Category Archives: From the Pastor

From the Pastor

Several years ago, I went to a magical place in Wisconsin, it was the grotto in Dickeyville. A grotto is a man-made cave, meant to be a picturesque place for reflection. This grotto is located on the grounds of the Holy Ghost parish and was built by Matthias Wernerus, who was a priest at that congregation from 1918-1930. Picturesque reflection isn’t exactly what this particular grotto inspires, but it is definitely picture worthy. It was constructed out of thousands of pieces of glass, shells, rocks, fossils, and countless other bric-a-brac. It is a whole garden, with multiple shrines dedicated to faith. Mosaics of Mary, Jesus and the disciples are scattered around the place. Honestly, it’s a little wild, a little weird and certainly kooky.

Fr. Wernerus is buried in the parish cemetery, which are on the grounds with the grotto. Looking at his headstone, I thought he must have been a man of strong and kooky faith, a man who gave strong and kooky love. Who else would look out their office window, imagine a grotto, and then spend 5 years building it? It really got me thinking about how we would describe admirable or exemplary faith.

We use words like “strong” or “deep” or “incredible” to describe some of our faith heroes. Those are all good adjectives; however, I would also like to add “wild” and “kooky” and “quirky” to the list. Oftentimes we want to trim away the ragged edges or clean up the wild parts of our faith. Things that don’t fit into the box of normal or with our perceived ideas of holiness are dropped out. We sanitize the bits and pieces that may look weird to other people, and in doing so miss some of the best parts of our faith. Some of the most relatable and life changing parts of our faith story are also the parts that are a little wild, a little weird and most certainly kooky. Decades after Fr. Wernerus served his community, people flock to Dickeyville to see what his faith inspired him to do. They aren’t coming to see learn about his rich devotional life, or read his sermons, or even count up how many catechism classes he taught, they are coming to see what was a little kooky. So perhaps, those are the parts of our faith we should cling to tightly. After all, we follow a God who decided to take on human form and come to earth to live with us, if that isn’t a little wild and weird I don’t know what is.

Just one last “heads-up”. In May, we will be starting another combined Parish book study. We will be reading and talking through the novel “The Shack” by Wm. Paul Young. It is readily available at Scott county libraries and major booksellers. This is a great book about how God is present with us in the midst of tragedy, however, it does contain some very tragic scenarios, just be aware.

 

~Pastor Amy

From the Pastor

These next few weeks we will be journeying together towards the season of Lent. This is a time set aside in the church year to get us ready to celebrate Easter. Many see Lent as a time of fasting, practicing new spiritual disciplines, or renewing promises that have fallen by the wayside. I read recently that Lent is a season of restrained celebration. We know that Jesus lived, died and rose from the dead. Lent is not a time to deny the joy of Christ’s victory over death and the grave. Lent however is a time to prepare ourselves to live that joy in new ways. It’s a season of anticipation and preparation for the resurrection. We walk the path of Jesus towards the cross, for true resurrection cannot happen without a true death. But in walking this path, we know we will make it to the other side, to the empty tomb. This season, we contemplate ways to live our faith in our daily lives, whether it be by giving something up, or adding something in.

Part of our new life as Together in Christ Parish means worshiping together. In worshiping together, we overcome our own personal preferences and differences, we find joy and renewal in being together as Christians. The Lent plan for this year is as follows.

Ash Wednesday (2/14) at All Saints Lutheran at 7 pm

Dinner and Holden Evening Prayer at St. James Lutheran all Wednesdays during Lent. (2/21, 2/28, 3/7, 3/14, 3/21) Dinner will be at 6 pm in the fellowship hall, worship will be at 7pm in the sanctuary.

Maundy Thursday (3/29) at All Saints Lutheran at 7 pm 

Good Friday (3/30) at St. James Lutheran at 7 pm

Easter Sunday (4/1) at St James Lutheran at 9 am and at All Saints Lutheran at 10:30 am.

I am looking forward to seeing where God leads us during this special season. We have a unique opportunity to grow together, to learn from each other, and to deepen our faith these next 40 days.

From the Pastor

These next few weeks we will be journeying together towards the season of Lent. This is a time set aside in the church year to get us ready to celebrate Easter. Many see Lent as a time of fasting, practicing new spiritual disciplines, or renewing promises that have fallen by the wayside. I read recently that Lent is a season of restrained celebration. We know that Jesus lived, died and rose from the dead. Lent is not a time to deny the joy of Christ’s victory over death and the grave. Lent however is a time to prepare ourselves to live that joy in new ways. It’s a season of anticipation and preparation for the resurrection. We walk the path of Jesus towards the cross, for true resurrection cannot happen without a true death. But in walking this path, we know we will make it to the other side, to the empty tomb. This season, we contemplate ways to live our faith in our daily lives, whether it be by giving something up, or adding something in.

Part of our new life as Together in Christ Parish means worshiping together. In worshiping together, we overcome our own personal preferences and differences, we find joy and renewal in being together as Christians. The Lent plan for this year is as follows.

Ash Wednesday (2/14) at All Saints Lutheran at 7 pm
Dinner and Holden Evening Prayer at St. James Lutheran all Wednesdays during Lent. (2/21, 2/28, 3/7, 3/14, 3/21) Dinner will be at 6 pm in the fellowship hall, worship will be at 7 pm in the sanctuary.
Maundy Thursday (3/29) at All Saints Lutheran at 7 pm
Good Friday (3/30) at St. James Lutheran at 7 pm
Easter Sunday (4/1) at St James Lutheran at 9 am and at All Saints Lutheran at 10:30 am.

I am looking forward to seeing where God leads us during this special season. We have a unique opportunity to grow together, to learn from each other, and to deepen our faith these next 40 days.

From the desk of Pastor Amy

January always feels a bit like a lost month to me. It doesn’t feel new, or shiny or all the other things we are supposed to feel at the turning of a fresh year. It is a month of resolute attempts at self-discipline, which inevitably lead to failure. When I worked in restaurants, January was the worst month of the calendar year. Between the resolutions of strict diets and strict budgets, no one went out to eat. The whole restaurant staff was broke and bored. January really operated at a loss then.

Redeeming January is a pet project I have taken on the last few years. Part of the January letdown I find myself in is due to a kind of spiritual waywardness. What do we celebrate now? Christmas is over, Lent and Easter are far in the distance. I find myself wondering what is the spiritual focus of these cold dark days. Then I stumbled upon the poem “Now the Work of Christmas Begins” by Howard Thurman. Thurman was an African-American theologian, educator, and civil rights leader. His life was shaped by his devotion to faith and justice and he has this to say for the time after Christmas.

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

Redeeming January is going to mean doing the real work of Christmas. On these long winter nights, when the wind blows and the ice builds, we can turn our hearts to the work of Christmas. We can hold close the miracle of the incarnation, the miracle that God became human. The miracle that God knew cold, and wind and ice. The miracle that propels us into the world with hearts strangely warmed.

From the Pastor

I was reminded of a quote this week, “you are a human being, not a human doing”. I am not sure where it came from, the closest source I could find was Kurt Vonnegut, who said “I am a human being, not a human doing”. These words ring in my ears this time of year. The holidays are busy for everyone, we get caught up in all the things that need to be done. It is a long to-do list, often including travel, or hosting responsibilities. We need to clean and decorate, cook, and shop. We write cards and make phone calls. We organize special parties, events, get-togethers, and gift exchanges. The list seems endless. We do all of this on top of our regular responsibilities of work, family time, general housekeeping, pet care, volunteer obligations and schoolwork. That list also seems endless. It is no wonder that often the holidays turn us into human doings! However, as we approach Advent and Christmas, we need to be reminded that God calls us to live as human beings, not human doings.

Christ entered the world as a human being. The name Emmanuel means “God with us”, not God doing to us. God came to us as a human being in the form of a child in a manager. God is with us as a human, who lived, died and rose again. Part of what made the ministry of Christ so revolutionary were the people he chose to be with. Jesus pushed back against religion that constantly asked us to “do” more instead of simply “be” more. Mary is commended for being with Jesus, while Martha is invited to do less and join in the being.

This holiday, remember God created you to be a human being. Culture tries to create us into human doings. Find ways to simply be with God. God does not ask us to perform or pretend. God doesn’t worry if our gifts are perfectly wrapped, or if the house is clean or if every note is sung perfectly on key. The Emmanuel is with us regardless. This holiday season, relish in being instead of doing.