Pastor Julie’s Summer Message

Pentecost – the Season of Growth

As I sit to write this note, I can look out my window and see Summer in bloom.  It’s not quite full bloom, but the warm weather and the rains have certainly done their part to make the earth lush and green.  So much of this change has taken place without our being aware.  The seeds and plants have been dormant over the winter and almost like magic, they spring forth.

Anyone who knows anything about plants and gardens knows that it isn’t magic that brings forth a garden, it’s planning, toil, and work.  This is how I see these summer months at Messiah.  It may look like we’re in cruise control for ministry, but there is a great deal of planning and preparation for this coming fall.

As you may know, this fall will be joyous as we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation on Sunday, October 29th.  To help us prepare, we will have a special viewing of the newest Luther movie that was recently released.  That showing will take place at Messiah on October 11.

As we move ahead with our preparations, we will continue to be the church celebrating the Blessing of the Back Packs, Rally Day, an evening of Stewardship with Pastor Scott Schantzenbach, the startup of our new Book Club, a Pet Blessing, a visit from Pastor Kimberly Vaughn, Assistant to the Bishop, watching Rick Steve’s Christmas in Germany DVD, while working on sending our Youth to Houston next June!  All of this will take place before Advent.

Indeed the Spirit is working in and through us.  We are certainly blessed!

Pastor Julie

Pastor Julie’s June Message

The Season of Pentecost

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”                Acts 2:1-4

Pentecost begins on the first Sunday of June.  The Day of Pentecost has become the occasion for the gift of the Holy Spirit to the church.  The Spirit is the power of the resurrected Jesus in our midst, claiming us in baptism, feeding us at communion, and sending us into the world to be bearers of that divine word which raises the dead to new life.  We are claimed by this gift of the Holy Spirit and sent to be the Church in this time and place.

The Season of Pentecost is the longest season of the church year.  It begins in June and will end on the first Sunday of Advent.  It is no accident that it is the longest season as this is where we focus on being the Church.  In the season of Advent, we prepare for the coming of Christ into our midst, which we truly understand in the season of Christmas.  Epiphany has us ponder the nature of Christ, ‘who’ he is.  Lent helps us understand the ‘why’ of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Easter celebrates the gift of the resurrection and what it means in our lives.  In Pentecost, we learn that we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit in order to live our callings as Christians and be the Church.

On June 11, we will celebrate the season with one service that day.  We will worship at 10 a.m. and celebrate the Spirit through readings and song.  The Choir, the Band, and the children of Sunday School have been eagerly preparing for this day.  We will also celebrate the Holy Spirit with the baptism of Declan Leininger.  It looks to be a wonderful day that will lead us into the Summer months, the growth period of our land and of the Church.  I do hope that you will celebrate with us throughout the season.

Peace,

Pastor Julie

God our creator, the resurrection of you son offers life to all the peoples of the earth.  By your Holy Spirit, kindle in us the fire of your love, empowering our lives for service and our tongues for praise, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen

Prayer of the Day for Pentecost

Pastor Julie’s May Message

Reformation 500

Dear friends,

As the season of Easter continues to embrace us and send us out in mission, Messiah Lutheran Church continues its celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.  The Dream Team has all sorts of plans to help us explore our history and celebrate the future.

The next event will be a study of the 95 Theses or “the Disputation on the Power of Indulgences” that Luther posted the church door in Wittenberg in 1517.  This practice was an invitation to scholarly discussion and debate.  The Disputation, itself, never took place, but this document began to change the church and the world.  This document started the Protestant Reformation and it still informs us five hundred years later.

Please join us on Wednesday, May 3rd, at 7:30pm for study, discussion, and light refreshments.  This study will help us understand our history with the hope of better understanding what we believe today.

I do hope that you are able to attend.

Peace,

Pastor Julie

Pastor Julie’s April Message

Signs of New Life

As I sit at my desk pondering an Easter message, there are piles of snow just outside my window.  The forsythia, which looked like it was ready to blossom just over a week ago, now looks like it has closed up shop for the foreseeable future.  Even though we enjoyed unseasonably warm weather not too long ago, it feels like we are trapped in winter.

I often wonder what it was like for the women who approached the tomb that first Easter morning.  What were their thoughts?  I can’t imagine the grief that they felt.  Not only was their friend in the tomb, he was the one that they hoped would be the one to save them.  Now, he was gone.s I sit at my desk pondering an Easter message, there are piles of snow just outside my window.  The forsythia, which looked like it was ready to blossom just over a week ago, now looks like it has closed up shop for the foreseeable future.  Even though we enjoyed unseasonably warm weather not too long ago, it feels like we are trapped in winter.

One of the beautiful gifts of God’s love is the gift of new life.  Not only will we experience it in heaven, but we can experience it every single day.  Winter may feel like an eternity, but we know that it isn’t.  Even while life lies dormant under the ground, we know that an important part of the growth cycle is taking place.  We know that new life is just waiting for the right moment to spring forth.

At Messiah, I see signs of new life around us as well.  It’s been a tough winter and we have lost some dear members of our congregation.  And yet, we continue to grow and move forward.  I bring you good news that our Church council is filled with wonderful ideas and programs to move ahead.  New ministry starts and ideas always point us forward to new beginnings.

Life always has the last word.

1After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.”

Matthew 28:1-5

Let us rejoice in this new beginning and in the unity of what makes us Messiah Lutheran Church.  Let us boldly venture forward, together.

Pastor Julie Haspel

Pastor Julie’s March Message

With Awe and Love

             The theme for our Mid-week Lenten Series is “With Awe and Love.”  In celebration of Luther 500, we will explore Luther’s Small Catechism.  Luther wrote the Small Catechism as a family resource for parents to teach the faith to their children at home.  The Small Catechism includes a simple explanation of the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Sacraments.  Luther also included scripture readings and prayers to serve as a family service that included teachings on the faith.

We will gather as a family every Wednesday night in Lent, starting on March 8 (except March 29, see below).  We will share supper at 6:15 and begin worship at 7:30.  I hope you will join us as we explore the basics of our faith as we continue through this 500th Anniversary year.

As a special event, we will view Rick Steve’s video on Martin Luther’s Reformation on March 29 in lieu of the service.  We plan to invite local churches to hear how the reformation movement grew.  We will start at 7:00pm.  Please plan to attend!

Since its earliest days, the season of Lent has been a time of education in the fundamentals of the faith.  Often times, there would be baptisms at the Easter Vigil.  Lent was seen as a time of preparation for Baptism.  Martin Luther encouraged preaching on the catechism to strengthen faith and community in faith.

Pastor Julie’s February Message

Reformation 500

“The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace
of God.”

—Martin Luther, thesis 62

 

Amazingly, we have entered the 500th Anniversary year of Martin Luther posting the 95 Theses on the church door in Wittenberg.  Most assuredly, there were many Reformers prior to Luther, but Luther’s understanding and interpretation of the Scriptures came about at the same time as the printing press.  This enabled Luther to use the social media of his day and Luther’s understanding of God as a loving God began to spread.

500 years.  It’s an incredible length of time.  What is perhaps the most amazing thing about that time is that this Reformation movement has been, in itself, reforming.  The Church cannot stand still in its understanding of itself.  The Spirit moves us to embrace the Good News and understand what it means for us in the present.

As a church, Messiah will also embrace the gift of this anniversary year.  There are plans in the works to host a movie night where we will watch the film, Luther.  We will also host a time to gather and watch Rick Steve’s chronicle of the Reformation.  I also encourage you to spend time on the greater church website, ELCA.org, as they have a number of educational articles.

I, myself, am planning an educational tour of Germany this summer with my sister.  We will be “On the Trail of Martin Luther.” I hope to be able to bring back ideas to inform our celebration this October.

It’s going to be an amazing year together.  We get to celebrate our past and explore the many ways in which God loves.

Peace to you all,

Pastor Julie

Pastor’s New Year’s Message

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Always Being Made New

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Every January, I like to imagine for myself that I am given a new chance to start over.  I make resolutions, with varying degrees of success.  I set new goals, and I start out with every best intention.

What would it be like for ourselves if we imagined that we are always being made new?  We don’t necessarily need to wait for the calendar to turn to 1/1.  God is always at work, through Jesus, in reconciling us to him so that we are new creations.

Change is not easy.  Transformation, true transformation means change.  Change may mean loss for us.  Transformation implies this and we may grieve our loss.  Since God is in charge of the change, we know and trust in God’s work in our midst.

So, what does this mean for us as a congregation? I believe that it’s time to reassess where we are, to see where we have been and what we have been through.  As a congregation, we have been through much and we have continued to be faithful to our calling as disciples.  We might simply sit back and rest for a bit.  However, if we are indeed being made new, we can take this opportunity to do a bit of soul searching, both individually and as a congregation.

I invite you to pray for our congregation and take an active role in this process.  Your prayers, your participation will help shape who we are.  Your perspective helps inform who we are called to be.  I invite you to be open to the Spirit and see where it will all lead.

Indeed in Christ, we are always being made new!

Happy New Year!

Pastor Julie

Pastor Julie’s December Message

Wait for the Light

Light your candles quietly, such candles as you possess, wherever you are. – Alfred Delp

The season of Advent is once again upon us in a flurry of activities that can often leave us frazzled and breathless.  It is a time of contrasting emotions: the joy of getting together with friends and loved ones, and the sorrow of feeling lonely or missing loved ones.  As I say at the 8:45 service every Sunday, “All that you carry is welcome here.”  The season of Advent carries all of this and leads us to a new place.

Advent literally means ‘arrival’.  In understanding Advent in this way, we see that we have been given a season of preparation.  It’s not a season of idle preparation, waiting for the day to spring upon us, but a time to prepare our hearts and minds for a momentous act:  God coming into our midst!

The Church will be busy preparing during this Advent season.  We will work to prepare for God coming into our midst as we await the second Advent – the promised coming of God’s kingdom to earth.

To help us prepare our hearts, there will be various opportunities at Church for activities  and contemplation.  On Sunday, December 4, we will host our Advent cookie bake and church decoration.  This event will certainly put us in the spirit for the season and we will enjoy fellowship at the luncheon that day.  On December 11, we will host an Advent Vespers Service at 4 p.m.  The musicians will include the children from Sacred Sounds Music Camp.  There will be a potluck supper to follow the service.  Call the church office to sign up. The annual Christmas Pageant will take place on December 18 at the 10:45 Service.  Cindy Doran has written a wonderful play for our children to recall what Christmas is truly about. Our Candlelight Christmas Eve Service will take place at 7:30 on December 24th.  Christmas Day Service will be held at 10 a.m.  And our Christmas Lessons and Carols Service will be held on January 1 at 10 a.m.

That is a whirlwind of activity that will center our thoughts to fully celebrate Immanuel, God with us.

Advent peace,

Pastor Julie

Pastor Julie’s November Message

 We Are Blessed

Dear friends,

Lately, in my time of devotion, I have been focusing a great deal of attention on our blessings.  I have found this time to be enlightening, challenging and enjoyable and I invite you into this time of reflection, as well.  I have been meditating on the following questions that you might find helpful.

  • What are the blessings in my life?
  • Who is the source of all blessings?
  • What is our Biblical understanding of ‘blessing’?
  • How does ‘blessing’ relate to ministry and our ministry here at Messiah?
  • In what ways can we ‘grow our blessings?

It seems wholly appropriate to me that we would take the time to reflect and count our many blessings and give thanks in this month where we celebrate Thanksgiving.

As Christians, we understand that we have been blessed in so many ways.  Chiefly, we have been blessed through the grace and mercy of God that we have come to know through Jesus Christ.  As we have been blessed, we are called to be a source of blessing in the world.  This blessing takes many shapes and forms.  These blessings also make up the ministries here at Messiah Lutheran Church.

As you take the time to reflect, I invite you to rejoice in these blessings through the many and varied activities listed through this month – through the Thanksgiving tree, through youth activities, through our coat drive, through First Communion Sunday.  May our ministries continue to reflect God’s grace and mercy in all that we do.

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the
living…__expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in
your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
— Mother Teresa

Grace and peace,

Pastor Julie

Pastor Julie’s October Message

Blessed to be a Blessing

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”  Genesis 12:1-2

 

Blessed to be a blessing.  Have you ever thought of your life as a blessing to others?  It is my sincere hope that by the end of our ‘stewardship season’ this fall you will see how your life is a blessing to others.

Seeing ourselves as God’s blessed children is an ancient understanding of God’s created order.  God blesses what God creates. As the Book of Genesis reminds us, the recital of God’s blessing is infused into the created order. Each day of the creation story ends with the refrain: it is good, it is good, it is good. We too are part and parcel of the created order.  We are created to be a blessing. The Hebrew word for blessing is barak, which means “the life force of creation itself,” says Walter Brueggemann. Through God’s blessing, all of creation is destined for abundant well-being. Through God’s blessing, there is always enough.

God’s plan is to bless and in turn, we respond.  We respond through worship, an act that reminds us that God is the center.  Worship invites us to live our lives with a purpose.  We offer praise and thanksgiving with our lips and our lives.

Our stewardship program this year will help us look at how we live our lives as God’s beloved children.  We will gather to discuss how we can embrace our giftedness and reach out to others and live our lives in praise.

We will kick off this program on October 23 with one service at 10 a.m. followed by a brief presentation.  This presentation will be followed by celebrating our annual Octoberfest.  I hope you are ready to celebrate our blessedness in the coming year.

Peace,

Pastor Julie