May 2018

Greetings to the Holy People of God,

My son recommended a Youtube interview with Jordan Peterson and now I am hooked on his series, “The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories starting with Genesis, the creation and up to Joseph’s brilliant coat which adds up to fifteen 2 hour lectures with 30 minutes of Q & A.  Each month a new lecture is added.  Peterson continues to do this because he is interested in the topic and so is the audience with a huge Youtube following. It is also an experiment with making education more accessible to more people using technology.

When I started watching, I looked at the comments to get a quick review before I invested my time.  I was surprised by the overwhelming positive comments as well as people saying that their lives had been changed for the better. I continued to watch because I was curious about his take on the bible. It’s been fun to listen to and has brought new life to familiar stories.  He offers a fresh and hopeful perspective.  I enjoy watching his own witness as it unfolds as he weaves together his own discipline of Psychology with the Biblical stories.

I am reminded of the power of God’s word again from a person I would never have expected. I am reminded that God is relentless in his attachment to the world and will work with whoever is willing.  I want to be a part of that work. What experiments are we willing to try as we tell our story of Jesus’ love for us and how we have interwoven these stories into the very fabric of our lives?  Sometimes I find that knowing the story so well can become a stumbling block to being open to what God is wanting to do in partnership with us.  How do we explain something that we know by heart, that we have lived with so long to someone who doesn’t know or has struggled with God?  We keep telling our story and how we walk with God on this wonderful, complicated and complex journey through life and we trust God.

Our mission, our vision is to be engaged in the kingdom work God is calling us to do.  We are disciples.  We keep learning from God’s word as it unfolds before us and becomes the very fabric of our lives.  And we trust God and the mysterious ways in which God calls us to use our own talents and gifts to witness in this world that God loves us and we love God.

We have our work cut out for us.  And I give thanks to God that I get to do this work with you.  You are a faithful flock that trusts the Good Shepherd.

Believing It Boldly Loving Everyday,

Pastor Connie Spitzack

April 2018

Greetings to the Holy People of God, 

Before Easter, we take 40 days, the season of Lent to prepare ourselves for Jesus’ passion – his suffering, death and resurrection.  Now we enter the season of Easter and that another 40 days before Jesus’ ascension to wrap our hearts and minds around the resurrection and what it means for us.  It is a time of readjustment to the new and a time for grieving the old. 

Imagine how the disciples worked through this process of letting go of the Jesus they knew so that they could receive the risen Jesus and the new reality of life with this risen Jesus.   

Listen to the stories of the resurrection.  Try “The Bible Project” web site.  Run through each of the gospels or at least how each one records the resurrection.  You will find that each gospel tells the story a bit differently but all with an empty tomb.  Pay attention to the resurrection appearances of Jesus but don’t stop there.  Keep exploring the book of Acts, the letters of the New Testament and the book of Revelation.  These too are stories of what the resurrection looked like in the life of the early Christian community. 

Look at the history of the church.  Can you see the power of the resurrection in Martin Luther’s story or any of the saints that have gone before us? I see the power of the resurrection in many of your lives.  And I give thanks to God for you and your witness. 

For example, I see Jesus’ resurrection power in Christ the King Christian Preschool.  When legislation was passed to provide free preschool at our public school, we were afraid that would be the end of us.  Even our most dedicated families couldn’t justify paying for preschool when there was an opportunity for free preschool. We hit enrollment lows of 9 preschoolers.  We need 20 to break even.  It was a hard year and we wondered if things would turn around.  The next year was better, there was new life and another transition because at the end of the year, our lead teacher moved from the area.  This year, our resurrection year, we have a wonderful new teacher to add to our fabulous and dedicated staff and our enrollment is holding right at 20. Our students are younger but we offer a wonderful play learning

environment for them to explore and play with one another.  I saw God’s faithfulness as we continued to move forward, not knowing what the future would hold. I saw God’s faithfulness in the leadership of our preschool, their love for God and their love for children.   

What is your resurrection story?  How have you experienced the power of the resurrection in your life?  We need to hear each other’s stories, for it helps us to sort through our own experiences of resurrection.  We cannot leave these important stories untold. 

Here are some prompts that might help you to tell the story of how God is working in your life.   

 Tell about a time when your faith has grown. 

What does resurrection look like in your life?

How has God transformed your life or faith? 

Share this story with us.  Write it down and send it to me or record it on your phone or we will find someone to record it so that we can share with one another. Tell your story of resurrection and new life taking place today!  

This Easter season, let’s all tell the continuing story of God’s powerful work in our ministry and in our lives.  We love to tell the story, this story of God’s great love for us and how God brings new life. 

Believing It Boldly Loving Everyday,

Pastor Connie Spitzack

March 2018

Greetings to the Holy People of God, 

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.                      1 Corinthians 1:18 

I’ve been intrigued this year by our church calendar intersecting with the secular calendar when Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday met and April Fools and Easter soon to meet.  I have been thinking about it as a gift and an opportunity that we as Christians have been given to witness to the hope that is within us on these occasions. 

There is no one explanation for the origin of April Fool’s Day.  Some say that April Fool’s Day was a result of a calendar switch. In 1582 the Gregorian calendar was adopted by the leaders of that time.  The Gregorian calendar moved the beginning of the year to January 1st rather than April 1st. Many people either had not heard about the change, or they simply did not want to change. They kept right on celebrating New Year's Day on April 1st, much to the delight of others who then started to play pranks and tricks on these people.  The change was just too much for some and those who refused to change were called April Fools.  

Whether or not we know the history of April Fool’s Day, we do know that it is a day of playing tricks or pranks on people and if we succeed – catch someone unaware – we call out a triumphal “APRIL FOOL!”  As a child, my goal was to catch someone off guard with something stupid or disgusting. 

As a witness to Christ, I would like to be a bit more sophisticated.  I’m not sure I can pull that off but I can share a story. 

“A monk, whose name has been lost in history, was pondering the meaning of the events of holy week, with its solemn observances of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the astonishing, earth-shaking events of Easter. "What a surprise ending," he thought. Then suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, he had a new insight. His hearty laugh startled his fellow monks, breaking the silence of their contemplation. 

 Don't you see," he cried, "It was a joke! A great joke! The best joke in all history! On Good Friday, when Jesus was crucified, the devil thought he had won. But God had the last laugh on Easter when he raised Jesus from the dead."  (taken from http://www.beliefnet.com/inspiration/christian-inspiration/2001/04/what-do-you-do-the-day-after-easter.) 

It’s a story that brings me joy and hope, especially in the journey of Lent.  I hope you find a way to use this opportunity we have been given as Easter and April Fool’s Day meet.  I hope you find a way to communicate the hope and joy that is within you because of what God has accomplished through his Son, Jesus. 

Believing It Boldly Loving Everyday, 

Pastor Connie Spitzack

February 2018

Greetings to the Beloved,

 What interesting bookmarks we have for our holy days of Ash Wednesday and Easter.  Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day and Easter falls on April Fool’s Day.  We have been given a rare opportunity to converse with our neighbors about our faith as we make connections between these days.

 The bible verse that has framed our discussion for adult forum on apologetics has come to mind. 

 Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; 16 yet do it with gentleness and reverence.   

1 Peter 3:15b-16a.

 So be ready with gentleness and reverence to converse about these days.  Your voice is important.  What will you have to say when the conversation presents itself?

 The day we gather together and receive the ash cross on our forehead, remembering we are dust and to dust we shall return is the day our society will be celebrating Valentine’s Day with displays of love in the form of cards, candies and flowers.  What will you say?

 When I am marked with the ash cross on my forehead, I remember who I am.  I remember my mortality.  I am dust and to dust I shall return.  I also remember my origin, where I came from, created by God, in the image of God and I remember the cross that I received on my forehead marking me as a child of God.

 Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.

 And I know that because of Jesus, through the cross, I am God’s.  That’s where I started and that’s where I will go and that is where I am now.   You understand this.  You who have been steeped in the gospel and feed at Jesus’ table, know this.  How do I translate this into the language of the world? 

 The day I remember that I will not last forever is the day I remember God’s valentine sent to me through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.  It needs some work but I trust that the Holy Spirit will help me and give me opportunity to witness the love that I have received from God.  God doesn’t wait for a day, like Valentine’s Day but everyday loves me, fully and wholly, just as I am. 

This is my prayer for you.  I pray that the Holy Spirit will help you to be ready, to find the words or actions that will give you the opportunity to witness to the hope that is in you in the community where you live on Valentine’s Day and every day. Start with God’s love for you.

 Believing It Boldly Loving Everyday,

Pastor Connie Spitzack

LEAD ASSESSMENT

Hey Disciples – Students of Jesus,

The LEAD Team has been listening to God and listening to each other as we have met together since February and we are listening to you. We have listened to you through the LEAD Assessment (May) and the LEAD Survey of these 5 questions (Oct);

1.Besides being friendly, what are 3 things about this congregation that you would not want to change as you welcome new people?

2.What is this congregation known for in the community?

3.What are you personally passionate about that would make a difference in the neighborhood?

4.What do you perceive the challenges in the neighborhood to be?

5.How has God positioned this congregation to serve its neighbors?

The results of these 5 survey questions are posted in the alcove off of the kitchen at church. There you will find all of the answers of those that participated in the survey and the LEAD Team’s distilling into themes from these answers and there is room for you to respond.

Please take a stroll through this room. In January and February, we will be listening to you through focus groups, taking what we have heard so far and asking more questions and listening. We are listening strategically and it takes time. Also this is new for us, so we are learning.

This is not superficial listening to appease people but an active kind of listening that seeks out diverse voices before making key decisions. We want to know how this community influences your faith journey, your relationship with God and your neighbor so that we may work together in sharing what is helpful to you within our community, in the church and beyond our walls. We ask this because we believe that God has called us together to be about kingdom work. Your voice is important and so is our neighbor’s voice. God is working in the midst of us.

Of course we will listen to the leadership of the council and committees but we will also listen to individuals and other kinds of groups – like Bible study groups and groups that have a common interest. If you would like to host or be a part of a focus group, please let anyone on the LEAD team know. If you would like to meet individually with a couple of LEAD Team members please let us know. Your voice is important and we want to listen to you.

The purpose of the LEAD Team is to engage in strategic planning that will help to guide the community of Christ the King to be a vibrant community that faithfully engages in the work that the Holy Spirit calls us to do.

Now a typical expectation is that we will add a NEW THING because that is so often how we experience long range planning or strategic planning. The last three efforts of the Long Range Planning Committee were a new organ, a new Director of Youth & Family Ministry and a new mission statement. So we changed our name from Long Range Planning to LEAD Team in hopes of getting at the elusive adaptive change over the tactile change. This NEW THING might be different. It might not be something you can easily touch or feel.

We want to be a faithful community that follows Jesus. We want to be vibrant and relevant in our world. We are called by God to be workers in the kingdom of God, salt and light (see Matthew 5). To do this kind of work, we need to be committed to deepening relationships, building trust and growing in our discipleship. What we are learning from our LEAD partners is that this grows out of a life of prayer and discernment with leadership that is open to listening, experimenting and innovating. And it is messy. That is the nature of learning. It feels awkward and some of us resist and push back. Others will feel relief or excitement.

We are spiritual beings and not merely people who do church. We want to be faithful to God and to each other. Keep praying, keep listening to God and to each other. Pray for our LEAD Team and participate in a Focus Group or contact us for an individual meeting if that is your preference.

BIBLE – Believing It Boldly Loving Expansively,

Pastor Connie Spitzack

And the LEAD Team – Mary Knudson-Dion, Chris Rothfuss, Susan Surom, Matt Orvick, Yvonne Page, and Eric Klein