Pastor’s Letter – July 2019 June 25, 2019


Why don’t Lutherans preach “hellfire and damnation”?  It’s in the Bible isn’t it?  Usually when I get that question, it’s other people that the questioner has in mind who need such waking up, seldom themselves.

For centuries, the church has used threat of God’s punishment to keep their followers in line.  Why not?  It’s proven to be an effective tool.  “How do you know when you die that you won’t be sent to hell?”  We never know for sure, do we?

Fear has always been a strong motivator.  Today politicians use it with great results.

When Jesus rose from the dead, he declared an end to the domination of fear.  Love is the new motivator.  In the new age of Jesus Christ, the Gospel is communicated always as promise, never as threat.

God no longer needs to create a consciousness of the “everlasting fires” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  We can do that well on our own, thank you very much.  We create our own hell.

Jesus comes to us as our liberator.  Our “July 4th” celebration is the freedom we enjoy in our new life in Christ.  We are set free from the many ways  we torment ourselves, so that no matter the kind of day we are having, when others ask how we are, we genuinely respond with “I am blessed, truly blessed.”  Thanks be to God. pastorsign


Pastor’s Letter – June 2019 May 29, 2019

people_17739cFew of us have life-changing moments like St. Paul and Martin Luther.  Most of us are on a slow road in our faith development.  God works on us through our relationships.  We learn who we are and who we are not by our experiences with others and our involvement in doing things together.

Adult Sunday School closed out the year by participants engaging in an exercise to uncover our gifts as persons.  Some of us turn out to be organized, others are people-oriented, still others possessing certain talents.  Our gifts reveal a lot about who God created us to be.  No one person has them all, so, God made us to live in community.  We need each other to bring out the best that we have to offer.

It is a proven fact that persons who are part of a supportive network tend to live longer, healthier lives.  At heart, we are social beings.  The church is God’s gift to us for the kind of engagement that nourishes our souls and empowers us to serve.

Adult Sunday School gave us a privilege to know and affirm one another in such a unique way in our closing weeks together.  What better definition of love than looking for and bringing out the best in other persons.  What better way to build faith?pastorsign

Pastor’s Letter – May 2019 April 25, 2019


The month of May is our reward for having endured the rigors of winter. 

   It is the season when life breaks into full bloom  and our hearts break out into praise.  How do we survive the winter times of  our lives?  Think May!  The essence of hope is in the Christian claim, “The best is  yet to come.”  That’s what it says in the Book of Revelation.  It takes a look at how history ends, when God will dwell fully with God’s people in a joy that exceeds our imaginations.  At the end, all will be well.   So whenever things are not going well, we know we haven’t arrived yet.  

                                                                                                            The best is still ahead.



Pastor’s Letter – April 2019 April 8, 2019


Eugene Peterson wrote a book called Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ.  In it he notes Jesus’ use of the birth metaphor in his exchange with Nicodemus in the Gospel of John.  We use that same metaphor in describing our baptism.

Lacking in imagination, Nicodemus had no idea what Jesus was talking about.  But a seed was planted that evening that grew.  Later when Jesus was under attack, Nicodemus came to his defense among his fellow rulers.  Next we see him at the Cross, assisting Joseph of Arimathea with taking the body from the cross and carrying it to a nearby tomb for burial.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, growth in Jesus Christ proceeds from our birth as Christians.  Growth requires disciplines of self-care and engagement with others.

“You once were dead,”  writes St. Paul in Ephesians 2, “but now you are alive together with Christ.”  Practicing resurrection means cultivating the habits of Christian growth: weekly worship, daily prayer, engaging in Scripture, and serving others.  Easter celebrates our new birth and invites us into a live of mutual support and challenge.  Why wait until the afterlife, when the life we are given in the Risen Christ can be experienced here and now?


Pastor’s Letter – March 2019 March 11, 2019

rainbow_15470cScripture is full of stories of persons whose lives were changed by experiences of the grace of God.  The most famous is St. Paul who was met by God on the road to Damascus.  Resolving to stamp our Christianity, he became its most ardent supporter.  It’s amazing what happens when God is able to get our attention.

During the Sundays of the Lenten season, a new preaching series will feature stories of life-changing encounters with Jesus:  Zacchaeus, Blind Bartimaeus, the Woman at the Well, the Invalid by the Pool, and Simon Peter’s Love exchange with the Risen Christ.

Their stories can awaken our stories of how the grace of God makes a difference in our lives.  The upcoming church season starting with Ash Wednesday (March 6) and leading up to Easter creates an opportunity for focus, to honor our craving for God through weekly worship and intentional prayer.  We are God’s works in progress whatever our season in life.  Why not give priority to our only relationship that has no end?


Pastor’s Letter – February 2019 March 11, 2019


Yale University has started a popular new course entitled “A Worthwhile Life.”  Students are challenged to reflect for themselves on how they would like to make a difference in the world; what are reasons they exist; what in their life would they find most fulfilling.  The need for such a course is highlighted by the overwhelming response of Yale students.  It’s amazing such questions rarely come up in our education system

One question in the course I like is: “At the end of your life, what might you miss the most for never having experienced?”  How would we answer that ?  Success?  Adventure?  Wealth? Friendship?  A Tesla Model 3 car?

Jesus tells us a parable about someone who discovered a buried treasure that meant so much to him, he sold all he had to possess it.  In typical Rabbi fashion, Jesus never tell us what that treasure is for us Christians.  Did he want us to discover for ourselves what it is?

This month we remain in the worship season of Epiphany, a church word meaning “Shedding light.”  May God help us discover the treasure so precious we’d give up all to possess: the treasure of Jesus Christ.pastorsign


Pastor’s Letter – January 2018 December 26, 2018




Grateful for the past.  Anticipating the future.  Fully alive in the present.  New Year’s is a time for both looking back, and facing forward, then finding cause from this perspective to celebrate what is now.  For we are part of a story that has both beginning and ending that gives direction for each today.

“A thousand ages in your sight,” says a familiar hymn, “are like an evening gone, short as the watch that ends the night before the rising sun.”  The verses of that hymn, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”, affirm that the same God who has seen us through thus far, is also “our hope for years to come.”

Slow as time moves, it does move; we are not stuck in winter’s midnight.  We hardly notice it, but it’s happening:  Each new day from now on adds two minutes of the sun’s presence.  In God’s world, darkness always gives in to new light.  Faith is learning to wait for it with patience.

So, what is awaiting you? What is God incubating in you so that your story can unfold?  After all, because we are His, the story we live out is ultimately His love story, where God accepts us just as we are so that we may fulfill who we are to become.  Joyous New Year!pastorsign


Pastor’s Letter – December 2018 December 4, 2018


“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”                               (Psalm 111:10)


Do we not emphasize enough the fearsome wrath of God?  Do we rely too much on divine grace?  As Advent season returns, can we not hear the warnings of John the Baptist: “Every tree therefore that doesn’t bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”  (Mark 3:9)  There are many descriptions of God in the Bible which should fill us “with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)

Hold on a minute.  The word “fear” in speaking of our relationship with God can have a double meaning.  Fear in the Bible can also mean reverence, a state of our being over-awed.

When God does finally reveal God’s true nature, it is  as a newborn child.  God comes quietly in the name of peace, the opposite of threat and violence.  Rather than being intimidating, the baby of Bethlehem comes to win over our hearts.  Grace turns out to be the real face of God after all.  The Kingdom of God plants its fear in Christmas Eve as the realm of love, not violence.

It is a love that transforms the negative side of fear into heart-felt reverence of a God full of surprise.pastorsign


Pastor’s Letter – November 2018 November 6, 2018

Developing an attitude of gratitude is good for our health (Scientifically proven!); it builds our immune system and lowers blood pressure.  Grateful people are healthier and live longer.


November is Thanksgiving month.  Yes.  We need a month, not just one day (November 22) to reorient our lives to acknowledge our blessings.  If you haven’t yet started your gratitude journal now is the time to get it started.  At the end of each day, write down at least three things you are thankful for.  (Ok, you can use your Iphone.)  Many of you pray before meals.  As you eat, think of all the people who played a part in making that food a reality, from the farmers to the grocer.


Feeling grateful is only half of the equation.  To get the full benefits, express it to others.  Show it.  To those part of your daily life as well as to an old friend.


As a child of God, love is at the very core of our being.  Expressing gratitude is one important way for it to grow.                                                                    pastorsign


Pastor’s Letter – October 2018 October 2, 2018


“God bless the broken road” could well be Jewel Reed’s theme song.  Her childhood was far from typical.  Born in New York City, her family moved to Roanoke when Jewel was 4 years old when her father got a job helping to build the Skyline Drive. It was while on the job he soon died of a tragic accident.

Jewel, her mother and a brother moved in first with one grandmother, then another, and then because of financial hardships, her mom placed Jewel and her brother in a foster care kind of arrangement in Clearbrook, south of Roanoke, when Jewel was 5-12 years old.  Finally, her mother, now remarried, was able to take Jewel and her brother back.

What perhaps sustained Jewel during her formative years was the music she carried in her heart.  She recalls long hours of singing to herself and to this day, Jewel can come up with a movie title to fit any occasion.  (Her one singing performance was at age 14 when she entered a “Tots and Teens” contest at Heironimus in Roanoke.)  (PS.  How many of us know that Jewel was once in a Miss Roanoke Beauty Contest?)

In her early twenties, Jewel met a Navy man named Charlie who was to become her husband.  They eventually moved to New York City and two sons, Eddie and Robert, and a daughter, Margery were born.   Charlie died suddenly of an aneurysm in 1991 and in 1997, Jewel and her children moved back to Roanoke.   

In looking for a church, Jewel visited Trinity one Sunday when Troy Kincer was preaching during Pastor Lane’s absence and she happened to sit by Lori, his wife.  “That’s my husband up there,” Lori told Jewel, who then decided Trinity was her church.           

Jewel has been one of Trinity’s most active volunteers.  She has fulfilled many different roles, but chief among them have been her long-standing leadership of both the Thrift Shop and Helping Hands.

Yes, there were breaks in the road Jewel traveled but the best period of her life was yet to come.  She met up with an ex-Marine she used to date in her early years.  On October 16, 2010, she and Jack Reed were married and the two became Trinity’s love couple.  Sadly, Jack died a year ago.  Though her heart was broken, Jewel still believes she sees Jack at times in the shape of clouds, which keeps her looking up.

God bless the open road that sometimes leads us to the love of our life, but in all cases to a homecoming that beats all homecomings.pastorsign