Pastors’ Corner

…a child is born… Isaiah 9:6

admin : November 28, 2017 8:24 pm : Pastors' Corner

The busiest time of year is here again!  We can’t even finish our Thanksgiving dinner before we are diving headlong into the Christmas season.  I’ve been getting “sneak peaks” at a bunch of Black Friday deals for a couple of weeks now and number of the sales began long before Black Friday.  Next was Cyber Monday and after that Cyber Week emails all flooding my mailbox.  Everyone’s got shopping, cooking, cleaning, gift wrapping, and Christmas cards to send.  Let’s face it, there is always a lot to do.  Just look at the calendar for the church; Advent midweek services every Wednesday, Christmas luncheons, Christmas program practices, bible classes, meetings, etc. And that’s just the church schedule.  Most of us also have school events, work events, family events, and maybe even a few other things folded in just for good measure.  Wow!  No wonder everyone uses the word “busy” at this time of year.  It’s a wonderful time of the year, and there’s nothing wrong with getting the most out of it.  There’s nothing wrong with Christmas lists, and shopping, and parties with family and friends.

   The reason there’s nothing wrong with it is because we know what the season is really all about.  It’s really all about those four simple words from the prophet Isaiah …a child is born…  It even sounds simple.  Children are born every day.  It’s the way things work.  We often put out of our minds that child birth is a messy business.  We have forgotten that in years past it was downright dangerous to give birth.  Only a couple hundred years ago a woman chance of dying was over 2 in 100 births.  Really …a child is born… is not as simple as it sounds, actually it’s extraordinary.  On a dark night, in a land far away, there was an extraordinary event …a child is born… everything was pretty normal as far as child birth.  There was pain and blood and a nervous father.  It was another ordinary birth of a human baby.  But there was something else that made this an extraordinary event.  In the middle of all that was normal, there was something very unusual, because that completely normal baby boy was more than just another child born into this world.  He was extraordinary.  He was God.  That night God was born as a baby boy. …a child is born… doesn’t begin to grasp the significance of God suckling at his mother’s breast. …a child is born… doesn’t begin to explain the Creator of the Universe wrapped in diapers.  That must be why Isaiah says more about Him, calling him Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6).

   That’s what this busy time is really about.  God in human flesh, born of a virgin, wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.  But let’s also remember that that’s not the whole story. Being born was only the beginning.  That same extra-extraordinary baby, lying in diapers, also hung naked on a cross.  God himself paid the awful price, the eternal consequences of human sin, of your sin and mine.  That baby who was born in the normal way, died in an extraordinary way, as the complete and total payment for sin.  It’s the gift that all the giving is about, God taking your sin and killing it by dying Himself.

   So, keep busy, celebrate completely, enjoy fully, but remember the baby, remember the cross, remember what Jesus, that extraordinary child, has done for you.  Come to church and hear anew the wondrous story of God’s love for you in sending His Son.

            Merry Christmas!
Pastor Christensen

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Library Book(s) of the Month: December- People’s Bible Commentary

admin : November 28, 2017 7:46 pm : News, Pastors' Corner

Christ-centered Bible truths unfold as you read this complete series of commentaries designed for spiritual growth and reading enjoyment. These trustworthy commentaries help you comprehend what you’ve read in Scripture as well as apply it to your life.

These commentaries offer: 

  • Easy-to-read commentary that follows the text (in New International Version (NIV)) so you learn as you read
  • Scripture and commentary on the same page
  • Bible text highlighted in bold
  • Explanation of complicated passages 

Important facts are identified to expand understanding of Bible times and help apply passages to life today.

A set of these books have been purchased and placed in the Library located in the Narthex for your use.

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In the Shadows of Reformation Day

admin : October 30, 2017 5:09 pm : Pastors' Corner

Each year we celebrate Reformation Day on the last Sunday of October. Each year we observe All Saints Day on the first Sunday of November. You could say the two are connected for the reason that Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church on All Hallows’ Eve (AKA, All Saints Eve), the day prior to All Saints Day, November 1.

However, All Saints Day often lives in the shadows of our Lutheran Reformation festivals – especially this year as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. There has been great build up to Reformation celebrations across the world, our synod, and even here at Trinity with hymn sings, special services, and Bible studies. Many will have worn wear red on Reformation Day, eaten Jell-O (liturgically-appropriate red, of course), and sung “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” But there will be no special Bible study, no one will purposely wear white, and we don’t look with the same fondness of singing, “For All the Saints,” as we do our Reformation ballad. Yes, it’s true, the following Sunday, November 5, our observance of All Saints Day will arrive with little fanfare. Yet, it is one of the principle feasts of the Church year.

So what is All Saints Day?

The feast of All Saints Day is one of unity. It is a celebration of the unity of the Church Triumphant and the Church Militant. In other words, we are celebrating the unity of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and those who live and will live under the struggles of daily crosses of this life. “Together, both constitute but one communion, one fellowship.” (Rev. William Weedon, Celebrating the Saints, Page, 200)

Some churches have reflected this union and fellowship of the Church with the design of their communion rail. “Shaped in a half-circle, the rail stops at the back of the chancel. Beyond the wall of the chancel laid the cemetery, where members of the congregation were buried.” (Rev. Charles Henrickson) A joyous reminder that death does not have the final word!

This Joy is also reflected in the Divine Service as the pastor says, “With angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Your glorious name.”  This is a joyful reminder of the reality of heaven on earth. As depicted in the book of Revelation, here we join at the Lord’s Table with saints who have gone before, among the great multitude that no one can number, worshipping the Lamb who sits upon the throne. (Rev 7:9-17)

As we gather for this year’s All Saints Day on Sunday, November 5, let us gather with great joy! For on this day we give thanks for the lives of those who now rest from the labors of earthly life. On this day, we again join our voices as we do every Lord’s Day with those who abide in heaven. On this day, joy fills our hearts as we fix our eyes on the Lamb, our Savior, Jesus Christ who sits upon the throne of heaven! A blessed All Saints Day to you!

In Christ,
Pastor Rogness

On this All Saints’ Day, we remember those from our household of faith who have departed this life in the faith and have now joined the Church Triumphant:

Joseph Patrick Grecco July 6, 1961 ~ October 25, 2016

Richard Dale Quam October 8, 1938 ~ December 3, 2016

Gladys Florence Kenyon September 27, 1916 ~ December 9, 2016

Charlotte Mary-Etta Knutson September 19, 1938 ~ February 27, 2017

Dorothy Arlene Nelson April 16, 1927 ~ April 24, 2017

Marvin Fred Niesche February 23, 1922 ~ June 5, 2017

Ronald Marvin Fitzner August 23, 1945 ~ September 28, 2017

Gladys Susan Splittstoesser March 21, 1915 ~ September 29, 2017

Romonous Otto Ferber October 8, 1928 ~ September 30, 2017

Arlan Gustav Scramstad November 24, 1924 ~ October 20, 2017


“Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes— who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes  and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’” Revelation 7:13-15


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admin : September 25, 2017 5:47 pm : Pastors' Corner

          Hopefully by now you’ve seen the beautiful red banner that is hanging next to the kiosk in the Narthex of our church.  Across the top are the dates 1517 – 2017 over the word Reformation.  Then there is a depiction of Martin Luther’s rose seal and at the bottom stands a cross with the letters VDMA surrounding it, one letter in each quadrant.  I’m sure you already get the fact that we are celebrating 500 years of the Reformation, and you’ve seen Luther’s seal before, but those letters, VDMA, at the bottom surrounding the cross may be a curiosity to you.  With this little article, I hope to impress upon you the great importance of those letters first used by the reformers and why they are still so important to us today.

      The letters surrounding the cross stand for Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum, the Word of the Lord Endures Forever.  These words became the official motto of the Lutheran Reformation, and this symbol became the first official symbol of the Reformation, even before Luther’s rose.  In 1522, Luther’s prince, Frederick the Wise of Saxony, had this symbol sewn onto the right sleeve of the official clothing worn by all members of his court, from the lowest servant all the way up, including himself. Frederick the Wise’s successors continued to use the symbol. Eventually, it became the official motto of the Smalcald League (the defensive alliance of Lutheran cities and territories). It was used on flags, banners, swords, and uniforms as the motto of the Lutheran Reformation.

      The words were carefully chosen by Frederick and are taken from 1 Peter 1:23-25, where the apostle Peter writes, “Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ’All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass.  The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”

      But why these words? Because they point to the source and the goal of the Reformation.  The Reformation was not simply about correcting certain abuses such as indulgences or purgatory.  The Reformation wasn’t about breaking free from the tyrannical rule of the pope. The Reformation was about the Word of God.  That Word’s power and authority endures forever. The words of man, like their bodies, are like the grass that withers and decays. Human traditions and doctrines of men cannot give us peace with God or confidence of salvation. Only the Word of the Lord can do that. The Word of God is finally the only word that can be spoken that will endure forever.

      That’s why this is still a wonderful motto for the Church today, worth remembering and repeating: “The Word of the Lord endures forever.”  It’s a word given to the church to proclaim to the world. The world today, like the world of the Reformation, rants and raves against God’s Word and what it teaches.  But the word of this world will finally perish with the grass and be blown away in the wind. The Lord’s Word moves mountains.  It will endure the attacks of both the world and the devil. The Word of the Lord gives us peace which endures forever, for the Word of the Lord says “Take heart, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”

      Unfortunately, just as Luther found when he made visitations to churches in Germany, what we find today in our own church is incredible ignorance when it comes to the Word of God and what it teaches. 

      Luther wrote in the preface to the Small Catechism: “The deplorable, miserable conditions which I recently observed when visiting the parishes have constrained and pressed me to put this catechism of Christian doctrine into this brief, plain, and simple form. How pitiable, so help me God, were the things I saw: the common man, especially in the villages, knows practically nothing of Christian doctrine, and many of the pastors are almost entirely incompetent and unable to teach. Yet all the people are supposed to be Christians, have been baptized, and receive the Holy Sacrament even though they do not know the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, or the Ten Commandments and live like poor animals of the barnyard and pigpen. What these people have mastered, however, is the fine art of tearing all Christian liberty to shreds.

      Oh, you bishops! How will you ever answer to Christ for letting the people carry on so disgracefully and not attending to the duties of your office even for a moment? One can only hope judgment does not strike you! You command the Sacrament in one kind only, insist on the observance of your human ways, and yet are unconcerned whether the people know the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, or indeed any of God’s Word. Woe, woe to you forever!

      …Although we cannot and should not force anyone to believe, we should insist and encourage the people.  That way they will know what is right and wrong for those among whom they dwell and wish to make their living.” 

      So as we approach the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation I am encouraging you to be people who are in the Word.  Hear it regularly in Divine Service.  Study it diligently in Bible classes.  Meditate deeply on it in devotions.  Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum, the Word of the Lord Endures Forever, as excellent a motto today as it was 500 years ago for the Lutheran Reformers.

~ Pastor Christensen

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We Are All Catholic — Little “c”

admin : August 30, 2017 7:17 pm : Pastors' Corner

While at seminary, I had a professor who would always correct students if he heard, “The catholics believe or the catholics say….” The issue he had was with us using the word “catholic” – little “c” – indiscriminately. His desire was to emphasize the fact that we are all catholic. We’re just not all Roman Catholic.

To be catholic is to be part of the One Catholic Church, the universal Church throughout the world, the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12)

In about two months, Lutherans from around the world will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. As we prepare to celebrate the 500th, we do so in light of the fact that when we hear the word, “catholic,” we too think of the Roman Catholic Church. Without giving much thought to the use of language, the word catholic has become synonymous with Roman Catholicism.

Sadly, for generations there have been and continues to be a divide in doctrine among Lutherans and Roman Catholics. Even as this divide exists, we continue to pray for the day when unity and fellowship comes. However, as we approach this exciting celebration of the Reformation, we do so recognizing that we are all part of the “one holy catholic church.” The Reformation was not about new teachings or a revolution within the Church, but rather a return to God’s Word in Holy Scripture.

The idea that we Lutherans can call ourselves catholic may sound like an identity crisis to some. But this is exactly what we are; we are part of the catholic faith and the universal Church on earth.

In the conclusion of the first part of the Augsburg Confession, it is written regarding the articles of faith presented to Emperor Charles V in 1530:

 “This then is nearly a complete summary of our teaching. As can be seen, there is nothing that varies from the Scriptures, or from the catholic church (universal), or from the Church of Rome, as known from its writers.”

One of the themes of the Reformation is that the faith confessed by Luther and others was not new, rather it was the Roman Catholic Church that had departed from the one true faith.

Our catholic beliefs don’t end with doctrine. Just as Luther and the Reformers did not do away with the ceremonies and traditions, we retain those that are not in conflict with the Gospel. However, over the years we have sought to differentiate ourselves from the traditional ceremonies and traditions of both the Roman Catholic Church and the historic Lutheran Church in favor of American Christianity. In some ways, this may be a reaction to say that we are not Roman Catholic or in revolt of the Roman Catholic Church. But these departures have hurt the Church, its doctrine and theology, its liturgy, and its unity.

As it was not the intention of Luther to create a new Church, nor was it the intention to depart from the liturgy the Church has shared for centuries. Rather the intention was to retain the liturgy, rejoicing in how God is worshiped through Word and song, how the grace of God is poured out on the believer in Word and Sacrament, and the one holy catholic church is united in one voice and one body of faith.

As we approach the Reformation, remember we too are catholic. And next time we confess in the Athanasian Creed, “Whoever desires to be saved must, above all, hold the catholic faith,” you don’t have to be squirmish about the word “catholic.” We are all catholic. That is, we belong to the universal church, the Body of Christ. Thanks be to God!

In Christ,
Pastor Rogness


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Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

admin : June 27, 2017 8:00 am : Pastors' Corner

While looking at the Old Lutheran website the other day I saw a few T-shirts that made me chuckle.  One of them read, “I’m proud to be an Old Lutheran” and then in parentheses below that it read “but not too proud”.  I guess that pride can be a problem, especially this year, as we approach the 500th anniversary celebration of the Reformation and take a nostalgic look back and thank God for Martin Luther who stood for the truth of the Gospel even though it placed his life in jeopardy.

I think celebrating the Reformation is a very good thing, but rather than only look back into history, might I suggest that we also look at where we are today?  How do you think our church would look if Luther had kept silent?  What if, for the sake of peace and harmony, Luther and the other Reformers had compromised the truth of the Gospel?  What if they had taken the position that to keep the peace a little bit of error in teaching is okay?

Thank God that was not the case then and that now we actually have something to celebrate!  Unfortunately when we get lazy, error has a way of sneaking in the back door of the Church. Consequently, each generation must contend for the truth of God’s Word and the doctrine it teaches.  So once again the question is before us, how much error is too much?  On this side of heaven the Church will always be plagued by error, but this “sad but true” reality must never make us complacent or lazy.

Quoting Johann Baier, one of the great Lutheran theologians, C. F. W. Walther teaches that toleration of error is as bad as or even worse than the original error itself.  He writes: “Such toleration of errors, first, is in opposition to the Scripture passages which command us to preserve the whole Christian doctrine free from error (II Thessalonians 2:15), to keep the good thing committed unto us (II Timothy 1:14), that is, to keep it intact, uncurtailed and unadulterated, and to continue in the things which we have learned (II Timothy 3:14). But the doctrine will not be kept pure if opposing errors are tolerated at the same time and in an equal manner or are permitted to become mingled with it. Secondly, such toleration is in opposition to the duty of reproving imposed upon faithful teachers by God, through which [errors] are rebuked and condemned (cf. Titus 1:9, 13; II Timothy 4:2; 3:16), to which correspond the examples of Christ (Matthew 5:12ff.; 16:6) and of Paul (Galatians 1:6). Thirdly, such toleration is very dangerous, for those errors and corruptions, unless they are restrained, assailed, and condemned, will spread ever more widely; the truth of the doctrine is rendered doubtful and suspicious, or at least it is regarded as a matter of indifference; and finally those that err are confirmed, and the deceivers are given a chance to infect ever more [people].” (Walther, Essays For the Church, Volume I, p. 122-123)

Summarizing Baier, Walther cites the threefold danger that arises from the toleration of errors. If they are not stopped, they will spread, truth will become suspect, and those who teach error will be confirmed in their error.
But why, for the sake of peace and love, don’t we just overlook false doctrine and errors?  Why must Lutherans be so intolerant?  It is for this reason Lutherans are often portrayed as trouble-makers, uneducated, and unloving.  Walther counters, and I agree, “to remain silent in the face of false doctrine is not a demonstration of love, but rather of hate; for how then can errorists be saved?”  Our aim must always be to proclaim the whole council of God’s Holy Word, so that the Gospel may be proclaimed in its truth and purity and the sacraments administered according to Christ’s institution.
May the Reformation spirit of Luther, Baier, Walther and others work mightily among us as we continue to proclaim and contend for the whole truth of the Gospel, that many may hear it and be saved.

Yep, I’m proud to be an old Lutheran, but not too proud.

~Pastor Christensen

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