In 2021 we are inviting the congregation to join us in a discipleship path to nurture people as they grow in their Christian faith. The first phase of this journey is all about the Bible. The options for participation include:
· Daily Bible reading plan beginning January 1, for exploring scripture on your own and with a Facebook Group for discussion, thoughts, and questions
· Wednesday morning zoom Bible study beginning January 13 10 a.m. led by Pastor Travis.
· Weekly 30-minute video class, with a link in First Weekly and available on YouTube, each Wednesday beginning January 13 that will give an overview of the Bible.
Each of these offerings are designed to reach those who may have years of reading and studying scripture and those who might be diving into the Word for the first time.
The daily reading plan will include a passage each day that you can read and contemplate on your own or you can join a new Facebook Group for First Lutheran that will be titled First Lutheran Daily Reading Group. In this group, the reading will be posted each day and we can share thoughts, questions, and ideas that relate to the scripture. This will be a safe space to explore what the scripture meant in the time and context that it was written, what it means for us now, and how we might apply it in our lives today.
We look forward to beginning this journey with each of you.
January Reading Plan
Week 1: God the Creator
1 Genesis 1: 1-3 God Creates the World
2 Genesis 1: 26-31 God Creates Humans
3 Genesis 2: 4-25 Creation Again
4 Genesis 6: 1-8 Wickedness of Humankind
5 Proverbs 3: 19-24 Creativity, Wisdom
6 John 1: 1-5 The Incarnate Word
7 Romans 11: 33-36 All Things from God
Week 2: God’s Chosen
8 Genesis 12: 1-3 God Calls Abraham
9 Genesis 17: 1-8 God’s Covenant
10 Genesis 21: 1-7 The Birth of Isaac
11 Genesis 22: 1-14 God Tests Abraham
12 Hebrews 11: 8-12 Examples of Faith
13 Exodus 3: 13-22 The Divine Name Revealed
14 Galatians 3: 6-9 Children of Abraham
Week 3: Challenge of Faith
16 Judges 4: 1-24 Deborah’s Victory
17 Judges 6: 33- 7: 22 Gideon’s Charge
18 Judges 16: 4-30 Samson’s Story
19 Joshua 1: 1-9 Joshua leads the way
19 Joshua 6: 1-20 Jericho’s Fall
20 1 Samuel 3: 1- 4: 1 Samuel’s Call
21 1 Samuel 7: 2-17 Samuel the Judge
Week 4: From Warrior to King
22 Psalm 89: 19-37 God’s Covenant
23 1 Samuel 20: 12-42 David and Jonathan
24 1 Samuel 24: 1-22 Hiding from Saul
25 1 Samuel 26: 1-25 David spares Saul
26 1 Samuel 31: 1-13 Saul’s death
27 2 Samuel 1: 17-2:7 David is King
28 2 Samuel 4: 4-12 The Avenger
“ and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them” -Luke 2:7
Before the carols were written down, before the traditions were formed, before the trees and lights and presents, there was the first Christmas. It was ordinary in so many ways. A young couple doing the best they could to bring a new life into the world. They didn’t have everything they needed, but they made do with some band of cloth and a manger. This year we don’t have all the trappings of Christmas, although we still have more than they did, but we will make do with what we have. I think there’s a possibility of the story penetrating more deeply into our hearts and minds this year. So often the trappings of Christmas become the focus, rather than the One whom we celebrate. Maybe this year, as we go without, we might receive the true gift of the season. May we know the good news of Jesus in a new and profound way this year.
“Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
-Luke 1: 28
As just a young girl Mary must have been surprised over and again by all the things that were happening to her. When Gabriel first came to Mary she addressed her as “favored one”, never mind that being spoken to by an angel was out of the ordinary but to be addressed in such a formal way would have been disconcerting too, of course she was going to be the mother of the Son of Man, so it seems a title, or at least a formal greeting would be in order as this new holy family comes together. The verse reminded me of all the times that we share the exchange “Peace be with you, and also with you”, it is a rather formal greeting as we come together in worship. What does it mean for you when you are greeted or when you offer the greeting to another? Perhaps it’s the way that we hold each other sacred in the family of Christ, it’s a sign or signal that God is with us, that you are beloved. When we share this exchange, I invite you to remember that this is how Mary was first told that Jesus was with her, and would be always, and when we share this today we remember that Jesus, Emmanuel, is with us too.
He came to First Lutheran a retired pastor and was quickly hired to assist with visitation and grief counseling. Through the years he has helped many of our members during the darkest times of their lives as they cope with the loss of lifelong partners. He has visited the homebound and brought comfort and the good news of the gospel to those isolated by illness. He became a regular preacher in the rotation for the Saturday night service. In addition to his official duties he has offered counsel and example to the younger pastors still in the middle of their working years.
Pastor Hank has worked long beyond what anyone would have expected. He will continue to volunteer at First, but wants the freedom to be even more active pursuing his hobbies and activities with his wife, Sally. We are sorry to see him go, but fully understand that the time has come. We are grateful he will continue to be seen around the congregation serving as we all do, at our leisure.
I asked Pastor Carrie to share some thoughts and she writes of Pastor Hank “Pastor Hank has always been one who is quietly productive, a straight shooter, willing to step in and take the lead whenever called upon. He and Sally often worshipped together at the Saturday evening service where they were loved by those who regularly attended. He is a gifted storyteller which made for easy listening to sermons that were often filled with depth and character from his years of experience in the parish and in the great outdoors. Pastor Hank has gifts in listening and hearing people, he is relational and combined with his education and intelligence he provided counseling which lead many to relief in their lives and deep gratitude for Pastor Hank.”
Pastor Hank will complete his work the end of December. I invite the congregation to send in cards with notes of personal appreciation prior to his departure. We’ll set aside some time in worship to thank him and share these notes.
God has richly blessed First Lutheran with men and women of considerable talent and generosity in sharing their gifts. Pastor Hank is at the top of that list and for him we give thanks to God.
“They shall build up the ancient ruins,they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.”
We are in the ruins right now, in many ways, because of the pandemic. There is a history of people rebuilding after devastation. The people Isaiah spoke to had to repair their country after it was destroyed by decades of war. Rebuilding is hard, because first you have to mourn the loss. Then somehow you have to make the transition from mourning to hope for the future. Only then can you muster up the motivation and determination to let go of the past and focus on the future. How many things in our lives require that same transition? And where does our hope come from? Our hope comes from the promise of God that we have a good future. When we trust in that promise then we have what it takes to rebuild our lives, our society, our families our health and whatever else has experienced devastation. God’s hope be with you!
Lessons & Carols will be online this year (this Sunday, 12/13 at 3:30 p.m. on YouTube), which means we will not be able to have our traditional pie-fest. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some pie! See the recipes below that have been sent in by First Lutheran members and staff!
What is your favorite pie?
Want to download these to save for later or print? Click here!