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  • Implications in 5000+ Lives

    I love a "feel good" story. You know the kind -- someone does something for someone else not expecting anything in return and all sorts of blessings come into 2 lives. It's probably one of my favorite clickbaits on Facebook. Sunday's Gospel is such a clickbait story. Jesus took what he had available to him (5 loaves and 2 fish) and made a banquet of overflowing proportions of it for over 5,000 people. How do we put 5,000 in perspective? Kinnick? No, that's over 70,000. Carver Hawkeye? Around 15,000. Xtream Arena? Yes, about that size. We see how big that is and the amplification that is necessary to speak to a group there. Now imagine Jesus preaching to a crowd in a space like that or more likely over a larger area since I doubt they were packed in like sardines as we do for sporting events. We get the impression that the people were hanging on every word. They followed him; they let time pass and their stomachs growl away to hear this speaker in the wilderness. The realists (disciples) panicked and urged him to send them away. Jesus had a cheeky answer (as far as I'm concerned), "You feed them." Something is afoot when Jesus challenges you. You know the rest of the story. Jesus still speaks to us. He told our bishop, "Feed my lambs." So Amy Current and Lorna Halaas (Western Iowa Synod) and Kevin Jones (Northeastern Iowa Synod) put their heads together and raised money for hunger programs across the state with the Bishops' Ride for Hunger during RAGBRAI. Holy Trinity Visioning Council gave $100 and members of the congregation have given another $190 through the congregation toward the Bishop Ride. No final numbers have been announced yet, but we can expect the Holy Spirit has been working across the state. To preach in the wilderness, I would imagine you need a stentorian voice. But remember that God spoke to Elijah in a still, small voice. How is God speaking to you? As the hymn says, "Listen God is calling, through the Word inviting, offering forgiveness, comfort, and joy." And like Samuel, may you be able to respond, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." Click. Another great story to read!

  • Go Red for Pentecost

    Go Red for Pentecost? Who came up with that title for the e-news??? The liturgical color for Pentecost Day is red. Some churches encourage members to wear red on the Sunday of Pentecost. The paraments will be red on the altar. The pastor wears a red stole. Why red? Red is one of the colors of fire. Red is one of the colors of life (as in blood). Red is used as the color of the Holy Spirit in the church. It is used to signify call, even the call to live out our Christian lives in community. I recently wore a black and yellow smiley face tie to worship. My friend Phyllis asked, "How many obnoxious ties do you have?" I responded, "Not enough." But I do have a Pentecost tie in reds with tongues of flames on it. My wife, always a purveyor of good taste, allows me to wear it on Pentecost and on Pentecost only because it is one of my favorite "obnoxious" ties. But it does reflect the Spirit of God burning in my heart. As we approach Pentecost, how are you fanning the Spirit's flames in your lives? Are you "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord!"? Or are you "they hid for fear of the Jews?" The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and emboldened them to spread the Good News. In baptism, the Holy Spirit came to us to embolden us to live in God's ways and to declare his glory among the nations. Go Red for Pentecost? I should say!!!

  • R.E.A.L. Faith is a Real World: The Example of Abraham and Sarah

    Greetings, fellow disciples. As you are likely aware, we are in the process of bidding godspeed to a valued colleague in ministry. We celebrate all of the energy, vitality, and vulnerability that Pastor Katie has shared with us over the past six years. I’ve truly appreciated her willingness to help us consider new alternatives, advocate for social justice, and engage the young people of our congregation with ministries to which they are can easily relate. We’ve been blessed by both her comfort and her challenging. Let’s give thanks for them as we wish her well in her new ministry! We will surely miss her presence! The Visioning Council is planning a special farewell potluck and celebration for Pastor Katie after worship on Sunday, August 14th. Gilled burgers and hot dogs will be provided; members are encouraged to bring a dish to pass. We’ll begin preparing for this event starting this Sunday; so come ready to contribute to a special hand-crafted creation that we can share with her on the 14th! Meanwhile, the Council is looking to fall and the launch of a new program year. We are in real need of timely input into what we are all willing to invest. Hard copy surveys were recently mailed to all parents of Sunday School age children, “Club 56” (grades 5-6) youth, confirmation age youth, and high schoolers. Your feedback is sought by NEXT MONDAY (Aug. 8) if at all possible. Either complete and mail yours back when it arrives, complete a copy at church this weekend, or use this link. It is on our website on the children's ministry page, the youth ministry page, and on the Resource page. It should be very easy for anyone to complete this survey. It’s really critical that we hear back from all families involved as we can make the best decisions possible! Thanks in advance! As for worship this weekend, we’re going to focus on the timely topic of being able and willing to step out in faith once again, following the examples of Abraham and Sarah, and so, so many of our ancestors in God’s family! The Letter to the Hebrews highlights their examples. We’ll use it as our “launchpad” for our joint exploration. Join us at 9:00 a.m.! Remember to pray for both Richard and Pastor Katie, who will be each heading to Columbus next week to participate in our triennial churchwide assembly. We have been praying for the Assembly each week in the Pop-up Prayers using petitions prepared by the ELCA for that purpose. Safe journeys to all involved! Your brother in Christ, Pastor Tim

  • R.E.A.L. Faith in a Real World: Liberating Love

    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! Peace, Pastor Katie

  • R.E.A.L. Faith in a Real World: The Lord's Prayer

    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

  • R.E.A.L. Faith in a Real World: Mission Trip Edition

    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!

  • R.E.A.L. Faith in a Real World: VBS/Day Camp Edition

    The hustle and bustle of preparing for Vacation Bible School and Day Camp is full of the "A" in our real faith. "A" is Abundant Acts of love and service. From a pre-schooler to a few grandmothers, people have been streaming in and out of the doors getting ready for this highlight in youth ministries. And if that wasn't enough, the following week brings another highlight in youth ministry as we send a mission team to Maumee, OH. This is part of the ebb and flow of congregational ministry that our lives together make possible. Our acts of abundant love can be small (the pre-schooler kept out of his mother's way!) and one of the grandmothers was delivering food for next week while another grandmother was helping put up decorations with a soon-to-be-high school student. They can be big (like the doctors in our congregation working to heal broken bodies and beat cancer). No matter how big or small the act of abounding love, God is with us, in the midst of our service, and even giving us the holy nudge to act. The Scripture for Sunday is the story of the Good Samaritan. Pastor Katie will help us understand this parable from several perspectives. You will be invited to join in the worship service and speak, with the lector, the words of the lawyer. Do you identify with any of the characters? Perhaps you are the person barely hanging on to life. Maybe you are the Levite or the priest. Are you a Samaritan, despised by society, yet willing to live with the heart of gold? Maybe you are Jesus being the prophet and urging others on to a God-centered life. Maybe you are the crowd hearing this from Jesus and trying to make sense of it all. Wherever you are in life, there is a place for you in this story. Be in the story and grow your faith, your R.E.A.L. faith.

  • R.E.A.L. Faith in a Real World: Seventy and Naaman

    Sunday's lessons are about the fierce warrior Naaman (2 Kings 5) and the sending of the seventy (Luke 11). Both stories about about people do great things. But both stories are also about people doing simple things. For Naaman, it is the simple act of washing in the full faith the God can perform the miracle he so desperately seeks. Afterall, Naaman could do mighty acts, but he found it hard to do the simple act. Sometimes God doesn't need us to go out and save the whole world. Sometimes God needs us to go do the simple tasks he sets before us and allow those simple acts change lives. For the seventy, they were simply sent. Some of them accomplished great deeds. Some of them simply set a household at peace. I'm getting to know a little bit about peace as this is the word my wife chose for her Epiphany word and it is her contemplation word all this year. Peace is elusive. Yet this simple gift when I receive it does so much to focus me back on WWJD (What would Jesus do). Pastor Tim will help us in connecting some of the space between Naaman and the Seventy on Sunday or next Wednesday. We can be the great warriors who are simply sent to accomplish simple tasks like peace or reassuring one another of the love of God for each of us, the precious children.

  • R.E.A.L. Faith in a Real World: Galatians

    Dear Friends What would you do if someone said, “Today belongs to you! You are free to do whatever you want to do today!” In our passage this weekend, we are going to dig deeper into the passage from Galatians 5:1, 13-25. Even with a quick glance, you will see there seems to be a list of dos and don’ts! These are not conditions, but a list of ways to celebrate living in the freedom with Christ. There are specifics as to the defeating ways to live life as if we are completely without the grace of God through Jesus Christ and with the passion of the Holy Spirit. God desires to be connected to you, to your story in your everyday and in your forever. Our God is in the midst of our day, engaging, us and is present in joys and our sorrows. When you and I feel connected to God we are more likely to share the Good News of God in our own lives, the joys and the sorrows. We are in the midst of conversations about R.E.A.L. faith in a real world. R.E.A.L.: Relate, engage, act, and love. We are putting words around the verbs to explore and define who we are to God and how God longs for us to be with one another. This week whether you join in on Sunday morning, online, or on Wednesday evening together, we will explore what it means for engaged people to engage people! You are invited, you are welcome, you are known by God who wants and will always engage in a relationship with you now and always. This Good News sets us free and compels us to invite, to welcome, and to engage with one another! Please see the latest Sign up Genius list for Vacation Bible School and Day Camp 2022. The Youth Mission Trip list will be up soon but you can get a jump start on that list as well as they need snacks, paint brushes, paint rollers, paint plastic tarps, and your prayers! Blessings to you all, Pastor Katie

  • R.E.A.L. Faith in a Real World: What Defines You

    Greetings from the blessedly cool offices of Holy Trinity! In recent days, with temperatures hovering near 100 degrees, it’s been hard for our geothermal system to keep pace, given it was operating at half capacity (see past e-news). Thankfully, we were able to install a new heat pump and air coils on Monday, which restored and even improved the system. It cost a staggering $23,000 to install, but it was a necessary repair/replacement to make our facility habitable. Stay tuned for information next month on what you might do to help us offset this unanticipated expense. I’d like to offer a huge word of thanks for all those who made an effort to advocate for greater gun safety over the past two weeks. Thankfully, your voices appear to have been heard as our legislators work to break the ice on establishing sensible boundaries and limits. As Lisa and I participated in Saturday’s “March for our Lives” in Cedar Rapids, we again heard stories from those who had been victimized by this epidemic of gun violence. I am thankful for movement, no matter how seemingly small. In worship this Sunday and Wednesday, we are going to continue our “R.E.A.L.” series by digging into a rather bizarre story found in three different gospels (see Luke 8:26-39). At first glance, it might appear to be describing a scene that is light years away from our own lives, I believe that it still resonates. How so? Well, it seems that the “demon-possessed” man in the Gospels had quite literally been defined by his affliction. His entire identity had been subsumed by that which bound him. And how many of us have been defined by our failures or limits? Don’t we often tend to identify ourselves in terms of our deficiencies and our disappointments? Perhaps not always, of course, but often enough to rob us of the abundant life God hopes that we experience and share. Truth be told, there are so many voices and cultural forces trying to discourage us that we might still call them Legion – for they are loud and plentiful indeed! Yet against all of them stands the still, small, but oh, so mighty voice of the one who still crosses oceans and boundaries to tell us of God’s love and call us back to grace-filled awareness and our forever identity as God’s beloved. Join us in worship this week as we recall how! And while you’re at it, register for Vacation Bible School or join us on Wednesday for worship and ice cream, starting at 6:30pm. Let’s celebrate summer TOGETHER! Peace, Pastor Tim

  • R.E.A.L. Faith in a Real World: Holy Trinity Sunday

    Dear Friends, The days of spring 2022 have brought news of joy and sorrow, triumphs, and great heartbreak. How are you doing? In your household, your neighborhood, or maybe the place you work, how is everyone doing? What are they doing? And is whatever we are all doing, does it bring forth *hope?* This week we lean into several scriptures that will not only nudge us to think and act – but to experience *hope *in the Triune God — creator, savior, and spirit – three in one! It is our celebration of the Holy Trinity, the namesake of our congregation. *“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)* Throughout this summer we will dig deeper into a collective understanding of what it means to say that here at Holy Trinity – we are the R.E.A.L. church in a real world. We need your input in the attached survey to help with feedback, direction, and inspiration! Please take the 5-10 minutes right now and complete the questions in the survey . See you in worship and fellowship on Sundays or Wednesdays. Blessings to you always, Pastor Katie

  • Let the Church Arise: Pentecost

    It’s hard to believe, but June and summer are suddenly already upon us! I’ve enjoyed the new seasonal worship services at 9:00 a.m. Sunday, and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and certainly encourage you to do the same! In fact, next Wednesday (6/8), we will celebrate “Red Carpet Night” and formally offer thanks to all of the worship assistants who have helped to make Sundays and Wednesdays possible this year! Come join in offering them our gift of gratitude with worship at 6:30 and an ice cream social following. This week, we will be highlighting “Pentecost Sunday,” that often mysterious occasion when the newborn church was given the empowering gift of the Holy Spirit. While some years it might seem hard to appreciate this highlight of the liturgical year, that doesn’t appear to be the case this year. There is plenty of power both to claim and to exercise humbly on behalf of those whose voices have been silenced. Even before I had a chance to remove our chair display in the front yard (created in memory of the 21 children and adults who were killed in Uvalde last week), we arose today to news of yet another mass shooting. Over Memorial Day, there 14 more mass shootings. There have been 27 school shootings and 229 mass shootings (four or more victims) in the US since January 1, 2022. Yet because of our differences over guns, we find ourselves paralyzed by gridlock and nothing seems to change. One of the words in Scripture used to define the Holy Spirit is “advocate,” which I understand to be one who give support to the marginalized and voice to the voiceless; an advocate is one who is at our side in times of trial. This certainly seems to be one of those times. If you have not done so already, I encourage you to claim the power of the Spirit within you and, within the presence of the community as a whole, to be voices of advocacy. In other words, I ask you to sit down today and write your state and federal legislators to act on the issue of gun violence. I won’t speak for you or tell you what to say, but I will share what I am saying. It is a letter that I wrote based on a letter that another pastor shared with me. You are welcome to borrow or edit anything you feel expresses your own impatience with change on this chronic and tragic issue of public safety. Meanwhile, if you have children within your own home who are asking questions about these issues, I would refer you to the information sent out by the Grant Wood AEA to parents last week; it contains some helpful guidelines regarding when, what, and how to share conversations on these issues with children when appropriate. This resource from the National Association of School Psychologists is available. In addition, Grant Wood AEA has resources on the Critical Incident Stress Management Page under Handouts, Parents, and Additional Resources. I believe that the power of the Holy Spirit is given to us for just such purposes. In the wake of the horrific month behind us, we can choose to throw up our hands and change nothing. Or we can hold our legislators accountable and ask that they work together both to address the complex root causes of such senseless violence and to develop better strategies to minimize frequency of all gun violence. I hope that you will join me in claiming the power of the Spirit today. Pastor Tim

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