Friday Followings with 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.


Friday Followings: Our Christian Faith

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
I hope you’ve enjoyed these past couple of weeks as we’ve learned in worship about Judaism and Islam. Getting to know the faith traditions and beliefs of others is important. It also serves as a way to sharpen one’s own faith.
 
This week in worship we’ll focus in on our own faith, Christianity. Similar to these past weeks with the other religions, I’ll hone in on some fundamental beliefs for Christians. In preparation for worship I’d like you to think about what it is that you believe as a Christian. What are some of the fundamentals that inspire and empower you within your faith?
 
Every world religion seeks to answer some of life’s big order questions, such as:  Is there a God? Is there a purpose for my life? If so, what is it? Can I be forgiven? Am I loved? Is there hope for the future? Think about our shared Christian faith. How do you answer these questions? Does your faith have anything to say about life’s big questions? I’m excited to explore our Christian faith together this weekend.
 
Reminder: On the weekend of November 17 & 18 we will all have opportunity to make our financial pledges to Gloria Dei for the year 2019. God loves you, and God is working through you, and through this congregation, to share Christ’s gospel of love with others. I invite you to pray about your level of giving and to live always with thankful and generous hearts.
 
See you in worship,
 
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Approaching God’s throne of Grace with Boldness

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
I recently had a friend remind me that as Christians, we can approach the throne of God with boldness. That’s a scary proposition. How can we, as mere human beings, fallible, broken, sinful in so many ways, approach God who is righteous in every way?
 
The writer to the Hebrews answers that question in a profound way. Listen to this:
“Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” –Hebrews 4:14-16
 
God’s Son has been tested just like us. God’s Son knows exactly what you and I go through, both the good and the challenging. God’s Son sympathizes with our shortcomings, our struggles, and our questions. And because God’s Son is our great high priest, we can go to God with Christ right by our side. And instead of finding a God of anger, judgement and punishment, we find a God of grace.
 
Let me remind you today, as my friend did for me, that God’s throne is one of grace and love. And that you can approach God with anything and everything, and you will be met with love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and grace.
 
Be bold as you approach the very throne of God.
 
See you in worship,
 
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: World Religions: Understanding and Loving One Another

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
Even though Sioux Falls is largely a Christian city, we all have friends or family members, co-workers or acquaintances, who adhere to one of the many other world religions. Or if we don’t, we read about things going on in the world, both good and bad, involving people who believe differently than we do. Even within the Christian faith, there is a broad range of emphases and practices.
 
I’m excited to launch into a short, three-week sermon series, which will take a look at the three world religions that trace their roots back to the Old Testament person, Abraham. These are often referred to as the Abrahamic faiths. They are Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
 
This weekend (and this coming Wednesday) we’ll focus on the oldest of these three, Judaism. The sermons will hardly be able to scratch the surface of what could be a yearlong educational offering on each one of the religions. We will, however, spend 15 to 20 minutes in the sermon each week giving a quick overview. Therefore, the sermons will be more of a teaching time than normal.
 
The purpose for this is not only to educate, but also to gain a better understanding so as to love and respect others in a more rich and meaningful way. With both Judaism and Islam, we will discover some similarities with our own Christian faith. And, of course, we will see some vast differences as well.
 
Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Last night in our Thursday Bible Study we looked at the parable of the Good Samaritan. In that parable Jesus teaches that just as God loves us without limits, so too we are called and empowered to love without limits, even to those different than us.
 
May God bless you in your life and in your faith journey. God is good… All the time.
 
See you in worship,
 
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Receiving and Giving

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
Stop for a minute and breathe in a deep breath. Hold it for a second or two, and then breathe it out. Taking in, and releasing out. This helps us calm down and be healthy in life.
 
The same is true for our spiritual lives. We receive gift upon gift from God. Think of the ways you have been blessed. Think of all for which you are thankful.
 
In church, as we recite the Apostles’ Creed, I’m grateful for God the Father who has created us and all that exists. I’m thankful for God the Son, who have given his life for us that we might have a full and everlasting life. And I’m thankful for the gift of the Holy Spirit. God with us even now, creating and sustaining faith itself. Yes, we are the recipients of many gifts.
 
Just as we breathe in and out, so too, to be spiritually healthy, we receive and give. From the great storehouse of our blessings, we are called to naturally give of ourselves for the sake of God and other people. The giving comes in many forms. Often we say in “Time, Talent, and Treasure”.
 
In worship this weekend we are continuing our “Fit for Life: Strengthening our Core” series, focusing in on the word GIVE. Just as you thought of the ways you are blessed, now think of the ways in which you give of yourself for God and others. Receiving and Giving are both necessary for spiritual health.
 
The most famous of bible verses says it well. “For God so loved the world that he Gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish, but will have everlasting life.”
 
Later in the same gospel of John, Jesus follows up these words with “Just as I have loved you, so you are to love one another.”
 
God gives life to us through Christ. We then, get to be a blessing to others. How cool is that?
 
See you in worship!
 
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Gather, GROW, Give, and Go

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
Just a quick note today to remind you that we’re in a four week preaching series called, Fit for Life: Strengthening our Core. As you know, we’re using four words from our Gloria Dei Mission Statement – Gather, Grow, Give, and Go. 
 
Last week we heard about the importance of gathering in worship to be shaped by God and his saving Word. If you weren’t able to be present, please go onto the website and listen to last weekend’s sermon, as these are meant to all work together to strengthen our core and keep us spiritually fit.
 
This week the focus is on GROW. In preparation for worship, read the whole Bible. Just kidding… wanted to make sure you’re still following me. Seriously though, in preparation for worship, please choose any portion of Scripture and read and meditate on it. Maybe it’s a favorite chapter or verse that you’ve read many times. Or maybe it’s something brand new. The more we are in the Word of God, the more Holy Spirit works on our faith and we grow in our relationship with God.
 
There is so much going on at Gloria Dei for you to connect with, whether in the area of fellowship, Bible Study, outreach, education, care, you name it. Please check our website and join in as you are able. As you do, you’ll witness growth in faith and you’ll become more and more spiritually fit.
 
Thanks for your partnership in the gospel of Christ and I’ll see you in worship!
 
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Spirit Alive 2018

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
Alright, today I’m giving you some homework. It’s easy homework, but nonetheless, it is homework.  Here it is: Memorize our Gloria Dei Mission & Vision Statement. It goes like this: “Freed by Christ, We Gather, Grow, Give and Go, all to the Glory of God.”
 
I may just give you a quiz in worship this weekend to see if you know it.
 
Within worship we are starting a four week preaching series in which we’ll use four words from our mission statement: Gather, Grow, Give, and Go. The series in called “Fit for Life: Strengthening Your Core.” Just as it’s good to be physically fit, so too, it’s important to remain spiritually fit. This week we’ll focus on the word Gather and the importance of us gathering together regularly to worship and praise God. Worship keeps us spiritually fit.
 
I’m excited for this weekend as we kick-off the fall schedule with our “Spirit Alive” emphasis. It includes a Ministry Fair, with booths and tables set up as we see a good sampling of what is available for us during the coming year at Gloria Dei.
 
Be reminded that Church School begins on Sunday, with two options in conjunction with our two worship services.
 
Wednesday worship begins this coming week, September 12 from 6:00 – 6:30 p.m. along with all the regular Wednesday programming, including Church School.
 
Thanks for your partnership in the gospel of Christ and I’ll see you in worship!
 
Pastor Tim