From Pastor Tony


One of my friends from Caledonia MN,  Father Greg Leif (who used to serve Saint John Vianney years ago!) offered an observation a couple of years back.  He told me that his brother-in-law told him that one can judge another’s Christian character by how they deal with Christmas lights.

In this season as our church’s carillon resounds with God’s grace as it plays Christmas carols for holiday shoppers, it is good for us to adapt Fr. Greg’s wisdom.  How we treat and relate with one another in church says much about our Christian character.

  • Are our eyes open to see God’s blessings in our own lives?
  • Are we ready with a smile and a compliment?
  • Is it in our nature to offer one another love and grace and forgiveness?
  • Are we on the lookout to see how we can help and serve one another?
  • Are we ready to give of ourselves and what we have so that others might experience the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?
  • How well do we follow Jesus’ example?

As we begin this new Christmas season, resounding God’s grace by relating with love and grace, radically welcoming our guests, and reaching out to our communities in love, how well we love one another will offer a glimpse to how effectively we will be offering the saving grace of Jesus Christ to all who hunger for his love.

Kind of like how well we do hanging our Christmas lights.

As persons come into our midst for the first time this holiday season, it is my prayer that our congregation will be a haven of blessing and peace and hope.

I hope you will be able to join us in our Advent Study Under Wraps: The Gift We Never Expected on Sunday mornings in December, where we will learn more about our Lord together, our remarkable, surprising God who has come to us in Jesus!

As we prepare to celebrate the One who came in a most surprising way to dwell with us,

May God Bless Us!

Signature 2011


Sometimes when I read multiple books at the same time, there is a common thread that can be seen.

Among the books I am reading now is the management book, The Wisdom Of Crowds: (Why The Many Are Smarter Than The Few And How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies, And Nations), by James Surowiecki.  At the same time I am looking at our worship series Committed to Christ, by Bob Crossman, as well as The Covenant Bible Study, the study we are using for our adult Sunday school class in the basement parlor.

One of the points that James Surowiecki makes through research studies in The Wisdom Of Crowds is that a diverse, yet connected group of persons makes better decisions than they do separately, and also better decisions that even the smartest person in the group.  He also tells us that persons more likely to pay their taxes, and persons are less likely to cheat on their taxes if they believe that everyone else is paying their fair share of taxes also.  This also has implications on their contributions (both financial and non-financial) to a larger group as a whole.  If we believe that everyone is contributing fairly, according to their gifts, graces, and resources, we are more likely to contribute what we have to the larger group.

As we have been talking about our Commitment to Christ in Sunday morning worship, I have been challenging each of us to personally take a step or two in growing in our commitment to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The areas of spiritual growth that have been highlighted are personal prayer, Bible reading, regular worship attendance, witnessing about our faith to others, financial giving, and service to others.  If each of us takes a step toward personal spiritual growth, our congregation as a whole will bolder, more fearless and led to a greater degree by the Holy Spirit and by Jesus.

And last week in our Covenant Bible Study, as we studied Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we learned about how each of us are a unique and important part of the Body of Christ.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
– 1 Corinthians 12:12

 So here is a common thread in the three completely different books:  All of us are part of the Body of Christ and also this congregation together.  If all of us (or at least the majority of us) make it a point to grow in our faith this coming year, the Body of Christ will benefit from each of our individual contributions to the whole.  And when more of us contribute our fair share of prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness – it enhances the probability that even more of us will serve our Lord and God with all of our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength!

Something for each of us to think about, huh?  See you in church!

May God Bless Us!

Signature 2011

4 thoughts on “From Pastor Tony

  1. Dear Pastor Tony,

    We are close friends and former neighbors of Joyce Gina and Bob. We met at their 10th Anniversary renewal of vows (Shirley was the one getting in everyone’s way with her camera).

    We have a strange, but Huge favor? We are trying to finish a prayer shawl for Joyce in time for Bob’s memorial service. If it is done by Thursday, may I ask your help to gather together before the service to pray for Joyce while we all hold (as best we can) a piece of the shawl? It may be a comfort to her having a shawl that has been prayed over by her pastor, church members, friends and family. If no, that’s OK, too.

    Thank you for your time; and we thank you, everyone, for the love and great kindness you’ve shown both Bob and Joyce.

    Love in Christ,

    Shirley & Rich

    1. It was an honor to be able to lead those gathered in blessing the special prayer shawl you made for Gina. I’m glad you were able to be with us at the celebration of Bob’s life last week.

  2. Hi Tony, I ran across your pdf for managing conflict in the church. May we have your permission to use a modified version of that for our church?

    Thanks in advance. Merry Christmas!

    1. Yes! You certainly may. Ours was developed with the help of a couple of other UM churches, making good use of what they learned through their processes. I will also send you a quick email… Tony

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