I must admit I grew up with a high degree of idealism. My father was a huge John F. Kennedy Jr. fan. His opening speech when he ran for State Senate in Wisconsin began with the famous quote:
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy
And from the other side of the aisle we are reminded of this truth:
“No matter how big and powerful the government gets, and the many services it provides, it can never take the place of volunteers.” — Ronald Reagan
I agree with both of these statements, however this ideal is in the decline…
Both Volunteerism and Charitable Giving are in decline in the United States.
From a high of at least 67% of Americans volunteering, it has dropped to only 23% in 2021.
Americans gave 1.7% of their personal disposable income to charity in 2022, the lowest level they had given since 1995, and far below a high of 2.4% in 2005. Just last year it fell by 3.4%, which equates to a 10.5% decrease when adjusted for inflation.
This has a major impact on nonprofits and our overall society, of which St. Luke’s is not immune.
In our new member classes we walk through the formation of the early church,
Acts 2:41-47 – Life among the Believers
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Our core values come from this passage, “Simply What Every Christian Should Do,”
Service – “…distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.”
Worship – “…they spent much time together in the temple…praising God.
Evangelism – “having the goodwill of all the people…the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Community – “They devoted themselves to the…fellowship, to breaking of bread and the prayers.”
Stewardship – “All who believe were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods.”
Discipleship – “The devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching.”
These are a necessity to be the Church, the Body of Christ at work in the world today – acts of volunteerism and charitable giving.
Ephesians 4:11-13 explains how this is lived out:
As The gifts God gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers…
There are those who have specific roles, but adapting Ronald Reagan’s words, “No matter how big and powerful the church staff gets, and the many services it provides, it can never take the place of the members of the congregation.”
The goal is…to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
Just as the early church was counter-cultural in its time, may we do likewise and be counter-cultural in our time – so that the Lord may add to the numbers those who are being saved.
Thank you to all the ministers of St. Luke’s who volunteer their time and charitable giving living out our mission.
St. Luke’s is a welcoming and growing community of faith, busy making Christ known to the world.
Ongoing prayers and blessings, Rob
Joy + Kindness + Light + Love = Salvation
Lighting of the Advent Candle during worship is near and dear to my heart. It’s one of my earliest memories of participating in worship with my family. I noticed that when I went to other churches the words used were sometimes different. The candles were sometimes different colors. Sadly, this was also one of the first times I remember someone saying, “Well they’re doing it wrong.” when they answered my curious question regarding the differences.
One major difference this year is starting Advent a week early. Last Sunday St. Luke’s celebrated both Christ the King Sunday and the First Week of Advent. The worship and music team thought it would be better to combine these instead of Advent Four and Christmas Eve, which both fall on December 24 this year. The church calendar was arranged when Christmas Day was the big day. The Season of Advent is the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. Now with Christmas Eve being the big day, Advent occurs on Christmas Eve about every seven years.
The church calendar was created by humans, it is not biblical. What is important to remember is Advent is about prophesy, waiting and preparing for the messiah to arrive. We have been in a time of Advent since Jesus’ ascended into heaven, as we wait for his return. Until then we tell the story every year. So moving Advent up a week made the most sense.
I’m grateful for the writer below sharing a bit of the history, including the differences.
History and Symbolism of the Advent Wreath
by Patrice Fagnant MacArthur
Used with permission: Catholic Exchange.
First published November 28, 2021.
The lights of the candles on the Advent Wreath break through the darkness, reminding us of the Light of Christ that we anticipate during this holy season. Where did this tradition come from, of lighting four candles in an evergreen wreath to mark the weeks preceding Christmas? Like many of our Church traditions, the use of candles in the midst of late fall and winter was originally a pagan tradition. Rev. William Saunders, who wrote an article in the “Arlington Catholic Herald” on this topic, states that “pre-Germanic peoples used wreaths with lit candles during the dark and cold December days as a sign of hope in the future warm and extended sunlight days of spring.” In a similar vein, Scandinavians “lighted candles [that] were placed around a wheel, and prayers were offered to the god of light to turn the ‘wheel of the earth’ back toward the sun to lengthen the days and restore warmth.”
In the middle ages, the Germanic peoples began incorporating a lighted wreath into the Christian season of Advent. It didn’t gain widespread popularity until the 1800s and it wasn’t until the 1900s that German immigrants brought the tradition to America.
The Advent Wreath is very symbolic. The evergreens used for the wreath itself are a reminder of continuous life. The shaping of them into a circle reinforces that meaning. The circle is also a sign of everlasting life as well as the eternity of God.
Four candles used. Traditionally three purple and one pink, mark the Sundays of Advent before Christmas. The purple candles are reminders that this should be a time of prayer and sacrifice to prepare us for the second coming of Christ. On the third Sunday, the pink candle is lit to announce Gaudete Sunday, a Sunday of rejoicing for Christ is coming near. With the lighting of that candle, the light has won out over the darkness (three candles lit vs. the one that remains unlit).
Various meanings have been assigned to the four candles. One interpretation has each candle representing 4000 years, the Biblical time between Adam and Eve and the coming of Christ. In another interpretation, the first candle represents the patriarchs, the second the prophets, the third reminds us of John the Baptist, and the fourth of Mary, the mother of Jesus. They have also been described as the prophets’ candle, the Bethlehem Candle, the shepherds’ candle, and the angels’ candle.
A fifth white candle in the center representing Christ can also be used. It is lit on Christmas Eve as a remembrance of Christ coming into the world. Sometimes, all the other candles of the wreath are removed and replaced with white candles on Christmas.
The Advent Wreath serves as a powerful visual reminder of the holiness of the season. The light of the candles invite us to quiet ourselves during this busy time and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Whether at home or at Church, it provides an invitation to wait and pray in hopeful anticipation for the coming of Christ. We are called to welcome the light of Christ into our lives.
The weekly themes for St. Luke’s Advent Season are Joy, Kindness, Light, Love, and Salvation. The first four are found in the four verses of the Advent hymn, “Awake, Awake, and Greet the New Morn” #242 in the ELW. The Joy of the Lord. The Kindness of Christ. Jesus the Light of the Word. God is Love. Each of these are gifts of God that are expressions of Salvation. These are the gifts we are called to live out which in turn bring Joy, Kindness, Light, Love, and hopefully leading to discovering a life of Salvation in Jesus the Lord to a world that so desperately needs it. So let us embrace our differences.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. – Romans 8:28-29a
Advent according to the Prophet Jeremiah
Thanksgiving is Thursday. One day where as a nation we pause to give thanks for all that we have been given. For some, it’s not even a day. We can find ourselves in disagreement with family members, distracted by football, or desiring the Black Friday specials.
To help focus us this Advent Season we will be looking at the Prophet Jeremiah. His main message was simple, but difficult to follow. He called people to turn away from their wicked ways and dependence upon idols and false gods – the things that take us away from giving thanks and distracting us from worshipping God.
The Worship and Music Team chose “Awake, Awake, and Greet the New Morn” as our Advent Hymn. It is a song that calls us to give thanks for and share the gifts of Joy, Kindness, Light, Love, and Salvation. Could you think of better Christmas gifts?
Living out these gifts brings…
…Joy into a world filled with much sadness.
…Kindness into a world where there is too much cruelty
…Light into a world of darkness.
…Love into a world of hate.
…Salvation to a world that seems set on destruction.
These gifts do not have a sign, “Wait until Christmas” to open them – give them every day!
Join us in the days and weeks ahead.
Thanksgiving Eve Worship – Wednesday, November 22, 7 PM.
How fun to have long time member and first year seminary student, Tim Krieg giving the message. Stay for the dessert reception. But more importantly, bring a gift for VEAP, a nonperishable food item and household products. Follow the link for the For Most Needed Items https://veap.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/Most-needed-items-flyer-2023.pdf
Advent Worship Candle Lighting – During Worships: November 26, December 3, 10, 17, and Christmas Eve. Individuals, friends, families are invited to light a candle, read a Bible verse, and say a prayer (all provided). There is room for you on November 26, December 10, 17, and Christmas Eve.
Invitation to Christmas Worship – The greatest gift to share.
Prayerfully consider inviting family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to come and hear the Christmas Story at our Candlelight Worships: 2, 4, and 10 PM. It is the one time of year people are most willing to open this present.
A Blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Next Wednesday, November 22, at 7 PM, you are invited to gather for worship and then stay for dessert. It’s a wonderful tradition here at St. Luke’s as well as many other congregations. You’re invited to bring a dessert to share with our fellow members following worship, but also bring a bag for our neighbors.
VEAP is our local community food shelf and resource center.
VEAP Mission: Together we create pathways to stronger, more hopeful communities through access to healthy food, housing stability, and supportive services.
and Vision: A thriving community where all are free to pursue their dreams!
St. Luke’s has a VEAP Barrel by our front entrance. Every Sunday there are items put in it by a few faithful members. Two times a year we seek to have the barrel overflowing with food and household products – On Thanksgiving Eve and March Minnesota Food Share Month.
Prayerfully consider bringing some of the following items of their most needed items:
(From their website: https://veap.org/ways-to-give/most-needed-items/)
If you cannot join us for Thanksgiving Eve, remember we collect items every week. The Sunday following is Christ the King, November 26. Let us remember Jesus parable of the King…
“The king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” – Matthew 25:34-40
A couple of weeks ago we concluded this year’s outdoor activities for the Yard Care Group (YCG). The last thing we did was to do a walk around the building. We talked about things we wanted to accomplish next year and what gains were made this year. Slow but steady, year by year, the YCG has made improvements to the curb appeal of St. Luke’s.
I can surely say that I’ve been blessed to get to know and work with the people that have been part of the Tuesday and Thursday morning work group. The first year there were 2 of us, the next year 3, and this year 4. We are not growing as fast as the quilters, but we’re heading in the right direction!
I would also like to acknowledge the great work done by others on their gardens and how lucky St. Luke’s is to have such dedicated people. They show up when it best fits their schedules. If you would like to help but cannot make the designated times, feel free to come in when you can. There are no rules, it’s just about keeping the place looking nice. Like my son told me one day, “It’s not about having time, it’s about making time”.
Every month in our Church Council reports we are asked the question, “Where did you see God at work? How did it live out St. Luke’s Mission? How did it build up the Kingdom?” I see God the Holy Spirit motivating us to work on caring for the grounds. It’s a humble and rewarding stewardship. By doing so, our property says Welcome to those passing by, and possibly stirring the Holy Spirit within them.
Last week the salt buckets were filled, and the snow-shovels were stationed around the building. Yes, it’s that time of the year again! With Learning Tree and St. Luke’s Pre-School staff arriving around 6:30am during the week, there are plenty of opportunities to help with cleaning up the snow before they arrive. We’ve been showing up around 6:00am to get the Ed Wing end of the building cleaned up before they arrive. Then as long as we’re here, we do the rest of the building after that. Parents also show up at noon to pick up their preschooler’s and any time after 3:00 for Learning tree. There are also other opportunities to help when we get daytime snows. When you look at the church calendar, you will find there is something going on every night at St. Luke’s Monday thru Thursday. Here again, there are no rules. If you show up and it’s already done, you know your heart was in the right place.
In a few short months I will be completing my final year as property chair. It has been a privilege to serve St. Luke’s in this capacity. I’m glad that I took on the role as a new retiree. Often there is a huge hole that occurs in a person’s life when there is no longer a full-time job to work at. Although far from being a full-time job, being property chair gave me the sense of purpose, responsibility and structure that I was leaving behind. The flexibility that comes with retirement has been advantageous for both St. Luke’s and myself. As many people before me have stated, I never thought I would be on church council. Though a few people can enter the role in complete comfort, I think the majority have some apprehension. I know I did. But during my tenure, I learned that it is a very welcoming group, full of understanding people, whose common goal is the welfare of St. Luke’s.
Back in its heyday, when St. Luke’s was 2000+ members strong, monetary donations took care of many of the tasks that Property has now taken on with volunteer help. Currently, the property chair has an active role in all of the following functions. The thought is to have a volunteer take on sole responsibility for a single task below, with the exception of snow shoveling and YCG which requires participation by multiple people.
Some of the tasks are:
If you are interested in, or have any questions about the tasks above, feel free call, text, email or catch me between services.
May these celebrations move us in making our pledges for 2024
“Here I stand.” – Martin Luther. With this statement the Reformation began 506 years ago. Let us remember, Luther never wanted to leave the church, he wanted to reform it.
For Luther, Reformation was never about revolution. He never wanted to break away from the Roman Catholic Church. He was a devout Roman Catholic at the time, in full agreement with papal authority and even the veneration of Mary. It was a slow, painful process, filled with anguish and tears that eventually brought Luther to the realization that the Roman Church placed its authority and traditions above Scripture and would not change. He knew the church was teaching many things not found in God’s Word, such as penance, veneration of the saints, purgatory, and the supremacy of the pope.
As Luther proclaimed, we are saved by faith alone, by grace alone and by scripture alone. The key to reformation theology is found in God's love for all people. By grace alone means that God’s love is freely given.
Martin Luther did not use the exact phrase "priesthood of all believers", he put forward the doctrine that all Christians are "priests" and "spiritual" in the sight of God. We are each called to this ministry.
The church is reformed when anyone stands up for the sake of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.
What a wonderful celebration on Sunday as 16 of St. Luke’s 20 new members also stated “Here I Stand.” during their personal introductions in worship. As Josh said in his introduction to the congregation, “I grew up in church. Anytime I miss church I feel a part of me is empty. Since I came here, I feel appreciated. You are all so lovely, I’m staying.”
I believe God sent Josh to St. Luke’s this summer knowing that Jesse, the current drummer at the time, was going to move to Los Angeles. With Josh sharing his talent, Jubilee has not missed a beat. Thanks be to God!
I believe each one of us has been called by God to this time and place for a reason. Let us welcome and keep in prayer those who are joining us in our 100th Year:
Abby, Eli, and Micah Bryzgornia
Kyle, Samantha and Lily Buchholz
Julie and Tim Casey
Ken and Sandy Johnson
Leonard, Morgan, and Chessa Lange
Jack and Kaye Spears
All Saints Sunday will be another wonderful celebration knowing that the Light of Christ shines brighter in this world because of those who have gone before us. We celebrate the lives of the following members and friends of St. Luke’s who have joined the Great Cloud of Witness (listed chronologically):
Brian C. Zumberg
Connie L. Hare
2024 Pledges to be presented this Sunday
You are invited to share your 2024 Pledge this coming Sunday during worship so we can continue to live out our mission into our 101st Year.
St. Luke’s is a welcoming and growing community of faith busy making Christ known to the world.
There are three areas for you to support.
1. Current Ministries = $433,000
This is for the working of the church, supporting staff, ministries, and the building.
2. Building Fund = $168,000.
This is the cost of our annual mortgage. This fund is used to make our monthly payments.
3. Bridge Fund = $130,000
This is to support two ongoing appeals.
a. 2021 Capital Appeal – The appeal was to take care of a number of building needs, along with a giving a tithe to our mission partners. Due to increased costs primarily for the new roofs (supply chain, labor shortage, and inflation), the final costs exceeded the original estimate. Goal is to balance this account.
b. 100th Anniversary Gift – This is for upgrades in the sanctuary to enhance in person worship, along with live streaming and recorded worship.
This is just a synopsis, the full report is available in the 2024 Stewardship and Bridge Capital Appeal Case Statement sent out to all members. If you need one, contact the office: 952-881-5801 / email@example.com.
Please prayerfully consider your pledge for our present, past, and future.
Here I stand!
Ongoing prayers and blessings,
Mark your calendars so you don’t miss out on all the festivities…
Reformation Sunday Worship, October 29, 8:30 and 10 AM.
“Here I stand I can do no other.” – Martin Luther, became an Everyday Hero during his time, and in fact was one of Life Magazine’s Person of the Millennia. Over 500 years later we recognize his influence that “Priesthood of All Believers” or as I like to proclaim, “Every Member is a Minister.” It’s fitting that about a dozen people will stand this coming Sunday introducing themselves as New Members here at St. Luke’s. In their introduction we ask them to answer three questions.
Trunk or Treat, Sunday, October 29, 4:30-6:30 PM
What a wonderful way to welcome the neighbors. Thank you to all who brought candy to share. Last year we had over 400 people, so we could always use more candy. Prayerfully consider decorating your car adding another trunk – it doesn’t have to be fancy, the little goblins and princesses are there really for the candy. But there is the Traveling Troll Trophy which could be yours if voted as the best trunk.
Other festivities include s’mores, popcorn, and a Mini-Donut Food Truck. Invite your family, friends, and neighbors. Consider helping out, Spots still available include: popcorn and cider stand, flyer/info stand, and Clean Up Crew. Sign up with Emily Hendricks, Director of Children and Family Ministry. firstname.lastname@example.org / 952-881-5801 ext. 104
All Saints and Pledge Sunday, November 5, 8:30 and 10 AM
What a wonderful way to honor those who have gone before us. We will light a candle for the St. Luke’s Members who have died in the past year, trusting in the promise that they are in the Great Cloud of Witnesses.
We honor them by continuing to witness here on earth. Pledge Cards were mailed out today. Prayerfully consider your tithe and offering. Know that I give a full tithe of my entire compensation including salary, housing, and benefits. I am following the witness of Moses who did likewise. There are three opportunities: Current Ministries, Building Fund to pay the monthly mortgage, and a Bridge Fund to fulfill our 2021 Capital Appeal and complete the 100th Anniversary Sanctuary upgrades. If you have questions, contact Tim Krieg, Stewardship Council Representative: email@example.com
The Second Stewardship Bulletin Insert is below.
Honor Veteran’s Worship, Sunday, November 12 at 3 PM
We gather outside and raise the American Flag with Revelry. Worship in the Sanctuary includes recognizing each of the armed forces. We conclude back outside as we lower the Flag with taps. We are gathering photos of St. Luke’s veterans. You’re invited to submit one for yourself or a loved one to the office, by Sunday, November 5.
Thanksgiving Eve Worship, Wednesday, November 22, 7 PM
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
– 1st. Thessalonians 5:18
I’m looking forward to Member and Seminary Student, Tim Krieg give his first sermon. This Celebration as the Family of God, which for some is their only Thanksgiving Celebration, for others it prepares them to celebrate with their families the next day. Sign up to bring treats to share. Diane LaFontaine, Community Life Council Representative, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christ the King and First Advent Sunday, November 26, 8:30 and 10 AM
We are combining these two Worship Celebrations to keep Christmas Eve, only Christmas Eve on Sunday, December 24. It is an Omega and Alpha Sunday, with Christ the King being the last Sunday of the Church Year and Advent One being the first Sunday of the Church year. Looking for people to light the candles at each worship, 8:30 and 10 AM, for our four weeks of Advent: November 26, December 3, 10 and 17. Contact the church office email@example.com 952-881-5801 ext. 103
Before you know it Christmas will be here!
Ongoing prayers and blessings,
“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
– Jesus (Matthew 28:20)
This promise from Jesus means little to those who are in need. That is why I am so proud of St. Luke’s for being a Matthew 25 Congregation.
‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food… And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.’ – Matthew 25:37,40
Yesterday, Monday night, at Feed My Starving Children in Chanhassen, St. Luke’s helped pack 122 Boxes, containing 26,352 meals which can feed 72 children for a year. In addition we brought our congregational gift of $1,000 that was matched in honor of World Hunger Day.
If you missed yesterday, join us tomorrow, Wednesday. October 18, 5:30 PM as we kick off the Fall Festival serving the Sandwich Project making 400 Sandwiches for Groveland Food Shelf. Stay for the BBQ, games, crafts, and campfire with s’mores.
In addition to these three St. Luke’s serves a number of neighbors through a variety of organizations. This one of the most powerful ways as a community of faith, we are busy making Christ known to the world.
These are everyday examples of St. Luke’s living out its mission. In case you missed last week’s bulletin insert…
I had the privilege to attend a workshop by Reverend Aaron Fuller. With what is going on throughout the world in Ukraine and now in Israel, I thought it would be fitting to hear from Aaron. As people of faith, we are caught between the good and the bad of life, but may we never give up on the hope that does not disappoint (Romans 5:5). So prayers for all people who are in conflict and facing trauma – not only to find peace today, but always. - Rob
Reflection by Aaron Fuller
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a diagnosed mental disorder, it can be the result of a traumatic event. The National Center for PTSD estimates 7 percent of the U.S. population will suffer from it, more than half being active military personnel and veterans.
As a Navy chaplain, I’ve learned trauma is a strange and complex phenomenon. While all people will experience a degree of trauma in their lives, each responds differently. A military veteran who witnessed death and violence during deployments may live a well-adjusted life after service concludes, but a child who was bullied in grade school may suffer into adulthood. While some may recover fully from sexual assault, others may turn to substance abuse or suicide to rid themselves of pain. As Christians we are called to reflect on the reality of PTSD and accompany those who suffer in darkness.
1 Samuel and the Psalms provide an opportunity to examine trauma in society. The characters in 1 Samuel carry out decisions and actions that come with significant ramifications for themselves and the Kingdom of Israel. Here we find trauma associated with combat (David and Goliath) and misuse of power (Saul as king, Eli’s sons’ iniquities).
As Christians we are called to reflect on the reality of PTSD and accompany those who suffer in darkness.
It would be a mistake to ignore the psychological, emotional or spiritual effects of these actions. This is where the Psalms can help. Within the Psalms there is lament and thanksgiving. They show us the tension God’s people continually face: how to be faithful amid tumultuous times.
As you read 1 Samuel and the Psalms, consider how violence and abuses of authority might have affected David, Samuel or the nation of Israel, and how it might have affected you if you were there. Reading with this lens allows us to examine PTSD on its own terms and in relationship to someone suffering from it.
Now, more than ever, we can’t afford to ignore trauma. We’re all feeling the effects of a society that is less connected, less empathetic and more isolated than ever. This sense of isolation is what those suffering from PTSD experience each day.
The church’s mission has always been to bear the hard realities of the world alongside those who suffer, just as Christ did on the cross. We accompany others in their pain so they may experience new life and hope.
Trauma and PTSD are realities present among us. What would it mean for our members if we were to examine and name trauma and PTSD in our congregations? Perhaps awareness of those realities will stir our hearts toward action.
Used with Permission. Article from Living Lutheran, June 21, 2018
Aaron Fuller is an ELCA multi-vocational pastor serving Bratislava International Church and as a chaplain in the Navy Reserve. He also supports his partner Kelly Schumacher Fuller in carrying out the Young Adults in Global Mission program in Central Europe.
Thank You St. Luke’sIt was an incredible Sunday as we continued our celebration of St. Luke’s 100th Anniversary. It was a privilege to have Pastor Tania Haber preach. She served St. Luke’s as the Senior Pastor from Advent of 1999 to the summer of 2003. As she said to the congregation, “It was a blessing in my life. You, St. Luke’s, took the bold step of calling the first female Senior Pastor in our Minneapolis Synod. My tenure here was not all that long, I realize, but we had quite a ride together! I look back on this place with deep gratitude for your trust in me, for what we did together, and for providing a warm and faith-filled place where our two daughters spent a few of their elementary school years with lots of good memories of sitting with Smacky in worship, singing in Pat Lair’s kids musicals, participating in Pat Derry’s VBS. Those were formative years for my girls and for me as a young pastor.” Tania just celebrated her 20th Anniversary at Westwood Lutheran in St. Louis Park where she went after St. Luke’s.
It is very appropriate that Tania was here to celebrate my 25th Anniversary of Ordination. She was my colleague, internship pastor, and did the pre-marriage counseling for Nancy and me; and we just celebrated our 30th Wedding Anniversary.
Why a celebration at 25 Years? This reading speaks to the demands of the job, tongue in cheek.
The Perfect Pastor (author unknown)
The Perfect Pastor preaches exactly 10 minutes, condemns sin roundly, but never hurts anyone’s feelings.
The Perfect Pastor works from 8 a.m. until midnight, is always on call, and fills in as the church caretaker.
The Perfect Pastor makes $500 a week, wears good clothes, drives a good car, buys good books, and donates $100 a week to the church.
The Perfect Pastor is 29 years old and has 40 years’ worth of experience.
The Perfect Pastor has a burning desire to work with teenagers, and spends most of the time with the senior citizens.
The Perfect Pastor smiles all the time with a straight face because of a sense of humor that maintains serious dedication to the church.
The Perfect Pastor makes 15 home visits a day and is always in the office when needed.
The Perfect Pastor always has time for church meetings and all of its committees, never missing the meeting of any church organization. And is always busy evangelizing the unchurched.
The Perfect Pastor is always in the next town over.
I am far from perfect, but thankfully I not become part of the following statistics. The Church is struggling today to not only find pastors but also finds it equally difficult to keep pastors.
Mark Bergherr, President of the Congregation shared the following during the celebration of my 25 Year Ordination Anniversary:
According to the 2016 Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development helps seminary students and the broader church understand their culture:
1. Jethro’s Rule. This Sunday we will be studying the next Biblical Hero in the Old Testament as we continue our series Biblical and Everyday Heroes. Exodus 18.“Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”
Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”
Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone (vs. 13-18)…
… Jethro tells Moses to find capable people—who fear God, trustworthy people who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” (vs. 21-23)
“Every Member is a Minister!
2. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. It takes a healthy person to help another person be healthy. The statistics above speak to the importance of taking care of yourself so you can care for others. I have been blessed with very good mentors, like Pastor Tania Haber. I’m constantly trying to learn and grow. I stay in God’s word and pray without ceasing. I want the best for all people. I take every person’s words and actions with the best intent. My mantra is Galatians 5:22-26.“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.”
3. Priority of Love – God, Family, Vocation. Both the Old Testament Commandments and the Great Commandment put God first. After the commandments of loving God, having no idols, do not take the Lord’s name in vain, and remember the Sabbath, the next commandment is honor family, followed by do not commit adultery – having something that comes between you and your beloved; for many pastors that can often be the church.I was told early in my ministry that my inbox will never be empty, there is always something to do as a pastor. However, never let your relationships be empty. I am grateful for Nancy, the boys, extended family, and friends, without I would become one of the statistics. I am not the Church. The Church is not the Lord. We are called to be God’s children. Jesus put it best as recorded by John 10:10,
“The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but I came that you might have life, and have it in abundance.”
So thank you again St. Luke’s for your care and commitment of me, my family, and more importantly your care and commitment to one another and those we have the privilege to be in ministry with and to…
Let us live our mission, “We are a welcoming and growing community of faith busy making Christ known to the world.” It is Simply What Every Christian/Church Should Do. It is my privilege to be in Service with you. Worship the Lord together. Evangelize by being a loving Community within and outside of our walls, to those we know and the stranger. To be good Stewards, sharing our time, talent, and treasure. And continue to grow in our faith trusting the promise that keep us going, in Jesus name. Amen.