Posts

God's Call

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 By Jacob Krueger, ELCA Seminarian Wartburg Theological Seminary This month’s blog posts are focusing on Where is God Calling You? A couple of weeks ago, Bishop Maas wrote about the visionary aspect of this question and what might the church look like in the future. I’m curious what this question means for lay people in the church who are discerning or pondering God’s call to love and serve their neighbor by becoming a Pastor, Deacon, or Parish Ministry Associate (PMA). In 2013, over fourteen students from the campus ministries in Nebraska joined together at a restaurant in Lincoln, NE. The major topic that day was about discernment, call, and vocation. While we gathered for fellowship and food, Bishop Maas asked a question for the group to discuss. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it went something like this, “In spite of what are you discerning God’s call?” This question got right at the heart of the many reasons people to this day don’t answer God’s call to work in and for

Resilience

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 By  Deacon Sunni Richardson, Director for Leadership Development RESILIENCE!  Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. For Matt Bloom of the University of Notre Dame, resilience shows up in both the capacity to respond to challenges and the capacity to grow and learn from those challenges at the same time. Resilience requires both strength and flexibility.  First, a big round of applause to all of the congregations who quickly exercised flexibility. We need a photo gallery on the Synod web page with showing worship leaders with smart phones balanced on hymnals, cardboard boxes crafted in to recording studios and teen tutors with pastors, deacons, and PMAs learning to use new apps. Bravo!  But … I have to ask, have we been adaptive? I know we adapted. Online worship was new for the majority of our Nebraska Synod congregations. It was a steep learning curve for many. The learning, however, was technical. Learning how to record worship, downloading video to the we

Where Is God Calling You?

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 By Bishop Brian Maas This month’s theme will be read by some as an invitation to reflection on vocation—‘what is God calling you to become?’—while others will read an invitation to visioning—‘what future is God calling you to enter?’ While I have no particular faculty for seeing the future, it’s that latter reading I’m responding to. God is calling me into 2021; into an immediate future I pray is an improvement over the immediate past. But that’s nothing unique—God is calling all of us into 2021; or at least the calendar is dragging us there. My sense is that God is calling me, and those of us who are willing to follow, into something far more intense than just a new year. God is calling me, calling us, into the future of the church—the future of God’s church. This is a daunting calling, that fills me with abundant trepidation. But also more than a little bit of excitement. God is calling us to share a future as God’s “mouth-house,” as Luther called the church; as the body gifted with

Seeing Emmanuel- Our God who has come into the world and is with us!

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 By Deacon Timothy Siburg, Director for Stewardship Merry Christmas, People of God!!! What joy it is to think about God’s presence with me and with all of you on this most holy of days. Admittedly it’s been a hard year. It’s been a weird year. It has not been one that anyone could have dreamed of, imagined, or hoped for. But all that said, God has been present in it and continues to be just as God always is- Emmanuel, our God with us. Our God who has come into the world yet again as we celebrate today, and will continue to celebrate in the rest of the twelve days to come. Our God who comes and is with us who opens hearts, hands, minds, and our very own imagination.  Seeing God at work in the world is one of the true gifts of serving on synod staff. I witness God’s activity in, around, under, through, and for all of you every day. In processing this witness, I often share with my spiritual director about where I have sensed God’s presence and movement, and what God sightings I have had

Where do I see God

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 By Morgan Tranmer, Administrative Assistant at the Nebraska Synod This year has brought to light the many places that I see God working in my life. COVID-19 quickly changed my daily patterns from community focused and social to lonely and isolating. In the matter of a few weeks, I had changed careers, moved to a new city, began to quarantine at home, and lost the many aspects of community that I valued. The political climate was shifting, people were calling for overdue social change, and I became increasingly anxious about the future, my role in this world, and how I would continue to serve my community in a positive way.  So where have I seen God in all this? I tend to struggle with this question. My fear is that this simple question leads us to wonder where God is present only in the positive moments of our lives. It is easy to say that we see God in a beautiful sunrise or a random act of kindness.  However, sometimes those ‘God moments’ can be hard to find while working through an

God is Love

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 By Rev. Ricardo Riqueza Greetings in Christ,  For those who do not know me, my name is Ricardo Riqueza. I am the pastor at St. John's in Marquette and Trinity in Polk. I am also not a native Nebraskan. I have done ministry in many places and have seen much of the United States. I did ministry in California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and now I am here in rural Nebraska. In each place I saw God in different ways. I have been very blessed to experience all those states, where I was able to learn and grow. In California, I did my teaching parish in Berkeley and the church was very passionate about social justice. I saw God in Berkeley in people’s passion to care for all God’s creation regardless of gender, national origin, and sexual orientation. People in Berkeley were living God’s commandments in their daily lives.  In Arizona, I did my internship in Phoenix in a congregation consisting of people from Mexico. The people at the congregation were Spanish speakers and most were struggling

Where do you see God?

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 By Bishop Brian Maas I love Advent. I love it for the clean slate it represents as the start of the liturgical year, I love it for its theme of growing light in a time of increasing darkness, I love the memories of our children lighting Advent candles every evening while singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”—the first hymn they learned by heart—I love our scorch-scarred Advent log, with one candle for every day of Advent, I love the peace of Advent in a time of cultural commercial craziness; I even love the blue of the paraments. This year, Advent is harder for me. My experience of the season, like everything else, is shaded, tainted, tempered by the reality of pandemic—and of the cultural divisions it only magnifies. There is less anticipation in my Advent, and more simple, ordinary waiting. The hope that always bubbles up is this year more heavily reliant on faith—on simple, stripped-down trust. The theme for this month is “Where do you see God?” This year, most days—especially as our h