Saturday, October 20, 2012

Festival of All Saints

Divinity Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We’re having a double celebration during our worship services on November 3rd and November 4th. It is the final Sunday of our annual stewardship emphasis when we bring our pledge cards forward during the offering. We also celebrate the Festival of All Saints when we commemorate those who have died by lighting a candle for each on our All Saints cross and by a bell choir member tolling a bell.

We remember our family members and friends not for themselves and in themselves, but because of what God has done through them. “When the church praises the saints, it praises God himself, who has tri-umphed through them. Those who are still in the church on earth are supported and encouraged by the fellowship of a throng of witnesses, who fought their way with effort and pain, and who now in the company of the redeemed are watching and supporting the church on earth in its present struggle.” (Philip Pfatteicher)

When I think about that quote, it’s a little scary that my two grandfathers are “watching and supporting” me as I serve “the church on earth in its present struggle.” Not to mention my great-grandfather who had me driving his big flat-bed truck loaded with alfalfa hay to the downtown mounted police and to Northfield and Thistledown when I was 15, before I had a full driver’s license. They would no doubt challenge me to work harder — time is short.

On All Saints Sunday we celebrate eternity where time is not short. Here at Divinity, we’ve had 22 Funer-als since last All Saints Sunday. As always, there will be tears, Kleenexes, and the candles that will be given to families at the conclusion of our worship services.

We join all the saints in praise of Christ, who has turned our graves into the doorway to eternal life. — Pastor Doug

We Remember: 

Marjorie E. Knodel 
Jewel Faieta 
Joseph Tish 
Edward Kurek 
Elizabeth Houk 
Carol Latimer 
Brian David Galgoczy 
Richard L. Stender 
Kathleen Hebebrand 
Dolores Grace Kettler 
Lois May Brugge 
Carol A. Murray 
Elizabeth Miess 
William E. Card, Jr. 
Edward Borkowski 
Dorothy M. Brodek 
Anetta Marie Filbin 
Margaret Campbell 
Kenneth Hebebrand 
Richard Kolp 
Elmira Lydia Tiedt 
Barbara C. Diver 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Joyfully Generous

Dear Divinity Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our Divinity Food Pantry, the room between our fellowship hall (gym) and Tricia’s office, has seen a lot of action in recent months. Our Parish Health Ministry (mostly volunteer nurses) keeps a freezer in our pantry. On a recent Friday night, two of our nurses were making homemade soup in our kitchen to put in our freezer in our pantry. They have done this before, so that when Divinity mem-bers come in for food from our shelves, I can also give them a frozen container of homemade soup, which is much appreciated. Our nurses have also cooked up containers of frozen lasagna, meatloaf, etc. in the past to be handed out to our brothers and sisters in need.

My family happened to arrive on that Friday night to get our directory picture taken just as they were ready to put their soup containers in the freezer. When Marti lifted up the freezer door, the bottom of the freezer was covered with six large foil trays of frozen chicken marked 9/9 — Redeemer. Obviously, the mother-daughter cooking team of Donna DeVault and Debbie Youngmann wouldn’t be available on the 9th and had prepared the main course early. Our Divinity servants have been preparing and serving the 2nd Sunday of the month Redeemer Crisis Center meal for longer than my 9 Divinity years. I advised Marti to stack their soup containers around and on top as we could dig out the large trays of chicken when the time came.

I get to experience the “sadness” when our members’ Social Security checks have run out with a week to go or a job has been lost and then the “abundant joy” of those who give to our pantry or Redeemer, and the joy from those who receive those gifts.

When Jan Jasko, who serves on the Redeemer Crisis Center’s board of directors, stopped by Divinity to pick up two computers that had been donated by one of us to the crisis center, I helped fill her trunk with backpacks, school supplies, clothing, and books that were all given out of our “overflowing generosity.”

It is my hope that as we bring our annual commitment cards to the baptismal font on November 4th, we will do so out of “overflowing generosity and abundant joy” as we continue to support and grow our Divinity ministry.

St. Paul describes the abundant joy and overflowing generosity of the first century church in 2 Corin-thians 8:1-7:
We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; 2for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave ac-cording to their means, and even beyond their means, 4begging us earnestly for the privilege of shar-ing in this ministry to the saints — 5and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, 6so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. 7Now as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you — so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.

Join with me in being “joyfully generous.”

Pastor Doug

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Abundant Joy, Overflowing Generosity

For your own self-reflection and to help Pastor Doug prepare his sermons for this fall’s annual stewardship emphasis, you are encouraged to write a short “money autobiography” to be handed in to our Divinity office with or without your name on it. Putting your name on it gives Pastor Doug permission to quote you with your name in his sermons. 

A money autobiography is a rich tool that can provide profound insights into our understanding of abundance, generosity, and stewardship. While it can take many forms, a money autobiography is the reflective responses to a series of questions about the role of money in one’s life. 
In writing your money autobiography, use some or all of the following questions to help you re-member. Return your autobiography to our Di-vinity office A.S.A.P. as kick-off Sunday for our fall stewardship emphasis, “Abundant Joy, Overflowing Generosity” is October 14. 

$ What is your earliest recollection of money? 
$ What is your earliest recollection of earning money? 
$ What is the first thing you did to earn money? 
$ What is the first thing you remember buying with money you earned? 
$ What is your earliest recollection of money in church? 
$ What rituals surrounded money in your childhood home? 
$ What rituals surrounded money in your childhood church? 
$ What were you taught about money in your childhood home? 
$ What were you taught about money in your childhood church? 
$ What does the Bible teach about money? 
$ How does your Christian faith influence your attitude about money and its use? 

~~ Stewardship Committee 

Friday, June 22, 2012

At Ridgeville Corners on August 1, 1922
Born to Alfred and Matilda, a boy baby.
On August 20, 1922, baptized and made new
Destined to be a pastor, just maybe.

Confirmed on March 16, 1936
Then from the farm to the city and Capital University
Where a South Dakota girl was part of the mix,
Who would stand by him through all adversity.

A visit to Princeton Seminary was all it took
For Don to propose and Arlo said, “Yes!”
On June 26, 1948—Arlo took to becoming Don’s cook
And his partner in ministry would be the real test.

A first call to the far country of Montpelier, Ohio
On the yearly salary of 2,400 dollars
A son Peter born living in style
And learning what it means to wear those collars.

In 1954 to Parma Heights Pastor Don arrives
To stay three decades preaching and teaching
A building goes up as the community thrives.
A cross into the sky is reaching.

Rebecca, Rachel, and Nathan are a blessing
Giving always the gift of love
Especially when the children aren’t always meshing
Descending upon us, His dove.

In the 60’s and 70’s, baby boomers fill the pew.
Children growing in that 70’s show
Parents struggling, searching for a clue
Arriving at Divinity with children in tow.

Women now from the pulpit preach
Lutherans and Catholics marry everyday
To the sick and homeless outward to reach
Divinity is here to stay.

Grandchildren and retirement come all too soon
But grand-parenting, golfing, and walking
Keep the mind and body in tune,
Until that day when 90 comes stalking.

God bless Pastor Don and all who turn 90 this year
As we continue this journey from darkness to light
Through the valley we walk with no fear.
With wings like an eagle God lifts us in flight.

Note:  This poem was written by Pastor Doug in honor of Pastor Don and all who turn 90 this year.  We will be celebrating their birthdays on August 5.
June Message from Pastor Doug        

This past weekend we confirmed six young men whose faith statements people are still talking about. We take pride in the faith foundation Divinity provides for our youth.
In the end, there is much we older folk can learn from our teenagers. After having read from all 6 faith statements, 3 times during each worship service, there was one paragraph that I continue to think about that was written by Sam Smith…

Now the Lord came and stood there calling as before. "Samuel! Samuel!" and Samuel said, "Speak for your servant is listening." 1 Samuel 3:10 This Bible verse means a lot to me because Samuel answers God by saying, "Speak for your servant is listening." This verse is great be-cause Samuel is telling God that he is God’s servant and that he is ready to do any deed God wants him to do. We are all servants of God. At points in everybody’s life God calls us out to do a deed. Sometimes it’s things we want to do and sometimes it’s things we may not want to do or think we can’t do. He knows we can do it. An example of when I was called to do a deed was at my uncle’s funeral. I was asked to acolyte. At first I answered yes very quickly. The more I thought about it, the more I kept saying "no". I was nervous because there were so many pas-tors at the funeral. I had to carry the cross and lead them down the aisle. In the end I did just fine.

Yes, we are all servants of God. Yes, "God calls us out to do a deed." It’s great if it’s some-thing we want to do. But what if we don’t want to do it or think we can’t do it?

What is God calling you out to do? Are you saying "yes" or are you coming up with excuses?

When I arrived nine years ago, nobody wanted to coordinate our Sunday morning nursery until we started talking about paying someone. Thinking that a ridiculous idea, Karen Hearld stepped up and has been filling that role ever since. Now she’s ready to hand off that ministry to one of you. Is God calling you out?

For the last 3½ years, Laura Ramsey has been fulfilling her calling as our youth minister. Our teenagers have appreciated her love and com-mitment to them. Our prayers are with Laura as she prepares for the coming of her son and her family’s move to the farm.

Our Divinity leadership are thinking outside the box. With Laura’s departure, is God calling us out in a new direction in how we do our minis-try? Like Sam Smith leading the pastors down the aisle, are we open to doing something we haven’t done before?

We’re continuing our "new" relationship with the YMCA with a busy summer of day care and summer camp. We continue our tradition of staffing Vacation Bible School at Divinity and a week of V.B.S. at Redeemer Crisis Center. This fall, we’re hoping to welcome a private high school who will rent 4 rooms on the older kids Sunday School wing. With 3 very active A.A. groups and our own ministry groups and Bible studies gathering, we’re getting to the point where every wing will be busy most days of the week, daytime and at night.

Is God calling you out? If not, you’re not listening. When God calls out Samuel, he responds, "Speak for your servant is listening." Both as a congregation and as individu-als, we need to be listening for God’s di-rection. God has truly blessed Divinity with gifted teenagers, a committed seminarian, and scores of volunteers sharing your time, talents, and money to support our ministry together. I’m confident that God will continue to bless us on our journey together.