This Week in Worship October 21-22, 2017
October 16, 2017
In today’s first reading God uses the Gentile ruler Cyrus to accomplish divine purposes. When the Pharisees try to trap Jesus, he tells them to give the emperor what belongs to him and to God what belongs to God. To gather for worship reminds us that our ultimate allegiance is to God rather than to any earthly authority. Created in the image of God, we offer our entire selves in the service of God and for the sake of the world.
 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Most likely this letter is the first written by Paul. Paul is giving pastoral encouragement and reassurances to new Christians living in an antagonistic pagan environment. Their commitment of faith, love, and hope makes them a model for other new Christian communities.
1Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, 
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 
Grace to you and peace.
2We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly 3remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, 5because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. 6And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, 7so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. 9For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, 10and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.
Matthew 22:15-22
After Jesus begins teaching in the temple, religious leaders try to trap him with questions. First they ask if God’s people should pay taxes to an earthly tyrant like Caesar.
15Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap [Jesus] in what he said. 16So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. 17Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” 18But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

This Week in Worship - October 14-15, 2017
October 09, 2017
In Isaiah we are given a vision of the great feast to come, when God will wipe away death forever. In Jesus’ parable about a great banquet, those invited do not come, so the invitation is extended to others. In our liturgy God spreads a table before us. Even amid anxiety and hardship we rejoice in the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. With great joy we feast at the table of the Lord, and we go forth to share the wonderful invitation with others hungering and thirsting for the abundant life of God.
Philippians 4:1-9
Though writing from prison and facing an uncertain future, Paul calls on the Philippians to rejoice and give thanks to God no matter what the circumstance. God’s peace is with us and binds together our hearts and minds in Jesus Christ, especially when things around us do not seem peaceful.
1My brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.   2I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Matthew 22:1-14
Jesus tells a parable indicating that the blessings of God’s kingdom are available to all, but the invitation is not to be taken lightly.
1Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ 5But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14For many are called, but few are chosen.”
This Week in Worship - October 7-8, 2017
October 02, 2017
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus tells a parable of the vineyard, an image of Israel, the prophets’ mission, and Christ’s death. For Christians, the vineyard also speaks of God’s love poured out in the blood of Christ, given to us for the forgiveness of sin. Grafted onto Christ the vine at baptism, we are nourished with wine and bread, that we may share Christ’s sufferings and know the power of his resurrection.
Philippians 3:4b-14
Paul reviews some of his supposed credentials, which no longer have any bearing in comparison to the right relationship he has been given through the death of Christ. The power of Christ’s resurrection motivates him to press on toward the ultimate goal, eternal life with Christ.
[Paul writes:] 
4bIf anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
7Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
12Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 21:33-46
Jesus tells a parable to the religious leaders who are plotting his death, revealing that their plans will, ironically, bring about the fulfillment of scripture.
[Jesus said to the people:] 
33“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ 39So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”
42Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: 
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?
43Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”
45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.
This Week in Worship - October 7-8, 2017
October 02, 2017

This Week in Worship - Sept. 30 - Oct.1, 2017
September 28, 2017
Jesus’ parable about two sons who don’t do what they say reveals surprises in the reign of God, such as prostitutes and tax collectors going before others into God’s kingdom. In the reading from Ezekiel the people question whether the ways of the Lord are unfair; instead they are to repent and turn to the Lord. Paul urges us to look to Christ as a model of humility, looking to the interests of others above our own. Nourished by the broken bread and shared cup, we offer our lives for the sake of our needy world.
 Philippians 2:1-13
As part of a call for harmony rather than self-seeking, Paul uses a very early Christian hymn that extols the selflessness of Christ in his obedient death on the cross. Christ’s selfless perspective is to be the essential perspective we share as the foundation for Christian accord.
1If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
9Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
12Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Matthew 21:23-32
After driving the moneychangers out of the temple (21:12), Jesus begins teaching there. His authority is questioned by the religious leaders, who are supposed to be in charge of the temple.
23When [Jesus] entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
28“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.”
This Week in Worship - September 23-24, 2017
September 18, 2017
Matthew narrates one of Jesus’ controversial parables, in which Jesus says the reign of God is like workers who get paid the same no matter when they start. When God changes his mind about punishing Nineveh for their evil ways, Jonah is angry. Yet God is gracious and merciful, abounding in steadfast love. In baptism we receive the grace of God that is freely given to all. As Luther wrote, in the presence of God’s mercy we are all beggars.
Jonah 3:10--4:11
After Jonah’s short sermon in 3:4, the Ninevites all repented and God decided to spare the city. Jonah objected to this and became even more angry when God ordered a worm to destroy a plant that was providing shade. The book ends with a question that challenges any who are not ready to forgive: You, Jonah, are all worked up about a bush, but should not I be concerned about a hundred and twenty thousand Ninevites who do not know the difference between their right and left hands?
10When God saw what [the people of Ninevah] did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
4:1But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. 2He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. 3And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4And the Lordsaid, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 5Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city.
 6The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. 7But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. 8When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
 9But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.” 10Then the Lord said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”
Matthew 20:1-16
Jesus tells a parable about God’s generosity, challenging the common assumption that God rewards people according to what they have earned or deserve.
[Jesus said to the disciples:] 1“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 7They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

This Week in Worship - September 16-17, 2017
September 11, 2017
In today’s second reading Paul questions why we judge one another, since we all stand before the judgment of God. Yet we do sin against one another, and Jesus’ challenge that we forgive seventy-seven times reveals God’s boundless mercy. When we hear the words of forgiveness in worship and sign ourselves with the cross, we are renewed in baptism to be signs of reconciliation in the world.
Romans 14:1-12
This Christian community has significant struggles with diversity. Here Paul helps us understand that despite different practices in worship and personal piety, we do not judge one another. All Christians belong to the Lord Jesus Christ who died for all of us and will judge each of us.
1Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. 2Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
 5Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. 6Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.
 7We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
 10Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11For it is written, 
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.”
12So then, each of us will be accountable to God.
Matthew 18:21-35
When Peter asks about the limits of forgiveness, Jesus responds with a parable that suggests human forgiveness should mirror the unlimited mercy of God.
21Peter came and said to [Jesus], “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
 23“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. 35So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

This Weekend in Worship - September 9-10, 2017
September 05, 2017
Conflict is a part of relationships and life in community. Jesus’ words in today's gospel are often used in situations having to do with church discipline. The prophet Ezekiel tells of warning the wicked to turn from their ways, and Paul reminds us that love is the fulfilling of the law. We gather in the name of Christ, assured that he is present among us with gifts of peace and reconciliation.

Romans 13:8-14
The obligation of Christians is to love one another and so fulfill the heart and goal of the law. Clothes make the person as we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” and live today in light of the future God has in store for us.
8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
 11Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Matthew 18:15-20
Jesus offers practical advice to his disciples on how individuals—and the church as a whole—should show wrongdoers their need for repentance.
[Jesus said to the disciples:] 15“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

This Weekend in Worship - September 2-3, 2017
August 28, 2017
When Peter doesn’t grasp Jesus’ words about suffering, Jesus tells the disciples they will find their lives in losing them. Such sacrificial love is described by Paul when he urges us to associate with the lowly and not repay evil with evil. In worship we gather as a community that we might offer ourselves for the sake of our suffering world.

Romans 12:9-21
Paul presents benchmarks for faithful relationships with Christians and non-Christians. Love is the unflagging standard of our behavior. When we encounter evil, we do not resort to its tactics but seek to overcome it with good. While Christians cannot control the actions and attitudes of others, we seek to live at peace with all people.
9Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Matthew 16:21-28
After Peter confesses that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (16:16), Jesus reveals the ultimate purpose of his ministry. These words prove hard to accept, even for a disciple whom Jesus has called a “rock.”
21From that time on, [after Peter confessed that Jesus was the Messiah,] Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
 24Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
 27“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

This Weekend in Worship - August 26-27, 2017
August 22, 2017
Jesus declares that the church will be built on the rock of Peter’s bold confession of faith. God’s word of reconciliation and mercy are keys to the church’s mission. Paul urges us to not be conformed to this world, but to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, using our individual gifts to build up the body of Christ. From the table we go forth to offer our spiritual worship through word and deed.

Psalm 138 O Lord, your steadfast love endures forever. (Ps. 138:8)
1I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I will sing your praise.
2I will bow down toward your holy temple and praise your name, because of your steadfast love and faithfulness;
for you have glorified your name and your word above all things.
3When I called, you answered me;
you increased my strength within me.
4All the rulers of the earth will praise you, O Lord,
when they have heard the words of your mouth. 
5They will sing of the ways of the Lord,
that great is the glory of the Lord.
6The Lord is high, yet cares for the lowly,
perceiving the haughty from afar.
7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe;
you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies; your right hand shall save me.
8You will make good your purpose for me;
O Lord, your steadfast love endures forever; do not abandon the works of your hands. 

Matthew 16:13-20 At a climactic point in Jesus’ ministry, God reveals to Peter that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” and Jesus responds with the promise of a church that will overcome the very gates of Hades.
13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

This Weekend in Worship - August 19-20, 2017
August 15, 2017
In Isaiah we hear that God’s house shall be a house of prayer for all people and that God will gather the outcasts of Israel. The Canaanite woman in today’s gospel is a Gentile, an outsider, who is unflinching in her request that Jesus heal her daughter. As Jesus commends her bold faith, how might our church extend its mission to those on the margins of society? In our gathering around word and meal we receive strength to be signs of comfort, healing, and justice for those in need.

Isaiah 56:1, 6-8 The prophet calls upon Israel to do justice in view of God’s imminent intervention to save. Righteousness and obedience define who belongs to the Israelite community—not race, nationality, or any other category.
1Thus says the Lord:
Maintain justice, and do what is right,
for soon my salvation will come,
and my deliverance be revealed.

6And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it,
and hold fast my covenant—
7these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.
8Thus says the Lord God,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel,
I will gather others to them
besides those already gathered.

Matt 15:21-28 Jesus teaches his disciples that true purity is a matter of the heart rather than outward religious observances. Almost immediately, this teaching is tested when a woman considered to be pagan and unclean approaches him for help.

 21Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” 23But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” 24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 27She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

This Week in Worship August 12-13, 2017
August 07, 2017
Elijah finds the presence of God not in earthquake, wind, or fire, but in the sound of sheer silence. When the disciples face a great storm on the sea, they cry out with fear. Jesus says: “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Amid the storms of life, we gather to seek the calm presence of Christ that soothes our fears. In comforting words of scripture and in the refreshing bread and cup of the eucharist, God grants us peace and sends us forth to be a sign of God’s presence to others.

1 Kings 19:9-12
On Mount Horeb, where God had appeared to Moses with typical signs of God’s presence—earthquake, wind, and fire—Elijah now experienced God in “sheer silence.” God assured Elijah that he is not the only faithful believer. Seven thousand Israelites are still loyal. God instructed Elijah to anoint two men as kings and to anoint Elisha as his own successor.
9At [Horeb, the mount of God,][Elijah] came to a cave, and spent the night there. 
Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 
10He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”
11He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lordwas not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 1

Matthew 14:22-33
Matthew’s gospel typically portrays Jesus’ disciples as people of “little faith” who fail despite their best intentions. In this story, Matthew shows how Jesus comes to the disciples when they are in trouble and sustains them in their time of fear and doubt.
22[Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side [of the Sea of Galilee], while he dismissed the crowds.23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
28Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
This Week in Worship - Aug. 5-6, 2017
July 31, 2017
In today’s first reading God invites all who are hungry or thirsty to receive food and drink without cost. Jesus feeds the hungry multitude and reveals the abundance of God. At the Eucharistic table we remember all who are hungry or poor in our world today. As we share the bread of life, we are sent forth to give ourselves away as bread for the hungry.

Isaiah 55:1-5 God invites Israel to a great feast at which both food and drink are free. God also promises to make an everlasting covenant with all the people, with promises that previously had been limited to the line of kings. As David was a witness to the nations, these nations shall now acknowledge the ways in which God has glorified Israel.
1Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3Incline your ear, and come to me;
listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
4See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
5See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.

Matt 14:13-21
After John the Baptist is murdered, Jesus desires a time of solitude. Still, his compassion for others will not allow him to dismiss those who need him, and he is moved to perform one of his greatest miracles.
13 Now when Jesus heard [about the beheading of John the Baptist], he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 
20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

This Week in Worship - July 29-30, 2017
July 27, 2017
As Solomon prays for wisdom, we seek to more deeply know the treasures of faith. In today’s gospel Jesus offers everyday images that reveal to us the reign of God: a tree that becomes a sheltering home, yeast that penetrates and expands, a treasured pearl, a net that gains a great catch. Even as we seek the riches of God’s reign, the great surprise is that God’s grace finds us first!
 10It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.”

Gospel: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
Throughout Matthew’s gospel, Jesus and his disciples proclaim the good news that “the kingdom of heaven is near!” Here, Jesus offers several brief parables that explore the implications of this announcement for people’s lives.
31Jesus put before the crowds another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field;32it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
 33He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
 44“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
 45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
 47“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
 51“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

For Worship July 22-23, 2017
July 17, 2017
It is an age-old question: why is there evil in the world? In the parable of the wheat and the weeds Jesus suggests that both grow together until the harvest. With Paul, we long for the day that all creation will be set free from bondage and suffering. Having both weeds and wheat within us, we humbly place our hope in the promises of God, and from the Lord’s table we go forth to bear the fruit of justice and mercy.
Second Reading: Romans 8:12-25
For Paul, true spirituality means that we experience the reality of the Spirit, which enables us to pray as God’s children, keeps us in solidarity with creation, and gives us unseen hope that God will liberate us and creation from bondage to death and decay.
12So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—13for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

 18I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Gospel: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Jesus tells a parable about the co-existence of good and evil in this world. God’s judgment will remove all evildoers and causes of sin, but not until the end of human history.
24[Jesus] put before [the crowds] another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field;25but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ”
 36Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!”

For Worship July 15-16, 2017
July 11, 2017
God’s word is like the rain that waters the earth and brings forth vegetation. It is also like the sower who scatters seed indiscriminately. Our lives are like seeds sown in the earth. Even from what appears to be little, dormant, or dead, God promises a harvest. At the Lord’s table we are fed with the bread of life, that we may bear fruit in the world.
First Reading: Isaiah 55:10-13
God’s word to Israel’s exiles is as sure and effective as never-failing precipitation. Their return to the Holy Land in a new exodus is cheered on by singing mountains and by trees that clap their hands.
10For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

12For you shall go out in joy,
and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
Psalm: Psalm 65:[1-8] 9-13
Your paths overflow with plenty. (Ps. 65:11)
[ 1You are to be praised, O God, in Zion;
to you shall vows be fulfilled.
2To you, the one who answers prayer,
to you all flesh shall come.
3Our sins are strong- er than we are,
but you blot out our transgressions.
4Happy are they whom you choose and draw to your courts to dwell there!
They will be satisfied by the beauty of your house, by the holiness of your temple. R
5Awesome things will you show us in your righteousness, O God of our salvation,
O hope of all the ends of the earth and of the oceans far away.
6You make firm the mountains by your power;
you are girded a- bout with might.
7You still the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves, and the clamor of the peoples.
8Those who dwell at the ends of the earth will tremble at your marvelous signs;
you make the dawn and the dusk to sing for joy. R
]  9You visit the earth and water it abundantly; you make it very plenteous; the river of God is full of water.
You prepare the grain, for so you provide for the earth.
10You drench the furrows and smooth out the ridges;
with heavy rain you soften the ground and bless its increase.
11You crown the year with your goodness,
and your paths over- flow with plenty.
12May the fields of the wilderness be rich for grazing,
and the hills be clothed with joy.
13May the meadows cover themselves with flocks, and the valleys cloak them- selves with grain;
let them shout for joy and sing. R
Second Reading: Romans 8:1-11
There is no condemnation for those who live in Christ. God sent Christ to accomplish what the law was unable to do: condemn sin and free us from its slavery. The Spirit now empowers proper actions and values in our lives and gives us the promise of resurrected life.
1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
 9But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
Gospel: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
In Matthew’s gospel, both Jesus and his disciples “sow the seed” of God’s word by proclaiming the good news that “the kingdom of heaven is near.” Now, in a memorable parable, Jesus explains why this good news produces different results in those who hear.
1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9Let anyone with ears listen!”

 18“Hear then the parable of the sower. 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

For Worship July 8-9, 2017
July 03, 2017
The mystery of God’s ways is sometimes hidden from the wise and intelligent. Jesus associates with the lowly and outcast. Like Paul, we struggle with our own selfish desires and seek God’s mercy and forgiveness. We gather to be refreshed by Christ’s invitation: “Come to me, all you that are weary.” Gathered around word, water, and meal, we find rest for our souls.
First Reading: Zechariah 9:9-12
The coming messianic king will inaugurate an era of disarmament and prosperity. Because of God’s covenant with Israel, they are designated as “prisoners of hope.”
9Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the war-horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
and he shall command peace to the nations;
his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
11As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
12Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
today I declare that I will restore to you double.
Gospel: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
Jesus chides people who find fault with both his ministry and that of John the Baptist. He thanks God that wisdom and intelligence are not needed to receive what God has to offer.
[Jesus spoke to the crowd saying:] 16“To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
17‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; 19the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
 25At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
 28“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

For Worship July 1-2
June 26, 2017
The welcome of baptism is for all God’s children. This baptismal gift sets us free from the power of sin and death. In today’s gospel, Christ promises that the disciple who gives a cup of cold water to the little ones serves Christ himself. From worship we are sent on our baptismal mission: to serve the little ones of this world and to be a sign of God’s merciful welcome.
Psalm: Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18
Your love, O Lord, forever will I sing. (Ps. 89:1)
Your love, O Lord, forever will I sing;
from age to age my mouth will pro- claim your faithfulness.
For I am persuaded that your steadfast love is estab- lished forever;
you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens.
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn an oath to David my servant:
‘I will establish your line forever,
and preserve your throne for all generations.’
Happy are the people who know the festal shout!
They walk, O Lord, in the light of your presence.
They rejoice daily in your name;
they are jubilant in your righteousness.
For you are the glory of their strength,
and by your favor our might is exalted.
Truly, our shield belongs to the Lord;
our king to the Holy One of Israel
Gospel: Matthew 10:40-42
When Jesus sends his disciples out as missionaries, he warns them of persecution and hardships they will face. He also promises to reward any who aid his followers and support their ministry.
Jesus said to the twelve: 
40“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
This Week in Worship - June 24-25, 2017
June 19, 2017
Jesus declares that his words may not bring peace, but division. In baptism we are buried with Christ that we may walk in newness of life. As we take stands for the sake of justice and lose our lives for the sake of others, we need not be afraid. The hairs of our head are counted. In baptism we are marked with the cross of Christ forever.

Romans 6:1b-11
In baptism we were incorporated into the reality of Christ’s death. Our lives in the present are marked and shaped by his crucifixion, just as our lives in the future will be marked and shaped by his resurrection.

Matthew 10:24-39
Jesus warns his disciples that their ministry in his name will meet with opposition, requiring absolute trust in God and an unswerving commitment to their Lord.

This Week in Worship - June 17-18 - 2nd Sunday after Pentacost
June 12, 2017
Moses tells the Israelites that they are called to be a priestly kingdom and a holy people. Jesus sends out the disciples as laborers into the harvest. In baptism we too are anointed for ministry, sharing God’s compassion with our needy world. From the Lord’s table, we go forth to proclaim the good news, to heal the sick, and to share our bread with the hungry.

Exodus 19:2-8a
At Sinai God assured Israel, “You shall be my treasured possession,” and commissioned them to serve as mediating priests for the nations. The people commit themselves completely to God’s will.

Matthew  9:35--10:8
The mission of Jesus’ followers is to continue the mission of Jesus himself. Here, he instructs his first disciples how they might proclaim the gospel through their words and deeds.

This Week in Worship - June 10-11
June 05, 2017
Though the word trinity is not found in the scriptures, this week’s second reading includes the apostolic greeting that begins the liturgy: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. In the gospel Jesus sends his disciples forth to baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. More than a doctrine, the Trinity expresses the heart of our faith: we have experienced the God of creation made known in Jesus Christ and with us always through the Holy Spirit. We celebrate the mystery of the Holy Trinity in word and sacrament, as we profess the creed, and as we are sent into the world to bear witness to our faith.

2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Paul closes a challenging letter to the Corinthians with an appeal to Christian fellowship grounded in the triune harmony of Christ’s grace, God’s love, the Spirit’s partnership.

Matthew 28:16-20
After his resurrection, Jesus summons his remaining disciples and commissions them to baptize and teach all nations in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This Week in Worship June 3-4
June 01, 2017
June 3-4 The Day of Pentecost
Today’s festival derives its name from the Jewish festival of Pentecost, observed fifty days after Passover. On the fiftieth day of Easter we celebrate the Holy Spirit as the power of God among us that heals, forgives, inspires, and unites. In the reading from Acts, images of wind and fire describe the Spirit poured out on disciples of all nations. In John’s gospel the risen Christ breathes the Spirit on his followers on Easter evening. In the one Spirit we are baptized into one body, and at the Lord’s table the Spirit unites us for witness in the world.

Acts 2:1-21
Pentecost was a Jewish harvest festival that marked the fiftieth day after Passover. Luke portrays the Holy Spirit being poured out upon the disciples before the gathered and astonished people assembled in Jerusalem for the festival. Filled with the Spirit, the disciples were able to witness to the power of Christ’s resurrection.

John 20:19-23
The risen Jesus appears to his disciples, offering them a benediction, a commission, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This Week in Worship May 27-28
May 22, 2017
In these days between Ascension and Pentecost, we gather with the disciples in the upper room, waiting for the Spirit to transform the church around the world. In today’s gospel Jesus prays for his followers and for their mission in his name. Amid religious, social, and economic divisions, we seek the unity that Jesus had with his Father. Made one in baptism, we go forth to live our faith in the world, eager for the unity that God intends for the whole human family.

Acts 1:6-14
Today’s reading is part of the introduction to the narrative of the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost. These verses tell of the risen Lord’s conversation with his disciples on the eve of his ascension.
John 17:1-11
On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus prays to his heavenly Father, asking that those who continue his work in this world will live in unity.

For Worship This Week - May 20-21
May 15, 2017
Jesus does not leave his followers orphaned. Through the Holy Spirit Jesus comes to abide with his disciples of every generation. As Pentecost draws near, we are reminded that the risen Christ dwells in us as the Spirit of truth. We receive this Spirit in baptism and pray that in our gathering around the Lord’s table the Spirit will transform us to be the body of the risen Christ in the world.

1 Peter 3:13-22

Christians have a zeal for doing what is right in God’s eyes no matter what the circumstances because in baptism we are saved and made alive. Thus our Christian beliefs and behavior are to be a matter of public record just as our baptism is.
John 14:15-21 
Christ our advocate. In final words to his disciples on the night of his arrest, Jesus encourages obedience to his commandments and speaks of the Spirit, who will be with them forever.

This Week in Worship May 13-14
May 08, 2017
As we continue to celebrate the fifty days of Easter, this week’s gospel includes Jesus’ promise that he goes to prepare a place for his followers in his Father’s house.Our baptism commissions us to share Jesus’ mission in the world. As First Peter reminds us, we are a holy people, called to proclaim the one who called us out of darkness into light. In words and deeds we bear witness to the risen Christ—our way, our truth, our life.

1 Peter 2:2-10
Christ is the cornerstone of God’s saving work and the foundation of our lives. We are God’s chosen, holy people who continuously celebrate and declare the mercy of God we experience through Jesus Christ.
John 14:1-14
On the night that he is to be arrested, Jesus shares final words with his disciples. As the one through whom God is known, he promises to go before them and act on their behalf.

For Worship May 6-7, 2017
May 04, 2017
This Weekend we celebrate “Good Shepherd” Sunday. The image of the Good Shepherd is one of the earliest Christian images and one of the most popular. When in the early centuries of the church Christians first began to draw pictures of Jesus, they depicted him as the good shepherd. 

We will speak together the words of the beautiful 23rd Psalm. Although we often hear the 23rd psalm at funerals, it is really a message for every stage of our lives, and a reminder that God is with us through our brightest and darkest moments.

We hear part of John 10, and John’s Gospel tells us how Jesus is the gate where we sheep can enter into God’s kingdom.  This entire chapter elaborates on the image of Jesus as the shepherd, and parts of it are used every year on Good Shepherd Sunday. Come to worship, and join the rest of the sheep in honoring our good, good shepherd.

See you in church! Shalom,

Pastor Susan

For Worship May 6-7, 2017
May 01, 2017
This Sunday is called “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Jesus is called the “gate” of the sheep in this week's gospel. The risen Christ opens the way to abundant life. He anoints our heads with oil and guides us beside the still waters of our baptism. Each Sunday he spreads a feast before us in the midst of the world’s violence and war. We go forth to be signs of the resurrection and extend God’s tender care to all creation.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. 
John 10:1-10
Jesus uses an image familiar to the people of his day to make a point about spiritual leadership. Good shepherds bring people to life through Jesus, but those who avoid Jesus are dangerous to the flock.
For Worship April 29-30
April 27, 2017
This Weekend Worship celebrates St. Philip and St. James, Apostles. Philip was born in Bethsaida, the same fishing village on the shores of Galilee from which Peter and Andrew came. He was one of the first disciples to follow Jesus, and brought Nathanael to the Lord, as recorded in John’s Gospel, 1:43-51.

James the son of Alphaeus is usually called James the Less (meaning younger) to distinguish him from James the Elder, the brother of John, and from James of Jerusalem, the brother of the Lord.  This day is kept as the feast day of St. Philip and St. James since 561 when on that date the supposed remains of the two saints were interred in the Church of the Apostles in Rome.

Feast days are Red in color, so you will see the church adorned in red, with the beautiful red banners suspended from the ceiling (thank you, John and Lynn Kautz!). The Rite of Affirmation of Baptism (Confirmation) will be celebrated at the 9:15 service. Please pray for these six beautiful young people as they reach this important milestone in the faith.

See you in church! Shalom,
Pastor Susan

For Worship April 22-23, 2017
April 20, 2017
What a wonderful Holy Week we just experienced, climaxed by over 900 joining us for worship on Easter morning. A huge thanks to all of the volunteers and staff who contributed to making the week a great success. 

This weekend we celebrate Earth Day, a holiday that did not emerge from our Christian tradition, but one that is very relevant to our identity as those created in the image of God and “given dominion” over the world we live in.  I hope you’ll join us this weekend as we reflect on our call to be stewards of this amazing earth that we are blessed to inhabit. The creation care team also has something special planned. 

Don’t forget that there will be a congregational meeting on Sunday at 8:45 am in the Sanctuary where we will vote on new council members, receive ministry reports, and take care of other important business. 

See you in church!
Pastor Josh

For Worship April 13-16, 2017
April 12, 2017
Maundy Thursday is tomorrow. The word Maundy is derived from the Latin word for “command.” The “Maundy” in “Maundy Thursday” refers to the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper, that they should love and serve one another. Our lovely 7:00pm service concludes with the stripping of the altar in preparation for Good Friday.

Good Friday’s service is the most dramatic of the church year. It begins with the “Bidding Prayer”, an ancient prayer form that is inclusive of God’s creation and the countries and peoples of the world. Then the service moves to the service of Tenebrae, a service that moves from light into darkness as the events of Jesus’ last day unfold. The choir leads us through the events of that day with the Cantata, “In Calvary’s Shadow”.

The glories of Easter are revealed at 6:00am, 8:00am, 9:15am and 10:30am on Easter Day. 6:00am is Sunrise in the outdoor worship area. Our 8:00am and 9:15am are identical brass and choir celebrations, with “The Gathering” at 10:30am in the Nausin Center bringing a contemporary spin to our worship. EASTER BREAKFAST is served from 7:00am – 11:00am in Linder Hall.

Bring a friend to worship. See you in church!

Pastor Susan

For Worship April 8-9, 2017
April 06, 2017
This weekend Holy Week begins. We will gather on the patio for the Blessing of the Palms before each service. Everyone will have their own palm branch! Then we will enter the sanctuary joyfully as we recall Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  Keep your palm branch, as is traditional, put it behind a picture of Jesus in your home, and bring it back for our service of Farewell to Alleluia on Ash Wednesday Eve next year.

Our Holy Week continues with Worship on Maundy Thursday at 7:00pm when we recall Jesus’ mandate to Love One Another. Good Friday Worship at 7:00pm will include the Cantata “In Calvary’s Shadow” and the service of Tenebrae, from light into darkness.

Then the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord at 6:00am, 8:00am, 9:15am, and 10:30am. Remember that the 8:00am and 9:15am services are identical, so please plan to come to the 8:00am to leave room for visitors.

We will have two Memorial services this Saturday. Miriam Vetter’s service will be at 9:30am and Ryan David Lockett Scholer’s service at 2:00pm. We mourn because we are human, but we rejoice in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection we will share with our Lord.  

This is a wonderful opportunity to invite someone to church. Everyone needs an Easter home!

See you in church. Shalom,
Pastor Susan

For Worship April 1-2, 2017
March 30, 2017
This week’s Gospel is the story of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead – a story that clearly communicates Jesus’ great power over even death itself.  There’s a lot about this story, though, that isn’t so clear. Why didn’t Jesus go earlier to Lazarus and heal him before he died, sparing his family and friends the grief?  Why did Jesus cry when he knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead a few moments later?  What did Jesus really mean by claiming to be the resurrection and the life?

I hope you will join us this weekend as we seek to answer these questions and explore the relevance of this great story for our lives today.  This weekend we will also be receiving new members and blessing our Haiti team that will depart on Tuesday. 

See you in worship!
Pastor Josh

For Worship March 25-26, 2017
March 23, 2017
This weekend we will take a closer look at Samuel’s anointing of David to be the next king of Israel. These days, we remember David as one of the greatest kings and most famous individuals in the Bible. At the time God chose him though, there couldn’t have been a more unlikely candidate. 

The truth is God chooses unlikely candidates to play important roles in his Kingdom. Think there is no way God could ever use you? Think again! I hope you’ll join us this weekend as we explore what it means that God has chosen you. 

Please note that there will be a new member class offered at three different times this weekend (6pm on Saturday/10:15am or 11:30am on Sunday). Also, this weekend is your last chance to bring supplies for Haiti as the TVLC team will be heading out April 4th.  

See you in church (and Bear Down!),
Pastor Josh

For Worship March 11-12, 2017
March 09, 2017
This weekend, we hear the familiar passage from John about Jesus's encounter by night with Nicodemus.  Often the focus of John 3:16 seems to be on the words “everyone who believes . . . may have . . .”  What if the focus was placed on the first part of the verse: “For God so loved the world that he gave”?  God’s love gives.  Think of the beautiful list that sentence could produce.  Imagine all that God’s love has already given to you.  Loving is giving.  How does God's love inspire you to give to others?

We also welcome Reverend Bishop Steve Talmage of the Grand Canyon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America  who will deliver the sermon at all four of our services: Saturday 5:00pm and Sunday 8:00am, 9:15am and 10:30am.

Bishop Talmage will lead the Installation of Pastor Susan as the Lead Pastor of Tanque Verde Lutheran Church during the 9:15am worship on Sunday. This festive service will include a majestic prelude and postlude by organist Lars Andersen and music by the Chancel Choir, the Saturday Night Musicians and the Tintinnabulation youth handbell ensemble. Many clergy and congregational leaders will also participate in the service. After the service, please plan to stay a while and celebrate with cake on the patio!     

For Worship March 4-5, 2017
March 02, 2017
The wilderness is a foreboding place…  Have you ever been there?  Times of doubt, failure, pain, suffering, fear…  The wilderness is a place we try to avoid.  But what if the Spirit leads us into the wilderness?  This could be a time of testing and life changing events.  The wilderness shaped Jesus life and ministry.  How can it change and shape your life?

Worship with us this weekend and reflect on where the Spirit may lead you.  We will have a guest preacher this weekend:  Pastor Tim Swanson, Pastor Susan’s husband.

All the clergy-retired or otherwise- at TVLC are invited to process and participate in the Service of Installation for Pastor Susan Swanson at the 9:15 service on Sunday, March 12. Bishop Steve Talmage will be preaching. The color of the day is purple. If you no longer have a robe or stole the Swanson’s have plenty to spare!

Pastor Susan H. Swanson

For Worship February 25-26, 2017
February 24, 2017
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings..." Matthew 17:4

It’s good to be here… in the mountains.  I love the Mountains.  Makes me want to go camping…pitch a tent, escape the problems of the world, see the stars, the beautiful rich glow of a sunrise and the brilliant colors of the sunset painting the clouds in spectacular hues of gold, orange, and red.  To live simply, in the wilderness.

Ah…and just so the Hebrew people recalled the feast of “Booths” fondly-- remembering pitching their tents and camping in the wilderness for 40 years.

See you in Worship for "the rest of the story"!

Pastor Susan Swanson

For Worship February 18-19
February 17, 2017
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5:38

We’ve been delving into Jesus’ sermon on the mount the past couple weeks, and Jesus has been breaking down the religious leaders’ understanding of righteousness by putting forth a much higher standard than even the strictest follower of the law could possibly keep.  He concludes this section with the highest standard of all – to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. 

Our first response on hearing this should rightly be to throw up our arms and admit our need for God’s grace. We would be mistaken to stop there, though, because God does have a “good, pleasing, and perfect will” for our lives and our world. I hope you’ll join us this weekend as we consider what Jesus’ teaching says about God’s perfect intentions for us and how we can better strive for that goal. 

See you in worship…
Pastor Josh

For Worship February 11-12, 2017
February 09, 2017
Jesus teaches us in our gospel for this weekend (Matthew 5:21-37) some tenets of the Christian faith and life. Jesus teaches that our actions flow from our hearts.  The Biblical understanding of the heart is not how we feel but how we think.  How we feel is raw emotion.  But we can control how we react to those emotions.  What we think leads to actions.  When we understand and treasure God's Word in our hearts, we are able to control our emotional responses and filter them through the lens of our faith. Our Psalm for this weekend says “I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous ordinances...I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you. Psalm 119:7 & 11.           

Had a great visit this week to Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest  (LSS-SW). It was good to see the many things they are involved with, including refugee services, foster care, and Elder care. We have such a wonderful resource right here in our own city. Please take some time to find out about this great resource and how you can get involved. Talk to Fran Marian for more info, or 520-419-3561.

Pastor Susan

For Worship February 4-5, 2017
February 03, 2017
Hide it under a bushel, no!  I’m gonna let it shine!

There’s no question that darkness is a reality in our world. Greed and selfishness. Addiction and broken relationships. Poverty and injustice. Discrimination and fear. Jesus in our Gospel lesson for this weekend commissions us as his followers to shine his light into that darkness.  I’m not sure how comfortable you are with the task of bearing light to the world, but that is the very task that Jesus entrusts you with! 

Join us this weekend as we consider what it means to let our little lights shine, and how we can do so more boldly and brightly.  Don’t forget to bring some spare change or bills to drop in the pot of your team of choice to support of the Souper Bowl of Caring this weekend.  All donations will support ELCA World Hunger. 

See you in worship…
Pastor Josh

For Worship January 25-26, 2017
February 01, 2017
Get in sync!

This weekend we hear the familiar words of Jesus known as the Beautitudes. (Matthew 5:1-12). Beatitude means "blessedness". What does it mean to be “blessed”?  Are we living out our call to be “blessed?”  

Our lesson from the Old Testament this week is Micah 5:1-12. This familiar passage also gives us insight into what it means to be “blessed". Micah writes:  “…what does the Lord  require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

To "walk" with God in Hebrew means to be in following God's statutes and ordinances--to be "in sync" with God.  And this synchronization is, indeed, a blessing. 

A new cross was installed at the Outdoor Chapel las week Thanks to Gordon Hunter for his workmanship which made this project possible!  After worship this weekend you may want to talk a “walk” by the Outdoor Chapel and the Way of the Cross.  This may be a good way to begin your “walk” this week.

Pastor Susan

For Worship January 21-22, 2017
January 19, 2017
“Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”  –Matthew 4:20

This week. our Gospel lesson shares about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and his calling of the first disciples to come and follow him. The text makes sure to point out the immediacy at which these disciples decisively responded to this call to follow Jesus, which is admirable the hesitancy we often have in responding to God’s calling in our lives.  What was it for these disciples that led them to drop everything to follow Jesus?  And how can we more faithfully and decisively follow Jesus today?  I hope you’ll join us this weekend as we wrestle with these important questions.  

A reminder that our annual e-waste drive will be held this Saturday morning from 9am to noon - a great chance to responsibly rid your home of old, broken, and outdated electronics.  Also, don’t forget that there will be a congregational meeting at 8:50am in the Sanctuary to approve the 2017 budget.

See you in church!
Pastor Josh

For Worship January 14-15, 2017
January 16, 2017
"...because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, has chosen you.”  Isaiah 49:7b

We begin our journey together in worship this weekend.  You have called me to be your lead pastor.  What will our ministry together be like?  What will be the fruits of our labor?  What changes and challenges will be in our future?  I don't have the answers.  But I do know this:  God "has chosen you" and me.  The Lord is faithful.  Together let us be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit as we "Follow Christ Jesus and Share His Love".  Let us with great joy live into God's great future together.

Pastor Susan Swanson

For Worship January 7-8, 2017
January 06, 2017
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” –Isaiah 60:1

This weekend we will celebrate Epiphany and the light that pours into our life with the coming of Christ.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of darkness that infringes on our lives and our world – darkness that can drag us down, and leave us feeling defeat and despair.  We celebrate, though, that the light has come in this child who was born for us on Christmas Day, is a light that no darkness can overcome.

Join us this weekend as we consider how we can better welcome the light of Christ into our lives in the coming year, and radiate that light into the places of darkness in our world that need it most. 

A reminder that we will begin our new worship schedule this weekend with the beginning of our new Gathering service. On Saturday evenings we will continue to have one service at 5:00pm in the Sanctuary, and on Sunday mornings we will worship at 8:00am and 9:15am in the Sanctuary, and at 10:30am in the Nausin Family Life Center.  Sunday School will continue to be held during the 9:15am service, with children being dismissed after the children’s message.  Those families attending the Gathering who are planning to have their kids attend Sunday school should meet their teachers at their classrooms at 9:30am to sign them in. 

See you in worship!
Pastor Josh

For Worship December 31-January 1, 2017
December 29, 2016
This week we celebrate on the 7th day of Christmas, “The name of Jesus”. (SAT 5PM, SUNDAY 10AM) We pray in the name of Jesus.  We begin a new year in the name of Jesus.  As Matthew’s gospel told us on the 4th Sunday of Advent, he shall be named Jesus, one who will save his people.

An old year comes to an end, a new year filled with new things and people beckons.  A new pastor (Pr. Susan Swanson) starts on January 9th. A new service (10:30 am) starts January 8th.  Also, that day the 9:30 service goes to 9:15.  All in the name of Jesus. 

I thank you all for the past 8 months.  For supporting the interim with your prayers, your offerings and your attendance.  I especially thank the staff and the church council for their confidence, patience and support. 

It is a privilege to bring the Good News in Jesus name.  The grace of God who became flesh and dwelt among us.  It is a privilege to walk with God’s People.  Thank you for giving me that opportunity.

See you in church this weekend, Sat. 5 pm or Sunday 10 am as we gather in Jesus name.

Pastor Frank Nausin

For Worship December 24-25
December 23, 2016
“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14

This weekend we come to the end of our Advent waiting, and we celebrate the joy that has come to our world in Jesus Christ – a joy that is ours because we have a God who loves us and has shown a willingness to go to the greatest possible lengths to be with us. Unfortunately, though, this good news of great joy does not always take hold in our lives – either because we take it for granted or because we have trouble believing it. 

That’s why it is so important that in the midst of our Christmas celebration, we do actually take time to remember and reflect on the birth of this child 2000 years ago. With the birth of Jesus Christ, we have a concrete event that shows us the extent of God’s love for us, and gives us a hope truly worth rejoicing in. 

I hope you will join the celebration on Christmas Eve at 4:00pm, 7:00pm or 9:00pm, as well as on Christmas Day at 10:00am!

See you in church…
Pastor Josh

For Worship December 10-11, 2016
December 08, 2016
In this week’s Gospel, we check in with our good friend John the Baptist again.  Unlike last week though, where he was boldly preparing the way of the Lord by preaching and teaching his baptism of repentance, we now find him in prison with a little doubt and anxiety.  He wants to make sure Jesus is really the Messiah he’s been waiting for.  John, rightly, did not want to be wrong about this because he knew that the coming of the Messiah was the one most important thing for him and for the entire world.

On Saturday evening at 5:00pm and Sunday morning at 8:00am we’ll be taking a closer look at John’s situation, and what it means for us as we prepare for Christmas.  During the 9:30am service on Sunday morning our Sunday School children will be presenting an Advent play called The Christmas Hedgehog.  You won’t want to miss it!

Don’t forget that a special congregational meeting will be held after all worship services to vote on whether or not to extend a call to a new lead pastor! 

See you in worship…
Pastor Josh

For Worship December 3-4, 2016
December 01, 2016
It is December and we all understand what that means.  We essentially run on parallel tracks.
One track is the track of our culture, food, decorations, gifts, music and the like.  The other track is quiet reflection and prayer.  Prepare for the coming of Jesus into our hearts and minds.  Alongside, these 2 tracks are the needs of God’s creation and people.  Sometimes it can get confusing.  I pray that we can work our way through this confusion. 

Also, this weekend we will host a meet and greet for the Candidate for Lead Pastor that has been unanimously recommended by the call committee and council.  I certainly hope you can be here for Worship Saturday or Sunday and for the meet and greet following the 5:00pm and 9:30am service.

Also, I encourage you all to be in prayer as we look to a Congregational meeting and vote, December 10 and 11th.

See you in church,
Pastor Nausin

For Worship November 19-20, 2016
November 17, 2016
This week we hear the story of Jesus on the cross between two thieves, yet we name this Sunday’s worship “Christ the King Sunday”.  The world then and the world now asks what kind of king is this?  In the turmoil which surrounds us, it is our time to reflect on who really has authority over our lives.

We will also celebrate the baptism of three children, Cecelia Carol Marie Capps, Denae Elizabeth Hudson, and Reece Katharine Goldsmith.

Don’t forget this Sunday afternoon at 3:00pm, we will gather in Thanksgiving at Christ Church United Methodist at 655 North Craycroft Road where our TVLC choir and the choir of CCUM will combine for a worship service in giving thanks and praise!

We will also be packing and delivering food baskets. Packing on Sunday evening at 5:30pm and delivering on Monday at 8am.

Quite the schedule!  All done in Jesus name.

See you in church,
Pastor Nausin

For Worship November 12-13, 2016
November 10, 2016
In our Gospel lesson for this weekend, Jesus talks about the self-sacrificial work that we are called to do as his followers. He makes a very interesting distinction, though, saying that he no longer calls us servants, rather friends. How different it is to work with a friend toward a cause that you are both invested in, as opposed to working for someone else out of obligation!

Jesus invites us all as friends and co-heirs in his Kingdom to join in the good work he is doing in the world. This is ultimately what the work of the church is all about, and what we will be celebrating this weekend. 

We will have an opportunity during worship this weekend to present our financial commitments for the coming year – a way for us to respond in Faithful Gratitude to God’s grace in our life. Then, after worship both on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, we will celebrate with a meal together and a ministry fair where you will have the chance to explore all of the different ways you can be a part of God’s good work at TVLC. I hope everyone will come out and join us for this exciting weekend. 

See you in worship!
Pastor Josh

For Worship November 5-6, 2016
November 03, 2016
Dear Friends,

First I bring you greetings from a sister congregation, Mt. Cross in Camarillo, Ca..  On October 23 they celebrated 50 years of ministry, as a congregation.  I served there from 1975 to 1982, just before we came to TVLC.  It was a joy for Linda and I to see old friends and rejoice in all the work that has taken place in Jesus name.  Also, I bring you greetings from California Lutheran University, from President Kimball and the Board of Regents, of which I am a part.   These are different parts of the communion of saints, the church, and expressions of the church’s mission. 

This Sunday we will celebrate ALL SAINTS SUNDAY, and the communion of saints.  We will remember those who have gone before us, especially this year, and those who are  a part of us now and pray for the blessings of many more to come into our life as a church.  We will also hear about what it means to be the church in these turbulent and exciting times.  Come join me, as we worship around word and sacrament and do the work of remembering. 

See you in church,
Pastor Frank Nausin

For Worship October 29-30, 2016
October 28, 2016
This weekend we celebrate Reformation Sunday, a day that we commemorate Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg 500 years ago, which sparked the Protestant Reformation. We’ll also be looking at the story of Zacchaeus, a tax collector of small stature who encountered Jesus and experienced the grace of God. It is this same grace of God that Luther fought so hard to proclaim, and that is at the heart of what we’re all about as followers of Jesus today. 

I hope you’ll join us this weekend as we experience and grow together in this amazing, freeing, life-giving grace of God. Wear red if you like!

See you in worship…
Pastor Josh

For Worship October 22-23, 2013
October 24, 2016
A resounding message that we all hear continually from our world is, “It’s all about you.”  It’s all about your comfort. It’s all about your success. It’s all about your appearance. It’s all about how you measure up.   

In our Gospel lesson for this week, though, Jesus tells a parable that calls this way of thinking into question. One that suggests that perhaps it’s not so much about us, but about the God who loves us unconditionally, and sets us free to live a life unbound by self-absorption. I hope you’ll join us this weekend as we explore the far-reaching implications of this liberating truth. 

Also, be sure to come out to the Family Life Center between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday for our annual Arts & Crafts fair. Proceeds from the event will benefit the TVLC youth. 

See you in worship!
Pastor Josh

For Worship October 15-16
October 14, 2016
Dear Friends,

Do you remember the stories of Abraham and his family?  They are found in the Book of Genesis.  This week we will hear one about his grandson Jacob.  It is a story you might find yourself identifying with.  I invite you to come and join in thinking about how timely this story is.

Please keep the Via de Cristo weekend in your prayers and also the Call Committee.

See you in church,
Pastor Nausin

For Worship October 8-9
October 07, 2016
Dear Friends,

When we read the scriptures, sometimes the early leaders of the church sound like “super people” or people that overcame it all.  As I read Paul speaking to Timothy through a letter, some of that feeling goes away.  I see an older brother or perhaps a father figure concerned for his son or brother, his traveling companion, his friend.  Paul is sitting in chains in prison, but he reminds Timothy that the Gospel is not chained.  He is trying to encourage Timothy to hold fast to the leadership of the church where he is serving.

How many people do you have in life that you care about in this way?   Maybe, like me, a number of them have gone to live with the Lord.  Yet, their encouragement surfaces through my memory.  As I have journeyed through all these years, these people have reminded me of the power of Jesus.  “If we have died with him, we will also live with him.”

If we have been baptized, we have life in him.  This is a paraphrase of this statement.  I invite you to come and join me and think about what that means for us, as his people.  We will baptize a child at 9:30, receive new members and be fed with the bread of life.

See you in church,
Pastor Frank Nausin

For Worship October 1-2
September 30, 2016
When you think of Christian buzzwords, “faith” has to be right there near the top of the list - and rightly so!  Throughout the Scriptures faith is lifted up as one of the greatest virtues and the primary way that we relate with God. We are to walk by faith, we are saved by faith, and we are to share our faith.  It actually says in Hebrews that without faith, it is impossible to please God.  As important as faith is though, it’s not always clear where faith comes from… or how we can grow in it… or how much faith is enough. 

This weekend we’ll be discussing these important matters as we explores Jesus’ response to the disciples’ request of Jesus to increase their faith. Also, don’t forget to come out on Friday evening at 6pm in the NFLC to support our preschool at their Back-to-School Movie night!

See you in worship…
Pastor Josh

For Worship September 24-25
September 22, 2016
There is no question that there are great divides that exist in our world, and perhaps the greatest is that which exists between rich and poor - those who have, and those who do not. Our Scripture lessons this week address the serious consequences of this divide for those on both sides and call us to consider how this divide can be bridged. While that is far from an easy task, this weekend we will look at some practical ways we can be the bridge builders God desires us to be in this area.

Speaking of practical ways to build bridges, this weekend we have the opportunity to support a great cause at our Lotsa Pasta Dinner Fundraiser for our Haiti Mission Team.  Join us Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. in the NFLC, where for a free will offering you can get some great food, experience a magic show, and bid on some wonderful treasures at the silent auction.  And don’t forget to invite your friends and neighbors!

See you in worship…
Pastor Josh

For Worship September 17-18
September 15, 2016
Do you find yourself struggling with the values of Jesus and the values of this world?  This struggle is not new.  It goes back to the very time of our Lord and even before to the time of Moses and the giving of the law. 

The issue of money or “mammon” versus what God wants, or the issue of false idols or false gods is constantly before us.  Money or possessions are a huge issue in our culture and throughout the rest of the world.  Jesus tells an intriguing story to help with our wrestling.

Come join us as we wrestle together with this first commandment issue.  Thanks to all who participated in the last week’s “day of service”.  It was a great success.  I am sorry I missed it, but I did greatly enjoy my 50th high school Reunion.

See you in church,
Pastor Frank

For Worship September 10-11
September 10, 2016
In Paul’s first letter to Timothy that we will read this weekend, he says “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the foremost.”  In response to this love of Christ, and with this spirit of humility that Paul exhibits, we take part this weekend in “God’s Work Our Hands” Sunday.  This is a day that we join together with others throughout the country in serving our neighbors in a variety of ways. 

Whether you are participating in a service project on Sunday or not, I hope you will come and worship and celebrate this calling that is ours every day - to participate in God’s life-giving work in the world.  A huge thank you to all who have organized the service opportunities that will be available on and off campus on Sunday.  Wear your gold shirts if you have them!

See you in worship…
Pastor Josh

For Worship September 3-4
August 31, 2016
September is here, on this Labor Day Weekend we say that summer is drawing to an end.  We honor the work that people do and we give thanks for it.  Our lessons also point us toward choices we make.  We hear from Moses and Jesus and they remind us that following the ways of God is something demanding that we make choices.

As we look towards the fall coming, what choices are you wrestling with?  Did you realize that many choices we make have life and death consequences?  By that I mean spiritual consequences.

When we choose paths opposed to following Jesus or chose to follow Jesus we make these kind of consequential decisions.  Come and hear how our lessons give us direction this week.

See you in church,
Pastor Nausin

For Worship August 27-28
August 25, 2016
Whether we realize it or not, one of the primary places we exert time and energy every day is in determining and improving our place in this world.  We seek the comfort that comes in feeling like we are important and knowing that other people think highly of us. Jesus addresses this very issue in our Gospel lesson for this week and interestingly, instead of encouraging us to aim hi in achieving social status, he seems to tell us to aim low!  And the goal of aiming low is not that other people would think poorly of us, but rather to be free from what other people think of us at all - free to exert our time and energy into much more worthwhile ventures.   

I hope you’ll join us this weekend as we explore how we can better experience this freedom that Jesus desires for us. Note that the 8:00 a.m. Sunday service resumes, at 9:00am we have a Graham Cracker Breakfast for 2, 3, and 4 year olds in the Education Building, Room 1.  Even though it is the last Sunday of the month, there WILL be Sunday School at the 9:30 a.m. service with a blessing for all the TVLC Sunday School teachers.

See you in worship!
Pastor Josh

For Worship August 20/21
August 17, 2016
It is good to be back from our trip in time for Rally Day, the start of the Sunday School year, and this week, our entry into our remodeled worship space.

God is good in so many ways.  In 1989 I was privileged to enter our Sanctuary when it was brand new.  Now I am privileged to enter into this newly revitalized worship space.  We rejoice and we give thanks for all who have made this possible, those who have given offerings and time, who have labored faithfully to help us create a place to worship and give praise to our God.

Our lessons help us to see how our Lord is at the heart of renewal and rebirth.  Come and see the graciousness of God and the power of God’s word.

Note:   the 8:00 am service begins next week

See you in church,
Pastor Frank Nausin

For Worship August 13-14
August 12, 2016

In our lesson from Hebrews for this weekend the author talks about a race that is set before us, and paints the picture of a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on in this important work that God calls us to be a part of. It is a wonderfully inspiring image that challenges us to broaden our perspective of what it means to follow Christ and be His church. I hope you will join us this weekend as we delve a little deeper into this powerful analogy and explore how we can run together with perseverance this race that is set before us.

Children, bring your backpacks to worship at 9:30 on Sunday morning for a blessing!

This weekend is our final weekend of worship in the Family Life Center as we look forward to getting back in our newly renovated sanctuary next week.  We are grateful for the cool and welcoming confines of the NFLC that have served us well this summer. 

See you in worship!
Pastor Josh

For Worship August 6-7
August 04, 2016
August is here, which means that the kids are back in school and the full slate of fall ministries will be kicking-off in the coming weeks.  The finishing touches are being made on our sanctuary renovation and we are looking forward to our first weekend in the renovated space on the 20th and 21st of August! 

This weekend we are blessed to have John Indermark sharing God’s Word with us.  John is a retired pastor and he and his wife Judy are members of TVLC and regular attenders of the 8:00 a.m. service.  He shares the following preview with us:  

St. Francis is alleged to have once said: “Preach the gospel at all times - if necessary, use words.” Words about faith are well and good, but such words find sharper focus when lived in the actions that faith evokes. This week’s sermon will look at three critical actions of faith revealed in the gospel of Luke and the epistle to the Hebrews, with a nod also to the mother of Forrest Gump. 

If you’re curious about what Forrest Gump’s mother has to do with putting your faith into action, or even if you are looking for a cool place to find fellowship and grace this weekend, we hope you will join us! 

In Christ,
Pastor Josh

For Worship July 30-31
July 28, 2016
This week’s gospel is one that makes all of us think about our discipleship.  The issue of how much “stuff” do we need vs. what really matters in life.  Jesus asks, “Where is our heart?”  The message will be delivered by Pr. Ron Rude, from the U of A Campus Christian Center.  This is a ministry we support as a congregation.

Remember the Family Life Center is a great temperature. If you are in town come and join us.  By the way our target date to be in the remodeled sanctuary is August 21st.

See you in church.

Pastor Frank

For Worship July 23-24, 2016
July 21, 2016
In this week’s Gospel Jesus speaks at length about prayer, teaching his disciples how to pray (with the words that have come to be known as “The Lord’s Prayer”) and sharing some additional wisdom on the topic.  Prayer is one of the primary practices of our Christian faith, but it is not always clear what the real purpose of prayer is and how we should understand prayers that are not answered in the way we would hope. 

Join us this weekend as we delve deeper into this important faith practice and learn to take advantage of this way we have been given to connect with God. 

See you in worship!
Pastor Josh

For Worship July 16-17
July 14, 2016
The issue of “waiting” becomes something for us to look at in our lessons this weekend.
I encourage you to read Genesis 18:1-10a and Luke 10:38-42, as a way of preparing for the Word of God to speak to us. 

The remodel project is about ˝ finished.  We have about 6 weeks left until we start worshipping again in the sanctuary.  Please, keep that process in your prayers.  Remember the Family Life Center is really nice, temperature wise.  So come to worship, if you are in town, and enjoy fellowship and worship with our community of faith.

See you in church,
Pastor Frank Nausin

For Worship July 9-10
July 08, 2016
This weekend we hear Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan who went out of his way to provide care for a stranger in need.  This well-known story has inspired countless individuals to follow Jesus’ call to “go and do likewise” for the past 2000 years.  There are some interesting aspects of this well-known story, though, that are easy to miss.  That which can provide more challenge and inspiration than we would think from a story we have heard countless times.
Join us this weekend as we delve into the living word of our God who moves and speaks in places and ways that we don’t always expect.

See you in worship!
Pastor Josh

For Worship July 2-3
June 30, 2016
This week we hear the story from Luke of Jesus’ sending out 70 to do his work.  We will hear what that meant to the world then and now.  Along with that, we will reflect on who we are as the people of God on this 4th of July weekend.

The rain has been nice, the Family Life Center is cool, come if you are in town, and be fed with God’s word and sacrament.

Just an aside note:  The Call Committee had their first meeting with Bishop Talmadge. Please keep them in your prayers as they begin their vital work.

See you in church,

Pastor Nausin

For Worship June 25-26
June 23, 2016
We live in a world that is in so many ways fractured: Prejudice. Hate. Violence.  Fear and mistrust of the other. We read in our lesson from Luke this week of the way that Jesus’ disciples get caught up in this, desiring to respond harshly to the lack of hospitality they receive from a Samaritan village.  Jesus, though, proposes a better way.  A way of understanding and forgiveness.   A way of humble self-sacrifice.  A way of love that conquers all.

Join us this weekend as we seek to better navigate this path that our savior has set before us - this path that leads to the unity and peace that our world so desperately needs.

See you in worship!
Pastor Josh

For Worship June 18 -19
June 15, 2016
It has been a great week at TVLC!  Vacation Bible School has been a great success and a good time has been had by all!

It has been a rough week, however, for our nation and for the people of Orlando, Fla. The terrorist attack has left us with so many questions and so much grief and mourning.  We will look at two lessons from scripture this week that point to the insanity of the demons that can possess us and the sanity of being clothed in our baptism and our right minds.

As I write this, I am getting ready to head to Las Vegas where the Grand Canyon Synod will be meeting for a day and a half.  Pastor Josh and Cheryl and Ralph and Sue Jensen will all be there representing TVLC.

Please keep all of these events and people in your prayers.  It is nice and cool in the NFLC so join us for worship.  We will also acknowledge the roles of fathers in our lives.

See you in church,
Pastor Frank Nausin

For Worship June 11-12
June 09, 2016
This weekend we continue with the theme of transformation.  We will hear a story about a woman who recognizes Jesus' life-transforming power, and as a result awkwardly interrupts a Pharisee-led dinner party in order to humbly pour herself out to Jesus. 

Paul expounds on this "death to self" in his letter to the Galatians talking about how our "crucifixion with Christ" leads to true life. It's understandable if such a crucifixion of self does not sound attractive, although the Scriptures testify time and time again that this is the one true path to transformation. I hope you'll join us this weekend as we wrestle with this hard reality of our call to follow Jesus.

Thanks to many volunteer hours, Deep Sea Discovery VBS is almost ready to go for this coming week!  We'll be blessing volunteers at both the Saturday evening and Sunday morning services.  

See you in worship!
Pastor Josh

For Worship June 4/5
June 02, 2016
Suppose you saw someone walking in a funeral procession, mourning the loss of her son. She has been left “alone” by herself.  Widowed and in that culture left with no means of support.  Would you be moved to compassion?  Jesus was. Come and hear this week what this could mean for all of us.

We will have our second week in the NFLC.  Saturday we will baptize Everley Marie Muse.  It will be “hot” this weekend, but nice and cool in church.  Come join us, there is strength in our gathering together.

See you in church,
Pastor Frank Nausin

For Worship May 28/29
May 26, 2016
This weekend we’ll be taking a look at a Roman centurion who amazes Jesus with his great faith.  It is interesting to think that Jesus would be amazed, let alone by an outsider such as this centurion.  I wonder, in what ways might we rule out the faith of those who don’t fit our idea of what a “good Christian” is supposed to look like?  And in what ways might we have the type of faith that our Lord marvels at?  

Our sanctuary renovation is now in full swing which means that this weekend we will begin worshiping in the Family Life Center, where we will reside for the summer.  We also begin our summer worship schedule this week which is Saturday evening at 5:00 p.m. and one service Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m.

See you in worship!
Pastor Josh

For Worship May 21-22
May 19, 2016
This week, we begin the second half of the church year, celebrating the Holy Trinity.  The first half told us the story of Jesus and culminated with the birthday of the church at Pentecost.
As we begin the second half, we talk about the name of God, in which we baptize:  The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We will celebrate the baptism of Luke Price at the 9:30am service. We will also give a blessing to our High School graduates. It will be a Sunday full of milestones!

Come hear about the Trinity and how that forms our understanding of God.

Next week, we will move over to the Family Life Center for worship and begin the summer worship schedule. 

See you in Church,
Pastor Frank Nausin

For Worship May 14-15
May 12, 2016
This Sunday is the day of Pentecost – a day we celebrate the pouring out of the Holy Spirit who empowers us, heals us, gifts us, and guides us. Through the Holy Spirit, we have not only God with us, but God in us!  This weekend we’ll explore what the presence of this God (who we can’t always feel or see) really entails, and talk about how we can better experience God’s presence through the Holy Spirit every day.  Don’t forget, if you have RED in your closet, this is the weekend to wear it!

See you in worship!
Pastor Josh

For Worship May 7-8
May 06, 2016
This Sunday at TVLC is an important one as we will give thanks to God for our Moms.  We also will be looking at the prayer of Jesus for Unity in the Gospel of John.  Jesus was concerned that his followers would be united and protected.  It is a moving prayer, we also hear of his followers working in Greece to spread the gospel and how that translates into those of us who now are his followers.
As I begin my second week with you, I am grateful for the warm welcome we received last weekend and I look forward to bringing the message this week.  Please bear with me I will likely be a little rusty.  Keep TVLC in your prayers as we move into the future, blessed by God and challenged by our Lord’s mission.

See you in church,
Pastor Frank Nausin

For Worship April 30-May 1
April 28, 2016
We have an exciting weekend ahead as five of our young people will be affirming their baptism at the 9:30 a.m. service on Sunday morning.  During the service, they will be presenting their confirmation projects and sharing about their personal faith. 

At the Saturday evening and 8:00 a.m. services, we will be taking a closer look at this week’s lesson from Acts and considering the question of guidance in our life.  Why is it important for us to seek out God’s leading and how do we practically do that?

Also, our Haiti team will be sharing about their recent trip on Sunday morning at 10:45 a.m. in the chapel and we will be welcoming our Interim Lead Pastor, Frank Nausin.  As I said, it will be an exciting weekend! 

See you in worship…
Pastor Josh

For Worship April 23/24
April 21, 2016
In our gospel lesson for this weekend, Jesus reminds his followers that the most important thing is that they love one another. It’s the sort of thing a parent might say to the children in the last days, it’s the reminder that life goes on and the call we each have is to love as we have been loved.
As we gather together this weekend of my retirement, we think of all sorts of things we want to say to one another, but maybe Jesus sums it all up in his words and command--Love one another as you have been loved. It is the love of God for each and every one of us that enables us to love one another, and carry that love out into the world.
It’s going to be a weekend of joyful celebration, but also a time of farewell, of saying good-bye to what has been. Let’s gather together and share all of that. Thank you for the privilege of being your pastor for these past years. We will continue to rely on the God who makes all things new.
See you in church…
Remember, one service on Saturday at 5 and one on Sunday at 9:30 with potluck to follow. Hope you can be there
For Worship for April 16/17
April 14, 2016
Our passage from Revelation this weekend offers us a wonderful vision of hope for the future. A great multitude from every tribe and nation gathered before the throne. No more hunger or thirst. Every tear wiped away! Given the often difficult and painful reality of life in this world, such hope for God’s coming Kingdom where all will be made right is desperately needed.   

But what about the here and now?  Are we left to do our best to endure and wait for a better day?  The truth is Christ is present for us even now and will usher his Kingdom in our midst when we invite him in and join him in doing his life-giving work.  This weekend we’ll talk more about what that looks like here at TVLC and in our everyday lives. 

Don’t forget to join us at 10:40 a.m. on Sunday for our annual congregational meeting where we will elect new council members and give updates on our property renewal and the upcoming pastoral transition.  Childcare will be provided!

See you in worship…

Pastor Josh

For Worship April 2/3
March 31, 2016
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! One would expect to find such Easter joy resounding among the disciples in a post-resurrection gathering. In our Gospel lesson for this weekend though, we instead find them huddled in fear behind locked doors. For whatever reason, the transforming reality of Jesus rising from the dead had not yet taken hold in their life.

There are surely times when the joy of Easter can be lacking in our lives as well. Times when the reality of the risen Christ doesn’t seem to translate to our reality. Join us this weekend as we explore how we can be transformed into the resurrection people that God calls us to be.

Our annual rummage sale takes place this weekend and will be open Friday from 1-3 p.m. for congregation members and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the public.  Also, a new member’s class will be held Sunday after the 9:30 a.m. service in Linder Hall.

See you this weekend!

Pastor Josh

For Worship March 27
March 24, 2016
We enter into these Great Three Days---Maundy Thursday when we remember the command to love as we have been loved, Good Friday, the day that Jesus was crucified on the cross, and Saturday which is the Vigil of Easter, that time between times…. We will have worship at 7 pm on Thursday and Friday and encourage you to spend time Saturday in your own prayer and meditation as you prepare for the Celebration of the Resurrection, Easter Sunday.   These are the most holy days of our entire church year and your celebration of Easter will be made even more powerful when you have experienced Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Come and Worship. Come and give thanks. Easter Sunday we will gather, while it is still dark, in the outdoor chapel for our Easter Sunrise service at 6 am. There are two identical festival services at 9 and 10:30 with breakfast served from 7-10:30.

Mary Magdalene went to the tomb while it was still dark---and was met by the living Christ and sent to share her good news. There is plenty of darkness in our lives---fears and losses, the violence of this world, the doubts that keep us awake in the night. And sometimes we might even doubt that the resurrection of Jesus has really made a difference anywhere. But it is in that fear and darkness that we too are met by the living Christ, and sent to share the good news. The light still shines in the darkness, and not even death has destroyed that light.

God is always on the side of life, creating, re-creating, and making all things new. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and the powers of darkness cannot do one thing to change that. Trusting that gives us the grace and the power to go out and be messengers of that good news, and beacons of that light in this world……

See you in church…

Pastor Gayle

For Worship March 12/13
March 10, 2016
The prophet Isaiah reminded the people that God would bring them out of exile and back to their homeland and that even though the journey would be rough, God would make a way.

We are constantly being asked to trust that God is doing a new thing, even in the midst of what to all of us looks like the end.  God will provide what we need.  God will open up the future and show us new possibilities that we have yet to even imagine.  Our job is to trust God, to trust that God is indeed on the side of life, that God indeed has the power and the love to give us hope and new life.  Can we trust God with the present and the future?  That is the whole journey of faith---a lifetime of trusting that God continues to bring us from death to life, always.

See you in church…

Pray for our confirmation youth who leave for retreat this weekend---and you may want to pray for their leaders, Pastor Josh, Cheri Mitstifer, and Jim Marian as well!!

Pastor Gayle

For Worship March 5/6
March 03, 2016
This weekend we have a guest preacher.  Our annual Faith Matters is on Saturday from 9-1 in Linder Hall and there is still time to let us know you want to come!  Pastor Mark Reitan is our presenter this year, and he is also preaching at all three worship services.

The gospel lesson is one that is familiar to many, the story of the Prodigal Son.  Grace, that undeserved gift of God’s love that invites each and every one of us home, again and again.  That gift that transforms us from lost to found, from despair to hope, from renegade to beloved child.  Please come and worship together as we give thanks to God for always running to meet us and welcoming us back to those loving gracious arms.

See you in church…

Pastor Gayle

For Worship February 27/28
February 25, 2016
Sin, suffering, and grace.  Three words that touch all of our lives in significant ways.  In our gospel lesson this week, Jesus addresses a theological assumption that many people in his time held (and many people still hold today) - that suffering and tragedy in our lives and in our world are God’s punishment for our sin.  Jesus pretty clearly refutes that notion, but at the same time calls us to be wary of impending judgment and shares a parable about a barren fig tree that is granted a measure of grace from its gardener. 

We are left with a number of good questions to wrestle with this weekend:  How do we really view God? Should we fear judgment? What is our perspective on the suffering and tragedy that so often surrounds us?  Are we bearing the fruit in our lives that God created us to bear? 

Prayers for the 35+ women who will attend the women’s retreat this weekend along with all those traveling for rodeo break. 

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship February 20/21
February 18, 2016
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ:

Jesus laments over Jerusalem. He laments that they are intent on going in their own direction, even when he has tried to gather them like a mother hen would gather her chicks. Think of that image. Imagine God lamenting over us like you would lament over one of your own children who just seemed determined for destruction.

Our God cares deeply for us, and is constantly trying to get our attention, constantly reminding us that as God's own, we have a new identity, a new way of being in the world. Jesus is on the road to the cross, and he too might appear to be on the way to destruction, but he is on the way to LIFE, new life for all God's people.

See you in church...

Pastor Gayle

For Worship February 13/14
February 11, 2016
Dear Friends,

This week, as we begin the forty-day season of Lent, we follow Jesus into the wilderness where he is tempted for forty days by the devil. We hear of three specific ways that the devil seeks to undermine Jesus’ confidence in both God and himself, and we witness how Jesus is able to resist each temptation by reaffirming his identity and relationship with the Father.

Temptation is a reality that we all face every day. We are tempted to look to everything else but God for our identity, security, and contentment. Join us this weekend as we explore how, like Jesus, we too can triumph over temptation.

A reminder for any parents looking for a night out, child care will be provided this Saturday, February 13th in the youth room from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.  Your free-will offering will support three of our high school youth traveling to Haiti with our team from TVLC!

See you in worship…

Pastor Josh

For Worship February 6/7
February 04, 2016
This weekend is the Transfiguration of our Lord---and the last weekend before Lent begins. Jesus was on the mountaintop with three of his disciples when he was "transfigured" before their eyes, shining with bright white and glory.  They might have thought that this glory before them was the true high point of Jesus' presence with them.  Jesus, however, had other plans, a mission that would take him down the mountain, on the road to Jerusalem where he would encounter all sorts of people in need, all sorts of suffering before he would meet his own suffering and death on the cross.

Jesus would completely redefine glory.  And in the midst of all this, God spoke----"This is my son, the Chosen. Listen to him."  Listen to him---and we all know how we struggle with our listening skills.  And yet, that is the command... Listen to him. What are you hearing from the Risen Christ these days? Come and worship this weekend, maybe you will hear a new word from God..

Also, worship on Ash Wednesday, February 10, is at noon and again at 7 pm. Please come as we begin our own journey of Lent. And feel free to invite a friend or neighbor.

See you in church.

For Worship January 30/31
January 28, 2016
If I asked you if you would welcome more love in your life, I’m guessing the answer would be resounding, “Yes!” Love is arguably the most important thing there is in this world - the one thing that makes life worth living. In our passage from 1 Corinthians 13 this week, Paul testifies to this reality and shares in detail what this “agape” love that God calls us to is all about. It turns out that true love is more than we see in the movies or read on greeting card, and it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Join us this weekend we’ll explore what it really looks like to fill our lives with more love.

At this week’s 9:30 a.m. service we’ll be treated to a skit from our puppet ministry that you won’t want to miss. The End-Of-Life Seminar and Roots Parenting Book Study will be continuing Sunday morning as well!

See you in worship…

Pastor Josh

For Worship January 23/24
January 21, 2016
TODAY this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.  That's what Jesus said to the congregation gathered in the synagogue as he read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.  Jesus was announcing that the Spirit of the Lord was upon him and he was going to be the one to change life.  He was going to be the one who would show us how to lead from love rather than power, the one to show us that our call was to the broken, the poor, the oppressed.  He came to release the captives and bring sight to the blind.. Jesus came to show God's concern and care for those that the world so easily tossed aside.

We too have been given that same Spirit, we too have been sent to serve this world that God loves, to proclaim the good news with our words and our actions to all who need to hear it -- Today.

See you in church.

Pastor Gayle

For Worship January 16/17
January 14, 2016
Is there anywhere in your life where you’re experiencing emptiness?  Where things aren’t quite as full as you would hope them to be?  In this week’s gospel lesson from John, we hear the story of a wedding where cups are emptying and there is no wine left to fill them.  What would Jesus do?

Thankfully, it turns out that Jesus is in the filling business.  Emptiness is not a part of His Kingdom and scarcity is never found in the midst of God’s grace.  Join us this weekend as we discover how Jesus can help us overcome the emptiness in our lives and experience the abundance that he continually brings.

A reminder that we will have a congregational meeting at 10:40 on Sunday morning to vote on our 2016 Budget.  Nursery care will be provided.  Please plan to be a part of this important business of our church!

See you in worship…

Pastor Josh

For Worship January 9/10
January 07, 2016
How many baptisms have we seen? Or been part of? Maybe we have lost our sense of what an astonishing, amazing thing it is to be made children of God through water and the Word.  Jesus was baptized---and this weekend we acknowledge and remember the Baptism of our Lord.  For Jesus, it was the beginning of his ministry.  And for us baptism is also our call to be working with God in this world, the beginning of our ministries. 

Luke tells us that the people were waiting for the Messiah, and they were filled with expectation.  How might our lives look if we too were filled with expectation?  If we were still astounded at the presence and work of God in our lives? We are having a baptism festival this weekend! At the 9:30 service, eight people will receive the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. That is the amazing, astounding, astonishing grace of God!

See you in church.

Pastor Gayle

For Worship 2/3
December 31, 2015
"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you."  -Isaiah 60:1

Darkness is real.  It’s in our world, and it’s in our individual lives.  It creeps into our hearts and minds, leads us down dark paths, and it leaves destruction in its wake.  It can leave us feeling defeat and despair.  We celebrate, though, that light has come in this child who was born for us on Christmas Day -  a light that the darkness cannot overcome.

Join us this weekend as we enter the season of Epiphany and consider how we can arise, shine, and better allow the light of Christ to radiate through our lives.

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship December 19/20
December 17, 2015
Worship this final weekend before Christmas will engage us in various ways. On Saturday night at 5 pm, worship will include a play presented by Jay Hornbacher and seven of our youth. That service will be in the chapel and we look forward to seeing you there.

On Sunday morning at both the 8:00am and the 9:30am service, the Chancel Choir will offer the Voices of Christmas---songs from various places around this world as we celebrate this 4th Sunday of Advent. The Gospel lesson for this week includes Mary’s song, the Magnificat.  She boldly sings her song of praise for the God who is turning the world upside down.  Even in the midst of what had to be a very confusing time for her, maybe even a time of fear and doubt, Mary sang. 

Come and enjoy the proclamation of the hope that is in us as it is expressed in drama and song, in bread and wine, in praise and thanksgiving. Come and worship….

See you in church…

Pastor Gayle

For Worship December 12/13
December 10, 2015
The call to rejoice is one that you find throughout the Scriptures, and it’s a theme that is especially relevant during the Christmas season. Joy has truly come to the world in the person of Jesus Christ and for that we can rejoice!

But what about those times when we don’t feel especially joyful? What about those times when we experience pain and loss? What about those times when the world seems to be falling apart around us?  Does joy really have a place in the midst of that?

Join us on Saturday evening at 5:00 p.m. or Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. as we explore the way the joy of Christ can transcend the hardships of life. Then, during the 9:30 service on Sunday morning our Sunday School children will be presenting an Advent play called Angels We Have Heard. You won’t
want to miss it!

See you in worship…

Pastor Josh

For Worship December 5/6
December 04, 2015
And already this weekend we are half-way through Advent. Two candles will be lit in the Advent wreath, the preparations are moving into full frenzy, and yet, we watch, we wait. Into the middle of our carefully crafted plans comes John the Baptist, calling for repentance, calling us to turn in another direction. He comes announcing God's work , he comes into the wilderness, whatever and wherever that might be for us. Jesus is coming, and nothing will remain the same, the valleys will be filled, the mountains will be made low---change is coming so that ALL flesh will see the salvation of God. Where might God be calling you to turn in a new direction? What word of hope do you need to hear?

See you in Church,

Pastor Gayle

For Worship November 28/29
November 25, 2015
Ready or not, the holidays are here! Some are anxiously looking forward to all of the happenings in the coming weeks, wondering how you’re going to pull it all off.  Others are sentimentally looking back on Thanksgivings, and Advents, and Christmases of the past, remembering the magical times spent with loved ones.

As people of faith, we are people who look forward, in eager expectation and hope for the future that God has for us. We are also people who look back, remembering the faithfulness of our God who keeps his promises, celebrating the ways he has filled our life with his grace and love. But even more importantly, we are called to be people who look to the present moment. Acknowledging that God is present with us now, no matter what it is we are going through. Realizing that there is life in this very moment that God invites us to be a part of.

As we kick off Advent this weekend, we’re going to spend some time exploring what it means to live in the present. How can avoid being too forward-focused or too backward-focused as to miss out on the season - the day - the moment that we are blessed to live in.

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship November 21/22
November 19, 2015
This is the final weekend of the church year, Christ the King.  And what can that possibly mean for us here and now?  Jesus tells Pilate that he has cometo testify to the truth, and that his kingdom is not of this world.  It is true, that we who follow the Risen Christ are sometimes out of step with the rest of this world.

Jesus, the one who embodied compassion, hospitality, peace, a wide-open future, and radical love, invites us to bear witness to that truth, to proclaim that kingdom.  His kingdom is not of this world, but through his life, death, and resurrection, that kingdom is made a reality.  We pray, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.  Martin Luther reminds us that God's kingdom comes without our asking for it, but we pray that it might come to us---so that by God's grace we believe his Word and live lives that honor God, now and forever. Imagine a world like that.

See you in church,

Pastor Gayle

For Worship November 14/15
November 12, 2015
Together in Faith! This weekend is our Commitment Celebration weekend and we look forward to our time of worship as well as sharing a meal together.  Our stewardship is really a way of life, but each year we take some very intentional time to focus on what it means for us to be people of generosity and gratitude.

We think about what it means to worship a God who is constantly calling us into new life, a God who pours out abundant blessings on us day after day. Jesus told his followers that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Where are you investing your time, talents, and treasures? What is it that gives joy and meaning to your life?  Do our calendars and our bank statements reflect our true priorities? These are all questions that we need to ponder now and again.

It's going to be a great celebration weekend, bring your commitment card, and if you don't have one, they will be available at both worship services---5 pm Saturday and 9:30 am only on Sunday with a meal to follow both services.

Gracious God, everything in heaven and earth belongs to you. We joyfully release what you have entrusted to us. May these gifts be signs of our whole lives returned to you, dedicated to the healing and unity of all creation, through Jesus Christ.  Amen

See you in church.

Pastor Gayle

For Worship November 7/8
November 05, 2015
The focus of our Gospel lesson this week is a widow’s offering to God. By worldly standards, it is hardly significant - two small coins that are dwarfed by the sizeable gifts of wealthier givers. And yet this small gift is commended and celebrated by Jesus, lifted up as model for the disciples.

When it really comes down to it, why do we give to God, and what makes our offering worthy of celebration?  Join us this weekend as we consider what God really desires for us in this area of giving, and how we can experience the life that comes in truly giving of ourselves.

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship October 31/1
October 30, 2015
For All the Saints. This weekend we remember all those with a connection to our congregation who have died in the past year, and in the midst of that remembering we proclaim that death does not have the last word. The grave is not the end of our story because God continues to bring life out of death.

Death is very real, it grieves our hearts just as the death of Lazarus grieved the heart of Jesus, but when Jesus stood at the tomb of Lazarus and brought him out of the tomb, he was giving us a sign that there is more to come. Lazarus, of course, would have to die again one day, but now, we who live on the other side of Easter, know the promises of God are sure. We are joined to the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

How does that knowledge inform our lives? What does that mean for you, saints of God? Come and worship this weekend as we remember all our beloved ones, and give thanks for the sure and certain hope of the resurrection.
This weekend we are also welcoming 34 new members, 34 saints as part of TVLC. Keep your eyes open to welcome them.

See you in church...

Pastor Gayle

For Worship October 24/25
October 22, 2015
As we gather this weekend, we celebrate Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg 500 years ago - an event which sparked what we now call the Reformation. The church at that time had gotten away from the truth of God’s unconditional love and grace, and was holding people in bondage as a result.  In our Gospel lesson this weekend, Jesus talks about how the truth sets us free. In what ways might the truth of God’s grace need to take better hold in your life today? How might you be missing out on the free and full life God intends for you?

I hope you’ll join us this weekend as we explore those questions and get into the spirit of reformation. Wear red if you like, and be ready to get your “Mighty Fortress” on!

See you in worship…

Pastor Josh

For Worship October 17/18
October 15, 2015
Two of the disciples, James and John had a request for Jesus---give us the very special seats next to you when you come into your glory.  Even though Jesus had told them about his path of suffering and death so many times, even though he continued to talk about the first being last and serving others, they just couldn't quite get it.

Jesus continues to describe the kingdom of God in ways that sound almost foreign to the way we think the world should be. It's like he is speaking a foreign language---but it's the language of the kingdom of God, our first language.  We sometimes get a vision of the kingdom of God that has more to do with places of honor and never ending glory---but is that the life of discipleship that Jesus offers? We follow the suffering servant. That's our first clue. You have a place of honor by God's amazing grace.   And it may not be as you envisioned.

It's going to be a great weekend, come and worship---maybe you could invite
a friend to join you!

See you in church.

Pastor Gayle

For Worship October 10/11
October 08, 2015
"What must I do?", the rich man wants to know. He is used to doing business---just tell me what needs to be done to close the deal. But the assignment Jesus gives him sounds impossible, and he walks away, grieving.

How easy sometimes to think that our relationship with God, our life with God is just one more thing to get worked out, one more transaction to make. But no, Jesus makes it clear that while things might be impossible for us, with God, everything is possible. We are on the receiving end. And sometimes that is not the way we want it!

See you in church!

Pastor Gayle

For Worship October 3/4
October 01, 2015
What is God’s Kingdom all about and how can we experience more of it? Jesus, in this week’s Gospel lesson, seems to say that children have some great insight into this. Yes, those same children who can be inappropriate and needy and even annoying. They can apparently teach us a thing or two about the Kingdom of God! I hope you’ll join us this weekend as we explore what exactly that might be.

Speaking of children, we still have space available for you to join us for our Feed My Starving Children food packs this Thursday evening at 6:00 p.m. or Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. at Pantano Christian Church (1755 S Houghton Rd). It’s a great opportunity for us to provide much needed food to children around the world. Kids ages 5 and up can help too!  No need to RSVP. Just show up and look for the gold “God’s Work Our Hands” t-shirts!

See you this weekend!

Pastor Josh

For Worship September 26/27
September 24, 2015
The disciples were sure that they were the only people authorized to carry out the work of Jesus---and in typical fashion, Jesus set them straight. There is room for others to be doing work in the name of Jesus, not just our little group.

Oh how easy it is to get into the "we're better than them" contest. We think sometimes that we have this ministry all sewn up and no one else is quite as favored as we are. 

And just as Jesus kept trying to enlighten his disciples, we too are constantly learning that the work of the gospel isn't limited by our definitions and expectations. We are sometimes amazed and even appalled by the wideness of God's mercy!

See you in church,

Pastor Gayle

For Worship September 19/20
September 17, 2015
One unavoidable aspect of life in our culture is a never-ending jockeying for position in all aspects of our lives. In school, in athletics, socially, financially - we have this tendency to continually measure ourselves against each other and derive value from coming out on top. In our Gospel lesson for this weekend, though, Jesus completely turns this way of thinking on its head. He says, “Whoever wants to be first must be last…” What does Jesus mean by this?  Is he promoting some kind of extreme underachievement? Join us this weekend as we seek to figure this all out and explore what true success looks like.

Also, don’t forget that we have two great events taking place this weekend. The TVLC Preschool is hosting a free family movie night on Friday at 6 p.m.($1 raffle tickets and concessions) and there will be a Spaghetti Dinner on Saturday at 6 p.m. (free will offering) to support our upcoming mission trip to Haiti. All are welcome!

See you in worship...
Pastor Josh

For Worshop September 12/13
September 10, 2015
“Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asks his disciples. What would your answer be, today, in this time and place?  We might think we know what it means to be followers of Jesus, but in Mark’s gospel lesson Jesus makes it plain---those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel will save it. Jesus is a master at paradox.

Our life of discipleship is always focused on the neighbor, not on our own SELF. And strangely enough, when we are serving, when we forget about self, maybe that’s when we are our truest and best SELF. Most of our dying to self takes place without our even thinking about it, every day as we care for one another, as we love our neighbors.

This Sunday we celebrate God’s Work, Our Hands. And we celebrate it by joining with churches all over the country as we go out into our community to serve. No matter what service you attend this weekend, the opportunities are available for all of us beginning right after the 9:30 worship, and other opportunities beginning at 1 pm. The schedule will be attached to this message.

See you in church as we celebrate BEING the church!

Gods Work, Our Hands -

10:30am - Chapel - Labeling books for Wheeler School, Contact - Cheryl Auchenbach
10:30am - Linder Hall - Wrapping Cookies for delivery, Contact - Patty Pearson
1:00pm - Chapel - Hospice Bags, Contacts - Fran Marian and Dani Kolsrud
1:00pm - Linder Hall - Deliver cookies to our neighbors
1:00pm - Wheeler School - weeding, filling the sandbox, painting sidewalk paws, weeding the kinder patio, office work, library tasks, updating the teacher’s lounge, Contact - Sue Jensen

All are Welcome!

For Worship September 5/6
September 03, 2015
In our gospel lesson this weekend, even Jesus has to rethink his ministry. A woman who was a definite outsider, a Gentile, wanted what Jesus came to offer, and her perseverance set a new course for Jesus. I wonder what that might have to say to us about our own ministries? It's so easy for the church to become a cozy club of like-minded people rather than a mission outpost. It's easier sometimes to stay with what's familiar rather than seek to build bridges and make connections with people  who we see as different in some way.  This weekend the bishop of the Grand Canyon synod, Steve Talmage,  will be our preacher at all three services. He is coming to Tucson to celebrate with family and baptize his great- niece so we rejoice with the Lauber family as Evie June, child of God is joined to Christ and  welcomed into this ministry that we share.

Please take time this weekend to sign up for an area of service for next weekend as we celebrate God's Work, Our Hands with ELCA churches all over the country.

A reminder that the church office is closed Monday in observance of Labor Day.

See you in church.

Pastor Gayle Bintliff

For Worship August 29/30
August 27, 2015
Our Gospel lesson this week includes one of the many squabbles between Jesus and the Pharisees that we find throughout the Gospels.  It includes the Pharisees calling out Jesus and his disciples for a questionable practice, and Jesus quoting Isaiah and calling the Pharisees hypocrites – pretty standard stuff.

But, this interaction and the teaching that follows do pose a serious question regarding the well-being of our hearts.  The Pharisees saw themselves as the holiest of the holy due to their strict following of the law and traditions, when in truth their hearts were in a pretty bad place. While we might not reach the Pharisees' level of legalism and self-righteousness, we do have the tendency to value our external façade over what’s really going on inside of us.

Thankfully, we have a God who is in the business of making hearts right.  I hope you’ll join us this weekend as we explore how to better make space for the one who can cleanse us from the inside out.

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship August 22/23
August 20, 2015
What should we seek in life?  Money?  Success?  Romance?  Comfort? Entertainment?  They all beckon us to follow them, but will any of them offer us what we're truly looking for?

In this week’s Gospel, we hear of some disciples who, after hearing some of Jesus’ difficult teaching, decide that following Jesus isn’t for them. When Jesus asks the twelve though if they also want to leave, Peter replies, “Lord, to whom can we go?  You have the words of eternal life.” Peter realized that true life is found in Jesus alone, which was something that the others failed see.

Unfortunately, there are times where we can also fail to see.  All these other options can seem really attractive, while following Jesus can seems difficult and confusing.  This weekend, we’ll seek to clear up our vision so that when our faith is challenged, we will run to the source of life, rather than away from it.

Remember that this weekend we return to three services:  5:00 p.m. on Saturday  8 & 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning.

See you in worship!
Pastor Josh

For Worship August 15/16
August 13, 2015
In the middle of his ministry, Jesus says to those who are listening, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" How in the world are we to think about that? Can you imagine trying to explain that whole deal to someone just learning about Christianity?  Maybe sometimes we can't even begin to explain, we can only receive. We can only be joined to the life of this One who came out of love for the whole world.  The gospel of John is filled with metaphor, filled with this Word that became flesh for the sake of the world. We are invited to abide in that Word, to be part of that life. The best we can do is come hungry.

See you in church.

Remember it's Rally Day on Sunday! Big plans are in place for the Sunday School kids, bring your school back packs to worship, brunch on the patio after worship. It's going to be great!

Pastor Gayle Bintliff

Tanque Verde Lutheran Church

For Worship August 8/9
August 06, 2015
It's about the bread, again. And it goes on for a few weeks which often leaves preachers feeling like they could use a gluten free zone. And yet, when we hear about the Bread of Life from heaven, we are reminded once again that the source of our abundant life, the One who has promised to meet us in all of our hunger and all of our thirst,  is the living Christ. We are reminded that God took on flesh and blood for the sake of the world. 

So often we feel a sense of desperation, a sense of need as we navigate these lives of ours---but here we find an invitation. Jesus, the Bread of life, not only HAS what we need, but IS what we need. We are invited to come and eat, come and drink. We are invited to lay it all down and make our home in God, God who is most clearly revealed to us in Jesus. What is sustaining you these days? Do you sometimes feel like your life is on empty? The invitation is for you, come to the Bread of Life.

See you in church...

Pastor Gayle

For Worship August 1/2
July 30, 2015
Here at TVLC, we are blessed with a vibrant youth ministry.  This gives us the opportunity to invest in the lives of some amazing young people, and also allows us to be blessed by the unique gifts and energy that they bring to our church.  This weekend, we will have the opportunity to experience that first hand as the group of 22 youth who recently returned from the ELCA Youth Gathering in Detroit will be sharing their experience with us at both the Saturday evening and Sunday morning worship services.  God was without question moving in and through them during their week in Detroit, and they can’t wait to tell you all about it and invite you into the fun!

A reminder that the Saturday night service will be meeting in the Chapel this week due to a wedding in the Sanctuary.

See you in worship…

Pastor Josh

For Worship July 25/26
July 23, 2015
In preparation for this week’s sermon, I would like everyone to consider the following math problem:

*A rope over the top of a fence has the same length on each side. It weighs one third of a pound per foot. On one end hangs a monkey holding a banana, and on the other end a weight equal to the weight of the monkey holding the banana. The banana weighs two ounces per inch. The rope is as long (in feet) as the age of the monkey (in years), and weight of the monkey (in ounces) is the same as the age of the monkey’s mother (in years). The combined ages of the monkey and its mother are thirty years. One half the weight of the monkey, plus the weight of the banana, is one fourth as much as the weight of the weight and the weight of the rope. The monkey’s mother is half as old as the monkey will be when it is three times as old as its mother was when she was half as old as the monkey will be when it is as old as its mother will be when she is four times as old as the monkey was when it was twice as old as its mother was when she was one third as old as the monkey was when it was as old as its mother was when she was three times as old as the monkey was when it was one fourth as old as it is now. How long is the banana?*

Got it?  Well, even if math horrifies you and you stopped reading after the first sentence, I encourage you to join us this weekend, because we’re going to be talking about the math that Jesus does.  And Jesus’ math is guaranteed to radically transform your perspective on life and the world.

Also, this weekend is the last weekend of the ICS Food Challenge.  Reliable sources report that TVLC is in the top 3 in number of pounds donated thus far.  Let’s have a strong final push this weekend and see if we can come out on top!

See you in worship…

Pastor Josh

For Worship July 11/12
July 09, 2015
This week we're going to be talking about a BIG word - a 19-letter word that we find in the opening verses of Paul's letter to the Ephesians.  It is a word that is not only big in length, but is big in helping us understand the scope of the redeeming work that God is doing in our lives and in the world. As we become more aware of how God is moving and working in our midst, we can better celebrate and participate in this life-giving work.

Speaking of celebrating and participating in God's work in our midst, on Sunday morning we'll be blessing 22 youth and 7 adults who will head out to Detroit this Tuesday for the ELCA National Youth Gathering.  This BIG trip has been 3 years in the making and promises to be an awesome experience for the youth and adults involved.   Please keep them in your prayers as they travel, worship, learn, and serve in the coming week! 

See you in worship...

Pastor Josh

For Worship July 4/5
July 02, 2015
Throughout the ages, the people of God have sung their prayers and theirpraises. We sing to express our deepest joys and our deepest sorrows. We sing because it unites us.

This weekend we are going to sing. We will sing some of the long-loved hymns of faith, as well as more recent songs, we will sing in honor of our country, we will sing in prayer and thanksgiving and learn a little something about the songs and hymns we hold so dear. Worship on the 4th of July will include after-worship treats! Come and celebrate the gift of faith.

At the suggestion of one of our members, we will also have premade cards available for you to sign or add a simple message, and we will send them all to the Emanual African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC.

See you in church.

Pastor Gayle Bintliff

For Worship June 27/28
June 25, 2015
The gospel lesson this week is about healing. The woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and reached out for Jesus, the daughter of Jairus who was near death and he desperately went to Jesus for help. It would seem pretty clear that this whole country is in need of healing, in need of remembering that we too have been called to new life, called into a new relationship with God. When Jesus calls us to new life, he calls us to turn in a new direction-to see differently and live differently. That is what it means to repent.  What is it in you and me that needs healing? How can we turn in a new direction and be signs of God's light and love in this world? This weekend, churches of the ELCA are invited by our bishop, Elizabeth Eaton,   to a day of repentance and mourning as we remember  the shooting of 9 church members in Charleston, SC. We pray for healing, and we pray for new directions.

See you in church.

Pastor Gayle Bintliff

For Worship June 20/21
June 18, 2015
As Christians we believe in Jesus and Jesus is 100% faithful.  Therefore, we have nothing to fear. Right?  In theory, that’s how it should work, but unfortunately fear has the tendency to stake some serious claim on our lives – paralyzing us, distracting us, and even robbing us of the joy and peace God intends for us.

In our Gospel lesson this week Jesus asks his disciples, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”  These are questions that we as followers of Christ need to seriously consider, which is what we will be doing this weekend.

On Sunday our VBS kids will be sharing what they learned this week, and we’ll also be lifting up and celebrating dads!

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship June 13/14
June 11, 2015
The theme of growth is found all throughout our lessons for this weekend.  We hear about the growth of a noble cedar, the growth of grain, and the growth of a mustard seed, and all are likened to the Kingdom of God - this growing work that God is doing among God’s people.

The question for us to ponder this weekend is where we are in relation to this growing work that God is doing in our midst.  In what ways are we taking part in it, and how can we be even more open to the dynamic work of the Holy Spirit among us?

Speaking of the dynamic work of the Holy Spirit, our Blast to the Past VBS is geared up and ready to go!  Be praying for the 115 kids that will fill our campus and experience God’s everlasting love in the coming week.

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship June 6/7
June 04, 2015
The Apostle Paul writes to the church in Corinth, reminding them and us  that even in the midst of suffering, we do not lose heart. Can we trust that God is with us, even in the midst of pain and suffering? Can we trust that as a community of faith, the presence of God is what carries us and keeps us in faith?  Shouldn’t it be different for us? Shouldn’t God be making things easier for us? We  are sent into the world as the presence of God, the Body of Christ. Jesus was constantly at work, healing people, calling forth gifts from unlikely places and unlikely people, and he has left that work in our hands.  The Spirit of God continues to be with us  so that we can be present, so that the Good News of God’s love is embodied in you and me. We do not lose heart.

See you in church…

For Worship May 30/31
May 29, 2015
This weekend we celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday, which means that those of you who are curious how exactly one God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will be able to have all of your questions answered!   Okay, I admit that’s not going to happen.  To think that we would ever be able to completely get our heads around the fullness and complexity of the God of the universe is a bit ambitious.

What we will talk about this weekend though is how this God, who is relational in his very nature, claims us as his own and invites us into this relationship, bestowing upon us an eternal inheritance far beyond what we could ever earn or deserve.  Do you realize the privileged place that God has set apart for you?  What would it look like for you to claim this inheritance and live as the heir that you truly are?

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship May 23/24
May 22, 2015
The Spirit blew in with the sound of a violent wind, and tongues of fire appeared on the heads of the disciples.  That is probably beyond any of the experiences we have had, but we have probably all had some sense of the Holy Spirit working in and through our lives.  Sometimes the Spirit comes to comfort, but often the Spirit disturbs, shakes things up, moves us to action, and reminds us that without the Spirit of God, we are not the church.  Come and celebrate Pentecost this weekend.  Come and celebrate that we are the church, claimed, gathered, and sent.

See you in church…

For Worship May 16/17
May 14, 2015
In our lesson from Acts this week, the first disciples are faced with an important decision, and the way they go about making the decision is a little unconventional.  This passage lends us the opportunity to think though about how we go about making decisions in our lives.  What role if any does God have in the big and small decisions we make every day?  And how do we actually go about including God in our decision-making process?

Join us this weekend as we explore these questions and consider how we can open ourselves more to the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our lives.  Also, this Sunday we will celebrate with 6 of our high school seniors as they prepare to graduate, and we will send them with our blessing as they face the exciting challenges that lie ahead of them.

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship May 9-10, 2015
May 08, 2015
Jesus continues his farewell to his disciples, reminding them again that their purpose is LOVE.  He commands us to love one another as he has loved us---and the purpose of the commandment is SO THAT we might have joy. 

Our whole identity has been changed, we have been chosen as friends of Jesus, chosen to be people of joy, chosen to show love to one another.  The command to love isn’t to add more burdens to our lives, it’s to give us the joy that is meant to be ours, the joy that we find in loving as God has loved us.  Does it change anything to see yourself as a friend of Jesus?   To see yourself as someone who is deeply loved by God? Thank God for the love that is poured out on us, for people in our lives who give us a glimpse of God’s love and for the joy that we are invited to receive.  Come and worship, it’s going to be a great weekend.

See you in church…

For Worship May 2/3
May 01, 2015
Jesus tells his followers---I am the vine, you are the branches, and out of that relationship growth and new life is possible.  We are reminded in 1st John that we are here to love one another because love is from God.  It’s all interconnected and life sustaining, and without the connection, the branches wither and die.

These metaphors give us a lot to think about as we think of ourselves in community, connected to one another, connected to all God’s people.  What might be possible if we saw ourselves connected to each other?  If we thought not about THEM, but about US, how could we make decisions that ignore the needs of others?  How could we think of some as less necessary than others?  

Look around this world, the suffering of others affects each and every one of us whether we think so or not.  Jesus is the vine, we are the branches….

See you in church…

For Worship April 25/26
April 24, 2015
This weekend, seven of our young people will be getting confirmed, giving us a chance to celebrate the good work God has been doing in their lives.  It also gives us a chance to think about what it means for us all to grow in faith and relationship with God.   

In our Gospel lesson this week, Jesus talks about how he is the good shepherd.  One who watches over us and cares for us.  One who even lays down his life for us.  It’s amazing to think that we have a God who is willing to invest so much in his relationship with us. 

I hope you will join us this weekend as we offer our thanks and praise to this God, celebrating the good work he is doing in our midst and growing together in faith. 

See you in worship!
Pastor Josh

For Worship April 11/12
April 10, 2015
Brothers and Sisters,

The resurrection is at hand!  This week Jesus shows up in the flesh to his disciples, greeting them with a word of peace and even showing them the scars on his hands and side.  Unfortunately for Thomas, he isn’t there to witness this incredible event, and struggles to believe without seeing Jesus in the flesh himself. 

Thomas’ struggle is one that likely resonates with us as we are all called to live by faith, putting our trust in a God that we can’t fully see or touch.   Doubt and questions are an inevitable part of such faith, which actually might not be such a bad thing.  I hope you will join us this weekend as we explore why God chooses to be known by faith, and the true blessing that is there for us “who have not seen and yet have believed.”

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship March 28/29
March 27, 2015
We come to that pivotal day---the end of Lent, the beginning of Holy Week.   Jesus is welcomed with shouts of Hosanna!, welcomed with the waving of palm branches and great enthusiasm.  And soon, other forces, the people in the seats of power, the religious and political leaders of the day will make sure that all of that is brought to a halt. 

The story is full of paradox and ambiguity.  The disciples followed with such commitment and faith, and yet they could not even stay awake with Jesus in the garden.  Peter was absolutely confident that nothing would prevent him from being faithful to Jesus, and yet, he denies he ever knew him when confronted with the reality.  And we know exactly how it is to live in those strange places of faith and doubt, trust and fear, unwavering commitment and complete apathy.  We know this story because we are part of it.  Sunday at the 9:30 service we will celebrate with those receiving their first communion.

See you in church…

For Worship March 14/15
March 12, 2015
Light.  A good thing or bad thing?   Most of us would say good, right?  Light is great for guiding us, it lifts up our spirits, it at times warms us and comforts us.

In our Gospel lesson this week, Jesus talks about his light shining into our lives, and for the most part, we would consider that a good thing.  Jesus’ light guides us, it lifts our spirits, and it warms us and comforts us.

There can be an uncomfortable aspect of light though, and that is the way light reveals truth.  Unfortunately, there are aspects of our lives that we would often prefer to keep hidden.  Christ longs to shine His light into those dark places though, because He wants to redeem not just part of us, but all of us.  This weekend, we’ll be talking about how we can experience the true freedom and peace that comes with a life lived fully in the light of Christ.

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship March 7/8
March 06, 2015
This weekend we have a guest preacher-Pastor Kapp Johnson.  This is already the third weekend in Lent, and the focus of the gospel lesson from John points to the way we often put so many other things in the place of God.

Pastor Johnson will be presenting on Saturday for our 3rd annual Faith Matters and will also be our preacher at all three services. If you haven't signed up for Saturday, there is still time to call the church office NOW and get your name on the list. Pastor Johnson will help all of us to think about our faith and daily life, how our discipleship is lived out in our everyday lives. I know we will enjoy his time with us.

See you in church....

p.s. Don't forget to come and cheer our newly formed softball team, their first game for Friday night is at 6:30 at the park at Craycroft and Golf Links!

For Worship February 28/ March 1
February 27, 2015
Jesus said,” For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” It’s a strange paradox isn’t it? What does it mean for us as individuals? As church together? In this world of bigger and better and criteria for success, the mark of the church is a different measure. We follow Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.  He makes it clear that there is nothing easy about that path, but also that is where life is to be found. Lent is a time when we sharpen our focus one the realities of this path of discipleship, and death and new life are definitely part of that reality. This weekend two little girls will be baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a life-long journey that we take together.

Also remember that all are invited to the Celebration Service of Ordination for Jeremy Nausin at 4 pm Sunday in the sanctuary. What a blessing and gift to be the Church, gathered and sent!

See you in church…

For Worship February 21/22
February 19, 2015
This week we celebrate the First Sunday of Lent.  I suppose you could argue that “celebrate” isn’t the best word, since Lent is more of a somber season, filled with reflection and repentance.  Our Gospel lesson doesn’t seem especially celebration-worthy either as Jesus is driven out into the wilderness where he is tempted by Satan for forty days.

And yet, what we can celebrate this Sunday (and every Sunday) is the hope we have in Christ.  That we have a God who humbled himself, and subjected himself to temptation and suffering, that our future might be redeemed.  Despite the ways we mess up our lives and the world God created, God is fully invested us.  God sees the potential we have and refuses to give up on us, which is truly worth celebrating!

Don’t forget to stop by the Arts and Crafts fair this Saturday between 9:00am to 3:00pm.  Also on Saturday, Greg Paulsen and I will be sharing about our recent trip to Haiti at 3:00pm in the Chapel.

See you in worship!
Pastor Josh

For Worship February 14/15
February 12, 2015
Jesus, shining in all his glory! This weekend we celebrate The Transfiguration, but it is a glory that will take on whole new meaning as Jesus walks down the mountain and to the cross.

Lent begins next week with Ash Wednesday, so this weekend is that place in the middle of it all, where Jesus is seen for who he truly is, and yet, not quite fully recognized as the suffering servant. Glory takes on new meaning. Where do we see the glory of God? Can you recognize it when you do see it? Life isn’t all mountain tops, but the presence of God is always with us.

Transforming Love, that is what Jesus brings. And transformation is not always easy or comfortable, but it is the work of God in us. May God give us eyes to see and hearts open to the experience of that transforming love.

See you in church…

For Worship February 7/8
February 05, 2015
We continue in the first chapter of Mark this week, and after Jesus’ initial casting out of an unclean spirit last week, his ministry is now in full swing - healing, casting out demons, proclaiming the good news.  Wherever Jesus goes, there is freedom from that which oppresses.  

Experiencing this freedom that Christ offers is at the heart of what our faith is all about.  But we can’t forget what comes with that freedom.  With it comes potential and possibility.  Nothing is holding us back now from becoming all we were created to be.

What has Christ set you free for?  Join us this weekend as we wrestle with this together. And don’t forget to check out the Highlights - lots of great stuff for you to be a part of in the coming weeks.

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship January 31/February 1
January 30, 2015
Jesus is never stopped by boundaries or barriers. He is on a mission to heal, to make new, to love and serve God’s people and nothing is going to get in the way.  Maybe playing by the rules is not always the best choice.  Maybe sometimes we have to change the rules, let go of anything that gets between us and the people who need us.  Give thanks that God is with us, wherever we are.

While so many of the “church people” doubted and criticized the words and actions of Jesus, even the demons knew they were dealing with the Holy One of God.  The old laws would not keep him powerless. So what does that mean for us, here and now? See any barriers that need breaking? See any walls coming down? Even now God is at work.

See you in church…

For Worship January 24/25
January 22, 2015
The calling of disciples continues this week, with Jesus’ calling of four fishermen.  “Follow me,” Jesus says, “and I will make you fish for people.”  Putting myself in their shoes, I’m not sure that invitation is one that would have attracted me.  Honestly, fishing for people sounds like it would at best entail deception and a hard sell, and at worst require coercion and manipulation.

Is it possible for evangelism to be more than that?  Is it something that we could possibly get excited about and find joy in?  Short answer:  “Absolutely!”  Longer answer:  “We’ll talk about it this weekend.”    

See you in worship

Pastor Josh

For Worship January 17/18
January 15, 2015
Jesus found disciples, and they in turn invited others to come and see.  And so it continues, faith goes on because someone invites someone else to Come and See. We are in this together, we are the ones who are called and sent.  The ones who invite others to Come and See. 

And seeing is always deeper than what first might be apparent.  There is sight, and then there is insight. Faith has to do with insight. How do you see it? What do you see when you look at this community of faith?

It is still the season of Epiphany, still a time for new awakenings, new beginnings, new understandings and seeing with fresh eyes. When is the last time you invited someone to Come and See?

See you in church…

For Worship January 10/11
January 08, 2015
Dear Friends,

This weekend we take a trip down to the banks of the Jordan where all whole lot of excitement takes place.  It starts with John the Baptist doing his thing and sharing the news about one more powerful than he who is coming.  Then this more powerful one, Jesus, shows up and decides to be baptized by John.  And while he is being baptized by John, the Holy Spirit and the Father show up as well.  

The best part is, while it might not be immediately evident, all of this excitement has wonderful implications for me and you.  I hope you’ll join us this weekend as we consider those implications and what it means for us to live daily as those baptized in Christ.

Remember that there will be a congregational meeting on Sunday following the 9:30 a.m. service, where we will vote to approve our 2015 Financial Statement of Mission.

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship January 3/4
January 02, 2015
Epiphany! The light shines, and Jesus is made known to the Gentiles, to the nations, to those outside of Israel. The actual date on the church calendar for Epiphany is January 6th but we will celebrate this weekend. We will remember the coming of the Magi, those travelers from the East who followed the star as they came to worship the king of the Jews.

Something about the world was different once they met the baby, but of course, they could hardly begin to understand or explain. What’s different in our world because we have met the baby?  What’s it like on your journey? Is the good news for ALL the people? Have you ever noticed that when it comes to talking about God there are always more questions? Looking forward to worship this weekend.

See you in church…

God bless you in this New Year!

For Worship December 24 - Christmas Eve
December 24, 2014
Merry Christmas!  We have come to the end of our Advent waiting, and now we celebrate the Nativity of our Lord, the birth of Christ, the Light that shines in the Darkness.  It would be so easy to keep the whole picture in soft focus, sentimental candlelight, sweet mother and child.  But there probably wasn’t much very sweet about it. 

It was into a very harsh and broken world that the Christ child was born, a world that was probably very much like the one we live in today.  And that is what makes all the difference.   Into the middle of brokenness God comes, in the flesh, to be with us.  And so, in the midst of all that brings us sorrow, we are able to celebrate the birth of hope, the birth of peace and good will.  We are able to celebrate God-with-us and give thanks for the love that has come to us.  Life changing love, love that makes all things new, and all things possible.

I pray that you will experience the peace and joy of Christmas, that your heart will be open to the birth of Christ, that you will receive this great gift with thanksgiving and faith.  The light does shine in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.  You can stake your life on that truth, you can trust that no matter what, this gift is for you.  God bless you all this Christmas season.  Thank you for the gift that you are to this congregation, and for the many ways that the light of Christ shines through you.

Remember, Christmas Eve services are at 4:00, 7:00 and 9:00pm with nursery care available at 4 and 7.  Next weekend, the 27th and 28th services are at the regular time, Saturday at 5:00, Sunday at 8:00 and 9:30 as we continue the celebration of Christmas.

See you in church…

For Worship December 20/21
December 18, 2014
Dear Friends,

This weekend we light the fourth candle on our Advent wreath which means we’re getting close!  Amidst the busyness of last-minute shopping, welcoming family and friends, and other various holiday events, I hope you will join us for some Sabbath time as we create space for our Messiah to be present among us.

We’ll have three unique worship experiences this weekend.  On Saturday evening at 5:00 p.m. in the chapel, Jay Hornbacher and Wally Christofferson will be presenting an imaginary story of the real St. Nicholas, called A Letter from St. Nicholas to All His Children.  On Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. we will worship in the sanctuary, where we will consider Mary’s response to God’s calling and how we all can be bearers of Christ in our world.  Finally, on Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. we’ll gather in the Nausin Family Life Center for this year’s Children’s Christmas Program called Light of the World

Come and join us for one, or all of these wonderful events!

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship December 13/14
December 12, 2014
Advent Three - This weekend we are reminded to rejoice, and we are reminded that like John, we are called and sent to be a witness to the light that has come into the world. The Sunday morning services this weekend will feature our choir singing several anthems and leading the congregation in additional hymns.  The 8:00am and 9:30am are identical services except, of course, for the children’s sermon which happens at 9:30. And as always, there is a wonderful opportunity for worship on Saturday evening at 5:00pm pm.  We will light the third candle, giving thanks for Mary, the mother of Jesus. Are you waiting in holy expectation? Can you see the ways that Christ comes into our world even now?
On Sunday afternoon at 2:00pm we gather in faith and hope to remember and celebrate the life of Pastor Carl Zehner who passed away this week. You are welcome to that service in the sanctuary and please keep Dee and the family in your prayers.

See you in church…

For Worship December 6/7
December 04, 2014
We light the second candle of Advent. Last week the focus was on being ready, and this week, the message comes more as,” Ready or not, God is coming.”  The prophet Isaiah comes with a message; the people who had lived in exile were now given the promise of God’s presence, God’s comfort and help in whatever wilderness they were experiencing.  And so it is for us. Do you know that sense of being lost in the wilderness, that so much in this world seems to make less and less sense every day? Do you sometimes feel cut off from people, from joy, even from God? Then you know what it is to live with Advent longing, with expectation and a deep sense of need. Our God comes. That is the promise.

Once again, we move directly from collecting food for Thanksgiving, to getting ready to deliver food and gifts for Christmas. Please do what you can to restock the pantry and bring turkeys or hams for the freezer. If we can all do a little, then a lot will be accomplished!

See you in church…

For Worship November 29/30
November 26, 2014
Dear Friends,

This week’s Gospel lesson is all about waiting, which seems to be a fitting theme for our culture that doesn't seem to handle waiting all too well.  “Christmas” seems to get rolled out earlier and earlier every year, and this week you have surely been bombarded by messages of “Black Friday” sales starting well before Friday.

The season of Advent (which to my knowledge has not yet been moved forward) begins this weekend.  Advent is a time when we wait and prepare for the celebration of Christmas, and a time when we’re reminded to be ready for that time when our Messiah will come again.

I hope you will join us on Saturday or Sunday as we consider how to live in purposeful expectation of the future our coming king will bring forth.   I also hope that this Thursday affords you an opportunity to step back from all things retail to enjoy some Sabbath time with friends and family, and to consider God’s many blessings in your life.

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship November 22/23
November 20, 2014
Dear Friends,

This weekend we celebrate Christ the King Sunday, a day when think about what it means for us to call Jesus our king.  Unfortunately, when you look historically, kings don’t always have the most glowing record.  You’ll no shortage of kings consumed by a thirst for power, who will do whatever it takes to force people into submission and expand their reign.

In Jesus though, we find a different kind of king.  One who willingly subjects himself to a crown of thorns instead of a crown of jewels.  One who displays his power not in physical force, but in self-sacrificial love.  As much as we love to sit on the throne of our own lives, Jesus is the one king who has proven himself worthy of us offering our whole lives and full allegiance.

This Saturday morning we invite you to join us at 11 a.m. as we celebrate the life of Joan Richardson who died this past week.  Also, don’t forget to join us on Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. in our sanctuary for a Thanksgiving Vespers service with Desert Skies United Methodist.

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship November 15/16
November 13, 2014
The parable of the talents, another story told in the gospel of Matthew that invites us to think about how we are using all that we have been given by God.  Where are you using your talents?  Sometimes it is difficult even to claim our talents, we are accustomed to playing it safe, and playing it small.  It’s difficult to realize sometimes that it is through our talents that God is at work, and that when we bury what we have, we are not living the life that we are called to live.  Do you recognize your own talents? Do you help to encourage the talents of others? 

We are only here in this life for a brief time, and God’s desire is for us to live fully, to live lives that are rich with meaning and possibilities. To underestimate ourselves is not humility because our talents are gifts from God, and when we are sharing them, we are calling attention to God! To deny our gifts is to deny the work of God in us. Give thanks, God has empowered you with gifts and talents.

Our food pantry is at an all-time low and we are preparing for our Thanksgiving deliveries.  We pack on the 23rd of November, and deliver on the 24th. Please continue to bring food and fill the pantry. That food is a huge blessing to many lives.

See you in church…

For Worship November 8/9
November 07, 2014
The gospel lesson for this weekend is another parable, one that has a message for us about being prepared, about waiting for the return of Christ.  Our lives are spent living in the present, with an eye toward the future---and the question is, how do we live in the meantime?  Do we live in fear and trepidation, or do we live in hope, in joy, in gratitude.  Is there a way to think about being prepared that doesn’t just paralyze us? How do we want to spend our days so that we are ready for the constant ways that Christ enters our lives here and now, as well as ready for the fulfillment of the promise, the kingdom of God in all its glory? 

This weekend we think not only about living in gratitude, but about giving in gratitude. We will have a processional offering at each service and you are invited to give not only your offering but your faith commitment card for the coming year. Even if you are not making a pledge, please sign the card so that we do not contact you further.  It’s an exciting time for Tanque Verde Lutheran church as we move forward in faith and gratitude. Thanks be to God!

See you in church…

For Worship November 1/2
October 30, 2014
Dear Friends,
This weekend we celebrate “All Saints Day,” remembering the saints that have gone before us and the ways we are still blessed by their lives of faith.  I’m sure we can all look back and identify those individuals who were instrumental in sharing the good news of God’s love with us and who have inspired us by their witness.

I wonder, though, how comfortable we are in taking on that title of “saint.”   Paul identifies all who follow Christ as saints, and Luther clarifies that the Christian is simultaneously saint and sinner.  I know for me personally, I find it much easier to claim the “sinner” part of that identity than the “saint” part.

So what then does it look like for us to live out our identity as saints - those who Christ redeems and sanctifies?  How might we be those who bless and inspire the generations that follow us by our lives of faith?

This weekend will be another great one!  New members will be received; the mental health forum continues on Sunday, and we’ll hear more about what it means to “Give in Gratitude.” 

See you in worship!
Pastor Josh

For Worship October 25/26
October 23, 2014
The truth will make you free!   As we gather this weekend we give thanks for the Reformation, recognizing that RE-FORMATION is always a part of our lives, and most especially part of the life of the church. God is always making things new, and we, as the people of God are being made new every day. There is great freedom in that, but also of course, some fear of what we might lose in the midst of change and new life. Thanks be to God that we are no longer slaves to sin, but in Christ are freed, made new, reformed and transformed, day by day.

This weekend is full of celebration. Saturday worship at 5 pm, Sunday full choir and brass at both the 8 and 9:30 so some of you may want to give that 8 o’clock a try!  At 9:30, six of our youth will be confirmed as we celebrate the Affirmation of Baptism. Cake will be served on the patio following that service.  God is at work-always giving new life.

See you in church…

For Worship October 18/19
October 17, 2014
“Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” This was the response of Jesus when once again the Pharisees, along with the Herodians tried to trip him up. They were doing all they could to trap Jesus, to put an end to his ministry. But he is always one step ahead of them.

Give to God the things that are God’s. What are those things? What do you think? We too think in terms of compartments---this part of life is mine, this part is God’s, this part belongs to my work, the government, my family---we would like to keep it all tidy and separate sometimes----but think again.

Whose image is on you? We are marked by the cross of Christ, sealed by the Holy Spirit---it’s an indelible mark. And the call of God is full-time, involving every aspect of our lives.

See you in church……

For Whorship October 11/12
October 10, 2014
Rejection of a royal invitation.  Murder.  Burning of a city.  Outsiders welcomed.  A guest bound by the hands and feet and thrown out.  Jesus’ parable that we hear this week has a little bit of everything.  What could God possibly have to say to us today through this bizarre story?  We’ll do our best to figure that out this weekend.

Also, don’t forget about our Oktoberfest celebration this Friday.   There will be great fellowship, food, and drinks and proceeds will benefit Agua Prieta Family Shelters.  And you won’t want to miss the Hospitality Ministry’s two-week forum that kicks off Sunday morning.

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship October 4/5
October 02, 2014
What is it from your past that is holding you back?  What is keeping you from experiencing the future that God has for you?

I have to say that the four chapters of Paul’s letter to the Philippians are among my favorite in all of Scripture.  You can’t help but read Paul’s words of encouragement to the Philippian congregation and get fired up about that good work that God has begun and will continue to do in us.  This week’s passage (chapter 3, verses 4-14) talks about breaking free from the things of our past that are holding us down, and enthusiastically pressing on to take hold future that God has for us.

This weekend, I’m looking forward to the kick-off of a new group called “Roots” for families with young children(join us Sunday at 10:40 a.m. in the Cross & Cactus Café).  Also, former TVLC pastor Frank Nausin will be leading campus tour and sharing of the meaningful symbols hidden in the architecture of TVLC.

If you haven’t had the chance yet, please take a minute to fill out our brief worship survey by
clicking here!

See you in worship…

Pastor Josh

For Worship September 27/28
September 26, 2014
“Where does your authority come from”, they asked Jesus.  And in typical fashion, he chooses not to answer, but to offer a parable.  Where do we put our trust?   Is it only our mouths that are moving or is it also our feet?   We are joined to Christ, his authority was from God, and his authority was never something that he exploited.   Rather, he emptied himself of the need for power, and he went all the way to death, and back.  Who is it who has authority in our lives?  And why?  Each one of us is called to live out our “YES”, called to the daily walk of discipleship which involves our words and our actions, involves our response to a loving God.

It’s going to be a joyous weekend.  Wonderful worship on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and the celebration of Pr. Josh’s installation with a worship at 4 pm on Sunday and a potluck meal to follow in the Nausin Family Life Center.

A reminder too that we will give thanks to God for the life of Richard Von Borstel with a memorial service at 11:00 am this Saturday.   In life and in death, we are God’s own beloved ones. Thanks be to God.

See you in church…

For Worship September 20/21
September 19, 2014
It’s another one of those parables this weekend. You know, the ones that make us squirm a bit, the ones that make us aware that how we see things isn’t always from a loving point of view. We Lutherans feel pretty confident that we know all about grace, and yet, so often we want to slide back into that sense of earning what we get and deserving what we have earned-a good definition of sin-curved in on ourselves. It is GOD who is gracious, who gives with generosity beyond measure.

It is GOD who invites us to receive those many gifts and to trust that it is always enough and more than enough. How do you see it?
Sunday School and the choirs are off to a great start---there is always room for YOU. Thanks to all who are helping to lead and teach.

See you in church…

For Worship September 13/14
September 11, 2014
This week we come to Jesus’ parable of the unmerciful servant.  A servant is extended an incredible measure of grace from his master who forgives his sizeable debt.  Then he turns around and extends absolutely no grace to his fellow servant, demanding full payment of a much smaller debt.

As much as we are disgusted by the unmerciful servant’s lack of grace, we too often struggle with forgiveness.  I hope you’ll join us this weekend as we talk about how crucial this call to “forgive as we have been forgiven” truly is, and how we can come to experience more of the freedom that comes with letting go.

This is also an exciting weekend as we will be returning to two services on Sunday morning (8:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.) and kicking off Sunday School, EDGE, Bridges, and Singers of Love.  And don’t forget to have your kids bring their backpacks as we will be blessing them during the 9:30 a.m. service.

See you in worship!

Pastor Josh

For Worship September 6/7
September 04, 2014
In his letter to the Romans, Paul reminds his listeners that the commandments are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  That is the full time calling of every one of us.  And loving requires action. 

There are many ways that we are at work in the world to live out the faith that is ours, and this weekend we have some particular opportunities as part of the celebration of “God’s Work Our Hands.” Many of you have signed up to help our neighbors in a variety of ways, and this weekend we acknowledge the joy of working with congregations throughout the country to make a difference in the world, to respond to all that God has given us.

Whether you are doing a particular service on Sunday or not, come and worship, come and celebrate the call and gifts that are ours.   A huge thank you to all who have organized these opportunities.  Wear that bright gold shirt if you have one, come even if you don’t have one. YOU are part of the body of Christ. God is in action through YOU.

See you in church…

For Worship August 30/31
August 28, 2014
What do you expect from Jesus?  And is Jesus going to meet your expectations?  If we learn anything from Peter and the other disciples in our Gospel lesson this week, it's that Jesus refuses to be God in our image.  While this may be discouraging to us when things don't go according to our plans, we place our trust in a God whose love and grace are guaranteed to far exceed our expectations.  

I'm looking forward to stepping up to the TVLC pulpit for the first time this weekend, and trust that God has a life-giving message to share with us.  Just know that it might not be what you expect!

See you in worship...

Pastor Josh

For Worship August 30/31
August 29, 2014
What do you expect from Jesus?  And is Jesus going to meet your expectations?  If we learn anything from Peter and the other disciples in our Gospel lesson this week, it’s that Jesus refuses to be God in our image.  While this may be discouraging to us when things don’t go according to our plans, we place our trust in a God whose love and grace are guaranteed to far exceed our expectations. 
I’m looking forward to stepping up to the TVLC pulpit for the first time this weekend, and trust that God has a life-giving message to share with us.  Just know that it might not be what you expect!
See you in worship…
Pastor Josh

For Worship August 23/24
August 21, 2014
But who do you say that I am? That is the question Jesus puts before his disciples. That is the question put before us---and what difference does the answer make in our lives.  Can we trust in the presence of God even in the midst of so much darkness?   Didn’t they, and don’t we sometimes wish for more of a superman, someone who would put an end to all suffering?  Who do you say that I am?  How do you answer?

Life is always more questions than answers-even when it comes to faith. Following Jesus isn’t a matter of having everything nailed down and firmly in place.  Maybe it is just a willingness to keep on, to persist, to trust that the light does shine in the darkness. Maybe sometimes it is just one foot in front of the other, just for today. Come and worship, come and be with a community of faith that isn’t full of answers but is willing to sit with the questions.  There is room for you here.

See you in church…

For Worship August 16/17
August 14, 2014
This weekend we welcome Pastor Ron Rude, ELCA campus pastor at the U of A. He appreciates opportunities to be at local ELCA congregations when school is not in session so that he can keep us informed of the important work of campus ministry. He will be preaching on a few verses from Genesis 2.

Come and worship---come and take some time to contemplate all that God is up to in your life and in the lives of people around you. This is a time of so much conflict and suffering in our world, and to be able to gather for prayer, Holy Communion, fellowship, and learning-to be able to gather to worship God is not something we take for granted. 

How can we help to build peace in this world? How can we be a sign of God’s grace and compassion? Thank you for keeping the work of the church in your prayers, thank you for BEING the church! Keep wearing those GOLD shirts, we are getting ready for a great day of service on September 7th-sign up this weekend if you haven’t already done so.

See you in church…

For Worship August 9/10
August 07, 2014
Sometimes our fears and our worries keep us from an awareness of the presence of God.  We are looking in the wrong direction.  We have our own ideas of how God should be making God’s self-known-as Elijah discovered, God was in the sheer silence, or as some translations put in, the still small voice.

Jesus came to the disciples, and it was his presence alone that overwhelmed them and made them even more afraid. Who was this one who had power over the chaos, this one who walked on water and calmed the wind and the waves?  Where do you have a sense of God’s presence in your life?  What are those things that keep you awake in the night?  Sometimes we don’t get answers, we don’t get the troubles removed, but we are invited to trust that in the midst of it, GOD is PRESENT.

This weekend Pastor Josh will be presiding so please remember to wear your name tags and help him to get to know all of us---

You are also invited to wear your BRIGHT GOLD SHIRT as we head toward our Day of Service on September 7th---there will be opportunities for everyone to do GOD’S WORK with OUR HANDS

See you in church…

For Worship August 2/3
July 31, 2014
Our God is constantly at work to provide, to show us again and again that with God there is always enough and more than enough.

Food is often a sign of hospitality, of abundance, of care and compassion. Food is often a metaphor for the gracious providing that comes from God. The gospel story this weekend is familiar, the feeding of the 5,000 (plus women and children)!   And they all ate and were filled, and there was food left over.

How is it going with you? Is there enough? Is there more than enough? It was the disciples who were given the assignment to feed those people-and now it’s our assignment too. Are we, the church, a good and faithful sign of God’s welcoming hospitality and abundant providing? 

It’s good to be back!

See you in church…

For Worship July 26/27
July 24, 2014
This weekend we welcome Pastor John D. Kautz, who will be preaching and presiding. There continues to be coverage for any pastoral care emergencies. Contact Veanne in the church office for assistance.

Over the past several weeks, many in our church and community have wondered how we at TVLC could help the migrant children who are waiting for whatever comes next. This weekend, you will again find an insert about an opportunity to help care for these children—no matter what our thoughts are about immigration reform. If you choose to give, 100% of your gift will benefit the children through Lutheran Disaster Response. You may make your check out to TVLC and note “migrant children” on your memo line or you may send your gift directly to Lutheran Disaster Response at the address indicated on the insert. A basket on the table in the Narthex also is available for donations. Thank you for your prayers for these children, your partnership with Lutheran Disaster Response, and your gifts.

Pastor Gayle will be returning to the office on Thursday, July 31st.

See you in church…..

For Worship July 5/6
July 03, 2014
This weekend Pastor Tony Danielson will be preaching and presiding, and there will be other guest pastors for the remainder of July.  I won’t be writing the weekly Grace Notes while I am away, but you will be receiving a weekly email with the bulletin and newsletter attached.  There will also be coverage for any pastoral care emergencies.  Please call the church office and Veanne will make the contact for you.

In case you missed the meeting last Sunday, we are so happy that there was a unanimous vote to call Pastor Josh Auchenbach as our Associate Pastor.  He has accepted that call and he and his family will be arriving the first week in August.  Thanks be to God, and thank you for your partnership in this ministry as we move forward in faith.

See you in church…

For Worship June 28/29
June 26, 2014
When we welcome others, we welcome Christ—it calls for a radical hospitality. It calls for an opening of our hearts and minds to truly receive the “other” whoever that might be. The Matthew text continues as Jesus gives his instructions to the disciples as they go on their way.

We have had a wild week of Vacation Bible School with lots of energy and enthusiasm, and some very weary leaders!

On Sunday the kids will be singing in worship so we look forward to that. Everywhere you look there are opportunities to welcome Christ, are we paying attention? A reminder too, that there is an opportunity to meet our Associate Pastor candidate and his family on Friday in Linder Hall anytime between 5:00 and 7:00pm. Right after the 9:30 worship we will have a congregational meeting to vote on the call. It’s going to be a great weekend.

See you in church…

For Worship June 21/22
June 19, 2014
Jesus sends his disciples out, and before he does, he lets them know in no uncertain terms that this path of discipleship is not an easy one. People are not always going to like what the disciples bring. In the gospel lesson for this weekend, Jesus addresses the paralyzing force of FEAR—reminding all his disciples that God is always with us, and even if people destroy our bodies, they cannot destroy our souls!  We are not here to make life smooth for everyone, we are here to be signs of the kingdom of God, and sometimes the kingdom of God will be at odds with some other viewpoints. Our job is to go and tell, our job is to bring healing and reconciliation into the world, and that will sometimes divide people, that will sometimes make us unpopular.

This weekend we will bless all those who are working with Vacation Bible School next week—the folks who have been getting ready have been working hard to make this a wonderful experience for all who participate… And this weekend you will learn more about our Associate Pastor candidate!

See you in church…

For Worship June 14/15
June 12, 2014
This weekend we celebrate Holy Trinity –back to white for one weekend, and then we enter into the green season, Ordinary Time, the Season of Pentecost. Three in one, one God, three persons, all at work together in a relationship that is moving and dynamic. Sometimes we just try to make God too static—we try to make God who and what we are expecting and needing at the moment. God is the God of relationship, within God’s self and with us. That makes for an exciting energizing discipleship!

This weekend please pray for the Assembly of the Grand Canyon synod which will be Friday and Saturday morning in Oro Valley. We have four voting members in addition to me who will be attending;  Bob Kridler, Marge and Norton Johnson, and Pam Bridgmon . Our MLA team will receive certificates of completion, our congregation will receive the Servant of Christ award, and Pastor Harold Aasland will be recognized for 60 years of ordination! It is great to be the church! And yes, I will be your preacher this weekend.

See you in church…

For Worship June 7/8
June 05, 2014
This weekend we celebrate Pentecost!  We celebrate the Holy Spirit who moves through our lives, the power of God that heals us, sends us, inspires us, encourages us.  It is the Spirit of God that unites us as the Body of Christ and makes it possible for us to be at work in the world.

This weekend we welcome another preacher, Pastor Tony Danielson. I will be officiating at the Denning/Heape marriage on Saturday evening so Pastor Tony will be presiding and preaching Saturday night, and he will preach Sunday and I will preside. We are fortunate to have retired pastors in our congregation who are willing to serve now and then. I am thankful for their gifts and their support in this ministry. If you want to wear RED, this is the weekend to do that.

See you in church…

For Worship May 31/June 1
May 29, 2014
This weekend Pastor Frank Nausin will be preaching and presiding while I am in Fargo, North Dakota for the high school graduation of my granddaughter, Shadai. Pastor Frank will be preaching from the 1st Peter text for the day. Peter reminds the Christian community that we are invited to cast all our anxieties on God, because God cares about us. And sometimes, even in the midst of our sufferings, the glory of God is revealed. The community of Christians at the time of Peter needed to hear that message—they were under threat of persecution all the time, and we too need that message.

Come and worship, it is the last weekend of Easter. Next weekend we celebrate Pentecost, wear red if you like!

See you in church…

For Worship May 24/25
May 22, 2014
Sometimes we think about resurrection and the ascension of Jesus as the end of everything, but it is of course, the beginning of everything.

Jesus continues his farewell conversation with his disciples, but tells them that even though he is leaving, he is sending another Advocate to be with them.  We are not left here alone.   The Spirit of the living God is in us and with us and blowing through us as we continue to carry out the ministry as followers of Jesus.  We have all the help we need because the Holy Spirit comes alongside us, the comforter, the advocate, the power that sends us out to live a cross-shaped life in the light of the resurrection.

Remember this weekend, one service Saturday night, 5 pm. One service Sunday, 9:30am.

And we give thanks for all those who have given their lives in service to this country. Blessing on this Memorial Day weekend.

See you in church…

For Worship May 17/18
May 15, 2014
Jesus said, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” Many of us associate those verses with funerals, but the promise is that because of Jesus, we can be at home with God, dwelling with God here and now. There is interconnectedness between Jesus and the Father, and between us and God. It’s not a matter of only one specific location. It’s a matter of the very heart of God who carries us always. We have a home with God, now and forever.

This weekend we will be recognizing our graduates, and celebrating all our children during worship both at the 5:00pm service and the 9:30am Sunday Service. This is the final Sunday of 8 am until the fall schedule begins. Thanks be to God for the many blessings that are ours, and for our children who live in us and with us no matter where they go!

See you in church…

For Worship May 3/4
May 08, 2014
The gospel lesson for this weekend is a story that is familiar to many—Jesus, walking on the road to Emmaus on the day of his resurrection. He joined two of his followers but they did not recognize him until later.

We too are sometimes blind to the ways that the living Christ shows up in our lives—we too can be so focused on how we think it should be that we miss what is right in front of us.

Word and Sacrament are gifts to us, and in the word proclaimed, in the sacraments received, we are offered the presence of Christ. He is with us and for us—our main task is to pay attention, to be open to seeing in new ways, to be open to receiving what our loving God is so very willing to give us. The celebration of Easter continues, he is walking the road with you too….

See you in church…

For Worship April 26/27
April 24, 2014
The Risen Christ appeared, and was most clearly recognized by his wounds. We have a God who knows what it means to be a wounded healer, a God who understands our suffering and our scars, a God who is with us in the midst of all that, offering us peace.

The Easter story continues as we are met again and again by the Risen Christ. We who try so hard to be perfect, to have it all together, have a Savior who knows what it is to carry the marks of suffering, who knows what it is to enter into the suffering of all humanity. God is with us, and always at work to make things new, to join with us in all that it means to be human, and to help us to live in the promise and hope of new life. Come and worship.

See you in church…

Remember our annual meeting is immediately following the 9:30 service this Sunday.

For Worship Easter
April 18, 2014
God’s blessings as we celebrate the most holy days of the church year. Tonight we gather at 7 for Maundy Thursday services—individual absolution will be offered, we will celebrate Holy Communion, and remember the mandate, the command of Jesus that we love one another. The bell choir will proclaim the wondrous love that is ours. The altar will be left bare as we leave in silence and prepare to gather again on Good Friday at 7 pm. This is a time of reflecting on the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ which will be read from the gospel of John. A dramatic monologue by the soldier at the cross will be presented by Tom Pothoff, and the choir will be singing both Thursday and Friday evenings.

And then, the great day of RESURRECTION! We gather at 6:00 am in the first light of day to proclaim that He is Risen! God raised Jesus from the dead, and our lives are forever changed. That service is in the outdoor chapel and is accompanied by the Saturday night worship team as well as birds and roosters and the glorious beauty of a new day.

Two identical festival services are held at 8:00am and 9:30am where the celebration continues. Music, choir, brass, the good news proclaimed in Word and Sacrament—-all telling us that death does not have the last word, that God has done a new thing, and abundant, eternal life is ours now and forever. Come and see, come and bring a friend or a neighbor, come and give thanks and glory to God. Christ is Risen!

See you in church…

For Worship April 12/13
April 10, 2014
This weekend we once again hear the story which begins with Jesus and his entry into Jerusalem to the shouts of “Hosanna!”, and moves to his death on the cross. Ultimately this is God’s story, and we have a place in that story. For Love, Jesus came and went all the way to the cross.

Come as we celebrate this Palm Sunday Eve at 5:00 on Saturday, and Palm Sunday at 8:00 and 9:30 on Sunday. Come and stand in the story. At 9:30 the children will process with palm branches and several of our children will be receiving their first communion.

This is also Commitment Weekend for our Rejoice Renew Appeal. Please bring your commitment forms—there will be a processional offering of both our regular offering and our appeal forms. It will be a great weekend of Celebration and Thanksgiving. God is at work, always bringing life out of death, hope out of despair. In gratitude we come and worship.

See you in church…

For Worship April 5/6
April 03, 2014
As we come to this final Lenten weekend before Palm Sunday and Holy Week, we have a preview of how God calls us from death to life.

Lazarus was called out of his tomb—brought back to life for at least a while, but with the promise that in Jesus there is life forever. Soon it will be the Son of God who is laid in the tomb, soon we will all be reminded again that death does not have the last word. Imagine being a witness to Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life!

Can we trust those words of Jesus, “ I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” In faith we live, knowing that life in all its abundance is found in the living Christ. Does it change our priorities at all to know that? Does it help us as we try to let go of fear?

See you in church…

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Tanque Verde Lutheran Church
To Follow Christ Jesus and Share His Love
8625 E Tanque Verde Rd
Tucson, Arizona 85749
Saturdays 5:00 pm - Sundays 8:00 am, 9:15 am, & 10:30 am