Category Archives: From the Pastor

A blog of thoughts from Pastor Karl

Really Trying at Loving our Neighbor

From the pastor…

I John 3:23-24 And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.24All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.

On the fourth Monday of the month, I lead a bible study called Pub Theology at Prost on Main Street. January’s lesson was on Working-what God hopes from us in the jobs and careers we work. Towards the end of the lesson, member Lois Beery said to her small group, “You know as I get older, I just think it is about loving people. Whoever God puts in front of me when I worked or now when I am retired, I need to figure out how to love them.” I drove home that night what beautiful and wise words these were.   Continue reading Really Trying at Loving our Neighbor

Fourth Grade First Communion

February 4 at the 9:30 Worship Service, we will be celebrating with our children and parents as they come to the Lord’s Supper for the first time. There are three first communion classes the children have completed, 9:30 AM Sundays, January 14, 21, 28 in Fritz Hall. If you would like your child to attend just contact the church office at lthompson@messiahlutheran.net.  Any child fourth grade or over is welcome.

They are always so excited with this early step in their long faithful baptismal journey. Come and celebrate with them!

Renew Your Promise to God!

This Sunday, January 7, 2018 at all three services, everyone in our congregation will have an opportunity to come forward and renew their promises to God. We will do this with a meaningful ritual at the baptismal font. One by one, we will come to the front of the sanctuary, make our promise aloud, then with a splash of  holy water and words of assurance, hear God’s embrace of us again.

Start 2018 off with God at the center of your life. Come and worship and renew your promise to God.

The Best Way to Keep Christ in Christmas

From the pastor…

It seems an irony to me that all of America goes gaga over Christmas, but  Christians, who have an understandable sense of ownership over the holiday, seem only to grumble that the big deal isn’t doing justice to the holiday. When I was a youth leader in the 90’s I had a December event that I called the Xmas X Games, a clever play on the nickname for Christmas, I thought. The pastor called me into his office to tell me to rename the event because he had received several complaints that I was promoting taking Christ out of Christmas. Xmas would not fly in his parish. Boycotts of Walmart have sprung up over the years because the greeters are saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas and Starbucks because their holiday cups aren’t bearing the message of Christmas appropriately.

The national conversations that happen around this could be helpful. They might remind people that what we are celebrating in Christmas is Christ. I worry though it just makes us sound cranky. It even might confirm to people who don’t worship the God we know that that God is kind of cranky, too.  I can imagine non Christians saying with exasperation,  “Here, I am celebrating their holiday and they still aren’t happy.” Simply insisting that people remember that the birth of Christ is what we are celebrating doesn’t do a lot to help people understand who Jesus is, what Jesus promises, and how our lives have been changed by Jesus.

What would? Possibly inviting our friends, coworkers and family to church. Most of them likely love Christmas but are not so sure about loving the church who centers their life all year around Christ. At Messiah every week in December we are celebrating the hopefulness and promise of Jesus. See the article below about our special Advent worship, but our events throughout the week do the same thing. We are working with HEART and Church of the Redeemer to give toys away to families in Reynoldsburg, because our God, who comes to us in Jesus, is generous and calls us to be generous. Similarly, we are working with Joseph’s Coat and St. Pius X to bake and sell cookies so that Joseph’s Coat thrives in 2018. Joseph’s Coat ministry is dedicated to giving stuff away for free in response to God’s promise of grace in Jesus which is similarly freely given. Even Breakfast with Santa shares the love of Jesus at the center of Christmas in the crafts and the story from Mrs. Claus that highlight the event.

Walmart isn’t responsible for telling the story of Jesus. We are. It seems like a better plan that we do that by welcoming and inviting our neighbors to learn, love and worship God, than to be national scolds about the holiday that many who could care less about Jesus still love. Why not invite a few of those people you know to attend something at Messiah this December. It will likely bring them closer to loving God than a guy with blue vest saying Merry Christmas when he hands them a cart. Peace, Pastor Karl

Breakfast with Santa

Breakfast with Santa

Bring your children, grandchildren, neighbors or friends to Messiah on Saturday, December 2 from 9:00 until 11:00 AM. Breakfast will be served throughout the morning, Christmas crafts can be made by children, Mrs. Claus will share a story with everyone and best of all Santa in his big red chair will be here to hear your child’s wishes and give opportunity for pictures to be taken. We will have a complimentary picture too, from a professional photographer given to everyone. Come, enjoy the fun of Christmas in a child’s eyes.

From the pastor

It was my freshman year of college. I rose ridiculously early (for a college student) in order to go with a friend to the non-denominational sunrise Easter service at the Lincoln Memorial. We sat on the steps of the memorial and sang “Because He Lives” as the sun rose over the city. Climbing down the steps and making my way back to campus, I met up with a friend who was taking “Introduction to Eastern Religion” with me, and we headed off to meet our class at a Buddhist temple. Easter Sunday happened to fall on the day of an important Buddhist festival that year. We met at the temple, took our shoes off and spoke with a monk who shared with us about his faith tradition. We walked through the bazaar outside the temple, and the air was filled with celebration. Later that evening that same friend asked me to attend Catholic mass with her where we sat in a packed cathedral. I was struck with how this massive crowd of people acted as one in every form of the liturgy. Then, I went home and slept. Continue reading From the pastor

Harvest Festival

Sunday November 12, come to Messiah for the largest fundraiser this year for the HEART Food Pantry, heartfoodpantry.org.

3:30 Multiple Church Choir Festival-great fun

4:30-6:00  Great Turkey Dinner, fixings and dessert. Eat in or Carry Out, tickets for dinner can be purchased at Messiah before or on the day of dinner.  $9 for Adults and $5 children, under 5 free!

All Day Sunday, November 12, Silent Auction, Party Wagon Raffle- Unbelievable offerings in the Silent Auction, over $5000 in gift cards, trips, crafts, tickets, memorabilia and more. Do your Christmas Shopping here. Party Wagon will be a hit for your holiday parties, a wagon full of great Spirits yours for the taking.

Friendship Celebration

Catholic Lutheran Dialogue and Worship

Wednesday, October 25, Monsignor David Funk and Pastors Karl Hanf and Elizabeth Lowry, the choirs of St. Pius X and Messiah Lutheran and each church’s members will gather for a special celebration marking their great friendship that has resulted in meaningful ministry for our community. The event will be held in Messiah’s sanctuary and begin at 6:30. The three pastors will share their experiences working with the other and the hopes they have of growing even closer together in the years ahead. At 7:30 choirs from both congregations will lead a 40 minute prayer service for unity and blessing. Members from both congregations are invited to a buffet served at 5:30 at Messiah.

Good Things for the Fall

From the pastor…

As fall begins at Messiah, good things are happening.

Pastor Liz is leading a group that will help clean, paint and do minor repairs on the new house at 1180 Waggoner Road in order for ministry to begin there before the end of the year. The council approved the use of 1180 for ministry in their September meeting. They relied on the work of a wonderful task force led by member Tim Thompson. The house is dusty and bruised but it is structurally sound. By focusing on just a few rooms, we should be able to create a very large meeting space and several storage rooms quickly.  Member Andy Moore has agreed to lead a year long renovation of the house that will include landscaping around it to both beautify and keep water out of the crawl space, a walking path from the Welcome Center to the house, and a renovated bathroom. Much of the landscaping has already been improved by the hard work of Sam Hessler and Andy Moore. Please say yes when Andy calls to ask for help. The first group to use the space will be our Wednesday night Confirmation gathering and Sunday night High School gathering. We have hopes for other groups to join them at 1180 in the coming year.

We had a concerted effort this summer to pump some energy into Messiah Night. Fellowship Chair Lois Beery worked with Chef Martin West to tweak the menu so that there will be even more crowd favorites at our meal. Children’s Minister Betsy Barkalow, new to Messiah Night, worked with Children’s Choir Director Lori Hitsman to roll the VIP practice into a really cool 15 minute worship service at the start of the programming at 6:30. The school aged kids then go on to two stations one a craft and the other a bible story. Pastor Liz has will lead a year long group that will emphasize spiritual practices for a life long faith journey. Confirmation leader Jim Diehm moved Confirmation to Wednesday nights. This allows for our 6th through 8th graders to meet weekly, form stronger bonds and have greater opportunity to grow their faith. It has also brought more families to Messiah Night. Betsy, Lois and Pastor Liz have worked at reaching out to our Preschool families, inviting them with new signage that greets them in the Welcome Center, and flyers sent home. We have already had several families show up to eat with us. Pastor Liz created a mailer for our neighbors in Reynoldsburg Estates, inviting them to come and eat with us, too. To date at least one family has responded to that mailer. All of this has made for a hectic time for our chef. With increased attendance at our meal, Chef Marty is need of more volunteers. If you have anytime to share to help in the kitchen or clean up afterward on Tuesday or Wednesday, please contact me.

Nothing happens at Messiah without leaders and volunteers. I give thanks daily for your hard work in supporting the ministries that make a difference. One of our leaders is stepping down this month, Fellowship Chair Lois Beery. Lois started as a co chair with her good friend Cindy Owens. Cindy had to step down in the spring and at the time Lois promised to stay through the summer to launch Messiah Night. The nearly five years of hard work these ladies have given Messiah has made a positive difference in our life together. Personally, for me, they were wonderful and enthusiastic to work with. I look forward to the new gifts  that Lois and Cindy will be bringing to Messiah. I also pray for a new leader for our Fellowship group that is just as passionate to see us grow closer together in Christ. If you want to talk more about this, please contact me.

I love being in ministry with you.

Peace, Pastor Karl

Patriotism and Civil Protests

From the pastor…

All of the consternation in our country around football players kneeling or standing during the national anthem has caught my attention. I have had several conversations with members of our church around this issue. I have read the Facebook posts of many of you who are passionate about this issue.  The public debate has got me thinking, which is a good thing.

I like ritual, especially those that serve to draw us together. I like this patriotic ritual, all Americans standing for the National Anthem at a sporting event. It unifies us as a people, at least in that moment. We can be a united people even with different skin colors, economic classes, geographic regions, religions, and politics. Singing together the same anthem reminds all of us that what separates us should not divide us. We can be one, Americans and as one we can work for the common good of all.

My faith in Christ calls me to care deeply for those on the margins of our society, the voiceless. Thus, I respect not just the right of protest but this protest against racism led by some of the NFL players during the anthem. Racism is alive and well in America. Because there is no slavery, Jim Crow laws, deed restrictions, etc…it is easy for people that look like me to convince ourselves that racism has been fixed. The players protest reminds me that this is not so, and honestly I need the reminder.

I grieve the hyperbolic language of the debate. One commentator in defense of the protest said the National Anthem itself is a racist hymn. I am not sure what he meant by that. Racist people have surely sung it. The country that it honors surely has wrestled from it’s birth with racism. Yet, he seemed to be saying something else, that I found disconcerting. That the issue of racism was bigger than the capacity of our country to solve. His anger spoke to a  hopelessness that I reject. Other observers upset over the protest seemed equally as angry in their passion. From them, I heard that if an NFL player doesn’t want to stand for the anthem he should be fired, ejected and I even heard one say kicked out of the country. Kneeling, instead of standing, does not seem quite so offensive to me as to warrant those sorts of repercussions…or that sort of anger. Their anger seemed less about the disrespect of the ritual and more about the protesters themselves.

A civil protest is supposed to draw us into discussion as a country. The Charlottesville protests a few weeks ago that turned violent did this about racism. This protest has drawn us into a discussion, too, but the discussion seems more about patriotism than racism-the original intent of the kneeling protest to begin with. What is the right way to honor the anthem? How much divergence are we allowed as citizens? Who gets to decide this?  How do we punish/correct those who diverge past the expected norm? These seem to be the underlying questions I have heard debated this last week. Answers to these questions, I have less wisdom to share. I do wish we could debate them in public in a way that draws us together rather than breaks us apart. Afterall, isn’t that the point of standing for the anthem in the first place?

Peace, Pastor Karl