Trinity Connections

Pastor Phil Wold

philwold@gmail.com cell - 307-763-1115

Trinity ConnectionS

SUMMER WORSHIP SCHEDULE - Sunday worship at 9:00 a.m.

Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m.

September 24

…take hold of the life that really is life.

I Timothy 6:19

I like this quote I set aside years ago, by preacher, J. Henry Jowett (1864-1923):

“God does not comfort us to make us comfortable

but to make us comforters."

This comes to mind as I consider our scripture readings for worship tomorrow. Here is a prayer based on our Gospel reading.

I hope to see you in worship - 8:30 and11:00, with Sunday School beginning at 10.

THE GOSPEL

Luke 16:19-31

And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus,

covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill

of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.

Oh Lord,

help us

to

look

for Lazarus

in our daily lives.

Don’t let us step over him

or look the other way

in our busyness.

Stop us from rolling the

window up when he asks for money.

Rouse us to actions that change the customs

that leave your friends lying somewhere

eaten up by sores

and hunger,

and never, ever let us

remove Lazarus from his children.

Point out to us what needs fixing,

and move us with your love

to help mend the

things we

can.


Copyright © 2022, Anne M. Osdieck. All rights reserved.

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

September 23

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

Philippians 4:4, 6-7

I just read a note that concluded with a prayer by Thomas Merton. The note told of a ministry changing its location, and so, reflected a great deal on moving from one place to another.

I checked to see where the prayer came from, and many people quoted it on their web sites. Apparently, Merton included this prayer in his book, “Thoughts in Solitude,” which was published in 1956.

It is interesting to see that sources name the prayer quite differently. While one refers to it as “Prayer of Trust” and another “Road Ahead”; the most compelling to me was the title: “Prayer of Unknowing.”

I wonder if we might be wise to consider why it is that we are often quite uncomfortable with not knowing.

'Knowledge is power', as the saying goes, and mystics like Thomas Merton often unmask our know-it-all approach as unbelief.

As soon as I read this prayer of unknowing, I thought to share it with you. I don't know why, but I trust this may well speak to your own experience, and give voice to your own heart as you seek to walk with God today.

Blessings, Pastor Phil

A prayer by Thomas Merton:

My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think I am following your will

does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you

does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always though

I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Amen.

– Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude, page 79.


September 22

They are to do good,

to be rich in good works,

generous, and ready to share,

thus storing up for themselves the treasure

of a good foundation for the future,

so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

I Timothy 6:18-19

I have a suspicion that we could spend quite a long time in reflecting on what it might mean to “take hold of the life that really is life.”

For one thing, there are countless paths offered to us as life-giving, that are often quite something else. Another, and deeply important issue, is our propensity to mess things up. We may well WANT to do what is right, but we have a problem with our follow through. As Paul says in Romans; “I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (Romans 7:18-19)

Most importantly, what God wants for you, is the life that really is life. This is why God has washed over you with the water and the word, uniting you with Jesus, whom God sent to bring you life. God wants for all the world, the life that really is life. This is why God has washed over you, and sent you into the world to bear God’s creative and redeeming love to all you meet.

Blessings in your mission, Pastor Phil


September 21

They are to do good,

to be rich in good works,

generous, and ready to share,

thus storing up for themselves the treasure

of a good foundation for the future,

so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

I Timothy 6:18-19

This is such a wonderful and inviting turn of phrase: “…so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.”

I invite you to consider how God’s call to you to be a disciple of Jesus, is an invitation to life that really is life…

This invitation bears countless possibilities, great cost, and joys and sorrows beyond measure.

In all you do, may you live in God’s grace, bear God’s hope, and find - life.

Pastor Phil


September 20

As for those who in the present age are rich…

They are to do good,

to be rich in good works,

generous, and ready to share,

I Timothy 6:17a, 18

One professor said of the readings we have this month from I Timothy.

“These verses tell a story of conversion and of transformation, of a life renewed by the inexhaustible love and grace of God.”

We are called to generous lives. This generosity is generated by God’s great and generous grace poured out for us, and for all the world.

The line that follows, in verse 19, resonates so deeply, "so that they may take hold of the life that really is life." A life of generosity truly is the richest way to live.

Blessings to you, Pastor Phil


September 19

Of course,

there is great gain in

godliness combined with contentment…

I Timothy 6:7

I Timothy bears some deep wisdom for us. On Sunday we will hear these wise words, as I Timothy 6 is proclaimed:

“Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.”

I suspect that a teaching like this could be used to enforce the status quo, but the God who has called us to discipleship might well shape our godly lives so that justice and love for all be first and foremost.

Just a few verses later (and still part of Sunday’s reading) Paul says: “Fight the good fight of the faith…”

And so, may you nurture contentment that is a part of your loving and serving God today.

Peace, Pastor Phil


15th Sunday after Pentecost

September 18

I hope to see you in worship this morning - 8:30 & 11:00.

The service will be posted online.

The Prayer of the Day:

God among us,

we gather in the name of your Son

to learn love for one another.

Keep our feet from evil paths.

Turn our minds to your wisdom

and our hearts to the grace revealed in your Son,

Jesus Christ,

our Savior and Lord.

Amen


September 17

No slave can serve two masters;

for a slave will either hate the one and love the other,

or be devoted to the one and despise the other.

You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Luke 16:13

I hope to see you in worship tomorrow - 8:30 or 11:00.

The Gospel reading for tomorrow is the challenging parable from Luke 16 known as The Parable of the Unjust Steward. Many will suggest that this is the most difficult of Jesus’ parables. It may be.

Yet, life is difficult, and it seems that what may be needed most in this life, is forgiveness, which seems in pretty short supply.

One commentator concluded his reflection on this story:

“Lucky for us, we don’t have to deal with a just steward.”

I invite you to contend with Luke 16:1-13, and join me tomorrow as we give thanks to God for all the gifts God has poured out for us.

Peace, Pastor Phil

Here is a pray from tomorrow

O God,

you call us to embrace

both you and the children of this world

with unconditional love.

Give us grace to discern

what your love demands of us,

that, being faithful in things both great and small,

we may serve you with an undivided heart.

Amen.

Reproduced from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers copyright © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission. A complete edition of the prayers is available though Augsburg Fortress.

September 16

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

Philippians 4:4, 6-7

In an essay published years ago, (Faith Practices, Faith Lives: A Lutheran perspective on faith practices) theologian and teacher, Dr. Martha Stortz wrote about “Faith Practices.”

I like her comments, and they came to mind as I was thinking about prayer as an important part of the Christian life.

Here are the opening lines of this essay:

“Are you a practicing Christian?”

a friend asked in the course of a conversation.

“No,” I laughed, “I got it right the first time.”

The truth is that I need all the practice I can get.

“Getting it right” is exactly the wrong way to think about faith.

Faith is more a matter of “being got” than “getting it.”

American philosopher of religion H. Richard Niebuhr put it this way:

“We sought a good to love and were found by a good that loved us.”

The words of the hymn “Amazing Grace” put this truth to music:

“I once was lost, but now am found....”

Like a flare from a foundering ship,

practices position us to be found…

May your prayers place you in God’s good care, and may the grace and love and hope that Jesus has for you, be a gift you carry through the day, Pastor Phil

September 15

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

Philippians 4:4, 6-7

Prayer is a central practice of the Christian life.

I like this line about prayer from Eugene Peterson.

Prayer is not a way in which we order things;

it is a way in which we become ordered.

The primary action in prayer comes from God,

and more often than not God does not act in ways that we can duplicate,

often not even recognize at the time.

I like how Rev. Peterson does not make great claims about what we might accomplish in prayer, but speaks of how in prayer, God works on us in ways we might not be able to name exactly, yet God works.

May your prayers to God today, order you in God’s grace and love.

Peace, Pastor Phil


September 14

The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance,

that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners -

of whom I am the foremost.

I Timothy 1:15

We heard this intriguing line from I Timothy this past Sunday: “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost.”

Just think.

Just think if we - the Church - fully accepted this line about ourselves and one another.

I suspect that such a world view would help us all to look on one another with a deep sense of grace. It could fill us with gladness that each has the possibility of being set free from guilt and shame. Perhaps, in deep gratitude for such gifts, we might not judge anyone around us, but we would - in humility - be thankful that together we can serve the world in joy….

I wonder what moved Paul to say this….

May our acceptance by Jesus, give rise to acceptance of Paul’s insight, and may this give life to our love for the world.

Blessings, Pastor Phil

September 13th

...be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,

as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:32

I received this in the daily devotion from Henri Nouwen a couple of weeks ago. I like how he lays out for us that forgiveness is about love.

(Sadly, people who abuse will use the command to forgive in order to keep people in bondage. This, is wrong. In fact, it is evil… I would never suggest otherwise… One must get away from abuse. The call to forgive empowers both the forgiver and the forgiven.)

Here is Nouwen’s reflection on forgiveness as a practice for people who “love poorly.” I think it is excellent.

Forgiveness is the name of love

practiced among people who love poorly.

The hard truth is that all people love poorly.

We need to forgive and be forgiven every day…

That is the great work of love

among the fellowship of the weak

that is the human family.

- Henri Nouwen

May your forgiveness be a life giving gift of love for you, and those you are called to love and serve. Pastor Phil


September 12th

And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’

Luke 15:6

I shared this line from Preaching professor Fred Craddock yesterday - and it is worth spending a bit of time contemplating what he had to say…

"It is easy enough to sit at a safe distance

and cheer on Jesus

as he welcomes sinners and socializes with them;

it is not so easy to be his disciple in the matter. . .

Jesus’ behavior is radical and disturbing."

There is a lot to this.

We like when Jesus shows up the religious authorities. What about when he catches us in our self-righteousness?

Also, as we listen to Jesus, and like what we hear, we are only part way there. Jesus calls us to follow as well. When he spends time with the least and the lost, we can be inspired. We can also be sure that we are called to do the same.

Blessings to you this week, Pastor Phil

September 9th

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling,

and to make you stand without blemish

in the presence of his glory with rejoicing,

to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord,

be glory, majesty, power, and authority,

before all time and now and forever.

Amen.

Jude 1:24-25

Two weeks ago, the daily devotion from WELCA was by our Bishop, Dr. Laurie Jungling. It was a reflection on prayer that she had written for Gather magazine in 2018.

I thought I'd share it with you today, as we give thanks to God for rain….

Peace to you, Pastor Phil


Prayer can be influenced

by how we understand the God we’re praying to.

If we view God as judgmental,

we are more likely to pray with fear and trembling

and perhaps worry about doing it well.

However, if we view God as benevolent and merciful,

we may be more willing to lay all our stuff before God,

no matter the words or the feelings.

If we view God as too mysterious,

absent or beyond our influence,

we may not bother to pray at all.

Prayer is also influenced

by our sense of relationship with God.

Prayers born out of deep trust or devotion to God

will probably happen more regularly and authentically

than prayers of convenience.

Some Christians worry if it is okay

to express anger with God in our prayers.

Yet when we are angry with God,

we may pray more honestly

than when we pray with disinterest.

God can handle it,

and it’s better than giving God the silent treatment

or praying without integrity.

This message is excerpted from “Am I doing this right?” by Laurie A. Jungling in the July/August 2018 Gather magazine.

September 8

We know that all things work together for good

for those who love God,

who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

One of the devotional sources I like is Pray-As-You-Go (pray-as-you-go.org/). A Catholic resource, they inform us that today is the birthday of Our Lady. In reflecting on Romans 8, they invite us to consider an interesting question…:

“Can you ask Christ now

to help you see and understand

the transforming action of God in your life today,

perhaps in places where you have never thought

of looking before?”

Perhaps look for the action of God in the most mundane, normal of aspects of your day. Perhaps look in life’s disappointments, or detours, perhaps in the highlights of the day, or in the quiet or possibly the most chaos.

Quite a consideration. . . “ask Christ now to help you see and understand the transforming action of God in your life today, perhaps in places where you have never thought of looking before…”

May you see opportunities to share God’s transforming love, today and always. Pastor Phil

September 7

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,

to which indeed you were called in the one body.

And be thankful.

Colossians 3:15

I love the line in Paul’s letter to the Colossians - “And be thankful.” While it is the 2nd half of the verse, I like to think of it as the the next shortest sentence in the Bible after: “Jesus wept.”

Daw Nyein Tha (1899-1969) was a Burmese leader and activist who sought reconciliation between people. This quote from her was shared last month in the Daily Dig devotion from Plough Publishing. Living our lives grounded in a sense of gratitude, rather than fear, seems like the best way for all.

Obedience through Gratitude

Obedience through fear

is reluctant and resentful.

Obedience through gratitude

is joyful, instant, and spontaneous.

Gratitude is like an overflowing stream,

positive,

outgoing.

It is a powerful antiseptic

that kills the germs of bitterness.

Gratitude is the glue that binds and unites you to your neighbor.

It is the salt that flavors

all inspired relationships.

Source: Daw Nyein Tha: Joyful Revolutionary

Copyright © 2022 Plough Publishing House. All rights reserved.

May your following of Christ today be grounded in gratitude!

Pastor Phil

September 6

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery,

Galatians 5:1

I have been trying to clear out emails from the last few weeks. This nice reflection on freedom was from the daily devotions from Henri Nouwen two weeks ago.

Spiritual Freedom

Freedom belongs

to the core of the spiritual life;

not just the freedom that releases us

from forces that want to oppress us,

but the freedom also

to forgive others,

to serve them,

and to form

a new bond

of fellowship with them.

In short,

the freedom

to love

and to work

for a free world.

- Nouwen

Enjoy your freedom! Pastor Phil


September 5th

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong

I Corinthians 1:26-27

Today is Labor Day. The unofficial end of summer, and a day to consider those who labor, and to give thanks for all.

I would like to encourage you to consider your vocation.

I am not asking you to think about your “job.” No. Much more. Consider the ways your baptism sends you out to serve this world.

Reading on the ‘net, I encounter this note: “Vocation is perhaps one of the richest, deepest, and most multifaceted doctrines of the Church…”

Interesting…

When Luther spoke of vocation, he did not limit it to your job or work. The word vocation is related to the word “calling.” Luther understood that we might have numerous callings - parent, child, sibling, teacher, student, farmer, laborer, nurse, caregiver and more…

On this Labor Day, I encourage you to consider your many callings, and to look for ways God calls you to live out your baptism in service toward God and neighbor.

Here is a prayer for Labor Day from our hymnal -

Almighty God,

your Son Jesus Christ dignified our labor

by sharing our toil.

Guide us with your justice in the workplace,

so that we may never value things above people,

or surrender honor

to love of gain or lust for power.

Prosper all efforts

to put an end to work that brings no joy,

and teach us how

to govern the ways of business to the harm of none

and for the sake of the common good;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

(Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 78)


The 13th Sunday after Pentecost

September 4th

I hope to see you in worship! The service will be posted online.

The Prayer of the Day today

Direct us, O Lord God,

in all our doings

with your continual help,

that in all our works,

begun,

continued,

and

ended

in you,

we may glorify your holy name;

and finally, by your mercy,

bring us to everlasting life,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Amen.


September 3

Here is a prayer based on our Gospel reading for tomorrow.

THE GOSPEL

Luke 14: 25-33

Anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions

cannot be my disciple.

Lord,

we pay a lot

to walk with you;

carrying a cross,

clinging

to

no

thing,

no

one:

family, friends, favorite chairs,

palaces, portfolios, clothes, cars, books.

Help us let them go, and more,

to take them up again

only in

you.

Anne Osdieck

Copyright © 2019, Anne M. Osdieck. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce for personal or parish use.


September 2

Here is an excerpt from a powerful Easter sermon by Frederick Buechner.

At the End Is Life - Buechner

Anxiety and fear are what we know best in this fantastic century of ours. Wars and rumors of wars. From civilization itself to what seemed the most unalterable values of the past, everything is threatened or already in ruins. We have heard so much tragic news that when the news is good we cannot hear it. But the proclamation of Easter Day is that all is well. And as a Christian, I say this not with the easy optimism of one who has never known a time when all was not well but as one who has faced the cross in all its obscenity as well as in all its glory, who has known one way or another what it is like to live separated from God. In the end, his will, not ours, is done. Love is the victor. Death is not the end. The end is life. His life and our lives through him, in him. Existence has greater depths of beauty, mystery, and benediction than the wildest visionary has ever dared to dream. Christ our Lord has risen. -

Frederick Buechner - The Magnificent Defeat


September 1

A thought provoking passage about receiving gifts. From Frederick Buechner’s book, “The Magnificent Defeat” which I see is described as “Meditations on key passages of the Old and New Testaments [which] examine what it means to follow Christ, the lessons of Christmas and Easter, and the miracle of grace.”

A child knows how to accept a gift.

He does not worry about losing his dignity

or becoming indebted if he accepts it.

His conscience does not bother him because the gift is free

and he has not earned it and therefore really has no right to it.

He just takes it, with joy.

In fact, if it is something that he wants very much,

he may even ask for it.

And lastly, a child knows how to trust.

Frederick Buechner - Source: The Magnificent Defeat

May you receive God’s gifts with joy and trust!

Pax, Pastor Phil


Previous Connections are in the Archive pages