The word advent is not one we use in our daily conversations, but it means a beginning or arrival of an important event or person. The advent of the internet, for instance. At church, we set aside the four weeks before Christmas to get ready for our celebration of Jesus’ birth. Unlike the getting ready we are spending most of our time doing this season, rushing, socializing, consuming, and buying; at church we work to open our hearts and create space for Jesus. This year we have midweek worship to help create space, should you choose to take part, but you can also set aside a few minutes at the beginning or end of a day to take a few deep breaths, step outside and look at the moon and stars, or stop moving for just a minute and notice what is happening around you. Blessings to your preparations! – Pastor Trudy Stoffel
(Questions compiled from Middle school sermon notes)
Deep down I like to believe that we all want to be better-that we want the world to be better. Prophets can point the way to a better world- that attracts people to their message. The problem is they usually challenge us to change in order to bring the world in line with God’s call. Change is hard! It seems that people hear, but don’t really LISTEN to prophets. We’ll have a few more chances this year to hear from the prophets…will we listen to their call for us? – Pastor Trudy Stoffel
(Question from a 7th grade student.) It’s clear that sometimes the people think they ARE worshipping God. I think of the Pharisees challenging Jesus- they believe they are being faithful to God. Other times, people just forget about God because they don’t have an immediate need- it is easy to get distracted by all the noise around us. Finally, following God is hard work. It takes intention and coming outside of our comfort zone in order to join God’s work. Jesus made this clear when He called the disciples out of their boats and throughout His ministry to see and care for those in need.
Okay, so it was actually me asking this question because sometimes the words in the confession or prayers challenge me or make me feel defensive. At GLC we purchase resources from a couple of different places where pastors and writers lend their talents to write resources often a year or more in advance for each season/week. We could change them or write our own, just as I could pick only my favorite Bible passages or hymns…but then I would miss a chance to hear something I may desperately need to hear, to be challenged in a way I need to be challenged to grow, or if I am convinced that it is not for me, then I can trust that there is someone else in the congregation that needs to hear it. These words may help to prepare me for Jesus’ often challenging words. – Pastor Trudy Stoffel
“In the four hundred eightieth year after the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the Lord.” (1 Kings 6:1)
Solomon, King David’s son and successor, built the temple! Although he probably didn’t actually build it with his own hands — “King Solomon conscripted forced labor out of all Israel; the levy numbered thirty thousand men.” (1 Kings 5:13)
Forced labor isn’t good, especially when treatment of laborers is poor. And it sounds like it was poor, because the people ask Solomon’s son Rehoboam for kinder treatment when he becomes king after his father. – Vicar Aaron Musser
The Lutheran church has two sacraments; baptism and Holy Communion. Confirmation is a time when we look back to baptism, when, in most cases, parents and sponsors made promises on behalf of an infant being baptized. Confirmation is an affirmation of baptism. It means that the 9th graders and adults who are being confirmed are affirming the promises of their baptism after a time of intentional learning about faith. For youth it is 2-3 years; for adults 16 weeks. That intentional work is worth celebrating! It isn’t a ‘once and done’ kind of thing, though. In fact, as I grow in faith, I feel the need to do as Martin Luther suggested and remember and affirm the promises of my baptism daily! – Pastor Trudy Stoffel
I think of all of the famous people or great inventors whom people call ‘overnight successes’, not acknowledging the years of work and struggle. Bible stories often cover decades in just a few verses…there’s a lot we don’t see. What if we imagine our lives in the stories…lots of ordinary days, sometimes good, sometimes challenging. When we look back, we might notice a pattern or a turning point. People in the Bible had ordinary lives. Only when they (and we) look at them from the future can we see the patterns of God’s faithfulness, often in surprising ways. – Pastor Trudy Stoffel
So far this fall we’ve encountered stories in Genesis and Exodus. The names of those books allude to their contents — Genesis is about origins and beginnings, Exodus is about the “exit” of the Israelites from slavery.
Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Bible, following Leviticus and Numbers. It collects laws scattered through the earlier books and serves as Moses’s final address to the Israelite people. The name Deuteronomy literally means “second law”, and can be read as a second telling of the laws scattered throughout Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. – Vicar Aaron Musser