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From the Pastor – January 2017

“When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. – Matthew 2:16

Dear Flock of the Shepherd of the Valley,

Perhaps it’s because I’m the daughter of two pastors, but probably more likely because I can just be a stickler for certain details that I decide are important, it drives me nuts when our society ends Christmas on December 26. I’m not shy about reminding (or teaching) people that December 25 is the FIRST of the twelve day of Christmas. The season of Christmas leads us to the feast of the Epiphany, when we celebrate the three wise men arriving to pay Jesus homage. And, if you even dare try to put the wise men at the manger a day before January 6, you will see me up and move them across the room so they have someplace to travel. Continue reading From the Pastor – January 2017

A Slice of Infinity – What Child Is This?

The spirit of Christmas often lends itself to the cry of loneliness. During this season more than any other, thoughts long hidden cease to remain veiled. Yearning for a place to rest our heads from lurking notions of restlessness or isolation, intuitively, many of us sense that we are not quite at home. Christians often speak of this truth expectantly. We are waiting, waiting for all of creation to be made new, even as we catch glimpses now: “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”(1) But on honest nights, we might confess that the waiting is wearying, the silence at times daunting. We are homesick, like children lost in a crowd, not quite at home nor capable of getting there. Continue reading A Slice of Infinity – What Child Is This?

From the Pastor – December 2016

“My soul  proclaims your greatness, O God, and my spirit rejoices in you; you have looked with love on your servant here, and blessed me all my life through. Great and mighty are you, O Holy One, strong is your kindness evermore. How you favor the weak and lowly one, humbling the proud of heart.”

– Luke 1:46-50 as translated by Marty Haugen for Holden Evening Prayer

Dear Flock of the Shepherd of the Valley,

The words above come from Mary in response to Elizabeth’s greeting declaring that she knew that the child Mary would birth would be the son of her Lord. Earlier Mary had received and eventually accepted an astonishing message from the angel Gabriel. He declared her to be favored by God and therefore was chosen to bear Jesus, the son of God. Now Mary visits her elder relative Elizabeth, who is also miraculously with child because of God’s action. Upon Mary’s arrival, Elizabeth already knows that God has blessed her and made her the mother of Jesus. There’s no getting around what God is doing in Mary and Elizabeth’s lives. Continue reading From the Pastor – December 2016

A Slice of Infinity – From Whom?

The four lines of what is commonly known as the Doxology have been sung for more than three hundred years:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

It has been said that the Doxology, which literally means words or saying of glory, has done more to teach the doctrine of the Trinity than all the theological books ever written. To this day, when I sing those powerful lines, I recall the colorful lesson of my first grade Sunday school teacher. With something like cookie dough and bologna magically falling down on the table before us, she read us the story of a God who made the heavens rain bread and quail so that God’s grumbling people might live and know that God is God. I was impressed. And when we sang the Doxology at the end of the service, I thought it immensely helpful that I knew a little more of what it means when we sing that God is a God from whom all blessings flow. Continue reading A Slice of Infinity – From Whom?

Follow the Christmas Star!

A FREE Christmas Event for Children and Their Families
from Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, December 4th 2016

Looking for a great way to start the Christmas/Advent season with your kids? On Sunday afternoon, December 4th, children dressed as sheep will join their parents (dressed as shepherds) and flock to “Bethlehem” to witness the birth of Jesus, as they participate in a dramatic re-telling of the Christmas story, acted and narrated by Shepherd of the Valley adults and youth. The children will also enjoy singing Christmas carols, making star-shaped Christmas ornaments, and munching star-themed goodies. Continue reading Follow the Christmas Star!

From the Pastor – November 2016

“For in Christ Jesus… the only thing that counts is faith working through love.” – Galatians 5:6Luther Rose

Dear Flock of the Shepherd of the Valley,

Although I’m a Lutheran pastor, I must confess that I have not read all that much of Martin Luther’s writings. With the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation, whose beginning is marked by the nailing of the 95 Theses on the doors of the church at Wittenberg on October 31, 1517, there’s been a flurry of activity around learning more than usual about these and following events. Even at SOV we are planning to kick off the year leading up to the anniversary by watching a movie together after worship on October 30 depicting the life of Martin Luther. There are also plans in development to mark this occasion by learning and worshipping with our Roman Catholic neighbors and friends. Continue reading From the Pastor – November 2016

A Slice of Infinity – Images of Things

I was on hold the other day trying to schedule an appointment for a haircut. As I waited for the receptionist, I half-listened to the obligatory recordings. The announcer asked me to consider scheduling a make-over with my upcoming appointment and to make sure I leave with the products that will keep up my new look. (Apparently, when you have a captive audience of customers “muzak” is hardly strategic.) But then I was caught off guard by a question: “What do the local communities of Chad, Africa, mean to you?” The answer he offered was as immediate as my inability to think of one: “Chad is a leading producer of organic acacia gum, the vital ingredient in a new line of products exclusively produced for and available at our salon.” Continue reading A Slice of Infinity – Images of Things

From the Pastor – September 2016

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” – Jeremiah 29:11

Dear Flock of the Shepherd of the Valley,

If you made it to the end of my letter from August that was on the SOV website and Facebook page, you may recognize the above passage from Jeremiah. If you were part of VBS at the end of July, you may remember this being a daily verse and have the tune of the accompanying song stuck in your head as well. If you were part of the SOV Capital Campaign five years ago, you may recall that the last page of the beautiful booklet of Our Journey in Faith contained these prophetic words as well. If none of these apply to you, may you still find encouragement and meaning in them. Continue reading From the Pastor – September 2016