Pastor Travis Norton

“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32 

What kind of freedom was Jesus promising here? This passage is selected for Reformation Sunday, which we will commemorate this week(wear red!). For Martin Luther the freedom was from the religious abuse that was being experienced in his church at the time. Knowing that we are saved by grace through faith and not by works set people free from the burden of trying to earn or pay for their forgiveness. But what about today? What do we need the gospel to set us free from in 2022? Can you imagine being set free from having to be exceptional? What would it feel like to be free from keeping up appearances? Can you imagine the freedom of lowering the mask you wear on social media, and just being real? The gospel is good news. What sounds like good news to you, today?

-Pastor Travis Norton

Looking for last weeks worship? You can find it here!

Fourth Quarter Financial Update

We had excellent Ministry Gatherings and an annual meeting last week.
It is clear to me that the congregation is excited and supportive of our minis-
tries. The 2023 budget passed overwhelmingly. The congregation elected Jason
Fox, Larry Bagley and Terry Hjelkrum to serve on Council for the next three
years. I am so appreciative of the excitement and energy around our ministries.
There is a lot of momentum, and we are making a difference in people’s lives.
Thank you for your support and trust.

Now we turn our attention to the current year and our need to finish strong in fulfilling our commitment to funding First Lutheran’s ministries. You should have received your third quarter financial statement where I shared with you that we are about $128,000 behind expenses for the year. We typically see a decline in giving in the third quarter, but this year’s was exceptional and will require our attention as we finish the year. In the next three months we will need to raise $651,193.00 to cover the deficit and fully fund ministry in the 4th quarter. Here’s how we can do that. First, I’ve asked the staff to tighten up expenses and forgo some of the plans we had (for example we won’t be sending out a newsletter to the Old North End this quarter). This will help, but before we do anything more consequential, I want to come to you to see what you might be willing to do. My family has thought through this ourselves and determined what steps we will take. We had already planned to increase our giving by $200 per month for next year and now we will begin that increase this month. In addition, we are going to give a donation of $500 to contribute to the efforts to finish strong. Would you consider joining us in something similar that makes sense to your family income and budget?

I believe in this ministry and am determined to move forward rather than cut back, if possible. God is using First Lutheran to bring people to faith, help those in need and serve as an example to the larger church that our best days remain ahead of us. We are a bright spot in the post pandemic church landscape as a healthy and vibrant congregation. We have a reputation in the city for being generous and mission minded. Our children and youth are learning to follow Jesus and serve as ambassadors of Christ. I think the world needs more, not less, of what is happening here at First Lutheran. I’m confident that we will meet this challenge as we have done in the past. It may be a bit harder because of inflation, but First Lutheran has a history of beating the odds and surprising with generosity. I’ll keep you updated as we go forward. Thank you for your excitement and engagement with this ministry. Let’s finish strong!

If you’d like to give online, click here!

-Pastor Travis

Pastor Travis Norton

“Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.” Genesis 32:24 

Jacob is returning to his homeland, where his brother Esau waits. Jacob has sent everything that he values ahead of him and then something very mysterious happens. He wrestles. He wrestles with a mysterious man whom he later names as God. What are we to make of this wrestling match? Is it literal? Jacob leaves with a limp. Is it supposed to be symbolic of his worry about what the future holds as he heads back into possible conflict with his brother? Is he wrestling with God, wondering what God’s will for his life is? Maybe all of the above. Whatever it is, we get it, because we’ve been there. We’ve all had those nights when we are engaged with God and pushing our will against His. Maybe that’s enough to know about this. This life is meant to be lived while engaged with God. Pushing and being pushed all while asking for His blessing. Which he gives. A blessing that changes who we are. Jacob leaves that match with a new name, Israel…and a nation is born.

-Pastor Travis Norton

Looking for last weeks worship? You can find it here!

The Great Pumpkin Patch at First

Saturday, October 15, over 1200 pumpkins were delivered to the front lawn at First Lutheran Church. We had amazing volunteers that made the work breeze by!

Join us daily until October 31, 2022 from 12 – 8 p.m. to pick the very best pumpkins and support the youth mission trips in the process! Win win.

Here are some photos from unloading day…

Council Nominees for Consideration

First Lutheran’s annual meeting will take place on Sunday, October 16 after each worship service. The annual meeting agenda items have already been discussed at the ministry gatherings. All voting members are expected to attend and cast a vote. The agenda for this year includes:

  1. Approve the Budget
  2. Elect Three Council Members
  3. Reduce council terms to from four years to three years.

Voting will take place after each Sunday service. You can find information presented at the Ministry Gatherings here.

Pastor Travis Norton

“And the Lord stood beside Jacob and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your offspring…” Genesis 28:13 

It’s hard to know what to think of Jacob. He seems almost a pawn in his mother’s game. She worked to get him the blessing instead of Esau which meant he had to run away. She sent him to her brother because she didn’t like the women Esau had married and wanted Jacob to marry someone else. His father seems a pawn too, kind of going along with what Rebekah is making happen. But in all of this as Jacob is fleeing his brother and seeking a wife, God shows up and gives him the blessing that had been first given to his grandfather. I wonder what it must have felt like to receive that promise that your whole family talked about all the time. Both a blessing and a responsibility. What promises have we received that have changed the trajectory of our lives? What promises have changed our entire identity?

-Pastor Travis Norton

Looking for last weeks worship? You can find it here!

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