New Member Class June 17th, 2012!

Pastor Barb will offer a new member class on Sunday, June 17th at10:00a.m. in the library in Zion Fellowship Hall for all those who are interested in becoming a member of Zion. If God has been speaking to your heart, and you have been thinking about joining Zion, please talk with Pastor Barb or attend the New Member Class. New members will be welcomed during worship in July.

Love offerings

There was a knock on my door, so faint I nearly missed it. I opened it to find my five-year-old neighbor, looking up at me. “I picked this for you!” she said with a smile, as she handed me an azalea flower from my own bush. Inside the blossom she had stuck a bud from one of my husband’s pansy plants. “It’s lovely!” I exclaimed. “I have never seen anything like it!” “Nope!” she beamed. “It’s one of a kind!” Then, she skipped down the steps, happily moving on to her next adventure. I put her creative offering in a little bud vase, where it lasted for two days – a
welcome reminder that I am loved. In my closet, I have a tub full of such offerings; a leaf pressed between sheets of waxed paper, construction paper hearts, a turtle carved from a bar of soap. When I take them out and look at them, I can still see the tiny hands that created it, still feel the little arms hugging my neck, still see the bright faces with the proud smiles as they offered up their treasures. Is there anything better than being the recipient of a child’s love? It doesn’t matter how imperfect the gift. In fact, the more lopsided and rickety it is, the more endearing it becomes! The gifts grow with the child and too soon, the spindly, homemade ones turn into the store bought kind and the tub is put away for the days when you need a warm memory. Does God have a storehouse in heaven for the treasures he has stored up from us – imperfect creations we have handed him, plucked from his own bush? Does God sit on his great throne in heaven and carefully lift up some small offering we have made and remember the day it was given? Can God see how we have matured in our faith journey by the quality of our gifts? I believe so. Patience, kindness, goodness, love, joy, peace, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – the gifts of the Spirit – these are the things we offer to our God when we come knocking on heaven’s door. And, like any loving parent, I believe God receives our love offerings with great tenderness, and those that are imperfect become perfect in his eyes, simply because God loves us.

Book Of The Month Club Meets March 27th!

At Home in Mitchford
At Home in Mitchford

Are you an avid reader? Do you love nothing better than to curl up with a good book? Then the Book of the Month Club is looking for you! We are currently reading At Home in Mitford, by Jan Karon.You can purchase the book or check it out at the library. Our next meeting is March 27th at 7:00 p.m. in ZFH. Bring a favorite book to share with the group! We have started lending them to each other!

1st Communion

Pastor Barb is offering instruction to prepare young children to receive their 1st Communion on Maundy Thursday, April 5th, 2012 at the evening worship service. The instruction is an hour long, and covers the basic Lutheran understanding of communion and teaches the children how we commune at Zion. Please let Pastor Barb know if you want your child to receive instruction prior to Holy Week.

The Body of Christ – A Weekly Lenten Series

This Lenten season, the three area ELCA churches are working together to offer a series of messages called The Body of Christ. Each week, the pastors will rotate churches to bring us a message exploring the humanity of Christ. Our services begin in the sanctuary at 5:30 p.m. followed by a meal that will be provided in the Fellowship Hall . You don’t have to bring a thing except yourself, and (if you feel so moved) a donation for Relay for Life. The schedule is as follows:
Sunday, March 4: The Hands of Christ Pastor John Barichivich -Jerusalem
Sunday, March 11: The Heart of Christ Pastor Patrick Finley – St. John’s
Sunday, March 18: The Ears of Christ Pastor David Hendrix – Jerusalem
Sunday, March 25: The Feet of Christ Pastor Barb Koch, Zion
This promises to be a thought-provoking, prayerful series, with good fellowship to follow. We know you won’t want to miss even one!

Tall Tales and a Bit o’ Truth

I’m thinking about the Wee Folk today. My Irish roots tend to take over in March and make me dream in shades of green; of Little People guarding pots of gold at the end of the rainbow, and of silkies basking in a Spring sun so warm it makes them shed their skins. Do you know the legend of the silkie? “Superstition!” most would say. “Tall tales told at bedtime to help small children get to sleep!” Well, I like a tall tale as well as the next person, and there is something about the silkie’s story that intrigues me.

Imagine for a minute… a sable-colored seal slides out of the sea to lie among the rocks. As you watch, you are astounded to see her slip out of her skin, revealing a beautiful maiden, long, dark, hair gleaming in the sun. It is said among the sea folk that a man who captures the skin of a silkie, captures her heart, as well. But, the sea does not leave her. A man may take a silkie for his wife, but no matter the bonds of love betweenthem, no matter the love she may have for their children, should she find her skin, she is gone in the blink of an eye, back to her first love – the sea.

What fascinates me about this tale is the memory of the silkie. Though she has everything she needs to be content – husband and children and hearth and home – the silkie never forgets where she came from. She never ceases searching for her lost skin, and is always turning her sad eyes to the sea, longing to return to her true home under the waves.

I understand that longing, that sense of something missing, the ceaseless searching for that home buried deep within the memory. Like the silkie, I have everything I need to be content, and, most days, I am. Yet, there are days, like today, when the sun beams on me so warmly that I want to run down to the sea and shed this skinbag in which I live! My eyes search the heavens, and I long for my true home above the clouds. One day, I, too, will be gone in the blink of an eye to live with God – my first love. So, for me, the tale of the silkie isn’t so tall after all! Because, like my sainted grandmother used to say, if you look for it, you can find a bit o’ truth in almost everything!

May your Spring be green! Pastor Barb <><

For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven.
2 Corinthians 5:2

Time To Slow Down

My mother had a plaque in her kitchen that read, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” I didn’t understand it as a child. Back then, my days stretched out before me like US 80 across Nebraska – flat, unwavering, and with no end in sight. There was time. Always, there was time to do the things I wanted to do. And if I ran out of day before I was through, well, no matter. There was always tomorrow. Today, I understand the meaning of that plaque all too well. My days seem to have gotten shorter. I hit the floor running in the morning, and sometimes, I don’t stop till I fall into bed at night, exhausted from trying to finish everything on my “To Do” list. But, the hurrier I go, the behinder I get. The busier I get, the more things seem to pile up, and running through the back of my mind is the reality that I may not have tomorrow.

I am not alone in this. I greet a friend. “Hi! How are you?” I ask.. “Oh, busy… busy.” he replies. So many people are so busy! It’s like someone pushed the fast forward button on the world and walked away and left it! Technology is advancing so fast that new devices are obsolete practically before they hit the market! New ideas are buzzing around like gnats, and for the average person, can be just as irritating. They are hard to see and harder to get a hold of! These are exciting times, and yet, most of us just need a little time to catch up! To stop the frantic pace long enough to catch our breath. To just slow down.

Lent is the time when we reach out and push the “Stop” button. It is the time in the Church year when we take time to make time – time to be alone with our thoughts and with our God. Time to sit, and think and rest. And, this year, it’s a Leap Year! This February, you get one, whole extra day – 24 whole hours – to let the dust settle around you, and let the earth catch up with itself. It’s not easy to get off the merry-go-round and quit spinning for a while. That is why we call the extra time you spend with God in prayer and worship and fellowship the Lenten Disciplines. But, it is time well spent. When you take the time to renew and refresh your spirit, the busy-ness becomes more manageable, and your “To Do” list less demanding. So, give yourself a break! Promise yourself that you will make the time to spend this Lent with God. Set aside the five Sundays in Lent to worship and share a meal with your fellow pilgrims at Zion. You know your soul is desperate for it!

Inviting you to take a slow ride this Lent…Pastor Barb <><

Stop and consider the wondrous works of God. Job 6:3

Book Of The Month Club Begins This Month!

At Home in Mitchford
At Home in Mitchford

Are you an avid reader? Do you love nothing better than to curl up with a good book? Then the Book of the Month Club is looking for you! At the beginning of each month, we will read a best selling novel that the group chooses, then gather at the end of the month to discuss the book we have read and talk about how the themes may impact our lives. We will begin by reading the first book in The Mitford Series, At Home in Mitford, by Jan Karon. You can purchase the book or check it out at the library. Our first meeting will be in the library in ZFH, February 16th at 7:00 p.m.. We will decide where our next meeting will be from there. Come on out and share your love of books with others who love them, too!

A New Day Dawning

It was 6 a.m. The sun was loudly announcing the coming of a new day in riotous colors – magenta and orange and gold. Father Time, an old man, white – bearded and gnarled as an old oak tree, had tossed the hat to the Baby New Year, and 2012 was ushered in! I stood on the porch, awe-struck, and watched the first sunrise of the new year arrive, blinking and yawning and waving its fists like a new born infant; fraught with possibility. A whole, new year was ahead of me! Why, anything could happen!

A baby does that to you, doesn’t it? A brand new baby fills you with wonder, and hopes and dreams! You grasp tiny hands, marvel at the smallness of fingernails; take off miniscule socks to count tiny toes. And, when you look into those eyes, you get the feeling that you are looking into an old soul, too wise for this world, and suddenly, nothing seems impossible anymore. You dare to imagine all sorts of things and begin to plan how to put those dreams in motion. No wonder they chose a baby as the symbol of the New Year! A baby changes everything!

Perhaps that is why, when God came down to be one of us, he came down as a baby. Perhaps God wanted to experience everything it meant to be human. To experience how it felt to be helpless, totally dependent on others for food, for warmth, for affection, for life itself – and yet, still have the power to bring kings to their knees.

Three kings, Wise Men from the East, journeyed far to find a baby – the king of the Jews. Strangers to the faith, they didn’t know they were searching for God until they found him. But, when they did, they were filled with wonder! They looked into those eyes – the eyes of an old soul – and knew immediately that this was the baby they were looking for. They dropped to their knees and worshipped him – the One they had never known.

An epiphany! A revelation! The Christ child was revealed to strangers! And from that day on, we who were once strangers were brought into the fold! Grafted onto the vine and adopted as children of God, we celebrate the New Year with an eye to January 6th – the day of the Epiphany of our Lord, when Jesus was revealed to be the Lord of all, not just a special few. And, one day, everyone will know him.

As the sun topped the trees, beams of golden light spread out like a fan across the morning sky. The stars disappeared from view, all except that bright, morning star – always the last to fade. I imagined that it rivaled the star that led the Wise Men to the baby Jesus; Jesus – the Bright Morning Star… and I realized with a jolt that I would follow that Star anywhere!

May 2012 be a year full of joyous epiphanies for you, as you seek the God who allows himself to be found. Looking forward to journeying with you!

Happy New Year!

Pastor Barb <><

Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! Philippians 2:10-11

The Miracle on Your Street

We pushed ourselves away from the table, groaning with pleasure and patting our bellies – another Thanksgiving dinner resting snuggly under our belts. We stood with difficulty, and ambled on out to the living room to enjoy another family tradition – watching the original version of The Miracle on 34 th Street. We love to watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in black and white and are delighted every year when eight year old Susan discovers that her friend, Kris Kringle, who she at first thinks is just a nice old man with whiskers, really is Santa Clause! By the end of the movie, she has come to believe.

One of the most poignant scenes in the movie is when the children line up at Macy’s to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they want for Christmas. Susan watches with growing amazement as Kris, the store Santa, seems to know what each child wants before they ask him! Then, a little orphan girl from Holland steps up. She looks sadly at her feet as her adoptive mother explains that she won’t be able to tell Santa what she wants for Christmas, because he doesn’t speak her language. But, Kris breaks in and greets the child in her native tongue. Her eyes light up, and she grins with delight! “Oh, Sinter Klaas!” she cries, as she throws herself onto Santa’s lap. Her grief and homesickness vanish for a time as they sing a familiar carol together, and talk of how Christmas is done in her own country. For just a little while, her strangeness vanishes, and she feels at home. Better than the gift she hoped to receive on Christmas morning is the gift she is given at that moment – the gift of belonging.

All of us have the basic human need to feel we belong, somewhere, to someone. That is why Christmas is both the most loved and the most difficult holiday of the year. When you are surrounded by family and friends, and have enough of all you need, it is a celebration indeed! But, when you are alone, or out of work, or ill, it can make you feel like a stranger – an outsider, standing on the sidelines, watching the party going on, with no one who speaks your language.

But, a miracle has happened on your street! Jesus knows what you need before you even ask him! He speaks to you in a language that you can understand, and makes your eyes light up! He draws you into the family of God; makes you a part of something so wonderful, you can’t help but grin from ear to ear. He gives you the gift of belonging, and heals your homesick heart. So, don’t spend Christmas looking at your feet, feeling like you don’t belong! Come! Spend your Christmas as a part of the Zion family. Let the carols lift your spirits. Let the story of Jesus’ birth become a part of your story. Believe that miracles do happen! Let one happen to you!

May the song of the angels fill your days with joy!

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Barb <><

“It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world” John 4:4