The Timing is Up to God

Nathan and I love gardening. Of course, like many gardeners, we love the end results of our hard work. We like the beauty of flowers in our front yard and the satisfaction of eating vegetables we grew ourselves. But we also love the glamor-less, labor-intensive parts: the pruning and weeding, the digging and watering. It's a lovely and gratify...
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Why Did I Wait so Long? – by Richard Vaughn

Stephen Minister Richard Vaughn reflects on his Stephen Ministry experience.  To me being a Stephen Minister means being open to the needs of someone else. The training you receive is incredible, though each care receiver has very different needs and it is a learning and growing experience to connect with them. Being a Stephen minister has cha...
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Wondering about the Future of Gardening

He [Jesus] said therefore, "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches." – Lk.13.18 Now there was a garden in the place where he [Jesus] was crucified, and in the garden there was...
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God Equips the Called

a reflection by Stephen Ministry Co-Leader, Detra Swenson.  I did not choose to be a Stephen minister. God called me. I reminded him that Stephen ministry is a listening ministry and I am not a good listener. He reminded me that he does not call the qualified; he qualifies the called. And so he did—50 hours of training plus continuing educatio...
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Holy Week thoughts from Pr. Peter

Holy Week and Easter are better experienced than explained. Kathy and I always look forward to the unexpected ways the living Christ meets those who hear the Holy Week story for the first or for the 100 th time. You cannot be unaffected by it. Because of Easter, Jesus the Christ is alive and on the loose and always shows up to draw us home, give us...
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A Resurrection People

Reflections from Pastoral Intern Mary Beenken - A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of joining three former interns on a panel for our most recent Theology on Tap. The subject was 'changes in the church' and our task was to provide perspectives on how these changes were talked about and handled while we were in seminary—and whether or not that mea...
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Congregation Input and Discernment Meetings - Next Opportunity will be Wednesday, March 29, from 6:30-8:00pm

a message about upcoming opportunities for everyone to participate in the congregation's current three-month discernment process regarding steps in north Clark County from Greg Rhodes (Project Manager) and the Church Leadership Team (CLT)  Dear Members of Messiah, You've probably heard that our congregation has entered...
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About the Lutherans: Women and the Reformation

"I am prepared to lose everything, even life or limb. May God stand by me." So wrote Argula von Grumbach (1492–1563/68?) from Bavaria, who found Martin Luther's message of Christian freedom and equality empowering. This noble woman challenged an entire Catholic university in Ingolstadt in defense of Lutheran faith and a student persecuted for "Luth...
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He's not there... you can tell.

Most of us stood in the hall making small talk. Every once in awhile, someone would enter the room quietly and return a minute later. Friends of my grandmother had come to pay their respects and view her body the day before her funeral. Each of us in the family had taken a turn beside her casket. All of us, except for Jacob, our son. He was only ni...
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An Introduction to Messiah's three-month Discernment Process

A Message from the members of the Church Leadership Team (CLT)  |   (Updated (02.10.2017) with meeting dates for all members of the congregation. See below.) Dear Fellow Messiah Members,  You may already be aware that the Church Leadership Team (CLT) is entering a discernment process about whether to move toward a dedicated Mess...
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About the Lutherans – The Augsburg Confession

The Augsburg Confession, written in the midst of the Reformation tumult, is the core statement of what Lutherans believe. It was produced in 1530, thirteen years after young professor Martin Luther posted the Ninety-Five Theses in Wittenberg. A lot had happened in those thirteen years. Thanks to Luther's creative exploration of the gospel and its i...
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Cross-Campus Visitors Sought

​ An invitation to build unity by worshiping at Messiah's other campus on a once-a-month basis.   One Congregation, Two Locations. This is how we talk about Messiah, about our special opportunity to be one people across two campuses whose ministries radiate from multiple centers. To be one congregation under these circumstances takes...
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God is the Cure Giver

by Stephen Minister Marilyn Mattson   God works though us, like conduit, as we walk beside, listen to, have empathy, and pray confidentially on a one-to-one basis with one who needs hope and/or healing . The growth and help is left to God.He is the cure giver. The gift we receive as Stephen Ministers is to grow in our own faith, be better...
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Sydney Tag, Messiah Confirmation Student, Reflects on where she's seen God’s Stewardship – Every Day, Every Way.

When I was in sixth grade, our confirmation group went to Lapwai Idaho. We spent a week serving this wonderful community, and had an amazing time doing it. At the beginning of the week, we spent time getting to know the kids. These kids didn't have all the needs we have. Some of them didn't have shoes, and almost all of them were covered in dirt. O...
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Reformation Changes - First Communion

Lutheranism is a movement within the Church that is always reforming, ever on the lookout for the new ways that God is speaking and working in the world. One of the observable areas of change within our tradition has been the gradual movement among our congregations to lower the age for first Communion. A position paper from the ELCA concludes, "Th...
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About the Lutherans – Luther's Small Catechism

Of all the things Martin Luther wrote, he is probably best known for two things: the hymn "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" and the Small Catechism. Interestingly, Luther himself was ambivalent about the lasting value of most of his writings, with two exceptions—and one of them was this little pamphlet, the Small Catechism. And this from someone whose...
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The Gift of Stephen Ministry - by Dianne Dawson

In this season of gifts and giving I am grateful for the gift of Stephen Ministry. Stephen Ministry is a gift to the congregation, to those who are sad, who may be grieving a loss or facing a difficult time in their lives. A Stephen minister walks beside the care receiver through a time of sadness and helps them by listening. What a gift it is to h...
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Martin Luther's German Bible

What version of the Bible do you hear and read? Just in English, we have many to choose from. They range from translations that aim to be as accurate as possible (such as the New Revised Standard Version) to others whose main objective is to be easy to understand, even if certain details get lost. Imagine, though, if there were no Bible available i...
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The Perils of Gift Giving

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Cor. 13:13  Last spring Kathy and I had a spirited conversation about a graduation gift for our son, Luke. We had agreed on the amount we would spend, and identified three possible items we both thought were excellent choices for the occasion. Our challeng...
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Stewardship as Defiance by Mary Beenken, Pastoral Intern

And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah . - Acts 5:42   Despite the overtones of danger in the story preceeding this year's stewardship theme verse, Acts 5:42 conjures for me the image of a celebration—of people rejoicing as their numbers grow, full to bursting with joy and eag...
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Neighborly Steward–Every Day, Every Way - a reflection by Doug Ruecker

This past summer a former neighbor of ours passed away. When I reflect on my memories of Pat, my first thoughts are of his genuine generosity and kindness. I often bragged that I had the best neighbor a homeowner could ever have. Pat was the ultimate Mr. Fix-it. He had so many tools in his shop that I didn't know the name for half of them or how th...
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The Light of Christ

by Stephen Minister Jim Swenson     ​ Sometimes an experience of truth gets put into words that affirm my experience. The light of Christ lives within each of us. Stephen ministry is the communication with Christ that happens between the care giver and the care receiver. A question came to mind: Is the light of Christ brought to the ...
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Stewards: Every day. Every way. - See the Videos

View all the stewardship testimonials shown during worship here, and be inspired in your stewardship over everything that God has given to you manage: your money, your time, your skills. Many thanks to Mary Beenken and Nathan Johnson, Jon and Kris Ann Bial, Victor and Brooke Enriquez, Tom and Cathy Haywood, and Rod and Beth Ludvigsen. Thank you for prayerfully considering and making your pledge of financial support for the mission and ministries of Messiah in 2017. If you need new or additional materials to make your pledge, please contact  Doug Ruecker, Financial Secretary . Mary Beenken & Nathan Johnson Jon & Kris Ann Bial Victor & Brooke Enriquez Tom & Cathy Haywood Rod & Beth Ludvigsen    
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Stewards: Every day. Every way. - a reflection by Shari King

Shari King, mom, wife, self-employed worker, and Church Leadership Team member, shares a story about how a sermon heard years ago has influenced her stewardship practices and planning. When my husband, Dennis, and I were newly married, we sometimes visited a little church in our small town. I remember one sermon in particular when the pas...
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The Power of a Prayer and of a Principle: An explanation to why we are all learning new words in worship.

A message from Prs. Peter and Kathy, and Intern Pr. Mary    One of the more poignant moments I've experienced as a pastor was on an evening over 20 years ago. A group of men from our church had just returned from a "guys only" fishing trip—minus one man. The missing one had drowned, his body not yet recovered, the result of a windsto...
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About the Lutherans - Martin Luther: Monk to Reformer

We live in an era when fame is highly desired. Whether it's getting hits on social media, getting invited to desirable gatherings, or making it big in Hollywood or Nashville, people want to be known, to be memorable— often for the wrong reasons. It's noteworthy, then, that in 2017 the Lutheran church—and the world—marks a big anniversary involving ...
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More Reflections on the Guatemala Mission Trip

by Columbia River HS student, Sean Marble    While in Guatemala, our eyes were opened to the living conditions and lives of a large portion of the population on this earth. In our developed nation, we do not have very much exposure to the way the poorer parts of our world live. According to the UN in 2010, 1.2 billion people live in ...
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Radical Pope. Radical God. Radical Church.

by summer intern Austin Krohnke | As my summer at Messiah Lutheran Church comes to a close, I reflect upon the first days of a similar journey from a year ago in which I also learned so much about ministry. Sitting down to eat dinner at my new home for the next three months, I was ecstatic. Here I was in Costa Rica, knowing not a soul in the countr...
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Reflections on the Guatemala Mission Trip

by Tori Beavin. Tori is a sophomore at Whitworth University in Spokane.   Being in Guatemala for a little more than a week, 15 others and I were able to briefly immerse ourselves in the culture and get a glimpse of what life is like for people living in a few different areas of Guatemala. I feel so blessed to have been a part of this miss...
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Our Infuriating God

by summer intern Miriam Hanson -  "Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised." – Hebrews 10:35-36 In the weeks leading up to my time at Messiah, and even in the first few days here, I anticipated that this ...
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Motherhood

"Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow." Psalm 25:4   There is nothing that compares to becoming a parent... It's absolutely beautiful, amazing, and completely exhausting. That's right, exhausting. As in four hours of sleep in two days, hardly having time or strength to shower, let alone g...
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The Lessons We Learn

In early March, my Grandma was diagnosed with terminal bile duct cancer. Terminal and cancer are such painful words and too often we hear them in regard to people in our lives that we love and cherish. Let me tell you a little bit about my Grandma McKee. Many would call her a non-traditional grandma. She had a strong faith and lived it out daily. I...
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He Leadeth Me!

'The Lord your God, who goes before you, is the one who will fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your very eyes, and in the wilderness, where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as one carries a child, all the way that you traveled until you reached this place. But in spite of this, you have no trust in the Lord your G...
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Leading by Example... the Power of Mentors

I was shocked! The newlyweds had been married only a month and yet they were inviting me to come visit them at their new home in Illinois. I adored my older brother and was eager to spend more time with my new sister-in-law, so I jumped at the opportunity. Only days after graduating high school, I left Seattle to join them in Peoria. Little did I k...
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The Way to Graduation

I will lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them. Isa. 42:16 "And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." – Jesus in Mt. 28:20 Crazy adventu...
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It was his word

An epic fail essay by Pr. Kathleen Braafladt.    It was only the 6 th week, but I knew I was in trouble. I thought I had better call him, before he called me. Sitting outside his office, I couldn’t tell if I was more angry than anxious. I had given up a good job, packed up all my belongings, moved to a new state. It had never been part of my plan. I remember the day I sat in the sanctuary of my home church and relented. “OK, God, I’ll go to seminary … BUT you will never get me to preach.” Now I was sitting with 4 quizzes and a paper in my hand. All of them indicated I was failing philosophy. I had never come close to failing a class before. His door opened and Dr. Lee Snook welcomed me. His reputation at Luther Seminary was legendary....
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Are We All Like That? Really?

by guest contributor Mark Hundley, Messiah member and North Campus attender. For most of my life, being a churchgoing Christian was held in high regard. Today, not so much. What’s happened? For the most part, the mainstream media shapes today’s public opinion, and there’s not much doubt that it has not been kind to churchgoing Christians over the past several years. The Bad News Bad news, tragedy, scandal, and other negative and inflammatory things are what sells today. That’s what we’re fed by the mainstream media because that’s what sells. Truth be told, there’s been no shortage of that type of story as available fodder for the media. We can read about church scandals, ultra conservative exclusionary practices, homophobia, and no room allowed for wondering or questioning about the churches dogma. It’s likely that many of these stories are true. Taken together, it paints a pretty bad picture of churchgoing...
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I Have Seen the Mighty One

I have seen the Mighty One. I have watched as the Holy Spirit moved through a room and touched each individual. I have heard God speak. The Lord has brought me to tears. All of this, and more, I have been able to witness through the children of Messiah—through Godly Play. I have had my heart smile through the words and actions made from these children each Sunday morning and every Wednesday night. I still get goose bumps each time I enter the Godly Play Sunday school rooms. The moments of clarity that the children bring to the room still brings silence, stillness, and pure joy, into my heart. The glimpses of God moments are never ending in our Godly Play rooms as the children say things such as , “this is where we learn about Jesus and God’s promises for us” (Carter Jean Bial, Pre-K). Or after hearing the Parable...
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North County Campus News: The Incarnation, a North County Meeting, and More

Merry Tenth Day of Christmas! I hope that you all have had a restful and fulfilling celebration of the 12 Days of Christmas, and a wonderful start to the New Year! As we continue our journey through Christmas, one of the big ideas that we think about is the Incarnation. It’s part of the readings of the season, including today’s gospel passage, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, NRSV). The incarnation is this notion that the eternal and infinite God came down to this earth in the finite and first-century Jesus of Nazareth. That’s an important thing to remember, and it also has implications for who we are as the church. God comes to us as one of us. God breaks into the world through the...
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Beginnings and Endings

Year-end is an excellent time to pause and reflect on what we have accomplished together, and what we plan to continue in the new year. Our 2016 theme is “Growing. Giving. Grateful.” We are a church that lives this out in how we serve the church, the community, and the world. Former summer interns Jayson, Caitlyn, Kevin, and Ben. All students at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary studying to be pastors. Messiah is a Teaching Congregation for the Church Messiah provides college students with summer internships to help discern their vocational passions. Messiah prepares pastoral interns for ordained ministry after seminary. Messiah is considering becoming a pastoral residence congregation, providing a short-term mentoring experience to a first-call pastor as another way to prepare pastors for lives of effective and fulfilling ministry. The One Mile Mission for the Community Every child age 0-18, living or attending a school within one mile of either...
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North County Campus News: Christmas, Communion and Prayer

written and compiled by Timothy Siburg, Messiah North County Mission Developer One of the things you may not know about North County is that communion is done a bit differently here. Communion is served each week, like it is done at every weekend service at Messiah’s Hazel Dell campus. What makes it unique at North County is that the whole worshipping congregation takes the meal together in one line spread across the room. It’s like a whole bunch of people all around one table at the same time. Everyone gathers in the line and receives the sacrament, and then stays until everyone else has received it and then are blessed and dismissed back to our seats in peace. That’s usually how it works, anyway. This past Sunday we did something a little differently, but something I have come to learn is not outside the norm for North County. Instead of...
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North County Campus News: Go Tell It on the Mountain

written and compiled by Timothy Siburg, Messiah North County Mission Developer.  Go Tell it on the Mountain   Confession time. I grew up in the church choir loft. That probably explains a bit about me. Because of that, and because I grew up with a mom who served as a music minister, I also grew up without much of a choice about learning to sing and playing music on piano (and other instruments). My first solo was on “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” sung on Christmas morning as the anthem on Christmas Day at my home church. You might have figured this out by now, I love jazz and spirituals because of the rhythm, the fun, the emotion, and the energy. There’s another thing about this song in particular though that sits with me this year. As I am working as a mission developer, part of my role is to...
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A Strange Nativity

  ... for the Mighty One has done great things for me. Luke 1:49a  They said it was our Christmas gift—dinner out at a new restaurant. As we pulled into the parking we noticed an ominous sign: no other cars. “We should go someplace more familiar,” one of them said. The other was already holding open the door to the restaurant. We would at least go inside. We sat alone in a room set for three to four-dozen people. The restaurant had been open 48 days. The woman who waited on our table was specific and proud of that fact. She explained that Mondays were typically slow. We ordered our meals and soon after the food service began ... one-plate-at-a-time. I watched as she placed a plate of sizzling sautéed prawns in front of our gentleman host. He raised his fork to start eating right away, but suddenly halted. He...
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North County News: Telling the Story of Messiah's North County Campus

written and compiled by Timothy Siburg, Messiah North County Mission Developer.  Who is Timothy and what is he doing? Good question. Lately I have been hearing from some of you that you would like to know more about me, as well as some of the work I am doing. If we haven’t met yet, I am Timothy Siburg, and I’m serving as the half-time mission developer for Messiah Lutheran Church North County this year while my wife Allison serves as the congregation’s pastoral intern. I grew up in Poulsbo and graduated from PLU in Tacoma in 2009 with majors in economics and religion. I decided I liked learning so much that I added two masters degrees in Management and Congregational Mission and Leadership, and have been working since grad school in congregations and nonprofits doing work related to leadership development, mission cultivation, worship and music, social media, and stewardship. Every...
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Advent is a time of preparation

When I think back on all the life that God has allowed me to live, I see the strong preserving hand of God. When my missionary mother was playing with me as an infant in the waves off a beach in Brazil a huge towering surprise wave came crashing toward her. God helped her to throw me to a seven foot tall Indian native friend close by who held me above the waters as my mom was tumbled out into the ocean. Later when I shot my “cap” gun at my brother, he drew his bow and shot his arrow at me in a game of “Cowboys and Indians.” God’s armor bounced the arrow off my chest when it could have ended my life. As a young man, having no understanding of what was ahead, I made choices. I can look back now and see God’s directing finger in all of...
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Something New

The start of fall always feels kind of like New Year’s Eve to me... a time when I can reset and start a new routine. I get back into a familiar rhythm and try to find a healthy balance. It’s also exciting to see faces of youth after the summer and see incoming middle school and high school students who are experiencing those roles for the first time. The start of something new can sometimes be scary. Sometimes it’s easier to stick with what we know, versus trying something new. I know for me, the night before any youth trip or big youth activity, I don’t sleep well. I worry will everything run smoothly, will I be able to keep everyone safe, will I say the right things and remember to do everything I’m supposed to do. But, on the other hand, trying something new can also be exciting. I...
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Opening New Doors

Will I be liked? Will I fit in? Will I know where to go? Will I remember everyone’s names? What will I do if someone is mean to me? Will I be able to get to the bathroom whenever I need to? Will I be able to answer the questions asked of me? Will I remember all the rules? Will someone remember to pick me up after school? —First day of school concerns of a preschool student... director. I have been an educator for over a decade, and I still get “butterflies” in my stomach as the first day of school approaches. Yet, once the doors open and the families flood into the preschool, the butterflies are replaced with an immense sense of joy and gratitude for each family that has chosen to make Messiah their preschool home. I know that over the next nine months, we will see positive transformations...
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Greetings and Thanks from former Interns Kristen & Ben

Meister Eckhart, German theologian and mystic from the 13th century, famously claimed, "If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough." (He was also famously tried as a heretic, but all the really good ones are, don't you think?) It's a prayer that we have been saying fervently and frequently in these last few weeks, as we reflect on our time at Messiah. We were so blessed, in so many ways, by our year with all of you, especially by your generosity with our baby shower and farewell program. Thank you, thank you for your gifts, your time, your presence and your words of encouragement and support. We'll be sure a baby picture makes its way west when the little one arrives. We are excited for the impending start of Allison and Timothy this fall, and we will continue to hold you...
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A Change of Season

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” Eccl. 3:1  In Disney’s animated film Frozen, one of the characters named Olaf sings about his dreams of experiencing summer for the very first time. In his song, called In Summer, Olaf confesses that he doesn’t have “much experience with heat” (he is, after all, a snowman...) and then adds, “But sometimes I like to close my eyes, and imagine what it’ll be like when summer does come.” It’s a clever, catchy number (don’t look it up unless you’re prepared to have it stuck in your head). Olaf can’t wait to “find out what happens to solid water when it gets warm!” and shares that “when life gets rough, I like to hold onto my dream/of relaxing in the summer sun, just lettin’ off steam.” What’s this got to do with anything? Aside from the obvious,...
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Riding the Wave … Catching a Vision

Congregation endorses a twofold ministry vision  “... let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. Looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith ...” (Heb. 12:1) Vision 1 Self-identify as a teaching congregation of the Church, developing a 3-tiered approach to mentoring college students, pastoral interns, and pastoral residents.  Vision 2 That every child (0-18 years of age) living within a defined area (perhaps 1.5 miles) of both of Messiah’s worship sites has everything he or she needs to learn. An Important Meeting of the Congregation At its June Meeting of the Congregation, President Della Hundley and Pastors Peter and Kathy outlined the leading edges of a vision that they and Church Leadership Team (CLT) have been developing over the past year. The vision was the product of a discernment process to examine the congregation’s DNA and culture. The pastors and CLT identified the...
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Living Out a Mission

Summer is an exciting time for youth and young adult ministry. For most people, the summer schedule is a time that tends to be a little quieter. For me, it’s pretty busy. Summer is a time when students are out of school and have the ability to participate in mission trips, summer picnics in the park, college age Bible studies, the backpacking trip or the beach camp-out. At the beginning of the year, I talked about when I was in high school and my first experience on a mission trip to Colorado. Through the ability of Facebook, I actually found a picture from that trip (I’m the second one on the left). Amazingly after all these years, I can actually name every person in that photo and I keep in touch with many of them. It was life changing for me. As I’m writing this, I’m also preparing for the high...
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What was I Thinking?

As preparation ramps up for the start of VBS next week, Joy Studer, Director of Children’s and Family Ministries muses on her “Yes.”  It was supposed to be my summer vacation! Something those of us in education guard ferociously every year. So what was I thinking? I said yes to be a volunteer for Vacation Bible School. Having never been part of a “VBS” before I had no idea what to expect. However, when Alyson Schumacher asks you to volunteer, she makes it terribly difficult to say no. “You’re a teacher! You have such a gift with children! I could really use your positive energy!” Thank you very much. However, I use my summer vacation to mentally prepare for that gift and positive demeanor; and part of the preparation is my being kiddo free! Shows what I know ... of course I said yes ... and what an incredibly memorable...
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The ELCA and the Tragedy in Charleston

by The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA   June 18, 2015   It has been a long season of disquiet in our country. From Ferguson to Baltimore, simmering racial tensions have boiled over into violence. But this ... the fatal shooting of nine African Americans in a church is a stark, raw manifestation of the sin that is racism. The church was desecrated. The people of that congregation were desecrated. The aspiration voiced in the Pledge of Allegiance that we are “one nation under God” was desecrated. Mother Emanuel AME’s pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was a graduate of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, as was the Rev. Daniel Simmons, associate pastor at Mother Emanuel. The suspected shooter is a member of an ELCA congregation. All of a sudden and for all of us, this is an intensely personal tragedy. One of our own is alleged to have...
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sticky faith: a summer story

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. - Eccl. 3:1.  Pr. Peter - a Bible camp attendee. Twenty-eight years ago it was not something I expected—perhaps explaining why I continue to remember it today. Kathy and I and the Church Council members of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Madras, OR, went on a full-day planning retreat. As part of a team building exercise, our retreat facilitator invited everyone to answer this question: “What has been one of the most important and formative events in your life as a Christian?” Confident in my ability to figure things out and puffed up by the “vast” amounts of “valuable” knowledge recently imparted to me through my seminary education, I silently predicted others′ responses: “The day I was baptized” or “When pastor (fill-in-name) came to my (fill-in-the-place) during (fill-in-the-event) and God spoke to me” or “When I...
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Summer Bible Camp Reflections

My first soda from a vending machine, all-camp softball game, purchasing candy at the camp store, playing miniature golf, sleeping in a cabin, church meetings twice daily, the smell of the cement basketball court after a rain shower, and, my favorite, the sound of a ringing church bell signaling meal time; when I think back on my earliest camp experiences, these are some of my memories. Every other summer, my family of seven would pack up the station wagon and begin our journey to Covenant Heights in Estes Park, for a week-long Bible Camp. Our cousins from California would meet us part way and we would tent camp together the rest of the way to Colorado. Even though I was only about six the last time we made this trip, I have some very vivid memories of my experiences at these camps. While much of our time was spent running around...
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Changed for Good - Mission Trips this Summer

"How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action." 1 John 4: 17-18  When I hear the words “Here for Good” my thoughts immediately go to service and the ways in which we can use our time, talents and financial resources to help others. When I was in high school, I went with my church youth group (with my mom as a chaperone) on my first ever mission trip. We worked in Loveland, CO, doing home repairs, in soup kitchens and with Urban Servant Corps before heading up to Sky Ranch Lutheran Camp to hike and enjoy the outdoors. I remember how amazing it was to drive in the mountains for the first time, to work in an urban...
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Real Struggle Marks Us For Life

by guest blogger and Messiah member, Dr. Julie Bracken  I am the only child of northern European parents. My dad was an engineer at Boeing in Seattle; my mom was a stay-at-home mother. My dad was raised Methodist, but didn't attend. My mom was a strong, quiet Lutheran woman who took me to church every Sunday. Our life when I was young was comfortable, both financially and personally. In 1970, when I was fourteen years old, my mother died suddenly of a brain aneurysm; the cause of her death I only found out years later. My father was destroyed by the loss. He couldn't talk to me about what had happened, or what would happen in the future. He arranged to have women from mom's church come in the next day, even before the funeral, and remove all of my mom's clothes and many of her personal belongings. It was...
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Jesus with Us

"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16 I'm sure that many of you know the poem Footprints in the Sand by Mary Stevenson. If you haven't read it, I think it is worth looking up. With Easter approaching, I've been thinking about Jesus in our lives and accompaniment...walking alongside us (or carrying us, when needed). A personal story of accompaniment for me took place in October, 2013. I had decided to run my first full marathon (26.2 miles). For months I had trained, but I think you truly...
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Rocks and Fog

"And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, 'Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" Mark 16:2-3 It wasn't the rock that bothered me. It was the fog, or the cloud, or is fog a cloud or a cloud, fog? You see it just got more and more confusing. The rocks didn't bother me. I knew I could climb over them or go around them. Most of the day I'd been doing that and actually enjoyed it. But the enjoyment vanished when the fog/cloud, whatever it was, blew in and I lost my bearings and my confidence on the trail. Probably barefoot or sandle-footed, the women who went to the tomb on Easter morning weren't expecting to scale rocks. But their heads must have...
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Easter Vigil: A New Worship Experience

Easter is coming! But sometimes it's hard to transition from Lent and Good Friday into Easter. An ancient tradition of the church is to hold vigil until the dawn of Easter morning, and declare Christ's Resurrection. This year, though we won't stay up all night, Messiah is going to practice an Easter Vigil worship service on the Saturday before Easter, April 4, at 6:30pm. It's a service that begins in darkness and with fire to remind us that the Light of Christ is never extinguished, and we will declare that "this is the night!" that Christ crosses from death to life. Then we settle in to hear the stories of God's faithfulness, from Creation to Resurrection. And when we hear the resurrection story, we'll bust out the lilies and "Alleluias!" and celebrate the Risen Lord. You're all invited. To learn more, or if you're interested in participating, contact Intern Ben...
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Chocolate and Lent

Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. – 1 Peter 1:13 NRSV Sandra Jacobson was Messiah's church secretary when Kathy and I first came to Vancouver. She was one of God’s gifts to this congregation and to Kathy and me as she taught all of us many important lessons before she retired. She once advised me—probably on a day when she knew I was in trouble with Kathy—that chocolate was a nutritional requirement that all women have, and when filled makes women happier, healthier, and forgiving. She taught me a lot. Although she had a great personal affection for chocolate, one of Sandy’s annual tradition was to stop eating it during Lent. Her motive wasn’t to be less happy or healthful during this 40-day season. Instead, it was an exercise in self-restraint...
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I Come with Joy

Here for Good! Why do I worship each Sunday, lead hymns and songs from the piano and organ, lead choirs, instruments and handbells? Because I see God's love poured out through people day after day. Their hearts render love to others, gifts beyond expectation. In the music ministry areas alone, I could list example after example of love shining brightly as people come together to worship and help one another. Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27b). We sing (or play instruments) because it boils within us and cannot but help to explode forth in glorious praise of our Father, Creator, Savior, Comforter, Provider, Friend. We cannot hold it back. The joy bubbles over and over. When we are happy, when we are sad, when times are pleasant, when things are tough, a song is always in our heart... a song of reverential gratefulness for all that God has...
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Here for Good

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil.1.6)  It is a rare thing when someone interrupts the service at church. But it happened the third weekend in January. We were introducing Messiah’s 2015 stewardship theme here for good . “I really like that tag line!” she blurted out. “Cool,” I thought! here for good so fittingly captures what is the ethos and passion of this congregation. At so many levels it expresses who and what we are as a community of faith. We are here for good . The blurting-out-worshiper understood this. As I write, members of Messiah are receiving their 2015 financial stewardship packet in the mail. Messiah’s ministries are strong and expanding because a growing number of us recognize that we are here for good —here for good to...
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An Opportune Time to Support Messiah - Here for Good

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 NRSV Dear Member and Friend of Messiah Lutheran Church, As the busy-ness of this year ends, it is an opportune time to pause and reflect about the work we have accomplished together, and which we hope to complete in the coming year. Our 2015 theme is Here for Good , and there are many ways Messiah is here for good—for the good of the church, the community, and the world. Pastoral Interns Ben and Kristen have often remarked that Messiah is “unusually gifted” in terms of how active, involved, and age-diverse we are as a congregation—a big complement and a good thing! We use our gifts to accomplish a lot of good for Jesus' sake. We consistently demonstrate that we are here...
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When 'Thank You' Isn't Enough

We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Thess. 1:2-3 NRSV  Sometimes words do not seem sufficient to convey what is felt deeply inside. This is one of those times. We don't have an adequate store of words to express to each of you how much we have appreciated your Twelve Months of Gratitude for Twenty Years of Service this past year. Each month we were both surprised and grateful for the many ways you chose to celebrate our 20 years of being your pastors at Messiah. The gifts and well wishes were creative, heartfelt, and stirred within us a deep sense of gratitude and thanks for all of you. For our part, it has and continues to...
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Cover Letter for Third Quarter Giving Statements

October 11, 2014 Dear Member and Friend of Messiah Lutheran Church and Preschool, |  Enclosed [mailed USPS] is your statement of charitable giving to Messiah Lutheran Church and Preschool for January 1 through September 30, 2014. Thank you for your generous support of the ministries at Messiah! This detailed accounting should help you track your year-to-date giving total(s). We strive for accuracy, but if you should find errors or omissions, please call or contact me, Jim Dawson, at 360-891-1174 or by email . A flood of good things Because of your generosity, we have seen a flood of good happen at Messiah including: a preschool that began with fall enrollment of 96 students and included an expansion to 2 two-year-old classes in newly remodeled rooms in the HD education wing contributions of nearly $3,000—the bulk of this from the African Gospel Acapella Choir concert in June—to bring Lawson Jallah together...
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God Sightings

But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you... (Jesus in Mt. 26:32) One of my favorite moments during last summer's Vacation Bible School was when the children met in the sanctuary for closing worship each day. Intern Joe would ask them, "Where did you see God at work today? Tell me one of your God sightings." Hands would go up throughout the sanctuary and one by one the children shared where they had witnessed a "God sighting." They were so excited to share and so open to the question. Without the inhibitions of "theological correctness" that oftentimes creep in as we get older, they saw God at work all over the place. Being open and watchful to "God sightings" is something that all disciples—regardless of age or theological sophistication—are called to be doing. "Where and what do you see God doing these days in your life?...
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Introducing Messiah's Pastoral Interns for this Year

You read it correctly. Messiah is hosting not one, but two pastoral interns for '14-'15! Greetings Messiah Lutheran! Hello from Luther Seminary. (Letter from Ben and Kristen written in August) We are Ben and Kristen Eisele, and we will have the privilege of serving and learning with you as intern pastors starting this September—and the dubious duty of following in the footsteps of our dear friend and your current intern, Joe Natwick. (We're not as cool as Joe—nor do we have as great of hair—but we'll do what we can to measure up.) We're excited to be placed together in such a vibrant community of faith, to discover how our individual and shared gifts will grow, to learn from a talented pastor-couple in Peter and Kathy, and to participate in God's mission with you all. So, in order for you to get to know us a bit better, we'll introduce...
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Summertime and Sabbath

"Observe the Sabbath Day and keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you." Deut. 5:12 |  Does the word “summertime” produce different feelings and expectations in you than it used to? It does for me. I used to look forward to June, July, and August with an expectation that things would slow down, both personally and professionally. Now it seems different. For one thing, it seems like summer has become shorter. What I used to recall as being three months, now feels like two months ...plus maybe a week or two. But this is only part of my new reality. While the length seems shorter, the list of obligations seems longer. Not long ago Kathy and I were chasing our boys to baseball tournaments, soccer matches, and golf courses across the county and the state—all in the name of “positive parent involvement.” Now it’s helping our youngest move...
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Why We Love Messiah - One Congregation | Two Locations

Here for Good. The following is Pastor Peter and Kathy’s annual review of the congregation’s ministry for ’13-’14. It was prepared for the June Meeting of the Congregation and highlights the mission and ministry at Messiah. "And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." – Jesus (Mt.28:20b) Whenever God’s people embark on a journey, we commit ourselves to God’s providence and nurture. Along the way, we certainly seek to employ the best wisdom we have, and try not to be foolish in our decision-making. But from the beginning we know that we cannot see or know the ending. We move forward—at times boldly and at times hesitantly—as have our forebearers in faith, trusting in the Lord. Our sense is that the past year was marked not so much by milestone accomplishments (e.g., capital campaigns, building construction, a second campus opening, or pastoral internship program kick-off),...
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Why We Support Messiah

Recently, Kathy and I participated in an in-depth ministry audit of another congregation in our synod. One of the most telling questions was, "What would be lost if this congregation ceased to exist?" A large cadre of members from within the congregation and an equally large number of community leaders from outside the church paused and reflected. As we listened to one heartfelt response after another, we observed that no one (including the pastors) fully grasped how significant, broad, and profoundly important was this congregation's work and service. Kathy and I are certain that we too do not fully comprehend the extent of the good that Messiah is accomplishing week after week, month after month. Below are only snapshots. Pastoral Intern Joe recently remarked, "This has to be the best internship site anywhere." Messiah is making a lasting investment in the future of the church. Messiah's preschool is operating at...
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Are You a Sinner or a Saint? Yes

Are You a Sinner or a Saint? Yes. by Pr. Peter Braafladt And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him . – Col. 1.21-22 The first weekend of November is always celebrated as All Saints' Saturday/Sunday at Messiah. It is the weekend that we remember and give thanks for all the saints who have served Christ in word and deed and especially those who now rest in the Lord. We often begin the worship by singing the hymn with these memorable words, "For all the saints, who from their labors rest..." For many people, identifying someone as a saint means that the one being identified was or is closer to God than the rest of us. This conclusion is indicated by all the...
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First Impressions

Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. - Rom. 15.7 Did you know that first time guests at worship typically decide within ten minutes whether they will return for a second visit? That is not very long to make a first impression ... and we all know how important first impressions can be. I ask you to pay extra special attention to the presence of guests at Messiah. Say a silent prayer for each one you notice and then gently and assertively extend a warm personal welcome to them before service begins. Introduce yourself. Follow-up by introducing guests to others you already know. If you are at the Hazel Dell campus, offer to show guests around if they need help finding the nursery or introduce them to Alyson Schumacher or Jessica Potts if they have a student. How guests feel welcomed in...
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