September '23

September 1

"For those who want to save their life will lose it, 

and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

Matthew 16:25

On Sunday we will hear Jesus lay out the paradoxical reality of God’s reign in the world. Forgiveness is our way, not vengeance. Self-denial saves, not self protection. Love reigns, not power. Even death will not stop the Kingdom that Jesus has brought to life. 

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

September 2

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples

that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering

at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed,

and on the third day be raised.

Matthew 16:21

In worship tomorrow, we continue to hear Jesus' challenging words from the 16th chapter of Matthew.

This prayer is grounded in our Gospel reading.

These prayers (or perhaps poems) are shared on "The Sunday Website" a website that is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at St. Louis University. They often provide insight into our Sunday readings.

God Bless you this Labor Day weekend, Pastor Phil

Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:25


and reckless,

we flee the cross

whenever it comes close.

Lord, out of love you gave up everything on behalf of us.

Be with us now. Show us a way to carry our cross.

 Show us how to lose ourselves,

and find ourselves

in you,



Copyright © 2023, Anne M. Osdieck. All rights reserved. 

Permission is hereby granted to reproduce for personal or parish use.

14th Sunday after Pentecost

September 3

I hope to see you in worship today at 9:00 a.m.

Beginning next Sunday we will have Sunday School following the one 9 o’clock morning service. Sunday School will begin at 10:15

Today’s service will be posted online

The Prayer of the Day

O God, 

we thank you for your Son, 

who chose the path of suffering for the sake of the world. 

Humble us by his example, 

point us to the path of obedience, 

and give us strength to follow your commands, 

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord


September 4

Love one another with mutual affection; 

outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 12:10

In worship yesterday I thought that including parts of our reading from Romans 12 would be worthy fare for us to consider the first part of this week.

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:9–10

When Nancy read that line in worship yesterday I was struck by this encouragement and command. We are not invited to tolerate one another. We are not told to be nice. We are to love “with mutual affection.”

Do we do that already? 

At times, I’m sure the answer is “yes.”

I believe we could put our hearts and minds to such an attitude toward one another, and I suspect we would all be enriched by the effort.

Peace to you today, 

Affectionately, Pastor Phil   :) 

September 5

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;

Romans 12:9

As we begin the school year once again, we hear these words of instruction from Paul; "Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good…” 

I have a feeling that the last phrase might hold the greatest promise for us. To be genuine in love is a beautiful and wise goal. As to the instruction to hate what is evil, I have a suspicion that might be. . . let me say precarious. 

The call to “hold fast to what is good…”, like the encouragement to love with mutual affection bears promise and life.

I join Paul and encourage you today, to take note of what is good, hold fast, give thanks, and share generously!

Pax, Pastor Phil

September 6

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Romans 12:15

The twelfth chapter of Romans, verses 9-21, hold so many insights for our reflection. (I have included the reading from this past Sunday at the bottom of this email.) 

Take note. It seems like a number of admonitions and words of advice, one after the other. 

Love. Hold fast. Outdo one another. Do not repay. Live peaceably 

In verse 15, Paul invites us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” In many ways this is something we can do pretty well. We can share in joys and sorrows with one another. 

Take note! When we do so, we are joining God in care for those around us. 

Another interesting point, Paul commends this, in the midst of turning us away from vengeance. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them…”

Paul understands that the love that God calls for is not always easy. It can be as simple as rejoicing with those who rejoice, and as difficult as blessing those who hurt us. 

May our love continually be shaped by the cross of Christ. 

Blessings, Pastor Phil 

September 7

If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Romans 12:18

Paul gives this interesting instruction in Romans 12: 

“If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, 

live peaceably with all.” 

This seems to recognize that living in community can be easier said than done. At the same time, it is worth making every effort to live in peace with those whom God has put together.

One of the teachers of the Church, George Forell, wrote this insightful line: “We forget that it is part of the sovereignty of God that I have the neighbor that I have.”

God has called us together into community, and as far as it depends on you… 

Peace to you today, Pastor Phil 

September 8

“For where two or three 

are gathered in my name, 

I am there among them."

Matthew 18:20

On Sunday we hear the promise of Christ’s presence with us whenever we gather. As we move into the new school year with just one Sunday service at 9:00 a.m., I am hoping to see you here. 

I think of the verse from Hebrews 10; “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.”

May we encourage one another in the great privilege of living as God’s holy and beloved people.

Blessings to you this weekend, Pastor Phil 

September 9

"If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.."

Matthew 18:15b

One Sunday service tomorrow at 9:00 a.m., I hope to see you here. 

A prayer inspired by Sunday's scripture readings

Holy Jesus, Brother and Saviour, 

please draw us closer to one another

that we may be closer to you, 

and closer to you

that we may be closer to each other. 

Then may the fellowship of worship embolden us, 

the awe of worship ennoble us, 

and the joy of worship enable us. 

To the praise of all that is most sacred 

and to the glory of the One who is forever Most Holy.


By Bruce Prewer at

(I think he's Australian, thus the spelling of “saviour.)

15th Sunday after Pentecost

September 10

Worship today at 9:00 a.m. I hope to see you here.

The service will be posted online.

The Prayer of the Day

O Lord God, 

enliven and preserve your church with your perpetual mercy. 

Without your help, we mortals will fail; 

remove far from us everything that is harmful, 

and lead us toward all that gives life and salvation, 

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. 


September 11

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;

    the Lord answered me and set me free.

Psalm 118:5 RSV

It is September 11. 9/11.

As we recall those emergency workers who rushed to the help in New York City on that sad day, let us pray for present day emergency workers seeking to help those affected by the earthquake in Morocco, as well as emergency workers serving those affected by wildfires and other disasters. Let us give thanks for those who serve our communities, seeking to care for us all.

On this day of remembrance, may we be grateful for all God's gifts, and may we do the things the serve God's peace in the world.

Blessings to you,

Pastor Phil

Here is a Prayer for Emergency Workers

from our hymnal, Evangelical Lutheran Worship -

God of earth and air,

water and fire,

height and depth, 

we pray for those who work in danger, 

who rush in to bring hope and help and comfort

when others flee to safety, 

whose mission is to seek and save,

serve and protect, 

and whose presence

embodies the protection of the Good Shepherd. 

Give them caution and concern for one another, 

so that in safety they may do what must be done, 

under your watchful eye. 

Support them in their courage and dedication 

that they may continue to save lives, ease pain, 

and mend the torn fabric of lives and social order; 

through Jesus Christ our Lord. 


ELW Page 85

September 12

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."

Matthew 18:20

I read this prayer based on this past Sunday's Gospel reading, and thought I would share it with you...

God of unity and peace,

your Son has taught us

that where two or three are gathered in his name,

he is present in their midst,

and you will grant their request. 

Grant us a new heart to presume

the goodness of every brother and sister,

and a spirit sensitive to the burdens each of them bears,

that by loving our neighbour as ourselves,

we may bear witness to that love

which is the fulfilling of the law.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

God forever and ever.


From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year A, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

Peace to you today, Pastor Phil 

September 13

Welcome those who are weak in faith…

Romans 14:1

Our 2nd lesson on Sunday is from Romans 14. Paul begins this section of his letter with the encouragement, “Welcome those who are weak in faith.” He goes on to say, “but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions.”

How interesting that, from the very beginning, the church had significant divisions. Perhaps we should take note that it is fine for us to find ourselves with varying perspectives. 

I have to admit that Romans 14:1-2 leave me scratching my head a bit…

“Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables…”

Paul clearly understands that one side of this argument is right, and the other wrong. Yet, he also says that it doesn’t matter. Considering that dietary rules were pretty important in this culture, we have a quite interesting example here. 

Perhaps the example, in part, is to hold loosely to our understanding, and to hold tight to the love of God.

Blessings to you, Pastor Phil

September 14

Peter came and said to Jesus, 

"Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" 

Jesus said to him, 

"Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy times seven times.

Matthew 18:21-22

On Sunday we will hear the parable of the king who forgives a servant, and that servant, (known as the unforgiving servant), then turns around and will not pardon a fellow slave a much smaller debt.

This parable invites us to respond to God’s forgiving grace with an attitude of forgiveness and love to all around us. (There is, of course, much more to it than that, worthy of a whole series of sermons!)

Theologian Martha Stoltz, reflecting on the petition in the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive…” has this great observation…

“Over time and in community God works on us, transforming us into forgiven forgivers. The practice of forgiveness is indispensable for the journey of discipleship, inviting us to live into a promised peace.”

May the peace of forgiveness be with you always! Pastor Phil

(The Practice of Forgiveness Disciples as Forgiven Forgivers, Dr. Martha Stortz, Word and World Winter 2007, pg. 14-22)

September 15

Jesus said to him, 

"Not seven times, 

but, I tell you, 

seventy times seven times.

Matthew 18:22

I liked Pastor Steve Garnaas-Holmes reflection yesterday, and am sharing it here. Our parable for this coming Sunday is one that invites a lifetime of reflection.

God bless you this weekend, Pastor Phil

Seventy times seven

           “How often should I forgive?

           As many as seven times?”

           “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy times seven.”

                           —Matthew 18. 21-22

Resentment seeps back in

like water into the boat.

You have to keep bailing.

Regret returns

with its lingering hunger.

You have to keep feeding it grace.

Grief comes back,

asking again.

You have to hold it till it’s OK.

Love is continually renewed.

It doesn’t just stand there like a rock.

It flows like a river.

This is how we live.

Every breath, every heart beat

is God forgiving you.


Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Unfolding Light

September 16

And out of pity for him,

the lord of that slave released him

and forgave him the debt

Matthew 18:27

I hope to see you in worship tomorrow at 9:00, with Sunday School following.

A prayer for this weekend...

Create in us a new heart,

formed in the image of your Son,

a heart strong enough to bear every wound

and gentle enough to forgive each offence,

that the world may see how your people love one another

and remember how much you love all you have made.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,

your Son, who lives and reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

God forever and ever.


From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year A, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 199216th Sunday after Pentecost

September 17

Worship today at 9:00 a.m.

Choir and Sunday School meet at 10:15.

I hope to see you here.

The service will be posted online.

The Prayer of the Day

O Lord God, merciful judge,

you are the inexhaustible fountain of forgiveness.

Replace our hearts of stone with hearts that love and adore you,

that we may delight in doing your will,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. 


September 18

Let us worship and bow down,

let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!

For he is our God,

and we are the people of his pasture,

and the sheep of his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice!

Psalm 95:6-7

I was reading an essay by a musician and I was surprised to see her quote from preacher and writer Frederick Buechner. Her subject was not really religious, it was more about connecting with her audience. Interesting that she turned to Buechner, I shared his definition of a parable earlier in our sermon yesterday, and so, in the serendipity of this, I decided to pass on the quote…

I like his invitation for us to open our eyes to God’s presence in each of our lives.

Listen to your life. 

See it for the fathomless mystery it is. 

In the boredom and pain of it, 

no less than

in the excitement and gladness: 

touch, taste, smell your way 

to the holy and hidden heart of it, 

because in the last analysis 

all moments are key moments, 

and life itself is grace.” 

- Frederick Buechner

Blessings to you today, Pastor Phil

September 19

This is the day that the LORD has made;

let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

Here is another quote from Frederick Buechner. It is from his book “Whistling in the Dark” a book where he wrote creative definitions of words and phrases. This is his reflection on the word “today.”


It is a moment of light 

surrounded on all sides by darkness and oblivion. 

In the entire history of the universe, 

let alone in your own history, 

there has never been another just like it 

and there will never be another just like it again. 

It is the point to which all your yesterdays 

have been leading since the hour of your birth. 

It is the point from which all your tomorrows 

will proceed until the hour of your death. 

If you were aware of how precious it is, 

you could hardly live through it. 

Unless you are aware of how precious it is, 

you can hardly be said to be living at all. 

"This is the day which the Lord has made," 

says the 118th Psalm. 

"Let us rejoice and be glad in it." 

Or weep and be sad in it for that matter. 

The point is to see it for what it is 

because it will be gone before you know it. 

If you waste it, it is your life that you're wasting. 

If you look the other way, 

it may be the moment you've been waiting for always 

that you're missing. 

All other days have either 

disappeared into darkness and oblivion 

or not yet emerged from them. 

Today is the only day there is.  

- Frederick Buechner

God’s peace be with you, today and always! Pastor Phil

September 20

But I trusted in your steadfast love;

my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the LORD,

because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 13:5-6

I saw an essay titled: “Where Should Agnostics Go on Sundays?” 

I liked the question, I’m not sure of the answer provided. I sort of think that sometimes, both those who focus on doubts, and those who argue for faith, might be wise to listen to one another. 

Of course, I think the place for an agnostic to go on Sunday is Trinity Lutheran Church. Not because of one’s doubts or faith, but because of the God who invites you to know God’s love and grace, forgiveness and life.

I like this line by Old Testament Professor Rolf Jacobson:

“Sabbath worship is something that God does for us,

not something that we do for God.

God regularized the intrusion of the Sabbath

in order to have a regular worship time

in which to work on us.”

Rolf Jacobson

That choice of words, “intrusion” is really something. 

Dr. Jacobson is suggesting that there is an aspect of invasion or disturbance, disruption and interference to God's presence in your life. Too often God is offered as a salve to our wounds or an answer to life’s questions. 

God is God. God is not an answer or a solution.

God is the One who has created you, loves you and longs for you to live in a relationship of love, and to serve God’s creation with all your life.

Peace to you, Pastor Phil

September 21

“For the kingdom of heaven is like 

a landowner who went out early in the morning 

to hire laborers for his vineyard.”

Matthew 20:1

On Sunday we will hear the challenging parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard… The story Jesus tells of the landowner who hired workers at the beginning of the day, went back several times during the day to hire more workers, and in the end, paid those who worked one hour, the full daily wage. The problem, as those hired at the beginning of the day see it, is that the landowner paid them all the same.

We might well have all sorts of reactions to this. It is not fair. It is grace at work. What’s going on here???

In spending time with this story, I have come to see that Jesus presents a wonderful turn. Those hired at the beginning of the day complain about the injustice of working 12 hours, and being paid the same as those who worked only one hour.

The landowner replies: “‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you.”

Some point to deep significance in him calling them “friend.”

They are looking at everything from the view of the landowner-worker dynamic.

He looks at them as friends. People whom he has invited to help him with his harvest, and whom he has paid as he should. 

In the Kingdom of God, God is with you always through Jesus Christ. This is a truth that transforms all of life

Have a blessed day, Pastor Phil 

September 22

“Or are you envious

because I am generous?…”

Matthew 20:15b

The parable we hear on Sunday invites us to consider that “the kingdom of heaven” is something quite different than what most might expect.

The world, Jesus suggests, is deeply different under the reign of our God and creator. . . And that difference in the kingdom might be - in all sorts of ways - surprising, and maybe even a bit upsetting…

Yet what is upset is our score keeping, the ways we erect walls that divide us, the ways we are alienated from ourselves and one another… 

In Jesus’ story, the landowner calls those disoriented by his generous pay to those last hired: “Friend.” He won’t let them stay stuck in their comparing themselves to one another. They all, in the end, had the great joy of being together in the community he called together. 

Jesus invites you to the Kingdom - a place that might not meet all our expectations - and a home that exceeds our greatest dreams.

Peace to you this weekend, Pastor Phil

September 23

Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? 

Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 

So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Matthew 20:15-16

The web site “Sermon Seeds” provided by the UCC, has this interesting “Focus Prayer” to help in reflection on tomorrow’s Gospel text; Matthew 10:1-16.

Focus Prayer:

Equalizing God, 

release us from 



and fairness. 


I hope to see you in worship tomorrow morning, we gather at 9:00. 

Choir and Sunday School follow, beginning at 10:15.

Blessings to you today, Pastor Phil

17th Sunday after Pentecost

September 24

Matthew 5:13

I hope to see you in worship this morning.

Worship at 9:00 with Noisy Offering today. 10:15 Sunday School and Choir

A blessed Sunday to you

The Prayer of the Day

Almighty and eternal God, 

you show perpetual loving kindness to us your servants. 

Because we cannot rely on our own abilities, 

grant us your merciful judgment, 

and train us to embody the generosity of your Son, 

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. 


September 25

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 22:39

I thought I would share a simple quote from Martin Luther this Monday…

Faith brings you to Christ 

and makes him your own 

with all that he has; 

love gives you 

to your neighbor 

with all that you have. 

Martin Luther

May these words accompany you this week as a gentle call to live your faith in love toward others. 

Peace to you this week, Pastor Phil

September 26

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.

Psalm 25:1

Our Psalm this coming Sunday is Psalm 25 verses 1 to 9.

I have a suspicion that I am missing out by not spending more time reading and praying the Psalms. I also suspect the same might well be true for you.

Psalm 25 invites us to turn to God in trust, and to ask God to teach us and shape our lives. 

Join me in making these words from Psalm 25:4-5 a prayer for you today. 

Make me to know your ways, O LORD;

teach me your paths.

Lead me in your truth, and teach me,

for you are the God of my salvation;

for you I wait all day long. Psalm 25:4-5

Blessings, Pastor Phil

September 27

“What do you think? 

A man had two sons…”

Matthew 21:28a

I recall reading an interesting statement by a preaching professor. He said something to the effect that God the Holy Spirit can work well with our questions and not so well with our answers.


Perhaps part of the genius of Jesus’ parables is that they don’t give us a bunch of answers, doctrines or theories. These stories confront us with surprising forgiveness, unexpected turns of grace, and challenging calls to serve.

On Sunday we will hear the parable of the man who asked his two sons to work in the vineyard. One says he won’t do it, yet he repents and follows his father’s wishes. One says he will, and doesn’t follow through.

Jesus begins the parable with this invitation: “What do you think?”

Faith is not agreement to theological assertions. Faith is a life-giving relationship with the God who created you, loves you and seeks to restore you to relationship with God and with all whom you love.

What do you think of that?

Peace, Pastor Phil

September 28

Do not be conformed to this world, 

but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, 

so that you may discern 

what is the will of God - 

what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

In my reading this week, I was struck by a comment from Rachel Held Evans. Rachel died in 2019 at the age of 37. She was one of the founders of Evolving Faith, a gathering of people who [quote] “ feel like we don’t quite belong anywhere anymore…” In large part, these are people who, like Martin Luther, did not find grace and love in their Church. They have found themselves questioning their traditions, and have not been sure where to turn. And so, they founded Evolving Faith.

Here’s the quote from Rachel Held Evans:

“An evolving faith is simply faith 

that has adapted in order to survive…

As I think about this, I consider the fact that many people with difficult questions and deep concerns have stepped away from any faith tradition. They have been burned by unhealthy and unhelpful structures and theologies, and left the questions of faith behind. Rachel sought a different path, and with many others, she has found that Jesus offers a call to love and grace. 

I like our Lutheran tradition, and our understandings of God’s love shown through Jesus Christ. I like that we can be open to questions, and I pray that we might continue together to grow and evolve and be transformed by God’s gracious activity in our lives. Of course, we are far from perfect, and when we our actions or our structures or perspectives have hurt others, we need to stop,  apologize, seek healing, and strive anew for wholeness.

Blessings to you today. Pastor Phil

September 29

"What do you think? A man had two sons; 

he went to the first and said, 

`Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 

He answered, `I will not’; 

but later he changed his mind and went.

Matthew 21:28-29

On Sunday we will consider a parable from the 21st chapter of Matthew. 

One way we can hear this story is as a call to us to repent.

It is too bad that often when we talk about repentance, we think of the crazy preacher on the street corner bellowing “Repent!” 

That seems a threat and a demand. 

Jesus does indeed command that we repent, but this is no threat. It is, instead, an invitation to live into the forgiveness God has in store for us. It is an invitation to join God in loving the world, and living as the beloved children God has created us to be.

Peace, Pastor Phil

September 30

“What do you think?”

Matthew 21:28a

A prayer based on our Gospel story tomorrow.

Blessings to you today! Pastor Phil 

He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards changed his mind
and went.

times we
refuse your asking.
We say no to what you bid,
we actually do as you ask, later.

And at other times
we say yes,
alas, our lives
spell out
a big

please change our hearts,
change our minds
to always say
yes to

Help feet to follow

Copyright © 2023, Anne M. Osdieck. All rights reserved.

Permission is hereby granted to reproduce for personal or parish use.