Pastor Kurt’s Blog

4 Apr 2023

April Message

Dear Disciples and Friends of Living Christ,

First, thank you to all for your kind words to and support of me and my family as we grieve the death of my mother, Margaret Ann. Some say that we should not grieve the death of a loved one because of the resurrection of Jesus, that grief means that one does not have faith in the resurrection. I disagree.

During his life, Jesus wept over Jerusalem, and he wept over Lazarus. Jesus grieved. Grief is a natural human response to death and decay and loss. Grief is the sign that we actually loved the ones who have departed from our presence. Grief is the sign that something or someone actually mattered to us in life.

At the same time, Jesus also hoped, hoped that tomorrow will not be the same as today, but, by the grace of God, it will get better. Even as he hung on the cross, saying “My God. My God. Why have you forsaken me?” Jesus trusted God. Jesus’ words, “Into your hands I commend my spirit,” were not empty words. They were words of grief and hope.

As such, we too have the freedom to grieve and hope; we grieve as people of faith who have hope. And because of Jesus’ resurrection, our faith and hope have not been in vain. Grief and Faith are not mutually exclusive, but companions in our walk with God. So, let us walk in faith, hope, and love all the days of our lives, and in grief, when we need to.

In Christ’s love, Pr Kurt

11 Feb 2023

February Message 

Dear Disciples and Friends of Living Christ,

It is hard to believe that we are coming up on the third anniversary of the pandemic. Lent was just beginning, and having recently adopted our new mission statement – Inviting-Challenging- Growing in Grace-filled Discipleship – we set out to put that in motion by starting dinner church.

The purpose of dinner church was to have a more laid-back worship with time for discussion that made for a more welcoming and interactive time so that the people we invited to share in the meal and discussion wouldn’t be so intimidated. People leery from past negative church experiences could ease into a safe yet faithful and relevant community.

The early results were positive. New people were starting to show up. The discussions were lively and pertinent to everyday life. We were nourished in body, heart, mind, and soul. And then at week 3, it all came to a crashing halt because of (sigh) COVID.

Three years later, we are approaching the beginning of Lent once again, only this time COVID seems to be waning. We have grown accustomed to the threat that COVID posed, but with vaccines and masking, it doesn’t seem so threatening any longer. A danger perhaps, but not life and death like it was in the early days.

It was also decided that it is time for us to try dinner church again. Ash Wednesday is February 22, which will be a joint service with LCM|Canterbury, and will be our typical service with prayers, hymns, communion, and the imposition of ashes.

During the Wednesdays in Lent, starting March 1, however, we will do dinner church, with the main course catered and attendees asked to bring side dishes ALONG WITH GUESTS YOU HAVE INVITED.

The theme for Lent three years ago was “The Fruits of the Spirit.” This time around, we will delve into the lives of various saints from various times and continents. Throughout the centuries, the church has lifted up various people whose lives of service and faith are meant to inspire and encourage us in our own lives and faith walk with Jesus, to see how God uses ordinary people to be salt of the earth and the light of the world (to use Jesus’ words from Matthew 5). In other words, people just like us.

Please join us for what I hope will be a fascinating, enjoyable, and meaningful time of learning, praising, and table fellowship. I also hope that you will make every effort to invite folks to share in this meal and conversation.

Or as Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before others so that they may see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in Heaven.”

In Christ’s love, Pr. Kurt

1 Sep 2022

September Message

Disciples and friends of Living Christ,

As most of you know, I will be heading off for sabbatical for 3 months very soon. Part of my time away will be spent doing spiritual direction. What is spiritual direction, you ask? That’s good question, thanks for asking.

Spiritual direction is spiritual practice dating back to the 300s AD/CE. There were Christians collectively known as the Desert Fathers and Mothers who rejected the imperial culture around them and went off into the desert, away from society, to pray and meditate on God’s presence in their midst and the world at large. Through time, regular people began to seek these desert dwellers out in search of help in their faith walk with Jesus.

Some sought discernment of God’s will for their life, others wisdom or clarity, others a break from the hustle and bustle, others for help in seeing God’s presence in their life or within a particular problem they were facing. Regardless of the situation, these Christian mystics would listen to their visitors’ stories and ask questions. In particular, they would direct these seekers’ attention to certain moments or situations and ask them to ponder, “Where is God at work in this situation? In your situation? Where do you see God at work?”

I am entering into a spiritual direction, sometimes called spiritual companionship, as I wrestle with the changes that are happening in church and society and discern how I can be a better pastor in the midst of these changes. I am seeking help  in discerning what God is up to in my life so that I can change or adapt in ways that are faithful to my pastoral and baptismal callings.

In many ways, I think that is what Living Christ is trying to do right now as we study the book The Invitational Christian on Sunday mornings. This past Sunday, the author Pr. Dave Daubert suggested that there are 2 main reasons that make healthy congregations vibrant, life-giving. The first is that these congregations help people be a part of the mission of God. The second is that these communities deepen people’s spiritual connections to God in ways that are transformational.

As we study this book, we are having to ask ourselves those same kinds of questions as what the Desert Fathers and Mothers asked seekers: Where is God at work in your life right now that is leading to you being transformed? What is life- giving to you and how is Living Christ helping to make that happen? If Living Christ is not helping to make this happen, what needs to be changed to help you and others experience that life-giving change?

While I do not know what will happen or how my sabbatical will change me – or how the book study will change Living Christ – I look forward to seeing the results come January. I am excited to see what God is up to, what transformation / resurrection God will affect in us.

In Christ’s love, Pr. Kurt

7 Jun 2022

June Message

Dear Disciples and Friends of Living Christ,

I can’t believe it’s June already. School is out and summer vacations are upon us just as gas prices are at their highest ever and COVID cases are beginning to rise... again. Still, we get to at least think about these blessings and challenges. Certain families in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, Texas are going to spend the summer trying to figure out how life will go on without their family members and friends.

Violence seems to be everywhere these days. There have been on average 10 mass shooting events per week this year. More than one a day. We want to do something to help, but Buffalo and Uvalde seem awfully far away.

Of course, violence happens in a variety of ways: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. While progress was being made to protect the dignity and freedoms of LGBTQIA+ folk, recently, many states including Arizona have passed laws that have begun to chip away at that progress. Fear of violence in the LGBTQIA+ community is growing again. Many don’t even feel safe leaving their own homes.

On June 18, we will have an opportunity to publicly take a stand in love and solidarity with the community against hate and violence. This is all the more important because the church has historically been and remains a major contributor towards that hate and violence. This an opportunity for us to witness to our faith that we are all one in Christ, and that oneness matters because with it comes the love and peace of God that brings an end to fear and violence.

In Christ’s love, Pr. Kurt

2 Mar 2022

March Message

Disciples and Friends of Living Christ,

Well, we are officially out of our old building and into the new. That process will be completed the morning of Ash Wednesday when I hand over 12 pounds of keys for the old building to the new owners and we get our rent deposit back.

The buyers, Southwest Health and Behavioral Services, have big plans for the property. They will convert the sanctuary into counseling offices and a small group meeting space. Downstairs will become more offices, and they hope to build 4 to 6 housing units on the undeveloped property for mothers with addiction so that their children can remain with them and not be placed in foster care. Our building and property will be a great blessing to Southwest and their clientele. We pray it all goes as planned.

We too are entering a time of change and growth. Lent, based on the Latin word for “spring,” is officially upon us this Wednesday. During Lent we are called to a time of repentance, a time to let our old sinful self die, to shake off the decay of sin, and spring into a new way of living in Christ.

One of the way that sin clings to us so obviously these days can be summed up in one word: polarization. The idea that we are polarized as a society and that it is a problem is about the only thing we agree upon these days.

What makes polarization a problem is not that we have differences. There have always been differences; God created in diversity and sustains that diversity for our good. A loss of diversity is a step backwards in our process of growth, in our relationship with God, creation, and our neighbor.

Polarization is problematic because it not only reflects an intolerance of difference, but is grounded in an arrogance of “I/We” have the right answer and “You/They” have the wrong or even evil answer. That way of seeing leaves no room for dialogue or compromise, only digging in one’s heels.

Part of Jesus’ ministry was to bring about reconciliation, to overcome polarization and its broken ways of thinking and acting... in ME. While it easy to point the finger and blame polarization on others, if we are to be faithful to our calling in the Gospel to repentance, to living life from a whole new perspective, then we need to start with making a change in our own self.

That is the theme for us this year in Lent, especially for our Lenten Wednesdays, beginning with Ash Wednesday. We will be reading and discussing the book “Last Best Hope” by George Packer about polarization in the United States. We will also look at the processes that create polarization in us (without us even knowing it) and how we can shift or “repent” and change so that we can be healers of polarization and not perpetuators of it.

I hope you will take the time to join in this Lenten/Spring growth opportunity so that together we can be better witnesses to Jesus’ death and resurrection that brings healing and wholeness to us and the world.

In Christ’s service and yours, Pr. Kurt

(You can find more info about the book under the Education tab)

2 Jan 2022

January Message

Disciples and Friends of Living Christ,

Happy New Year!

We will soon be entering the season of Epiphany, that part of the church year when we celebrate how God reveals Godself to us in Christ. And we can see God’s fingerprints all over the place.

First, we have successfully sold the property, and our prayers have been mostly answered. The building, of course, continues to throw temper tantrums as a water leak in the narthex ceiling was discovered during the walk through, which we will have to get fixed here shortly. The good news is that’s our 3rd water problem (boiler, broken water main, ceiling leak) so there shouldn’t be any more problems. (Lord in your mercy... hear our prayer.)

Second, the proceeds of the sale will be invested officially on Monday in the ELCA Foundation and will provide us with important supplementary income for years to come. (Lord in your mercy... hear our prayer.)

Third, we also have a new location for us to gather and continue our ministry at the Campus Ministry Center (CMC) at NAU. The CMC location has many benefits: dedicated office space, sufficient parking (20 spaces for us in the NAU parking lot, plus the CMC lot), a freestanding building (not a strip mall location), a worship space that can accommodate us, and a central Flagstaff location. This checks off almost all the boxes on our want list and will give us a good jumping off point into the future. (Lord in your mercy... hear our prayer.)

God has been good to us and continues to faithfully watch over us. God reveals God’s presence to us every day. As a result, we have a new prayer for on Sundays, “O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. As we await the move to the new property, give us faith to go out with good courage, not fully knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us.”

In Christ’s service and yours, Pr. Kurt

30 Nov 2021

December Message

Disciples and Friends of Living Christ,

I am finding it hard to believe that we are coming to the end of another year and have already begun a new church year. They say that time flies when you are having fun, though I am not sure that going through a pandemic is fun. It’s been a lot of hard work, mentally and emotionally, as we have adapted and pivoted along the way. We have found ways to do worship, study, fellowship, and justice online and in-person in the midst of the pandemic, and by the end of the month, we will have sold our property and begun a new chapter as the body of Christ.

Throughout it all, we have been courageous, resilient, and resourceful. We have also been loving, compassionate, and cooperative as we have walked this path. Some familiar faces have walked away during this time of change, but new faces have also joined us because of our faithfulness to the mission we have from God. People have seen God at work among us and want to be a part of it, and for this we should rejoice and give thanks to God.

As we approach Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus our Savior, let us rejoice at God coming among us and walking with us in the midst of life’s trail and tribulations, of God’s compassion and love that sustain us, and God’s vision and mission that lead us and guide us into the future. We do not know what the future will hold exactly, but we are assured that we move into it accompanied by God and one another, and together we will meet that future with faith, hope, and love. Merry Christmas!

In Christ’s service and yours, Pr. Kurt