Sunday is the end of the church year. It is Christ the King Sunday, that Sunday of the year when we remember that the little baby we welcomed last December, the man whom we saw crucified and resurrected in April, is indeed the Lord of All Creation. Our gospel for Sunday will conclude a church year where the primary texts for our discussions have been from Matthew. Familiarly, it is known as the parable of the sheep and the goats.

This piece of Scripture (Matthew 25:31-46) is the Gospel I’ve selected for my funeral. In it is the question I ask myself every day: Am I a sheep or a goat? Sheep are obedient followers. Goats are more wily and will go anywhere to get what they want. Sheer cliffs? No problem. Can’t be done? No problem; I’ll do it.

Jesus gives a measuring stick to gauge the journey. He’s already told us that measure: “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and soul and mind. And love your neighbors as yourself. (Matthew 22: 37-39)” Today, we hear it presented in another way.

I was hungry and you fed me,

I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,

I was homeless and you gave me a room,

I was shivering and you gave me clothes,

I was sick and you stopped to visit,

I was in prison and you came to me.’

Sometimes I hit to mark. More often, I miss it completely. I am reminded of James’ admonition: “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only. (James 1:22)” When the love of God rules in my heart, soul, and mind, I have the capacity to love my neighbors by feeding them physically and spiritually. I have the capacity to make room for them in my life to meet other physical and spiritual needs.

Like Paul in Romans 7:19, “The good I would do, I do not. The evil I do not want to do, I keep doing.” Those are the very sins for which Jesus died to atone. So, I keep the measuring stick before me. I may judge myself unworthy. You may judge me unworthy. But in the end, only God through the love of Jesus Christ will judge me to be a sheep or a goat. While my deeds show forth the faith I have, it is only that faith upon which I can cling to be deemed a sheep, a member of God’s flock.

Baa, said the sheep and the goat. God knows.

Richard in the office

P.S. Thank you, Pastor Katie, for allowing me to write this week.

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Tonight Only!!!! Advent Celebration Night November 18 – at 6:30 p.m. on ZOOM (see link below) We have blended our plans and our hopes into one big night for everyone. Fun for all ages and household sizes!

Confirmation Students – join on Zoom and play a special BINGO (with prizes!)

Holy Trinity Households – we will make our Advent Door Swag – together!

** If you still want your door swag kit – we have 10 left!

** If you still want your children’s Advent kit (pre-K thru Club 56) - we have 15 left.

** If you want a Holy Trinity mask – we have 3 left!

** Drop off your 2021 Faith Promise (Pledge) – we are here!

High School – you have a special outdoor project with Deb! Mask up! Wear a coat!

Zoom Link for 11/18

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As we reach the capstone of our fall series on “Abundance” this week, we turn to “Abundant Thanks” for Commitment Sunday. When I slow down enough to reflect as I ought, I realize that we have much for which to give God thanks. I feel for those who are furloughed or out of work. I feel for those who are wrestling with very real health challenges. I feel for those who are feeling “cooped up” after so many months of Covid-19. Yet I am aware of how many of us still have work, health, shelter, and family and how we are called to walk alongside one another in such times of grieving.

I certainly would never wish to minimize any of the above challenges. They are quite real in our midst, as several of our Temple Talk witnesses have made evident this fall. Yet I continue to stand in awe at the abundant sharing of prayers, money, and care that are evident among us, even amid so many experiencing various challenges and the stubborn hope that lies behind their sharing. In other words, I am personally grateful for much in this season. That certainly includes you!

I hope that you might perhaps feel the same way about your church. Yep, “church” looks and feels different during a pandemic. Sure, there is much that we miss and wish could be different. Yet I have seen and celebrated example after example of creativity, courage, flexibility, and continued investment as your witness remains bright. You’d be amazed to know all that we are still doing together despite COVID-19. As much as my perspective and perception can be challenging, your light continues to shine through. We’ll share some of where that is happening in our worship this weekend.

Some of that courage and flexibility will be evident again this Sunday. While we are consciously eliminating or minimizing all indoor ministries and gatherings, we are still:

  • Gathering Faith Promise forms through a “drive by” drop-in in the parking lot

  • Distributing study Bibles to SS youth

  • Sharing Sunday School through Zoom at 10:00 a.m.

  • Distributing creative kits that our families can use at home to highlight the coming Advent and Christmas seasons in the Family Experience scheduled for Wednesday evening at 6:30. The Zoom link is: (all still outdoors from 8:30-12:00)

  • Inviting adults and youth to help us light outdoor trees for the Christmas season (10:30-12:00) and at other times by appointment

  • Working to communicate more regularly through our “Community Connection” ministry that your household may be invited to share; and

  • Last, but not least, hoping that many of you will participate in our Zoom “Finding Hope through the Holidays” event from 6:30-8:00 p.m. In a season that is so focused on joy, family, and children, many of us are struggling to share even one of those elements this year. You are not alone! Come share, learn, and listen, as we use the gift of our faith and our faith community to honor and express what is difficult to share in such a season. Don’t be shy – we really want you to take part. If you need assistance with Zoom or the needed technology in general, please let us know prior to the event and we will do our best to help you overcome the obstacles.

Our pre-recorded worship will still be available on-demand via the website on Sunday morning as well as a Facebook Live broadcast of the pre-recorded service at 9:00 a.m.

Pastor Tim

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North Liberty, IA