My mother of (of ½ German, ¼ Norwegian and ¼ Swedish heritage) embraced her Swedish roots and took it upon herself to create a Christmas pageant early in the 1970’s that was integral to that celebration. She researched the story of Santa Lucia and wrote a wonderful narrative that I believe First Lutheran may still be using.
I found a version that is similar to her original narrative below that I would like to share with you.
The Festival of Santa Lucia - December 13th
Lucia, a young Christian woman from a noble family, lived in Sicily (283-304 AD) during a time when practicing Christians were persecuted. When Lucia was a young woman her mother became very ill. Hoping to help her mother, Lucia went on a pilgrimage to visit the tomb of Saint Agatha. According to legend, Lucia experienced a visitation from the Saint who promised to cure her mother. On her return home, Lucia saw that her mother had in fact been cured. As a thank you to Saint Agatha, Lucia dedicated her life to Christ by living a modest life of prayer and helping the poor.
News of Lucia’s generosity and kindness spread rapidly and she became known as a person of integrity and honesty. Upon hearing this, her betrothed became furious that Lucia was giving away her dowry to the poor. In his rage he betrayed her to the local Roman officials, denouncing her as a Christian. She was tried, found guilty and sentenced to be burned at the stake. Upon lighting the fire, the flames moved away from her body, refusing to touch her, acknowledging her as a saintly person. She emerged unscathed from the fire! She spoke eloquently of her faith and predicted that persecution of Christians would not continue for long.
Sadly, the Romans were angered and humiliated by Lucia’s ability to survive their bonfire and ordered her to be put to death. She died on December 13, 304 AD.
Ironically, within ten years the Edict of Milan gave Christians the right to worship freely throughout the Roman Empire.
According to Swedish legend: after Lucia's death, a ship carrying a maiden "clothed in white and crowned with light" appeared on the shore in the Swedish province of Varmland during a great famine. The maiden, widely believed to be Lucia, distributed food and clothing to the needy, thus endearing herself to the Swedish people.
Different stories and traditions surround St. Lucia, but all focus on the themes of service and light. St. Lucia is celebrated throughout the world, and honored by many cultures. In Sweden, Lucia symbolizes the coming end of the long winter nights and the return of light to the world.
Light is used to symbolize God, faith and holiness throughout the Bible. As Christians, we are called not only to walk in the light but to be the light for others.
In His Name, Janet
Friends may not have family close by, or the means to travel, or family members could need extra assistance and love. Being available for them could be as easy as visiting, going shopping together, sending a card, or dropping by a meal.
There are so many ways to make people feel loved. If they have gone through something hard around the holiday season in a recent year, this can make their feeling of loneliness even worse. This also holds true for people we could meet out in the world.
Deuteronomy 24:14 says, “Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns.” A restaurant server could be working on a day they desperately wanted off, or a cashier might be feeling very drained after working many days straight with no breaks. Have love, grace, and patience with them, and make sure they are taken care of.
Romans 12:13 is also very important at this time of year, “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” There are also many friends in assisted living that cannot make it to celebrations, who would absolutely appreciate a few hours of chatting. Many of them do not receive a lot of visits as the roads get worse.
When people are feeling forgotten, everything seems dark, but even something small can make a huge difference. Be a little light for someone if you can, but if you are the one in need of a little light, please make sure to reach out and don’t stand alone.
In His Name, Kyler
none of these activities are wrong. Many of them are actually very good. However, they leave little time for me to reflect and nurture my relationship with God and my love of Christ.
So I had an experience last week that really scared me and made me stop and reevaluate my goals and how I'm spending my time. So here’s the story. We have been doing some improvements to our 5-acre property, which involved the removal of many aging and unattractive trees. The goal was to improve the aesthetics of the land and give us better protection from wildfires. Once that was accomplished, we discovered that there were a lot of areas which needed to be reseeded, as the loggers had mulched the ground where the trees were removed. Who would have known that getting the best grass seed would be a challenge; but I was looking for grass that was drought-tolerant and slow-growing. Mowing the larger portion of 5 acres was not something I was looking forward to. So, after some research, I discovered a seed company in Tekoa, Washington which was about an hour's drive from our home. So on a beautiful, sunny day, I ventured South.
I activated my navigational system, plugged in the address and took off. I had personalized the audio on my system to have an Australian gentleman (whom I named “Mick,” as in the film Crocodile Dundee) give me the directions. All was well until I left Hwy 95. Then, things got complicated. First of all, it started snowing. Visibility was marginal. Mick initially seemed to be telling me all the correct directions, so I proceeded “to the route” as instructed. I let him do the thinking for me. I should have suspected that something was wrong when he directed me to a dirt road which (due to the recent rains) was really more of a mud road. I thought briefly about thinking for myself and turning around, but Mick was persistent. He insisted that I should continue on and that the designated address was drawing near. The road was really almost undrivable. My tires were sinking into the mud, I was weaving back and forth, and there was a sharp drop-off on one side.
The road (I use that term loosely) was set in the middle of rolling hills of winter wheat. It really was very beautiful. I saw several deer who looked astonished that there was someone actually on their road. That should have been my first red flag. Mick, in the meantime, was encouraging me to “proceed to the route.” After I had gone way further than a normal person would have gone, I stopped and contemplated turning around. The problem with that was that my tires were stuck in the mud, and every time I tried to turn, I got a little bit closer to the edge of the road and was in danger of rolling down the steep incline. Mick had let me down. I was totally isolated in the middle of rolling farmland, stuck and embarrassed that I had used such poor judgment. I thought about calling 911, but there was no signal. I thought I was on my own.
So I turned off Mick after giving him a brief scolding. And I sat. And I started to pray. I prayed for guidance, for safety and for forgiveness for not turning to God sooner. And I sat some more, visualizing my undignified demise: I would be found weeks later as I lay in my ruined car, buried at the bottom of a cliff, all because I didn’t think for myself; and when I needed Him the most, I didn't put my faith in God.
The end of the story is a happy one. Eventually, I felt God’s presence. I am certain His hand was there as I slowly extricated myself from this ridiculous situation. Once back on a regular road, I pulled over and gave thanks to the God who saved me. I know for a fact that I didn’t get out of there safely by myself. So the moral of the story is to always seek the Lord’s guidance when you encounter adversity. He will be there for you every time. I am forever thankful to know such an amazing and forgiving God!
You don’t have to look too deeply before you see the myriad of ways that our church affects people’s lives in deep and meaningful ways: through the local schools, through non-profits that we have helped to launch or partner with, through everyday relationships our congregational members have with each other and with folks in the community, as well as our own internal ministries. We feed the homeless, help people suffering with addictions, clothe the needy, match needs to resources locally and abroad, comfort those experiencing pain and loss, and we serve as a refuge in a world that feels like it’s raging at times. Most importantly, we show the love of Christ and help lead others to the peace that comes from giving yourself to God.
As your current Stewardship Committee person, I think it’s important to consider how blessed we all are for being part of the Mission of 1st Pres and the work we are doing to share the good news! None of this would be possible without your continued faith and generosity. These are dynamic times, and costs are rising all around us. This is true for 1st Pres as well. Yet, our work continues and grows.
As we come into the season of making our new monetary pledges for the coming year, I’m reminded of 1 Peter 4: 8-11 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has to serve others faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” This is a great reminder that as Christians, we are called to give freely of our time, talents and treasures. As our pledge cards for 2023 start to make their way out for your consideration, remember to honor where we’ve been and look forward with eager anticipation to where we are going. Collectively, we have defined the next steps in our journey to serve Christ. and I encourage you to continue to support our new shared vision.
There are many, many ways to serve others through 1st Pres. If you are a new member, or someone who hasn’t been active for a while, I would encourage you to participate in a way that uses your Christian gifts. You can join a committee, work on a task force, serve on Session or as a Deacon, or reach out to a mission partner where you can volunteer your time to show God’s love. We are called to join in the “great mission” to serve others and be living examples of His goodness. Think of what a difference we can make in this broken world if we each do just a little bit more!
In His Name, Matt
I do not have any memories of my father that I could look back on with a sense of pride; he simply was not there to build them with me. So, like many children in my situation, I found something to be proud of to try to redeem my father’s name. My father was a solider in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. During a time when many young men were drafted into service, my father chose to enlist to serve his country. I have always been proud of this fact. I do not know what horrors my father faced or which of his actions caused him shame. I do not know what jungle he was in when he was doused with Agent Orange or what humiliations he endured when he returned to his nation. What I do know is that part of my father was left on the battlefield. All of these events were before I was born, but they would have an enormous impact on me for the rest of my life.
The term PTSD was a relatively new term when our soldiers returned from Vietnam, and, at that time, there was not much hope of healing. The trauma of war changed my father, and he began a life of running away. He chose to run away with drugs and alcohol, which only increased his fear and paranoia. At times, my father would disappear from society and live on the streets. He would resurface from time to time with shame in his beautiful blue eyes. For most of my father’s adult life, the mental health world was still in the discovery process of how to deal with trauma and questioning how to provide hope to those suffering with PTSD. Somehow, I always understood that my dad had problems, and this helped me as a child to have some compassion on my father and to fight off resentment at his absence. Later, as my understanding of trauma grew, I was able to apply the compassion and healing of Christ to both my father and my hurting heart.
When I visited the funeral home to finalize details following my dad’s death, they handed me my father’s flag. I have seen many families receive their loved one’s flag, but nothing prepared me for that moment when the flag was handed to me. It was not until that moment that all of the impact of my father’s service hit me, and, of course, the tears came. Tears of pride for the young man who chose to serve his country. Tears of hurt that my father was not able to be my dad during my life. Tears of peace knowing that my father could finally stop running and not have to be afraid anymore.
As I held that flag and cried, facing the fact that my father was gone, I knew that as I walked through the process of grief, I would not walk alone. God understands loss and grief, and He has stated so many times in the Bible that He is willing to walk with us through these times. It still hurts that my dad is gone, but the comfort is that I have a good Father who is always close by. As I walked out of the funeral home with the flag held tightly in my arms, God brought to mind words of hope and of comfort to remind me that He has a plan for heartache and tears. That His plan will be something completely new, untainted by the traumas of this world.
To all of our veterans and their families: thank you for all of the ways you serve. One day, God will wipe away every tear, but until that day, please remember that your Father is always close by, and He cares deeply for you and I as only a good Father can.
me wait for my instructions. It is amazing, how He provides exactly what is needed, who is needed, and the direction for our next steps.
product needs. We are here to serve our community year-round. Because of our volunteers, we have opened our doors to serve our community by offering a Hand up instead of a Hand out.
I would like to share with you what some of our volunteers, church members, and mission partners have said about their involvement with the 1st. Pres Neighborhood Closet.
Matt’s thoughts took us back to our beginnings, “The evolution of this ministry has been absolutely inspirational to so many. We are very grateful to those who have so faithfully worked to make it happen. There are so many ways this project has blessed the members of our church, the mission partners that we coordinate with, and the people we serve. From its inception as a remake of the successful historic closet event that we have been hosting annually for decades to the point that we now have a dedicated & aesthetically pleasing permanent facility, along with some very faithful and resourceful core volunteers. Many have used their time & talents to create this new vision of serving our community that allows relationships to thrive and needs to be met on a more regular and personal basis. My hope is that 1st Pres continually becomes a 1st line of support for local kids in need through the resources we share; that we become a critical ongoing part of the support of their families – showing the love of Christ and how we are called to offer it. It would also be great to continue to inspire more members of our congregation, along with our youth, to participate in hosting & caring for the families we serve to further develop their sense of missional service. This is a great way to share HIS love and the good news of hope and healing. I love that it gives us an opportunity to approach people in need from the position of a potential relationship, rather than just a place for resources!”
Carolynn wrote in, “I have been a member of First Presbyterian Church for over 40 years. In those early years, I was proud to be a Deacon and be involved in our annual one-day Clothing Give Away. Over the years it became apparent that we needed to look at this distribution differently. While I am no longer a deacon, I am so proud that the group formed a task force, of which I was involved, to create something new and much more personal. The Clothing Closet volunteers will now be meeting the families one on one through appointments to assist them, not only with their clothing needs but also getting to know them on a personal level.”
Jeannie let us know that "The Redemptive Compassion class was an eye-opening, thought-provoking experience that created my desire to participate in planning this ministry. However, it was observing the commitment of so many who recognized the value for so many that spoke volumes about our mission to bring this ministry to life. Most importantly, it was our leadership that kept us focused on the ultimate goal! A great accomplishment and a ministry that will serve our community for years to come. I am proud to say that 1st Pres is doing God’s work in reaching out to those in need."
Susan noted, “I was reluctant to take on the responsibility of Clothing Closet Services Coordinator, but I was slowly being nudged into it by God. I feel so blessed to have been able to design and equip the Neighborhood Closet. I smile and pause to thank God every time I enter the Closet. My prayer is that the Closet will assist many children now and in the future, and that they leave our church with a smile!”
Our 1st Pres Neighborhood Ministry Closet has brought such joy and gratitude to our hearts. Joy for the happiness in our families' eyes with their lovely bags of clothing and toiletries. The gratitude is for our wonderful volunteers (affectionately known as "Closeteers") who serve our families with such dignity, compassion, kindness, and caring. Open only a month, we have been able to serve over twenty families already. God is so good!
"Our blessed ministry is an exciting one to surround our guest families with love, as we start building relationships with them,” said Suzy.
Paula, also one of our community partners, stated, “The Coeur d'Alene School District is pleased to partner with the 1st Pres Neighborhood Community Closet. The ability to refer homeless and under-served students and families to the Neighborhood Closet for a shopping experience that is safe and provides dignity to those served is a tremendous blessing. It has been a distinct privilege and inspiration to work with the 1st Pres team from conception to operational implementation to make this resource available to the community. There is no doubt that with the energy, passion, and Love 1st drive, this endeavor will be a success.”
In closing, I would like to share that there are so many more people involved in this ministry than those who gave content to this blog. There are people on the front lines, others who have been working behind the scenes, some who have moved away, and many who are still actively involved. To each and every person who breathed life into this ministry thank you. Thank you for sharing the gifts and skills that our Heavenly Father gave you with this Ministry. Psalm 37:3 tells us to “Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land and verily thou shalt be fed.”
Yes, you have asked the Lord: let me be your messenger, your hands, your feet, your voice, as I walk in the world today. You are the ones who are building relationships with our community and Living the Love 1st Mission of our Church.
Blessings to All
readings, and honestly, it's the emotion that overwhelms me when I look at my sweet daughter.
What is joy? According to Oxford, joy is a great feeling of pleasure and happiness. It's also one of my favorite fruits of the Spirit. But did you know that the Greek translation for JOY, comes from the same word family as GRACE? A few weeks ago, Pastor McLane talked about grace and peace, and that in order to find that deep peace, we must first accept grace. A question popped into my head as I was reading about joy… could it be that joy too, like peace, is linked to the grace of God that's been given to us? That to experience the fullness of joy, is to walk humbly in grace? That even in our challenges, we can have joy because of the grace of Christ? Letting go of our own expectations, can free us to experience joy in new ways.
Thinking back to Barth's quote about joy, that it is the simplest form of gratitude, I'm challenging myself to enter this season of Thanksgiving, letting go of my own expectations that hold me back, with gratitude for grace and walking in the joy that follows.
In His Name, Kierstie
Many verses talk about love, why we must love others, and how to love others. But this verse drives me to a change in attitude and behavior more than most. I’ve heard 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind…” many times growing up. I hate to say it, but it often goes in one ear and out the other without fully sinking in. But Ephesians 4:2 always makes me, Naomi, feel personally convicted and encouraged.
Here is a fun tidbit about me. I have big, fast, intense emotions. I cry easily, I laugh easily, and I get angry easily. I get mad when I’m hungry, tired, in a hurry, and when there is any unfairness.
My dad used to ask me if I liked being angry. I denied it, but I think you can guess the truth! Anger makes me feel powerful. It makes me feel righteous. But I’ve learned it’s not very helpful in my relationships. I may be eager to run into battle, but sometimes I forget who my enemies and allies are.
This verse always makes me stop and change my attitude. It challenges me to make four changes to my approach.
After reading this verse, I am usually able to take a deep breath and relax my shoulders. I can let the little things go and face the big things as a teammate instead of an opponent. I can treat others how I want to be treated. Gently, with kindness and grace.
Have a Wonderful Week,
Did you attend the Redemptive Compassion training this past June? If you did, you’ll already have had a taste of Lois Tupyi and her dynamic and compelling message. She is an inspirational speaker! Whether or not you saw her on-screen in June, we all have the opportunity to see her in-person this weekend!
Our local Love INC (Love in the Name of Christ) affiliate and our very own Love 1st Neighborhood Ministry task force are hosting a Redemptive Compassion event this weekend. Even if you attended the training this summer, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to meet Lois in person and listen to her as she shares her vast experience in partnering with local churches to serve, love, and assist those in need in the name of Christ.
The seminar will be inspirational and thought-provoking, and the training will allow for the opportunity to ask some tough questions and talk through real-life examples in a small-group setting. This event is an exciting opportunity not to be missed. Whether you can attend both the seminar and workshop or are only able to attend one of them, you will gain much in how to help others while loving them as God loves us. It will be an opportunity you won’t soon forget. (We are especially blessed to have Lois coming here as she will retire at the end of the year.)
This is a free event, and all are welcome! We hope you will attend and share this unique opportunity with your family and friends.
Friday, October 14, 6 - 8:30 pm | Sanctuary
Saturday, October 15, 9 am - 12 noon | Krueger Hall
divided our churches, our schools, and even many of our families. And it has certainly divided our entire nation to extremes we have never before experienced in our lifetimes. The question every one of us needs to consider is For What and Why? Is it for POWER? Is it for GREED? We live in the world’s richest nation and have been blessed in so many ways and yet, we are surrounded by so many unhappy people. Their stress, from wherever it comes, leads to Drastic People Doing Drastic Things.
For most people, the mind is like a freeway. They let anything drive through it. They watch shows that are full of junk and nonsense, scroll through social media sites that are polarizing, and listen to gossip that makes them envious. Then they are surprised when their mind’s freeway becomes polluted with all of these things. And, they wonder why their stress level is so high.
I say: With God’s help we can do better.
Let us pray
In Jesus’ name we pray.
Our staff is voluntold each week and with grace they share their thoughts.