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September 3, 2021
With gratitude!

 
This will be the last of these columns from my vantage point as Intentional Interim pastor.  As I have shared elsewhere, I have used the following formula for my ministry with you in this sequence. "Land , Listen, Learn, Lead, Love, and Leave.  The most difficult part is the last part. 

After two years with you, I have experienced genuine collegial ministry with a gifted rostered partner (Thanks Deacon Lindsay!). I have also experienced faithful lay leadership that has supported the mission "Living God's Love" and has supported the office of ministry that I have held. One of the other acronyms I used with you at the outset for "LGL" was  "Let God Lead" as a way of helping transition from faithful previous ministries to the point of calling a pastor.

That process of call is now at the threshold of a new day.  Soon the call committee's good work will result in the next phase of discernment. It is a next step that requires further transition and another interim pastor that will shepherd those months of preparation. God's spirit will continue to lead in this next phase, of that I am prayerfully confident.

In the meantime, this Sunday we will celebrate our mutual gratitude to God for the opportunity we have shared these two years.  Who knew that three quarters of that time we would be living with a pandemic?  As we are still affected by it's relentless grip, we are undaunted in advancing our mission "Living God's Love."  This Sunday we will laugh and cry, sing and pray, and listen to God's word and share in the Lord's supper. We will witness the baptism of  Jagger Haught and remember our own baptism as is the custom of the community of baptized! Full of gratitude we celebrate this full experience of being the people of God. It will be a privilege to be with you for this Sunday, as it has been a joy to be called to be your pastor these 100 Sundays!
 
Until the day of Jesus Christ,
always yours,
 
Pastor Bill Diehm

 

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August 27, 2021
Here comes the Letter of James!

For the next several weeks, the second reading at worship is from this letter of James.  Many scholars assert that this is one of the latest of all New Testament writings.(130-140 AD) I have chosen James 1:17-21 as the text for preaching this Sunday as I prepare for the completion of my ministry with you (September 9). Luther was critical of this letter because there are only two references to Jesus and no theology of cross and resurrection throughout the letter. Because of this bias, many of us Lutheran pastors (including me) have not given James its due. That will change this Sunday.

One of the gifts of retirement is to take on challenges and perspectives that otherwise may have not presented themselves.  This Sunday's lesson begins, "Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above..."  We are the hands and feet of the body of Christ in the world.  I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we hear what this means for us today and as St. Matthew continues its mission "Living God's Love"
 
In Christ,
Pastor Bill Diehm


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August 20, 2021
"I believe, help my unbelief!"  (Mark  9: 24)

 
The father in Mark 9 (our substitute Gospel reading this Sunday) makes this confession in response to Jesus reaction to a request to heal a son with a severe neurological disorder (perhaps Autism or epilepsy) described as "a spirit".   Healing is implied, but as I reread the account, I wonder.... Like so many Biblical stories the question remains, "What happened to this boy after the encounter with Jesus?  What happened to the disciples after Jesus admonishes them?  What about the dad?"

This Sunday's sermon will probe an account that is not a regular part of the lectionary. (in other words it is not a part of the three year cycle of readings). Yet, the passion by which this story draws us in, especially in these days, merits our attention.   Join your siblings in Christ for this Sunday's liturgy as our faith is shaped by God's word and sacrament.
 
In Christ,
Pastor Bill Diehm

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August 13, 2021

The good news of Baptism!
 
On this Sunday of Mary, Mother of our Lord we celebrate the Baptism of a young man, Kaiden Capeles.  We welcome him by baptism into the family of God.

Like Mary, the church sings a song of praise whenever God claims his own by Baptism. Imagine, Kaiden joins the likes of you and me in this body of believers because God's grace washes over him with divine love!  We are witnesses to this means of grace. Kaiden becomes a minister of the Gospel in this event, like Mary, a bearer of good news!

We all sing together with Kaiden, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit  rejoices in God my Savior." (Luke 1:46-47)  I look forward to being with you as word and sacrament are fully present in our worship this week.
 
In Christ,
Pr. Bill

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July 30, 2021
Give us this bread always
 
This preview of Sunday's homily is for all the faithful who like to eat!  I come from a long line of hungry people. Perhaps you do too.  In John's gospel the crowds love it that God's abundance was demonstrated in Jesus. No wonder they wanted to make him king!  But Jesus reminds them that being fed goes way beyond full bellies!  It sounds funny to the ears to hear Jesus respond to the question "what do we need to do to perform the works of God?"  In other words, "How can we make bread where there is no wheat?"  And Jesus replies,  "Believe in the one whom God sent."

The word belief goes beyond intellectual acceptance. To believe is to "trust" or to "embrace."  Christ's love is compelling. It comes to us and embraces us first!  Like warm fresh baked bread...simply irresistible.  You are invited to receive this bread at our Eucharist this Sunday. The Sacrament of the Altar, Holy Communion, is Jesus presence  to God's people.  Jesus is for you!
 
In Christ, 
Pastor Bill

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July 23,2021
And Jesus said, "It is I, do not be afraid"  (John 6:20)
 
Where Jesus is, there is peace.  We begin a series of readings from John's gospel this week. Lots of bread images, and this one story of Jesus walking on the sea of Galilee.  The story of the feeding of the 5,000 is unique in that it is in all 4 Gospels. No other story, except the passion narrative has quite the impact as this one. What follows for John, is the separation of Jesus from the disciples.

Last week, Jesus called the disciples to be with him at a place apart, but this week Jesus needs his space. What happens next defies logic and physics.  Not a bad way of describing who Jesus is!  The one who defies all notions of what God can do and be.  Jesus always comes to meet the need!  We do not come to him, He comes to us!  And when he does, he brings the peace of God!

This Sunday we gather at a place apart for a change of perspective (10AM) at the Burke family home. We also meet at  our church home for a time of Holden Evening Prayer 6:30 PM.  Both experiences are filled with promise.  I invite you to come and see!

In Christ,
Pastor Bill Diehm

 

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July 16, 2021
"Jesus had compassion on them..." (Mark 6:34)

 
We return to the pastoral image of sheep.  You may recall a bulletin cover that was used in worship in April to elicit dialog in a sermon about sheep and faith.  This Sunday in Mark's gospel we hear of "shepherdless" sheep and Jesus' intervention.


Our children's sermon this Sunday will introduce us to a word that sounds like what it means (in Greek).  What I can tell you in preparation for Sunday is that it will be a "moving" experience.

A while back I preached a sermon "Jesus Does Who Jesus Is."  Similarly, the mission "to the crowds"  is clearly an extension of Jesus' identity. I look forward to gathering with you around the word and sacrament as we will be greeted and healed by Jesus Christ, the great shepherd of the sheep!  This is good news indeed!

In Christ,
Pr. Bill

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July 9, 2021
Look what God has done!

 
This Sunday's sermon is based on the second lesson from Ephesians.  We will experience God's gifts by hearing from Paul, all the things that God does by way of Jesus Christ.  This is also a good preview for those participating in the Richard Rohr book study, The Universal Christ.   I invite you to read Ephesians 1:3-14 in preparation for Sunday's liturgy and make note of all the predicates (verbs) connecting God's action in Jesus Christ.  It will astound you!  This is good news indeed!  "We have obtained an inheritance!" (Ephesians 1:11)
 
In Christ,
Pastor Bill

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July 2, 2021
God's grace is sufficient!

There is power in weakness!  (2nd Corinthians 12:9)
 
In a results-oriented world, it may seem confusing to extol the virtue of weakness.  On the 4th of July in particular, greatness is associated with national pride.  There is no shame in having national pride, if the identity of that nation's pride is based on being in service to others rather than lording greatness over others.

This year, I believe it is timely to repent of any national pride that fails to humble itself before God. (See also the first lesson for this Sunday - Ezekiel 2:1-5.)  A good way to begin Independence Day is by confessing our total dependence on God!  Something to think about.

See you in church or online!

In Christ,
Pastor Bill Diehm

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June 25, 2021

New every morning!
 
This is a refrain you will hear from me during this Sunday's liturgy.  It comes from the 1st reading:

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness"  (Lamentations 3:22)

Reading through the Lamentations, whose setting is the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BCE, one realizes that lament sounds like despair, the opposite of faith. We believe and teach that it is in the places least likely we expect to experience God, (disaster, pandemic, destruction. etc.) that we discover God's acts of mercy.
 
During the sermon, I will teach you this lyric as an act of praise!  We have the privilege of being called to experience the mercies of God every morning!  I look forward to sharing this joy with you! 

In Christ,
Pr. Bill

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May 28, 2021

The Holy Trinity Sunday/Memorial Day Weekend/Prayers for healing
O Lord, give strength to your people; give them, O Lord, the blessings of peace. (Psalm 29:11)
 
As we gather to worship this Sunday we are reminded that the reign of God invites us into a relationship with the one we call Almighty!  In the mystery of that relationship we bring our own need for God's strength in times of change.

In this case, we need strengthened to re-enter our lives, knowing that things around us are feeling somewhat like they used to, but still emerging. My words to you,  faithful ones, are that we look to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as our first thought in the morning, our gratitude at meal time, our petition when we feel most vulnerable, and our thanksgiving for those we remember this Memorial Day.

All that we are, do, have, and remember is in the providential care of the God of peace!
 
In Christ,
Pastor Bill

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May 21, 2021

The Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26)
 
What does it mean that the Holy Spirit is a "helper," especially in our weakness?

I would suggest that at the times of our greatest vulnerability there the Holy Spirit is creating faith!  

Have you ever had someone say to you, "have faith"?  The implication is that it is up to you to muster whatever it is that allows you to believe or act in any given situation. ( Like a global pandemic.)

Here's the good news.  The Holy Spirit is active creating the faith to believe in Christ and do the good works needed.  (Living God's Love!)  So the next time you hear someone say, "Have some faith!", you may respond, "By the power of the Holy Spirit it will be so!"

This Sunday we will celebrate the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit you received in your baptism.

Come and see!
 
In Christ,
Pr. Bill

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May 14, 2021
Whoever has the Son has life! (I John 5:12)

 
This Sunday we worship between two church festivals. Forty days after Easter the church celebrates The Ascension of our Lord (yesterday), and fifty days after Easter the church celebrates the festival of Pentecost (next Sunday).

The Sunday in between is unique. Like life itself, we are usually in between things.  Like being in between the hoped for "all clear" of the pandemic and the reality that society, governments, health protocols, and church practices are not all uniform. We are truly "in between."

There is one constant that will be lifted up this Sunday: Jesus Christ who is raised up gives us life, now and forever! Yes! (sermon tease) God has gone up with a shout! Yes!
 
In Christ,
Pastor Bill

 

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May 7, 2021
"That your joy may be complete!" (John 15:11b)
 
Christian people are practitioners of joy. It is a quality that we receive by being in Christ. There is a difference between joy and happiness. It's not always easy to know the difference. I will offer this distinction. For many, happiness is the maximization of pleasure. Who doesn't like to be happy?  But joy, is the discovery that there is something beyond yourself that creates a desire to love God and love others. Jesus embodies the model of this love. Make friends with those who others would leave behind. May your joy be complete in this discovery!
 
In Christ,
Pastor Bill

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April 30, 2021

Perfect love casts out fear!  (I John 4: 18)
 
It has been said that the opposite of love is not hate, but fear.  I believe this to be true.  When I think about divisions that exist in society, I believe they are largely motivated by fear.  Fear of change, fear of the other, fear of the unknown.

This week we will be invited to consider what it means to be motivated by the love of God in Christ Jesus.  Our lessons range from Phillip witnessing to the Ethiopian Eunuch from Acts, to the "I am" saying of Jesus: "I am the true vine," with the very helpful instruction from I John. That is, we love because God first loved us.  This love is what inspires "Living God's Love."  We will dig deep into our mission statement this week and invite the spirit to help a well-known phrase come alive with Easter power.  Come and See!

In Christ,
Pastor Bill

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April 23, 2021

Paths of Righteousness--Good Shepherd Sunday

"And guide me along right pathways for your name's sake" (Psalm 23:3b) is how the translation we use Sunday expresses this beloved psalm's third verse.

I find it interesting to learn from Hebrew scholars the connection between English translation and original meaning.  Here is such a case. The other places in the scripture the Hebrew word is used for "right pathways" or "paths of righteousness" is translated "tracks" or a word closer to "ruts!"  Literally grooves in the road for your ox-cart to follow.  It reminds me of the bike path used by Amish horse and buggies along the Holmes County trail.  The horses hooves have carved a well worn groove for all to follow or in the case of bikers, to avoid!  Walking with God is finding God's groove for daily living. When you do this you build right relationships and ultimately honor God. "For God's namesake!"

Friends in Christ at St. Matthew, may we be guided these days along God's right path for us as we discern what is next in this journey of faith. For Christ the Good Shepherd  is with us!
 
In Christ,
Pastor Bill Diehm

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April 9, 2021

Behind the Locked doors.
 
We move from last week's empty tomb Easter account in Mark to John's story of the shut doors in the disciples' hiding place. Jesus meets the disciples where they are.  And where are they? They are trying to figure out what their life will be like now that Jesus is with them in this way! Imagine!  I think we can.  The analogy of life changing in ways we couldn't have imagined is our empty tomb and locked door.  The future beckons us, yet there are still things that necessarily make us wary and cautious about living, breathing community!

It is now that we need the peace and breath of Christ's Holy Spirit.  We gather to receive here at St. Matthew and as we continue to gather at home.  May the spirit of the risen Christ meet you where you are!

Alleluia, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia
 
Pastor Bill Diehm
 

PS. Want to dig deeper into Mark's empty tomb?  We will have the finale of the Gospel of Mark as the topic of adult Sunday School in the brown room....We will have a big circle with lots of space, and will be masked as we meet. You are welcome.
 
PPS. Our worship team will continue to confer weekly regarding our in-person worship schedule. You are invited to register online or with the office beginning Monday for worship on the 18th.  This will assist us with plans as we consider a  two service-format in the future. For now we continue with a 9AM liturgy.  We learn from each week's attendance and your patience is appreciated as we move forward. For those who are attending this week in person. Please arrive early and be open to the ushers directions as we try to accommodate those in attendance.

 

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April 2, 2021

Good (News) Friday, Christ lifted up!
 
It seems like we have gone through a year long Lent!  I also recognize we have a way to go relative to the health and well being of a world ravaged by disease. Yet, there is another force moving in our midst beside pandemic. Today we celebrate Christ lifted up!  Good Friday is John's gospel story of Christ the King!  Not abandoned, not humankind's greatest mistake, but the way God saves, through death.  I invite you to enter into The Gospel of John's Passion reading tonight with a renewed sense of awe.  All the while the world thought its loud "no" was the last word, God had (has) different plans.  There is only one way to truly live and that is to give! And it starts with God!  

Behold, the life-giving cross on which was hung the salvation of the whole world.

Oh, come, let us worship him.

 
In Christ,
Pastor Bill Diehm

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March 26, 2021

The Blessing of the Palms

By now most of you will have received a delivery that includes palm branches for our virtual Palm Sunday gathering as we begin Holy Week. The opening of our liturgy this Sunday includes the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and moves to the events of Holy Week. There will be, live streamed this Sunday, a dramatic reading of the Passion According to St. Mark.

Kudos to our folks whose journey to your home for this delivery places the Passion Week of Christ at your door in an effort to be the church as we are able.  We move through the week of the greatest story ever told to our virtual Maundy Thursday liturgy and Good Friday both at 7PM.

It seems fitting that this Holy Week leads to an Easter "in-person" re-gathering.  Our Lenten fast is about to lift. I invite you to enter into the Holy Week's contemplation with a devotion like no other year. 
 
In Christ,
Pastor Bill



NOTE:   We have fully subscribed all of our 9 AM and 11 AM Easter liturgies and are creating a 7 AM service, which will follow closely the format of the other two.

You can register on the web site or call the church office next week.  Also, the 9 and 11 AM liturgies will be live streamed.  After the 11AM liturgy the Holy Communion table will be extended for those who would like to drive-in after worship to receive the sacrament.  Each service will have a sending rite on the front lawn where we will sing "Jesus Christ is Risen Today!"  Children's messages and for all worshipers will complement our celebration.

As a reminder:   All the protocols that we followed in our previous months of in-person worship will continue to be in place. (See list of protocols below.)


May the presence of Christ, crucified and risen be with you all!

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March 19, 2021
And God says, " I will"  (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

 
This preview of  Sunday's sermon describes one of the most important parts of God's identity.  God acts; and, God will act. As we worship on the 5th Sunday of Lent, see how God's activity drives our hopes and calms our fears. The best news of all: "I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more." Jeremiah 31:34)   How does God do that?  Tune in Sunday! 
 
In Christ,
Pr. Bill
 
 
The Executive Council, by way of a recommendation from the Covid re-entry team, has approved a plan for in-person as well as live-stream worship beginning Easter Sunday .  The Worship Team has created a format for Easter Sunday that includes

  • Two identical liturgies of Holy Communion at 9 AM and 11 AM using the ELW.

  • The same protocols used from July to November will be used (See enclosed)

  • There will be a registration process to balance attendance between the two services to allow us to follow best, safe, practice. This will be available  next week. Stand by!

  • For those worshiping live stream at home, there will be opportunity to attend an extended table distribution of Holy Communion at 12:30 PM in the parking lot

This announcement will be updated as further details unfold.

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March 12, 2021

Rejoice/Refresh!
Give thanks to the Lord, for the Lord is good, for God's mercy endures forever. (Psalm 107:1)

 
As I have shared previously, Lent 4 is a day to take a break. In former days,  "Refreshment Sunday" gave people a breather from the Lenten fast.  We use the word refresh in our culture in a new way.  To "refresh" one's computer means to prepare new data for consideration.

Let's refresh!  We anticipate a new day while still looking at our lives that are stuck with old news!  Let me share some good news as we prepare to refresh our church lives.
 
On Tuesday, the Covid re-entry team will consider plans for an Easter morning in person celebration.  That group will make a recommendation to our Executive Council that meets the same evening.  Pending their action, our worship team will create  Easter liturgies at their Thursday evening meeting.  What will our refreshed Easter Sunday look like?  Next Friday's shout out will tell the story! 

Let's continue to pray that the environment surrounding the pandemic will allow us to meet and worship faithfully and safely.
 
"Let the redeemed of the Lord proclaim that God redeemed them from the hand of the foe, gathering them in from the lands...." (Psalm 107:2-3)
 
In Christ,
Pastor Bill Diehm

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February 26, 2021
A Sunday to Remember (and Praise)
"You who fear the Lord, give Praise!" (Psalm 22:23)
 
This Sunday is the culmination of our Black History emphasis month. As you know, we have invited members of 2nd Baptist Church, our neighbors, to give "Good News Moments" at the beginning of worship each Sunday in February.  This Sunday, at our "Praise liturgy", we will have the Rev. Arthur A. Ruffin, Sr. bring greetings to us.

This liturgy will have a full complement of Praise Team members. They are:
     John Burke, Keyboard
     Heather Rohde, Vocalist
     Shaun Faust, Guitar
     Karl Herman, Bass
     Tom Kotick, Percussion
Thanks to this outstanding group of musicians who lead us this Sunday.

Also, there will be a special Gospel Acclamation from the Zion Pentecostal Church of Christ from Cleveland who virtually join us with song!   What a day to be the church as we are and where we are. Blessings abound. Be a part of the heavenly throng  on earth this Sunday!

In Christ,
Pr. Bill Diehm

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February 19, 2021
 

"He was  in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him." (Mark 1:13)
 
Have you ever been waited on by an angel?  I believe Jesus' experience is our experience. After all, we are "In Christ."


At the conclusion of last Sunday's liturgy and then Zoom course on the post pandemic church, I felt drained, not empty... just exhausted.  Then, there was a knock on my office door. When I answered, there, through a mask, I could imagine the biggest smile.  I know it was a big smile because the eyes of the angel were glowing bright!  In the magic of the world moved from virtual to actual, the messenger of good news from the children's sermon was staring at me eye to eye, flesh to flesh, and it was glorious!  "He wants you to have this," said his mother who accompanied him.  Happy Valentine's Day!   And lo and behold the words on the valentine plaque were the same words another neighbor angel from 2nd Baptist shared with us during the good news moment that same morning.  "For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, so whoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life."  (John 3:16)  
 
Thank God for angels, messengers of good news.  They are among us!  Waiting on us!

 
In Christ,
Pastor Bill

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February 12, 2021
The "Transfiguration Blues"
 
No, its not the title of a Screamin' Jay Hawkins original,   (Think "I Put a Spell on You" meets Jesus on the mountain.)  It is St. Matthew's version of the Gospel in Rhythm and Blues idiom on this the last Sunday of Epiphany!   We celebrate Black History month each Sunday in February by inviting our brothers and sisters from 2nd Baptist to share their stories.  This Sunday we will honor our unity in Christ by proclaiming the Gospel with the sound of the "African American Spiritual".  Be ready for a mountain top experience!

In Christ,
Pastor Bill

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February 5, 2021

Those who wait for the Lord, shall renew their strength. (Isaiah 40:31)
 
"Everlasting God, you give strength to the weak and power to the faint. Make us agents of your healing and wholeness, that your good news may be made known to the ends of  your creation, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord." Amen.
 
With this prayer we begin our liturgy this Sunday.  It speaks a petition of need in our days. We pray that God would renew the spirits of all who are weary from this current journey.  Notice that the prayer also implies that we who pray are part of the solution to the weary world's needs.  We are not just needy, we are agents of God's healing presence "to the ends of creation."  This is the mission of the church.  Bringing healing to all with the message of Christ.  May it be so.

Amen!
 
In Christ,
Pastor Bill Diehm

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January 29, 2021
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10)
 

To have "holy awe" (fear) is rare these days.  So much of our lives are spent trying to get in charge of the things that we would like to manage. As I write this, like many of you, I am waiting for my turn to get the vaccine!  Parallel to that great hope for protection from the evil (virus)  that surrounds me is a greater value of which I must constantly be reminded.  My help comes from the Lord!  Holy Awe is a call to practice a worshipful attitude for daily living.  As I have shared in other places, the Epiphany season is a call to renew ones call to ministry.  We grow by our experiences. Even those that we do not desire. 

As you worship this Sunday and live the 111th psalm, "I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation, " (111:1) you will be doing so in a unique setting. You will be separated from the congregation. The congregation is like our very lives, "by faith."  I invite you to speak the words with Judy McLaughlin this week as she reads them, trusting that we fear God together even though it feels like we are on our own.
 
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

In Christ,
Pastor Bill Diehm
 
PS  Sunday sermon tease:   "It will blow your mind"

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January 15, 2021
Come and See!  (John 1:46)

 
The words of welcome and invitation that come from Phillip to Nathanael about Jesus continue to drive evangelism in the church.  These days it's hard to welcome people to a place (church), but it is still a message about who we are and whose we are.

It is a continued delight to pastor a faithful congregation of people who are driven by a mission to Live God's Love.  As I reflect on our ministries as we move forward with a call process, I am thankful for the wisdom, care, and dedication to this place we call our church. At Christmas Eve there was a question during worship "Where do you see Jesus?" During this season of Epiphany I have a response to that question.  I see Jesus in you!  You are the body of Christ.  With every interaction of a friend, stranger or neighbor you are Christ for the world. I know where people may meet Christ!  Come and See!
 
In Christ!
Pastor Bill Diehm

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