Author Archive for Tiffany Tarvestad

A Note from Stephen November

GIVING THANKS!
For Christians, every day is a time for gratitude. Each morning we give thanks to God for the life we have been given and the unlooked-for blessings which will greet us that day. Every evening we give thanks to God for the day that has past, and for God’s protection and calm presence with us, watching through the night. As the year draws to a close, the harvest is in, and the Christmas season approaches, we in November join together in Thanksgiving; and so, as I approach retirement in January, I want to give thanks for the immense privilege of being your pastor. I am grateful for and to you – each of you in your own unique and marvelous way has deepened my understanding and enriched my life. You have opened your hearts to me in times of joy and pain. We have shared laughter and hopes, tears and disappointment. You have given me your wisdom and insight — and most of all your prayers and your faith. I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am and how I will carry that with me always.
When I moved to Nebraska, having previously lived in Iowa, I thought I knew what Nebraska would be like: Wrong! Nebraska is a world unto itself – not fully Midwest, not-quite the West, – an indefinable in-between-world, hidden from the rest of the nation by their compulsion to get from one place to another and their inability to linger and see beyond the obvious. I have been blessed by the ever changing play of sun and clouds in the sky, the ceaseless waving of the grasses in the Sandhills, the haunting calls of numberless birds, and the many hidden treasures. We went looking for a sod house one summer, up near Burwell. We found it open and unattended. No one was there to make sure we didn’t make off with the antique furnishings. It was simply there for us to enjoy: an example of the unassuming, trusting, Nebraska hospitality. I am so grateful for all that I have been given by my adopted state.
November is one of the busiest months. Each of us is given the same number of seconds, minutes, and days, and yet time seems to get away from us. This is a good month to take a breath and take time to lift our gratitude to God. It’s also a very good month to put gratitude into actions. We’ll be dedicating our Estimates of Giving for the 2018 budget on November 5. God continues to call us to faithfulness and gratitude, in our deeds as well as our words. During November, we will be reaching out with Christ’s love to children around the world through Operation Christmas Child Shoebox, and supporting the mission of this church with the Ten Thousand Villages Sale. We can respond to the natural disasters that have afflicted our fellow Americans through PDA. There are so many ways to give, but when we give through the church it is a clear statement of our gratitude to God.

Stephen

A Note from Stephen October

As you will have heard by now, at the September 19 meeting of the Session I shared my intention to retire as of January 31, 2018. And as I wrote to you in the letter sent the next day, my retirement comes with very mixed feelings. I am already learning that the process of retirement is much like a funeral. It is, for me, a process of letting go of a congregation and a ministry I have come to love deeply. It means the ending of a path of life, as a pastor, on which I have traveled for forty years. So as look to the future I am very conscious of what I am losing, and worried about being lost as well.
Now is a good time to learn from the trees, especially the ones whose leaves turn bright colors
before they drop from the limbs, as fall gives way to winter. The fall colors teach us to be joyful in the good gifts that God gives, even though we know they will not last forever. And over the years, we come to recognize that the colors of each fall are reminders that all things have their appointed time, and while every fall heralds the winter that is coming, so each promises the spring that will again burst forth to renew the earth.
I know what the privilege of being your pastor for the last 6 and 1⁄2 years has meant to me, and so I give thanks to God and to you for the crowning joy of my vocation as a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). So whatever season my pastorate has meant for you: winter, spring, summer or fall, take heart in the knowledge that it has been but a step towards better and newer things that God has promised to this church and each of you. See, I am making all things new! (Rev.21:5).
See you in church!