Pastor's Desk: Practicing thanksgiving

Practicing thanksgiving

Pastor's Desk November 2019

In last month’s Newsletter the theme was change and how to live with it, and since then my wife and I have been learning how to live with a very big change. On October 24th at 3:05 a.m. our family grew from two to three, and we found ourselves changed from Scotty and Maria to the Mami and Papi of a new born son. Suddenly our norm of sleeping eights hours was replaced by naps between crying and feeding, and our norm for going out was replaced by limits on where we could go. And though we love being parents these changes started to feel constricting, but as it was when we were waiting for a child these words from Paul kept coming to our minds:

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

Now when Paul says “all circumstances” he is speaking literally, and during our long adoption journey what kept us going was the practice of thanksgiving. When we experienced roadblocks with paperwork, we gave thanks unto the Lord. When we experienced two painful disruptions, we gave thanks unto the Lord. When we experienced positive updates from the agency, we gave thanks unto the Lord. And when received encouragement from others we gave thanks unto the Lord. Of course, there were times where it felt as if our gratitude was forced and not genuine, but even still we sought to do the will of God in Christ for us.

Truly, what kept us going on the road of adoption was the practice of Thanksgiving, and what is keeping us going on the road of parenthood is giving thanks unto the Lord in all things. And friends, as you continue on roads or embark upon new roads that life presents to you, my prayer is that you would carry on by giving thanks in all things. May the Lord continually give you an attitude of gratitude by His grace, and know that He accepts your thanks even when you struggle to give it.

In all things may you give thanks unto the Lord, for this is His will for you in Christ Jesus!

For some daily tips on practicing thanksgiving throughout this month, check out this article by Mary Ann Brussat titled, “Ways To Practice Thanks-giving“.

Pastor's Desk: Change is upon us

Change is upon us

Pastor's Desk October 2019

Like the colorful change from summer to fall, beautiful things are happening at All Souls, and seeing them has filled my heart with constant wonder and gratitude. We are seeing new faces at services on Sunday afternoon, and we are seeing each other from new perspectives as we grow in friendship throughout the week. And then, we are also celebrating in new places with services in Thurgau and Bible Studies in members’ homes.

Truly, in this season of change we are taking on some amazing new things, but we are also losing a few things like the trees that shed their browning leaves. We are losing:

1. Old Forms Of Leadership

When All Souls began our leadership was more pastor-led, and our charter Elders were an advisory board that gave occasional input. But after becoming a recognized Church, and electing Elders from the congregation, we must move to a form of leadership that is team-based and Council-led. Therefore, our main ministries (Stewardship, Outreach, In-reach, Christian Education, and Gatherings) are now in the charge of specific Elders, and I will focus on the ministries of Word, Sacrament, and Pastoral Care.

2. Old Visions

During our project phase, the vision was making the idea of All Souls into a living reality. That vision has been fulfilled, and we must now embrace a new vision of growth in fellowship and membership. Though the main cause of such growth is always the Holy Spirit, there are things that we can do to help make it happen.

  • We can spend more time together beyond the Sunday services (e.g., hanging out over coffee).
  • We can care for one another beyond the Sunday services (e.g., calls during the week to see how someone is doing).
  • We can get more involved in gatherings and events beyond the Sunday services (e.g., Bible Study).
  • And, most importantly, we can personally invite others to join in our community.

To be honest, the loss of these things gives me a slight sense of fear, for it shows that we are venturing into places that we do not know. This loss also changes the ways we relate to each other as friends and fellow believers, and the ways in which we carry out our roles as Pastor, Elders, and Parishioners. Nevertheless, what we are gaining encourages us to carry on, and I look forward to all the things that lie ahead for All Souls. Of course, we will face more challenges and struggles as a community, but we will also encounter many blessings and the constant presence of our loving Lord.

Pastor's Desk: Grace for the summer

Grace For The Summer

Pastor's Desk July 2019

Dear Freinds,

It has been over half a year since we became an official congregation, and during this time we have seen some amazing things happen. In December we had a wonderful Relaunch and Early Christmas service. In March we had our first Pancake Day and Ashes to Go. In June we had our first service in Thurgau and Rally Day. And last Sunday we celebrated three baptisms as we entered the summer season.

Truly, these past few months All Souls has seen some amazing things, and as I reflect upon them I am reminded of these words from Nadia Bolz-Weber:

God’s grace is a gift that is freely given to us. We don’t earn a thing when it comes to God’s love, and we only try to live in response to the gift. No one is climbing the spiritual ladder. (Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, pg. 49)

Since founding All Souls I have prayed that our Church would rightly respond to the grace of God, and so far we have managed (and are managing) to do just that. Instead of working to “prove ourselves”, we have opened up our hands and received the gift, and in so doing become a place without the pressure to be a “good Christian”. We have become a fellowship where no one climbs the spiritual ladder, and where works for God are done with joy and without the fear of judgement.

This summer I encourage you to press on in receiving the gift, and to daily look for it with open eyes in all that you encounter. May you see God’s grace in the people you will meet and the places you will go. May you see God’s grace in the joys and cares that will come about. May you see God’s grace as you rest and relax from work and school. And may you see God’s grace when this sunny season comes to an end.

Blessings and have a wonderful summer,