Lincoln’s Log 8-30-2020

A School Year Like No Other

“… be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Rom. 12:2

I remember shouting, “Ready or not, here I come!” when playing hide and seek as a child. Those words echo in my mind as we approach a new school year. “Ready or not” the new academic year is here. This year presents unique challenges and a lot of thought and work has gone into preparing. Administrators, teachers, staff, parents, students, and children have all done their best to make this a safe and fruitful year.

Some of us are homeschooling, some are having “virtual school” at home, some are attending in person. No matter how this academic year is structured for you, the goal is the same: the renewal of our minds.

In the midst of uncertainty, it is vital that we go back to the basics and go deep. God is moving in new ways. This is a call to renewal. Every change that enters our life invites us to be transformed. But how do we know how to respond? How do we “… discern what is the will of God” (Rom. 12:2)?

Our Discipleship Formation process this year (formerly Faith Formation) is outlining four key practices for households to enable us to discern well. These practices are fundamental to our faith and are:

  1. To use the bible as individuals and as a family
  2. To pray regularly as an individual and as families
  3. To share a meaningful meal together with someone regularly (as families if possible)
  4. To have faith sharing conversations (as families if possible)

You can start these practices now, but we will have an orientation for parents on Wednesday, September 23 at 6:15 pm in church to give an overview of the year. The Discipleship Formation Year begins in October and will be a critical tool in the renewal of your minds as we journey together into the Kingdom.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 8-23-2020

Discipleship Formation for Everyone

Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Mk. 10:14

A lot has been happening over the summer months at St. Thomas More. Our Faith Formation department has been restructured as the Missionary Discipleship Team. There are familiar faces, Emily Shackleton and Wendy Fischer, as well as some new faces, Andy Chmura and Greg Mohr. You might recognize Greg from his work with Sunday Masses, but now his focus is Missionary Discipleship. These shifts were beginning to happen before the Pandemic, but are now in place as we begin a new year.

This year of Discipleship Formation (formerly called Faith Formation) will look very different from previous years. The Pandemic has forced us to rethink everything we do. We recognize that we are all under a great deal of stress so we wanted to make our process this year very simple and gentle for everyone… and we mean everyone. We are inviting every member of our community to take part in discipleship formation.

We are focusing on four key skills for individuals and families:

  1. To use the bible as individuals and as a family
  2. To pray regularly as an individual and as families
  3. To share a meaningful meal together with someone regularly (as families if possible)
  4. To have faith sharing conversations (as families if possible)

We will be developing these skills through exploring eight key discipleship themes (one each month) which will bring us closer to the heart of Jesus and return us to the foundations of our faith. Stay tuned for more information and see how you can grow this year through Discipleship Formation.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 8-16-2020

Sacramental Intimacy

[Jesus said] “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Mk. 10:14

Over the last several months we have been celebrating the sacraments in slightly new ways here at St. Thomas More. Because of concerns about COVID-19 we did not have a big celebration of First Communion this Easter season. Instead, children have been celebrating their first communion singly or in small groups.

The response has been wonderful! While part of me misses the pageantry of one large celebration, I am enjoying the intimacy of this different way of celebrating the sacraments. Many families have made a point to tell us how much they appreciate the special care and attention that they received from the community. It feels very personal. The focus has moved from the details of what to wear and what to do. Instead, the focus is on the personal encounter with Jesus which lays at the heart of the sacrament.

COVID continues to be a challenge, but we have learned a lot. We have always been a welcoming community, but now we need to take it to the next level. Our first listening session made it clear that intimate, personal relationships need to be at the heart of how we move forward.

The Reconnect groups are beginning to build this type of intimacy as we share our lives with one another. We are changing the way we do Faith Formation this year including changing the name to Discipleship Formation. Our style is becoming more relational. We are striving for more personal connections and intimate sharing. These changes will be resilient enough to adapt to the world affected by COVID. In a recent survey, the Pew Research center discovered that nearly a quarter of U.S. adults reported that their faith had become stronger during the pandemic. The reason, I suspect, is that the pandemic has made us reevaluate our relationship with God and others. This rethinking can bear good fruit! If we continue to listen carefully, we will grow as disciples of Jesus no matter what the world throws at us.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

P.S, Consider being a part of our next listening session on Wednesday, August 19 at 6:30 pm. You can join in person at the church or online on our Facebook Page.

Lincoln’s Log 8-9-2020

Jesus and the Storm

“‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him [Jesus] homage, saying, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’”
Mt. 14:31b-33

It feels like our world is going through a storm.

Our scriptures give us examples of many ways Jesus deals with storms in the life of his disciples. In this weekend’s Gospel from Mt. 14:

  • Jesus appears to his disciples in the storm. Even though they don’t recognize him and are still terrified, he is present in the midst of the storm (v. 25).
  • Even more, Jesus invites his disciple (Peter) to come to him in the storm by walking on the water (v.29).
  • When his disciples’ faith falters, Jesus saves them in the storm (v. 31).
  • Jesus teaches his disciples about faith in the storm (“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” v. 31)

But these aren’t the only ways Jesus deals with storms in his disciples’ lives. In Mark 6:

  • He sends his disciples into the storm (v. 45)..
  • He speaks with them in the storm (v. 50).
  • He gives them courage in the storm (v.50).
  • He stays with them in the storm (v. 51).

In John 6:

  • He gets them through the storm (v. 21).

In Mk. 4:

  • He remains with them peacefully asleep in the storm (v. 38).
  • He calms the storm (v. 39).

Jesus knows how to deal with storms. He is the Lord of all creation and no storm is beyond his power. He brings his disciples through every storm and through them he reveals his presence, love, and power.

What is Jesus’ invitation to you in the midst of today’s storms?

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader