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November 2020


Click HERE for a printable copy


Dear Partners in Ministry,


Are you feeling a little overwhelmed?  Are you getting excited about the upcoming holiday season with all the decorations, bells, and whistles of Thanksgiving, Kwanza, Hanukkah, Christmas or the numerous family gatherings that are typical during this time of year, or does it just add to the headache of the uncertain future we are all facing?  Are we immobilized from the weariness of it all?


As we walk through the ever-changing seasons on our way through mid-fall, we find ourselves approaching the church celebration we call All Saints Sunday.  It is a Sunday during which we intentionally remember our friends, family, and loved ones who most often changed our lives forever and have joined the church triumphant.  As we are compiling the list of those we have served and cared for in their final season in this life, I am ever mindful of their celebration of life.  When I ask the family if there is a preferred scripture they would like included in this celebration, the 23rd Psalm is the leading choice. 


Psalm 23 (slightly modified for the current times)

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, (coronavirus pandemic, physical distancing, face masks, white supremacy, Black Lives Matter, school closures, political upheaval, unemployment, judicial upheaval, health insurance, environmental concerns, pro-choice vs. pro-life, etc. ) I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.


Most people find in these words that were first recorded some 3,000 years ago by a “called” shepherd, turned king named David, who in human terms is the forefather of our Lord Jesus, to be words of comfort and strength. 


I believe this is just what we need today as we face our current time in our present-day valley.  In times like these, we tend to forget that we have a God who is in charge.  First allow me to rule out the obvious, for the most part we are all living in a bit of a fog.  Check out the following tease and the One Minute version, but for a remarkably interesting description, read the full article at the website link noted below.


Covid and culture shock feel the same to your brain — and here’s why

by EDITOR on AUGUST 25, 2020

by Peter Olson


We suspect you’ve been feeling it too. A frustrating sense of ‘molasses’ clogging your thoughts. A fatigue you just can’t seem to shake. Feeling ‘tired’ or ‘worn-out’ as you search to journey through normal days that simply don’t feel as normal as they should.


As we have both watched and experienced the events of 2020, something has seemed oddly familiar. Every part of life seems to have changed, nearly overnight. Stores are different. Work is different. Interactions with friends and with strangers – it’s all different. Yet in a way this scene seems to be a re-run. Because, in a way, it is. This scene is familiar because it mirrors culture shock.


The One-Minute Version:

When someone moves to a completely new culture, many of the ‘autopilots’ your brain uses for thousands of small decisions every day become ineffective. In a similar way, your current environment has likely changed sufficiently enough that many of your own ‘autopilots’ are no longer working. When this happens, the next remaining option for your brain is to use a second decision-making process that requires far more effort and energy (glucose) to operate. Your body can only supply glucose to your brain at a certain rate – a rate far below what would be required to use this kind of thinking continually. Thus, additional thinking about routine matters has likely left you with a chronically depleted level of glucose in your brain. All to say: You are experiencing “culture shock”.


For the full article please check out this website:



This article might begin to explain the fog, but to help us with the decision making process during this cloudy and chaotic time, (yes, decisions still need to be made daily, hourly, and at a moment’s notice), Christians are assured that God is clearly in charge even if we are not privy to the end result.  And as Christians, we are not called to sit idly by without putting our words into action.  Remember, it is God’s work; “our” hands.  Our example is Christ who was motivated by compassion and justice, always taking the side of the oppressed and those who were disenfranchised.  Let us be willing to move in that direction as well, despite the fog that immerses us in our current valley, as there is a difference between being a true follower of Christ and just being religious.  To be a true follower of Christ requires risk and assurance that God is with us.


In Christ’s service,


Pastor John Gropp




Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110        412-466-7773