In this Issue . . .
- The Season of Pentecost
- One Year to Live
- Luther Disaster Response
- Be Transformed
- Summer Rendezvous
- Mark You Calendars
Happy Birthday, Church! Are we drunk?
Pentecost is usually considered the “birthday” of the church.
The first Pentecost was recorded in Acts 2:1-21. On that first Pentecost, disciples from all over the world were gathered in one place. Strange things happened, the place they gathered was filled with the “sound of the rush of a violent wind”. Tongues of flame landed on the head of each person gathered. The events were so strange that witnesses supposed the gathered people were drunk with “new wine”. Simon Peter speaks up in their defense saying the ones who were speaking and acting strangely were connected to the prophesy of Joel. On this day, 3,000 were added to the church! Pentecost fulfills Jesus’s promise to send an “advocate”, or counselor.
The celebration of Pentecost by Jews is to observe God giving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai 50 days after the Exodus. The Pentecost in Jewish tradition takes place 50 days after Passover. Pentecost Sunday in the church, marked by the color red for flames or Spirit, occurs 50 days after Easter Sunday and marks the transition between the season of Easter and the season of Pentecost.
The season of Pentecost, marked by the color green, is the longest of the church seasons, marking the “ordinary” time between Easter and the beginning of a new year at Advent. Pentecost season includes a time of planting, growth, harvest, and the coming of fall, and the dormancy of the dark, winter season.
The celebration of Pentecost has ancient roots, and modern-day practices. While the season is long, the worship, learning, fellowship, and service continue to call us. You were invited; invite your friends too!
—Pastor Garrett Struessel
My “One Year to Live” Retreat Story
This is my story of the Luther-Men-In-Mission (LMM) “One Year to Live Retreat” (OYTL) and its impact on my life
Let me reflect on how I got to the retreat. In 2006 I was participating in some monthly building work projects at the church, and Gus Brockmann started a short Bible study at the beginning using the LMM study Bible. This was my first Bible study since my youth, and it taught me how to participate in faith fellowship with men. In January 2007 Gus invited men to attend a new retreat being created by Lutheran Men in Mission called One Year to Live (Gus was on the LMM Board of Directors at that time). I had never attended any type of retreat or men ministry events outside of fellowship activity at First Lutheran. My faith was based on my youth studies, shared faith with family and friends, and attending worship services.
If you asked me how my faith life was when I attended the retreat in 2007, I would have said that I thought it was good. I was involved with the Churchmen ministry group at First Lutheran and was starting my 2nd year on the congregation council. I was active in the church but not really in sharing my faith or feeling a spiritual relationship with God. The retreat would be a 48-hour commitment with travel time, and I could have easily come up with several excuses why not attend, especially when Gus could not give us many specific details about what to expect. Only that it would be different than other men’s gatherings we had heard about. This did not get me excited, but the unexpected gave it a sense of adventure too. I committed with two other men from First Lutheran to experience this retreat in March of 2007.
During the retreat we were able to share stories of the good, bad, and ugly of our lives if we wanted too. It made me realize some of my mistakes put shame in my life, and actually held me back from being a strong spiritual man. I was able to understand this guilt kept me from allowing myself to be a good spiritual leader with others. The retreat experience helped me truly realize that I was forgiven for all mistakes and sins that kept occasionally creeping back into my mind and made me deal with the guilt again. I felt the Holy Spirit truly help me realize that God’s love through Jesus cleansed my soul of these sins for salvation, and that God wanted me to be spiritually strong. I knew of God’s grace and forgiveness for these mistakes in my life before the retreat, but I never really felt the forgiveness and ability to move beyond some of these in my mind until the retreat. It was like a burden had been lifted from my life.
I left the retreat with a focus to be a spiritual leader and stronger husband, father, son, brother, grandfather, friend, and a disciple for the Lord. I had a mission to be a better man of God, and since that retreat I have worked to keep that commitment with myself. I was able to continue affirmation and renewal through this retreat when I was called to help staff an OYTL retreat 18 months later. As a member of the staff I call on the Holy Spirit to help me lead men through their stories and their faith relationship with God. Being a staff leader for the OYTL retreats has been an opportunity for me to fulfill my mission to be a disciple for Christ. Before the retreat I looked at participating at church or ministry as service to the church that made me feel good. Now I look at these opportunities as part of my discipleship for the Lord and I ask the Holy Spirit to use me for the glory of the Lord.
In 2011 through invitations by other men of First Lutheran I started participating in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) and studying God’s word, which has helped me understand God’s word and grow my relationship with the Lord. It also gives me fellowship with men to study God’s word. The OYTL retreats and BSF both help me grow spiritually, and I give thanks to the Holy Spirit for helping me be the man God wants me to be.
Since that initial retreat I have been on staff of 12 OYTL retreats as part of this discipleship for the Lord to help other men in their faith life. While the retreat process is the same for all retreats, the experience is different because of the men who attend and the stories they share. When I attend large LMM gatherings not all the men have been to an OYTL retreat, but as men who attended the OYTL retreats we have a connection and brotherhood from the retreat experience.
I’m thankful that I did not use an excuse and miss the call to attend that retreat in 2007. I wish the retreat experience happened earlier in my life so I would have been stronger spiritually as the man of our family and the impact it could have had on my children’s faith. I know the Holy Spirit is with me as a man of faith, giving me strength to live my faith life with family, ministry, and those whom God puts into my life today.
Power of Helping
We are a church that is a catalyst, convener and bridge builder. Lutheran Disaster Response collaborates with other disaster response organizations and religious entities in the United States and around the world. This enables the greatest stewardship of resources and maximum impact of response. We are a welcome partner because we respect the perspectives and strengths of others.
We recognize that every disaster is local. Because of this, we believe every response needs to be rooted in the community; we work to accompany that community from immediate relief through long-term recovery. In our international work we partner closely with companion churches and other Lutheran and ecumenical relief agencies to make sure local needs are being addressed and met. In the United States, we work through our extensive affiliate network and other partners to address these same concerns.
Lutheran Disaster Response strives to help the church continue to be church in the midst of disaster — following Christ’s call to bring hope and healing to our neighbor in need. Some key areas of work include:
- Providing emotional and spiritual care for people who have been affected by a disaster and for leaders who respond to a disaster
- Coordinating volunteers through our local affiliates
- Assisting refugees in a holistic way by meeting the varied needs of the community
- Promoting disaster risk-reduction by helping communities build their assets thereby reducing the effects of likely disasters
- Providing long-term recovery efforts by addressing the unmet needs months or even years after a disaster strikes
(You can support the work of the ELCA by giving to First Lutheran, or by directly visiting ELCA.org.
Trans·for·ma·tion /ˌtran(t)sfərˈmāSH(ə)n/ – a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance; the act of changing in composition or structure; the act of changing in character or condition.
Transformation is something we see every day. At this moment I can look outside and see flowers beginning to bloom – transforming from a dormant bulb beneath the ground to a beautiful plant declaring life to the world. We see transformation in the expanding city in which we gather for worship, with an increasing number of businesses and houses changing the landscape of what we once knew to be the farming town of Longmont. Transformation is an integral and important part of life. Without it, life cannot thrive or even exist at all. That is true of each of us as well, individually and corporately, transformation is what we are called to. Transformed is what we become.
It is this fact that is at the center of the Rocky Mountain Synod’s theme for the year, “Be Transformed”, a theme that has also become our theme for the year. Founded in numerous verses and stories in scripture, transformation in faith, perspective, understanding, and self is what we are called to in our life as followers and disciples of Christ.
To be transformed is to be renewed. To be transformed is to be changed from within. In the words of Bishop Jim Gonia, to be transformed is to encounter “a repeated experience of holy interruption of life under the veil [of not intentionally being with God]”. It is this state of continuously being transformed that we will be exploring and experiencing together in word, deed, and spiritual practice throughout the next year. May the Holy Spirit lead us all to “be transformed.”
“Do not conform any longer to the patterns of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” Romans 12:2a (NIV)
—Pastor Katie Emery
Off to Seminary
Kaari von Bernuth, a daughter of this congregation, is heading to seminary in the fall! Kaari grew up at First Lutheran, and was an active member. She was involved in the youth program, served on the Church Council for three years while she was in high school, was a confirmation mentor, and you may even remember that she helped preach the gospel on Easter Sunday of 2015 with Pastor Paul Judson and Walter Nieuwlandt. Thanks to the opportunities that First Lutheran provided, and the enthusiastic support of the youth program and youth leadership, Kaari began to realize in high school that she was being called to ministry. In college, Kaari became involved with the Lutheran Campus Ministry at Colorado State University, as well as becoming a youth intern and then pastoral assistant at Trinity Lutheran Church in Fort Collins, which strengthened her sense of call.
Kaari and Walter (who also grew up at First Lutheran) will be getting married in June at Ryssby. Then, in August, they will be moving to Berkeley, CA where Kaari will study at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. Walter will graduate this May with his BS in Landscape Architecture and will begin working after they move. They’ll be in Berkeley for three years where Kaari will have two years of academic classes and one year of internship. Kaari and Walter will be at First Lutheran on May 26. Walter will be speaking at the Senior Celebration Breakfast to congratulate the seniors and encourage them to keep their faith a central part of their lives in their next steps. Kaari will be preaching and will give a small adult forum on her call story, the move to seminary, and how First Lutheran can support Kaari and Walter on this journey. Make sure to save the date and find a chance to talk to them!
—Kaari von Bernuth
Meet at Roosevelt park at 6:30 pm to join the Longmont Bike Night Crowd!
Ryssby Midsummer worship and Church Picnic!
Picnic in Thompson Park! We will be decorating a tent for First Lutheran! Watch for details in the Weekend Reminder.
July 19-21—WEEKEND CAMP!
There’s still time to sign up! It’s a great weekend to connect with nature, your friends, and your church!
Rockies Game! Tickets are on sale now! $15 for field level seats!
Mark Your Calendars!
Don’t miss these big events coming up in the life of First Lutheran
June 17-21, 9am to noon
Women’s One Year To Live Retreat
September 27-29 (registration
deadline is August 23!)
God’s Work, Our Hands
Sunday, September 8
Mark Allan Powell