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Message from Pastor Luke

posted Jan 11, 2019, 6:24 AM by Luke Schmidt   [ updated Jan 11, 2019, 6:24 AM ]

I’m writing this article a week before Christmas, but by the time you get it, Christmas will have come and gone for another year. I’m assuming it went by too quickly. I know it does for me every year. I feel like when I was growing up, time seemed to slow down around this time of year. It was almost as if we had endless days for sledding and hot cocoa and cookie baking and present wrapping. Caroling and decorating and Christmas programs seem like they move in slow motion in my memories. It turns out, there is a reason for that. Unlike our other senses, smell and taste and touch and the like, our ‘sense’ of time isn’t something we sense at all. Rather, time is perceived. So how does that play out?

When we do something new, there is a lot for us to process. So, the longer it takes for us to process it, the longer that period of time feels. If you drive down the road you’ve driven to work for the last 10 years, chances are there are whole stretches that you don’t remember each day. Yet, if something out of the ordinary happens, someone swerves toward you or you hit an icy patch, you register and record that in your brain. You paid greater attention and it seems like it happened in slow motion when you look back on it. That’s how you remember it. On the other hand, if you do something the same all the time and don’t really need to process anything new, time seems to move faster. Your brain isn’t working hard so it is processing time faster. Confused yet? Think of it like a wood chipper. Smaller branches are like routine tasks, they get chewed through pretty quickly. New experiences are like big old logs. It takes longer to chew through them, it seems to take forever. Essentially, the more attention we give to something, the more of our focus it demands, the longer it seems to last. Want to make something special last longer? Pay more attention to it! Devote more of your energy and focus to it. For you younger folks, put down the phones, and I’ll include myself in that. Don’t let the days fly by because we are doing many things but giving very few of them the attention they deserve.

So, what does this understanding of time mean in our faith life? I believe we are called to give God the time and attention He deserves. There is a reason we use different liturgies and prayers and hymns - because they require our focus, they require our attention. God should be getting that in worship. Our prayer life at home is incredibly prone to distractions and fleeting thoughts. God should get our undistracted time in conversation. Read your bible. Really read it. Make a plan for how you will dig in, start with the Gospel of Luke as we will be focusing there for the next year in worship and preaching. Pretend you haven’t read those stories before, look at them with new eyes. They will sink in and speak to you in whole new ways.

If you want the superpower of being able to slow down time, you simply need to give the things that matter more of your undivided attention. Take the time to look for God throughout your days and months in 2019. Even the little things that have often seemed mundane or ordinary will show the fingerprints of God. He is in all things, but can we slow down enough to see and appreciate it? Remember, time is perception. You can literally make time for things in life. Just focus

I really do pray that we can all slow down in 2019, that we can focus our attention on the things and the people that matter, and that we will be awestruck by the new and powerful ways God makes himself known to us.

Message from Pastor Luke

posted Oct 3, 2018, 9:45 AM by Luke Schmidt

If you were to go down a list of household names and read them off, many people would be able to tell you what they were known for – Tiger Woods, Thomas Edison, Michael Jordan, Simon Cowell, Regis Philbin, etc. The same could be said for many companies, you hear their name and associate them with their product – Google, IBM, 3M, State Farm, Ford. Now take that a step further with me. Let’s do that same sort of recognition with our church home. What do you think of when you reflect on St. Paul’s Lutheran Church? What are we known for?

I’ve spent the last four weeks in worship preaching about what the early church was known for. I boiled it down to 4 main defining characteristics. They worshiped together, they fellowshipped together, they were excited to learn and grow in faith, and they were obedient to God, loving and serving their neighbor. Worship, fellowship, growing in faith, loving and serving. Those are four things that I think any church should be known for.

I’d like to touch on these to give you a brief state of the union in regards to St. Paul’s. Let’s start with worship. We invite people to experience God in one of our three unique worship services. Traditional hymns, choirs, and liturgies greet worshippers at our 8AM service. Guitars and piano and a mix of new and well-known welcome the “come early or risk not getting a place to sit” folks at the 9:15AM service. (we somehow managed to fit 215 people on September 23!) Our recently introduced family worship at 10:30 has been welcomed with overwhelming energy and worship attendance. Various worship leaders invite the congregation to raise their voices to “new classic” worship songs, the children begin in worship and have a children’s message before heading to Sunday School, and again on September 23, we had our largest body of worshippers in that service for the past year, excluding Christmas and Easter. Worship is thriving at St. Paul’s, and our one real struggle is where to fit everyone! A good problem to have, so I’m told…

Fellowship is at the core of who we are. Of course, that usually includes food, because it has since the beginning of the church! I’m still in awe of the quality and variety of Sunday morning goodies in the fellowship hall. Our fellowship committee is hard at work planning everything from the Chili cook-off to the Cajun Boil to the Harvest Festival Parade float. We continue as a church to seek ways to be intentional in building relationships with God and one another, so be on the lookout for new opportunities to come.

I’ve been impressed with the focus on spiritual growth present at St. Paul’s. From the multiple weekly bible studies, to the questions I’ve received, to the great children’s and youth programming, it is easy to see that growing deeper in faith is part of the culture. We will continue to focus on Biblical preaching and teaching, and listen to where God is leading us next.

Lastly, we need to talk about obedience, specifically in regards to how it is that God has commanded us to love and serve our neighbor. As I’m typing this, I hear the folks setting up for the weekly clothing closet, I know there are people hard at work down in the food shelf, and across my desk are picture books from the various trips to Haiti that the people of St. Paul’s have undertaken. We have a heart for God’s world and the call to love and serve our neighbors is well heeded.

So, have we “arrived?” Are we doing all we can as we walk in the footsteps of Jesus? Oh, I don’t think so. I’m excited to uncover more of the passions and gifts of this congregation, and I have this feeling that God is just getting started with us. I’m looking forward to the journey and I hope you are as well.

God’s richest blessings,

Pastor Luke

Message From Pastor Luke

posted Jul 23, 2018, 9:23 AM by Tracey Morris

You know the old joke about pastors, the one where folks give us a hard time saying we only really work Sundays? I think that same misunderstanding could be applied to all of us working at church. Because summer worship numbers are smaller and Sunday School and Confirmation ministries take a much needed break, things seem a little quieter. But I’ll let you in on a secret – as soon as school is out, we are already working on Rally Sunday and beyond. Pastor Leon is planning fall spiritual growth opportunities, Tracey is getting ready for confirmation in the midst of leading youth retreats and camps, Stacey is working on the next year of choir and worship planning, and I’m gearing up for a sermon series and marriage course and getting the lay of the land here at St. Paul’s.

There is something that we have all been working on, and that is the opportunity for growth we see in worship. We’ve been chatting about it since I got here and lots of great ideas have flown around. We took our thoughts to church council in July to loop them in and now it is time to share them with you!

So, here is just a bit of what we’ve been working on in the office in regards to worship: (all changes start in September)

10:45 worship will be moving to 10:30.

This new timing has been discussed with those attending the service in the summer and we haven’t heard any issues with a time change. Everyone I’ve discussed it with likes the idea, especially as it relates to getting home in time for the Vikings game.

The new 10:30 worship will become our “Family Worship”. This is great for the following reasons:

We currently have an early traditional service, a blended service that is overflowing, and really need a service geared toward families of all ages and accessible to visitors and guests.

We have room to grow at 10:30 with our Sunday School numbers and a family service goes hand in hand with that opportunity.

We will start with children in worship for the first 10-15 minutes and then have a children’s message each Sunday, after which the children will head off to Sunday School.

We will be bringing in some more contemporary music, especially in the early part of the service, to engage our younger worshippers.

The liturgy will be updated to connect with all ages and to be accessible for people of all church backgrounds.

We will have communion across all services on the 1st and 3rd and 5th Sundays of the month.

Many of you won’t notice since you are used to your worship and communion schedule, but in terms of worship and sermon preparation, this will really help us stay organized and avoid confusion.

This might sound like lots of change, but many of you won’t experience anything new. If you worship at 8, this doesn’t affect you at all, and 9:15 worshippers will simply commune on different Sundays. This is really a push to make the most of our worship opportunity at 10:30 starting in September. Our hope and prayer is that God will make that service a great chance for families and folks of all ages to experience God together in community.


Message From Pastor Luke- A Season of Listening

posted Jun 25, 2018, 10:57 AM by Tracey Morris

I’ve got a little neighbor boy that recently turned three. His older brother has always been the verbal one, talking your ear off and waxing philosophical, so young Henry would nod and point and generally get what he needed.

Just recently, he’s decided to jump in feet first to the world of conversations. So, as kids do, he’ll give you a knowing look and spew out a jumble of words that make perfect sense to him while requiring you to replay it multiple times to decipher. We recently had a chat that made me listen as intently as I have in quite a while. When we hashed things out and he was convinced I understood his point, he nodded, smiled, and moved on. I was a little mentally exhausted, but felt some semblance of victory in having waded through a primer on conversing in ‘three-year-old’.

Listening was the key for me. I think we often take for granted the messages that are coming our way. We assume too much. When is the last time you read a user agreement on your computer or followed the instructions on operating a new device? We don’t take the time we used to in listening, in processing, or in understanding. Who has time for that?

I shared this story in a sermon once:

Writer Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He got nervous and tense about it. "I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day," he recalled in his book Stress Fractures. "Before long, things around our home started reflecting the patter of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable.

"I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, 'Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin' and I'll tell you really fast.' "Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, 'Honey, you can tell me -- and you don't have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly." "I'll never forget her answer: 'Then listen slowly.'"

Bits & Pieces, June 24, 1993, pp. 13-14

I feel like summertime in the church year is a great opportunity to listen slowly. It is the time when we are making plans for the coming program year, wondering how things have gone in the past and what God is calling us into for the future. It is a time for reflecting.

Ecclesiastes 3 talks about the many seasons in life. Seasons to weep and laugh, seasons to keep or cast away, a season to keep silence, and a time to speak. Now, I can’t really keep silence and be effective in my call, but I can definitely take some time to be intentional in my listening. That said, I’d like to hear your story. Tell me about your faith, and your life, and your dreams for St. Paul’s.

Some of these conversations are best held in settings I like to call ‘Cottage Meetings’. A Cottage Meeting is a gathering of up to 10 friends or neighbors and I’d plan to facilitate some discussion about what it looks like to be church together. These are a great way for us to get to know each other.

So, let’s gather together and listen slowly to each other. I’d love it if you would consider hosting a cottage meeting in your home and inviting a group of your friends and neighbors from church to attend. Please get in touch with me at church to let me know you are willing to host and we can put a time on the calendar! It would be a great time of fellowship and listening.

God’s Blessings,
Pastor Luke

Send me an email at pastorluke@stpaulsinhanover.org if you feel moved to open your home and host a cottage meeting!

Message From Pastor Luke

posted May 29, 2018, 12:06 PM by Tracey Morris

Introductions are in order!

 Hi, I’m Luke Schmidt, and I’m your new senior pastor. You may recognize me from Sunday morning worship, I’m the tall one up front. Also, it’s quite possible that I’ve already met you and you told me your name. If that is the case, please keep telling me your name until I greet you by name. I really am working on it!

 I know this is an interesting time of the year to be starting a new call at St. Paul’s, many of you are off to summer events and cabins and sporting events and I might not see you too often between now and this fall. So, let me introduce myself as best I can in this short little article.

 I’m married to my wife Jess, and we are into our 17th year of marriage. We really like each other. We also like our kids, Kate, 11 and Will, 9. They are fun and energetic and challenging in all the right ways. You will probably see them at the 10:45 service, maybe up in the balcony. Make sure to say hi!

 I love being a pastor, it really is what God made me to do. He’s given me gifts for leadership, for preaching and casting a vision, for walking with people through hard times in their lives, and for creating a community of people that cares deeply for God and for each other. I used to be a software engineer, a java developer if you are curious, but I always knew that God really wanted me to be with people and to lead people in their journey of faith.

 So here I am, and I want to share a bit with you about what God has sent into your midst. First of all, I’m a big picture kind of guy. I like to look at the how and the why of things. I like to see how everything works together. I also think that excellence is God honoring. We give God our first fruits, we give God our best, that should be the same in the world of God’s church. Together, we’ll look into how we do that!

I’m also really focused on making the most of the opportunities we have. From helping our great staff be their best to utilizing our great location and dreaming about how we can engage all those people that drive by every day, what dreams does God have for St. Paul’s that are in the months and years to come?

I’d better stop there, I don’t want you to get too excited! What a fun time to be part of this great, growing congregation.

 Now, my life isn’t all about work and ministry, I stay busy coaching the kids in whatever sport the season brings, I build barnwood and rustic furniture, I like home remodeling projects, and enjoy tinkering with whatever the newest gadgets are. I also hybridize and grow hostas, with about 150 varieties and hundreds of my own seedlings. So, I stay busy enough…

 Now it’s your turn! Introduce yourself when I see you, tell me what you are passionate about, what gets you excited about life. Find me on facebook or stop by the office. Let’s get to know each other and see what God has in store for us next!

 It’s good to be here with you, I pray God blesses our time together for years to come…

 Pastor Luke


Message From Pastor Leon

posted Apr 24, 2018, 10:36 AM by Tracey Morris   [ updated Apr 25, 2018, 2:43 PM ]

          As you have probably already heard, Pastor Luke Schmidt has accepted the call to serve as our Senior Pastor.  Pastor Luke is currently serving at Zion Lutheran Church in Buffalo, Minnesota where he lives with his wife Jess, and their two children, Kate and Will.  We give thanks to God for the guidance we have received in this past year as we have been engaged in the call process.

          Pastor Luke will be installed on Sunday, May 13.  The actual installation service will be during the 8:00 worship time, but Pastor Luke will speak at all three services.  There will be an opportunity to meet Pastor Luke and family during the coffee time between the services.  I encourage you to be here that morning to welcome Pastor Luke and family, and to be a part of this important day in the life of our congregation.

          The church council discussed with Pastor Luke and me the future of my position here.  All were in agreement that I remain at St. Paul’s and return to my previous position as Associate Pastor.  Pastor Luke and I have met and we look forward to working together.

          I thank you for the privilege of serving as your Interim Senior Pastor, and I am pleased to continue my ministry at St. Paul’s.  God has richly blessed us as a congregation at this time.  I pray that we may make the best use of those blessings and faithfully serve God by proclaiming his Word and serving our community.


On Sunday, June 10th, there will be a  celebration in honor of Helen Skutley’s retirement and 40 years of service to St. Paul’s.  More details will follow as plans are made.

 Helen’s retirement will be effective as of May 31st.  Helen started on the job in an office in the basement of the parsonage on April 15, 1978.   She knows more about this congregation than anyone, and her vast experience, knowledge, and friendly face behind the desk will be missed.  Thank you, Helen, for your many years of service, and congratulations on your retirement!


Yours in Christ,

Pastor Leon


Message From Pastor Leon

posted Mar 25, 2018, 6:44 AM by Tracey Morris

Shadrach Meshach Lockridge (1913 – 2000) was the Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, a prominent African-American congregation in San Diego, California, from 1953 to 1993.  He was known for his preaching across the United States and around the world.

     In his classic message, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming!,” Lockeridge expressed the pain at the apparent defeat of Jesus after the crucifixion, while hinting at the victory to come.  Christians celebrate the cross because the story did not end on that fateful Friday.  The story would not end at the cross.  The very instrument Jesus’ enemies used to defeat Him, would lead to His greatest victory.  Little did anyone know that what would happen on Sunday would change the course of the world’s history.

     Here is a portion of that famous sermon by Lockridge.  As you read it, remember that regardless of what today brings, regardless of today’s problems, challenges, or defeats; Sunday’s coming! 


It’s Friday.  Jesus is praying.  Peter’s a sleeping.  Judas is betraying.  But Sunday’s comin’. 

It’s Friday.  Pilate’s struggling.  The council is conspiring.  The crowd is vilifying.  They don’t even know, that Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday.  The disciples are running around like sheep without a shepherd.  Mary’s crying. Peter is denying.  But they don’t know, that Sunday’s a comin’.

It’s Friday.  The Romans beat my Jesus.  They robe him in scarlet.  They crown him with thorns.  But they don’t know, that Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday.  See Jesus walking to Calvary.   His blood dripping.  His body stumbling.  And his spirit’s burdened.  But you see, it’s only Friday.  Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday.  The world’s winning.  People are sinning.  And evil is grinning.   

It’s Friday. The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands to the cross.  They nail my Savior’s feet to the cross.  And then they raise him up next to criminals.  It’s Friday.  But let me tell you something.  Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday.  The disciples are questioning.  What has happened to their King?  And the Pharisees are celebrating that their scheming has been achieved.  But they don’t know, it’s only Friday.  Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday.  He’s hanging on the cross.  Feeling forsaken by his Father.  Left alone and dying.  Can nobody save him?  Ooooh, it’s Friday.  But Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday.  The earth trembles.  The sky grows dark.  My King yields his spirit. 

It’s Friday.  Hope is lost.  Death has won.  Sin has conquered.  And Satan’s just a laughin’.

It’s Friday.  Jesus is buried.  A soldier stands guard.  And a rock is rolled into place.  But it’s Friday.  It is only Friday. 

Sunday is a comin’!!

SUNDAY:  (Luke 24:1-6a)  On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.  They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; He has risen!”


Pastor Leon


Message From Pastor Leon

posted Feb 21, 2018, 1:11 PM by Tracey Morris

A story from Tony Campolo’s Let Me Tell You a Story:

     A new recruit went into training at Parris Island, hoping to become a Marine.  He was one of those young men who seemed to be a bit out of step with the norm, and he easily became the subject of ridicule for those who enjoy picking on people.

    In the particular barracks to which this young marine was assigned, there was an extremely high level of meanness.  The other young men did everything they could to make a joke of the new recruit and to humiliate him.  One day, someone came up with the bright idea that they could scare the daylights out of this young marine by dropping a disarmed hand grenade onto the floor and pretending it was about to go off.  Everyone else knew about this and they were all ready to get a big laugh.

     The hand grenade was thrown into the middle of the floor, and the warning was yelled, “It’s a live grenade.  It’s a live grenade!  It’s about to explode!”

    They fully expected that the young man would get hysterical and perhaps jump out a window.  Instead, the young marine fell on the grenade, hugged it to his stomach, and yelled to the other men in the barracks, “Run for your lives!  Run for your lives!  You’ll be killed if you don’t!”

     The other marines froze in stillness and shame.  They realized that the one they had scorned was the one ready to lay down his life for them.

     And so it was with Jesus.


   We are in the middle of the Season of Lent in which we remember how Jesus suffered the scorn and ridicule of those who he came to save.  The Old Testament prophet Isaiah foretold that the Messiah would be “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.”  Mark 15 describes some of the abuse Jesus received at the hands of the soldiers:  “The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace and called together the whole company of soldiers.  They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.  And they began to call out to him, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’  Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him.  Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him.  And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him.  Then they led him out to crucify him.”

    Though despised, Jesus, like the soldier in Campolo’s story, was determined to save these people.  John 1:10-12 says of Jesus:  “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”  In John 15:13 Jesus said of himself:  “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

    Take the opportunity this Lenten and Easter Season to remember Jesus, who gave his life for you.

Pastor Leon


Message From Pastor Leon

posted Jan 24, 2018, 3:29 PM by Tracey Morris

Just like the season of Advent is meant to help focus our minds and prepare us for Christmas, the purpose of Lent is to do that for us in regards to Easter.  Lent is actually an ancient tradition of the church where people would take this period of 40 days (not counting Sundays) to prepare themselves for baptism, which would only take place on Easter.  Lent wasn’t really centered on giving up something, but it focused more on making sure that you had space in your life for Christ and your faith in him.  You wanted to be sure that you were ready to accept his call on your life, and fully give yourself over to him.

Lent begins early this year, with Ash Wednesday on February 14. That evening we will have our traditional Ash Wednesday worship services with Holy Communion and also the Imposition of Ashes.  Worship will be at 5:30 and 7:00 p.m., with a meal served in the Fellowship Hall at 6:00 p.m.  That same schedule will continue for the five following weeks of mid-week Lenten services.  The messages for this year’s services will look at the negative responses to Jesus by several of the people who were with him in the last hours of his life.  The five mid-week services after Ash Wednesday will be about:

    February 21  --  Peter
    February 28  --  Judas
    March 7  --  Caiaphas
    March 14  --  Pilate
    March 21  --  The Guards

Join us each Wednesday evening for worship, fellowship, and a meal as we take time to prepare for the Holy Week remembrance of Christ’s death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.  Holy Week this year begins with Palm Sunday on March 25th and concludes with Easter on April 1st.

Pastor Leon


Message From Pastor Leon

posted Dec 27, 2017, 12:16 PM by Tracey Morris

          The Call Committee has posted our Senior Pastor position on the “Lutheran Congregations for Christ” website.  Any LCMC pastor may submit a resume, or, contact the Call Committee for more information.  Resumes will be reviewed as received, and the committee will arrange to interview those candidates who they believe might be qualified to serve our congregation.  If any member of the congregation knows of a pastor who might be interested in this position, you are encouraged to tell that pastor to check the website posting (www.lcmc.net,  ‘Church Life’ tab, ‘Church Staffing’ column, and then click on ‘Open Positions’).  Lutheran pastors who are not now in the LCMC may also apply, but before being called to St. Paul’s they would have to go through the LCMC certification process.  Please continue to remember the Call Committee in your prayers.

          Congratulations to our interim visitation pastor Karis Hagen on receiving a call to be the pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church in Red Cross, Pennsylvania (founded in 1774!).   Karis is the daughter of World Mission Prayer League missionaries in Nepal, and has been serving in our congregation since June of 2017.  Karis is a graduate of Luther Seminary.  She will be ordained January 21, 2018 at her home congregation, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.  May God bless you, Karis, in as you begin your ordained ministry.

          I will resume my Wednesday morning Bible Study on January 17th (9:30 a.m. in the Mary Room).  We just completed reading Philippians together, and next we will study I Peter.  Christians are being severely persecuted in many areas of the world today.  I Peter was written in the context of the Roman persecution of the First Century Christians. 

May God be with you and bless you in the New Year!

Pastor Leon


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