From Our Pastor – May 2017

“Be still, and know that I am God” – Psalm 46:10

Dear Flock of the Shepherd of the Valley,

In the office area of my house, to the left of my desk, I have a professionally framed callig-raphy piece with this verse from Psalm 46. This is the psalm upon which Martin Luther’s most famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress is our God” is based. The imagery in the whole psalm is quite tumultuous, including earth-shattering events and warring nations. God is described as a refuge and strength and as exalted. All of these characteristics are a re-sponse to trouble all around. The response of the psalmist Is not to fear. The role of God is to be present. Our role in the midst of turmoil is to be still and to know that God is God. Continue reading From Our Pastor – May 2017

From Our Pastor – April 2017

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” – Luke 24:1-5

Dear Flock of the Shepherd of the Valley,

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” This question has been rattling around in my head since I began thinking about what to write for this April news-letter. It’s not from the version of the resurrection story that we will hear this Easter but it is nagging at me nonetheless. I’m writing this on the second day of spring. During this time, it’s easy to start seeing signs of life in the tips of bulbs pushing through the ground and even snow, buds emerging on tree branches and the varied songs of birds. We can look for the living among the dead. Continue reading From Our Pastor – April 2017

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

A Slice of Infinity – Our Finest Hour?

Winston Churchill was responsible for some of the most striking and memorable speeches ever delivered. The strong rhetoric he often deployed during the Second World War was of course partly out of necessity, as the country desperately needed inspiration, at a time when the conflict was very much in the balance. One of the most famous messages he ever gave was in 1940, as he sought to prepare the British citizens for the looming Battle of Britain. During it, he stressed that the very future of Christian civilization was at stake and that the country needed to be ready to face the ‘fury and might’ of an enemy that wanted to sink the world into the ‘abyss of a new dark age.’ Whether or not they would succeed was uncertain, but he reiterated that if they succeeded it would be judged by history as ‘their finest hour.’ Continue reading A Slice of Infinity – Our Finest Hour?