Focusing our Vision

by Elizabeth Hoffmann
 
The Vision Team’s 12 members have been meeting monthly since October. Meetings last 4-5 hours. They are facilitated by our Auxano leader. We participate in large group and small group exercises and there have been additional meetings to further refine a group position. Much of the work has been to identify who and what we are at Zion. Knowing Zion’s character, discussing her potential, and studying our community can assist with defining a vision that provides future direction. The dedication and attentiveness of this group has been first-rate. Much of the work has been to transform ideas into paragraphs and sentences about Zion. Then the team reduces this into a couple words and/or a visual representation.

In our dialogues we often think about “Joe”. He is an illustration of someone who attends Zion. Using Zion’s Vision to outline a vision path should inspire and energize Joe and others. Zion’s mission should answer the question of what Joe does. What Joe knows should be an understanding of Zion’s values and what motivates us; this is part of our vision. Joe can use a strategy or missional map to answer how to realize the vision. What to strive for is what Joe becomes and defines when we are successful. The final vision objective is to recognize where God is taking Joe and Zion. What we want to see happen should be conveyed as a vision idea that paints a picture and solves a problem. It should stir Joe’s heart and allow God to “super-size” it.

Vision is not a statement nor a catchy phrase. It is a state of mind that prompts movement. Vision is spread by people and not by paper. The Vision Team is looking forward to sharing what we have discovered about Zion and God’s vision for Zion. There will be opportunities for the congregation to hear vision details soon. We are confident Zion is ready and capable to embrace a vision that glorifies God.

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What Does My Confirmation Mean to Me?

by Chris Graves, Will Thorbhan, and Jack Hoerth
 
Confirmation is a period of spiritual growth and instruction for a young person, usually in middle school, where they learn about the Christian faith, grow in knowledge of the Bible and in relationship with God, and ultimately “confirm” the faith as their own and are “confirmed” as members of the church.  Zion’s confirmation program, like most other Lutheran churches, is a two-year program that takes place in middle school.  I am the coordinator of Zion’s confirmation program and teach some of the classes.  Other confirmation class teachers are Pastor Jason Hoerth and Don Hoffmann.  While the Rite of Confirmation is certainly a milestone in the faith life of a young person, it is not intended to be a “graduation” in any way.  In fact, it is quite the opposite: a commitment to a lifelong journey of growth in the Christian faith, of knowing God more personally and understanding His Word more clearly and deeply. Each year, confirmation students write an essay about a topic related to the Christian faith and instruction.  This year, the topic was “What does my confirmation mean to me?”  The essay is intended to encourage kids to think more deeply about their faith and be prepared to share knowledgeably on some aspect of it.

 

Witness Essay by Will Thorbhan:

My confirmation means to me that you shall be baptized, read the bible and believe in God. Some spiritual gifts that I want are knowledge, bravery, and to stand up to bullying. You should know that when you die you will go to Heaven because God gave his only son Jesus to die for us. You should always listen to God. You should follow God’s law. You should follow God’s word. You should worship God. You should pray when you do the wrong thing or the right thing. The Holy Spirit gives each and everyone a different gift that they should use wisely. You should say your amens. You need to forgive others as they forgive you. Appreciate what he did for you. God only blesses those that forgive, and he curses those that don’t. You need to love him because he loves you. We know how to listen to God. God works with us a lot.

My favorite thing to me about my confirmation is that I am baptized, read the Bible and believe in God. This is important to me because it is what I believe and it helps me tell other people that I know what I believe.

 

Witness Essay by Jack Hoerth:

My witness essay is about my favorite bible verse. Which is Jeremiah 29:11. For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.

The reason why I picked this verse is because I am going through my teen years, so I have to make some key decisions in my future. Where to go to college? What job? Who to marry? This verse says that God will take of that for me. What is his ultimate plan? I don’t know yet but I will find out the answers to all those questions. The key to making God-pleasing decisions is to ask yourself: In which direction is God leading me? I need to listen to God in these next few years and even after that.

The context for this verse is that Jeremiah is writing letters to the exiles and he says in verse 10: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill my promise and bring you back. The Israelites did some very bad things: worshiped other gods, sexual impurity, and lots of other bad stuff. But when they were exiled God forgave them and still loved them and this verse says that God will give them back everything because he loves them.

God will fulfill his promise to me and all Christians just like to the Israelites. The purpose of the exile is so that we see the need for a Savior and we know that God will take us to a better place than the first when we die. God will also lead us through the desert and provide for us, we don’t have to worry about anything. Because God’s plans will not harm but prosper us until he fulfills his promise and takes us to heaven.


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Making Beautiful Music

by Janet Gora

 

Back in the day, the church was looking for musicians for Wednesday evening Lent services and asked members of the Praise Team if they could help out.  I had always loved harmony and thought that Lutheran hymns had such interesting chords, especially Lenten hymns, so I figured it might be pretty cool to sing a hymn without instruments in order to bring the harmonies to the forefront.  

As everyone knows, Dyann Cooper has a beautiful voice with perfect pitch so I thought she would be great to sing the melody.  I had just met this cool new guy, Brad Lark, and knew he had a great voice and sang harmony so I asked if they wanted to sing one song together and they fortunately agreed.  Our first, (and still favorite) song, was “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted.”  The haunting words and beautiful harmony had us all hooked from the first note.

Fast forward eleven years later, and we know over 25 songs and still love to blend our voices together.  Harmony is such a beautiful, fleeting occurrence that happens only with diligence and unity between people pursuing the same goal of making beautiful music.  There’s not a better sound than voices combining in perfect harmony.  It sometimes brings shivers down my spine.

But most importantly, we hope we are giving people an opportunity to prepare spiritually for the service as they quietly meditate on the words and think about the sacrifice that Christ made for each of us.  

We invite you to join us at 6:50 before each Wednesday service to take a deep breath, point your heart towards God and focus on the true meaning of Lent amidst a profusion of beautiful minor chords.  


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