FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR – MAY 2018

This month I will focus on the third fruit of the Spirit, peace. The word for peace is found hundreds of places in the Bible, and I have listed a few of them here:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”(John 14:27)

“Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace, in peace because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

“A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:8)

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’”(John 20:19-21)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

“He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still !’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.” (Mark 4:39)

“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” (Luke 2:14)

“Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.” (Luke 10:5-6)

“I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33)

“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1)

“To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)

“For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)

“Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual edification.” (Romans 14:19)

“For God is a God not of disorder but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:33)

“For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” (Ephesians 2:14)

“He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, so that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near;” (Ephesians 2:15-17)

“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

“As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6:15)

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)

“I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O LORD, make me lie down in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)

“May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!” (Psalm 29:11)

Living in God’s amazing grace,

Pastor Matthew Groenke

FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR – APRIL 2018

The next fruit of the Holy Spirit that I am going to discuss is joy. This is the second fruit in the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit that the apostle Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23. There are many references to joy in the Bible. Here are a few of them:

“The joy of the LORD is your strength.”(Nehemiah 8:10b)

“For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”(Psalm 30:5)

“Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.”(Psalm 43:4)

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.”(Psalm 126:2)

“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come into his presence with singing.”(Psalm 100:1-2)

“The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the body.”(Proverbs 15:30)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”(Romans 15:13)

“Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”(1 Peter 1:8-9)

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”(Philippians 4:4)

“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”(Psalm 118:24)

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”(Psalm 90:14)

“Then my soul shall rejoice in the LORD, exulting in his deliverance.”(Psalm 35:9)

“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it.”(Psalm 96:11)

As you can see in these verses from Scripture, joy is an amazing gift of God and fruit of the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God!

Living in God’s amazing grace,

Pastor Matthew Groenke

FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR MARCH 2018

“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. There is no law against these things.”(Galatians 5:22-23)

Beginning in March, I will write about one of the fruits of the Spirit as listed by the apostle Paul. The first one on the list is love. Thank you Paul, for beginning your list with love. If you would take a quick glance at the frequency of times love is discussed and written about in the Bible, you could fill much more space than one newsletter article. There are many references to love, love for God, love for others, and love of God. The Bible, the written Word of God, is often called God’s love story with the world that God has made and the people whom God loves. I have compiled a list of a few of my favorite Bible verses concerning love, and I invite you to open up your Bible and discover more words about love.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.”(Deuteronomy 6:4-6)

“Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commands hang all the law and the prophets.”(Matthew 22:37-38)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”(John 3:16-17)

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.”(1 John 4:7-12)

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”(1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”(John 15:9-17)

“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”(Colossians 3:14)

“But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”(Romans 5:8)

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John 13:34-35)

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”(Ephesians 5:1-2)

“But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”(Psalm 13:5-6)

“I will sing of your steadfast love, O LORD, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.”(Psalm 89:1)

“Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.”(1 Peter 4:8)

“We love because he first loved us.”(1 John 4:19)

Living in God’s amazing grace,
Pastor Matthew Groenke

FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR FEBRUARY 2018

On behalf of my family, I would like to thank the people of Christ the King for the generous Christmas bonus. Also, the countless prayers that have been offered to God on behalf of my father are examples of this faith community taking to heart the call to bear each other’s burdens. My heart is full of gratitude and thankfulness as such compassion and grace have been shown by so many. One of the gifts that we can give each other in the body of Christ is to hold each other in prayer, and God rejoices when the call to prayer is answered because our relationship with God is strengthened, which leads to acts of love for the world.

Yes, the season of Lent is fast approaching. Ash Wednesday is on February 14th this year, so mark your calendars for the Lenten Wednesday schedule of 6:00 PM soup & sandwich suppers, and 7:00 PM worship with Holden Evening Prayer. This year, my Lenten Wednesday homily series will focus on things that God in Christ calls us to give up such as: expectations, superiority, enemies, our lives, and popularity. I look forward to our time together in worship, and food and fellowship.

In closing, I would like to share one of Martin Luther’s prayers. “Dear Father in heaven, for the sake of your dear Son Jesus Christ grant us your Holy Spirit, that we may be true learners of Christ, and therefore acquire a heart with a never-ceasing fountain of love. Amen.”

Living in God’s amazing grace,

Pastor Matthew Groenke

FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR – OCTOBER 2017

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”(John 3:16 -17)

Martin Luther referred to John 3:16 as the Gospel in miniature, encompassing the primary theme and purpose of the Gospel. In the face of hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, monsoons, floods, tornadoes, famine, war, and other events I need to also hear John 3:17 loud and clear. God does not just love people, but the world, the cosmos, everything is included in God’s redeeming and reconciling work in Jesus Christ. As your pastor, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, know that whatever trials and tribulations come our way, God is present and active in the midst of our pain and suffering.

There are many events at CtK in October that I want to highlight:

October 1st at 2 pm is the Blessing of the Animals service.
October 7th and 8th is our Consecration Weekend with the theme of All Good Gifts.
October 14th and 15th is Bread for the World Weekend.
October 28th at 6:30 is the Beer, Brats, and Marty Bingo fellowship event and fundraiser for the National Youth Gathering team.
October 29th is Reformation Sunday.  As it is the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we will watch a Rick Steves DVD on Luther and the Reformation in the sanctuary from 9:45 – 10:45 am.

I hope that you have found the various articles from Living Lutheran discussing aspects of the Reformation helpful and edifying for your faith.

Living in God’s amazing grace,

Pastor Matthew Groenke

FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR – OCTOBER 2016

“God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.”
(2 Corinthians 9:8)

I love this verse from the apostle Paul, but not for the reason you might think. Abundance and scarcity are constantly waging a war in our culture, vying for our allegiance and support. Abundance thinking would have you believe that all things come from God and that the constant need to consume and acquire and accumulate are not the be-all end-all that they present themselves as. Scarcity thinking always sees the glass as half full, defining one’s life by what one still does not have or possess, as if these things alone define who we are. Abundance thinking sees the glass as always overflowing with God’s gifts of love, mercy, and life, not just half full.

This past Sunday a group of us packed personal care kits for Lutheran World Relief, intended for those in God’s world who are in dire need of a sign that they have not been forgotten or abandoned in the face of terrible loss. The shadow of the cross reaches all people or no one, as the light from the empty tomb on Easter shines everywhere God claims and on everyone God loves. Amidst the divisiveness and brokenness of our lives, God calls us to become disciples of Jesus, carrying our cross and following Jesus wherever that may take us. God’s love for us knows no limits, and God’s mercy knows no bounds.

During all of the upcoming events in October I would like all of us to remember how much God has done for us, how much God is doing for us right now, and how much God will do for us in the future. Love another in Christ’s name. Be the change that God wants to see. Respond to the gift of faith in your heart by trusting that God has everything, I mean everything, in God’s hands. Because that is true, our hands are needed, our lives are needed, to share abundantly in every good work.

Living in God’s amazing grace,

Pastor Matthew Groenke

October Events
October 2nd – Blessing of the Animals at 2 PM.
October 5th – Weekly study of Gospel of Mark at 7 PM.
October 8th and 9th – Rite of Healing during all three worship services
October 15th and 16th – Bread for the World and World Food Day emphasis in all three worship services.
October 22nd and 23rd – Annual stewardship response opportunity in all three worship services
October 30th – German meal to kick off the year-long celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at 12:30 PM.

FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR – JUNE 2016

Greetings in the name of our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I love writing those words, filled with meaning and hope. This article is being written during the week between the celebration of Pentecost and Holy Trinity Sunday, a time, at least for this pastor, that is full of energy and vibrancy from our gift of the Holy Spirit given on Pentecost and many ministry and mission opportunities that beckon to a Sunday focused on a doctrine. It’s not exactly my idea of a celebration, but the Holy Trinity is our best effort in the church to explain, quantify, and define a God who is unknowable, indefinable, infinite, eternal, and incomprehensible. We confess through our creeds how God is a God of relationship, dynamic and life-giving. When I think of the Trinity, the need to combat various heresies in the early church comes to mind as different voices in the church came together to debate and struggle with a definition of faith. (As an aside, every time our beloved Cleveland Cavaliers make a three–point basket you can remember the Trinity as well!)

I would like to share a portion of the prayer of St. Patrick, which according to tradition was on his breastplate as he shared the Good News of Jesus Christ in Ireland.

“I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.
I arise today through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism, through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial, through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension, through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today, through God’s strength to pilot me, God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s shield to protect me.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.”

Living in God’s amazing grace,

Pastor Matthew Groenke

FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR APRIL 2016

The month of April is finally here, with the signs and smells of spring in the air. The start of the baseball season was always tangible proof that the frosty and icy grip that winter held over Ohio was beginning to wane. Although I can recall cheering on the Indians on opening day and having to wear layers of clothing and a winter coat. The phrase, “Stay five minutes and the weather will change,” could definitely have originated in Ohio. April was always the month that I looked forward to because of The Masters, which is the first Major golf championship tournament held every year over the second weekend in April. Watching the beautiful trees and flowers in Georgia was a welcome sight considering I usually had not been able to golf yet. My father and I would be sure to block out our Sunday afternoon during the last round of the Masters to see who would win the coveted green jacket. Truth be told I would rather play golf than watch golf, but watching these amazing golfers challenge themselves and each other was always must-see TV. However, CBS was only allowed in those days to show the back nine, or the last nine holes of the golf course. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I even knew what the first nine holes looked like! The public was always told that as a private golf club and course, it was their belief that the last nine holes were the best and most beautiful so only those holes were worthy enough to be shown on TV. It felt as if I was only able to see half of a work of art, or listen to a portion of a musical composition, or heaven forbid, eat only half of my favorite dessert! Today one can follow along with the players on every hole, watch particular groups of golfers, or watch one particular hole played by every golfer in the field.

This led me to some observations concerning faith. I have no personal empirical evidence of the resurrection of Jesus, yet by this event happening the world was redeemed, restored, and saved. As the scores were posted by the golfers during their play on the front nine, I could not prove that they were accurate, but I still had to trust that others had observed and could verify their scores. Without the passing down of the witness of the resurrection throughout the generations combined with the written testimony and witness of the Bible passed down as a gift from the community of believers called the church, trust in the seemingly absurd and impossible resurrection would be pointless. “Faith comes from what is heard,” and the phrase “we walk by faith and not by sight come to  mind.” Along with the famous verse from Hebrews which states “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” When I compare my viewing experience of the Masters with only the back nine, or the whole eighteen holes available, I enjoy watching all of the holes because it gives a richer narrative and picture of the tournament as a whole. Only God is able to perceive everything, yet the glimpses and signs that we see in scripture, in the life , death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and in our lives today which point to the new reality of becoming a new creation in Jesus Christ compel us through the Holy Spirit to participate in God’s mission and ministry in the world. Share the Gospel, love our God, love your neighbor, forgive one another, live out the gift of faith that God so graciously has given you.

Living in God’s amazing grace,

Pastor Matthew Groenke

FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR MARCH 2016

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”
(Luke 24:5b)

This event, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, has changed everything and also is still changing everything through the work of the Holy Spirit. Before arriving at the celebration of the resurrection, which we celebrate every Sunday that we gather for worship, there are many opportunities to prepare our hearts and minds. Every liturgical year, Christ the King gathers for an intensive or crash course in Christian identity and life. On Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, worship will include liturgies that use hearing, singing, eating, and praying, forming us again into the people who announce to the world that the cross and resurrection are connected. As Tony Campolo famously once said, “It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming!” We gather together during these holy days to acknowledge our shared need for forgiveness, for life, for “re-formation” in the faith that God daily gifts us with. The readings, hymns, liturgies, and prayers may sound familiar, but never lose sight of the fact that you and I are different people than we were. God is shaping us, molding us, and transforming us every day in a myriad of ways including worship.

Here is a brief review of what is to come during this year’s Holy Week:
March 20th – Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday worship at 8:30 and 11:00 including a procession of palm branches and a dramatic reading of the Passion, and Intergenerational Sunday School at 9:45 with a surprise for the youth.
March 24th – Maundy Thursday worship at 7 with First Communion and stripping of the altar.
March 25th  – Good Friday worship at noon on the square in Twinsburg for the Stations of the Cross.
March 25th – Good Friday worship at 7 pm.
March 26th – Easter Vigil at 8 pm.
March 27th – Easter Sunday worship at 8:30 and 11:00.

This prayer is one of the options for Easter Sunday;
“God of mercy, we no longer look for Jesus among the dead, for he is alive and has become the Lord of life. Increase in our minds and hearts the risen life we share with Christ, and help us to grow as your people toward the fullness of eternal life with you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”

Living in God’s amazing grace,

Pastor Matthew Groenke

FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR – NOVEMBER 2015

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.”(Colossians 3:15)

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”(Colossians 2:6-7)

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”(Psalm 100:4-5)

Historically, November has been a time to give thanks to God for the many blessings bestowed upon us. The verses above are a sampling of the importance of taking the time to be thankful, to be grateful for all that God has done. SO much of our energy and time is spent on the pursuit of what God alone can provide. There are 69 references from the Bible which illustrate the need to cultivate this attitude of thankfulness and gratitude.

Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is  only possible through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, and one of the consequences of being given the gift of faith is that faith drives you to trust in the promises of God. Trusting in your relationship with Jesus Christ amidst a part of the body of Christ that is the fellowship of believers called Christ the King Lutheran Church compels you to fully live in to the promise that God is real and does exist, and that God will provide everything you need. Therefore, I will give thanks for what has been, look forward to what will be, and fully live in the present.

Thanksgiving is not just a national holiday in November; it is a state of mind, an attitude of gratitude that we can cultivate and celebrate every day. During the month of November, I would like to challenge all of us to keep a list of things that we are thankful for. Through the activity of listing and reflection, prayer and contemplation, we will grow in our ability to give thanks to our God.

Living in God’s amazing grace,

Pastor Matthew Groenke