Tag Archives: God

September Newsletter Article – Going Forward with God

3 When I called out to you, you answered me.   You made me strong and brave.

~Psalm 138:3 (NIRV)

 

When I pause to reflect on the last few months—the beginning of my ministry with you all as well as the beginning of my time serving as a pastor—I am grateful, honored, and inspired. Your stories, individually and together, are indeed a witness to God! As we continue to journey together as the people of God united in shared ministry through our Harvest Ministry as well as in our individual congregations of Salem Lutheran and St. John Ev. Lutheran, I invite you to continue to share those stories of faith, lament, grief, and thanksgiving. I also invite you to participate in the creation of your congregation’s ongoing story and journey as a people of faith.

As a former hospice and hospital chaplain I have witnessed the amazing and life-giving transformation that occurs when humans are not afraid to die. I have witnessed restored relationships, peace beyond explanation, pure love, and great faith. A life limiting diagnosis is not the only way this transformation happens, and many of you already experience this paradox of living fully while being accepting of death. It appears that death’s power disappears with the fear and allows us to fully live into our identity as beloved children of God.

Each congregation is itself a body of Christ even as all believers together are the full body of Christ, and as such I wonder what we could do communally when the fear of death (or failure) is removed. I invite you to ponder this with me and with one another as we begin the process of discerning our mission in this time and place(s) as the people of God.

I hear your sense of loss in many stories, and I do not want to minimize that moving forward as part of a shared ministry may have felt like a death of sorts. Our lives contain many mini-deaths even before our last breath on earth. We attempt to put happier words on it, but even positive changes can involve losses. I also hear the gratitude and great faith in your stories.

Just as a dying person discovers they have great agency, so too a transforming church may discover that they are indeed not dead yet! Or, possibly in the midst of the storm of change there has been a death or sorts, and as death and resurrection people we look forward in the hope of Christ to the resurrection work God is doing here and now.

Rachel Held Evans in her book Searching for Sunday, declares “death is something empires worry about, not something that resurrection people worry about” and she also reminds us that “no step taken in faith is wasted, not by a God who makes all things new.”

The Congregation Vitality process is one possible opportunity for us to prayerfully discern our steps forward in faith at this time even as we wonder what God is up to in our congregation and our communities. Whether we are led to participate formally in the Congregation Vitality process at this time (or in the future) or not, we go forward together in firm faith that God goes with us.
Yours in Christ,

Pastor Tami Groth

Pastor Tami preaching at St. John Lutheran

God is Always With Us

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing.

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100, verses 1-2 and 5

 

God is Always with Us!

This August during our weekend Vacation Bible School time August 11th through the 13th the Salem congregation and community will celebrate how God is always with us. This theme runs throughout our scriptures, both Old and New Testament verses. Throughout our time together worshipping and learning one of the scripture promises we will focus on is Jesus’ promise at the end of the gospel of Matthew: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20b).

 

This is a great time to reflect on what “always” means when reflecting on God’s presence. Always includes an invitation to the awareness in the sacred every day moments. Always also means those times we be less open to God’s presence, feeling no need for help, redemption, or forgiveness. Actively and intentionally increasing our awareness of God during these times and ordinary days and places can take much practice and discipline.

 

Our call to Praise God and worship together as a community as well as individually in our daily lives is also a call to recognize God’s steadfast love and presence that is, as promised, with us always. In commentary on Psalm 100, seminary professor Rolf Jacobson notes,

 

“We do not praise God for God’s personal sake, but for the sake of God’s mission. In praise, we do two things. First, by praising God we give ourselves to God fully — praise is a way of being in relationship with God. Second, by praising God to others, through praise we give God away to our neighbor. Praise is witness to who God is and what God has done.”

 

May our very breath remind us of God’s constant presence, and may we in each breath praise God together with all creation.

 

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Tami Groth