Happening Now Blog

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Pastor's Wednesday Message

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."   1 Thessalonians 5:18

Last Sunday I preached about gratitude.  Expressing gratitude is an all-purpose spiritual practice that cultivates many virtues and covers a multitude of sins.  Jesus is God's way of helping humanity say "thank you" in a manner that matches the majesty of God.  We send our thanks to God through Jesus Christ, along with all our other prayers.

So here, at year's end, I want to practice expressing gratitude.  What am I grateful for this year?  I'm grateful for having a decent home to live in, good food to eat, clothing to wear.  Basic goods that I don't take for granted, not with so many poor people all around us.  Thank you, God.  What else?  I'm grateful for my spouse, Jill.  She still laughs at my jokes after 26 years together.  That's love!  Thank you, God.  I'm grateful for the kids I get to play with and teach at SOV.  I have no kids of my own, so it's a real treat to touch the joy of creative play with these children.  Their parents do all the hard work and share the beautiful fruits of their parenting with me!  Thank you, God.

I could go on and on.  I have blessings too numerous to count — what great good fortune.  What about you?  During my sermon last Sunday I asked listeners to tell us what they were grateful for.  Maybe a dozen responded, expressing their gratitude to us and to God.  But let me pose the question again.  What are you grateful for, here at year's end?  You can share the thoughts of your heart with God or with others who are close to you.  But it's good to count your blessings and give God thanks.

I mentioned in my sermon last Sunday that expressing gratitude is not just biblically sound.  It's also scientifically verified to be a healthy, hopeful, encouraging practice.  Do an internet search on "practicing gratitude."  You'll find lots of articles offering guides.  Please give it a try — I suspect you'll be glad you did.  Thank you, God, for the grace of giving thanks.

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Lessons for Sunday, January 3rd   Epiphany
Isaiah 60:1-6
Ephesians 3:1-12
Matthew 2:1-12

Sunday, January 3rd worship at 8:30 & 11:00 am

Ladies Dinner
Tuesday, January 5th

6:00 pm
Old Spaghetti Factory
18925 NW Tanasbourne Dr, Hillsboro, OR 97124
please RSVP this email or by phone to Tammy

Men's Night
Thursday, January 7th
6:00 pm (note earlier time)
Reedville Cafe
2947 SE 73rd Ave. Hillsboro, OR 97123.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Pastor's Wednesday Message

Christmas gifts?  Many of us don't really need anything for Christmas.  Most of us already have more than enough to enjoy a tolerable balance between happiness and sorrow during our brief stay Earth.  What more do we need?  God sends apostles and preachers to clarify what we lack.  The following excerpt from Martin Luther's Sermon for Christmas Day of 1521 helps us see how Christmas brings the one gift we truly need.

LUTHER'S CHRISTMAS SERMON: "TO YOU CHRIST IS BORN"

"The angel said to them, 'Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people; for there is born to you this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'"  Luke 2:10

The Gospel teaches that Christ was born, and that he died and suffered everything on our behalf, as is here declared by the angel.  In these words you see clearly that he is born for us.

He does not simply say, Christ is born, but to you he is born.  Neither does he say, I bring glad tidings, but to you I bring glad tidings of great joy. Furthermore, this joy was not to remain in Christ, but it shall be to all the people.  This faith no condemned or wicked person has…. Christ has a pure, innocent, holy birth.  Humans have an unclean, sinful, condemned birth.  … For this purpose Christ willed to be born, that through him we might be born anew.

O, this is the great joy of which the angel speaks.  This is the comfort and exceeding goodness of God that, if anyone believes this, they can boast of the treasure that Mary is their rightful mother, Christ their brother, and God their father.  For these things actually occurred and are true, but we must believe.  This is the principal thing and principal treasure in every Gospel.  Christ must above all things become our own and we become his.  This is what is meant by Isaiah 9:6, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given."  To you is born and given this child.

Therefore see to it that you do not treat the Gospel only as history, for that is only transient; neither regard it only as an example, for it is of no value without faith.  Rather, see to it that you make this birth your own and that Christ be born in you.  This will be the case if you believe; then you will repose in the lap of the virgin Mary and be her dear child.  But you must exercise this faith and pray while you live.  You cannot establish it too firmly.  This is our foundation and inheritance, upon which good works must be built.

Thus says Martin Luther.  And I say unto you, when you worship on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, forget about the goodies by the tree and the savory treats in your tummy.  Forget what you have and focus on what you need: the Christ, the whole Christ, and nothing but the Christ.  Then thank God that the Christ has been sent to you.  Grab hold with all the faith you can muster.  And trust that in Christ's birth you also discover the secret gift of your own.

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Sunday, December 27th
One Service at 10:00 am
followed by "bringing in the New Year" brunch
please bring a potluck side dish; fruit, sweetbreads etc

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Pastor's Wednesday Message

If you travel in Muslim countries, you'll hear the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer five times a day.  These days it usually comes over a loudspeaker placed atop a tower centrally located in a town or city neighborhood for maximum broadcast coverage.  We may not understand the Arabic in which the call is issued, but there's no denying the beauty of the muezzin's art, nor the wisdom of stopping to pray to God five times every day.  How I wish Christians would pray to God so frequently!

Today I proclaim a call to prayer.  Not just because it's the season of Advent — though this is a season of penitence and prayer.  I ask you to pray because tomorrow night the Church Council will elect our Call Committee.  The Council needs our prayers as they consider candidates and cast their ballots.  Pray that the Holy Spirit guide their hearts.  Pray that God's will be done in Council as it is in heaven.  Human wisdom and feelings by themselves cannot put together a good Call Committee responsive to God's call.  Only God's Spirit can call, gather, enlighten, and empower a Call Committee fit to fulfill the holy work ahead: considering, identifying, and recommending a pastor who truly meets the needs and honors the aspirations of this community of faith in Jesus Christ.

When we find out who is on the Call Committee, keep answering this call to prayer.  Pray for the Call Committee regularly.  Maybe not five times a day, but if you pray daily for your Call Committee, it would be a good thing.  The work is challenging, the responsibilities weighty.  Busy people are adding more work to their week.  Pray they stay healthy.  Pray that God give them a spirit of hope and joy in their work together.  Pray that their conversations are respectful and bear good fruit.  And as the Synod staff are selecting a slate of candidates to bring to the Call Committee, pray that this will be a good bunch of clergy who have the gifts, the stamina, and the hunger to serve as Shepherd's pastor for years to come.

As Advent brings us to Christmas, and our work of calling a new pastor begins, let St. Paul's words guide us on our way:

"We appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work.  Be at peace among yourselves.  And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them.  See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.   Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  (1 Thessalonians 5:12-18)

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Lessons for Sunday
Micah 5:2-5a
Hebrews 10:5-10
Luke 1:39-55

THIS WEEK

Wednesday  9:00 - 1:00 p KOK Preschool/chapel
                   10:00 a Bible Study
                    5:30 p Advent soup/bread potluck
                    6:00 p Advent devotion
                    6:30 p Advent Holden Evening Prayer

Thursday      9:00 - 1:00 p KOK Preschool
                    10:00 a LLL
                    12:00 p All Church Christmas Luncheon
                     7:00 p Council Meeting

Friday        9:00 - 12:00 p KOK Preschool
                  1:00 - 9:00 p Palmeter Piano Studio

Saturday      10:00 - 11:30 a SOV Choir rehearsal
                     2:00 - 4:00 p Christmas Pageant rehearsal
                     4:00 - 8:00 p Youth Group Drop and Shop fundraiser
                                  Drop your children off at SOV for an evening of fun; food, games, crafts and movie! While you go out and finishing your Christmas shopping or have a date night.

Sunday     8:30 & 11:00 a worship services
                Sunday school Christmas pageant will be at the 11:00 a service.
                4:00 p Christmas Caroling


Please join us tomorrow, Thursday, December 17 at 12:00 pm for our All Church Christmas Luncheon.
Wear your festive attire, bring hats, gloves, mittens or scarves to donate to a local shelter.

Christmas Caroling, Sunday, December 20th
Meet at SOV at 4:00 p,  leaving at 4:15 p to carpool or Avamere Bethany and Rock Creek retirement homes. Followed by soup/chili potluck. All ages Welcome!

Sunday, December 27th
One Service at 10:00 am followed by Brunch.

Three more breakfast casseroles are needed, please email if you can bring one.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Pastor's Wednesday Message

With Christmas coming soon, we come to a comparably gifted turning point in SOV's transition.  This Thursday evening (God willing and the creek don't rise) Pastor Susan Kintner from the Oregon Synod office will meet with the Transition Task Force.  Pastor Kintner is the Assistant to the Bishop; she has responsibility for clergy mobility (i.e., matching congregations seeking pastors with pastors seeking congregations).  She'll talk to us about our work over the past half-year carrying out the self-study and writing the Ministry Site Profile.  I don't expect any significant changes will come from this meeting, because our MSP is a nice piece of work.  It's well researched, thoughtfully pondered, well written.  This meeting will be a chance for the TTF to feel proud of the work it has done.  Pastor Kintner will learn a lot from this conversation, and will, I'm pretty sure, tell them "Job well done."

A few days thereafter, next Sunday, December 13, Pastor Kintner will join us for worship.  She will preach at both services.  (I will preside, as usual.)  Her sermon will help us understand what God is doing among us in the upcoming call process.  Pastor Kintner will be personally involved in this call process, in the sense that she and Bishop Dave will select the slate of clergy candidates who will be considered by SOV's Call Committee.  She will work with each of those candidates to help them interpret the Ministry Site Profile and other information they may pick up about SOV.  So, it's a good thing Pastor Kintner is getting to know SOV well.  I know she wants the best for Shepherd and will work hard to help it get the pastor it needs and deserves.

Pastor Kintner is one practical expression of the good things the Evangelical Lutheran Church in American offers to support our local ministry.  Please join us at church on Sunday.  Help us celebrate the completion of the Ministry Site Profile.  The Transition Task Force will hand over the MSP to Pastor Kintner during worship.  Together, we will bless it on its way to God, trusting that God will answer this prayer for a new pastor in a way that is better than anything we could ask or imagine.

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Lessons for December 13, 2015
Isaiah 12:2-6
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:7-18

THIS WEEK

Wednesday     9:00 - 1:00 p KOK Preschool/chapel
                      10:00 a Bible Study
                       5:30 p Advent soup/bread supper
                       6:00 p Advent devotion
                       6:30 p Advent Holden Evening Prayer
                      *Wednesday Evening Advent Soup-Supper -- there will be no children's activities offered tonight.  Due to heavy rain and water standing on roadways, our children's ministry elves are staying home to make sure they're in good shape for Christmas!
                       7:00 p SOV Choir rehearsal

Thursday       9:00 - 1:00 p KOK Preschool

Friday           9:00 - 12:00 p KOK Preschool

Saturday      10:00 - 11:30 a SOV Choir rehearsal

Sunday        8:30 & 11:00 a Worship services
                   Third Sunday of Advent
                   Pastor Pastor, Pastor Susan Kintner

Last Sunday to order Scrip for Christmas


All Church Scandinavian Christmas Luncheon
Thursday, December 17th
12:00 pm

Wear your festive attire. Bring a donation of hats, mittens, gloves or scarves for a local homeless shelter.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Pastor's Wednesday Message

   American popular culture, increasingly unchurchy, denies most people knowledge of what "Advent" is.  Do a web search on the term "Advent" and you get as many hits for business firms as you do for a season of the church year.  Even many Christians in non-liturgical churches don't have a clue.  But for those of us who are Lutheran or Catholic, or come from other mainline churches, Advent is that special season of the church year when we look for the coming of Christ.  Practically, that means getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas.  But Advent is really more about Jesus' second coming than his first.

    Is Jesus really going to come again? We say we believe it will happen.  We confess: "He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end."  (Nicene Creed)  When will that day come?  If the gospel stories are right, it will happen when we least expect it.  That's really inconvenient.  Unlike earlier generations, we get grumpy when guests drop in without calling or texting first.  We've probably got our week all planned out, scheduled full.  If Jesus is going to come again, he'd be well advised to arrange a meeting with us in advance.  Otherwise he might not find us at home or be able to track us down at all.  We'd already be on the move to another meeting.

    Advent, traditionally, is a penitential season turning our attention toward God.  We pray and meditate, anticipating an upsurge of mystery.  We wait and wonder what God is up to in our lives.  Will Jesus come again?  Maybe.  While waiting to find out, we look deeply to see other ways in which God may be approaching.  Do you have time for that?  While you're waiting for a meeting to start, abscond with God for a few moments and pose this question to the One who waits with you: "What next?"

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Lessons for Sunday, December 6th
Malachi 3:1-4
Philippians 1:3-11
Luke 3:1-6

THIS WEEK

Wednesday  9:00 - 1:00 p KOK Preschool/chapel
                    10:00 a Bible Study
                     5:30 p Advent soup/bread supper potluck
                     6:00 p Advent Discussion
                     6:30 p Holden Evening Prayer service
                     7:00 p SOV Choir rehearsal

Thursday      9:00 - 1:00 p KOK Preschool
                    6:30 p Men's Night at Reedville Cafe (please note location change)
                    7:00 p LLL

Friday         9:00 - 12:00 p KOK Preschool
                   1:00 - 9:00 p Palmeter Piano Studio

Saturday    10:00 - 11:30 a SOV Choir rehearsal

Sunday       8:30 & 11:00 a Worship Second Sunday of Advent

Wednesdays in Advent
        December 9th, and 16th
             5:30 pm   Potluck Soup & Bread  Supper
             6:00 pm  Advent Devotion
                Advent Supper activities.  Adult Discussion: Cutting through the Clutter of Commercialism to Connect with True                    Christmas.
               Kids:Advent calendars, Advent crossword puzzle, Christmas story coloring.
             6:30 pm  Holden Evening Prayer (misprinted in the bulletin it should be 6:30 not 7:00 pm)