Category Archives: From the Pastor

A blog of thoughts from Pastor Karl

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,

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

From the Pastor: Sept 2017

Book bags, sharpened pencils, back-to-school shopping….it doesn’t matter that I am no longer in school; I can still conjure up all those images and feel that sense of change and “newness” in the air. September still gives me this sense every year. It’s almost like New Year’s Day with its feeling of new beginnings and starting over. It was a joy to see all of our children and teachers blessed in church at the end of August. A fabulous start to a new school year!

With the coming of the first day of school, also comes the start of many Messiah programs that have taken a break for the summer. Perhaps you too can grab hold of that sense of excitement our children carry, return to familiar fellowship and try new things, too. So sharpen your pencils and get your backpack ready, because we have some wonderful things planned!

Rally Day kicks us all off on September 10th with an 8:00am traditional and 10:00am combined worship service. We’ll follow worship with food and activities for every age. Then, I hope to see all of you at our first Messiah Night on September 13th. Betsy Barkalow, our new Children’s Minister, has put together a wonderful program for our kids, and Jim Diehm, our Confirmation Director, has moved classes to Messiah Night for our 6th-8th graders. Along with various adult education classes throughout the year led by the pastors and others, I will also be leading a new group I’m calling “FaithWalk,” an opportunity to share about a different topic each week, starting with the subject of “doubt.” So many exciting new possibilities on Wednesday nights! No one should be eating alone on that night.

Of course, there are so many other opportunities throughout the week. Want to sing? Join a choir! Want to learn to quilt? There’s a group for that! Want to dig deeper into your spiritual practice? Join the circle led by Roberta Hammond! I hope you’ll take a look through this newsletter and not only find what you’ve done before, but try something new!

There is “newness” in the air. See where God might lead you.

Pastor Liz

D.C. Mission Trip: Reflections by the Youth



This week I learned so much about people experiencing homelessness. We often see them as lazy or people who made bad decisions, but this isn’t true.

We had the opportunity to do a poverty simulation and it was so hard. We had to make tough decisions, and we learned how a minimum wage isn’t always a living wage and how high the prices are in places like D.C. Immediately my “older brother” had to drop out of college; we didn’t even think twice about it. My “twin sister” and I were 13. We couldn’t be on our own and spent all of our school time planning. Our father was in jail and we were alone. Our “baby brother” cost so much. Halfway through the simulation, my “twin sister” was expelled from school and a lot of our neighbors were evicted and had to live with us. I felt stressed and like a burden to my family. There was no time for our family to actually spend quality time together. People experiencing homelessness are often considered rude, but when you are constantly worried about just getting through the week, you have to yell at the bank worker, not pay attention in school or be late to work because you have to buy a transportation ticket you are just now able to afford, to get there.

Throughout the week after the simulation, I started thinking about people experiencing homelessness in every situation and how fortunate I am. The heat was unbearable. Sometimes it felt like 104 degrees. I can’t imagine someone living in that with no relief in sight. I learned how a fresh pair of socks could mean so much. I learned how good it felt for them to just have someone say your name rather than pass by without even looking you in the eye. I learned how I have been wrong, that if you can’t give money, you can give your time by talking to people experiencing homelessness. This mission trip will change me forever.



For my reflection I did it on what things impacted me:

One of the things was how nice and friendly the homeless people were. It was so unsettling that these people have so many problems and yet are so happy.

We did a poverty simulation and in my group of family was my mom and sister, because Dad left us with ten dollars. The simulation was so stressful and angering. We knew it wasn’t reality, but we still felt stressed.

One thing that hit me hard was the Holocaust Museum. It gave me this empty feeling and there was a different section on Syria. We talked about it that night and I said that there is so much violence and death in Syria, it’s not even news anymore and yet no one does anything.



Going to Washington, D.C. has been an amazing experience. I believe that through our workshop, simulation, and personal experiences that we as a group have grown mentally and grown in God. One of my most memorable experiences this week has been the poverty simulation. The poverty simulation really showed what people experiencing homelessness and poverty deal with every day. There are so many stereotypes describing people living without a home or dealing with poverty as lazy, mentally ill, and having poor priorities. The reality of it is so much different – many don’t make a living wage, living in a home is expensive, travel is difficult, and many don’t know the benefits that are available to them. During these situations, things can decline very quickly. After this week’s experiences, I have learned to be open-minded, and that I have many things to be grateful for in life.



During our week in D.C. I learned and experienced many things that change the way I view the world.

Handing out care packages to men experiencing homelessness made me realize the fear and discomfort I was feeling was due to stereotypes I heard growing up.

I saw God in the workers at kitchens we volunteered at. They were all so patient and kind, even though their daily work is combating such a huge issue of poverty and homelessness.

Overall, this trip leaves me with the knowledge that poverty and homelessness is an issue that everyone should want to end and work towards that common goal.



This week has caused me to feel many emotions. Empathy, hope, sadness, and disappointment are only a few of those emotions. I felt empathetic for the less fortunate and those experiencing homelessness. I felt hope when I listened to John’s and James’ stories. Sadness when I saw the Holocaust Museum and disappointment because of how everyone reacted to the Holocaust and now during the Syrian refugee crisis/war. I learned so much about poverty, homelessness, and the Holocaust.

I enjoyed everyone who came on this trip. We shared many laughs and tears. We had very great discussions and talked about numerous things. Everyone was funny, kind, and friendly.



The most important thing that I learned from this is that God will overcome and He is always with you. At the Holocaust Museum, it was crazy to think about how people being slaughtered and sent to their death knew that God was still with them. Also, when experiencing homelessness, one may feel unloved and alone, so it is important for them to always know that they are not alone. God will never forget you.



Many words or thoughts have been spoken by many, including myself, about people experiencing homelessness and poverty. Most of the time they are words that speak a story created in our own mind. Who of us would appreciate someone telling a negative story of us without ever meeting us. Words like lazy, poor priorities, mentally ill, addicts, etc. These are words spoken of people of homelessness and poverty. Through our experience, we learned the truth about this problem people experience. The top five causes are never the stories we tell. As people of God, who are called to love our neighbors. We need to seek to know people so that we can be empathetic and show God’s love.

What now? – Thoughts on the Election

Dear Messiah Family,

As predicted, following Tuesday night, half of the country is rejoicing and the other half is grieving. We have seen in this bruising election and divided vote that we are a country of hurting people. We are a congregation of hurting people.

Many who have seen their livelihoods disappear or who feel at risk are experiencing hurt and anger. Leaders have not responded to the realities they are facing and they hope the next president will. Their pain is real.

There are also those who fear that the rhetoric and promises of this election will lead to a continuation of the oppression and violence they have experienced throughout our country’s history. I have been with those this week who have shed desperate tears. People who already felt vulnerable are feeling more vulnerable today. Their pain is real.

What now for the people of God?

The answer has always been in Christ. Christ who got dirty. Christ who lived among dirty people. Christ who stood with the outcast and marginalized until he was crucified.

It’s time to get dirty. It’s time to take up our cross. It’s time to bind up wounds, live alongside hurting people and seek justice and righteousness. We are called to love, and love is dirty and costly.

Love will have us getting into the mix of things. And in the mix of things, we are called to bind up the wounds of all those in our divided country. We must bind up the wounds of rural and working class people. We must bind up the wounds of immigrants, Muslim-Americans, and sexual assault survivors. We must bind up the wounds of people of color, LGBTQ folks and people who are poor. We must bind up the wounds of one another.

But as children of God, we must not only bind up, we must confess and repent of the wounds we inflict, and once doing so, we must speak out against those who would inflict wounds on others. As people of Christ, we must be clear that we are called to repent of any prejudice or violence in our words and actions. We must be clear that we will call others to do so as well.

What now is a good question to have and so we ask it of God. While the election has ended, God’s loving work continues. As the body of Christ, we will continue to seek to know the hope of God’s call. And we will do it together.

The Prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring love;  Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

God’s Echo in the World

It was one of those beautiful days full of sunshine and I walked down the street to meet some friends for happy hour. It was a good day. A breezy, relaxed day. A day for friends.

As I walked down the sidewalk I came to a group of guys crowded together – the sort that could be described as “upstanding” looking, if we were going to use those empty kinds of descriptives – and they were laughing and having a good time. A day for friends, after all.

Wanting to move easily on my way, I quietly spoke as I came to them, “Excuse me.”

“Show us your tits and we’ll let you pass!” one of them shouted.

My shoulders tightened. I didn’t take a precious second to look to see who said it, but pushed through these laughing men surrounding me. Not stopping. Not looking. I just kept walking.

I just kept walking.

This memory came to me as I read the recently exposed words of one of our presidential candidates. Words that described harassment and assault with laughter and entitled bravado. Words of violence that were met with assured murmurs of agreement.

I’m writing because I know that I’m not the only one for whom those words will conjure up images and memories. I’m writing because I know that those words squeezed the breath from some lungs and tightened the shoulders of many – a painful reminder that in so many spaces and so many places, from streets to boardrooms, women are not safe. I’m writing because for some, they are living in those places and spaces in this very moment.

Beautiful daughter of God, you are created in the image of God – your laughter, your smile, your tenderness, your resilience, your joy, your sorrow. You move with God’s love and care on your shoulders. From the crown of your head – whether straight or curly, loc’d or buzzed – to the soles of your tired, weary feet, you are a blessing of God’s own making. You are God’s echo in the world.

You are like the women of Scripture. You are Hagar – who was cast out into the wilderness by her child’s father and whom God protected and promised to build nations from. You are Vashti – who told the most powerful leader in the land, “no” – and you are Esther – who took what little choice she had and gambled her life for others. You are the unnamed woman, outcast and alone, who took a risk, grabbed the garment of Jesus in the midst of a crowd, and was healed. You are Mary, who Christ called by name and made a first witness to God’s kingdom, before any other disciple.

You are beloved. While those words of violence are condemned or brushed aside as “locker room talk,” you may still be left with the memory of words spoken or actions done to you. I hope you know that those words and those actions are NOT okay. I hope you will know with stronger clarity and with greater conviction, that you are beloved. You are the image of the divine.

You are God’s echo in the world. An echo that drowns out all other taunts or threats or “locker room talk.” An echo that drowns out the foolish violent voices of rulers or rulers-to-be. You are God’s echo in the world. Sing.


God’s Echo in the World