Dear Friends,

I’m not a real big “birthday celebration” girl. For my most recent birthday my, children and grandchildren gathered together on Zoom to connect and celebrate. It's funny how well the 18 of us have learned to take turns when speaking and appropriately know how and when to mute, especially when the dogs are barking!

Connecting with my children was all I wanted for my birthday. Then they did something extraordinary. My adult children and grandchildren gave me the greatest gift for a 2020 year. They gave me hope. It was a gift that was something new, life-giving, and would give joy today with the promise of tomorrows. They purchased a young tree in my honor to be planted in my beloved town of Marion. The City of Marion lost over 75% of their trees in the derecho but there is now one new tree planted for the generations to come.

In the everyday storms of life and especially in the big ones like a derecho, elections, protests, on-line school and work, illness, loneliness, separation, and I would say weariness, my children had grabbed on to a message of hope. They made clear their faith in the promise that our God is a creating God. Our God has been, is, and will be present in our lives. Planting a tree becomes our response to a 2020 world of chaos. It reminds us to hold on and hear this message that our God is not lost, quiet, or “sitting on the sidelines.” No, our God is in the thick of our lives creating and growing with us. We hear hope, faith, and love in the sounds of children, in the changing of the seasons, in the cards we receive from grandparents, on walks when we see the migration of birds, or squirrels planting acorns, all of life in preparation for what is ahead…life-everlasting.

We are encouraged to be ready as the Gospel of Matthew 25:1-13 reveals. We take notice, a new kind of notice of God’s presence in our past, present, and in our future. Our God who knows our hurt, disappointment, anger, and yes, our joy, is with us.

Our response? We actively join in worship that looks and feels new to us, but is faithful. God has seen worship continue to change over the centuries and generations. We study and pray via Zoom, Google, or gather outside at bonfires, safely masked and distancing from one another as an act of love for our neighbor. Together, we grow in our awareness and faith in a God-sized message of hope.

We give way and hang on to the invitation that, even as we experience chaos, fear, illness, and loss, we trust in the God of all creation to create and to reveal to us the endless gift of grace. We prepare our hearts to be open to possibilities, opportunities and yes, joy. We take up God’s call for our lives to be the light in the darkness!

I have some challenges for you to consider and be prayerful about in your decision-making. Ready? Life application time (also known as Get Back to the Basics) so we can take notice of God creating something new!

  1. Re-engage in a worshipful life. Our community, the communities across the nation, and beyond need all people of all ages to participate fully in communities of faith. We are to be people who are humble, act with mercy, and rejoice in the gift of grace.

  2. Envision the upcoming holidays on what you could do this year because you have permission to do something totally NEW!  In our household, we’re talking about the realities we won’t be able to travel. We may not be able to gather together; we won’t need to have such a huge spread of food. What if we take all of that money we would have spent and donate it to the food pantry? Think about it…a 2020 memory that will stand out!

Trusting in the abundance of God's grace, what will be our response to a one of a kind 2020 year?


Pastor Katie

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I’m writing on a day when the number of new Covid-19 cases in the Corridor are higher than any single day except Aug. 24th, when the number of TV ads, texts, and phone calls related to the coming election seem never-ending, and when it’s not exactly hard to feel anxious!

It seems to me that people of faith need to take both their civic responsibility and their role in keeping their neighbor safe seriously. We are not a private church, but a public one. As such, it’s imperative that each of us make a conscious effort to use our voice and vote to help determine the values and direction of our country and world as a whole. In Luther’s explanation of the commandments not to kill, steal, or bear false witness, he emphasized the need to refrain from such temptations and the need to help our neighbor keep or protect their lives, basic life needs, and reputations. While issues are often complex, those mandates seem to be quite clear, no matter where you find yourself on the social or political spectrum. In other words, Vote if you haven’t already!

As we strive to make an engaging indoor livestream worship experience a reality at Holy Trinity and to help nearly 30 young people grow in their faith through our ministry of confirmation, I find myself with a whole new respect for hospital staff as they face swelling hospitalizations and for teachers as they attempt to share and encourage thinking in these days of pandemic. I am grateful for and concerned for health care workers who, in many cases, have been striving to stay ahead of the curve, even while facing short-term furloughs and financial pressures. If I get tired and impatient about wearing a mask, I can only imagine how they feel about doing so – long before and after a pandemic.

I see and hear amazing stories of teachers working hard over the summer to make virtual learning meaningful and effective. I see them scrambling to learn far more new tools, learning platforms, and portals than I’ve had to learn. I am humbled by an awareness of how many have had to change gears completely as COVID numbers and classroom populations evolve. Many find themselves required to serve not just in their own classrooms, but in several classrooms. Many are doing so with significant risks to their own families and key relationships.

We continue our focus on “Abundance” and cautiously hope to launch our first indoor live-streamed worship service this Sunday at 9:00 a.m. The service will include less than a dozen staff, musicians, and tech volunteers on site, We will practice distancing and utilizing masks and extra ventilation to keep the environment as safe as possible. We’ve been able to overcome a host of technical obstacles in preparation for this event, but are still “getting our land legs” when it comes to practicing tech team communication and roles. Bear with us as we encounter lessons along the way; we’ll use each experience to improve the livestream in coming weeks. Volunteers for some roles are still needed. Shoot me a note if you’d like to serve as a video or audio assistant!

Our pre-recorded worship will still be available on-demand via the website on Sunday morning.

Hope that you can be present with us this weekend in whatever way you can!

Pastor Tim

Sisters and brothers in Christ,

This weekend, we kick off our fall stewardship emphasis with Pastor Dirk Stadtlander bringing us the Good News of Jesus Christ. Pastor Dirk is the pastor for the synod ministry at the Anamosa State Prison. If you listen to our Gospel from John 8:31-36 (the appointed reading for Reformation Sunday), you will hear the words “If the Son has set you free, you will be free indeed.” Those last words are the name of the prison ministry our congregation helps support: FreeIndeed.

As we look at Reformation Sunday, it is wholly right and proper that we look to prison ministry as a metaphor for our own lives. We confess in one of our confessions that we are “captive to sin and cannot free ourselves.” The men at Anamosa State Prison ( and other men and women incarcerated at prisons scattered throughout Iowa are captive to sins as well as the state and cannot free themselves. We, like the inmates, are trying to reform our lives that we may walk in God’s kingdom and walk rightly with our brothers and sisters in society.

Thanks be to God that Jesus came to set us free from the bonds of death. Thanks be to God that our Church and congregations in other denominations believe in the importance of bringing God’s healing grace to those in prison. As Isaiah said, “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness … to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” (Isaiah 42:6-7). Pastor Dirk helps us do just that by proclaiming the Good News of reformation in what would be a dark place spiritually for many.

As you contemplate how God is reforming your lives into faithful service in his creation, pray that God will continue to stir the hearts and minds of men and women incarcerated and imprisoned as they reform their lives to rejoin us in society.

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North Liberty, IA