March 18, 2019
Gratitude/Thanks  by Pastor Geri    I want to thank the following people for their faithful service to God in this church.
They have served diligently and graciously on committees and are now moving on to other faithful activities. Committee work is not always the most fun thing in the world to do, but in our United Methodist system…committees and teams do have the responsibility and the opportunity to keep the wheels of the church going round and round. On behalf of the Trinity United Methodist Church, I offer you our gratitude and appreciation for your time of service:
Drew Champagne: Worship Team leadership extraordinaire
Jon Harry: Long-time Trustee and Endowment Committee participant
Scott Ritsema: Lay Leader and active on many (!) committees
Nathan Ruble: Stewardship/Generosity Team
Don Yuhasey: Decades of opening the building for the 8:00 worship group on Sundays…We miss you, Don, but rejoice that you have gone to your eternal reward.

I also want to thank the following people who are taking on new responsibilities in 2019.
These folks are accepting the challenge of serving God and our congregation in new ways this year. Please support and encourage them, and maybe even, if they ask nicely, assist them in their new responsibilities—serving God through this Trinity United Methodist Church so that all may come to know Jesus, on earth as well as in heaven!
John Erickson: Camp Michigamme contact
Heidi Harwell: Coffee Time set-up
Jerry Harwell: Council member at-large
Jill Noyce: Altar decorations
Jen Rietveld: Staff Pastor Parish Relations Committee
Patty Ronan: United Methodist Missions coordinator

 Pastor’s Ponderings   The calendar year is drawing to a close and the days are getting shorter and shorter. How many of you, like me, take some comfort from all of the Christmas lights? I just love it when my neighbors put their lights on a timer and start lighting up their houses…sometimes even before Thanksgiving! I have both indoor and outdoor lights to turn on when I come home from church activities…sometimes long after dark.

We need those lights at this time of year to remind us that the winter darkness is a temporary thing. And we also need to give ourselves the gift of light-filled thoughts and ideas at this time of year. Yes, Christmas and New Year celebrations are supposed to be filled with the music of joy, but often below the surface there can be darker chords playing. Especially in the days and weeks after Christmas… the days are getting longer, but our hearts sometimes feel heavier after all of the celebration. And a lot of people take down their Christmas lights soon after the New Year.

A nugget of truth that I find comforting at this time of the year came to me out of a book by N. Graham Standish—a Presbyterian minister who wrote Becoming a Blessed Church: Forming a Church of Spiritual Purpose, Presence, and Power. Right at the start of the book, Standish writes about the bagpipe player at his wedding. Bagpiper Bob was not only a great bagpipe player, he was also a man of simple wisdom and great faith who said:   ‘You know, God never sets you up to fail.’  That sure says a lot in a very few words!

I, like so many of you, find that even in the darkest times. Even when the odds seem stacked against us. Even when the future is unclear (as it is for The United Methodist Church) and the next steps are uncertain…help finds its way to us. When we have faith and trust in God, people come into our lives at the right time and the right place. A song or a book or a Facebook post suddenly speaks exactly to our hearts and encourages us to keep on keeping on. That’s how God works!

God’s intention is never, ever for us to give up. Temporary discouragement is a part of life, but long-term…we can trust that God is NOT setting us up to fail. God wants for each of us, and for the church—health and wholeness, however that may come true. God wants for each of us, and for the church—peace in the midst of conflict. And God wants for each of us, and for the church—courage and purpose and power. We can experience all of those things as we intentionally and steadily seek God’s presence in all parts of our lives.

Someone once told me that we are never closer to God than when we are actively seeking God—because God is always there waiting for us to open our hearts and souls and minds. God isn’t going to come barging in on us, but God is always waiting for the chance to slip in and walk with us through all of our days.

Isn’t that the point of God coming to be with us in the life of Jesus? Christmas may be over, but Jesus is still the best reason for every season and the ultimate avenue for experiencing God’s presence, power, and love. Please take some time to seriously consider joining in on one of the several new activities that are starting up in January at Trinity UMC. (See page 2 for more details.)

Our Jubilee Year experience in 2018 has led us to this up-coming time of drawing closer to God through a workshop ‘Making Jesus Your Best Friend, Forever,’ a book study on the same subject, continued Bible-reading, and special worship events. Check them out…they just might provide you with the light of God’s love that you need in this cold, dark season.

My prayer for this Trinity Church is that 2019 will be a year in which we all draw closer to God. I pray that we will all feel God’s presence in a mighty way and in that feeling, we can discover God’s purpose for us as a church. And always remember…failure is NOT God’s option for us!  Happy New Year, in the name of Jesus,     Pastor Geri

CLICK HERE for 2017 Pastors Ponderings and Preachers Corner
 Pastor’s Ponderings (written 8/23/18)
We’re less than a week away from school starting up again here in this area. So many of our college kids are already on campus and settling in for the fall semester. Pre-schools are welcoming little ones for their first experience, and bus drivers are checking out the routes for the first day of school. At this time of year, I can’t help but think of that age-old question… ‘What Did You Do for Summer Vacation?’
      As warm as it’s been, we can honestly say that this has truly been a Real Summer. Here at Trinity UMC we have used the season to relax and enjoy each other in a variety of ways, right here at our own building. In June we had a Family Table brunch after worship in the Fellowship Hall and shared a meal with each other before all of the summer travels and camps got started. In July we hosted a four-day VBS (thanks to an amazing team of women who put it all together—you know who you are!) for 35 children …using our building and our parking lot and green space for fun and learning about the heroes of our faith.       A couple of weeks later we had a first-ever, midweek Marshmallow Roast, which was delightful out in the garden area of our church. (Thanks to the Generosity Team for that great time!) People from all generations came and enjoyed the chance to sit around the charcoal grills together. Then in August, our Church picnic was outside with awnings and tables set up along E Street, and many people stayed after worship to share in food and fellowship.
      It is GOOD when the people of God gather together…
      I know that summer can be difficult for some of you to make it to worship. The earlier worship time is not compatible with everyone’s schedule. Travel plans and sports schedules can interfere with Sunday morning worship and picnic attendance. Jobs sometimes make overtime and Sunday shift work demands on some people. Ill health and life’s challenges get in the way of the best laid plans.
      But know this…even in your absence, the good-will, the kindness and caring, the love of God continues from within this Trinity United Methodist Church. The Jubilee Prayers, the Reading Through the Bible in a Year, the focus on history continue to create room in our hearts and minds and schedules for each other and for the fun gatherings that create lasting memories and joyful bonds of friendship. If you haven’t been around for the summer…know that you are missed. And know that God’s people are still here, singing and praying and eating s’mores and talking and loving you and each other!
      My prayer is that the fall schedule will bring you back to worship on Sundays as we return to the 8:00 and 10:30 worship times. You will see in this Tower that Sunday school for the children is starting up again on September 9. Choir practice begins on August 29. There are wonderful workshops scheduled for September 14- 15 and September 28- 29 (see page 2) and an adult Sunday school book study planned (see page 2).
      Is there something special that you would like to do this fall as we gather back together? There is time in the schedule and money available that can be used to enhance the life of the Church, to the glory of God, whenever you or someone else has an idea of how to do that. Just let me know, and I’ll help your dreams come true…because our dreams are a reflection of God’s hope for us to share in the resurrected life of Jesus Christ. Let’s do it! It will be fun! God’s peace and the Holy Spirit be with us all. 
       In the name of Jesus, Pastor Geri

Pastor’s Ponderings--July & August I’m having trouble deciding what to write about this time. There is so much running through my head after four days at Annual Conference. The North Dakota Mission Trip is leaving in a few days. My prayers are with the team. My first June wedding is coming up, with the second one the next weekend. I’m also preparing for VBS fun the last week of June. Not to mention Elementary Camp at Camp Michigamme next month. Who said summer is a time to slow down!?!
How about you? Are the longer days and shorter nights giving you an extra energy boost?

I hope that you have as many fun and interesting and yes, even challenging things going on as I do. We are most fully alive when we are engaged, intrigued, challenged, and just plain amused by the great variety that life offers us. God made us and the world that way.

Conference challenged all 1,795 of us—clergy and people in the pews, just like you—to ask ourselves: Who is my neighbor? And what does it mean to love our neighbors? Some of my favorite quotes from Conference are showing up in my sermons since then:

‘God has a mission for the world and love is at the heart of that mission.’

‘Love means being deeply committed to the well- being of other people.’

‘Always be ready for God to show up.’

‘No matter what happens, even the worst possible tragedy...God will still be calling us to love each other and our neighbors.’

Lots to think about. And then I look at the VBS ‘Hero Central’ curriculum and see how the simple lessons for children carry so much wisdom for all of us grown-ups. Don’t you need to hear:

God’s heroes have Heart! God’s heroes have Courage! God’s heroes have Wisdom! God’s heroes have Hope!

And doesn’t it make sense that we need all of the above to live life fully and to love our neighbors?

Heart, Courage, Wisdom, and Hope.

All of these are qualities that God offers to us, all the time. When we look at the life and teachings of Jesus and when we open our hearts to the power of the Holy Spirit...We can share God’s love in the world! That’s what heroes do!

Even heroes, though, get tired and need a day off. A day to rest and relax and enjoy the goodness of this great big world. I hope you are giving yourself time to kick back and take it easy. Love for our neighbors can be as simple as looking with love...smiling with joy...resting quietly in the warmth of God’s love...and being re-energized for action, when the time is right. In God’s time. Happy summer and God’s peace to all...        Pastor Geri


Pastor’s Ponderings  April 2018

Winter 2018 has, as always, been dark and cold. Ripe with germs and stumbles. Empty at times of color other than the red cheeks and chapped lips of those who come in from the bitter weather. Hallelujah, it’s almost over! Even as my WeatherBug app warns me of snow showers maybe on Good Friday and even yes, (how dare they!?!) on Easter Sunday…I see temperatures this week in the 40’s and even up to 52 degrees. Mostly sunny. A chance of rain…so much better than more of the white stuff!

While the mornings bring frozen ground after overnight lows, there are already puddles of water and patches of mud which show up during the daylight, sunny hours. No signs of renewed outside plant life yet, but the birds are singing. And my crazy Christmas cactus that didn’t bloom in the dead of winter has started coming alive with buds…the first of which actually bloomed on Palm Sunday! Many more just waiting in the wings to bring a burst of color throughout the dark days of Holy Week.

It feels like forever but truly…New Life is just around the corner! Easter this year, on April Fools Day, is the open door into Spring. Into relief that the dark days are over. Into the fulfillment of God’s intention for us to be saved from gloom and despair and darkness. Enough! God says. Let there be light! Let there be life! The gift is God’s. The choice is ours.

The Lenten Crossroads series of dialogues during the 10:30 Sunday worship showed us that life is about choices and decisions that need to be made. Some of them simple. Some more complex. All of them, all of our crossroad options can include ‘Choosing Life’ when we stop and think about how Jesus found his way back to life after his horrible death on the cross.

Nature and circumstances and challenges do bring us to a stop at time. How many snow days did you have this year that brought your regular routine to a screeching halt? But Jesus shows us

over and over again that death and dismay are never the end of the story. After a pause in the action and a fallow period of enforced rest, Resurrection restores us. Life gets re-set. New beginnings and eager entrances are all a part of God’s plan for each of us…over and over again…if and when we choose life in Christ. When we give ourselves to life in a community of faith. When we share our lives with those around us, the same way that Jesus shares his life and death and resurrection with us.

Welcome to spring, my friends. Welcome to Easter and the new life in Christ that is the absolute reassurance that God has goodness and mercy in store for us, all the days of our lives. I look forward to enjoying it together with all of you! In the name of Jesus, Pastor Geri


Preacher’s Corner    April 2018

It’s Easter! It’s April Fools Day!! It’s Easter on April Fools Day!!! This doesn’t happen very often…1956 was the last time. The next time will be 2029, which many of us will live to see. Then 2040, which will be the last time in this 21st century.

Easter in 2018 is a rare conjunction of the holy and the secular, so let’s enjoy it! Let’s celebrate Jesus, who has a sense of humor and was known to enjoy a time of good food, good wine, and good conversation, which always includes lots of laughter.

During this Easter season, we at Trinity will embrace the dignity of Easter and explore the joy with just a little bit of foolishness. The sermons will be tied together by the theme: ‘He’s Lifted Up So We Can Lighten Up!’ Come and be blessed in the worship of our Loving God with the fellowship of believers who use the Words of God for the people of God to draw closer to God. Thanks be to God!

April 1, Easter: Mark 16:1-8. ‘Choose Life!’

April 8: Erica Thomas, Camp Michigamme Director.

1 John 1:1-22, ‘Let Your Light Shine.’

April 15: ‘Lighten the Load’ 1 Corinthians 12:4-11,  1 John 3:1-7

April 22: Luke 24:36b-48. ‘Lighten Up!’

April 29: John 15:1-8, 1 John 4:7-21. ‘Laughter Is the Song of Love’

Preacher’s Corner March, 2018

The Season of Lent has begun… Starting with Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day, we entered into a time of more serious reflection on the meaning of sacrifice. The sermons for Lent will be built around what happens: ‘At the Crossroads.’ We’ll explore the intersection of choices available to us at different times in our lives. We will hear dialogue sermons as we hear from people who knew Jesus in those last days of his life. Some chose well, and some did not. There is much we can learn about the Crossroad choices in our own lives. Come and be blessed by the words of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

March 4, At the Crossroads: John the Beloved. ‘Obedience’ Matthew 26:36-46. Communion Sunday

March 11, At the Crossroads: Pontius Pilate. ‘Judgment’ Matthew 27:11-26

March 18, At the Crossroads: Peter. ‘Declaration’ Mark 14:66-72. Confirmation Sunday

March 25, At the Crossroads: Malchus. ‘Compassion’ Luke 22:47-51. Palm Sunday

Preacher’s Corner for February

February starts off with the last two weeks of our Epiphany series ‘Along the Way: The People We Meet.’ From the night of his very birth, Jesus met lots of people. So do we. Revisiting and remembering the people we have met along the way gives us a chance to review the lessons that Jesus teaches us through his life.

And then…in the middle of February, we will shift gears to the Season of Lent. Starting with Ash Wednesday, we enter into a time of more serious reflection on the meaning of sacrifice.

The sermons for Lent will focus us ‘At the Crossroads.’ We’ll explore the intersection of various choices as we think about the people who knew Jesus in those last days of his life. Some chose well and some did not. There is much we can learn about the Crossroad choices in our own lives. Come and be blessed by the words of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

Feb. 4, The People We Meet Along the Way: The Sick Ones. Mark 1:29-39

Feb. 11, Transfiguration Sunday. Along the Way: The Ancient Ones. Mark 9:2-9

Feb. 14, Ash Wednesday, 6:00 p.m. At the Crossroads: King David Confession. Psalm 51

Feb. 18, At the Crossroads: Judas Iscariot Betrayal/Temptation. John 13:21-30

Feb. 25, At the Crossroads: Simon the Zealot Suffering. Mark 8:31-38

Looking Ahead to Easter!

Ash Wednesday, February 14, at 6:00 p.m. Evening worship with music from our choir. Come for the Community Meal, and stay for the Imposition of Ashes.

Maundy Thursday, March 29, at 6:00 p.m. Evening worship with Communion and music from our choir.

Easter Sunday, April 1 (yes, April Fools Day!) There will be a Church-wide potluck brunch between the 8:00 and 10:30 worship services. Bring a dish to pass, and share the joy with your Church family.

Preacher’s Corner January 2018 Epiphany Worship

‘Along the Way: The People We Meet’ You’ve heard the old saying: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Think about this: As we journey together as disciples of Jesus: It’s not ‘where you go,’ so much as, ‘who you meet along the way.’ Everyone is a child of God, and everyone has something to teach us about God’s love. From his very birth, Jesus met lots of people. During the six weeks of the Season of Epiphany, we will revisit and reintroduce ourselves to the people along the way in the life of Jesus. While considering his experiences with them, we just might find ourselves giving thanks for the people we have met and learned from on our own journey along the way. Come and be blessed by the words of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

January 7, Epiphany Sunday. The Wise Ones. Matthew 2:1-12

January 14, Baptism of our Lord. The Wild Ones. Mark 1:4-11

January 21, Friends along the Way. Mark 1:14-20

January 28, The Unclean Ones. Mark 1:21-28

February 4, The Sick Ones. Mark 1:29-39

February 11, Transfiguration Sunday . The Ancient Ones. Mark 9:2-9