Carrying the Cross
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” – Jesus (Matthew 16:24-25)
This week I’m walking in solidarity with our Confirmation Students who will affirm their faith this Sunday in Celebration of Reformation Sunday.
In preparation, the confirmation students were given a cross to carry. Hopefully they will wear it, sparking questions and conversations, for they will be making a public profession to continue in their faith in which they were baptized.
“I do. And I ask God to help and guide me.”
Martin Luther’s cross to bear happened on Oct. 31, 1517. Luther posted his 95, sparking a conversation about reforming extra-Biblical church traditions and church-instituted teachings and activities that he believed had no basis in Scripture. He believed those traditions and teachings made salvation dependent on good works or, worse, church-sanctioned indulgences, buying your way or a loved one’s way into heaven.
Luther argued that the Scriptures were clear – salvation was achieved by “faith alone.” Good works were a response to this gift given by God in Jesus.
Luther had struggled trying to please God to achieve his salvation. However all that changed when he read in Romans 1, “The righteous shall live by faith.” This is the heart of Luther’s theology.
For three years, Luther was told to recant his statements – the “95” and his other writings and teachings. He refused. In January 1521, Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X. By April, Luther was being charged with heresy at the now-famous Diet of Worms, an assembly of princes and prelates overseen by the Holy Roman Emperor. At stake for the 37-year-old excommunicant, if found guilty he could be burned at the stake. All Luther had to do was “recant,” and all would be “forgiven”.
Instead Luther announced,
“Here I stand. I can do no other.”
So you are invited upon reading this to wear a cross in solidarity with our confirmation students. And then join us on Sunday, to stand and make public profession of your faith.
Pastor Rob Norris-Weber
Why Do We Need to Pledge?
Stewardship can be confusing. It’s sometimes mistaken for fundraising, but stewardship is not about the church budget or paying for a new addition to the church building, it’s about recognizing God’s work in our lives and responding to God with gratitude.
Stewardship is the prayerful work of managing our time, talent and treasure to bring about God’s kingdom on earth. Stewardship is a part of our spiritual journey and our relationship with God.
What is a pledge?
Stewardship is our thank you to God for all that we have received. The church is the Body of Christ to accomplish God’s work on earth. We give through the church, not to the church. We are called to use all that God has given us in service to others.
Why do we need annual pledges?
Annual giving supports everything we do and are at St. Luke’s. Our gifts of time, talent and treasure help us worship together, outreach and care for the community. Together we have affected, in ways both large and small, the lives of the people both within and beyond the walls of this church. Through this community our gifts have equipped and empowered countless individuals and families to be and to make Disciples of Jesus.
In order to know what we can do each year, pledge commitments assist St. Luke’s in the development of the budget for year ahead. Decisions about spending are made by Lay Leadership Teams and the Church Council, our fellow members like you. These individuals are committed to prayerfully listen to members and more importantly the promptings of the Holy Spirit as they make decisions about the church’s budget.
Don’t the contributions made in the weekly offering cover our expenses?
The single largest source of funding for our ministries comes from our annual tithes and offerings. There is some non-pledge support given by members, friends and extended family, along gifts shared by outside community organizations.
How many pledges a year do we get? Do people pledge large amounts?
We are grateful for every pledge, large and small. Your annual pledge allows us to plan our commitments to our staff and programs each year. All pledges of all amounts are critical to help support St. Luke’s budget.
How much should I give with an annual pledge?
Our standard of giving should reflect our standard of living. We ask each member to consider making a pledge that is both responsible and significant based on his or her financial situation. A tithe (10% of your income) has long been held as the standard of Christian giving. For most, it is a goal to be reached through incremental increases each year. Every pledge and every gift, no matter what amount, makes a valued contribution to our mission and ministry.
Why does giving to the church matter spiritually?
We believe pledging is an important Christian spiritual practice, enabling us to grow intentionally in gratitude and generosity in every part of our lives. Giving stems from our recognition that…(Principles of Stewardship):
1. All we have belongs to God. Our blessings are gifts from God, our generous Creator.
2. We are lifelong stewards of the gifts with which God has blessed us.
3. God expects us to practice stewardship in ways that glorify God and that strengthen the Kingdom.
4. Our stewardship decisions reveal the relative importance of God in our lives. Stewardship greatly impacts the depth of our relationships with God and the quality of our earthly lives.
5. As good stewards, we should use our gifts of time, talent and treasure in those places that best further God’s Kingdom.
6. St. Luke’s is a mission post through where members can find sanctuary, strength, support and guidance to then go making Christ known to the world.
7. The practice of stewardship changes hearts and strengthens relationships with God. Stewardship is a tie that binds us to God.
Grace permeates our lives, and pledging to St. Luke’s allows us to respond with that grace. It is the first step in cultivating a broader practice of generous living, shaping not only how we use our financial resources but also how we share our gifts of time and talent with others. As we continue to invest in our faith community, we strengthen our personal relationship with God.
Much thanks to https://www.buncombestreetumc.org who gave us permission to use their stewardship article as a framework for ours. Just another example of stewardship – Churches working together in God’s Kingdom.
Stewardship Is Heart Work
Why do I share a tithe and offering with St. Luke’s?
As a pastor, I will never ask anything of a member that I’m not willing to do myself. I serve, worship, invite others, participate in community, continue to learn and teach others, and give a tithe plus share additional offerings to the church – Simply What Every Christian Should Do.
My calendar for the upcoming weeks includes:
Service – Joining St. Luke’s to pack meals this Friday, 4:30 PM at the Chanhassen Feed My Starving Children. Contact Craig Brandt at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would like to volunteer or click here to sign up.
Worship – Sunday at 8:30 and 10 AM. Beyond attending, I look forward to serving communion.
Evangelism – Inviting others to join St. Luke’s packing meals this Friday.
Community – Enjoying Wednesday Night Live Dinner at St. Luke’s, 5:30 PM. Suggested Donation: Free for children through Kindergarten. $3/for others. Max $10/family.
Stewardship – Turning in my completed 2023 Pledge and starting my next year’s increase this week. This includes identifying a ministry or activity to participate in each Core Value.
Discipleship – Learning from and teaching the Confirmation Students on Wednesday Night. Opportunities for all ages from 6-7 PM.
The question is why do I do this? Yes, I’m a pastor, but I would do this even if I wasn’t. My family finds that serving others, praising God, creating goodwill, having church friendships, being generous, and sharing faith together and with others, makes all the difference in life.
I encourage you click here to look at the ELCA, 10 Stewardship Principles. It speaks to how to live a generous life – giving a tithe and your life as an offering.
So I invite you to share Why do you share a tithe and offering with St. Luke’s?
Look forward to hearing your story in the comments.
Ongoing prayers and blessings, Rob
Raise a children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray. - Proverbs 22:6
Love the Lord with all your mind. The members of St. Luke’s Faith Formation Team believe that faith is formed and re-formed throughout a person’s life.
Below are the Milestone Ministries from baptism through adulthood. The goal is that every year a child will come to the font to remember their baptism as they grow in faith through a variety of opportunities specific to their stage of development. This is by no means all inclusive, just some identified steps along their journey of faith. Each is biblical with an objective and resources.
Although each milestone is directed at an age or grade, children younger or older, and even adults are welcome to participate. Come and enjoy…
B - Baptism Milestone (January 7): Beginning Point of Nurturing a Faith Life (Acts 2:38-39)
Objective – Parent feels equipped and comfortable in raising their child in the faith.
Current Resources and Opportunities – Splash 0-12 months, Nursery, Parent begins to pray for and read First Bible to their child.
1 – Babies First Christmas (December 3) : A child will lead them. (Isaiah 11:6)
Objective – Family begins traditions, telling the story, singing carols, celebrating Jesus' birth.
Current Resources and Opportunities – Splash 13-24 months, Nursery, Prayground, Parent prays for and reads First Bible to their child.
2 – Worship and Home Faith Chest (Beginning of Lent): Church & Home (Deut. 6:4-9)
Objective – Family has developed a routine with children at home, child looks forward to prayers and Bible Stories.
Current Resources and Opportunities – Splash 25-36 months, Nursery, Prayground, Parent prays for and reads First Bible to their child.
3 – Entering Children’s Church Milestone (September): First Steps for a Young Child (Proverbs 22:6)
Objective – Child starts to attend Children’s Church during worship with a parent.
Current Resources and Opportunities – Splash 25-36 months, Prayground, Children’s Church, Wednesday Night Preschoolers and Parent, Vacation Bible School (VBS), St. Luke’s Pre-School, Parent prays with and reads Pre-School Bible to their child.
4 – Care of Creation Milestone (April): Love God and all creation (Genesis 1:26-30)
Objective – Child learns about God's creation and our responsibility to care for it.
Current Resources and Opportunities – Earth Day Event, Prayground, Children’s Church, Wednesday Night Preschoolers and Parent, St. Luke’s Pre-School, Parent prays with and reads Pre-School Bible to their child.
K – Blessing of the Backpacks Milestone (August): A Milestone for All Ages (Proverbs 18:15)
Objective – Child receives a gift to remind them God is with them wherever they go including school.
Current Resources and Opportunities – Backpack is blessed, Children’s Church, Wednesday Night Children’s Ministry, VBS and Parent prays with and reads Spark Bible with their child.
1 – First Communion (Weekend before Maundy Thursday): Do this in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:19)
Objective – Child attends a First Communion Class with a parent/godparent, and begins to take communion during worship.
Current Resources and Opportunities – Children’s Church, Wednesday Night Children’s Ministry, VBS and Parent prays with and reads Spark Bible with their child.
2 – Bibles (September 14. Celebrate the 18th): As they grow in years, place in their hands the Holy Scriptures (Baptism Promise)
Objective – Child begins reading the Spark Bible.
Current Resources and Opportunities – Children’s Church, Wednesday Night Children’s Ministry, VBS and Parent prays with and child reads Spark Bible to their parent.
3rd - 5th Grades, DAYS AWAY
Objective – Child participates in worship. Invited to be an Acolyte a Lector communion assistant, etc.
Current Resources and Opportunities – Wed. Night Upper Elementary Ministry, VBS, Child prays with and reads the Deep Blue Bible to his or her parent.
3 – Worship Day Away (November): Worship the Lord with gladness (Ps.100:2)
4 – 10 Commandments: What does this mean? (Exodus 20:2-17 and Deut. 5:6-21)
5 – Lord’s Prayer: Lord teach us to pray... (Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4)
6th – 8th Grades - RETREATS
Objective – Students preparing to claim their faith.
Current Resources and Opportunities – Wed. Night Confirmation, Leaders for VBS, Student prays with and reads the Spark Study Bible with his or her parent.
6 – Start of Confirmation/Apostles’ Creed Milestone: Walking by Faith (John14:15-18)
7 – Healthy Body, Mind, and Spirit: Present your bodies…holy and acceptable. (Rm 12:1-2)
8 – Peer Ministry Retreat: Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (1 Tim. 4:12)
9th – 12th Grade - TRIPS
Objective - Students live out their faith as adult members.
Current Resources and Opportunities – Leadership for Wed Night children’s and confirmation programing, VBS, Student prays with and reads their Confirmation Bible with parent.
8 – Mission Trip Milestone (8th-12th) (Summer): You will be my witness…to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8)
There is a 5-Year Rotation: Camp Barnabus, Pine Ridge Reservation, New York City VBS, Appalachia Habitat, Care for the Earth during a Boundary Water Canoe Trip.
9 – Peer Leader Milestone (8th-12th) (May): An Education of the Heart (Philippians 4:7)
10 – First Job & Money Milestone (10th-12th) (April): Where your treasure is...(Matthew 6:21)
11 – Post High School Planning – (11th-12th) (November) but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:15)
12 – High School Graduation Milestone (June): Equipped for the Journey (Micah 6:8) Sailing Trip!
Post High School – (Care Packages) The Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9)
Objective – Young Adult continues to worship here at St. Luke’s or wherever God leads them. Continues to be active in a small group or forms a new one depending on where they are living.
Current Resources and Opportunities – Adult Leadership at St. Luke’s. Summer Bible Camp Staff.
Adult Ministry – And when they are old, they will not stray. (Proverbs 22:6b)
Objective - Hope is that all adult members are in Bible Study.
Current Resources and Opportunities –Join Wednesday Night Live Adult Study, Women’s Bible Study, form a small group, or find a community group such as Bible Study Fellowship (Current members participating are Julie Schroeder, Heather and Tony Kambeitz)
Look for future blogs about…
October 16 – Stewardship