FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR SEPTEMBER 2019

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

“Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.” – Proverbs 22:6

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.” – 2 Peter 3:18

These are some of the verses that have been swirling around in my head during this week. I am writing this article in the middle of August, when so many are sharing pictures of children going to school. I am particularly fond of those collections of pictures which show the changes from one year to the next. Similar to so many others, my family is preparing for a new school year. This year is different, as Adam is embarking on his first year of college. So many clichés come to mind, such as “time flies,” or “where did the time go?” The life of faith is full of moments, some bigger or smaller than others, but always lived out amidst the presence of the Holy Spirit. Preparing for a change is important, but so much of living in this world is in those in-between moments, not really waiting for something to happen but dealing with the expectations and realities that life throws our way.

During these past few months I have often been asked, “Are you ready for Adam to go to college?” Transitions and changes are part of life whether we are ready for them or not. There are even times when our inability to accept these changes hinders our growth or understanding. Sometimes there are seemingly so many beginnings and endings that you wish God would slow down a little, yet the mystery and wonder of God remains. Giving thanks for what has been and looking forward to what will be is possible in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Christ we live, and move, and have our being. I am ready for my son to go to college, and I am going to lean on God in Christ to live into that new reality in my life.

There are articles in this month’s newsletter highlighting the actions of the recent ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee. [See page 10.] Also included are articles from our Presiding Bishop Eaton [See page 12.] and our Synod Bishop Abraham Allende [See page 11.] concerning the vote towards becoming a “sanctuary” denomination. If you have any questions concerning any of the actions taken at the Assembly feel free to talk to me anytime.

Living in God’s amazing grace,

Pastor Matthew Groenke

FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR APRIL 2019

I am writing this article exactly one month before Easter Sunday. Even though the calendar shows Easter coming later than usual, it arrives all the same. Since the earliest days of the Christian community, the primary day to assemble for worship had been Sunday. This is due to the fact that every Sunday morning is to be a celebration and remembrance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So Easter does come in one month, and it also comes every week when we gather in word and sacrament. There are many Sundays when I pronounce in the preface to the Eucharistic prayer concerning Jesus Christ, “who on this day overcame death and the grave, and by his glorious resurrection opened to us the way of everlasting life.”

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again” then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.” (Luke 24:1-12)

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has changed everything! Sin, death, and the devil no longer have the last word, for God does. This Word of God and from God is life. In the words of Wendell Berry, may we practice resurrection in our words and deeds, trusting that in Christ we are already a new creation eagerly awaiting the consummation of all things when Christ returns.

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Living in God’s amazing grace,

Pastor Matthew Groenke

FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR MARCH 2019

One of the most important ways that our relationship with God grows and thrives is through time  spent with God. A way that has proved fruitful and beneficial in my own journey has been to read scripture in what is known as Lectio Divina. This is a method of reading scripture which encompasses four parts: reading, meditating, praying, and contemplation. This is a way of slowly digesting God’s written word by focusing on a specific verse and spending time seeking a deeper connection with God.

Before beginning Lectio Divina I have been aided by centering myself on stillness and peace in the use of scripture verses such as “Be still and know that I am God.” Then, begin by reading the verse you have selected out loud. Take a few moments to reflect on this, and then read the verse again aloud but this time put the emphasis on a different word. Repeat this process two more times, and often one can see a new understanding in the selected verse that otherwise would have proved difficult to see.

Lectio Divina is an ancient form of divine reading that allows one to be immersed in reflective listening to God in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. In my experience with Lectio Divina, new insight and understanding were given in unexpected ways. Words in favorite verses took on whole new meanings, and words that already had a certain amount of clarity in my life were given more clarity. Beware, however, of the possibility of the Holy Spirit challenging your assumptions because a deeper and slower reflection on and in the Word of God will invariably change and transform you because that is what the Holy Spirit does. Blessings on your time with God.

Living in God’s amazing grace,

Pastor Matthew Groenke

FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR FEBRUARY 2019

One of the ways that we can grow closer to God is through prayer. An opportunity to do this can come whenever we embark on what is called a prayer walk. By doing this activity we can combine a time of physical activity with the added bonus of talking with God. In the observation of our surroundings, whether indoors or outdoors, an individual can more fully engage themselves in their surroundings and see how God is at work and present in their communities. Connecting ourselves to the actual physical spaces where we live and work can aid in the connections of faith to everyday life. In the listening and intentional focusing of a prayer walk, we can more clearly see how God is at work around us.

During the month of February, the task of taking a prayer walk can help you grow in your relationship with God. If inclement weather is a concern, taking an indoor walk at a rec center or mall can also work. As you walk, think of a short Bible verse, a favorite saying, or a verse of a favorite song to center your walk. Here are some suggestions as you walk:
                Pray with an open heart
                Pray with Scripture
                Talk to God about what you see around you
                Be silent, and listen for the still small voice of the Holy Spirit

Happy Walking!

Living in God’s amazing grace,

Pastor Matthew Groenke

FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR NOVEMBER 2018

The next fruit of the Spirit that I am going to discuss is gentleness. This fruit is the eighth of nine fruits that the Holy Spirit offers to us (Galatians 5:22-23). The word gentleness (or gentle) is found in many places in scripture with these verses being a few instances:
Esther 15:8 – “Then God changed the spirit of the king to gentleness, and in alarm he sprang from his throne and took her in his arms until she came to herself.”
1 Corinthians 4:21 – “What would you prefer? Am I come to you with a stick, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?”
2 Corinthians 10:1 – “I myself, Paul, appeal to you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ – I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold towards you when I am away!”
Galatians 6:1 – “My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted.”
Ephesians 4:2 – “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,”
Philippians 4:5 – “Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.”
1 Timothy 6:11 – “But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.”
2 Timothy 2:24-25 – “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness.”
James 3:13 – “Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.”
1 Peter 3:15-16 – “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”
Matthew 11:29 – “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
1 Thessalonians 2:7 – “But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children.”
James 3:17 – “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.”

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As we head into November, I want to highlight a few worship themes and events:
November 3rd and 4th – All Saints Sunday with the lighting of candles for those who have died. Don’t forget to turn your clocks back an hour!
November 11th – Receiving of new members at the 9:30 worship service with reception to follow before Sunday School. We will also give thanks for those who are worshipping at CtK and have become engaged in our Ministries but have not joined.
November 18th – Annual budget meeting at 10:45 in the sanctuary. Please attend as we have the election of officers and ministry leaders to conduct along with the passing of a budget. The proposed budget for 2019 is a reflection of our mission and ministry goals.
November 24th and 25th – Christ the King weekend. Wear your CtK apparel.

Living in God’s amazing grace,

Pastor Matthew Groenke

FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR OCTOBER 2018

The next fruit of the Spirit that I am going to discuss is faithfulness. This fruit is the seventh of nine fruits that the Holy Spirit offers to us. The word faithfulness is found in many places in scripture with these below being a few examples:
Genesis 24:27 – “Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness towards my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the way to the house of my master’s kin.”
Exodus 34:6 – “The LORD passed before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
Joshua 24:14 – “Now therefore revere the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and Egypt, and serve the LORD.”
1 Samuel 26:23 – “The LORD rewards everyone for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the LORD gave you into my hand today, but I would not raise my hand against the LORD’s anointed.”
1 Kings 3:6 – “And Solomon said, ‘You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart towards you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today.”
Psalm 25:10 – “All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.”
Psalm 26:3 – “For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to you.”
Psalm 33:4 – “For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.”
Psalm 36:5 – “Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”
Psalm 40:11 “Do not, O LORD withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe for ever.”
Psalm 85:10 – “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.”
Psalm 86:15 – “But you, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
Psalm 89:14 – “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.”
Psalm 91:4 – “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”
Psalm 100:5 – “For  the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
Psalm 117:2 – “For great is his steadfast love towards us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!”
Psalm 119:90 – “Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.”
Psalm 143:1 – “Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness; answer me in your righteousness.”
Proverbs 20:28 – “Loyalty and faithfulness preserve the king, and his throne is upheld by righteousness.”
Isaiah 16:5 – “Then a throne shall be established in steadfast love in the tent of David, and on it shall sit in faithfulness a ruler who seeks justice and is swift to do what is right.”
Isaiah 65:16 – “Then whoever invokes a blessing in the land shall bless by the God of faithfulness, and whoever takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of faithfulness; because the former troubles are forgotten and are hidden from my sight.”
Jeremiah 32:41 – “I will rejoice in doing good to them, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.”
Zechariah 8:8 – “And I will bring them to live in Jerusalem. They shall be my people and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.”
Hosea 4:1 – “Hear the word of the LORD, O people of Israel; for the LORD has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land.”
Micah 7:20 – “You will show faithfulness to Jacob, and unswerving loyalty to Abraham, as you have sworn to our ancestors from the days of old.”
Before the calendar flips to October, I want to highlight a few worship themes and activities:
October 6th and 7th – Healing Service during worship along with the passing out of pledge cards.
October 7th – Blessing of the Pets at 2 PM
October 13th and 14th – Consecration Weekend with our theme verse of Psalm 51:12 – “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a generous spirit.”
October 20th and 21st – Bread for the World Weekend
October 27th and 28th – Reformation Weekend. Wear your red.

Living in God’s amazing grace,
Pastor Matthew Groenke

FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR SEPTEMBER 2018

The next fruit of the Holy Spirit that I am going to discuss is generosity. The stewardship ministry team at Christ the King has decided to use this word generosity going forward as the name of our ministry. This is to emphasize the work of the Holy Spirit and this specific fruit of the Spirit as Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:25 when he says that “If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.”

The word generosity is found in a few places in scripture:

Romans 12:8 – “The exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.”

2 Corinthians 8:2 – “For during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.”

2 Corinthians 9:11 – “You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us.”

2 Corinthians 9:13 – “Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others,”

The word generous is found more frequently in scripture as here are a few examples:

Exodus 35:5 – “Take from among you an offering to the LORD; let whoever is of a generous heart bring the LORD’s offering: gold, silver, and bronze;”

Psalm 51:12 – “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a generous spirit.”

Psalm 112:5 – “It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their affairs with justice.”

Proverbs 11:25 – “A generous person will be enriched, and one who gives water will get water.”

Proverbs 19:6 – “Many seek the favor of the generous, and everyone is a friend to a giver of gifts.”

Proverbs 22:9 – “Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.”

Matthew 20:15 – “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

Acts 2:46 – “Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts.”

Acts 10:2 – “He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God.”

Romans 10:12 – “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.”

Living in God’s amazing grace,

Pastor Matthew Groenke

FROM THE SENIOR PASTOR – JUNE 2018

This month I am going to write about the fourth fruit of the Holy Spirit in Paul’s list, which is patience. One of the most famous sayings about patience is that “patience is a virtue.” There are many references to patience in the Bible and I have selected a few of these that describe this particular fruit of the Holy Spirit:
So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” (Matthew 18:26)
Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.”(Matthew 18:29)
“But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.”(Luke 8:15)
“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”(Romans 8:25)
“The sign of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, signs and wonders and mighty works.”(2 Corinthians 12:12)
“May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience.”(Colossians 1:11)
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.”(Romans 12:12)
“And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them.”(1 Thessalonians 5:14)
“But as for you, child of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.”(1 Timothy 6:11)
“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.”(Psalm 40:1)
“And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces patience, and patience produces character, and character produces hope.”(Romans 5:3-4)
“By your patience you will gain your souls.”(Luke 21:19)
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by patience and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of patience and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus.”(Romans 15:4-5)
We give thanks for the gift of patience, a fruit of the Holy Spirit vital to the living out of our faith.
Living in God’s amazing grace,

Pastor Matthew Groenke

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