Rocklin, California

Category: Newsletter (Page 1 of 2)

Fall 2016 Bible Class on the Liturgy

Why do we worship the way we do? Where do all the sights, sounds, smells, and things that we Liturgy Poster 2016do come from? How come our worship practices are so different from Adventure down the road, or even many other Lutheran churches today? And do we learn any of these things in the bible, or are they simply tradition that we receive from our parents and their parents?

These questions and more will be address in our special fall bible study: The Liturgy, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. In this video series, led by renowned scholar and pastor, Dr. Arthur Just, we will explore the Old Testament roots of worship, how the early church adapted what they had received, and where all of this fits into our worship practices today.

I hope you will join us, bring your questions, and let’s try to answer them together and learn more of who we are in Christ and what great gifts our Lord brings to us every Sunday!

Classes begin on Sunday, September 11th at 9:15 in the morning. See you there!

In Christ,

Pastor Peperkorn

Five Years a California Pastor

My installation at Holy Cross on August 19, 2011.

Five years ago today I was installed as pastor at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Rocklin, California. As with many things, it seems like it was both yesterday and a thousand years ago. But here are a few of my thoughts that have bubbled up along the way.

  1. It takes about five years to get to know a congregation, and another five years to get to know a community. Years ago a seasoned pastor told me that, and I think it is generally true. Holy Cross is very much home for us now, and it is hard for me to imagine being anywhere else. California and Rocklin are still a bit surreal, but I expect that will keep coming along the way. It just takes a certain number of major life events to really get to know people. Baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and funerals all shape the pastoral relationship with a congregation, as well as the week-to-week preaching and teaching and celebrating the Eucharist together.
  2. California is not as weird as I thought. People are people, and while the context of ministry changes from place to place, our common humanity binds us together more than it separates. While there are some unique pastoral challenges here that weren’t in the Midwest, the Word remains the same, and Jesus remains the same in Wisconsin, or California, or to the uttermost parts of the earth.
  3. Our common humanity is not as clear as it once was. The things that bind us together as human beings continue to become more blurry. Marriage, family, children, things that were once obvious and taken for granted are less so now. It’s hard to pin down, but there is a shift going on, no doubt about it. I have found myself addressing more issues of human sexuality today than I have in the past, and I believe that will continue and expand, not revert back to what it once was.
  4. I love my family, and I recognize the sacrifices that they continue to make in order for me to serve Holy Cross. I’m not saying this because their sacrifices are so much bigger or more pious than anyone else. It is, however, a simple reality that we are really, really far away from our families. That continues to be the single biggest challenge to our living here.
  5. I have grown as a pastor since being here. Going to a new congregation was very good for me as a pastor, even though it was terribly hard for me to leave all our friends in Kenosha. I am a bit more circumspect and a less impulsive when it comes to pastoral care and congregational leadership. Plus moving gives me a whole new opportunity to mess up and receive forgiveness! That has to be good.

Those are my thoughts on this Friday morning. Now it’s time to write a funeral sermon for a dear parishioner, finish up things for Sunday, and begin year six!

On Eating God’s Word: Or, How to Teach Children to Receive God’s Gifts in Church

“O taste and see how gracious the Lord is; blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.” Psalm 34:8

In a recent conversation with some parents, I had opportunity to talk about the challenges of children in church.

Make no mistake about it, it is a challenge. Going to the Divine Service is the only time in a child’s life when they are expected to be quiet, pay attention to things they don’t understand, sing, and above all sit still. What kind of crazy place is this? It’s a recipe for disaster, that’s what it is. If this is true for children whose family goes to church every day, how much more of a battle does this become when the family does not have this pattern of going to church? Or if the family is new to church?

This is why we as parents tend toward one of two solutions to the challenge:

  1. The first solution is behavior modification. If we can teach children to obey, then all of our problems will be solved. The problem with this model is that it is all Law, and it teaches that coming into the Divine Service and God’s house is basically about learning what to do.

  2. The second solution is church modification. If we can let our children be entertained, then they will become passive, and we will be able to do what we want (listen to the sermon, get coffee, whatever it might be).

After some thinking on this, I believe that the problem is we are thinking about going to church in the wrong way. Church isn’t about going to learn obedience or to be entertained. Church is about learning how to eat and be fed with God’s Word.

Think of it like this. When a child is born, it begins on its mother’s milk. You wouldn’t give a steak to an infant. It would choke them. You begin with milk, and slowly but surely, work them up to solid food. Frankly, that process is pretty messy along the way. But because you love them, you continue to feed them with what they are able to receive, moving them toward solid food, so that they may grow into what God has made them to be.

Let’s then take this with the Divine Service. A child cannot take all of this in at once. It is too much. It is steak when they are at milk. Some children can sit by and watch others eat the whole meal. Some want to start, uh, throwing the food. Each child will be different. As fathers and mothers, it is our job to teach them how to eat the food, that is, receive the gifts of God in the divine service. But the pace and way in which each child can receive this will vary. And that’s okay. It is how God has made us. We can either rejoice in it, or try to fight it to our own harm.

So let’s get down to the point, parents. If you are having a child that is having a hard time sitting through church, being fed, and they are “throwing the food” rather than eating it, here’s what I suggest. Don’t think of church as one big steak, but as 20 little bites of God’s Word.

Here’s what I mean. Our Divine Service is remarkably ordered and divided into bite sized pieces. Rather than try to eat it all at once, go into the service with a plan of what you are going to feed your child that morning. Come in and out of church as you need to. You are the parent and know what is best for your child. But if you decide you are going to stay in through the Gloria and then leave for 10 minutes, then they have been fed, and you have been fed. By waiting until they are crying and you are frustrated and angry, it has become a painful experience for both of you.

So as your pastor, I give you permission to go in and out as you need to. No one will mind, I promise. If they do, they can talk to me. Look at the service ahead of time and come up with a plan for when you will come and go. This leaves you in charge (not them), and it allows you to leave the divine service knowing that God is at work with you to teach your children how to receive (eat) God’s gifts.

And above all, remember that this is more like one big Thanksgiving meal, rather than 100 little fast food bags. We are in this together, pray for one another, and all want to receive God’s gifts together in Him.

God bless you all. I remain

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Peperkorn

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