Tag Archives: Newsletter

March Newsletter article

12After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord — and you are right, for that is what I am. 14So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13: 12-14 and 34-35

Throughout March we continue within the season of Lent, a time when we are called to return to God. On Sundays our Hebrew Bible scripture readings include those of covenants or promises made with the people of God, our Psalms respond to those readings as well as being primarily psalms of Lament during this season, our second readings are new testament epistle readings that remind us of the cross of Christ, and then our gospel readings prepare us for Holy Week and the path to the cross. In this season of returning to God then it is natural to turn that focus directly to the cross.

cross

Our midweek Lenten worship services provide a space for such focus with a meditative and participatory worship acknowledging that we indeed live our lives beneath the cross of Jesus, that is beneath God’s love and grace that reaches to us even from Calvary. Together we explore what it is to abide at the foot of the cross as we confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness.

 

Throughout our weekly service in addition to listening and exploring scripture we also explore images from our weekly gathering hymn, ELW 338, Beneath the Cross of Jesus. The third verse from this hymn, includes the phrase: “I take, O cross, your shadow for my abiding place.” Our Lenten invitation is indeed to take the cross as our abiding place.

I look forward to exploring and experiencing what it to stand “beneath the cross of Jesus” as we continue this worship series at 7 pm Wednesdays: March 7th at St. John, March 14th at Salem, and March 21st at St. John. I also invite you to join me from 6 to 6:40 pm prior to our Wednesday services (come and go as you are able) to nourish your soul with time to dwell in scripture, prayer, and conversation. And, as always, please reach out for conversation at any time.

It is in that abiding place that we then hear Jesus’ words to us that we hear in worship on Maundy Thursday (John 13: 12-14 and 34-35 printed above). These words of Jesus humble us and convict us.

As we ponder these words together at the foot of the cross, let us rest there in grace and love eternal, and let us move forward living our faith as we love one another even as we proclaim the joy of Easter!

It’s no joke – Easter is on April 1st this year! I look forward to joyfully worshipping with you on Easter morning: 6:30 am St. John Easter Sunrise Service and 8:30 am Salem Easter Morning Worship Service.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Tami

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