Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What a Glorious Day! Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Dear Friends in Christ:

On this Monday after an incredible day with so many of you, Mary and I are overwhelmed with a great sense of God’s blessings! As we count those blessings they all spell:

That’s what it’s ALL about
‘Cause God loves us we love each other”!

You have humbled me as you honored Mary and me. You chose very special, personal ways to do that. For these we will be eternally grateful!

♥ Naming the “Fetter Activity Center!
♥ The “Fishing Equipment & Silver Lure-Swivel Bracelet” as a reminder that Jesus has called and taught me to “fish for people”!
♥ Mary’s most beautiful silver and gold “Heart Necklace”!
♥ The establishment of a “Seminary Student Endowment for Future Church Leaders” in my name!
♥ The “Tapestry of Love Quilt” from our Women of the ELCA!
♥ A “Foundation of Faith Scholarship Fund with Cross Trails Ministries” for Camp Scholarships in my name by the Men of the ELCA!
♥ A “Scrapbook of Memories” from the Children’s Center!
♥ A “Helping Hands Tuition Assistance Fund” at the Children’s Center for families in need in Mary’s name!
♥ The “Name Plaque” under my portrait!

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow”!

† Thank you to all who planned and prepared for the Narthex table display, the morning worship services, the meal, the afternoon “Sending Celebration”, and reception!
† The special music by the Choir and Mixed Blessings!
† Our Church Staff support!
† Bishop Ray Tiemann, Pastor Elliott Pancoast, and Terry Carmichael!
† To many others for your presence, encouraging words, hugs, kisses, handshakes, gifts, and cards!
† To the Past President’s Committee, and Congregation Council!
† To the Parish Fellowship Board, the Church Properties Board, and the Senior High Youth Group!
† I’m sure that I have not mentioned everyone, but I thank you, too!

“Thank You ALL for Giving to the Lord” and, also, to me, Mary, and our family over these 30 plus years! God bless and keep you in His Abiding Love.

Remember always that Jesus loves you, and so do we!

—Pastor David & Mary

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Words of Love and Encouragement

Dear Friends in Christ:

Writing this article is one thing that, as your Pastor, I have looked forward to, even when we had a newsletter every week!

Here are some of the reasons:

Writing from my heart has given me a way to provide encouragement to you often by pointing you to God’s words of promise, hope, peace, joy, and love.

♥ Sometimes I have used this column to teach.

♥ I often included words to help you smile, or even laugh.

♥ I try regularly to show my appreciation for your participation in the mission and ministry of our congregation.

♥ Above all I have tried to celebrate with you the goodness of God who is at work in our lives to bless us, and to bless others through us.

The Letters in our Holy Bible express so much of how I feel as I write these “letters” to you. I leave you with just a few of my “favorites”:

“I am convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” — Romans 8:38-39

“Love never ends.” — 1 Corinthians 13:8

“By grace you have been saved through faith … it is the gift of God.” — Ephesians 2:8

“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.” — Philippians 1:3-5

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say Rejoice.” — Philippians 4:4

“I urge that prayers be made for everyone … This is right and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved.” — 1 Timothy 2:1, 3-4

“I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that you may do for Christ.” — Philemon, verse 6

“I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love.” — Philemon, verse 7

“We have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them … We love because God first loved
us.” — 1 John 4:16, 19


† Pastor David Fetter

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"The Kingdom of Heaven Is Like a Fine Pearl" - A 30-Year Legacy of Love

Dear Friends in Christ:

Our 30th Anniversary Celebration on Sunday, April 18th was a most memorable and joyful event in our Congregation’s history!

I am so very thankful to everyone who planned, prepared and served for the Sunday School hour, the Worship Service, and the Meal!

It was wonderful to be reunited with some former members and friends.

Personally, I was deeply touched by your gifts of love honoring me for my 30 years as your Pastor. Ask me to see the James Avery etched cross silver ring with the inside engraving, and the incredibly beautiful, engraved, silver pocket watch with the inlaid mother of pearl on the outside cover and inner face. This watch will forever be a reminder of “Things Remembered” from our relationships in the mission and ministry of life together as Pastor and people. Also, the engraved wood shell/pearl plaque witnesses to the water of my Baptism which united me forever with the abiding love of Jesus Christ who is the most valuable Pearl of all. For this, I give thanks and praise to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

“Almighty God, we give you thanks for the work you have done in this place. We give you thanks for your love and faithfulness. When we called on your name, you made your presence known to us. When we prayed, you heard us. When we preached your Word and administered your Sacraments, you were in our midst. You have accepted our humble sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. You have listened to our confessions and forgiven our sins. And you have sent your Holy Spirit to heal and comfort us in our hurts, our sorrows, and our losses.

Continue to empower us with your Spirit, O Lord, that we might proclaim your gospel to all people.

Help us to witness to the good news of Jesus Christ in all that we do and say.

Show us how we might give care and support, love and mercy to those in need.

Grant that we may continuously grow in the Spirit and in the ministry that is ours as members of the priesthood of all believers, so that we may carry out our mission of service and love.

Bring us at last to the joy of your eternal kingdom, so that in communion with all your saints we may forever praise your name. Amen.”

† Pastor David Fetter

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Our 30-Year Legacy of Love

Dear Friends in Christ:

I am filled with much joy and thanksgiving as we are preparing to celebrate our 30th “Pearl” Anniversary as a Congregation.

Someone recently told me, “You should write a book about Abiding Love.” If I ever do, it wouldn’t be very hard to come up with titles for the chapters. What might they be? Those of you who were here in the beginning will recall themes that have inspired and unified us. And, those of you who have joined our mission and ministry throughout the years will recognize other themes.

To quote the theme song of a great American, Bob Hope, whose picture is on a recent postage stamp which Mary and I have been using: “THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES.” Join me now in remembering and giving thanks to our good and gracious God for the past and continuing legacy of Abiding Love:

♥ “Blest Be the Tie That Binds Our Hearts in Christian Love”!

♥ “Something’s Always Happening at Abiding Love”!

♥ “Faith Growing… Love Increasing”!

♥ “Forward in Faith”!

♥ “Growing in Grace”!

♥ “Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow”!

♥ “Give Back The Blessings”!

♥ “It’s ALL About Love”!

♥ “God’s Work. Our Hands”!

♥ “Imagine: Generosity Beyond Belief”!

♥ “Imagine: Ministry Beyond Belief”!

♥ “Imagine: Community Outreach Beyond Belief”!


These chapters of Abiding Love’s legacy would be filled with many and varied “pearls of great value”. Each of you, and all those who have gone before us, are “beautiful pearls” that make up the Kingdom of God, now and forever!

As I write this, the words of a song written by Jay Beach are running through my mind: “I am the Church. Your are the Church. We are the Church together. All of God’s people, all around the world, we are the Church together.”

♥ “Jesus loves you, and so do I”!

† Pastor David Fetter

♥ ♥ ♥

Thursday, April 1, 2010

“I BELIEVE” The Good News of Easter! (John 20:1-23)

Dear Friends in Christ:

Is there anything greater for us to say on Easter Day as a confession of our faith than this: “I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who… on the third day rose from the dead”?

I came across a beautiful story about a woman named Rosemary Kadrmas who works in the Alzheimer’s unit of a nursing home. Rosemary and a colleague named Arlene brought the residents together on a Good Friday afternoon to view Franco Zeffirelli’s acclaimed movie Jesus of Nazareth. They wondered whether these elderly Alzheimer’s patients would even know what was going on, but they thought it might be worth the effort.

When they finally succeeded in getting everyone into position, they started the video. Rosemary was pleasantly surprised at the quiet attention being paid to the screen.

At last came the scene where Mary comes upon the empty tomb and sees that Jesus’ body is not there. An unknown man, in reality the risen Christ, asks Mary why she is looking for the living among the dead. Mary runs as fast as she can back to the disciples and tells Peter and the rest with breathless excitement, “He’s alive! I saw Him, I tell you! He’s alive!” The doubt in their eyes causes Mary to pull back and say, “You don’t believe me… You don’t believe me!”

From somewhere in the crowd of Alzheimer’s patients came the clear, resolute voice of Esther, one of the patients, who said, “We believe you… We believe you!”

Esther, I believe it too. My life makes no sense without it! Jesus Christ rose from the dead! He is alive and available to all people in our world today!

May this Good News of our faith make this Easter a most joyful celebration for you!

I thank God for these words of Bill and Gloria Gaither in their Easter hymn, “Because He Lives”:

“Because He lives I can face tomorrow, Because He lives all fear is gone; Because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living just because He lives”!

— Pastor David Fetter

† † †

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Cross of Jesus and the Reality of Death

Dear Friends in Christ:

We began our 40-day Lenten journey this year on Ash Wednesday with the imposition of ashes making the sign of the Cross on our foreheads. These words from Genesis 3:19 were spoken to Adam: “Remember you are dust, and to dust you will return.” They remind us of our common mortality. We all will die. But, through the victory won by Jesus Christ on the Cross, death has been defeated, and we are given a resurrected life with God forever!

Last year, during our Wednesday evening Lenten worship services, we used a DVD series titled, “Confronting Death - A Christian Approach to the End of Life” with Lutheran Pastor Walter Wangerin, Jr. He spoke from his own experiences of living with life-threatening cancer.

In the March issue of The Lutheran magazine, Pastor Wangerin wrote an article titled, “Letters from the Land of Cancer”. In it he has some important things to share that certainly spoke to me. Here is a sampling:

“I have lately become intimate with death, with my death. It waits in the tumors in my chest… these malignancies are quiet now, but will one day move again and consume me… The doctor said, ‘This kind of cancer does not go away. It will kill you.’ I was truly grateful for his forthrightness… To know what’s coming gives me the independence and dignity to confront it directly and to prepare. So the doctor has given me an edge. I mean: to experience death, the real thing, convinced it is close and coming, has set me at the edge of existence. I have found the wall of Time, which embraces creation and all humanity.”

“The edge: cancer grants my spirit a high place from which to view the fullness of Time, from it’s First down even to its Now. I have lived! I have dwelt in the house of Time. I am one of its inhabitants. Its people have been my community. And I am dearly grateful to have found a home among them… Oh, how rich and how varied is my family! ...I have children who call me ‘Papa’ ...And you, kind readers of my writing, you are my friends. Time embraces the generations… (before and since) My parents, Walter and Virginia. Time doesn’t divide us after all. I grin and thank God with all my heart that I am in such a company.”

“I do not exaggerate. Truly, to have cancer is to experience divine benefits, which are only intensified the closer death comes to me and for me.”

“I have written a small book titled Letters from the Land of Cancer (Zondervan, 2010). It offers you a running account of my experience with the disease, the pain and the benefits.” Come, join me there… Let’s discuss together bodily things and spiritual things, both.”

“IN LIFE, IN DEATH, O LORD, ABIDE WITH ME.” (Hymn #629, Evangelical Lutheran Worship)

— Pastor David Fetter

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The CROSS of Jesus—Obstacle or Opportunity?

Dear Friends in Christ:

During this Season of Lent, we are focusing on Jesus’ suffering and death. This past Sunday, our Gospel Reading (Luke 13:31-35) attested to the opposition that Jesus faced in his commitment to do the will of God in his life:
“… King Herod wants to kill you!”
“… Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!”

But, Jesus gives us a model to follow in our lives. The world’s obstacles may become God’s opportunities. Is this not what Jesus believed when he said in the face of great obstacles!
“… today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way… and on the third day I finish my work!”

Jesus knew that he would face the obstacle of the Cross on Friday, but he also knew that he would experience the opportunity of a New Life on Sunday!

What are the obstacles that you have faced or are facing now in your life?

You and I encounter many roadblocks in our daily lives. Some of them are just small irritants, but some of them can be quite large. Economists point to improvements in our economy over the past year, but still many people have a diploma in their hands but have had difficulty finding a job in their field of interest. Many small businesses have failed. We’re told that inflation is not yet a problem; still, living day to day seems to be increasingly expensive. War still claims young lives and separates families.

If you and I were to constantly fixate on the obstacles surrounding us we would want to grab “a security blanket” like Linus in the Peanuts cartoons, go sit in a corner with our thumb in our mouth, and not move!

The creator of Peanuts, Charles Schulz, was a follower of Jesus. Some years ago, Robert Short wrote a book titled, The Gospel According to Peanuts. In a very subtle way, Charles Schulz proclaimed his faith that Jesus Christ gives us the way, the truth, and the life to deal with obstacles as opportunities.
Linus and Charlie Brown are walking in the woods. Linus poses this question to Charlie: “If you have some problem in your life, do you believe you should try to solve it right away or think about it for awhile?”
As they sit down by a log, Charlie Brown responds, “Oh, think about it. By all means, I believe you should think about it for awhile.”
When they start walking again, the puzzled Linus asks: “To give yourself time to do the right thing about the problem?”
Charlie Brown explains, “No. To give it time to go away.”

That’s one way to deal with life. Wait for things to change on their own. Wait and hope our problems go away. But what if they don’t go away? You and I could be sitting there with “our blanket” for a long, long time.

Could it be that some of the things we are counting as obstacles could really be opportunities in disguise?

There was a hilarious report from the Philippines in a publication called the News of the Weird:
“Officials in Manila decided they were going to reduce the number of disease carrying insects in the city. They offered a bounty of 1.5 pesos (about 6 cents in U.S. dollars) for every 10 cockroaches turned in. This gave rise to a booming industry in the Philippines: roach farming. Enterprising people started raising roaches in order to turn them in for cash!”

That’s a little extreme, but it does teach a helpful lesson: What we don’t want to do when we are confronted with an obstacle is to give up.


— Pastor David Fetter