Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by Brad Peterson

Lent is upon us on Wednesday and many people have traditions during Lent.  Some people give up stuff, some take up stuff.  I’ve always been a taking something up person as I tend to not feel closer to God NOT doing something.  This year my goal is to work out for 30 minutes every day during Lent and to, per my personal tradition, read Martin Luther’s “Freedom of a Christian.”  I also really enjoy all the meals we have at Trinity during Lent for it is a great way to be strengthened in faith through conversations with each other.

Lent is a chance to reflect and deepen our faith.  It can happen through worship, prayer, giving generously, repentance, and a lot more.  This journey is a personal one and I believe that there is no right or wrong way to approach.  Many love our Holden Evening Prayer service, to be a part of a different worship experience and witness the talent of our young people who lead it.  Coming to that service is enough.  Some give up things like chocolate, alcohol, red meat, or pork or a hundred other things.  Some take up things, like extra prayer, new Bible readings, or a thousand other things (like watch all the Star Wars movies!).  Whatever it is, it should be something that fulfills you and affects your faith in a positive way.

I’m going to work out every day because I know that part of my stewardship is stewardship of my body, which is something I’m not good at maintaining. I’m hoping that by doing this not only will I feel better physically, but emotionally as well and that I have a more positive attitude towards myself.

May the Lord be with you on this journey of Lent.  I hope to see you in worship on Sunday or Wednesday and to hear about what you are doing to strengthen and deepen your faith.  May God bless you this week and always!

Out of the Depths

Posted on: April 11th, 2017 by Brad Peterson

  1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. 2 Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications! 3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. 5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6 my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning. 7 O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. 8 It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.  Psalm 130

In preparation for the start of the 2017 Major League Baseball Season, I have been re-watching every game of last year’s World Series (thank you Kevin, Wendy, Hayley, and Megan Bird for the gift of the DVD’s).  It has been fun to re-watch the games, especially with some time that has passed.  But I also remember how stressed I was and how, after the Cubs got down 3-1 in the Series how just awful I felt.  I remember thinking it was over and that there was no hope left.  Re-watching it, some of that despair came back even though I knew the outcome!

I can admit that I can be a fatalist.  In other words, there are times when, especially when dealing with myself, when I think things just stink and I’m worthless.  I rarely like a sermon, I also dwell on the bad shots in a round of golf than the good ones, I always think that any presentation I give in front of others isn’t very good.  And I rarely believe my teams are going to win at anything in sports.  I even prepare myself for Star Wars movies to be terrible just in case!

Basically, I see my faults and rarely my gifts.  I see my mistakes time and time again, especially when it comes to trying to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Despite my enthusiasm and positivity, it is mostly directed outwards, towards others.  When I look at myself, it is often with an overly harsh lens.

But that is why the salvation we have received in Christ is so important.  In the Psalm above, we hear that in God’s word is hope, and that in God there is steadfast love and redemption.  We call this “Good News.”  I need that word like a flower needs sunshine to grow.  The power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of the fact that Christ has saved and redeemed me through his work on the cross and not through my own actions is the oxygen I need to breathe.  Every day.  Without it, I’m residing in the depths of despair and hopelessness.  With it, I’m renewed, restored, and filled with hope.

This is what the word of God brings to all of us: hope.  We are not worthless.  We are not just sinners who screw up.  We are worthy of love, of grace, of salvation.  We are not losers but winners.  Winners because of what Christ has done.  Winners because God has loved and redeemed us.

There are times when we will despair, where we will be in the depths, when we will wonder if Jesus Christ truly loves us.  But we also already know the outcome.  We know it because Jesus Christ rose from that tomb, we know it because the Word of God says that we are saved by grace through faith and not by works.  We know it because the Word of God says that nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  We know it because the Word of God tells us that with the Lord, there is steadfast love.  For that we can say, “Thanks be to God!”  Amen

Tide To Go

Posted on: March 12th, 2017 by Brad Peterson

I have an amazing talent.  It is something you might not know about and it was in full display during my quick trip with Amy to Walt Disney World this past weekend.  My talent is this: I am GREAT at spilling on myself.  It is talent, a gift if you will.  I spilled on myself and stained my shirt every single day we were there.  Every single day.  On our last day, I even did it three seconds into our breakfast.  I know, you are amazed.  You should be.

But here is the thing: there is this great product called “Tide to Go.”  This little magic wand ERASES the stain for me.  My attempt to destroy a shirt, most especially a new shirt, is thwarted because of “Tide to Go.”  It makes my mistakes disappear and allows me to continue to wear the shirt until I spill on it again and then I can use the “Tide to Go” again!  Despite my messiness, I can continue to use that shirt despite my messiness.

It makes me think of Jesus’ forgiveness of our sin.  We sin and mess up, spilling all over ourselves, and Jesus, through his death and resurrection on the cross, erases that sin like a “Tide to Go” pen.  It is gone.  It is like it never existed.  The forgiveness of Jesus Christ allows us to move forward, to live boldly knowing that though we dirty ourselves with sin, we are made new through the work of Jesus Christ.  Our sins are erased, replaced with the grace and righteousness of Jesus, our Messiah and Savior. Even better, no matter where we go, Jesus goes with us.  We don’t have to remember to pack him, like I do with “Tide to Go.”  Christ is with us always, forgiving and loving us.  For that we can say, “Thanks be to God!”

Kindness and Generosity

Posted on: November 2nd, 2016 by Brad Peterson

Earlier in this “Trinity Tidings” you saw a thank you to Bill & Eloise Knutson for giving candy to be used for the children’s sermon. Bill & Eloise donate candy a few times a year and it is always appreciated. But this time, when they brought it into the office, Eloise had a story to tell me.

When they got the candy, there picked it up at Aldi’s. As they were in line, there was a woman in line with them. They were making small talk and the woman asked Eloise if the candy was for Halloween, as she had some candy in her cart. Eloise explained that it was for the church and the children’s sermon. She told the woman how, at the end of the children’s sermon, I give two pieces of candy to the kids, one for them to have and one to share with someone else (my way of trying to teach them giving and stewardship).

As Bill and Eloise got their stuff ready to go, the woman took her own candy bag and opened it, giving half of it to Bill and Eloise, telling them to give it to the church for the children’s sermon. Bill and Eloise didn’t know this person at all. They had no connection to Trinity whatsoever. But here, in Aldi’s, was kindness at work.

This story is a great reminder that there is kindness and generosity in the world and when we share what God is doing in our lives, it can move people in a positive manner. Bill and Eloise were just sharing a small moment in the life of our church. The response to that sharing was generosity.

It is the small moments of life, small times of generosity and kindness, that reminds us that the Holy Spirit is at work in the world. They show us that love is at work, that people are moved by the work of Jesus Christ in our midst, and that sharing a bit of your faith with a stranger can make a difference. I know that Eloise was very moved by that act of kindness and I have been moved not only by her telling it, but her reaction to it.

May we model the same kindness and generosity that was being done in that checkout lane at Aldi’s. And may we give thanks for the generous blessings that we receive from our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.


Posted on: October 9th, 2016 by Brad Peterson

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jew or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13


Sometimes for my personal devotion I just won’t read the one I get in my email every day. Sometimes I just open the Bible to see what shows up and this morning I randomly opened up my Bible and read this passage, this vision of what it means to be the church.

This metaphor of the church as a body with many members has great appeal because so often we might feel that our part in the body is insignificant or unimportant. But in the body of Christ, we all have an important role and our gifts and talents are needed. It kind of reminds me when I graduated Seminary, me and many of my closest friends went back for a learning event that is kind of like the Seminary’s version of Homecoming. We met with our favorite professor who so encouraged us during our time at the Seminary and many of my friends were pondering going on to further academic work or even a doctorate. I was not one of those people. As we met with this professor, he talked to each one of my friends about things they should be reading and keeping up on and even possible places to go for their coursework. When he got to me, he said, “Brad, remember, the church needs really good pastors too and here is what you could do to continue to help you be a good pastor.” The body of Christ takes and needs all kinds.

But here is the thing about the body: all the member of my body are important, from the arm to the pinky toe to my eyebrows. But if I don’t feed the body, if I don’t give it fuel, it will not work properly. Even worse, if I do that for awhile, my body will start to shut down. Personally, I have lots of “reserve” if you will, but the body still needs food. It needs water. It needs its fuel to run.

And the church is not different. In order for the church to function and to fulfill its mission of sharing the Gospel and serving the poor, it needs fuel to run. To function properly. To let each one of its members fulfill its calling and use. We, of course, know that we are inspired by the Holy Spirit which guides us as the body of Christ. But the church, this body, needs fuel, and that fuel is your giving, especially your financial resources. In that regards, our fuel is getting lower. Our tanks are getting empty. Our reserves are too low for comfort.

We are blessed here at Trinity with an abundance of ministry. I am proud to be part of this body of Christ that reaches out into the community, who opens its doors to anyone and everyone, who thinks about the poor and needy, not only those close to home but those who are far away and strangers to us. I am proud of the number of people who use their gifts in ways both seen and unseen. I am proud that our building is in use almost every day, providing a place for fellowship, service, ministry, and fun to people of all ages. As people are wont to tell me when I am out and about, “You all at Trinity do A LOT!” That’s pretty cool.

However, we need fuel to keep it all going. We need your financial resources. We need your contributions. Without them, we deplete the body of Christ of its ability to function fully. If you have been paying attention to the financial reports in your Good News you may have noticed that we have been in the red since May. Frankly, if it wasn’t for some generous donations from the Women of Trinity, we would be in a lot worse shape than we are now. They are one example of sharing their gifts in order to help the body.

We need your gifts now as well. We need your gifts so that we can keep the body strong and healthy. We need your gifts so that we can continue to not only remain strong, but continue to grow in ministry and in service to our community and the world at large.

Each dollar you give is important and valued. Each second you give in serving the Lord is appreciated. Each member of this body of Christ we call Trinity Lutheran Church is a blessing. I pray that you will prayerfully consider fueling this body of Christ so that we can continue to be a blessing to the community and to each other. Thank you, in advance, for your support and for all you will do to be a blessing to Trinity.


Posted on: October 9th, 2016 by Brad Peterson

As I sit here in my office (which is newly organized and clean and has actually stayed that way for almost three weeks. Miracle!) I can see a bunch of pictures. There is a wedding picture on the window sill directly to my left and a little farther on the side of a book shelf is a whole bunch of pictures, some of which I found when I was cleaning up my office those weeks back. There are pictures of groups of kids from Youth Gatherings, Mission Trip, and even my first youth trip to the Synod Middle School Gathering with my first group of confirmation students. There are a few pictures of me from weddings, a couple of me when I dressed up as Santa for stuff, a picture of me with our first dog Henry when he was a puppy, and some pictures of me at Halloween with various kids. But there are also three kind of special pictures.

One is a picture of OK Hedlund, which was included in his funeral bulletin. There is a picture of me, Linda Soleimani, Lois Oakland, and Lois’ sister Sharon that was taken at Joyce Hopkin’s funeral. There is a picture of Richard and Harriet Suneson and their kids taken at the 100th Anniversary of Trinity. Why would I have these pictures up? For one, there are pictures of members I was close with before they died. But they are also there to remind me of things. All of the pictures in my office do that in one way or another.

The wedding picture of Amy and I (and there some others of us in my immediate eyeline, like a picture of us and Donald Duck and a picture from early in our relationship) that remind me of how lucky I am to be married to such a wonderful woman and that when I got home all tired out and stressed she is there to lift me up, hear my whines, and make me laugh. The pictures of the kids (and a picture of me baptizing my goddaughter Genna Gretzlock which is also one a shelf in my immediate eyeline) remind me of the seeds that we plant in kids and the often special people they are, even if they have moved far away.

But those pictures of OK, Richard and Harriet, and Lois are there to remind me of certain things. The picture of OK reminds me that I am to be a servant, just as he was for so many years, taking the garbage or standing at a sink washing dishes. Not worried about recognition or acclaim, but that we are called to be servants. The picture of Richard and Harriet reminds me that I am part of a legacy of ministry at Trinity and to value that legacy of ministry which will continue long after I leave as pastor.

The picture of Lois reminds me to dream, to think about the ways the Holy Spirit is guiding and sometimes pulling against our own fear and stubbornness. It reminds me to not be content, to not settle, but to keep exploring for new ways that the Spirit is leading our ministry. It also reminds me to not be afraid to ask for something or to ask someone to do something because what is the worst that can happen? They can say no. But many times they say yes.

As a husband, I am privileged to be loved by an amazing woman who accepts (and tolerates) my uniqueness. As a pastor, I am privileged to be a part of people’s lives in every stage, sharing in the joys and the sorrows. But as a child of God, I am blessed to have the love of Christ shared with me by the people of this place and community of all ages. The pictures that I see remind me of all of that and that in the end, it is the people in our lives that matter the most. Not the stuff in our houses or the amount of money in our bank account. What matters most is the people we love and who love us back, even for a moment.

Lastly, I look up and I can see a sign that was given to me at my 40th birthday celebration here. It says, “Life is short. Eat the bacon.” It reminds me to not take for granted this life, the people in it, or the joy that is in life. That life is a gift but a fleeting one at that and we should enjoy it, appreciate it, and give thanks for it. And so I do. And so I say, “Thanks be to God!”

The Past is the Past

Posted on: August 23rd, 2016 by Brad Peterson

On August 1st, I spent my 14th anniversary of being pastor at Trinity at one of my favorite places: Wrigley Field, for the annual trip and the new tradition of taking my Logan nephew to a game. But the next day I did something I hadn’t done in at least 20 years: I played golf at the place where I learned to play, Cedardell Golf Course in Plano, IL, my hometown. It was there that I started caddying for my Dad and occasionally hitting a few putts to learning the ethics of the game to learning the rules and how to play and finally falling in love with this game I play as much as I can today. Of course, this was also the place I learned to curse as well (thanks Dad!)

It was amazing the memories that came back as I played my round (not the best either. So there might have been some cursing!). When I was in junior high I played three or four times a week, riding my bike over in the morning as I had a locker at the course. Sometimes I played with some of the old men from the church early in the morning and sometimes with my friends Curtis or Matt. Even now, I love to play a round early in the morning, something born from my youth.

For much of my high school years I didn’t play as much as other sports took priority, but I reconnected to golf in a big way in Seminary and now I can’t imagine not playing. But it all started there in Plano, IL.

While I was in my hometown, I snuck into my high school gym to see a plaque that we put up in honor of my Dad when he passed (the rest of the school has been completely remodeled, but not the gym), swung by the old house (looks exactly the same), and took a drive around town. It was fun to reconnect with my past, to relive old memories, to remember people and places from my youth, to look back for a bit.

But that is the thing: it’s the past. As much as I enjoyed the memories, especially on the golf course, they are just memories. I think the desire to drive back into memory lane was prompted by my 40th birthday, but in the end the place where I grew up no longer exists. It has moved on. I have moved on. Some might say that is sad, but I didn’t feel sad when I left. Sure, I had moments of grief and sadness as I recounted memories of my parents who are now long gone or friends that I don’t see or interact with anymore, but there was no desire to go back to that time. I left feeling content and happy. I was blessed to grow up in Plano, IL, though maybe I didn’t always appreciate it while it was happening. It shaped who I am today and for that I’m grateful.

In every place I have ever lived, there have been good times and bad times. There have been ups and downs. I have forged relationships that have been both live giving and soul draining. But we can’t truly go back to the past because we grow and change and so do the places. It is ok to look back but we can’t wallow in the past. We have to live, to move forward, to take what we learned and experienced and keep moving forward, one day at a time.

I know that I will visit again. I might even tee it up again. I know I’ll go worship at my home church again at some point. And when I do, I’m going to continue to be thankful for the way God guided my life in that place and helped shape me. I’m going to remember. I’m going to give thanks. And I’m going to keep moving forward.


Posted on: July 23rd, 2016 by Brad Peterson

One of the summer shows I watch is “The Jim Gaffigan Show” on TV Land. I’ve always enjoyed Jim Gaffigan’s comedy and have even seen him live (of course I would love his comedy. He does ten minutes on bacon!). What was interesting was the episode that originally aired on June 20th titled “The Calling.”

In this episode, Jim keeps seeing his priest everywhere in a dream and that every time he sees his priest, he asks Jim to do something. Eventually Jim runs into him in real life and the priest asks Jim to be on the parish soccer team. While playing soccer, Jim notices that the priest, Father Nicholas, is really good at soccer. In a subsequent conversation, Jim finds out that Father Nicholas was a soccer star in Africa, a model, went to the London School of Economics, and then gave it all up to go to become a priest. This flabbergasts Jim that his priest would have given up all that to become a priest and Father Nicholas explains that being a priest was his calling and that everyone has a calling. This perplexes Jim and he isn’t sure what his calling is. We find him talking with his wife and friends about their callings and they are all clear to them and Jim is still stumped. Jim thinks that a calling needs to be something significant, something that can change the world. Eventually he decides that his calling must be as a stand-up comedian and at the end of the episode, as Jim is at the pearly gates, he finds out his true calling was to be a father.

I enjoyed this episode a lot but it also brings a point that I think many of us struggle with: what is our God-giving calling? Like Jim, we might think that means some sort of earth-changing kind of thing. But I believe it might be more simple than that. I think our calling is not about our vocation (though it can be), but rather about who we truly are. What gifts we have that help spread the love of Christ in ways obvious and not so obvious. We often resist our calling, especially if it has to do with the church in any way, because our callings often push our boundaries or take us in directions we might never have thought we could go.

The other thing is I think we might have multiple calling. That it might not just be one thing. We can be called to be a farmer and a father, a teacher and a mother, a Wal-Mart greeter and a friend. I think we have callings both inside and outside of the church but that our calling is still a gift from God that can be used to build up the body of Christ and spread the love of Christ in word and deed.

So, how do we know when we have found our calling or callings? I think that is a question that can have a variety of answers (and doesn’t come with a beam of light that shines on us, like in the episode) but I can only answer for me. For years I had dreamed of being a teacher and coach. Yet, when I finally (after many years of resistance, denial, and outright running as fast as I could away from it) accepted that God was calling me to be a pastor, it was unbelievably scary and comforting at the same time. I cannot imagine doing anything else in the world and that even if I won 500 million dollars in the Powerball I would still be here on Sunday mornings preaching. The only other thing that brings fulfillment and happiness and joy in the same way is being a husband.

You have a calling from God. It might not be obvious, but it is there. Live out your calling and continue to use that calling to spread the love of Christ.

God is . . .

Posted on: April 18th, 2016 by Brad Peterson

I was driving the other day when I saw a car with a bumper sticker that said “God is . . .” and it listed a political position. I thought that it was kind of interesting as I was pretty sure that there wasn’t anything in the Bible that described God in that way.

But that got me thinking. What normally does follow the words “God is?” So I did a little search using the NRSV version of the Bible (the version we use in worship.) I found 172 results but I focused on times when “God is” was followed up with a verb or an adjective or a phrase. And there were lots of choices but a few stood out. It was amazing how many times the phrase “God is giving” was used, especially in the Old Testament. “God is God” popped up a few times. “God is gracious” and “God is faithful,” and “God is my salvation” appeared a decent number of times. “God is with you” was all over the place.

This begs a question: what is the point of all of this? Here is the point: we get in trouble when we try to make God something God is not. To assign something at the end of the “God is” phrase that is political is a very dangerous slope. It assumes we know what God is thinking and how God acts in the world. It makes us put God into a box.

You know what God does when God is put into a box? God destroys that box. God showed through the death and resurrection of Jesus that God will break through every barrier in order to save us. I think instead of trying to define God in our ways we should let the Word of God speak for itself.

And what do we find? We find a God that is concerned about the other. God is giving, gracious, faithful, and loving. God projects outward from Himself unto you and all of creation. Maybe this is how God wants us to be? To be giving, gracious, faithful, and loving. Maybe this is a clue that God would like us to live for the other instead of for ourselves. “God is with you” is repeated so often as a reminder that we are not alone and that God meets us where we are and walks with us every day.

Maybe we need to make bumper stickers with phrases of “God is giving,” “God is with us,” or “God is faithful” to counteract the poor bumper sticker theology that wants to define God beyond the witness of scripture. But even better would be to live as people of God trusting in a faithful, loving, and giving God. Even better would be to emulate those characteristics in our daily lives. Most importantly, remember that God is with you. For that we can say, “Thanks be to God!”

Give thanks

Posted on: April 10th, 2016 by Brad Peterson

This week includes two of my very favorite things as a sports fan. First, this weekend and into Monday is the Opening Day of baseball. I’m not a huge fan of the Sunday opening games and then everyone else on Monday. I liked it better when everyone started on the same day, especially with a bunch of day games. But it is still super awesome. It means spring is here and this year there is some actual hope as a Cubs fan. I’m not super happy that many people are picking us to go to the World Series, but I’m excited to watch them this year and see what happens. The other event happens at the end of the week and is probably my second favorite sporting event of the year behind the Super Bowl, and this is the Masters golf tournament. I love watching the golf, the beauty of the course, and just the prestige and history that surrounds the tournament. This year I’m even reading a book on the Masters, so it should be even more fun. It is one of my dreams to go to Augusta National to watch the Masters one year, even if it is just a practice round.

With these two events, I also think about people who have been important in my life. With Opening Day and the Masters I always think about my Dad. They were also some of his most favorite events and I get my love of the Cubs, and golf, from him. It makes me miss him but also gives me many fond memories of watching both the Cubs and the Masters on TV together. I also think of Dennis Rettke when I think of the Masters. Dennis and I golfed many a round together and he volunteered at the Masters for a few years. I used to try to spot him if I could when I would watch. He would encourage me to try to get tickets, even for a practice round, and he often purchased official Master’s items for me and would also bring me back stuff like glasses and programs. It is fitting that we are having a Men’s Choir concert on the final day of the Masters. I will think about him often that day. His presence is still felt every time we sing.

Events in life help us remember those who have gone before us. Their memory lives on in us as we remember and give thanks for them. I think that is one of the gifts God gives us: things that trigger memories of those we have loved who are now gone. Sometimes these memories make us feel sad. But for me, they often make me feel thankful that I had the opportunity to be impacted by them. They make me feel joy instead of sorrow and I look forward to the events that remind me of them. By enjoying them still and remembering them, they are still alive to me. I hope the Cubs have a great season and I hope for an exciting finish to the Masters. But most of all I look forward to giving thanks to my Savior for the gifts of baseball, golf, my Dad, and Dennis.