Message from Bishop Gronberg
Dear Partners in Mission:
“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence.” Isaiah 64:1-9
On Advent 1 we heard the prophet Isaiah plead for God’s action. Come God and tear open the heavens, make your presence known to us. And this presence is not necessarily good news. The presence of God will again reveal the people’s iniquity. The second use of the law will hold up a mirror to them and demonstrate how they have strayed. Yet the good news of God’s mercy is also proclaimed. The prophet cries out again “Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter.” The appeal to the covenant with Abraham is made. The reminder of God’s good, not perfect, creation, God’s people. Sin has separated the people from God, their suffering has been real. Yet the prophet proclaims again to both the people and God that God is a God of new things. Of restored relationship.
This is how Advent 2020 has begun and I believe the prophets words speak clearer to us today than before. The reality of death cannot be denied. The real griefs and sufferings from pandemic and its consequences. Yet despite all these griefs Advent has come. A new church year has begun. A year that has already brought us new things and will continue to challenge us to do new things. Particularly as we prepare Christmas when again we will lead and be led to do things in new ways. To help resource and center you in this time we are offering a variety of resources and events:
- Please read my blog on Christmas in Covidtime 2020 as you finalize and execute your plans for Advent/Christmas worship.
- Consider a special gift in Christmas/Epiphany towards our partners in the ELCSL.
- Participate in our NT-NL Synod Online Longest Night/Blue Christmas service (note date and time: MONDAY DEC 21, 7pm).
- Recorded sermons for Christmas and for the first Sunday after Christmas (Dec 27th) will be posted by Dec 8th.
Given all we have experienced this year there is an understandable desire to run to the comforts of Christmas. There is absolutely no shame in that and in my house the decorations have gone up early this year. Yet I believe taking time for Advent is more important for us than ever this year. In the midst of pandemic we must take time to learn again how to wait and to work while we wait. We keep awake and alert to signs of God’s presence amongst us and opportunities to serve our neighbors along the way. We wait purposefully, looking towards the one who is coming, but not missing this world and our opportunities to serve along the way.
In Advent Waiting:
2021 Prayer Partner List
The 2021 Prayer Partner list is now available: https://www.ntnl.org/resources/prayer-partners/.
Evolving Models of Stewardship
Traditional and Emerging Paradigms
What motivates a steward: worship, duty, gratitude, compassion, impact, connection, spiritual development? All of these are valid, and none of them is wrong. Whereas some people might be moved by institutional loyalty or duty, others might not be inspired by that at all, wanting instead to fix the world’s problems. Still others will see stewardship as a spiritual journey. How might an awareness of evolving cultural consciousness help steward leaders achieve broader and deeper engagement?
See these two articles from Luther Seminary on the changing paradigms of stewardship, including values and practices and how to lead through this kind of environment. Both pieces rely on the work of the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, part of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.
Featured Resources for December
The Need for Stress and Conflict (Alban)
“Despite the ideal image of the loving, peaceful congregation in which everyone is happy—an image deeply ingrained in most all of us—leaders at times need to encourage conflict. They need to act in ways that make conflict inevitable. They need to enhance, not reduce, conflict. Doing these things is difficult. Few of us enjoy conflict. For many of us, taking deliberate actions that will lead to conflict runs counter to both personal desire and our image of our role in the congregation. The very thought of it may make our stomachs tighten, our hearts pound, and our palms sweat. And yet, at times inciting conflict is what effective and faithful leadership demands.”
What’s a church to do? Dealing with conflict during a pandemic (Faith & Leadership)
“Conflict is a normal part of church life, but it’s rarely easy to deal with. And disagreements in our faith communities feel especially fraught at the moment.
A recent survey found that 27% of evangelical and mainline pastors cited addressing conflict and maintaining unity in their congregations as primary sources of stress — up from just 8% in April.
This isn’t really surprising, given the enormous strain churches are under. But it raises a question: How can congregations handle conflict amid so much uncertainty, especially when most still cannot safely meet in person?”
Save the Date
Systems Theory and Anxiety workshop
January 7, 1-2pm
Presenter: MaryAnn Schwabe
Recent Blog Posts
(https://www.ntnl.org/conferencia-latina-thanksgiving-worship/ – published Nov. 24)
(https://www.ntnl.org/first-sunday-of-advent-king-of-glory-dallas/ – published Nov. 29)
(https://www.ntnl.org/thanksgiving-greetings-from-briarwood-watched-by-1400/ – published Nov. 29)
Where in the world is?
Due to the rising cases of COVID-19 across our territory in November 2020, the bishop and staff will be engaging in no non-essential travel or in-person meetings through the remainder of 2020. For previously scheduled and essential meetings, the staff will wear masks anytime they are near people, either inside or outside a facility. All synod business will continue to be conducted online.
- Dec. 6: Nick Schmidlin Ordination at Faith, Flower Mound
With the ever-changing guidelines and recommendations in our world right now, as we maintain physical distance in social solidarity, please keep in mind these events may be moved online, postponed, or cancelled:
- Dec. 2: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders – The Sacred Work of Grief, Part 4: Sharing Grief in Community with Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin, Zoom
- Dec. 3: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Dec. 3: Interim Pastors monthly meeting, Zoom
- Dec. 9: Stars and Promises Christmas concert featuring Peter Mayer, lead guitarist for Jimmy Buffett, benefitting ELCA World Hunger, Facebook
- Dec. 10: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Dec. 12: Public Witness Team meeting, Online
- Dec. 16: Weekly Online Gathering for ELCA Leaders – Growing Young: Empathy with Rachel Alley and others, Zoom
- Dec. 17: Weekly NT-NL Leadership Prayer, Check-in, Zoom
- Dec. 21: Longest Night / Blue Christmas Service, Online
Access our full online Calendar here. Updates made regularly.
Do you have news or announcements to share? Please submit to Jason (firstname.lastname@example.org) for consideration for upcoming NT-NL News.