Thursday, December 10, 2015

ADVENTure Reflection

This was our family’s third year participating in ADVENTure, which truly gets us ready for Christmas, celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!  When I was little, my mom had a plaque she’d put out with the familiar phrase, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season!”  It’s a familiar phrase to me, but it seems our culture doesn’t always remember this important truth.  

At Resurrection’s ADVENTure, the night starts out with a delicious dinner.  This year we were fortunate to have Jodi Diekmann make salad, spaghetti, bread and desserts for all!  After dinner, our family was able to make projects together, that are all focused on the Reason for the Season.  This year we made an Advent wreath, a question cube, a sun-catcher of the nativity scene, a candy countdown with Bible verses to read each day, and a wall hanging where we add a favorite memory of Christmas or what we are grateful for each day until Christmas. 

These projects are displayed in our house to remind us and our guests that Jesus truly is the Reason for the Season!  This year there was a fun photo booth as well! 

The night ended in the worship area, where we sang Christmas carols together, as well as heard some Bible verses from the Christmas story.  Many of our Christmas decorations are from past ADVENTures, as each year there are different projects.  If your family has not participated in ADVENTure, I highly recommend doing so!  I’m grateful for the planning committee and for all of their contributions to make ADVENTure such a success!  

ADVENTure reminds me of one of my favorite verses, Isaiah 9:6 – For unto us a child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Just think about these different names for the Messiah. When you’re confused, He’s your Wonderful Counselor. When you’re weak and fragile, He’s your Mighty God. When everything around you is changing and you need love, He’s your Everlasting Father. And when you’re anxious, He’s your Prince of Peace. Jesus meets our every need, and He’s truly the Reason for the Season. May we all shine His light brightly, so everyone knows this!  

By: Suzie Heideman

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Concluding Prayer for Our Time of Transition 

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Psalm 23

Lord, you comfort me, you comfort us as a church, you give us all we need.  Our cup is overflowing with your blessings.  And you promise this will continue, through all our days.  Thank you, thank you.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Stewardship - It’s Not about Money

I had some friends who had the cutest puppy I ever saw. He was good-natured, easy to have around children, not a “barker” that would get on your nerves. Wonderful little dog. However, the time came when the pup’s nature changed; at times he suddenly exhibited signs of anger and could not be trusted around children. Consequently, the family decided they could no longer have that dog in their home.

Throughout all my 40 years of pastoral ministry the subject of stewardship was presented intentionally in the month of November as the church prepared to deal with the budget for the next year. In those 40 years I pastored some wonderful people in every congregation I served, just like so many wonderful people at Resurrection Lutheran. However, in the first years of my ministry as a young pastor, I was caught off guard when some of those good-natured people turned rather vicious, just like my friends’ puppy. They did not want to hear anything about money in my sermons. Why? “Because pastors should not be talking about money; that should be left to lay people.” Some said my reason for talking about money was simply to increase my salary. Yes, they did act somewhat like the good-natured puppy that suddenly turned vicious and showed his teeth. 

What is it that can make us so angry when we hear words about money in the church? The word “stewardship” refers to management, not ownership. What we are taught in the Scriptures is that we do not own one thing since everything we have is a gift of God. There is no such thing as a “self-made” person in this world. All we are and all we have is a gift of God. We can work ever so hard to earn a living but in the end we are not the owners of our money and property; we are the managers, stewards, if you will! It is a wonderful word whose purpose is to help us be responsible, not to make us angry.

Stewardship is not about money! Stewardship is about me, as a manager of God’s gifts. All through the scriptures we are told to return to the Lord a portion of our earnings as an offering to thank God for what he has given us and as a reminder of the source of the gift. This is a hard pill for us to swallow until we become awake to the fact that we do not own a thing, we are the managers, stewards, of God’s gifts to us. Responsible stewardship is not just throwing some cash in the offering basket as it passes us on Sunday morning. It is deciding ahead of time what portion of our income we want to return to the Lord as a thank offering. It is our own choice because we do not stand under the law condemned. St. Paul writes, “The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:6-7). If you have not made that choice I do encourage you to decide as a family and discuss what percentage you choose to give. I found that once I made my decision, the sting of giving was gone. I was just giving what I had already decided was to be my return gift to the Lord. You see, stewardship is not about money! Stewardship is about me!

Written by: Pastor Ron Freimark

Prayers for This Time of Transition

"God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up.  They're created new every morning.  How great your faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:22-23, message translation). 

God we thank you that even in the midst of change and transition in our congregation, your love does not run out.  Every morning we receive your grace and love that is new when we rise each day. Together as our church family may we rejoice in that promise.  We are reminded of our children’s message last Sunday; it is our choice to rejoice daily. “This is the day that the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24 NRSV Prepare our hearts as we soon joyfully welcome Pastor Steve Molin into our midst, and may he feel welcomed into our church family as our Interim Pastor. In your name we pray, Amen.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Prayers for This Time of Transition

The book of Psalms is a valuable tool in our prayer lives. The psalms can make us more fluent in the language of prayer and grow in our expressions of fear and trust, praise or worry, frustration or gratitude. "The Psalms weep with those who suffer, laugh with those who celebrate, and teach all of us about the long journey of faith." (The Lutheran Study Bible's introduction to Psalms.)  Join our congregation in praying Psalm 100 this week:

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Prayer During Interim Time

In both Isaiah and Matthew we read my house shall be called a house of prayer. God’s word is filled with calls to prayer, teaching on prayer, Jesus finding time and space for prayer, and beautiful prayers for all circumstances. I believe Martin Luther said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Whatever form prayer takes, it is clearly a gift, an invitation, and important to our relationship with God.

Many of you are already praying for this season in Resurrection’s life. While prayer is vital to all our days, this time of transition is an important season to grow in our prayer lives. To support and encourage you in this, and to unite us all as a house of prayer, the e-letter will contain a different prayer each week. Consider setting a specific time or place each day to pray for the local and global church. Maybe you will choose to sit with a specific Bible verse related to discernment or the future God has for us. Or some may prefer to give more time to quiet and listening, as together we ask for God’s guidance and wisdom. Please join our faith community in the call of 1 Thessalonians 5:17, to pray without ceasing.

God of grace, help us sense your presence with us as we reflect on and remember the past and live into the future you offer us. Remind us of the many ways you have provided for your people with countless blessings and amazing, steadfast love. Help us to reflect that and be loving lights to one another. Guide our steps and fill us with hope as we continue to grow into the church you call us to be. Amen.

But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

Ephesians 4:15-16

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Confirmation Reflections

This past Sunday during our Confirmation service our church family joyfully celebrated twenty-one youth being confirmed.  Confirmands confessed their faith and received a blessing with family and friends surrounding them. It was a beautiful and powerful service witnessing faith in action from these young people in our congregation. 

Jaycee Goossen (9th grader), Sara Dahlager (9th grader), and Maggie Rapp (parent) shared memorable reflections of their confirmation journey as part of the celebration.  They share some of their heartfelt messages here.
Sara Dahlager shared,  "Throughout my journey in the life of Christ, I have experienced many paths in my faith. I have come to learn that God and Jesus are my friends and not just my Savior.  My faith has led me to a confirmation group of people who love and support each other. When I first started Confirmation I was a shy, short little seventh grader.  Over time it has let me experience different sides of myself through my participation in retreats, singing, and learning a deeper knowledge of God and Jesus. A very special memory was doing skits at one of the stations for The Last Supper.  That is where I first learned about my love of theatre.  I wear a bracelet that I often wear on my wrist that says "Jesus", reminds me of where my journey has led me.  Now I am still short but I am more confident in myself, knowing that God is behind everything that I do.  I am looking forward to continue growing as a child of God after I get confirmed." 
Jaycee Goossen shared, "Confirmation has opened a door for me to learn more about Christ.  Confirmation has also promoted some new questions like, "Why do I believe what I believe?” and “Who is Christ to me?”. Confirmation gave me a support group in my life for whenever anything was going on that I could not handle on my own.  It was my second year of confirmation that changed my life. That year I could really focus on what being a Christian means to me.  Being a follower of Christ is actually just like it sounds - it means that you believe and know in your heart that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior and is always there for us in our darkest hour and in the best moments.  The people who are sitting to your left and right, who are in front of you, or behind you are your support group and are your brothers and sisters in Christ.  So whenever you are going through a tough time, just remember you are not alone."
Praise God for growing mature faith-filled young people in this church! We are blessed to journey alongside our youth here at Resurrection, and excited to continue to journey alongside our current 7th and 8th grade Confirmation students.  All current parents of 7th and 8th graders are invited to a parent meeting on Wednesday, October 28 at 6:15pm to learn about the Faith Inkubators: Head to the Heart curriculum. We are excited for what is in store.

Written by: Hannah Koehler