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January Letter from the Pastor

Dear Friends,
 
HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Does January seem like such a letdown month to you?  Through the years I have
noticed that we, Christians and non-Christians, seem to “get it” in December for the most part, but can’t seem to “get it” the rest of the year.  What happens to us when we turn the calendar? 
 
In December folks are a little jollier than they are in January, actually from February to November also.  All too often the turning of the calendar seems to turn
personalities.  The first few days may be okay as we go about trying to live up to those resolutions we made.  But give it a week or two, and the realization that more than likely we will not keep those
resolutions, and boom it happens; we are back to the pre-November mentality of day-to-day living as we get back into a much more settled routine.
 
So, here’s a thought.  Instead of making that New Year’s resolution to lose weight, to
go to the gym, to eat healthier, to save some extra money, to quit whatever it is that
has you tied to this world, why don’t we all make the resolution to keep the love and
Joy, experienced in the birth of Christ, throughout this coming year.
 
May the joy of Christmas bless and keep you in all that you do in 2014!
 
Pastor Diana     
 
 

December Letter from the Pastor

Dear Friends,

 

Ever feel as if you have entered into an episode of Star Trek?  Where God calls, you say yes, and all of a sudden it’s “Beam me up Scotty”.  Then, when you have been beamed into this new journey instantly
Captain Kurt says “Warp speed ahead”.  At first, all you can do is hold on for the ride, and then one day you realize either the world is slowing down or you are catching up. 
 
The world of Trinity Lutheran Everett and I are beginning to come into sync.  So, I want to take this time out to breathe and to let you know who I am, and what a “Respite Pastor” is.
 
My husband, Chris, and I live in Edmonds, and our child consists of one Grey Cockatiel named Precious who happens to be a perpetual toddler and a mama’s boy.  Chris works for Snohomish County and will not be able to worship with us due to his work schedule.  On December 3rd we will begin our 14th year of marriage.  As for me, I was born in Massachusetts and raised in Everett.  I graduated from Mariner High School, received my Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Seattle University and my Master’s Degree from the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University.  I am a trained Interim Pastor, and on my 5th year of ordination. 
 
So, what is a respite Pastor? A Respite Pastor steps into a congregation to assist it with its existing plans for the future, and to help it continue to move forward towards its mission statement while the settled pastor takes time to keep him/herself healthy.  In the next month or two Trinity will continue with all its plans for the Advent & the Christmas season.  We will also be looking ahead and preparing for Lent.  Trinity is not in the interim process, and I will not be functioning as an Interim Pastor. 
 
I am honored and blessed to be able to assist Trinity and Pastor Carson during this time as we await the celebration of the coming of our Lord’s birth, and the return of Pastor Carson. 
 
I have been asked: what do we call you?  I answer to Pastor Diana, Pastor Bottin (Bow Teen),
or Pastor B, whichever is more comfortable for you.  Please feel free to stop in the office to ask questions.  My door is always open. 
 
Your Sister in Christ
Respite Pastor Diana Bottin
 

November Letter from the Pastor

Dear Friends,

November is the month that we who live in the United States of America take time to give thanks.  For me, the thanks that I give are primarily directed to God, Creator of the universe, who richly blesses me each day.  Of course, I am also thankful for and to the many people in my life who are also blessings to me.  In my “thankful for” I acknowledge that it is God who creates each one of us and creates the opportunities that we have to interact with each other.  God is truly for me the “God of relationships.”

The old hymn, Count Your Blessings, written by Johnson Oatman, Jr. is not one of the many hymns of thanksgiving found in our hymnals. Maybe it should be!  When I actually start listing the many, many people and things for which I give thanks, I am always amazed at God’s gracious care of me.  I know there are days when this song seems just too trite and “clap happy” to be endured, but I learned to sing this song as a nursing home chaplain from people who would seem to have much less to be thankful for than I do.   This song was one of the most requested by the residents and it was sung with gusto and joy!

This day and every day I am thankful for Dave and our children and their spouses and our sweet grand-daughter and my siblings and their families and for the people of Trinity and all who gather here for worship on Sundays.  I am thankful for Gary, Amy, Gina, Christa, Jack and Holly—those with whom I am privileged to work with on behalf of Trinity! I am thankful for Clara, who even in retirement continues to support and bless me.  I am especially thankful for our Church Council members!  My list goes on and on because I am so blessed with friends and neighbors and care providers. 

This day and every day I am thankful for the things of creation that inspire me and comfort me—mountains, rivers, flowers, the rain, the sunshine, good tasting food and food that is good for me.  This list also seems endless because it is.  It is harder for me to give thanks for those things that challenge me—but I know that my growth in faith often happens through those challenging situations.  So even for all those things that makes me grow, I give thanks.

For what are you thankful?  Count your blessings, name them one by one, see what God has done!  (Thank you Mr. Oatman for these words!)

Thankfully yours,
Pastor Jocelyn

 
 

October Letter from the Pastor

Dear Friends,

I love being Lutheran!   I know that Martin Luther himself did not expect to begin a new church but wanted to reform the existing Church.  He certainly did not want a church named after him.  What he did want was a church that told the story of God’s love for humanity.  Luther lived his early life in fear of God, but spent the last years of his life trusting in God’s mercy and grace.  For me, Lutheran = mercy + grace!

Luther called the church a “priesthood of all believers.”  He wanted every person to know that God heard their prayers and that the Bible was a book for all of us to read in our own language.  Luther was not the only reformer who translated the Bible and argued with the pope—he was following in the footsteps of Jan Hus, a Czech priest and John Wycliffe, an English priest.  There were many reformers who followed him, including those who stayed in the Roman Catholic Church to make many changes within that church.

Sometimes we in the church have heard the word “reform” as an encouragement to separate ourselves from those who do not agree with us.  Sometimes it is hard for us to remember that we are truly “One in Christ.”  It takes patience for us to “make the effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  In Ephesians 4:4-6 we read, “There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

As we celebrate the beginnings of the Lutheran Church on October 27, we also celebrate our sisters and brothers in other faith communities with whom we share One Baptism and the Lord’s Table.  We give thanks for all who work for peace and justice in the world in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  We remember with thanksgiving all who have taught us of God’s abundant love and mercy!

Gracious Father, we pray for your holy catholic church. Fill it with all truth and peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in need, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

One in hope,
Pastor Jocelyn

 
 

September Letter from the Pastor

Dear Friends,

“Once upon a time . . .” is so often the response to the request of a small child to “tell me a story, please.”   The fairy tales that often follow are rich with images that engage a child’s imagination.  When we relax and listen to a story, or watch a movie we are more receptive to a new idea or a new way of thinking about a problem.  Jesus knew that those who listened to his parables were likely to suspend their judging thoughts at least until the end of the story. 

So Jesus told us stories.  Lots of stories!  Some of them are confusing, such as the one in which the dishonest manager is praised.  Some of them we could understand better if we were living in first century Palestine because that is the cultural setting they reflect.  We learn from the parables of Jesus when we set aside our common understandings of vineyards, slaves, and debt and open our minds to the world in which Jesus taught.  This is not an easy task, but together we will explore a few of the parables of Jesus in September.  I hope the ones we read together inspire you to explore others in Luke’s Gospel.

 

Tell me a story . . . I love the one that begins, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” for it is the story of us and the God who has never stopped loving us.  One reason we say a creed together as part of worship is because our creeds are the story of our life with God.  For the last year we have been using on occasion A Statement of Faith written by the United Churches of Canada.  It helps us tell the story in simple, 21st century language.  I especially like the line that invites me to say, “In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.  We are not alone.”  This is truly the fairy tale ending, “. . . and they lived happily ever after.”  Thanks be to God!

In September we celebrate education and those who teach the rest of us!  On September 15th we will bless back packs and those who learn.  We will also bless those who teach or have taught, not just in school settings, but also in Scouting, Campfire, sports teams, and homeless shelters.  Thank you parents, teachers, mentors, guides, leaders, coaches and all who tell stories of life to our young people and to us.

May we never be too old to hear God’s story of love as if it were the first time,

Pastor Jocelyn

 
 

August Letter from the Pastor

Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. . . Have no fear little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”   Luke 12:22 & 32

Dear Friends,

 In the July Tidings I quoted from the book of Proverbs about the wisdom of the Ant who worked so diligently in preparation for her future.  In these verses from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus promises us that God will take care of us and that we have no reason to worry about all the things that other people seem to be worrying about.  I love that Jesus and the Ant both have wisdom to share with us about our time and our possessions!
 
Jesus invites us to trust God for what we need and inspires us to share what we have with
others.  Jesus is not telling people to stop working, but rather he is suggesting that our
priorities need to be examined with the Kingdom of God coming first.  Then with our priorities in order we can truly “have no fear.”  Verse 34 of this chapter sums it up quite well, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  What do you treasure?  What do you value?  Where is the focus of your life?  For whom do you care?
 
There are so many good things in our lives—our families, our health, our jobs, our hobbies, our friends, our neighbors, our homes, and so much more.  In the Lord’s Prayer many of these gifts come under the heading of “our daily bread” because they are the things we need for our lives.  Jesus says not to worry about food or clothing, but those who do not know where there next meal is coming from do worry.  Our gifts to the Food Bank make a huge difference in their lives.  The Great Trinity Give-Away on August 3rd will make it possible for many to worry less about clothing and household items.  Thank you for sharing! 
 
When we take time to share our blessings our hearts turn outwards towards others.  When we worry and fret, our hearts turn inwards towards ourselves.  Jesus is encouraging us to turn our hearts towards God and our neighbors by reminding us that God’s heart is always turned towards us.  God has great pleasure in giving us what is good.  I imagine God takes great pleasure in our sharing those good things, too! 
 
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!”
 
Working with you in the Kingdom, resting with you in God’s love,

Pastor Jocelyn

 
 

July Letter from the Pastor

“Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.  Learn from their ways and become wise!  . . . they labor hard all summer gathering food for the winter.”  Proverbs 6:6 & 8 New Living Translation

Dear Friends,
 
On of my favorite books as a child was “Aesop’s Fables.”  I am sure that you remember some of these stories too.  They are still a part of our culture and most people at least know the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.  As I was out working in the garden in the sunshine the other day I was remembering the fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper.  The Ant is very industrious and works very, very hard.  I think she is modeled on the same Ant that is mentioned in Proverbs 6.
 
The Grasshopper on the other hand is a great model of self care and relaxation.  However, winter is coming and the Grasshopper has not collected any food and has no place to go to stay warm.  I, like the Grasshopper, sometimes forget how cold winter can be while I am in the midst of enjoying summer.  The green leaves, the blue skies, the flowers and vegetables growing like weeds—all these speak of everlasting summer to me.
 
There are many Stewardship messages in the book of Proverbs!  God praises the industrious Ants and God encourages the Grasshoppers to take care of themselves and their families. (See Proverbs 6:9-10)  We as a church community have committed ourselves to a budget that pays staff salaries, buys the paper for the bulletins, keeps the lights on, and provides a place of grace for many to meet.  Our commitments do not take a break in the summer.  We need to be like the Ants, even as we enjoy our summer rest and relaxation like the Grasshoppers!
 
We have also committed ourselves to continued progress on paying down our Building Fund Mortgage.  I can just hear the Ant saying, “the faster you pay this off, the less interest you are going to have to pay.”  She is correct.  Our third commitment is to support a Local Benevolence each month.  This month we give socks for school children who are in need.  This is a fun yet practical gift to give that will make a difference in many children’s lives.
 
Whether you see yourself as Ant or Grasshopper this day, you are always a Steward of the gifts God has given to you.  We give thanks to all the stewards of Trinity—the ones who have installed an air conditioner in the basement and the ones who will teach, lead, and play with the children at Vacation Bible School in July.  We are Stewards not just of money, but of time and abilities, too. 
 
Loving life today and remembering to give all summer,
Pastor Jocelyn 

June Letter from the Pastor

Dear Friends,

The Northwest Washington Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran church in America has elected Pastor Kirby Unti from Saint Matthew’s Lutheran in Renton as our new Bishop.  Our prayers will be with him as he, his family and the people of Saint Matthew’s prepare for the changes in their lives.  Our prayers are also with our outgoing Bishop, Pastor Chris Boerger and his family as he prepares to accept a new call.  We give thanks for both of these fine people for their gifts of leadership in the church and we give thanks for all of the 16 pastors who allowed their names to be considered for the call of Bishop.

Closer to home we at Trinity Lutheran Church are thanking retired Associate in Ministry Clara Griffin for sharing her gifts of music and leadership with us.  She has faithfully shared her beautiful soprano voice, her gift of choosing just the right music for the choir and bells, her warm welcome and patience with every member of the choir and bells, and her gifts of collaboration with a number of colleagues in ministry.  Our worship has been blessed by her in so many ways.  Clara will also no longer be visiting those who are unable to attend church.  We thank her for her caring, loving presence with many.

Leadership in life and in the church is a gift of the Holy Spirit and a call from God.  Most of the ways we serve in the church have a component of leadership attached to them, encouraging others to join us in an endeavor to serve. One of my favorite sayings is that God doesn’t call those who are equipped but that God equips those who are called.  This means to me that we can be brave and courageous when we take on a new or unfamiliar task of leadership because God will support us and empower us.

We have many, many leaders here at Trinity.  Some of them have been elected to serve on Church Council, but many others have just seen a need and stepped up to fill that need in the best way possible.  A great example of that is the Trinity Give Away III happening on August 3 this year.  Jennie Fenrich saw a need and mobilized people to answer that need as she bravely made a touching and inspiring announcement that led us to clean out our cupboards and closets!  Thanks Jennie!

Thank you to those who lead and to those who follow the leaders offering support and encouragement every step of the way.  I invite you to keep your eyes out for ways that together we can serve God and our neighbors.  Your ideas and your passions are part of what makes Trinity such a fun place to come together.

Leading and following with you,

Pastor Jocelyn

 

May Letter from the Pastor

Dear Friends,

Last month I wrote about the concept of “Sabbath rest” and invited you to be part of theAll-Church Summer Retreat in August.  I wrote of Sabbath being a gift from God to us for the refreshment of our bodies and our souls.  Vacation time, days off, coffee break, and even a brief walk at noon, can give us a sense of renewal and send us back to our work with a clearer head.  Gathering with other followers of Jesus for worship also is a gift intended to refresh us and to give praise and thanks to God.

Sunday morning worship has been the practice of Trinity Lutheran Church since 1904.  We, like Christians around the world, gather on Sunday morning in recognition of Jesus’ resurrection on the first Easter Day.  In John’s Gospel, the disciples gather on the first day of the week but they gather in the evening.  For early Christians, living in Jerusalem, keeping the Sabbath from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday, (the seventh day) would have been the normal practice.

As the church moved from Jerusalem, into Judea, Samaria and the entire known world, worship practices began to change.  The Apostle Paul always began his ministry in a new city by worshiping in the Jewish synagogue, moving into the homes of Gentile Christians later to share the Good News with all people.  In honor of the resurrection Christian worship was held on Sunday not on the Sabbath day.

Last year while I was visiting friends in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, I had a taste of what it would be like to be the minority religious community.  In Dubai, the days off were Friday and Saturday, with Sunday being the day that everyone went back to school or to work.  Sunday morning in Dubai is a difficult time for worship and prayer. Being there made me think of how hard it can be to make it to church here, too.

Sunday morning is no longer set aside by our culture as a time for church. There are many alternatives to worship such as, work, sports, sleeping in, gardening, and family activities.  I give thanks every Sunday for those who take time out of their busy weeks to refresh themselves and others by participating in worship.  I also am thankful for parents who brought me to church on Sunday mornings.  In worship I learned of God’s love for me and the world and I learned to love and serve my neighbors.  In worship I experienced music, prayers, community, and peace.

When you can, come and share in the blessings of worship for your life,

Pastor Jocelyn

 

April Letter from the Pastor

What does the Lord require of you?  To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. - Micah 6:8

Dear Friends,

Have you made your plans for some time of rest and relaxation this summer?  Summer is the traditional time for activities that take place outside.  Every person, no matter their age or abilities can benefit from time spent in nature, which was created for us by our loving God.  Time spent hiking in the woods or sitting by a river gives us a chance to renew our souls and recharge our physical batteries.

This summer everyone is invited to participate in an All Church Retreat at a place that is designed to be welcoming and accessible to all.  We gather under the theme, “What does the Lord require?” a question asked by the prophet Micah.  Our relationship with God is of course God’s gift to us through grace, but Micah challenges us to grow in discipleship.  We will learn more about justice and kindness and we will talk about what it means to walk humbly with our God.  Deaconess April Boyden from Bellingham will be our retreat leader.

One sign of being a person of God is to observe a time of “Sabbath.”  The Sabbath was a gift from God to the people of Israel designed to allow them time to rest and refresh themselves, their servants and their animals.  This summer’s retreat will provide a time of Sabbath for people of all ages. Imagine the rest a retreat provides, spending quality time with your church friends, not having to grocery shop or make meals, and the beauty and peace of the countryside. There will be times of worship, study and discussion but there will also be ample time to do those things you enjoy. Swimming, hiking, fishing, crafts, photography or just sitting still are just some of the options.

The Cascadian Center is just north of Mount Vernon and you may come for the entire retreat or for just a day. The details are on the front page of the newsletter, and I hope you will consider taking part in this retreat, even if you have never gone on a retreat before.  Some scholarship money is available (please talk with me) and all rooms are accessible.  Make plans now to spend time in nature, sing around a campfire and enjoy great friends!

Blessings of peace and joy,

Pastor Jocelyn

 

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