Last year, we celebrated the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s The Freedom of the Christian– a writing responsible for igniting the Reformation as much as the Ninety-Five Theses. Five hundred years later, we find there are multiple ways people in our society understand the word “freedom.”
Of course, as Christians living in the USA, we know that “freedom” is vital to our American identity, too. However, we need to remember, “The American Founders’ idea of individual freedom is not the same freedom offered to us through the humanity of Jesus Christ. What Christ offers us is not freedom FROM others or from our limitations or from the realities of the world, but freedom FOR all these things in the form of self=giving love.” I hope you will join us in adult Sunday School as we explore what Christian freedom means for us today. We will also have occasional sessions on caring for people with dementia with loving freedom.
In confirmation this year, we will explore church history. We will see how century after century, followers of Jesus have often been beautifully clueless Duh!sciples who are “saved by God’s grace,” as we will see in the Apostles Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.
Finally, in worship, we will see Jesus in a variety of conflict-and-controversy stories from Mark’s Gospel. We will see Jesus clash with his opponents, but even more frequently with his own disciples. Time after time, he patiently retrains them in the Way of Amazing Grace.
Peace be with you all,
Dear brothers and sisters and siblings in the Spirit,
You might not know…the popular names for congregations in our synod are “Saint Paul” and “Trinity” and “Grace” and “Zion” or one of the names of the original twelve apostles, minus “poor old Judas.”
You might not know…there is only one “Holy Spirit Lutheran Church” in the Lower Susquehanna Synod.
You might not know… the mercy of God cannot be measured, because its height and width and length and breadth extends far beyond our imagination. (Ephesians 3)
You probably do know… the time of transition between when one settled pastor leaves and the next settled pastor comes can be a time of anxiety in a congregation. My hope is that I’ll remind you to relax, “God’s got this.”
And that’s where I get to be the preacher who “helicopters in”, the transitional pastor, who gets to ask these questions.
What makes God smile?
What does Christ desire?
Where is the Spirit leading?
You might not know… Human beings like to smile. They have desires. We live to keep the majority happy. That makes sense! And here, we use ask the God questions.
The following prayer should be familiar to many of you as it has been used many times as the offertory prayer during worship. “Blessed are you, O God, Maker of all things, we offer with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us, our selves, our time, and our possessions. Use us and what we have gathered in feeding the world with your love, through the one who gave himself for us. Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
This was the theme of Rev. Robert Blezard’s article in the June/July 2021 issue Living Lutheran magazine. He writes that everything in creation, including our very lives, comes from God. No exceptions. As stewards, we have been created as human begins in the divine image and put in charge of what God has made. As we read in Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world and those who live in it.” This is a much greater understanding of stewardship than just being in charge of our money and possessions. We offer to God not just our money, but all of what we are. As expressed in the hymn “We Are An Offering”, #692 ELW, “We lift our voices, we lift our hands, we lift our lives up to you; we are an offering.”
May all we think, say, and do reflect these thoughts.
Portions from Living Lutheran’s June/July 2021 issue. Reprinted with permission.
Holy Spirit Family,
This is an update on the Call Committee. The Church council has asked several members of the chuch to be on the call committee. They will start the process shortly on finding a new pastor. We are hoping to give monthly updates to the church as we move through the process. I pray for a quick and efficient call as I know must of you do also. Thank you to all the members that are giving their time and talents to help with this process.
Dear Spirit siblings,
What an honor to be called as the intentional interim pastor at Holy Spirit!
How humbling it is to walk with you after your saying farewell to a person in whom I see Christ at work in the world, Pastor Cliff Eshbach.
And what an unknown adventure and time of transition you enter into as a congregation.
What will the Holy Spirit teach us between the time of farewell and the hopeful welcome you will give to your next settled pastor? My role is to respect you—meaning to “see you again and again and again.”
Together we will joyfully respect Holy Spirit by looking at the congregation’s culture (what unique identity has Christ given you?), your partnerships (who has the Lord called you to work with in building up the Kin-dom of God?), your leadership (who is the Spirit calling forward for what comes next?), your future (where is Christ leading you?) and your mission (God is up to something with Holy Spirit so let’s listen together to find out what that is!).
In July, let’s plan to gather safely around a meal, one-on-one or in small groups, and begin listening to the Spirit together.
Here’s what I will tell you about me. I have dear friends all across Pennsylvania. I’ve lived in the USA, Jamaica and Tanzania. My wife and I have an exchange student daughter in Germany who is hoping to send her son to stay with us next year. I’ve been to Iraqi Kurdistan as part of the Christian Peacemaker Teams. And I was born in Washington D.C. and have been a lifelong fan of the sports teams in the city, and attended the Wild Card victory that launched the Nationals toward their 2019 championship. Finally, I’m young for my age and have stories and many memories, including Pastor Eshbach.
See you soon and look forward to getting to know you all, remain in One Peace until then, Christ’s,