Friday Followings with Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: Spoudazo – One More Time

Hello Gloria Dei,
Okay, Okay, I know I wrote about Spoudazo a couple of weeks ago, but this is the week, so here we go again. Spoudazo is a group of High School students who travel each summer and perform Christian contemporary music along with skits and drama.
This group is touring in July and will be at Gloria Dei this Tuesday, July 16, at 7:00 p.m.
I encourage and wholeheartedly request that you as individuals or families come and support this traveling group of students. Kids and adults of all ages will enjoy their presentation. Spoudazo is based out of First Lutheran Church in Fremont, Nebraska, but the group includes students from many Christian denominations. If you’re in town and looking for a good time for the family, please come and be part of this one hour and 15 minute performance. I’d love to have a good group of people here supporting them. They will take up a free will offering to support their tour.
Spoudazo! Tuesday, July 16, at 7 pm. Come and enjoy!
And in worship at Gloria Dei this weekend we will be kicking off a five-week series centered in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Not unlike today, there were many issues dividing people in Corinth. Paul claims that our unity, despite our differences, can be and is found in our common faith in Jesus. The series is simply entitled “One”. United by our one faith and one Lord, we indeed are one in Christ. Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: Independence and Dependence

Hello Gloria Dei,
I trust you had a good 4th of July. As we look all the way back to 1776 and celebrate our nation’s Independence, we pause and give thanks for it. We are called to do all we can to hold onto it and to not take it for granted. Independence is a great and worthy endeavor.
In our families, for example, we raise our kids to grow up, get fulfilling employment, and maybe to have and take care of their own families one day. In other words, we raise them to become independent.
Yet, as Christians, we know that while independence is a worthy endeavor in many regards, we are, in reality, fully dependent on God. It is God, after all, who has created us and gives us life. It is God who has placed us on this planet, and who provides the proper conditions for food and water and sustainability. It is God who puts us in families and communities. And it is God, through Jesus, who gives us the gift of salvation, not by our own doing, but by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. We are saved, as the apostle Paul reminds us, by grace through faith.
God is a giver and provider. As we celebrate our nation’s independence, let us never forget that all we have is a gift from God. This simple, yet profound reminder, is needed for all of us, lest we fall into the ever present trap of Adam and Eve and humanity, of thinking we are our own gods, capable of life all by ourselves. This weekend, give thanks for our nation’s independence, but give thanks even more for your dependence on God for all things good. Life is so much more meaningful and purpose filled as we stay connected and dependent upon God and then strive, as Jesus teaches, for the well-being others.
This weekend in worship we will finish up with our Spirit-Filled Living series in the book of Acts. Please read Acts chapters 27 and 28, as Paul ends up in a Roman prison, all the while proclaiming the Good News of God’s love found in Christ.
See you in worship!
Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: Spoudazo

Hello Gloria Dei,
I’ll bet you’re wondering who or what is Spoudazo. I was too when I first heard about them. But Spoudazo is a group of High School students who travel each summer and perform Christian contemporary music along with skits and drama.
This group will be touring in July and will be at Gloria Dei on Tuesday, July 16, at 7:00 p.m.
I encourage and wholeheartedly request that you as individuals or families come and support this traveling group of students. Kids and adults of all ages will enjoy their presentation. Spoudazo is based out of First Lutheran Church in Fremont, Nebraska, but the group includes students from many Christian denominations.
If you’re in town and looking for a good time for the family, please come and be part of this one hour and 15 minute performance. I’d love to have a good group of people here supporting them. They will take up a free will offering to support their tour.
Spoudazo! Tuesday, July 16, at 7 pm. Come and enjoy!
For this weekend please read Acts 16:11-15.
See you in worship!
Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: The Light of the World

Hello Gloria Dei,
Well, the summer solstice is upon us. Today marks the longest day of the year for anyone living north of the equator. That, of course, includes all of us in South Dakota. Technically speaking, the summer solstice occurs this morning at exactly 10:54 local time. The sun will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer, or 23.5 degrees north latitude. Thanks Google.
On this “longest day of the year” I’m thinking about light and darkness. What is the only way to get rid of darkness? To shine light into its midst. The darkness disappears.
In Jesus’ day, one of the major celebrations of the year was called the Festival of Tabernacles. During this festival and feast, the people of Israel would dance through the night, celebrating and remembering God’s deliverance of his people from slavery in Egypt. To keep the party going throughout the night, four giant candelabras or lampstands (maybe 75 feet high) would be shining brightly all night long. With the darkness of night being overcome by the incredible light, Jesus stands up and makes his great statement, “I am the Light of the World.”
With this claim, Jesus says that for all those who trust in him, the darkness of sin is defeated. The things of darkness, like violence, hatred, prejudice, and self-centeredness, do not win the day. No, in Jesus, the Light of the World, the power of sin, death, and darkness is defeated. The light of God’s love shines brightly and gives light, even amidst this world’s darkness.
Today, give thanks that Jesus loves you and that his light is given to you. Just as we light a candle at each person’s baptism and recall Jesus being the Light of the World, we also recite the words of Jesus which give us our life’s purpose: “Let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
No matter if it is summer time or winter, let the light of Jesus shine in you and through you to bring light and love to this world for which God so deeply cares.
On this day of summer solstice, ask yourself these questions. Where do you need the light of Jesus in your life? And who can you shine light upon today?
This weekend in worship we continue our series on the book of Acts called “Spirit Filled Living.” Please read Acts 10:34-43.
See you in worship!
Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: Flag Day, My Sister’s Birthday, and Saying Thanks

Hello Gloria Dei,
Growing up, I’ve always associated Flag Day with my sister Lois’ birthday. They both fall on this day, June 14.
Way back on June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Then in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson marked the anniversary of that decree by officially setting June 14 as Flag Day.
My sister’s history doesn’t go back quite as far. I won’t tell you how old my younger sister Lois is, as she might not appreciate that. But I will tell you that she was born exactly forty eight years after President Wilson’s official act. So, as they say, you do the math. I’m about three years older than her, so again, you do the math.
I suppose in a subtle or not so subtle way, this connection between Flag Day and my sister’s birthday has always allowed me to be thankful to God for the gifts of country and family. Maybe at times I take both for granted. Maybe you do too. And while I realize that our country is far from perfect, and that families are far from perfect too, I do know that we are all blessed by the democracy and freedoms found within the United States, and we are blessed to be part of families and communities and church families. Family, after all, was God’s idea.
I ask that you let this day be a reminder to you of the many and varied gifts God provides. Anyone remember from confirmation days Martin Luther’s explanation to the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed? Luther says this: I believe that God has created me and all that exists. He has given me and still preserves my body and soul with all their powers. He provides me with food and clothing, home and family, daily work, and all I need from day to day. God also protects me in time of danger and guards me from every evil. All this he does out of fatherly and divine goodness and mercy, though I do not deserve it. Therefore I surely ought to thank and praise, serve and obey him. This is most certainly true.
By the way, I’ve got a piece of chocolate in my office for anyone who can recite this to me from memory. But Luther is right. When we stop and think of our lives and the everyday gifts that come from God, we certainly are to live our lives with the overriding theme of thanks and praise. What are you thankful for? I’m thankful for this world, and for the country I live in.
I’m thankful for my sister Lois who celebrates her birthday today. I’m thankful for both my family of origin (thinking of Mom and Dad and siblings on this Father’s Day weekend). I’m thankful for my wife and my two kids. I’m thankful for Gloria Dei and the wonderful family of faith that it is. I’m thankful for so many blessings from God. So are you. As we begin summer, stop and give thanks on a very regular basis. God is good! All the time! All the time! God is good!
This weekend in worship we continue our series on the book of Acts called “Spirit Filled Living.” Please read Acts 8:26-40.
See you in worship!
Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: Normandy, Pentecost, and the Love of God

Hello Gloria Dei,
I’ve been inspired watching the news these past days as the stories of many World War 2 veterans are told. As you know, yesterday, June 6, marked the 75th anniversary of the Allied Forces storming the beaches of Normandy, France. The battle of Normandy lasted for weeks, ending in the liberation of Paris from Nazi control, and was a decisive turning point in ending World War 2. I heard a recording yesterday of then President Eisenhower leading the nation in prayer 75 years ago. It was moving, emotional, and addressed to God.
Normandy is truly one of those events that has changed the course of history. Let’s all give thanks to the veterans whose stories we hear, and to the many who lost their lives for this worthy and epic cause.
This weekend in worship we celebrate another event that has changed the course of history:  Pentecost. Jesus lives, dies, and is raised to new life. He spends forty days on earth following his resurrection and appears to many, many people. After forty days, he ascends into heaven and tells his disciples to wait until his Holy Spirit comes to them. Some days later, or fifty days after the Passover, Jesus’ Spirit is set loose in full force.
As recorded in the book of Acts, the good news of the gospel begins to spread like wildfire “to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
You and I are recipients of the great gift of the Holy Spirit. As I said in last week’s sermon, you are I are now witnesses to the love and action of Jesus Christ. The Spirit is alive and active in our world and in our lives, giving us the gift of faith, assuring us of forgiveness, and empowering us on our journeys of life to be the body of Christ on earth today.
I invite you to read Acts chapter 2 in preparation for this weekend’s celebration of Pentecost. The color of the day is red, so wear red if you’d like. There is nothing more important, more life-changing, and more history altering, than being claimed, called, and sent by God’s Holy Spirit. I’ve said many times, pray each day for God’s Holy Spirit to fill you and use you.
Like those who gave of themselves for such a noble cause 75 years ago at Normandy, so too your life, empowered by the Holy Spirit, can be and is being used by God for the noble cause of the gospel. God loves you. God loves this world. You are a witness to that love. And God’s love changes history. Thanks for your role in such a worthy and epic cause of changing the world for good.
See you in worship,
Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: South Dakota Synod Assembly

Hello Gloria Dei,
Today I simply ask you to keep the South Dakota Synod of the ELCA in your prayers as the 32nd annual synod assembly convenes this morning through Saturday afternoon at Our Savior’s Lutheran here in Sioux Falls. The theme for the Assembly is “Come Holy Spirit”. Each congregation of this state-wide synod, of which Gloria Dei is a part, is able to send voting members to the assembly. The number of voting members for each congregation is determined by the size of the church. Gloria Dei, being a large congregation, is able to send eight lay voting members plus our four clergy, for a total of twelve voting members.
We will gather for worship; we’ll hear reports from various synod ministries; we’ll hear reports regarding the ministry of the whole ELCA; we’ll adopt of financial plan and do other business together; and we’ll enjoy good fellowship with other Lutherans throughout the state.
Of particular importance this year is the election of a new bishop for the South Dakota Synod. Bishop David Zellmer has served two six-year terms and is not eligible for a third. Therefore we will have a new bishop-elect by Saturday afternoon. I ask that you give thanks to God for Bishop Dave and the synod staff, as they have served faithfully over these past twelve years. Their ministry has borne much fruit for the Kingdom of God and we are grateful. Pray, too, for the work of the Holy Spirit within the assembly as the new bishop is elected. We will announce who the new bishop is at our three weekend worship services.
At Gloria Dei this weekend we begin, appropriately, a five week series on the book of Acts. The book of Acts is the story of the early church. Sometimes called “The Acts of the Apostles”, this book could also be titled “The Acts of the Holy Spirit”, because as we read we discover the magnificent ways in which God’s Holy Spirit equips and empowers people like us to do the work of Christ.  For this weekend, read Acts chapter one. See if you can memorize Acts 1:8.
Blessings to you and I’ll see you in worship!
Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: A Corny Joke and a Few Reminders

First the corny joke.
An elderly woman walked into the local country church. The friendly usher greeted her at the door and helped her up the flight of steps. “Where would you like to sit?” he asked politely.
“I’d like to sit in the front row please” she answered.
“You really don’t want to do that,” the usher said. “The pastor is really boring.”
“Do you happen to know who I am?” the woman inquired.
“No”, he said.
“I’m the pastor’s mother,” she replied indignantly.
“Do you know who I am?” the usher asked.
“No,” she said.
“Good”, he replied.
I know. Pretty corny.
Now a few reminders.
— Registration is open for VBS, June 10-14, and for Next Year’s Church School and Confirmation. Go online, or call the office to check details and to register.
–5k for Camp on June 8. This fun run/walk begins at the Gloria Dei parking lot and is open to all. A suggested registration fee of $10 per person or $25 per family will go to support camping ministry through Lutherans Outdoors. Register Here
–Our music department is putting together a special Father’s Day Men’s Choir. In addition they are putting together a Worship Choir for a special Broadway in Worship service on June 30. See details regarding rehearsals in our Dei Worker at church, or get more information here.
–This Sunday we all have opportunity to give blood, as each day about 100 pints of blood are needed within our local Sioux Falls and surrounding area. Stop by the table in the Gathering Area to register and then head to the Blood Mobile in our parking lot on Sunday to donate.
And finally, as we continue in our preaching series on the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, we find Jesus on the beach preparing breakfast for some of his disciples. Please read John 21:1-19 in preparation for worship.
Have a beautiful weekend and I’ll see you in worship.
Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: Grace-Filled Messages All Around Us

Hello Gloria Dei,
How’s your spring going? I know the wet weather has caused cancellations for soccer games and baseball games, but hopefully we’re in for a good stretch of sunshine and celebrations around graduations and summer vacations.
I’m looking forward to spending some time in California at an upcoming conference where we’ll learn from a man whose blogs I’ve read, but have never met. Pastor Adam Hamilton is his name. I’m looking forward to the summertime change of pace and change of schedule. I’m looking forward to maybe a few days later this summer with family and friends in Arizona or California. Plans aren’t fully made yet. I’m looking forward to seeing if my golf game still has any glisten left in it.
Yet, no matter where I might go or what I might be doing, as a preacher and pastor, I’ve noticed more and more over the years that I am constantly watching for biblical and faith-filled themes as I read, watch movies, take a hike, play a round of golf, hear people’s stories, etc…  I’d like to encourage you to keep your eyes and ears open and do the same. This is a good habit for all Christians to be in.
Of course, for all of us, this begins with regular quiet time and bible reading, so as to get to know Scripture and, more importantly, the Savior to whom Scripture points. It is essential for us to nurture a life of study and reflection. One of the old saints, St. Jerome, advises us, “When your head droops at night, let a page of Scripture pillow it.”
A long time ago Aristotle noted that friendship takes time, hours of conversation, sitting quietly with the friend, observing the friend in a variety of contexts. For you and me as Christians, getting to know the Bible as a friend is a fascinating, life-giving, journey, as we let God be God, allowing the Bible to speak on its terms rather than ours. Jesus is revealed as Lord, Savior, and friend for us.
As we do this, we see more and more the themes and messages of faith, grace, law, gospel, and most of all, the love of God, playout in a myriad of ways. This spring and summer, and throughout your life, no matter where you go or what you do, open yourself in your reading, movie watching, working, playing, family time, storytelling and hearing, to the messages of God. See with eyes of faith and notice the grace-filled, God-centered messages all around you.
Our theme during these weeks in preaching is that Jesus is risen and he still shows up today. During the summer, of course, continue to worship weekly wherever you are as God’s Word comes to life in its proclamation and in its hearing. This week we continue our series on the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. Please read John 20:19-23.
Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! 2019

Hello Gloria Dei,
First of all I want to say thanks to all of you for making Holy Week so beautiful and inspiring. As a congregation, we participated in and told the greatest story ever: Jesus giving himself for us, dying on a cross, and being raised to new life. Praise God! Alleluia! He is risen! He is risen indeed!
It takes many hands behind the scenes to make it all so rich and meaningful for those who come to worship. Throughout Holy Week we welcomed approximately 4800 people into the sanctuary to hear, learn, and experience the life-giving love and grace of God. We also welcomed 75 third graders and others to the Lord’s Table for their First Communion. The Palm Sunday Brunch was excellent, the fellowship outstanding, and the message of God’s love came through powerfully all week long through word and music. And the Alleluia sticks on Easter were in great form. God is good… all the time. Again, thank you for your commitment to Christ and his church.
This weekend we’ll continue in the season of Easter and begin a five week preaching series on the “Post Resurrection Appearances of Jesus”. Jesus continues to make himself known to us too. Make it a habit to share with your family, your friends, and your church community, how it is that Jesus is showing up and impacting your life. In preparation for this weekend’s worship, please read Acts 9:1-22. This is the account of maybe the greatest conversion story of all time. Jesus shows up and transforms Saul, a persecutor of the early church, to Paul, a great missionary for Christ.
Like Paul and so many others who saw Jesus alive during the fifty day period between his resurrection and ascension, Jesus appears to us on a regular basis. Live, see, and journey filled with faith in the living Christ. We can base our whole lives, now and into eternity, on the great news of Easter. He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
See you in worship.
Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: Good Friday and The Great Exchange

Hello Gloria Dei,
Today is Good Friday. I’ve often been asked, and have often wondered myself, why in the world do we call his day “Good”? After all, God in the flesh is put on the cross and killed. Jesus is innocent. He is the Prince of Peace. He is the one who teaches love and reconciliation. And there he is, the Savior of the world, murdered on Friday by those he came to save.
Why in the world would we call this day “Good Friday?”
The author and theologian John Stott puts it this way.
“The essence of sin is that we substitute ourselves for God; we put ourselves where only God deserves to be…. That’s the essence of sin. But the essence of salvation is that God substitutes himself for us; God puts himself where we deserve to be… that’s the essence of salvation.”
Martin Luther puts it this way:
“That is the mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours. Jesus has emptied Himself of His righteousness that He might clothe us with it and fill us with it. And He has taken our evils upon Himself that He might deliver us from them.”
The apostle Paul puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:21. “For our sake God made Jesus to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Give thanks today for the amazing love and grace that God has for you. The Great Exchange, God’s righteousness for our sinfulness, happens on Good Friday. It’s no wonder we call this day Good. It cost Jesus his life, but it gives life to all who have faith.
As we move from this day to the celebration of Easter, we once again rejoice that Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. And by faith and trust in him, we are given the assurance not only of a purpose-filled life here and now, but life everlasting and forever.
As you celebrate Easter, whether you’re here at Gloria Dei or traveling and worshiping elsewhere, may the risen Christ meet you once again and enter your heart and your life. In Jesus we have and know the Way, the Truth, and the Life, now and forever.
Together with the entire staff, I wish you a very blessed Easter. Christ is Risen…. He is Risen indeed! Keep in mind that our Saturday service is a full Easter celebration service, so if that works best in your schedule, be reminded of that option.
Worship times for the remainder of the week:
Good Friday – 7:00 p.m.
Easter Celebration Worship
Saturday – 5:00 p.m. (with Holy Communion)
Sunday – 7:30, 8:30, 9:40 and 10:50 a.m.
Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: The Greatest Story Ever Told

This weekend our telling of the greatest story ever told begins as we wave palm branches and shout Hosanna, welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem and into our lives.
Of course, after Sunday, we move to Maundy Thursday where Jesus modeled servant leadership by washing the disciples’ feet and by giving us a new commandment to love one another as he loves us.
Then it’s Good Friday. Jesus suffers and dies on the cross, and in so doing, takes our sinfulness upon himself, exchanges his righteousness and gives it as a gift to us.
And of course, it all comes together when we celebrate the best day ever, Easter. Sin and death is defeated once and for all. Death cannot hold Jesus, and by faith in him, we can be certain that our lives go on forever in heaven, setting us free to live as Christ calls us to here on earth.
Please see our entire Holy Week worship schedule on our website and in our recent newsletters. A reminder that our Easter Saturday worship is a full Easter celebration service, with brass, special music, and the great Easter hymns. We’ll be using Mark chapter 16 as a preaching theme for Easter.
I want to remind you, too, of our special Palm Sunday brunch served this Sunday morning. It is always tremendous, and all the proceeds from brunch go to support our youth mission/service trips this summer. Please give generously to our youth trips, as they impact our young people in positive, Christian ways, raising them up to be servant leaders and followers of Jesus.
I wish for you a blessed Holy Week and Easter celebration.
Pastor Tim