Friday Followings with 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


Friday Followings: Standing on Holy Ground

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
Forty two of us from Gloria Dei recently returned from a trip to the Holy Land. It was truly a remarkable experience. Walking in the places where Jesus walked, seeing where he was born, and where he died. Walking the streets of Nazareth where he grew up. Witnessing the Shepherd’s Field outside of Bethlehem. Riding a boat across the Sea of Galilee. Standing on the mount from where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. Floating in the Dead Sea. Worshiping at a Lutheran Church in Bethlehem. And so much more. It truly is a Holy Land. We haven’t made definite plans as to when and where, but our group will provide an opportunity for you to hear more from us sometime soon after Easter.
 
And yet, we don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to walk on Holy Ground. As Christians, we know that wherever the presence of Christ is, there it is holy. As we gather together in worship around Word and Sacrament, Jesus is present. It is Holy Ground. As we live out our faith in love and service to others, Jesus is present. It is Holy Ground. As we seek to work for peace and reconciliation in our lives, families, communities, and world, we are standing on Holy Ground, for there Christ is present. Indeed, your life is holy, made so by God’s promises to you in baptism, and by your faith and trust in him for all things in life. By Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, God declares you holy. And God gives you a holy calling.
 
I invite you to meet Jesus this weekend in worship as we continue to journey through the gospel of Mark. Read chapter 11 verses 11-19.
 
And finally, a word about our Easter schedule. In the past we have had four weekend services celebrating Easter. One on Saturday and three on Sunday. This year, as attendance has steadily risen, we are adding a fourth service on Easter Sunday. I ask you to see our schedule on the website and in the church bulletin for all of Holy Week.
 
Easter celebration worship will be held at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 20th, and on Easter Sunday, April 21st, at 7:30, 8:30, 9:40 and 10:50 a.m. These past few years on Easter morning we’ve had to seat up to 100 people outside of the sanctuary in the gathering area. Our hope in adding a fourth Easter Sunday service is that all will be able to worship inside of the sanctuary.
 
Remember, you don’t have to go to Israel to witness Holy Ground. Wherever Christ is present, it is Holy. And as the Bible says in 1 Peter 2:9, you too are holy. “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
 
See you in worship, and thanks for your partnership in this holy calling we share.
 
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Jesus Does Everything Well

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
I love the story we are looking at this week in worship. It’s an account of Jesus healing a man who was both deaf and mute, and it is found in Mark 7:31-37.
 
Jesus touches the man’s ears. Jesus spits into his hand and touches the man’s tongue. Jesus looks to heaven, and with a sigh, commands the man’s ears and tongue to “be opened.”
 
At the end of this passage, the Bible says that the people gathered around were amazed and said “Jesus has done everything well. He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak”.
 
At the beginning of time, Genesis tells us that Jesus was present when the whole world was “opened up” with wonder and beauty. God saw this awe-filled creation and said, “It is good.”
 
Jesus’ opening up the man to hear and speak is echoing creation. Jesus makes all things well, all things good. The God of all creation has shown up in Jesus, and the awe-filled creating continues with the deaf man, and even with us today.
 
“Be opened” Jesus says. At his baptism, the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit was set loose in the world. At his resurrection, the power of death is broken and new life is opened up for all who believe.
 
Where does your life need to be opened? Where does mine? How wonderful it is when the new life of grace and forgiveness breathes fresh air into our relationships. How wonderful it is when our ears are opened to the good news of God’s presence and love in our lives, and our voices are opened to share encouragement, grace, and love with others.
 
Yes, Jesus does all things well. Be opened up to his love and healing in your life.  See you in worship.
 
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Losing An Hour

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
This weekend we officially return to Daylight Savings Time. That means that we set our clocks an hour ahead, in essence, losing an hour of our time. That got me thinking about how it is we use our time.
 
On Ash Wednesday we read Psalm 90. We were reminded that it is from dust that we came, and it is to dust we shall return. Psalm 90, verse 10 says, “The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty if we are strong.” The average lifespan for people living in the United States is 79 years. I looked it up. Psalm 90 is right on.
 
God has given you and me the precious gift of time. 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days per year. Each day, indeed each hour, are precious gifts to us from God. So, how are you using your time?
 
Jesus teaches us the way to real life is to be counter-culture. In other words, abundant life is discovered when we live cross-shaped lives. Set free by the cross of Jesus, we now live not just for self, but for God, others, and ourselves. Loving God and loving neighbor as self – that’s the key to abundant life.
 
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the man who received a phone call from his bank. “Someone has deposited $1440 into your account, but you must use it all today.” The man was confused, and the day passed while he wondered what to do with the money.
 
The next morning another phone call came. “$1440 was deposited into your account again today. The money you didn’t spend yesterday has been taken out. Use the $1440 today.” The man was a bit uncertain, but spent the money as he please.
 
The next morning the phone rang again. “This morning another $1440 was deposited into your account. You must use it all today.” The man used the money. This happened every day. Some of the money he used wisely, but some of it was used on wasteful and frivolous spending. The more the days went on, the more frivolous he became, thinking it would last forever. Then one day, the man began to worry, “What if I don’t get the money today?”
 
What’s the lesson here for you and me? God gives us 24 hours each day. That amounts to 1440 minutes every day. We need to use all 1440 each day. The next day, another 1440 minutes.
 
Of course God wants us to take care of ourselves and to enjoy our lives. But Jesus’ way, and the way of Jesus’ followers, is to find life by losing it. To discover life by serving.
 
Take some time during this season of Lent to prioritize your use of the time God grants to you. How are you using it to enjoy a closer walk with God? How much of your time is used in wasteful and frivolous ways? How much of your time is devoted to relationships with those you love, and in serving those that you may not even know?
 
With the ashen cross of Ash Wednesday still freshly remembered on your forehead, and the mark of the cross from your baptism still emblazoned upon you, give thanks for Jesus’ cross which has set you free. And be intentional about using your time… each day, each hour, in cross-shaped living.
 
God loves you. God calls you. God sends you. Use your time wisely. And don’t forget to “spring forward” an hour this weekend.
 
See you in worship as we focus on Mark 6:30-44 this weekend.
 
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Jesus Calls Us and Sends Us

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
Just a quick note today. I love reading and preaching through the gospel of Mark. Please take time to read the whole gospel in one sitting, and then break it up week by week according to our preaching texts.
 
For this weekend, read Mark 6:1-13. In the latter portion of this text, Jesus gives his disciples their mission. “Go from town to town, proclaiming the good news that God has shown up in the flesh, all the while, healing those who are sick.”
 
Jesus has given you and me the same mission. With his authority, we proclaim God’s love in word and deed. And by sharing the forgiveness of sin, by befriending the lonely, by lifting up and encouraging our families, and by praying for God’s world, we are involved in healing.
 
Take time today to remind yourself that you are a loved and forgiven person of God. You are part of God’s family. Your life gets its purpose from your identity as a child of God. Proclaim the good news in word and deed, and bring healing to those who are in need. That’s our mission together as the body of Christ on earth.
 
See you in worship,
 
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Faith, Love, and an Empty Bottle of Beer

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
I love the story about the nun who ran out of gas a couple of hundred yards from a gas station.  She knew the gas station was close by, so she walked the couple hundred yards to the station.  She, however, didn’t have a gas can, so the attendant gave her some gas in the only container he could find, which was an empty beer bottle.
 
She walked back to her car, and as she was dumping the gas from the beer bottle into her tank, a Lutheran pastor came by and stopped. He stared at her in amazement as she poured the contents of the beer bottle into her tank and then he exclaimed, “Sister, we may have our differences, but I just have to admire your faith.”
 
As we continue in our sermon series entitled The Way of Christ in the Gospel of Mark, this week our focus is on two miraculous healings, as found in Mark 5:21-43. Please read these verses in preparation for worship.
 
Within the gospel of Mark, and in this passage, Jesus calls us to a way of faith. Jesus knows the more we experience God’s love for us, the more our faith is strengthened. And the more our faith is strengthened, the more God’s love pours out from us toward others. Faith and Love go hand in hand.
 
I read a devotional the other day by Sandra Palmer Carr. In her booklet called The Upper Room, she tells about rocking her young son, Boyd. They were in a rocking chair and Boyd was looking up at his mom as they rocked.
 
Suddenly, he lifted his little head, stared straight at his mother, became very still, cupped his mom’s face in his little hands, and said almost in a whisper, “Mommy, I’m in your eyes.” He had seen his own reflection in his mom’s eyes.
 
Sandra stopped rocking and held Boyd in that same position for several moments. Then she said quietly, “And I’m in your eyes too.” And he smiled, and put his head down on her to rest comfortably.
 
Occasionally, in the days that followed, Boyd would check to see if his discovery was still true. “Am I still in your eyes Mommy?” he would ask, as he reached up to take her face in his hands.
 
Sandra thought about the love God has for her and said, “In life’s uncertain moments, it is comforting to know that I am still in my heavenly Father’s eyes.”
 
You and I can confidently put our trust in the love of God, shown so fully in his Son Jesus. God has you “in his eyes” and in his loving embrace. Let your faith be strong, and let it become active in reflecting that love toward others.
 
See you in worship,
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: The One Who Calms Storms

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
This week in worship we’ll be focusing in on one of my favorite accounts in all of Jesus’ ministry. As we journey together in the gospel of Mark, we give witness to the ways of Jesus. One of the questions to ask as you read is this, “If God showed up on earth, then what kind of God is this? Is it a God who loves us, or is it a God who could care less?”
 
In Jesus we see fully what God is like. We’ll look at Mark 4:35-41 this week. Read it, study it, ask questions of it. It is Jesus calming of the storm. As you ponder this text, ask yourself, “What kind of God do I see here?” “Is it a God who cares, or who could care less?”
 
What storms have you experienced in your life? How has God been present for you? Have you ever experienced peace within a storm? If so, where did the peace come from?
 
I like the fact that it is Jesus who invites the disciples (and us) into the boat in this story. You and I are invited into a life of discipleship. Jesus says to us, as he did with his disciples, “Follow me”. And as we journey with Jesus as followers, we surely will run into storms. Yet, the great promise in this story is that Jesus is right there in the boat with us.
 
What do you make of Jesus’ comments at the end of this text about fear and faith?
 
Personally, I read this account a lot in my life. It gives me hope, it gives me peace, and it gives me assurance that Jesus is with me, and with you, on this life-long journey of discipleship. When storms overtake me, I can know the peace of Christ. When fear begins to paralyze me, I can have it replaced by faith. I hope to see you this weekend as we dig deeper into this great, great portion of Scripture.
 
See you in worship,
 
Pastor Tim

   



Friday Followings: Super Bowl Playbook

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
I hope everyone had a good time watching the Super Bowl last Sunday. It wasn’t the most exciting game ever played. It was a defensive battle, in what turned out to be the lowest scoring Super Bowl played to date.
 
I enjoyed it, however, as it was fun watching the coaches and their game-plans, trying to outwit one another both on offense and on defense. In an interview following the game, Los Angeles Rams’ coach, Sean McVay, said “I was clearly outcoached by Bill Belichick today”.
 
As Christians, you and I should have a game-plan for life. I know we can’t know or predict or control every single detail of life. In fact, the longer we live, the more we realize we don’t always have control of what happens. Yet, for us, we do have a playbook. And that playbook, given to us and inspired by God, is the Bible.
 
And while the Bible gives us great teachings and commandments to live by, mostly it is a book about the way of salvation, both now and forever. Salvation, abundant life, purpose, fulfillment, eternal life – all of that comes to us by way of a living and dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ. The One who has fulfilled the law and commandments for us, calls us now to live by faith and trust in God. It’s all found in the playbook. And it provides for a super game plan for life.
 
I invite you to dig into our playbook as this weekend we continue in the gospel of Mark. Please read chapter 4. Our focus in preaching will be on the parable of the sower and the seed.
 
By the way, last weekend many of you voted for who you wanted to win the Super Bowl by placing money into the change for change baskets. The Rams bucket received $77.65 and the Patriots received $42.63. Your efforts help to feed those who are hungry. It’s all part of our Super Bowl playbook, given to us by our Super God.
 
See you in worship,
 
Pastor Tim