Pastor’s February Message

From Pastor Julie

I am always thankful when people come to me with articles and internet stories that help inform me and brighten my day.  The following was given to me by Charlie Hashagen.  I hope that you enjoy it!

Keep Your Fork!

There was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live.  So, as she was getting her things ‘in order’, she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes.  She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.

Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.  “There’s one more thing,” she said excitedly.  “What’s that?” came the pastor’s reply.  “This is very important,” the young woman continued.  “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”  The pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say.  “That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the young woman asked.  “Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,” said the pastor.

The young woman explained.  “My grandmother once told me this story, and from there on out, I have always done so.  I have also always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement.  In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork’.  It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming… like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie, something wonderful and with substance!  So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder, ‘What’s with the fork?’  Then I want you to tell them:  ‘keep your fork… the best is yet to come.’”  The pastor’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman good-bye.

It would be one of the last times he would see her before her death.  But he also knew that the young woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did.  She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge.  She KNEW that something better was coming.

At the funeral, people were walking by the young woman’s casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and the fork placed in her right hand.  Over and over, the pastor heard the question, “What’s with the fork?”  Over and over again, he smiled.  During his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died.  He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her.  The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

He was right.

So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.

Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed.  They make you smile and encourage you to succeed.  They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to us.  Show your friends how much you care.  Remember to always be there for them, even when you need them more.  You never know when it may be their time to ‘keep your fork.’  Cherish the time you have and the memories you share.  Being friends with someone is not an opportunity but a sweet responsibility.

 

Thank you, Charlie!  May we hold these dear words in our hearts.

Pastor Julie

Pastor’s January Message

HappyNewYear

All joking aside, this is an important time for us as Christians.  The New Year helps us remember that we are always made new in Christ Jesus.  The good news is that we don’t have to wait to change the calendar on December 31.  Rather, we get to realize this every single day as we are baptized children of God.

Beginning fresh and new is truly a gift from God, yet so many things seem to get in the way of us fully realizing it.  What prevents us from being renewed and being the people that God created us to be?  My sense is that the answer will be different for each one of us.  However, I do believe there are similar patterns that can be addressed to clear a straight path.

To begin this conversation, the Social Ministry Committee will begin a luggage drive that will help transitioning children in difficult times.  The program is aptly called, “Let Go of your Baggage.”  What other baggage do we carry around that prevents us from fully living into our calling?

I confess to you that I have an issue with clutter.  This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise as I’m sure that you have been in my office…  To this end, I plan to immerse myself in reading and learning about decluttering as a spiritual practice.  First on my list will be reading Unstuff: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul by Ruth Soukup. I have every intention of sharing what I learn through my calling to preach and to teach.

I invite you to join me in this journey as we all strive to live faithfully in the new year.

Peace,

Pastor Julie

Pastor’s December Message

looking toward advent

Will you be ready for the light, ready for the light to shine upon you?

Will you be ready for the light, ready for the light to shine?

Will you be watching? 

Will you be listening?

Will you hear the angels sing?

Will you be waiting? 

Will you be searching for a Savior and a King?

Mark Patterson

Dear friends,

We now enter the darkest time of the year.  The days are certainly growing shorter and the nights seem to last an eternity.  World events keep our hearts and minds in dark places, as well.

In this darkness, there is hope.  For the Light is coming as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior who is the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.

The Light of the world is coming, this is most certainly true.  However, the simple lyrics of this children’s Christmas song help us focus on our preparation for that great joy.  Martin Luther’s explanation of the Third Petition of the Lord’s Prayer states:   God’s good and gracious will comes about without our prayer, but we ask in this prayer that it may also come about in and among us.  The season of Advent is a gift to us.  It helps us prepare ourselves for the coming of the Light, that it will come about in and among us.  We are then able to reflect this light, this hope to the entire world.

Come; prepare yourselves for this great joy.  Join us as we celebrate the coming of the Light at our Christmas Eve service at 7:30 p.m.

Much peace to you all,

Pastor Julie

Jesus, light of the world, hope and salvation for all the earth,

Jesus, light of the world, from every nation we come to celebrate your birth.

Pastor’s November Message

from pastors desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, …that he may teach us his ways.”  Isaiah 2:3.  “…It is necessary to hear the Word of God constantly, in order that our feelings may be enlightened…Christians must live every day by the Word as the body lives by food…The heart is always grinding.  If the grain, namely, the Word of God, is good, the flour will be good, and the bread will be good.”  From Daily Readings from Luther’s Writings, selected and edited by Barbara Owen.

“The heart is always grinding…”…life and death, sin and Jesus’ righteousness…sinner and saint…lost and found.  Our hearts are grinding, and our church year in November brings much of the grinding to our ears and our hearts.  We remember All Saints, Christ the King…Christ’s return, the end of the age, and Thanksgiving.  Indeed, a full month that runs full circle around our human experience.

The end of the church year and the readings we will hear as we come together around God’s Word look to the end.  Do we live and look with anticipation, or do we hold back, putting on the brakes as we are directed to Christ’s return?  Living in the now, and yet waiting, this is a part of the grinding of our hearts.

The last Sundays in our church year will confront us with life and death, death and resurrection.  The readings will bring out the fearful child in each of us AND the comfort and challenge of the faithful adult.

Living as God’s sinner/saint means living a common life with uncommon generosity, and realizing that it is God alone who can make us righteous people.  I invite you to use the days of November as an opportunity to acknowledge the grinding of your heart, and to consider the places that we might “come to the mountain”, to be fed and nourished by God’s Word.

Peace,

Pastor Julie