Trinity Connections

Pastor Phil Wold cell - 307-763-1115

Trinity ConnectionS

WORSHIP SCHEDULE - Sunday worship at 8:30 and 11:00 a.m.

May 7

By this we know that we love the children of God,

when we love God and obey his commandments.

I John 5:2

I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday. I trust you received the May Newsletter which was emailed yesterday. If not, please let me know. Peace to you, Pastor Phil

Today we have a reflection on I John 5:1-16 prepared for us by Pastor Kimberly Peterson of Choteau.

My father loves football and baseball and fishing and is tone deaf. So naturally he was blessed with a daughter who has zero athletic ability but is musical. Despite my father’s lack of interest in music and high school band in particular, I remember him being at every concert and recital—and there were lots of them—throughout my childhood.

My dad didn’t love band or orchestra, but he did love me. So he invested his time in being there for me, building relationship, and at least attempting to love what I love.

The truth is, we don’t always love following God’s commandments. Loving one another, in particular, can be a challenge for us. And yet this reading from 1 John tells us that that love of God is to obey God’s commandments… and that God’s commandments are NOT burdensome!

If my father had sat at my band concerts with his arms crossed, slouched down and acting grumpy, if he had rolled his eyes and told me he didn’t want to be there, I would not have experienced his love and presence in the same way. Instead of acting as though my concerts were a begrudging duty, my father saw them as an opportunity to show how much he loved and valued me, and tried to love them because I loved them. In the same way, we are called to view God’s commandments not as a burden, not as something we HAVE to do out of fear or obligation, but a way that we can show God how very much we love God. And by following God’s law, even when it’s hard, we show our neighbors how much we love God as well. What a wonderful witness to our relationship with our Risen Savior and testimony to what God has done for us!

Pastor Kimberly Peterson, Trinity Lutheran Church, Choteau

In-person Sunday worship at 8:30 and 11. Sunday school for ages 3 and up, beginning at 10:00 a.m.

We will continue providing worship online

The sanctuary and chapel are open each day, you can stop by for prayer.

Please pray for our Trinity Sunday School, and all our youth.

Congregational Meeting: We will hold our Congregational Meeting to elect Council Members on Sunday, May 23rd, between services.

May 6

“For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.”

Isaiah 65:17

I believe that the May Newsletter will hit your inbox early this afternoon.

For our Equipping for the Work of Ministry devotion, we hear from Pastor Fisher as she reflects on zwords form the prophet Isaiah.

“For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.” (Is. 65:17)

Christ is risen. God is creating a new world, a new way. But many would rather go back to the old way. We want to go back to Egypt. Enslaved - but well fed. God tells us we are not to remember the old way, not to bring it to mind, but to look forward.

We long for how it used to be. With bare faces we hugged, we crowded around the table, we sang. Then 2020 hit, a rogue virus, chaos, and mandates. Things changed, we were not ready for this chaos. Something was happening to our perfect world, our perfect church. But was it really perfect? Weren’t we wondering why people didn’t attend like they used to? Would God be able to create anything new out of this unimaginable mess? It’s amazing to watch as people use their God given gifts to master technology, to stretch themselves, and to find new ways to minister in a new world. We are reaching people who were unchurched. People who had left our congregations years ago are tuning in to worship with us. We’ve been pushed to hone our gifts, to write letters, to record said missives, Bible Studies, children’s sermons. We now reach more people than we can seat in our pews. God has created, is creating, and will continue to create a new world, a new way. God gifted us to be His instruments in this new creation. We step up into new situations, seeking wisdom on how we can be used to proclaim - Christ is risen.

Pastor Tonia Fisher, St. James Lutheran Church, Columbus

May 5

You know the message he sent to the people of Israel,

preaching peace by Jesus Christ—

he is Lord of all

Acts 10:36

Friends in Christ,

I had mentioned last week that Pastor Cliff Gronneberg died at the age of 103. His funeral will be on Saturday in Bozeman. I will include the obituary at the end of this devotion. These are prepared for us by the Stewardship Task Force, and I can’t help but observe that Pastor Cliff was a wonderful, wonderful steward of his life.

Todays devotion is a reflection on the 1st Lesson for this coming Sunday, Acts 10:34-43. It is prepared for us by Pastor Darren Paulson, who is a good friend. His wife Trudi serves at St. John’s United as director of adoption. She worked with Laura and me in the adoption of David 20 years ago. I have stories to share, but it is time to take note of Darren’s devotion for us.

Acts 10:34-43

It was a short sermon, really. Unless there was a significant redaction, Peter’s sermon couldn’t have lasted longer than 2 minutes, even including pauses for dramatic effect. This may have been the inspiration for my homiletics professor Sheldon Tostengard who wryly said, “Nobody gets saved after 7 minutes. Keep it brief.” (Why can I never remember this when I’m in the pulpit?!)

But we know that it wasn’t the length of the sermon, or Peter’s loquaciousness, or the relevant illustrations, or a winning three-point formula.

It was the Good News.

In these days, it is difficult to find good news. People are scared. We have lost loved ones. Our politics is fractured, to say the least. The future sometimes looks unbearable. Yet, this is not a new phenomenon. There were those in Peter’s audience who were in our same shoes. Despite the absence of good news, in Peter’s sermon, they heard Good News. I mean THE Good News!

Peter declared that God is not only with us, but, through Jesus, God walks alongside us and will carry us through. This, too, shall end — things will get better. But things will also be getting worse. The end will come, though, and the one waiting for us at the other side is the one who has been walking alongside of us the whole time.

Pastor Darren Paulson, Atonement Lutheran Church, Billings

Obituary for Pastor Cliff Gronneberg

I.C. “Cliff” Gronneberg of Bozeman, MT, November 9, 1917 – April 26, 2021.

Cliff was born on a farm near Hannaford, North Dakota. He graduated with his BA in 1941 from Concordia College, Moorhead, MN and his MN DIPL in 1945 from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN.

Cliff was ordained as a Lutheran Minister in 1946. He served as a Navy Chaplain during WW2, where one of his assignments was to the Boston Naval Yard. He served as one of three chaplains and had the honor of being the chaplain on the USS Constitution, aka Old Ironsides, that fought in the War of 1812. Later he was promoted to base chaplain. From there he was sent to San Francisco and Hawaii. He was discharged in 1946.

Cliff married Ruth Horton in 1946 and they had six children; Ingrid, Jim, Mark, Mary, Paul and Krista.

Cliff served churches in Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Minnesota. He retired at the age of 65 and then went on to serve as an interim minister for an additional 17 congregations throughout the Montana Synod, his last at age 93.

As a minister, Cliff was known for his “faith, responsibility, vigor, experience, common sense, confidence and the ability to deal gently but decisively with conflict.” He was honored with the Montana Synod Spirit of Hope Award in 2009. Cliff was selected to be a member of an Honor Flight to Washington, DC, which was a great source of pride for him.

As a husband, father, grandfather and friend, Cliff was known for his love of fishing and bowling with the family, raucous pinochle bidding and games, his penchant for just getting into the car and driving to places of interest, and his constant quest for exploration, knowledge and learning. He never lost his child-like curiosity. He took great pride in taking care of his home, lawn and garden. He could fix/build/repair almost anything.

Cliff loved to travel and he and Ruth led many groups to Scandinavia and the Holy Land. He loved ham radio and was enchanted with Yellowstone National Park. He loved taking guests for tours of the Park. He took great pride in being 100% Norwegian and was a past-president of the Bozeman chapter of Sons of Norway.

He served the State of Montana legislature by serving as both Chaplain of the House and the Senate.

Cliff had a unique ability to really listen to people and never made them feel that their opinions were wrong just because they may be different than his, nor did he try to convince them that he was right. He was patient and kind. He had an amazing laugh, that would be filled with unabashed joy (particularly when he won a bid in Pinochle). He had a twinkle in his eye and was never afraid to laugh at himself. He was compassionate and took loving care of Ruth until her death when she had Alzheimer’s.

Cliff was one of a kind, he stood for faith, joy, curiosity, serving others and family. He will live on in the hearts of the family and the many people touched throughout his long and full life, and his absence will be deeply felt.

Cliff was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth, son, Jim, and daughter, Mary (Don) Chapman.

Cliff is survived by his daughters; Ingrid (John) Johnson of Nampa, ID, and Krista (Dennis) Hammann, of Chaska, MN; sons, Mark (Julie) of Denton, TX, and Paul of Burnsville, MN; 15 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be held on Friday, May 7, 2021 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service, 113 S. Willson Ave, Bozeman, MT.

Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, May 8, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. at Hope Lutheran Church, 2152 Graf St, Bozeman, MT.

Memorials in Cliff’s name may be given to a Lutheran church or charity of your choice. Cards of condolence may be sent to Mark Gronneberg, 12320 Grosbeak Dr., Denton, TX, 76207.

May 4

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;

break forth into joyous song and sing praises.

Psalm 98:4

It is May 4th, Star Wars Day! A blessed May 4th to you!

We know that if someone says; “May the force be with you” - a Lutheran may well respond with “And also with you.”

I like Star Wars, and yet I can’t help myself. The blessings of God are different than the Force of the movie. The Force is a magical power that can help you reach your full potential. The gifts of God are given so that you can live as God’s child, and bear God’s gifts to the world in need.

Again, a blessed May 4th to you!

Today’s devotion is by Pastor Scott Thompson. He serves on the Stewardship Task Force, and it has been nice for me to get to know him.

Here is his reflection on Psalm 98:

After over 50 years of church-going and almost 25 years of rostered ministry, I was recently made aware of the fact that Psalm 98 is the basis for the beloved Christmas carol, Joy to the World. If I squint, I can see it… but it seems to me that the good Isaac Watts took quite a bit of literary license.

This revelation has compelled me, however, to hear the carol differently. While I always thought it right and proper to sing of the world receiving Jesus as her King with joyful preparation and the acclaim of heav’n and nature, the insight that these themes are of a Psalm rooted in a people recently freed of captivity in Babylon widens my scope of view. Like Handel’s Hallelujah, often performed at Christmas but actually a song illuminative of the Easter portion of Messiah, Joy to the World will never again be for me just a Christmas song.

God once reached into the oppression wrought by an imperialistic Babylon to free those covenant-bound to God. The Lord has reached into the oppression of death wrought by sin to free those same - and more. By all means, make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises, and let the sea roar, let the floods clap their hands, let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord. Joy to the world, for the Lord is risen, he is risen indeed!

Pastor Scott Thompson, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Kalispell

May 3

“Let me sing for my beloved

my love-song concerning his vineyard…”

Isaiah 5:1

Pastor Tonia Fisher serves our congregation in Columbus, Montana. She and I have crossed paths a number of times recently at Zoom meetings.

For our Equipping for the Work of Ministry devotion, Pastor Fisher reflects on Isaiah 5:1-7.

“My beloved had a vineyard - he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.”

Every Country Western aficionado knows how sad a love song can be. The love song in Isaiah is heartbreaking. A vine was brought out of Egypt. Planted to thrive and produce, to bear sweet fruit for the good of all. Lovingly tended with hopes and dreams of a fruitful harvest, only wild grapes grew.

The vine, the children of Israel, turned from God to self, using their sweetness to fulfill their own dreams and desires. Called, blessed, and gifted for good works, God expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard only the cries of victims.

We are equipped by God for good works. Created to seek justice, to love God and one another, instead we turned from God to self. Instead of sweet grapes we produced wild grapes.

This song does not have a Hallmark movie ending. We want to know the guy gets the girl and they live happily ever after. But this song leaves us – nowhere. Maybe we can take this abrupt ending and write a different conclusion. Knowing for what it was created and gifted, can this vineyard produce a fruitful harvest?

Created to reflect the light of God, which is needed to produce sweet fruit. Sent to share the cleansing and nourishing water of life with our neighbors. Fed on the life-giving words of God. This vineyard is to seek justice, to feed the hungry, and to care for those in need.

God has blessed us to be fruitful for the good of the world.

Pastor Tonia Fisher, St. James Lutheran Church, Columbus

May 2

5th Sunday of Easter

“I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”

John 15:11

We gather together for in-person worship at 8:30 and 11 this morning. Sunday school for ages 3 and up, will begin at 10:00

Pastor Tim Tostengard has written a devotion on today’s Gospel reading, John 15:1-11. Tim’s dad, Pastor Sheldon Tostengard was one of my preaching professors.

Professor Tostengard was quite a character, and a bit of a favorite in my time at Luther Seminary. I have shared many stories with Tim, and all he can do is shake his head and laugh. He says a lot of us have stories like that…

Tim serves American Lutheran Church in Billings, he also serves with me on the Synod Stewardship Task Force, and he is a good friend.

“I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11)

We tend to use the word joy to refer to superficial feelings that come and go depending on how we’re doing at the time.

The joy that Christ brings runs deeper. It is not on the surface, but it runs deep. It is a bedrock quality of our lives that’s built on the steadfast love of Jesus Christ. It’s a joy that’s spoken of in this reading in the gospel of John that speaks of us as the branches and Jesus as the vine.

The joy that’s spoken of is not just a temporary emotion, not just what we refer to as happiness. It’s a joy that runs deep, that flows from Christ to us no matter what the circumstances of our lives. Just as the nutrients flow continually from the vine to the branches, the joy that Christ gives flows into each one of us.

Amidst the joys and sorrows of life, for that ever-flowing joy that Christ brings, we give thanks.

Pastor Tim Tostengard, American Lutheran Church, Billings

May 1

"Whoever has seen me has seen the Father."

John 14:9

Pastor Jason Asselstine has been serving the Montana Synod as Associate to the Bishop for several years. One could say that along with Bishop Laurie Jungling, and DEM Pastor Peggy Paugh Leuzinger, they are part of the pastoral staff at Trinity.

So, take note of what your pastor, Pastor Asselstine, has to offer for us today on John 14:8-14

While going through some old pictures of my grandfather, I found one of him as a young man. I was stunned at our resemblance. His hair and his strong chin were just like mine. His piercing, soft eyes, just like mine. But what struck me even more was not his appearance, but how much we were alike in other ways. He loved to use his hands and saw the value of hard work, honesty and integrity. Even though I hardly knew him, I could see his influence (and genes) in my life and in the mirror, almost like he was living on through me. I think this is akin to what Jesus was saying to Phillip in our passage from John 14. Jesus is highlighting the ways that he and the Father are one. “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (v.9)

As followers of Christ, we, too, have been created in the image of Christ and are witnesses to God’s goodness and love. We have seen and heard about the countless ways that God, through Jesus, changed, and continues to change, the world.

Jesus tells Phillip (and us) that we will be able to do amazing things in God’s name if we only ask. It is as if God lives on and changes the world through us… we are doing God’s work… with our hands.


Pastor Jason Asselstine, Associate to the Bishop, Montana Synod

You can find previous Trinity Connections Devotions in the Connections archive