Trinity Tidings December 20th

Posted on: December 20th, 2020 by Brad Peterson

Trinity Tidings

December 20, 2020

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Christmas Eve Worship will be held at the following times: 9 am, 2 pm, 4:30 pm, 7:00 pm, 9:00 pm.  Reservations are required.  To make one, click on this link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080E49AEA62FA2FB6-christmas  The 4:30 pm and 9:00 pm services will be live streamed on our Facebook page. You can also call the church office to make a reservation.2 PM AND 4:30 PM SERVICES ARE CURRENTLY FULL

Christmas Day Worship will be at 9 am.  Reservations are not required.

Worship on December 27th will be online only.

No Wednesday worship on December 23rd and December 30th.

Support the Women of Trinity! Help the Women of Trinity, who lost all their fundraisers this year, by donating to them.  You can make your donation in honor or memory of your favorite baker.  As a bonus, if we raise $500 by December 27th, PB will put “PB says Go Pack Go” on the electronic sign on January 3rd, the next Bears-Packers game! 

2021 Offering Envelopes are available for pick-up.

Sign-up for Snow Removal!  Follow this link to sign-up to keep our doors and sidewalks free from snow!  Snowblower available for use!  https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080E49AEA62FA2FB6-snow

Don’t forget that you can support Trinity through the GivePlus app OR using the donate form on our website.  Download the free app, search for Trinity Lutheran Boyceville, and go from there! 

Go to www.trinityboyceville.com for links for the newsletter, worship services, bulletins, children’s sermons, and more. 

Go to www.youtube.com/TrinityBoycevilleWI for all our videos!  Worship services, songs, children’s sermons. 

MUSINGS FROM PASTOR BRAD

“Now to God who is able to strengthen you . . .” Romans 16:25

   Christmas is almost here and for many, it will look very different.  I could tell you all about how different it may be, from worship to family gatherings to more.  But frankly, you know all that.  It is pretty obvious.

  Rather, I’d like to take a moment to talk about the gift that you are receiving this Christmas. And yes, Jesus is a gift you are receiving this Christmas, the gift of salvation and hope and love.  But I want to talk about a gift you have had, maybe a gift that you didn’t realize.  The gift of strength.

  I’m not talking about physical strength, the kind you grow in your muscles through exercise and weight lifting.  I’m talking about strength of the spirit.  Frankly, it is a gift that I have seen in so many of you these past months. 

   You have endured much.  We have endured much.  The pandemic.  Social upheaval.  Vicious politics.  The inability to gather with family and friends.  So many things cancelled, rescheduled, and postponed.  Add to that the normal difficulties of life.  Death of a loved one.  Health issues.  Concerns regarding financial stability.  Stress.  Worry.  More.

   You have endured much.  But you have survived.  You have.  You are here because you have been given the gift of strength from your loving and gracious God.  God has strengthened you in your spirit.  You are have survived.  You are here.  I have seen it.  I have felt it.  My friends, you are strong.  You are strong because the Lord is strengthening you. 

   And because of this, you can and have survived anything.  You can keep going, no matter how long the pandemic goes, no matter what life throws at you, you can keep going because God in Jesus Christ gives you strength.  You are stronger than you think because your strength doesn’t come from you alone.  It comes from the Lord. 

   No matter what happens in the next weeks, month, or year, you can handle anything.  You are strong.  You will survive.  Take a moment this Christmas to give thanks for your Savior Jesus Christ and the strength of spirit that you have been given.  May God bless you and be with you this day and always!

Trinity is on Instagram at tlcboyceville

Trinity has a Facebook page!  Just search for Trinity Lutheran Boyceville

Check out sermons and more at www.youtube.com/TrinityBoycevilleWI

Website: www.trinityboyceville.com

Trinity Tidings December 13

Posted on: December 13th, 2020 by Brad Peterson

Trinity Tidings

December 13, 2020

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Sunday Worship: 8 am in person, 9 am Parking Lot worship.  Wednesday worship at 6 pm is Facebook only.  All services are live streamed and also posted on our website.

Christmas Eve Worship will be held at the following times: 9 am, 2 pm, 4:30 pm, 7:00 pm, 9:00 pm.  Reservations are required.  To make one, click on this link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080E49AEA62FA2FB6-christmas  The 4:30 pm and 9:00 pm services will be live streamed on our Facebook page. You can also call the church office to make a reservation.

ALL SERVICES, EXCEPT 9 AM, ARE CURRENTLY FULL

Christmas Day Worship will be at 9 am.  Reservations are not required.

There is NO drive thru communion on December 20th.   

Support the Women of Trinity! Help the Women of Trinity, who lost all their fundraisers this year, by donating to them.  You can make your donation in honor or memory of your favorite baker.  As a bonus, if we raise $500 by December 27th, PB will put “PB says Go Pack Go” on the electronic sign on January 3rd, the next Bears-Packers game! 

2021 Offering Envelopes are available for pick-up.

The Lefse & Bake Sale has been cancelled for this year.

The Mission Trip Silent Auction has been moved to 2021.

All confirmation classes will be online only until January 2021

Sign-up for Snow Removal!  Follow this link to sign-up to keep our doors and sidewalks free from snow!  Snowblower available for use!  https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080E49AEA62FA2FB6-snow

Don’t forget that you can support Trinity through the GivePlus app OR using the donate form on our website.  Download the free app, search for Trinity Lutheran Boyceville, and go from there! 

Go to www.trinityboyceville.com for links for the newsletter, worship services, bulletins, children’s sermons, and more. 

Go to www.youtube.com/TrinityBoycevilleWI for all our videos!  Worship services, songs, children’s sermons. 

MUSINGS FROM PASTOR BRAD

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:” Luke 2:10

This past Thursday, as Amy and I were finishing dinner, it was like the angel, from the Christmas story referenced above, had shown up in my life, bringing good news.  What was this good news?  It was a whole bunch of Star Wars news!  New movie!  Disney+ series all over the place!  The announcements came so fast and furious my head was spinning.  I was grinning from ear to ear.  I might have even teared up a little.

  Now, I know, it seems kind of dumb to get excited about Star Wars and the announcement of new movies and tv shows.  But frankly, in a year like this, any good news I get is something to rejoice about.  For an hour, as I scoured the internet for details and happily texted my friends, it was a time of joy and relief.  No talk about viruses, political instability and insanity, nothing about murders or floods or fires or anything else.  For a little while, the good news I heard about Star Wars was a balm to my troubled heart and soul.

   But frankly, it is still far short of the way the good news of Jesus Christ makes me feel.  For it is that good news of great joy, that Jesus Christ has died for my sins and brings me to eternal life, that keeps me going through all the darkness.  At the same time, I was reminded that we do receive good news in our life, news that brings us great joy.  News like the birth of a child, or an engagement, or a new job, or an achievement at school.  There is a lot of joy in the world, lots of good news, if we just take a moment to look for it.

   It can be so easy to focus only on the darkness, only on the hard things that are going on in our lives.  And we shouldn’t ignore them.  We shouldn’t put our head in the sand.  Yet, it can’t be our sole focus.  There is good news being proclaimed all around us, most especially the Good News of Jesus Christ.  There is good news in your life today and it can be anything, anything that brings you joy.  Most especially, feel the joy knowing that you are loved, strengthened, forgiven, and redeemed by your Savior Jesus Christ. 

Trinity is on Instagram at tlcboyceville

Trinity has a Facebook page!  Just search for Trinity Lutheran Boyceville

Check out sermons and more at www.youtube.com/TrinityBoycevilleWI

Website: www.trinityboyceville.com

A Little Strange

Posted on: December 7th, 2020 by Brad Peterson

  It feels a little strange.  Now, 2020 has been the strangest year ever so everything feels strange.  But for some reason, as I sit here on December 6th and I look at my to-do list and my calendar, it is really strange.  It is empty.  Sure, there is a worship here and a confirmation class to tape there and some devotions to record and upload.  But it isn’t what it normally would be.  In normal times, this week, December 6th-12th, is the busiest week of my year.  Not Holy Week.  This week.  Because normally this is lefse week.  Normally this is Spirit of Christmas week.  But nothing is normal.  Not this year.

   In a normal year, during this week I would average twelve hour days for every day this week, with Friday and Saturday being 14-16 hours.  I’m peeling and ricing potatoes and then serving as a runner, taking lefse from griddle to table.  Last year, on Thursday of lefse week, I put on 11 miles of walking and I never left the building.  I’m moving tables and setting up for Silent Auction and then spending all day Friday putting together packages, typing up bid sheets, and figuring out how we are going to fit in all the last second items that come in.  I’m organizing the soup lunch and calling my colleagues in ministry about the people in their church who will be in the Live Nativity.  I’m barely home throughout the week and I think the dog forgets who I am. Every night I go to sleep smelling like potatoes and dream of Silent Auction items.  It is a crazy, busy, insane week.  Like I said, the busiest week of the year.  But it is also my favorite work week of the year.

   I won’t miss all the hours that I put in and the feeling of overwhelming exhaustion that encompasses it.  However, I’m already really missing all the people who I get the pleasure to work beside, who put in just as much work as I do or more.  I’ll miss the leadership of Peggy Danovsky and Deb Holmlund as they lead the lefse crew and see their dedication and love of passing on this new tradition, they way they get new people right into it and take what seems to be chaos into a ballet of lefse production.  I’ll miss Paul Davnosky asking me AGAIN to play “Snoopy’s Christmas” and all the other song requests.  I’ll miss playing around with Wendell Andrews and watching him screw up a piece of lefse on purpose so he can eat it.  I’ll miss when a Mom or Grandma brings in a grandkid to give them a taste of this time honored tradition.  I’ll miss watching Howard Edlin examine each piece like a diamond and carrying lefse from Marlys’ and Marlene’s and Vicki’s and Carla’s and Sandy’s griddles.  I’ll miss seeing the guys making dough balls and seeing everyone sitting around the table having a coffee break.  I’ll miss the counting down of the bins in the fridge and the counting of packages.  I’ll miss the stories, the laughter, the jokes (even those at my expense), and the feeling of teamwork, camaraderie, and togetherness that comes with this week.  I’ll miss laughing with our high school kids who are helping with the bid sheets and the fun of hanging out in the kitchen on Saturday with our awesome youth and the dedication of the parents who take care of everything when I leave for Live Nativity.  I’ll miss seeing the community come out to see the birth of Christ acted out. I’ll miss seeing the bake sale tables dwindle down until there is none left.  I’ll miss all of it.

   Life is not normal right now and it won’t be for awhile.  And though I will miss everything I just listed, it doesn’t mean I’m sad.  During lefse week, I often saw the best of our congregation and our community.  I saw Jesus at work.  I’m not sad because not only do I have the memories of previous years, but I know that we will do it all again next year.  I’m not sad because I still see Jesus at work.  Jesus is just working in a different way then in years past.  I see it in the way people are checking in on each other, the comments during the worship services online, the way people wave to each other through their cars.  I see it in the emails and calls I get.  I see it in the way we lift up each other.  I will see Jesus at work when I’m actually home for dinner this week and get time with dog and a chance to go for a walk with Amy because I’m not so tired I can barely stand. 

   Life is not normal right now.  But the love of Christ is still there. Hope is still there. Jesus is still at work.  There is still a Spirit of Christmas. It just looks different this year. And when I turn on my Christmas music and hear “Snoopy’s Christmas,” I will still think of Paul, of Deb and Peggy, of our kids, of all of it.  And I won’t be sad.  I’ll be glad for the memories, the people, the stories, the time, and the privilege.  And I’ll see Jesus in my smile, memories, and heart.  I hope that you will too. 

A Reminder

Posted on: July 20th, 2020 by Brad Peterson

 “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:12

   It is easy to forget.  I’m always setting alarms and reminders on my phone so I don’t forget stuff.  It might be things I have to pick up at the store, a meeting, a deadline, when something needs to be done.  This is especially true in these times when my calendar isn’t very full it is easy to forget to stuff that I normally never would have.  It is also easy to forget what is truly important in life when we get swallowed up with petty stuff that takes on a bigger meaning then it needs to. And it is easy to forget who God truly is for us.

   That is why I appreciate the following verse from Psalm 89.  It is a reminder of who God is.  God is gracious.  God is merciful.  God is abounding in steadfast love.  God is faithful.  So often we forget these important truths.  We look at God and think of only judgment, of disappointment in our actions, of falling short of our calling as people of God.  It reminded me of a coach I had in high school who never said anything good about anything.  Everyone was always falling short of their expectations, even when we won or played well . It got hard to be motivated to put it all out there for that coach and it was easy to forget why we were playing in the first place.  But we had an assistant coach that always walked around to us and told us when we did well, gave us encouragement, and motivated us to keep going. 

   Verses like this help us to do that.  They remind us of who God truly is and they give us hope.  Even more so, when we look to Jesus, the Son of God, we see that reminder of God’s love, faithfulness, and mercy towards us.  For God sends Jesus to save us and to remind us of God’s true nature.  We may sin but when we turn to the Lord, we have forgiveness and mercy.  We have a God who is faithful to the promises God has made to us, and we have a God whose steadfast love surrounds and fills us.

   But this verse also gives us one more reminder.  And that is this: we should be striving to be like this in our own lives.  To be people of mercy and compassion.  To be slow to anger.  To be abounding in steadfast love. So often we are quick to anger, quick to attack, quick to punish, quick to judge and condemn.  We are called to a different way.  A better way.  A way that lifts up the other instead of tearing them down.  A way of grace and compassion, even towards those we disagree with.  I know that in my own life I often fail in this ideal but I keep trying because I have a Lord who is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  Out of thankfulness for the grace and mercy I have been shown, I try to show that same grace and mercy to others.  My prayer is that you will too.  That you will remember that you have a God who is gracious, merciful, loving, and faithful and that you take what you have been given by your loving God and extend it to others. 

   May you never forget how God truly is and see that through the work of Jesus Christ for you.  And may you extend the grace, mercy, love, and faithfulness you have received to others.  Amen. 

The Impossible

Posted on: July 13th, 2020 by Brad Peterson

Something really weird happened to me on Friday.  I was what I call “The Club,” Sioux Creek Golf Course in Chetek, which isn’t weird for me at all, especially on my day off.  It wasn’t that I was actually playing fairly well.  It wasn’t that it was super early in the morning. As I was completing my 16th hole of the day, I thought to myself, “I bet I could easily play another 9.”  Here is the weird thing: I was walking.  That’s right.  I thought about playing another 9 holes, for a total of 27, all of them walking.  A year ago after walking nine I would need oxygen and a long break before even thinking about doing it again.  If it was hot?  Cart all the way.  On July 4th I voluntarily walked despite it being a thousand degrees and we would have gotten in a full 18 if it hadn’t been super busy and we had to be back at a certain time.

   A year ago I thought it would be impossible for me to walk 18 holes, let alone confidently think about doing 27.  As I churned that thought around in my brain and just how far I had come in a year and how something that seemed so impossible could now be a reality I thought of this well known verse from Philippians chapter 4: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

   We often believe that we can’t do a lot of things.  We might have dreams but they seem so impossible.  We find ourselves in the storms of life and it feels impossible that we will survive, let alone be successful.  We often measure what success is with unreasonable expectation and so we don’t try because it seems too hard.  I have thought all of these thoughts myself.  Felt I wasn’t good enough, that I couldn’t do it, that the storm will just continue to rage and I’ll never find the strength or the peace enough to get through it.

  But we are not alone.  Christ strengthens us.  Christ is with us.  Christ has freed us so that we can try even the impossible.  We can reach for the stars.  We can make through stuff that seems impossible.  Think about our present circumstances.  We are four months into a pandemic that seems like it may never abate yet we are surviving.  It isn’t always pretty and doesn’t always go according to plan, but we are getting through.  There is still laughter, love, and joy. 

   Because Jesus is with us, we can do the impossible.  And even if we try and fail, our Savior lifts us up, dusts us off, and reminds us that we are loved and cared for.  Don’t sell yourself short.  Don’t think you can’t do it.  You can.  You are not alone.  Who knows what might happen if you take a risk, take a leap, trust in the Lord and in yourself?  You might find yourself deciding to walk 27 holes.  For the strength, love, and forgiveness we have in Jesus Christ we can say, “Thanks be to God!” 

Update from Church Council June 2020

Posted on: June 27th, 2020 by Brad Peterson

Dear Trinity Members,

 The question that I get the most is, “When are we going to return to church?” Well, now I have an answer to that question for all of you. 

At the June 14th Church Council meeting, the Church Council approved a plan to return to in-person worship.  Here is the upcoming worship schedule for Sunday’s:

  • July 5: Facebook worship with drive-thru communion from 10:00 am – 11:30 am.
  • July 12-August 9: Parking Lot worship.
  • August 16: Facebook worship .
  • August 23: In-person worship.
  • Wednesday worship will be Facebook only until August 26th.

 The August 23 in-person worship service will only occur if the Dunn County Health Department guidelines for indoor gatherings have reached 50 people.  When we gather for in-person worship, the following procedures will be in place to ensure the safety and health of our members, worship leaders, and volunteers.

  • Masks are to be worn by all.  You will be provided a mask if you do not have one.
  • Maintain social distance of six feet at all times.
  • Places where you can sit will be clearly marked.  People living in the same household may sit together in one pew.  Otherwise, two people may sit together on each end of the pew. 
  • Bulletins will be placed at the places where you can sit and we ask that you take them with you.
  • Doors will be propped open (other than the bathroom doors) so that you will not need to touch them.
  • Offering plates will be placed by the doors to the sanctuary for you to place your offering.
  • There will be no passing of the peace or communal singing.  Songs will be led by a song leader. 
  • Communion will be different or may not occur.
  • Doors will open 15 minutes prior to worship. 
  • There will be no coffee fellowship before or after worship.
  • We ask that you exit immediately following the service.
  • Capacity is limited but we will do our best to make sure everyone can worship, even if we have to extend social distanced seating into the fellowship hall. 
  • Hand sanitizer will be available and placed in multiple locations for your use.
  • All hymnals, pencils, and directories have been removed from the sanctuary so that we will not have to sanitize them after worship. 
  • If you are sick, have a fever, or are high-risk, we ask that you stay home.
  • All services will continue to be live streamed on Facebook.

  If this schedule needs to change, we will make announcements through the Trinity Facebook page, the Trinity website, and through email.  At this time, all other Trinity activities remain postponed or cancelled, including the Pie & Ice Cream Social.  We hope, if conditions allow, to resume many of our activities in September. 

   We appreciate your patience as we work towards coming together again in person.  We give thanks for the ways in which you have been the church throughout these difficult times.  You have shared the Gospel, encouraged each other, been generous in your giving, and kept each other in prayer.  You have taken to heart that being the church is more than being inside a building; it is about the mutual love and encouragement of each other as disciples of Jesus Christ. 

   Thank you for your love and commitment to Trinity and its ministry and may the Lord bless you and fill you with love and faith every day.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Brad and the Trinity Lutheran Church Council

Joy & Sorrow

Posted on: June 7th, 2020 by Brad Peterson

The other night Amy and I decided to watch an old Disney movie celebrating its 60th anniversary, a movie that I hadn’t seen named “Pollyanna.”  Now, I didn’t really care about watching the movie, if I’m being honest, but since I had forced her to watch one of my favorites in “The Princess Bride” I figured I could watch one of hers.  And as the movie played across our TV screen, I found it nice and sweet and uplifting.  I enjoyed the message of living and hope that came from Pollyanna’s interactions with the people in the town.  And then, BOOM.  It took a dark turn.

  SPOILER WARNING IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT AND IF YOU HAVEN’T IT HAS BEEN 60 YEARS SO THAT IS YOUR FAULT.  😊 All the sudden, Pollyanna falls from a tree and is paralyzed.  I was flummoxed.  I was beside myself.  This feel good movie had turned dark and turned dark fast.  Quickly.  I was upset.  I felt the movie had betrayed me. I was in disbelief.  I think Amy enjoyed my reaction.

   But as I thought about it later, what was this very Disney, very happy movie with a lightening quick dark turn, reminded me of life.  Life doesn’t always go like a happy movie.  Sometimes life takes a hard and difficult turn.  I thought about what it felt like when I was told my Dad had cancer and the times in my ministry when I’ve sat with people after like turn a hard turn.  There is disbelief.  There is sadness.  There is anger.  And there is pain, suffering, and hurt.

   Yet, life isn’t exclusively one or the other.  There are times of hurt when things are good and times of joy when things are bad.  In the midst of it all is hope.  In “Pollyanna,” the town that received hope from Pollyanna rally around her and help to restore her hope after her accident. For us, our hope is restored through our Savior Jesus Christ.  Jesus is with us, in the good and the bad, and through it all we have hope knowing that we are not alone.  No matter what happens, our loving shepherd is there for you and for all of us.

   Life is not like a movie. But sometimes movies open a window into life.  Life is full of joy.  Life is full of sorrow.  It seems to see-saw from one to another in an instant.  But in the midst of it all is our Savior.  Who weeps with us.  Who celebrates with us.  Who loves us.  And who always gives us hope.  Hold onto that hope every day and share that hope with others. 

An Update from Church Council

Posted on: May 17th, 2020 by Brad Peterson

May 17, 2020

 Dear Trinity Members,

  First off, we want to say thank you for your support of Trinity over these past two months.  We thank you for joining us for worship online, drive-thru communion, viewing and sharing videos on Facebook and YouTube, and for your generous financial support.  We are so grateful for your faith, support, and prayers and we are keeping each and every one of you in prayer as well.

  Second, you may have questions regarding when we might worship inside the sanctuary again after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ended the Stay-At-Home order.  At this time, Trinity activities will continue to remain cancelled and we will not be holding any in person worship services inside the building.  We are following guidelines set out by the Dunn County Department of Health and following strategies put forth by the ELCA, the Wisconsin Council of Churches, and the CDC. All of these strategies first and foremost are about keeping everyone as safe as possible, especially the most vulnerable amongst us.  We will continue to  worship online on Sunday mornings at 9 am and Wednesday night at 7 pm and we will have parking lot worship services on June 7 & June 21st. We will continue to monitor everything closely and are taking steps so that when we can come together in the church building, we do so safely and appropriately.

   Until that time comes, continue to keep each other in prayer and hold each other in love, as you are held in love and prayer by all of us.  We are church together, no matter the circumstances, and Jesus Christ is walking with us giving us the hope and strength we need.  May God bless all of you and stay safe and well.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Brad and the Trinity Lutheran Church Council

Arm Around Me

Posted on: May 10th, 2020 by Brad Peterson

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;  though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.. ‘Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.’  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.  Psalm 46:1-2, 10-11

   I want to take you back to when Pastor Brad was a kid and he was sitting in the pew at First Lutheran Church in Plano, IL.  We went to church three out of every four Sundays and we always sat in the same pew and in the same order.  Towards the inside, by the center aisle, was my older sister Amy, followed by my Mom, then my twin sister Megan, then me, and my Dad was always on the end towards the outside.  But here is the thing about my Dad.  He would sit with his arm on the back of the pew, right behind me.  There were two reasons for this.  The first was that it was comfortable and I often sit like that today when I sit in a pew.  But the second, and more important reason, was so that he could quickly grab me to keep me in line.  After all, I would be sitting in my spot, squirming around and never sitting still, playing with the hymnal, the bulletin, and pencil, whatever.  Since his arm was right there, he could squeeze me to settle me down or pinch me if I wasn’t following along in the service.  But mostly it was to keep me still and quiet during worship.

   I think of that every time I hear this reading of Psalm 46.  Be still and know that I am God it says.  Be still.  That has always been hard for me, to be still, and over the years that arm sitting on the back of that pew was a comfort.  I knew my Dad was there and had my back.  He was someone I could go to talk about anything, from sports to school to girls.  He was there sometimes to rescue me when I really got my Mom mad or to put in my place when I made a big mistake.  With my Dad around, I always felt safe and secure and that everything would be ok.  Maybe you have felt that same kind of thing with your Mom or Dad or a grandparent.  That person who helped you feel safe, secure, and loved. 

   So it was a shock when, on this day 27 years ago, he died.  Our next time in church when we filed into our normal pew, there was no arm there.  The seat was empty.  I felt lost.  The one person who made feel safe and secure, the one who I looked up to and tried the emulate, the one I could talk to about anything and everything, was gone.  It was something that shook me to my core. 

   And then I felt an arm that had always been there, but I hadn’t noticed.  It was the arm of my heavenly Father, my God, who had me nice and tight.  God was my refuge and strength and my very present help in trouble.  My Savior Jesus Christ would be there to guide me, that though my foundation had been moved and had been shaken, I had nothing to fear, for God was in the midst.  God was present and always had been.  I could be still and not only remember my Father but feel my heavenly Father, my God, and my Savior Jesus Christ who forgave me of my sin and gave me new life. 

   God is our refuge and strength and very present help in trouble.  NO matter what might be shaking to your core today, your Savior, your God, lovingly has an arm around you, giving you comfort and strength.  No matter how restless you might be, or anxious, or full of worry, your loving God is there to remind you to be still.  You can be still because God has got it.  God is ready to listen to all that is going on in your life.  Your Savior Jesus Christ is there to give you love and grace and to guide you and to be a stronghold you can count on.  Take a moment and close your eyes.  Imagine God’s arm sitting right behind on the top of the pew, holding you close.  Remember: you are loved, and you have a refuge and strength for the Lord is with you.  For that we can say, “Thanks be to God!”  Amen

Choose the Good

Posted on: April 29th, 2020 by Brad Peterson

The other day I sat down to do some work, to start writing the daily devotions are put on video and I found that I had nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  As I thought about working on bulletins for future services, I again found myself with no motivation.  I thought about reorganizing something in my office.  Didn’t care.  Thought about cleaning out a room in the church.  Didn’t really want to do it.  I opened up my calendar and saw all the stuff that was supposed to happen.  Baseball and softball games I was supposed to umpire.  Men’s Band concerts that have been postponed.  Smelt Feed cancelled.  I started thinking of all the stuff that WASN’T happening and I must admit I got a little frustrated.  Angry even.  Tired of having to remember my mask when I go to the post office or gas station.  Tired of having an empty church building day after day.  Tired of not knowing how long this will last.  Tired of missing so many people.  I started to wonder if anything I was doing was really important, meant anything, and was worth it.  Frankly, the only thing I really wanted to do was eat as much food as possible, but I knew I couldn’t do that without throwing away months of hard work. It was a pretty low moment. 

   In that moment I turned to my left to something that I have posted right next to my desk.  Something that means a lot to me.  Something my late father carried in his wallet.  This is what it says:

This is the beginning of a new day.  I have been given this day to use as I will.  I will use it for good, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.  When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving in its place something that I have traded for it.  I want it to be gain, and not loss; good, and not evil; success, and not failure; in order that I shall rejoice in the price that I paid for it.

  Reading that snapped me back into focus.  Look, it is ok to be frustrated, to be sad, to grieve all that we have lost in these times.  It is ok to be angry.  But we also have a choice every day.  Reading this reminded me again of so many people who are choosing to do good in the midst of this pandemic, who are risking their lives every day to keep people safe, healthy, and society functioning.  I was reminded that we, in the words of Lou Mongello, can “choose the good.”  We can give into our anger, frustration, and grief or we can attempt to rise above it.  What will we trade a day of our life for? 

   I swore after my Dad died that I would try to live life with the above at the center of my existence.  Sadly, there are times when I have failed to live up to it.  But at the same time I have also felt the grace and forgiveness of my Savior Jesus Christ who puts me back on track.  Who reminds me that we all take up the cross to follow him and that means sacrifice for the sake of our neighbors and for the greater good.  Who reminds me that every day I am made new through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and that my salvation is not dependent on my works but on what Christ has already done, which has freed me to try, to the best of my ability, to “choose the good.”  To use each day for good, gain, and success the best that I can.  To see the light shine even in the midst of darkness. To rejoice in the gift of life.

   It might seem really hard right now to rejoice in anything.  You might be filled with anger, frustration, and sadness.  Give it to the Lord.  Lay it at the foot of the cross.  And then remember that you have been given today.  Focus on today.  Choose the good. Most of all, remember that Jesus Christ has chosen to love you, save you, and be with you always.  For that we can say, “Thanks be to God!”