Pastor Phil Wold
email@example.com cell - 307-763-1115
Saturday, March 28
“…the spirit of the LORD …said to me, "Mortal, can these bones live?" I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know." Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.” …”Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.' Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live…”
The First Lesson for tomorrow is the story of the dry bones, from Ezekiel 37:1–14. You might want to read the entire text.
That well known song, Dem Bones Dem Bones Dem Dry Bones, with its playful nature, might well cause us to miss how wonderful, hopeful and powerful is this word from Ezekiel. “And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, …O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live…”
This word of God bears a powerful promise that echoes through to today. I had a professor who spoke about the Church in decline, and how one might see a valley of dry bones.
His question rang out; “can these bones live?”
In many ways, we can look around us, and see a valley of dry bones. Many of the struggles we face in our lives, personal, familial, political, financial, one or two or all of these might suggest that there is no life there. Let us listen together for the Word of the Lord. I think you also might hear it: “You shall know that I am the LORD”!!
Here is a nice recording of “Spirit of Gentleness” ELW #396
Spirit, spirit of gentleness, blow through the wilderness, calling and free, Spirit, spirit of restlessness, stir me from placidness, wind, wind on the sea.
You moved on the waters, you called to the deep, then you coaxed up the mountains from the valleys of sleep; and over the eons you called to each thing; “Awake from your slumbers and rise on your wings.”
You swept through the desert, you stung with the sand and you goaded your people with a law and a land; and when they were blinded with idols and lies, then you spoke through your prophets to open their eyes.
You sang in a stable, you cried from a hill, then you whispered in silence when the whole world was still; and down in the city you called once again, when you blew through your people on the rush of the wind.
You call from tomorrow, you break ancient schemes. From the bondage of sorrow all the captives dream dreams; our women see visions, our men clear their eyes. With bold new decisions your people arise.
[James K. Manley, 1978. Tune: Spirit]
Friday, March 27
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice! Psalm 130:1
I like the suggestion that many have made, that we might see this time of social distancing as a sort of “Sabbath.”
It is probably easy to wax poetic about sabbath rest, when it is not forced upon us. I have heard many stories of how the sabbath was observed in days past, and a good number of those stories are not so positive.
Yet, let us remember, that the sabbath command is truly a gift. For us, a weekend as a time of rest is a given. When God gave Moses the 10 Commandments, the sabbath command was given, not only for the people of Israel, but for all who were living there. Even slaves. Even the livestock. Sabbath rest is a great gift. In part, it is a command that keeps us from working ourselves - or our neighbors - to the bone. We set sabbath aside to our detriment.
A web site I like - www.mbird.com - seeks to look for the ways grace is present and also the ways it is absent in our culture.
This past week, Episcopal priest, Connor Gwin wrote this insightful line:
“We have been asked to stay home and disconnect. Our various governments have said the best thing we can do at this moment is to observe the sabbath and we, perhaps unsurprisingly, have found a collective way to make it a contest.”
That is what we often do with the law. Make it into a burden. Try to “win” by observing it better than others. Or despair because we will get it wrong and “lose” once again. Or maybe, take note that the invitation to sabbath is a great idea, then exhaust ourselves seeking to maximize our sabbath-ing.
And so, mindful of the possible pitfalls, let me encourage you to look for the possibility of sabbath rest, a time of abiding securely in God’s great love during this interesting time.
a nice prayer
A Coronavirus Prayer
Loving God, Your desire is for our wholeness and well being.
We hold in tenderness and prayer the collective suffering of our world at this time.
We grieve precious lives lost and vulnerable lives threatened.
We ache for ourselves and our neighbors, standing before an uncertain future.
We pray: may love, not fear, go viral.
Inspire our leaders to discern and choose wisely, aligned with the common good.
Help us to practice social distancing and reveal to us new and creative ways to come together in spirit and in solidarity.
Call us to profound trust in your faithful presence,
You, the God who does not abandon. Amen
Thursday, March 26
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice! Psalm 130:1
(A note - The Trinity Council will be holding a meeting soon. From what I have heard from our Bishop, we should plan on this social distancing going past Easter. We will most likely not be gathering together on April 12th. When we do re-convene, that Sunday will be an Easter Festival celebration. We will surely mark Easter on April 12th. It will be for most all of us, an Easter like none other. Yet, so will our celebration when this has passed!)
I am so grateful to everyone who has touched base with me to see how I am doing.
I have to say that I am fine.
I am also not fine. Like you, I am concerned about our neighbors, my own family and myself as well. Like you, I find this lack of knowing what is next and how long this social distancing will last, to be …unsettling to say the least.
It has been good to live with Psalm 130 this week.
“Out of the depths I cry to you…”
In her reflection on this Psalm for the God Pause daily email devotion - (https://www.luthersem.edu/godpause/2020/03/24/) Seminary Pastor Jeni Grangaard writes with great insight.
After pointing out that our culture views things differently than scripture, thinking that God only blesses those who have everything together, she suggests that Psalm 130, like so many places in scripture, makes clear that it is the furthest thing from the truth.
I really liked her conclusion that;
“this psalm calls us into God’s mercy and redemption, born out of the forgiveness of sins.
The psalm echoes for us our hope: When we have nothing left to hold on to, God holds on to us. In this space we wait and watch. But we do not wait alone, for God in Christ has entered into the depths with us.”
For me, part of the power of this moment is how God is entering the depths with us.
I invite you to see the many acts of kindness that people are showing - the continued work to provide Lunch Together and Food Group care to our neighbors - the many ways we are reaching out to one another - all of these gestures - as God’s ways of entering our world with God’s own love and care.
Peace to you all. Pastor Phil
This is a favorite new hymn in the ELW #659
The lyrics accompany the video - it seems I don’t have the copyright to include them here…
I especially like the line “pray that I may have the grace to let you be may servant too.”
If there is any way your Trinity friends could lend a hand, please let me know. 307-763-1115
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
In the Catholic church calendar, March 25th is the Feast of the Annunciation. This marks the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary, in Luke:
“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.””
I was reminded of this today listening to a devotion by Pray As You Go.
((https://pray-as-you-go.org/) These daily prayers are from the Ignatian tradition. I like it, because, unlike me, it is contemplative and quiet.)
In 9 months, we will, again, celebrate the birth of the Christ child.
Years ago, a professor of mine; addressing the decline which the church has faced in recent decades asked this piercing question: “What if the Church is not sick. What if the Church is pregnant, and ready to give birth to something new?”
That comes to mind often.
I have rarely taken the time to mark March 25th as the Annunciation of our Lord.
It is striking to me now.
What might it mean, if on March 25th each year, I paused to remember this wonderful story from of Gabriel’s visit to Mary? How might it shape my vision of the year, to consider the Christ child, maturing through the rest of this year. How might it shape us all to look ahead to the Incarnation like an expectant couple?
How might it shape our vision of these days of quietness and solitude, if we considered this a time pregnant with possibility?
Let me be clear. I do not want to suggest that the possibilities at hand require us to work hard to bring them about. Rather, like a pregnancy, they call for us to look faithfully for God’s presence and call in the midst of all that we will go through at this time…
The Prayer of the Day for today from the ELW
Pour your grace into our hearts, O God, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son, Jesus Christ, announced by an angel, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; for he lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Holden Evening Prayer Annunciation and Magnificat:
Tuesday, March 24
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice! Psalm 130:1
Perhaps you have seen the - somewhat - humorous post that says something to the effect of “I didn’t plan to give up this much for Lent.”
Our social distancing might well look very much like Lenten self-denial.
I set aside this quote from Augustine the other day:
“There is a different kind of prayer without ceasing; it is longing. Whatever you may be doing, if you long for the day of everlasting rest do not cease praying. If you do not wish to cease praying, then do not cease your longing. Your persistent longing is your persistent voice. But when love grows cold, the heart grows silent. Burning love is the outcry of the heart! If you are filled with longing all the time, you will keep crying out, and if your love perseveres, your cry will be heard without fail.”- St. Augustine - Source: Augustine’s Expositions of the Psalms
As Lutheran protestants, we have not really emphasized Lenten self-denial very much. Such activity can seem to us to be rife with the possibility of a too great focus on our own selves and what we do.
May our self-denial in these days give rise to a holy longing, and a greater mindfulness about the God who grants us every breath we take. May these days help us to grow in grace, as we turn to the God to whom we can cry out, even from the very depths.
A Hymn for today…
Abide With Me
Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's pow'r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav'n's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.Songwriters: Milner Edward Cecil / Lyte Henry F / Monk William
I have yet to figure out how to past a video so it sits right here, and not at the bottom. So, you will have to copy this address and past it into your web browser. Sorry about that.
Monday, March 23
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
Yet with you is forgiveness, order that you may be revered.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.
We turn to Psalm 130 this coming Sunday.
What a powerful beginning to this prayer. “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord…” I sometimes wonder why we don’t know this line as well as “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
“Lord, hear my voice!”
This passionate prayer invites us to see that we can bring our entire selves to God in our faithful praying. There is no need to get ourselves together, to be at peace and in a religious or a well settled frame of mind. We can turn to God out of the depths of wherever we may be.
May you know God’s comforting presence, from the depths, from our places of joy, in times of peace or those places of distress. May you join the Psalmist and proclaim that in God’s word you hope, that you know that “with the Lord there is steadfast love, and great power to redeem”!
Hymn #600 in the ELW is Out of the Depths I Cry to You, a paraphrase of Psalm 130, by Martin Luther.
1 Out of the depths I cry to you;
O Lord God, hear me calling.
Incline your ear to my distress
in spite of my rebelling.
Do not regard my sinful deeds.
Send me the grace my spirit needs;
without it I am nothing.
2 All things you send are full of grace;
you crown our lives with favor.
All our good works are done in vain
without our Lord and Savior.
We praise you for the gift of faith;
you save us from the grip of death;
our lives are in your keeping.
3 In you alone, O God, we hope,
and not in our own merit.
We rest our fears in your good Word
and trust your Holy Spirit.
Your promise keeps us strong and sure;
we trust the cross, your signature,
inscribed upon our temples.
4 My soul is waiting for you, Lord,
as one who longs for morning;
no watcher waits with greater hope
than I for your returning.
I hope as Israel in the Lord,
who sends redemption through the Word.
Praise God for grace and mercy!
Text: Martin Luther, 1483-1546; tr. composite
Text © 1978, 2006 Lutheran Book of Worship, admin. Augsburg Fortress. Duplication in any form prohibited without permission or valid license from copyright administrator.
Saturday, March 21
The King of Love My Shepherd Is
Text: Henry W. Baker
The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am his
And he is mine for ever.
Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul he leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow
With food celestial feedeth.
Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love he sought me,
And on his shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.
In death's dark vale I fear no ill
With thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.
Thou spread'st a table in my sight;
Thy unction, grace bestoweth:
And O what transport of delight
From thy pure chalice floweth!
And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
Within thy house for ever.
“The King of Love My Shepherd Is” - hymn #502 in the ELW, is a beautiful paraphrase of Psalm 23.
Did you know that Psalm 23 is not quoted in the New Testament? Surprising, since the Psalm has become so important to us through the years.
I like how this hymn underscores Psalm 23’s clear word of God’s promise to take us into God’s own care, now and forever.
As we spend these days praying for our neighbors, and trusting that God will watch over us, may we look hopefully to that day we can again join together to sing God’s praise.
This is a nice recording of the hymn… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d50KE9jMVWY
Friday, March 20
I laughed on Monday when I read a post by a mom who was dealing with staying at home with her school age children. She said she’d been homeschooling her two little ones for 1 hour and 11 minutes and had come to this conclusion: teachers should be paid a million dollars a year. Maybe more. Ha!
We need to laugh and smile a bit in the midst of this season of social distancing. At the same time, I am seeking to hear a call to prayer in this season. I am praying that as we spend this time apart, we might grow closer to one another. May this distancing remind us that we stand in need of one another, and that God has called us together to be Trinity Lutheran Church.
The hymn; “Thy Holy Wings” is one of my favorites. It is very much like a lullaby, in its tune and lyrics. I wonder. Do I like this song so much simply because it brings to mind those days of holding and feeding my children when they were little? Does it give me “warm fuzzies” as I think about the little ones I’ve loved over the years? Maybe so. It is also a comforting gift to consider my own self wrapped in God’s care.
Every child, of course, is a gift to us. Every child is one to whom we give tender care and to whom we do things we hardly ever do for others, like singing lullabies. May this sweet hymn serve to remind us that God has sent Jesus Christ in order to wrap each and every little one in the arms of God’s expansive love.
And you too.
Thy holy wings O Savior,
spread gently over me
and let me rest securely
through good and ill in thee.
O be my strength and portion
my Rock and hiding place.
And let my ev’ry moment
be lived within thy grace.
O let me nestle near thee,
within thy downy breast
where I will find sweet comfort
and peace within thy nest.
O close thy wings around me
and keep me safely there.
For I am but a newborn
and need thy tender care.
O wash me in the waters
of Noah’s cleansing flood.
Give me a willing spirit,
a heart both clean and good.
And take into thy keeping
thy children great and small.
And while we sweetly slumber,
enfold us one and all.
Text: st. 1, 3, Lina Sandell, (1832-1903), tr. by Gracia Grindal; st. 2, Gracia Grindal © 1983, Gracia Grindal; Selah Publishing Co., Inc., administrator.
Fun note: Gracia Grindal was one of my preaching professors in seminary.
This is a nice recording by a children’s choir https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URnTYZV3fec
and this, by the Wartburg College Choir is bit more meditative, (it lacks the second stanza) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZGxrHgIwkc
Thursday, March 19
Psalm 23 is assigned for this Sunday, and it seems so fitting, doesn’t it?
As I have thought and thought and thought about this situation we are in today, I have considered hymns that might bear a word of comfort.
“Shepherd Me O God” is a song that has come to mind for me. It is by Marty Haugen, the composer of Holden Evening Prayer liturgy. The lyrics are in many ways a simple paraphrase of Psalm 23. I find it to be a wonderful interpretation of this Psalm
refrain: Shepherd me, O God
Beyond my wants
Beyond my fears
From death into life
(1) God is my shepherd
So nothing I shall want
I rest in the meadows
Of faithfulness and love
I walk by the quiet waters
Of peace refrain
(2) Gently You raise me
And heal my weary soul
You lead me by pathways
Of righteousness and truth
My spirit shall sing
The music of Your Name refrain
(3) Though I should wander
The valley of death
I fear no evil
For You are at my side
Your rod and Your staff
My comfort and my hope refrain
(4) You have set me
A banquet of love
In the face of hatred
Crowning me with love
Beyond my power to hold refrain
(5) Surely Your kindness and mercy follow me
All the days of my life
I will dwell in the house of my God
You can listen to a nice recording of this song at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L55J02iTGjM .
May this song give voice to a prayer for us all, that God might shepherd us from death into life.
Here is a recording of Marty Haugen singing the song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFgZGlZ5t80
Wednesday, March 18
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil; for you are with me;
your rod and your staff - they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Friends in Christ, as we practice “social distancing” I will be sending you some regular communications, so we can make “Trinity Connections.”
I am doing great. I am concerned. I am hopeful. I am worried. I am confident. I am scared. I’ve got this. I am overwhelmed. I am faith-filled. I am filled with doubt.
I suspect that all of you can relate to one of these, and many of you, like me, can relate to each and every one of these ways of naming our state of being at one point or another in these days.
Let me encourage you to pray.
Turn to God with all of your emotions, your feelings, all of your thoughts and your inner conversations. Turn to God with your joys and concerns and your hopes and sorrows.
Psalm 23 is assigned for this coming Sunday. Let me suggest that when you find yourself concerned, or worried, recall these wonderful promises. “The Lord is my shepherd… …I fear no evil; for you are with me…” While we may find ourselves unsettled and anxious, we can turn to God’s sure promise of love and presence. I think often of this Bible verse, which has sustained me through the midst of some of life’s more challenging chapters: I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”
We are in the midst of Lent, and maybe we can look at some of our time at home as a Lenten retreat, where in prayer we turn to God for comfort and hope.
We are in the midst of Lent, it is true, and it is also true that we are always an Easter people. Let us recall that wonderful resurrection story from the 28th chapter of Matthew:
…the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
I encourage you to pray. Turn to scripture. Turn to hymns. We have much in our tradition to help us in these days. I am struck by the fact that we are facing an un-seen foe. This virus seems to be lurking out there somewhere. We have to strip not to pass this on from one to another. The 3rd stanza of A Mighty Fortress might speak to you right now:
Though hordes of devils fill the land All threatening to devour us,
We tremble not, unmoved we stand; they cannot overpower us.
Let this world's tyrant rage; In battle we'll engage!
His might is doomed to fail; God's judgement must prevail!
One little word subdues him.
It is good to be reminded that no matter what, come what may, you are in God’s good care. I am praying for you, and ask that you join me in praying for our entire congregation, for our Montana Synod and our ELCA, for our community, and for all in this world which God loves so passionately.
Peace to you,
The following is from a resource provided by the ELCA. It is a list that was suggested for worship leaders as they fashion prayers for their congregation:
As you craft prayers for these days, other needs to be named might include:
Hospitals, nursing homes, other health care facilities
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The World Health Organization
Medical researchers and scientists
Schools: Calm to children who are fearful from all they hear and see around them
Patience in times of school closures Guidance for school administrators as they make decisions
Workplaces: Workers who are anxious about the safety of their workplaces
Uncertainty in how work will be accomplished in the days ahead
Calm and guidance amid financial uncertainties
Government institutions and municipal agencies:
Guidance when making decisions for our communities
Houses of worship and their ministries at this time
For all who travel
For all who grieve the loss of loved ones
For other needs particular to your community