Pastor’s Thoughts

“Christ is Risen!”

“Christ is Risen!”

         As Christians we proclaim that phrase joyfully and boldly – at least at Easter.  It is, after all, the central claim of the Christian Church and the central theme of the season that we now enter.  In a few weeks though the phrase will be spoken far less often and with less enthusiasm, most often as we dutifully and obediently read it in a Sunday morning church bulletin where the line is in bold and headed by the word “Congregation”.  Beyond that, for the greater part of each year the phrase hardly escapes our lips outside the confines of a church sanctuary, because that would be just . . . . . embarrassing now, wouldn’t it?  As a pastor I find little more depressing than proclaiming with joy in a church service, Christ is risen!” and hearing a congregation respond in a flat monotone and with no energy whatsoever, “He is risen indeed.”

Paul boldly proclaims in his letter to the church at Corinth, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and your are still in your sins.  Then those also who have died in Christ have perished.  If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”  Friends, if not for the resurrection, then we in the church have little or no purpose at all!  The resurrection is what distinguished Jesus from any other scholar or philosophers in his age.  The Gospel of John even proclaims even the miracles of Jesus as “signs” that lead us to the power of God made manifest in Christ’s resurrection.  Everything leads to, everything points to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul goes on to write in his letter, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.”  In other words, Christ has truly been raised from the dead, and because of that fact we will rise as well.  And If I know that I will rise from the dead to a new and joyous life in Christ, then I have no need to fear death nor to fear anything in this world that I might consider “death dealing”.  I have that confidence, that victory not because of anything that I have done, but simply because Christ is risen.  And my friends if that is not good news, then I don’t know what good news is!

Let us then, both individually and together, be a resurrection people; a people who proclaim boldly that Christ is risen; a people that live without fear, free to give boldly of ourselves in the manner of Jesus Christ our Savior.  Let us be a resurrection people beyond Easter Sunday, beyond the Easter season, beyond the confines of a church sanctuary, in every aspect and every moment of our lives. One more time, let the people say (and with gusto!) . . . .

 

“Christ is risen!”

Grace and peace,

Pastor Dan

Pastors thoughts March 2018

Friends in Christ,   We are now well into the Lenten Season and moving steadily toward the passion and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  As I have noted often already this Lenten season, Lent should be a time of discipline in preparation for the Three Days and Easter. This discipline can take many forms and could and should include elements of prayer, scriptural study, fellowship and charity. The purpose of such discipline is not to be able to boast of your accomplishments.  (I didn’t touch a crumb of chocolate through the entire season of Lent! Trust me, I can’t make that boast!)  The purpose is to deepen your faith and to make the celebration of Hoy Week and Easter more profound.

Our Sunday School children have taken on a discipline this season and we invite you to join them in this discipline. The children are collecting funds to purchase an animal through Heifer Project International. The type of animal that they will purchase through their donations is dependent on how much they can collect. The children took some time to determine how they might earn money to donate toward their Lenten project and some of them got very creative. How creative can you get?

One of the greatest parts of the discipline of Lent is to be able to think outside yourself; to become less self-centric. We strive to do this because it is our way of mirroring the attitude of Christ, who according to the Apostle Paul, “emptied himself” (Philippians 2:7) in obedience to God and in service to humankind. Thinking outside yourself promotes compassion toward others as Christ was compassionate. Thinking outside yourself promotes obedience to the will of God as Christ was obedient, even to death upon a cross. Thinking outside yourself allows you to be honest about all that is inside you and to work for change.

We hope that our times of worship, fellowship and study here at Zion will be a benefit to you as you travel the pathway of lent and as you employ your own personal Lenten discipline. Please remember that we will begin a new worship schedule this month, with our second service beginning at 10:30 am on Sundays.  We will also reinstitute our Adult Forum program at 9:20 am.  Wednesday evening study and service begins at 7:00 pm each week, preceded at 6:15 pm by a light soup supper.  As always, our Tuesday afternoon Bible Study group is open to everyone who wishes to join us.  Please note our schedule for Holy Week here in this Newsletter.

Grace and Peace,

Friends in Christ,

We have come to a point in our transition time together for me to put on my “transition hat” and to review with you where we are in our transition and what the next steps will be.  I’ve also asked Laura to include in this newsletter the “transition roadmap” that our Transition Team created a few months ago.

On January 28th at our Annual Congregational Meeting Fred Humcke announced the makeup of Zion’s Church Council appointed Call Committee.  The committee members were selected based upon the suggestions given by church members back in December and with the intent to have a committee that is diverse and which represents the congregation well.  The Call Committee members are:  Marcia Horner, Emily Rochotte, Larry Salvatore, Tom Scudese, Christine Stabile and Linda Tucker.  It will be the task of this committee to request candidates from the Synod and then to interview those candidates. This is a big job and we ask that you keep the committee in your prayers.

Once more, the process for securing a new pastor is this: The Call Committee and Church Council submit to the Synod a document known as the Site Profile which tells the Synod about the church and what we are looking for in a pastor.  The Bishop will then recommend one candidate who will be interviewed by the Call Committee.  If the Call Committee approves the candidate, they will pass the information and the candidate to the Church Council for another interview or interviews.  If the Church Council approves the candidate, they will pass the candidate on to the Congregation who will receive information on the candidate and will hear the candidate preach and lead worship.  After that worship service a congregational meeting will be called to vote to receive or reject the candidate as Zion’s next pastor.  A 2/3 majority vote is required to call the pastor and the pastor.  At every step of the process the candidate can be rejected (by the Call Committee, the Council or the Congregation) or can himself/herself opt out of the process.  If the candidate is rejected or declines, another candidate will be offered by the Bishop and the process will begin anew.

In the meantime our Transition Team will continue to gather information that will be passed to the Call Committee and Council.  Please keep an eye out for future discussion group opportunities!  And please know that my office is always open to you for your opinions and wisdom to share, especially if you cannot make it to one of our discussion groups.  Now, more than ever, you need to keep yourself abreast of current events at Zion; so watch your monthly Long Valley Lutheran newsletter, your weekly Happenings, and your announcements on Sundays.

And also in the meantime, life at Zion Lutheran Church will continue as usual.  What I have said many times over, I continue to say – I am your “full service” pastor!  Please let me know of illnesses, injuries, life changes and especially of hospitalizations of anyone in the congregation.  I would much rather be notified six times that “Art” is in the hospital than to find out three weeks after the fact that “Art” had been in the hospital! Grace and Peace, 

Pastor Dan

Oct. 2017 LVL Pastors Thoughts

Friends in Christ,Friends in Christ,

The countdown has begun!  By the end of this month the world will have seen five hundred years of history of the Protestant Reformation.  It all began on October 30, 1517 when a young catholic priest and scholar named Martin Luther posted his concerns and complaints against the hierarchy of the church.  It has been said many times over that this young priest had no idea what he was putting into motion with his “95 Theses”.  What has become clear with years and centuries of hindsight is that Martin Luther was voicing the concerns of many.  The people of the church as well as many scholars and priests within the church in many lands and in many settings had tired of the corruption that was so obvious within the church hierarchy and of the staggering difference between the wealth and opulence of the greater church and the widespread poverty of the vast majority of the population of Europe.

Contemporary theologian and scholar Phyllis Tickle has offered the thesis, “that every 500 years, the Church goes through a rummage sale, and cleans out the old forms of spirituality and replaces it with new ones.”  The Protestant Reformation in 1500 A.D. followed by 500 years the great schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church which took place in approximately 1000 A.D.  Luther’s primary belief was that each and every Christian can access the grace of God without the intervention of the church.  To encourage this, Luther worked diligently to put Holy Scripture into the hands of the general population.  This meant defying the church that had for centuries dictated that the Bible be only issued in Latin, a language understood only by priests and their superiors.  Supported in their efforts by the newly invented “moveable type printing press”, Luther and others distributed the Bible to the masses – in their own language!

Standing now at the portal of the 500th anniversary of these amazing acts, we must ask ourselves, “Is it time for another of Dr. Tickle’s ‘rummage sales’?”  Is this the age when spirituality and our relationship to our God will be ‘reinvented’, shifted radically, cast in a new and powerful light?  Is it time to take a serious look at the way we ‘do faith’?  Does our worship, our prayer, our study of scripture need to find new forms of expression?  Do we need to reinvigorate the call of Christ to minister to those around us?  Does our ministry to others need to take new form in order to maintain its relevance in this current age?

I have no easy answers to these questions.  I do, though, have a great love for the Gospel and a great curiosity in my faith.  I am always ready and happy to engage you in conversation around the simple aspects of life and faith as well as around the deep and weighty matters of life and faith. So come and celebrate with us here at Zion Church!  Come and explore with us!  Come and find the joy of life in Christ Jesus our Savior that has – throughout all the rummage sales – been at the core of who we are and what we are about!

Grace and Peace,  Pastor Dan

Change is coming to Zion!

Please join us for a Contemporary worship service at 9:00 am September 3rd—our last of the summer worship schedule.

Beginning on Rally Day, September 10th, Zion’s worship schedule will change! We will continue to conduct our contemporary worship service at 8:00 am, but we will now hold our traditional service at 9:15am during the Sunday School hour. Sunday school children will be dismissed to class after participating in the opening in the Sanctuary at 9:15am instead of 9:00 am.

Parents may then stay for the remainder for the service.

Nursery Care will now be available for both the 8:00 am and 9:15 am services.  We hope this makes it easier for parents of Sunday School and young children to join us for services each week.  Please look to the weekly Happenings emails for all the latest news and information about worship at Zion.

 

ORGAN DONOR REQUEST

Nancy Sweet, the wife of the Reverend Stephen E. Sweet, Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in River Edge, New Jersey, is in need of a kidney. He has reached out to churches in the area and asked that her need be publicized in the belief that many times it is a “person of faith” who usually steps up and unconditionally donates a kidney.  Anyone who is interested or need more information, please call Nancy at (201)674-8162 or email her at [email protected] You may also call Reverend Sweet on his cell phone at (201) 956-2555.

 

Blessed are they who die in the Lord

Friends,

We announce with sorrow that Helen Farwell, mother of Judy Bumpus  died this morning in Iowa.  Funeral arrangements are pending.  Please keep Judy and her family in your prayers.
In Christ’s love,
Pastor Dan Schroeder

Fall Lutheran Marriage Encounter Weekend

ATTENTION MARRIED COUPLES: If you haven’t already signed up for your Fall Lutheran Marriage Encounter Weekend, don’t delay.  Sign up today! The September Weekend (September 15-17 Weekend at Spruce Lake Retreat Center in the Poconos) has only a very few openings remaining.  The October 6-8 Weekend is to be held at a beautiful location in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains overlooking a lake–the Black Swan Inn in Lee, Massachusetts–and we do currently have openings for this one.

 

Two nights lodging, 5 meals for each of you, and all supplies are included with your $100 per couple registration fee, plus toward the end of the weekend you will be given an opportunity to make a confidential contribution of whatever amount you wish toward the continuation of the program.  Sign up today by going to the website: www.GodLovesMarriage.org and paying the registration fee with your credit card, or marking the option to mail a check.  For questions, or if you would like a brochure with registration form mailed to you, contact Northeast US Directors of Lutheran Marriage Encounter, Fred & Julie Schamber, at: [email protected] or 724-325-3166.   

Carl Burd

We are sad to announce the passing of a long-time Long Valley resident – Carl Burd. He is the long time companion of Zion member Joyce Shakespeare. His obituary and funeral arrangements may be found at http://www.cochranfuneral.com/obit/obituaries.php?id=2876 for those who are interested.
 
Carl H. Burd passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Friday, June 30, 2017. Born in Califon, he graduated from Hackettstown High School in 1955. He attended Rutgers University majoring in Agriculture. Carl settled in Long Valley and followed his passion for farming by starting Burd Farms. He farmed until his retirement in 2011. He also enjoyed spending his Saturday evenings calling Square Dances around the area. He looked forward to and loved spending time with his family especially around the dinner table with everyone. He joined the Fairmount Fire Company in 1953, he was the Fire Chief in 1969 and also 1970. Carl was a life member until his passing. Carl joined the Long Valley Rescue Squad in1957 and was a founding & life member. He was predeceased by his parents Howard & Erma Mary (Smith) Burd , his sister’s Dorothy (Burd) Frank and Evelyn (Burd) Matson, He is survived by his significant other & companion of 30 years Joyce Shakespeare, his loving family Pam Shakespeare-Mackey (Kenneth), Buddy Shakespeare (Sandy), grandchildren Kyle, Ryan & Briana Shakespeare, as well as his loving cats Jeter & Cano. Carl is also survived by his 3 nieces, 4 nephews & 2 sons. Friends and relatives are invited to attend his viewing on Friday, July 7, 2017, from 5:00pm-7:00pm at the Cochran Funeral Home, 905 High Street, Hackettstown, NJ 07840. Cremation will be private. In Lieu of flowers please make donations in Carl’s name to the Fairmount Fire Company, PO Box 8, Long Valley, NJ 07853 and/or The Long Valley Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 111, Long Valley, NJ 07853

Lost keys – Casa Zion

There is a set of keys labeled “Casa Zion”  in the church office. If you are the owner of these keys, please contact Laura Hamilton in the church office to retrieve your keys!