Posted in CtK Life, Living a Life of Faith

Advent is coming…EARLY!

Advent is coming to Christ the King Lutheran Church early this year! Two weeks early in fact – beginning on November 14th! But why?

Simply put, sometimes trying new things means going back to old traditions and patterns. That’s right, Advent hasn’t always been 4 neat weeks. In fact it has ranged from 3 weeks to 6 weeks, to 40 days (a parallel to Lent that is still practiced by most Orthodox Christians.) “In the early centuries of the church, the length of Advent varied; sometimes it was three weeks, sometimes six or seven, sometimes forty days…The longer Advent was sometimes called “St. Martin’s Lent” because it begins with St. Martin’s feast day, which generally falls one week after All Saints.” (My Heart Shall Sing – Extended Advent Orientation by Barn Geese Worship is licensed under CC-BY-NC 4.0)

And if you haven’t noticed, there aren’t many things that are still happening “the way they always have.” It’s been a hard 20 months with so many things swirling, changing, stopping, re-starting – yet amidst that movement, that change, God is still present. God is present in the endings, in the beginnings, and in the times in-between. That is why the series, My Heart Shall Sing: An Advent series about endings and beginnings (Barn Geese Worship) connected with me.

The creators of the series write,

“The world is always ending somewhere.

It is always beginning somewhere, too…perhaps right in the same place.

This is a truth that thumps like a heartbeat beneath the rhythms of the Advent season. In early November, our lectionary readings begin to speak openly of a world that ends. The lectionary year itself dies a few weeks later, only to begin again on the same topic: endings, and the new beginnings they create…

…So what shall we do in this season, as the texts draw us deeper into revelation, deeper into endings, deeper into new beginning ushered in by Christ’s advent?

We shall sing.”

(My Heart Shall Sing – Welcome to “My Heart Shall Sing” by Barn Geese Worship is licensed under CC-BY-NC 4.0)

So let us sing…let our hearts sing as we look at the endings and closings in our lives, while leaning into the births and openings during this season of Advent, as we lean into the promise of Jesus, the promise that he will come again. And may we do so with song, with joy, with reflection, with silence, with all that we are now and all that is yet to be.

Advent is coming…

To learn more about this series and its creators go to: https://barngeeseworship.com/

Posted in Living a Life of Faith

A Pastoral Word

Dear Siblings in Christ,

January 6, 2021 was a sad and scary day in our nation’s history – as mobs of rioters swarmed and illegally entered our nation’s Capital Building during a time when our elected officials were doing the work we elected them to do. Much of this mob mentality was stirred by leaders in the highest positions in our government; while many of us sat in front of our tvs, connecting to websites, and checking in on print media not truly believing that this was really happening. We lament this vicious attack – the destruction, the fear, the injury and the loss of life. We lament the loss of trust in our institutions, in our community, and even among each other – the very goal of this act of terrorism.

There is a lot of concern, confusion, fear, and division in our country right now. This is not who we are called to be. As people of faith we are called to do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8) in all areas of our lives. This means that we are called to be a part of bringing about justice, healing, and wholeness within our nation and beyond – for all people. And that begins not in silence but in prayer.

We pray for the families of the people who have died in this act of terrorism. We pray for the safety of all lawmakers and staff, for the public safety officers, for journalists, and for the people living in the immediate areas. We pray for swift and transparent action on the part of lawmakers and law enforcement. We pray for the peacemakers and justice workers on the ground, as they continue to work for a safe and open government for all. We pray for families and communities that are divided. We pray that we – individually and collectively – will own our own part in this, and commit to work toward the peace and justice that we are called to by God.

In the Rite of Affirmation of Baptism (which we will share together on January 17th) we are asked if we intend to continue in the covenant God made with us in holy baptism: to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth? As we seek to process what has taken place and how we take the next steps, may we remember this call and respond loudly saying, “We do, and we ask God to help and guide us.”

May we turn and reflect the love and justice of God.
~ Pastor Kim

Posted in CtK Life

COVID-19, Social Distancing, and a Lutheran understanding of Holy Communion

In this time of fear, unknown, and concern, as our community rituals and practices are being radically changed in order that we can aid in leveling the curve of the COVID-19 spread, questions are stirring around communion and if and how we can share communion without gathering physically together as God’s people. These questions are to be expected, as for many of us Holy Communion is a gift of comfort, strength, and promise that we long for, that we are eager to receive each week. So what do we believe? And how will we as God’s people at Christ the King Lutheran Church live into these beliefs?

In one of our church’s guiding documents, “The Use of the Means of Grace” we read: The gathered people of God celebrate the sacrament. Holy Communion,usually celebrated within a congregation, also may be celebrated in synodical , churchwide, and other settings where the baptized gather. (Principle 39 in “The Use of the Means of Grace) In this principle we understand that God works in, with, and through community, and that this gift of Holy Communion is intended to be celebrated and received when the gathered community is gathered together in a bodily way. This “bodily” gathering is fairly simple in most of our lives, but sometimes the circumstances of life make that gathering less optimal. For some as they age or are battling a significant illness, gathering for worship is not wise – so the church, after gathering together in worship on Sundays (typically) sends out this meal and promise to the church beyond the walls of the building. One person extending the experience of the gathered church, and the gifts of God to those who are unable to gather alongside

In our current situation, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the call for social distancing, we are not able to gather physically as the church, and then bring communion out to others. In light of this reality, and at the recommendation of our synodical and churchwide bishops, we will not be celebrating holy communion while we are unable to gather together. Some people have said, “Well, if we get close enough to the screen and have our own bread and wine, that should work.” or “If you do the communion liturgy and we all watch it, then we can do “drive thru” communion and you can pass the elements to use through our car windows.” For me, from my understanding of God’s gift and the recommendation of other leaders in the church, I do not believe that either of these (or other) patterns of receiving the gift of holy communion are faithful NOW. Receiving the gift of Holy Communion calls us as a body to gather together – literally, physically, bodily. Holy Communion is not magic, but it is God in Jesus working in and through the earthly elements, as we, God’s earthly people gather together.

As I continue to wrestle, seeking to find words to express our Lutheran theological and practical understanding of Holy Communion and my own belief, I offer two other theologians who for me, are often able to articulate holy mysteries in ways that calm my anxious heart.

First, from The Rev. Dr. Gordon Lathrop, an ELCA pastor and retired professor of Liturgy, in response to a request from the Chair of the Conference of Bishops to offer some wisdom and insight surrounding Holy Communion, COVID-19 and social distancing. He writes, “I want us to remember that Luther argued that when the Gospel-book is read and preached, we should know that Christ is here, coming to us or we being brought to him, present in the reading and preaching, doing to us now what the text says he did then: forgiving us, healing us, raising us from the dead: “If you pause here and let him do you good, that is, if you believe that he benefits and helps you, then you really have it. Then Christ is yours, presented to you as a gift.”…So, in this time we may just cling to the sacramental word. Then, in a healthier time, we can carefully rebuild that wonderful Sunday eucharistic-frequency that has been built up so lovingly among us.”

The second is a more personal and closer theologian, mentor, and one of my greatest friends (and one of Kai’s godmothers), The Rev. Julie Martin Hutson who serves at Luther Memorial Church in Seattle, WA. On her blog yesterday she expressed much of what is being questioned, discussed, or raised, and with a pastoral heart that we so need to hear, shared our beliefs and practices, and how we continue to receive the fullness of Christ as we gather in new ways during this time. Click here to read her blog post entitled, “The Absence of the Body.”

We are God’s people today, just as we were when we were last physically together – and God’s promise still holds true. As we take the next step in this walk of faith, without knowing exactly where we are going – please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions, concerns, or desire conversation and prayer.

In Hope and Faith,

+ Pastor Kim

For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.
– Matthew 18:20

Posted in CtK Life, Uncategorized

When Things Get Messy – And All Are Welcome

This past Sunday, worship was, well…hard. Let’s own that fact from the start. There was a lot of action, commotion, and noise from the children’s space that was distracting and disruptive. I could see from the front of the sanctuary that it was difficult for some to fully engage in worship, and as your pastor I can tell you I was NOT in a space of fully engaging in worship. This past Sunday, worship was hard.

From the start, as a mother of one of the vocal and moving little ones in the space on Sunday, I was struggling. Without too much detail we have been looking for a person to hire to be with our son in worship – as that is central and essential to us as parents – but so far finding someone who will be open to being at one of two churches for several hours a week has proven hard. We are still looking. That said, I personally, as a mother, apologize for his behavior/responses on Sunday. It was hard.

But as your pastor it was hard on another level. It was hard because since beginning the experience of having this designated space that is up front and open – so our youngest can see, engage, and come to learn our worship patterns and practices – it has not been a piece of cake. When Worship & Music sought to create this experience, we didn’t anticipate it being easy. We knew there would be bumps, some adjusting, and some just rough moments. We knew there would be some who were opposed to this space – as “children should be seen and not heard” is still an ethos that is alive for some. We knew there would be some who celebrated an “openness” that they feel should be created. We also knew that there would be many in-between those extremes. And this has proven true.

We have been surveying formally via https://tinyurl.com/childrensspace and we invite you to share thoughts there through Friday, September 6th. So far what I can tell you is that for the most part the responses convey the diversity of experience and thought, yet an openness to trying to figure out how to create a welcoming and inclusive space for everyone – children included. This is what we as the Worship & Music team were expecting would come out of this experience.

That said as pastor I have been reflecting since we created this space about HOW we have opened this space and supported it. A few observations I have made are:

  • We had intentions of gathering parents and families shortly after creating the space to talk about boundaries, engagement, etc…and we didn’t. This was a drop on our part, mostly due to the fullness of summer, but a drop none-the-less. This time would have provided space to further articulate to parents our desire to have their children fully present in worship, at their level; how this isn’t a “play” space (although there are manipulatives to engage/play with); and what the parent’s role in supervision is, and knowing when to remove a child from the space, take a break from the space for a few weeks, etc. We intend for this gathering to happen soon.
  • We also had thoughts of inviting a handful of folks who don’t have kids to volunteer to be “Pew Grandparents” – meaning they would sit nearby and if the parents look like they need a break or the kids were getting a bit overly loud, etc…they would step in to help calm the situation and redirect. This has not yet been engaged but it is still on the horizon – as we believe that we as a community (and individuals) make commitments to raise our children up in worship when they are baptized and we need to figure out how to do that best for today.
  • As a congregation our life and ministry is centered around worship. For some people worship is a space of solemnity, of reflection, of peace. For some people worship is a time of celebration, rejoicing, and connection. While for others worship is a space of healing, a space of wrestling, or a space of belonging. I would venture to say that all of these are true for all of us, at one point in our lives of faith or another. The question we must wrestle with always is how do we open up the space so that all can enter in where they are in their live of faith. Like most of life it can’t be an either or, but will be a both/and. There will be times when worship opens up into a space of peace and solemnity, and other times celebration and joy, and most often times a solid mix of both. There will also be times, like last Sunday, when it just goes off the rails and we do our best to bring it back to center where God’s grace and love find us every day – feeding us in word and sacrament, forgiveness and new life.
  • I think we as a congregation need to wrestle with what it means to be a truly welcoming and inclusive community; and how we live that out. Truly welcoming and inclusive doesn’t mean anything goes, but it does mean that there are times when our individual and communal expectations will not be met, we may be inconvenienced, or we may be pushed to grow in a way we hadn’t anticipated. This is hard work that we need to do together and it includes more than this “children’s space”, but it does include a full welcoming of children and all that comes with that. It is also a work that is never finished…but rather is a process.

As we move forward as a congregation, asking God to lead us as we grow as people of faith individually and together, we must do so from a space of respect, hopefulness, faithfulness, and openness to new ways of being church together – ways that honor the past, are rooted in the present, and look into the future. It’s not easy work – and we have work to do – but we know we don’t go it alone.

Finally, please remember that my door is ALWAYS open to hearing concerns, frustrations, joys, celebrations, ideas, and what if’s – email, call or simply stop in. If we can’t talk together, we’ve got a lot more work to do.

Friends, we proclaim to the world in our Mission Statement and Core Values that:

We celebrate and joyfully share Christ’s love as we grow in faith and serve all.  Centered in Christ, we are:
Welcoming:  We respect and affirm all people as children of God.
Caring:  We have compassion for all.
Encouraging:  We support one another in our faith journeys.

Our call now, is to discern together how to live into this, in and through the grace of God.

Posted in CtK Life

Faith Formation – CtK Grows

We are excited at Christ the King to explore a new pattern for faith formation (education) called: CtK Grows. This new pattern affirms the importance for all of us – no matter the age – continue growing and learning in faith. Through this pattern as well we recognize the importance of all of us to be in worship and not to have worship and faith formation compete. Finally we acknowledge that our world is a busy place and schedules get complicated.

In order to live into these three things we have created a 6X3 pattern where we will gather for 6 Sunday evenings, 3 different times during the year (Fall/Winter/Spring.) During this time there will be intentional space for fellowship and group connection time, we will provide a meal (no cooking for 6 weeks – who doesn’t love that?!), and then class time.

During the class time there will be an overarching theme and Biblical text/story for ALL ages (with two modifications for Confirmation and the 2nd Adult Bible Study). There is truly a class for EVERYONE!

So I invite you and your family to mark your calendars for the start of the Fall CtK Grows – September 15th at 4:30pm. We will gather in the Fellowship Hall for fellowship and meal, and then we will disperse to the classes following dinner. Why not bring a friend? Anyone and everyone one is invited – those who love Bible study, those who are afraid of Bible study, those who are looking for a greater connection, those who have questions that they want to wrestle with…truly everyone!

Click here to register for CtK Grows – Who Is God?

Posted in CtK Life

Living In The Now

Living in the now, to me, means living in a way that is open to interruptibility, that is open to the movement of the spirit while making the best use of the time we have been given. Living in the now is recognizing that time is limited and time is a gift from God. Yesterday in worship I shared a poem by Wendell Barry entitled “Vacation.” In this poem he shares the experience of a vacation from a person trying so hard to capture the vacation on camera that he truly missed experiencing, living, and receiving the vacation for himself. We do that so often in life trying to track, schedule, and stay ahead of the game that we miss the now, we miss the unfolding as it unfolds. Yet the gift of time we have been given has been given to us to enter into, to experience, to enjoy…to live.

Here are some thoughts that I scribbled out this morning as I was reflecting on our time in worship yesterday, the passage from Matthew 6:25-34 and my sermon.

Today I seek to live in the now:
to recognize each moment as a gift from God;
to keep my heart and ears open to times when the Spirit whispers a different plan;
to take notice of the people around me and value the gift that we are to each other;
to see my neighbors and strangers as people, and to offer love, care, and support when needed;
to not take myself too seriously, to laugh and chuckle at the quirks of our world;
to notice the life sprouting all around in the young children, in the flowers, in the crops growing;
to notice life closing in others and giving thanks for their story and their gifts to our world;
to enter into intentional time with God to listen for God’s voice, to feel God’s movement, to rest in the silence.
Today I seek to live in the now.

~ KCH ‘2019

How are you living in the now today?
How are you celebrating the time God has given you today?
Share your thoughts/reflections below.

Posted in CtK Life

It’s About Time

Tomorrow – Sunday, July 14th – we at Christ the King Lutheran Church begin a 4-week sermon series entitled, “Receiving From God: The Gift of Time.” We are doing this as part of our stewardship trimester focusing on the gift of time. Time is something we all wrestle with – to one degree or another. * Do I have time to do this?
* Is there time to fit that in?
* Can I spare an hour to help out here?
* Why can’t I get just 15 minutes to catch a nap?
Truly, when in your life has this not been a wonder or a concern?

Over these four weeks we will begin with the gift we are given in time, then how we live into the time we have now, and closing up with two weeks diving deep into Sabbath and the gift that call is from God. We will complete this series with a launch into our first Congregational Sabbath. You will receive a letter in the next week or so detailing more specifically what this Congregational Sabbath is and why we are taking it now. During this Congregational Sabbath time we as a congregation will NOT meet for business or meetings – unless they are absolutely necessary. We will not have a council meeting, we will not have committee meetings (Chapel School is an exception as the school year is about to begin anew). We will also engage in some intentional time for fellowship and worship – with an added Wednesday evening BBQ and communion service (starting this week!), regular Sunday morning worship at 9:30, and a congregational camp out and outdoor worship (check bulletin for information to reserve a space today.) There will be weekly reflections and devotions that tie into the call to Sabbath, rest, and good stewardship of our gift of time – right here on this blog (and linked to FB.) And we will encourage all to take a break, take a breather, and reconnect with family, friends, and rest.

I invite you over the next four weeks to wrestle with the gift of time we are given, the call to be good stewards of that time, and what that means for how we live our lives in the world.

~ Pastor Kim

“Every day is a gift from God. Learn to focus on the Giver and enjoy the gift!” – Joyce Meyer

Posted in CtK Life

Going to Camp!

I never went to an official “summer camp” growing up. We did VBS, youth group mission trips, softball tournaments, and a lot of time with grandmothers on the Allegheny River in NW PA and on the beach in Queens, NY. And truly most people in my neighborhood didn’t go to summer camp (with the exception of Girl Scout/Boy Scout Camp) because well, we just couldn’t afford it. Our summers were still amazing – endless night games of hide-n-seek in our court, curb-ball, baseball, Friday late night at the neighborhood pool, etc…

So it wasn’t until I was in college that summer camp appeared on my horizon. I was studying to be a teacher and a lot of folks were applying to be camp counselors and I thought, “Well that will be more fun than my usual cashier at McDonald’s gig” so I applied and worked for one summer at a Lutheran Camp in central PA and two summers at a Lutheran camp in Northern VA. These three summers were pivotal in my formation and my faith.

As I prepare to head off to serve as chaplain (alongside my husband) at Week 2 of Family Camp at Camp Calumet (an ELCA camp here in NH) I am pondering why those three summers were so transformative for me. Yeah, there was a work ethic instilled – you just pull together to get the job done and done well. But there was more. There was a foundation of community, a fertilizing of seeds of faith planted earlier in my life, and there was a new sense that God was much, much bigger than I ever imagined. My time at camp changed my life and I believe changed the direction of my life.

Which brings me to ask…have you been to camp? What are your experiences from your time at camp? If you haven’t been, have you ever thought about it? How can we as a community help you to experience camp and what God can stir in the midst of your experience there?

During the next week please hold me and my family in prayer, along with the whole staff and community that is Calumet Lutheran Camp and Conference Center; and watch CtK’s Facebook page for pictures and reflections from the week, or check out Calumet’s Facebook page for pictures and updates from camp itself! I am thankful for this community’s openness and connection with Calumet that enables me to live this fuller call in the church at camp!

OH, and why not check out the schedule and see if there is something coming up for you, your kids, or your family?! There are things happening all year long…take a peek, you won’t be disappointed…and indeed you may be changed for life!

Posted in CtK Life

Opening Space

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Matthew 19:14)

Many pastors hear repeatedly, “Pastor, what do we need to do to ‘attract’ the young families to our church?” It is a question that comes from a place of love, but it is a question that begins in the wrong place. As a church we are not called to “attract” anyone; yes we need to be intentional about our language, our welcome, our programming, etc…but intentional in a way that is authentic to who we are and not another advertising gimmick that, in a world with too many advertising gimmicks. We need to ensure that all we say and do is reflective of the one we follow and the call that has claimed our lives.

Where do we start? Well, let’s start with Jesus. Jesus said to let the little children come to him. Jesus implored us to not put up walls, barriers, and hurdles that keep the kids at bay. Jesus certainly never called us to “keep the children quiet, and still.” No Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them…” I would go further and say that this is a call we have for our life with ALL people – let them come, do not stop them.

So, when they come, what are we supposed to do then? Simply put, welcome and invite them in even further. Create a space for them. Not a space to make them look like us, and do what we do, but rather open a space where they can be who God has created them to be. At Christ the King Lutheran Church we are beginning to open up space to live more fully into this call to let them come. Starting this Sunday there is a new “Children’s Space” in the front of the sanctuary that invites children in, welcomes them into God’s house, and implores them to be who God has created them to be. There are tables and chairs of a “kid’s height,” there are quiet manipulatives, there are coloring, drawing, and writing opportunities, there are Bibles, there are books….and there’s a space for parents to be right beside them, but also giving them space to be.

I invite all to come and explore this space in the coming weeks. Pray for this opening. Pray for our families and the CtK community as we grow into this new space. There are bound to be a few extra giggles, wiggles, and times when our kids are feeling out the space completely; but amidst those times the gift we are providing and the call we are living into – to let the little children come to Jesus – well it will be more than worth the bumps. It will be worth it when God’s children are learning worship patterns and traditions. It will be worth it when we hear God’s children singing the songs from our worship time together. It will be worth it when God’s children are sitting engrossed as they see worship unfold and more, before them, in fact in their midst. It will be worth it when God’s children and their families note the welcome and invitation into this community and life of faith we share.

Posted in CtK Life

All are welcome! All are invited!

You may have seen these two lines appear on various Facebook posts about worship, fellowship, or other events that we have going on at Christ the King.  These are two lines that resonate with me and with the church we are called to be.  And Christ the King is very welcoming to all who come through the doors of our faith community – especially with the ignition of the Welcoming Team during the interim transition.

My question as we continue to live into the All Are Welcome! line is: but how do they come here to begin with?  This is a question I have been asking of various leaders and teams, and it is a question I am asking in one-on-one conversations with you.  I have learned that people are invited a lot by word of mouth, that we have paid some attention to the website (although that is an ever evolving and growing doorway), and we have engaged Facebook.  All of this is good, and all of this I give thanks for.  We are sharing our faith with others as it comes naturally.

Yet there is still more work to be done. In the next several months we will be doing some “new” things to begin to step further into our call to welcome and invite others into the Gospel that has claimed our lives.  We aren’t going door-to-door handing out pamphlets, but we will be sharing the love that we have found (and that has found us) in the CtK and greater Nashua community, as well as inviting others to “come and see” for themselves.  

For instance, on June 29th you will see CtK folks walking in the 2nd Annual Nashua Pride Festival and hosting a welcome booth (in addition to being a sponsor.) This is taking the next step in our call as an RIC congregation – going out into the community and inviting people into a safe space that is welcoming, affirming, and celebrating who God has created all God’s people to be!  This is good work, and we need to celebrate that.

Additionally beginning on June 30th we will be exploring a new pattern in our worship space that seeks to be more inclusive and welcoming of young children and their families.  More information is coming that includes some thoughts for young families, and thoughts “for the rest of us” as we enter into this new pattern.  It won’t be easy and there are bound to be a few bumps in the process but we think that this pattern will help us more faithfully live into the call to raise up our children in the faith, and to indeed welcome all – especially the wiggly and giggly among us.

So dear siblings in Christ, buckle up and keep your eyes on what is unfolding before us as God calls us further into the call to proclaim and live: All are welcome! All are invited!