amount of grace you bear, we all know this truth. At the same time, it might be nice to know a bit more, to rest even more assuredly in this Good News.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

October 19

I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come?

The Lord will keep your going out, and your coming in,

from this time forth, and forevermore.

Psalm 121:1, 8

Friends in Christ, I appreciate the fact that we were extra cautious yesterday. Only a handful of us gathered here for worship, while a good number more people attended online worship. Considering that the World Series is beginning in a few days, I thought I’d share a line by Yogi Berra:

"If people don't want to come out to the ballpark,

how are you going to stop them?”

I know that it doesn’t apply very well to our situation, we DO want to gather for worship, but we know keeping apart is wisest right now. I guess I needed something to make me smile.

This pandemic, and our response has been a long term event. Much more than we realized back in March. It becomes draining. I suspect that it would help me to see this process as going through normal “ups and downs” as we wander along…

For a positive step to take in the meantime:

Let us pray fervently for one another,

for those who serve us in Public Health roles,

for nurses and doctors and all serving our health care,

and let us seek to be mindful of those who do not have access to the kinds of excellent care that we take for granted.

Blessings to you, Pastor Phil

October 17

The Lord is my shepherd,

I shall not want.

Psalm 23

Perhaps you saw the article on the front page of the Sheridan Press yesterday. Covid is surging here, and folks at the hospital and public health officials are quite concerned. We will hold in-person worship tomorrow, but I want to encourage you to consider the on-line worship option.

Worship is posted on the web site, and the sermon is available beginning at 6:00 a.m.

Let us continue to pray fervently for those who work so diligently to keep us safe and well!

We will gather at 8:30 and 11:00, but there will be no singing, we’ll continue with masks, I will not be greeting people on the way in or out. We need to be careful at this time!

Please know that you are in our prayers. While this period of our lives may keep us apart, may we grow in our connections to one anther through prayer for each other, and mutual support for those who serve us so faithfully.

October 16

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.

I Peter 4:8

Our Montana Synod Bishop, Dr. Laurie Jungling sent an email with a clear call to love. It was done in video form: I can’t post the video - so I will simply touch base with her message.

Bishop Laurie invites us to remember our calling to stand up with Jesus. In these days with so much conflict, with people “standing against” one another - we have a different role to fill. She calls us to be mindful of the fact that God calls us to “stand up with Jesus” and love one another.

It can be a bit bracing to be reminded that sometimes, the simplest message is the one we need. Love one another. Love others. Pray for your enemies, love your neighbor…

This is easier said than done, of course. Sometimes, we need Jesus do die and rise again for this to come to fruition.

Thanks be to God that this gift has been given.

Blessings to you in the many ways you stand up for love, and bear God’s creative and redeeming love to the world.

October 15

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD,

plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

We just had to cancel a trip to see family members in Denver. With Covid numbers surging, and some health concerns for our intended targets, plans have changed. A great fluidity to plans has been a major part of the last several months, hasn’t it?

I am so grateful to Nancy Hilstad and to BASICS for their being so willing to make adjustments as they have played for our worship services throughout this “Covid-tide.” Thank you!

Some folks will talk about God’s plan for us in such a way that it begins to sound like our lives are scripted, and all we have to do in order to live in God's good graces, is make the right choices, then, everything will be fine.

I believe God’s plans for us look a lot like the past several months. God’s plan is “a future with hope” - accompanied by the adjustments we make to everything that comes our way.

Our plans can change in an instant, and they often do. Yet there is one constant. God’s plan for you is to be with you throughout the journey, and God promises a future with hope.

October 14

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Psalm 23

David Lose encouraged preachers to invite their congregation to an interesting exercise in building on trust.

He said you should write the words "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" on a card or something.

Now carry these words with you as reminders of God's incredible providence and our need to practice trusting in God.

Many questions come to mind:

How might these words shape your days?

How might these words inform your prayers?

October 13

I lift up my eyes to the hills,from where will my help come.

Psalm 121

This past weekend, we drove around, enjoying the beauty of the fall colors, and it was spectacular. This brings to mind a wonderful quote by the Episcopal priest and theologian, Robert Farrar Capon. Among his interests was great cuisine. He made the observation that food tastes better than it needs to. He saw this as a sign of God’s grace and love.

I invite you to take note of the beauty of this season, and wonder with me, if this isn’t a great gift of grace.

Here is the opening line of a prayer from the book of poetic prayers by Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace:

Waken in Me a Sense of Joy

O extravagant God,

in this ripening, red-tinged autumn,

waken in me a sense of joy

in just being alive,

joy for nothing in general

except everything in particular…

- Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace

October 12

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Psalm 23

Yesterday Psalm 23 was our call to worship. Years ago, Pastor David Lose, in encouragement for preaching on Psalm 23, reflected on “I shall not want.”

He said:

“We live …with an imagination dominated by a pervasive sense of scarcity, far more aware of what we don't have – and therefore should go out and buy – than what we do.”

He suggested that preachers invite their congregation to:

“make a list of blessings and wants this week. …invite them to take just 5 minutes …and write down in one column of a sheet of paper the ten things for which they are most grateful in their lives.

In the other column, have them write down the ten things they most want right now.

Once the two columns are complete, invite them to consider this question:

“Which would have a greater impact, losing all the things for which you are grateful or gaining all the things you currently want?”

Most often, people realize that they already have so very much for which to be grateful and that adding the things they want rarely adds to that happiness. (A word of care: some few folks, particularly if they are looking for work or grieving the loss of a loved one may, in fact, feel that their very real wants overshadow their blessings, and it's important not to minimize those feelings. But even they may be surprised at the blessings of support and friendship they have.)”

“I shall not want.” It is great to consider what an amazing promise these words hold for us today, and always.

Peace to you.

October 10

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication

with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6

We hear from the 4th chapter of Philippians tomorrow.

The commendation to not worry about anything… that is truly one of those things that is easier said than done, isn’t it?

It seems to me that sometimes we can’t help but worry, but could ti be that it is nice to know that we don’t NEED to worry?

Someone once said to me that in their family, they had worried about so many, many things that never happened.

We all do that, of course.

Knowing God’s care and love, living in God’s grace, washed in God’s forgiveness and hope, abiding in God’s peace, do not worry about anything…

October 9

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

We hear from the 4th chapter of Philippians this coming Sunday.

I love this passage. Paul mixes heart and mind here in interesting ways, doesn’t he?

Peace that surpasses understanding. I think Paul names a gift we know in fleeting ways, yet when it is given, it is a treasure.

And so, give thanks for this peace of God, which will guard your hearts and minds…

October 8

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

Philippians 4:4

We hear from the 4th chapter of Philippians this coming Sunday.

The call to rejoice rings clear in this passage. In ways, it probably goes without saying that this does not mean that every single thing is great, or that we might never mourn. (I guess I just said it…) At the same time, so many folks misconstrue what it might mean to find joy in Christ, and to always live our lives, bathed in the Good News of the Gospel.

Paul’s exuberance in this passage is a reflection of his clear understanding that Christ has transformed the world, and united us with God, now and forever. We sometimes get overly used to this wonderful gift, and take it for granted. I suspect that this is not something we should be scolded for, it is inevitable. In fact, living comfortably in this truth is a good thing. At the same time, we might be wise to - from time tot time - take marvel at the wonder of God’s saving work in Christ.

And so, rejoice in the Lord…

October 7

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8

We hear from the 4th chapter of Philippians this coming Sunday. Pastor Joe Wahlin, my friend and mentor, like to say that he thought this was a wonderful text to preach on for a wedding.

Paul calls us to orient towards all that is commendable. These virtues are not only Christian, of course, they are part of many different wisdom traditions. Yet Paul grounds this life of joy in Christ, knowing that all good things are gifts of God.

And so, whatever is true…

October 6

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 23:6

This coming Sunday, we hear from the 23rd Psalm. This is a favorite for good reason, because it speaks beautifully of God’s promise. I encourage you to read these words slowly, and listen, as God speaks this promise to you.

October 5

“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;

let them ever sing for joy.

Spread your protection over them,

so that those who love your name may exult in you.”

Psalm 5:11

Yesterday, Laura shared a song she’d heard performed by the Congregation Bet Haverim choir. (a synagogue in Atlanta, GA)

The lyrics looked ahead with hope, to a time we can gather as we have before. It is a beautiful and moving song.

As I sat listening, it occurred to me that I should spend more time with poetry, with words that reflect on our lives and inspire us to see God at work in the world.

I am a person who takes a fair measure of interest in current events and politics. As we are 4 weeks from our national election, I have been reading plenty of things that might qualify as noise.

Yes, I need to read more poetry, more words that invite me into the quiet place of God’s presence, to drink in God’s goodness and love.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;

let them ever sing for joy.

Spread your protection over them,

so that those who love your name may exult in you.

For you bless the righteous, O LORD;

you cover them with favor as with a shield. Psalm 5:11-12

October 3

“For you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in his wings.”

Malachi 4:2

As we pray for the health of our president, as well as the many others impacted by this pandemic, I thought I would turn to our hymnal. This prayer is among the prayers at the front of the hymnal, a prayer for recovery from sickness:

Almighty and merciful God,

you are the only source of health and healing;

you alone can bring calmness and peace.

Grant to us, your children,

an awareness of your presence and a strong confidence in you.

In our pain, our weariness, and our anxiety,

surround us with your care,

protect us by your loving might, and

permit us once more to enjoy health and strength and peace;

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.


ELW page 85

October 2

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free,

there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 3:28

Today we have a sad reminder that Covid-19 is no respecter of persons, as our president is now sick. As we join together in prayer for him, as well as so many, many others, I thought of this profound quote from Thomas Merton, a 20th century theologian and mystic…

In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut,

in the center of the shopping district,

I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization

that I loved all those people,

that they were mine and I theirs,

that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers.

It was like waking from a dream of separateness. . . .

Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts

. . .the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes.

If only they could all see themselves as they really are.

If only we could see each other that way all the time.

There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed.

. . . I suppose the big problem is that we would fall down

and worship each other.

Thomas Merton

October 1

“For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.

He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.”

Psalm 33:4-5

I have a suspicion that many do not realize that God’s concern about righteous behavior - at least in the Bible - is a concern that all people are treated with justice. This prayer suggested for this coming Sunday reflects this biblical perspective.

Holy God,

you love justice and hate oppression;

you call us to righteousness and not to exploitation.

Give us generous and loving hearts,

and eyes to see the splendor of your reign,

that we may live in truth and honor,

and praise you for the transformation of our lives,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.