Friday Followings: They Shall Be Like Snow

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
As I look out my office window on this blustery Friday, I see the snow coming down… and coming down… and coming down. The landscape is a blanket of white snow. And, as much as I don’t always like the long winters of South Dakota (I did grow up in California after all), there is a real beauty about the snow falling on a winter’s day.
 
One of the great chapters of the Old Testament is Isaiah chapter one. It is set up as a courtroom scene, with judge, witnesses, and all. In the courtroom, God’s people are shown to be guilty of breaking the covenant, or law. Yet how will God, the judge, ultimately rule?
 
God, the judge, gives his verdict. And the verdict is FORGIVENESS.
 
My favorite verse in this whole chapter is Isaiah 1:18. God says, “Come now, let us argue it out. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow.”
 
As you see the snow falling out your window today, and as you get your shovels and snow blowers ready later this afternoon or tonight, let it be a reminder of God’s great love for you. Because of Jesus, your sins are forgiven. Though your sins and mine are like scarlet, they shall be like snow. God’s grace declares us pure again. Like the fresh snow on the ground, God’s grace gives a fresh start, each and every day.
 
Give thanks to God today for the change of seasons. Give thanks to God today for your life. Give thanks to God today for the new and fresh snow. And give thanks to God for the gift of forgiveness.
 
Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow.
 
See you in worship!
 
Pastor Tim

   



Friday Followings: Mark: A Riveting and Fast Moving Account of Jesus’ Life

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
Within our worship life together, we are in the early stages of a four month journey through the gospel of Mark. Mark is the shortest of the four gospels, and is considered by most biblical scholars to be the first one written. We know that both Matthew and Luke used the gospel of Mark as they wrote and expanded their own accounts of Jesus’ life. Mark contains 661 verses. Matthew reproduces 606 of these and Luke reproduces 320. Matthew and Luke both include details of Jesus’ birth. Mark does not. Matthew and Luke expand upon Jesus’ teachings and miracles, much of which Mark does not include. Yet, the ebb and flow of Jesus’ life is the same within all three of these synoptic (to see together) gospels. And Mark, the earliest of these, sets the tone for us as we journey with Jesus through his public ministry, trial, death, and resurrection.
 
Mark often uses the word “immediately” in is writing. In the Greek he uses it 41 times, ten of which occur in Mark chapter one. His use of this word creates a sense of urgency: “There is no time to waste. Listen now! Believe now! Follow now!” I like this emphasis of Jesus within Mark’s writing. Christ’s church always needs to have a sense of urgency about the gospel. It’s of vast importance, and we ought not put off the living out and sharing of the good news until later. At Gloria Dei, we are to remain urgent about the great news of God’s love in Jesus Christ.
 
I encourage you to read Mark chapter one in preparation for worship this weekend.  Last week we saw how the heavens were torn open when Jesus was baptized and began his public ministry. In the person of Jesus, God is set loose in this world in a new way, promising never to leave us alone.
 
This week our focus will be on Mark 1:16-20. Jesus calls his first disciples, a reminder that we too are called by Jesus to follow him above all else.
 
In addition, please note that the Gloria Dei Annual Meeting is on Sunday, January 27, at 11:45. We’ll hear reports from our Council President and Senior Pastor; we’ll review the 2018 financial report; and we’ll vote to approve a financial plan for 2019. Please make every effort to be present.
 
See you in worship!
 
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Be Thou My Vision

Happy New Year Gloria Dei,
 
One of the hymns we often sing in worship is called “Be Thou My Vision”. That phrase alone is a great prayer and theme for the New Year. “Be Thou My Vision Lord” means that we want God to lead us; we want to be in line with God’s vision for our lives; we want to seek and pursue the things of God above all else.
 
I particularly like the lyrics to verse two of this hymn. It goes like this:
 
Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word; I ever with thee and thou with me Lord.
Thou my soul’s shelter, thou my high tower, raise thou me heav’n-ward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.
 
Yes, what a great promise. God’s wisdom, God’s word, God’s presence, God’s shelter, with us now and forever. It’s the promise of Christmas, Immanuel, God with us, that goes on throughout the year and always. If at times you don’t know what to pray, simply pray the title of the hymn: Be Thou My Vision Lord.
 
Two reminders: First, I’m excited that over the next four months we’ll be preaching through the Gospel of Mark. Within weekend worship, and on Wednesdays, we’ll discover the Way of Jesus as found in this fast moving gospel. For this weekend please read Mark 1:1-15.
 
Secondly, we are encouraging everyone to take the challenge to read through the entire Bible in one year. We have reading schedules at the Welcome Center at church and on our website, https://www.gloriadei-sd.org/bible-studies/ and we’ll have instructions to download an app so you can read right from your phone, or other mobile device, if you’d like. If you sign up as a participant we’ll send out periodic blogs and/or questions to ask as you read, and you can even join in to an online group conversation if you so desire.
 
God’s good news of salvation as found in Jesus Christ guides us and gives light to our paths.
 
Be Thou My Vision Lord. See you in worship!
 
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Merry Christmas – 2018

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
I want to take this opportunity to say Merry Christmas and a big thank you to all of you. You are an amazing community of faith. Inspired by Christ and filled with faith, you are the living Body of Christ on earth today, sharing God’s love in so many ways. Thank you for living out your baptismal mandate with such joy: “Let your Light shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven.”
 
So, thank you Gloria Dei. I pray that you will experience deeply this Christmas the best present ever, the presence of God in Jesus Christ.
 
This weekend we worship at our normal times on Saturday and Sunday. Pastor Sarah will bring us the good news using the Advent theme of Pause to Rejoice. (Reminder, no church school this Sunday, Dec 23)
 
The Christmas Eve Worship Schedule is as follows:
 
Monday December 24th
10:30 a.m.
Pastor Tim Preaching
Candles, Carols, and Special Music
 
2:30 p.m.
Pastor Sarah and Lara Kvale telling the Christmas story with the children
Children and Family Worship Emphasis. Familiar Christmas Carols.
 
 
4:00 p.m.
Pastor Tim preaching
Candles, Carols, Bell Choir, Special Music
 
5:30 p.m.
Pastor Tim preaching
Candles, Carols, Choir, Special Music
 
9:00 p.m.
Pastor Chris preaching Candles, Carols, and Holy Communion
Grace Liturgical Dancers, Special Music
 
Merry Christmas!
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Worship Opportunities

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
As December is just about half way over and we’re moving toward the third weekend in Advent, I pray you are finding time to pause in this busy season to soak in the message of God’s love for you. Of particular importance to the ebb and flow of life is to pause to worship. As we do, we experience a realignment of life through repentance; we discover the time to rest and pray; and, together with others, we rejoice and give praise to God. Within worship, God shows up with his word of grace.
 
This Weekend‘s Worship Opportunities
Saturday, December 15, at 5:00 p.m. we gather for the Service of Hope and Remembrance. During this reflective time of worship we have opportunity to remember and honor loved ones who have gone before us and hear the promises of hope and eternal life in Jesus Christ. God meets us in Holy Communion at this service.
Sunday December 16 at both the 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. services, our choirs, orchestra, and musicians present the annual Advent Cantata as part of our worship together. We pause and allow God’s word to speak to us through music and Scripture.I also want to remind you that on Christmas Eve, Monday December 2th, we have five Christmas Eve celebration services.
 
And just a reminder, as this is new for us, this year we will offer a Christmas Eve morning service which will be a full Christmas Eve, candlelight worship. This option may work well in some family schedules.
 
The full Christmas Eve worship schedule
10:30 a.m. (carols and candlelight)
2:30 p.m. (children and family emphasis)
4:00 p.m. (carols and candlelight)
5:30 p.m. (carols and candlelight)
9:00 p.m. (carols, candlelight, and Holy Communion)
 
The 4:00 p.m. Christmas Eve service has traditionally been our most crowded, often with seating going well back into the gathering area. This is a time many first time visitors come. To help with ample seating, you may want to choose an earlier or later service if it works into your schedule.
 
I know that God will bless you as you worship with friends, family, and church family. We have the promise and assurance that God shows up in our lives each and every day. May the good news of Christmas fill and inspire you.

Pastor Tim



Friday Followings: The Silence is Broken with Good News: Pause to Rest

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
My brother Mark, a pastor at St. Andrew Lutheran in Mundelein, Illinois, recently shared a meditation written by the late Gerhard Frost, a Lutheran pastor and teacher. The short meditation, entitled “Silence Breakers” goes like this:
 
God is silence, but in Jesus Christ God has broken that silence.  –Ever since one of the greatest of New Testament scholars said that in my hearing, I’ve thought of it and quoted it often.
 
God is unknowable at the depth at which I must know him, unless he makes himself known – unknowable as Savior, as mercy, until he reveals himself in the person of Jesus Christ.
 
But God has shattered the silence, has stepped into the void and bridged the chasm. And, since he has, you and I are meant to be silence-breakers. Life is mission, and that mission is Christ our Lord.
 
I love that. For you, me, and this world, God is most fully known in the person of Jesus Christ, the very Word of God made flesh, as the gospel writer John says. In Jesus, the silence of God is broken open, and we know of God’s immense love for us.
 
Within worship these weeks, we are continuing our theme, Advent Pause. Last weekend we focused on Pause to Repent. This weekend our focus is on Pause to Rest. I hope and pray that you pause long enough during these days to find rest. As you stop and rest, ponder and give thanks for the reality that God breaks into our world in Jesus, and in him we receive the good news of rest for our weary souls. Jesus breaks the silence and says to you today, “Come to me all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
 
Rest. Sabbath. God knows we need it. We know we need it. Come to Christ and find rest.
 
Happy Advent and I’ll see you in worship,
 
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: It’s All About Love

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
This weekend we begin the season of Advent. Advent is a time to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Christ into our world. It is a time to rightly prepare for the celebration of Christmas.
 
During Advent, ask yourself this question: Why did God send his Son Jesus into the world? It’s a good question which undoubtedly has numerous answers. But at the heart of the matter is love. God loves this world. God loves you and me.
 
God desires nothing more than being in a good relationship with you, and God goes to great lengths to make that happen. And even though there are so many distractions that keep us from seeking God, God takes the initiative by giving us his Son. Even though there is sin in our hearts and in our world, God takes the initiative by giving us his Son. It’ all about love.
 
Our theme for the season of Advent this year is “Advent Pause”. Within worship and preaching we’ll focus on the themes of “Pausing to Rest”, and “Pausing to Rejoice”. This coming weekend we’ll meet John the Baptist, who, together with Jesus, calls us to “Pause to Repent”.
 
Stop, pause, ponder, and ask the question: Why did God send his Son Jesus into the world? As you make your list of all the good answers to that question, remember, it all comes down to love. May you pause during this season of Advent to Repent, to Rest, to Rejoice, and to soak in the love of God. As you do, that same love will overflow from you toward this world that God loves so dearly.
 
Pastor Tim
 
P.S.  As I write this, the weather reports are calling for snow and wind this weekend. We’ll be here for worship at Gloria Dei, but please use your best judgement and stay safe.
 
P.P.S. Remember, this Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m. our church school children will lead us in worship with their annual Christmas program. I hope to see you there!

 



Friday Followings: God is good all the time all the time God is good

God is Good, All the Time…. All the Time, God is Good.

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
As you know, we often begin our worship services with the words “God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good!
 
This week, as Thanksgiving approaches, it’s good to be reminded that God indeed is good. And that God is generous. God has created this vast universe and has placed us in it to live and to love. Because of human sin, when the creation was damaged by the stuff of death, God acted by sending his Son as a way of restoring life, love, and relationship.
 
In Jesus we see what God is like. Jesus was generous. He healed the sick. He cast God’s word freely. When the crowd of 5000 was hungry, he fed them in abundance, with lots left over. When the wedding ran out of wine, Jesus provided more than enough. And in his teachings, Jesus gives us a picture of God who runs out to meet us, sinners that we are, and who throws lavish parties, filled with rejoicing, when one who is lost is once again found. Yes, God is generous to you and to me. Being recipients of such generosity can’t help but create generous hearts within us.
 
This weekend is our Stewardship weekend. Our Stewardship theme for this year is Thankful and Generous Hearts. God, the creator and owner of all, has given us life, placed us into this time and space, loves us with an everlasting love, and calls us to use our life for his purposes.

I want to say thank you to all of you. The way in which you use the time, talent, and money that God has entrusted you is evident at Gloria Dei. You are generous in your giving. God calls us to no less.

This weekend in worship we will bring our financial pledges for 2019 to the altar as an act of worship. Our offerings support all of the ministry being done, as well as keeping up on our building and mortgage costs. I encourage you to pray about your level of giving to God’s work, and to increase it if possible, as God continues to impact thousands of people for Jesus Christ through this ministry.
 
For example, we currently have a mission team serving in West Virginia. They are there on Jesus’ behalf, serving in his name, but also representing you, the people of Gloria Dei. I encourage all of us to give generously. The work of God in this place is extremely important, and being disciples of Jesus together gives our lives their very purpose. Yes, we shout it with enthusiasm. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.
 
See You in Worship and have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving,
 
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Thankful and Generous Hearts

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
Every week we confess our faith in God, often reciting the Apostles’ Creed, which begins “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”
 
Last night in Bible Study we discussed the biblical worldview that God is not just the creator of heaven and earth, but also the owner of heaven and earth. Distinguished bible scholar Dr. Harry Wendt suggests that when we say the first article of the Creed, that we add the word “owner”. “I believe in God…. The creator and owner of heaven and earth.”
 
What implications does it have for your life, as a believer and follower of Jesus, if God owns everything, including your very life? What if you and I are simply caretakers, or stewards, of the gifts that God bestows upon us? What if the talents we possess, the resources and money that we say belong to us, even our family, in reality, all belong to God?
 
Our Stewardship theme for this year is Thankful and Generous Hearts. God, the creator and owner of all, has given us life, placed us into this time and space, loves us with an everlasting love, and calls us to use our life for his purposes.
 
I want to say thank you to all of you. The way in which you use the time, talent, and money that God has entrusted you is evident at Gloria Dei. You are generous in your giving. God calls us to no less.
 
On November 14, 17 and 18 within worship, we will bring our financial pledges for 2019 to the altar as an act of worship. Our offerings support all of the ministry being done, as well as keeping up on our building and mortgage costs. I encourage you to pray about your level of giving to God’s work, and to increase it if possible, as God continues to impact thousands of people for Jesus Christ through this ministry. I encourage all of us to give generously, as the Good News of God’s love for us is indeed the one true and lasting hope for all the world.
 
And don’t forget: This Sunday afternoon at CJ Callaway’s we’re gathering (adults only) for a stewardship and fellowship event at 4:00 p.m. Food will be provided for you. You are all welcome and invited to come.
 
See You in Worship!

Pastor Tim



Friday Followings: Saying Yes to the Promises of God

For today’s Friday Followings, I’m reprinting part of my recent newsletter article.
 
Hello Gloria Dei,
 
This weekend in worship our ninth graders will stand in front of the congregation and affirm their faith in God. At the baptismal font God made promises to them. Those promises, centered on being a child of God, continue throughout their lives and ours. This milestone of confirmation is important because they are affirming those promises, and committing to continually living out the faith God has planted within them.
 
I urge you to let the confirmation students be an example for you. Each and every day all of us are to remind ourselves of the great promises God has made to us. When I’m happy about something I say “Yes. Thanks be to God.” Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God has made a covenant with you. Because of Jesus, as the apostle Paul says:  “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  –Romans 8:37, 39.
 
I love those verses. They fill me with joy. To that great news I say “Yes. Thanks be to God.” How can we not be filled with joy when we affirm and say yes to the love of God which is ours in Christ Jesus?
 
This weekend we also celebrate the Protestant Reformation. Upon rediscovering the great news of God’s never-failing love and grace, Martin Luther was ecstatic! Justified by God’s grace! Salvation as a pure unmerited gift! Christ has done all that is necessary for our salvation! Amazing News! As Jesus says, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Live in the radical freedom of being claimed and chosen by God. Let it launch you into the joy-filled arena of service to others. “Yes. Thanks be to God.”
 
See you in worship!
 
Pastor Tim
 
P.S. The Nominating Committee has been working to fill the slate for electing open council seats and other positions. The balloting will take place on November 3 & 4 within worship.