From the Pastor

Pastor Bob Albing

Every year, at the end of October, we commemorate the Reformation. The Protestant Reformation, which began in 1517 with Martin Luther posting his 95 sentences or thesis on the door of the Wittenberg Chapel, is not something we celebrate. We commemorate. We remember. But the splitting of the church in Europe into Catholic and Protestant congregations, and the wars that followed is not really a reason to celebrate. It was human sinfulness that led to the division.

So, we remember. And we can be proud of our ancestors in the faith, the reformers. They risked their lives and their reputations for what they believed in. And we should be humbled by their zeal. And we should be encouraged by the freedom they preached. Article four of the Augsburg Confession (google it), should give us the courage to do what we need to do in order to carry out our mission of Connecting People to God. If we really are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, then what do we have to lose?

Our stewardship focus this year continues our theme of “Looking Back, Moving Forward, Growing Deeper.” And of course, to Move Forward, or to Grow Deeper, involves that stressful word, “change.” If we want things to be different, then we must be willing to accept changes, or implement them in our own lives. If we want to grow deeper in our faith, we have to be willing to wrestle with things that make us uncomfortable (like our own shortcomings). The first three weeks of the month will be part of this stewardship focus and then Commitment Sunday will be a time to fill our pledge cards and make financial, as well as time commitments for 2020.

The final Sunday of the month is Reformation Sunday, but it is also 1st Communion Sunday for some of our youngsters. We look back, but we are also moving forward. And the deeper we grow, the deeper we sink our roots into a relationship with God, the more peaceful we will be as we move forward.

God’s peace,

Pr. Bob Albing

“You’re pretty light on your feet!”

That’s what I said to the farmer, at his daughter’s wedding, after he came off the dance floor. He was a good dancer though you would never have guessed it by looking at him. He looked like a typical South Dakota farmer. When he got out onto the dance floor it was like a transformation occurred.

Being light on your feet is good if you are a dancer.

It is also good if you are facing change.

Being light on your feet is the opposite of digging in your heals. It means being able to see what needs to be done and then doing it. It means seeing where you went wrong and starting to head in a different direction. It means being willing to go where the Holy Spirit guides you.

I have been amazed at how light this congregation is on its feet. I know, I know, we are the church and change sometimes happens at a glacial pace. But this congregation has absorbed a tremendous amount of change in the last 10 years. Some major, some minor. LCM survived a major split. We have adjusted our worship times. There have been staff changes almost every year. We had a building project. We are now in the midst of a transition as LAM leaves after 22 years and we gain a new tenant. And all this time, I have never once heard those famous “7 last words”: We’ve never done it that way before!

All change causes stress. You know this in your own life. Every change, from a death to a move, from finding a new doctor to buying a new vacuum cleaner, causes stress. That is why pain is often the catalyst for change, because when all is going well, we tend not to choose change. We avoid it. God sometimes uses pain to bring about change.

Is God bringing about a change in your life? Is it stressing you out? Are you digging in your heals or are you light on your feet? What are you praying for? God can use many things to bring about blessings in our lives: some we choose, some we dread. But blessings are the outcome, nonetheless. Keep praying for your church. Keep praying for me. Keep dancing.

God’s peace, Pr. Bob Albing

PS: Greif Support Group starting this fall.

Be still and know that I am God. ~Psalm 46:10

I spent some time at a Trappist Abbey south of Portland toward the beginning of my sabbatical. I thought it would be a peaceful and restorative time. It was. I took long hikes on the property, had quiet meals with the other retreatants and worshipped at least twice a day. I napped and read and meditated. But what I did not expect was how agitated I became on my second to the last day. I was not at all at peace. There were old resentments that surfaced, old injustices that I had endured, as well as fear about the future. “What happened to all that peace,” I wondered.

Well, part of the problem with doing interior work, just like when you clean out a closet or the garage, you raise some dust, or you create an even bigger mess before you can clean out what needs to go. I had spent enough time with myself (with my cell phone off), that all this old pain re-surfaced. And then I felt angry with myself for not having “let go of all that old stuff.” It was not until I went to worship and heard the brothers chanting the psalms that I could find that peace again. Worship was the antidote that I needed. Meditation, in and of itself, cannot bring peace. I believe that meditation and worship can. Simply stopping and being present to yourself, your emotional state, your spiritual attitude, can let pain, old or new, physical or emotional, come to your awareness. This is a step toward maturity, but it can bring more agitation than peace.

Worship on the other hand, is an acknowledgement that I am not God and only God is God, and God loves me and forgives me, gives his body and blood to me and has work for me to do in God’s Kingdom. That gives me peace. Every time.

So, as you live your life and as we live life together as a congregation, I admonish you to worship whenever and wherever you can. I know that this is not a great revelation to most of you but take it as a gentle reminder. Amidst the storms and waves of this life there is a safe harbor in the One Who Saves.

God’s never-failing peace be with you.

Pr. Bob Albing