Greetings, colleagues in Christ –

I’m writing today from the hills of western North Carolina, where we are enjoying the opportunity to visit my mother for the first time in 18 months. We had planned a visit on spring break for a year ago, but COVID-19 forced a change of plan. It’s such a relief to finally be able to see light at the end of the tunnel and a joy to witness how well she has managed during this long pandemic season! In that light, rest assured that our Visioning Council will continue to evaluate our ability to eventually begin gathering at Holy Trinity in as safe a manner as possible once the vaccination rate extends a bit further. Patience is indeed a necessary virtue!

Meanwhile, we’re returning to our “Us & Them” sermon series with unique elements on each theme every Sunday and Wednesday. This week, the focus will be on “The Victim story,” or “Us Better than Them because of our Suffering.”

“The Victim Story” takes a multitude of shapes and is prone to stereotyping. For our purposes, however, we will especially be exploring the ways in which we sometimes allow our pain to define our identity and how the “Seventh Story” exemplified by Jesus offers us a healthier alternative. While we would never want to deny or minimize another’s suffering nor offer them unsolicited advice in the face of it, Christ’s example reveals possibilities we might often fail to consider. Join us for worship on Facebook at 9:00 a.m. Sunday and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday or on-demand on our website anytime!

Let’s keep writing our “Seventh Story” together! I look forward to the opportunity.

Pastor Tim

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Dear Friends,

I’m in my home sitting in my favorite spot, my sunroom, where I can see beyond the walls of the room and beyond my laptop. Tonight, I am watching the sunset as the geese land into the field in the back yard and migrating birds quiet down for the night.

For many years, the only time we used this room was to keep pets out of the rest of the house. But this year, I hauled in my outdoor picnic table and chairs so that I could work in this space, open up the windows, mask, and safely, socially distancing myself when necessary.

Tonight, I give thanks for this space.

I pause to pray for all of the families and friends who have lost someone they care for because of COVID-19. I acknowledge the gift of science and the many new solutions that continue to unfold daily, if not by the hour.

I invite you to remember where you were a year ago this past week? As a church staff, it was this week we made what we thought was a temporary decision to close the building. Where were you a year ago?

Here at the church, in the same hours we decided it was safer to follow guidelines and not meet in the building, we were crafting ways to meet in new and unfamiliar places, such as online worship, online classes, and online meetings. We were thinking it was all “temporary.”

We have entered into a new normal on our way to a new, new normal. We get to embrace that God has always been our God and our job continues to be to trust God. Together, we’ve got this!Yet, there continue to be challenges and challenging conversations ahead.

In our current study from the book, The 7th Story, by Gareth Higgins and Brian McLaren, our theme has challenged all of us to think hard about what is us and them and how we create a new story together, a 7th story, that is different from all the others.

I think we have an opportunity to dig deeper into this challenging question when we read from the Gospel of Luke 12:13-31 and the story of Rich Fool. Let’s put this in context.

Scholar, theologian, and missionary Pastor Ron Schardt has put together a wonderful explanation of this passage and put it into a broader context for us all.

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. Along the way he is sometimes alone and sometimes with the crowd. Along the way, he is constantly sharing parables or teachable moments. The teachable moments are meant to turn everything upside down from the typical, ordinary, and common responses to everyday life in general.

Jesus challenged people to think of their own identity. He challenged them to think, “How do I label my neighbor?”

In his explanation of the fourth petition in the Lord’s Prayer, “give us this day our daily bread,” Martin Luther asked, “What does this mean?

God gives daily bread without our prayer, even to all people, but we ask in this prayer that God stirs in us to recognize what our daily bread is and to receive with thanksgiving.”

What then does ‘daily bread’ mean?

Everything our bodies need such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, fields, livestock, money, property, spouse, children, co-workers, good government, weather, peacefulness, health, decency, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors…”

I would say that this petition is not about BREAD or even about asking for prosperity, us having more or less than others. It’s about God providing for us sometimes in unusual ways and our acknowledgement with thankfulness for all that God provides.

The rich fool in Jesus’ parable doesn’t get that abundance is indeed wonderful. Instead of looking 100% inward, Jesus invites us to look outward through the parable. The rich fool forgot that God’s declaration “know that you have worth.” Jesus again tells us boldly that the greatest commandment is to love God and to love one another. God knows our hearts, our strengths, and our weaknesses. God knows you and me, our full selves.

We are invited to look to this one-year anniversary and weep with those who weep. We hold one another’s stories of hardship, changes, online work, online school, life moments, and celebrations that were put on pause and scheduled for “some date” in the future.

If you knew a year ago today that you would be reading this message right now, what would you say to yourself? What do you need to hear to continue on this journey to a new, new normal? Spend some time with that question!

There are more adjustments, challenges, hurts, and joys ahead. We tell ourselves now: God is with us. That is the promise of life-everlasting grace.

Pastor Katie

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Friday already? It sure is. We’ve not only reached the day when we can again see green grass, but we’re deep into the heart of our “Us & Them” sermon series, which contains unique elements on each theme every Sunday and Wednesday. What I’ve come to appreciate is the way this series gives us a fresh, even if sometimes unnerving, opportunity to examine the “stories” that govern our worldview or outlook on life. It gives us an awareness that could lead us to change it, if willing.

When Jesus spoke of the coming of the Reign of God, he was trying to change others' foundational worldview and the “metanarrative” that often unconsciously governs their decisions and values. Richard Rohr once put it this way: "It is surely important to become conscious of such a primary lens or we will never know what we don’t see and why we see other things out of all perspective.”*

Yet this is the key. Rohr adds: “Our operative worldview is formed by three images that are inside every one of us. They are not something from outside; they have already taken shape within us. All we can do is become aware of them, which is to awaken them. The three images to be awakened and transformed are our image of self, our image of God, and our image of the world. A true hearing of the Gospel transforms those images into a very exciting and, I believe, truthful worldview.”*

In that light, l am keenly aware (again) that I have some real, intentional, internal work to do if I am to truly be able to “awaken” and grow in this ability. What practices have you been able to put in your life which have allowed or enabled you to do so? I would love to hear from you – and learn from you – as we continue this Lenten journey together.

Meanwhile, please consider joining Pastor Katie and our women tonight at their (virtual) Annual Women’s Gathering, featuring great speakers, worship, and other elements. It’s free – yet requires you register in advance on our website. Do so if you haven’t already. I remind you, too, to plan on participating in our brief service of Holden Evening Prayer next Wednesday at 6:30. If your schedule allows, this year’s “Lutheran Day on the Hill” is offered virtually this Thursday from 9:30-11:30 and offering some timely insight into the issues that impact the most vulnerable in our state. Register in advance at “” Hope to “see” you there!

Let’s keep writing our “Seventh Story” together! I look forward to the opportunity.

Pastor Tim

*Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Wisdom Pattern: Order, Disorder, Reorder (Franciscan Media: 2001, 2020), 135–138.

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