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October Seeds for Thought
by Pastor Stephen Blenkush

Pastor Blenkush

In this month’s Seeds for Thought, I want to offer some updates and ….

With the arrival of September many of our education ministries started up again. Confirmation is in full swing. Once again Zion and Trinity Lutheran have teamed up to offer confirmation instruction to our junior high youth. Every Wednesday we gather at either Trinity or Zion and the parents of the students prepare a simple, yet healthy supper for the kids. And then we dive into our studies. This year the emphasis is on the life of Jesus. Next year we will study Luther’s Catechism and then the following year we will return to the Old Testament. Thanks to a handful of parents, we have Table Guides to assist in table discussions. This year we have roughly 40 kids in confirmation. It is always an exciting evening with lots of energy!

Sunday School began Septembr 30. As of right now we have one full time teacher (a parent) and two part-time teachers (two grandparents). Suffice to say, we could use more help here. If you are moved to step up, please contact Jenny Niedzelski and offer your assistiance. Can’t teach every week? How about alternating with another parent and work as a team. I truly believe you will find this valuable ministry to be very meaningful and rewarding.

The Chimney saga is coming to a close, hopefully. In September we were finally able to get some helpful answers and direction as to how we can address slabs of stucco serendipitously hanging on the side of our chimney. Once we got a lift and someone who knows what he is doing, we discovered we have a chimney with lots of water damage and bricks that were crumbling. Since then we have eliminated about eight feet of bricks on the chimney and firmed up and cleaned up and repaired the remaining chimney. Along with the chimney we are also addressing other aspects of our stucco work that need attention. In some cases, our efforts are Band-Aids and will need on-going attention. The truth is, there is much about our aging building that needs constant attention and tender loving care. I know this sounds goofy, but as a pastor I have often dreamt of having a group of guys (and in a perfect world, women as well) who would meet monthly over morning coffee and donuts and then take inventory of the needs of the building and then attending to them. Just like your home needs seasonal attention, so does our church building. Let me know if you are interested. I will make the coffee and pick up the donuts!

Faith on Tap! OK, this is new. Once a month (4th Tuesday at 7PM) Pastor Bauer from Trinity and I will be at Timber Valley Grill for an hour or so to have faith centered conversations over a beverage of your choice (an adult beverage or a soda or coffee). In the spirit of Martin Luther and his famous Table Talks, we hope to provide an opportunity to address questions of faith in a somewhat unorthodox setting. To start this effort off we have decided to begin with “Vocabulary of our Faith.” What does the word “Faith” mean? What is “Redemption”? And so forth. Any further topics will arise out of your interest. Suffice to say this will be informal and relaxed. Stop by, we will be in the back room, have a beverage and join the conversation or simply listen and jump in when you are ready.

Homecoming Sunday: Oct. 21. Homecomings are fun. Homecomings are part of our cultural DNA, opportunities to reunite with old friends, relatives, and neighbors. The plan for Zion’s Homecoming Sunday is simple—invite and gather old and new members and friends. Bishop Thomas Aitken will be with us to preach. Past pastors (Pastor Olson and Pastor Hennamen) have been invited. A classic Lutheran style meal will be served (Hot dish, Jell-O, bars and coffee). Your 125th Planning Team hopes you will be able to invite and join us that Sunday.Generations: Together—On Sunday Sept. 23, we started the first of four conversations inspired by short video series presenting individuals from the Nebraska Synod and four churches and five generations. We all know that each generation has its unique world view and sometime they clash with the other generations. When I was a teenager back in the 1970’s I was told to never trust anyone over 30. I am now double that age, so who do I now not trust? We also know that change does not come easily and yet, we also know deep down that we need to make some changes, the question is—what is changeable and what is timeless? In the coming months we will talk about Faith, Church and Community. I hope you will come and join the conversation.

Cultivating Generous Congregations: Starting in October a team from Zion will participate in yearlong coaching program to help change our congregation’s approach to generosity and giving. The goal is to move away from the yearly seasonal “ask” (pledge drives) to an attitude of year round generosity and gratitude. If this is something you think you might get jazzed by, let me know as the team is being assembled (4 congregational members and myself). If you have further questions, I would be happy to chat. Going back to the previous paragraph, I believe it is safe to say that doing stewardship the same way we did in the 1950’s has run its course and it is time to adapt and change our approach.

Lastly, we are entering a time of year when we are often inspired to share our gratitude to God, our families, our communities and hopefully, complete strangers as well. I am not sure when it became apparent to me but it seems that the healthies people (spiritually, emotionally, and physically) I have known are also the most grateful people I have known. Perhaps you too have noticed this. So, it is for that reason, in an effort to be healthy, I want to extend my thanks and gratitude to a great many of you.

I am appreciative of all the hard work our 125th Team has put in to help us mark this significant milestone of 125 years of ministry in this community and beyond.

I am appreciative of your council chair, Steve Sauer, those council member and congregational members who have stepped up to address our chimney concerns. Every time it rains and the wind blew I lived with a certain degree of trepidation that chunks of the chimney would fall on the roof and create an even bigger crisis.

As I anticipate the annual Meatball Supper I am appreciative of Randy Hemstad’s organizational and recruitment skills to pull this off with (seemingly apparent) ease.

I am also grateful for Zion’s gift of hospitality and its ability to welcome the many guests that join us for dinner.

Are there more things I am grateful for? Of course, but I am out of room for this month! Trust, there is more to follow! Until then, see you in worship!

                               Living in God’s amazing grace,  Pastor Stephen Blenkush

Marked with the cross of Christ forever, 
we are claimed, gathered,
and sent for the sake of the world.

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