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Dear Friends,

My brain is still in youth mission trip mode! That means it's a bit fuzzy but focused on the tasks in front of me. It was a mountaintop week of 24/7 with the team of amazing, gracious, and hard-working youth. I am proud of them. You would be proud of them as well.

“Let them give thanks to you, LORD, for your steadfast love and your wonderful works for all people.” Psalm 107:8

This team of youth – they got it and they shared with all their hearts God’s purpose for the week. Together we served our resident, Francine, not only by the work we provided her, but by being in a loving and trusting relationship with her and alongside of her. One without the other is meaningless; but both together is life changing meaningfulness.

I would say the greatest challenge of the week was NOT the 90+ temps with high humidity, the reality of the condition of the home we were working on without a sustainable roof, the 30-foot ladders that didn’t come close to reaching the top floor, the cafeteria food, the air-mattresses, the limited showers, and so on. The real challenge was the strength to love one another each day without looking over our shoulders to see what “the others” were not doing – aka – youth from other communities on our same work crew who simply did not come to work.

We are called to love one another so that the light (in this case, the painting of a home in the center of Toledo, Ohio) shines the light of Jesus.

“Whoever is wise will ponder these things, and consider well the LORD’s steadfast love.” Psalm 107:43

You, my beloved friends, are loved now and forever by a God who loves first, loves forever, and invites, encourages, and commands that we love one another.

By now, you have received notice that I have accepted a new call to First Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids. I am thankful for the opportunity to share God’s love with you and you with me.

See you in worship!


Pastor Katie

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A huge thanks goes out to Pastor Ron Schardt for his generous offer to help lead worship last weekend! Pastor Katie was off on our Youth Mission Trip to Ohio, while I was participating in events around my daughter’s wedding. I’m thankful to report that it was a tremendous and memorable weekend, with near-perfect weather, venue, and participation of many of the people who have been a gift to her in all of her years of growing and serving! We have much by which to be humbled!

Pastor Katie and I will be rejoining you this weekend as we return to our “R.E.A.L. Faith in a Real World” series – this week pondering the many potential connections between that theme and the familiar text of the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11). I hope that you’ll be able to join us on Sunday or Wednesday, – as who knows - perhaps you will gain insight that forever transforms the way that you pray that prayer! It’s certainly a rich one and resembles a diamond that reveals more and more beauty as you view it from different perspectives.

Many thanks, too, to those who have already responded generously to our special appeal to help offset the unanticipated major repairs to our geothermal system. Thanks to you, we’re still able to gather in comfort! If you’ve intended to pass along a gift, but haven’t done so, we’d love to hear from you soon!

Meanwhile, join me in prayer for a safe return for our Mission team. Come share the Word and Holy Communion this week with your brothers and sisters in Christ! Let’s celebrate summer together!

Pastor Tim

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Busy! Busy! Busy!

It's Vacation Bible School and Day Camp week here in the church building. There are almost 100 extra people around this week. And life is good!

We have two Bible stories this week that are busy, busy, busy! Abraham entertains angels, unaware of their identities (Genesis 18). He busies himself with the tasks of "host with the most" before he sits down to share with them. Jesus stops by Mary and Martha's house on the way to Jerusalem (Luke 10). Martha gets busy to be the "hostess with the mostess" while Mary sits and listens to Jesus. Some pastors would point to these as almost parallel stories. If we had only heard the Luke story, we might have focused on the Mary/Martha dichotomy. Add the Abraham story and we have a whole new focus to our meditation. Pastor Ron will help us make sense of it on Sunday.

Meanwhile, several of our youth and their adult chaperones will leave Sunday morning for Maumee, OH, a Cleveland suburb, for a mission trip. They will be building Relationships among themselves and with people in Ohio and around the world as they Engage in Abundant Acts of Love. They will be practicing R.E.A.L. Faith in a Real World situation.

The mission trip week is bookended by two other acts of R.E.A.L. Faith in a Real World as two young couples take that leap of faith in themselves and each other by pledging themselves to each other in marriage. Some of us have been privileged to watch Mareda Smith grow up at Holy Trinity; we wish her well as she embarks on this new adventure. And while we may not know the other 3 young people involved, our thoughts and prayers are with them as well as they take this leap of faith in themselves and each other.

Busy! Busy! Busy! What an awesome God!

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