Introducing Julie Bracken, new Minister of Welcome volunteer

Julie Bracken has joined Messiah's staff as a volunteer, serving as part-time Minister of Welcome. Her role will be to connect and follow up with guests, make connections between newcomers and regulars, and to train everyone in the fine art of hospitality. You will see Julie circulating in the lobby of the Hazel Dell campus before and after service...
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Baptisms, Confirmation, and Money

We have had some great weeks at Messiah. Three households presented their newest little o nes to be baptized, a Messiah preschool student introduced his new baby brother during Preschool Chapel and received a baby blanket on his behalf, we commemorated the 500 th anniversary of the Reformation with the fanfare of orchestral accompaniment, and ...
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Living in Gratitude: Seeking to Commitment

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. ...
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Living in Gratitude: Scarcity to Abundance

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Rom. 8:38-39 As those named and claimed in the abundant promises of baptism, we have God's...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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