Letter From Pastor 5/22/20
Dear Members and Friends of Zion Lutheran Church,
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Weeks into a very different way of life, many of us are weary. For some, the transition to online work has brought seemingly endless days in front of a screen and on the phone. Parents and guardians are trying to support in the home their children’s learning from math to gym class, encouraging healthy minds and bodies. Those who care for older relatives need to allow more time for errands—masked and waiting in line. Exhausted medical and essential workers continue on the job, often putting in extra shifts uninterrupted. Those who have been furloughed now worry about their next meal. Others are run down by fear and isolation. Almost all have prayed for a person suffering from COVID-19 or another illness, and some are grieving the deaths of loved ones without supportive community gathered around them.
Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
What a welcome invitation! Jesus invites us to turn to Him and to remember all He has done for us. Through His death on the cross, we are forgiven for those times we have acted hurtfully out of anger and frustration, and for those times when we neglected to do the right thing. By His resurrection, He conquered death. Because He lives, we have the sure hope of eternal life with God. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ is present with us now. Nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus. This is true refreshment for our souls!
Currently, and at least through mid-July, Zion will continue to turn to Jesus online and over the phone through Zoom worship services (Sundays at 10:15am and Wednesdays at 12:10pm, and at the 3rd Friday Coffee House). All are invited to pray for and to uplift one another as best we can in this challenging time, trusting in Christ, our Rock and our Redeemer.
In Christ’s Service,
June 2020 Newsletter
Believing and Living the Word
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. - John 1:1-5
Carol Geisler writes, “As Luther himself once declared, he did not bring about the events of the Reformation. The Word did everything.”
This past January at Zion, to keep us strong in the Word, we began reading through the two-year daily lectionary. It is a way of praying with other Christians throughout the world, and, after two years, reading through practically the whole Bible. A list of the daily readings for September and October is included in this newsletter. May we be encouraged to live in the Word of God by the prayer written by Martin Luther listed below:
“O Father of all mercy, you have begun your work in us. Continue to fill us with all dimensions of wisdom and knowledge. May we be fully certain in our hearts and fully aware how the Spirit, who has raised up our Lord, also enlivens the faith within us with the same power and strength. Through him we have also risen from the dead by his mighty power, which works in us through your Holy Word. Help us to grow in the knowledge of your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and to remain firm in confessing his blessed Word.
Give us the love to be agreed in mind and to serve one another in Christ. May we not be afraid of that which is disagreeable, nor of the rage of the flame-hurler whose weapon is almost extinguished. Dear Father, guard us so that his craftiness may not take the place of our pure faith. Grant that our cross and sufferings may direct us to a blessed and sure hope of the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ, for whom we wait each day. Amen.”
In Christ’s Service,
Read the September -October Newsletter 2017
The Savior's Toolbox!
Read the May- June 2016 Newsletter
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
“You Are Needed!”
Someone has imagined the Carpenter’s tools holding a conference. Brother Hammer presided. Several suggested he leave the meeting, because he was too noisy. Replied the Hammer, “If I have to leave this shop, Brother Screw must go also. You have to turn him around again and again to get him to accomplish anything.”
Brother Screw then spoke up. “If you wish, I’ll leave. But brother Plane must leave too. All his work is on the surface. His efforts have no depth.”
To this Brother Plane responded, “Brother Rule will also have to withdraw, for he is measuring folks as though he is the only one who is right.”
Brother Rule then complained against Brother Sandpaper: “You ought to leave too because you’re so rough and always rubbing people the wrong way.”
In the midst of all this discussion, in walked the Carpenter of Nazareth. He had arrived to start His day’s work. Putting on His apron, He went to the bench to make a pulpit from which to proclaim the Gospel. He employed the hammer, screw, plane, rule, sandpaper, and all the other tools. After a day’s work when the pulpit was finished, Brother Saw arose and remarked: “Brethren, I observe that all of us are workers together with the Lord.”
God is a god of variety. In nature, what a diversity of animals! Every snowflake is different, every fingerprint, every face. Likewise, God is a God of variety in His church. What a diversity of gifts He has bestowed on believers to equip them for service!
Anonymous (For All the Saints, Vol. III, pp. 958-959)
Reading the above story feels like a call to confession – remembering times we may have acted as if we are the only ones who are right or times we may have rubbed people the wrong way. And yet, the Lord freely forgives us and uses us, warts and all, in service of His kingdom. Looking at it in this way may encourage us in our faith journey together, helping us to be graceful to one another.
On the first Sunday in June, we will hold our annual meeting. We will review the past year and look forward to a new year in mission and ministry here in downtown Harrisburg. We will give thanks for the many ways in which members and friends have shared their time, talent and treasure with the congregation. I invite us all to prayerfully consider ways in which we may all share the unique gifts with which we have been blessed in Christ’s service together here at Zion. As the title of the story says, “You are needed!”
In Christ’s Service,
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” - Matthew 6:19-21
The heavenly treasure does not lie in the moral character we form within our present personality through stern discipline of will and emotion … Such righteousness will be shown as “filthy rags” on the day of crisis. To lay up heavenly riches means to come now to Jesus in personal trust and love. This friendship will abide forever.
- Many Things in Parables by Ronald S. Wallace
When you think about it, in times of crisis, we reach out to friends (this includes family) - people with whom we have a trusting relationship. We look to them for help, especially when we are overwhelmed and realize that we cannot fix things by ourselves.
At the root of our struggles in life is our sinful condition, a situation we cannot “fix.” We continue to hurt God and others by things we have thought or done or left undone. We need help! Through His life, death, and resurrection, our Lord Jesus offers us forgiveness. Through the Holy Spirit, we are strengthened in our lives of Christian discipleship. Our Christian service at Zion, in our communities, and in our families flows out of gratitude for the new life we have received through God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
The building of a trusting relationship involves spending time together. This fall, there are a number of opportunities to learn and grow in our relationship with our Lord, including: worship services on Sundays and Wednesdays; Sunday School classes; Tuesday Bible/Book study; fellowship events with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and; the use of devotional reading materials available at Zion.
We are also actively planning for a Confirmation Program which will begin on Reformation Sunday, October 25, and last for one year. While there will be “discipline” regarding attendance and assignments, it is truly my hope that God will guide us to nurture the gift of life-long friendship with Jesus for each of the youth participants.
May God strengthen our trusting and loving relationship with Jesus individually, as a the congregation of Zion, and in Christian community with all in our building: Good Shepherd Anglican Church, New Hope Community, Survivors in Jesus Christ Church, and Sara & TJ Hunt-Felke.
In the peace of Christ,
Read the September- November 2015 Newsletter
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6