Browsing articles in "Zion’s Blog"

The Gift

Dec 16, 2015   //   by Janet Blair   //   Pastor's Blog, Zion's Blog  //  No Comments

When the angel Gabriel comes to deliver good news to the young woman who will be the mother of Jesus, Mary in her faith believes the angel and accepts what God has planned for her. She says, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

In this story, good news comes to peasants; it doesn’t come to the powerful. Mary’s words in the Magnificat, great and beautiful words from a humble, modest girl, tell the story: “God has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.”

God is full of surprises.

Angels appear in the sky to terrified shepherds and said the message was “for them,” the shepherds! For them! They said, “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” To you this Savior is born. To you! To a bunch of smelly, dirty shepherds.

God is full of surprises.

And they will know him by this – by a sign that is for them. ”This will be a sign for you,” the angels say to the shepherds. “You will find the child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” It wasn’t for the royalty; it wasn’t for the emperor; it wasn’t for the rich; it was “for you”!

So what does that “for you” mean for us? I think it means two things. First, it means that this incarnation, this clothing of God in human flesh, this Emmanuel, this God-with-us, isn’t just for important people. It’s for us. It’s for me. It’s for you.

And second, it means that this story has a calling for us – that calling is to remember those whom God remembers – the poor, the outcast, those who are at the bottom of the heap of society – just as those shepherds were.

Through those insignificant, ordinary people, God worked something new. God came to them in the ordinariness of what they were doing and did an amazing, surprising thing.

Our God is the God of the ordinary person – even of the person who is so ordinary that it seems that he or she is a no-person, a nobody. In fact, God’s Son was one of those ordinary people. God’s Son lived an ordinary life, and before people caught on that he was special, he was just Joseph’s son, the carpenter from Nazareth.

But then he started to shine. And some people started to learn that he was what John the gospel writer called “The Light.” John wrote, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” Despite the trouble people would go to get rid of that light, they couldn’t extinguish it.

“The true light,” John wrote, “which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” Everyone! Hope comes when we recognize that Bethlehem is everywhere – that whether we think of ourselves as Mary or Joseph, shepherd or wise man – God is with us! God is full of surprises, and one of them is that God is always near us, as near as our breath, as near as our flesh – even if we’re not important or well-known or rich.

I think that’s why after all these centuries, people find that this story captures their imagination and their hearts. It’s not the story of great people who get what’s coming to them. It’s the story of little, ordinary people whom God chose, people who were the last ones anyone would expect to be chosen, the humblest of people. The angels proclaim, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” Shepherds. A peasant mother. A carpenter father. Ox and ass, sheep and doves. The powerful are being ignored, and the lowly are given access to the king who sets them free.

And we find the climax of this story, the story of all these lowly people who were chosen to play a part in God’s coming to earth, in the incarnation – Christ-like-us – God-with-us. God has come here – right here – to light our lives, to give us hope, to be with us in everything that happens to us – our suffering and our joys – through this Someone who was born as a poor little baby in the humblest of circumstances, and who grew up to be someone who suffered like an ordinary person. Someone just like us who was also God.

This Christmas season, remember that the gift of Jesus at Christmas is for you. It’s a message you can treasure in your heart, just as Mary ponders in her heart what has happened with her and her little family. That’s God’s surprise. God came in the form of a baby who would grow into a man who would teach, live, suffer, die, and rise from the dead, for you. May God bless you richly this Christmas, however you spend the day, whoever you are with, whoever you are. The gift is for you. Amen.

Pastor Janet Blair

First Quarter 2016 – Pastoral Supply

Dec 13, 2015   //   by zike   //   General, Zion's Blog  //  No Comments
Date Supply Pastor
Jan 10 Beth Orling
Jan 17 Arnd Braun-Storck
Jan 24 Gordon Huff
Jan 31 Arnd Braun-Storck
Feb 7 Gordon Huff
Feb 10 (Ash Wed) Arnd Braun-Storck
Feb 14 Arnd Braun-Storck
Feb 21 Paul Nordeen
Feb 28 Arnd Braun-Storck
Mar 6 Barry Benson
Mar 13 Arnd Braun-Storck
Mar 20 (Palm Sunday) David Burke
Mar 24 (Maundy Thur) Arnd Braun-Storck
Mar 5 (Good Friday) Arnd Braun-Storck
Mar 27 (Easter) Lou Dunkle
Apr 3 Arnd Braun-Storck
Apr 10 Carol Brighton
Apr 17 Arnd Braun-Storck
Apr 24 Carol Brighton

Zion To Host Stress and Nutrition Talks

Sep 30, 2015   //   by zike   //   General, Zion's Blog  //  No Comments


Last Quarter 2015 – Pastoral Supply

Sep 12, 2015   //   by zike   //   General, Zion's Blog  //  No Comments
Date Supply Pastor
09/13/2015 Arnd Braun-Storck
09/20/2015 Arnd Braun-Storck
09/27/2015 Lou Dunkle
10/04/2015 Lou Dunkle
10/11/2015 Paul Nordeen
10/18/2015 Arnd Braun-Storck
10/25/2015 John Melin
11/01/2015 Aaron Richter
11/08/2015 Arnd Braun-Storck
11/15/2015 Arnd Braun-Storck
11/22/2015 LAY SERVICE
11/29/2015 John Melin
12/06/2015 Arnd Braun-Storck
12/13/2015 David Burke
12/20/2015 Arnd Braun-Storck
12/24/2015 Paul Nordeen
12/27/2015 Arnd Braun-Storck
01/03/2015 David Burke

Our Beloved Brother Ted

Jun 22, 2015   //   by zike   //   General, Zion's Blog  //  No Comments


We mourn the passing of our dear brother and friend, Ted Sudol. Ted joined the Church Triumphant on Friday, June 19, 2015. Our coffee hours just won’t be the same without his wonderful conversation. We will miss him greatly, but I am certain that he will be joining us each Sunday in spirit.

Ted’s parents, Thaddeus C. and Julia (Takach) Sudol, were one of the founding families of Zion Lutheran Church. Ted is the brother of Judy Estok, brother-in-law of John Estok and devoted uncle of Suzanne Estok. A funeral service is planned for Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 10:00 AM at Zion Lutheran Church, 111 Midland Avenue, Garfield, NJ 07026. Interment will follow at George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus. The family will receive relatives and friends Tuesday 2 – 8 PM at Vander Plaat- Caggiano Funeral Home Inc., 13-31 Saddle River Road, Fair Lawn, NJ 07410, 201-797-3500. For additional information, please visit

Ellen Grexa Retires as Zion’s Organist

Apr 26, 2015   //   by zike   //   General, Zion's Blog  //  No Comments
Ellen Grexa's Retirement Brunch

Ellen Grexa’s Retirement Brunch

Today, Zion honored Ellen Grexa for her 31 years of faithful service as organist in our congregation. Ellen is retiring, but I’m sure that she’ll be attending worship with her friends here at Zion. We’ll miss her playing, but maybe now we’ll get to hear her singing! Good Luck and God bless you Ellen in any of your future endeavors!

Agape at St. Paul’s in East Windsor in May

Apr 16, 2015   //   by zike   //   General, Zion's Blog  //  No Comments


In support of the Bosnian IST Ministry, Agape will be performing at St. Paul’s in East Windsor, NJ on May 3rd.  In past years, we’ve had a few of our youth join in this ministry.  Donations and a free will offering will be held to support the New Jersey Synod’s Bosnia IST Ministry.

Agapé will be on the main stage of the ELCA Youth Gathering in Detroit this summer (as he has been for many previous Youth Gatherings).

He is also a former (and future) Travel Team member of the Bosnia IST and is an ardent supporter of this ministry.

For more information about Bosnia IST go to

For more information about Agapé, go to


Looking for God?

Apr 15, 2015   //   by Janet Blair   //   General, Pastor's Blog, Zion's Blog  //  No Comments

Dear Friend,

Are you looking for God?

That might seem like a strange question. But if you listen to your heart, you might find a restless longing to find meaning through relationship with God. People seek relationship with God through prayer, worship, Scripture, relationships with other people, even communing with nature and practices like meditation and contemplation. A very long time ago, St. Augustine wrote, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Sometimes we’re looking for a place for our hearts to rest without even knowing it. Sometimes we need a little guidance to know what path to follow.

You are invited to join a warm, caring group of fellow seekers at Zion Lutheran Church in Garfield. We are a supportive, welcoming community in Christ, and we would love to meet you. We are a Reconciling-in-Christ congregation, which means we have made a decision to welcome LGBTQ people into full fellowship in our community. Everyone is welcome. Just as Jesus welcomed saints and sinners, people with and without means, people of diverse backgrounds, those who were happy and successful and those who struggled, we also feel called to provide a loving, accepting church home for everyone, including you. Jesus lived, died and rose for all of us. When we seek, we discover that God has been looking for us all along. You are invited to be part of learning what that means for our lives.

We are proud of the many faithful, vibrant pastors who lead our worship from week to week. Join us! We worship at 9:00 am, and coffee follows at 10:15. Or if you’d just like to meet some friendly people, feel free to just show up at 10:15 for coffee and good company.

I am available to speak to you if you would like to know more about us. You can reach me at (646) 321-3737 or email me at

If you’re looking for a pastor for a baptism, wedding, or funeral, we are available to help you.

We would like to hold you in prayer! We look forward to meeting you soon.

Yours in the welcoming love of Jesus,

Pastor Janet E. Blair

Faith and Farewell

Apr 9, 2015   //   by zike   //   General, Zion's Blog  //  No Comments

One of Zion’s favorite visiting pastors, Pr. Jack DiMatteo has authored a book about saying goodbye to our aging parents. The book is titled “Faith and Farewell”, and Pastor Jack explores this emotional subject drawing from his own personal experiences.


Check out Pastor Jack’s website at:

Seafarers International House

Apr 9, 2015   //   by zike   //   General, Uncategorized, Zion's Blog  //  No Comments

One of our Pastors, Arnd Braun-Storck talks about his Seafarers International House Ministries. Zion is very fortunate to have him as a fairly regular supply Pastor and we certainly applaud his efforts with the Seafarers.


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