What is change, coins as opposed to paper currency*, making or becoming different*? For St. Luke’s, it means to replace (something) with something else*. With the resignation of Reverend Morris, we, as a congregation, will hire a pastor who will lead us into the future. Hebrews 13:8 reminds us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.”** We are facing change at St. Luke’s, but our
Lord and Savior will never change.
How does change affect us? Change can evoke many different emotions, fear, anxiety, anger, or excitement, enthusiasm, anticipation. Many of us have been through quite a number of changes, both in our personal lives and as a member of St. Luke’s.
How we manage change can make or break us as a congregation. In Isaiah 41:13, we read, “For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’ ”**
How can we know that we will remain a strong and faithful congregation? We ask God for guidance, knowing that he loves us and wants the best for us, and trust that he will provide us with what we need. Proverbs 3:5 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 16:3 tells us to “Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”**
The Search and Call committee and elders are working together to move St. Luke’s through the next phase of our church’s life, providing pastoral leadership and care until a new pastor is hired. May we all keep the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 in our thoughts: “ ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ “**
Please keep St. Luke’s in your prayers.
Definitions from Oxford Languages
** Scriptures from the New American Standard version
NOT AN EASY THING TO DO!!!!
It has never been easy for me to say good-bye to the congregations I have served. St. Luke’s is no exception. As many of you have heard, I have taken a new position at Zion (Blue Mountain) United Church of Christ, Strausstown, Pennsylvania. Strausstown is right off Interstate 78, 10 minutes south of Hamburg. I am not new to Zion, Sharon was their pastor from 2008 to 2013. It is a half-time position and my primary reason for taking this position is the commute from Womelsdorf to Trappe. The trip was starting to wear on me. Zion is only 13 miles from our home.
I hope you know how much I enjoyed serving you as your interim minister. You are good people and so appreciative of my ministry among you. I believe that you have a future and when you find a settled pastor you will blossom. I do not know who that person is but God does. Your search committee is hard at work finishing your profile. I believe once it is in circulation you will find interested candidates. I encourage you to take your time and find someone who has the capacity to love you as I have loved you.
You have a lot going for you. I know your leadership base has dwindled but the leaders serving the church are committed Christian eager to serve the Lord. You are also blessed with a healthy endowment which, if used faithfully, will sustain you for a very long time.
My last Sunday is May 28, Pentecost Sunday. What a perfect Sunday to bid you farewell. Both you and I will avail ourselves to the life giving breath of God as it blows across our spirits preparing us to do a new thing. I will always hold you in my prayers and I will remain a constant cheerleader as I pray for you daily. That will be my commitment to you.
Thank you for your kindness and love.
Greetings from Pastor Pat
Spring has Sprung
Spring is my favorite time of the year. When Spring approaches, there are always clear signs of its arrival. The morning air is not as cold as it has been. The mud holes and wet spots around houses begin to dry up. Our yards gradually begin to change color, from a brown to a deep green. When we see these signs, we know Spring cannot be far behind.
As with spring, there are certain signs that mark the Easter season. We use some of the same imagery; the blooming of flowers, the newness of birth in nature, and brilliant sunrises, are all images we use to signify the spring season as well as Easter. Have you ever stopped to wonder why we make this connection?
In nature, we see spring as a time of renewal, a time when life around us is energized from the heat and moisture of God’s good earth. We see spring as a time of procreation for many of God’s creatures. Spring is a prelude to life and life’s abundance around us, to be enjoyed until the postlude of winter.
The Easter season has the same potential for Christians. Easter is a time of renewal. It is a time for all of us to take a closer look at the relationship we have with Jesus. As we progress through Lent in preparation for Holy Week, we have the opportunity to see the suffering in our lives as we reflect on the passion of our Lord.
Easter is also a time for us to be energized by the power of God’s spirit within our own lives.
As we observe the church year in our tradition, there is the potential for us to become lackadaisical in our participation in the life of the church. Church life becomes predictable and boring, therefore we disengage. But there is always the Easter season to breathe life back into our sleeping souls.
Most importantly, Easter is a time for new life. Jesus Christ went to the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of humanity. No longer would men and women be held in bondage to the sin in their lives. Jesus death on the cross, and the power of the resurrected Lord, was and is a act of procreation. Because we believe, we are created anew through Jesus. (John 3:3)
I encourage you to see this Easter season as a time of new birth and growth in your life. There are many opportunities in the life of St. Luke’s where you can experience the signs of the Easter season. My prayer is that you will not only experience the season but also you will experience the power and presence of the risen Lord.
Greetings from Pastor Pat
This has been a very mild winter, hardly any snow at all. And that’s fine with me. When I was a child, there were two things I learned about snow. The first thing was you never eat any of the first snow that falls. The reason you did not was because of the "contaminated snow theory." You see, my older brothers and sisters, inspired by all the nuclear testing that was taking place in the early 60's, convinced me that the first fallen
snow was laden with nuclear particles. For one's own personal safety, it was important to wait until the second snow fall of the year before ingesting any snow. When the first snow fell, it would wipe out all the nuclear fallout floating around in the sky. By the time the second snow fell, it would be safe to consume.
I certainly hope my brothers and sisters enjoyed jerking me around this way. Everybody knows there is nothing to the "contaminated snow theory." Everybody knows the reason you don't eat the first snow is because it is stale!
I remember as a child, my mother going out and collecting some good, second-snow-fall snow, and making snow ice cream. She would take snow and mix it with some sugar and vanilla and create one of the best winter treats a young boy could ask for. As I think about it, you could probably mix sugar and vanilla with just about anything and come up with a tasty treat.
My brothers and I would spend many days out on the hills on our farm sleigh riding. My father or one of my older brothers would take the tractor out and run it up and down and up and down the hill until we had a tightly packed surface. When our farm pond was frozen, we took our trail right out onto the surface of the frozen water and across the pond we would fly.
We had a real sled back then, not these plastic imitations. The "Snow Rider" was written in bright red letters across it's deck. It was not a simple matter of just setting down on it and expecting a ride. You had to know something about navigation. To ride a "Snow Rider" you had to learn how to steer with your hands or feet. And leaning with your body from side to side was an important part of steering, especially if you rode double.
As they say, whoever "they" are, "those were the good old days." I hope these few lines of reminiscence has made a cold rainy day a little more bearable for you. I hope as I share my own memories, you have been taken back to a place that holds as much fondness as my past does for me. And just think, Spring is right around the corner.
Oh by the way, the second thing I learned about snow-never, under any circumstances do you eat yellow snow.
Gods Blessings, Pastor Pat
Greeting from Pastor Pat
THOUGHTS FOR A NEW YEAR
"The turn of the year seems to offer an opportunity to start over, to become more like what we want to be. This desire springs from a deep human need. Those who reflect on their lives usually see that they fall short of their own ideals and of God's way, and they yearn for something better" (The Upper Room, Jan.-Feb. 1998).
I came across these words while browsing through a devotional guide that I use on occasion. I found these words to be very profound. The turn of the year has become a time in our lives when we reflect on "who we are" and "what we want to be." Many times, the "who we are" is a person who needs some positive changes in his/her life. The "who we are" is overweight, is physically inactive, works too much, does not have enough free time, lacks direction in his\her life, and so on.
On the other hand, the "what we want to be" person is a person on the opposite end of the spectrum. The "what we want to be" person is a person who maintains an ideal weight, has a body like Mr./Ms. America, has a great career and achieves the proper balance between work, play, and family time.
In our desire to become "what we want to be" many times we set our goals too high, quickly become frustrated, and soon give up on trying to become "what we want to be" and settle for "the way we are."
I would like to propose to you an alternative way of reflecting on your life as you begin this new year. As you reflect, instead of beginning with those things you would like to change, lift up those areas that are positive in your life and bring you great joy. Perhaps you are engaged in some type of volunteer work. You may be active in some ministry at this church or another. Perhaps your occupation affords you the opportunity to help others. Maybe it is a simple act of kindness you were involved in over the Christmas season.
Hopefully, during this new year, you will find positive aspects of your life that you do not want to change, but to celebrate. As the New Year begins it is important to remember that God is behind all that we do for the good of others and ourselves. May you continue to be about the good work of the Lord until we are united in Christ as the Kingdom of God on earth.
Greeting from Pastor Pat
Have you given much thought to the concept of a baby’s being the mode in which the very presence of God would be manifested in this world? Think about it: a baby – a helpless, powerless, weak, vulnerable, defenseless baby.
I love babies; I always have. I am glad that I was born into a family with lots of children who wanted to have lots of children. There was never a lack of babies in our family, babies that needed to be held and cuddled and rocked to sleep. Holidays were always special because of babies. The conversations centered around them were always the same: "Look how much he/she has grown!” “Is he/she walking yet?” “He's going to be as big as his father!"
The Savior of this world was once a baby – a helpless, powerless, weak, vulnerable, defenseless baby; a baby who fed at the breast of his dear mother; a baby who needed to be cuddled and rocked to sleep; a baby whose diaper needed to be changed; a baby who got sick, who cried, who cooed, who made other people like me smile when they looked into his beautiful eyes. This was our Jesus.
I guess it is good for us to remember at times what all the celebration is about. What we are celebrating is the birth of a baby – not a king, not a mighty warrior, not a ruler or a person of great wealth and power, but a baby, a baby who would grow up like any other child, a baby who would become the Savior of the world. Once again the birth of the baby, Jesus!
Greeting from Pastor Pat
There is a painting that hangs in many homes of a man, sitting at a table, with hands folded in prayer over what appears to be a very simple meal. I believe the painting is named, "Old Man Praying." What sticks out in
my mind as I think about that painting is the Old Man's hands. His hands are large and thick. They look like they are the hands of someone who made a living doing hard work. They are dark, perhaps tanned from long days working in the sun. As he sits at his table hovering over his meal with hands folded in prayer, I see the image of a man who has lived a full and productive life.
Our hands can tell a great deal about us can't they. By shaking someone's hand we can get some idea of what kind of work they do. A rough, calloused hand is evident of a person who has to work with his or her hands on a daily bases. A smooth hand might indicate a person whose work is less manual.
I remember my own hands when I was a farmer. They were very rough and calloused, many times nicked
and scared from working on machinery and such. Wintertime was particularly hard on my dairy- farmer-hands as they became chapped and cracked, a result of the combination of cold and wet working conditions.
Sometimes our occupations can be hazardous to our hands. Whenever I meet a carpenter, I always look at
his hands to see if the power saw he works with has claimed any of his digits.
Henri Nouwen writes about the dual nature of the hand. Nouwen states, "It can create and destroy, caress
and strike, make welcoming gestures and condemning signs; it can bless and curse, heal and wound, beg and give."
In our own lives and in the world around us we have witnessed on many occasions the duality of the hand. Perhaps we have even been the body on the end of the hand. The hand has the option, using Nouwen's analogy, when walking past the poor, to lift up, or to push down. The hand has the option, when confronted with the hurting and lonely, to rest compassionately on a shoulder or to shun and ignore.
If St. Luke’s had hands, what do you think they would look like? Would they be blistered and calloused from toiling in God's Kingdom? Would they be folded to our chest complacently, or out stretched to those in
During this season of Thanksgiving, it is a good time to take a look at our hands, both individually and corporately as members of the Body of Christ. As we are seated at our tables spread in abundance, and as we fold our hands in prayer, let us all remember that we are called to be the hands of Christ, reaching out to those in need. We are called to be the people of God, with hands lifted up in praise to God's holy name. We are called to be grateful people with hands folded in thankful prayer.
Greeting from Pastor Pat
A Time to Gather
As you drive through the countryside, it is not hard to identify the season of the year. Farmers are busy harvesting their fall crops, making the last cuttings of hay, and harvesting their corn. The harvest will be stored away in barns and silos, made ready to see the animals through another winter.
Those of you who have gardens are busy as well, taking off the last of the vegetables and preparing your home garden for its rest through the winter.
I am not sure how many people still "put up" produce from their gardens. I know that when Sharon and I lived in Virginia we canned and froze lots of vegetables that we raised in our garden. The three tomato plants Sharon and I planted on our hillside garden yielded abundantly, so much so that we canned dozens of pints of soup.
Have you ever stopped to think about the concept of harvesting? Harvest is an important part of life in a region where one experiences drastic changes in the climate. In most parts of the world, if you live near the equator, the growing season is practically year-round. If there is sufficient moisture, you can grow crops 365 days a year.
This is certainly not the case for this part of the world. There was a time, perhaps some of you can remember it, when you had to store foods in order to have something to eat during the winter. Vegetables were canned or frozen, and hogs and beeves were butchered and stored in smokehouses, ready to feed the family during the cold winter months. This is not a present reality thanks to the modern day grocery store.
Harvest time was an important part of the rural life. It was a time of preparation, a time of celebration. It was a time when families worked together in a shared labor, preparing for the cold months ahead.
Even though the majority of us do not need to engage in a physical harvest, we still need to be concerned about our spiritual harvest. When times get tough and life gets cold, will you have sufficient spiritual nourishment to see you through these rough times? There will be times in all our lives when we will have to call upon the depths of our faith in order to endure the winters that life has to offer. In order to endure, we all need to store up enough "spiritual food" to see us through.
You may have heard people ask, "What is the point in going to church?" You may have even asked the question yourself. As your pastor, I see the church experience as a "spiritual warehouse" where we come and are fed, where we come and are nourished by God's Word. Many times Jesus used the imagery of eating to illustrate the importance of spiritual growth. The Lord's Supper is not only symbolic of the sacrificial nature of God's love, but of our need as brothers and sisters in the faith to stay in constant fellowship with one another.
My hope and my prayer for you is that you are being fed spiritually at St. Luke’s. I hope you are finding all the nourishment of a spiritual nature that you are seeking. If you are not, please let me know how I can help.
As we approach the season of harvest and thanksgiving, let us all be mindful of our own need for spiritual nourishment. As we face the cold winters that lay before us, let us rest assured that we will have the strength to endure.
God's Blessings, Pastor Pat
Greetings from Pastor Pat
My sister Carol and her husband Ray visited with us the middle of June. Their first comment as they pulled into our drive was how green everything is. Unfortunately, they have not received the rain in North Carolina as we have had and their brown yards are a testimony. New plants that were just planted will most likely
die. The opposite has been true for this part of Berks County. It has been perfect grass-growing weather and I have a newly planted yard to prove it!
It’s the farmer in me that keeps me fixated on the weather, I just can’t help myself. “Weather can make you or break you,” as the saying goes. There is another saying that proclaims “you can talk about the weather but you can’t do anything about it.” Truer words were never spoken!
During times of heavy rains the name “Noah” and the idea of “ark construction” comes to mind. The story of Noah is perhaps the most well known of all Bible stories. You cannot go into a craft shop without seeing some reference to Noah, a dove, or the rainbow.
The one take away for me when I think of the story is “trust.” The story of Noah is about a man doing something totally ridiculous simply because God asked him to. I know I am over simplifying the story, but when you boil the story down to its most minute particle, “trust” is the message.
Faith is another word we use to talk about trust. I have faith in God. As New Testament believers we are called to have faith in Jesus, God incarnate. That faith will be tested from time to time; you may be in the midst of that testing this very day, but this is what I believe. God may have created the world but God does not control the world. The planet that we live on is alive and sometimes rain comes and sometimes it does not. Fires will burn out of control and if we are not careful we will get in the way. Volcanoes erupt, sea winds ravage the coast, and the blustery winter winds will blow. And all of the weather-related phenomena can also be used metaphorically to talk about life.
But here, my beloved, is the bottom line; the dove will always, always, return with a branch of life in its beak and the rainbow will always, always be a sign of God’s promise. It is where I place my trust. To coin a phrase of a friend Ernest Ephriam, The God I worship is not a liar! Amen and Amen
Greeting from Pastor Pat
An Update From Our Mission In Ghana
I received this email from Rev. Lordson, the Pastor of the Evangelical Churches in Vakpo Todzi and Vakpo Fu.
Peace and Grace from our Lord Jesus the Christ be with you!
I am happy to write to you after a little break in communications. I hope you’re doing well and your ministry. We are also fine, and the school is also in progress. The churches are also thriving in His grace. The Fu congregation which was at the verge of collapse is gaining momentum day by day through the grace of God and the cooperation of the new Catechist. The motor bike is put into good use and helping the ministry in the village. On many occasions it was used to help sick members access the nearby clinic. It is also helping the Catechists to reach out to backsliding members outside the community, in the cottages.
Vakpo Todzi on the other hand is working hard to put up the Pastors residence started last year under my leadership. The wall is almost completed and we have started mobilizing financial resources to roof it by the beginning of the last quarter of the year (September). We are waiting for the final estimate from the artisans, and I will share that with you in due course. Included in the building is a well-designed guest room, which we hope you will lodge in when you visit Ghana the next time or any of our mission partners is in Ghana. It is planned with you in mind.
The ministry generally is doing well and the bond between the church and community is growing stronger every day. Church attendance and outreach is getting better every day. Even though general economic situations are not getting better, faith in divine providence of God is increasing. I would end here today but look forward to share more updates with you in coming days.
Least I forget, please how is the fund raising for the bus going? I am praying for divine intervention. May God bless and keep you.
With lots of love from Rev. Lordson
I encourage you to continue your support to these mission projects, As you can see from above, our assistance is making a huge difference in the life and vitality of these two church communities.