From Our Pastor – March 2017

From the Pastor

‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’
– Matthew 6:19 – 21

Dear Flock of the Shepherd of the Valley,

On Ash Wednesday (March 1st) we will join together with Union Congregational Church and Christian Union Congregation. We will share some simple food together and then worship together. This worship service invites us into the season of Lent – preparation for the Easter celebration of Christ’s resurrection! The passage above is the end of the gospel reading for that day. Prior to these words, which are a continuation of the Sermon on the Mount which have been the gospel readings for the past few Sundays, Jesus instructs those listening about acts of piety. Specifically, he talks about giving alms, prayer and fasting. He tells them how to do these things in ways that lead to rewards from God, our Father in heaven. Continue reading From Our Pastor – March 2017

From Our Pastor – February 2017

From the Pastor

“I understand that there are many Christians in America who give their ultimate allegiance to man-made systems and customs. They are afraid to be different. Their great concern is to be accepted socially…Your highest loyalty is to God, and not to the mores or the folkways, the state or the nation, or any man-made institution. If any earthly institution or custom conflicts with God’s will, it is your Christian duty to oppose it… You are called to be the salt of the earth. You are to be the light of the world. You are to be that vitally active leaven in the lump of the nation. – “Paul’s Letter to American Christians” by The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Flock of the Shepherd of the Valley,

I read the above words along with the entirety of this letter – a chapter from the book Strength to Love – to the confirmation class when we met on Monday, January 16. Dr. King wrote a letter in the style of Paul to the church in America. We are studying the New Testament this year while keeping the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in the forefront of their minds (we hope!). I thought it a fitting theme to connect Paul, Martin Luther and The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through the words they wrote while in prison or under house arrest for acting on their faith. Continue reading From Our Pastor – February 2017

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

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

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

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

From the Pastor – August 2016

Dear People who God gathers as Shepherd of the Valley,

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

My first month as your pastor has been a full and fulfilling one. It began a little early with 15 high schoolers and 3 other adults heading to Reading, PA for the Group Work Camp Mission Trip and ended with Egypt VBS, involving more than 50 people in soPastor Gaeta's 1st Sunday at SOVme important way. In between, Richard, Grace and I said goodbye to friends in Washington, DC and moved to our new (temporary) home in Westford, MA and were warmly welcomed by so many of you. Thank you for the overflowing gift baskets which have indeed been helping us settle in to the Nashoba Valley. Your gracious and thoughtful contributions to our transition are deeply appreciated! It’s been a great first month.
Continue reading From the Pastor – August 2016

From The Pastor – July 2016

Farewell

As Pastor Jerry Janiskomy time at Shepherd of the Valley wanes, I am reminded of an anonymous proverb which reads, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

I feel sad about leaving Shepherd of the Valley, but especially thankful and joyful that I was honored to serve as your Transitional Pastor for a year and a half. Continue reading From The Pastor – July 2016

From the Pastor – June 2016 – No Vocabulary of Faith

No Vocabulary of Faith

An article in USA Today reported that increasing numbers of children in the United States “have no vocabulary of faith, and neither do their parents.”

A mother in Austin, Texas, who grew up Methodist, said she’s “totally disengaged from the church and the Bible.” Sunday mornings for her family revolves around sleeping in, puttering, and kid’s sports.

Continue reading From the Pastor – June 2016 – No Vocabulary of Faith

From the Pastor – February 2016 – Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

From the Pastor – February 2016 - Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, arrives early this year and the Ash Wednesday worship service is like no other. Scripture readings entreat us to change our lives and turn back to God. The Ash Wednesday liturgy calls for remorse and repentance. Pastors place ashes on people’s foreheads and say “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Continue reading From the Pastor – February 2016 – Ash Wednesday