Our lives, our ministry together

2018 has been a wonderful and significant year in the life of St. Armands Key Lutheran Church. Not only was it my first full year as pastor, it was also the year in which we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of congregation, called Kim Heindl as our Deacon, said farewell to Pam Becker after many years of dedicated service, reorganized the office through the hiring of two part-time staff, brought on board Michael Bodnyk as our first Minister of Music, and presented a vision framework that is nothing short of a call to discipleship!


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A healing pain

As [Jesus] came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.”


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The widow’s faith; our faith

As we approach the season of Advent and the feast of Christmas; as we enter into our Step Up stewardship focus; as we look toward the start of the Sarasota “season;” as we live into our new vision; it seems appropriate to ask ourselves several questions:


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The widow’s offering; our offering

Mark 12:38-44 (Psalm 146, Hebrews 9:24-28)

Okay, let’s admit it: we’ve all done it. We’ve all occasionally enjoyed being the center of attention, and to being treated particularly well by those around us. Most of the time it’s fleeting (a birthday, or the like). For the scribes it was a daily occurrence.


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We sit in our own Bethany…

 
Once again, we encounter the story of Jesus raising Lazarus. It is tempting to cry out in desperation, “What more can be said that hasn’t already been said?” But the wonderful thing about Scripture is that it is always birthing something engaging and life-changing. That’s why Luther called the Bible a womb.
 
The setting is familiar: the community sits shivah for their dead friend – that profound, emotion-releasing seven-day period of mourning. Jesus joins in the grief. But why? Why is Jesus so filled with emotion, when it is clear that he has known for some time that his friend is dying, then that he had died, and now he was about to be resurrected? As one scholar puts it, this account is one elaborate object lesson of God’s life-giving power. So, why the emotion?

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We Respond to the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

From ELCA Bishop Elizabeth Eaton:

I write to you with a broken heart – for the lives lost, wounded, and shattered by horrific hatred and violence at Tree of Life Congregation this morning. We join our Jewish neighbors and enter into mourning for all that has been lost. In our grief, God is our comfort. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

 

From Pittsburgh to Portland, and around the world, Jews are living in fear. Anti-Semitism is on the rise. Public acts of hatred and bigotry against Jews are commonplace. As Christians, and particularly as Lutherans, we deplore and reject this bigotry. “We recognize in anti-Semitism a contradiction and affront to the Gospel, a violation of our hope and calling, and we pledge this church to oppose the deadly working of such bigotry, both within our own circles and in the society around us” (1994 Declaration of the ELCA to the Jewish Community).

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