Friday Followings with Pastor Tim

Gloria Dei: A Faithful History and a Faith-Filled Future

Hello Gloria Dei,

As I look at my August calendar I’m reminded that I’ve now been part of the Gloria Dei story for a full eight years now.  Having arrived in Mid-August of 2008, time continues to move quickly. 

As I think of my time with you, I’m reminded of both the faithful history of this community of faith, and the faith-filled future that lies ahead.  A bit of history:  The mission developer and founding pastor, Bruce Williams, arrived and began work in July of 1984.  The first worship service was held at Robert Frost Elementary School on October 28 of that same year.  Gloria Dei became an official congregation of the former American Lutheran Church on April 14, 1985, and so that date is considered to be Gloria Dei’s “Birthday”.

Through the many dedicated members and pastors, through the multiple building projects, additions, and even a 2011 relocation, the mission of Gloria Dei has remained the same:  “To proclaim and be witnesses in word and deed to the Good News of Jesus Christ” (Gloria Dei’s first mission statement).  In keeping with that mission, centered in the saving work of Jesus, God continues to change lives and to create and deepen our faith in Jesus Christ.

As Pastor Sarah Goldammer has just recently begun her ministry with us, so now, Pastor Chris Zuraff will begin this coming Monday.  With Pastors Sarah and Chris joining myself, Pastor Dwight, Pastor Bob, we now have a full pastoral staff once again and we’re excited to move into the fall and beyond.  They will be installed at all worship service the weekend of September 3 and 4. The future, as the past, will be faith-filled and faithful, as God continues to call, claim, and send all of us within his world to bring hope, grace, forgiveness, and new life in Jesus’ name.

Thank you for your ongoing partnership in the gospel, and for your dedication and commitment to God’s work being done through us, the people of God at Gloria Dei.  As the great hymn says, “O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.”  Yes, with Christ as Lord and Savior, the future is filled with hope and faith.

See you in worship!  Our theme this weekend, as we conclude our year-long theme of reading through the New Testament, will be the hope found within the book of Revelation.

Pastor Tim



Matthew 25 – A Great Chapter

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
I want to commend you for your commitment to reading the Bible during this past year.  We began last September reading and preaching through all 27 books that make up the New Testament.  We deliberately did not go in order, so as to break up the reading of the four gospels into different parts of the year.  This week we finish the gospel of Matthew.  I’ll be preaching on the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14-30. In preparation please read all of Matthew chapter 25 (and keep going to the end of the book).

Within this important chapter of Matthew, Jesus is just days away from his death on the cross.  He tells three parables in chapter 25, teaching us to live “Expectantly, Responsibly, and Compassionately”.  It is good reading.  Dig into God’s word. 

And then next week, in a slight variation from the published reading schedule, we will read and preach on the book of Revelation.  That will bring us to an end of the New Testament reading year.  I hope and pray Scripture reading has gotten to be a habit for you.  If not, keep at it.  Our bible reading is a life-long endeavor as we never stop learning and our Christian walk and faith never stops growing.

Hearing and reading the word of God allows us to know who we are and whose we are.  You are God’s beloved child.  He has marked you with the cross of Christ forever.  Now live with gratitude, generosity, and compassion – uplifting and encouraging one another in Christ.  Our Savior expects no less.

See you in worship,
Pastor Tim


Behold, I Make All Things New

Hello Gloria Dei,

The Bible verse “Behold I Make All Things New” comes right near the end of the entire Bible (Revelation 21:5). John, the writer of the vision which is the book of Revelation, reminds us that Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and that in him, all things (including you and me) are made new.

As we look to begin a new school year, students are starting new grades in school. Some are heading to new schools, others are off to college for the first time – for all of us the fall brings with it some new endeavors.

One of our staff members, Rachael Fode, will begin soon with a new adventure. She is taking leave of her position as Media Ministry Coordinator and will begin teaching music in the West Lyon School District. This weekend will be Rachael’s final weekend with us. She has served both behind the scenes, (getting worship slides and videos ready to go; communicating the Gloria Dei message through Social Media; working in the sound booth during worship, weddings, etc.). And she has served out front with leading the youth praise band on Wednesdays and playing her guitar in worship as needed. I encourage you to say thanks to Rachael this weekend for her great years of service at Gloria Dei. She has been a valuable, joy-filled member of our staff, and she will be missed. So, thank you Rachael for a job well done. We know that Christ, who makes all things new, will go with you into your teaching role and will bless you in order that you be a blessing to many.

Speaking of “all things new”, I’m pleased to let you know that Pastor Sarah Goldammer has arrived and started in the office this past week. She will be in worship this weekend so be sure to give her a warm Gloria Dei welcome. She will be a blessing to you and to this whole congregation. God promises to walk with each of us through our transitions and through this whole journey of life, and promises through his grace-filled love to continue to make things new.

One more thing: in our NT reading we remain in the gospel of Matthew. I’ll focus on the early portion of chapter 22 this week in worship. Read! Read! Read! God’s word brings life and salvation, now and forever.

See you in worship,

Pastor Tim


Behold, I Make All Things New

Hello Gloria Dei,

The Bible verse “Behold I Make All Things New” comes right near the end of the entire Bible (Revelation 21:5). John, the writer of the vision which is the book of Revelation, reminds us that Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and that in him, all things (including you and me) are made new.

As we look to begin a new school year, students are starting new grades in school. Some are heading to new schools, others are off to college for the first time – for all of us the fall brings with it some new endeavors.

One of our staff members, Rachael Fode, will begin soon with a new adventure. She is taking leave of her position as Media Ministry Coordinator and will begin teaching music in the West Lyon School District. This weekend will be Rachael’s final weekend with us. She has served both behind the scenes, (getting worship slides and videos ready to go; communicating the Gloria Dei message through Social Media; working in the sound booth during worship, weddings, etc.). And she has served out front with leading the youth praise band on Wednesdays and playing her guitar in worship as needed. I encourage you to say thanks to Rachael this weekend for her great years of service at Gloria Dei. She has been a valuable, joy-filled member of our staff, and she will be missed. So, thank you Rachael for a job well done. We know that Christ, who makes all things new, will go with you into your teaching role and will bless you in order that you be a blessing to many.

Speaking of “all things new”, I’m pleased to let you know that Pastor Sarah Goldammer has arrived and started in the office this past week. She will be in worship this weekend so be sure to give her a warm Gloria Dei welcome. She will be a blessing to you and to this whole congregation. God promises to walk with each of us through our transitions and through this whole journey of life, and promises through his grace-filled love to continue to make things new.

One more thing: in our NT reading we remain in the gospel of Matthew. I’ll focus on the early portion of chapter 22 this week in worship. Read! Read! Read! God’s word brings life and salvation, now and forever.

See you in worship,

Pastor Tim


For Everyone

 

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
I have on my shelf a bible commentary series called “For Everyone”. In his introduction the author Tom Wright says, “On the very first occasion when someone stood up in public to tell people about Jesus, he made is very clear: this message is for everyone.”
 
That “someone” was Peter, early in the book of Acts. Only a few weeks earlier, Peter had been sobbing over his denial of Jesus. Now, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter was boldly addressing a huge crowd, sharing the story of Jesus and his love.
 
In our reading through the New Testament we are currently in the gospel of Matthew. Take time over these next two weeks to read once again the entire gospel. Through the Word of God the Holy Spirit creates faith, and through faith, we too become bold actors in the story of the gospel.
 
Matthew’s gospel presents Jesus in a rich and varied manner. Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah for the nation of Israel. He is also the Son of God who is arrives as savior of the whole world. He is portrayed as a master teacher who fulfills the prophecies of old and who lives out what he teaches. Dig into Matthew; learn about Jesus; put your faith and trust in him; and discover a joy-filled life you never imagined possible. Jesus is “for everyone”. He’s also for you!
 
See you in worship,
 
Pastor Tim


Remarkable

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
 
I’ve been following our youth mission trip to Dallas and Houston on the Gloria Dei Youth Facebook Page.
I invite you to “like” that page and follow along too. It has been a fantastic week so far for the close to 90 participants. Continue to keep them in your prayers as they serve, play, and worship together. Please pray for safe travels as they all jump back into the buses on Tuesday afternoon and begin their trek home.
 
 
Pray, too, for our two new pastors, Sarah Goldammer and Chris Zuraff. They are both set to arrive and begin with us in August. While the transition time for them and their families is exciting, it is also a difficult time as they say goodbye to beloved congregations and friends.
 
 
In preparation for worship this weekend please read Matthew chapters 8 through 12. I’ll be focusing in on two portions of those chapters as Jesus meets us once again in word and sacrament together.
 
 
Remember, Christ loves you. He died for you. And he calls you to be his hands, feet, and voice in this world. What a remarkable gift; what a remarkable privilege; what a remarkable responsibility.
 
 
See you in worship,
 
Pastor Tim


Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
This weekend in worship we’ll be taking a look at the final portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, specifically Matthew 7:24-27. These verses instruct us to build our lives on the solid foundation of Jesus and his teachings. I encourage you to read chapters 5, 6 and 7 of Matthew in preparation for this weekend. In this famous sermon, Jesus takes our upside down world, filled with violence and hatred, and teaches us the ways of God, which help to turn the world right side up again.
 
In light of the recent events in Florida, Louisiana, Minneapolis, and most recently in Dallas, our world is upside down in so many ways. This is true in our personal lives much of the time too. As Jesus says, it is easy to judge, hard to forgive; easy to seek vengeance, hard to turn the other cheek; easy to criticize but hard to serve.
 
I’m proud that this coming Monday Gloria Dei will send 97 people (High School students and adult sponsors) to Texas on a servant mission trip for a week. In the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says to you and me, “You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world. Let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Our young people will go boldly in Jesus’ name to put their faith into action and to be Christ’s light to and with those they meet. Please keep all of them, as well as the people of Texas, and our whole country in your prayers.
 
Long ago the prophet Micah spoke these words to God’s people. “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God?” (Micah 6:6-8)
 
Let’s all take the words of Micah to heart. It’s easy to be kind and loving with people who are just like us. But Micah (like Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan) tells us what God wants from us: to be kind, fair, loving and humble with all people, even those whose political leanings differ from ours, whose skin is a different shade, and whose views on the many issues of the day may not be our views.
 
Please make worship a priority for you and for your family. Dig deeply into God’s word. Know of God’s never-ending and never-failing love for you in Jesus Christ. And let’s all take the Micah challenge and put it into practice: “Do Justice, Love Kindness, and Walk Humbly with God.”
 
God’s blessings and peace be with you,
Pastor Tim


Good News, Welcome Pastors

Hello Gloria Dei,
This past Sunday at the congregational meeting we voted overwhelmingly to call both Sarah Goldammer and Chris Zuraff as full-time Associate Pastors. Thanks to all for your input, your prayers, your questions, and your commitment to God’s work here at Gloria Dei.
I’m very happy to let you know that both Sarah and Chris have accepted Gloria Dei’s call and that they will be arriving and beginning their ministry with us sometime during the month of August.
We will have more details on exact dates as we move into the weeks ahead, but for now, give thanks to God for what he is doing in our midst as the Good News of Jesus is proclaimed and lived out among us.
See you in worship!
Pastor Tim
P.S. For this week in worship read 1, 2, and 3 John (not the gospel of John, but the short letters near the end of the New Testament). My focus this week will be on 1 John.


Happy Father’s Day from Pastor Tim!

 
 
Hello Gloria Dei,
 
First of all, I want to wish all of you a blessed Father’s Day weekend. For us

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Thankful For Grace

 
Hello Gloria Dei,
 
One of my friends who is part of another Christian denomination said to me just this past week: “The problem with you Lutherans is that you’re too casual about good works. You think ‘anything goes’ and God’s grace will simply take care of you.”
 
I chuckled a bit and reminded my friend that it is a rather fortuitous reality that our salvation is not up to “our good works” but rather is left in the hands of a God who is loving, forgiving, and merciful. I said, “Jesus has accomplished all we need for salvation. He did the work for us.”
 
I then asked my friend to listen to last week’s sermon in which I used Paul’s life and also his theme verses from Ephesians (2:8-10) where he correctly writes that we are all saved by grace through faith, and that even this is a gift so we can’t brag about “our strong faith”. But then Paul says in verse 10 that we were given this gift in order to live our lives doing good works. Our purpose in life is to know of God’s love, trust it, and to go about doing “good works” in his name. Be assured, for us Lutherans, as for all Christians, good works are to be a way of life, but thank God they don’t ever take the place of Christ who saves us.
 
Yes, God is grace-filled. But don’t ever think that God’s grace is free and casual. It cost God a great deal, sacrificing his very own child on a cross for this sin-filled world of ours. God is a righteous judge who doesn’t simply “turn away” at our abuses and mistreatment of others.
 
Rather, he changes us by his graciousness and makes us new with his forgiveness. Jesus has died for you. Trusting in his work on your behalf, you are saved. Now how are you going to live? I think the answer is obvious. When my wife tells me that she loves me, I eagerly want to do that which is pleasing in her sight. The same is true for you and me when God shows us so much love.
 
For this weekend in worship, read through Paul’s short letter to the Colossians. It will bless you. As you “clothe yourself in Christ” you’ll see that you don’t need to earn your way before God, but that your life will change into living a life worthy of your calling as a Christian.
 
See you in worship,
 
Pastor Tim


Synod Assembly Weekend

Did you know the South Dakota Synod is one of the 65 Synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America? The South Dakota Synod consists of 212 congregations with approximately 340 rostered leaders. The SD Synod vision is that all may be fed, nurtured in Word and Sacrament, God sends us to become a joyful sign of God’s abundant blessing as we:
  • proclaim the good news of Jesus to every hungering soul
  • share compassion with all who suffer
  • feed all whose bodies lack nourishment.
 
This weekend, during the Annual SD Synod Assembly, voting members, musicians, visitors, interns, and clergy will gather to discuss many important topics, including world hunger, mission, doctrines, budget, credentials, and nominations. New pastors to the SD synod will be introduced, and all who gather will worship, sing & pray together.
 
On the front page of the Synod website, they list core values of prayer, gratitude, grace. What are you grateful for today? Take time to say a quick prayer for all those attending the Synod Assembly.
 


Travelers with God

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
I’ve been doing some traveling over the past two weeks. Lorrie and I spent four days at a Pastor’s conference in Palm Springs. Our minds and spirits were nourished by great presenters and it was a good time of renewal with other Senior Pastors of large ELCA congregations. I then went to see my aging Mom in San Jose. It was so good to be with her and to share laughter, memories, and heartfelt “I love you’s”. Then, last weekend, our family enjoyed being at Luther College for our son’s graduation. Yes, there has been some travel, and it’s all been good. God has been present in and through all of it.
 
Will you be traveling this summer? Either by car, plane, bicycle, foot? I think we all can answer yes to that question. Whether we jump in the car to enjoy an afternoon picnic with family and/or friends, or whether we jump on a plane and travel to enjoy a distant vacation, or whether we put on our hiking shoes and take a walk by the Sioux River, we will all be traveling this summer.
 
In reality, we are travelers not just during the summer but all throughout our lives. The Bible tells us that we are sojourners through this life and this world, and that our true home is in heaven forever. Yes, we are travelers and sojourners, and our lives matter to God.
 
Psalm 121 begins with these words: “I lift up my eyes to the hills — from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” The psalm closes with these words: “The Lord will keep your life. He will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.”
 
This is a travelers psalm; a psalm for sojourners like us. The promise is that while we travel, whether it be on a summer trip or whether it be the journey that is our life, God is keeping and watching over us. All of our comings and goings are known by the God who loves us.
 
As our nation celebrates Memorial Day this weekend, we give thanks to God for those who have given their lives for this fine country and the freedoms that don’t always come easily. We are grateful to God for them. We are grateful, too, for those who have given their lives to share the good news of Christ with us. Think of parents, grandparents, teachers, pastors, relatives, friends, authors, who have made an impact on you and your faith. Give God thanks for them, too. And finally, pray that God will continue to use you for the sake of good, for the sake of freedom, for the sake of sharing and living out the gospel in whatever ways you can. As we live together as a community of faith, we are thankful for each other.
 
May God bless you on your summer journeys. When you’re in town, be sure to be in worship. And God bless you on your life journey. As we “lift our eyes to the hills”, we have the sure and certain promise that “our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”
 
See You in Worship!
Pastor Tim
 
P.S. Remember that Bob O’Connor will be ordained as a pastor of the ELCA and installed as a part-time Associate Pastor here at Gloria Dei at our 5 pm Saturday worship service this weekend. You are invited. Congratulations Bob!