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!” 

Simple

Posted on: April 28th, 2020 by Brad Peterson

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:16-17

One of the new things Amy and I have gotten in recent months that I absolutely love is our air fryer. I absolutely love the air fryer. From chicken wings to pork chops, fries to steak, cheese curds to broccoli, the air fryer gets it done. Stuff comes out awesome and one weekend we used it for basically every single meal. It is simple, easy to use, and easy to clean. And sometimes, simple is the best.

The verses listed above are so simple and wide known that they can be taken for granted. Yet, they simply state the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God loves us so much that God sent Jesus to us to save us and bring us to eternal life. That’s it. Nothing more than that. Simple. Clear. Life-changing.

The simple things can be life changing. My weight loss didn’t come from a complicated diet or innovative weight loss program. It has come (and hopefully will continue to come) by doing simple things. Working out every day. Smaller food amounts at meals. Eating green stuff. Cutting out pop. Simple.

We can take the simple things for granted. It seems too easy. Too simple. But it isn’t. The simple things can be powerful. I bet many of you have been missing the simple things of life lately as some of the things we took for granted, like school, going to the store, seeing friends and family, are no longer so simple.

Jesus was sent by a loving God to save you. To forgive you. To bring you eternal life. We give praise and thanks to our God for the salvation that Jesus has won for us through his death and resurrection. It may be simple, but it is powerful. And it is needed.

I know that I need it every single day. This simple Gospel message has changed my life. Maybe it has changed your life. God loves you so much that God sent Jesus to save you. Simple. And life changing.

Sometimes in life the simple things are the best. Hold onto this most precious of simple messages, that you are loved by God and saved by God’s only Son, our Messiah Jesus Christ. Share that simple message with your family and neighbors and the whole world. Give thanks for it. Celebrate it with Alleluia’s! Live life with joy and hope because Jesus is risen and we have eternal life. For that we can say, “Thanks be to God!” 

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Brad

We are Grieving

Posted on: April 20th, 2020 by Brad Peterson

When we think of someone who is grieving, we think of someone who has been impacted by death, by the loss of a loved one or friend.  Grief causes all sorts of emotions: anger, depression, sadness, doubt, and more.  I know I have felt all of those things in my life when I have dealt with the loss of a loved one.  I even once punched a wall; I was so angry after a death.  I’ve said some pretty terrible things at loved ones, friends, and even God.  And there were times when I was in a deep malaise, in a funk where I did not feel like myself and full of frustration if it would ever end.

   We are grieving, my friends.  As you read this you may not have had a loved one die from COVID-19 at this time.  But we are suffering loss.  Our youth have lost being at school, of seeing friends and teachers and the comfort that comes from the routine of school.  Many are grieving that lost time and also all those experiences that we so often took for granted: concerts and plays, sports and dances, and all the rituals of school life.  

  We are grieving the loss of normalcy, of having to work from home and limit our contact.  We are grieving from seeing those we love, from family and friends. We grieve that we can’t go to the gas station or grocery store without worry or showering ourselves with hand sanitizer.  We grieve the loss of having a meal at our favorite restaurant, going to the movies, or sitting in our favorite coffee shop.  We grieve the upheaval of society and our daily lives.  We grieve the loss of control and we yearn; we ache for when we can “get back to normal.” 

   All this loss might make us angry and looking for someone or something to blame.  It might make us depressed, anxious, and fearful.  We might be getting frustrated and impatient.  We might be getting angry.  And then we see some of the phrases that are being used at this time, phrases like “Stay Safe.  Stay Strong.” Or “We are all in this together.”  We hear those phrases and then we beat ourselves up for not staying strong, for feeling like we aren’t in this together, for being angry and depressed and worried all the time.  We are grieving. 

   There is no shame in grieving.  You know who else grieved?  Jesus.  Jesus saw his friend Lazarus dead, saw the grief the poured out of his sisters, his friends, and he wept.  He wept.  Jesus saw the anger of the people who called for his death on a cross and grieved them, asked God to forgive them.  Jesus grieved.  And then Jesus brought life from death.  Lazarus was raised.  Jesus was raised so that we would have new life.  So that we would see, even in the midst of grief, hope.  Life. 

   We will not always be strong in these times.  We will grieve.  We will mourn.  But we will also endure.  We will survive.  And we will rise.  We will rise anew because Jesus has risen and because our Savior grieves with us. Weeps with us.  Comforts us.  Carries our burdens for us.  If there is one thing I have learned from all the grief I’ve had in my life it is this: Jesus is with me.  When I was angry, I felt Jesus calming me down.  When I acted horribly to those I love, Jesus brought forgiveness and helped heal those relationships.  When I wept, Jesus wept with me.  And Jesus will do the same for you.  We are grieving.  But we will arise, anew.  We will.  And Jesus will be there for us.  Always. 

Restoration

Posted on: April 15th, 2020 by Brad Peterson

Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall take your tambourines, and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit. For there shall be a day when sentinels will call in the hill country of Ephraim: “Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God. ”Jeremiah 31:2

To be honest, when you are a pastor and you are preaching on Easter, you really don’t pay much attention to the other readings outside of the Easter Gospel. Well, at least I don’t.  Maybe better pastors than I do.  The above reading was part of our Easter worship yesterday and other than copying and pasting it into the bulletin I didn’t even give it a single glance or read even a single word of it until I read it during the worship service.  And as I read it, it really struck me as appropriate for our times.

   This reading in Jeremiah is written for those who are in exile in Babylon and they are words for us who face our own exile right now.  We are exiled from our schools, jobs, churches, social gatherings, and much more.  We are coping with a reality that seems like it may extend much longer than we ever thought even a month.  We might even be going a little stir crazy and getting a little cranky.  We might be frustrated and starting to wonder if this will ever end.

   Then we hear these words of hope and promise.  We are loved with an everlasting love.  We shall be built again, we shall again sing for joy, we shall plant and harvest.  In other words, we will be restored.

   To the exiles in Babylon, these words of God from the prophet Jeremiah gave them hope that they had not been forgotten and that they would be restored again.  For us, these words remind us that we also are not forgotten and that we will also be restored.  We will again gather with friends and family in the joys of praising God at church and the joy of being together in places where we don’t have to wear masks or stand six-feet apart.  We will be built up through the activities that we so often took for granted and now would love to have again, to go to the grocery store without fear or attend a movie or sporting event or eat in the dining room of a restaurant. 

   We may be in exile right now but we will not lose hope because we have a faithful and loving God who is giving us strength and patience and reminding us that we are not alone in this.  We will be restored because our loving and gracious Savior redeems us, restores us, and strengthens us.  Hang in there, my friends, and remember that God is faithful to you and will be with you. 

Reaching Out

Posted on: February 19th, 2019 by Brad Peterson

   If you picked up an Annual Report, you will see that in my report the congregation I talked about three goals, or visions, I had for Trinity for the coming year.  They are:

  • Pushing ourselves out into the community more through service and meeting needs.
  • Increasing the number of ways and means that we can give our financial gifts to support Trinity’s ministry.
  • Give opportunities for the various generations of our church to come together in new and different ways.

  These goals I believe are crucial to the ministry of Trinity and I wanted to take the next couple of “Trinity Tidings” to talk about why I have chosen these items for goals, starting with the first goal. 

   As a church, we can spend a lot of time thinking about what is happening in a building with stained glass.  But the true mission and ministry of the church doesn’t happen inside the physical structure standing at 1039 Nordveien Dr.  Rather, most of our mission should be pointed outwards, into the community and world at large.  We already do many things that help our community, from the Boyceville Weekend Meal Program to Lutheran World Relief Kits to Adopt-A-Highway, to taking items to Pine Ridge.  Many Trinity members volunteer as part of other community organizations to make an impact.  Even our annual Mission Madness, which raises funds for mission and charitable organizations, seeks to impact people outside of the walls.  

   But let us be honest.  We could do a lot more.  A lot. 

  I want us to expand the way we reach out to Boyceville and the surrounding area.  I want to see us using our time and talents to help our neighbors, community, and others in our area.  If there is one thing I have seen on our youth mission trips, service to others not only helps them but strengthens relationship between those who are doing the service.  There is a sense of shared mission and accomplishment and a faith that is strengthened through the showing of Christ’s love. 

   So how do we accomplish this goal?  First off, I would love suggestions from all of you.  What is something that our community needs, or the neighbor next door, needs that we might be able to accomplish?  Where is there a void that we can step in and make an impact?  There are not bad suggestions or ideas.

   Second, we will twice in 2019, once this spring and then again in the fall, spend part of a Sunday being servants.  We will gather for worship and then go out into our community and so service projects, both big and small, and involving all ages of our church.  I’ve already been having conversation with people in our community about stuff that could be done and hopefully using some of your suggestions, we can fan out and make a difference.  It can be anything from yard work or painting, to clean up of a community area, to helping out a ministry partner with a project. I would love ideas of small ways we can make impacts for those who want to help but might not be as physically able to participate in a project.  This kind of service is not new as the ELCA has had “God Works, Our Hands” Sunday every year in the fall but that date always is the start of our Sunday School.  We are going to use that concept and do it at different times.

   Finally, we need to meet our financial obligations to our benevolences.  Our financial support helps them meet their goals and this year we did not meet our benevolences.  Increased giving by you, whether through the Mission Madness event or in giving throughout the year, will help us make a greater impact.

   I look forward to your ideas and suggestions and your willingness to answer the call of your Savior Jesus Christ to live out your faith in service to your neighbor. 

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

Giving

Posted on: February 19th, 2019 by Brad Peterson

   If you picked up an Annual Report, you will see that in my report the congregation I talked about three goals, or visions, I had for Trinity for the coming year.  They are:

  These goals I believe are crucial to the ministry of Trinity and I wanted to take the next couple of “Trinity Tidings” to talk about why I have chosen these items for goals, starting with the first goal.   Last Trinity Tidings, I talked about the first goal of pushing ourselves out into the community more through service and meeting needs.  Today I want to talk about the second goal, increasing the number of ways and means that we can give our financial support to Trinity’s ministry.

  This goal for Trinity might seem to be a little strange as it could seem that it is the only goal that isn’t about expanding our ministry.  But in actuality, this goal is all about expanding our ministry.  Trinity’s ministry does not exist without your financial support.  If there is no financial support, not only can we not expand ministry, but our ministry will decrease.  If we want to grow as a church, if we want to try to accomplish the first and third goals you see above, then we have to grow in our financial support.

  To help us do this means to increase the number of ways we can give beyond the checks in our checkbook and the cash in our wallet.  When the Synod came to talk with church council after our financial issues in the fall, one of the suggestions they made was to increase the ways that the people of Trinity could give.  And so we moved to add our giving app and to do credit card giving through an iPad.  I have actually been thinking about these things for a few years now, even going to a workshop at an event two years ago to get some early information.  At the time, I didn’t think Trinity was ready, but now I believe that it is.

   Adding our Give+ giving app and the Giving Kiosk gives us flexibility to help you support Trinity.  The Giving Kiosk especially will help us with special events as we can now process credit cards.  The app and the kiosk help us when you feel moved to give but open up the wallet to only find a dollar in it or realize you have left your checkbook at home.  More and more of our members are doing all their banking and financial management through apps and online and so implementing these new ways of giving in place now will help us in the future. 

  These new ways of giving can seem daunting and scary.  We can be hesitant to try new things.  Once you try it for the first time, you will find it to be really easy.  I encourage you to give it a shot and I have an incentive for you.

   The event that I first got information about kiosk and app giving is called “Walking Together.”  I’ll be doing two presentations this year at that event with one of them about our “Mission Madness” event.  If  we get 50 transactions through the Give+ App or through the Giving Kiosk at church by Ash Wednesday, March 6th, I will wear a Packers Polo Shirt while presenting.  So not only do you get to try something new, but you get to let me wear embarrassing stuff in front of the whole Synod.  It is a win-win!

   I hope you will try out the app and the kiosk.  But I also give thanks for your financial giving and hope that you will continue to enthusiastically support the ministry of Trinity through those gifts, no matter how you choose to make them.  As it says in 2 Corinthians 9: “For God loves a cheerful giver.” 

Generosity

Posted on: December 15th, 2018 by Brad Peterson

As I finally got home late Saturday night after the Men’s Band concert, my body was absolutely exhausted.  My feet and back hurt, my voice was cracking and weak, and I thought that when I sat down I might not be able to get up for days.  Though my body was tired, my spirit was not.  It was energized and buzzing. And running through my brain was one word: generosity.

Generosity was on display throughout the week at Trinity.  There was the generosity of time as people came in to help make lefse, dropped off baked goods, gave donations for the Silent Auction, and worked all of the events of the Spirit of Christmas or stopped by to bid, buy, or hear the Men’s Band in Knapp.  Time is a precious commodity these days and yet so many people gave of their time to support Trinity during this week and support the community events in general.

People were generous with their talents and treasures, from baking awesome items or making great soup to all those who bought bake sale items and put bids down on Silent Auction items.  The Mission Trip Youth made over $6,500!  It is a massive and frankly unexpected amount and I was just blown away by how the church, and the community, support our kids and give them a chance to serve others in need.  The women also had a phenomenal haul as well, clearing over $3,400.  This generosity as an impact on all of our ministries.

There was definitely a generosity of spirit.  From all the laughter and conversation between people making lefse, to the way the crowd sang “Joy to the World” at the Live Nativity to all those that came up offering help as we had to rework our poinsettia orders after Sharon Seeger’s passing to joy of hearing our Sunday School youth practice their songs for next week’s Christmas program, the Christmas Spirit was alive and well and full of the love of God.  My favorite part of the Spirit of Christmas is the generous spirit that people share with each other even as we work hard to make lefse, organize the Silent Auction, and much more.

The sore back, hurt feet, and crusty voice are worth it because in the end it is the generosity that I saw and felt during this week that makes it all worth it.  It is a reminder that the greatest gifts we get are the people we get to interact with and the shared experiences we have with them.  They are gifts from God.

Thank you for your generosity, people of God, and for all the ways you shared and supported Trinity ministries and our community this week!

Opportunity

Posted on: November 20th, 2018 by Brad Peterson

Late last week, your pastor took an enormous amount of verbal abuse from all sorts of people.  He heard from colleagues who questioned his intelligence and faithfulness. Even close friends took him to the woodshed, eviscerating him time and time again both to his face and through text message, some of them going for a few days.  Why?  Because last Thursday afternoon I put out a lot of my outdoor Christmas stuff.

You might have noticed if you went by the house.  Out there in a yard is a lot of my outdoor Christmas decorations.  I put out only stuff that needed to be staked into the ground (the plastic stuff will come out later this week).  My friends and colleagues felt that it was way too early to be putting stuff out and that since it wasn’t even Advent yet, I was somehow being a poor example for my congregation members.  My view?  The ground was going to freeze and I needed to get it out and in the ground before it froze.  There was an opportunity and I took it because if I had waited, it might have gone by and then it would have been twice the work to get that stuff into the ground.

Opportunity.  I think sometimes the Lord gives us a chance, an opportunity, to do something or be part of something pretty cool, something way cooler than putting Christmas stuff in the ground.  The Lord might give you an opportunity to use your gifts to make a positive impact in the life of someone else or help someone in need.  The Lord might give you an opportunity to give of your financial resources in such a way that you help a ministry grow and thrive.  There is an opportunity to share love and hope with another human being, whether it be a friend or stranger.  Opportunities open up where you are in the right place and right time to hear the Gospel message of hope, forgiveness, and new life that lifts you from despair.

The Lord gives us opportunities every day to not only see God’s presence in our lives, but to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ and make difference in big and small ways in the world.  In taking those opportunities, you might get criticized.  But let your heart and eye be opened to see those opportunities and don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith in seizing those opportunities.  You never know what awesome things might come from taking that leap.

Despite all the junk I got about getting my stuff in the ground, that night as it snowed and I felt a little sense of pride that I had not missed the opportunity that we presented to me.  And I gave thanks to God for the opportunity.  Every day I see the opportunities that God puts in front of me to show me that my Savior is there, that I have a calling to love my neighbor, and that I’m blessed with so much.  May you seize the opportunities God puts in your life and take a moment to see how much you are loved, saved, and called.  Have a great week!